It's been quite a while since we've been on a real family vacation, little kids and law school make it hard, so we've been looking forward to going to Yellowstone ever since Aunt Ruth started planning it. Dad was thoughtful enough to rent a "Kozy Cabin" (that was its name) in Island Park for all of us Hiltons that could go (Dan and Ludi couldn't make it). It was perfect! It's so nice spending time with family, and the kids loved all the time with Grandma and Grandpa, Andrea, Dean, and baby Tanner, and Eric, Jake, and Kev. The only hard part was getting the kids to go to bed at night, so they usually didn't - until late. But don't worry, they still woke up early.
So we started driving on Saturday afternoon (July 19th). We were planning on leaving earlier, but Scott had to go down to sign our new rental agreement in Pleasant Grove (we found a place to move on Friday night!), and then our van's battery was dead from leaving the door open while packing. The kids were great for the drive, and after a brief stop in Idaho Falls, we arrived at our "Kozy Cabin" around 5:00 Saturday night.
The cabin was right on a huge open field, full of cows, so of course right after dinner all of the boys (and Emma) hopped the barbed wire fence to go explore. The cows were somewhere else in the field that night, but the boys could see some blue heron. Alan-boy wouldn't stop playing in the cow's sandbox/litter box and got his hands covered in cow pie. He didn't mind at all, but you had to be careful when giving him a shoulder ride after that.
After church on Sunday in Ashton (Scott's good friend Joseph Corbett and his wife happened to be in the ward there), we met up with all the Leavitts at Mesa Falls, "the best kept secret of Idaho." The falls were beautiful, and the kids were so excited to see all of the cousins.
Here's all of the cousins that we could round up for long enough to get a picture. Notice that Alan refused to be cornered.
On Monday we did the "Upper Loop." Here's Logan (trying to pull his hat off seconds after we put it on) at Beryl Spring.
After Beryl Spring, we stopped at Norris Geyser Basin. This was the beginning of our second little hike there, so it was time to break out some bags of popcorn for the kids. After the first hike, as we were almost back to the Museum, Alan said "what's in this Puseum, because all this walkin's makin' me huuungry!" As many of you know, Alan replaces the first letter of many words with 'P' and he's constantly hungry. I guess he was hoping that it was the "History of Ice Cream Museum." It wasn't, but Laura had thought ahead, and brought little bags of popcorn for the kids to carry while they were hiking. As we finished this mile-or-so long hike, Emma told Grandma "more water, blah, blah, blah." Before long she was saying "I don't love stinky water."
Here's Emma at the "Puseum." No ice cream here!
At Mammoth we met up with all of the Leavitts for lunch with these Elk. Alan saw them, and said "hey, there's camels! I can ride the camels!"
Here is the whole lunch bunch minus Scott and Eric who were driving around Mammoth looking for some WIFI
Here's what's left of the terraces at Mammoth Hot Springs. Apparently most of the flow has stopped/changed course, so most of the brilliant yellow and orange colors are gone now. Now everything looks like snow, which is still pretty, but it's not quite as cool as it used to be.
Here's an area that still has some color too it. Yellowstone is definitely alive and changing!
Here's the whole fam at Mammoth.
There was a bunch of hiking and climbing, and the kids did so well! Here's Emma and Alan at the top of a big climb.
Here's a cool formation at Mammoth that Laura named "Screaming Face Rock." I'm sure that name will be on signs by the next time we visit.
This is beautiful Tower Falls. It was rainy, and we weren't sure that we wanted to get the kids out to see it, so Laura ran over to the falls to see how far they were. They were only 150 yards from the parking lot, so we got everyone out. We were sure glad we did, it was probably the most fun we had that day! Alan (and soon Emma) jumped in every puddle along the way. At first we told them not too, so Alan would get as close as he could to a puddle, and jump over it, landing as close as he could to the puddle on the other side. He was so cute that we soon gave up and just let them jump and splash as much as they wanted.
We managed to get pretty darn close to a bear (much too close for Laura's comfort). Scott and Emma were the closest. Emma wouldn't stop talking at full volume about the bear and whether or not she liked it. At first she did, and then she decided "I don't like real bears, just pretend bears." After that, when the bear started to walk away, she decided that she did like it.
On our drive out of the Park, we saw two huge bull elk, standing right next to the river. Amazing! Why can't we see elk like these when we're hunting? Click on the picture to look at the bigger version, the racks on those guys were huge!
Here they are again. You can tell that Emma and Alan had a long day on Monday.
And here's Alan, saying goodbye, from Yellowstone Park. We'll follow up with posts from the rest of the week later - there's a lot to post!