Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Peaks and Valleys of the Tetons Part 1

Family vacations.

Whoever decided to call them family vacations either have perfect children or have started going on family vacations when their children were over 20.

A family vacation is NOT a vacation.

It is work in progress meant to create memories.


Let me rephrase that.

It is a lot of work that creates memories that hopefully only the good ones are the ones that stand out over the years.

So what we did at the Tetons this last weekend is going to be called our Memories at the Tetons, because it, by no means of the word was a vacation!

Let me 'splain:

We had so much fun last year with our friends in the Grand Teton National Park last year that we have been longing to go back. We decided that our kids should have the same opportunity. They love camping and hiking and thought this would be a great fit for them and thought we would give it a try.

To go camping we have to take our Surburban in order to pack everything our family needs for camping. Our Suburban gets 7-12 miles to the gallon and at $3.60 - $4.00 per gallon, travelling 6 hours to the Grand Teton National Park ends up being less cost effective than staying at a cheap hotel in Jackson.

Our kids like hotels.

Our kids like hotels with swimming pools.

The motel we found for cheap just happened to have a swimming pool.

The motel was in Jackson Hole.

I figured the pool would be cold.

But, we would be hiking most of the time, so, oh well.

At 12:30 we leave from our house.

Our goal was 10:00.

We started off fairly well until about 20 minutes in as I had to get after Brother for the 20th time to stop hugging and kissing Sister so that she would stop hitting him in order for Baby to stop pulling Sister's hair because it was in her line of ... well... it was there... I had realized that I had forgotten to give both Brother and Baby their medications.



How, on earth, could I forget something as important as that? you ask.




Maybe it was because I was so worried about making sure I didn't forget any of the medications, supplementations or any other -ations I had to bring for the rest of the trip. I don't know. I just forgot.

I forget things.

I just do.


Trust me.

I regretted it.

It was too late to give it to him or her at that point so we just had to make it through.

I don't think there are too many parents out there who have had to yell to the back seat, "Stop kissing your sister!" "Stop hugging your sister!" Apparently he is very cuddly without meds. Go figure!

The whole way there, about every 3 - 5 minutes Sister would ask, "Where's our mountain?" (She was asking where Mt. Timpanogos was.) Or she would ask "Where's the Mountains with our hotay-el?" That's how she says hotel -- hotay-el. It's the best. I love to hear her say it. She says it that way every time, with a southern drawl.

After about 2 hours the "Where's our mountain?" was exchanged every few times to "I need to go potty."

Sister is not a patient person.

At all.

And I mean.

NO patience.



Absolutely zero.

So when she has to go potty it's not, wait till we get to a gas station kind of thing, it's now, no matter where on the road, grassy, gravelly, curvy, mountainous, exposed, whatever, she's got to go NOW!


The car comes to a stop as soon as it is safely possible and she and I assume the position... yes, she and I. She can't assume the position by herself. That would take coordination she just does not possess. So it goes a little like this. Marc pulls to my side of the road I open my door and we open her door, with both doors open we shield her from the oncoming and passing cars. I squat with her upper body and legs cradled in my arms like she is sitting in a giant toilet bowl and sunk in too far... I mean, neither one of us want to get peed on you know. Guys, seriously, do you realize how lucky you truly are?

The first few times we really did try to get her to wait. We tried to talk some sense into her.

We learned our lesson.

It didn't matter if she had gone 3 minutes before. If she needed to go. She had to go. There was no argument. I think the longest stretch we went without stopping for our infamous double squat at the side of the road was about 45 minutes. I think she has a nervous bladder...

We were able to talk some sense into her when we got into town though, and explained to her that you can not just pee on the side of the road when there are sidewalks and people. Thankfully she understood.

Finally we got to the hotay-el at about 5:45. We got everything unpacked into our tiny little room (and I do mean tiny, just enough room to move and sleep). We decided with what time we had left we should take the kids to see the awesome and famous Jackson Hole. We thought, if anything, they would enjoy the famous antler arches. We had to at least get pictures by the antler arches.

We should have taken the warning signs when the kids begged to go to the hotay-el pool instead of Jackson Hole but we had a plan.

A plan everyone.

Do you understand we had a plan?

A plan to have a family vacation?

So we moved forward with the plan to have fun taking pictures like these that we did with our friends last year because it would be fun to say, "Hey, we did this with our kids too. Look how fun it was!"

Exhibit 1)

Exhibit 2)    

Exhibit 3)   

Just the drive there was sad. The weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth had already ensued. I have no idea why we thought the antler arch would even be appealing. I guess we were just reaching for anything that would make them happy at that point.

We tried for at least 4 minutes to get them all in front of the arch to get a picture. This was as successful as we got with Marc and the kids in front of the arch. (refer to Exhibit 1 for last years photo with friends)

Yep. But then I took some other ones and they look better...

Ah. Not posing. Life is better.

I told our friend Thomas that we would send pictures of our kids and us in the funny hats at this awesome store we went to last year. On our way in I remembered kissing the elk on the way in and Baby obliged for that picture a little hesitantly but happily (refer to exhibit 2 for comparison)

But then we walked into the store where the hats were and we abruptly realized how many breakable things there were in there that we never noticed before! LOTS of breakable items. Everywhere.

Quickly deter all their attention to the giant stuffed grizzly bear in the center of the entry way.


refer to exhibit 3 for the closest thing we got to an animal hat... don't you see the one Marc is wearing?


Where's Sister?

Baby takes off.

Marc follows her.


Where did she go?

Brother where are you?



Oh, OK, Brother there you are. Stay here.

Sister oh there you are jumping up and down with excitement. I must take a picture of that because it is funny!

Then I hear a scream coming from the front of the store. There is no mistake it is Brother's. My hear drops thinking he has broken something or has cut himself on the claws of Cecilia (he named the grizzly at the front of the store).


He was just playing.

He was pretending with the stuffed wolf that was in front of the bear.

The wolf was "biting" his hand.

I had to take a picture.

After my heart went back down to my chest I did take a picture.

After one too many adventure accrued in that store Marc and I just hadn't had enough (I say that very sarcastically) so we decided to try another store. We went into a sports store that Marc wanted to check out. I, stupidly, said, "go ahead and check it out Marc I'll just be with the kids while you look around," psshhh! Man, do I never learn my lesson? Brother takes off to who knows where somewhere off in the back of the store and I am stick with the girls at the front of the store because they have taken an interest in the owners two dogs that are friendly as can be at the front of the store. The girls won't leave them alone. In fact, Baby loves them so much she decides she should sit on one of them. As she is saddling up and the owner is desperately trying to signal to the "dumb" mother to get her overly curious daughter of of his precious pet, Sister starts to run towards the back of the store where there are some men and I start freaking out and don't know which girl to save first. So, with a mumbled version of an apology I whisk Baby off the dog before she is in full seat and run off to grab Sister. In finding Sister I realize where Brother is and demand for him to stay with me and I think he sensed the desperation in my voice and came immediately.

Marc was still browsing. The kids were still restless and I noticed there were stairs.


Another level of stuff for them to look at to keep them busy!

We ascend the stairs and as my eyes get high enough to peak over the railing I see walls of rifles and hands guns and ammunition...

Uh no...

I think we take next floor...

I tried to sweep up the girls as soon as possible, but as soon as I had the thought, they were already back behind the sales counter with the sales guy! Oh, goodness! My girls just look for trouble! It has been confirmed!

In order to make this long story shorter I will write up the rest of this Jackons Hole experience in a quick way.

Leave store.

Go to another one.


My kids loved it, though! We didn't because it was a mess of the random stuff I have ever seen.

We left that store.

Went to cross the street.

Sister was in a hurry and almost got hit by a car at the light because she tried to cross where she shouldn't

Then we went to a book store where I read a couple of stories to the kids and it was actually peaceful for , at least 45 minutes. It was so nice. But at soon as we were leaving Sister fell apart because she couldn't buy her book she'd been reading. She exclaimed, "Mom! I will NEVER see this book again!!!!!!!"

Dramatic and funny all at the same time.

We were ready to poke ourselves with a fork and say were were done when we spotted a little hole in the wall ice cream stand and we got ice cream. In fact, Brother even ate ice cream. He never eats ice cream but the server was a cute, sweet girl from Chezk. I have never seen him eat Huckleberry ice cream while looking dreamily across the counter.

OK, kids with ice cream.

Parents frazzled to the core. Hearts softened with ice cream. Time for a swim at the pool.

Let's go get in the car.

And the weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth begins.

Nothing about putting our kids right next to each other in a cramped car says "happy" when it is an "out of routine" day.

Sister began wailing that Daddy had missed our hotay-el. She would not believe us that we had not even come to it yet. We kept telling her that we were still getting there. I finally explained to her, "OK, you will know we are at our hotel when you see a blue sign with a red 6." This calmed her down a bit and she got SO excited when we saw it.

Marc and I were so toast when we got back to the room that neither one of us were in the mood to go swimming in a cold pool on a cool night in Jackson with ornery kids. Baby seemed content with her iPod so after I decided that I was the less ornery of the two of us I would go with Brother and Sister to the pool while Marc hung back with Baby. Tee hee!

I reluctantly got into my swimsuit knowing that I had gotten the bad end of the deal. As I came out in my swimsuit Baby got all excited and now wanted her swimsuit on too.


Now I was going to have 3 kids by myself in a cold pool, on cool night.

I told Marc I would take the older two and he could bring Baby down when she was ready.

I walked to the pool.

Brother galloped.

Sister bounced.

My mood began to lighten.

They were so happy.

They were so glad to be doing what they knew would happen at a hotay-el.

There was one couple there.

Brother and Sister were in there already and there was no squealing or shivering, just smiling.


I got in.




I picked the long straw!!!

This was heavenly!

After squatting, getting car sick from turning around to break up fights in car all day long, lugging around a wiggling, kicking, writhing Baby, chasing a dodging Sister and mind-warring a teenager all day, this was exactly what I needed. Warm, relaxing water.

When Marc brought out Baby I told him he might want to try the water and come out. He did and I saw the smile on his face. It wasn't long before he joined us. By then the other couple had gone in and the 5 of us had the pool to ourselves.

We had a blast. We were laughing and playing. Splashing and swimming. Marc started playing shark with the kids and they were squealing with delight when he would catch them. It was like the scenes from a family vacation movie! It was ideal.

We went in and got ready for bed. I went and got pizza. The girls went to sleep. Marc and Brother snarfed it and Brother even shared his half eaten piece with me.

I just knew that the next day was going to be great...

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