Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Day 2

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Now we felt like we were really on vacation.  (Though, clearly, had we connected with the Squirrels the day before, we really would've had a treat! ;D )

The main activity for today was something I remember from one of my childhood family vacations, but on the way there...

Montana is all about mining, so we took a detour and drove through Anaconda, actually an attractive town.  No snakes, but what a huge chimney!

Kerry also insisted we stop in Butte (the source of many a joke, in the Testosterzone, btw), to see the Berkeley Pit Mine.   Pretty impressive, in a creepy way.  After walking through a tunnel you emerge on a platform to view an 1800' deep hole, slowly filling with acidic chemical-laden water.  Hmmm, no I'm not particularly thirsty, just now.
And something random thing about Montana?  The freeway on and off ramps have cattle guards.  Yah.

Can't believe how grown up the boys are getting, especially this one.

Around noon we pulled in at Lewis and Clark Caverns, near Cardwell, Montana.  Oh, I remember this!  Of course, what I remember is being here on a scorchingly hot day, and thinking I was going to melt on the 3/4 mile hike up to the cave entrance.  But today?  No sweat.  Well, not much anyway.  It does gain 300' in elevation, which you lose as you tour the cave.  And the cave is 49F, all year long.  Sweet!

And the name?  No, Lewis and Clark never entered nor were even aware of the cave.  But from the entrance (around 5700', I think) you can see about fifty miles of their route.  And, apparently, when it was made a National Monument (now a state park) somebody realized that nothing nearby had been named after the explorers and wanted to honor them.  So there ya go.

Getting back to our story...  We're from the Pacific Northwest, where the only dangerous animals are large and obvious.  But we're in a whole different world now!  I had warned the boys before we left to watch out for snakes and creepy crawlies, because they're not all necessarily as harmless as the ones at home, and for goodness sake, don't put your hands or feet where you can't see.  As we walked up the trail, Gunnar heard a buzzing noise and began to get alarmed, but it was only this...
... grasshopper.  If there is any creature in the vicinity that can be caught, Tate will catch it.

Here are the boys, approaching the top of the trail.
And ready to enter the cave!  Everyone was excited.  The kids immediately saw something flying around.  Bats?  Nope.  Pigeons, actually.  There are five kinds of bats in the cave (as well as packrats and assorted insects), but they're all deeper in... hence no flash photography until you're waaaaaay into the cave.  But I do have a little to show you...

This room looked to me like waterfalls.  Wyatt, in the bottom right corner, gives an idea of the perspective/size.  Gunnar says he thinks it's flow-stone, but I'm not sure.  I think the flow-stone was smoother and less dramatic.  What you're seeing is limestone, btw, and it comes in various colors.

This place was my favorite, and - yes - that's really the color.  Amazing.  The boys absolutely loved the Beaver Slide - a portion of the route that is actually a slide - but I couldn't get a pic :o(

Ahhhh, now we're really on vacation!

After the tour and a swing through the gift shop we pushed on to Bozeman for dinner.  Had no idea what we were looking for, but when we saw the sign in Burger Bob's window we knew we'd found it.  And - what a surprise! - sweet potato fries, I love them.

We didn't have room to carry all our camping gear; I'm pretty certain that crowding the boys all into one bench seat for three weeks would've been a deal breaker.  Not to mention, the thought of setting up and breaking down camp every single night wasn't very appealing.  But rather than stay in hotels the whole time, we booked camping cabins whenever we could.  Or should I say "Kamping Kabins". 

No, no, really the whole "k" thing drives me nuts.  But the cabins were great, and with most kids back in school we often felt like we had the campgrounds (and pools, and laundry) to ourselves.  Lovely :D

Long before leaving, I promised the boys that we wouldn't be bringing any schoolwork along.  If not for their sake, for mine, because - hello - this is my vacation too!  But I did expect them to keep a journal each day.  Write.  Draw.  Cut-and-paste brochures.  Glue in postcards.  Whatever they wanted.  I provided them each with a blank sketch-book and had a box of supplies - pencils, glue, scissors, tape, etc.  There were occasional nights when certain little people were more exhausted than others and there was a bit of grief and drama over the day's entry, but usually this was fun for the boys :D

Tate referred to his as "The War-Log" and provided a plethora of illustrations on that theme.  What do "war" or "log" have to do with the trip?  Silly question!  It kept him interested and enthused with writing, and that's enough for me.

Day 2 Miles : 240    Total : 820


leah said...

Wow - that cave is really impressive! I have to look and find a cave in our local area, because my boys would LOVE that! I've only been to Wyoming and Montana once - we visited Yellowstone when I was sixteen. It was a long drive from Southern California! I want to take our boys there, though it is a much longer road trip from Western NY - I have a feeling we'll be waiting until they're MUCH older before attempting that one!

Beautiful pictures, and I love the daily journal - it will make an excellent souvenier in addition to being writing practice! Also? I love Tate's earmolds. Blue and black? Nolan is going with blue and red next time around (spiderman colors).

Deanna said...

Oh my goodness, I hate the "K" thing too. The worst is when they change the second word to match with "Kids". Like "Kids Kloset" or "Kids Kare". Um...let's teach our kids the right way to spell please!

The dB family said...

Awesome! I'm starting to feel like I'm on vacation with you. Glad we're not camping. Your photos are fantastic! And yes, that one photo of Wyatt makes him look very grown up. Looking forward to day 3!


melanie said...

You are just plain brilliant ~ logging in their 'scrapbooks' *as you go*
Well done! : )

Choate Family said...

Looks like you guys are having a blast!

Merrilee Stevenson said...

Double ditto on the peeve about intentionally misspelling with the letter k. Thankful we have "Chips Choir" and not "Kids Khoir" at our new church. I really like the cabin idea, though we have a full sized van with lots of room for gear. Hmmm.