Total Solar Eclipse 2017| Rexburg, Idaho

We just got back from one of the most amazing weekends EVER. The total solar eclipse occurred on Monday August 21, 2017. My in laws just so happen to live in Rexburg, Idaho which was in the zone of totality, but also close to Idaho Falls which is one of the places that NASA declared as the best to view the eclipse.

Despite the news for months saying that there would be horrendous crowds of people migrating to Idaho Falls and Rexburg Idaho for the eclipse, our family headed up there too. I questioned my sanity a few times while preparing for our trip because of said stories on the news, and the preparations in case crowds got too rowdy or some catastrophic event like a wild fire was to happen. So, in order to avoid the crowds in, I drove up on Thursday the 17 and headed to my in-laws who just so happen to live in Rexburg, and in the zone of totality.

With a few extra days to spare, my kids enjoyed every moment of time spent with their grandparents on the farm. This included four-wheeler rides to help water the cow, running through the neighbors yard that was flooded for watering, four-wheeler rides just because, throwing rocks and racing sticks in the canal, feeding the goats, harvesting and shucking corn, pulling vegetables from the garden to have fresh for dinner, petting and feeding the neighbors horses, playing in the sprinklers and the ditch, having rides in Grandpa’s bucket of the tractor, roasting weenies and desserts in the fire pit, playing board games, and reading books with Grandma.

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It’s pretty safe to say that every time we visit Rexburg, it’s like Disneyland for my kids! They would all pass out at night from pure exhaustion (which is what this Momma loves!). I am so grateful for my good relationship with my in-laws that I can go visit without my husband and still have such a wonderful time.

On Saturday, everyone else showed up for the eclipse! Sherri and Rick joined us from Vancouver, WA, and my Grandparents came from Midway, Utah. My Uncle Brad and my cousin Matthew also came but not until late Sunday night from Park City. It was such a special weekend too, because my in-laws were able to meet my birth mom Sherri and some of her family!

It was incredible for me to sit back and watch as two families I loved came together. Sunday Rick and Sherri scoped out the perfect spot for us to watch the eclipse the next day. Jess and I made a big dinner for everyone that night which we ate outside, and the day was ended playing some rowdy card games very late into the night.

The next morning we were all up early; anxious for the coming event. After breakfast those of us who wanted to go watch from the spot Rick found caravanned over. It took us about 15 minutes, and we were up on the eastern hills above Rexburg. We had a perfect view of the Menan Butte to the West from where we were, and we were nestled right at the edge of a golden wheat field.

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It really was the perfect spot. We could eventually see the shadow of the moon coming from the West. It was INSANE.

Once the eclipse began around 10:15 AM we had our various glasses and other viewing devices at the ready. The kids were pretty worried about going blind so we also brought a strainer which we projected the various stages of the eclipse onto a brown paper bag. It was actually really pretty!

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Around 11:30 is when the full totality was upon us. We all watched with anticipation as the shadow was bearing down on us from the west. It was moving 2000 MPH! That is SO fast! When the last sliver of light from the sun was covered, we were suddenly in nighttime darkness! We could see stars around us, and even venus! The temperature also dramatically dropped within minutes and we were all shivering.

I wish I could accurately describe how gorgeous the total eclipse was. There was light emanating around the moon in a blueish hue, and I commented that I felt like we were watching a planet be created. It was such a breathtaking sight, and me and several others in our group were moved to tears. It was definitely a life changing event, and I am so grateful I got to witness it with my husband and children. All three of my littles kept commenting after how beautiful it was. Even little Memphis proclaimed: “Mommy that was bootiful!”

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Papa making sure his glasses worked

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Memphis got the hang of them pretty quick!

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My cousin Matthew and my Uncle Brad watching on with Papa

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My Grandma, Sherri, Rick, Papa, Brad, and Matthew

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pretty stylin!

 

If any of you have plans to go and see the next total eclipse in 2024, GO! We are already planning our trip. See ya there!

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XoXo,

Heather

The Raw Brunette

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Register Rock | American Falls, Idaho

A few weeks ago, we traveled from Boise East to a small city called Sugar City, Idaho. This is where my husband grew up. The drive was actually quite beautiful, as we followed the Snake river for part of it. When we drove through American Falls, there was an exit sign for “Register Rock”. Curious, I told Jess to pull over so we could check it out. I am so glad we did!

Register Rock, is a prominent piece of history for the emigrants who headed West, whether on the Oregon Trail, or the Mormon pioneers escaping for religious freedom. Apparently this rock was a place where those travelers would stop and make camp, would carve their names into. It’s basically like a guest book.

IMG_4572IMG_4571IMG_4569IMG_4568IMG_4565There were other rocks in the area that were also used similarly, but most of them have worn away, or maybe haven’t even been discovered yet.

The rock now is protected by a shelter, and is behind a fence so you can’t touch it. There’s a small window you can peek through to get a good look at the rock though, which was nice.

The oldest inscription I found was 1835! It was very cool to stop and see something like this, especially because I have many pioneer ancestors who made this journey or ones like it across the plains.

After we looked at the rock for a while, we decided to hike for a bit, and I was so glad we did! This area of Idaho is just gorgeous. It’s in Massacre Rocks State Park, which was called so by the emigrants because of the constant fears of being ambushed by the Native Americans above them on the rocks. I would love to come back here and camp!

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It’s amazing what beautiful things we have in our own backyards. I was so glad we decided to pull over when I saw that sign!

XoXo,

Heather

The Raw Brunette

Idaho State Capitol| Boise, Idaho

The Capitol building in Boise was on the top of my list for our Boise bucket list. When our final week in Idaho came, I was getting a little anxious. Packing up and getting organized to leave took a great deal more time than I had anticipated. I swear, the small amount of stuff we brought from home multiplied by 3 by the time we left! Crazy how that happens – especially with kids!

I had wanted to schedule a full tour, which you can do here , but was not able to as you need at least two weeks notice. So, I opted to just walk in, which anyone can do during their business hours, and we gave ourselves a personalized tour. The website has tons of information, so I was ready to give my kids as best a tour as I could just by myself. There are also informational videos you can watch, as well as a printable scavenger hunt that you and your kids can do! It’s a very well done website.

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The gardens surrounding the Capitol were gorgeous!

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Memphis knocked but Butch was not there

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All the Governors of Idaho

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I loved this statue of Washington on the 3rd floor

There is so much to see! It’s best to start on the bottom floor. Inside there is a small museum about Idaho history, a gift shop (which I avoided at all costs with my kids. I didn’t want to hear “Can I have this? Can I have this?!”) , and some informational videos that you can view.

Since my children’s attention spans are about as big as a goldfish, we didn’t spent much time in the museum area. Instead, we went up one floor to the rotunda. This was my favorite floor! Why you ask? Because you had the complete view to the top of the dome. It’s gorgeous!

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There are 43 stars inside the faux oculus. Why? because Idaho is the 43rd state!

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The above photo was taken while I was laying flat on my back in the center of the rotunda. My kids ended up laying down with me, and this group of older women just thought it was hilarious. They all ended up laying down with us too and we gazed up at the dome together for a few minutes. I wish we could have gotten a selfie with all of us laying there. Ah well.

It really is a gorgeous building. It was built in 1905, and was recently rennovated and rededicated in 2010.

We had a great time exploring the House and Senate rooms. Thankfully neither was in session the day we went, so we were able to go inside. The kids were really excited about the soft chairs they could sit in.

 

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One of my favorite things about the building itself was the replica of the Liberty Bell outside of it! It made this Philly girl’s heart sing! The bell even works, (we tried with permission of the security guard who also snapped our photo).

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If you’re in the neighborhood and have some free time the Capitol building is definitely a must see!

XoXo,

Heather

The Raw Brunette

 

 

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Table Rock | Boise, Idaho

Perhaps one of the most iconic spots in the Boise area is that of Table Rock. It’s easy to see why once you’re standing at the top with a beautiful panoramic view of Treasure Valley,  as well as the Owyhee Mountain range. The 60 foot high white cross that adorns the summit of the butte is equally loved and hated by native Boiseans. The area itself is sacred ground of the Northern Shoshone tribe, who apparently used the butte and surrounding caves for ceremonial purposes. Apparently, it’s a sore spot why nothing is there to preserve or respect the Shoshone tribe, and instead the white cross stands tall.  IMG_4693IMG_4697IMG_4694

The cross actually stands on private land, owned by the Junior Chamber of Commerce, (Jaycees), who purchased the land in a very shady auction which the general public was not even made aware of. So, the cross itself has a pretty turbulent and controversial history. BUT, controversy aside, it still is extremely cool to hike to the top and explore the surrounding caves. It’s become quite the graffiti mecca, and there is always new artwork to admire.

You can either start from the bottom where the trail starts by the old Idaho State Penitentiary, (which is also highly recommended to go and see!) The littles and I started at the bottom of the trail, but only made it about half a mile and had to turn back. It didn’t help that it was 96 degrees out when we started. So, we got back in the car and decided to drive to the top of the bluff instead. It ended up working out much better for us, and we were able to explore all the little caves and crevices.

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clearly, they were thrilled to hike up. You can see the cross that’s blurry in the top right corner. We had a ways to go.

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Even the artwork on the electrical buildings on the hike up from the parking lot are impressive! The details on them are phenomenal.

Once we sat on the summit for a few minutes and took in the gorgeous panoramic views, we hiked down to the caves right below that encircle the entire bluff. Memphis is really into Batman right now, so he kept exclaiming “I found a Batman cave Momma!” Too cute.

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Table Rock is a must see on my list of things to do in Boise! If you’re in the area, definitely go! Me and my littles had a great time exploring it and maybe one day we can go back and actually hike up to the top instead of drive.

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XoXo,

Heather

The Raw Brunette

A Kitschy Surprise in Melba, Idaho

When I packed the kids in the van and drove over to Melba, Idaho a few weeks ago I was under the impression that we were going to a “fairy” trail. Shay my daughter is obsessed with all things fairy and magical so I was sure she would love it. When we pulled in to Cleo’s Ferry Museum and Nature Trail I was a little confused but pleasantly surprised to find it was in fact a “ferry” museum which was a nod to the still standing 150-year-old buildings which at one time housed the ferry services across the Snake River. What I soon discovered was that a man by the name of Dr. Samuel “Pappy” Swayne and his wife Cleo purchased this land and constructed buildings to house his medical practice and for them to reside in. When Pappy passed away in 1976, Cleo decided to turn their property into a religious nature trail.

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The sign that we passed as we entered says it’s a “faith adventure”. Anyone could see as you start your journey walking the trail that it is heavily influenced by Christian religious beliefs whether the various decorations are subtle or not so subtle. Cleo put up bird houses along the trail which all have included signs with whimsical and religious quotes on them about life, love, and family. Judging just by looking, there must be thousands of houses so that feat was amazing in itself to achieve! This part of the trail also houses a cemetery which is the final resting place of the beloved Pappy Swayne and various other family members.

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There’s also a kitschy side of this trail. Mixed amongst the Christian decor are spectacularly kooky lawn decorations including life-sized African safari animals, a full Hansel and Gretel set, a random rocket ship housing an alien with included “Take me to your leader” sign, and a collection of bronze sculptures including historical figures. I took a photo with William Shakespeare because I recently discovered he is a distant cousin of mine! (And by distant I mean like 14th cousin twice removed or something crazy like that!) The dichotomy of different worlds just kind of makes you cock your head and say “Huh.”. But it’s also a very interesting contrast and just makes you feel like you’re in a giant attic of your favorite grandma. Despite it being almost 100 degrees that day, we enjoyed our nature walk. There are also chickens roaming free, and there is a muster of peacocks which the kids had a phenomenal time feeding, and we loved seeing the babies!

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If you’re in the neighborhood, head on over to Cleo’s Ferry Museum and Nature Walk. It was a very unique discovery for us, and whether you’re religious or not you can appreciate all the time and work that went into this beautiful space.

XoXo,

Heather

The Raw Brunette

 

Fourth of July

We spent the 3rd and 4th of July with my husband’s company Envi Pest and Lawn in Nampa, Idaho. Our Fourth of July was renting a boat and taking on Lake Lowell. It’s besutiful and the water level is so high this year that it covered some of the trees which made it look kind of magical. There is also plenty of shade which was a major plus.  We took turns tubing, wake surfing, and wakeboarding for two days and had a great time.

Our two days were FULL and fun days! We were all exhausted when we got home which just meant we had the time of our lives! We rented a boat and took turns riding the tubes, wake boarding, and wake surfing. When we weren’t in the boat we played in the water, played various games and ate LOTS of food! I’ll be honest though, the kids had a few meltdowns. And by kids, I mean Memphis, and by a few, I meant a lot! He was playing so hard and so long that both days he just completely fell apart. Poor kid! It’s so hard being 3!

We also had an extremely intoxicated man literally fall to the ground and start violently puking by our food table. My older kids asked me why that man was throwing up. So, that was cool. Way to keep it classy in front of the kids buddy! But despite all of that we had a great time.

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If you need Pest control or lawn service and live in the Boise, or Twin Falls areas make sure to check out Envi Pest and Lawn ! Also, we ended our day watching some local fireworks and doing sparklers- what could be better right?

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XoXo,

Heather

The Raw Brunette

Jump Creek Falls

Just outside of a small town called Marsing, Idaho is Jump Creek Canyon. Without GPS it would have been impossible to find as we maneuvered around private land. This one neighbor is obviously FED up with travellers thinking his property was the way to Jump Creek.

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Yikes. We get the hint!

There is an upper trail and a lower trail. The upper one looked a little too advanced for the littles, so we decided to do the lower one. I’m so glad we did! It was not a super long hike, but it was windy and uphill with lots of rocks and slippery gravel. It winds along the stream that comes down from the falls. So, we took our time with the kids, and that was just fine. There were lots of caves and cool rocks to explore on our way.

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The mouth of Jump Creek Canyon

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One of the many caves and caverns we discovered!

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Once we made it to the end of the trail we were pleasantly surprised by the waterfall! It’s not as full as it would be at the end of spring/beginning of summer with most of the snow melt but it was still very awesome. There a good-sized pool underneath that’s perfect for swimming in. It happened to be an extremely hot day too (98) so the kids didn’t mind the chilly water. Shay discovered a cool tunnel right by the waterfall that she liked to explore and climb through. Memphis was content to stand in the shallows and throw rocks, but Calvin and Jess and I braved the cold water for a few minutes.

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When we had our fun with the water, we decided to climb up some rock formations to get a better look at the top of the waterfall.  I asked a very drunk gentleman to take our family pic, and thankfully there was one good one, because the rest had his finger in the way!

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On our hike back through the canyon we decided to follow the stream instead of the trail and it was a whole different experience! We had to hold Memphis through some of the deeper water, but most of it he was fine wading through.

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Jump Creek Falls was totally worth it, and I cannot wait to go back and do the upper trail one day!

XoXo,

Heather

The Raw Brunette