If you know Harris, you know that he loves dogs and dogs love him. I wanted to make a fun surprise lunch for him and these hotdog dogs were just the thing!
I found the original idea here and even though it would be great to make homemade bread for these, I took the easy way out! I bought a package of Pillsbury Grand Biscuits and went from there. They were so easy and quick. And yummy too! I didn't have any black beans on hand so I just used peppercorns.
I was concerned before our trip about how we would pack all of our clothes and what clothes we should take! It was going to be hot during the day, or at least warm, but chilly in the evenings. We also had limited amounts of space in the RV for storage of clothes and we didn't want to go over our weight limit when checking our bags (the children carried on their luggage). I determined early on that I would be doing laundry (I did it twice) and that we would take a minimum of clothes and shoes. To that end, we tried to take clothes that could pull double duty! All in all, I think we did a good job- here are a few of my favorites...
The single best purchase we made in preparation for this trip was the children's North Face convertible pants. I would guess that these pants/shorts were worn by the children 85% of the time! We lovingly refer to them as "adventure pants." I lucked out and got them at a closeout sale for around $20, but I think I would even pay full price for them. Bryce and I also had convertible pants (frankly, wearability and convenience overrode my fashion sense!).
I hardly ever wear shorts. They just don't look good on me and I'm much more comfortable in dresses and skirts. However, I knew that it would be a problem to hike around in a skirt and I didn't want to be limited to one pair of convertible pants! I found the perfect solution in the REI Rendezvous Skort. It was so very comfortable and I felt more like me!
The Keeper Chambray Shirt from JCrew (they carry it in petite) was awesome because there are so many ways to wear it. It was adjustable as we went from cool mornings to warmer afternoons! It looked casual over a tank top or a little nicer buttoned up for a dinner out. I love it!
P.S. The first day I wore the chambray shirt, I paired it with a tank top and convertible pants because we were leaving for a boat trip/hike and it was still very cool outside, but I knew it would warm up as the day progressed. As soon as Grace saw me, she said she really liked my outfit. For some reason, that day, my daughter complementing me on an outfit made my day. I felt fantastic for the whole day!
For the final leg of our RV adventure we went back to Yellowstone National Park for two more nights. Our campground (Canyon) was surrounded by woods and we enjoyed a fire and s'mores each night.
We got up early to travel over to Mammoth Hot Springs (we were worried about parking spaces) where we wanted to see the Travertine Terraces.
After we hiked around Mammouth for a while, we then made our way over to the Gardner River. We had been told, and I had read, that there was an area in the river where the Boiling River flowed into the Gardner River making the waters like a hot tub. We lucked out and found a spot for our RV, hiked the half mile in and discovered lots of people "taking to the waters!" It was so, so much fun! You could move around to different spots to find your comfort level and I do believe that we could have stayed there all day long!
From the Boiling River it was a short drive to the North entrance of the park where the Roosevelt Arch welcomes visitors to the park. I really wanted to see it and was so happy that we took the time to go view it. It seems to me that it is the perfect welcome to such an incredible place.
On the drive back to the campsite we stopped by the Norris Geyser basin. We hiked around the features and went to view the largest geyser in the world, Steamboat (that Harris refers to as the smallest geyser in the world since it hasn't erupted since 2005 and was basically just a trickle!). However, for unclear reasons I let everyone talk me into not taking the camera. Gasp!
On the drive out of Yellowstone the next day, we stopped by the Lamar River. There were giant boulders on the sides and middle- we couldn't help our ourselves and ended up spending a couple of hours playing in the water and on the boulders.
The rest of the day was spent driving (white knuckled) over the Scenic Beartooth highway, checking in to a campsite in Red Lodge and packing for our trip home! The entire next day was spent traveling home! This was such an amazing trip and I would do it again in a heartbeat!
Our time in Grand Teton National Park was really lovely because it was very laid back and we didn't feel like we were in a hurry to "see everything." We never got a great view of the mountains as they were shrouded in smoke from all the wildfires to the west. However, they were still glorious - even covered in smoke!
On our first full day in the park, we went for a hike in the Colter Bay area on Jackson Lake. The trail skirts along the lake the whole way around a little peninsula (almost an island, really).
During this walk the children decided to build a fort out of all the driftwood on the rocky beach. They worked on the fort forever getting it just right!
We hiked a lot during our trip and the children did amazingly well. I stopped to take a picture of the children hiking and got this shot...
Approximately five minutes later, I turned around to find Harris on Bryce's shoulders! It was the one and only time Harris didn't hike the whole trail on his own (his knee was apparently killing him)!
Later that day, the children went for a swim in Jackson Lake! It was really cold but you couldn't ask for a better setting. I was really happy for the children that they got to experience such an amazing thing as to swim with the mountains all around them.
That evening we ate dinner in the Mural Room at Jackson Lake Lodge. I was glad I took one dress!
On our second day, we hiked from String Lake to Hidden Falls behind Jenny Lake. It was a long, hot hike but had some fantastic views!
We didn't think we were going to hike the whole thing so we hadn't gone prepared with lots of water for each of us! Toward the end of the hike, Bryce and Harris turned around to head back. I couldn't stand the thought of having hiked so far in (over 2 miles) and not getting a view of the falls. I convinced Grace to go the rest of the way with me and we were rewarded with not only gorgeous falls but a bear sighting too!
We were shocked at how close people got to the bear. He/she was already very close when we noticed her (maybe 10 feet) but we immediately started backing away. Others got closer or turned their backs on the bear in order to have their picture taken with the it! Crazy people.
After our hike, we went swimming in String Lake! Supposedly, it's warm for a mountain lake but I thought it was ice cold!
That evening, we went on a float tour down the Snake River. It lasted a couple of hours and we were able to see some terrific wildlife along the banks of the river. It was very difficult to get good shots of the animals because the boat was bouncing along!
The next morning, before we left for Jackson Hole, we spent some time admiring the mountains and visiting the visitors center.
On our way from Helena to Yellowstone, we did make a brief stop in Virginia City and Nevada City to see what an old mining town and ghost town might look like. We also stopped at the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center before we entered Yellowstone Park.
We arrived fairly late in the evening at our campsite (Madison) in Yellowstone. We were thrilled because it was a great site (our best campsites were in Yellowstone). We settled in, had dinner and then went to bed because we had an early morning the next day!
We had really been encouraged to go on a private tour of Yellowstone for one of the days we were in the park. We were a little apprehensive about it since we weren't sure it would be worth the price but we signed up and hoped for the best. Our hopes were certainly fulfilled because we never would have gotten to see the park the way we did with our guide - or learned as much! He drove us around, so that we didn't have to worry about the RV, and I probably learned more about geothermal activity than I ever thought possible. We focused mainly on the lower loop and got to see all sorts of geyers, hot springs, mudpots, fumaroles and even some wildlife!
An elk near the side of the road.
The different colors come from the bacteria!
A bison strolled right by our car!
The mud pots.
I loved this thermal feature, the Dragon's Mouth, because you could really envision a dragon living in the cave.
A bison lounged by the Mud Volcano! We didn't get too close!
Where the buffalo roam.
The Yellowstone River.
The upper falls of the Yellowstone...
and the lower falls.
The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.
The day after our tour, we went to several places that we hadn't gone the day before, most notabably, Old Faithful!
I loved walking around the Old Faithful Lodge and will admit to having a tiny pang that we weren't staying in it! It was absolutely breathtaking and the details were so, so beautiful!
We also went to the Grand Prismatic Springs (this is a panorama, shot with the video camera, to see it better you must click on the picture!).
On this particular day, the crowds were large in the park and it was hard to get a space to park in the RV so we weren't too sad to head out on the short drive to the Grand Tetons.