Saturday, July 30, 2011

Missoula, Montana

As we are driving through lovely, Montana, we are just baffled by the beauty.  This state surrounds you with mountains.  Everywhere you look, you are hugged by mountains!
Needless to say, that we really enjoyed our drive to Missoula.  :)
We decided to visit this part of the state for a couple of days, and just stayed in a Walmart parking lot.  It has been in the high 70's during the day, and low 40's at night, so dry camping is actually enjoyable. 

In the heart of town, we found a nice playground and an affordable carousel; rides for 50cents!  :)
After visiting the Carousel Museum in Leaventworth, KS., I wanted to see if I could find one of C.W. Parker's horses or carousel animals....I did!  Emily was actually riding it.  ;)
You know it is one of his, if it has a corncob on the saddle, or if it has horseshoes.  Too cool.

(my little monkey :)

As the carousel is moving, there is this neat contraption that holds little, plastic rings.  As you ride by, you try to grab a ring.  If you get the last ring, which is gold, you win a free yogart or another ride on the carousel. 

Yep.....Todd won.  :)
However, having 5 children, how could we get just one free yogart or ride?  Kind of a small dilema.  So, he gave it away to another little girl who was SO surprised.  :)  I love my sweet man.  :)

After all that playing around, we decided to stop by a VERY popular icecream shop; The Big Dipper.  All I can say is, "YUM!"
They make from scratch, everyday, fresh icecream.  :)
(Huckleberry, bubble gum, strawberry, chocolate, coconut, and even black licorice!)

We waited in line for about 30 minutes, which TOTALLY builds up the anticipation, but it really was well worth it!


Indian Creek RV Park, Campground Review

While we stayed in Deer Lodge, we spent a week here.

There is SO much to do in this friendly small town.  :)
*City Pool-runs weeknights for a couple of hours
*City Park
*Grant-Kohrs Ranch
*Awesome Book Store, with a great used section filled with classics

Although this campground is fine for a couple of nights, we could not stay here longer than a week.  The campground is literally a parking lot with a laundry and shower/bathroom facility.  It is a little out-dated, and needs a really good cleaning. 

There is not a playground, pool, lake, trail, nothing.....

Price- $140 for the week plus cable, which we felt was fair.

The staff is just wonderful, and very helpful.  :)


Deer Lodge, MT. Fantastic Auto Museum!

One of the nice things about Deer Lodge, is when you buy a museum pass, it lasts for two days, and allows access into all 5 museums in town.  :)  Our family went to two of them, the Prison and the Auto Museums, for around $20!  That is a great deal!
What I appreciated about this museum, is they have organized it, so that the cars are in chronological order!  You literally start at the beginning of time, and see how the automobile has progressed year after year.  (for ignorant people like me, that knows NOTHING about cars, I was able to enjoy this type of museum)  :)

There were almost 200 cars/trucks inside of this building!

We appreciated the quality of these vehicles, that is for sure.

Here are just some of our favorites.  :)


Thursday, July 28, 2011

Old Prison Museum

While we were in Deer Lodge, Montana, we served some time in prison.  :)

This prison was established in 1871, and was active until 1979, when it was moved about 4 miles out of town.

To walk around the grounds, was honestly depressing.  To know that there were hundreds, if not, thousands of men and women who served here, and even died here, just saddened my heart.  It was fun and interesting, but then, it was also very sobering at the same time.

The outside walls are 24ft. tall and 4 feet thick!  They are also 4ft. underground, so good luck trying to dig your way out....infact, no one did.

On our self-guided tour, we even went inside the prison.  They allowed access into the offices of the warden and chaplain, into the cells, mess hall, and 'shower area.'  (The showers were literally an open room with 3 shower heads on the wall.  The prisoner moved from one to the next, first, getting wet, then using soap, then rinsing off.  It made you feel like cattle, and you had no privacy AT ALL!  Just awful.)

Here are some of the 'homemade' weapons that were found or confiscated from prisoners.

As we entered the cell area, we immediately felt a coldness.  It was so creepy.  You could not help but envision someone spending their days within these walls

Home sweet home?  This is a cell.  Built for two.
This was a great reminder to us all, how thankful we are for our freedom!

Down below, we found, "The Hole."  These are seperate cells with no bed, toilet or windows, for the disobedient prisoners.  There was a small peep-hole on the door, that a little light would shine through, only in the day time, of course. 

Walking through our first prison was definitely eye-opening to say the least!  It was interesting to know all the safety and security measures that took place, and to see how criminals live, but it was also SO sad.  I am thankful for our prison systems, and to know that there are consequences for wrong doing, but as a mother, I thought of all those other mothers, whose sons or daughters ended up here.  I found myself praying for my children in a new way that day.  I also prayed for my country in a new way. 

I'd say this experience is one that will definitely 'stick' with us. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Grant-Kohrs Ranch!!

Last week, we stayed in Deer Lodge, Montana.  State #12!! :)
In this little town, there is a National Historic Site; Grant-Kohrs Ranch.  This ranch is over 150 years old, and is STILL a working ranch.

Our tour guide led us through the original house, filled with ALL orginal furniture and hand-made pieces from the family.  It was magnificent.  Some of these flowers in the garden, were planted one hundred years ago, and they are STILL coming back, year after year!  Unbelievable. 

The men and women who work the ranch today, use the same equipment that was used back then, so you truly feel like you have stepped back in time watching them at work;  from cutting hay or bailing it with a beaver sled, to wagon rides, branding or even gardening.
There were two different blacksmiths teaching us how to shape metal, or brands for common uses.

We even enjoyed some hot coffee made over a fire, and home-made biscuits in a dutch oven. It was a true Chuckwagon!  YUM!

We witnessed a REAL branding too!  (my family brands their cows, but I have never seen it before, so this was a first time experience for all of us.)  What we liked most about it though, was watching the cowboys team rope the calves so they could secure them safely.  :)

There was a section for covered wagon rides, roping and crafts for the little ones, too!

We spent 3 glorious days out at the ranch, and had SO much fun.  Our prayer is that hopefully one day, we can have a few acres of our own.  I would LOVE to have a garden again, and a small chicken coop.  :)  Fresh don't get any better than that!  :)

 Here is their lovely washer and dryer.  :)
Of course we did the Jr. Ranger program!  This is our 18th badge!  Whoo Hoo!!!


Saturday, July 23, 2011

Gros Ventre Campground Review

While we were in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, we stayed here.  It was a great location, maybe 15 minutes to the National Park, and only 15 minutes to the downtown area of Jackson Hole.

Price- $20/night for electric and water, and a dump station.  VERY reasonable!  :)

Now, if you are wanting to stay here, you need to like, 'rustic' surroundings.  :)  The bathrooms were clean, but old.  There are NO other ammenities, however, for us, it was a good 2 night stay.  :)  They have little trails through out the park, and a Jr. Ranger 'talk' every afternoon and evening, which we really liked.

The campgrounds themselves REALLY need a good, healthy clean up.  There was a lot of brush, limbs, and overgrown grass that needed some tender loving care. ;)

I would recommend this park, as long as you are wanting to 'rough it' for a few days, and you honestly can not find a better price in this area either.
Get ready for wonderful sunsets and cool evenings with a gorgeous view of the Tetons!

Arco, ID & Craters of the Moon National Park

State #11!!!  Idaho!!!
 When we went to this remote, little town, our plan was to visit the local National Park.  Little did we know, that this was also the weekend that is celebrated as, "Atomic Days!"  Every year, they have a plane fly over the downtown area, and during its parade, the plane drops thousands of ping-pong balls from the sky!  Some of the balls have a star on them.  If you get one with a star, you get a 50 cent piece from the local sheriff!  :)  Zach and Hannah got one!  Too cool!
Arco, is pretty special since it is about 50 miles away from the ACTUAL building and research center where the U.S. produced the atomic bomb.  The town was also 'lit' up years ago by the research, and has celebrated it during their town parade for years now.

We just LOVE these little town fairs and parades, with all the cool and classic cars, and ofcourse, CANDY!

The next day, we went to the National Park, Craters of the Moon.  Honestly, I did not know what to expect, but the name of the park sounded SO interesting, that we HAD to go!

If you are wondering what we are walking and standing on, well, it is actually cooled molten lava!  Yep.  This area has a volcano that is recorded to have an eruption about every 2000 years.  It is actually 'past' due for its next one, though.  :)  The park is SO clean and organized.  They even paint the sidewalks black to match the 'atmosphere.'

The most AWESOME part of this park, though, was Indian Cave.
The Shoshone indian tribes were known for living and hiding inside this cave; hence the name! :)

 As we walked down, we could feel a drastic change in temperature.  It was beautiful and a little creepy, all at the same time!
This was truly an unforgettable experience!  Oh, and though we did not SEE the bats.  We DID see their droppings......just in case you were wondering!  HA!

It was also a relatively easy Jr. Ranger program too, so that was a nice change of pace.