We got to Cody, Wyoming in enough time for Jeremiah and I to take turns going on a run/swimming with the girls. It was the first evening we'd arrived at our hotel in enough time to do that, and I am so thankful. Cody was quaint and beautiful--store fronted main street, picture book neighborhoods, and mountains all around. It was our anniversary (thanks for the congratulations!) and we went to a quaint local steak house (think a hair fancier than Conestoga, Dothanites) where I ate the absolute best steak I have ever put in my mouth. No exaggeration. Apparently all that corn treats their cows well, because my filet was charred on the outside, but soft goodness on the inside. I asked if I could hug the cook--pretty sure they thought I was crazy :)
And where we were headed:
Organized our camping gear and bought supplies for dinner and breakfast (in hopes that we'd be prepared parents and not starve our children this time) and went to lay my virgin eyes on the sights of Yellowstone.
I was not disappointed.
This is Lake Yellowstone, with Old Faithful erupting in the distance.
And Jeremiah showing the girls how to skip rocks.
Now this is the beginning of our little hiking adventure that turned into a significant mistake.
The girls are pretty tough and adventurous, but taking a round-trip hike of 2.5 miles at a significantly higher altitude turned out to be a little much. At first just the smallest chicken wing needed help.
But then the second man started to go down...
And being drug by Daddy's belt didn't prove helpful enough...
I was taking turns carrying Dapples on my back, and somewhere between a baby, a belt, Jeremiah's sunglasses, and a camera around my neck, my sunglasses fell off--unbeknownst to me. My sunglasses that I'd splurged on against Jeremiah's wishes...
And while we did get to see a bridge built by God himself:
And while we did search the whole way down, and Jeremiah ran back and forth along the trail twice looking for them...I'm afraid they were never found. And I had to have a little talk with myself about monetary possessions not being worth as much as memories...but my stomach still felt sick over the loss.
But we bounced on along the Yellowstone loop, and refused to let our joy be stolen.
We stood with hundreds of others, in reverent silence as we watched the wonder of Old Faithful.
And since that steam in created by lava, Pace told us she felt satisfied in her wish to see a volcano on our trip :)
We also stopped at the Fire Paint Pots (not totally sure that name is right?) and saw more evidence of God's never-ending creativity.
And Pace experienced a "volcano" at a closer level.
We stopped all throughout our trek at different camp sights, hoping to find a perfect spot for the night. Two things prevented us. One--they were all full. Two--I couldn't understand why we would camp 2 FEET from another group of campers. Or worse yet a big 'ol RV with a humming generator.
We decided to drive on out of Yellowstone (At around 7:30 and we still don't have a camp site and we have to build a fire, pitch a tent, and make dinner. I was starting to develop some tension in my neck...) to see if there was a more secluded (and available) spot. There wasn't.
I guess maybe I've been spoiled to having friends and family gracious enough to let us camp on their land. But y'all, those camp-sites didn't feel like camping...they just felt like sleeping outside. I wasn't sure it was worth all the effort without seclusion. SO, we decided to drive the 90-something miles on to Mrs. Ohs, Jeremiah's mountain Mama.
As I dealt with the two devastated mini-campers in the backseat, Jeremiah spotted a little dive off the highway where it looked like they may serve us some much-needed dinner. It was sitting on a lake, and it turned out to be a boat that had been used as a bar during the Prohibition Era. It was now permanently landed as a restaurant/bar. There were only a handful of locals there, and we headed out to the prow of the boat and had dinner overlooking this:
All to ourselves. I guess the locals were accustomed to the beauty...or maybe they just didn't want to have drinks with our kids :).
As soon as the sun started sinking behind the mountains, we sent Jeremiah out to the U-Haul for some winter clothes.
We talked about our favorite parts of Yellowstone and dreamed of going back with a whole week to quench the desire we felt for more. We'd only scratched the surface. We ate cheeseburgers and sweet potato fries, and experienced something worth leagues more than we were paying. Our own private family dinner, surrounded by mountains and water and sunset.
As the girls tuckered out immediately in the backseat, Jeremiah and I wound through mountains towering majestically in the moonlight. I whispered, "This is more than happiness, it's bliss."