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Yellowstone

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After three full days on the road, we finally arrived at our sweet little cabin in Wilson, Wyoming. The cabin couldn't have been in a better location seeing that it was just six miles from downtown Jackson Hole! The cabin had a master bedroom with a loft. Although the living quarters were tight and six people had to share one bathroom, we were able to make it work! The fact that we were usually out enjoying nature's bounty instead of sitting inside our cabin all day definitely helped with that. One of the best things about our cabin was that at dusk, we were able to see many elk, deer, and bull moose munching on their dinner in the nearby swampy areas. 

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="2048.0"]The Cabin! The Cabin![/caption]

On our first day, we decided to try out the Alpine Slide, which is a huge luge like slide that runs down the Snow King Mountain Resort. You take the ski lift up to the launch area, hop on a sled, and down you go! Andrew and Grayson continually tried to race each other down the mountain, but we are pretty sure that they tied every time!

After the Alpine Slide, we decided to go horseback riding. What an experience! The horses were beautiful and oh-so patient with us weary and inexperienced riders. Duke, Christy's oldest son, mounted his horse named Brooks and immediately exclaimed, "ride like the wind, brooks!" We all laughed at the Toy Story reference. Our guide, Curtis, led us along the trails. We rode our horses through the Gros Ventre mountain range. The views along the trails were magnificent! We rode above the national elk refuge and in the distance we saw the snake river and the peaks of the Grand Teton mountains. Definitely God's country! We had such an amazing time that we decided to book another mountain ride before we left Jackson Hole.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="2500.0"]Our whole gang! From Left to Right: Andrew, Shanna and Anna Grace, Grayson, Christy, and Duke. Our whole gang! From Left to Right: Andrew, Shanna and Anna Grace, Grayson, Christy, and Duke.[/caption]

The next day, we decided it would be fun to take the kids out on the water for an adventure. I took Andrew and Grayson on a white water rafting trip. Our boat encountered some pretty rough rapids while we were in it. So rough in fact, that our boat flipped! It was the only boat to flip this season. Initially, the two men passengers on the boat claimed that they should be in the front of the boat because a woman couldn't handle all of the paddling involved with white water rafting. That was their first mistake... Don't ever tell a Rodéo girl that she isn't capable of something! I got in position right in the front behind Andrew and Grayson. It's a good thing I did, because that very same man who commented on a woman's weakness had a panic attack when the boat flipped over. But I was calm as cool as a cucumber and gathered my little ducklings once they emerged from the capsized vessel. Thank goodness our crew was ok!

With the boat flipping over, I lost my Tkees flip flops and my Tom Ford sunglasses! Argh! But I wasn't very worried about that, because the boys were okay and that was all that mattered.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="1126.0"]There we go, just a flippin' There we go, just a flippin'[/caption]

While we were having our extreme white water rafting adventures, Christy took Anna Grace and Duke on a relaxing float trip on Snake River. Duke doesn't like to get wet and Anna Grace was too young for white water rafting so they opted for a relaxing float. While floating down the river, Anna Grace became a pro at spotting eagles. They saw 10 bald eagles, countless Canadian geese, a bear (or so they think) and even a lone white pelican. On several occasions, Anna Grace was able to hang over the raft so she could get her feet wet, and she loved it. Their guide, Ian, even took them over some small rapids a couple of times, and afterwards, Anna Grace would say "We went white water rafting! I have to tell mommy!"

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="1536.0"]Duke and Anna Grace in the raft.  Duke and Anna Grace in the raft. [/caption]

On our third day there, we headed to Yellowstone. It is truly the most beautiful place on earth! We viewed the Ol' Faithful geyser, waterfalls and other geothermal attractions. We also saw lots and lots of animals. They were so close to us that we could reach out and touch them! We saw bison, elk, coyote and deer.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="2500.0"]Ol' Faithful! Ol' Faithful![/caption]

Hoping to see a grizzly, we along with a hundred other park visitors, staked out a fallen bison. A grizzly was reported in the area several hours before we arrived, and we were told the huge beast would return, but they didn't know at what point. Several people had been there for four hours and saw only a lone coyote frolicking near. We decided after an hour of not seeing the bear, to move on. 

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="1536.0"]Looking for the bear! Looking for the bear![/caption]

We then headed to the Yellowstone Grand Canyon area where the upper and lower waterfalls are visible. These waterfalls were just beautiful and awe-inspiring! There we picked up four Yellowstone employees, who were hitch-hiking and hoping to get a ride to Grant Village near the southern entrance/exit of Yellowstone (about 35 miles away). These students were from Taipei, Taiwan and had traveled to Yellowstone to work for the summer! Their signs read "yellowstone employees to grant village." They even drew a stick figure elk on their cardboard sign! It was hilarious! 

We offered them a ride, and told them if they didn't mind piling into a minivan that made frequent stops, that was full of gear, trash, food, and children, then they were welcome to hop in! These guys didn't mind so they climbed into the van and our kids made room for our new found friends!

The exchange between our children and our travelers was hysterical! They commented about how funny Grayson was and about how serious Andrew was! They would say, "Grayson, you are so funny! Andrew, why are you so serious?" Andrew was exhausted by this time of the day, so when they asked questions he answered as politely as possible, but we could tell he was on the verge of needing his space! Grayson on the other hand was energetic and was eager to share his life experiences with his new found buddies. He even taught them the hand sign for hang ten! Anna Grace made quick friends with the two girls by putting flowers in their hair! They would say, "Anna Grace, you're so pretty!" She absolutely loved those girls.

We finally reached Grant Village after several sight seeing stops and I offered them some perfect advice... "Don't accept a ride from suspicious people!" They didn't understand why at first, but once we explained the dangers, they understood.

 They next day we traveled to Curtis Canyon to go rock climbing and hiking. The boys loved it and were very confident in their climbing skills. They constantly gave me a hard time because I couldn't quite keep up. 

We spent the remainder of the last day of our trip fly fishing and going on one more horseback riding adventure. Andrew and Grayson fished the large lake near the Teton Mountains. This was the first time either of them had fly fished. It was a catch and release area, so they couldn't keep anything they caught. They got several nice lake trout and were sad to let their bounty go, but were excited to have at least a few photos to document their experience.  

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="2500.0"]After horseback riding! After horseback riding![/caption]

On our last night in Jackson Hole, we decided to have a campfire and make smores! The kids had a blast and we all enjoyed eating the delicious treats. It was the perfect way to end our time there. 

Keep Dreaming,

The Rodéo Girls

Tags: horseback riding, inside scoop, Road trip, Road Trip Across America, roadside america, summer vacation, white water rafting, yellowstone national park

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