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Thursday, September 7, 2017

The Great American Eclipse 2017

Several months ago, Jeff emailed me and said "hey, I got an idea! Let's get reservations in Idaho for the eclipse. There is a cabin in Island Park that is available". I agree and he reserves it. Now there was plenty of gloom and doom predictions over the state of emergency services in Idaho for this eclipse. They anticipated several hundred thousand people converging on the Rexburg area and all along the line of expected totality. Hmm, maybe we should stay home? Nah, sounds exciting. So we prepared. We packed like we were going out on a camping trip- extra water, food, and gas.

The drive to Idaho was pleasant and uneventful. We stopped in Pocatello for lunch and to say hello to a young friend of ours, Sam. He was so surprised to see us walk into his shop!

After our stop we continued north and finally got up to our Island Park cabin around 4pm. It was a tiny cabin, but it was cozy and the price was right. I had brought our own sheets and the girls helped me make up the beds. Then we decided to go to dinner at a nearby Mexican restaurant. Very tasty!
Back at the cabin it was time for some hot tubbing! The girls loved this and it did feel really good after sitting in the car all day!

The next morning we got up, ate breakfast, and got on the road. We were headed to Craters of the Moon NM. According to the map, we drive to Rexburg and hang a right onto Route 33 west towards Arco. We got to Craters around 11am and the place was packed! Apparenlty it was the busiest day ever in the history of the park. We picked up some Jr Ranger forms and headed out on the drive through. The girls worked on the forms while we were in the car. At the first stop we got out and all of us hiked the loop. Saw many examples of the lava- a'a and pahoehoe.

One of the stops on the loop was at a lava crater, we made the short hike and were amazed to see snow still in the bottom of the crater. It was probably about 20ft down or so, but still amazing for late August in a place where the black dirt and rocks can get up to a temperature of 150F in the summer! Back in the car we decide to return to the Visitor Center and collect our Jr Ranger badges. By this time, the crowds are insane and they have actually CLOSED THE PARK! We were a tad anxious aobut how the traffic would be back to Island Park, but we made it just fine. It was good to get back to our base! Katie and Maggie made use of the hot tub, while Jeff and I watched some TV and planned out our Eclipse Expedition for the next day.

We had been wondering where we would go to watch the eclipse. We figured in town somewhere, maybe one of the many pay lots we had passed along the way. However, as we passed through Rexburg this morning, the farmland gave way to BLM land. We thought "Hey! BLM land!" It was wide open for miles and miles and all we had to do was find a spot to park the car. In fact, there were already people out there camping. We looked at a few maps of the path of Totality, and Route 33 and realized that they are practically parallel! So our plan for the morning: 5am wake up, be on the road by 6am, hopefully to BLM spot by 7:30 or so.

We actually did pretty good! I was up at 5am, started breakfast. Got the girls up, and they got dressed quick. We got our cooler packed and got on the road by about 6:10am. There was a solid line of tail lights headed south. We were just a tad nervous about all the cars, but the closer we got to Rexburg, the highway widened out to two lanes and we made good time.

And just as we expected the BLM land was wide open. We turned off on one dirt road and left the highway. Up a hill and around the corner we find a lovely spot on top of a hill with 360 of wide open views. We even brought our own Port-a-Potty!

We had a couple neighbors, a young guy who had been camping there for the last 2 nights in anticipation of the eclipse, and a couple that came in just after us. He had a sweet telescope set up that he let us look through. Shortly after 10am the show started! We had our certified glasses that I bought from Clark Planetarium and we just sat and watched. The kids were amazed. I was amazed. Jeff was amazed.

As the moon began to cover more and more of the sun, the light started to get dim. You didn't need sunglasses, and the light was rather eerie. Then as the exposed sun grew smaller, we noticed the temperature seemed to dip as well. Then the sun was gone. Words cannot express the sight of that glowing white corona, and the 360 twilight. There were stars in the sky! We were laughing and cheering. And then it was done. And just like that the sun came back, and we warmed up.

We hung out for a bit in our spot reliving that amazing sight. After about a half an hour we pack up and headed back towards Rexburg. That little town was bumper to bumper traffic heading south with everyone trying to leave. We didn't worry though, we were still here for another night. We figured that northbound would be pretty backed up, so we decided to take a side trip to see what was left of the Teton Dam. I was about 6 or 7 when that burst, but I do remember hearing about it on the news and people talking about it at church. The middle section is still standing and the dam is washed out on either side.

At this point we decide we will try heading north. HA HA! bad traffic, we leave the highway and decide to take the scenic drive to Mesa Falls. Yeah us, and half the rest of the drivers. This wasn't much better. The falls were cool, but when it takes about 3 hours to go 15 miles, well you start to get tired of it all. As this scenic drive lets out onto Hwy 20, the traffic starts to clear and we then make good time back to our cabin in Island Park. Whew! What a day!

Tuesday we had to check out- after stripping the beds, cleaning the bathroom, cleaning the kitchen, washing dishes, and vacuuming the floors. I was tired! It was an AirBandB type rental. We got on the road and made good time home.  I am so glad we took the girls to see this once in a lifetime sight. Definitely something none of us will ever forget!

*Many photos were snapped from the car with my phone, apologies for the spots in the pictures!

Monday, July 24, 2017

Spruces Campground

We spent Pioneer Day weekend at Spruces Campground. Always a favorite, this time is no exception. We had our favorite spot and our favorite weather! Hot and dry. We arrived later on in the afternoon and got our gear set up. We enjoyed a fire and then off to bed. That always feels nice after a busy day of preparation.

As we were sitting there enjoying the fire, we noticed a small weasel hopping around. He was so fun to watch! The way he acted made us think he was a youngster. But it was so hard to get a good pic of this guy. We think we found footprints the next morning however....

Most of the time here was spent relaxing, reading, and playing. The weather was beautiful, and it was a much needed break. Saturday night Jeff's parents came up for dinner. We tried a selfie...

This trip was much more pleasant than the one on Memorial Day weekend. So much warmer! We decided to leave on Sunday instead of Monday to give us a bit more time to clean up and recuperate. As always, we had a fabulous time!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

City of Rocks 2017

The last three Octobers we have camped in Arches with three other families.  One of those families, the Larsens, decided to join us in City of Rocks. They hadn't been there before, and since we won't be going to Arches this October (roadwork), we decided to see what southern Idaho had to offer. We arrived on Thursday evening and set up our camp. We had stopped in at Rock City for Jeff to get a selection of good beer that is not easy to get here, and since Smoky Mountain Campground has power and water hookups, we can use the fridge in our pop-up!

The Larsens have two kids (Talia- 15, and Drake- 11) that Katie and Maggie really enjoy, so they were very excited about this camping trip with them. They are a nice bunch! Once they arrived and set up we enjoyed a group campfire and s'mores.

The next day, we all got in our car and went over to Castle Rock State Park, and did a bit of hiking. We even brought the dog along on this trip. But I am a bad dog mom as I forgot to bring water for her. On our way to the pictograph, there was a small creek, and this dog hopped right in, waded around, and drank her fill! After walking out to the pictographs, Jeff and Katie took Minnie and went back towards the parking lot, there were picnic tables where they hung out. Maggie and I, and the Larsens continued on up the trail and essentially hiked around a big rock. Haha. But the day was gorgeous and the prickly pear was in bloom!

When we got back to the car, we all got in and drove back to the campground for some lunch and water! City of Rocks is in a very small town called Almo, ID. But Almo does have a hot spring. The last few years we have never remembered our swimsuits, but this year we did! And the hot spring pool felt great after all the hiking!

Dinnertime was grill night! We all got together for burgers, and salads. Then it was time for a fire. When it finally got dark enough we set up the telescope and enjoyed looking at the stars. We were fortunate that there was no moon, and those skies are full of stars!

Saturday was a rather lazy day. The kids played, I read my book. It was very relaxing. At one point, Jeff took Mrs Larsen, Talia, Drake, and Katie to the store for firewood and wi-fi while Maggie and I stayed at the camp. All the sudden I hear "MOM! I CAUGHT A LIZARD!!" Maggie had used the butterfly net to trap it and then gently shook the lizard down into the butterfly cage. This was huge, as Katie and Maggie have been trying to catch lizards for years! When the others returned from the store they were all duly impressed. We watched him run around in the cage for a while, and then eventually let him go, after taking a ton of pictures!

Saturday evening we had pork tacos. Before we left I cooked up this recipe, and froze it to take with us. This worked out very well. We heated it up, had a bunch of toppings and fed this hungry crew! Saturday evening was time for a fire, s'mores, and more fun. Lots of laughs were had!

Sunday the Larsens left, our reservation was until Monday. But Jeff's back was bothering him and so we decided to leave on Sunday as well. We had a nice breakfast, instead of our usual quickie breakfast and then started putting things away. I think we finally got on the road by about 1:30 or 2. We finally got home about 6pm and put things away, and got cleaned up. Always a good feeling.

It was an awesome weekend and a good time was had by all!

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Memorial Day Camping at Spruces

The end of May was pretty warm, up until the time we left for camping for the Memorial Day weekend. Of course. Luckily the snow had melted in the campground. Mostly. We did see some snow banks here and there. But this weekend was a bit colder than I prefer. I think the temps were mostly high 50s to low 60s, but as there was no rain forecasted we did not let the cold stop us! We packed plenty of cold weather gear however!


We got a good start on Friday and got to our spot in the mid afternoon. We cooked dinner and got a fire going. That felt good. We all went to bed early because of the cold. 

The next day, we mostly sat around and read. A few weeks ago we had convinced Erica and Jeramy that they should come camping. Jeramy was all for it, Erica was less than enthusiastic but agreed. We brought along our deluxe 3" thick Thermarest mattresses for their enjoyment. A good sleeping mat can make or break your trip. 


Once they arrived we had a great time talking and laughing and then grilled burgers for dinner. Jeramy made a dutch oven peach cobbler that was awesome! The girls enjoyed playing near the small stream by our campsite. There was a lot of spring runoff going on.

In the morning we cooked a hot, hearty breakfast with coffee. We sat around shooting the breeze, but eventually they had to go. But they left Victoria with us! The girls were thrilled- they all got along great! The next day we had a quick breakfast and then started the pack up. We had a great time, and I think may have convinced Jeramy and Erica to make a return trip with us! 

Jeffrey and I have lost a total of 110 lbs so far!

This a fun new thing I found while getting gas at Smith's. It's called a Swedish Fire Log. It's basically a hunk of log that they cut a star shaped hole in the middle. They stick in a treated fire starter in the middle of the 'star', it lights really easily. This is easy to bring along, the wood burns for a long time and it would be great for those wood burning fire pits in the backyard.

Friday, March 31, 2017

March 2017

A fun day this past March was a Saturday at the Air Force Museum at Hill AFB. We always enjoy coming here to see the planes. We wandered around outside reading plaques, then inside their two large hangars of planes. It always amazes me that we go from horse drawn artillery in WWI to fighter jets by the end of WWII!