Archive for July, 2011

Family Vacation 2011 Pictures- Part 3

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

To read the blog post that goes with these pictures visit Family Vacation 2011- Part 3.

Click on any image to see a larger version.


Lilah looking over Yellowstone Lake on a stormy day. (Fishing Bridge Visitor’s Center.)


One of the first bison we saw. We soon realized they loved to hang out by Mud Volcano, especially since we had to drive by the place 4 times on our visit.


Lilah with Mud Geyser behind her.


Mommy, Eden and Lilah in front of Mud Geyser.


Jonathan and I in front of Mud Volcano.


This is what it looks like when we’re not blocking it.


Some cool geyser off the side of the river.


Artists Paintpots.


Eden inspecting the pink mud pot/ mud geyser.


This white mud pot made the coolest sound. Gloppy, boiling mud is really cool.


Lilah near a hot spring at Artists Paintpots.


Hot spring at Artists Paintpots.


Me being silly. I had no idea the sucker I had just finished had turned my tongue green.


The girls and me in front of Gibbon Falls.


Firehole Falls, one of the small detour, one way scenic sites in the park.


A cute ground squirrel while we were walking around at Old Faithful. (It’s a ground squirrel because chipmunks have stripes on their face and back.)


Whoa little squirrel! He decided to groom himself right there.


A pretty hot spring. (According to Wikipedia, this is the Blue Star Spring.)


The girls near a small geyser spring.


It’s official, we saw Old Faithful Geyser, but Eden and I don’t look too pleased about it.


The main attraction, Old Faithful! This eruption was a shorter one, but it was still really cool.

Family Vacation 2011- Part 3

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

Here’s where I start mostly listing off what we did, if I can remember correctly and the picture posts will get really long from all our picture taking.

Tuesday July 12, was our first full day in Yellowstone. It was nice blue sky when we woke up, but it got cloudy as we departed and started on our trip.

Our first stop was at the Fishing Bridge Visitor’s Center in the park. It was close to our camping site and it looked like it might rain, so we wanted some shelter. We looked around, visited the lake, got some information and started on our way.

We decided to drive the lower loop this day. Our first scenic stop was at Mud Volcano. My dad had mentioned how Yellowstone smelled like rotten eggs, so I expected the whole place to smell that way, but fortunately it was only around the volcanic activity that you really smelled the sulfur smell. The hardest part was getting caught in the steam that was leaving the earth. That was hot, moist and you got big ‘ole breaths of the sulfur in your lungs. Lilah like it, she said it smelled like boiled eggs, and in some cases it smelled more like boiled than rotten eggs, but it still wasn’t something you’d want to inhale.

There were a lot of little things at Mud Volcano, my favorite was Dragon’s Mouth, which we only got a video of because it sounded so cool. Some of this area is actually relatively new at the park, with some activity being there for a while, and others only surfacing in the 1960’s and then 1970’s after different earth quakes. It reminds you how every changing the park is, and how you are walking on an active Super Volcano just below the surface, that just hasn’t erupted in 40,000 years. With some of the activity we joked that it should have been called the “Bogs of Eternal Stench”, which is from a favorite childhood movie, Labyrinth.

Soon after Leaving Mud Volcano it started to rain, then it rained some more. It delayed some of our site seeing that included hiking, and kept us in the car. Mostly we’d just head to the next site and if it wasn’t rainy we’d get out. Fortunately, it did clear up so the rest of the day went smoothly.

My favorite stop of the day was Artists Paintpots. The colors there were amazing and it had mud pots that made the best sound of glopping, boiling mud. Jon and I both loved it, and the girls thought we were a little odd.

We continued to stop at different sites off the road. Gibbon Falls, Beryl Spring, Firehole Falls, plus some no name little things. Then since the day was slipping away quickly, we decided to skip some things and head straight to Old Faithful.

We must have arrived soon after one of the eruptions, because we had over an hour to wait till next one. We walked around looking at the different geysers and hot springs in the area. Lilah and I went to the visitor’s center while Eden and Jon saved our front row spots on a bench. The timing for Old Faithful is all approximate. They have the time for eruption, but then it’s + or – 10 minutes. So you’re waiting around for at least half an hour if it decides to erupt on the later part, which it did. For the eruption we saw, there were lots of premature little spouts of water, so the girls started to call the geyser, “Old Tease.”

How to guess when Old Faithful’s next eruption will be. You begin timing the length of the eruption after water as been continuously coming out for about 7 seconds, and time till only steam is coming out. If the eruptions is less than 2.5 minutes, the next eruption will happen around 60 minutes later, if the eruption is longer than 2.5 minutes it will happen around 93 minutes later. They repeatedly remind you that it’s hard to know exactly when the next eruption will happen for any geyser, but they are able to come up with estimated times for Old Faithful because of his steadiness.

Since it was late after the eruption, sometime around 7 pm, we ordered some food at a snack cafe and then headed towards camp. As we left we were able to see a coyote on the road, which was rather exciting, but the camera was on video, so we only got a video of him leaving.

It was exciting to see some of our first wild life this day. We had seen a young elk on our way in, but today we caught glimpse of our first bison, mule deer, and lots of ground squirrels. Bison by far are what we saw most in the park, but mostly in small herds and off by themselves. We also saw one swimming in a river, which was new since we didn’t know they could swim.

This night we built a small fire once back and enjoyed s’mores. Then we quickly cleaned up because it looked like rain, then it started to rain, then hail. Fortunately, the girls were ready for bed and we were able to get ready before it got too bad. I remember waking up in the night so I think it rained and stormed for at least half the night. We were able to stay dry and warm, so we had no worries, except for what the next day would look like, and if we’d get to go visit all the sites we wanted to.

To see the pictures that go with this post visit Family Vacation 2011 Pictures- Part 3.

Family Vacation 2011 Pictures- Part 2

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011

Here are the pictures that go with the Family Vacation 2011- Part 2 post.


Our tired travel companions.


Eden admiring the beauty around her. (Grand Teton NP, Lakeshore Trail near Colter Bay’s Visitor’s Center)


This is what she was looking at. It was breath-taking.


Capture the moment on film…I mean on a memory chip, and now a blog.


A small field of flowers we went through on the hike.


The obligatory picture in front of the sign.


The second park of the day. (We spent 3 full days at Yellowstone though.)


The view from our campsite at Bridge Bay inside of Yellowstone. That is Yellowstone Lake.


Some pretty purple flowers by our camp site. (Picture taken by Eden)


Give a little girl a camera and there will be at least one self portrait.

Family Vacation 2011- Part 2

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011

After we left Rawlin in Logan, Utah we started the long drive to Grand Teton National Park near Jackson, Wyoming. We were hoping to get a camp site for that night, but since you can’t make reservations, I was a little concerned that we’d be left sleeping in our car. (I had tried to convince Jon that we should book a hotel, but Jackson, WY is one of the most expensive towns to sleep in.)

It was overcast so I’m not sure when we finally reached Jackson on Sunday, July 10th. We drove past the mountain range and drove for what seemed liked miles and still could not find the turn out to head towards the campground Jon thought we should stay at. We decided to turn back and ask for directions at the Visitors Center, but daylight was fading, and it was getting later. I felt sure that we’d be sleeping in our car that night. We got directions and information that the camps had filled up at 8 pm the previous night. It was just a little after 7 pm, so we were pushing our luck. We got back on the road, and realized we had turned around only a few miles short of our turn off. We reached the ranger station and were given the last spot at Colter Bay Campground, it was a little before 8 pm. We set up camp with mosquitoes swarming. It was not fun, especially for this desert girl. We got things ready and settled down for the night. There were about 10 of us in the tent that night, four Blakes and at least 6 mosquitoes.

The morning was cold, but beautiful. We made pancakes for breakfast, and packed up camp to go exploring. The Colter Bay Visitors center had an interesting exhibit on some Indian artifacts that had been part of a private collection. We also took a hike on the Lakeshore trail around a bay of Jackson Lake. It was beautiful, especially as we hiked near the shore. I loved seeing the lake meet the mountains and forests on the other side, something I’d never seen in person.

After a quick lunch we started our drive towards Yellowstone. We wanted plenty of time to set up and get ready for camp that night.

We stopped for the traditional picture by the national park signs as we left Teton and as we entered Yellowstone. While taking the one at Yellowstone an Oriental couple who was leaving, from taking their own picture in front of the sign, pulled back in and offered to take a family picture so we could have everyone in it.

We had reservations for four nights at Yellowstone, July 11-15th. We were able to get an awesome site within our camp which allowed us some privacy, lots of space to explore and a view of Yellowstone lake. If there was a way to reserve a specific site, I’d stay at Bridge Bay Campground in spot F 266. Many of the sites have no shade and you’re just right next to everyone, but this area had forest, and in our case we had a creek with fallen logs to walk on and places to explore.

We set up camp and enjoyed a meal that night. After eating we cleaned everything and packed all our gear into our car. We made sure to have nothing in our tent that would attract a bear or any sort of wildlife, but especially a bear. So each night we’d get ready for bed and Jon would take our jackets and clothes to the car. Then in the morning he’d bring me my jacket and I’d get the clothes for the girls and I for the day. Fortunately, we never had a bear near our camp, which is exactly how I wanted it.

I think it was a little rainy this night so we went to bed early and prepared for the next day.

Visit Family Vacation 2011 Pictures- Part 2 to see the pictures that go with this post.

Family Vacation 2011 Pictures- Part 1

Monday, July 25th, 2011

To read the long entry that goes along with these pictures visit this post.

You can click on all the pictures to see a larger version.
Many of the beautiful landscapes were just to beautiful to keep at the smaller image size that I usually post.


What we saw at the end of our little hike.


The girls and I at the end of the hike.


Our official picture by the sign for Zion National Park.


Sunset on a mountain of Zion.


Ice cream is meant to be worn as well as eaten.


The classic cars at our hotel in Cedar.


My Great Aunt Margaret’s grave. My mother was named after her, my grandmother’s sister.


Lilah being silly.


Apparently she gets it from her mom.


The girls drawing pictures of Lake Utah, which was right by our hotel in Orem. They were also rolling down this hill a little earlier, don’t let their cute smiles fool you into thinking they’re always this sweet and demur.


DeEtte’s youngest daughter, Drea. (Pronounced Dray-uh.) There’s just something about messy faces.


Jonathan, Rawlin, Eden and Lilah.

Family vacation 2011- Part 1

Sunday, July 24th, 2011

Our trip began a little late on Friday, July 9th. Jon really wanted to see Zion National Park on our way through Utah, and we did, but with packing so much stuff, for a two week trip that had 6 days of camping within the first 8, it was hard to leave as early as we would have liked.

The day was humid as we got to Springdale, Utah and parked. We rode the city shuttle to Zion and then walked around a bit and finally decided to hike a short archaeological trail that was somewhere by the visitor’s center, we just couldn’t find it till a ranger kindly pointed us in the right direction. We did get a nice tour of the river and camping sites. After the trail we rode the shuttle around the park. It was an easy ride with a couple stops. Mostly we planned what might be fun to do on a longer trip to Zion, somewhere in the future. The girls seemed to enjoy sitting and looking around. It was an easy start to our long trip.

We drove to Cedar City, Utah that night and rested. There was some classic car club staying at our hotel the same night and Eden thought we should add classic cars to our slug bug game. Jon and I are are the only ones who actually “slug” each other, we mostly play for points, that we easily loose track of. Little did we know how many classic cars we would see on the trip.

On Saturday, July 10th, we headed to Monroe, Utah to attend a family reunion for my mother’s family. We got there a little late, and forgot to bring a side dish, but hey we were there. Monroe is where my mother’s parents lived when first married, so we drove around the town with my Uncle Bud as he told us about the different houses. One had been turned into a motel and was up for sale. (The owner had turned it into a bed and breakfast, just without the breakfast and for a lot more than what most would pay to stay in a small town like Monroe.) My cousin Harmony had started to talk with a care taker when she was taking some pictures of it, so we actually went on a tour of the house, which was greatly changed with the hotel renovations. We then visited the cemetery, which had some family buried in it, including the aunt my mother was named after. Eventually we said goodbye to what family was left and headed off into the sunset to Orem Utah, where we would stay that night.

Sunday, July 10th, we left bright and early, though not quite early enough. (I’m seeing a trend here, are you?) We decided to cram in a couple visits on our way to Wyoming, and so we visited Jon’s cousin DeEtte, and her family. They had called while we were out of town for Memorial Day, and Jon really wanted to see them. It was a very short visit, just an hour long, but it was so nice to see her and her family. The last time we saw them, we each had only one little girl. Now we have two and they have four! Sadly we only got a picture of the youngest, and it was because she was so dang cute with Nutella on her face from her delicious crepe.

We left DeEtte to go visit Rawlin and Shauntae in Logan, Utah. Sadly, Shauntae was sick, so we only saw Rawlin, but surprisingly, one of Jon’s cousins was there with his family visiting Rawlin when we showed up. Sean and his wife Shauna with 3 or 4 kids. (I don’t remember how many they have.) They left shortly after we got there and we visited for about an hour more. After our visit we hit the road yet again. This time our destination would be close to Jackson, Wyoming.

It was so exciting to be on the road visiting these new places and seeing our wonderful national parks. Seeing family along the way was just the beginning to our wonderful trip. The visits were far to short, so we discussed ways we might be able to see more of our extended family, since reunions no longer take place for Jonathan’s side of the family.

My heart ached to leave each love one after such a short visit so I hope to see them again soon.

To see the pictures that go with this blog post click on Family Vacation Pictures 2011- Part 1.

15 days

Sunday, July 24th, 2011

15 days, that’s how long our vacation was. The time flew and we did some amazing things, all of which I will blog about later, but I wanted to note 15 things I learned on our vacation to 4 national parks, with a national monument thrown in to mix it up.

1. I do not like “wild caves.” I knew I wouldn’t like squeezing into tight spaces, so I skipped the first one, but going into the dark abyss of the second cave was too much for me. I shed a few tears as I emerged to the surface alone, and my family continued on their journey into the unknown.

2. Wading through a stream in Montana, made from melting snowfall, is seriously cold and pebbles hurt your feet. Trying to make an eight year old go faster while crossing the fast current of a stream that leads to a lake just 20 feet away, makes your feet even colder.

3. Sleeping with the rain fly off so you can see the stars is fun.

4. Mosquitoes love people from the desert and little girl’s heads and faces.

5. Starting a fire is harder than you think.

6. Eight year olds are attracted to mud, or mud is attracted to eight year olds, not sure which.

7. Taking a hike and having it start to rain, then hail, is a great adventure for an eight year old. The girls especially liked getting hot chocolate afterwards.

8. Nearly six year olds love drawing pictures of lakes, and will say, “that’s so beautiful,” about nearly everything they see.

9. Husbands are great for setting up and taking down tents.

10. Eight year olds are great at fetching water.

11. Nearly six year olds are great at helping to rinse dishes.

12. If you give a little girl a camera, there will be at least one self portrait.

13. Oatmeal really is the easiest camping breakfast.

14. Ice cream cones are really expensive at national parks.

15. I am able to camp for 5 nights in a row and take only one shower and survive. It may not be pretty and a hat may be involved for most of the time.

Lilah Turns Eight!

Tuesday, July 5th, 2011

This year Lilah turned eight. I’m still in denial about her being that old, I’m pretty sure she was just a toddler yesterday, but I guess the calendar doesn’t lie.

It was her turn for a low key party or gathering this year. We decided to do some swimming with her friend Britta, have a picnic lunch with some cake, then head home to get ready for the opening night of the play.

Sam’s neighbors are living away from their house, so they asked them if they would watch the pool for them and keep it full and in exchange, they could use it. (They still have a pool person coming by.) They said we could come over and swim, so we did! We also had the picnic lunch in Sam’s backyard. It was a fun a little gathering. Lilah chose bagels with strawberry cream cheese, watermelon, chips and lemonade, since everyone loves lemonade on a hot summer day.

I didn’t get many pictures of us at the pool, or of the day in general, so this is what I have.


A very long Eden on her daddy. (I’m also in denial about her getting so big.)



Matilda, she was just coming back from stealing more grapes.



Lilah was there, and she swam with noodles and stayed closed to the edge of the pool. (Sadly our swim teacher was doing lessons while the play was going, so we missed them this year.)



Britta and Lilah like to stay close to one another.



Like I said before, they stay close to one another.



Cake! We sang to Lilah in the play house, because it was too windy in the yard.



Due to time we came home to open presents.

We also too a quick trip to Pine Valley for Lilah’s birthday. I didn’t take any pictures though. Really, it was the only 24 hours we could get away, and Lilah said she wanted to enjoy the fresh air for her birthday, so we did.

June Highlights

Tuesday, July 5th, 2011

June highlights are a little sparse. We were super busy and I was not able to keep very good notes.


“Where’s that damn c?” Then me having the “it’s not polite to use swear words” talk with you.

Making play cities for Sleepy to crawl around in. Not fun for this mama to see the chaos, but fun for you.

Turning eight! I can’t believe how old you are!

Helping to clean on Father’s Day, because it was the one day we were home. “Maybe we should make it a tradition to clean on Father’s and Mother’s Day every year!”

Playing with my zebra tail every.single.night, even though I told you not to.


A little boy from the play befriended you. He always seemed to want to sit by you and I even found you two playing in a little part of the hallway of the theater. You two were suppose to be in the green room.

After you had shots you told me you were able to limp better, since your leg hurt. (You had to limp on and look injured for one scene.) Too cute.

Falling off the 4 foot platform during the last scene of the play with only 2 performances left. You got back up and climbed up the stairs and waited till the scene was over. Everyone was so worried about you, and you were alright, for the most part, but did not like all the attention it got you.


Not wanting me to dye my hair since you love my natural hair color. Looking at me skeptically with my dark hair that had a slightly purple hue to it.

Being so patient while I did the play this year, and every year really. So happy your love language is not gifts, since I really dropped the ball this year on Father’s Day.

Bringing us all flowers on closing night, and then taking the girls home for me so I could go enjoy time with the cast after breakdown.

Trying to be so organized with your super busy wife. Hopefully I can get everything done that is necessary.