Monday, August 24, 2009

Yellowstone Days 2 & 3; The 1st Day of School and a New Toy...

This post is a big one folks, so sit down, you'll be here for a while!

On our second day at Yellowstone, my Dad and I woke up early (6 am!!) and drove to Tower looking for some wildlife. It was beautiful and peaceful, and COLD! It was nice to not have as much traffic as well.

First we some two Sandhill Cranes. There pretty skittish birds, and my Dad thought they had chicks with them. They didn't, and that's why we were able to get some good shots. By the way, I used my Camera but I used the following lense:

When you get the lens hood on it, it's huge...and it's really heavy. The only downside to this lens is that when people see you get it out, they freak out and ruin any good chance of a good shot...more examples of this later.
Anyway, back to the sandhill cranes. They're really cool! My dad has some REALLY amazing photos of them. Mine are ok, this was my first shots with a 20 lb. lense -k-?
Next we found a blue herron. It was a miracle he didn't fly away, we were trying to be as quite and as unassuming as possible while shooting cartography (that's photographing from your car). But sure enough, as soon as passing cars saw my dad's ginormous lens sticking out of my window, they'd slam on they're breaks thinking we'd found a bear (rolling eyes).

We found this hawk next, so we pulled over. I love the depth of field, the bird and tree are sharp, but everything behind is out of focus. I was shooting about about 640, I think. I was using the 400mm lens, but my Camera has a crop factor which adds more focal length. Dad, if I'm explaining this wrong, just set me right in the comments :)

I love the one of him just sittin' there in the tree. SO cool.
Here is the Elk, that wandered through our campground at Canyon at least 4 times while we were there. This photo looks like I'm pretty close, but no, I was running around with that huge lens again and got this one (hand held-that's an accomplishment-the thing is HEA-VY!)

While my dad and I were out, we got out of the car to try and track down a pronghorn, and saw two coyote two. They're kinda hard to see, because we were really far away and because they blend in with the background really well. Hopefully you can see him...

Here's the Pronghorn, I was talking about earlier. Isn't he cool! We hiked up over a hill to get these shots.
Another Hawk...

After my dad and I got back, we had to fix the battery in the trailer, and then we headed out again to drive around and enjoy the park. We were driving around and we saw two male dear. We hurried to stop and get the Cameras out. My dad and I hiked around (we were back far enough to not scare the animals) to get some better shots. Everything was going well, until some dumb kid runs up at full speed to within 20 feet of the dear. My dad and I both told him to stop, so he wouldn't scare the dear away. He just got closer anyway!! This happened right when the Dear was about to step into a well lit area with beautiful flowers all over the place. We were SO mad. This is just one of many examples of how careless most tourists are around wild animals.
In this photo, we stopped when we saw another buck, and as soon as my dad and I got our cameras out, a couple of tourists ran up the hill and behind the dear to try to get a shot. This was the last shot, and only real one that I was able to get before he ran away from the dumb people.

This next photo is actually out of order...I hate when things are out of order!! This is from day 3, when we moved from Canyon to West Yellowstone to camp. It took a while to get there because of all the construction. Then we took the boys to the swimming pool at my parents hotel. There are videos (also out of order) at the bottom.

I love this photo, He's turned around just enough to see his eye, as if he's looking over his shoulder monitoring the situation. Right when I was taking this photo, an asian guy jumped right in front of me and started taking pictures. So, TJ starts yelling at him to get out of the way. He then proceeded to mock this guy for a few more minutes...kinda funny, but maybe too far. Wait, my husband, too far?....nnnooooooo.

My last photo of the day, two hawks in their nest. Pretty cool!

Ok, now onto part 2!
Today was Drews first day of Kindergarten. It was really exciting! I almost cried, but held it in. I tend to lose all control when I cry. Drews favorite part of school, was when his teacher told the class about her magic necklace. When she puts it on, she speaks Spanish! Drew was absolutely beside himself with this. Even when another (one year older too, by the way) boy told him the necklace was NOT magic, Drew said, "Michael, the necklace is magic, the teacher knows more than you!"
So overall, it was a successful experience. I hope it continues this way!

Ever since Yellowstone, TJ and I have felt the itch to get a trailer. We looked all over for a tent trailer, saw some really ghetto ones, and then this came up on KSL a couple of days ago. TJ worked really hard to get it, beating out another guy and he brought it home today. It's perfect for us, it's small enough for us to tow with our van, but big enough to sleep six. So, we'll be able to use it for a long time.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Yellowstone Day 1

I took about 800 photos on this trip to Yellowstone, and going through them all is proving to be a rather daunting task, so I've decided to take it one day at a time. We Left Saturday the 8th and it took us just about the whole day to get there. My parents suburban had water pump problems, and fixing that took a couple of hours in the middle of the day. Once we got that taken care of, the rest of the day was smooth sailin'. As soon as we entered the park, our "unofficial" park guide, a.k.a. my dad, showed us everything and anything worth looking at in the park. We drove in two separate cars, and we used walkie-talkies to communicate. The kids loved being able to talk to grammy and poppa over those radios..."On the road again!"....
That night we had hot dogs for dinner and made smores over a roaring fire in our Canyon campground spot. It was really cold-in the 50's when we go there-and we were pretty cold that first night.
On our first day, we went and saw the lower and the upper falls, the Yellowstone Canyon, and lots of hot pots and mud pots....and some "bolcanos," but I'll talk about that in a bit. My dad took this first photo of us by the upper falls.

This next photo is actually out of order...but Drew and Cam each had a pair of binoculars (or bigknockers, as Cam called them) and here Drew is trying to get Cam's 'noculars and you can see Cam getting upset. Funny kids...

A photo-op of the two hooligans ;)

I took this photo of the lower falls and the Yellowstone Grand canyon. Had I known how to shoot HDR with my camera, or had I actually remembered to bring my tripod on this trip, the following two photos could have been a lot better. But, for what I have, I really like how they turned out. I'm not sure which one I like better, the B&W or the color...

Here is another photo that could have been better HDR...oh well.

Drew HATED the hot pots and the mud pots because of the rotten egg smell. He got really upset a couple of times and refused to go on a trail because of the smell...but, like he got away with that. He had to do some serious bucking up!!

Cam called anything with steam coming out of it a "bolcano." It was really cute, until he got closer and started screaming and crying. Luckily, poppa was there to help protect him.

Poppa was a favorite on the trip for the boys. He provided rides on long trails when the boys got tired...or scared ;)

This was my first attempt at an artsy shot...I really needed to have been shooting on my tripod, and also, wish the mushroom wasn't broken. But, I love the colors, and the randomness of the grass, little weeds and the pine needles.

For lunch, we stopped at Nez Pierce and spent some time with old friends from my ward growing up. It was fun to see everybody and to spend time with them. Afterwards, we drove around looking around for wildlife and we found this guy...a buthalo (another Cam word) going to challenge another buffalo to win the female. They had a good row, and the challenging buffalo lost, and walked away in shame and embarrassment. I actually felt bad for him, there were quite a few people watching him get spanked, I'm not sure his ego will ever recover. My dad played out the whole story for us, knowing what the buffalo was going to do, but he never got out his camera. He was pretty mad, and we spent the rest of our time in Yellowstone hunting for a buffalo fight!
At the end of the day, we drove up toward Tower, over Washburn mountain looking for more wildlife-particularly bears or big-horn sheep. We found a grizzly, but he was sitting down by a bunch of dead, fallen down trees. I didn't get any good photos of him, but I did get a photo of the mayhem that his presence caused.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Boy Sounds

The other night, I took Drew out to take some birthday pictures. His prize at the end was that I would take a video of him playing with his toys. The best part of the video is the noises he makes for his helicopters. The first part of the video is kinda lame...just wait for the good stuff. Drew loves watching it, he laughs like crazy every time!
How is that boys just know how to make sound effects?

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Happy Birthday TJ & Drew!!

Yesterday was Drew's and TJ's birthday. My boy turned 5 and TJ is one year away from the big 3-0. I'm trying not to think about what will happen in three's too hard to talk about and I'm not sure I like it at all. Don't ask. All of you with kids who are 5 and are embarking on this...ahem...journey, you know what I mean. It really just hit me today. But I digress. It was really a good day. TJ had taken the boys camping and then when they got back TJ, my dad and my brother got to work on TJ's part of the day: installing a new toilet and a hose bib in the back yard. He's really easy to please....sometimes. My mom and I in the meantime, made cupcakes, played with boys, mopped up pee-puddles (Cam's potty training!!). I'm really grateful for these two special people in my life. TJ is an amazing husband and dad, and I love him for all the things he does for our family, the sacrifices he makes, how hard he works. He's a great example for me and both of the boys, and I couldn't be happier about that. Drew is my little sweetheart and truly one of my best friends. I love this boys to pieces and am so happy he's my son and in our family. I love his sense of humor, his imagination. I love how tenderhearted he is, but how independent and fearless he is. He's a good big brother to Cam and is a wonderful boy. I love you TJ and Drew, Happy Birthday!!

You'll have to excuse the picture quality in most of these, they're quite grainy. I won't go into what happened, suffice it to say, that whenever I have to take photos for an important family occasion, my camera and I both suffer from some kind of stage-fright.

I found a recipe for the coolest cupcakes a while back and have been waiting to bake them for a special occasion. Drew LOVES cupcakes, so I figured it was a good time. They're a little time consuming to make, but totally worth it. They were really fun. My mom and I made them, while the boys, i.e. TJ, my dad, brother and the little boys worked on all of the projects.
So pritty.

Are these the coolest cupcakes or what?!? You can find the recipe HERE.

A little photo-op before the present opening hoopla. P.S. I don't always let Cam go around in his under-roos, but since he's potty-training right now. For those of you that have come to my door and he runs up naked, I'm sorry and for the Koster family, who probably sees him running around naked in the backyard way to much, I'm also sorry.

Drew had NO. ID-EA. that we were getting a Wii. These photos say it all....

I got Cam a present so that he wouldn't feel left out. I won't do this for every birthday fact, I should have never started it!!!

Seriously, look at those lashes...I'm so jealous!!

Drew loves the Magic Treehouse books, and between my mom and myself he got 10 for his birthday. Cam was loving all the present action, he wanted to be in the middle of it all, just like Drew was.

TJ already knew what he was getting, but acted surprised for Drew and Cam's sake....and in true TJ fashion, exaggerated it.

TJ was SOO excited to get guitar hero....even though he already knew he was getting it. Like he'd let me spend that kind of money without the go ahead!!

I can't believe my little boy is 5...I'm not too fond of this whole growing up thing... ;)