Last weekend we headed out for another abbreviated camping adventure. Unfortunately, this time I had a class early Sunday morning so we left Friday night and came back late Saturday. Knowing we could pull the trailer without huge problems (*knock on wood*) we headed to Yellowstone. We left after we had both finished work for the day and headed down to the Gardiner/Mammoth entrance. We passed the fire that consumed and is still burning in the area where we were hiking/camping earlier in the summer.
I naively thought we were far enough out of peak season we'd have a shot at a campsite in the park and the park guide even only recommends reservations June-mid-August. Ha! We were turned around at the gate and at that point it was about 8pm. Had I been thinking we would have just stopped in the National Forest just north of the park. However, at this point in the game we were just ready to try and get the kids settled down so we ended up at an overpriced RV Park in Gardiner. The kids didn't seem to mind and were excited about the camper all over again:
Matthew wiggled out of his sleeping bag once and Catherine was up a few times but all in all we had a good night and I know I slept better than our past few tent trips. The next morning we made breakfast in the trailer's kitchen and then packed up. I still have some fine tuning to do with organization of cooking gear but we're making progress. The kids were eager as always to help pack up. You can tell they were both working really hard:
We headed back to the park and saw these guys just hanging out in Mammoth.
As we were headed back I discovered Matthew had left me this to remember him by:
Next up we had a picnic lunch and headed to another set of falls and Artist Point.
Both kids completely zonked out as we headed out so though we passed some more places we wanted to stop - keeping the kids asleep was top priority as always. We had left the trailer parked in Gardiner to save gas and make it easier to navigate the park. The kids woke up as we stopped to re-attach the trailer so we wandered over for a sweet treat to cap off a great trip. Catherine approved:
And though we had seen lots of buffalo, elk and sheep I was a little bummed we didn't see a bear. Sure enough one ran right in front of the car in front of us. James pulled over and I was able to watch the bear look at me (would have been an amazing shot) and then head back into the bushes right as I got the lense cap off. You can use your imagination that there's a bear to the right of that post :-)
Sunday I had signed up for a photography class with a group of friends. It was very, very helpful and informative and I've challenged myself to shoot more pictures in manual mode. All the pictures below I shot on manual which was a huge step for me as I've been hesitant to play with it at all before this and totally intimidated every time I had tried to teach myself. A friend and I were so jazzed after class we arranged to head to the park that night. . . probably a little too late as we were both fumbling around with our gear in the dark!
However, here you can see how crazy smokey it is here. Somedays its hard to make out the Bridgers. Our smoke is coming mostly from fires in ID & WA or so they say. Sorry to whoever is getting the smoke from MT's fires because we have too many too close.
In other excitement we've been busy harvesting apples off our tree:
And he's figured out how to operate his excavator fully which is pretty exciting. It takes a lot of concentration but now he's been busy filling all kinds of inappropriate things (his sisters shoes for example) with sand:
She does have some moments where she idolizes her brother and is willing to play peacefully for a few second: