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So a few weeks ago now (yeah, pathetic) I went gallivanting off to Yellowstone for our annual audit trip.  Can you believe it’s been a year?

We work hard, we really do.  Typically we start auditing around 7:30 in the morning and we often don’t quit until we head to dinner around 6.  But just because we work hard doesn’t mean we don’t stop to enjoy our surroundings either.

Thar she blows!  Old Faithful

We also do a lot of traveling around the park, rarely staying more than one night in each location (there are 3 major locations: Mammoth Hot Springs, Old Faithful, and Yellowstone Lake; as well as a number of smaller locations such as Grant, Canyon, and Roosevelt).  Traveling so much does provide for the opportunity to wildlife watch as well.

This coyote was having a grand old time pouncing after ground squirrels.  He came over and sat in the road to block my path for awhile, but then decided the hunting prospects on the other side of the road were looking tasty and mosied that direction. (Thought of taking a pic of him in the road, but it would have had to have been through the windshield and the mass of bugs on that sucker?  Fuggedaboudit.)

This cuddly wuddly bear (not) was spotted during another portion of our trip.  I was lucky enough to see the Grizzly Mama that has 4 cubs as well but there was a huge bear jam and we were tight on time so I didn’t get to stop and take photos.

I did spend a lot of time with these guys (and gals) though.  Here’s a hazard of my new camera:  I can take waaaay more pictures.  I think I took about a hundred in the hour we spent watching these elk one evening.  There are a set of twin fawns as well as another younger fawn, plus their mothers.  All told there were probably a half dozen adults and the three fawns.  They started on the far side of the road from us.

After the mamas crossed the road each of the fawns decided to make the trek.  It took a few tries.  But the twins both made it shortly.  (Don’t worry to much, traffic was at a dead stop or creepy crawl because people were gawking.)

The littlest guy was a big chicken though.  We stayed and watched them for about an hour and he never did cross the road… so wait, didn’t the chicken get to the other side?  Well I suppose this one did eventually.

And here’s something else a bit wild for you.

I was fortunate enough to meet author C.J. Box while we were at Old Faithful.  I like him for two reasons:  first he killed off a few of our more prestigious Yellowstone employees (including our GM), and more recently he murdered a few campers (and burned down their mega RV) at Josh’s resort.  We were fortunate to receive a signed copy of Below Zero for Christmas this past year.  Since he was at Old Faithful doing a book signing for his latest release (Nowhere to Run), I asked him to sign that one to my mom.  As a thank you.  Because did I mention that while I left on Sunday the 13th to drive to YNP, that Josh had left on a work trip the Thursday prior?  And he didn’t come home until Wednesday the 16th.  Which left my mom wholly in charge of the Boy and the Girl for nearly 4 days.  I’d say that earned her a signed book at least.  But, um, she has to let me read it first…  But back to Mr. Box.  He was more than gracious, seemed truly thrilled to meet me (he knows of my hubby), spoke to myself and one of my coworkers for probably a good 10 minutes (I felt a bit bad for the folks waiting behind us), and promised he was trying to get back to the Hills soon.  I hope he meant it.

Overall, it was another good trip.  Except the snow part.  Which I’m not going to mention except for those 4 words.  The only real downer was the timing.  On Friday, I had to leave Mammoth at 6 am to drive back home.  I promptly watered mom’s plants (she was in Milwaukee by then for my brother’s youngest’s first birthday), took one bag out of the car, threw about 3 more in, drove to the Big City to pick up Josh, his middle sister and her boyfriend, and then continue driving another 5.5 hours across the state to a family reunion.  We finally rolled into the farm at about 10 pm Eastern (9 pm Mountain) that evening.  Yeow.

Mammoth Hot Springs.  Very cool in the sunrise/sunset.

Really.  What is my problem?  I keep swearing to get back into regular updates…yet here we are.  More than 2 weeks after my last post.

I’m editing some photos for a few long posts, but here’s something to tide you over.

I bought a new toy:

It’s a dSLR.  I dropped my beloved point and shoot and officially killed it.  *sob*  I loved that camera.  But I think I’m going to love this one even more.

I saw this comic posted during my audit last week.  It made me laugh out loud.  Truly.

Hope it brings a smile to your face at the end of this Tuesday.

And good grief.  Did you know?  Our Girl is 8 months old today.  How the heck did THAT happen?

So I went a bit Crazy today…

We Volksmarched Crazy Horse today.  Do you know what a Volksmarch is?  It means “People’s Walk” in German.  It’s always 10 kilometers or 6.2 miles.  They’re pretty popular here in the Hills, and this is the 25th year they’ve had one to the top of Crazy Horse.  Here’s what the press says about it:
“…the 10-kilometer trail to the top of Crazy Horse’s arm is more aptly described as a hike. Participants wind through the wooded area near the monument, climbing up and down steep inclines with rough terrain, ultimately reaching peak elevation at 6,700 feet.”

It was a great day for it – cloudy and a bit on the cool side.  Of course, I’m such a fabulous mom…

I was obviously totally prepared for the weather.  Not.  Thanks go to the hubby for leaving this t-shirt in the back of the Prius (it’s from the Corey Ginsbach memorial golf tourney which was yesterday).

Our group consisted of the Boy, me, our friends Shaye, Michelle, Tina and her 18 month old D, and their friend Shane.  I wasn’t going to take the Boy until they called this morning to say they were bringing D.

Here everyone is, roughly 1.5 miles in.  Yes, that fuzzy looking stuff up there on Crazy Horse’s arm is actually people.  I already knew at this point I was in for it.  We’d hit a couple good uphill climbs.  And a certain 30-something pound 3 year old was whining and demanding to be carried.  Oy. Vey.  Let’s reflect.  Crazy Horse’s face is 87′ 6″ tall.  The face.  Alone.  That puts our destination way, way, waaaaay up there.

We persisted.  Someone’s feet touched the ground for maybe a quarter of the Volksmarch.

But we made it!  (Um, it got a bit warm (warm + playing pack mule = my red face).  Then at the top…very cool.  He stole Michelle’s extra t-shirt this time around.)

Super huge thanks to Michelle for helping me share the load near the top.

Cuties.  Stinkers.  They very much enjoyed the M&M’s I brought as bribes.  But they still wouldn’t walk.  It was just…

*pout*  “My knees hurt.”  “My tummy hurts.”  ”  The sun’s to bright.”  “Carry meeeeeeee.”

But we still had a wonderful time.  We certainly didn’t set any records, but for hauling along 2 kids, we made it the 4-something miles up in about 2 hours.

And then?  Then, we had to get back to the car.  Still hauling 30-something pounds on my back.  (We made it in about an hour.)

(That’s the “hole” under Crazy Horse’s arm.  Refer back to the photo of everyone walking.)

Oh, and Mom?  Check out my awesome backpack.  25 years-ish and it’s still hangin’ in there.

It would have been a perfect day if only the garden fairies had come to plant my garden while I was off playing…I’d intended to do it upon our return, but the rain had other plans.  Tomorrow…