Steve's Grandfather Hyrum would have been 100 this past July. As a result, Steve's Father and Aunt and all of the grandchildren planned to do a big family reunion and camp together over the days surrounding what would have been their Grandfather's 100th birthday. We knew we were going, we just had to figure out how exactly we would get there, so we planned our annual summer trip to Preston to coincide with the reunion.
My session of swim lessons ended on July 3rd, so we packed up as soon as I got home from morning lessons around 12:30 or 1:00 and hit the road. We caught a hotel room in Ontario, Oregon, and drove the rest of the way to Preston on the 4th in order to be there for the family festivities on the 4th of July.
We spent the next few days enjoying time with Grandma and Papa while we prepared for our camping trip, gathering supplies, buying food, etc. We even managed to spend time with our niece Ella and nephew Colton who we rarely see. We met up with them and Grandma and Papa at Willow Park Zoo on the 7th. It was fun seeing Ellie and Ella together. I know, I know, but cousin names weren't on our mind as we were in the hospital with our first baby... Anyway, Ella was so good with Ellie, and Ellie loved paling around with her the whole time, proven by the fact they are holding hands here.
On the 9th we packed everything up (it felt like we brought about everything with us) in our rigs and drove to Island Park, ID to camp at the Buffalo Campground there on the Buffalo River. We had the group campsite reserved, which was so fun because with all the family there we could let the kids play together and roam (with supervision) a lot more. It was also terrifying because with so many hands helping out we occasionally lost track of who was doing what with one of our girls and got worried. But, all those helping hands were SOOOOO appreciated and made the trip doable for us with a 3.5 year old, 1.5 year old, and 2 month old.
Wednesday night, after setting up, we spent the day in small family groups for dinner and explored the campground. It was beautiful up there, and Mckayla even found the river - going backwards, feet over head, right into the shallow sandy bottom, head first.
On Thursday the 10th more people arrived and most of us floated the Buffalo River. Lori brought up these perfect little boat-like rafts and the girls each rode in one while Steve and I held onto their rafts from our tubes. The water was brisk still, and so shallow you had to watch and laugh when you hit your bottom on rocks, but we still had a blast floating several times that day. In between trips the girls enjoyed lots of otter pops on such a hot day. Such awesome grandparents to think of such things us silly parents forget. It was warm out, and the girls loved all the propel, otter pops, milk, and juice they got as a result.
The group area was also the big spot for doing hair, but only Steve got in on that action from our little family.
I believe it was this night that we ended with a big group of cousins talking around a propane fire down by the group spot. It was so fun and such a wonderful day.
Friday the 11th we had planned to go as the Bennett group and visit part of Yellowstone National Park, which is not far from Island Park. We knew we would be limited in what we could see with tired kids on a hot day with only one day to see things, but Lori, Curtis, and Bridget are expert Yellowstone guides and took us to a few awesome spots in West Yellowstone. Seriously, Yellowstone National Park needs weeks to be seen and appreciated properly, and I can't wait to go back when the girls are older, but even just hitting a few shorter boardwalks reminded me how breathtaking and diverse this park truly is.
We also had to see this, Bridget's favorite geyser which sounds like a toilet flushing as the pool empties after an eruption. Ellie still talks about these and wants me to remind her of the word geyser so she can reminisce. "Mommy what was the thing that shot water into the air that Bridget likes and sounds like a toilet that isn't a whale?" (We saw whales spouting later in the summer which caused confusion the first few times she asked...)
When we got back to camp it was the hair day. Kassidy ended up with a bow in her hair, and doesn't she look thrilled? Poor Kassidy. You can see her redhead complexion here, and she is going to have it rough. She spent most of the time in the shade and still got a little red...
This is also when Steve, Curtis, and Ben ended up with their hair in all the tiny ponytails.
After that, we monopolized the wash machine at Grandma and Papa's (Two adults, one who holds a baby all the time, and 3 kids make A LOT of laundry while camping!), and enjoyed the last few days before we had to head home.
On the 13th the girls had quality girl time with Grandma painting nails.
Yeah, it was an amazing trip. We rode four wheelers, floated rivers, watched geysers, rode horses, painted nails, played lots with Grandma with play dough and markers, and just loved being around family. Each time Steve and I visit it gets harder and harder to drive the 10 hours back to our desert island here when the girls are so surrounded by beauty, outdoors fun, and family down south... But, on the 15th we made the trek home so we could go to Kassidy's two month check up and Steve could attend a meeting he needed to be at. It was such a wonderful trip, it was sad to see it end, but seriously, one of the highlights of our summer, if not our year.