Sunday, October 9, 2016

Hall Family Reunion 2016

We had a great time during our Hall Reunion. Mom and Dad rented a big cabin in Island Park. We enjoyed a few days in Yellowstone with all of our Hall family and just relaxing at the cabin, plus an afternoon at Bear World.
 The first morning together, we played some family games and explored around the cabin.
 The view from the cabin was so tranquil and amazing.

 The weather never got warm enough to swim, but we had fun walking around the shore and playing on the dock.
I never got a picture of the pelicans. There were so many. But they would scatter when they heard us coming. 

 Eli was a good sport to play lots of games with Tommy.
 While some of the family went shooting, the rest of us went to visit Big Springs and Johnny Sack's cabin. The cabin was open for visitors. We loved getting a tour of the inside.
 Looking for fish at Big Springs. So close we could almost touch them.
 The seagulls have figured out that people throw pellets and bread to the fish. It's nearly impossible to feed the fish because the birds will swoop in and steal the food from the air.
 The cabin was so cool. It was neat to read all the articles about Johnny and his desire to live "off the grid". He couldn't have picked a more beautiful, peaceful spot. Nearly everything in the cabin was built by hand by Johnny Sacks. Lots of his tools and replicas of tools he would have used to work on the cabin are now on display in the cabin. Amazing to think such a little guy could build this beautiful place without powered tools.
 Kitchen and stove
 Sun room, Tommy exploring the stairs, and adorable Annie.
 Happy-Happy Jo-Jo!
 I think I could live here. I totally understand why Johnny Sacks picked this place.
Since our van was in the shop, we had this loaner Cadillac SUV. It was crowded. We didn't like it. The only plus was that Tommy could help feed Joey on long drives - don't worry we weren't driving in this picture, I was filling up the car with gas, that's why Bubba isn't strapped in.

Two pronghorn came through our "yard" the first night. I've never seen them up close. It was pretty exciting.

Day two started early with a drive into Yellowstone National Park. Tommy geared himself up for all the walking with half a bag of Cheetos.
 The bison were plentiful on this trip. All the cute little calves with their fuzzy coats and bright red-brown color were fun to spot. Claire and Isaac were a great help with our kids-especially the little boys.
 Firehole Falls is one of my favorite spots. I wish there was road access to the falls. We can't find a safe trail that leads off the parking lot, so we have to be content to view the falls from up high.
Our little redheads all ready for adventure!
 Tommy was terrified of the geysers. We're not sure why, but he was convinced that every geyser was a volcano full of hot lava that was going to burn him up. Where does a 3 year old get an idea like that? It made our two days in Yellowstone feel a little long. Tommy was traumatized at every stop with the slightest hint of steam in the air.
 This one was spouting nice and high - but Tommy wouldn't let any of us get near it. I had to take this from the car.
 Annie was often my buddy in the park. Lily and the older girls with longer legs kept taking off and leaving Annie in the dust. Hopefully she'll be able to keep up in a few more years.
 The Celestine Pool is one of my favorite places. The colors are so vibrant.
We stopped for lunch at Old Faithful. We almost missed the eruption because Lily had to go potty.We made it just in time to catch the tail end.
 Look at all those red headed cuties! They love being together.
 After the eruption, we split into two groups and explored the geyser basin around Old Faithful. Some did the longer boardwalk and the brave ones did a steep climb up to another geyser and a view of the basin.
 We brought the boys on the steep climb. It was short and doable. Tommy was a trooper. I think he was just happy that no steam or hot water were immediately visible while on the trail.
 Daddy carried him part of the way up. Drake held his hand on the way down.
 We made it to Solitary Geyser and waited for a show. Nothing happened. The pool would swell and shrink and we would get excited, but no visible spouting happened. Probably best since Tommy was with us. But we were hoping for a four foot fountain.
 On the way back down we got to see Old Faithful again. One last picture with Annie before we left for West Thumb.
 Tommy liked the mud pots. The smells and sounds were interesting. Notice the bison prints near the mud. That's one brave buffalo!
 By this point in the day we had done so much walking. Our kids were worn out. Daddy and Grampy were happy to assist with piggy-back rides!
 I love these pictures of Lily with Grampy. One of those simple moments of tenderness that she probably wouldn't remember if we didn't have pictures. I hope all our kids will always remember how much their grandparents love them.
 West Thumb was a new place for us. We enjoyed hearing the park rangers guide another group through and talk about the fish who live in Yellowstone Lake and the geysers that border the lake.
 Fun way to end the day. It was a little crazy trying to get five vehicles and over 30 people from place to place all day long, but we did OK. The kids by the end of the day were saying "No more geysers! Can we just go play at the cabin?".
 Becky did a devotional about the Atonement and the grace that is extended to us through Jesus. I'm not sure if our kids were old enough to understand or appreciate it, but I could tell that the older cousins were listening and feeling the message. Tommy couldn't take his eyes off that giant stack of rice krispy treats.

Day three was in Yellowstone again. We had a jam-packed day visiting a couple more spots that were new to us and some familiar ones too. The girls loved climbing rocks at Gibbon Falls.
Isaac was Tommy's exploring buddy again for the day. Tommy loved having someone all to himself. We remember playing with Ike just like this when he was three and we didn't have any kids yet.
 Cute little buffalo babies!
We hiked the path around Artist Paint Pots. Not very exciting or pretty. I don't think we'll ever stop there again. This was near the top of the boardwalk looking down on some of the bigger mud pots and geysers. A few of the Hall men did a big no-no and wandered off the boardwalks to go potty. We're just thankful no rangers were near to fine them and even more grateful that they didn't fall through any weak spots in the ground.
 We made a quick stop for lunch and then made our way to the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. We did  part of Uncle Tom's trail to go see Upper Falls on the Yellowstone River.
 Jake and Diana's kids: Jasmine, Eli, Hannah and Drake in the back and Gabriel and Caleb in the front.
 Our favorite stop of the day was Lower Falls. They are also part of the Yellowstone River. The views from the outlooks were stunning. The yellow rock, green trees, and blue water - I didn't want to leave this place.
 Joey and Grammy
 We want to come back and try to see this place at sunrise or sunset. The colors on the rocks would be spectacular.
 Leaving Lower Falls we spotted these handsome guys. Their antlers were still fuzzy.
 Our final stop was Mammoth Hot Springs. So much of it has calcified and dried up. It doesn't look as cool as I remember it from my childhood. The kids were tired. When they saw the long and steep boardwalks circling the springs, I could tell they were not in the mood. We let them stay with cousins while Jeremy and I tried to hurry and finish the trail.
 Such a beautiful day in the park. And thankfully not nearly as windy as the first day. Boy did it feel good to be done playing tourist and just relax that night.
 The kids were so happy to be home and free of the car! I think the above picture of Joey is one of my favorites!

The next morning some of the older kids hiked to Sawtelle Peak. WE knew our kids wouldn't be able to handle an 8 mile trip so Daddy went without us and we played in the water.
Violet, Jasmine, Madilyn, Sofie, Annie, Lily, Graham
Our little adventurers!
I love this picture of Annie - so carefree in the water.

After playing on the shore, we came back inside for art and crafts with Grammy. There were so many fun things to do. The girls had a hard time choosing.
Joey was happy when Daddy got back from the hike. He's such a Daddy's boy!
Tommy had so much fun, he fell asleep on our bed waiting for dinner. He didn't even have the energy to get under the covers or take off his cowboy boots.

The lighting is bad on this one, but the moment was too cute to forget. The younger girls wrote and performed a play about ducks for the family. It was darling. We took a video but it's too big to post here. Lily played the narrator. I couldn't get any other pictures because the lighting wasn't cooperating. The girls loved it so much, they want to do a new play at every reunion.

Each family made a flag that was supposed to represent their family interests or story. The J1 Family put Texas on their flag, J2 had music, animals, sports, dance, airplanes, and Justin and Julie's names, J3 family (that's us!) has our hands full with four little kids - so we traced everyone's hands and put them on, J4 is our blended family so they had a blender with Mom and Dad and all six kids faces, J5 family had a soccer ball, flashlight, and basketball. Cute idea!
The highlight activity was making individual servings of ice cream in ziploc bags. It was pandemonium trying to get ingredients into each bag, partner up each person for mixing, and fill all the cans with ice for shaking - somehow Jake and Diana pulled it off. Great work guys.
All the kids - and the kids at heart - had fun making ice cream.
Once everyone found their spot, the can rolling began. It was noisy, and funny, and cold! Some of us put on gloves or socks to protect our fingers from the freezing metal.
Giggles and fun all around!
Daddy wanted to make his own ice cream, but we were out of cans, so he improvised. His was done before Lily's!

And to top off the day, Madilyn lost a tooth! Good thing the Tooth Fairy knew where to find her!

Group hugs and goodbyes - some of the family had to leave early that day. The rest of us prepared to go to Bear World!

Annie made herself a smart phone out of paper. She was so proud of it.
The cabin was just lovely. It was certainly big enough for all of us, we had plenty of room.
Tommy loved my sun hat.
Tommy was so excited to see Bear World again. No matter how many times we go, it is always a neat experience.
My favorite animal is this albino elk.
Jeremy and Josh got stuck on stroller duty. Don't they look thrilled?
Is there anything more fun that amusement rides with your cousins!
We sure love tall these crazy kids!

Our kids could ride these little rides all day long. There are only a handful to choose from, but the kids never tire of them.
Tommy's favorite is the train. He especially loves it when he can sit in the front and ring the bell.

After a long time doing rides, we convinced the kids to move on to the petting zoo.

Madilyn got lots of kisses from this doe.
No trip to Bear World is complete without "chuckleberry" ice cream. Annie has been calling it that since before she was 2.
I think we wore out Grampy!
Once Bear World was done, we said goodbye to everyone. Justin and Julie stayed with us for a couple more days. We loved having one on one time with them. We took them to our favorite pizza place - Stoplight Pizza. But we were so disappointed in the food and the service. It just wasn't the same quality. At least the pieces were still huge, but it was not as yummy as in times past. Oh well!

Thank you Grammy and Grampy for the amazing week. Thank you Becky for feeding everyone! We look forward to the reunion every year. Maybe next year our baby will sleep through the night so we can stay up and play games like we used to. See you all next summer. We'll bring the cinnamon bears and pistachios!