Sunday, June 23, 2013

The Peaks and Valleys of the Tetons Part 3 — Final Entry

OK, if you haven't read the previous 2, you really should read them so you can catch up. Besides, it isn't fair to all those who have been waiting all week to read the final chapter of our exciting Teton's trip!

So read the previous installments here and here.

Our last day...

By our last day we had learned a lot.

We didn't plan any hikes.




We were just going to drive.



Take pictures.

Use the potty.


You know, the stuff that is acceptable.

But we were still going to spend time in the Tetons before we had to be home. The good part was that we now had a final destination that they really wanted to get to back at home and that was Friday's Kids! (It's a volunteer respite program where people come take care of our children for 3 and half hours while we go out on a date!) And, believe me, we were excited about it too!

The only place we wanted to get to in the Tetons on our last day is a place called Mormon Row.


Cool huh!

Mormons are everywhere!


So there was a settlement of Mormon's up until the 1950's when the area they were in was finally bought up to be part of the National Park. The National Park left the old barns and houses as a relic and reminder of what was there. Not many people know about it, yet millions and millions of people have photographed this barn and millions have seen it's likeness. It's a Mormon barn... so if you didn't think you liked Mormons, but you liked any of these photos (or you like my blog), well there you have it, Mormons aren't so bad. Ha!

I'll show you in a second the shot I took... of course I wanted in on the action.

So after packing up everything into the car and informing the kids that we were done with the hotel and the pool and going to Mormon Row we headed out preparing for the worst.


Not too bad.

Only a few whimperings and hair-pullings so either they were still to tired or we had done something right this morning.

The way to Mormon Row took us through a different way in the Tetons we hadn't seen before and was actually really fun to see. As we came on the back roads we were so excited to spot a buffalo WAAAAAAAAYYYYYY out there so Brother and I tromped out into the fields to see if we could get a little closer and get good shot of our first buffalo sighting of the trip.

Brother was so excited he was giggling the entire time, and you really need to hear his giggle to get the full effect of how much joy this moment brought. You kind of have to picture the old Disney's Goofy and his laugh... it's kind of like that without the hiccup at the end. Ah, I love it!

He was taking pictures with his iPod.

I was taking pictures with my camera.

And this is what I got:

Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! I did tell you it was really far away, right? I can only imagine what it looked like in Brother's iPod!

But, it only get's better...

After we all got our cameras and binoculars put away and drove the next 50 meters to the first house we saw on the Mormon Row road the kids started bouncing up and down in the back seat screaming, "Buffalo!"

I look and there was a whole herd with calves!

OK, OK, so it still isn't all that cool, but it was a little more majestic looking than the buffalo-ant up there... besides, Brother was giggling with even more excitement this time! So cute... and Sister, well, Sister was beyond excited! She was doing the hands to her mouth, smiling from ear to ear, jumping up and down, spinning in circles, grabbing my shirt, squealing, giggling happy dance. If you've ever seen Sister happy, you know exactly what I'm talking about.

Believe me.

This was welcome.

This was such a beautiful and welcomed sight.

After two days of her being miserable, we were finally seeing her happy without a swimsuit.

Mormon Row was already a success!

So after enjoying the herd of buffalo we realized that the house we were next to had actually been upkept and lived in. A man was outside working on a garden. At first I thought that he might have been a park ranger and was there just to help add to the atmosphere of Mormon Row for the park. Turns out that his grandfather owned the home back in the 1950's and was the only one to hold out and didn't sell out his property to the National Park. So this man and his family run it and take care of it. But they do rent out cabins on their property. Pretty cool. It was fun talking to him and I was able to get some fun shots of Brother and Sister on the awesome fence in front of their house.

This picture right here, reminds me of one of my Grandpa Fred where he has his one leg up on a fence looking out over something and it just made me chuckle seeing Sister this way so I had to take a picture. Only family will get it the resemblance, but I do hope you all will still enjoy it.

After we decided it was time we should let the man of the house get back to work we decided we would try our hand at getting pictures of the "famous" barn. There was a line of people taking photos. I wasn't that desperate to get one so I just stood where there was a spot and shot. My photographers in training were right there with me... wait... aw... I thought for sure they would be... but I guess they remembered their iPods had games on them. Oh well, it gave Marc a second to come out and take a few with me. This is the one I chose to share.

By the time I had taken this shot the children were restless. You know what I mean by this now, right? Pulling hair, kissing each other, copying each other, you know, the norm... We wanted to see the last little site on Mormon Row so Marc and split forces after we pulled up to the next spot. He sat in the car with Brother and Baby while the were perfectly entertained on their iPods while I took the excitable Sister to a cool new spot. This homestead still had the sheds, barn, house and even...

                                 ...the outhouse!!!

Mom, I took this one for you!

I tried to get Sister to pose in it for me, I mean it was only fitting considering the experiences of the entire trip! It wigged her out though... me taking a picture of her sitting on a toilet... at least I've taught her something. (smile)

I think maybe I'll hang the barn picture in our bedroom and the outhouse picture in our bathroom... hmmm...

She had fun checking out everything on that old property but especially got a kick out the little critters running around but got mad at them for following his shadow everywhere.

She did catch one in her shadow though.

Sister loved looking around at everything that was there so when it came time for Marc's turn to go tour around she wanted to go back with him, because in Brother's words, "This was LAME! (and) BORING!"

Baby just sat happily in her carseat playing on her iPod.

Marc's tour was short-lived as I hear him coming back with a crying Sister. She had twisted her ankle in a hole. I'm guessing it was one of those potgut holes. Anyway, she was not happy, therefor it would not be long before she had to go potty. I was beginning to learn that not happy, or not on routine, or not getting her way means she will need to pee.


Here we go again.

At this point we just keep reminding the kids, just one more stop and then we are going to be heading home to go to Friday's Kids. Just one more stop.





Saved by the Buffalo!

These Buffalo were a lot closer than the others. Thank goodness. They were a big help.

I had to share this picture because I call this one the "Happy Buffalo." The blade of grass is place just right...

"OK," Sister says, "Let's go home now."

I calmly try to inform Sister in the best way I know how, "That was just a stop to take a picture. We are still going to go to Colter Bay. We have not made it to Colter Bay yet," what in the world was I thinking not putting together a Teton National Park picture schedule for this trip by printing off the map or something? I was so unprepared! What was I thinking? "Remember, we went to Mormon Row, then we are going to Colter Bay."


And so it begins.

Heaven forbid that the happiness last too long.

Marc and tried to just ignore it but our nerves we starting to fringe out.

Do you even know what it means to have your nerves fringe out?

Neither do I.

But, I am sure that is what they did.

We really, really, really, really, really, wanted to make it to Colter Bay.

We didn't know quite how close we were when we hit some construction traffic.

You know the kind where they stick you into one lane and you're on the waiting end of the lane and you have no idea how long of a wait it will be.

Ya, well, picture that wait with your nerves fringed out, your kids freaking out, and not enough sedatives to put anyone at ease...

Anyway, luckily, the wait was not long and it just so happened that the end of the construction was right at the turn off for Colter Bay.

Hallelujah!!! (You have to sing it just like the angels would for the full effect.)

We pull into the parking lot and find a spot to walk down by the rocky beach and found our spot of heaven, wishing we would have found it 2 days ago instead of 30 minutes before we were having to leave back for home. We soaked in all we could, literally.

Baby and Sister got right into the water, shoes and all. Baby eventually just abandoned all but diaper and shoes (the rocks we a bit tough). I didn't want to stop taking photos. Marc and I could have sat and listened to the small waves lap up at the rocky beach for hours while staring at the majestic mountains.

It. Was. Magnificent.

Brother didn't really think so.

He sat in the car.

He was the only party pooper.


It does not matter if he has special needs or not. He is still a 13-year-old.

Heaven help me!

This is what my teenager missed out on for our last stop on the trip:

This tree stump was so cool how it matched the shape of the mountain I had to take a shot of it.

Her shoes were soaking but at least we were keeping her clothes dry

Can you see me and Baby in his sunglasses

Just one of my favorite pictures from the day

But this one is my most favorite. This is why I enjoy photography... these moments.

Still working on scenery shots for Marc...

Marc took these next few on his iPhone

This one is on my iPhone 

This is Baby's and Sister's shoes drying on the dash of the car on the way home because we are going straight from vacation to Friday's kids with no stop for shoes at home in between.

So what did I learn from this whole "family vacation" thing?

The small things that are good things seem greater when you have really hard times. You laugh harder after you've cried. You treasure moments of joy after hours of heartache. You giggle at things that may have annoyed you before. Let yourself cry about it now and then you can feel free to laugh about it later when the feelings aren't so raw. Life really is funny.

I remember years ago when Kelsey was still living with me and I was making spaghetti and I took the lid off the garlic salt thinking it was the screw top lid and not the flip-top kind. I dumped almost an entire cup of garlic salt into my spaghetti sauce. She began laughing. I snapped at her, "Stop laughing. I've had a rough day. I know it will be funny later, but I just can't laugh at it now. Right now I'm upset. Just let me be mad and don't expect me to laugh!" I still feel bad to this day that I got mad at her and couldn't laugh along with her. But, I do hope she now understands.

If anyone had laughed at me or my kids those 3 days I would have fallen to pieces.

If people laugh WITH me now I love it.

I just told a friend earlier that I don't think I should go through things like this and then not be able to share it for people to laugh about it and, by dang, be grateful it wasn't them, or, bless their hearts, remember when they've been through it.

I do hope, though, that we all remember to laugh. Even if it's not now, then, later.

Just like Sister taught us when she thought we weren't going the right way to the hotly-el, "Oh, Ha ha! My bad! You were right! Ha!"

I love her laugh, her humility, and her contagious happiness. She is my hardest trial and my greatest joy. Learn from Sister and be humble enough to laugh about what you have been through that you can laugh and move on and not blame anyone for it and instead just smile and move forward.

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