We just got back from a wonderful vacation to Martin's Cove and then Mount Rushmore. I have to start by thanking Emily for the FABULOUS pioneer clothes my girls wore. The missionaries up at the Visitor's Center were snapping pictures as fast as they could & we thought they looked pretty cute, too! We felt extremely lucky to have beautiful weather up there. It rained only when we were in the tent or in the car & it was not even very windy for the better part of our trip. We left our house Sunday afternoon, and drove to Rawlins where we stayed in a hotel that happily had a suite big enough to fit our family. We were very pleased that we didn't have to wake up at 4:00 on Monday morning to pack the car and get on the road...not to mention the fact that our girls love to sleep in hotels. Monday we slept in, had breakfast at the hotel, got cleaned up and picked up some Subway sandwiches before heading up to Martin's cove. I had thought that it would be fun to play travel bingo on the way up, but there was really NOTHING to see (other than an old school bus and a few cows) so the girls just watched a movie. After setting up camp and eating lunch, we drove back to the visitor's center where we went on a tour, watched a video and had an orientation and picked up our handcarts. I was glad that we had taken our equipment to the campground earlier because it enabled us to pull our girls along instead. The walk back to camp made me grateful that Ellie was not born a pioneer...I don't think I've ever heard her say "I'm tired" so many times :) but she was a trooper & walked most of the way back to camp. The trail was far enough from the road that it felt very authentic walking along with nothing in sight but the mountains, Sweet Water River, antelope, bunnies and snakes. I think my girls especially realized exactly what it meant to be a pioneer (Rachel couldn't believe there wasn't a potty anywhere). The next morning, after a noisy night of wind and rain (but being extremely grateful for a warm, waterproof tent) we walked up to Dan Jones & Martin's coves. The feeling in the coves was very special, and again, we felt grateful to have the chance to be there. We had a wonderful lunch provided by the ward, and then felt fortunate to be able to reenact the "Valley-Boys Rescue" crossing the Sweet water (the river was 18 inches higher the previous day & they didn't think we would be able to do it) and then we had the women's pull. By the time we finally walked into camp that afternoon, Rachel and Sarah considered it home & ran to play in the sand by the campfire. That night the weather was a little more quiet & we were able to sleep a little bit better. We packed up camp the next morning and then drove half way to Mt. Rushmore after breakfast. We found a hotel & showered and cleaned up before driving the rest of the way to the monument. The girls enjoyed seeing both Mt. Rushmore & Crazy Horse & Greg indulged my "car game addiction" by driving around the parking lot to find as many license plates as we could (we found more than 40 states plus Washington D.C. and Ontario). We then spent a little time in the tourist town Keystone before driving back to the hotel. On the drive home we experienced a rainstorm like I never have in my life. There was constant lightning (not 2 seconds went by that the sky was dark) and we very nearly had to just pull over and wait it out a few times because of our lack of visibility. Thursday morning, we checked out of the hotel & made the long drive home. The girls did really well in the car for so long, but we are all very excited to be home.