Our adventures don't always take us to faraway places, where we visit exotic locations and have luxurious experiences. Sometimes, we choose to explore the world closer to home. Our family vacation this summer began when we decided to attend my nieces high school graduation in a tiny town in northern Idaho. Rather than drive the many, MANY hours all at once, we broke it up into small pieces and made an adventure out of it. Here's what we saw, heard, did and enjoyed:
Our first stop was in Farmington, Utah. We spent two amazing fun days at Lagoon, the theme park I had grown up visiting as a child many times. Of course, it is much more extreme now than way back then, full of crazy, scary but scream-filled, fun rides. We rode every ride at least once, and some many more times. We spent time at Lagoon-a-Beach, riding the lazy river as well as the waterslides, and just soaking up the sun. We left there exhausted, a little sunburnt, but with smiles ear to ear.
Heading off towards the next leg of our adventure, we jumped in the car and headed northeast. We made sure to stop to record our entry into Idaho as well as Montana, with our final destination being West Yellowstone. After checking into our hotel, Yellowstone Park Hotel, we spent two days exploring Yellowstone. We were part of a "bison jam", when they crossed the road right in front of us. We saw Elk, Bison, Deer, Moose, Coyote, Canadian Geese and some other animals. We visited Old Faithful, as well as other geysers, including the stinky, bubbling mud pots. We visited the pool and Jacuzzi every night to relax our tired feet and achy muscles. It was a great experience, and the kids didn't even mention their electronics once - that was amazing!
Continuing our journey, we settled in for the longest distance we had driven to this point, so we headed northwest and enjoyed a beautiful drive through Montana. We saw so many deer and elk along the side of the road, including many baby animals. We saw beautiful lakes, mountains and rivers. We stopped for a lunch break in Missoula, Montana at Freddy's Custard, and even took a little detour when we saw a little museum for the Smoke Jumpers. We made it to my little nieces softball game just in time to see her play, and then headed into town where we set up home at the Best Western Kootenah, in a very nice, HUGE room. We spent the next few days visiting with family, meeting new friends, partying with the graduate, and of course seeing her give the Valedictorian Speech (proud aunt here if you can't tell).
Our vacation would not be as big of an adventure if not for this little mishap - the basketball hoop tried to come home with us when a big gust of wind sent it jumping through the back window of the car. So, after cleaning up all the glass, taping up the window, and making a quick call to the insurance company (who set up an appointment to get this repaired as soon as we made it home - no deductible YAY!), we headed towards home with another 2 day drive. We spent the night in Dillon, Montana, arriving late at night and after just passing a slow-moving porcupine crossing the road in front of us. We arrived home and enjoyed reminiscing about the fun times we had experienced over the last 2 weeks.
MORAL OF THE STORY: Your vacations do not always have to involve a lot of money and planning. We planned where we wanted to go, but we woke up each day at leisure, and let the day plan itself. The idea is to go somewhere and do something with your family and kids - they will talk about these adventures one day and laugh when they remember the good times.