Friday, August 1, 2014

Island Park

Camping. I have mixed feelings about it. Nature is inspiring to me and I'm always game for hiking and exploring and campfires. What I enjoy less is sleeping in a tent (although there is something cozy about being wrapped up in a sleeping bag with rain pattering gently down on the canvas roof), not being able to cool down after you get hot, dealing with flashlights, worries about snakes, and using the facilities that usually consist of a hole in the ground. I've decided that I'm more of a cabin person when it comes to camping. So I was delighted when it was announced that our family campout this year was to be held in Island Park, Idaho (about 45 mins outside of Yellowstone) and that we would be renting two cabins to house all 30 of us.
(Past years included tenting it in the Uintahs and Hobble Creek Canyon above Spanish Fork.)

Island Park is a favorite vacation spot for many of my neighbors and I have heard them rave about the place for years so I was really anxious to check it out. For some reason Brandon got it in his head that we should all be "super" when we arrived...

Our first morning we all got up early for breakfast and after a flurry of sandwich making for lunch later, we headed off to Henry's Fork for some river rafting. Because of the wide range of the kids we had in tow, this particular river was chosen for its calm nature...really, more of a float than a raft. We were told that there wasn't a very strong current but it was enough to get us down the 5 miles or so stretch in about 2 hours. If only. There was a decent breeze blowing that day...blowing the wrong direction. Which meant that at times we were at a dead stop in the river, sometimes even floating slightly back. Our large group got split up into smaller ones during those 5 miles and I was with the early group that got in first. It took us 4 hours. The groups coming in behind us were even longer than that. Many were burned to a crisp, not having any way to reapply sunblock seeing as we didn't think we'd need to bring it along for a 2 hour float. Most were a little frustrated with the length of the excursion. Personally, though I was more than ready for it to be over when I came to the end, I quite enjoyed the adventure. The river was painfully cold, but I was fine once my feet and backside got used to it. (Read: numb.) There were places where the river was so shallow that I bottomed out and had to stand up and walk until I could float again. I spent a lot of time actively paddling with my hands or kicking with my feet to propel myself down that river against the breeze. But the scenery was beautiful and the day was peaceful. Bryan's legs burned but other than that, our little family fared better against the sun than most of the others. I thought it was a fun day....even if I was one of the only ones.

Yellowstone National Park was the activity of choice for our second day, sore sunburned skin or no. I've only been to Yellowstone once and it was over twenty years ago so I was quite excited to see the place again. It was crowded and windy but oh, there is no place quite like Yellowstone, fascinating as it is. First off...Old Faithful. Because you can't go to Yellowstone without paying homage to the grandaddy of all geysers.

My first thought in trying to describe Yellowstone would be to say it was otherworldly. And yet, there in that place we are very much reminded exactly what our planet earth is truly made of. What we see on a daily basis is really only the surface of what is actually quite complex. At Yellowstone you get to really see the deep down, inner core of it all.

My nephew Ethan declared himself my Yellowstone hiking buddy and stuck by my side the entire day. Even at times when Bryan was holding my hand, Ethan walked on my other side. I'm not sure why I was the lucky one chosen but I tell you what, I was truly appreciative of his attentions. I very much enjoyed hanging out with Ethan and am thankful we got a fun day together.

The next day was another Yellowstone day. Because if you are that close to Yellowstone, shouldn't you take advantage of it? Well, yes I suppose. Only Island Park was also very beautiful and my own little family felt like we hadn't really had much of a chance to really check it out yet. So as everyone else piled into cars early for another trip into the park, we slept in and then made our own plans for the day. Said plans started with a family ride on the ATVs.

We also spent some time playing games...

And reading on the back deck...

And some target shooting...
 It was a nice, relaxing and quiet day.

The next day a few of us took a drive to Upper Mesa Falls in Targhee National Park. It was amazingly beautiful.

Because Julianne was leaving for girls camp on Monday, we decided to cut our Island Park trip a little bit short and go home on Saturday evening rather than Sunday morning. But in so doing we missed out on the biggest event of the week.
If I have the story correctly...Steven and Kevin were up late talking after their families had gone to bed, Kevin's in their upstairs cabin bedrooms and Steven's in his trailer out in the driveway in front of the cabin. They heard a noise coming from outside which prompted the end to the conversation and comments of it being late and maybe it was time to head to bed. The noise they assumed to be coming from Steven's trailer...maybe his wife or one of the kids not fully asleep or potentially coming in to use the bathroom. Steven said goodnight and headed towards the front door when he felt that rather than checking on his family first, he should make a stop at the bathroom right next to the door. He did so quickly. And then when reaching for the front door handle he saw and heard it jiggle. Surprised, he looked up and saw the face of a bear peeking in the window!!! (And a few more !!! for emphasis!) "BEAR, BEAR, BEAR!!!" Steven screamed, which brought Kevin running. Properly freaked out they assessed the situation. Should Kevin grab his gun? No, the bear was outside and they were safe inside...why even open the door? But what about Steven's family in the trailer? What if they heard the noise and opened their door to check on things? While they were frantically deciding what to do, the bear lumbered around the side deck to the back deck, down the back stairs and off into the trees beyond. I don't know when it was that Steven finally felt safe enough to go outside to join his family in the trailer but what we do know is that if he hadn't stopped to use the bathroom before opening the front door, he would've walked straight into a bear! As he told his children later, listen to the Spirit because it truly will guide you. If it says pee here and now, do could save your life!

No comments: