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Yellowstone and the Holidays

From first class to roughing it RV style, Lauri Waring details her family vacation.

By Lauri Peterson


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Taking the family to Jackson Hole, Wyoming and Yellowstone Park went about as well as expected. The first part of the trip was relaxing, yet we participated in many activities with the entire family — even my mom and dad joined us at the Four Seasons. We river-rafted and fly-fished down the Snake River, and we hopped on horses and rode through the valleys and hills of the Grand Tetons. I can't describe in words the magnitude of beauty of the scenery. The Tetons are so majestic — the skies so clear and bright blue and the valleys so lush and green with the most amazingly colorful wildflowers. It was great having my mom and dad along as it was the first time they had a chance to meet George's daughters. My parents were happy in the comfort of their very large suite. Our room at the Four Seasons was a large three-bedroom suite with almost 3,000 square feet of living space. All eight of us had plenty of room to roam. No one had the need for extra space.


Now fast forward five days later, imagine the vocalization expressed as I attempted to herd and cram everyone into an RV containing under 300 square feet with no room service and mini bars. If I had been smarter, I would have started the vacation with the RV and ended it in luxury. Yeah well, the kids had attitudes, but they quickly turned it into survival mode, like hiking to find the nearest pay phone since there was no cell phone reception in the park. It was also quite an ordeal being creative in finding enough sleeping areas for each child. I will tell you that it was very cozy!


Overall, we weren't really in the RV much at all — just to sleep. We were up and at 'em very early every morning to see the bears, buffalo, wolves, and moose. The girls got to experience being in the middle of hundreds of buffalo crossing the road which stopped traffic for hours. I dragged them around both loops of the park, not missing one single paint pot or geyser. My daughters have been in Yellowstone before, but this was the first time Bria, Danyka, and McKenzie had visited the park. Even though in the episode McKenzie looked like it was the end of the world for her, a couple of months later, all of the girls were watching the Discovery Channel on bear attacks in Yellowstone. They all started screaming and got very excited when they recognized specific areas that we had visited in the park. It started an entire conversation about how they wanted to do it again. How quickly they forget, right? Just hearing them talk about it made the trip worth everything to me.

At night we would all lay in our "sleeping spots" and tell ghost stories and exaggerated stories of how we almost got eaten by bears and run over by buffalo. We definitely had our Blair Witch moments, which essentially means that the trip was a success. I would love to continue taking trips like this for the girls to see America and challenge their minds. I'm interested in taking them to Yosemite, as Sophia and Josh had a blast when I took them. Also, I would like all of the children to see Mount Rushmore in South Dakota. This made a big impression on me as a kid. I won't promise we will do it in an RV — I'll probably have to compromise some!


Driving the RV was comfortable as long as you were driving on a long, straight open road. I totally panicked when I got trapped in the campsite after making a wrong turn. Regular RVers take their camping very seriously. They weren't very happy with me that I wasn't an experienced driver. Oh well -- you have to start somewhere, right? No deaths occurred! Thank God for George's ability to get me out of the situation that he put me in! I knew there was a tree at my side, but George reassured me that I was fine. The dent wasn't that big of a deal — our deductible was $500. I hid when we returned the RV. I made George do it — I was so embarrassed.

Hope you all had a wonderful holiday season, and I wish you a very happy and healthy New Year. George and I had a chance to ski Aspen and we took the kids up to Big Bear for a day of skiing. Christmas Eve was spent with all of our children and many of our closest friends and their families at our friend's restaurant Ti Amos. Christmas morning all the children tore through their gifts, and then we sat down and had a wonderful breakfast/brunch. We later joined friends for more holiday cheer and called it a night. George and I went to Las Vegas the weekend before the New Year. We had so much fun, and for the first time ever, I can actually say I got caught up on my sleep. I know it doesn't sound right — sleep in Vegas?! Anyway, we won some, lost more — the Vegas way! We eventually decided our odds were better in the Forum Shops in Ceaser's Palace.

Happy New Year and thanks for watching!


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