Let’s go chasing waterfalls

The temperature outside, in the shade, was 105 degrees. We thought we were so clever coming up north during the middle of the summer, but with a heat wave like this one, there wasn’t much escape.

We got set up on some BLM land for a couple nights, just between the cities of Troy and Libby, Montana. Our poor air conditioner could not keep up with the heat. The generator kept overloading because the air conditioner was working so hard, and it was still easily over 90 degrees inside the trailer. The location was beautifully covered in fern undergrowth, and it felt like a place one would find woodland fairies and magical beings.

Jillian picked this sweet little flower for us from this site’s “garden.”

We’re getting good at creative ways of conservation. Joe had a bowl of cereal and used his leftover milk to make coffee in his bowl.

An employee at the Verizon store in Kalipsell had recommended some awesome stuff, saying that since so much of Glacier National Park was closed, we would maybe enjoy some other things instead. One of the suggestions was a place he called horse island, which we will have to see another time, but the place on our way to the next destination was called Kootenai Falls and the Kootenai Suspension bridge. He mentioned there were spots to get in and cool off in the river, so we set off for something to cool us off.

The hike was more of a shaded nature trail than a hike, but it was so beautiful that anything we wrote would not be able to describe the magical feel of this place.

We tasted the wild blueberries and was told that even though they were pretty, we had to stay away from the orange and yellow poisonous berries.

We could hear the river roaring and every time we got a peek of the teal water we went faster.

The suspension bridge was very well maintained and looked incredibly safe. Everyone eventually conquered their fear of heights and bouncing suspended 130 feet in the air and got to the other side of the bridge.

Just on the other side, we saw this busy little beetle, digging random places in the sand. This video is real time, it was probably one of the cuter things I have seen a bug do.

We crossed a tiny mountain stream where it met up with the roaring teal river, and as soon as we got to the water, we noticed millions of gold sparkling flecks in the water. Although it was pyrite, it was gorgeous. Anyone who knows me knows that water, being outside, and glitter in the same spot is pretty much heaven in my book. Ethan and Eric were the first to get in the river and everyone else did as well. We had fun attempting the perfect head flick of water.

On the way back, Eric and Gabe decided to play trolls at the bridge. I felt like I was in Monty Python or Dora the Explorer.

The parents took our stroll a bit more leisurely than the kids. When we got back to the trailhead, we noticed they had decided to pick the toddler table to sit at. Seems like they are big dogs thinking they are little dogs to me.

We were refreshed and so happy to have gone on that little walk.

We decided to go again and get out of the heat. This time, I wanted to get to the upper falls that apparently a person could get in under.

We were pleasantly rewarded with the little journey. I was actually a little bit less distance and intensity of a hike, but the views were spectacular. We dipped our toes and actually jumped into the water and swam behind one of the falls. Although it was hot, it took much longer to ‘get used’ to the water temperature than in the waters we’d experienced before.

After we finished the hike, we were hot again and bought the kids ice cream. At the stand, there were these two books together and I couldn’t help but giggle, “Yuck, Joe Chips” is all I could see.

Brown Chicken, What Now!?

I have now developed a fear of moving days. We needed to clean out our systems. Like REALLY…our home smelled like an outhouse and we couldn’t wait any longer. Honestly, we had done GREAT on our resource conservation. We went almost an entire week, with 6 people, using the resources we had without moving, dumping or refilling any tanks. But my goodness did it smell obvious that it was time.

(Warning, the following may be a bit graphic for some)

As Eric and I were packing up, the “Littles” were keeping themselves busy with playing around the campsite. We were about to raise the last of the jacks to get the trailer ready to go when we hear Ethan say, “I think I’m going to need more than a bandaid” to Jill. Ethan comes to Eric and says, “Um, Eric, I think I have a problem.” Eric looked over at Ethan, Ethan removed his hand and blood started pulsing out of his hand. Eric says, “Dear God, Ethan, go see your mom!”. Ethan comes over to me, Eric grabs our mini first aid kit (the big one with the good first aid supplies was OF COURSE inside the now locked up trailer) and I start tending to his wound. The cut was not very long, but was deep enough that I was able to see fat cells and some tissue when rinsing. He needed stitches, I just knew it. I quickly wrapped his hand tightly to slow the bleeding and told the crew I need to take Ethan in to the Dr. Lightheaded, Ethan got into the car, and we got on the phone looking for the nearest urgent care or Dr to Yellowstone that would be able to help. The closest place that felt comfortable looking at him was in a town called Rexburg, where we stayed the weekend prior, and was over an hour drive away. We started the drive and Ethan shared the story of what happened. They were playing with pocket knives, throwing them into some logs and trying to get them to stick. They’d earned the knives by learning knife safety and practicing cutting, etc. from Eric, so we trusted them maybe a touch too much with them without constant supervision. Well, one particular throw of the knife hit the log and bounced back to Ethan and cut him. He said it didn’t hurt, it was just bleeding really badly.

We got to the hospital, the staff was very kind and quickly stitched Ethan’s hand and sent us on our way. They even gave us some really pretty handmade masks to keep. Thank you to those who donated them!

Meanwhile, back at camp, Ethan’s incident happening just before we were ready to pull away for the dump station threw off our checklist. I got a call from a frantic Eric. He was stressed and not acting like himself. The bus is SO loud that it makes hearing a phone call very difficult. Ethan and I spent about 2 hours trying to understand what he was saying. Finally we heard that the power tongue jack was destroyed and he couldn’t find a dump site. Yellowstone is a hot spot for camping, but finding a place to dump, fill and get groceries has been the most difficult we’ve encountered yet. Places that say they are open on Google are closed, it’s just a mess, time consuming and exhausting.

Eventually, Eric found a place to dump and fill but Eric was stuck because of the tongue jack. The hitch bolts have been sheared off, the L bracket on the sway bar is broken, the trailer brakes still need to be fixed, the rv bathroom fan is broken and now our tongue jack, the part that makes it possible to raise the trailer off the ball hitch was destroyed. Eric was unable to move from the dump site and they were charging us $1/minute because we were in the way. Eric dragged the tongue jack and made the problem even worse just to avoid the extra fees that hours longer would incur.

Ethan and I drove as quickly as is safe to Camping World in Idaho Falls, another 30 minute drive in the opposite direction of Eric to purchase the tongue jack, which was of course double the price of what we could have gotten one if it weren’t an emergency. Eric was able to talk to the staff at the rv dump station on the next shift and they refunded his $200 of $1/minute fees for not being able to move.

We met up in the parkling lot near the camping area to install the tongue jack. The old jack would not come off. The power tools we were trying to use were not cooperating, we were starting to feel pretty beat down. Finally, we decided to stay the night right where we were and try again in daylight the next day.

The frozen pizzas I’d picked up in town had thawed from sitting in the car for 6 hours while we fought with fixing the trailer. We have only baked in our little easy bake oven sized oven a couple times so I’m not quite sure about all of its quirks. Our thawed pizza dough pizzas were to be placed directly on the rack. I followed those instructions and regretted it. The dough sagged in between the grates, touching the metal the flame for the oven was directly under. The crust was charred and I had to remove the grate just to take the pizza out of the oven. Here is a picture of the most Instagram-worthy food, ever.

When the kids went to bed, Eric and I broke down from all the stress. We were trying to view things from a positive perspective but we were struggling in that moment. We showered hoping that would wash away some of the stress of the day and we could reset and start over.

The next morning was bone chillingly cold, windy and rainy. We went to West Yellowstone, about 20 minutes from camp, and found the greatest hardware store with one of the friendliest and much needed salespeople. We rented a sawzall and headed back to finish our tongue jack fix. Cutting the old hitch was much easier with that tool and short work was made with it. It was bitterly cold and windy and wet though, so only a couple of hours of work chilled us to the core.

After we got the tongue jack replaced, we headed back into town to do another quick dump and fill and went back to camp. This was our first experience setting up in muddy rainy weather. Our knock-off Anderson blocks, little half-moon raiser things, kept slipping and sinking in the mushy ground. We were soaked through our clothes and shivering from the hours of being out in the elements. After blowing a fuse and having a couple minor breaks, we got a sort of level set up and called it good enough for the night. The gratitude we felt for having a roof over our heads, food in our bellies, dry clothing on our bodies and a heater made us all giddy. The kids were complete goofballs and we ended the day laughing. Thank heavens for our family. Life can be such a challenge, but the fact that we have each through all this has been an anchor we can not begin express the importance of during these learning curves.

“True grit is making a decision and standing by it, doing what must be done. No moral man can have peace of mind if he leaves undone what he knows he should have done.” ~ John Wayne

Mom! I think I have ringworm!

Still having growing pains and adjustments to our new lifestyle as we wrap up our move. We’re still having a hard time getting over the bugs. As you may know, many bugs are drawn to light, so when the sun sets and someone opens a door – the little friends fly inside and start exploring.

Ethan is struggling with the bug part of this lifestyle. We had a nice long talk about how we’ll get used to them, and they are an important part of the (world) cycle, and that most of these little flying creatures won’t hurt us nor do they want to. He’s got my anxiety in him though, so settling himself can be tough. I still get creepy crawlies after seeing a bunch of bugs.

We had just finally settled into bed and fallen asleep when Ethan sends me a text. I was asleep and the sound was off, so he comes into my room. “Mom, Mom!” I wake up, look at my poor tormented little boy and he says, “I think I have ringworm!” I tried (I believe sucessfully) not to giggle. I don’t know where he even found that word because none of us have ever had or discussed it. He shows me the spot on his face he is concerned about and there is a small rash, but definitely not ringworm. I googled a picture for him and said his rash looks nothing like that, and it could be from heat, hormones, stress or any number of things also. Since he’s on the top bunk, he’s close to the bug exploration zone, so he decided to sleep on the couch. Poor little man. In these now rare moments, he still seems so sweet and little, and I feel like a super hero.

Danger noodles

Moth season has hit Colorado HARD this year and being in a camper seems to make them even more excited to be our friends.

Photo by Jimmy Chan on Pexels.com

Jill and Ethan are not thrilled with the idea of any bugs coming near us. There has been a lot of screaming and running terrified from them and we’ve now named them dusty flutters in hopes it makes them sound more magical and less ominous.

Then Jill comes back to the site after a bike ride and shares the story of how she stepped on a bug on her way down to the lake. As she looked over she saw a super cute ‘danger noodle’ aka snake. Makes me realize how irrational fears can be sometimes. Danger noodles seem like the ‘scary’ animal to me, just sayin’.