Jubilee’s 8th birthday – Spokane, WA…

Monday we left Montana and took the prettiest drive through Idaho to Washington. We are staying at an RV park just outside of Spokane.

We’ve been enjoying our week here, and today we had fun celebrating Jubilee’s 8th birthday!

Some new friends taught us a new birthday song, and we love it! Jubilee picked pancake bread and apple cinnamon bread from Trader Joe’s for her special birthday breakfast. We threw in some trick candles for fun!

After breakfast we each read Jubilee what we wrote to her in her journal, and she opened gifts.

She was excited and surprised that Lolli and Pop had sent her a gift in the mail – bean bag toss.

For lunch Jubilee requested a burrito bowl from Chipotle. She usually has a kid’s meal, which she loves, but she really wanted to try what Mommy and Daddy usually get.

She was only able to eat about 1/4 of it before she asked to save the rest for later. She loved it, though.

Jubilee really wanted to go swimming for her birthday. The pool at our RV park is closed due to COVID, so we drove about 45 minutes to Liberty Lake.

It was crowded, but we found a decent spot to swim. The water wasn’t too cold. And the surrounding view was awesome.

This evening we all took showers, ate dinner and then played on the RV park playground. Jubilee had a great day!

Happy 8th birthday, Jubilee Hope! 💗

You’ve grown up so much this year and have become so mature for your age. You are a master organizer, and you enjoy organizing. I think your clothes drawer is the neatest. You are fun-loving, bubbly and always enjoyable to spend time with. Your smile lights up a room, always has. You are a a ray of sunshine, and your name suits you so well. You love school and learning. You enjoy playing games. You love hanging out with your older siblings and playing with your younger siblings. You’ve joined the band, and I love watching you sing and shake your shaker. You live like your life is a musical, busting out in a spontaneous song at any moment. You’d definitely make a great song-writer. You know what you want, and you go after what you want with a strong determination. You are kind-hearted and loving as well. You are a great, one-of-a-kind daughter who brings a a smile to my face everyday. I love you so very much, Jubilee, and I am so happy you are my girl! 💖

An afternoon at Flathead Lake and back to Glacier National Park – Montana…

Saturday we met up with our full-time RVing friends, the Techau family, once again. We enjoyed a fun afternoon at the beautiful Flathead Lake.

We chose to swim at the Big Arm State Park day use area. It wasn’t crowded and was perfect for what we wanted.

Our kids played in the water, swam, skipped stones and congregated on this stump standing in the lake.

The boys used a 2 X 6 they found in the water to carry heavy rocks onto the land. The girls used some of the rocks and the board to make a seesaw.

River and Bravely had a blast walking in the shallow part of the water and then walking back onto land, over and over again.

Swimming and playing in the water at the lake is not something we’ve done often. I am so glad we spent the time earlier in the week to find life vests for all our kids. It made our day at the lake so much more fun and relaxed than it would have been otherwise – for me anyway! Ha! Around water my brain spins as my eyes search over and over, “1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10.”

All-in-all it was an awesome afternoon at the lake!

We spent the evening showering and relaxing, and the next day we headed back to Glacier National Park.

We drove in knowing what to expect and where we wanted to go. We really wanted to walk Trail of the Cedars, which we hadn’t had time for before.

Trail of the Cedars is a .6 mile loop lined with cedar trees.

About midway through the trail, we veered off heading toward Avalanche Lake. We were told seeing Avalanche Gorge is a must, and I agree!

This is one of the prettiest areas I’ve ever seen. The colors, the gushing and rushing water, the sound…it was all beautiful.

We followed the gorge up a ways, and then we turned around and went back down to Trail of the Cedars.

We continued along the the trail and crossed over a bridge, which allowed us to see Avalanche Gorge in all its beauty from bellow.

After we finished Trail of the Cedars, we drove to an overlook of McDonald Lake for one last view. And then we were satisfied. We loved our whole experience at Glacier National Park, including our crazy trek through the snow!

Glacier National Park – Montana…

I’m not even sure where to start. We’ve traveled so many places now, and we’ve seen so many beautiful views. Sometimes pictures and words fail, and I feel that will be true here. I love the unique views each state and each national park have had to offer. There is something pretty magical about Glacier, though.

On Thursday we drove into the west entrance of Glacier National Park, and shortly after entering we saw the beginning of Lake McDonald. This lake goes on and on and on. It is beautiful clear blue water with rock beds and mountains surrounding.

We picked up a map at the entrance and got advice on must-sees. Our first stop off of Going-to-the-Sun Road was to hike Johns Lake Loop Trailhead. This hike visits Johns Lake, Sacred Dancing Cascade and McDonald Falls.

I wore Bravely and Ryan wore River in pouches on our backs. This trail was not stroller friendly. It was hot out, but not miserably hot, and the trail offered plenty of shade.

The waterfalls and streams were stunning. We were able to get right up close.

I could happily live next to running water and never tire of the sound!

Johns Lake Loop Trail is 1.3 miles, but it took us nearly three hours to walk. We stopped to look, stopped for photos, stopped to climb rocks, stopped to feel the water.

It was worth all the time spent and every stop made. It is a trail full of beauty to behold.

After we finished Johns Lake Loop, we happily sat in the air conditioned van and consumed much needed water and snacks.

Then we continued our drive up Going-to-the-Sun Road. I just love that road name! The views along that road are gorgeous. I found myself asking Ryan to pull over every few minutes just to better soak in our current view.

A long way up the mountain, we reached Logan Pass. Logan Pass is the highest elevation reachable by car in the park. There we parked and immediately saw four bighorn sheep walking around eating grass.

We used the restrooms there, and then we started off on the Hidden Lake Trail around 6:30PM. It was going to be quite the trek, but we didn’t know that quite yet!

We were so excited when we saw our first patch of snow off to the side of the trail. We had no idea there was about to be plenty of snow just ahead.

At this point, Ryan and I each had kids in pouches on our backs once again. I was exhausted from the start, but I was excited about this 2.7 mile hike round trip. The trail was made up of a wooden platform and what seemed like an endless amount of stairs. We climbed, and we climbed, and we climbed.

Then, the wooden platform disappeared. All we saw ahead was snow. Snow and occasional yellow trail markers.

We were slipping and sliding everywhere! Thank God for teenage sons who helped me not bust it with Bravely on my back, for Ryan who toted River and helped Treasure, and for our older girls who helped our younger girls. It was quite the site to see! Ha!

After what felt like hours, we made it to Hidden Lake!

The view – every stair climbed and every slippery step taken was worth it for this amazing, breath-taking view!

We admired the view for approximately 3-5 minutes before realizing that we needed to start heading down the mountain immediately if we wanted to make it back before dark. And I was not about to trek through the snow with ten kids in the dark!

We saw a few mountain goats nearby as we started making our way down the mountain.

Here I feel I should insert the song “I wonder as I wander” or something of that nature. Haha.

Now we had kids crying, kids laughing, kids slipping, kids sliding. Kids and adults, I should say. Everyone was cold, hungry and tired. I started motivating with, “Hey! Tomorrow we’ll get Chick-fil-A sandwiches and big chocolate chip cookies. Y’all are awesome. You got this!” The thought of chocolate chip cookies did help.

We eventually made it down the mountain…at 9:52PM! Thank God it stays light out until around 10PM there!

We made our way home to our RV in Kalispell, arriving around midnight. We ate a very late snack super and crashed. We all slept in the next day and woke up mildly complaining about aches and pains. Every kid, except River who rode on Ryan’s back the whole way, said they were glad we did the hike even though it was hard. Perseverance and endurance is usually worth it in the end! Ryan and I both loved it – crazy, hard, beautiful!

Oh, and we did get our Chick-fil-A! 😁

Late nights in Kalispell, Montana…

Monday we moved from Great Falls to Kalispell. We’ve been here almost a week, and we have loved almost every minute of our time here.

We are staying at a new RV park called Montana Basecamp. It is a nice park surrounded with mountain views. We’ve enjoyed spending time outside and walking the bike trail that runs behind our RV park for miles and miles.

Something that surprised us here is that it is light out until about 10PM. We’ve loved staying out late and sleeping in all week.

If we are planning to stay a week or longer in one place, we often have a down day the day after we arrive in a new location. That’s what we did on Tuesday. We did laundry, paid bills, made calls, worked and just hung around the RV park.

That evening we went for a long walk on the bike trail. Well, actually we had some walking, some roller-blading, some on scooters, some riding ripstiks and a couple in the stroller.

Wednesday we spent about 3 hours driving around to 7, yes SEVEN, different stores trying to find life vests for all of our kids who didn’t own one. We’d find one here, a couple there, and another elsewhere. We finally acquired one for each kid, and we were excited to be set to meet friends at Lake Flathead later in the week.

Wednesday evening we wanted to get out and do something, so we drove to Whitefish to walk The Whitefish Trail. When we arrived we read the warning signs about bears that recommended having bear spray. Did you know there was such a thing? We had no clue. Apparently, it is a spray similar to mace that is used to deter aggressive or charging bears. We had no bear spray, we had no cell service and it was after 8PM and no one else was around.

Because of those reasons, we decided to walk a short loop, the Swift Creek Trailhead.

It was a nice walk that lead to Swift Creek Overlook, which displayed a beautiful view.

We finished walking the loop, and then we drove a short distance to Les Mason State Park. We parked and walked down a path to Whitefish Lake.

There the kids enjoyed skipping stones across the water as we watched the sun set.

It was one of several late nights out this week, and it was a good one!

Just wait until I tell you about the evening we were trying to make it down a snowy mountain after 9PM…

Great Falls, Montana…

Friday we left our RV park in Billings and made our way to our new spot in Great Falls. Every time we hitch the RV to the truck and start driving, River asks enthusiastically, “Mommy, are we going to a new RV park?” It’s funny how this has become our normal way of life. We have adjusted and are used to our traveling lifestyle.

Our kids couldn’t wait to get to this particular RV park, Great Falls KOA, because some of our full-time RVing friends were there. As soon as we pulled in, our kids asked when they could see Jeremiah and Addy. Jeremiah and Addy were just as excited and quickly showed up at our site. We enjoyed hanging out at the playground and roasting marshmallows for s’mores together that first evening.

On Saturday we went with our friends to Ryan Dam. It is a huge dam, and it was really cool to see.

After hanging out there awhile, we headed back to the RV park and took the kids to the splash pad.

This was definitely the coolest splash pad we’ve ever seen or experienced.

The pool is about 1.5 feet deep. My kind of pool – I didn’t worry too much about our kids. I put floaties on our little ones for extra safety, though.

Our kids had so much fun. They wore themselves out running around, sliding and playing.

The next morning, we told our friends goodbye as they headed out to Kalispell, the same place we’d be going the next day.

We hung around the RV that morning and had our own family church, something we’ve been doing since March. It’s nice having kids who play instruments and lead worship for us! We will be very ready to visit different churches again when this virus calms down, though.

Sunday afternoon we went to Giant Springs State Park in Great Falls. It was absolutely gorgeous.

The springs flowing into Roe River were amazing to see.

We walked a paved trail along the river side and took in all the great views surrounding us.

We got off on a side trail and followed a stream of water. I had Rhythm take a photo of Ryan and me.

When he finished taking the photo, some of our girls yelled at me and asked me to take a photo of them. I laughed when I saw that they’d perfectly arranged themselves for a great photo. Those are my girls! Haha.

Throughout our visit to Giant Springs, we would hear water running and we’d try tracking down where the water was coming from.

We all loved Giant Springs State Park. We would have spent much more time there if we had the time.

We’ve always heard Montana is beautiful. It truly is. We have loved every moment we’ve gotten to spend in it!

Beartooth Highway – Montana/Wyoming…

A couple people recommended we drive Beartooth Highway. I blew off the idea because it was about a 2 hour drive to Beartooth Pass from our RV park in Billings, and a 2 hour drive back. That’s a lot of time in the van just driving. We met a family of 9 at our RV park, and they told us it was the most beautiful drive they’ve ever done. Ryan talked me into it after that conversation. And I’m glad he did!

We drove about an hour to Red Lodge. There we stopped at Family Dollar to pick up some snacks. From there, endless amazing views unfolded before our eyes.

We drove up, winding through mountains. There were numerous pull-offs and look-outs along the way. It was hard to resist stopping at them all.

One of our favorite stops was at Rock Creek Vista Point. There were restrooms, which we all needed and used.

Tons of chipmunks were roaming around that area. A man gave our kids sunflower seeds to feed to the chipmunks. Our kids absolutely loved feeding them. Bravely was half excited, half terrified. She had us all laughing!

There we walked on a path out to an amazing mountain viewpoint. We were all in awe of the surrounding beauty.

We got back in the van and ate snacks as we drove into more incredible views, this one being my favorite. Lake, mountains, sunshine, blue skies, clouds and snow…doesn’t get much more picturesque than this.

Did I mention snow? Snow in July? We were so excited to stop and stand in it. Naturally, most of our kids (and Ryan 😁) started throwing snowballs.

After seeing the snow we continued on, crossing from Montana into Wyoming, and we drove Beartooth Pass.

After Beartooth Pass, we turned around and saw all the beautiful views once again as we headed back home to our RV. We do call our RV home sweet home.

We all thought Beartooth Highway was completely worth the long drive. We’d do it again, and we highly recommend it.

Pictograph Cave State Park and Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument – Montana…

Tuesday we went to Pictograph Cave State Park in Billings, Montana.

Pictograph Cave State Park is an area of three caves. The Pictograph, Middle and Ghost caves were home to generations of prehistoric hunters.

At the park entrance there is a small visitor’s center with a gift shop. We stopped there to pay our entrance fee ($8 per vehicle) and to purchase some postcards.

Right off the parking lot, there is a loop trail that allows visitors to view the rock paintings, known as pictographs, that are still visible in Pictograph Cave. It was fun trying to see and make out the paintings.

We enjoyed walking the trail and exploring the caves. The trail is jog stroller friendly. Part of the trail is paved and part is gravel.

Pictograph Cave State Park was a beautiful, fun and easy park to visit!

The next day we drove a little under an hour from Billings to the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument.

We got in free with our national park 4th grade pass. Some national monuments accept the pass and some do not. All national parks accept it.

On our drive over, we read about the Battle of Little Bighorn, also known as Custer’s Last Stand. Our kids were so excited when I read that one of the Indian leaders in this battle was Crazy Horse, having recently visited the Crazy Horse Memorial in South Dakota. Traveling really makes history come to life.

The battlefield was neat to walk around. We viewed gravestones and read historical markers along the way. We were all on a hunt to find Custer’s gravestone. We thought it’d be one of the larger stones, but it wasn’t. We finally spotted it after a long while looking.

After walking, we got in the van and drove a loop around the area. We stopped and read signs that let us know what happened in each area we were currently viewing.

The Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument was a very interesting place to visit.

Yellowstone River – Billings, Montana…

Monday we made the beautiful drive from Dickinson, North Dakota to Billings, Montana.

When we first pulled into our RV park, Yellowstone River RV Park, it looked very nice. We quickly found out that this park has narrow double sites, meaning we’d be sharing a small space with another RV. We would be unable to keep our outdoor rug, table and normal stuff out due to having such a close neighbor. After getting over the shock of the crowded space and settling in, we decided to walk the nature trail at the back of our RV park.

We walked a little ways down the trail, and we were impressed.

We continued on and were excited when we got to this rock bed with a rimrock view. Our kids collected several unique and pretty rocks. We have a rock collection and a seashell collection from our travels. We plan to have clear jars filled with each in the future.

Instead of crossing the rock bed and walking the marked trail, we decided to walk along the rock bed and see where it led us. And we ended up at such an amazing spot – Yellowstone River.

We honestly had no idea we’d end up here. It was the best kind of surprise, and it made the lack of RV space completely worth it.

We had a blast throwing rocks into the river and watching the big splashes, skipping stones across the river, and throwing sticks into the river and watching the sticks float out of site.

We returned to the river the next two evenings. It was just too gorgeous and so much fun. Our kids made a new friend, and we took him along with us the third night.

Something we’ve learned while RVing is that we often find the most amazing things or have the best time in the most unexpected places. When something seems to go south, we know something really good must be just around the corner.

The Enchanted Highway – North Dakota…

Friday we drove The Enchanted Highway from Gladstone to Regent in North Dakota.

The Enchanted Highway is a collection of the world’s largest scrap metal sculptures constructed along a 32-mile stretch.

We had a blast driving along and stopping at each metal creation, trying to beat a storm headed our way.

Manning insisted I take this picture of him. Teenage boy! 😁

By the time we got to this Theodore Roosevelt metal sculpture, it was starting to rain. It was like a game to see how fast we could get all twelve of us out of our van, take a photo, and jump back in.

We got our last photo with this tin family just in time. Shortly after we got back in the van, it started pouring down rain. We saw on the radar that hail was headed our way, we drove to a spot in between two hail storms on the radar and waited for the storm to pass. It passed over quickly, and then we started our drive back up The Enchanted Highway.

At the very beginning of The Enchanted Highway, across the interstate, we’d missed my very favorite metal sculpture. We drove back to it and took photos in the sprinkling rain.

This metal sculpture, Geese in Flight, is in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s largest outdoor sculpture. It is 90 feet high.

We enjoyed seeing the scrap metal art, and racing the storm made it all the more fun! We were enchanted.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park – North Dakota…

Wednesday, we drove from Dickinson to Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

First, we stopped at the Painted Canyon Visitor’s Center. From there we hiked a pretty strenuous trail called the Painted Canyon Nature Trail. It was steep climbing, beautiful and fun.

We took water, and we needed it. It was a warm, sunny day.

We noticed we were the only ones around who chose to do this whole trail. That made sense to us by the time we got to the end. Our legs were feeling it!

But we were glad we chose to do it anyway.

When we finished the Painted Canyon Nature Trail, we took a much needed potty break. Then, we drove to the South Unit Visitor’s Center in Medora. There we got the kids’ passport books stamped, and we bought postcards, a Christmas ornament and a few gifts. We got Bravely a stuffed Buffalo for her birthday. She loves it and calls it her, “buff-uhh-lo”.

We, then, drove to different trails a ranger thought would interest us.

The Wind Canyon Trail was absolutely amazing. The views were stunning.

The Little Missouri River runs through this area of the park. We so enjoyed looking down on it as we walked along mountains above.

This trail was a shorter, easier hike. There was one steep part at the end.

This was definitely our favorite view of the day!

After walking the Wind Canyon Trail, we drove to Buck Hill. There we climbed up a steep mountain, but it was a short trail with beautiful views.

This area looked very similar to Badlands National Park, only with green added.

It was very windy, so we made this a quick trip up and back down.

We, then, drove around to our last stop of the day, the Old East Entrance.

There we walked the Old East Entrance Station Trail in a very open area. There were prairie dogs everywhere. We enjoyed watching them go in and out of their holes.

We were making our way to a cool old building that the ranger had told me about when we saw a couple buffalo nearby. We debated back and forth for a minute whether we should continue on. Remembering the news article I’d just read about a woman at Yellowstone being attacked by a buffalo, I suggested we turn around and head back toward the van. We were glad we did because within a few minutes, there were the buffalo hanging out by the old building.

We have really liked all the national parks we’ve visited, but I’d say Theodore Roosevelt National Park is one of our favorites. It is the perfect combination of all the things that make a national park great…amazing views, easy to navigate, friendly and helpful rangers, great hiking trails and different interesting things to see in different areas of the park.