Change of plans

“The only constant in life is change”

– Heraclitus

Earlier in the summer, Eric bumped the scar tissue on his ankle and it became a tiny hole. Over the past few months, that tiny hole has grown into two holes and is now one large hole. It’s boomerang shaped, about 1-1/2 inches in diameter, and deep enough where we can see into tissue that’s not really meant to be visible. We’ve been nursing it for these past few months, and have worked with a wound care nurse for treatment, but working in the rain and mud on a mountain building a fence was making it hurt and it was starting to look and smell infected.

It was for this and a other reasons that we left the spot in Crumpler and set out for a different direction on our adventure. We like the idea of workamping, so we applied to some other resorts in the area. On our move-out day, Joe took pictures of the area we stayed and found a caterpillar he decided to name Einstein.

In the meantime, Eric and Ethan have established a fun bully/bully relationship. They dig at each other and have towel fights on the regular. The laughter is always music to my ears, and although I worry a little about things getting knocked over, we have yet to have an uncleanable/unfixable incident, so I welcome their play. Joe photo bombed with his bible – haha!

While we waited to hear back regarding our work applications on where our next stop would be, we decided to visit one of Joe’s longest and best friends, Evan and his family, just North of Raleigh. We enjoyed dinner, played a hilarious game, and caught up a bit with each other’s lives. Joe and Ethan stayed the night at their house and loved every second of their connection with friends.

We heard back from one of the places we applied located just South of Asheville. The work sounded enjoyable, the place looked fun, and they wanted us to head down in just a few days, so it seemed like a great fit. As an added bonus, a couple of Eric’s friends live in the area and the idea of being able to connect with them in person lit his heart.

We split up the drive into a few days, a Walmart for a night, a Flying J truck stop for a night, and a Cracker Barrel for a night. While spending our night at the Walmart, a plant/floral delivery truck driver rolled up and unloaded his truck. As he was going through his goods, he had a few items that were “unsellable” to the Walmart store and he was going to throw them away. Eric, loving free things, accepted these rejected plants. I believe he may have forgotten how much space we actually have, the entire trailer was littered with plants! I put them in the base of the shower during transport and they took up the entire floor space. Ethan has since decided they are his plants and he enjoys caring for them every day.

We actually had a pretty nice view for a Flying J truck stop.

I’d never been to a Cracker Barrel before, and Eric said it was an experience to have, especially now that we’re in the South. On the way in we walked past one of the thickest and brightest green caterpillars I’ve ever seen. He called it a tomato bug, but I think he looks like star of The Hungry Caterpillar! When we ate, I had biscuits and gravy like a good Southern girl and loved every minute of it. Joe and Ethan both became addicts of their menu, and Eric was satisfied with some fried chicken. Definitely fed our souls!

Joe and I went to Ingles, a grocery store, across the street from Cracker Barrel. I was in organized-can-stacking heaven. Joe and I were so happy about how pretty the store was that I took a few pictures. I love when people take pride in their work.

When we arrived at our new workamp location we were stoked. It seems like a good place to stay still for a bit, but you never know what life will bring you, so we’ll just have to see! The owner of the RV resort lives across the pond and took this picture of our arrival saying that she thought it was a pretty setup. 🙂

A footnote (ha, pun intended, I made myself giggle), Eric agreed to go into a Dr. for his ankle. We got some antibiotics and were told the care we were doing was perfect (thanks Kelly!) and sent us on our way. His pain has been greatly reduced, and he has an appointment with a local wound care nurse to help us if we run into any other issues. 🙂

It’s so hard to say goodbye

The day after getting set up, we attended a little orientation from the owner of what we could and couldn’t do and where things were around the property. We were told we can’t go on the resort really unless we were working, and if a guest of the cabins said hello or wanted to talk, that we were to say hello back, put our head down and keep walking. A bit strange to me, a person who believes in friendly hospitality, but she said she had an issue in the past, so we accepted it and moved on.

There are egg laying chickens on one part of her property and meat chickens on a different part of the property. The egg laying chickens were right by our site, and she told us the more food scraps we feed them, the more eggs they produce. So, we saved all of our scraps and gave them to the chickens. They were so cute, they would RUN to the fence to fight over whatever was given! The thing that surprised us most was that they fought over the eggshells.

I noticed that Ethan and I had a similar level of care in our footwear choice to feed the chickens. We’re pretty stylin’.

It was fun to get eggs in an unlimited quantity and cool that they were all different shapes, sizes and color!

Since we really couldn’t explore the property much, we decided to get off property as much as we could. There was a mountain near Jefferson, called Mount Jefferson, where a person could hike and stop at some of the vistas. It was absolutely beautiful.

It takes a lot of groceries to feed this crew. On our way home we stopped by the store and had to use Ethan’s lap for some grocery storage. The kids thought it was awesome and Ethan kept asking us to put more groceries on top of him so he couldn’t see.

Ethan and Jillian had a chocolate chip cookie bake-off. We were happily the taste testers and judged. We couldn’t decide which was better, they were both actually delicious, but were were amazed at what a difference there was between the two recipes.

Joe received a Pho kit for Christmas last year, and he decided that since Jillian LOVES ramen so much, he’d make it for their last night with us. Jillian did like it. 🙂

The next day, our crew was broken up again. This time, it was Gabe and Jillian leaving. They are going to spend a few months with their mom in Florida, which is bittersweet. We are so excited for them since they are really looking forward to spending time with their mom and younger siblings, but our family just isn’t complete without them.

We left for the airport around 4:30 am and drove to Charlotte for them to catch their flight. Only one parent could walk them in, so Eric took them to their gate and sadly watched as they departed. We look forward to having you guys back, but we hope you have a blast with your mom!

End of summer lake fun

As we rounded out our trip from the Northwest expedition, we made met up with my Dad and step-mom at Alcova Reservoir in Wyoming. There were fires all over the Western side of the country and it was tough to breathe and see. Didn’t stop us from having a great time though!

Eric played “king of the dock” with the kids.

We had a blast being tossed around on Big Mable!

Boating on a lake is my happy place, always has been, and this weekend brought back some of the best warm fuzzy childhood feels. Eric, Joe, Jill and Ethan all fished, unfortunately with no catch, but there was almost always a pole in the water trying.

Wedding Crashers

Eric here, humbly taking on the task of trying to write this part of the blog. I’ll do my best and please make fun of me if you need to!

We decided to stay at the fairgrounds in Bonners Ferry, a little town very close to the border of Canada in Northern Idaho. Who would have known that this little wonderful slice of Idaho is actually a slice of heaven to us. No bugs, beautiful weather, and some of the nicest people!

After we set up, I wanted to cheer Tiffany up from missing her boys. We decided to have a nice date night out in this little wonderful town. The restaurant we wanted to go as our first choice was closed for a private event, so we ended up at a place where the fried ribs were heaven. We had a great meal, had a great conversation, and as we began to walk back to the camper, Tiffany heard some music and decided she wanted to go dancing. We walked that direction, and the music turned out to to be at the restaurant we wanted to go as our first choice. They were having a wedding. Tiffany, as beautiful as she always is, began to dance in the alley. I grabbed her and started dancing with her, giggling about how it would be funny to crash the wedding. Suddenly, one of the family members, by the name of Jessica, invited us in to join the wedding party. Who were we to decline such a wonderful and gracious act? We chatted with all the guests, wished the bride and groom the best and Tiffany danced with all the little flower girls. We decided we love immersing ourselves in a place like this, it was a great time.

Soul Sisters, Tiffany and Jessica at the wedding

Jessica, and her husband, Mark were two of the people we really made a connection with. We all thought it was crazy how similar Jessica and Tiffany were, and decided they were soul sisters. The morning after the wedding Tiffany received a text asking us to go with them on their boat for the day and visit a place at the lake called The Sandbar. We were so excited and rushed to meet them and get in the water.

At the sandbar, a group of boats meet up, blast some music and tie together for one big floating party.

One of the kiddos untied one of the floaties and the girls went floating off. Thankfully, Gabe was a hero, jumped in and brought them back to the boat. It was a great day and we were so grateful to be invited!

Rescue swimmer Gabe

We worked up an appetite and Jessica and Mark decided we must go to the restaurant on the beach. The owner of the restaurant was a client of Jessica’s and a neighborhood friend of Mark’s, so we were given incredible service and seating priority. We had a delicious dinner while listening to live music and watching the sun set over the lake. It was a great ending to a fun day.

Jillian quickly made a friends with Mark’s daughter, and at the end of the day, they had a sleepover where they made lip balms, enjoyed some girl talk and maybe even slept a bit.

Northern Idaho has unexpectedly become one of our favorite places,  who would have thought that little tiny sliver of a state would bode so much activity and wonderful people. We enjoyed our time there and we are looking forward to another visit in the future.

Gabe occasionally will write us a “POTD – pun of the day” – here was the one we came home to, and here’s the illustration Jill decided was appropriate with it.

Heading South

After Bonners Ferry, we were on a mission to make it South to meet Tiffany’s Dad and Chrisma at a lake and then to the Denver metro area for Tiffany to work and us to switch out summer stuff for winter stuff.

Our first stop was another fairgrounds in a place called Moscow, ID. It was a relatively quick and uneventful stay, but we did have a nice little bike ride to Idaho University. Tiffany thought the place felt like Hogwarts with its vividly colorful sunset and interesting architecture.

After Moscow we went to Boise and Idaho Falls, for one quick night each. We weren’t too impressed with those towns, so we quickly got out. On our way leaving Idaho Falls though, we went past Shoshone Falls. It was an oasis in the middle of a desert-like landscape and was a great place for a picnic and walk to break up the day’s drive.

Speaking of picnic, Tiffany has a “no eating in the car” preference. We stopped along the side of the road and she made peanut butter sandwiches for lunch. As she was putting everything away, her open-face sandwich slid down her arm, skidded on the stitching on the leather car seat and landed on the not-so-clean floor mat. Everyone got a good giggle out of the ironic karma of it all.

About 12 minutes from our destination for the night, we had another exciting tire blow out. It blew out on the couch slide side this time. Our poor Liberty looks like she’s been off-roading on some very low clearance trails. We need a giant band-aid. Eric got us all fixed up and back on the road. We’ve realized that duct tape really is quite the useful tool on the road.

The next day we landed at some National Forest Service land just outside The Grand Tetons. Gabe and Jill have a checklist of setting up and tearing down that they are getting very good at executing!

This little slice was a welcome sight after staying in what equated to parking lots for over a week. We had been irritable and tired and we realized part of it was that we had not been in nature for a while to recharge ourselves. We tend to be at peace spending our evenings stargazing and sleeping to the sound of rushing water from the river. We’re learning these little things about ourselves and it’ll be a guide for our adventures in the future.

This site was gorgeous, or as Jillian says, Goblin Core. The flowers and butterflies felt unreal, there were so many varieties of both!

Since it was a hot summer day, we went down to the river for a dip. It was so cold that it made our legs numb, so instead of swimming, we just waded.

Undesirable as it may be to him, Eric actually does need rest sometimes, so I begged him to do that while Jillian and I played in the water. He hides his stillness misery well.

After dinner, Eric held Jillian in his arms and they danced to music from our little boombox by the fire.

On our way out of the Tetons, we went down a steep 10% grade mountain and had our very first pull over to let the brakes cool moment. Chief and Liberty were fine, but the brakes were pungent. The view was worth it though, such a pretty drive. Those Tetons are definitely otherworldly.

Until we meet again

The bond we’ve created over these past couple of months with our children has been more momentous than I even hoped. The last day of our summer together, or as we’re calling it, Chapter 1, we sought out a nice little thrift store that had some of the most fun nostalgia I had seen.

I had a little puppy piggy bank, JUST LIKE this one, with one difference, mine had a little blue tear drop. I have no idea who this character is, but it whooshed me back to nostalgia before I even set foot in the store.

I suggested Ethan try on the bow tie, which always reminds me of his Grandpa Frank. I thought he looked so cute with his hat bow tie.

Joe and Ethan keep watching these Kermit the Frog singing videos (and Toad from Mario singing videos…so obnoxious) and this phone ALMOST found a place in our home because of that.

Then I ran into Care Bears and Polly Pockets merch. Care Bears was when I was little and Polly Pockets reminded me of all the little sets my sisters had. I had forgotten about them! We found a Star Wars set that reminded Eric of his big brother, who was always gentle and respectful of his toys. This set reminded Eric of a Star Wars toy Eric threw on the ground and shattered during a play session as a child, and how devastated his brother was that he was so destructive with that toy.

We were invited to dinner at Joe and Ethan’s Great Aunt and Uncle’s home, which turned out to only be about 8 minutes from where we were staying. I had not seen them in about 8 years, so I was looking forward to catching up.

They warmly opened up their home and gave us a tour of their property. Much of the art adorning their walls were created by their artistic family. Aunt Robyn makes award winning quilts, and she shared a current project she was working on for Joe and Ethan’s Aunt. She also shared images of a project she had created for a couple celebrating their 75th wedding anniversary. Loved ones received plain white tiles of cloth to write a note, then Robyn quilted them into one big love blanket. I think that is possibly one of the most beautiful gifts I have ever heard of.

In the back yard, they had croquet and horseshoes set up and the smell of fresh grilled food and a beautifully set table on the deck felt so cozy summer-y I wanted to squeal.

We met their young chickens, who have their very own chicken swing in their coop, which I loved, and their turkeys, who are only a few weeks away from being ready to process. We LOVED them.

Then we took a gander over to the garden, where they had beautiful organic produce. We were commenting on how much Ethan loves onions, and that he’d eat them like an apple when Uncle Lloyd casually strolled over with Ethan and told him to pull one out. Ethan was elated when he grabbed a perfect onion and Lloyd said it was all his. They did a little wash and cut and Ethan beamed and started his appetizer.

We then went over to the other garden, where there were fresh strawberries ready, Jill’s favorite. She picked a few and cuddled with them until they were washed and then saved them to eat with her dinner.

In the meantime, Joe grabbed a strawberry, did not care about washing it, and ate it before anyone noticed.

Aunt Robyn is a fabulous cook and she made one of the most delicious meals we had for a while. BBQ chickens, organically raised right over in the chicken coop, corn salad, pickled cucumbers and onions, French potatoes, watermelon, and, sticking to the tradition of the area, huckleberry ice cream for dessert. The conversation was delightful, and it was fantastic to catch up with them. Both Joe and Ethan decided they want a property like this when they are older, and want to be self-sustaining and have fresh foods at their fingertips.

Ethan and Joe played a few games of chess while the adults chatted and we played with the super sweet and adorable Golden Retriever, Maddie.

On the way to the airport the next morning, Joe and Ethan had a donut from a little shop hilariously named Gross Donuts. They said they were delicious, so the name is a lie.

We got to the airport and talked about how bittersweet it is for them to be leaving. They are excited to go see their dad, spend time with friends, have unlimited utilities and more space, but they are sad to be leaving our team and hoping not to miss out on too many experiences.

It’ll only be a few weeks, but my heart ached and I could not look away as the plane began its journey with cargo most precious to me.

But the real tear jerker was reading a heart-felt letter I requested Joe and Ethan type, a few weeks earlier, for me to read the day they left. Eric and I sat at a picnic table during sunset at the park we went that night while we talked about how much we miss them already and some of the hilarious memories we are cherishing from Chapter 1. We are so proud of the beautiful hearts of our children and feel blessed beyond words to be theirs.

We found a unicorn and Harry Potter at Coeur d’Lane

Ethan has been wanting to grow his hair out. He wants it so long that a braid will go down his back. Jillian is trying to convince him not to do it, but I think it’s his hair and he can do whatever he’d like, so, we’ll see. After he told me he wanted braids though, I had to grab some rubber bands and attempt to braid the longest part of hair I could find on his head. It’s short, so I kept having to add a rubber band and then keep braiding. The cool thing is, Ethan turned into a unicorn with this little hair do. He was giggling, but was pretending to be serious in the pictures, so I told him to give me his pretty face and he gave me this. I swear that kid smiles nicely, he just thinks it’s too fun to look goofy in photos.

In the meantime, we’ve been working with Gabe and Jill’s picky eating habits. The night before, Eric made his incredibly delicious bratwurst soup which tastes like a stew/chicken noodle soup hybrid with big thick homemade noodles. Everyone except Gabe gobbled up at least one bowl, so we made a deal that the next meal Gabe ate was his leftover soup. This was his breakfast the next morning instead of his favorite thing on the planet, frosted flakes. Little wins for Dad and Gabe looks quite proud of his accomplishment!

This was the last week of summer where we’d all be together, Joe and Ethan were to fly back to Colorado and spend some time with their dad. I’d asked what the wish list items for each Joe and Ethan were for the last week of summer with us would be. Joe’s requests were antiquing and fishing and Ethan wanted to go kayaking. On our way to go antiquing, we put the awning in and it fell off of the rail again. Of course it was nearly 100 degrees and we’d just showered and got ready to go, but I went to the store and picked up some self tapping screws and Eric and the kids fixed the awning. We had hoped to do a scavenger hunt on an app I bought Eric for Christmas in Coeur d’Lane in addition to antiquing, but by the time the awning was fixed, antique stores and the scavenger hunt museum starting location were closed.

We opted to go to a nice dinner at the lake instead. Everyone had a great time at dinner.

The next day we rented a couple kayaks and went into the water at a little river that feeds into Coeur d’Lane. The water felt like bathtub water compared to the falls we had just endured. I would definitely love to rent one of the properties at the water’s edge. It looked like they were building a tiny house village on one of the site…now THAT would be fun!

Joe attempted to fish. The fishing was actually really good, there were several people around us coming up with catches, and Joe wanted to get some salmon for dinner before they left. He said he caught one, but it got away. He broke his fishing line, had to restring, and then recast. When he came back to us, we saw that he did make a very large catch, just not very edible.

Joe also decided to get out of the kayak in his hilarious face down maneuver. He can be so funny sometimes.

As we said goodbye to the day, Gabe practiced his “Olympics”, some sort of running and jumping thing in the sand, and Jill and Ethan used the sand as canvases to draw masterpieces while they dried off. Their friendship has deepened and they now call each other their best friends, I’m so grateful that they found each other.

Gabe lost his glasses at the waterfalls, so Eric and Gabe went to get a new pair. He got many Harry Potter comments at the lake from strangers, so Jillian decided to give him the official Harry Potter lightning scar. I do like how they frame his big beautiful blue eyes!

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.

Rest and Relaxation-y

There was a local beer I tried, called Moose Drool, that I believe is absolutely delicious. We found out their brewery, Big Sky Brewing Company, is a Harvest Host in Missoula, MT. Excitedly, we made arrangements to go and stay a night there.

We needed to run some errands, and on our way, we saw some flowers that looked like Scottish thistle on the side of the road. This flower is significant to us because when we met, we watched the TV series, Outlander, a show based upon a couple’s undying love for each other. Eric, being part Scottish, adopts that he is Jamie and I am Claire, and he even calls me Jamie’s pet name for Claire, Sassenach. One of the imagery items of the show is the Scottish thistle. I felt we needed to get close-up pictures of the purple flowers, and, since I was driving the car, I forced these pictures. Eric was thrilled. 😊

This brewery was the first location that it was not a comfortable 75 or so degrees all day, so we welcomed the air conditioning of the brewery. If you ever find it, try the Huck It beer and the Ginger Lemon Basil seltzer, they are so refreshing on a hot day! We watched the sun set and enjoyed our giant front lawn for the evening.

After the brewery, we headed to Holland Lake, about an hour or so North of Missoula, MT. The drive was breathtaking. The trees were easily double in height of the trees in Colorado and Joe and I mentioned how small it made us feel. This world is such a big place and we are full-heartedly grateful to be able to see sights like this.

Once we arrived at the lake, I was thwarted into happy memories of my childhood at our camping spot. It reminded me of the mountain camping I did with my parents as a kid in our pop-up camper. Although we did not have hookups, we were right next to (ultra luxury at this point) flush toilets, a potable water spigot, and had a Bob Ross style view from the lake. After we were set up, I took my book down to the water, read and disconnected from everything electronics.

Surprisingly, the mosquitoes were less abundant at the lake than at our campsite. After talking to a local, we learned the mosquitoes started late this year, but when they did decide to show up, they came HUNGRY. Wearing clothing and spraying DEET barely helped. Speaking of bugs, caterpillars kept falling from the trees. Joe, Ethan and Jill decided to adopt this cute one and even named it.

We ended up looking up what kind of caterpillar it was, and it turns out its little spines are actually poisonous, and this caterpillar shouldn’t be handled. Oops. No rashes, so we were okay. It looked perfectly blended on the tree so that became its home. It didn’t move the entire time we were there.

And sad news for Jill, the caterpillar was going to be her favorite animal, a moth. ☹

In our bag of baby carrots from the store, Ethan found a teenager carrot and all the kids thought it was hilarious.

Ethan is still refilling and using his vintage store find teacup most days.

Joe and I went on an expedition to find the “huge waterfall” near the lake. We took a couple wrong turns and never ended up finding the trail head, but we did find this sign at the edge of a private driveway and thought it was a hysterical way to ask for people to turn around.

The next day we spent mostly just swimming down by the lake. There were several people on SUPs, canoes and kayaks, motorboats towing skiers, fishing boats catching trout, and jet skis. It was a busy spot and felt like a big summer party.

There were sooo many fish in this lake and they seemed completely desensitized to humans. If you got in the water and stood still for even a minute, you were swarmed with fish. I attempted to record it around my legs but the reflection of the water made it tricky, so here’s the best I got.

Ethan and Jill attempted to catch the fish by smashing them with rocks, grabbing with their bare hands, and scooping them with a bucket, but instead, they caught a little frog and decided to adopt it for a few hours. We have no idea how to sex a frog, so Jill just decided it was a girl. We named her Dottie.

Joe decided to ‘lay down’ and it was too great of a photo op to miss.

We had some foam rubber band rockets that they decided to launch at each other. The close-up of Ethan’s face should probably be checked out, it’s a good one.

When Eric came down to join us, he lay down and attempted a nap. Of course, when you have teenagers, they don’t let you sleep in peace. Instead, they conspire against you and draw smiley faces out of lake water on your belly.

No rest for the wicked 😉

The cloud cover made it comfortable to hang out down by the lake all day, and the fog rolled in all day and then would clear, which made it look like something out of a movie scene.

Eric and I communicate through walkie talkies while backing in and pulling out of spaces and use them in areas where there is no cell coverage while we’re caravanning and want to communicate. We have quite a bit of fun with these sometimes, cracking each other up with our commentary. Joe found a rockie talkie and decided he will now be part of the walkie talkie shenanigans. It now lives in the door of my car.

On our way out of the lake area, we stopped at the closest little restaurant around. It was literally the worst service I’ve ever experienced and they were short staffed in the kitchen so half the menu was not available, but the outdoor area had cornhole and was a great way to spend a couple hours waiting for food. The kids also got to run laps when they were getting ansty, it was a nice open space and they did good. Amazing how running laps made them turn their attitudes around, Eric may be on to something.

My Anaconda don’t…

Anaconda is the place where the largest free-standing brick building in the world, and is actually about 300’ higher than the Washington Monument. One of the people we ran across said it’s so big that the inside of the top of the tower is big enough for a truck to drive around. We attempted to see it up close, but, like most of the things we wanted to see, we had to pay for a tour and it was closed when we were there (either after hours or due to COVID).

There was a viewing station and memorial area, where we could view the smelter stack through binoculars.

I had the kids all stand inside one of the crucibles to take a picture.

They wouldn’t look at me at the same time. For some reason the water at the bottom was freaking them out.

Then Eric came to my rescue and pulled his shirt up and flashed them his bare chest. They all looked. He’s so smart.

After the flashing, we read about the people and processes that made this place what it is today. Joe had to comment that the steel statue men had “ideal body proportions” with their lack of a neck.

And a replica diameter of the interior and exterior walls of the smelter stack. The interior was marked by a brick ring, and the outside of the sidewalk was how thick the smelter stack wall is. The interior had glittery black sand and we could feel the heat of the sun (baking heat ray things). All of a sudden, a teeny green grasshopper jumped from a rock, to the brick wall, and then into the hot black pit of sand. I was so worried that it was going to die a blistery hot death that Joe appeased me by making it his mission to save him.

Then we drove through Anaconda and stopped at an antique store calling our name. It was a hot spot pelt trading store at one point, so they had a TON of pelts and furs. Eric was rocking some raccoon hats and he made Jill wear a lynx (we think) coat. She at first was super squeamish and then after a lesson in sustainability and population control of hunting, she was a little better. I’m with ya, Jill…my meat comes from a store, not animals. 😉 Eric was rocking out. First with his original accordion song, and then some head banging with all the raccoon hats.

Joe and Ethan found an old typewriter and they immediately wanted it badly. They couldn’t afford it individually, so they pooled their money together and bought it together. The plan is, Joe wants to use it to type letters and Ethan wants to write his first novel, a WWII piece. Ethan also got a white vintage china teacup. They were both stoked about their finds.

We went on to Georgetown Lake, a glacial melt lake that rented kayaks, canoes, and paddle boards. At the marina, we hopped in our floating devices and started paddling. The kids were naturals, everyone was off and rocking the water.

We were about 45 minutes into our hour rental period, and we rounded up the kids to go inside. A larger boat came by and created big enough wake that Eric and my kayak started to tip over. Once we were sideways, I decided I decided not to fight the tip anymore and just bail. Eric yelled, “Nooooo!” and we were in the water. The water wasn’t the coldest either of us had ever been in, but snow melt water definitely takes a person’s breath away. The kids came to our rescue and helped us right side the boat. Except Gabe, he thought we had tipped for fun, so he also had tipped over. The only problem is, he couldn’t get his canoe right sided again, the front drain plug was missing. Thankfully, we were close to the dock, so Eric sent Gabe to swim to the dock and then Eric pulled the half full canoe to the back.

Back at camp, Joe started writing letters to family and Ethan washed and sipped tea his new England Bone China teacup.