Our trip had begun on Wednesday. On Friday we headed for YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park, CO for the Theis family reunion. Mitch's dad has 12 brothers and sisters. There were going to be a lot of people there packed into a spacious reunion cabin!
I took a lot of pictures. Some were good, some were bad. I wish I had taken MORE so I could have more good ones! :) I'm going to seriously think about taking along a laptop or netbook so I can view photos more easily next time.
From the time we left Yuma, my eyes strained to see the first glimpse of the mountains. It was so exciting as clouds and mirages gave way to reveal REAL snow caps!
This was the view from the front deck of the cabin.
Opening announcements were translated into German, setting off our theme for the weekend and celebrating the Theis family German heritage. Eva had prepared a "rough" translation, which she and Kathi took turns reading. We asked them what they *really* said when they were done. It was very funny.
I am not sure why, but this whole nail-log thing has been a staple at every reunion I have been to. It's a big hit for the young and the old alike! (Literally...LOL)
The food was amazing! Many wonderful people pitched in to provide us 3 square meals a day plus snacks and desserts. In fact, after leaving here we knew we were headed into the wilderness where we would survive on peanut butter & jelly sandwiches and whatever I could manage to scrape together on a one-burner propane stove. That thought almost convinced me to head straight back to Minnesota and forget going to Yellowstone. :)
The were making fried doughnuts. Or something like that. It was delicious.
While the bread was being fried, some other adults led the children in a wild game of bingo, complete with fun prizes. My kids LOVED it. Hey--who doesn't love bingo?? They played until everyone had won something.
On Saturday morning, we had family photos. We started with one large group photo. This is everyone here. Can you find all of my kids?
Later Saturday afternoon we headed up to Rocky Mountain National Park. It was absolutely beautiful. The kids couldn't wait to have a snowball fight.
Since we are a homeschooling family, we sent out applications to this park, as well as to Yellowstone and the Badlands to have the entrance fee waivered. Only the Badlands denied our request (someone having a bad day??). I had to provide proofs that our trip to the park would enrich our school experience.
The Bradfords (Mitch's cousin Michelle and family) went with us. Hiking with cousins was SO much fun! Besides--they have lots of kids and homeschool, too. :)
It's snowball time!
Rock climbing--Eden, Zeke, and Kimia
Malachi and his Bradford cousins playing in the snow
Tirzah was not impressed with the snow.
We're missing someone...Micah went on a 5-mile hike with his cousins to a lake.
We think this little creature is a marmot.
On Saturday evening we had "Oktoberfest". I had a hard time getting my kids to participate. Here I managed to get Zeke, Josh, and Tirzah involved in the Hokey Pokey.
Once back in our room Malachi was happy to try on the little German hat and do a bow.
On Sunday afternoon we had a wild game of "Minute to Win-It." It was SO much fun. I loved how everyone was involved with this game, whether participating or cheering the teams on. Cheers were loud and the competition was fierce. What a great family!!
These plastic cups ended up being cheap, fantastic entertainment for the rest of the day. There was always some kid stacking cups.
Some of the "boys" got together for a round of basketball. Though it was ultimately painful for him, here Mitch's Uncle Gene is stuffing him. :)
We planned to leave early on Monday morning since we had a 10-hour drive to get to Yellowstone. We were up and loading the vans, eating breakfast and nearly ready to go at 6 am. I was walking toward the van when I looked across the parking lot and spied a herd of 6 bull elks. It was sooooo cool! We know to stay away, but they were RIGHT there. So beautiful. We took pictures for a while, then hopped in the van and took off. We heard that later when everyone else started to wake up the elk were still hanging around. They managed to make it down to the volleyball court and made it look like they were playing. How cool is that?!?
For some of my kids the reunion was their favorite part of our whole trip. They really, really enjoyed hanging out with their cousins. Is it really going to be 3 whole years before we get together again? That seems like such a long time! We talked about how big everyone is going to be by then. It has been 9 years since I have been to a reunion (and 6 since Mitch has gone). We talked about how much different it was this year than it was 9 years ago--there were a LOT more little kids here this year! I think that made it fun for everyone. Everyone had someone to play with.
On the road again...Malachi became the chief expert at spotting windmills (wind turbines). These huge generators amaze me. I love them.