Thursday, July 5
Time to leave Yellowstone...but we did take the scenic route! We drove through the park (meeting a deliberate buffalo on the way)...
...and wound our way down the mountains and into Buffalo, Wyoming, where Ted's aunt and uncle live. We did not have cell phone service--still!--so we stopped in the church where they attend, and Ted was able to call them from there. Despite the lack of advance notice, they were completely up for having us crash at their place for a two-hour pit stop! It was so fun to see Anna and John again; I believe the last time we saw them, Charis was about 8 months old! And they are in a new house now, which is just beautiful. Charis connected with her great-aunt Anna immediately, as they share a common passion for creativity!
We left John and Anna's house just as a huge storm was rolling in, which was great for them since it is SO dry out west. But we had one stop to make before leaving town, and that was to go to the cemetery where Dad J is buried. By the time we got there, it was absolutely pouring down, so Ted, Charis, and I sloshed our way to the grave site and stood just a short, reflective moment. We love and miss you, Dad.
We headed out and made it to South Dakota, where we stayed the night at a Comfort Suites. It was pretty much a miserable night all around; we were tired and crabby, and it was late when we got there. We had hoped to stay at the TLF at Ellsworth, but thankfully we were able to call them from Anna's house and learn that they were totally booked, so at least we didn't go out of our way only to find there was no room in the inn. Ted took the older 4 kids swimming after we got kind of settled; we did need to do a small load of laundry, as we had no clean clothes for travel the next day! The little boys did fall asleep pretty fast, but by the time that happened the older kids were coming back into the room. We dealt with severely tangled hair on the girls, delaying our bedtime, and a spasmodic bout of coughing on Arden's part that kept him, Tobin, and myself awake most of the night. While we had had some interrupted nights of sleep in Yellowstone, those were tame compared to this night. The only saving grace was that our driver and the baby were able to sleep through most of it!