Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Labor Day Hike: Adam's Falls

For Labor Day we chose to go north, instead of our customary South for our hike. We traveled to Layton to hike Adam's Falls.

The information I had read described the hike as 3.8 miles with moderately difficult switchbacks at the beginning, easing the rest of the way. The view after the switchback was fantastic!

Whoever wrote that description was very innacurate. The switchbacks were there, and it did get easier for a time but the last portion of the hike required us to climb a strenuous incline of loose shale. The entire hike was actually 5.2 miles.

The kids, who were good-spirited for the first part of the hike, became tired half way up the trail. We had to coax them to keep going.

About 20 minutes from the falls, Sally offered to stay back with those who did not want to keep going. She also graciously agreed to keep Andrew. Between Andrew's weight and the pack, Todd was carrying over 45lbs on his back.

Carson, Stella, Todd and I made it to the falls. I am glad I completed it, but I didn't think they were the best I've seen around - not really worth all the effort.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

First Day of School

And just like that Summer 2017 is over and school has begun!

Although the kids are still enrolled at the same school, this year we are attending an new campus, closer to home.  It has 1500 K-6 students. There are six fifth grade classes, and similar numbers for the other grades. Its size is a bit intimidating, in that it's hard to get to know people at the school when there are so many kids.

Emilia had a difficult time transitioning during its first few days. She missed her friends and her familiar campus, but after we had a good chat, she decided to give Draper 2 a try and has not voiced a concern since.

Carson comes home with phone numbers for new friends every week. We have discovered one of his classmates and friends lives a few blocks away from our house. It is on the same street as our church building. Carson has been walking home from church a lot recently and knows that  route well. He is excited to have someone so close with whom to play.

This is Stella's first year of Kindergarten. She is super excited to attend.  Her class is rather small. There are only 18 students enrolled.  I found out one of her preschool friends from last year is in her class.

Andrew is an aspiring student as well, and wanted his picture taken also. It won't be long before he is attending school.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Bryce Canyon National Park: Day 3

Night number 2 was relatively better than number 1. Andrew still awoke at 12:30 and kept us up for at least an hour and a half, but after he fell asleep in his crib, he stayed asleep until 7:40 am. I think by this point Todd and I were both cold, really tired and grateful to go home.

Sunday, was Andrew's actual birthday so we placed two candles in the banana bread loaf and sang happy birthday to him. He is too young to understand what was happening, but loved the special attention he received form the kids through out the day.

After breakfast, we packed up our wet tents, and all of our other damp belonging into our respective vehicles and were ready to leave by 11 am.

Fortunately the day was sunny and warmer than it had been so clean up was not too miserable.

We drove to Rainbow Pointe, the southern most point of the park where we had lunch and attended a ranger presentation. The kids got down and finished up their requirements to earn their Jr Ranger badges.

We decided to walk the one mile Bristle Cone Loop trail. The views were fantastic, but Zoey was tired and uncomfortable and Zaylee who had taken Dramamine to avoid getting sick on the car ride could barely keep her eyes open, so Jordan and Claudia had to carry them for the last 1/2 mile. By this point, the whole thing was just sadly comical. What a trip!

Upon completing our walk, we drove to the visitor center for the kids to be sworn in as Jr rangers. Along the way, we stopped at a couple of lookouts and from there we were more than ready to go home.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Bryce Canyon National Park: Day 2

In the morning we had to decide what to do: do we stay or go home?

In the end, we decided to take it easy and stuck it out. We traveled by shuttle to Sunset point and hike the rim trail to Sunrise point, prior to walking back to the lodge to find pain medication for Zoey.

Andrew was so tired he fell asleep while riding on Todd's back.

The view was magnificent. We could see 100 miles away. We could also see storm clouds coming our way so we decided to head back to the visitor center to have lunch.

It started sprinkling right as the shuttle arrived to pick us up at our stop and it was pouring by the time we were eating lunch. So much rain and hail came down that it looked as if there was snow on the ground.

The temperature, already in the low 70's dropped into the 60's making everyone wet and cold. We decided to hang out at the visitor center until the rain let up.

After about an hour, things started looking better, but I knew rain was forecasted for another three hours so we decided to leave Bryce and explore Kodachrome State Park.  It was the best decision ever!

We first visited Chimney Rock,  the largest stand alone hoodoo in the park.

Hiking the nature trail was by far the most fun for the kids. Andrew threw up on our way to Kodachrome. I tried purchasing a Tshirt at the visitor center, but couldn't bring myself to pay $25 for it. We thought his jacket would be ok, but it was a lot warmer than what we had experienced at Bryce Canyon, so he ended up hanging out without a shirt and slathered in sunscreen.

The kids climbed the red sandstone hills and explored all kinds of hidden places. Learned about erosion, local flora and nocturnal animals that inhabit this Entrada desert. Even Zoey got to enjoy walking with Emilia.

On our way out we decided to hike to Shakespeare Arch. It was a hilly trail, we literally went up and down small hills, cresting one and descending before ascending again.

After half a mile of walking, we saw it. The arch was fun to see, but what made the hike worth the effort were the views on the other side.  We could see all the way to the rim of the Bryce Canyon from where we were standing.

After the hike, we drove back to a cold and damp camp, where we hurried to have dinner and roast s'mores by the fire before getting rained on again!

We cleaned up dinner as much as we could so the pesky little squirrels that had been invading camp would not get to our food and trash and huddled up in our cars waiting for the storm to pass us.

Once the rain died down, we all went into our tents and went to bed.

Bryce Canyon is known for its beautiful night skies. I was fortunate enough to gaze at the starry sky on my middle of the night bathroom run. How I wish the kids could have seen it too.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Bryce Canyon National Park: Day 1

The Whitneys and we decided to visit Bryce Canyon for the weekend. For both of us, it is the last available weekend before school starts for the kids. We've vacationed together for the past three years, and the kids always have a lot of fun.

Although we planned the trip a while back, we weren't able to reserve a campsite at the park. There are only a few RV and group sites that are reservable, the greatest majority were open on a first come, first serve basis.

To ensure we were going to be able to get a site Claudia and I left my house close to 4:30 am in her van with the 5 youngest kids. That was the most we could fit in the vehicle. The two older girls stayed with their dads and drove out later that afternoon.

The ride there was the most quiet one I've had in a long time. The kids loade up in the van and slept the greatest majority of the way there. It was pure bliss.

Once we arrived at the park, we drove around to find a site. We had our pick of locations and decided to set up our tents at the North Campground, closest to the visitor center.

I was so proud of Claudia and I for getting both our tents and the canopy all up by ourselves. While we were working the kids played in the dirt or left to explore the campground.

After camp was up we went to the Visitor Center to pick up the Jr Ranger packets. There they were able to see a cooler part of the surface of the sun through a telescope set up by one of the rangers.

With several hours to go until Todd and the gang arrived, we decided to take the kids on an hike to Mossy cave and waterfall.

Andrew loved the hydration pack, and kept drinking from it. I don't have to worry about him getting dehydrated.

The waterfall was fun to see, and the kids got to play in the stream for a few minutes, until Andrew lost his temper and we had to leave so other people could enjoy the waterfall aswell.

It is a good thing that he loves his hiking pack. Once he was riding on it he was happy again, so we were able to continue on to see the mossy cave. It wasn't very impressive, so I didn't take the time to snap any pictures of it.

After our hike we drove back towards the visitor center. By that point, Andrew had fallen asleep in the van so Claudia took the older five inside to watch a video in the theater.

On our way out, Zoey fell from a two foot wall and landed hard on her arm, breaking her wrist. Fortunately, the bone did not break through the skin, and we were right outside the visitor center.  A ranger EMT was there assisting her within minutes.

I went back and forth between watching the kids in the car, and taking care of Zoey and her twin Zaylee so that Claudia could fill out the necessary paperwork for the ambulance and hospital.

We weren't sure how bad the break was, but the arm did not look very pretty. Zoey was so brave through out the whole ordeal. She was in pain, and did cry, which I would totally expect from an eight year old. But she also got over it pretty quickly and helped her sister Zaylee feel better.

The EMT did not have any pain medication appropriate for a child, so Zoey had to wait to get to the hospital before getting some relief.

In the meantime, Jordan was not far from Bryce Canyon, so he rode the rest of the way, helped unpack his gear, got his girls ready for bed and then left to join Claudia and Zoey at the hospital.

I found out later that the local ER doctor was able to partially reset the bone that evening. She was sent back in a sling and a stabilizing bracket. They were all back by midnight.

That night was rough for us also. Andrew had the hardest time sleeping because of the new surroundings and because of his cold, which had turned into asma. We were still up at midnight when the Whitneys got back to camp, and were up several other times during the night.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Crazy wind storm

On Wednesday, we had a rain storm hit our area, nothing out of the ordinary there. The wind was pretty strong and we kept watching the tree branches sway. Out of nowhere a micro burst struck our yard and snapped a limb right off of one of the trees in the backyard.  I am grateful our trampoline didn't go flying. It was strange, how some chairs were tipped over while others weren't.

We've had some behavioral issues with one of our kids who has been talking back to me and seems dissatisfied with most everything. Talking has not really changed anything, so I suggested we tried something else - looking outward through service and work.

So, instead of doing it all himself, Todd engaged the kids in the cleanup process. After some grumbling, they actually had fun cutting and hauling some of the smaller branches. It took two days and a new chainsaw, but it is done!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Leonardo Museum

On Tuesday, Sally and I took the kids to the Leonardo museum in downtown SLC. It was a first for all of us except Emilia, who had been here on a school field trip.

It is similar to the Curiosity Museum, in that it is an interactive museum for kids to learn about science through play, but the similarities end there.

The exhibits are centered around Leonardo DaVinci areas of interest. The first we came across was the flight exhibit. The kids had fun trying to fly a plane through the simulator. Flying was easy, landing not so much.

They also had a wind tunnel for the kids to send paper helicopters into the air. It was positioned next to a staircase so they made a game out of trying to catch the helicopter in mid flight from the stairs.

On the second floor was an actual decommissioned airplane. The kids could sit in the cockpit and push all of the buttons and levers in front of them. One end of the plane was converted into a slide that took the kids back down to the first floor.

After leaving the flight exhibit we visited the visual arts area. They had some green screens where the kids could dress up in green props and see themselves disappear from the screen.

There was a table set up with paint for the kids to decorate a permanent beam in the museum. The paint was on pretty thick and the kids got a little too excited. They painted their hands and arms to leave prints and began exploring what other areas they could decorate. We had to do a thorough washing after finishing there. 

The kids tried their hand at solving a maze in reverse but looking at the mirror image reflected on the screen while tracing the line on the table. It was tricky, but they figured it out.

Andrew found an old school desk with a book. He climbed right on it and pretended to read.

On the second floor, they had a section on cardboard 3D construction. Andrew loved the dinosaur. He would roar every time he saw it. I tried to take a picture of him roaring but he would run up to the white wall and stand next to the t-rex with a big smile and say 'cheeeeese'.

The puzzles area was fun. They had all kind of building toys for the kids to play with. Carson figured out how to make a sphere with one of the puzzles. He was most proud!

There were a couple of other areas to see, but by that point Andrew had reached his limit and the kids were all hangry (hungry and angry), so we called it a day and took them all to eat at Blue Lemon on City Creek before heading back home.