3 Weeks In Washington….and it wasn’t near enough!

We have just spent about three weeks exploring the wonderful state of Washington. If you have never been there, I would encourage you to try to make your way out there sometime.  It’s a beautiful state with so many places to see.

Our first stop was Spokane. We only stayed there one night, but had a fun afternoon checking out the city.  We went to Riverfront Park and enjoyed their playground and giant wagon slide.  We also went on a gondola ride to see the river and waterfall that is right downtown.                                               http://us.wow.com/wiki/Riverfront_Park_(Spokane,_Washington)?s_chn=17&s_pt=source2&type=content&v_t=content

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Joe and Rosemary going down the slide

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No Samuels were harmed in the making of this photo!!

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Ben liked the gondola ride and we liked that it was like                                   a cage he couldn’t get out of!!

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The waterfall in Spokane

Our second stop was the Seattle area. We camped in an RV park near Fall City which is about ½ hour east of Seattle.   We had a really neat campsite surrounded by huge trees and ferns.  (This place was great for babies napping because it was so dark in the camper, even during the day, because of the trees….loved that!)  Sam and Elise quickly set to work making forts in some of the big tree stumps near by.  While at the campground we met a family who were our neighbors there. They had a little boy, Jonah, who enjoyed having other kids to play with just as much as our kids liked having a playmate too.  He worked on fort building with Sam and Elise and played cars and trains with Ben.  The campground also had a nice lodge that we really enjoyed.  It was nice to have a large area with comfy couches to spread out.  A couple of the days that we were there Lance worked so the rest of us just enjoyed the forest and playground.

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Our campsite near Fall City

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Elise by one of the giant ferns and the stump that she and Sam used for a fort

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Sam and a little frog he caught.  We also saw a few huge slugs near the campsite….like 3-4 inches long and quite big around.  They were slimy!!

My cousin, Wendi, and her husband live near Seattle. We were so glad that it worked in her schedule to meet for supper.  We had a good time chatting and learning about her job at Boeing and Chris’ job as a chef and restaurant owner.  She also gave us some advice as far as what to see in Seattle.

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We had a very nice time visiting with Wendi

Our first day in Seattle we started with the Pike Place Market. It was a Saturday, so it was a pretty busy place.  We saw vendors selling fruits, vegetables, jewelry, photographs, flowers and fish.  We treated ourselves to freshly grilled corn on the cob which was delicious.  We also saw a little shop making and selling crumpets.  I had never tried one before so we bought a couple different ones to sample.  In the market there are flowers stalls with beautiful bouquets of flowers.  They were such big bunches and so reasonably priced that we bought three…one larger one for me and two smaller ones for Abby and Elise.  What a treat it was to have them in our trailer and be able to look at such cheerful flowers.  While walking around we happened upon the Gum Wall.  A walkway under some buildings where people press chewed gum on the walls.  I know….it sounds disgusting!  It kind of is…but also kind of interesting.  Joe, Abby, Elise and I all chewed some gum and left our mark.  Sam started gagging as soon as he saw the wall so he stayed away!  After that we bought some cookies and apple/pear cider and enjoyed that while at a park near the water.  It was a fun afternoon. http://www.pikeplacemarket.org/

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Saw these floating houses from the highway….just like                      “Sleepless In Seattle”!!

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Fresh grilled corn on the cob….yummmmm

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Joe by the gum wall

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That Saturday (September 26th) also happened to be our 17th wedding anniversary!!  We celebrated by going out for a nice (and late) dinner at a cute little Italian restaurant not too far from the campground.  We leave after Ben and Rose are in bed so it can make for a late evening, but it’s still nice to get out for a while!

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I love this man!  Can’t wait to see what the next 17 years bring!

Monday was also a very special day….we were celebrating Elise’s 7th birthday.  She brings so much joy and laughter to our family, I can’t imagine life without her!  She got to pick the activities for the day so we started with donuts and then headed into Seattle to see the Space Needle.  We took the elevator to the top.  It was a nice clear day so you could see the city really well and could also see Mount Baker and Mount Rainier.  We also stopped at a Cupcake Royale to pick out our treats for the birthday dinner later.  Elise had asked for a pizza and movie night so we took over the campground’s clubhouse and ate our pizza while watching one of her birthday presents…Cinderella (the new one that just came out).http://www.spaceneedle.com/home/       http://cupcakeroyale.com/

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Good Morning Birthday Girl

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Me with two of my sweeties at the space needle

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Elise and Rosemary

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Ben and Abby

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Our kids loved it that there were telescopes spaced around the observation deck

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They also really enjoyed the selfie board.  You could put a picture of yourself on it and see where other visitors were from.  Joe and Abby are both on there somewhere

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That’s a pretty bright birthday cupcake!                                                      ****Oh, and those cupcakes were delicious!!!

Tuesday we went to see the Snoqualmie Falls which is in the town of Snoqualmie. The falls are beautiful and it was also a good place for the kids to run around and get out some energy before the driving that day.    http://www.snoqualmiefalls.com/

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Ben checking out one of the big turbines that had been used in the power plant near the falls.

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Aren’t they cute?

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Snoqualmie Falls

After the falls we packed up and headed to Fort Worden State Park which is across the sound from Seattle and on the north side of the peninsula.  It definitely ranks in our top places to stay so far.  We had a site near the water so you could see and hear the waves crashing.  We loved walking on the beach and finding pretty shells and stones.  Ben used the driftwood as a jungle gym and also played with the sand toys until we made him come in.  The older four had a great time exploring the old fort and bunker area.  They played grounders there until it was too dark to see.  Unfortunately, this is also where Joe broke his arm.  He was in the cement bunker and fell off of a ledge and landed with his arm underneath the rest of him.  He has a nice green cast to show for it and is being a real trooper with it.  He will be getting it checked sometime this next week and we will see if he will need a cast much longer.       http://www.fortworden.org/

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Ben playing in the sand

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One of the days was especially windy and Elise was pretty excited to try out one of her birthday presents…a squid kite!

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Ben loved jumping from the driftwood.                                                          “Jump Dah-ee!  Jump Dah-ee!”

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A pretty sunset from Fort Worden

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Joe and his green cast

We stayed at Fort Worden for three nights and then moved to Fort Flager. While staying there Lance went back to Seattle for a couple of nights to hang out with some college buddies that came into town.  While he was having a nice weekend with the guys the kids and I hung out at the campground.  We didn’t do much because we didn’t have a car and I had gotten a cold, but it was still a fun campground.  They also had a large cement bunker with lots of rooms that the kids checked out and we walked to the beach and in the woods a few times.      http://fortflagler.net/

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Our campsite at Fort Flager

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Ben and I went for a walk on the beach.  I wrote his name and he drew the “nase” which means snake.

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One of the pretty trails at Fort Flager

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My six camping buddies kept me company while Lance was                  gone to Seattle

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Ben startled these ducks and really enjoyed watching them fly away

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Another pretty sunset, this time from Fort Flager

When Lance got back on Monday (October 5th) we left Fort Flager and drove along the northern side of Olympic National Park.  We stopped at Port Angeles for one night and stayed at their lovely Walmart there.  We drove up to Hurricane Ridge to see the mountains.  It was a very pretty drive, but we had ugly attitudes so we didn’t really enjoy it as much as I’m sure it we could have.  The kids were fighting with each other and Lance and I were tired so we were a crabby bunch!   I’m sure the lady sitting all by herself on a ledge trying to enjoy a beautiful sunset found it to be much more peaceful after we left!!  We also drove Ediz Hook road which is a narrow strip of land between Washington and Canada.  We walked out on a dock and watched the jellyfish right below us and a seal swimming in the water not to far off shore.

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Looking north from a pull-out on the drive to Hurricane Ridge.  The strip of land in the upper left side is Canada

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The view of Hurricane Ridge.  You can see the glaciers in the middle.

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They look happy enough, don’t they??? 

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Abby and Sam watching the jellyfish from the dock

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Sam is “holding” Canada….it’s not very often that this one asks us to take his picture so we were quick to comply!!

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A golden sunset from Port Angeles

The next morning we left our *lovely* little Walmart campsite and drove to the town of Forks (we did not see any vampires or werewolves!). We were very excited for this section of the National Park because it’s the rain forest part.  We camped for one night at a letdown of a place.  We had planned on staying two nights, but just wanted to leave as soon as possible.  Of course, being in the rain forest, it rained all day so we were not able to go on a hike to see anything, but we went for a drive and happened upon the national park campground.  They had plenty of open spaces so we found one near the Hoh river.  We could see a huge bull Elk right from our camper.  He was just laying down by the river.  After dinner the rain stopped so we could check out our surroundings a little more.  The elk had left so we went down by the river.  There was a very thick fog all around us.  The kids had fun throwing rock after rock into the river.       http://www.nps.gov/olym/planyourvisit/visiting-the-hoh.htm

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Our campsite in the rain forest at the National Park

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The Bull Elk

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Now there’s three elk hanging out in the rain!!

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My boys by the misty river

At about 4:30 in the morning Lance and I were both startled awake by a loud crash.  We tried to look outside, but couldn’t see anything.  The next morning we saw what it was and how God had been protecting us.  A large tree had fallen to the ground in the campsite right across the road from us.  It flattened a metal trash can to the ground.  If it had fallen towards our site it was long enough to reach our camper right where we were sleeping.

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The crashed trash can

The next day was a beautiful day for hiking. I was so glad that we would be able to see the rainforest from the trails.  We went on a great hike on the Trail of Mosses.  It was an easy one with kids and only about a mile long.  Around every bend in the trail were more huge trees dripping with moss and the ground was covered in ferns and moss.  We went on a bridge over a little creek that was the most clear and beautiful water I’ve ever seen.  You could see every distinct little green leaf of the plants gently moving with the current of the water.  It was a gorgeous place!  Along the trail Ben made a friend, Brooke, a little 4 year old girl from Seattle on vacation with her parents.  They were soon walking together and holding hands, it was so sweet.  Because of the rain the day before, there were A LOT of puddles.  Our most genius move of the day was putting Ben’s rubber boots on him!  That boy sought out every puddle he could and splashed to his heart’s content.  There were many giggles!  We let him fully enjoy himself, but had to put a stop to it when he got down on his hands and knees and tried to drink from the puddles like a puppy.

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Beginning our hike….I don’t have many pictures of Abby and Elise because they were often running ahead  us

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Fall in the Hoh Rain Forest

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Can you spot the wildlife in the ferns???

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Joe found this giant mushroom laying on the ground.  Don’t worry, he didn’t really bite it!

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Just look at those mossy trees

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Ben & Brooke

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Ben and Brooke checking out the inside of this tree

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Our kids love to hang out with us!!!!

After the rain forest we drove along the coast for a while and ended up in Olympia so see the state capital. There we met a lovely couple who took our family picture by the capital.  They also had many great suggestions of sights to see.  Thank you Michael and Jan-Marie….it was so nice to meet you.  We had a pizza picnic at a park there and then drove on towards Mount Rainier National Park.  We stayed at a campground just outside of the park.  We had hoped to see Mount Rainier the next day (the 9th) so we drove into the park filled with expectation….but, the day was another foggy and rainy one and we never did get to see the mountain.  Lance took Abby, Sam, Elise and Ben on a short hike while it wasn’t raining too hard and we all enjoyed the visitor’s center in Paradise where we learned about Mount Rainier.  Abby, Sam and Elise had fun filling out their workbooks and earning their junior ranger badges.        http://www.nps.gov/mora/index.htm

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A river near Mount Rainier.

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They are ready for their hike with Lance

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Little Ben, Big Trees

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Taking the oath of junior rangers

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The three newest Junior Rangers of Mount Rainier

We also spent a great afternoon checking out Mount Saint Helens. We drove partly around the mountain and then stopped to go for a hike in Lava Canyon.  The canyon has a river that has been there forever.  When the volcano erupted the lava flowed down through the canyon and hardened so now there are huge mounds and crevices.  It makes for some beautiful waterfalls.  It was a very nice hike over and through the hardened lava.  Near the end we “got to” cross a suspension bridge.  It was very high and very narrow and very scary when your boys purposely sway it back and forth!!  We got back to the car just in time for a gorgeous sunset.        http://mountsthelens.com/mount_st_helens_national_park.html

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Mount Saint Helens

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The river and some of the waterfall in Lava Canyon

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There’s that karate kid again

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The kids and I on the suspension bridge

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Here comes Lance

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Our last sunset in Washington

That sums up our time in Washington. We were busy seeing so much, but there was so much more to see.  I hope that someday we can go back, it was definitely one of my favorite states.

P.S.  As I look over this post, I can’t help but notice that we saw A LOT of beautiful sunsets in Washington.  Hope you don’t get sick of sunset pictures!!

After Washington we headed south to Portland, Oregon…….

Autumn in Glacier National Park

September 25, 2015

We spent one very nice week at Glacier National Park from September 12 through 21. Most of that time we were camping at a KOA in West Glacier which turned out to be a perfect starting point for our adventures.

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Sam with some of the wood he found in the forest around the campground…we had to trim it down just a little!

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Sam made a Teepee out of some of the sticks that he brought back from the woods and Ben thought it was just the right size for him!

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This is our campsite at the West Glacier KOA.  I really liked staying there…I loved the view of the woods and mountains from our camper.  This is when we were all packed up and ready to head out, but at least we got a picture!!

On Monday (the 14th) we went into the park for the first time. Our first stop was the ranger station so that the kids could pick up their booklets to earn their junior ranger badge. They are really enjoying this activity. If you have kids, I would highly encourage you to check it out, it’s a pretty cool program and the kids learn quite a bit! Anyway….we planned to drive the Going-to-the-Sun road that day.

We started the drive, but stopped for the first time at Trail of the Cedars to go for a short hike. What a beautiful walk. It wasn’t all that long (maybe one mile total and it’s in a loop), but it took you right through the forest and along Avalanche Creek. There hasn’t been enough rain in Montana this summer so the creek was much lower than usual, but still very pretty. Because it was so much drier we were able to walk a little in the creek bed and cross the water using logs and rocks. Getting the kids to keep moving on the trail was like pulling teeth…they were having so much fun exploring. As you get to about the halfway point of the trail there is another trail that branches off and heads to Avalanche Lake. We were talking to some of the people coming back from that and they highly recommended it so we decided to do that hike another day. For me the highlight of the Trail of the Cedars was when you crossed the creek on a little bridge and looked upstream. The water was rushing through a narrow pass made of boulders and it wove its way toward you. It was breathtaking!! I would imagine it’s even more impressive when rushing with more water from the snow melting. The rest of the trail was nice too…the trees are amazing!! Huge Cedar and Hemlock trees reaching to the sky and the ground was covered in ferns and moss. I loved it!

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Trail of the Cedars and Abby

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Ben inside a tree

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Elise and a crazy looking tree…we thought it looked like a tree with a big nose!

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Joe tried running up the tree

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Joe, Sam and Abby crossing Avalanche Creek

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Ben, Lance and Rose showing off their big muscles!

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Ben and Lance crossing the creek and being goofy!  (They might be Dutch dancing…I’m not sure!)

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Elise and Abby inside another giant tree

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Avalanche Creek waterfall

We continued the drive after that, there was so much more to see! As we drove the road curved along with the river until we started climbing up the mountains. The fall colors were just getting pretty and the higher we got the more color there was. We could see amazing waterfalls like Birdwoman Falls which is 492 feet. We saw one glacier on the drive and got some pictures of that. We drove past the Weeping Wall where water is usually cascading down, but because of the dry summer it was just a little wet and dripping. We stopped at Logan’s Pass which is on the Continental Divide to look around. Later that afternoon we drove through parts of the park that had been on fire earlier this summer in some big forest fires. We finally made it to St. Mary’s Lake which is on the eastern end of the park and when we got to the entrance there we turned around and started going back the way we came. This time through we got to see a black bear making his way through a recovering burned area from few years ago. We also saw a mother and baby moose in the river. It was a long, but very good day!

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Driving the Going-to-the-Sun road you just kept seeing more and more of the beautiful mountains.  The river is below and Birdwoman Falls are in the background near the middle of the picture.

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Some of the pretty fall colors in the mountains

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Don’t you wonder what he’s thinking???  Probably something mischievous!

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Even on top of a mountain is a good time to read a book!

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Sam and Joe hanging on for dear life….or are they???

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One of the glaciers you can see from the drive.  Scientists predict that by the year 2030 all of the glaciers in the park will be gone.

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Where there had been a forest fire this summer

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The first black bear we saw

The next day we went back into the park and the kids turned in their booklets. Abby, Sam and Elise all earned their junior ranger badges which they were pretty proud of! We headed back to the Avalanche Creek area to begin our hike. Just as we were looking for a place to park we saw another black bear meandering around in the woods across the street from where the trail started. I was a little nervous about having all of us out of the car and beginning the hike with him so close, but he was headed the other way so we went anyway. It was going to be a longer hike this time….2 miles to get to the lake and then 2 miles back. I had packed a couple of diapers, wipes, snacks and water for the trip. We started out full of energy. The path was so pretty and interesting. I really don’t think I could get sick of looking at the enormous trees and mossy ground. The kids wanted to wander from the path every two minutes to check things out and we finally had to tell them that they could wander all they wanted to on the way back, but let’s just concentrate on getting there for the time being. When we were about 2/3 of the way to the lake Rosemary had a dirty diaper….and not just any dirty diaper! It was in her clothes and in the baby carrier I had her in. We laid her down on a little mossy rock and set to work cleaning that little lady up. She was cold and mad so she was screaming her little head off! (In case you’re wondering….no, we didn’t see any other bears on the hike…we didn’t even need to carry bear bells. They could probably hear our family from a mile away!!!) I hadn’t packed any extra clothes for her and it was a cool day and getting colder as we were hiking higher up the mountain (it was about 40-45 degrees when we got to the lake). She ended up wearing Ben’s fleece jacket on top and then we put her legs into the sleeves of Lance’s coat and wrapped that around her inside the baby carrier. Then we wrapped my jacket around her and the outside of the carrier! She looked a little goofy, but it was the best we could do! We finished the hike and were rewarded with a spectacular view of Avalanche Lake, the surrounding mountains and three waterfalls that were coming down by the lake. It was worth the hike! We hung out there for a while…enjoying the snacks and exploring the rocky beach. The kids had a lot of fun trying to catch one of the many chipmunks that were scurrying around. Finally it was time to head back. Surprisingly, the kids had plenty of energy to wander like we had promised them they would have the chance to do. We were all pretty tired, though, by the time we got back to the car so instead of going back to the campsite, we went out for pizza to finish the day!

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The second black bear we saw, right before our hike to Avalanche Lake

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Waterfalls along the trail

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Lance and Ben hiking….even though we had the backpack for Ben he preferred to walk most of the time

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This is how Rose looked near the beginning of the trail

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Joe exploring Avalanche Creek

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Ben found this branch and insisted on sweeping the path behind us…he takes it very literally when they say not to leave a trace!

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What a pretty trail to be on

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Our first glimpse of Avalanche Lake and Ben giving us a gun show!

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Joe’s out there on a stump doing the Karate Kid thing again!

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Avalanche Lake

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Look at how clear that water is!

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You can see the waterfalls coming down the mountains

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We sure did work hard for this family picture!!  (fyi…Elise had just finished crying from falling down a few minutes before, that’s why she looks so sad)

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Here’s Rosemary’s crazy get-up after her unfortunate diaper debacle!

The next couple of days Lance went to work. He goes into town and finds a place with wifi. The kids and I stayed at the campsite. They had fun going into the woods and collecting large sticks for our fire and Sam and Elise even went around and sold some bundles to other campers. They also did a scavenger hunt that I made up for them. They had to collect some of the things in a baggie and some of the things they just had to find and take a picture of. That was a lot of fun and they enjoyed that. On Friday we packed up the camper and left the KOA. We went for one last drive in Glacier and intended to hike to Hidden Lake, but when we got to Logan’s Pass it was so cold and windy that we changed our mind. We just enjoyed the drive instead!

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Another picture of the mountains….the colors had changed just a little bit more and the mountains were a little more hazy than a few days before.

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Little Rosemary sure does have some great big brothers who love her to pieces!!

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Elise and Rose…this was taken right after Ben face-planted into the lake and Lance took him back up to the car to find him some dry clothes.

We ended up driving for a little while, thinking we would leave Montana, but things weren’t going as planned so instead we stopped at a campground in Kalispell. We set up camp for that night and ended up staying three all together. The kids loved it there. Our site was right near the playground, a giant chess game, pedal carts and the hot tub. The most unique thing about that campground is their petting zoo….not so much the fact that they had one, but that during the day they let the animals roam all over the campground to explore and munch on grass. It was not uncommon to look out our camper window and see donkeys, ponies or lamas walking right next to it. There were also a couple of very friendly dogs and a cat. It was nice to stay a little longer there than we had intended. We had a lot of fun there.

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Eating lunch and hanging out with donkeys…pretty awesome!

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Elise at the playground

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Lance trying out one of the pedal carts

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Ben and the very friendly campground dog, Gabby

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Little Ben in his little chair while enjoying the campfire and a s’more

Well, after Montana we drove into Idaho and then into Washington…..but that’s another post for another day!