We had a party for Mason in our yard on July 17th. That was a big day since I was also the guest speaker at First Congregational UCC, I was trying to pack for a very long trip. I love having friends over. Nothing makes me happier than seeing kids playing in the backyard.
|Mason picked out his cake. He wanted a white cake with pink frosting. Mason and his friends enjoyed playing with sparklers.|
|Ellen knows how to relate to Mason. He loves to be tickled.|
|The Ropella's gave Mason a magazine about log homes. It kept him occupied for a few days. He loves to look at house plans and pick out the house he wants to buy when he's a "big man."|
|I tried to get a picture of Sahlma and Audrey together, but Audrey ran forward too fast. Sahlma and Mason were in daycare together from age two or three. Sahlma and her family are moving to White Water. We will miss them.|
One day two, we made it to Roosevelt National Park. It might as well have been the Grand Canyon. It was so hot. The Midwest was experiencing an unprecedented heat wave. A few days before the trip, I had the handle on the back pop-out bed replaced. Our camper is a hybrid, and the handles need to securing latch to keep the bed from falling out. I had no idea that the new handle was not working. We stopped at the welcome center, then we made out way up 8 miles to the Cottonwood campground. I had no knowledge that the back of the camper had unlatched and the double bed mattress had actually fallen out close to the opening of the park. As I pulled into the campground, a ranger pulled me over and asked if I knew about the back of my camper. Of course, I did not. I can't see anything behind the camper, for sure. Anyway, I headed back to the visitors' center to make a report and hope that someone had turned in my mattress. As I was out in the parking lot putting duct tape on the back of the camper, a ranger pulled up and said he had left the mattress by the phone booth in the Cottonwood campground. I had a reputation. When we got to the camp ground, it was hotter than blazes. There was no running water or electricity. The only campers who seemed happy were people with solar generators. I didn't like our assigned camp, so I drove around for a while trying to find a camp with shade. There wasn't much to choose from. Finally, I ended up in a camp that really a joined another camp. There was a single older man camping alone there. He told me he was from San Francisco, and he was just going wherever the universe told him to go. He took a strong interest in Audrey to the point that I felt uncomfortable. I took the kids for a long walk and tried to avoid this guy. The problem was that Audrey liked him, too; and she really isn't that friendly with most people. The next morning he told me that he was moving on to Sturgess because he knew there would be campgrounds there with swimming pools and electricity. I had planned to stay for two nights in the park, but no way was I going to suffer there in that heat. I decided to go on to Montana. I had no cell phone coverage from T-Mobile for most of my trip. I had planned on using the GPS on my phone for directions, but without cell connection, I couldn't use the phone.
|Mason and Audrey overlooking the first vista in Roosevelt National Park. People were spotting buffalo and mountain goats. I spotted Prairie Dogs.|
|Mason never has too much reading material. He looks for maps, pictures of houses, and pictures of garage doors.|
|I took pictures of the maps of rest stops so I could find my way to East Glacier.|
|Mason enjoyed his freedom again, and we all enjoyed the cooler temperatures. At night, it was getting down to about 46 degrees. I loved it.|
|Morgana and Audrey sharing Huckleberry Ice Cream. Audrey calls her Auntie Gana. We also had the famous Flathead cherries.|
|Mason quickly became friends with Morgana. She was a natural at understanding him. I wish we could move her here to Menomonie!|
The next morning Morgana drove up to West Glacier, and we all to the free shuttle up the west side of the Going to the Sun Road. We had fun looking through the gift shop. Mason wanted a book about the solar system, and Morgana bought Audrey a book called Glacier Babies. We capped off the evening with campfire dinners and s'mores. The next day, we drove around Flathead Lake like I had done hundreds of times, but it seemed more beautiful than ever. I kept wondering if there was a way to get back there. The closest university is in Missoula. We drove south past Missoula and then into Idaho. I had hoped to make it all the way to SLC in one day since I'd done it many times in a truck or car, but pulling the trailer really slowed me down. We made it to Idaho Falls and found the only campground we could find. It was overbooked, but the owner let us pull up to a tent spot on the lawn.
|We stopped at Hell's Half Acre in Blackfoot Idaho. Mason got to see lava from a real volcano.|
The next day was Mason's actual birthday, July 26th. We arrived in Riverton about 4:30pm. We all showered and did laundry, then went over to Rocky Mountain Care where my mom is in a nursing home. Mason's papa bought him a beautiful birthday cake. Mason wanted white icing, and Papa wanted carrot cake, so they both got what they wanted.
|We came into Utah from the north.|
|Audrey and Leo at the splash pad. Leo was wearing a full-body Nemo swim suit.|
|We took five kids to eat pizza. Mason had fun playing with his cousin Serena. They were singing into the microphone.|
|Audrey and Cosette playing at the splash pad.|
|Cousins make the best friends: Mason, Audrey, Lacey, Serena, Leo, and Cosette.|
|We had fun at Thanksgiving Point at the Museum of Natural Curiosity. Audrey splashed all the other babies.|
|Pizza and pop with five little ones. And I'm still smiling.|
|We spent one day with my cousin Kim and her sons Dylan and Alan. We enjoyed laughing and eating together at Costa Vida.|
|This picture typifies Audrey's response to anyone but mom holding her. Audrey and Mama are tight.|
|My loves are asleep after watching the Olympics and developing their own tumbling routines.|
|After twenty three days of living in the car, both kids were covered with snacks and pop. Audrey's car seat needed to be hosed down. Clothes were not for her. She sat there being "thirsty" and pouring water all over.|