Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Jackson Hole and Yellowstone with the Fam

What do you get when you mix two parents, two grandparents, eleven siblings (we missed you Megan!) from Utah, Idaho, Connecticut, Arkansas, Georgia, California, and Nevada, their spouses (we missed you Tori!), and children (including 3 babies under one and two toddlers under two--we missed you Eva!) in the Grand Tetons National Park with 3 campers/RVs, 8+ tents, 2 cabins, and a gazillion mosquitoes? You guessed it... it's either a recipe for disaster or a good time waiting to happen. We had a little of both on our recent family reunion at Colter Bay, Wyoming just north of Jackson Hole and just south of Yellowstone.

Let me preface this by saying that I really don't love camping. I used to glory in "roughing it" and thought I was pretty impressive putting up my dome tent and sporting a bandana'd hair do. Now, I really just don't like to be dirty, I don't like sleeping in a tent or putting on 15 layers so I don't freeze (then sweat to death some nights and STILL freeze other nights), I hate mosquitoes (and find myself swearing at them often) and the smell of repellent, I hate having dirty boogers for days on end, I don't like to cook while camping, I hate doing dishes while camping, I hate my allergies while I'm camping, and it's just way too much work. Now that I've gotten that off my chest... it was very fun to see everyone and be in such beautiful surroundings. And I was grateful we had flush toilets in our campsite. And Ryan loves it. And the kids love it (Olivia said today "I just wish we could stay at that campsite forever!"), and there were some good times. Just don't expect me to go camping again anytime soon.

I'm not sure if you can see in this picture, but Olivia got eaten alive by mosquitoes. I think they were all resistant to DEET and any other repellent we tried to use. The bite on her forehead looked like a goose egg. I told her once that she has sweet blood, because she always seems to get more bites than anyone else. She ran with that idea and said some funny things this trip...

"The mosquitoes had their breakfast, lunch, AND dinner on me."

"Why do I have to have such sweet blood? I wish I had yucky blood like the rest of you."

"They are sure going to miss me when I leave."

And the bites got so numerous that she lost count at 34 or so. For some of them she even surmised what kind of mosquitoes bit her according to the size of the bite ("that was the mama, and these two were her babies").

Mike is always the happiest when he's around his kids--Jake, Cheristy, Mike, Stephanie, and Clint.

This picture is of my sister Heather and me just before we got on the ferry to cross Jenny Lake. She lives in San Diego with my Dad and it was so fun to have her here. She's so kind and positive about everything, we all just love being around her.

My mom LOVES camping and she LOVES her family and she LOVES everything about the Tetons and Yellowstone. She made packets for the kids to check off wildlife and trees and landmarks. She planned meals for everyone and assigned cooking and clean up crews. She even gave us all matching Yellowstone t-shirts and Jackson Hole jackets for Christmas. She put a ton of work into planning this trip and was unfortunately stressed out a lot of the time (maybe that's where I get it from?)... but here she is happy and relaxed riding on the ferry across Jenny Lake.

This is the group of us that hiked up to Hidden Falls . Ryan and Dave (my brother-in-law who also dabbles in photography) were on a ledge a ways away and they both kept telling us to do different things... move this way or that way or spread apart or squish together... it was pretty funny, but one of them managed to get a decent photo of us all.

Our little family in front of Hidden Falls (take # 569).

Ryan doing his photography thing with his tripod that weighs a hefty 8 or 10 lbs. It might not sound like much, but lugging it up the mountain was a chore. I was glad it wasn't MY chore.

Liv's a great hiker. She went with Ry all the way to Inspiration Point while Coleman and I chilled on a ledge below watching the chipmunks who had the audacity to come up to us and beg for food. A few of them even tried to crawl on us. Coleman kept telling everyone within earshot, "You better not touch them, they are WILD chipmunks you know. And don't feed them either. They are wild!"

Coleman and I looking out over Jenny Lake with the chipmunks.

This tree warranted a pull-off to the side of the road--you know, the kind that really messes everyone else up in National Parks because they all think there must be some great animal to see so they pull off too and cause a major traffic jam--this time, just a really cool tree.

Ryan and Dave got really close to a couple of adolescent black bears (even though they are brown, they are black. Got it?) on one of his early morning photo shoots. The ranger let them get closer than they "should have". The rest of us didn't get to see any bears, but we sure got the message to keep our food and toiletries and everything else locked up so that they bears wouldn't visit us in our camp.

This was a beautiful shot that Ryan got early in the morning. Everything was pretty hazy because of the California fires, but I still think this was a great photo.

This is my favorite photo that Ryan got while we were there--it's a barn from Mormon Row in the early morning. During our closing slide show that Ryan put together one of my brothers-in-law said that he saw that same shot in a gallery in Jackson. I do believe a large print of this photo will be hung somewhere in our home (HINT to Ryan!!!).

Some of the more adventurous of the group went down the Snake River in a raft--Ryan is in the hat in the front of the boat. For some reason I don't have much of an adventurous spirit after having babies, because I chose to stay behind with the kids and babies and do a little shopping in Jackson. It's been a really long time since I've been there... I was looking forward to some Outlet Store shopping, but apparently they've all closed down because the people that shop in Jackson are rich enough to afford regular priced merchandise. Buggers. We wanted to try some of the local fare and went to a bakery and milkshake stand and got ripped off (exorbitant prices that they didn't even have the decency to list) and the food wasn't that great either. I wasn't impressed.

One night my mom gave camping awards to everyone around the fire. Ryan got the "Best Photographer", Coleman was the "Most Cheerful" (obviously not my award!), Liv got "Most creative in the car" (that girl comes up with some crazy spin-offs of "I Spy" and "I'm Thinking Of"), and my award: "Best Cleaner-Upper". You can feel my love for camping, can't you??? Apparently they all felt it too.

This picture was so funny--they all looked like characters out of Lord of the Flies. Maybe if we had given them a little more freedom they could have run the camp better than we did! Chaim (Cheristy's youngest), Evan (Erin's middle son), Andrew (Lauren's youngest son, middle kid), Tayden (Erin's oldest son), and my Coleman.

Me with baby Grace. She was the youngest camper (although she got to stay in a cabin with her mama). I am quite sure she wasn't at all interested in being with me.

Coleman was SO dirty and he loved it. He'd pick up dirt and rocks just to get more dirt on him. Here he is enjoying the classic camping food--a s'more--that my mom kept calling "Some Mores" and even wrote them that way on the menus she typed and distributed to us.... none of us had the heart to tell her how it really is. Since she doesn't read this blog... maybe one of her sisters that DOES read it could break the news to her gently???

We drove into Yellowstone one day and this flyer cracked us up. We pictured bears, elk, and bison (or is it buffalo?) meeting in some grove of trees to get their next fix. It is true though, speed kills. Don't do it.

The other side of the flyer was just as funny with the drawing of the tourist getting gored by a buffalo (bison?). I'm sure it wouldn't be funny if it really happened, but the drawing made us laugh. A lot.

We arrived at Old Faithful just AFTER it erupted. Yes, we walked toward it and saw a mass exodus of people walking away from it. We made our lunch and ate while we waited for the next go around.

Coleman and me just after Old Faithful erupted. He had a great view!

All of my sisters were able to come except for Megan (who we missed!). Lindsey (and Jonah), me, Heather, Erin, and Lauren (and Claire). I wish we all lived in the same state so we could hang out together more often.

Lauren and Claire and me... you can tell by the force with which she is leaning away from me that Claire doesn't remember the love we shared the week I went and stayed with them. I was hoping that by the end of the trip she'd give me a little love, but there was none to be had.

Me with Jake (who lives in Arkansas--his wife Tori and his daughter Eva couldn't come) and Cheristy (who now lives in Georgia and came with her family).

Me and Jonah (Lindsey's baby). We hung out together while Lindsey and Chad went on the Snake River. He gets to hang out with me at our house every once in awhile too... he's a very happy and mellow baby and very easy to be with--he makes me happy to be his aunt.

The whole group just after Old Faithful erupted. What erupted next was a big, huge family fight. People wanted to go every which way and we didn't have enough cars to take everyone where they wanted to go--so it resulted in a big shouting match for all to enjoy.

The funniest part of it all was that one of my siblings swears he saw a Korean family close by shouting at each other in Korean. Fighting truly is the universal language!

We finally worked things out so that those who wanted to head back to camp could and the few that wanted to do the marathon Yellowstone tour could do that. Our last stop was at Geyser Basin where they have all the hot pots. Coleman was so fascinated and would have stayed there all day. He kept saying "This is the best day of my whole life" and "Come on Mom! Let's go up there and see some more AWESOME!" and "Oh, I just really wish I could touch it, just once."

All in all, it was a fun trip, but I must reiterate my point, camping is NOT a vacation. It is a lot of hard work! Vacation is something you go on to relax and you come home with a tan and have read a few good books and have not a care in the world--but here I am, two days later, still doing laundry and putting stuff away and itching my mosquito bites and scraping dirt out from under my kids' nails and wondering how I got roped into tenting it.

**Do you like camping (honestly?!?)?
**Do you like "Some Mores" too?
**Do you go on trips with your family? Do they cause you as much stress as they do for me?
**Have you ever gotten into a family fight in a public place?
**Where should I go for a REAL vacation?


Cheri said...

Wow, I loved reading this! Probably because we were just there two weeks ago and I can relate to a lot of it (except we were in an RV - definitely the way to go). You are so funny; I love your sense of humor. And the main thing I noticed in this post is that you were grammatically correct when writing "brothers-in-law" (instead of "brother-in-laws" - I hate that!). Thanks for NOT sending a shiver up my spine.

Such a fun trip! (You're right, it wasn't a 'vacation.') I think you and Ryan should go to Cozumel or the Virgin Islands for a real vacation. Oh, and I LOVE your mom, no matter how she spells "Some Mores."

Nicole said...

Nice to hear that other families fight on their family reunions too. We always have some form of camping (and fighting), and no, I am not a fan. Though this year's was in cabins....most definitely the way to go.

Jeremy and I used to backpack and go "real" camping. I have no desire to do any of that anymore. *sigh* I too think I have lost my inner adventurer since having kids.

As for a vacation?? Hum, if it is with the kids, we had an amazing time in California when we went to Monterey. It was so pretty and the kids LOVED the aquarium. If you want a vacation from everything....I don't know. I want to find one of those myself! If you find a great spot let me know. :)

sara said...

That looks like heaven to me! I love the Tetons and Jackson Hole. I want that picture of the barn. Maybe some day when I have a house I can order one from your hubby? :)
Also-it wouldn't be a family reunion if a fight didn't erupt somewhere, right?
Love the "some mores". It must run in the family because Jane says "cotsco" for costco. I love it. Love the Wirthlin clan.

Kristi said...

My views about camping are the same as yours. My mom would always say, "Roughing it for me is a Motel 6!" I can handle one night away, but not several. It is too much work to be a vacation. Although, isn't it funny how well the kids take to it and always seem to love it? It's too bad, really. Another thing I totally agree with you is how you said you lost your adventurous side when you had babies - AMEN!! I don't know what happened to me, but I have totally mellowed since having kids (not that I was totally crazy to begin with) but now I have reached the way-too-cautious level. Richard sometimes wonders what happened to the girl he married.

LAURA & ELIZA said...

LISA! I think you know, I am NOT a camper. But, I do love Yellowstone. I like going back to a hotel at night though. I love s'mores! The thought of them make my mouth water. Do I get stressed on family vacations? I would if I had to go camping.

Kristy said...

Family vacations are great and stressful! Spencer and I always want a seperate room for space! I love Yellowstone and Jackson Hole. We have spent a lot of time there with lots of crazy adventures!

Allyson said...

I agree with you whole-heartedly - I'm not a camper either. The idea of it always sounds fun but in actuality it's a lot of hard work. That's so neat your family was able to get together like that. And how neat of your sweet Mom to plan it all!

And your kids are just adorable. Coleman says the cutest things! I'm so glad all of your sisters were there! And Lindsay's little boy is so big now! What a cutie!

lArZ said...

That looks like it was a fun trip! but I bet you're glad to be back!=) Those pictures of the animals and nature are beautiful! reminds me of National Geographic mag! =)

Mollie said...

I love Jackson Hole and Yellowstone! When I was at Ricks we got to go all the time. I miss that a lot! You guys looked like you had a blast!

Victoria said...

We missed seeing y'all! I can't say I missed the camping... not my thing at all.

The story of the family fight cracked me up! I always envisioned you all as a bit more passive.

Jake said he and Erin brainstormed a cruise in 2011... I guess I could grunt through that.

Traci said...

I loved reading your post! And Olivia's comments about her blood made me laugh. It sounds like you had some great times, but I'm a lot like you on the idea of 'camping.' One night is good and fun, but much more than that and I lose my umph. Can't wait to see you!

Janene said...

oh my stars! this looks like so much fun (so there is your answer -- yes, I do truly enjoy camping -- but I think I'm almost done for this summer!) I don't describe it as "vacation", maybe "trip" instead?

The picture of you with Coleman on back is precious, and I also love those bison flyers. They succeed in getting the point across!

Cheristy said...

Great blog of our trip. It was fun looking back at all the pictures!

Cheristy said...

PS I missed the fight. I was too busy making cool pennies in the General Store.