Visiting Oma & Opa – MT

We got to spend a couple weeks at Oma and Opa’s house in northwestern Montana.

First project – trying to help break a skid-steer loose

Kellen – camo hat, Toben – gray shirt

Opa fixing a thing or two

The most beautiful sunsets from their driveway

Taking walks down the road

Meeting their new puppy, Granite

Checking out chickens and pigs at their pastor’s house

Thanks for a fun visit, Oma and Opa!

Kellen – camo hat, Toben – blue hat


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Coeur d’Alene, ID & Spokane, WA

We spent an awesome week in the Cabela’s parking lot in Post Falls, Idaho.  The park and trails by the lake in Coeur d’Alene were beautiful.

Kellen – orange shirt, Toben – blue hat

Thanks to Aunt Laura’s recommendation we split some Gooey’s at the resort.

Kellen – camo hat, Toben – gray shirt

We made the short drive over to Spokane, WA and stopped by Whitworth University (last time we were here for Laura’s graduation Caiden was 9 months old!)

Spokane also had several awesome YMCA’s (and Chipotle!) so we found ourselves there most evenings to burn some energy and take showers.


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Livingston, MT & North Yellowstone, WY

After a couple of months in Colorado, spring was starting to peek through and we headed north.  We spent two nights at an amazing spot just outside of Livingston, MT right on the Yellowstone River which was free because it was still preseason!

We went in the north side of Yellowstone for the day and really enjoyed being there without any of the summer crowds!

Kellen – camo, Toben – black

Checking out Mammoth Hot Springs – a part of the park we hadn’t seen before and just as strange and interesting as the rest of Yellowstone.

Last time we were in Yellowstone almost 3 years ago we kinda saw one buffalo very far away as a dark shadow.  This time they were everywhere!

Check out those empty roads – glorious!

Lamar Valley

By the end of the day the kids weren’t even bothering to look up for buffalo anymore!

On our way back out we stopped at along Gardner River one of the few spots in the park where you can get in the thermal hot springs.

After a short hike in you come to where Boiling River (right) dumps into the much cooler Gardner River (left).  You can go in Gardner River but not Boiling River which would be way too hot even if it was allowed.

Logan and the kids thought it was a cool thing to try but said it actually wasn’t the most enjoyable hot springs experience – hot and cold spots but not a nice even soaking temperature anywhere.

Our last stop was the Roosevelt Arch on the way out of the park – Yellowstone’s first park entrance.  President Teddy Roosevelt laid the cornerstone of this arch in 1903.  Visitors would come by train to Gardiner, MT then transfer to horse-drawn carriages to enter the park here.

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Around Colorado

We haven’t gotten to spend much time with the Moffat’s since we all had kids so it was fun to get to catch up with them as they graciously let us “camp” for the night in their driveway (and fed us!)

Kellen – camo hat, Toben – blue hat

Gunther Toody’s with Grandma and Grandpa

We watched several different wildfires sweep across the prairie towards our campground.  Thankfully none of them got too close!

Hiking in Red Rock Canyon with the Houle kids

L-R: Toben, Kellen, Ian, Ashton, Rylan, Caiden, Avery, Brennen

My cousin and family came down to Colorado Springs for their daughter’s state gymnastics meet.  We got to see her compete on beam and floor exercise – so impressive!

I had the brilliant idea one Saturday to hike up Mt Herman.  I didn’t research enough beforehand to discover that there are two routes up.  Unfortunately, we ended up on the much harder and steeper route.

The kids are hiking troopers!

We did find the other route to go down (thank goodness!  It would have been awful trying to slide down the way we came up) and it was, in fact, much easier.

Fun times seeing cousins and getting to watch Easton’s baseball game

Rylan got a kite for her birthday and we had to wait for a not very windy day on the eastern plains to fly it.

New tires on the Airstream before heading out of town again!  We put lots of miles on the last set.

We stopped by to see my Grandma and she is doing amazing at 96!  The kids told her lots of corny jokes many of which she figured out before they told her (and the ones she didn’t figure out were kid jokes that didn’t make sense in the first place!)

She is just as much of a card shark as ever!

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Rylan’s 9th Birthday – CO

Rylan’s birthday date started off with a delicious German lunch at Edelweiss

Then we went to the World Arena to see Disney on Ice – Frozen.  Coming off of watching hours of winter olympics it was fun to see some figure skaters in person.

Since we were staying in one spot for a bit we gave Rylan six weeks of gymnastics as her birthday present.  To say she loved it would be an understatement!

(She didn’t love Caiden taking her picture though)

There was lots of birthday party theme discussion in the weeks leading up to her party but she settled on royalty and spent a lot of time making crowns, swords for the boys, a notepad for Caiden (the scribe), etc.  Huge thanks to Grandma and Aunt Laura for helping her feel that her theme was fully executed!

Aunt Laura planned a fun day of crafts which Rylan loved

Her actual 9th birthday included Dunkin’ Donuts for breakfast

Great presents from her brothers

Kellen – green, Toben – gray

A few days later we met up with Avery and Ashton at Skate City for some roller skating!

This girl celebrated her birthday for weeks!

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Easter – CO

Headed back to Colorado and back to snow (though our drive through Summit County was amazingly brown and dry for the first week of March!)

We got to celebrate Easter with my family.  Grandma and Grandpa had prepared some fun activities.

Proud of their stained glass crosses

Rylan was excited to wear one of my old Easter dresses

Making “empty tomb” biscuits

(Toben’s showing off his watch)

The kids hunted for Easter eggs in the backyard

And we opened them to read through the story of Easter

We didn’t get any pictures but we ended the day with dinner at Heart of Jerusalem for the first time (seemed somewhat appropriate) and all really enjoyed the food!  The kids keep asking when we can go back.

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Death Valley NPS – CA

Since it’s February and temperatures are as pleasant as they can get we spent the weekend camping in Death Valley.

We visited Badwater Basin – the lowest place in the US at 282 ft below sea level (though I couldn’t believe that the Dead Sea is 1360 ft below sea level!  It made Death Valley seem less of an accomplishment)

Kellen – camo hat, Toben – blue hat

From the parking lot at Badwater you can look up at the rocks behind you and get a visual of how far you are below sea level.

Death Valley has a lot of salt deposits (combinations of table salt, borax and others) so the areas where lots of people walk are all smoothed out and almost look like ice.

Badwater Basin has a little bit of a natural water supply but it is so salty that early travelers were disappointed to find that it isn’t drinkable.

It can get up to 134 degrees here in July (and only drops to an average of 88 degrees at night).  We were so glad to be there when it topped out in the 70’s midday!

Death Valley is the largest national park in the continental US but most people (like us) only visit a small strip roughly in the middle.  We did drive from east to west across that strip to visit Panamint Springs and hike to Darwin Falls.

This water is fresh and still supplies drinking water to parts of the park today.

Back on the east side, Artists’ Palette is a short drive through some really amazing colored rocks (you can see a tiny Rylan, Logan and Kellen hiking up)

After swearing-in as Jr Rangers we got a tip that there were quite a few pupfish to be seen in Salt Creek and stopped to check them out.

They’re only about an inch long and unique to this very salty creek in Death Valley.


“Springtime” means flowers even here in the desert

20 Mule Team Canyon

Final pictures from Zabriskie Point

L to R – Toben, Kellen, Brennen, Caiden and Rylan

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