The First Day of Fifth Grade and a Weekend to Remember!


Little Lewie's first day of fifth grade was the last Monday of August.  We weren't so prepared for the back to school routine; in fact, we didn't do any back-to-school shopping at all!  Lewie left the house with his same backpack from last year and same clothes.  Fortunately, we had enough unused pencils, notebooks, highlighters, and pens that we didn't need to purchase those either--whew!

According to Lewie, this is his "signature pose."  Fifth grade is a big deal this year because
he will be switching classes and learning how to play the trumpet!
Part of me wants to make a big deal about the first day back, but there's another part of me that hates to see the summer go...  Back-to-school means back to rushing, routines, deadlines, and of course, colder weather on the horizon.  As is our annual tradition, we took Friday the 30th off (i.e. played hooky), so we could have a long four-day weekend of fun and festivities.  This definitely helped ease the transition...

On our "Hooky" Friday, we stopped by Burr Pond to try paddle boarding.  It was fun!!

Our next stop was our annual visit to Lake Quassy Amusement Park. 
Since most kids were back to school, we had the amusement park to ourselves.

Notice how Lewie is the only one on the Pirate Swing.  He must have rode this 20+ times.

No trip to Lake Quassy is complete without the train ride!

On the Sunday before Labor Day, we went to the Goshen Agricultural Fair. 
We hadn't been to this fair since Lewie was a toddler!

Pretending to milk Bessy.

"Beep beep, I'm a sheep", I said, "Beep beep, I'm a sheep!"

Every good fair must have rides...

By the end of our four-day weekend, we felt ready to embrace school again.  In fact, on Labor Day, I found a "good luck charm" to carry us through...

I picked the clover by our pool and put it in a bowl of water.  I never saw a four-leaf clover in real life before.  It's just perfect.  Honestly, just perfect!

Old Faithful Area (Yellowstone National Park)


On our third day at Yellowstone, we traveled to the Old Faithful Snow Lodge where we stayed for two nights.  If we ever doubted that Yellowstone National Park sits upon a supervolcano, it was here where we were reassured of the volcanic, hydrothermal, and earthquake activity that occurs below.  Upon our arrival to the lodge at the Upper Geyser Basin, we could immediately see why Yellowstone is home to more thermal features than anywhere in the world.

It was here that we learned all about geysers, hot springs, fumaroles (steam vents), and mud pots, which occur simply because the hot magma boils the water just below the Earth's surface, making it either erupt or emit steam along fissures and cracks.

We were amazed at this new somewhat "alien" landscape.  On the first day, our tour guide took us to a place called Artists' Paintpots, a short boardwalk loop, which brought us to more than 50 springs, geysers, fumaroles, and mud pots (about three miles south of the Norris Geyser Basin).  This is where we first learned the differences between thermal features.  Here's a quick lesson:

If you guessed this was a hot spring, you are correct!!

A closer look at the beautiful blue-green color of the spring.

A mud pot...

A fumarole or steam vent.

The next day (now in the 40 degree range), our treat was to see the Grand Prismatic, the largest hot spring in the United States and the third largest hot spring in the world.  There we had a chance to enjoy a short walk to see its colorful beauty (all due to the bacteria inside the spring).  Before our walk, however, we received another treat--we were just in time to see the Flood Geyser erupt.  Part of the Midway Geyser Basin, the Flood Geyser erupts sporadically--sometimes within a 24 hour interval and sometimes within a three day interval.  It's unpredictability made it special to its spray was rather powerful.

Our first glimpse of the Grand Prismatic between the pines.

On our last night at the Old Faithful Snow Lodge (the first day of summer to be exact), it snowed!  Over the course of four days, the temperature in Yellowstone plummeted from the mid 70's to the low 30's.  I was disappointed to take out my hat and gloves, but it was magical to see Old Faithful erupt in the snow.

During our last day, I did a little souvenir shopping, and we had a chance to admire the Old Faithful Inn. Built in 1903-1904 with local logs and stone, the Inn is considered the largest log structure in the world.  It is one of the most famous buildings in the National Park System as it features a 76 foot tall lobby, a huge rough-stone fireplace, and overhanging log balconies and railings.  I read an article, shown below, that said in the early days, the Inn had a "winterkeeper" that was responsible to live there during the nine month winter when the hotel was closed (and temperatures could reach 60 below zero.) What a scary and lonely job!

Do you see the snow?

We saw the Beehive Geyser erupt from our bus!

The Old Faithful Area (the Upper Geyser and Midway Geyser Basin) was certainly a site to see.  It may have been cold during our trip, but the steam kept on pouring out from every direction.  We were truly amazed by its one-of-a-kind beauty.  On the very, very last part of this visit, our tour guide took us to a hot spring that liked to "bump, sizzle, and pop."  She had all of us lay down on the ground, so we could hear the "thumping" below.  A minute after the thumping and rumbling, bubbles would come to the surface of the spring.  It was truly the last natural wonder to make our Old Faithful trip complete.