Crow Fair 2015

Crow Fair

Since leaving Texas we have seen a few Pow Wows, but nothing quite like the Crow Fair. This annual event has been active since 1904 and attracts the attention of National Geographic. There are parades, a rodeo, a very unique horse race, and each evening dancing competitions. Indians from all over America and Canada come to this fair; I even heard someone say that last year there were participants from South America.

We sat at the spot of the Grand Entry. It was amazing! The costumes created a rainbow colored sea of feathers, fur, and beads. Jim and I looked the part of the typical tourist with eyes bulging and mouths hanging open as Indian after Indian walked past us. This procession of hundreds of men, women, and children was accompanied by the intimidating pounding of drums and the somewhat eerie high-pitched voices of the Indian singers. You could almost imagine what it would have been like for the Europeans who first encountered these people.

Crow Fair crow fair crow fair crow fair crow fair   The dancing children, proudly showing off their costumes to one another, were such a beautiful contrast to the sad reality that many Indian children live with every day. Each one made me smile.

crow fair child

crow fair child 2

crow fair child 3beautiful little girl

While the families participate in the fair many of them stay in teepees; so many that the fair is called the Teepee Capital of the World.

20150815_180217

I’ll leave you with a video my husband made.

Learning on the Road

One aspect of traveling that I truly appreciate is the influence it has on my children. There are so many people and places that have entered into their combined consciousness that it will be a source of nostalgia for them long after I am gone. And it is also a springboard for learning so many new things.

In Wyoming they met two of the most wonderful children; Aidan and his little sister Riley. I’ve never known any two children (other than my own of course :)) with more charisma than they possess. Aidan taught Oliver, Willow, and Ivy how to pan for gold.

panning for gold

Willow panning They are learning first-hand about different cultures.

Pow Wow

Visiting historic sites.

Custer's Battlefield

Custer’s Battlefield.

So many things that I can not begin to list them all, but each new experience will add to their future selves.

Sacajawea

Ever wonder what became of Sacajawea after her famous trek with Lewis and Clark? She is resting in peace in the Sacajawea Cemetery on the Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming.

Sacajawea Cemetery Sign

On our way home from the Grand Teton National Park we went in search of Sacajawea’s final resting place. Upon entering the reservation we stopped at a gas station and asked for directions. They seemed clear enough; pass Chief Washakie’s monument, follow the road to the left and turn on Cemetery road. Simple right? Well, you can see where this is going. We couldn’t find the road and it was getting dark. We had to find the cemetery and quick, so back to the same gas station asking again for directions. Thankfully a woman from the reservation offered to lead us right to Sacajawea’s Cemetery.

Sacajawea Cemetery

It wasn’t exactly what I expected. Aside from being located off a gravel road in the middle of nowhere it was also seemingly untended and overgrown with weeds and grass. But this in no way squelched the enthusiasm of standing where this magnificent woman is buried.

Burial Plaque

If you click on this photo you can read the burial information.

20150830_194613

This gravestone was erected in 1963 by the Wyoming branch of The Daughters of the American Revolution.

Baptiste Charbonneau

The baby boy that Sacajawea carried and nursed throughout the 6000 mile journey with Lewis and Clark.

Bazil Adopted son of Sacajawea

Adopted son of Sacajawea.

Sacajawea statue 2

A beautiful memorial to an amazing woman. She is holding a sand dollar.

“This sculpture represents a truly remarkable young Lemhi Shoshone woman who has just made a journey of 3000 miles with the Lewis and Clark Expedition and is viewing the Pacific Ocean. The sand dollar is significant, as it was given to Chief Washakie. He wore it with honor in many historical pictures.” http://www.yellowstonepark.com/2014/05/sacajawea-secret-gravesite/

Big Horn Polo Club

Polo is a two thousand year old sport, believed to have been started in China or Persia and was played for the purpose of training cavalry. The British took up the sport when they saw it being played in India and brought it to the West. And the game has been played in the Sheridan, WY area for over 120 years.

“Big Horn is known across the country as THE place to find promising young horses, thanks to the number of breeders and trainers who make Big Horn their home. Along with Flying H Polo Club next door, which hosts some of the top-rated players in the world, this part of Wyoming has become a polo destination for many in the game.”   http://www.thebighornpoloclub.com/polo-history.html

Big Horn Mercantile

The town of Big Horn had a population of only 500 in 2010, with one mercantile and a restaurant or two it’s a mere speck on the map, but in 1984 this minuscule village played host to the Queen of England when she came to visit relatives and buy polo ponies during a North American tour!

 

Sam Mavrakis rings up a sale to Queen Elizabeth II at the Ritz Sporting Goods in Sheridan, 1984. Sheridan County Museum.

While we were in Wyoming (not to buy polo ponies or visit any noble relatives) we had the opportunity to watch our first polo match. I was tremendously excited; especially after finding out the Queen Elizabeth connection, interestingly enough told to me by a Walmart cashier as though I should have known this fact already.

I really have no interest in sports but this was different. The surroundings were beautiful, the horses were magnificent, and the players wore nice uniforms and didn’t tackle, fight, or curse; or at least you couldn’t hear them if they did.

 

Children at polo match

Oliver, Lucy, and Willow. The temperature was nice, but the sun was brutal.

Big Horn Polo Match

Big Horn Polo Match

Big Horn Polo Match

If you ever make it to this part of Wyoming be sure to spend a Sunday afternoon in Big Horn watching a polo match.

 

Yellowstone

Yellowstone park may only be second to the Grand Canyon as the most iconic family vacation spot in America. And like the Grand Canyon people come from all over the world to see it. Being there with so many other tourists, hearing so many other languages gives you the feeling of being some place extraordinary and indeed it is.

Every inch of it is a feast for the eyes and the soul. As I look through the photos that I took while there, I am stirred up with admiration again.

Yellowstone Lake

Yellowstone Lake. The children could have stayed here all day.

Yellowstone Lake

I’ve never seen a lake with clearer water.

The park boasts a great deal of wildlife; from bears, both grizzly and black, to moose, wolves, and bison. With well over 4000 of them, no matter what animal you hoped to see you are bound to see bison.

Yellowstone Bison

Yellowstone Bison

“Discovered in 1870 by the Washburn Expedition, Old Faithful geyser was named for its frequent eruptions — which number more than a million since Yellowstone became the world’s first national park in 1872. Old Faithful erupts about every 60-110 minutes depending on the duration of the last eruption, shooting water up to 140 feet into the air on average.” (http://www.yellowstonepark.com/natural-wonders/old-faithful/)

old faithful

We all know about Old Faithful, but did you know that 60% of the WORLD’S geysers are to be found in Yellowstone?

Wooden walkways lead you through geysers fields (not sure if that is the appropriate name) where if you choose to rebel against the posted warnings and step even a foot onto the surrounding ground, you could break through the crusty surface and be burned alive by the boiling water beneath. A place such as this more then justifies the leashes that some people put on their children. Thankfully Lucy was too small to walk.

wooden walkway though geyser

Yellowstone Geysers

Yellowstone geyser

purple flowers

These lovely little flowers were growing just feet from the above geyser.

Yellowstone geyser

orange geyser

pool

The contrast of environments within Yellowstone is astounding! Mountains, lakes, boiling pools, geysers, forests, prairies and more.

children at YellowstoneYellowstoneI could post photo after photo and never truly express the vast beauty of Yellowstone. I hope you get visit yourself some day.

 

 

The Occidental Hotel

The historic Occidental  (pronounced like an overly posh ‘accidental’) Hotel in downtown Buffalo, Wyoming is (to my surprise) one of several hotels with the same name. There is even an Occidental, California. I was perplexed by the name so I looked it up in the dictionary. It means western or having to do with the western hemisphere. But you probably knew that already. 🙂

The hotel is over 130 years old and has played host to people like Butch Cassidy, Teddy Roosevelt, and Calamity Jane. Much of the architecture and some of the decor are original.

Very Victorian.

The Occidental

On Thursday nights The Occidental Saloon is full-to-overflowing with Bluegrass music fans. If you would like a seat while enjoying the jam you had better arrive at least two hours early.

I’m not a Bluegrass fan, but it’s a fun place to go with the family and the musicians are very talented.

The Occidental Hotel

Wildflowers of Wyoming

Roving through the Big Horn mountains in June is like stepping into a wildflower calendar and thanks to the torrential downpours we received in May the Big Horns put on a blazing display of color that would rival any fireworks show on earth.

Wildflowers of Wyoming

Wildflowers of the Bighorns

While driving we could hardly progress from one point to the next for all the calls to pull over and photograph yet another glorious scene.

Rock and bluebonnets

There are flowers of every color but I am very partial to the blues and purples. You can imagine how I felt when we spotted this field blanketed with little purple flowers.

Purple Field

Before the day ended I had filled my phone with pictures. So I hope you like wildflower photos because you are about to be flooded with them.

little yellow flower

Sorry I don’t know their names, but if you happen to, please comment.

Blue flowers

blue flowers

little blue flowers

purple flowers

orange flower

yellow centered flowers

white flower

dark blue flower

yellow flowers

small white

 

wild flower bouquet

Earth laughs in flowers. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

If you’ve never been thrilled to the very edges of your soul by a flower in spring bloom, maybe your soul has never been in bloom. ~Terri Guillemets

Arizona to Wyoming

On a cloudy, rain-soaked morning we packed up and left Arizona heading to our summer destination in Buffalo, Wyoming. Jim plotted our journey with the punctiliousness of an expedition to the North Pole.

Because of Lucy we decided to take a week to travel with days of driving no longer than six hours. Jim planned for nursing stops and had mapped out all the gas stations that we could easily navigate. He also found interesting roadside attractions along the way.

Our first attraction was in Hatch, New Mexico known for its hot peppers.

Hatch, New Mexico

Hatch, New Mexico

Hatch, New Mexico

On day two we stayed in a KOA in Santa Fe, New Mexico. This was the best campground of the entire trip. The children played on the playground and in the games room.

KOA Santa FeThe next morning I convinced Jim we should go into Santa Fe and do some site-seeing before resuming our trip. We were told there was a parking lot downtown where we could park our camper, we just had to find it. After several wrong turns we ended up on a dead end street and that is where, after maneuvering a 35ft camper attached to a 12 passenger van backwards down a narrow street between parked cars, Jim earned the well-deserved title of Master Driver with Expert Skills of Driving in Reverse. It was a sight to behold, but one I hope I won’t have to behold again.

After making our way through New Mexico we headed into Colorado and stopped at Grampa Jerry’s Clown Museum. Not so much a museum as a small one room house packed with clown themed paraphernalia.

grampa jerry's clown museum

Grampa Jerry's Clown Museum

Grampa Jerry's Clown Museum

Grampa Jerry's Clown Museum

I’m still having nightmare about this one. 😉

Finally in Wyoming we stop at our final roadside attraction, the Chugwater Soda Fountain. Wyoming’s oldest operating soda fountain and the only reason to stop in Chugwater.

chugwater

Chugwater Soda Fountain

I have never been to Wyoming and had you asked me where Yellowstone Park is located I would have hung my head and admitted that I had no idea. And if you would have told me that it is in Wyoming I might have questioned your geography because when driving through eastern Wyoming on I25 you could have more easily convinced me that I was on the surface of the moon.

Wyoming is the least populated state in America and parts of it are extremely flat and bare, but as you get closer to Buffalo the ground begins to rise up in rolling green hills and in the distance the snow covered peaks of the Big Horn mountains appear on the horizon.

Big HornsThis breathtaking land is where we will be spending our summer.

365 Days on the Road

April 27, 2014 we headed out on our grand adventure to see the country. We sold the majority of our belongings: minus the books, photo albums, and home videos, those went to storage, and moved our family of six into our 35 ft Zinger.

 

Getting Rid of our Belongings

 

Since that time we have lived in four different states and added to our Band of Travelers a new member, Lucy Valentina, born February 14 in New Mexico.

Lucy Valentina

 

In Texas we saw our first rodeo and climbed Enchanted Rock.Llano, TX Rodeo

Enchanted Rock TX

From there we moved on to Cloudcroft, New Mexico where we lived at an elevation of over 9000 ft with a glorious daytime temperature of 70 degrees. I saw my first herd of elk and the wild horses of the Mescalero Apache Reservation.

Cloudcroft, New Mexico

And the children had the time of their lives sledding in summer at the White Sands National Monument.

White Sands National Monument

Not finished with the Land of Enchantment we moved north to the Four Corners area where we visited 700 + year old cliff dwellings and took a six hour train ride from Durango, CO to the old mining town of Silverton.

spruce tree dwelling

Durango Silverton Train

We stayed in New Mexico longer than intended as we waited for the birth of our precious sixth child Lucy.

As winter drug on we decided it was time to move to a warmer climate and ended up in Huachuca City, AZ. Here we learned about people like Doc Holiday and Wyatt Earp. We visited Tombstone.

Oliver and Doc Holiday

Oliver and Doc Holiday

Bisbee.

Bisbee, AZ

Old Tucson.

Medicine man show

The Chiricahua National Monument.

Chiricahua National Monument

And the Saguaro National Park.

Saguaro Cacti

These are but a few of the places we have been and the sights we have seen. As a family we have learned more about our country’s Western history than either Jim or I ever learned in school and we have walked streets where some of that history was made.

As we start our second year we look forward to continuing our education as we trek across the country.