Monday, September 7, 2015

The End of Summer

Today on the blog I'm taking you to a new corner of Wyoming. I guess I'm playing tour guide! We went to Medicine Lodge State Archaeological Site for a camping weekend. But before I get to all the pictures... a story:

I've been so excited for school to start this year! We are continuing our homeschool journey, and as such I've spent several weeks this summer choosing and shopping for curriculum, planning and preparing. Recently I also went and purchased school supplies. I had so much fun picking out notebooks, rulers and index cards! I really had to control myself from going overboard and buying a bunch of stuff we didn't need – like a protractor for my preschooler. I always liked school myself... and school supply shopping for my kids is just the best. My favorite purchase - I am so pumped that I found a left-handed scissors for the Biker Dude!

(Uh oh, I think my nerd is showing.)

We started school this past week, but before we could get down to business we had one last summer-y weekend planned. Our church family headed out of town for a group camping excursion – the first of what hopefully becomes an annual event. Honestly, I wasn't originally looking forward to it. The thought of tent camping with a 2 ½ month old baby was less than appealing to me, to say the least. But! Some good great super-fantastic! friends of ours offered to lend us a camper for the event, and that changed everything.

Sooo... there we were, getting things ready so that we could leave the next day. The kids were already in bed and PJ and I were packing the camper when I asked him to go downstairs and bring up something we needed. He wasn't down there for more than two minutes before he started yelling for me to come and help him. I'm all, “What do you need my help for? I just sent you down there for one little thing.” “Just come help me!!!” he insisted, with quite an urgent tone in his voice (which, yes, that is just a nice way of saying that he yelled a little). Anyway, I get down there and discover the reason for his insistence - which was that our basement had gotten water in it (because of course that would happen the night before we want to leave for vacation...). There wasn't any standing water, thankfully, but the water did puddle up around your feet as you walked across the carpet. The room that flooded was my sewing room/storage room, so there were a lot of boxes and storage totes and miscellaneous items that we had to move. The water also went under the wall of that room and into our school room area, which meant that I had to tear apart nearly everything that I had spent so much time carefully preparing for our school year – just three days before it was supposed to start. (Ugh!!!) Once the heavy lifting was done, PJ got the wet vac out and vacuumed something like 15-20 gallons of water out of the carpet while I went upstairs and got back to packing. I was ready to call the camping trip off, I was so frustrated, but we turned a big fan on the carpet overnight and then left it to dry unassisted the next morning while we went to...

...Medicine Lodge State Archaeological Site!

Oh. Nearly forgot. Can't leave yet. I hadn't been feeling good for a few days, and wasn't getting better at all, so I decided to go to Urgent Care that morning. Thankfully there wasn't a long wait, but they did end up putting me on antibiotics. So that was another unwelcome addition to our trip to...

...Medicine Lodge State Archaeological Site!

(Yes, we can finally go. Wait. We can go - after we get gas and stop at the store and get lunch and feed the baby and... Good gracious, this leaving thing is taking forever!)

So. Medicine Lodge State Archaeological Site. Never heard of it before. Never even knew it existed. Wyoming still has plenty of surprises left! We drove out into pretty much the middle of nowhere and followed a couple of tiny little signs.

Landscape near the entrance.

Went down a gravel road and came upon the entrance to the park which led us into what felt like an oasis. There was a cold stream full of trout and a large number of trees of the deciduous variety in a little valley surrounded by rocky bluffs.

 View from our campsite.

 Beautiful trout stream ran through the whole campground.

The campground was meticulously maintained with nice grassy sites and the cleanest, best-smelling pit toilets I've ever encountered (they used “forest” scented hanging car air fresheners). The campground was busy, but not totally full.

One of the available campsites.

Oh! And there was this – while we could drive just a short distance down the road and get cell service, there was no service after we passed through the entrance to the campground. This only added to the “oasis” feeling. There were no ringing cell phones disrupting the peace, and the only thing we watched in the evenings was the campfire. It was rather nice to be disconnected for a couple of days.

The kids were in their glory – spending all day outside, running around with their friends, riding bikes, playing in the creek, making s'mores... It was the first time that we'd been camping in a few years, and the first time ever for Little Mister and Little Miss. In fact, last time we went, Mountain Girl was just a little over a year old and we went tent camping at the beach. (Sand + little kids + tent... hmmm, maybe there's a reason we didn't feel like going camping there for a bit...) Anyway, they absolutely loved it. In fact, I think we all had a pretty good time.

We had a young man who wanted to be baptized in a creek, so we did that on Sunday morning. It was definitely a highlight of our weekend! We also enjoyed a little walk around the campground on a nature trail, an outdoor church service, horseshoes (until they broke) and ladderball, omelets-in-a-bag (just ask if you want the instructions for them – they're really good and a simple way to feed a large group), campfires and lots of s'mores and conversation.

 Nature trail.

Nature trail.

Cactus and wildflowers along the nature trail.

 Nature trail.

Oh, and if you're wondering why the place is called an “Archaeological Site” rather than a State Park or something else, it's because of the petroglyphs (which you can view quite easily on a large rock face right by a parking area) and I guess they also did some archaeological excavations there as well.

 Petroglyph area.

It was a nice, refreshing weekend – even if it was dampened just a bit by the knowledge that we had to deal with the basement when we got back home. The carpet was still a little damp, as we expected, so we turned the fan back on to get it all dried out. The good news is that there has been no more water coming in, and we're pretty sure we know what happened, so everything should be all taken care of now. I was determined to start school despite the mess, so we've been working around it. Things have been going well, even if they are a bit cramped and a lot disorganized. Hopefully soon we can move the furniture back where it belongs and get everything all situated the way that it was before.

 Wild sunflowers of Wyoming.

"He lets me rest in green meadows;
he leads me beside peaceful streams."
-Psalm 23: 2 (NLT)

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