Saturday, July 26, 2008

Vacation again: Idaho

On Sunday afternoon (after church), we drove up to Idaho to visit my grandmother. She lives in Rexburg, and visiting her house was one of my very favorite things to do as a kid. My dad and his eight siblings helped to build the house--it was made of, among other things, an old schoolhouse that my grandfather hacked up and they hauled the pieces out and built their house. As you can imagine, it took quite some time to build, so they either slept outside or in the "summer house" (in addition to the main house, there are various outbuildings--a "little house," which is sort of like a guest house where various family members have lived at different points in time, the summer house, assorted animal outbuildings (no animals any more), etc.) In short, it's like paradise for a little kid.

side view of the house, taken from the garden

Some of my favorite things about the house:

  1. bridges over the drainage ditches--I spent countless hours here "fishing" as a little kid, and I was so excited to do the same with Abigail!
  2. the "loft room"--a room that has this bed-sized loft built into the wall (over the stairs), so little kids can climb up there and sleep (or big people too, which Neil and I did when we visited a couple of years ago--Abigail slept there this time (at least in theory, in reality she kept climbing down and sleeping with Mary Beth))
  3. from the east bedroom (where we were sleeping this time) when you wake up you can see the Tetons in the distance
  4. from everywhere in the house, you can hear the elk bugling in the morning (long story made short: the neighbors raise elk, and when people decide they want a trophy elk head in their house, they buy an elk from them for trophy-hunting purposes)

some of them thar trophy elk

6. the house is primarily made out of exposed wood, so not only is it gorgeous in terms of walls and rafters, but my aunts and uncles wrote their names (using nails) across the ceiling rafters in the living room

the living room (no rafter close-up)

7. there are books everywhere. EVERYWHERE. I love this. I absolutely love it. Bookshelves fill the stone-flagged entryway when you first come in. Books are lying loose on most flat surfaces. The basement bedroom is lined with shelves, as is the sewing room. There are just books everywhere!!! You can totally tell the house belongs to English professors. I love it!

Neil perusing the books in the entry--check out the sweet doors into the house! these featured in many a "pretend we're in a castle" game.

8. the attached greenhouse--one thing I REALLY want in my dream house
9. the ground in front of the house is covered in concrete slabs with the hand/footprints of everyone in the family at the time the house was finished, plus miscellaneous drawings, etc. All the grandchildren's names are written in the concrete forming the patio outside the greenhouse.

Lots more cool stuff, but I stopped taking pictures because I was too busy having fun with my aunts and uncles and cousins and sisters and parents and grandmother. Oh, and that man I married and my kids.

On Monday, we decided to head out into the desert and go cave-exploring. My dad, Mary Beth, and Elise came with us (we brought both kids). You may not know this, but the desert around Rexburg is a pretty happenin' place. Not only are there the St. Anthony sand dunes, which are miles and miles long and wide, but the desert is full of random ice caves and lava flow tubes. It's pretty exciting.

Since Abigail and Juliet were with us, we went to one of the tamer caves (i.e. you don't have to hack your way through the ice with an axe and then lower yourself down on a rope). This cave was designated a "civil defense cave" during the Cold War. Presumably the Rexburgians could evacuate there, in case of a Soviet missile strike, and live happily underground. We wondered as we drove out a) why the Soviets would ever target Rexburg and b) how on earth an entire town could be evacuated over a potholed bumpy dirt road, but whatever.

So here we are.

And here's the cave.

And Mary Beth and Abigail descending...

Elise and Neil (with Jules) looking for the best way down (the cave floor was either perfectly level, or covered in enormous tumbled slabs of rock)--the entry happened to be one of those rock-slab places.

Once we got into the cave, it was too dark to take many pictures. You'll have to take my word for it that it was really cool--lots of fun lava flow things and broken rocks and the like. One interesting thing was that near the entrance the floor was covered in sheets of ice from spring runoff, and we were all FREEZING, but towards the back of the cave (about a mile in), the air was pretty comfortable and no ice. Fun fun!

Elise--the flash was kind of exciting. This was when Elise and MB and I climbed up on the rock shelf at the very back of the cave and thought about eating our granola bars, except we'd already eaten them, so we just sat there and got wet and cold (from dripping water) while Neil and Dad ate granola bars and Abigail tried to go to the bathroom on the floor of the cave (not successful). She's adventurous like that.

Dad and Abigail

When I said "desert," I really meant desert. No potatoes here!

Elise posing by one of the cairns we thought might be marking an ice cave (we started looking for more on our way out)

next up...Yellowstone Nat'l Park, home of the biggest swarms of mosquitoes you've ever seen, or "devil birds," as Neil began calling them.


Kritta22 said...

What a cool house!!
You are a brave lady to go into those caves. I've seen one too many scary movies to do that! You go girl!

The Jones Family said...

Sounds like so much fun!

I love hearing all of your stories and memories from when you were growing up. I love being able to go back to places where so many wonderful memories occurred and to be able to create them again with our own kids!

Elise Decker said...

haha....we're so cool.

Elise said...

i just found this post again...i had forgotten about all of our adventures in the bat cave! thank you for recording it!

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