This morning we drove into Lander to take a tour of Wyoming Catholic College. I had thought that we might as well see it while we were in the area as one of the kids may be interested in going there one day. It is a very small school (currently with about 150 students for the 2015-2016 year). It is also a very new school as it opened in 2007. They integrate a lot of outdoor activities in the curriculum (incoming freshman do a 3 week wilderness campout prior to the beginning of the term). We have heard great things about them from a South Carolina family we know well. Maybe this tour will lead to something for one of our kids one day.
After our tour, we picked up the camper and pulled out of Lander driving east. We will be home in less than two weeks now. It is hard to believe. We needed to do some grocery shopping, so we made a couple stops and then kept moving. It is a beautiful, warm day with bright blue skies. The kids are mostly in good spirits, although Amelia keeps falling apart on us over every little thing. She hasn’t been napping and is in desperate need of one.
Driving through Wyoming we see mostly just more empty high desert. For miles, we saw next to no houses. There are pronghorn antelope everywhere. We trained the kids early on in the trip to at least give a direction for what they were seeing, so we are hearing a great deal of, “Pronghorn on the right” or “Oil rig on the left.” The further east we get, we finally begin seeing a little more grasslands than just high desert. There are no trees. As we begin going north in Wyoming we see oil rigs, grasslands, a few ranches, lots of train tracks, and oil storage places. It isn’t completely flat here as there are plenty of hills, but it is so different from the forests of the East.
While driving north on Wyoming Hwy 59, we see a lot of trains full of coal. I’ve seen this a lot in West Virginia and southwestern Virginia, but I had no idea there was coal in Wyoming. When we turn onto Hwy 450, we see one sign regarding the Thunder Basin Coal Mine and another sign saying Thunder Basin National Grasslands. At first we are admiring the grasslands, but then we begin to see big piles of dirt around big holes in the ground – a coal mine. They are literally moving the soil to the side to dig down and get the coal out of the ground, surrounded by National Grasslands. It did make me wonder, when I am in a grasslands area with no trees, why they are digging coal out of the ground when they could have solar panels or wind turbines sitting on top of the ground, probably not doing the destruction to the earth that the mining for coal does (sorry for that crazy sentence – hope it makes sense).
While we are driving, the kids do a variety of things. Most like to read on their Kindles (or play cribbage on them). There ia always a lot of conversation going on. Nicholas is trying his hand at some drawing. Sometimes they are going through a book on North American wildlife that we have. They beg me often to read out loud, books or blog comments. Of course, they all like to irritate each other at times. Alex has been having fun playing tic-tac-toe on the Magna Doodle with Damien. Charlie, of course, is always driving. Ryon writes in his journal at times and is trying to finish up some of his schoolwork. Some of the younger ones like to color with their colored pencils in their tablets (and then dump their colored pencils all over the floor and leave their drawings on the floor to be trampled on the way out of the van to the bathroom). However, for the most part, I hear a lot of happiness and curiosity about the world around them. I thank God for these days with my family seeing our beautiful, diverse country. I know that I will always cherish these memories (and the fact that I wrote so many of them down). I am so blessed to have the family that I have – a wonderful, devoted husband, 10 fantastic children, generous parents and in-laws, and countless other family and friends who love and care for us! Thank you all!
This is an open letter to all of my Whisonant Grandchildren:
Most of you are old enough to enjoy your trip and appreciate the many experiences you are having and the beautiful sights that you are seeing. You will carry many wonderful memories for the rest of your lives.
However, I wonder if you understand how unusual the opportunity is that you have? I bet if you asked 10,000 children your ages if they ever got to go on a 6 week cross country journey with their parents they would all say “no”. Your parents have a very unique situation that permitted them to take you on this journey. Very few other families can do that. Also even though you have your own camper and you have spent a lot of nights Walmart camping the trip still costs lots and lots of money. Your parents could have used that money to help buy a new car, furniture for the house, or nice clothes, etc. but they chose to take all of you on this wonderful journey. Tonight when you go to bed please say an extra prayer of thanks for the wonderful blessing of your parents and for your trip AND when you can, please give Mommy and Daddy a big hug and tell them “thank you” for being such wonderful parents.
Well said. It really is the unique opportunities that defines and shapes our characters and make us individuals. It’s evident that this experience has had a wonderful effect on everybody and you have been an inspiration to myself and, I daresay, all the people following your blog. Keep it up and continue to enjoy this amazing opportunity.
We miss you here very Very VERY much, hope you are staying safe, we love you!