Posted by: Heather | September 18, 2009

We’re Back

Well, we rolled back into the yard at about midnight last night. After about 1600 miles of driving. I’m sure photos of our vacation will follow, either here or on Heather’s blog. Some highlights:

We left about 9pm Monday and I drove all night so we could let the ones who don’t travel well sleep. We arrived at the north side of Yellowstone Park at about 6am local time. At about 7am we started through the park. I’m sure we will get into more detail about the park later. At about 1pm, I told Heather that I thought we should cut our drive short and start heading for the hotel, as I was about out of steam. We stopped and had a picnic lunch, and Heather suggested that I take a nap and she drive a while. Well, I got in the back seat with the kids and slept for a few minutes while everybody ate. Feeling temporarily refreshed, I began to watch out the window and enjoy the scenery with Annika. After our next stop, as we were getting in the suburban, Annika asked me if I would sit in back with her again. She said it was fun to have me back with the kids. Yes, it was fun to be back with the kids. I sat with her for the next leg of the trip. It’s nice when your kids enjoy you, and you enjoy them.

The next stop was a waterfall. There was about a 1/8 mile hike to the overlook. It was time to let Ruby walk around a bit, so I stayed at the parking lot with Tobey and Ruby while Heather took the rest of the kids to see. After she came back, Tobey and I went up to see. Tobey is pretty afraid of heights, and the returning kids had been pretty dramatic in their excitement about how FAR DOWN the view was, so I wasn’t sure how well this was going to work. We took our time and I just stayed close to her at her pace. This overlook was right at the falls, and the barrier was made of rock, so you couldn’t see anything without getting right up to the wall and looking over. When our turn came, Tobey said she didn’t want to. I told her that was alright, but I wanted to see too, so if she would hold my hand she could stand where she was comfortable and I would look over. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw her creep over to the wall, and sneak a peek, and pull back. Then she crept close again and looked a little longer and pulled back again. Then she took a deep breath and looked over the wall until I was done. It was neat to watch her overcome her fear on her own. Everyone was there to see the waterfall, but what I saw was better. I watched Tobey be brave. One of those moments you can’t stage or buy; you just have to be there.

On Wednesday, we headed back through the park to see some of the things we missed before starting our return trip. On one of the hikes we were looking at mud pits, hot springs, and geyser or two. It was out in the open, and the sun was getting pretty hot. As the two of us (bringing up the rear) were walking, we came to a small spot of shade from a scraggly little lodge pole pine. There couldn’t have been a 4′ circle of shade on the walk. Annika said, “Dad, let’s take a break in the shade!” and stopped for all of maybe 15 seconds. “That’s good” then walked on. It was so “Annika” she is a little ball of fire, and 15 seconds is a long rest for her. I loved it!

The next day we visited Big Hole Battlefield. This was a melancholy stop. I may spend more time on this later, not sure. We didn’t have enough energy to take both hikes, so we went out to the camp site, where the Nez Perce had been the morning of the attack. A few years ago, the Nez Perce set up lodge poles for tee pees as a memorial to the fallen. They are set up where the camp had been at the time. I don’t know how accurate the placing of these pole structures are, some are supposed to be pretty accurate. When we came to the one set up to commemorate Chief Joseph, I was moved pretty deeply. This was the place where he stepped up and began to lead. In the middle of tragedy, pain, and suffering. He stepped in the gap and cared for the weak. Not sure how much you know about him, I don’t know much at this point, but I do know that as far as military minds go he is respected among the greatest. After this battle, the Nez Perce eluded the cavalry under his leadership for 4 months in the high plains of Montana. He led a band with women and children over 1700 miles and kept them from mounted soldiers. A pretty impressive thing. But what moved me was standing there out on the plain realizing that in the middle of this atrocity was when he stepped up and led. He did so as a servant of his people, and it was in an extremely difficult time. In less than 5 months of extreme struggle, he carved a name out for himself so that even his enemies respected him. Still pondering this one, so it probably seems a bit disjointed, but this was another of my favorite parts of the trip.

Last night as we came through Missoula, we got to meet a fellow blogger. We got a guided tour of Caras Park in Missoula, Montana. What a neat time of fellowship we had! Thank you so much, Gene, for a good time. It was such a pleasure to meet you!

Well, I am sure there will be more to come later.

Craig

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