Monday, December 10, 2012

Halloween in Yellowstone

Ilija was a tiger this year and boy did we have fun!  On Sunday, Ilija's daycare (Little People's) and the local preschool combined to throw a very cool Halloween Fest complete with treats and little versions of carnival games and of course face painting (the photos below are from that).

Then on Tuesday evening Ilija and his Daddy went to the community center in Lower Mammoth to carve pumpkins at the October potluck.  Mommy was at a community meeting for her project that she viewed as productive, but missed the pumpkin carving.  She was more then a little impressed to come home that night to a dark apartment with a glowing (electric candle) jack o lantern on the counter and the rest of the house asleep--three cheers for an awesome Daddy!

On Halloween we picked up the boy a little early from Little People's headed down the hill to Gardiner grabbed a bite at the Two Bit and then started trick or treating.  Ilija did pretty well knocking on doors and getting candy.  He couldn't quite say "trick or treat" so "please" and "thank you" sufficed.  He got really comfortable at a few houses when they were especially nice to him and just walked him and tried to make himself at home.  He got some special treats from our friends Shane and Kiera and our sweet neighbor Pam.  By the time we got home it was dark and there was a mini-herd of bison in our parking lot--the perfect ending to our Halloween adventures in YNP!

Helping out while Mommy and Daddy were on clean-up duty

Looking at the pumpkin he got to decorate

Little tiger eying the games

So many birthdays!

Austin turned 32 on October 14th and we celebrated in true birthday style.  There are 6 kids in the Mammoth area that all have their 3rd birthday within weeks of each other and they threw a zoo-themed party at the community center.  What better way to celebrate your birthday then watch a ton of kids have fun?! After that we got to go watch the football game so at least a little of it was for the big birthday boy.  Oh and the packers won!

Grandma & Papa in the Park (9/21-23/2012)

After work on Friday my parents hit the road to Mammoth, we had dinner ready when they got here and enjoyed a cold beer, roasted chicken and plum pie along with good company.

Sunday morning we took Pirate for a walk to Joffee and watched a herd of elk on top of the hill over the maintenance area--the bull elk were in full affect bugling and chasing their harems to keep them in close proximity. On our way back to saw a smaller herd of bison up on the hill too.  While we were eating breakfast, our neighbor, Kenny yelled through the window that the bison were now in the parking lot--so we got to see them even closer from our porch.

Ilija was on cloud nine getting to be with some of his favorite people and as always we enjoyed having them and experiencing the beauty of the park!

Time together.

Pi dog.

Gama play time.

Bison heading out of our parking lot.

Turning 30 in the Park!

Well, I finally turned the big 3-0.  I cannot believe it, I think mentally I am stuck somewhere between 19 and 25 for sure not 30.  But living in the park with all of the wildlife and hiking has made me re-evaluate how much can get done in a year and how our family should be living, which is kind of nice.  Seems like every few years now, our lives get turning upside down and we realize some really wonderful things that if we had stayed on the previous trajectory we might not have.  Like although we love being domestic and gardening--we love being outdoors and exploring and most of all we LOVE being with family and friends.

My birthday was spent with Ilija and Austin (pirate was in trouble for eating the meat thawing for my birthday dinner!).  We had a nice time together.

But the real party happened when we went back to Billings for the long weekend.  Nicholas and Erin came down from Missoula and fun was had by all.  Thank you!!!

Enjoying a backyard.

Family fun!

Grandma and Ilija.

Matching grey shirts.

Moustachioed breakfast.

November in the Park

November started with some intense meetings and trying to figure out what is happening and what will be happening for both Austin and Katrina.  That is what a one year assignment somewhere gets you--confusion about next steps about half way through and we are finished with 5 months living in Yellowstone.  Wowza, we do feel so lucky!

The first weekend of November we headed back to B-town to complete some tasks, run so errands, help my folks winterize and get some Gama and Papa love (Ilija calls my mom Gama currently).  Austin and I even got a grown up date--drinks and dessert at Enzo's.  It was delightful, if short-lived.

Austin and I took a few hours between meetings and work to take a quick hike that we had been wanting to do.  It was awesome to hike along prior to the snow, but see tons of prints in the dried mud.  Austin had been trying to convince me for weeks to do a mid-week hike while Ilija was at school and one day it just hit me that those are the experiences that I will remember, not the reports that I wrote while I was here (although those are very important too).  The next week on Tuesday (election day) was the library bazaar, a Gardiner social activity that no one should miss.  It was fun and exciting seeing all of the artistic and crafty talent of the area and of course supporting the library was nice.  It was even nicer that Ilija fell asleep on the way home and Austin and I got to listen to the election results come in with a glass of wine or a growler of beer.

I had tons of meetings that week.  A wintery store settled on the region on Thursday and we ended up leaving work early to hit the road before it got completely dark.  Dark and blizzard don't mix too well for driving. Austin flew out early Friday morning for a week in Massachusetts working on projects, meeting with people, throwing a few back and eating all of our favorite pioneer valley grub.  Ilija and I hung out with my folks until Monday nap time when we ventured back to YNP via the very windy highway. We had a good time in Billings, just relaxing, eating at home, playing in the snow and doing a little shopping.

Austin came back on Thursday and we were all excited to see him--especially Pirate.  I gave that dog walks everyday and tons of treats and he still would rather be sitting at Austin's feet. :) We spent the weekend relaxing--relishing one of the last weekends where all of us are in the park together.  We ended up walking, making a snowman and then watching two different football games at two different friend's houses.  Football is always a good reason to get together.

Missoula (10/19-21/012)

The weekend of October 19th we headed up to Missoula to see Nicholas and Erin and my folks headed up from Billings.  Friday we arrived in the afternoon (after Austin had to work all morning and we drove over 4 hours) and Uncle Nicholas was already off of work so we had a snack and headed down the street to the park.  We played on the jungle gym, swung and threw the football around-- just what we needed to burn off a little pent up energy.  Auntie Erin got home from work just before my folks got in, then we made a delicious Italian feast and had a few drinks before hitting the sack.

Having fun at Uncle Nicholas and Auntie Erin's--they have pretty cool toys!

Ilija was up super early due to the excitement of being in the same building with his Grandma, Papa, Uncle and Auntie, so we were all up super early.  We ate some breakfast and then headed out to the farmer's market.  I just have to add that I LOVE farmer's markets! It was a nice one and Papa bought us all hot drinks to warm us up, then we wandered around Missoula stopping at the tea shop and ultimately at the dragon park with the carousel.

Spinning around and around!
Then we went home for a much needed nap!  Half the crowd headed to Rockin' Rudys and a used book store.  When Ilija woke up we hit the Kettlehouse then an Irish pub for dinner.  After we got back home, we played games, Ilija played with a new garage toy and we had a few more beers--we weren't driving.  Thanks for playing with Ilija so the younger adults could play a game, Grandma and Papa!

The next morning, we had a great breakfast, Papa and Katrina headed to REI to get Ilija some long underwear and we watched football until we all drove home.

Thanks for hosting Nicholas and Erin!  We love Missoula (and you)!

UMass Comes to Yellowstone (10/4-8/2012)

Our friends, Yesher, Jessica & Scott came from the east coast for a Yellowstone visit.  We had a great time with everyone even though it was pretty chilly that weekend!

When they got in they met us down in Gardiner.  Katrina had been meeting down their all day and had a public meeting that evening, but had a nice break enough to get some tasty pizza at the K-Bar with everyone.  After pizza, Katrina went to her meetings and everyone went up the hill the apartment and relaxed.  By the time Katrina got home after the meeting, everyone was asleep--traveling is hard work!

The weekend was chocked full of adventures!  We went down to Obsidian Cliff, Norris Geyser Basin, West Thumb and Old Faithful on Friday.  We had a nice drink at the Old Faithful Inn Bar after watching the geyser go off complete.  Then after dinner the eastern crew walked the Mammoth board walks while Austin took Pirate for a walk and Ilija and Katrina played.

Saturday we headed out to Lamar Valley to see wildlife.  We also got to do a hike that has been on the top of our "to do" list--specimen ridge from petrified trees to Yellowstone picnic area.  It was a fun hike complete with a bison stampede, tons of petrified trees and the most beautiful views of the canyon.  So what if it was 35 degrees out!

Sunday we laid a little lower and headed up to Chico to relax in the hot pools.  Monday bright and early the crew had to hit the road to catch their flight out of Billings.  Thanks for the great time!!!

And we get a new rig (9/28-30/2012)

The last weekend of September brought us back to Billings, we were planning on borrowing a vehicle from my folks so that Austin could take ours down to SLC for his meetings, but instead we went window shopping and came home with a tricked out van.  I have to admit I felt a little old driving it off the lot, but it is so comfortable and I am sure not only will my buns thank me for the heated seats, but my son will thank me for all of the amenities and extra room for his future soccer team. ;)

Excited to be driving away!

Thank you to my folks for all the help looking, watching Ilija and with the pros and cons lists!

Austin headed back to Mammoth right after we signed the papers and headed down to SLC the following morning for a successful IKEA trip (swedish xmas this year) and working meetings!  Ilija, Pi and I headed home Sunday in our new wheels and had a good beginning of the week even if Daddy was out of town.

Cowboy Cookout (9/7/2012)

One of the fundraisers that they have for Little People's is the cowboy cookout at Tower Junction/ Roosevelt Area of the park.  You gather at Roosevelt, take big horse-drawn covered wagons to the Old Yancey hotel site, and there is a great big cookout with music and dancing and coffee cooked over an open fire.  Ilija loved riding in the back of the wagon and getting to see the horses pull the wagon behind us, dancing to a live cowboy band and running around the prairie.  He also really liked when a mini-herd of bison were on the wagon trail and all the wagons waited, gathered in a big line, started rolling pretty quickly and yelled at the bison to safely get them off the trail--the bison went running and we all laughed to see those big bodies move so quickly.  A successful evening of fun, food and family!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Hike #23: Electric Peak

The second of my 'big-5' and the most daunting/anticipated!  Electric Peak!  I had waited all summer for this bad boy.  Three days of backpacking and two nights of backcountry fun!  The intrepid adventurers included myself, Nicholas, Tony, Russ, and Dominick.  Katrina dropped us off with our gear at the Bunsen trail head.  It is 6.5 miles to our backcountry abode, 9 miles roundtrip from the backcountry site to the summit of Electric, and then about 7 miles back down into Mammoth.  We left on a cool Saturday afternoon around 9:00 AM and headed for our site unsure of how the trip would play out.

Would we get waylaid with a storm, preventing us from reaching the top, or worse get hit by lightening?  Would the smoke clear out enough to provide us a view?  Would our campsite get overrun with rabid elk and bear that would result in us fighting to the last man before succumbing to the cruelty that isbackcountry hiking? Or would we simply get lazy and hang out in the campsite, binge drinking Slivovitz until Monday morning?  Find out below!

Intrepid adventurers!

Trail toward campsite with Electric in the background

One of the many valleys we walked through on our way to the campsite

Luxury accommodations at 1G4, highly recommended!

Our view from the campsite, very nice stream on the left about 30 yards

On our way!

Up, Up, Up!  Turns out that is the false summit in the distance...

Taking a break half way up

Nicholas climbing up to a flat landing, about 2/3rds there

Scree field!  We stay to the left and go up along a spine of rock

Spine of rock and what I forgot was a false summit...

Actual Summit, pretty sketchy

We made it and did not get hit by lightning!

The world from the summit

Put our names in the register

Russ pretty happy about it

Me pretty happy about it!

What were we thinking to climb out there!

Hike #22: Mt Washburn (8/18/2012)

After our guests left we had a busy week.  The grants manager from NPF, Katherine, was here and we got to hang out with her a bit, introduce her to the project, the steering committee and the family.  Wednesday am, YA took Katherine and me out to Lamar valley and the NE entrance to do some animal viewing.  We saw wolves and mountain goats through a scope (blurry pictures to follow at some point). Friday morning early before Katherine's flight, we met up and walked the Terraces and then had a very nice breakfast at the Mammoth Dining Room.  Thanks for a great time, Katherine!

But we were tired on Friday and pretty much slept and did chores the rest of the day.  We love family naps!
So Saturday we were raring to go out and get in some scenery.  We had never gone to Mt. Washburn before and Austin had never been over the Dunraven pass so we headed up the Northern route to Mt. Washburn and decided since it was an old road we could push Ilija up in his buggy.  He liked it and we liked it.  Our arms got a work out too.

Austin and the buggy heading up

Our little guy looking at some rocks probably

View heading up, those are the Tetons way in the distance

Can you see the mountains through the smoke?

Up at the look out station on top.

Father and son

Looking back down the trail from the top.

Nice view

Another direction and a weather station

In the outlook area, chewing on a bear

Elev 10,243 ft

Family shot near the sign

Austin loves weather stations

Don't push him over the side!

happy rider.  last shot of his ranger hat, that unfortunately was lost on the way down from this hike. :(

Family shot on the way down.  Ilija is asleep in buggy.

After Mt. Washburn, we went over the pass to Canyon to see how some traffic modifications I had made earlier in the week were holding up and to get a slushy.  We couldn't find another ranger hat, but we did find an ugly little bison stuffed animal and that is how, Fred, became a member of our family.  We all enjoyed the break then headed back home to get ready for the Gardiner Brewfest.  Fun was had by all that night.  Ilija played horseshoes, Austin drank $1 microbrews and I soaked in some quality time with the famlily.

Hike #21: Yellowstone Picnic Area

Tony, Mary, and Uncle Bobby headed out to the Lamar Valley to look for wolves on their last day in the park, before heading out the NE entrance through the Beartooths.  Ilija and myself followed them out to Lamar but peeled off prior to the valley to kill some time while mom was working.  We decided on doing the Yellowstone Picnic Area hike.  I thought it sounded pretty lame but it ended up being one of the most scenic hikes I have done yet.  Ilija slept through almost all of it while I enjoyed great views of the Yellowstone Canyon and picturesque views of Lamar.

Yellowstone River prior to entering the Canyon

On a ridge overlooking the Tower/Canyon junction and the roadwork there

Yellowstone River again meandering through the valley

Yellowstone Canyon near Tower

Another shot of the canyon

Yellowstone after exiting the Canyon and winding through the valley

Last parts of the canyon along with thermal areas/features along the canyon walls

A Fred walking down the middle of the road