31 August 2010

Felt Crowns

I finally finished adding the elastic to these crowns that I started in the Spring.  My favourite is the tree, but Eli likes his "Super Eli" crown.  There was one more that I forgot today when we went to play with the Russells, so Mari didn't get to wear the pink one. Too bad for her. As I left with these three Andy suggested that I just make a whole bunch for them so that we didn't need to bring them when we came to visit.  I'm glad he's watching out for me! 
PS Get a load of Charlie's shirt.  It's rad!

30 August 2010

But don’t they know that I am free, Every time I climb a tree?

Eli came running in today and excitedly declared, "Mommy, there's a tree out there that is for boys to climb in!"

"That awesome! Why don't you go climb in it then?"

"Well, because it is a tree that mommies need to help the boys get into."

So, the vacuum got put down for a very important apple tree climbing operation.  And, boy oh boy, did he love it!  And do I ever love my boy!

His baby brother watched from the grass.

29 August 2010

The Caverns Lewis and Clark NEVER visited

So, if you are ever driving through Montana, just east of Butte, you really should stop at a place called the Lewis and Clark Caverns.  You might think that it is named such because the famous Lewis and Clark found the caverns, perhaps with Sacajawea herself.  You'd be wrong.  They never even knew the caverns existed.  Instead, many years after Lewis, Clark and Sacajawea had passed through the area two cowboys were hunting a deer and found an opening into a mountain, and in that mountain they found a cavern, and in that cavern they found... some pretty cool limestone, which, 118 years later we found too. Too bad the park wasn't named after those guys, or I might know their names.  I don't.  But, I like them all the same.

The last leg of our Paxton-Wiebe adventure took us to the Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park.  It was really cool.  We went on a 2 hour guided tour through the limestone caverns. We hiked up the mountain to the opening of the caves, and then descended down 600+ stairs inside the mountain to come out level to where we started.  It was truly awe inspiring.  Here's some shots.

Outside the mouth of the caverns:

Down, down, down:
 Check out the couple behind us.  I think they are making out.

Nursed Silas half the time:

Amazing what millions of years can create:

This tunnel took no time at all. Only 18 months in the 1930s and a bunch of guys with sledge hammers, so we were told.  I like those guys too, seeing as how it meant we didn't need to hike back up those 600 stairs. 

And, from their we said goodbye. Boy oh boy are we going to miss those girls (not to mention their parents, and Baby North).

Hole-in-the-Wall Gang

There they are, folks, the only known picture of The Violet Storm, Eli "Rustler" Wiebe and Ava the Scalper, Butch Cassidy's toughest gang members. You can tell by their hardened looks, their haggard appearance and the blood stains on their hands just how tough they were.  These three, in their time, were not to be messed with by the toughest of lawmen!

While traveling Wyoming we spent a day exploring the town of Cody, Wyoming.  It was a blast!

We visited the most run down, thrown together museum I've ever seen, Old Trail Town, where they had the actual cabin that Butch Cassidy and his Hole-in-the-Wall gang actually stayed. It was there, as I was signing the guest book, that I realized that Jared and I were celebrating our sixth anniversary. That's right, six years!  Should I be embarrassed that it took seeing the date at the top of a dusty guest book that made me remember?  No, I think I'm okay with it. Happy six years to us!

We saw the worst gunfight ever, but entertaining nonetheless.

We found an obscure LDS visitors center, The Cody Mural, (obscure because I've never heard of it before and the website has no reference to the church, and the missionaries didn't even bare their testimonies, but cool regardless.)

The best part of all, we went to the Cody Nite Rodeo, a full rodeo that began at 8 pm.  I LOVED it!  I was pretty much the expert on all things western, as Sarah had never seen a rodeo before, and Tyler only when he was a boy. The competitors left a little to be desired (very few actually got qualifying times/scores in their events) but they had five year olds competing in steer riding and barrel racing, so I wasn't complaining! The best part of it all was when they called all the children under the age of 12 to go down into the arena to pull bandannas off calves tails, who were running wild.  Eli and Ava went down.  Ava ran straight in and lined up with the other 100 or so children.  When Jared let go of Eli's hand at the gate, he went running toward the throng of children, but when he realized that he was the last child there, so all eyes were on him, even the rodeo clowns, he got a little scared and stopped dead on his run.  The clown, over the microphone, told him to come along, that it would be okay.  He was so scared!  Jared ended up having to walk him over to the other kids.  As soon as he found Ava's hand he was happy, but I was sure he would burst into tears up until that point. The two of them were the youngest for sure, and they just kind of followed blindly behind the older kids, chasing after the calves.  It was the cutest thing in the world!

Next time I happen through Cody, Wyoming, I am definitely going to go to the the Buffalo Bill Historical Center.  Like the Calgary Stampede, Cody has a rich history that media images of Buffalo Bill just don't do justice to. Next time I'm going to ride in the rodeo, too.

Geysers, Lakes, Canyons and KIDS!!!

When our Michigan friends, the Paxtons, said that they wanted to visit Yellowstone National Park this summer, there is no way we could say no to meeting them there for a week full of camping, sulfur, and fun.  Never mind the fact that their sweet little baby North was only 8 weeks old and I was DYING to meet him.  So, after a few weeks in Sandpoint we loaded the Suburban (and when I say loaded, I really mean LOADED) and headed for Wyoming and America's first National Park.  It was such a blast.  Not previously on my bucket list, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it.  And, after seven days, I'm prepared to write a travel book on the adventure, if anyone is interested.

First of all, I have to say, I LOVE the Paxtons.  Seriously.  They are part of my Michigan family that I will miss as long as I live.  I love that I can talk to Sarah about anything, that she knows every member of my family, despite never having met most of them, that she and I can go months without seeing each other and fall back into life like we were together yesterday.  I love that Tyler solves my computer problems without charging me $1000, again and again and again, that he argues with me about absolutely everything, from organic farming, to my hatred of Wal-mart, to the rules of Carcassone (he makes me really think about my beliefs - I like that), and that he drives 26 hours to bring his sweet family to see me.  I love the Paxton girls, Ava and Violet, for being the best friends Eli could have, for the running hugs they give Eli, for teaching him all about how to play princess (every little boy needs to know how to treat a princess!)  He plays better with them than anyone else, ever, and I love it.  And, I love North for being the squishiest, sweetest, most wonderful baby I know.  I hope that the future holds many more amazing adventures with the Paxtons, because I can't live without them!

While we could have spent a month there and still not seen everything (like the "Geyser Gazers" we met that carry their portable chairs to each geyser and wait, sometimes for hours, to record when they go off, how high they blast, and report it all to the rangers) we did see a whole lot.

We went to the Norris Geyser Basin:

We saw Liberty Cap at Mammoth Hot Springs:

Of course we waited, and saw Old Faithful erupt:

We hiked to a beautiful Natural Bridge (which at one point they were actually going to put a road over), and guess what I did there?

Okay, I did that everywhere, but at the foot of the natural bridge was definitely the most picturesque place to breastfeed.     

We saw the Lower Falls and Upper Falls at Artist Point, the Fountain Paint Pots, Firehole Canyon and Firehole Lake and we even waited, with the Geyser Gazers, for the Great Fountain Geyser to erupt, and erupt it did, after lots of waiting:

The sites were amazing, but we had almost as much fun just hanging around the different campsites we stayed at.  Eli has never been so happy, with free rein of all the dirt he could ever desire, jumbo marshmallows, and his best friends around. 

And where was my little long-haired beautiful baby all this time?  Safely caged in the play pen that the Paxtons were so smart to bring.

All in all it was a spectacular trip for so many reasons.  While I've got many more places to cross off my bucket list before I go back to Yellowstone, I can't wait to be able to do it again, hopefully with just as wonderful company!

28 August 2010

Evans Roll Call


And, while I didn't include the adults of the Evans Clan, this one somehow showed up on my camera, and I couldn't stop myself, really!

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