Finally we were off to Yellowstone. The place the triplets were anticipating. They didn’t really know what it was going to be but they were eager to see it. We arrived and got all settled in and were able to do some exploring. We received many warnings at check-in about the bears in the area. Two nights prior to our arrival there was a bear hanging around in our camp area. They know how to freak out a Midwestern girl like myself. I had to transfer all of our food to our vehicle or to the locked metal boxes at our campsite. We were not allowed to wash any dishes or brush teeth or do anything that would leave any sort of smell around our campsite. At night you had to have everything put away and no food was to be in your tent camper. I was not allowing much snacking from the kids. They were not going to leave a trail of Cheetos and risk my life...nope not going to happen. Nothing like laying your head down at night with 6 lovely children and wondering if you might hear or heaven forbid feel the claws of a bear.
We cooked all of our meals during our 3 day stay in Yellowstone and did lots of exploring. The scenery was amazing and worth the long trip. We drove the entire circle around Yellowstone and it took most of the day. We pulled up to Old Faithful just moments before it erupted and our timing seemed to be right on track.
On our way out of the National Park we headed to the Grand Tetons National Park which is just south of Yellowstone. The view was again breathtaking but the forest fires in Montana and Idaho left us wanting clear skies.
We kept on our route and drove to Jackson Hole, Wyoming. I was very geeked about this visit. The town is very cool and is literally in a hole with ski resorts all around. The town is very swanky and I could have spent a couple days there browsing the stores. We were stopped by the police on horseback and were issued a wonderful welcome. We grabbed some lunch and David decided to take the kids to the ski mountain and take them on an alpine slide ride down the mountain. They all liked it so much that they wanted more more more. We had to keep going because our destination was a good 5 hours beyond.
We finally made it to Vernal, Utah. Why you ask? I asked too. Vernal is a popular location to do some white water rafting and is just outside of Dinosaur National Monument. It was the first night in a hotel since we left home. Everyone just wanted to flop, watch TV and enjoy the temperature controlled room. Hotel staying can be stressful for David because of the cash he has to drop on 2 rooms and for me it is merely the stress of keeping 6 kids quiet so that we don’t risk getting kicked out. We rarely find the hotels that have the adjoining suites (in the price range that David is comfortable in) so we ended up getting 2 rooms next to each other. We put all 6 in one room with cartoons and we hung out in the neighboring room with a cocktail and some TV.
The alarm seemed to go off sooner than we wanted in the hotel. We had to be at the White Water Rafting Location by 8:30am so we got up and gathered all of our crazies and headed off. Upon arrival we had to sign away our life with the liability waivers and then we were fitted with helmets and life jackets (helmets…ok we are not kidding around here. This is just a trip down the river on a tube. The trip began at 8:30 with a bus ride that took out to god knows where but we didn’t see another vehicle for 30 minutes. We stopped in the middle and took a quick hike to check out some petorglyphs (drawing on the side of the mountains from the Fremont Indians 2000 years ago). We arrive to the river and it is literally a canyon through Dinosaur National Monument. Amazing views and wonderful rapids. We all stayed in the boat, had a rocking guide named Ross and he made sure we all got wet. They were classified as level II and III rapids and that is the highest we could go with 6 year olds. We stopped mid day for a picnic lunch and then ended our trip around 3:30pm. The sun was shining and the temp was around 90 degrees. The kids all loved it.
We had to keep moving and get to our next campsite in Dinosaur so by the time we located our campsite and toured the Dinosaur quarry it was 6:30pm. We cooked dinner and we David took the kids to the ranger program. I needed to catch up on some house keeping. It was that time when I needed to repack the trips with clean clothes in their backpacks, put things back in order, organize and go thru the coolers and get the camper ready for sleep.
The evening was hot but cooled down rather quickly. Of course we were at a campsite that had no electricity. It was the cheapest one of the trip. $12.00 got us a slab to park, a fire ring, picnic table and a couple of poopers. Oh and a spigot for water. The location of this campground was rather dusty and dirty. The trips made it their job to climb the hills and search for fossils (they claimed). They were so dirty that David took two 5 gallon buckets and filled them with cold water and bathed the kids that way. It was quite the way to bath but at least the little toes were clean when they dug deep into the sleeping bags.
Pancakes and sausage for breakfast and by 10am we were on the road again…destination Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. Steamboat Springs was on the route and it came just in time to stop, grab some lunch and we let the kids buy some trinkets at the trading post.
Another 1.5 hours to the next park.
This trip is going great but honestly I have seen enough nature to last me awhile. I have cooked enough meals outside with minimal utensils to last me a long time. I have yet to do anything beyond shower at night (when we have the ability) and wake up only to put the hair in a pony tail and grab my ditty bag that sits in the console of the vehicle and slap on some deodorant, brush my teeth with a bottle of water and use a cleansing wipe for my face and off we go. The toughest thing is keeping the little ones quiet when everyone else is quiet. Colin is usually in his own world, Finn is asking what adventure is next and Declan is usually agitating someone. Mairin is mothering and telling on them while Eamon and Liam are the real troopers in this whole adventure. They are great sports and have thanked us throughout the trip for taking them on this adventure. David reads every flipping sign he can and has been very very aware of when the rest of the family has lost interest or needs a change of scenery. I am taking lots of driving time too. It is amazing when you get used to pulling a camper it losses its scariness.
We have 7 days left before we should be home. I thought we would be gone until Sept 3 but David needs to be back to work on the 2nd. Wish us well as we continue our journey.
At this point in our trip we have no reservations and it is up to the co-pilot to look at the map and decide where we should stay. I was kind of burned out of National Parks so when I read up on Estes Park (just on the Eastern side of Rocky Mountain National Park) I decided that is where my recommendation would be. The ratings for the campground were great so that is where we were headed. We pull in and I just knew it was not a typical “Mott” campground. It had a pool and a playground. David went in and checked it out and he agreed to book 1 night. (no worries though…we would stay 2 nights if I had any say and I did). We get our assignment and as we drove to it we both saw another camper literally 2 ft away from where we were to back up and park our camper. We both look at each other and say, “nope not gonna do this” and we drive back to the front office and get another spot. We got ourselves all set up and all seemed well. We slept well and the next morning we walked to the little office where hot coffee was brewing and I took a hot shower. Guess what..we stayed another night.
When you are that far into a camping experiment it is all about the little things that are important. I was sold on the coffee, the dish washing sink outside with hot water, a pool and the playground for the kids. The second evening we were done with our hike in the Rocky Mountains (a 3 mile hike that lasted 2 hours because we climbed to 10,000 ft elevation. It was not what I would wake up in the morning and dream about doing but we did it as a family. ) and we thought we would let the kids swim. I went and got some beer and we did a couple loads of laundry. We eventually went out to dinner and then called it a night.
Up and off again the next morning to head south to see more of Colorado. We stopped by David’s cousins house Ron and Barb Mazur in Highlands Ranch, Colorado for a great lunch.
They had so much to entertain the kids and quite frankly I enjoyed being in a home, temperature controlled and good conversation. A couple hours there and we were off to continue South to the Mueller State Park just past Pikes Peak. It was at that point when we finally found the state park and it was far enough out of town AGAIN and it was raining and as David is checking in for not 1 but 2 nights I check my phone and see “no service”. I look at David and use my index finger and thumb to make a gun and put it to the side of my head. Let me paint the picture for you. It is 6ish in the evening. The rain is coming down and the temperature has gone from the mid 80’s to the high 50’s (this is what the weather seems to do in those parts). We just checked into a campsite with canvas sides. There are 6 children who have been sitting in a car for several hours and it is no where near bedtime. We have no Internet service to keep myself or anyone else busy …..Yep …Time for the vacation to end.
The next day we decided it was gonna be a good day for the girls. David really wanted to go to the top of Pikes Peak and quite frankly I had no interest. I had a hard enough time with the trek over the Rocky Mountains and we only hit 12,500. Pikes Peak is a whopping 14,111 ft. Fearful of getting altitude sickness I took Mairin and we spent the day shopping in Manitou Springs. We had a ball and the boys enjoyed driving to the top. Finn and Eamon both had headaches at the top and David said breathing was a challenge.
They came back to town to pick us up and we all headed to The Air Force Academy. What a cool place. We took a self guided tour, checked out the bookstore and the famous chapel. We had to be off the property by 5pm and it gave us just enough time to check it all out and show Eamon and Liam what it was all about. This was really the ending to all of the site seeing of the trip.
The next morning we were packing up and heading East. We stopped off at Walmart and I went in to restock snacks and lunch meat for our 3 day adventure home. We got back to camp and had a campfire while I made a ton of sandwiches for the trip. At the campfire we asked everyone what their favorite event was on the trip and we all concluded we had fun but we all were anxious to get home.
We woke up at 7:30am, threw on our clothes and had the camper taken down and ready to pull out by 8:10am. Everyone ate donuts and breakfast bars on our way out of the park. We were off. The day ended up being much longer than we anticipated. We drove through the rest of the state of Colorado and made it through a big part of Kansas. We planned to camp when we drove into thunder storms and so we just kept going. We ended up driving til 8pm with only 4 stops all day and getting a hotel room in York, Nebraska. We scored 2 rooms at $47.00 each and enjoyed hot showers and good old TV. The kids had cold pizza from Pizza Hut for a late dinner and no one complained a bit. We had stopped at a rest stop mid day and a man told us that when we passed him he noticed that our trailer tire seemed to be bouncing a bit. Maybe it was out of alignment. David didn’t think much of it until we got going again and the control panel beeps and says “trailer no longer connected”. I am driving at this point and my hands just tighter on the steering wheel. We take the next big exit and we stop at a tire store where they fix the tire (this is when I take the 6 littles to Pizza Hut to eat while David fixes the vehicle). It cost $5.00 to repair and 40 minutes later we are back on the super slab.
The easiest passengers are Eamon and Colin. Colin will sit for hours and often you won’t hear a word. Eamon is quiet but make sure when you are eating you are not making noises and please please leave him alone when he has had enough. Liam is always the one who is revving the triplets up and wonders why he gets into trouble. Mairin is the one who lets everyone in the car know if Declan is doing something wrong. She talks to Declan loud enough to ensure that I hear her in hopes of me backing her up and getting after Declan. Declan is often the one is being devious but we all know he can’t help himself. David has a soft spot for Declan and while I raise my voice at him, David will talk to him softly and request his cooperation. Finn is the one always telling us how bored he is or the one who is asking the deep questions. These kids are great travelers and although I provided a fair amount of movies for our trip, they are the ones that were patient and cooperated with each other and sat in close quarters for endless hours. Troopers for sure..Hut
We left York, Nebraska at 8:30am and little did we know we would sleep in our own beds that very night. We made great time and just kept driving and driving. I made lunch out of the back of the Expedition in the parking area of a gas station. We pumped as many movies into the kids as we could and by 12:30am we rolled into our driveway. 832 miles for the day but we were home.