Wednesday, we headed over to the visitor center at 10 and Park did a talk for us that covered the area, snakes, safety and he played a game with the kids. We walked around the museum and talked about the area some more, looked at the diorama, which is made of...pins and soap. What the model builder did was use hundreds of thousands of pins to make a model of the area using a topographical map, then he covered the top with soap and carved the canyons to look like they did in aerial photographs. Then at some point, an intern painted the whole thing. I guessed toothpaste and baking soda, which was pretty close in my opinion.

Since the snakes had recently eaten, he did not pass them around, but instead had two of the kids come up and hold them and everyone else could pass by and touch them if they wanted. Park had Ruby, Elan was holding Fievel and Chan had Crockett.


We headed back to have lunch at the house and then got in our swimsuits and went over to Grundy Lake to do the coke ovens walk.

It looks like Inde is shoving past the girls, but they were all 3 holding hands.

The mushrooms this year have been AMAZING.



Park found a HUGE dead fish while picking up trash on a routine patrol and had put the skeleton off to the side of the trail so he could show it to us.
For some reason, this struck all of us as hilarious.

I spotted a snake!

Park grabbed it.

It bit him twice and then released its snake musk all over him. We walked upwind of him for a while.


Above, a coke oven
Below, coke and coal for comparison



Afterward, we all piled into canoes. That was...interesting. Katy and Amanda shared a canoe with their 3 youngest. All 4 girls piled in another. Ben, Elan and Alex got in a third, Gina paired off with Park and Dakota and Nigel. That left Jake, me and Owen and 2 canoes, so Jake and Owen took off together and I was all my myself!

Then, Ben bailed on his boat and walked around the lake and the girls flipped their boat, Nigel got in the lake, Eyrin defected to my boat, we picked up Ben on the was hectic and the whole time, it's thundering. We had a BLAST. Chan never did make it back in the boat so they dragged her a while, then she fell off and swam for shore. We raced back when the thunder seemed a little more serious, everyone helped load the boats and gear back on the truck and Park got set up and headed back to headquarters and we looked around and Nigel still had on his life jacket. hahaha

We came back to the house for dinner and Park showed up in time to grab a bite and head to the overlook with us. That's SUCH a lovely hike, I was glad we made it.

The kids waiting on the food, I made pasta and it took a LONG time to cook on the gas stove.

I find this to be amusing. The bug on the bug repellant. Though to be fair, it was not listed on the side that said what it repelled.

This was one of the best parts of the trip, the kids were able to ask Park anything and he explained all kinds of stuff.

Brit and Chan watching the bats fly overhead.

After he headed home for the night, I drove to civilization to call Matt and chat a while. I am all caught up on what the dogs are doing and what he's been doing and he thinks he will buy a collar for Nia tomorrow. He's been doing some major bathroom floor repair while we have been up here and the kids are not needing to be in and out all the time. I will be GLAD for that to be finished!

Sharing a house has not been as stressful as I had imagined. I knew we would all get along, but it's been more than just everyone working to not cause friction. It's actually been fun. We have been discussing plans for next time, though it won't be the same without Park. We've really enjoyed having our own personal guide.