We’ve been in Ohio and in our new house for about 3 weeks. Still have some boxes to unpack but for the most part we are getting settled. Nothing hanging on the walls, and still need to arrange some furniture – but we all have beds to sleep in and clothes hanging in the closet.
Jason’s brother, Richard, was our first house guest last week and we hope to have many more in the future. We are hoping to be fully settled by the end of September.
Jason has a couple of job interviews in the next two weeks, so wish him luck that something works out. His military retirement is “official” as of October 1.
The kids start school on the 21st. I will put up some pictures that day. We’ve been to the school twice for a private tour and new student orientation. Next week they will meet their teachers and see their classrooms. So far we are very impressed with the school, the administration and the welcome we have received there. Even though it’s a much bigger school district than the kids have ever been in, we think it’s going to be great for them. Nathan will be in 3rd grade and Allie will be in her last year of elementary in 6th grade. Time has gone by so quickly!
I have change of address cards to send out – if you want one, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll put you on the list. I have about 100 of them to get rid of!
Our last stop before arriving in Ohio was to Milwaukee. Why, you ask? Because we’ve never been to Miller Park and it just so happened that the Cincinnati Reds were playing there that night! (They lost by the way, on a walk-off HR by Brewer Jonathan Lucroy in the 9th. Sigh.)
First of all, we had amazing seats! Miller Park is pretty sweet. Jason was enjoying the sausage selection at concessions, and I discovered a new favorite beer – Leinenkugels Summer Shandy. Yummy! The kids weren’t as into the game, but the famous Sausage Races kept them entertained – as well as the ice cream, french fries and other garbage we let them eat to keep them quiet. Gotta do what you gotta do! Jason and I will definitely go back to Miller Park again – alone!
On our second day in South Dakota we decided to take a 30 minute drive from the campground to Wind Cave National Park. It’s an amazing place to visit, as it’s all underground! We opted for the 2 hour tour to see the cave’s larger “rooms” and famous boxwork formations. The cave was discovered by the white men in late 1880’s but had been known to local Native American tribes for much longer. It is called Wind Cave because of the air that is continually moving into and out of the cave, equalizing the atmospheric pressure. Because Wind Cave is so large and has such few small openings it “breathes” more and creates the wind associated with it’s name.
We took an elevator down into the cave but the tour led us up and down stairs all throughout. The cave has lighting that has been installed and upgraded over the years, but in one part of the cave the tour guide turned off all the lights and lit a candle so we could see how people in the early 1900’s would have viewed the cave. Creepy!
The day we were there it was about 80+ degrees outside – but it couldn’t have been more than 60 in the cave. It’s a dry cave, so no moisture or bats down there. Just lots of pretty boxwork and frostwork. It was a really neat experience!
After leaving Yellowstone we made our way East to Custer, South Dakota. We stayed in a really cute campground called Beaver Lake Campground http://www.beaverlakecampground.net. It was very family friendly and it had a water slide! Just what the kids needed after being dragged around a National Park for 4 days!
Custer is just outside of the Mt. Rushmore area. I had always wanted to see Mt. Rushmore and it did not disappoint. The story behind the creation of the monument and the museum dedicated to the workers that brought it to “life” is amazing. It’s hard to believe that 90% of this monument was created using dynamite! It is so precise and perfect. And for those of you who have seen the movie “National Treasure”, there really is a “Hall of Records” Vault behind the famous faces! Visitors can’t see it, but they had pictures of it at the museum. Really cool!
The same day we went to Mt. Rushmore we also took a ride over to where the Crazy Horse Memorial is being built. It has been a labor of love for the original sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski and his family, who have been working on the monument since 1948. The memorial was commissioned by Lakota Elder Henry Standing Bear who said, “My fellow chiefs and I would like the white man to know that the red man has great heroes, too.” Sculptor Ziolkowski had worked on Mt. Rushmore as well and was a well known sculptor on his own. The memorial is being built without any federal money – all of the work is done from donations and through funds raised at the Memorial Museum. The mountain sculpture of Crazy Horse is so large that all of Mt. Rushmore could fit on Crazy Horse’s head. The whole thing will be enormous when it is finished. Seeing both of these sites in one day was fantastic!
These pics are from our time in Yellowstone National Park. We had a great time exploring the geothermal areas, seeing all of the wildlife (bison!) and just enjoying the beautiful landscape of the Park. Jason and I agree that Yellowstone could be several different National Parks – the lake area, the geothermal areas, the mountains and the beauty of Hayden Valley. We spent 4 days in Yellowstone and still didn’t see all of the areas we wanted to see. Next time we go we are leaving the kids at home. 🙂 The novelty wore off for them after day 2. Oh well. They got to see Old Faithful and bison roaming around…so, there’s that. Maybe someday they will look back and appreciate it.
We did spend a day in Missoula, MT between Seattle and Yellowstone. We ended up tubing for 2 hours on the Blackfoot River – about a 6 mile float. Unfortunately, we didn’t have the camera with us for that. Trust us that it was awesome! I LOVE Montana and want to go back for an extended amount of time. We didn’t have time to hit Glacier National Park on this trip, so we definitely have a reason to come back to the area.
We arrived at Yellowstone Saturday night and hit the ground running on Sunday. Today is Tuesday (as I update) so I’ll just post some pictures for now and write more text later. We are seeing all kinds of Bison, elk and birds. No bears yet. Darn. The scenery is fantastic and the weather is amazing.
We only had one day in Seattle and we sure made the best of it! Our campground was located in Bothell, WA – about a 30 minute ride from downtown Seattle. The campground people said the best way to get into town was to take the bus…so we did! Kenmore Park and Ride – awesome!
The bus dropped us off about 2 blocks from Pike’s Market. We walked down and grabbed coffee and fresh donuts from The Daily Dozen – apparently world famous! They make them right in front of you! Right across the street from the Market is the ORIGINAL Starbucks. We didn’t go there…the line was too long. Pike’s Market is amazing – flowers, fish, food, all kinds of other stalls selling anything and everything. I could have spent all day there, but of course, the kids were BORED.
We decided to take one of the Emerald City Tours around the city so we could see as much as we could in one day. It drove all over – uptown, downtown, waterfront, Space Needle Center, etc. We even saw the houseboat where “Sleepless in Seattle” filmed Tom Hanks’ house.
To kill time before our scheduled Needle tour time slot we went to the EMP museum at Space Needle Center. It was created by Paul Allen and has displays on music and pop culture. The kids loved the Sci-Fi exhibit (thanks Uncle Richard and your Dr. Who marathon) and Jason loved the music exhibits. It was a neat museum.
Finally we were able to get on the elevator for the ride up to the top of the Space Needle. The 360 degree views of Seattle were breathtaking. Two in our party wouldn’t go near the edge (and one was not me and one was not a kid…) so we didn’t get to take too many pics with people in them. Oh well. It was still a great experience.
After the Needle Tour we hopped back on the trolley and drove through Fremont and up toward Queen Anne Overlook with an amazing “Frazier” view of Seattle including the Space Needle.
Seattle is definitely on our “return visit” list. Need more than one day to really appreciate everything it has to offer. Jason and I would like to come without kids – might be able to enjoy things more…less whining!
So, the days are going by fast and I’m losing track. After we did our hiking outside of Portland we went to the Mt. Hood Adventure Park at Skibowl. After doing forced march hiking we felt like we owed them some fun. The Adventure Park has a 1/2 mile Alpine Slide, Ziplines, Bungee Jumping, etc. All with beautiful Mt. Hood looming in the background. To be honest, Jason and I had as much fun on the Alpine Slide as the kids did!
It was a beautiful day today outside of Portland, Oregon. We drove about 40 minutes from our campground to the Columbia River Gorge, just East of Portland. Our first stop was supposed to be Multnomah Falls, but as we drove past there was nowhere in sight to park. We kept driving and came across a trailhead with some promising hikes listed. We ended up choosing the Triple Falls Trail and we were not disappointed. It was quite a hike, all uphill, about 1.8 miles to get to the falls, but once we got there it was worth it. Cool breezes and even cooler water made for a great spot to stop, eat lunch, and explore.
After about 4 hours of hiking and hanging by the waterfall we made our way back toward Multnomah Falls. This time we were lucky to find a parking space and got out to enjoy the beautiful falls.
Tomorrow we are hitting the Alpine Slides at Mt. Hood Skibowl! Should be a fun day!
Here is the video of Jason jumping into the frigid waters of Crater Lake. He ran and jumped right in – no hesitation. He’s nuts – but it was fun to watch! You can hear how windy it was at the surface of the lake. The surface elevation is 6,178 feet above sea level! It is the deepest lake in US and the 5th deepest in the world. Maximum depth of Crater Lake is 1,949 feet.