Wednesday, April 30, 2008


As I mentioned, our next stop along the way home was Yellowstone National Park. It was snowing pretty hard that morning, and so when we arrived at the exit off of Rt. 90, we stopped to see what the locals knew of the roads between there and Yellowstone.

The response: "About the same as here." and "Oh, this is the best time to go to Yellowstone, no one is around and with the snow you can see things better..."

None of us had ever been to Yellowstone. So we went.

Truth: The roads were considerably worse as we drove along. But it was a good time to go to Yellowstone - no one was around. Now when it came to seeing Old Faithful... well, hang on. I'll get to that in a moment.

We sat in stopped traffic for a little while on our way due to an "icy conditions" related car accident. But eventually we got passed and continued on our way.

Due to the snow, the scenery along the way was limited, but beautiful!

Arriving at the park, all roads were closed except the route to Old Faithful. So we made our way over that direction...

... and saw lots of wildlife along the way!

We also drove through a few "Thermal Areas" - as usual, pictures do no justice to the actual sights we saw.

Upon arriving at the Old Faithful Visitor Center we saw the few people that were there were leaving - our first indication that the geyser had, in fact, just erupted. So we ended up with about 90 minutes to spend before the next predicted eruption.

Since we had time, and we were the only ones there, they invited us in to watch a short film about Yellowstone Park. As we were the only ones there, we enjoyed the film - adding our own commentary where appropriate... :-)

Then we walked over to the "Geyser Grill" and gift area to browse, and get some hot chocolate.

Finally, we were within the 10 minute eruption window and walked over to the viewing area. The wind and snow were so intense we could hardly keep our eyes open while looking towards the geyser (sunglasses helped). But we carefully positioned ourselves the best we could...

...and then waited...

...and shivered...

...and waited...

...There She Blows!! Yes, friends, that is a picture of Old Faithful erupting as we saw it. The other handful of tourists didn't have quite so nice a view as they did not take the wind into account (or didn't care to take the necessary measures to avoid it) and Old Faithful blew right into them.

This picture is a little better - taken towards the end of the eruption.

After seeing Old Faithful, we piled back into the van and started to head out of the park. Or tried to. It took awhile to get out of the parking lot thanks to a herd of buffalo (or were they bison?) that apparently wanted us to stay longer.

And then we were distracted by a couple of grizzly bears (we were told they were probably brother and sister cubs) that were out walking/playing in a field.

And then, as we left, the skies cleared. The blue skies against the white snow and the striking terrain was breath taking!

And that, friends, was Yellowstone.

Heading Back East - Day 1

After leaving the Bradricks, we headed to Idaho for the evening... via the Columbia River gorge. It was striking scenery along the way.

And being in lumbar country, we saw lots of mills along the way!

Everywhere we went we brought snow with us. We arrived in Washington to find flowers blooming and strong spring feel everywhere... but I think each night we were there there was some snow! In fact we almost canceled a stop on our way home due to the bad weather, but we stuck it out and can now say we've been to Yellowstone! But I'll post on that next!

Tuesday evening we arrived in Moscow, Idaho to visit with some friends there (the Menadier and Leidenfrost families). We enjoyed catching up again with them and are grateful for their friendship and hospitality to us, but our visit turned out to be longer than anticipated as we encountered some trailer brake issues while we were there! So instead of leaving immediately after an early lunch on Wednesday, it was mid-afternoon before we were once again headed east. Thankfully, all was able to be repaired and we had no problem driving through the mountains as we again headed for home... or at least, headed in that direction. More stops awaited us.

En route some took naps... or tried to...

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

At the Bradricks

Following the Christian Heritage Conference, the Bradrick family invited us back to their home to give us some visiting time together. Those of you who have been involved in hosting a conference know that very little visiting can happen during the event - especially between speakers and conference hosts!

What a delightful time we had at their home from Sunday evening through Tuesday morning. Games, conversation, singing, food... all the elements necessary to a good time were in abundance and coupled with excellent like-minded, like-hearted company we couldn't fail to be refreshed and enjoy ourselves. (Refreshed in mind and spirit, that is... I'm afraid the hours we kept didn't do much in the way of refreshing the body!) We had hoped to visit Mt. St. Helens on Monday, but the snows of this past winter still blocked roads and the clouds that day didn't offer much hope of any view at all.

So, we simply changed plans and spent the day together relaxing at Lake Quinalt in Olympic National Forest. What a beautiful place to spend a day after a busy weekend!

As the day wasn't suited to a lakeside picnic, we spent quite a bit of time just sitting and chatting in the beautiful lodge, the piano was also made use of, stories were read, and a few games were played (and we won't mention any details on Josiah's ping-pong prowess against someone twice his age...). However, the weather wasn't quite wet or chilly enough to keep our group entirely indoors!

So, after lunch and visiting for a few hours we moved out of doors to visit a couple of waterfalls there in the rain forest. Lots of pictures were taken - but we selected only a few to post here.

Of course, they simply begged to be climbed!

Sadly, we didn't get a picture of Josh & Abbey at the very top of the falls...

Sadly, Sunday evening through Tuesday morning isn't very many hours. And though some of us stayed up very late trying to fit in every bit of visiting that we could, it simply wasn't long enough! Is it ever?

(The "babies" of the families - Stephen & Josiah)

Finally, the hour came and we did manage to bid final adieus and get all of us packed back into the van and headed on our way giving thanks for God's blessing of friendship! And not just friendship in a "yeah, man, it's like, cool to be around you" type of way, but a warm friendship based on our relationship in the Lord, and on our working together towards the same goals - even when 2000 miles apart; a friendship that doesn't just have fun (though there is certainly no lack of that!) but that also encourages, sympathizes, challenges, understands, edifies, and strengthens. We love you, Bradricks, and thank the Lord for you!

Our mission had been accomplished, and it was time to hit the road and turn our faces towards home. But more friends, scenery and adventures awaited us along the way...

Monday, April 28, 2008

Christian Heritage Conference

If you didn't catch it on our "Destination" post, the reason for our traveling these last two weeks was the 3rd annual conference of the Christian Heritage Home Educators of Washington. Dad and Mom were featured speakers, with some of the rest of us filling in here and there (I - Jessica - gave a session for daughters, and Josh & Abbey were on a panel). The conference itself was extremely well hosted, we were made very welcome and were well taken care of throughout the weekend. It was encouraging to talk with many of the attendees, and to work alongside of the families on the Christian Heritage board!

Joanna and I also had the opportunity to sing in the Christian Heritage Chorale under the direction of Mr. Craig - and that was very definitely a highlight of the conference for us. It was truly a blessed weekend and we are very grateful for what God is doing out in Washington. I just wish we could remove a few of the miles between here and there!

But our family wasn't just there to speak in the workshop sessions. They also invited us out there to present the reenactment of the 2nd Virginia Convention (the one we commemorate annually at Liberty Day and also performed in Jamestown, VA). Thus, Josh & Abbey joined us as we couldn't really do it without Patrick Henry, and Aaron Englund came along for the ride since it is also hard to do the reenactment with out Edmund Pendleton. We edited the debate down to only 7 parts and had Joseph pick up one of the parts, and enlisted a few Washingtonians to carry three of the parts. They did incredibly well and as many times as I've seen the reenactment, it was truly fun to watch it again!

The lighting and video projection required Josh to either look sickly, or wear make-up!!! We chose the latter.

We only took a few pictures ourselves, but hope to get some that others took, too. I did do a quick blog search and found some more pictures on some blogs out in Washington... Here is one with some more pics of the conference and reenactment.

But though the conference was the purpose, centerpiece and highlight of our time away, it certainly wasn't all that we did. More coming soon...

We're Back!

I'm afraid that we didn't do too well with keeping y'all up to date while we were on the road. It's hard to sit down and sort through pictures while visiting with dear friends that we don't get to see very often! Hopefully as we work on unpacking and catching up we'll be able to make some time to report here on the trip.

It was a very full two weeks, but we are now all back home. The conference was wonderful, the visits with friends encouraging and delightful, and God graciously guided and protected our travels through the snowy mountains and wild lands of the great West. Those of us who are counting added up to 5 new states in our 'states I've been to' list. Josh is in the lead with 47 states...