Monday, July 18, 2016

Part 9: Goodbye Montana

*Note: This is one of nine posts on our recent trip to MT.  You may want to start with the first one which is on the previous page.*

This morning was our last day in MT.  We woke at 5:45.  Matt and Lily Grace wanted to spend one last hour on the river just like last year.  While they were gone, I gathered the last of our things and made breakfast. 
We are now at the airport for our layover in Minneapolis on our way home with memories and laughs to last a lifetime. 

Thank you God for this blessing of vacation and time with one another.  Thank you for the beauty that has surrounded us the past nine days. 

Their last morning on the river was a very chilly one.

Part 8: Montana Days of This and That

Lily Grace hooked her finger for the first time and learned what comes with being an angler.  She asked me to take this picture. Honestly, I think she was proud of this little wound but don't worry, she also milked it for all it was worth. HA!

Look how adorable she is!

We could stay out there for days on end.

LG loved this hammock out by the house.  In the evenings we would come off the water and enjoy a warm cup of tea.  I think this girl got spoiled!

God is good!

I love the double rainbows after an afternoon storm.

Caught these cuties having breakfast.

Now that Matt has a beard, he has to give it a good trim at the end of each week. I happen to catch him out on the porch trimming it up Saturday evening.  I thought it was so funny that he was using Gracie's pink mirror.  

Part 7: Kayaking Wade Lake

Wade Lake is by far one of my favorite places to visit for its clear blue water and surrounding mountains.  It’s just beautiful.  This year we decided to kayak Wade Lake.  Gracie and I had never kayaked so I was a little worried.  She and Matt started in a tandem to get the feel while I was in a single.  Surprisingly, I didn’t tip over and got the paddling down with relative ease.  It was a beautiful day and we saw two bald eagles.  On a side note, the bald eagles have been in abundance for viewing this year.  They would fly up and down the streams and they were just majestic and so beautiful.  After a few minutes Gracie wanted to go it alone and being a strong swimmer, Matt agreed to let her.  She and I traded spots and I have to say, she may be small but that girl was quite the natural.  Well, that is until the big winds started and we had to paddle upstream to get back.  We ended up tying her up to us and so we could all paddle back.  Let me clarify here, Matt and I huffed it with the paddling back and Lily Grace sat back in her kayak singing to the top of her lungs laughing as she videoed Matt and I paddling back. When uploading pictures that evening, we came across the video she was back there making. Hilarious!
We did make it and Matt swears he would never do it again.  I won’t lie, the burn was real!!!!  My arms were like Jell-O.  It was a LOOOOOOONNNGGGG  way back up stream.  LG on the other hand, has put a kayak on her Christmas list for this year.  Ha! Ha!  Now let’s get back to that ice pack once again.  After we got back from kayaking, we headed down to the river to wet a line.  We were wading out to a very slick spot so Matt had put LG on his back because it got deep and he didn’t want her to fall.  I thought it was so sweet that I stopped to snap a picture of him carrying her.  As I moved around to catch better light for my picture I hear the yell and I see them go down.  Matt hit hard on his knee as he slipped on the rocks and went down.  You can see Gracie yelling "Daddy"!!! in the photo below.  I happen to snap the picture as they were trying to get back up.  I made my way over and got LG who is frantic because Matt has just fallen so hard and is in the water.  While trying to get her, she falls in and gets soaked and it’s cold.  She and Matt had left their waders at home and decided to wet wade.  We manage to get everyone out and as we turn to look at Gracie, she is standing their worried to death about her daddy with water spots all over her glasses and face and we all can’t help but laugh.  And the laughter really erupts when we realize that we need to get Matt home and ice his knee because it's swelling…. and you guessed it, this ice pack is about to get another workout.  We have laughed so hard about this and even felt like we just had to bring that crazy thing home.   The next day, he still had a limp and a bruised up knee, but Matt was fine and back on the water.   After all, it’s vacation!

On our way to the lake, this cow stood his ground in the road and for a moment, thought about head butting the car.  

The water is so clear and blue at Wade Lake that Gracie and I got a picture of this fish underwater.

Gracie was quite good at kayaking and loved it!

Just as last year, Matt got to celebrate his birthday in MT.  Gracie and I started his day off with cards that we had brought from home.  LG made him this card with a Montana theme.  So cute.

Look at Gracie's face.  This is when Matt fell and hit his knee hard on a large rock.  This is also when he would cash in on use of the now popular ER ice pack.

Part 6: Yellowstone National Park Up Close

We once again returned to Yellowstone National Park this year.  This park is massive and you could visit every day for a week, stay all day and still not see the entire park.  We revisited the Grand Prismatic, which is one of the most colorful attractions.  Luckily we went last year and hiked up the mountain parallel to the Grand Prismatic to see its circles of color from above.  I had read about hiking this mountain on social media.  I’m so glad we did because this year, Yellowstone marked off access to the mountain.  They are building an official lookout point on the mountainside in lieu of the “social” path that many have been hiking for years.  I have to say, the view from eye level this year was amazing.  The wind was blowing just right and we could see the colors so vividly.
Of course we stopped by to watch Old Faithful erupt and it is still super exciting. 

We hiked the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone this year for the fist time.  Last year we hiked to the viewpoint up top.  This year, we hiked all the way down the lowest access point and boy was it worth it!!!!!!  It was really something to see.  I won’t lie or make light of how hard I gasped for breath on the hike back up that thing but it was totally worth all the huffing and puffing.   

On our way into Yellowstone, we love stopping at the Running Bear Cafe for some delicious pancakes.

Lily Grace took this really cool panoramic of the Grand Prismatic.

Below the Grand Prismatic
After lunch at a cute general store in the park, these two tackled a milkshake each.

On our way to watch Old Faithful erupt.  Of course those two are lugging those shakes and Gracie has that walking stick in tow.
LG took our eruption picture this year. 
Here we are near the top of the Yellowstone Canyon.
One of Gracie's cool panoramic on the way down.

Making our way down

It got steep in places as we would wind down the mountainside.

Stopping for a break
I loved how interesting the bottom of this old fallen tree looked on our way down the canyon.
Here we are after making the hike all the way down.  Look how beautiful the waterfall is in the background.

We made it!  This is your reward for hiking down and back up, the most amazing view!

This shot shows how far down the mountain we came.  The trail starts up in the tops of those trees.

Here is how far we had to climb back up and this is just the stair portion at the very bottom.

Part 5: Montana Grizzly and Wolf Center

This year, we drove into West Yellowstone to visit the Grizzly and Wolf Center.  It was so cool.  This is not a zoo.  It’s an animal sanctuary for MT animals that have been injured and can’t return to the wild.  It was really fun to get an up close look and learn about these amazing animals. 

We got the biggest laugh, along with some people passing by at Lily Grace stopping to take selfies with all the carved animal statues.  

The wolves were beautiful.  

This fellow hurt his wing and is at the sanctuary because he can no longer fly.