So. We survived.

By the numbers…

1133 miles. Four days.
25.4 carats of sapphires.
21.5 (rough!) miles up to a middle of nowhere ghost town.
A dozen rocks with opal in them.
A 10-person tent (in reality, it’s 5-6).
Four kids, one mom.
Two campgrounds.
One caboose.
One giant, fantastic jail.
One luggage rack container we have named “Batman.”
Zero showers.
Not even close to enough flashlights.

We know how to vacation.

A few highlights.  More detail when I feel like sitting down to load/catalog the bunches and bunches of photos later.  Have work, appointments, and a leaking floor/falling down ceiling to deal with.

Finally got all packed up.

Meet the newest member of our family up top there.   Batman.
(Jury’s still out whether he’s awesome, or not…  no rain that we had to deal with, and all our stuff was where I needed it to be, so, so far, he did well in all his inexpensive, lumpy glory.)

Raw sapphires.  Each of the little baggies are what we found in one bucket.  You know, in case you decide to go mining for sapphires, too.

One of the few times they weren’t arguing/mad at each other.
“It’s not fair, he found more sapphires than me!”
“Well, he has been sitting there looking for them, so yes, he’s found some.”
“But it’s not fair!”

The big sign to turn to the mine.  Was the middle of nowhere, so the 10yo took this photo.  So I could be in like five photos this year (instead of maybe one).

Ghost town.  A little scary driving the route we did, but the van did manage to make it.  Yay!  Was a little neve-wracking that last mile and a half.  But very cool, and mostly worth it once we finally did arrive there.

Inside one of the cabins from the late 1800’s/early 1900’s.  10yo is standing on an old bed spring frame.

The view from way up where we were, coming back down the scary ghost town road.  Beautiful view.  Awful road (kept up by the forest service, so if you’re familiar with forest service roads…).  At least for us non-four-wheeler folks.

Sometimes you need to hop into an old car.

She begged me to take this photo.  Her expression just slays me.

6yo had to get into the action.  These cells were in East Siberia – solitary.
The hole was in a different place.  After my phone (aka, my camera since my real camera died) ran out of battery life.

That about sums up my life.  In a caboose.

Yup, the last spike.

Opal mining was a bit of a bust.  They were all cranky and on each other’s nerves for whatever reason.  A sweet young man found us some opal rocks to bring home so we wouldn’t come home empty handed.

The smooth, milky little bits in the rocks are opal.  Yeah, not what I was expecting either.  But cool.

The 8yo wanted to take photos with my phone.  6yo was trying to limp noodle away, 10yo was being goofy (and my hair was greasy and weird from four days of no shower).  The rest areas in Montana were a trip.  Rather than a big long room of stalls?  All individual ones.  So, say, you have a passel of kids.  Pile into one bathroom, do your business, and go about on your merry way.  We stopped at more rest areas than one would hope.  Ah well, such is adventuring.

First campsite.  Happened to be A13.  Took driving around a loop to find a spot with a big enough flat space for the ginormous tent.

Second campsite.  Happened to be #13.  Kind of a weird coincidence.  Were much closer to the vault toilets at this one, that was nice.  By the end of the trip, the big boys were getting better at folding the tent up.  It’s definitely a 2+ person ordeal.  It would take me forever to do it by myself.  Think it has a bigger footprint than the van, honestly.


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