Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The S'More Experience

Julie insisted that we build a fire and make S'Mores. She brought all the stuff, including very fancy skewers for marshmallow cooking. C'mon Julie, "you know there's no way 'round it." Smoke follows beauty... Ava is carefully toasting a coconut covered marshmallow.
Julie, you are the queen. Delicious!
OK, Ava. That is funny!
Now you're talking...
Even Nick could not resist coming out to make one treat.
I'd say we have some happy campers here!
Does this make you want to join us? You are welcome at our campfire anytime!
The only thing that was bad about being outside the whole week long was the blasted mosquitoes. They loved Becca, and would not leave her alone! We had to use tons insect repellent to keep the pesky, buzzing mosquitoes in check.

The hike

A trail that we love to hike is located near the top of Sawtelle Peak. It takes us through meadows of flowers and through pine trees, and there are even supposed to be bears up there! We filled our camelbacks, packed a lunch and headed for the trail head. As we got higher and higher up the peak I mentioned there was a lot of snow. When we found the trail head we discovered that the trail was completely covered with snow and we couldn't do the hike we had planned for so long. :o( So we went to plan B and drove to Warm Springs. It is about 6 miles down a winding dirt road off the paved road that takes us to Mesa Falls. The road was so badly rutted that we decided to park the car and walk to the trail head. This is the view of the Grand Tetons from where we parked the car. Warm Springs is another source for a river that comes from the huge caldera area of Yellowstone and Island Park. This water comes from the mountainside and is always 50 degrees in temperature. Just as we crossed the bridge to the trail head I noticed all of these butterfiles on the ground near a little puddle of water. They were so beautiful!
The wild flowers were incredible and colorful.
Here is my favorite hiking buddy going down the trail. This was a gorgeous place to enjoy the summer day. We were glad for the mild cloud cover. It kept us from getting too hot!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Yellowstone in all it's splendor...

Since the cabin at Island Park is only about 45 miles south of Yellowstone, OF COURSE we drive to the park! It is so beautiful and everytime I go, I am so intrigued by the geyers, mud pots, hot springs, wildlife, and the beautiful trees and mountains. This trip we were lucky that the eagle was home! Becca, Julie and Ava have a small herd of elk behind them. These elk never leave this area as there is always food for them, even during the winter.
Just beyond this bend in the river are the magnificent Yellowstone Falls.
There is always a rainbow where the water lands and the spray is bountiful.
We were lucky enought to see this sweet mamma and her baby!
I just love walking through the geyer areas. It was pretty windy...
Ava enjoyed the paint pots, the steaming water, and the geyers. She did notice the smell of the sulfer in the air.
This is a good sister-shot of Julie and Becca, right by the bacteria mats.
Can't go to Yellowstone without getting ice cream at the lodge. Ave enjoyed hers immensely. (In fact, she kept asking when we were going to get ice cream about 3 times per minute!)
Waiting with the rest of the tourists for....
...the big gusher...Old Faithful! It is so fun to see this amazing feat of nature. The sky was so blue and it was a gorgeous day!
I always love going to Yellowstone. I even take the same pictures over and over!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Island Park - My Summer Haven

My favorite place on Earth is Island Park, ID where we can enjoy life at my sister's cabin. We got to go stay at that beautiful little place for 5 whole days! (Thanks, Janet & Lenny!) We arrived late afternoon on June 22nd, unloaded the car, and the drove over to Mesa Falls, which is just a short distance from the cabin. The falls are so beautiful! There is a micro-climate on the cliffs that thrives on the spray created by the falls. Becca, Julie and Me with beautiful Mesa Falls in the background. On the way back to the cabin, a small herd of horses wandered on the the road as we were driving. We slowed way down and this one walked right up to the car.
In the evening, I took Ava for a short walk over to the Henry's Fork of the Snake River. It is only about 2 blocks from the cabin. We sat on a rock and watched the fish jump. She was thrilled with this experience.
On Tuesday, we went to Big Springs where Johnny Sack's cabin is located. This is a state park and has a beautiful natural spring that bubbles up out of the ground, and the springs create an amazing river that is the start of a tributary to the Snake river.
The cabin is all hand crafted and is so fun to walk through. My favorite part this time was these unique hat hangers (yes, elk feet).
The water in the river is so clear! There are giant trout under the bridge.
The day we went, this little muskrat was the one we enjoyed watching. He is swimming with a piece of bread in his mouth here.
Ava gives a nice smile with the clear springs behind her.
Tuesday night, we went to Mac's Inn to see a musical and have a prime rib dinner. Nick and Becca love the prime rib!
Ava is hilarious! I love her big eyes. She is so dramatic sometimes! She enjoyed the play and talked to some of the actors.
Early Tuesday morning, Rod and I got up and walked around Silver Lake. It is so beautiful! We saw tons of tracks on the trail, but did not see any of the moose that made them.
This place is a bird refuge, so there are different water fowl that reside here. It was really fun to watch this flock of pelicans feed. The would dive way down and then pop up out of the water. It was like an exotic dance!
The lake was like glass, and the reflection of the mountains, sky, and trees just reiterated the existence of God to me, and that he created everything on the earth for a specific purpose.
There was so much dew that our pants got quite wet as we walked down the road that curves around one end of the lake.
The wild flowers this summer are numerous in variety and amazing in their beauty! The colors were brilliant and we reveled in every scene we enjoyed as we did our hike around the lake. There were also patches of mushrooms and fungus because of the unusual amount of rain.

Friday, June 05, 2009


So....... last night we had just prayed, and are just serving up our tacos when we hear "ding-dong, ding-dong, BAM BAM BAM." We are all "what the heck?" Rod answers the door and we hear a kid say something about a big black snake in the yard. Rod sort of ho-hums "okay" and goes to check it out. 10 seconds later he us running past the window and we hear "Let me get my shovel." Becca, Nick, and I look at each other and simultaneously rise from the table and run for the door. I did have the sense to grab my camera. We were not going to miss this!
So we see that there IS a big black snake! It has yellow bands around it with little flecks of red or pink, and is actually in the neighbor's yard, right next to where Rod parks his car on a parking strip that separates our yard from the neighbor's. The kids have a hose and are spraying the snake. The mom is quite hysterical. The snake is slithering along the cinder block wall toward their house. Rod starts chopping at the snake with his shovel, keeping his distance while doing so.
He injured it enought that he could move it away from the wall. He then succeeded in severing the poor snake's head. It was pretty gross.
I think it was about 5-6 feet long - bigger than any of the snakes we have seen on our hikes! I looked it up on the internet and found a perfect match under "Arizona snakes." It was a Long-nosed snake, non-venomous and common to Maricopa County. For more information here is a link: http://www.reptilesofaz.org/Snakes-Subpages/h-r-lecontei.html The one here is just like the bottom pictured snake on the link, in Maricopa County, which is where we live. I just wonder where this poor creature has been holed up in our neighborhood, and if it has friends!
Nick held open a bag so Rod could throw the corpse in the trash. He does look a little grossed out. We returned to our dinner. Becca stated, "I'm not hungry now." We were all pretty animated after that and had some lively conversation during dinner. Snake taco, anyone??