Saturday morning at the cabin is always spent out on the patio waiting for the sun to rise. It was very cold and cloudy. We all endured it for some talking and laughs and the sky did get really colorful before turning dark again.
I wish I would have started to record earlier, but here is a peek at the Stark family together. Mom Stark takes the harassing so well.
Sleeping in. It felt so nice to not have an alarm go off. I was the first one up around 6:00 and couldn't go back to sleep so surfed the internet on the kindle until everyone started waking up. We started packing and grabbed some breakfast before loading everything up.
While topping the tanks at the gas station and picking up some drinks I asked dad how far out of the way Flaming Gorge was. Brandon wanted to take the scenic way home and had seen the signs for Flaming Gorge as we drove through Rock Springs. Honestly it didn't look that far out of our way on the map and so when we approached Rock Springs we pulled off and headed for the Gorge.
The view was beautiful and if I happened to not be driving I probably would have gotten quite a few pictures. The road soon became very steep and narrow and we crossed back into UT along the way. After many, many miles we made it to the Flaming Gorge Dam. We stopped at the visitors center and realized it would now be faster to go home through Vernal instead of going back to WY and around.
Only a few hundred miles out of our way.
We made an adventure out of it and decided to stop in Vernal and go to the Dinosaur museum and do lunch.
Thomas sure loves his "Papa". On this trip it was really fun to see how much he has opened up to having the grandparents holding him and being so willing to give hugs and kisses.
After talking to a few employees at the museum we decided to eat at a little restaurant down the street called 7/11 Ranch Restaurant. It reminded me of a cross between The Cracker Barrel and a little hometown restaurant.
Brandon eating "The Pope" burger. A full two pounds of meat . . . :P
We filled up one more time and started the trip home thinking we would be back around 7:00. Little did we know what was coming.
Just out side of Duchesne our car got a flat. I got that pit in my stomach as soon as I heard it blow and I quickly pulled over. The first thought that went through my head was "I wonder how much crap we are going to have to pull out of the trunk to reach our spare".
I dug everything out and got to work with my lovely hubby assistant.
In all of this I didn't even think, "I should call my dad". Yeah not good, but they after awhile noticed we weren't behind them and turned around to come look for us.
Dad took over with Brandon when he arrived and mom documented this part of our adventure with her cell phone. Once the donut was put on we soon found out it was flat as well. Thank goodness dad and mom came prepared with everything and before I knew it we were on the road again going 45 - 50 mph to the annoyance of all the drivers behind us.
We made several stops on the way home trying to get our tire fixed but soon found out that getting a flat on a Friday, 5:30 at night, in the middle of nowhere isn't the best thing.
Our first attempt was driving into Duchesne's Visitors Center. Dad went right in and asked what was available in town and where they were. The sweet lady working got right on the phone and began making calls to the places in town.
My emotions got the best of me though and I broke down. I know Brandon and I both felt bad for putting everyone in this position. It was our idea that took us on this very LONG scenic byway and then the added need to buy a tire. Mom once again took out her cell phone and got this:
We soon found out that there was nothing available and we needed to make some decisions: head to Heber City and look for another tire place, stay the night somewhere and get a new tire put on in the morning, or just drive very slowly the rest of the way home.
Verdict: Head for Heber City. We had to keep pulling over ever few miles or so since the cars would pile up behind us. Which I cannot even tell you how much that annoyed Brandon.
Once we finally made it to Heber City we again looked for a tire place. Finding out that Les Schaub does not have an after hours number you can call for help and that Wal-Mart's auto center closes at 5:00. Final decision was to just drive home. We drove out of Heber City with the sun setting into a beautiful sunset. Dad missed the turn to go around to Coalville and we ended up heading down the canyon into Salt Lake. I've never been so excited to see the lights from the Salt Lake Valley. I even pondered out loud to Brandon that this is what the pioneers must have felt when they saw the valley for the first time.
We survived the canyon and I-15 and we pulled into Roy after 11.
A good 15 hours after leaving Rawlins.
Although it was scary at times, (driving through Parley's Canyon trying not to go over 50 mph) there where a few tears shed, and it didn't quite end how we imagined our Family Vacation would end, I'm really grateful for this time spent with my family. Through it all I could see that we were being looked after and taken care of. Not in the way we would have like or expected, but you could see it in the people we came across and that we did make it home safely. I'll never forget the experiences we shared and we will have the memories from this trip to remember for a lifetime.
"Remember the time we fit all 9 of us in a Hotel Room for one night?!"
"Remember the time we decided to take Brandon's short cut home from Wyoming?"
"Ice cream is calling, would you like to accept the charges?"
Thursday dawned bright and early with an alarm going off at 5. We safely made it through the night although Cort might disagree since she ended up giving her girls the roll-a-bed and she slept on the floor (she has the heart of a saint that one!).
Today was our trip to Martin's Cove - the reason we came all this way. We got some breakfast and hit the road since the Cove is a good hour north of Rawlins.
Upon arriving at the Visitor's Center there was no one around. Mom wasn't able to get a hold of the missionaries she knew serving at the center, but before we knew it one of the sister missionaries was there helping us. We got a handcart and loaded it up.
Cort handed out her sewing projects: Pioneer bonnets for the girls.
Coon skin hats for the boys.
Off we went.
I had planned to read some stories and tell everyone who they were, but the metal frames around the wheels made it impossible to hear. Instead we stopped for a bit and shared the names. I had gone through the Martin Company and picked people who were about our ages. I picked families that had kids with ages that were close to our kids ages. I then went through each of the families and tried to find stories and information about each of them. Who had died along the way and those that had made it to the valley.
Along the trail we saw deer, jack rabbits, small lizards, lots of butterflies, and a couple of antelope.
We had gone about a mile when we hit the hand cart parking area. From here you hike up and around a loop that takes you into the Cove. I've never seen pictures and it's not really how I imagined it would be.
The trail started climbing and Thomas ended up in the pack, walking, and Brandon carrying him. The day started getting very hot.
I don't know who lit a fire under Wesley, but he just booked it. Most of the way up all we saw were glimpses of him. About half way around the loop that goes up and around a hill there is a little gathering place where benches and a couple missionary were stationed.
We were the first group to come through for the day and since no one else was around we took our time and rested for a bit. The sweet couple missionaries told a few things about that spot and related how the hill was one of Pres. Hinckley's favorite spots to visit.
They found out we were all from UT and mom talked with the sweet sister and found out that they don't live far from some of her kids. I love that about mom she can strike up a conversation with just about anyone.
Dad, Wesley, and 'the hill'.
After convincing my dad to move off the bench we got this group shot of us all together.
The spirit here is amazing. The cove really is such an incredible place and really made me realize how much faith these humble saints from Europe had. They endured so much for their desire to make it to Zion.
The sister missionary as we were leaving told us to watch out for the Sego Lilies. At first they were hard to spot, but as soon as we knew what to look for we noticed them growing amid the sage brush.
In case you are wondering, that would be a purple butterfly net on top of Wesley's head.
The kids reached the top of a ridge and we had them sit and wait for us to catch up. There is a dedication spot and more benches here. We stopped and I went through some more stories and shared what happened to each of the people I had chosen. A few had died - Dad, Cortney's husband, and Thomas. Picking people the way I did I didn't have any idea who had lived or died. As I went through each person it struck me hard when I had clicked on Brigham Twelves - the boy that was Thomas. He was about 2 when the trip started and died before every reaching the Cove. Obviously hearing how many pioneers die along the way is hard, but this made it more personal and I couldn't ever imagine loosing my little guy and having to bury him along the way. After I shared stories mom asked us to share our favorite things about each other. We were all getting very hot, tired, and hungry, but the intimacy of what we felt there on top that little ridge I will never forget.
We noticed youth from trek starting into the Cove and we headed down.
It was reaching almost mid day. Thomas was not only getting tired, but extremely hot. We tried to get him to keep drinking, but I knew it wasn't enough. His little cheeks were starting to get red and I began to worry about him. We decided to drench him with water and dad started with the spray bottle. He enjoyed this part.
After some water in the face we set him down and my dad poured a water bottle over his head. He wasn't happy, but I still wanted to take the precaution. We then walked down the rest of the trail trying to keep him in the shade of grandma's umbrella.
We made it back down to the gathering area and were able to sit in a shady area and eat some snacks that were back in the handcart as well as fill up with more water. It's amazing how fast that box of donuts went. While enjoying the shade we had another sweet couple missionary come tell us some stories of the river crossing as well as share some of their own personal experiences. I love that these wonderful couples are so willing and eager to share with us their stories and testimonies.
We had planned to try and make it around to the river crossing, but with it already being lunch time and the scare with Thomas we headed back down the trail to the Visitor's Center and had lunch instead.
On the way back Kiya and Thomas both rode in the handcart and Kiya helped hold the umbrella.
Cortney, Kiya, Wesley, and Brandon pulled the cart and Dad pushed from the back. I stayed behind and walked with mom.
Part of the old ranch with Devil's Gate in the background.
After lunch we painfully moved into the Visitor's Center; everyone but dad, he stayed behind to guard our stuff.
What a family of four would have packed in their handcart.
Rawhide bindings used around the wheels. As the people started running out of food many pulled this bindings off and started eating them.
After looking through the visitor's center and watching a short film (and trying hard to stay awake) we headed to Independence Rock. This rock was a landmark used by not only those in the handcart company, but also for those traveling the Oregon Trail, Trappers, and the main body of Mormon Pioneers.
There is a truck stop with a historical marker and a trail that leads up to the rock outcrop. If we hadn't been so hot and tired I would have loved to have gone closer, but as it was I was ready to go find a nice shower and air conditioning.
I had to work hard to stay awake while driving back to Rawlins since all the boys were falling asleep around me.
We reached our hotel and claimed the other room we reserved the day before. Mom and dad moved over to it and a few of us started showers until it was time to leave for dinner.
Dinner was at Buck's. If you ever travel through Rawlin, WY you need to stop at Buck's. The atmosphere is fun and the food . . . oh, the food! Yummo!
He really enjoyed his ice cream.
At one point we talked about going to the concert in the park, but all of us were exhausted from the heat. After dinner it was back to the hotel room and more lounging and getting the kids showered/bathed.
Brandon, Cort, and I did a lot of talking about ice cream, but never did manage to get anything besides the sneaks off the kids sundaes.
The adults all agreed that we would be sleeping in the next morning and not starting the trip home as early the next day. Little did we know that we really should have started early, very early.
Once settled into our room we ventured out into Rawlins. We were looking for some place to have our picnic lunch. We ended up eating on the grounds of the Wyoming Frontier Prison. After eating we headed into the Prison and waited for our tour to start.
The kids looked through the gift shop and were momentarily engaged in the penny races.
Then we started part of the self tour where lots of photos and artifacts found on the prison grounds were displayed. I never realized that so many weapons could be made from random household items. Crazy!
These last two are just too cute to be prinsoners.
After looking through exhibits and reading about some of the prisoners our tour started. This is one of the creepiest places I've ever been, hands down. You can feel it as you walk around and see where the men slept, showered, and spent their days. It didn't help that when I got home I found this video: Ghost Adventures. Makes me think Cortney wasn't crazy when she said she kept getting the feeling someone was brushing up against her.
It was past nap time and the little man was made a little happier with a sucker from grandma's purse.
It was hard to believe that this prison was used up until 1981 and had been running for about 80 years.
From the prison we drove over to the Carbon County Museum. Apparently we couldn't get enough history in on this trip ;). The kids really enjoyed the kids area and learned about the Native American plains tribes and how they lived in Wyoming.
Don't let that face fool you, it just one of his 'camera faces'.
I showed Taylee how to use the bead loom.
They had some great and interesting displays and rooms in this little museum, but I didn't fully embrace looking around since it was soooo stinkin' hot.
At one point my little niece put on the Headdress and then put the leather leggings on her arms and walked out to show us. The "miss know it all museum lady" saw her and explained that they didn't belong on her arms but on her legs. I (totally joking with her) said something to the effect of, "It's not our tribe so we don't know how these things work" and she looked at me a little shocked and then took a second look at my dad. I don't know if she appreciated my humor, but it was fun to mess with her a little.
The old school house on the grounds was also opened for us so we could go inside.
Kiya got a little discipling from grandma.
The verdict was the Colonel (KFC)/Taco Bell down the street from our Hotel. We endured a very hot, no air conditioning dinner and then went back to our room where we chilled for the rest of the night and started the long process of getting everyone showered/bathed. It takes quite awhile with one bathroom and 9 people.
There was no Family Fun day for June, but a family trip. We decided to head to Wyoming and Martin's Cove. Lots of planning and prep went into this trip. Mom reserved our lodging in Rawlins and planned for every possible scenario. Cortney did sewing projects, and I looked up points of interest and pioneer names/stories.
On the morning of June 26th the alarm went off at 4 am. We had planned to meet at Mom and Dad's at 5. With a trip to the gas station and another quick stop home we were off.
We hadn't made it far when Brandon wanted me to relay over the walkey talkey's "When's breakfast?" Now he didn't actually want to stop for breakfast, but an actual time of when we might stop . . . next thing I know we are pulled off on an exit ramp eating breakfast on the side of the road just outside of Coalville.
Hit the road once more. Next stop was Fort Bridger which apparently doesn't open until 8:30 in the morning. We took some pictures and had quite a few laughs.
We made great timing and drove into Rawlins around 11:00 to check into our Hotel. Our plan was to check in and go see a few museums around town. The wrench in our plans came when instead of three rooms reserved they could only find one room under dad's name.
No other rooms available.
After some phone calls were made and we all started looking online we came to the conclusion that it was going to have to be 9 of us in a room for one night. You should have seen the look on my dad's face ;)
As crazy as it sounds I really think this might be the way it was suppose to happen. Lots of family bonding time and we realized we could deal with each other for one night in very cramped room. All that family bonding really prepared us for the next days trek as well as the ride home.