We started with a very short visit to Hill Air Force Base. It had been a while since we'd gone, and the kids did not remember going before.
Then we camped in Idaho.
Then on to Yellowstone's Bear World, which was the best tourist trap I've ever visited. I seriously loved it. It was my favorite part of the whole trip.
It's a drive-through wildlife park with lots of animals, including bears. You can drive through as many times as you'd like. On our second loop through we got right behind the tour bus (which costs extra), so we got to have the benefits of seeing several bears really close without the added cost.
Some people think that this place teaches people that bears are not scary, but I think the opposite is true. We were told not to open our car doors or windows, and not even to slow down to less than three miles per hour because bears might crawl on our car or even try top open the doors! Seeing them up close gave me a realistic view of how massive they are - even black bears, which I (stupidly) thought of as not terribly big.
We also watched the bear cub feeding and the petting zoo while we were there, which were both great. Plus they have little carnival rides that were perfect for our children. The boys loved the roller coaster, which we rode a few times. (And no, I'm not getting paid for this review of Bear World. I just really liked it. But hey, if any Bear World folks want to hook me up with tickets to go again, I'd be all over that.)
After Bear World we headed up to the Tetons. We stopped in a town called Victor, Idaho, to get Huckleberry Shakes at the Emporium, and Eric showed the boys Pierre's Playhouse, which used to be a playhouse but is now actually a movie theater. When Eric was a kid his family spent a couple of summers near Victor when his dad managed a summer camp for boys.
Then we went to Teton National Park and rented a boat on Jackson Lake. The boys were very excited about the prospect of going on a "speed boat" instead of a canoe, which is our family norm. I was overly nervous about the boat, having grown up in Dallas where there were constantly news stories about people drowning on lakes due to boating accidents. Eric reminded me that the bulk of these accidents were probably caused by excessive drinking, but it was very hard for me to stop being nervous. (Which is odd, because I'm not generally a worrier.)
Then we met up with my brother and some of his family for a cookout and playing at String Lake.
The next day we were supposed to go to Yellowstone, but we were already feeling pretty pooped, so we just went straight to Missoula, Montana, to visit Eric's brother and his family. The following day we went to Glacier National Park, which was stunning. We camped that night too, and I educated my niece on the ways of going to the bathroom outside. I do not think she was a fan. (Who is?)
After returning from camping and getting caught up on sleep some of us canoed a stretch of the Clark Fork River in Missoula, where we got rather wet. As the night cooled off everyone was a bit chilly and slightly grumpy.
All in all it was a fun and short trip. I really want to go back to Glacier sometime to do more hikes. Maybe next year!