Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Visitors, Vistas and lots of Views

We had very special visitors last week.  Catherine was a bit standoffish of all adults who weren't mommy or daddy after a week of doctors and poking, but she warmed right up when she saw Uncle Ed!
Ed and Georgina brought the kids some very fun treats.  Catherine had a lot of fun with her new stamps:
 And Matthew's had a lot of fun with his dino hand tattoos.  He's being incredibly ornery when we try and take pics so I don't have any close pics but the tattoos wrap around your fingers so you can make dino hand puppets.  I'm still tying up loose ends at work and Matthew had preschool Tuesday so Ed and Georgina stayed home with Catherine.  They had a fun day of arts and crafts planned but Matthew just couldn't wait so he squeezed in some painting before school:

Catherine blew me some kisses and I headed out and came home to some great new projects:

James took a few days off this visit so he could join us.  Last time we had discussed showing them Glacier but we need a slightly longer travel time (and better weather) so we went to one of my other favoritest parts of the country and headed down to Grand Teton.  For the second time, Ed and Georgina had GORGEOUS weather for the off-season.  Everything was still hazy from fires but just as gorgeous and very bright for our first stop at the Cathedral Group:
 Matthew had a lot of fun kicking around the dirt (and checking out his UV-sensitive shoes):

 And Ed and James showed off their foreign tourist pose:

Then we headed over to Jenny Lake to hike to Hidden Falls.  The hike was 5.2 miles and was a highly recommended hike (though most of the season its 4 miles shorter due to a boat shuttle).  It truly was a great day for hiking, sunny and cool as we followed the edge of the lake.
 And then up the hill to find this:
Matthew hiked for about the first mile before being carried in the backpack by dad and Uncle Ed the rest of the way. He could have cared less about the waterfall but there was an (unfortunately) habituated ground squirrel that was keeping a close eye on him which he found hilarious.  
 However, on the way back down he hiked all the way down to the lake's edge by himself:
 Matthew found his hiking/exploring groove finally though he decided to get adventurous and try to "slide down" rocks in his boots.  Boys.
 The winds died down on our way back leaving calm waters and some gorgeous fall remnants:
 And Matthew took some time to contemplate (finding his next stick, rock or leaf of course):
 At the mile and a half-ish mark back we played some motivational games to keep him moving on his own.  Here he is as a T-Rex looking for some meat:
 Impressively, he lead the group for a while and spotted (on his own without any help) a yellow-bellied marmot sitting on a log on the side of the trail.  It was a very cool moment as he's normally the one who scares away everything.   This was probably the longest hike we've done in a long time (and will do for a long time) but I figure Matthew did just about 2 and a 1/4 miles of the hike by himself for which I'm very proud (in addition to all the running around the roadside stops throughout the day).   He was one tired little guy when he asked to get back in the backpack for the last part of the trip:
 This photo also memorializes the last time he'll be in the backpack for a summer hike and likely the last time all together (winter snowshoeing/xmas tree retrieval might be the exception but we're hoping to get him in his own shoes this season).  We'll have to limit our hikes to what he can do on his own and probably upgrade Catherine to the big pack soon. We had a good run but he is just getting way too big and heavy (and gangly).   Catherine had a great hike and didn't really make much of a peep, except to point out some birds of course.  She was all smiles when we got back to the parking lot for snacks:
Afterwards we drove down the road a ways and had a picnic.  I'd say the scenery wasn't too shabby:
Last time Matthew and I were in the park, we were on snowshoes and none of the overlooks were plowed so it was nice to be back in the summer.   Love the Snake River overlook:

 Catherine as always played tour guide:
 Next we headed to Oxbow Bend:
 And then back to our "cottage rooms" and dinner at the lodge.  Due to the low temps overnight we decided not to camp and stayed at, well, the only open lodge in the park.  We had a nice dinner and the view wasn't too shabby:
We headed down Tuesday evening after work so we had Wed and Thurs to explore Teton and Yellowstone.  By the time we hit Yellowstone on the way down it was dark which was a little unnerving.  The ranger at the entrance warned us about buffalo and sure enough, 10 miles later there was some slamming of the brakes and too close van-to-face time with a buffalo wandering over a bridge (hopefully I can get Matthew's impression of the buffalo on video.  Hilarious.)  An important lesson was learned about my kiddos - at 15 months, Matthew slept well in the car and like crap in his tent/pack'nplay/crib.  Catherine sleeps like crap in the car, but slept like a dream in her tent in the hotel room.  This throws a wrench into future "leave when James gets off work" trips but I'm sure like everything else its a phase.  

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