Wednesday, July 29, 2015

America the Beautiful: Beach Edition

After we drove across the upper West, we flew down to Florida for the annual family week at the beach in Florida, aka "cousin camp" for our boys and my nephews.  Didn't I just say that Montana is the most beautiful place in the world?  Well, if you could combine it with the beaches of north Florida, then it would be simply perfect.

M had an epic time playing with his big cousins.  J spent most of his days snoozing and we all had a great time relaxing on the beautiful porch and visiting with our far-flung family.  Family time is such a blessing.

M and my 4 year old nephew E.  M is his shadow whenever we get together!

I have no idea how people get wiggly kids to line up and all look at the camera with a nice, normal smile.  This was the best we could do....=)

Our view of beautiful St. Augustine Beach!

4 of the 5 boys on the beach. 

D pushed the couches together to make a clean, soft spot for baby J to roll around in.  Of course, the bigger boys took it over for their dogpile.  Needless to say, it quickly became a little bit sandy....

Don't you love the kid-sized rockers that come with the house?!  We did!  We're already looking forward to our next beach trip!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Northwest to Midwest Part 3: Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Theodore Roosevelt National Park was an unexpected delight for me.  D took several trips there as a child and teenager, but this was a first trip for me since I didn't drive through western North Dakota when we initially moved West.  This time, we spent a night there camping, which, of course, was too short, but it was a lot of fun.

Backing up a bit - the drive through eastern Montana had to have been the most remote- and desolate-looking part of our trip.  The landscape was mostly flat and sparsely populated, I was surprised at how uncomfortable it made me because it made me feel like we were really, really isolated!

We also pushed our luck and spent too much time driving from Yellowstone to North Dakota.  Both boys had had it after six hours.  For all future road trips we will be limiting our driving time to no more than six hours a day!

When we finally arrived at TRNP, we spilled out of the 'burb and relished in the cool air while D set up our campsite!!  M basically played "construction vehicles" in the dirt the whole time we were there while I kept my eyes on the bison parked right across the river from our campsite.

I thought I was being sly and not communicating my concern at the proximity of the bison when I asked D "can bison swim?" (I didn't want him to think I was being a wimp, and he said no, btw.)  So imagine my surprise when I looked down the river and saw another bison ford the six-inches-deep water with ease!  He did meander his way down through our campsite, and when we woke up the next morning, he was hanging outside the bathrooms!

The park ranger also casually mentioned to us that they also have "ticks and rattlesnakes in the park."  Luckily, we didn't see any of those during our short stay.  We saw lots of bison, prairie dogs and wild horses.  On our way out of town, we stopped at the Painted Canyon Overlook, which was striking.  This park, while remote, is worth the effort that it takes to get there, and I'm hopeful for future trips there!

From here, we drove across North Dakota to our final stop on our road trip: D's parents' lake cabin in Minnesota.  We saw so many beautiful places that I want to return to again and again!  I think Montana might be the most beautiful place in the world. =)  But for now, I'll settle for all of the Minnesota exploring that we have to do!