A few months ago, before it started warming up, I wanted to plan a lot of thing to do as a family during the summer and create lots of fun memories for our family. Melissa and I decided that we would take every opportunity we had to take the kids out and do something fun. We all have season passes to Seven Peaks and Trafalga so we’ve been using them on a weekly basis. It’s been fun to hang out and go swimming with the kids at my moms house, playing laser tag, going miniature golfing, or hiking.
We did a great hike up to Stewart Falls near Sundance with Becky and Travis. The kids were great even though Katie had a few blisters on her feet and Ava wanted to ride on my shoulders for most of the way. Before we started the hike, we had a picnic and fed a few squirrels. The kids had a great time and Katie learned about how old trees were by counting the rings of a tree that had been cut down near the trail. At the bottom of the trail, we saw a Woodpecker in a tree that was hard at work hammering away at a tree. We were all exhausted, but it was a fun day.
Another fun trip we’ve had planned for a while was a trip to Yellowstone National Park.
But there’s some history you should know about before I go on about our most recent trip.
When I was growing up,our family went to Yellowstone every summer. The bank my dad worked for owned a large cabin near Mack’s Inn at Island Park, Idaho on the Henry’s Fork of the Snake River. It was built in the 1930’s by Russell Tracy, the bank owner, for a place to go and relax. The bank would let their employee’s schedule a week to stay at the cabin along with a few other families every summer. We would typically float the river one day, go to the park for 1 or 2 days, and have fun swinging on the huge timber frame swing set or catching minnows off the dock in the river. I can still remember the smell of the field of wildflowers that were always in bloom every year while we were there. It was one of the great defining things of my childhood and there are memories that will be with me forever about that special place and time.
Fast foward 23 years.
The bank had long since sold the cabin and the last time I had been there was in 1988 just before the huge wildfires that ripped through Yellowstone. I have been wanting to go back and revisit for quite sometime, but never really took the time to plan a trip back to that area. Melissa has never been there before, until this year.
My dad planned a trip as a mini reunion of sorts. We were all invited to stay at the hotel at Mack’s Inn. My brother flew back from Chicago where he’s been working this summer and joined us for a few days, back where we once ran around and played as kids.
The memories came rushing back to me as we were driving up there as we passed by the familiar sights of Honeyville, Pocatello, Idaho Falls, Ashton, and then into the wooded area all the way to Mack’s Inn.
When we pulled into the parking lot of where Mack’s Inn used to be (it burned down several years ago) it was just as I had remembered it to be. We had plenty of time during the day to rent a flat bottom boat and float the river so we got the kids ready to go, secured our boat, and headed up to the boat launch 5 miles or so up the river just below Big Springs. The old railroad bridge was still crossing the river where we put in. The river was clear and cool. There were a few storm clouds in the area that provided us with a few minutes of rain, but it was a very relaxing trip down the river. I pointed out to the kids the beaver dams that I used to see as a kid all along the river and we actually saw one on the bank that jumped into the river and started swimming to his “home”. The kids all helped out with paddling the boat down the river. We met up with Ryan, Tyler, Dad and Margo, Mike and Erica, and Sol and Melissa for roasting hot dogs around the fire.
The next day we headed into Yellowstone National Park. It was interesting to see all the new growth from where the fire had burned the hundreds of thousands of acres. The geysers were steaming and we started to see animals while on our way to Old Faithful and the Yellowstone Lodge. We sat and chatted for a while before Old Faithful erupted. My brother and I talked about the old times and all the
memories from years ago. Our sweet little Ava saw a cute stuffed animal deer that she fell in love with in the gift shop. Needless to say, we got it for her and she named it “Deery”.
After watching Old Faithful and then spending some time in the visitors center, we went to Yellowstone Lake to eat our lunch. Melissa and packed a ton of yummy food and we spent some time eating at the marina and catching up on Ryan’s adventures in Chicago.
On our way back to West Yellowstone we saw quite a few Buffalo. Katie said she was crossing her fingers that she would see one and her good luck paid off. We also saw an Elk earlier in the day. Once we got into West Yellowstone we visited the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center. We were able to see a few bear’s and wolf ‘s up close. It was fun to look around and learn about the animals in that area.
We had promised the kids that since they were being good that we’ d get each of them a souvenir so we looked around. Gunnar was set on getting a bow and arrow with suction cups, just like the one I had gotten as a kid. Well, we found one and he’s been one happy little boy ever since. Katie got a couple of collector thimble’s representing the states of Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana along with some polished rocks.
On our way home the next day, we stopped at Big Springs to feed the huge fish.
We used to do this as kids and I always had fun watching the fish come to the surface and eat the bread we would throw out to them. We had a few left over rolls from the day before and we let the kids feed the fish for a few minutes then headed over to the Johnny Sack Cabin.
This was a small cabin that Johnny Sack built by hand back in the 1930’s. It has always been amazing to me that this 4’11” German immigrant built this home and furnishings with limited resources. It’s a beautiful structure and I’m glad we took a few minutes to take a tour of it.
So, to summarize…I bored my family with childhood stories and relived the days of yore, but I had a great time being with my family. I hope someday that I’ll be able to have the resources to provide my kids with opportunities to make memories of their childhood just like I was able to.