Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Yellowstone and Family Reunion

Here ensues a really long picture/travelogue. Just be grateful I didn't bring an equivalent power point presentation to share at Testimony meeting. The ostensible reason for my trip to Utah was an Extended Family Reunion up by West Yellowstone (the town outside of the west entrance to Yellowstone Park).

Here I am at Yellowstone Park, with my two cuties.

Here's is almost all of my family - we're just missing Avram, and then two of my sisters and their families. We're a blended family - my mom had five kids, and my stepdad had five daughters, and most of us grew up in the same house together. The same dinky house.We still think we have to share plates, too! (Ok, maybe not, maybe we did have enough plates for all of us growing up....)

The reunion was held at Hebgen lake, There were a ton of people there, although my husband was conspicuously absent, and we had lots of huge family meals and campfires. Also, we went into Yellowstone.

Our Stallick family (a blend of our two last names in my blended family) went up together, in a five car caravan, complete with blaring walkie talkies. Our car, consisting of my parents and my girls and I were 'daylate' as in A day late and a dollar short. The entire hour-plus ride into and through Yellowstone until we reached Old Faithful, the final destination of the day, we were entertained by the constant twaddle on the walkie talkies. My brother in law John, the head of the Caravan, gave us constant (often made up) updates on each sign we crossed at the side of the road. Don, my step dad, fulfilled his quotia of bad pun/Dad jokes, like this classic, "Look, a Mountain Lion! ....It's just a mountain, lyin' there!" We all groaned on cue, thus bonding through mutual gagging. Innuendos flew about, as well as attempts at humor, including forays by myself, who held our car's walkie talkie. I never cease to be amazed at how once people have a walkie talkie in their hand they think that any comment they shoot out into the air space will automatically be humorouse and witty. I am even more amazed how much I fall into this category. Good thing I really was witty and sly, huh? We were so strung up on our own wit that we probably would have laughed had Lydia been providing the commentary. I just hope no local semis were listening in on our multi-car conversation.

Despite the great fun of driving to Yellowstone, the actual park was great too. We got out at a herd of bison, and walked up on some white sand, to a little pool of water. Here is my sister Mandie, and her daughter. She has pink hair because she ran a marathon (you'll have to ask her what the correlation is). About three seconds after this photo was taken, a ranger ran up and yelled at the multitudinous crowd on the white sands that we were all breaking a federal law, and to get off the white sands. Oops. I am now a law breaker, but in my defense we had barely entered the park, and hadn't yet read the paraphernalia they hand you at the entrance. Plus, there were no boardwalks - it was just a random hill on the side of the road.

I contented myself with taking pictures of the Bison roaming the place instead. You are supposed to stay 25 yards from them, but I am not exactly sure how to comply with this, when a bunch of the bison were walking up to parked cars and rubbing themselves against it. I presume the wildlife in Yellowstone are wild - you certainly cannot touch them, nor feed them. But they were nonetheless very used to humans, and never shied away from the army of photographers. The two days we drove into Yellowstone, I saw the same animals at the same spots both times. Perhaps the various mule deer, bald eagles, and bison have a contract with a park, wherein they make get big bucks for posing for the tourists? Except only the deer would want big bucks. Get it? Big Bucks and Deer? Oh, I am too funny. It's all that car time I spent under Don's groaner tutelage.

We also went to Old Faithful, which is a pilgramage required of every true American at some point in his life. Elisheva didn't care much for it, though.
She positioned herself directly facing away from all the action, and ate dirt the whole time. Elisheva is pretty sure she won out on experiences, too.I enjoyed Old Faithful, and it actually came up while we were there. I grew up thinking that Old Faithful came once an hour. It's a lie - since an earthquake fifty years ago, it comes anywhere from 40-90 ish minutes apart. It's name ought to be changed to Old Forgetful. What next fateful blow will my childish beliefs receive? That Mt. Rushmore is really carved from Foam?

The next day we went north on the Loop, and saw a Beryl Pool and some Artist Paint Pots. More fake amazing photography ensued. Plus we stopped for lunch at a campground, and Lydia played with her new cousin Jennifer. My parents are adopting a woman who is about my age, who is married and has two kids, one of whom is a month older than Lydia. Her parents died tragically about a year ago, and she has essentially no family on her side, so my parents have taken her in. As my Mom put it, "We decided we didn't have enough daughters." (There were only eight of us, so far). My new sister and I chatted as we drove up to the reunion, and it was great to meet her in person. Lydia, though, really liked Jennifer. Jennifer spent the night in our cabin. Her and Jennifer played together constantly for the whole reunion. They never even fought (until after the reunion, at my Parent's house, where they fought a lot over toys. I guess this means Lydia will have proportionately better friendships the more toys we get rid of). While at this Yellowstone eating area, Lydia and Jennifer were playing house. Lydia was the mom, and Jennifer the daughter. Lydia told Jennifer, "I am going to vacuum the house now - you need to go and hide in the kitchen." This is what Lydia does every time I vacuum, since she's scared of the vacuum.

Jennifer, not being privy to Lydia's fears, did not understand at all, and would not go into the pretend kitchen. Lydia kept on insisting, but their pretend play dissolved through a lack of communication, since Jennifer would not get to the kitchen.

We were going to stay up at Hebgen Lake through Sunday, but a big windy storm came through. Because of a scheduling miscommunication, we only had our cabins for two out of the three nights of the reunion (plus the extra night we decided to stay for the Fourth), so we were in tents. Our tents were blowing around, and so the group's decision was to leave. We left the campground at nine thirty, and because we were a five car caravan, didn't pull into home in West Valley until three thirty in the morning. Thus ends my Family Reunion part of the trip.

It was a fun trip, but after the first day in Yellowstone, I wrote Avram a postcard that went like this; "Today I saw Geothermic Water shooting over a hundred feet in the air. I drove through the largest volcanic caldera in the world. I committed (unknowingly) a federal crime,and was yelled at by a park ranger (walking on white sand). I visited two states. I saw bison & a wild eagle in their native habitat. But none of this all compares to when I get to see you again. I miss you, and I deeply wish you were here! But barring that, I I thought I'd send you a postcard. Love your best friend, Thora. P.S. Single Parenting is hard. You're a great dad."


  1. Looks like it was fun to bad Avi couldn't come

  2. Looks like you did have some fun pictures on your camera after all. I thought one of the funny comments on the trip was when we ran over some Bott's dots (the little bumps on the road to make noise to warn you of a pending something like a stop sign or shoulder). Lydia said, "Someone needs to say, 'Excuse me.'"

  3. looks like it was so fun! i love the picture of lydia and jennifer, they both look so happy and cute! and hey i think we all ate dirt as children and we turned out okay... sort of... :) wish i had been there. I am sad i didnt get to come. hopefully next time!