Zion National Park

Our original plan for this summer was to utilize Connor's fourth grade national parks pass and do a road trip hitting up several national parks. Alas, covid changed things. But, we did decide to go to Zion National Park on our "way" home...it was a couple hours out of the way. But the thing is, when you are on a road trip, you wonder if you will ever be back there, so stopping is always a good idea. 

Ian planned ahead and booked us shuttle tickets at Zion. Part of it is only accessible via the shuttle. Well, you can bike it too, but that wouldn't be happening! The shuttles are severely limited in capacity because of covid. We chose a "hike" that apparently is the most popular one in the park. I struggle even calling it a hike because it is completely paved and really only had one small spot with even an incline. Maybe calling it a walk would be more appropriate. It was a hot day at Zion, over 100 degrees. Thankfully we got there early, around 9am. Also the hike-walk was mostly shaded, making it bearable. But, there is no air in the shuttle and it is about a 40 minute ride each direction. I'm pretty sure that's what did the kids in! 

After the hike, we were going to stop at another shuttle stop, but after waiting for the shuttle, then riding on the shuttle a bit, the kids were grumpy. So, we went back to near our car and had a picnic lunch. Then we grabbed ice cream to cool off and drove the road through Zion. I was taken by the unique landscape and how it changes as you drive through the park...it's only like an 11 mile drive or something. But this made me decide I wanted to come back later. 

So, after dinner, we headed back into the park. The sun wasn't high in the air anymore, the temps had cooled off a bit. We drove until we found a good place to park and get out and play. We spent two hours throwing rocks, climbing logs and just enjoying ourselves. This was definitely my favorite part of the day. It made it totally worth keeping the kids up past bedtime. In fact, they were in great moods, enjoying themselves so much. And driving out of the park just as it was getting dark was rather fun. 

These next pictures are from when we went back into the park in the evening. 

^^ Isla said these rocks looked like shells. With their layered lines, they really did. What was crazy is they were almost like a sand material, so if the kids threw a rock, it easily busted when it hit the ground.

If you have never been to Zion, I highly recommend it. Judging by the parking situation, it seems it was WAY less busy than normal, due to covid. It still felt plenty busy and I think would have been an unpleasant experience had we gone at a normal peak time for the park. Also, if you can go offseason when it isn't so hot, I recommend that...because it is hot, hot, HOT there. 

In case you missed my other road trip posts - we stopped at the Bonneville Salt Flats and stayed in Park City for a week. 

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Park City

Our main destination for vacation was Park City, Utah. We chose this because there are so many outdoor activities, making it easier to social distance. Also, the temps are more than 20 degrees cooler than home! 

With four kids and not wanting a rushed vacation, we did one activity a day, then spent the other time playing exploring or hanging out. 

Day 1:

The first day we went and checked out the Olympic Park. We saw people practicing ski jumps into a big pool, which was pretty cool. We also realized there really aren't any activities for the little kids. So we went back to the house and I took the older kids back to have fun. The highlight for me and Connor was the zipline. I've always wanted to do one and it definitely didn't disappoint. The highlight for Isla was the alpine slide. The ropes course was a low for all of us, when we ended up needing rescuing by the workers. (insert face palm here!) We went back a few days later and I watched another lady and her kids being rescued on the ropes course and then didn't feel so bad. 

Day 2:

We drove into Salt Lake City to go to the zoo. It was actually a very pleasant experience. I was nervous about the crowds, which really ended up being a non-issue.  You have to pre-buy timed tickets into the zoo. And maybe because it was a weekday, there was not many people there. It was nice to get out and do something that felt relatively normal. 

Day 3:

We went to Jordanelle state park. I originally wanted to walk to the dam, but it was farther away from the parking lot than I thought. So instead we had a picnic lunch, then a small little loop of a hike before letting the kids play in the water. We packed up to leave just as a storm was coming, which was perfect timing. 

Day 4:

Connor really wanted to ride public transportation, so planned an outing for us in Salt Lake City with it. Funny story, neither Ian or I checked out Connor's plan. We just went with it. Well, he drove us way south of the city because he wanted to ride public transportation longer...haha! He mapped for us to go to a coffee shop, then to an ice cream place. Public transportation was basically empty. I don't know if that is normal or covid, but either way, it made the experience that much more enjoyable. 

Day 5:

We took the most beautiful and incredible little hike. Despite what these pictures show, much of the hike was covered in trees, making it a nice and cool hike. Connor passed his time telling ghost stories, Callum went between throwing rocks and filling his pockets with them, Isla collected wild flowers for a bouquet and Willa slept. 

Day 6:

We went back to the olympic park, as the kids really wanted to go back. This time Ian did activities with the kids. I stayed too, as I found a play area when I was there before. It was a little big for Callum, but he had fun. I would say the same activities were highlights for the kids. Connor went on the zipline at least six times. One time Ian took Isla on the alpine slide and Connor rode the zipline four times just in the one time they did the alpine slide. We took a picture with the bobsled track, as I am a big Cool Runnings fan...haha! You can pay to ride down it with a professional bobsledder, but I figured I would probably barf, so I didn't do it. But the younger, stronger stomach, me really wanted to do it. 

While in Park City, we stayed in an airbnb that was just perfect. The place had five bedrooms, which we really didn't need all those. We ended up sleeping in three. It had a hottub...which was the reason we booked it. We used the hottub almost every day. The nice thing about an airbnb is being able to cook all your own meals, though we did pick up take out two nights. After Park City, we headed south to Zion National Park. 

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Bonneville Salt Flats

We just got back a couple days ago from a week and a half long road trip to Utah. One of the highlights for me is basically a piece of land in the middle of nowhere, the Bonneville Salt Flats. It is just such a fascinating place unlike none I have ever been to. 

So I knew I wanted to stop at the salt flats, but was unsure how exactly to. Everything I could tell online is that there is an amazing rest stop on I-80 west bound. It has access to walk and drive on the flats, as well as foot washing stations. Unfortunately we were headed east and would not be coming back the same way. And it would be a huge backtrack to turn around for the rest stop. Well, after reading one thing online on a forum, it seemed we could just drive to the flats ourselves via exit 4. But again, I had no clue what to expect. Even the map on our iPhones could not comprehend what we wanted to do and was saying it was going to take over 2 hours to drive a couple miles. Anyway, in case you ever do this yourself, just follow the road off the exit and it dead ends into the flats. But another funny story about that...

The road just ends. It ends with a big circle area for you to turn around and there were probably five cars parked there. So, it seemed one should stop there. But, there was a car in front of us and said car just flew out onto the flats. So we followed. And ohmygosh it was so fun. So freaky. So freeing. At this point, we had not gotten out of our car, so I was freaked out that we might sink or something. Spoiler alert, we didn't. 

When we finally stopped and got out, I could feel that the salt flats were totally hard. It was such a strange feeling. It's such a vast space of emptiness. Even cars driving that I would consider nearby were hard to hear. It was as if the vastness just ate up the sound. 

The kids got such a kick out of all this. They ran on it. They tasted it...it tastes way saltier than normal salt, if that's even possible. They looked at it through a microscope...because everyone happens to have a handheld microscope on vacation with them. There also was some beyblade playing on the salt. 

When we went to get back in the car, salt was stuck to everyones shoes and made such a MESS in the car. Like, I don't even know how that much salt could be on shoes. But the same for the car tires. We drove another 2+ hours to our airbnb and our car still spilled salt out all over the garage where we were staying. 

This was definitely one of those once in a lifetime stops on the side of the road, but was so worth it and so cool. I saw later online that there is an aqueduct that goes through the salt floats with brine water and people float on it. That looked fun too. This was just a great way to start our trip. 

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A Comparison of Curious Siblings

Young toddlerhood is such a curious age. It's also an age that lacks impulse control, haha! Tupperware cabinets get emptied, toilet paper rolls pulled out, towels pulled down. It happens ALL DAY LONG. The thing is, I've gotten smarter along the way. Qtips are no longer kept where little hands can get them. Toilet paper rolls are generally kept on the counter...sort of ghetto, but saves the loss of tp in the long run! These preventative measures still don't keep Willa from being curious. The other day she climbed up on the dining table and took a bite out of literally every apple in the bowl. Then she proceeded to throw the apples off the table. I forget how busy young toddlers keep you. She moves things from room to room and throws things ALL THE TIME. I find things from the kitchen in my room. Or her latest has been throwing the clock next to my bed down the stairs. It has happened twice now, so the clock has been moved. Except, I really liked having a clock next to my bed. Oh well. One day soon it will be able to be back. 

All four kids are just a couple weeks apart in these photos. Connor and Isla had loads more hair that Callum or Willa, but at least Callum had enough hair at this point for a haircut! She apparently takes after her mom. I didn't really have hair until I was two. 

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Done is Better than Perfect

I used to strive for perfection on my blog. I would blog something as soon as it happened. Literally. I didn't want to let the moment pass without memorializing it. Then, somewhere along the way, hello there life and children, I ran out of time. It started feeling funny writing about moments that happened months ago. But why does it matter? After all, this blog is for myself. And it's "paid" for itself over and over when I went back and made the kids baby books easily with all that I had blogged about their baby days (and I'm now starting on toddler books for them). But it still feels silly to write things so much later.

But here's the thing. I've realized done is better than perfect. One of my goals during the pandemic was to make a photo book of our vacation in 2018. TWO YEARS AGO. Two years. When I started, I realized I hadn't even gone through many of our vacation photos. They all weren't saved in one place. It was a bit of mess. But I did it. And it felt good. Now my kids will be able to look through the book and remember...or the pictures will be the reminder.

I also started picking up my camera more and capturing our day to day life. It's something I used to do a lot when Connor and Isla were little. And honestly, those are always my favorite memories to look back on.

So here's to not striving for perfection, remembering done is better than perfect and remembering to document so the children have something to look back on...because who doesn't like looking back at old photos? But also, making sure I do something with all those photos I take, as they don't do anyone any good rotting away on old hard drives.

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4th of July

We did our "second annual" kids in front of the garage with popsicles on July 4th picture. Haha! I clearly did not plan ahead because the store was out of bomb pops. We had one on hand and Callum wanted it, so he got that while the others had watermelon. I was looking at this picture chuckling, wondering how long I can get away with them letting me do this. Here is the link to last year's, if you are interested.  

^^ May we all look at someone the way Willa looks at a popsicle! 

Our fourth celebration didn't look much different this year than in years past. For the past few years, we have stayed home and done our own little thing. It allows us to start relatively early and still have the kids to bed at a reasonable hour. Plus, is there really anything more fun for kids than to pick out their own fireworks at a stand then light them on fire?!

This year, there was a bit of a fight for fireworks. Connor and Isla made their own fireworks show and Callum made his. There may or may not have been some fireworks theft between the two piles and some screams, but then everyone settled in and all was fine. 

^^ This is Willa's "mom stop taking my picture and hold me" picture. She did great during the fireworks, but definitely wanted me to hold her. After a bit, I just put her in her carrier, as it was easier. 

^^ Callum loved the fireworks, as long as his ear covers were on. He would pull them up during fireworks, so I think they were more security than anything. We have had a kid with those on for the fourth for so many years, it will be a bit sad for me when they are no longer needed by anyone. 

^^ The ole light and run routine. 

After a bit, I put my camera away and just enjoyed myself. One neighbor came out and watched on their porch for a bit. And another walked down and watched too. Toward the end of our time, a truck came, sped up and purposefully ran into our fireworks display. It send all the stuff (including two "slow" signs) flying as far as two houses down. It was really scary, considering Ian and Connor were there maybe 30 seconds prior. It really shook me up and was a bummer way to basically end things. I found out today that the same guy drove to other parts of our neighborhood and did the same thing. Super uncool, but I am not going to let it ruin the whole memory of the night. 

Even though our country is in turmoil and it seems like a weird time to celebrate it, I am thankful for our freedoms, including freedom of speech. I look forward to the day that our country really practices what is stated in the declaration of independence, that "all men are created equal". Now to fight for the equal treatment of all!

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