A Day in Paris--Not France, but Idaho

My parents live in an area of sparsely populated towns.  Lot's of small ranching communities, the biggest one a whopping population of 2000. All these towns were settled in the 1800's by those seeking a simple way of life. It's not an easy life to be a rancher, but those who stay do so because they love it. My cousin waxed poetic as he told me how he makes money or rather doesn't make so much money, but loves the wide open spaces, land, his animals and the feeling of self reliance. 
The other thing these towns all have in common is they were largely settled by Mormons. These hard working people set out to beautify their towns and as such almost every town in surrounding 100 miles has tabernacle that was used as a gathering place for worship and for social events. 
The Paris tabernacle was built with stones hauled from 18 miles away by oxen. Drawing on the skill of the many European immigrants settling the area, the interior is patterned after the hull of a ship. Notice the woodwork and ceiling especially. Dedicated in 1889, it continues to serve as a church for the LDS church.
During the summer the tabernacle is open for free tours.  There is also a really good antique store just a block from the Tabernacle. You wouldn't expect to find it in such a small town, but the large store has a nice variety of antiques and I myself bought a piece of depression glassware. The owners are local and a delight to chat with. Stop in, if you ever find yourself in the Bear Lake area of Idaho.

National Oregon Trail Museum

When you are traveling with kids you have to be selective on what will hold their interest and in this day of chronic internet, it can be challenging just to get them to leave the house. Thankfully, having the cousins together is a big motivator and what I am finding over and over is, we don't need big expensive activities to keep them happy--simply providing a park is often all they need. 

The small town of Montpelier, ID is just 30 minutes away from my parent's house. It's where we grocery shop, bank, catch a movie and in our case, visit the Oregon Trail Museum. The museum offers a very well done 45 minute tour which is just enough to keep the interest of the children. 

The staff did a great job of involving the kids during our tour, the gift shop out front sells the most delicious caramels and there are picnic tables and a park on the property. It makes for a really nice activity. 
The Details
Address: 320 North 4th St. Montpelier, ID 83254
Cost: $12/adults, $9/youth, $5/kids
Hours: Sunday-Th 9am-5pm, Friday/Saturday open till 7pm

Historic Cove Fort

Situated near the junction of 1-15 and 1-70 in Utah, the site of Cove Fort is a one mile detour worth taking. I've driven past the fort dozens of times over the years, but had only been once and since Eden had never been we decided to pull off and have a look. 

Beginning in 1847, pioneers began settling the high mountain valleys stretching from Idaho to California  The fort was built at the request of Brigham Young,  to offer protection and refreshment to travelers, it also became a stop along the Pony Express and was a stage coach stop. 

The fort is made of lava rock, which workers hauled from west of the property. The fort is 100 square feet, 18.5 feet tall, 4 feet thick at the footings and 2.5 feet thick at the top. Ira Hinkley, who oversaw the fort with his family for 10 years, was determined to live peacefully with the indians and consequently  never saw battle. 

Eden and I stopped only intending to take a quick 10 minute break, but we ended up taking the 45 minute tour that included a video outlining the history and purpose of the fort. A sweet elderly woman then walked us around the site showing each room and giving us details about fort life. I am pretty sure even with the modern conveniences the fort had, prairie life would have been difficult and I am glad to be a woman living today. 

The Details
Address: Cove Fort exit off 1-15/1-70
Hours: 9am-dusk
Cost: Free
Tips: 45 minute guided tours are offered by knowledgable staff--Picnic tables and restrooms available

Silent Sunday

We are enjoying ourselves being back in the United States for our summer holiday.  It is always so nice to be with siblings and cousins.  My parents live in a very small town in Wyoming. They recently bought this church to house my mother's massive nativity collection, intending to turn it into a museum.
Linking with Seasons and Photalife

A Western American Past time

Originally posted October 2015

Nothing is more Western than a rodeo and when your family lives in Wyoming you are bound to visit at least one during the summer. It was quite impressive to watch these sportsmen and women as they roped calves, rode bulls and barrel raced. 

When I was a child I didn't enjoy the lassoing of the animals, but I think the rules have changed over the years because the riders really were gentle with their animals. And, in being around my cousins and other ranchers I've learned how much they respect these animals who help them perform their jobs on the land and those that will eventually provide food to their families.   I've said it before, my ranching cousins are some of the hardest working people I know, with kind old fashioned values, a strong faith in God and a desire to be good stewards over the land. 
The kids loved the rides and I enjoyed the carnival food! I wish I'd taken pictures of the homemade donuts that were so good we went back for a second plate full.
These are the brand markings of the ranchers.

Every town has a rodeo queen. She competes at the country level, state and even tri-state level.

The bucking Bronco event was fantastic! I sat on the edge of my seat praying the rider wouldn't be trampled on when he came flying off the horse.
So, the next time you are in the West, be it Utah, Wyoming, Montana or Idaho find yourself a rodeo, a small local one will do, they happen every weekend during the summer. I promise there is something for everyone to enjoy even if it's just the sunset.


Originally posted in October 2015

Home. Where is home?...my daughter and I were discussing this tonight as she was having one of those "I hate being so far from my family"moments.

I get comments all the time from people who "wish" they had our life, or see our life as one big adventure. They are jealous (in the best way) of all the travel we do and oh, the praise I get for raising children with a world awareness. It's true, our chosen path has been and continues to be an adventure. We are blessed with travel privileges and my kids are benefiting, but there are trade offs to be sure! I have often pined away for the stability of living in one spot. Surrounded by family, hosting holiday dinners, attending special events and actually being a relevant person in the lives of my nieces and nephews.

We really have no place to call home. We have no place to return to. Yes, we can crash at Nana's, Grandma's, Aunty K's, Papa's,  Leslie's, Nate's, or Aaron's (thank goodness we have a big family), but there is something about having an anchor, your own anchor. Creating meaningful relationships is not done easily with only snippets of time each summer. It is trendy to say home is where your family is, but what happens when your family is NOT in the same spot?

The photos in this post were taken over the summer while visiting my mother in Wyoming. Cokeville is not home, but it's the closest thing to stable we have for now.  I grew up visiting my grandma here and now I take my children there. It's a small ranching town short on entertainment and restaurants, but it is a place where we can slow down, breath deeply, ride the 4 wheelers, float down the river and hike in the clean air.  And for the time being it is the place where we will foster relationships with those cousins we only see during the summer.

Pine Creek

Originally posted in July 2013

No trip to Cokeville would be complete without a trip to Pine Creek.  This was my parent's answer to a vacation...one or two nights in the tent or camper, a hike into the woods looking for the Oregon Trail and wading in the freezing cold creek.  I took Eden and Madison out to inflict the same sort of "vacation" on them only we went for just a couple of hours instead of a couple days.
My photos look happy and chipper, but we had a few frowns along the way.  My desire for a hike was met with the same resistance I'm sure I gave my parents years ago.  I can make Eden come along, she is still young enough to do as mommy says, but not so much with a willful teenage niece.
Our trip down the creek turned sour when the girls found their feet numb, but also at a really bad place for getting out of the creek.  It turned from bad to worse when my niece lost her shoe to a muddy black hole.  Neither girl was willing to put her hand into the gue to retrieve the shoe; Eden because it wasn't her shoe and Madison because Eden was "closer."  As the girls balanced on rocks their crying turned  into dramatic displays of helplessness as they screamed for me to come get them.
Mind you, they were in no real danger--the water, while cold, was a foot deep at the most, but exasperated and cold they did not want to walk back up stream. They wanted out of the creek and wanted me to come get them.  Only problem was, the 15 feet between me and them was laden with stinging nettle and a 5 foot shale slope. But, as the drama became a little more dramatic I knew I had to go fish them out of the creek, so down the slope I went hanging on to bush branches to slow my slide.
I was able to flatten a path that almost reached the girls, then with a long stick I reached out towards Eden who just needed that little bit of comfort to come out of the creek. It was pretty comical when it came time for me to help the girls up the slope. It wasn't that it was so tall, but the slippery shale was  almost vertical with very little to grab onto.   Imagine me pushing from below as the girls struggled to keep their footing by grabbing onto patches of weeds.
It was a somber ride home.  What started out as a fun picnic ended with a lost shoe and two very cranky girls that even a drink from the Flying J couldn't fix.  Oh well. By the time I am in Wyoming again the day will be forgotten and I'll suggest another Pine Creek outing.