Saturday, August 29, 2015

The Griswold's go to Jellystone Park :: Part 4, heading home


On the last morning of our vacation we woke to a beautiful Sunday.  And another half dead mouse that Wyatt found exploring a new part of the house.  This one though, we left for the people coming to clean the cabin after our departure.  A parting gift, I suppose.  It was funny, too, because this place was supposed to be somewhere we could relax and have fun and instead, it's beauty was marred by all the animal issues we had.  Not until we were leaving did I even walk around to look at the front of the place.  It did sort of look like the cabin from the movie "The Great Outdoors".  We should have known...



During our Saturday driving around Yellowstone, my dad and Ross decided that we wouldn't head home through the Park to Jackson Hole as originally planned, but instead we would take "Wilson's pass" and head on some new roads through Idaho farm country and cut through the Grand Tetons.  This was a great idea.  We drove for a while and then stopped at both overlooks for the upper and lower Mesa Falls.  The waterfalls were gorgeous and in all my life traveling to Yellowstone, I'd never seen them before and was so happy we stopped.  And, guess what, the visitor center/information house at the falls had bats!  Totally out of control.



Last one.  I love my family.  Not counting the animals we killed, we saw three moose, antelope, wolves and bears (in west Yellowstone), some of the biggest elk I've ever seen and walked right through a herd of bison.  Yellowstone is pretty cool.  I'm glad


The big boys drove with my parents to Jackson while Quinn opted to ride with us.  He was having a hard time because you see (TMI coming) he, like his mother, suffers from chronic traveling constipation and being a kid who only poops every couple of days anyway, adding another 3 or 4 to that already long record makes for a pretty uncomfortable ride in the car.  When he first started having trouble, he eventually fell asleep for about an hour - buying us some swift driving time.  But, when he woke up, climbing through the Tetons, we were in for some trouble.  He started to wail and scream that he couldn't sit down anymore!  I knew the probably so I threw caution to the wind on a windy mountain pass and unbuckled him.  He cried and screamed and nearly fell over, but did manage to take care of his business.  And then, moaned and wailed because he needed me to change his diaper immediately!  When we hit the summit, we found a good pull out and finished taking care of his business.  He was surprisingly calm after that.  It was a pretty pathetic and hilarious thing to witness.  Let it also be known that on the Friday of our trip, he did not pee for one whole day.  Seriously.  He peed before he went to bed on Friday night and then didn't pee again until Saturday morning.  I don't know how he did that, but he should have received a major award.

Jackson hole is an upscale tourist trap.  But I did find some salted caramel fudge.

We made it to Jackson Hole and ate a late lunch at a Mexican place that had been featured on Diner's, Drive-in's and Dives called "Picas".  It was delicioso!  After that, it was time for the obligatory walk around the center of town.  Holy crowded Batman!  Jackson Hole is a complete tourist trap and it was in a t-shirt store when all members of our party started to officially lose it.  Boys were fighting, souvenirs were being bought, and my mom and I were on a hunt for some fudge.  We found it, loaded into our separate cars and headed on our way home.

No one wanted to drive towards Evanston, so Ross and my dad found a new route through Wyoming back to Idaho via Soda Springs and Pocatello.  It was such a beautiful drive through some small towns and so much cool farmland.  And, Ross would like me to note that he got the worst soda of his life in Soda Springs.  Go figure.

We had nearly made it home when we had to stop just outside of Brigham City to use the bathroom.  Wyatt was exhausted.  Elliott was tired of being in the back of the car, and Quinn, Ross and I were ready to head home.  We made it in record time, unpacked our bags and stretched out.  It was so good to be home, but we had had a really fun, eventful, and memorable trip.

Thanks to my mom and dad for going with us and experiencing all the crazy with us, too.


Friday, August 28, 2015

Griswolds go to Jellystone Park :: Part 3; Old Faithful

The Morning of our third vacation day started in a pretty mild manner.  We told my parents about the bat upstairs; they wondered what all the noise was from before they fell asleep.  My dad went on a mouse hunt and found another half living/half dead mouse on a glue trap in the boys bathroom.  At this point, things were getting "sticky" because we kept finding mice, but couldn't find extra glue traps.

We ate a delicious continental breakfast in the cabin of cinnamon rolls, muffins, cookies and fruit and then headed out in two cars to West Yellowstone.  The boys all rode with my parents and it was almost like Ross and I were on a date.  We had a nice conversation.  Thanks mom and dad!

One in West Yellowstone, my parents parked and went to McDonalds - the boys were hungry?  My parents needed cokes?  Either way, they came back with drinks and nuggets and french fries.  Ross and I got gas and drinks and paid for the pizza dinner we walked out on the night before.  Then, we all loaded up into the sexy flexy (ours, not my mom's) and headed into the park.  Ross and my dad were in the front, driving and navigating.  If we'd let them be totally in charge, we would have just driven through the park really fast!

My mom and I were squished in the middle with Quinn at first, but the big boys couldn't handle the responsibility of sitting next to each other, so my mom being the shorter of the only girls in the car, volunteered to sit in the very back with one of the boys, trading off, for the rest of the day.    Wyatt still wasn't up to speed, but he was doing a little bit better - as long as we didn't talk about walking, or making him walk, or look at him funny.




The goal for the day was to see a few geyser basins, water falls and hit up Old Faithful.  Wyatt was desperate to see Old Faithful.  Not ten minutes into the park, traffic just stopped.  Of course it was for an animal, and we knew it was either elk or bison.  When we finally got close enough, we saw that it was a small family of bison walking through some trees.  It was pretty cool.  It was also a challenge to try and take a picture through the window of a moving car.  Ross doesn't stop I tell ya!

Once we were out of the jam we kept driving.  Off in the distance, my mom saw a lot of brown lumps in the distance.  She insisted they were shrubbery.  Um, not shrubbery - a herd of bison.  Easily a hundred or more and of course we flipped a pretty hard U turn to head in their direction.  So did  several dozen other idiots.  Now, I'm smart enough to look around and watch out for a herd of bison, especially because I read in the handbook upon entering the park that August is mating season and the bison are a little on edge.  Um, yeah, the were.  We got out of the car and were literally standing among a herd of large, emotionally charged bison.  The boys were grunting and chasing and banging into the girls.  I think they were courting?  It was actually pretty intense to watch.  It was also pretty intense to see all these super dumb people standing in the middle of the road about to get gored by an angry herd.  Such dummies.  Stay away!  We did however, take our fair share of pictures and stick our fingers in the warm waters of the Fire hole river.



We stood in a herd of a hundred or so bison.  August is the height of mating season.  We saw some "dating" bison.  The courtship was pretty intense.

My number one and me...and some bison.  Lots of bison.

All of us.  Good trip so far.  Remind me to tell you about all the dead mice and the bat that Ross killed with an oar last night.

We did see some Colorful pools of water and lots of geysers.  We did make it to Old Faithful and made the regrettable decision to eat lunch from the cafeteria instead of just one of the faster food places.  Can you say mystery meat playing the role of pulled pork?  Yeah, it wasn't so good.  We saw Old Faithful.  Wyatt was nearly asleep in the wagon when erupted, but he did manage to lift his head up from the wagon and take a glance before drifting off for a good long nap.  Once Old Faithful was finished we hit up a few gift shops and then were back on the road, heading towards the Upper and Lower Falls and the stairs.  Ross really wanted Elliott to do the stairs.






My mom, Quinn, Wyatt and I wandered around and got our 10,000 steps for the day on flat ground while my dad, Ross and Elliott did the stairs to see the lower (or is it the upper) falls.  Apparently the eight year old set the pace and when they arrived back at the top, much sooner than expected, we thought my dad may kick the bucket.  He said it's probably the last time he will every do those stairs - he's in pretty good shape, but his face was as red as his jacket and we were ready to give him Wyatt's inhaler!  At this point, Wyatt was on the brink of disaster, Quinn was a little crazy and we were all getting hungry.  So, it was decided that we'd head back out of the park through the Hayden Valley and eat dinner again in West Yellowstone.  I had prime rib for dinner.  It was delicious.



On the way out we saw a lot of elk. They are pretty animals.  We ate dinner at the Hungry Bear.  We were hungry bears (ha ha!)  Then, began the long trek back to the cabin - the boys with my parents and Ross and me on another "date".  This night though, the women and small children were not going back into the cabin until the men (and Elliott) had done a thorough rodent and bat sweep of the place.

Ross and I saw a cow moose on the side of the road driving back.  And bats.  And giant birds of prey.  We parked at the cabin and the men entered - flashlights, oars, and whatever else they might need in hand.  The sweep of the main level was pretty fast, I could see them through the windows.  But then they went upstairs.  And the three of them were gone quite a long time.  Long story short - there was another bat.  They had to scare it off of the vaulted walls by throwing dozens of shoes at it then it did us all a favor by flying into a glass french door, stunning itself and letting Ross make quick work of the rest of it's life.

I still required a hallway escort to get ready for bed.

I did not sleep well for the third night in a row - but slightly better than the previous two nights.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Griswolds go to Jellystone Park :: Part 2; moose and bats

This morning's view.  #howdenboyssummer15

We woke up in the morning to the sounds of.....COWS!  Even though the little paperwork about the cabin said that all the gates and fences were to keep the cows out, upon waking, there were about 8 black cows milling around the property.   Oops!  Pretty sure they were there before we got there; whether they were supposed to be or not.

As we got ready in the morning we hit a few snags.  One, Wyatt's entire body was on fire with a fever and the bad air was making it hard for him to breathe.  Two, Wyatt threw up and three, there were more dead mice; well half dead mice.  The bathroom the boys were using seemed perhaps to be an entry point for the little rodents and Ross had to dispose of another little critter before the boys could shower in the morning.  Ick!

After all that however, we were ready to hit the road.  But, of course there was one minor glitch.  Ross realized halfway down the dirt road that he'd left his wallet at the cabin.  We debated about turning around to get it, but decided not to.  Bad decision.  All I had was $33 dollars and an American Express card.  The week before, my debit card had been hacked and I didn't have my new one before leaving on our trip.  I was nervous about it (rightly so) the whole day.

Our first stop was in West Yellowstone at the Grizzly discovery center.  Knowing that the chances of seeing actual bears and wolves in the park was slim, we figured this would be a good stop for the boys.





We saw 5 bears and 4 wolves and some beautiful but injured birds of prey.  Wyatt was out of it and road in the wagon.  He was pretty clueless actually as to where we even were, but he tried.  After we watched Sam the giant Grizzly look for food and swat at ravens for a while, we decided it was time to head into the park.  The only internet/data we had on the whole trip was in West Yellowstone so before we left we made sure that inside the park, they accepted American Express.

As we entered the park, we were on immediate animal watch.  Our Magic 8 ball toy at home told us that we would see: bears, wolves, moose, elk, bison, and eagles.  Our first animal sighting was a bison walking down the center of the opposite lane of traffic with a line of about 20 cars behind it.  Wyatt was asleep, but Quinn and Elliott thought it was amazing.


We really didn't make too much progress on day one.  We stopped at the Artist Paint Pots and drug Wyatt on the dirt path for a mile to see the steaming and stinky mud pots.  Quinn thought they smelled like bacon and Ross almost dumped Wyatt out of the wagon when it was his turn to pull  -  sending the sickly little boy into a tailspin of screaming and crying.  Quinn lost his rein as the wagon king this day, and actually handled it pretty well doing a lot of walking - and a lot of piggy back riding.  Wyatt spent most of the day asleep in the car and Elliott?  I have no idea what he did.  He was buried in his cave in the back of the car.  I think he mostly just sneaked snacks all day long.



We decided to head up to Mammoth because it was a good place to eat lunch, we thought we'd have phone service, and Ross didn't seem to remember that the whole place was dried up, so he thought it would be cool to see.  The road from Norris to Mammoth is completely torn up and we ended up sitting in a couple construction zones for about 30 minutes.  Ross fell asleep waiting.  Something about that summer sun beating through the windows that knocks you out.

When we got to Mammoth is was pretty deserted.  Not a lot of people, pretty overcast and no elk.  We were starving and got food and delicious Montana ice cream.  At that point, we realized that our phones weren't working and we hadn't given my parents directions to the cabin for their evening arrival.  Our only options for phone service was a nice one legged man from Montana who offered to let us use his working verizon phone, or the pay phone.  My children had NO IDEA what a pay phone was and once I got through to my mom, my time ran out pretty quickly.  But, luckily my mom is a smart lady and she called the payphone back and Ross was able to give her exact directions to the cabin.


After our pit stop at Mammoth, we headed towards Tower Roosevelt, and then had plans to leave the park to get dinner.  On our way to Tower, we saw a large gathering of people and they were gathered for, you guessed it, MOOSE!  A mama and baby moose were grazing near the road.  A ranger was there to protect them and answer questions.  He said that there are only about 100 known moose in the park so we were pretty lucky.  I could have watched them all day, but we had to get going.  Quinn was asleep so we took turns getting out of the car to look at the beautiful creatures and then we were back on the road.


On our way out of the park we saw more bison and a pretty big elk herd.  We decided to eat pizza in West Yellowstone for dinner.  After we had ordered and eaten our salads, I told Ross that we better make sure that the place takes American Express.  He said we'd be fine and I pouted for the rest of dinner.  Hen it was time to pay, the pizza place DID NOT accept American Express.  I went to the ATM outside to try and get a cash advance multiple times but it wouldn't let me.  I was so mad and so embarrassed that we couldn't pay for our dinner.  Ross talked to our server, explained the situation, and we left with a promise to be back in the morning to pay for our dinner.


At least the sunset heading out of town was pretty.


I was already a little on edge because of the money problem when we got back to the cabin well after dark.  We walked in and set our stuff down in the kitchen.  What happened next was right out of a movie.  Ross came in last and right as he turned into the kitchen he yelled "BAT!"  The boys and I turned to look just as a brown bat came flying towards us.  It was just like in the movie "The Great Outdoors!"  Panic and screaming ensued.  Elliott and Wyatt were with me, trapped in the kitchen and Quinn was with his dad by the back door.  Every time anyone moved, the bat came towards us.  It was out of control!  Ross opened the back door to try and shew the thing out, alive, but it was too stupid and I'm sure frightened.  Next thing I know, Ross has found an oar and grabbed it, swinging at the bat.  Quinn was outside on the deck screaming hysterically trying to get to me.  Ross took a couple swings at the bat and got lucky - it smacked right into the oar and fell to the ground stunned.  Then, the bat was murdered.  By my husband.  He saved us!

My mom and dad arrived about an hour later and the first thing the boys told them was about the bat.   We sat up with the parentals and hung out for a while while Wyatt did his breathing machine and then it was time for bed.  Quinn and I were laying down and I was singing him songs - he was a little on edge.  Ross crossed the hall and as he was walking towards us, another bat (yes, another bat!) flew right in front of his face.  And then behind him.  And then in front of him again.  It was awful.  Quinn and I were scared.  This time, without an oar, Ross went out to kill another bat with a fly swatter, a towel and a belt. He was roaming the house for a good 15 minutes and he couldn't find it anywhere and declared that it must have gone out the way it came in.  Ha!  Fat chance on that one.

Guess how well I slept that night.  ;)

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Griswold's go to Jellystone Park :: Part 1; sickness

In case you wanted to know, Theo air in Idaho is just as bad as in Utah.  And my sweet asthma boy cannot breathe.


Here we go.  

We went to Yellowstone.
We drove our own car.
We rented a beautiful cabin in Island Park, Idaho.
Wyatt was sick the whole trip.  Fever, cold, threw up.  Had to be carried or drug in a wagon through the entire park.

We left on Thursday after I got home from a hair appointment.  I got all my hair chopped off and got it colored some crazy browns and blonds.  I got pink in it too, but the pink didn't really show up.

Wyatt hadn't been feeling well for a couple of days.  The air quality was so bad because of all the smoke blowing east from California fires.  We knew that the bad air was affecting him, but he also had a low grade fever and had a nap.  Wyatt doesn't nap.

As I was getting in my car from my last pre-trip errand I got a call from Ross.  Wyatt had just thrown-up one of his phlegm balls that led to a whole stomach emptying puke.  Crap! I hurried home and assessed the situation.  We'd rented a house that if we canceled, they were going to keep the bulk of our money.  We knew the puke was largely tied to his asthma, not his fever so, we went for it.  We decided to go.  In the time it took us to discuss our options, Wyatt was asleep and wrapped in a blanket on the couch.  We left him as we loaded the car and got everything ready and then when it was time to leave, we just loaded the sleeping boy into the car and off we went.

Yellowstone is such a short road trip, comparatively speaking.  Wyatt was in a haze the majority of the drive through Idaho, dozing multiple times.  We stopped at a dive for dinner in Pocatello and continued our drive, worried about our boy, and the air - saying silent prayers that it would clear up.  Ross and I however, have smartened up in our travels and make sure that we travel with every single possible medication and machine Wyatt might need and as we drove through the smoky haze to Island Park, we were happy to know we had all his stuff.

When planning our quick trip to Yellowstone, we knew that a VRBO was the best option - West Yellowstone hotels are a rip off and we'd invited my parents to come up with us and thought a house would be the best space for everyone - and we rented a 4000+ square foot cabin that could sleep 12 on beds for the same price as a hotel room.  We found one that was new and beautiful and booked it.

We arrived at our cabin late on Thursday night in the pitch blackness of the evening.  Our cabin which we hadn't anticipated, was totally in the BOONIES!  About 25 minutes from the main road, on a dirt road.  From the outside, it looked really nice and the inside was really nice.  It was very new, very custom and had beautiful wood work throughout.  Someone had spent a lot of money to make such a beautiful getaway.

We wandered around, checked out the rooms, and then started to find the mice!  Dead mice!  On multiple sticky traps.  It seemed that every corner we turned we found a mouse.  I was getting particularly nervous as the boys kept finding mice and then I found one - except it wasn't a mouse - it was a bat!  A real dead small brown bat.  I started to panic.  I had a sick kid, a house in the middle of nowhere where we had no cell or data service on our phones and it was full of dead critters.  Though I dislike rodents with a passion, I could have been okay with the mice.  We knew from the guest book that no one had been in the cabin for two weeks, so mice I can understand, I guess.  But, not a dead bat in the bathroom.

We all took a deep breath and got ready for bed.  I probably don't have to tell you that I didn't sleep well that night.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

200 days

This stoner Lithuanian freestyle bongo and guitar group has been to Utah and to Idaho to play the Pocatello music festival.  The #lithuaniaexpress informed them that he can play the ukulele, and was invited to jam anytime.    Also, 200 days!

In just over a week, Elder Petersen will have been serving as an LDS missionary amongst the people of Lithuania for 18 months.  Just last week, he crossed the 200 day mark.  It's taken a long time to get to the downward slope of Willie's mission, but it really feels now that he is so close to coming home.

We are already in the middle of August.

Then it will be Christmas day and we will be able to Skype with him.

Then it will be February and it will be time to head to the airport and embarrass ourselves and him with our airport antics.  Actually, maybe we will play it cool.  He will probably come home at a crazy time, hopefully when the airport isn't too crowded so that when my mom SCREAMS as her only son descends the escalator towards her, security won't think there is some sort of terrorist attack taking place.  But, I bet it Salt Lake, those sort of motherly screams are heard at the airport by luggage claim quite a bit.

We spend a lot of time talking about when Willie will come home.  When he left 18 months ago, time was just at a stand still.  It moved on of course, but so slowly.  We knew he was healthy and safe and doing what was important for him, but man alive we missed him.  His contagious laughter, his plopping on the couch, his occasional brooding, even his farting.  Well, maybe not that.  His presence just left a hole.  A giant albino hole.

That hole gets filled on Monday mornings.  Monday mornings are the best.  For about three minutes.  Those three minutes it takes me to read his letter before I get in the shower, and the next three minutes to look at the pictures he's uploaded into dropbox make getting up on Monday mornings worth it every single week.  I haven't missed writing my BiG Iggy brother one week his entire mission and he hasn't missed writing us.  He's been late a couple of times, leaving my mom and sister and I in a three way texting frenzy, but those letters are life blood when such an important person is gone from you.  His goofy personality shines through in those letters and its usually enough to get you through to the next Monday.  I find myself looking at those pictures several times throughout the week and during sacrament meeting on Sunday's, Elliott and I look through them.  It's not the same as him being next to us, petting our shoulders with his giant paws, but it does alright just the same.

We talk about what life will be like when he gets home.  Will he be weird?  How long will it take for him to just lay on the couch and watch "Regular Show" and "Sponge Bob" all day long?  Will he like music?  Will he be funny?  Will he be too serious?  Will he get mad at us for not being "SPiritual" enough?

I've thought about sending him a "Missionary Detox" kit to use on the airplane on the ride home.  Mostly, it would just consist of an ipod shuffle full of all the awesome music he's missed in the last two years.  Elliott, Wyatt  and I have been compiling a list of the music we think he needs to hear, to help him get back to normal.  It's a pretty good list, too.  My boys have good taste in music.  I mentioned it to Willie in a letter and his only response was, "DON"T VIOLATE ANY MISSION RULES!"

Yep, 6 more months.



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