Thursday, July 19, 2012
To Idaho, Yellowstone and Wyoming and Back!
Yup. Rexburg, Idaho. Brian's mom Katherine grew up there and the Barrus family decided to have a family reunion (because who knows how much longer grandparents will stay alive). A few years ago I drove up to Rexburg with the family, so it wasn't my first time meeting most of the family members there. We stayed at Katherine's sister Connie's house with her husband Bruce. Fun people. Connie is a female body builder and Bruce enjoys photography. He likes to photograph nature scenes. And his muscly wife. This probably sounds pretty ridiculous but it's all true.
Tons of other aunts, uncles, and cousins were there as well, including Brian's cousin Liz and her kids Aimee and Parker. Parker is a fun little five-year-old who had me chasing him up and down the stairs all day or playing Hide and Seek.
"I'll count and you hide," he said. "What number should I count to?"
"Count to ten," I said.
"Do you know what number I can count to? I can count to one thousand!"
"Yeah... just count to ten."
He also took my phone and played Draw Something with it, so if you got a screen filled entirely in green scribbles the word was "polkadot."
As far as reunion activities went, the day was pretty low-key. In the morning we gathered for a surprise birthday breakfast in honor of Brian's grandpa LaMar Barrus. Brian's mom put together an awesome gift basket for him and each gift represented a moment in his long life. It was really interesting to hear about his time growing up on a farm, living and studying music in Europe, and conducting an orchestra for years.
We ate lunch at the family favorite Big Jud's, the girls did their traditional activity of fighting over their grandmother's purses, shoes and jewelry, and we played a few family games. It was nice to be included and fun to interact with the Barrus clan... even if it meant going to church with everyone on Sunday morning. It's okay though, because I looked dang good in my suit and it's always fun to see Brian squirm uncomfortably in a pew.
Sunday afternoon we said goodbye to everyone in Idaho and headed to West Yellowstone with Brian's immediate family. We stopped and explored Island Park and whatnot before staying in a hotel somewhere in Montana. The next morning we ventured further into Yellowstone and saw lots of beautiful scenery including mountains and waterfalls and geysers. We even saw some wildlife including several buffalo, adorable little chipmunks and squirrels, a mama deer and her two babies who crossed the street right behind us, seagulls, swans, a fox that we chased through the trees and the best part of all--an American Bald Eagle!
Oh, and there was also that one creepy-looking bug that flew into Brian's shirt.
Of course we had to go to Old Faithful. The weather took a turn for the worse at that point and began to rain so we watched it from the safety of the porch. Here's a video I took of the eruption, which is sideways. I don't mean the eruption was sideways. It was vertical. But the video is sideways. Not on purpose. Ugh... just don't watch it. In fact, I'm not even going to put it in here.
Anyway, the rain stopped and the sky turned blue again and we went out on the boardwalk to explore all of the many different geysers that surround Old Faithful. It was a lot of fun, even if the geysers smell like dog farts. The best part was when we took a dirt trail through the mountains to see Morning Glory and the Mirror Pool and some of the other sights off the main boardwalk. There weren't any other people besides us out there and it sure felt good to be hiking in the wilderness. I think that was my favorite part of the whole trip.
That night we drove out to Jackson Hole, Wyoming and had dinner at Snake River Brewing. We were with Brian's family so of course nobody ordered any beer, which the waitress thought was pretty weird: "No beer at the brewery??" The food was delicious though. I had a chorizo peach pizza which I loved. A little family argument broke out at dinner involving Brian and some foul language in a show tune which led to Brian's mom storming off into the night. We all had to go out and find her. That's when I knew it was a true family vacation. I mean, without family drama it would just be a regular vacation, and who wants that?
On Tuesday morning we explored Jackson Hole a little bit, did some shopping (we came home with some Huckleberry jam, taffies and chocolate) and even rode in a stagecoach. Those poor horses had to work extra hard to pull Brian and I around... given that we seem to get fatter every day that we're together. At the rate we're expanding, by the time we get married next November we'll be roughly the size of baby buffalo and bursting out of our tuxedos. I decided then and there to make some healthier choices, and had my very last Coke in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
We're home now. Let's see how long that resolution lasts.