Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Road Trip!

After a good-faith effort to make our old Subaru Forester work with 2 car seats, we gave up and bought a minivan a couple of months ago. Last week we hit the road in our cool new ride and drove to Montana with the twins and Gris, our Au Pair. We had a fabulous time for the most part, despite some rough moments in the car and not much sleep.

Leaving Portland! Having Gris in the backseat was an absolute lifesaver. Without her, we would probably still be at a rest stop in Eastern Washington, wrestling the babies back into their car seats.We offered Gris the choice of staying home, coming with us, or planning her own trip separate from us during our vacation. Thankfully, she opted to join us. In addition to being enormously helpful in the car, she was able to stay with the babies on several evenings after they went to bed (usually around 6:30), meaning that Eric and I could go out and socialize during the evening. During the day she had free time to go out and see the sights, including a whirlwind tour of Yellowstone with my mom and aunt. We could not have asked for a better traveling companion!

Our first stop was in Missoula to visit Dana and her boys, including her identical twins Will and Ollie who arrived 2 months early in May. After 6 weeks in the NICU, they came home a few weeks ago and they are both doing really well! This is me holding Ollie, who is still on supplemental oxygen, which is pretty common for preemies because their lungs are not quite developed enough to handle room air. He will likely be able to go off this machine in the next few weeks. Other than that, you would never know that they were preemies. Dana and Jason sure do make cute babies!

Brie and Trace joined us with their kids on Sunday - we squeezed all the kids minus Will and Ollie on the couch for a photo shoot, with Brie and Gris as bookends/spotters. Notice Gus clapping - he is so proud of himself!

Next it was on to Livingston to visit Patty and Linda in their new house! This was definitely a highlight - after staying in a hotel in Missoula it was so nice to have some space for the babies to crawl around. Livingston is a great little town and we're so happy to have a reason to visit.

The elevation was making everything in sealed containers explode, including shampoo/lotion bottles, and this can of formula which caught me off guard after my run. I had a laundry malfunction yesterday and accidentally brought this shirt (unwashed) to work for my lunch hour run. So I guess we can add sour milk to the list of olfactory assaults on the Portland waterfront yesterday.

Gus and Uncle Patty.

Eric and I helped Linda and Patty celebrate their 8th anniversary at the Bistro in Livingston, where we sat at the Chef's table so that Patty could harass the kitchen staff.

Eric went for a solo hike in Paradise Valley.

I think if you ask the babies what their favorite part of vacation was, they would tell you Chico Hot Springs. It was their first time in a pool and they LOVED it. I don't think I have ever seen them light up so dramatically as when we placed them in their floats and let them splash around. This was a favorite of my family when we were kids and we will definitely be returning here for future vacations. The pool is chlorine - free, and a perfect temperature whether it's hot or cold outside. There's an awesome restaurant, a saloon and lots of daytime activities like rafting, horseback riding, and nordic skiing in the winter.

The setting was so beautiful - there was a big lawn outside our room, with a great view and lots of space to move around for the twins.

I couldn't resist this photo opportunity!

A boy and his leaf.

A double car meltdown prompted us to pull over in the Lamar Valley on our way to Cooke City. Silver lining: some really cute pictures. A similar thing happened with Seamus back in 2009 (see picture here). 

Next it was on to Cooke City, where my mom celebrates her birthday every year. Greta loves her Aunt Linda!

Cousin Tommy joined us from New York and was the life of the party.

Photo shoot (serious faces) with Tokarski's plus Tommy and Aunt Maureen (my mom's sister and Tommy's grandma).

Eric and I with both hands free!

Siblings plus Tommy.
My mom watched the twins for a day so we were able to get out for a hike in the Beartooths. We made it to Beauty Lake, which was aptly named.

When in nature, it can be difficult to find a tripod for the self-timer shot, but we got lucky with a dead tree that had a perfect little shelf for the camera.

We took a detour on our way back to a fire lookout that had an amazing panoramic view of the Beartooth and the Wind River mountain ranges. There were volunteers who explained the geography of the area and also let us peek at the sun through their super high-powered telescope.

My brother looking handsome.

Good thing I packed some warm clothes because it was in the 30s at night and 40s in the morning. Plus, how cute are those hats?

We arrived home on Monday, and have vowed to let the minivan rest for awhile before our next adventure.