Thursday, September 27, 2012

Montana Trip, Part 2: Butte and Vicinity

A few days after arriving in Montana, the kids, Grammy, Grandma Janet, and I set off on a Montana state history vacation. We started our trip in Philipsburg. We read about the town's history, visited several shops (including the giant candy store!), then "mined" for sapphires. Although we didn't find any sapphires, our little rockhounds loved finding garnets, amethysts, topaz, fluorite, and peridot.

We tried out the Copper Chute Slide in Anaconda next. 

We got to Butte in the evening and settled in at the KOA. Grandma brought a tent so each child got to have a turn camping with her.

In the morning, we went to the World Museum of Mining. It's situated on the old Orphan Girl Mine in Butte.
Here's the "Gallus Frame" (head frames were called gallows frames because mining was so dangerous).

 An old mine shaft

An elevator once ridden down into the mine shaft

"Wow! What a giant scooper," said Ascha.

The tires dwarf even grown-ups!

The kids had a lot of fun at the mining museum.

It was fun for me to take a trip down memory lane. My grandparents took my cousins, siblings, and I to Butte many times. I remember swinging on these old-fashioned swings behind the museum schoolhouse as a child.

After a long morning at the museum, we managed to catch a late afternoon trolley tour. The boys enjoyed it, as did the adults. Ascha didn't love the tour, but she did love falling asleep on Mimi's lap.

The tour took us to the Berkeley Pit. It's a GIANT hole in the ground left over from an open pit copper mine.

After our long, hot day of adventure, we all felt like cooling down, so we spent the evening in the swimming pool at the campground. 

The next morning, we packed up camp and drove up to the Montana Tech Mineral Museum. The boys were enthralled and enjoyed seeing all the amazing rocks. Some are huge (like this amethyst and a giant smokey quartz crystal), some are luminescent and/or phosphorescent (they have a dark room filled with "glowing" rocks), some are valuable (they had some amazing gems on display), and some were just plain cool (like the fossils). Ascha was nonplussed, but she wandered around with the grandmas and enjoyed their company.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Montana Trip, Part 1: A Day at the Lake

At the beginning of August, the kids and I embarked on our yearly vacation to Montana. Jeremy will also have a Montana vacation, but his will take place during hunting season. After visiting our wonderful friends in Idaho for a couple days, we headed over the mountains to Montana. We arrived at Grandma and Grandpa's and dropped Pepper off so he could play with his mom, then we got back in the car and headed up to Painted Rocks Lake. It was a lot of driving, but it was very worth it to spend an afternoon at the lake with grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins! Uncle Spencer helped the boys start out kneeboarding. Taylor had tried once before several years ago and it was Aric's very first time, and they both did great and had a lot of fun. They were turning and going over the wake right away. I was even a little worried Aric might try a 360, but he "just" let go with one hand. It was a great evening and a great way to kick off our time in Montana.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Post-Fort Stevens Lego Creations (or Re-Creations)

Maybe it's just because I'm an overly proud mom, but I was impressed by the quality of the boys' original creations inspired by our trip to Fort Stevens. (I was also impressed by the number of hours they spent holed up in their rooms working.) Note the center cannon, mounted on a working "disappearing carriage," just like at Fort Stevens. As usual, each layer has specific rooms and hidden details. This battery is by far my favorite of their creations thus far. Their attention to historical detail was impeccable (as much as possible given the limitations of the pieces they had on hand). OK, OK, enough gushing. We all know they're geniuses already, right?

Here is their rendition of the "Japanese submarine." This was more of a stretch because of the pieces they had, but they did the best they could at replicating the features of the sub which fired upon the Oregon Coast during WWII. Pretty cool, right?

Monday, September 24, 2012

Family Camp at Fort Stevens State Park

     After two missed opportunities, we finally made it to family camp this summer. We spent a long weekend at the end of July with many other families from our church, enjoying the coast and lots of fellowship. We stayed up late (too late, according to some :-) playing games, climbed the dunes in a friend's Jeep, flew kites, rode bikes, explored tidepools, and had an all-around great time. The kids loved guessing games, scavenger hunts, nature programs, chalk contests, exploring the batteries in the dark, glowstick bike parades, and PLAYING with many friends nonstop for three days. 

Here's Ascha "Scavenging." The little kids had to physically find items, while the older kids had a digital hunt, taking pictures of the items on their list and showing them to the officiators. 

The boys asked for Jeremy's help in sketching a ship outline, then had fun filling it in. They also drew an ocean scene and a forest scene. Alas, they didn't win the contest, but they sure had fun!

Our first night, it rained. The rest of our time there, the weather was "mostly cloudy," but on two occasions the sun broke through victoriously and we headed to the beach for spectacular views and fun in that fleeting sun.

Ascha with her peregrine falcon kite

Pepper loved watching Jeremy fly his kite. Jeremy loved teasing Pepper by flying the kite very close to him.

 Jer showing the kids the, lines.

 Our kids celebrated every moment on the beach! Here's Aric...

...and here's Taylor. They were both jumping for joy.

Ascha loved playing in the ocean. This was her first time really playing in the waves, and she did great. She was actually a little TOO brave, so I had to keep calling her back toward shore.

Like I said, the boys were jumping for joy...

...or running...

...or splashing...

...and always giggling!
(I found out later that they'd told dad they wouldn't get their clothes all wet. Whoops!)

Sunday morning, after we had packed up, we went to the museum portion of the park for a few minutes. The kids loved it and are already looking forward to taking the underground tour sometime in the future.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Skibowl Adventure Park

For my birthday, I had hoped to go hiking or biking. However, the weather didn't cooperate, so we're saving those activities for another day. I had a one-on-one lunch with Jeremy (Thanks, Steph!), and in the evening we had sushi and went to the Harvest Days Cruise and saw lots of cool cars with the kids. The icing on the cake was watching The Vow (a definite chick flick) with nary a complaint from my sweet hubby.

My present, which I had asked for, was a family day at Skibowl Adventure Park. We went on July 24th and had a wonderful day. The highlight was definitely the Alpine Slide. We were so busy having fun sliding that we didn't take any pictures, but it's a 1/2 mile cement track. You ride down on sleds equipped with a handbrake, descending 350 feet at about 20 mph (you can definitely go faster or slower, though). We enjoyed riding up the chairlift and sliding down many times. Here we are on the chairlift:

After we'd had our fill, we drove to the other side of the park, where they're trying to establish a larger venue. Some parts were pretty fun, others were not what we'd hoped they'd be, but we did manage to spend our entire afternoon there having fun as a family. The biggest disappointment was that the pony rides, which Ascha couldn't wait for, were not going the day we were there. However, they did have the Kiddie Go Karts, which she enjoyed. There were a few hairy moments when she crashed into the edge, but she got the hang of it as we went along. 

The boys and I decided to try our hands at the climbing wall. Taylor had practiced the week before at Royal Ridges, but Aric's age group hadn't gotten to climb. Taylor was able to climb this wall all the way to the top. 

Aric did a great job for his first time and got pretty far, as well.

 We played a family game of mini-golf while we were there, as well. 

The batting cages were a hit with us grownups, but they were a bit fast for the boys. I batted until I got a blister on my thumb, then decided to call it a day.

I was so thankful to spend a day just playing and enjoying being with my wonderful family. I am so very blessed!