The story of a monumental trip.
The Paperclan Goes to Yellowstone
This summer, Tom, PaperKid, Notepad, and I went on the largest family trip we have ever taken. Between August 8 and August 21, we drove 3,050 miles! With quite likely a fifth of those miles being within Yellowstone National Park itself. While we do have access to an RV1, we chose to camp in a tent most of the time we were away from home, because fuel costs would have been prohibitive. This took quite a bit of planning, as those subscribed to my journal can attest!
We decided to take this trip this year for a few reasons. One was simply that the girls are good ages for such a trip – PaperKid turned 13 less than a month before the beginning of our trip2, and Notepad hit the seven-and-a-half mark midway through. Both young enough to be willing to actually show the wonder they felt, and both old enough to remember the trip. Another reason was that we all wanted to see geysers. Yet another was that, since Tom and I are going to the UK next summer without the girls, we felt that we should make some family memories this year.
Yellowstone wasn't our only destination, however. This series of articles will cover the entire trip, so this first one may not see us into Yellowstone quite yet... Don't worry – I'm not planning on having one article per day!
Since both Tom and I work for schools, we didn't have to worry about taking time off of work for the trip. We3 did, however, have non-paycheck-related things that needed to be taken care of. For example, I have been making fudge to sell since this spring, and Tom has been selling it at the Farmer's Market almost every weekend. We needed to have someone sell for us, and I needed to make sure we had fudge to sell, and more to sell once we got back – I was fairly certain that I wasn't going to want to have to make, cut, package, and label fudge after returning from our trip! Not only that, but the clean laundry was rather piled up in the laundry room, and that needed to be taken care of so that our friend who would be taking care of our dogs and chickens while we were away could get through... Plus the laundry we needed for the trip itself. Prep time was reduced, however, by the fact that we would be leaving after the county fair – the girls and I love the rides, so a day of preparation time was "lost". We also attended a bar-b-que, so, while a good time, that was more time... I also made a point of finding things for the girls to do while we were in the car for so long – about half of which was utilized maybe once or twice4. I did manage to get the camping gear and non-perishable food packed in the car the night before we were going to leave though, so not too bad – even if my hope had been to get everything except the morning toiletries/hygiene items and the perishable food packed away the night of the 7th, and thus only have those and the pillows to toss into the car with the children in the morning. I was also planning on sleeping...
Having gone to bed at 4am5, I got up at 6am to finish up. Why didn't I just stay up? Well, at 4, things were starting to get a bit unreal, and I decided a nap was a bit more important than getting the roast I'd made for sandwich meat sliced up – I could freeze it, then put it in the cooler to slice at my aunt's later, and just use some of the salami I'd gotten for camping for lunch on the way up, instead of risking adding a red sauce to the meat... Anyway, packing was finished less than half an hour later than we were planning on leaving, which is better than the usual hour or so. I did learn that the cooler should've been in the trunk instead of under Notepad's feet, since it ended up being taller than the edge of seat, but I wasn't going to pull everything out and repack, so she just dealt with it that first day. (Subsequent travel saw the cooler in the trunk and the girls' suitcase under Notepad's feet.)
Our destination for this day was the place we spent the second-longest amount of time at during the trip – 2 nights at my aunt's and uncle's home, in their 5th-wheel trailer. We had last been up there 5 years previously, when PaperKid was a few months older than Notepad's current age, and Notepad was 2, for Grandpa Hopper's memorial, which was held on what wou'd've been his 80th birthday. Tom had been quite ill during the previous trip, PaperKid barely remembered going, and of course Notepad didn't remember a thing, so I was the only one with pleasant memories of the last time! Since both nights we were there were work nights, I didn't get to see everyone I'd been hoping to see, but maybe, since we were just starting a major trip, it was just as well that things were fairly low-key. Except for the monsters in the woods at night that Notepad abandoned my Uncle Kurt6 and her own sister to
We arrived around dinner time, having taken our time driving up. We ate after unpacking, then explored some of the property. The Santiam River runs through it, though it's a bit cold and shallow for swimming at that point (perfect for inner tubing, though, had we a tube...). When it started getting dark, the 6 of us sat around the firepit and had s'mores, then Notepad and Uncle Kurt went to explore the woods before the monsters came – but Notepad made it maybe 10 yards before screaming and running, nay, teleporting, back to the fire, abandoning Uncle Kurt to his fate. Then Uncle Kurt and PaperKid went to the woods (in the light, rather open and small) with Notepad, with the same results. Finally, everyone but Aunt Carol and I went, and that's when it got really scary! A good time was had by all, really, though Notepad did report that she'd had a nightmare that night, though she didn't tell us until over a week later...
After an early night7, since I never did manage to fall asleep in the car on our way up the day before, we got up to a leisurely breakfast. We were going to be meeting my ex-stepmom sometime before noon at the house that I spent several weekends, summers, and Christmas vacations at, which has since been recognized as a historic landmark, and is undergoing restoration. Known as The Brown House, after the builder, the name caused a bit of cognitive dissonance a few years ago, because I've always thought of it as "the pink house" – and it is currently white. Anyway, Wendy was going to be at The House until noon, because she was receiving items for the quilt show that was going to be held there that weekend. She gave us a tour, in which I learned that, in restoring The House to its original footprint, well over half the upstairs had gone! I was able to point out my younger ex-stepsister's room, and Dad and Wendy's room, but my other ex-stepsister's room and the entire hallway leading to it was gone. So the roof outside the window we climbed out of to see Halley's Comet was still there8, but not the bedroom of 13 windows (the count may have included the closet windows – I don't remember). After the tour, and after Wendy locked up the house, we followed her to where my Dad was buried – I'd never been, as we'd been unable to go on our last visit. Tom was surprised that it was a Friend's cemetery, and I learned that I'd never mentioned that my dad's family used to be Quakers, though I've never been in a meeting – in fact, when Mom told me that when I was a child, I thought she meant that it used to be the family's last name9! I also learned some names, so I can actually make some headway if I go back to trying to trace my genealogy10.
After paying our respects, Wendy went home and we went exploring. Since my friends in the area were either at work or had family visiting, we had nowhere we needed to be before 6pm, when my Uncle Ray, his girlfriend Sherryl, and my older ex-stepsister Connie would be coming over for dinner (my other aunts and uncles live too far away to make dinner during the week work well. Also, I had no way to contact my cousin from my mom's side – he'd left Facebook, apparently, and that was the only contact info I had. While I did find some information online, the actual info I needed was stuck behind a paywall...), which turned out to be my Aunt Sun's bul-gogi, which I hadn't had for years. I did get the recipe, but I appear to have not taken the paper out of my pocket before I washed those jeans – I don't even have a welded-shut folded paper to carefully open and copy the recipe from. After dinner, Uncle Kurt took the girls for a ride in his Ranger, an all-terrain vehicle he uses to cart stuff around the property, and to zoom around having fun. The girls came in and insisted I had to have a ride, so Tom drove me around, as well. Eventually, we all headed out to the firepit again, and talked awhile. Uncle Ray and Sherryl had to go shortly before dark, but Connie was able to stay. Notepad, however, refused to go for another nighttime walk in the woods, even with the offer of flashlights this time.
As this was our last night at my aunt's and uncle's, I made sure everyone got a shower before bed. This was actually the dirtiest Notepad was during the whole trip! She'd been purposely getting dirty, as opposed to dirt just happening. Luckily, I'd already arranged to use my aunt's laundry facilities the next morning, which did delay our departure a little, but only by about half an hour or so.
To be continued...
You didn't think these were all the pictures taken by the Paperclan for this span of time, did you? Find these and more in Amy P's flickr collection.