On Saturday, July 24, we woke up early and left for a two-week visit to Casper. After a fairly easy trip, we got to Casper on Sunday afternoon and the boys have been going non-stop ever since.
Our first adventure took place in the Big Horn Mountains, on a ranch about 15 miles west of Kaycee, WY. My dad and I have been going to this place to camp since I was about 9, and it has always been a dream to take my boys camping there as well. Dad and I went out on Monday and set up camp. After a delicious dinner of steak, hominy and baked beans (all cooked over an open fire), we sat around the campfire talking until well after the sun had set. We spend Tuesday and Wednesday hiking and relaxing until the rest of the gang showed up on Wednesday afternoon. I wasn't sure how the boys would respond to the great outdoors, but they took to it like fish to water. Sam loved throwing rocks in the river, and Nate just loved running around. They also discovered that they could climb in the back of PaPa's pickup and play around in there. Gina, GiGi and the boys spent the night in a motel in Kaycee, then came out the next morning for more outdoor fun. This time they got to play in the river, which was a lot of fun and very refreshing on a hot day. We packed up camp and headed back to Casper about 3:00, and after we unloaded all the camping gear we went to Johnny J's Diner for hamburgers and milkshakes.
On Friday, we just kind of hung around the house resting from the camping trip. I also had to grade final projects and submit final grades for my online class. Fun. On Saturday, we attended a retirement reception for Tom Empey, our family friend and former theater director at Casper College. There were several alumni from the program that I got to visit with, and it was nice to hear so many people talk about the impact he made in their lives. That night we went to Mr. Empey's final production, Sunday in the Park with George. I had never seen this musical before, and I was totally blown away. The cast was excellent, and the message told through the story is quite powerful. If you have not seen this show before, you should definitely try to see it someday.
On Sunday, we went to church at Boyd Avenue Baptist Church, enjoyed a delicious lunch at Guadalajara, and spent the rest of the day resting. We went to a Casper Ghosts (yes, that is really the name of the team) baseball game, where former MLB All-Star Todd Helton was rehabbing from an injury. The boys loved their first-ever (but definitely not last) sporting event, especially the yummy snacks from the concession stand.
This week has been a lot of fun, as well, with trips to the park down the street, the Casper Aquatic Center, GiGi and PaPa's cabin on the mountain (twice!), the Audubon Center and the outdoor City Band concert. They have also gotten to play with some new friends and have thrown more rocks in different rivers and creeks than I could have ever imagined. Needless to say, they have gone to bed at each nap and nighttime exhausted, but they have always seemed to wake up ready for more.
Tonight Gina and I are going to my 20th high school reunion, then again tomorrow for some more activities. I am looking forward to seeing old friends and getting to introduce them to my beautiful wife and boys. We head back to Texas on Sunday morning so we can jump into the craziness of work and preschool on Tuesday. It should be quite a shock, but I think we are ready for it. Overall, this has been a great visit to Wyoming, and we have started what will surely become several special traditions. We are already looking forward to our next visit.