Tuesday, September 11, 2012


Last week we headed down to Big Sky to hike Ousel Falls with our little "babies" playgroup, which is a bit of a mis-nomer as most of our "babies" are now toddlers *sniff!*  Matthew was not jazzed about a hike at all (which in retrospect should have been a red flag) but after agreeing he could take his airplane, he was in.  I was very proud as he hiked the whole 1.7 miles by himself which I believe is his longest hike to date.  We even finished the hike in under 2.5 hours which is a miracle!  (This might have had something to do with a white lie I told him about a playground near the waterfall when I was trying to coax him into the whole trip, but I digress.  He survived without a playground and eventually had a good time along the way!)

 Catherine was pretty impressed, when she wasn't trying to climb over the rock ledge:
Or chatting (or at least not poking eyeballs out) with her friends:
Once I had enough near heart attacks with her climbing and the ledge we moved to the stairs.
 And Matthew and one of his buddies ran laps around us:
 When we got home, Catherine flirted with a nap but Matthew conked out as soon as his head hit his adorable pillowcase from Teta Sharon:
He ended up with some sort of bug which might have explained why he was being such a pill about going hiking.  Poor dude.  We ended up staying home sick for a while so whatever it was  could pass but had a great hike and afternoon outside nonetheless.  Speaking of outdoors, many, many of my formative childhood memories focus around trips with this monster:
and memories of this van (and its replacement) being broken down beside the road even helped pay for our first house in the form of a savings bond I won in a creative writing contest.  Dad was too cool/hip/hippie for an RV (and boy does he b*tch about those on the road) but always extolled the virtues of the camper van.  Even with my father's superior mechanical skills they still broke down a lot so a VW van for our little family was totally out of the question for James and I's less than stellar mechanical skills.  And, as much as I love me some tent camping, the packing and unpacking and set-up with two little ones (in addition to terrible nights of sleep on the ground) led us to stalking Craigslist for a small pop-up camper, our cost-effective, somewhat fuel efficient compromise.  After nearly a year and a lot of missed opportunities, we found a good one and jumped on it last week.  On Friday night we picked it up and headed home.  Unfortunately I had to work Saturday, so by the time we got ourselves situated we agreed on a Sunday/Monday trip, assuming the kiddos would get up early and we could pack up and come back for work early Monday morning.  The kids had fun packing:
And maybe even more fun setting it up:
We headed out early Sunday morning to Missouri Headwaters State Park.  It's only about 20 miles away so we weren't too far in case something went horribly awry.  We made it there safely and got all set-up.

 And then it was just time to relax and hike.  We headed out on a little hike over to the river where Catherine contemplated:
 And Matthew dipped his toes in the water:
 And James grabbed the camera for a bit so there's actually pictures of me for better or worse:
 We spent the whole morning hiking, splashing and throwing rocks:

 But eventually someone got a bit tired so we headed back to the campsite.  We took lunch as an opportunity to test out the stove/gas line.  So far so good.  We then thought we'd test out the sleeping situation with some afternoon naps.  Ha!  The one thing we forgot do to when setting up the camper was to set the auxillary supports.  As we went to put Matthew to bed we all ended up on the same side of the camper and the camper tipped.  Chaos ensued, lessons were learned and unsurprisingly, there was no settling the kids down after that excitement.
 So, we did exactly what we should have done which was to head back down to the river for more climbing, hiking and splashing.  Catherine did her best Lewis and Clark impression at the headwaters:
 And Matthew of course climbed up to help:
 Eventually Matthew decided he needed to explore beyond the rocks and found some mud:
 While Catherine crawled between our laps for kisses:

 And Matthew just got wetter and wetter:
 It was about time for dinner so we headed back to camp.  Matthew put his warpaint on:
 And played some pretty fierce flying trains:
 Catherine played along, but when she disappeared into the ravine, she decided it wasn't as much fun as Matthew made it look:
 One tired baby:
 Much like her brother, it was nothing a little hotdogs and s'mores around the campfire couldn't fix:
 However, as the kids got stickier, dirtier and smellier, the thought of a 6am trip back home was causing me some anxiety.  I had volunteers coming in at work and as it was Monday, that meant the kids came with me.  Bringing my kids into the office has been a very generous perk of my employers but it is rarely enjoyable for me, even when they are on their best behavior.  So, instead of pushing my luck we watched the sunset and headed back into town for baths and sleep in our own beds before a way-too-long morning at mommy's office.  Matthew decided he could help lower the camper all by himself, but this time Catherine jumped in to help:
 And then took over:

Overall, it was an amazingly fun and relaxing day at the rivers.  We learned a few things about our new toy and put enough miles and experience in that we're ready to tackle a true overnight trip a little bit further away.  I'm thrilled that I don't need to pack and repack our basic necessities.  The camper's pretty barebones but it gives us a place out of the rain, a cookstove, a small sink and some flat, padded spaces to sleep on.   I'm already scheming a our next little trip!  

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