I forgot to mention that our cabin at the Northern Rockies Lodge has three queen sized beds AND that I had just recently promised the kids that one night I would sleep with Ellie, and then one night I'd sleep with Garrett. So when we got to this cabin, it seemed like the perfect time. One night they could sleep all alone in their big bed and one night they would have my undivided attention at bedtime. Man, I remember vacationing at the Motel 6 in Montgomery one summer and thinking we were really moving up in the world because it had a pool outside. I constantly remind these kiddos of how different their lives could be - how many people would not be able to vacation like we are doing this week/month. I can't imagine what these kids will see and be accustomed to by the time this raodtrip is over. Ellie asked, "when will we be too old to sleep with you, Momma?" You KNOW what I said ... "NEVER!!" Then I reminded them (because they hear this a lot) that "my brother and I never fought, we loved spending every moment together, and we slept together until I moved out of the house. I was 19 and he was 15 - and we had our own bedrooms!" Haha, I bet he doesn't want THAT in my blog but Bubba, you can't hide the truth :). Last night I slept with Ellie so tonight is with Garrett. It's so sweet that they still love snuggling with me, and enjoy time with me. I am treasuring every single second of this. I imagine Will treasured his time of taking up his entire bed for two nights in a row, also :).
We took the off from the roadtrip and we settled in at a place I have been wanted to "soak in" (pun intended) since 2012. We had to backtrack about 36 miles to Laird Hot Springs Provincial Park and boy was it worth it! I have this "thing" for hot springs and if I could I would visit every single one in the world and just try it out. I sincerely want my own one day. When I come out, my hair feels stronger and less frizzy, they are so relaxing, and my favorite is that they are natural little treasures that God gave us to enjoy. I'll be honest though, sometimes hot springs aren't kid friendly in that some "naturalists" like to enjoy them very naturally in their birthday suits. So when you hike out to a hot spring you have to discuss this with the people you hike out with, and decide ahead of time what you'll do if there are people there enjoying the water in ways that makes you uncomfortable. Always have a prepared exit strategy before you go. But this one is run by British Columbia Parks and is not clothing-optional so we knew it would be a great place for all of us to go and enjoy the day. We took a picnic and we swam, ate, and swam again. The area around the hot springs has been greatly improved since we were there in 2012 and has changing rooms right next to the water, along with a huge system of deck and stairs, and even a spillway that you can sit in and get your back pummeled by hot water.
The spring is way too hot for any of us but as it runs downstream it cools off due to a good amount of groundwater emptying in. Downstream of the spillway it cools off a great deal and you can even feel pockets of chilly water breeze by. If you follow the spring down (and you know we did, because we follow every trail we find) it gets very narrow, you have to duck under some fallen trees, and the banks get about 2' wide and over your head so it feels like your in an erosion gully. And then ... you see the tiniest little waterfall that is the main attraction back there, and it is pushing in water that HAS to be 35-40 degrees. For someone from Alabama I can tell you that is no situation that you ever go in on your free will! My and Will's instincts were to watch out for cottonmouths to attack our whole family, paralyzing us at once (if the freezing water didn't kill us first), so we didn't stay in there but just long enough to say "wow, that's so neat. Let's go." Of course, there are no snakes in Alaska, and probably not Laird Hot Springs either but when you are raised in the South, that is just an ingrained alarm. Our kids don't have that though, so they kept going back again and again.
I wish I had pics to share of this beautiful place but we didn't get any. In fact, we had so much time just talking, laughing, and being together that we only took one photo all day long. Instead, we caught a grouse just waiting to have it's picture taken on the trail out to see the Mineral Licks Trail near Muncho Lake. There is a short trail (maybe 0.9 mile) that you can walk from the parking lot and possibly see Stone Sheep licking the minerals out of the soil. We wanted to hike the Stone Mountain trail but after a day at the hot springs we just didn't feel like all that. We saw no wildlife (except the grouse) but we were able to let the kids practice woodland orientation, showing them how to pick a tracking reference while they are in thick woods. It was fun to watch them enjoy that. Also, in the true "Heath" nature, we got off the trail and made our own. This trail is a pretty easy loop but after we got halfway down it, somebody decided that it wasn't adventurous enough for us and that we should hike ATOP the mineral licks, then slide down them, and make our way through thick underbrush until we found the trail on the next draw over -- all the while not having any kind of gun. The fact that I was the only nervous one of the group was no shocker to Will and the kids and they smiled so patiently as we all endured my hot flashes, my contestings, and my whining moment; then we all continued the "adventure". I was pleasantly surprised that no one was eaten by a bear, trampled by a moose, pummeled by a stone sheep, and no one fell to their death off the salty mountain. This picture above is what we walked out onto, and then slid down, and walked up to the point that this pic was taken from. This is not my picture but was taken from an online blog. They forget that I am 46 YRS OLD! Also, I noticed a difference in this guy's pic - there is no smoke. Yesterday we ran into alot of smoke and I'm still not sure where the wildfires are but the smoke is getting worse here.
We got back to the car safely (haha) and after showering we wanted to lay around and watch TV. I worked on my blog, Will worked on his new freelance marketing business page, the kids quietly played their Kindles, and I ran up to the lodge for grill cheese take out.
In all today, we drove 74 miles and were in the car a total of 2 hours.