The Big Trip – Part II

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Let’s see. Where did we leave off?

Wednesday, August 15. We headed off to the Canyon Visitor’s Center first thing, so Ella and Cousin D could get their Junior Ranger Badges. I have to say, their ranger was a little more involved than Natalie’s. Then, we were off on the northern loop! We stopped at Tower Roosevelt, and then had a very chilly picnic by a river. It was windy, and we lost a plastic bag in the river, which we went to great lengths to recover. I’m not going to be the one responsible for a Walmart bag floating by a moose getting a drink of water. We saw Mammoth Hot Springs, and the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. It was at Grand Canyon where we happened to run into my aunt & cousin. What? Don’t you run into family members you haven’t seen in over 10 years at National Parks? I guess we knew there was a chance, since we were meeting them later in the week, but still, what are the chances? I mean, the park is only 3,468.4 square miles. So we all just happened to stop at the one lookout in the same 20 minute span without planning it. No big deal. Later we drove over Fisherman’s Bridge, and headed for Cody, WY. Where we ran into my parents while checking in. Of course, there was a very good chance of that, since we were all staying at the same motel. We walked from our motel to a restaurant for dinner, and it had one of the tastiest buffets I’ve ever enjoyed. The brisket was so good. And the staff was so attentive. “Just plain noodles for the kids? Would you like me to butter them?” Why, YES. And there was pie. PIE! Honestly, stop here if you’re in Cody: Sunset House Restaurant. I realize I just talked a lot about one restaurant, but the cafeteria at Canyon Village was sort of mediocre, so it was thrilling to eat good food.

Nature!

Thursday, August 16. In the morning the whole family headed to the Buffalo Bill Historical Center. Honestly, if you are going to be anywhere near Cody, you need to spend some time there. It’s an amazing museum. Worth every penny. After lunch, I took the girls to the indoor pool where they swam with some burly bikers. It was fantastic. They were a couple of guys that take a big motorcycle trip together in the summers. They were on their way to Glacier National Park. One of them admired Natalie’s arm tattoo of a guitar, and thought it was a brilliant idea for his next one. They were cheering for Ella and Natalie as they raced. Then Natalie took a break to use the restroom, which they missed. After a minute, one of them started to panic because he couldn’t see her in the pool. I said she was in the bathroom. He said with obvious relief, “Sheesh, that scared the heck out of me.” When we left, they told me I had adorable children. I honestly think they were a little sad to see them go. We ran into cousins at the outdoor pool, so the girls spent some time out there. All in all, 3 straight hours in a pool. Then it was time for a quick dinner, and a rodeo. Cody’s the rodeo capital of the world, you know. There’s a rodeo every single night from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Zoey was a huge fan of the rodeo. Or at least, the popcorn. Pahcorn. PAHCORN!!! She also liked the horses (HORTEES!), and the bull riders (OH NO! HE FEHWL!). And when it came time to gather the kids up to grab the ribbons off of a calf’s tail, Natalie decided she’d go all by herself. The rodeo clown told the kids to stretch out. Then he told them to roll around (you know, in the horse poop), and they did it. Except for Natalie. Who stood there shaking her head. Atta girl!

At the rodeo. See the mountains? So beautiful!

Friday, August 17. In the morning, Zoey and I went shopping downtown, and Captain America took the girls back to the Buffalo Bill Museum. Seriously, it’s that good (and the admission was good for two days). In the afternoon, Papa took the cousins swimming. Then it was time to head out to my aunt & uncle’s house. I believe it was the first time my mom’s siblings were all together since 1986. We had a fantastic dinner, and a great time watching the second cousins play. Plus, I got to prove Captain America was real, something my cousins doubted after he didn’t make it on the last trip. Or at least, that I’d rented a husband with a pretty good story. It was a really nice night. And my parents’ 45th anniversary.

Cowgirls at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center

Saturday, August 18. We hit the trail over yet another set of mountains, the Big Horns. Only these were really pretty and an easy drive. We made it as far as we could, and found a hotel. We’d crossed back over into Central Time, so it was even later.

Pretty, happy mountains

Sunday, August 19. My parents’ actual anniversary. We made it home!

Miles traveled: 2,572. Memories made: Too many to count.

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