First let's take a tour of our freaking fantastic lodge! I'm not bragging. Trust me. Baker's aint never seen anything like this before. This was a glimpse into how the other half lives.
Don't mind the pictures of the random weirdos you might see.
This bathroom was fantastic! There were four of them- not all this posh- but luckily we're all in everyone's business enough that no one had any privacy and even the people with private rooms had to share potties.
We're always talking about how mom's kitchen is a one butt kitchen. This kitchen was definitely big enough for all our butts!! And there was lots of eating room both inside and out.
There was this fantastic loft with its own balcony and several beds.
There was also a huge open basement with a bunch of beds and more bathrooms. I didn't get pictures of the concrete patio and the hot tub.
Seriously- it was amazing.
It rained most of the time we were there- which I'm not going to complain about because it kept things cool and it had the potential to get REALLY hot in that lodge.
But we did have one campfire evening where we played a few obnoxious games (ask me how the play the Addams Family game next time you see me. I'd be happy to teach you.)
(Isn't my baby niece so freaking cute? Her first campfire!)
There was also a frog pond for the kids. There were teeny frogs *everywhere*. You had to be really careful where you stepped. I kissed a few... no prince.
The next day we drove to Yellowstone. It's been years- YEARS- since I've been there. (pardon the photos... I don't know what's wrong with my camera [Dear Santa, I need a new one] they're all sort of... blue).
Is it just me or do all geysers kind of look alike...?
Oh wait... those are all the same geyser. My bad. Selfie Alert!
Waiting for Old Faithful...
Thar She Blows!
We saw all kinds of critters in the park. It's not a trip to Yellowstone if you don't trip over a bison or two and an elk herd. We also saw a coyote and several birds of prey (no- not Klingon war ships... you nerd).
This little guy was pretty friendly. Shayla thought she'd take a photo with him- but he had other ideas and vanished before the click.
But no one can argue that the cutest critter in the park that day was this little animal. :) D'awwwww....
Along with all the water and steam being blown *up* we also saw a lot of it falling *down*.
I was posing for the perfect selfie with the waterfall... almost got it... almost got it...
I gave up and got photos with a couple of the elusive dudes in our group; my cousin and my little brother.
We took a little hike down to the brink of Yellowstone falls. It was totally beautiful- seriously- this camera did not catch the coloring and absolute beauty of this canyon.
The hike down was no problem. Awww look, we're all smiles and joy.
Have you ever stood at the brink of a waterfall? It's very... compelling... almost like the water wants you to come play.
As pleasant as the hike *down* was, the hike *up* was awful! The whole point in hiking up is so that you're rewarded with going downhill when you're done. This hike was backward so we had to go up last. It was not even a mile, but it was so steep and switch-back-y that I swore I was going to die. I'd been training all summer at the gym for this crap- but as soon as August 1st hit- between being sad, busy and just plain lazy, I quit going to the gym and those three weeks of lethargy showed. Oi.
My little nephew collapsed when he reached the top. I felt like doing the same- but instead, I just sat on a rock and yelled at people to leave me alone. But you know- at least I did it. Out of our group of 17, only 7 of us did it and I was one of them. So there.
The next day dawned grey and and rainy. We'd planned for months to go horseback riding and everyone was really disappointed that we were going to get rained out. I wouldn't have it. I told them, "Guys, I'm a lucky traveler. Things will work out. It will stop raining, clear up long enough for us to go on our ride and then rain the rest of the day." Shortly thereafter, the rain stopped, it cleared up some- still cloudy and grey, but dry. We piled into my brother's truck and drove fifty feet to the horse corral. Yes. We city slickers are just. that. lazy.
We stood around for what seemed a very long time. But it was probably good because a couple of the smaller folk were pretty nervous about riding horses and hanging around the corral and getting a chance to feed the horses gave them a little more confidence.
The grannies and baby came to see us off.
Even my Pops went with us. I have *never* seen him on a horse. Well... before this. I guess I can't say that anymore.
In a pen- where they belong. As everyone was getting their beautiful steeds and learning their awesome and creative names- I kept jumping around hoping I'd get a really pretty one (because I'm the girl who picks the prettiest carousel horse at Disneyland) and hoping it had an awesome name (like King Arthur, Helaman, Geronimo, Bronco, Smoke...). While my horse was adequate, he was no looker... and his name was Blue Duck. Laaaaaaaaaaaaaame [raspberry].
This was my view.
We came across some pretty rare wildlife. Shhh be vewy vewy quiet.... MOOOOOOOO!!!!!
We just kind meandered though a forest. Blue Duck was determined to follow the trail and not my commands at all- so we walked into every low branch, every bush, and one time he deliberately took me between two close set trees even though everyone else went around them. How do you say "jerk" in horse?
As freaked out as this kid was at the beginning, I think he rather enjoyed his first time on a horse. My niece LOOOOVES animals and was all to giddy and excited to be riding. I was told she fell off at one point (I was in the front and was somewhat left out of all conversation and festivities), but she fell off in the most graceful way possible and landed on her feet.
And then there were those of us who just made it look good. My big brother used to go on round ups with my uncle all the time.
"Look Abu! I've never seen a horse with TWO rear ends!" (her joke... not mine. Love ya, Sissy!)
Even though it rained pretty much all night, we were not about to let that deter us from making s'mores (or shmoes as we've picked up from Buzz). Can't light a campfire? Noooo problem. That's what the kitchen stove is for.
Here' are the directions for stove roasting:
Turn the burner on high and roast on marshmallow until it develops a warm brown exterior.
If it catches fire, that's ok... just go with it. At this time, prepare a second marshmallow.
Use the flames from the first marshmallow, to toast the second one- that way you can say you actually roasted your marshmallows over fire.
Make sure you have proper supervision. Adults should not be left alone when playing with fire inside a wooden structure.
Our last full day there we got in a little bit o' fishin. Ummm.. I've never been fishing before in my life- unless you count the kind at a school fair where you put the clothes pin tied to a string on a stick behind a box painted to look like water and pull out a cheap paper fan, slinky bracelet or water bird whistle (remember those? ahhh youth...)
I'm one of *those* girls who grossed out when they opened the bait can. "Eeeeew, Daddy bait my hook for me!"
Not having any idea what the heck I was doing, I tried to teach myself how to cast.
My brother went to the other side of the lake (away from all the hollering and boat paddling) We probably scared the fish over in his direction because when I assumed he was probably doing this:
He was actually catching this! (I find it no coincidence that they are dressed alike) He caught his first ever fish! Of all the times he's been fishing he's never caught anything! Look at that! Crikey, what a beauty!
I took the row boat out solo for a while. Still didn't catch anything but I just enjoy being on water and I loooove rowboats. I 'm not a fan of life vests- but safety first, I guess.
After a while, I rowed back to shore and picked up my sister and rowed her around for a while so she could fish a bit. We fed the fishies all our wormies and power bait- but none of them wanted to come play with us. It's ok. I wouldn't have known what to do if I'd caught anything. I wouldn't have touched it. I would have just sat there grossing out and freaking out at the same time. I enjoyed it enough I'd do it again. Besides, I'm pretty sure Travis caught the only fish in the lake.
The following day was pack up your crap and head home day. It was such a lovely trip. There were no major injuries, relatively little drama and the only bug bites I heard about were when we got to Red Robin for lunch in Idaho falls. I've always been a fan of the great outdoors- not living in it so much- but if I could live in it in that kinds of style, I could probably get used to it.