Friday, June 14, 2013

The Peaks and Valleys of the Tetons Part 2

If you haven't read the prequel to this entry then you need to go back and read that one before jumping to this one.

Don't worry.

I'll wait.

Go ahead.

I won't start without you.

Start here.

OK, you done?

All right, I left off with..."I just knew that the next day was going to be great..."

That would be this day. Saturday. The day that had such promise and hope for a family vacation to go down in the books as the best family vacation in the history of Fragile X Family Vacations. The National Fragile X Foundation would be knocking at my door for interviews and stories wondering what my secrets were to such a successful family vacation!

Then the kids woke up.

"What we doin' today mom?"

My response, "Remember we talked about our schedule. We're hiking and exploring the Tetons today and then we will come back to the hotel tonight after dinner and go swimming." (Big smile at the end to emphasize our exciting day.)

"NOOOO!" they wailed.

"Nooo!" they retorted.

"Waaahhh!!" they whined.

This was so surprising to both Marc and I as that our kids love hiking. We go on hikes all the time when we are camping.



That's it.

We weren't camping.

We were at a hotel.

We are supposed to swim and watch TV if we're at a hotel.

Well, they are going to have to learn to bend a bit, and today is as good a day as any.

(Knock, knock. Rachael, are you home? You do remember that you have 3 kids with Fragile X Syndrome and they are rigid on routine and belonging-ness. What are you thinking? ... And now dream sequencing back to the real world... Whooosh!)

After about an hour of wrestling everyone into clothes, hairspray, shoes and sunscreen we were all ready for a nice hike. It was no easy task, but we headed off to The Grand Tetons!

Marc and I were trying to hard to keep our spirits up for, not only ourselves and the "prisoners" of the day, but, also, to keep a good attitude for the them that it might rub off a tad.

The drive started off a little rough with the pulling of hair and biting, but once Marc and I decided to be nice to each other... ha ha ha ha... just kidding, of course it was the kids, anyway it only took about 10 minutes to calm them down. After that they were interested by the prospect of sighting animals along alongside the road.

The binoculars helped.

She had a great time. I don't think she cared at all that she couldn't see a thing,
she was just excited that she was using daddy's 'noclars.

  Then we came to the pay station of the Grand Teton National Park.

As soon as we paid, Sister announced that she needed to go potty (smile). I announced to Marc that we needed to stop right there because I thought I may have seen an outhouse right by the pay station.

(You know, because now we were in National Park territory and we didn't want to pee in National Park territory out on the open road where the Park Rangers might get after us or something.)

Sister and I urgently hopped out of the car, briskly walked over to what looked like a ratty old outhouse... it wasn't an outhouse. I don't know what it was. The point was that it was NOT A POTTY. I started to walk back to the car with an urgency. Sister's face was beginning to look angrily worried. A young man popped his out head out of the door that, I am guessing, is like a bunkhouse-type thing, which I am positive has a POTTY!! He asked if he could help me with anything.

"Yessss!!!" my mind hollered.

I had hoped he heard what I yelled in my head and feel our sense of urgency or catch on to Sister's nervous anxiety building into complete melt-down mode.


I told him we were looking for a bathroom.

"There's one at the Taggart Lake trail head 3 miles up the road."

He went back inside.

I REALLY wish I was more bold.

I really do.

I just hope he wasn't looking at what Sister did. I had started heading for the car with defeated and anxious briskness to get back to the car with her when she started her melt down and before I had turned around she already had her shorts and underwear off and was running half naked towards the road in front of the cars that had just paid to get into the park. Crazy girl, half naked, running, screaming!

Remember the day before? When she has to go potty, she has to go NOW!

I caught her.

Dressed her.

Folded her.

Put her in the car.

Told Marc we had 3 miles.

We were on National Park roads now.

We were trying to be respectful and not stop to pee on the side of the roads.

So we were speeding to get to the out house.

Do you see the irony here.

Speeding to legally pee...

I should have just let Sister pee on that forest ranger's door step!

Anyway, so we speed to the Taggart Lake trail head for a rest room.

When we get there a forest ranger is outside with his truck doing some work around the outhouse and park area.

We rush past him.

There is a couple waiting outside the outhouse.

I've learned my lesson.

I need to be bold.

"Do you mind if we sneak ahead of you, she really needs to go, it's sort of an emergency."

They oblige, not very kindly, I must add, but they obliged.

The forest ranger overheard and came to tell us that the person in the outhouse has been in there for a very long time and just wanted to warn us if it was an emergency that it may still be a long wait.

"Well then," I announce to him, "this tree right here, looks like it will work just fine," he tipped his hat and we double squatted behind the tree. It was a very happy double squat reunion. (smile)

We then went back to our car where close by there were picnic tables and we tried to relax a bit from the ordeal of a few minutes before enjoying the view and letting the kids climb around on the tables and enjoy some snacks.

Marc decided since we were here at the trail head we would just go on this hike to Taggart Lake instead of go through the misery of trying to talk the kids into loading up for another hike.

As we were headed past the outhouse at the foot of Taggart Lake Trail head we over heard the forest ranger telling some other people that after the "person" had been in the outhouse for so long he decided to check it and discovered it had been empty and locked from the inside that whole time.



He was laughing.


I wish he had been riding in my car all day.


Wonder if he'd have been laughing.

Of course, I'm laughing now (smile) a lot.

Anyway, back to starting the hike.  It took some convincing, prodding, and dragging, but we started on the trail.

Part way up the beginning of the trail Marc realized he forgot a few things so he headed back quick while I waited with the kids... This is what my kids call waiting... in bear country... so I took a picture...  I don't even know where Brother is... can you tell I am tired. I could tell I had done wrong by taking pictures when Marc came up and started running in panic mode to go grab Baby as if the momma Grizzly was right there. I felt stupid. I really should know better. I just wanted to breath for a minute I guess... I don't know, maybe my mind mind turned off for a moment.

All the chicks gathered and starting on the hike. Don't let this picture fool you though, this hike was packed full,
every second, of whining, complaining, random yells of "lame!" or "stupid!" or "BORING!!!!"
It was truly hated by the two oldest, a truly memorable hike...

This is one of my favorite pictures, not only because it is beautiful, but because I was far enough away for that moment to not have to hear any of the above mentioned complaints...

It was times like this, especially, that I was so glad I had my nice camera with me to capture moments like this when I could get two of Brother's  favorite things in one shot--a bridge in front of a waterfall!

I don't love taking scenery shots. I am still working on that because Marc loves scenery shots so I am working on it for him. But, I definitely know I love taking photos of people, I enjoy the interaction and the expressions of people, so now I need to find the joy in nature.

We found a "happy" rock that the kids were happy about on the trail.
 The kids wanted to turn around so bad. It was only a mile and a half to the lake. We knew they could do it. That was a piece of cake for them. They were complaining the whole time. We were almost there, I just knew it. We were going to do it. We were going to make it.  We were not going to come all this way and not make it to the lake. I wasn't hiking and suffering for nothing! By dang, we were making it to the lake.

We came up over this hill and I thought for sure the lake would be just over the hill. The view was great of the Tetons and it seemed like a great place for a family photo and a great place to take a break so we thought we'd do both.

Getting set up

I needed Brother and Sister to be my models so I knew how to frame the shot. I was surprised they complied... don't ask me how that happened... the funny thing is Marc in the background trying to stop Baby from running any further.
You know, it is great to have a tripod and timer, but with our kids you just HOPE they are looking at the camera. Well, a little blessing for us, was just as we were getting situated for our photo a sweet old couple started to walk by and noticed we were doing our photos and offered to take our pictures, then noticed we had it all set up and just said they would wait until we were done before they walked by so they weren't in our shots. It just got better, they stayed there and did little dances, made faces and sounds so that my kids looked at the camera and I have to say it worked! They were great! It's those tender little mercies that make me smile. It wasn't the best time of day for lighting, but it was the best time of day as far as meeting up with the right people!

After the picture was done and the older couple walked off, Sister took off back down the trail like a cat that just got attacked by a curious toddler. She was screaming and waving her arms like she was made of rubber. Marc darted of to grab her while I put all the camera gear away and kept Brother and Baby close to me.

Once Marc had Sister fairly calm he was able to ask a woman who was returning from Taggart Lake how much further it was to the lake. She informed him, "a little over a half mile."

We were defeated.

There was NO way our kids would last that much longer.

More than that, there was NO way we would last much longer than that with our kids the way they were. We were frazzled and frumpled.

So, we reluctantly headed back down the trail.

Even though we were heading back, Brother and Sister were still not happy. Because, at this point, they were still mad at us for even bringing them on the hike when they could be swimming at the hotay-el pool.

While we waited for Marc and Baby  to catch up (because I did have to chase Sister for a ways because of, yet, another tantrum/melt down) I took a picture of Brother waiting on his rock by the stream. He was too mad to let me take a picture of his face so he had to hold his fan (from cousin Cathy) in front of his face.

Sister didn't want to show me her angry face at first...

Soon, she got over that one... and was able to show me pretty much how she looked on the entire hike, which is even funnier that she is actually smiling in the family picture above.

We are almost at the end of the trail but she does not want to walk with me... Made for a great picture though.

Well, really, it goes without saying that Sister and Brother were VERY disappointed that we were not going back to the hotay-el for swimming yet and we were still trying to sneak in a hike. Marc and I relented on the hike and decided on just sight-seeing and even told Brother and Sister about taking photos with their iPods and that intrigued them. I wish I could download their photos but hate to report that along the way at some point they threw tantrums and decided that, to punish me, they would delete all their new photos. I still need to actually check them to see if they did so, but have not been ambitious enough to do so. 

The good news, Brother was having a lot of fun telling me what he wanted me to take pictures of and he didn't get to delete those. Here are a few:

Do you see the two ants in this one? We didn't even notice they
were there until we looked at the photo later. Brother was pretty excited.

Brother, Sister and I had a lot of fun along the side of the road taking our photos while Marc scoped for animals and looked at the mountains staying near while Baby napped in the car from her long hike.

Marc and I thought that Brother and Sister would enjoy the grandeur of the Jackson Lake Lodge and the view of Mt. Moran from the veranda.

Hmmm. Wrong again.

They were yelling at us saying how ugly it was just because they didn't like the parking lot. Then, to punish us, Sister ran out of the car in front of on coming traffic (luckily VERY slow traffic). Brother kicked a few park signs and car tires on the way in and insulted a door attendant while Sister stuck her tongue out at a few innocent passers by. It was embarrassing to say the least.

We stuck with it, though. We were going to see it through. We knew they would love the giant fire places, and they sure did! Well, at least Brother and Baby were intrigued.

Of course, I think Brother liked it a little too much. He tried to climb inside... Just after this picture I was rushing over to keep him from getting too toasty!

Then we took all the kids out to the veranda.

Now remember, our kids are not really happy at this point. They just aren't, and it's fairly obvious. Most the people on this veranda are quite hoity toity and most couldn't help but to give us a few looks and some even raised some eyebrows. So you can imagine what it was like when Marc, Brother, Baby and I were down on the grass getting set up for another family shot while Sister was still up on the veranda because she refused to come down and then exclaims over the railing down to me over the crowd, "Mom, I gotta go poop!"

I didn't hear her the first time so asked, "What?"

"I gotta go poop Mommy!!!"

As Marc wrestles to keep Baby in his arms/sight, Brother is laying face down on the grass, and I am leaping 3 stairs at a time to get Sister before she says, "POOP!" again in front of these hoity toities.

So I run in with her to the closest bathroom... guess what... it's out of order... run downstairs... there it is! We run in. Sister finds the stall and sits down and I patiently wait in front of her stall.


Not me. Sister.

This is her fake grunt. The grunt noise she makes when there really is nothing there but she thinks she needs to let me know that she isn't just goofing off in the bathroom so she thinks if she grunts it will mask the goofing around.


Then a mom and her 2 girls walk in and find their stalls.

"Gruuuuuuuuuuuunt! Mom it's not coming out. I'm trying!"

By now the mom is out and she and I are laughing.

"Mom? Are you laughing at me? You better not be laughing at me. Are you laughing at me mom?"

I respond, "No, I'm laughing at myself."

Then the other mom responds, "No, I'm laughing at your mom, laughing at herself." Then we both laugh again.

"Mommy, are you laughing at me? Grunnnnt! Mom?"

"It's OK, honey, just relax, take your time, no worries," I say. "You don't need to grunt any more..."

A few minutes later a little girl, no older than 4 years old  comes out of a stall, walks up to me and confidently says, "Don't wowy, I used to be wike dat. I used to be scaude to go poop too. She wio be awwight."

I smiled really big and told her thank you.

After a few more grunts, Sister emerged and informed me that she couldn't poo and, "Oh well, that's OK."

I was worried about what I would see outside after leaving Marc with 2 grumpy FX kids on his own when things were already so bad...

When I came out I could hear Baby crying but couldn't see her or Marc, Brighton was still face down in the grass.

But, dang it, I didn't make it to the darn Taggart Lake, I was getting my family photo at Jackson Lake Lodge!!! Nothing was stopping me!

So everyone get over here, sit down and act like we love each other!


ONE MORE TIME!!!! (We needed the old couple dancing around again.)

Now you know why I will forever love this picture! It is the epitome of family memories, we came, we saw, we conquered! Ha! Ha! And Sister's face is the best! Brother's has "teenager" written all over it!
After that we told the kids we were going back to the hotay-el and that they didn't have to get out of the car again if they didn't want to. So we found a cool spot for Marc and I to have our picture. I thought it was funny that when I was setting up the camera for the shot that the other people were wondering why I was setting up a flash for a shot of the mountain, then I hollered for Marc and one of the guys that had been confusedly watching exclaimed jokingly, "Ah ha, you do know what you're doing!" It made me laugh!

Brother wanted to get in on the photography action. He really was having fun. Dang, I need to check his iPod and see if any pictured were saved...

We saw no bears, but the kids were awfully excited about the antelope we saw on the way back.

On the way to the hotel we stopped for dinner at Wendy's and and stocked up for a HUGE dinner to feed us after a long day of whining and wailing and peeing and pooping and hiking and shooting.

After Wendy's, Sister, all of a sudden, decided that we were not going the right way to get to our hotel. 

"Daddy we need to go to the hotel!"

"We are going to our hotel."

"No we're not! We're going the wrong way!!!"

"We are going the right way. See that mountain right there? Our hotel is right there below that mountain. We are almost there."


This went on for about 5 minutest longer.

Then she saw the blue sign with the red 6.

"Oh. Ha ha! There it is. My bad. Ha ha! Sorry dad. There's the red 6."

We were able to let our twisted insides loosen up enough to laugh about that one.

So while we were in the hotel room happily relieved to be eating dinner I came up with the idea to split up parenting and touring. One parent go to Jackson Hole to hang out for an hour while the other hang back and swim with the kids and then switch.

I was the one to go to Jackson Hole first.

Ah. It was so fun to just be out. I went to 2 museums and watched a street shootout! It was great!

This picture I had to keep because it made me laugh. This old couple saw me by myself and offered to take a picture of me with the statue of Abraham Lincoln. This sweet old man had never used an iPhone. Tee hee! I showed where to keep his fingers on the next shot, it just made me chuckle.
Me and Abe Lincoln
I just took this one of me and Mark Twain on my own, less hassle (smile)
This shootout happens every night at 6pm in Jackson Hole during the summer. It is fun to watch.

When I got back to the hotel the kids were already done with the pool and ready to watch TV. Marc didn't want to go out, but I told him he had to because I did so he went and I took care of the kids and got them in bed. They were completely worn out. They were asleep just before he got home.

Here are some pictures of what Marc saw while he was out:

There must have been a car show going on.

The red car was really cool, especially in front of the iconic Cowboy Bar.

Trying on a cool European hat.

And finally the most peaceful moment of the entire night...

We weren't quite sure what to expect tomorrow for our last day...

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