“Are You Ever Coming Home?”

When asked that, I replied, “Maybe. We’ll see.”

We’ve been spending the better part of the week (after a day home from Virginia and Nevada City) driving from one Forest Service Cabin to another. At this point, we’re out of Forest Service Cabins (for the moment) but not wanting to go home yet. We’ve been having fun exploring, etc.

What is a Forest Service Cabin? I’m so glad you asked! If you go to www.recreation.gov, you can search out and find cabins that are available to rent in almost any area of the United States. Typically, they used to used by the Forest Service. These cabins would house the men (and sometimes women) that would patrol certain areas of the United States Forests and National Parks while they were making sure no fires broke out or any wild animals were left untended.

These cabins are no longer in use. The primary reason is the ease of mobility enjoyed now. We can drive faster than a horse could travel and there are plenty of roads that will give access to where the Forest Service needs to go. Since these cabins are not being used, they are rented by the Federal Government to us – the people of the United States. Bishop Mountain, the place we stayed at quite a few times late last year, is $30 a night. That was our first adventure with a Forest Service Cabin and an adventure I am anxious to repeat this coming summer. The one we stayed at this Tuesday and Wednesday (Warm River Cabin) was $50 a night. It was a degree bigger than Bishop Mountain and understandable in it’s higher rate. You’ll see when I post pictures. On Thursday night we stayed at one in Wyoming (up until then, we’d only done Idaho) that cost $40 a night. This one had a propane heater, propane stove, propane refrigerator, running water with a toilet and a shower! It was a great place to stop. I would have liked to stay longer than one night.

And now, we’re in Thayne, Wyoming and we’ve decided we don’t want to go home just yet. We rented a cabin in town (at twice the amount of money) and we’re taking showers, washing our clothes and other things we’ve missed out on. Tomorrow, we might go exploring some more. It really does depend on what we find on the internet as far as Forest Service Cabins to rent. That’s my job. I should be looking up available cabins for the next few days; however, first and foremost – I’m blogging.

A quick cursory check showed two cabins available the next few days. I’ll have to get on there and start working on getting them before too long. I’ll finish my blog first – and explain why we’re not quite ready to give up and head home, just yet. Oh, and we’re only 2 hours from home! That’s the beauty of it all. We’re exploring and having a great time without being too far away from home.

The question is – where do I start? Do I start with a funny picture of Mark on the drive home from Virginia & Nevada City? Let’s do that!


True story – that knucklehead nearly ran out of gas when we were only about a mile away from home! I got a picture of it for y’all because it was so unbelievable that he would do it twice in one weekend! To his credit, he said he was testing the gas tank to see how far it could actually go and, since we were close enough to home, it would have been ok.

We stayed home on Monday, got our act together. Cleaned up some things, showered and tended the house. On Tuesday, we head back out again…


This is the Warm River Cabin – it’s near Mesa Falls and quite a nice place. A huge wood stove in the basement that heats the entire house so well, you have to open up every window and door to cool it off enough to breathe! Behind the house is some man-made springs. I’m sure it was natural at one point but they’ve modified it a bit and forced the water through some man-made tunnel system. It’s still beautiful and the constant sound of the falling water is not to be beat.


I can’t believe I neglected to get pictures of the inside of the cabin. It was very large – three rooms with beds in them (one appeared to have been a bathroom at one time with the cutest bunk beds built into the walls), a large “living room” and a kitchen with a built in table that was fun to sit around and play games and cards.




Going for a walk outside, we saw the damnedest bird. It was acting as if it were a duck or goose – constantly playing in the water and not flying so much. We thought it might be a pigeon of sorts but none of us know of any type of pigeon that loves water as much as this one appeared to! On further inspection, the bird didn’t look so much like a pigeon. Anyone with ideas, please share!

IMG_9048Emptying the “chamber pot” mom set up for overnight potty needs.


And, of course… The potato soup I’ve been talking about. Getting a pot big enough to make the soup – difficult. First, Jen went with Brendan back to Ashton (on Tuesday afternoon) to get the potatoes, onions and garlic that I had left at home (on accident). Neither of us remembered that we needed a pot big enough to cook it in! We went back to Ashton a little while alter (Mark and I did) and found nothing that we could use.

Mark went back to work on Tuesday night after making sure we were snug in our cabin for the next two nights. He is now gone for his 4 weeks of work.

On Wednesday morning, we decided to take a drive and take a look at the roads. It had been raining since our arrival and we were worried about getting out. In the process, we figured we’d find ourselves a pot to cook the soup in and everything would be fine and dandy.

We drove through a puddle that didn’t look too awful and almost instantly, the check engine light came on. This is so not what we needed. We had already repaired the air conditioner (for the 2nd time) on Monday! I decided to drive to the closest “big” town, Rexburg, and figure out what the engine was talking about.

As soon as we arrived in cell range, I called Jen’s mom. I said, “Can I pretend you are my mommy and call you for a rescue?” After laughing at me, it was decided that she would let us use her truck to get back to the cabin, stay until Thursday morning and bring everything home. The Rendy would be parked at her house back in our home town until we got home on Thursday.

I stopped at an Auto Zone in Rexburg and they read the code Rendy was trying to tell me with the check engine light. According to that, I had a Cylinder 6 Misfire. In other words, one of my spark plugs was failing to do its job. I tried to get the clerk to reset the light for me so I could find out if it was just the water that did it or if it was serious, but they refused. It’s against the law, was their excuse. If I listened to them, I would have to pay umpteen thousands of dollars just for someone to rip into the engine and see if the spark plug on cylinder 6 was really bad or just got wet for some reason.

While in Rexburg, we went into a KMart and got a Chinese made cast iron pot to use for our soup. That was the highlight of our day – being able to make that soup we loved so much! Right after leaving and starting to follow Jen’s mom back to her house, the light went out. The engine “dried off,” you could say and all was well. We still borrowed her truck and used that until Thursday.

Driving it back up and through the puddles that worried us was fun, despite the long hours on the road – driving back to town – that we had to do.


As soon as we got back to the cabin, I opened the box for my new dutch oven, cast iron pot and got ready to make the soup we’d been looking forward to. I fried up some bacon and then crumbled it up. I threw that and two small teaspoons of bacon grease into the pot with half a large onion and one garlic bulb chopped up. I tossed in a half a stick of butter (she told me to do a whole stick) and heated up the entire thing.


When it was good and simmering, I added a few cups of water and two large potatoes roughly cubed.


Since my pot was not as big as hers, it didn’t take long for the potatoes to cook and become “smooshy” enough to eat. And, if y’all remember from a previous “Cooking Class,” the starch in the potatoes, when heated, thickens the soup nicely.


Doesn’t that look delicious!? Jen and I had two bowls, cut up more potatoes (with the other half of the onion and one more garlic bulb), cooked it until done and each had another bowl. It had no protein to speak of. Not a great dinner for a diabetic, I’m sure. It does satisfy on a cold, rainy day in a cabin in the woods, though!

We went for a few walks and I took some fun pictures…





Looking for worms.



Putting the worms they found near and in the water so they wouldn’t die.


The falls behind the cabin are actually a lot bigger than they appear in this picture. It’s a beautiful sight and a pleasing sound!


Mr. Beaver. We got to see him twice. He has the same routes he travels when he gets scared from his little home.


Beautiful place. I can’t say that enough! Beautiful! We are definitely going to try and get back there more often this summer. Not just Bishop Mountain.


And, of course, if you can’t build a fire outdoors for S’Mores, use the wood burning stove inside to accomplish the task. With all the rain we had, having a fire outside wasn’t possible. Mommy made do.


The boys loved it. It was marshmallows!


We were running out of water and went to Mesa Falls to fill our water bucket. I remembered a water fountain there and figured it was quicker to go there than to drive all the way back to town. The boys found the water fountain and decided to try it. Turns out, it shoots really far! We filled our water and went back to the cabin for the night.


When it finally got dark (takes as long here as it does in Montana!), we broke out the glow sticks and I got some amazing pictures of them playing in the dark.


Jen was going around the babies with all the glow sticks at once – and didn’t hit them in the dark! I was impressed and the picture came out awesome. I had it on the manual aperture setting – one of the settings I’m learning and playing with.

That was that. We packed up the next day and started home… we were scheduled for our next cabin on Thursday night – Deer Creek in Wyoming. First, we had to go home to get ourselves packed properly and then take a different road out of town towards Deer Creek.

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Categories: Cooking School, Dinner, Family, Socializing, Trips | 5 Comments

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5 thoughts on ““Are You Ever Coming Home?”

  1. The making of memories is the sweetest thing to do with kids and you are so doing that with this trip. I love the sound of the cabins and planning a route around them, all the fun of tenting without the hassle and discomfort, I have no clue what that bird is but he has the cutest belly and colouring πŸ™‚

    • Aye. It has been fun (except the bad parts with hyper, non-listening children). Today? We’re off to a Pig Poke!

      • I have no clue what a pig poke is πŸ™‚

      • Take a pig. Stick him with a rod through from butt to mouth. Put him over an open fire and turn him over and over until he’s good and cooked. Cut him up and serve him to many, many people to eat.

      • great name for it πŸ™‚

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