Friday, September 5, 2008

Issue 15

Bridger Days

We headed out Saturday morning for Jim Bridger Days in Evanston WY. Steve and his siblings fondly remember going a few years to this annual Mountain Man rendezvous. Reminiscing one evening with Steve’s brother and sisters, we decided to head out this year for our own rendezvous at the rendezvous to introduce the next generation to the tradition. That was the plan anyway, but by the time the weekend rolled around, 6 families going, were down to two. Being our only vacation of the year, we were undeterred and blazed the trail to WY. (We missed you all!) It was wonderful to spend the weekend with our Idaho cousins, that we just don’t get to see enough of.

Bridger Days has gotten huge and crowded! It was much bigger and commercial than what Andy and Steve remembered, but we had a fun time. The kids LOVED being with cousins, and they had an indoor pool at their hotel, which turned out to be a highlight. Ellie's asthma was acting up so we decided to stay in a hotel in Evanston instead of camping at the Fort. I was glad we changed plans because a storm rolled in Sunday night and we got rain, hail, sleet and SNOW on Monday. The kids all went swimming again, then we waited out the storm at a restaurant for lunch. The weather cleared and we enjoyed the afternoon back at Bridger Days. We had the place almost to ourselves this time and had fun seeing everything.

“I enjoyed being able to spend time with my cousin Analese, swimming and drinking hot chocolate and watching a movie with her while there was a storm outside.”

“One of my favorite parts was being caught in a windstorm, then a rain storm, then a hailstorm, then a sleet storm, then a snow storm, then a cold front, then a perfectly sunny day.”
Steve L.
Yes, that's snow you can see!

“My favorite part of the trip was seeing the Fort Bridger museum and gift shop. We also saw an ambulance and fire truck go past, because someone burned their tepee down. They were taking collections for them because all their belongings were inside. We also bag pipe players and women throwing frying pans.”

“My favorite part of the trip was buying a tea set at Fort Bridger and seeing the statue of Jim Bridger. I loved being with my cousins and I liked staying at the hotel.”

“I liked getting candy at Fort Bridger. I liked eating it.”

Candy Cannon

Gingerbread Men by Ellie age 3

I love Ellie's attempt to sign her name in the corner. Although it's backwards, it's pretty close considering I haven't taught her how to write her name yet.

Queenstown by Noreen

I now know where the New Zealanders get their love for high adventure; they trained from their youth. As Whitney put it, "The playgrounds here are way more dangerous, but WAY more fun!" Apparently, they have not heard the American Surgeon General's warning that falls from over 4 feet greatly increases the likelihood of serious head injury. They have huge playgrounds everywhere with 5 ½-foot teeter-totters, wooden swing seats that would kill you on impact, open trampolines, massive tire swings, slides as high as 23 feet (you think I'm exaggerating), merry-go-rounds, and Whitney has almost met death by zip line twice. It makes me nervous, but it is also satisfying to see them challenging themselves and playing so hard.

Our next stop was the high adventure capitol of New Zealand, Queenstown. Colorful paragliders' chutes dot the sky at all times, speed boats shoot you up rivers and into waterfalls, and you can bungee jump from a ledge into the forest or off a bridge into the water. I think it is telling that they invented Bungee Jumping at the afore mentioned bridge. Our family went for the more moderate adventures of riding the Gondola up the mountainside, then a ski lift to the top and then we jetted down on sleds with wheels on their Alpine slide. Everyone loved it, including Ellie, and we all went down four or five times. Back in the gondola at the top of the mountain, Janey pressed her forehead to glass as we started the steep decent and said "Bring It On!"

Steve took the kids to the Native bird center the next day were they saw their first live kiwi, which is a rare and nocturnal bird that you are hard-pressed to see in the wild. They also saw the ancient Tuatara, a reptile still around from the dinosaur age with three eyes that can live hundreds of years. Ellie had been sick all night (thankfully the only time on our trip around the islands), so I stayed back to care for her and got some much-needed laundry done. With it being the summer holidays, many places are running "Kid's free with a paying adult" promotions. Steve paid and they let all the kids in free! Between the family rates and kid's free promos, we got to do most of our activities for the price of two or three people. What a blessing!

End of Issue 15