HELLO

Hi there.
This is me...a happy wife, mom to three awesome boys, teacher to the aforementioned boys (we homeschool), chauffeur to karate, archery and swim team practices, scrapbooker and founder of the Good Grief Blog.
Life is good.

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Sunday
Jun262016

Saturday: Turret Arch

So, my recap from our road trip is pretty much done. I had some extra pictures from Moab, though. I loved these shots I took at Turret Arch. First up was Asher:

...then Micah...

...then I got Noah to take this pic of me...

...then of Nathan and me together...

Noah opted not to jump and says "thank you very much." ;) 

Random thoughts from our trip...

  • We drove 2296 miles and replaced one car battery. Other than the battery, we were pleased with how well our van managed with the altitude changes and the heat.
  • Noah suggested playing the "no talking" game within minutes of starting our trip. Asher decided to take him up on it and managed to not speak in the van for the first two days. Really. It was pretty impressive...and was assisted by the fact that Micah volunteered to act as Asher's interpreter--relaying things Asher used sign language to convey or used his iPod to type out.
  • We're so glad to be past the infant and toddler stage...so much easier to do this type of trip with older boys. :) Nathan and I nudged each other numerous times, thankful to not be carrying a kid or trying to convince one to eat/drink or chasing one down and trying to instruct him to stay on the trail. 
  • People watching at national parks is entertaining. ;) We saw lots of inappropriate footwear and unprepared folks...along with the over-prepared. Tour buses full of people are particularly fun. (And I'm rather impressed with the bus drivers' skills...negotiating through some of those park roads can't be easy!)
  • Yes, we picked up a new magnet at each of the parks. (We have at least one from each of these parks already but got new ones since it was a new trip.) 
  • Happy to report that we made it through the week without any sunburn. 
  • I'm going to need to get Asher (and maybe Micah) a bigger CamelBak. Having one for each of us, though, continues to be very handy.
  • Our boys really were terrific ages for this trip...old enough to remember this and carry their own stuff and understand the relationship between food and grumpiness and recognize the need to avoid dehydration.
  • Also, not to jinx anything, but they were awesomely fun to spend time with. I truly appreciated how cooperative and happy they each were. So blessed!

I'm sure I'm forgetting stuff. ;) But. That's that for our road trip. Back now to finishing laundry and catching up. I'll leave you with these final two pictures...snapped on our way out of Moab...

They had a new museum there that, under other circumstances, would have been fun to stop at. But. We were all tired and ready to be home...so posing with the dinosaur by the sign had to be sufficient. :)

Sunday
Jun262016

Saturday: Windows Hike

So. We've been to Moab before. Nathan and I were there before kids and then boys have been there twice, I think (once in March 2010 and once in April 2011). Each time, we've been sure to visit Arches National Park. This time was no different. :) 

Once again, we were up and out early, in our efforts to beat the heat. We made it into Arches and to the Windows area to do the hikes there. First, though, we stopped at Balancing Rock:

Then we hiked to North Window...

...and Turret Arch...

...and South Window. (I have more pictures, especially from Turret Arch. Wait for the next post.)

After that, the younger two hiked with Nathan along the slightly longer primitive trail to meet up with Noah and me at Double Arch:

Asher and Micah had lots of climbing to get out of their systems, apparently. ;) I took advantage of the situation to get another picture with my 15 year old:

...while the others did some more climbing:

And then we headed back to the van. And discovered it was again dead (no lights left on this time). Fortunately, again, a lovely family from Texas was parked next to us and able to help us jump start the van.

We then drove back into Moab to a local auto parts store where Nathan proceeded to instruct boys on how to replace a battery. ;) Whew.

And then we got lunch at the Moab Diner, stopped for gas and snacks at a grocery store, and headed for home. (We'd originally planned to spend longer in Arches and maybe hit Canyonlands again and come home the following day but decided that we were hiked out (particularly with the heat) and that sleeping in our own beds sounded better.) We pulled in around 8:30, had a late dinner, unloaded everything, watched Kung Fu Panda 3 and went to bed. Happy. 

Sunday
Jun262016

Friday: Lower Emerald Pool

We checked out of our unit Friday morning and drove back to Zion. (Of the parks we visited on our trip, Zion was definitely the favorite for all of us.) Had to park just outside the park this time then walked into the park and caught a shuttle to the Lower Emerald Pool trail. Did that quick hike and enjoyed the light falls and people watching...

After that, we headed back to the gift shop and ice cream then caught a shuttle to the human history museum area to watch the video (not as cool as hoped). We walked back to the visitor center then out of the park...only to discover that our van wouldn't start (the lights had been left on). :P

Fortunately, Nathan was able to find people quickly to give us a jump then sat with the van for awhile while boys and I went into the restaurant in the same parking lot and ordered lunch.

We finally got back on the road and headed out through Zion's east entrance...which takes you through the Zion tunnel (amazing!!) and past the Checkerboard Mesa: 

...and then drove across Utah to Moab...

Once in Moab, we grabbed dinner at the Moab Diner (a favorite stop of ours) and checked into our hotel room.

Sunday
Jun262016

Thursday: North Rim

Thursday we got up and on the road early to head to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon (a bit less than three hours away). We'd taken the boys to the Grand Canyon once before (and been there ourselves on that same trip 20 years ago), but we'd been on the South Rim before with the boys. (The North Rim gets only 10% of the park's visitors so was wonderfully not crowded.)

We arrived and adjusted for the lack of daylight savings time in Arizona then wandered the visitor center area a bit and did the short "hike" to Bright Angel Point:

(Btw, thankful that we live at altitude. You could definitely see/hear the difference as we breezed past other groups adjusting to the altitude.)

Then we got an early lunch. (Fyi, the restaurant at the Visitor's Center isn't open all day...only certain hours. So. If you're planning to eat an early lunch there before heading out to do your thing, know that that won't work. Fortunately, we found a deli next door that opened just barely in time for us to grab something to stick to our plan. Also, in case you're wondering, the coffee bar there stops serving coffee at 10ish and switches to alcohol, so don't plan on getting your afternoon coffee there before heading back out of the park, lol.)

After that, we drove to Cape Royal (on the east end of the roads in the park). We did the paved hike there (about a mile altogether) and captured some photos:

(Again, plenty more pictures of awesome views...can't include them all here.)

After the paved hike, we drove back up the road a wee bit and did the Cliff Spring hike. It took us down into the canyon just a little and surprisingly featured shade and some fabulous cliff areas:

We came out of the forested area to find this...whoa. Such a nice break from the heat and a gorgeous view of the canyon through the trees.

We also found a number of these:

Can anyone tell me what they are? They were huge. The stalk part *started* about Micah height and just went up from there...the ground part was a round spikey bush thing.

After the hikes, we headed back out of the park and stopped at Jacob's Lake for coffee, cookies, ice cream and such before getting on the road for St. George. We actually made it back in time to do dinner and have Nathan take boys swimming at the unit then play some pinochle and sort out the rest of our plans... 

Sunday
Jun262016

Wednesday: Navajo Loop

On Wednesday, we decided we needed a slower morning so slept in and did our own things for a bit. (Very thankful for the two bedroom unit we were staying at courtesy of Nathan's parents' time share program thing. Having a kitchen and separate areas for boys plus an area for playing games was awesomely useful. We were able to start each morning with protein smoothies and our regular routine, which helped get us off to a great start. Having a home base, too, is lovely.)

We headed out about 11 to get gas, drinks, ice and lunch. Then, we drove to Bryce National Park, where we hiked the Navajo Loop trail...

Nathan and I had been here before on that same trip when we'd hiked Zion years ago. But. We'd only driven through Bryce, not done any hiking. This short trip down into the canyon was fabulous...offering both shade and perspective. (I have more photos of awesome views but am trying not to flood things here, lol.)

After we made it back up and out, we drove to the Rainbow Overlook, stopped at a few other views and ended with the Fairytale Viewpoint.

(This is the Natural Bridge viewpoint.)

(This is the Fairytale Viewpoint, which offers a great example of the hoodoos throughout the park.)

Throughout the day, I managed to get pictures with each of my boys:

And then we drove back to St. George, stopping in Springdale (just outside Zion) for dinner and ice cream.

(Incidentally, Bryce is at a higher elevation so was cooler than the rest of the area's 100+ degrees...a pleasant surprise.)