Thursday, December 26, 2013

A Mammoth of a Good Time

We had some outsized fun right before Christmas.  First, we made some very large dough for our hopefully annual Potica tradition.  Potica is a sweet, nut bread with Slovenian origins.  My grandmother Jennie used to make them each year for the holidays.  I never got to watch her make it (and truthfully didn't like the stuff when I was little) so for my first few attempts I've used this recipe from the SNPJ society (  It has enough detail for me to fill in some gaps with the written recipe I had, though Teta Sharon just sent me a more detailed recipe so we'll be trying the Pozun recipe next year!  Truthfully, the recipes are very similar, Grandma's is actually a bit easier, has raisins and cocount and might save me about 2.5 dishes which is always appreciated :-)  The kids helped knead (dog hair into) the dough:
 Matthew took a turn:
 And we enlisted Mas help in the rolling!
 I theoretically was supposed to be spending Thursday packing for our adventure, but it was fantastic coming home to lots of yummy bread.  One of our gifts from the Watsons was a very generous pre-Christmas trip to Yellowstone!  Though we go a lot, we've never stayed at the Mammoth lodge or enjoyed their restaurants.  It was a nice change of pace from our PB&J in the car and late night return of our normal day trip! We headed in through Mammoth and stopped at the Visitor's Center to change into our swimsuits and check out these Elk antlers:
 We headed to out with the kids in the trailer.  We had put the skis on, but turned out there were enough hot spots on the trail they didn't always make it efficient:
 When we got there we found an open pool and hopped (or gingerly stepped right in):
 The air temp was a balmy 15 degrees, with only some mild winds.
 Just enough to frost your arm hair on parts sticking out of the water:
Pas and his frosty hat:
 The kids opted to stay in the trailer which was probably helpful since the water ranges from near boiling to freezing cold with a very narrow margin of comfortable.  After 4 years we rarely get the bath water temperature just right for both of them, so we saved ourselves a lot of fussing I'd guess.  As expected, getting out was the hardest part!
 Catherine was unimpressed:
 James came back in his water shoes and shorts because he's a little crazy, errrr . . . .because he's a true Montana mountain man.  Yeah, that's it :-)
 In case you're curious about how cold the water was, here's a mostly frozen Undine Falls just a few miles upstream of where we were!
 An underexposed family shot blocking the falls :-)  The overlooks are often harder to navigate for a picture in 2 feet of snow and/or ice.
We took advantage of the somewhat clear roads to head out to the Lamar Valley for some wildlife watching, Buffalo Jams and photography.  Catherine even got to pick out a few spots to take pictures of the buffalo with her "camera" from Amma and Papa:
 There were Elk:
 And I finally saw my bull moose kinda close!

 Just after we saw him this little guy stole the show!  Small mammals are hard to spot from the car but in the snow this chubby badger stood out and we watched him tunnel through the snow up the hill.
While we got ready Matthew took some pictures for me:

 And a selfie:
 Dinner at Mammoth, with Elmo of course:
 And Matthew did his first artistic interpretation of the day.  Oddly, it was a bison we saw pooping in the park but he went on to draw a lot of elk poop.
 It was the first night the dining hall was open and there were a few glitches in the ordering system so Matthew took photos while we waited:
 And Catherine stole cuddles:
 Afterwards, we played some National Parks memory:
 Then it was time for stories:
 And "sleep", which unsurprisingly did not occur as the picture suggests.  At one point the kids ended up in bed with me, and then after I snuck back into bed with James we switched the kids around so I slept with Catherine and James slept with Matthew.  Catherine was getting over or coming down with a small cold so we thought that was the reason, but I think she was just excited about the hotel. The second night we got smart and put Catherine on the floor and she slept through the night:
 The next morning we were pleasantly surprised with bear pancakes in the morning to fuel us up for our day's adventures:

Our next adventure took us around the terraces and on a snow coach to Norris, but those will have to come along in another post.  I now have a backlog of photos (including to-be-downloaded amazing photos from Pas) to keep me posting for some time :-)

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