After a full day of Yellowstone, we decided to take a break from so much time in the car and tried something new. Have you heard of the St. Anthony sand dunes? Right smack in the middle of Idaho, there is a 10,000+ acre sand dune wonderland. It's the craziest thing. And it's tons of fun. We all rented an array of 4-wheelers and dune buggies and tore it up for about half a day.
After driving the 30 year old 3-wheeler around the yard in Canada the week before, the kids were perfectly primed for taking it up a notch. I was impressed by the ease with which Emma got the hang of shifting gears and using the clutch, I was impressed at how brave and adventurous the boys were climbing up steep hills, and after spending most of the day as a passenger, Lydia even got to have a go driving at the end of the day and did great. Afton was happy to go on a few rides and play at the side of the small lake where we had set up home base.
We were hot and dirty after racing through the sand all day, so we were super glad to find a swimming hole in the same town. We were extra impressed that it had a diving board, water slide, and beach area set up.
The next day we were up early again for one last hurrah around the upper loop at Yellowstone. We saw Mammoth Hot Springs, which looked other-worldly like the geyser area. But the best part of this day was probably a random pull-off that we found on a mountainside covered in boulders. The kids scrambled and climbed and explored all over that place, finding little caves and plenty of peaks to stand proudly atop. We stayed a good long time and probably could have stayed even longer.
We took one nice side road that was probably the prettiest area of the whole park...grand views, wildflowers everywhere. The upper loop in general was definitely better looking than the lower one. Our last stop was Boiling River, where a natural hot spring (like really hot, it will burn you hot) flows into a regular cold water river. You walk in the water in the cool area feeling all normal, then you accidentally stick your leg too far in to the hot side and have to jerk it back quick. You can find a spot in the middle of these converging temps that feels just right, or enjoy the weird sensation of having one leg hot and one leg cold. The adults just waded in a bit, but the kids brought bathing suits and had the full hot tub experience.
|I call this one: Sisters in Hot Water|
There is not much that we'd change about the Odyssey this year. We liked doing fewer stops but spending a longer time at most of the destinations. Having so much uninterrupted time together as a family with very few distractions was a blessing. Hours and hours in the car gave Scott and I a chance to talk about every single thing there is to talk about. Days spent outside gave our kids a chance to unplug and be creative and have fun together. Cousins and aunts and uncles at every turn made it a great shared experience that we'll remember forever. We'd do it again. We will do it again. We planned out our next Odyssey on the ride home. I can't wait.