It's been awhile since I posted. Not because we haven't been doing anything, but rather because we've been doing so much.
Now we are in Churchill, Manitoba on the edge of the Hudson Bay. Henry and I have both been up here a handful of times --he more than me. The kids have been hearing about this tiny town, its polar bears and beluga whales, its river and tundra, since they were babies. Now, thanks to Polar Bears International, we are here as a family.
We flew in from Winnipeg early this morning and spent the day wandering around. I've been posting on Instagram (@TravelingMelMT) and here are a few more to give you an idea of what Churchill is all about.
Scroll to the bottom to see our video update.
I am super excited to announce (way after the fact) that I am part of the 2015 Oboz Trail Team! Nearly 100 people applied, and 16 were chosen. Lucky me!
What is Oboz? What's the Trail Team?
Most basically, Oboz makes hiking shoes and boots. And they are based over the hill in Bozeman, Montana.
They say, "You know that we go the distance to make boots and shoes with unrivaled quality. You know that Oboz fit like a glove right out of the box. You know we plant a tree for every pair of shoes sold, and you know that we are a company made up of sincere outdoor enthusiasts with a passion for the natural world and exploring it responsibly."
That sounds pretty good, doesn't it?
I get to wear their shoes and boots around and share how much I love them on social media and in person.
Along with the other Trail Team Ambassadors, I write for the Trail Tales blog.
My first post was about shrinking your carbon footprint. Keep an eye out for my Peru Trail Report coming up soon. And there are a lot of other great posts over there, too.
I've been wearing three different Oboz shoes on my hikes and wanderings. My absolute favorites are the Emerald Peak trailsport shoes. I like a pretty lightweight shoe even when I am backpacking, so these are perfect for me. I wear them hiking, walking around town, and plan to wear them backpacking this summer. And they are the perfect color, because you can never wear enough turquoise, right?
I'm also digging the Mystic Low BDry low hikers. These are also pretty lightweight, and are waterproof and have a bomber sole and traction. Also perfect for hiking, around town, and in my case, backpacking. I wore them this winter on packed snow.
From the mid-hiking boots, I went with the Bridger Mid BDry. I wore these more in cooler, wetter weather, but I think most people would like these for backpacking. They are comfy enough for day hiking, too, I just prefer being in trail running shoes for everything. The beauty of these boots, and all Oboz boots, is that there is no break-in period. I can wear these when I need extra protection and come out blister-free.
Sidenote: I don't just wear them when I am sitting. I walk around in them, too.
We packed a lot into our two days in Thermopolis. On the second day we played at the second water slide pools, checked out dinosaurs, and explored a little farther into Hot Springs State Park..
This is not some dinky, small town dinosaur museum--it's really good. We went to see the Archaeopteryx fossil.
"Only 11 specimens of Archaeopteryx exist in the world today and “The Thermopolis Specimen” is second only to the 'Berlin' specimen in terms of completeness, including a well-preserved skull that for the first time gives scientists a “top view” of the head of Archaeopteryx. This scientific icon is the only one on display in North America."
There is so much more to see than that, though. Many dino skeletons (both replica and actual fossils) fill a big hall. There are also pre-dinosaur displays and replica skulls you can touch.
My only regret is that I didn't do a little more prep for our visit because we could have signed up for a dig. How fun would that be?
The Star Plunge is a little more updated than its next door neighbor, the Tepee Pools. It's still funky, though. The outside water slide, which looks really fun, was closed because of pump problems the day we were there. The indoor slide was fast and fun. And we liked hanging out in the outdoor pool.
The Hot Springs State Bison Herd lives in Hot Springs State Park. We drove above the Star Plunge and explored the roads within the pasture.
The Hot Springs State Park herd averages more than 20 animals at the present time. The herd is free roaming within the boundaries of the pasture for the majority of the year. During the months of May and June the herd is confined to the Corral Area to aid the rejuvenation of the pasture. Edible plants are allowed to develop to the proper seed producing stage prior to allowing the animals free graze.
We stopped in a couple other places in the State Park to check out active and old hot springs.
See our first day's adventures here.
My mom is here for a visit and we decided to take her to the best-named-town in Wyoming -- Thermopolis.
It's like a mini-Yellowstone out here, except way, way less people. And since the blue skies are broken up with rain storms throughout the day, we are happy to have hot spring pools, water slides, dinosaur museums, and a cozy cabin to play in.
Turned out two of the three(ish) routes into Thermopolis were closed. The Wind River Canyon was covered in mud slides from all the rain, and the Big Horn Mountains were so snowy, they closed the road. Luckily, we took a different route and got to see many of the towns listed on public radio: Greybull, Lovell, Worland.... It was five hours of roadtripping fun!
It's like a trip back in time here. And by that, I mean this place is a little dated. But, I love that about it. The two water slides are really fun once you master your technique (only let the bottom of your feet and shoulder blades touch. Sidenote: this is a great core workout). The boys couldn't hold themselves up in this fashion, so they didn't go very fast, but we still had a blast. It's funky and fun.
The Tepee pools are inside Hot Springs State Park. There are also terraces that look like they belong in Yellowstone, playgrounds, lawns and picnic tables, trails, a bridge over the Big Horn River, and more. We spent the evening wandering around.
That's the first day...See our second day's adventures here.
I know "spring" means something different in other parts of the country. To you, it might mean sunshine and daffodils. I might be short sleeves and bouncy skirts.
But here in Montana, it means cool weather and rain. Gray skies and saturated soil. Don't get me wrong, I am grateful for the rain. After a winter of light snowfall, rain is the only thing keeping us from being totally ablaze this summer. Fish like water in the rivers, plants like moisture in the soil. I get it.
But, I am over it, as I always am, come May. And this could last until the end of June when our six weeks of summer starts.
We make the best of it. Last weekend we used a gift certificate to spend the night, and take countless rides on the waterslide, at Fairmont Hot Springs.
This weekend, we attend the kids' art show, which will be hanging in the Lincoln School Gallery for a month. We soaked at Chico Hot Springs, played with polymers, entertained friends, and walked in the rain. Henry taught the boys to play Risk, a game that last even longer than Monopoly.
I'm trying to treasure these quiet, gray days. But I really want to be outside playing in the woods, camping, and floating down rivers. Soon enough. Soon enough.