29 August 2010

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!

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