Days 2015

Days 2015

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Spring Break on the Dinosaur Trail

Macy discovered for herself the presence of spring.  She made this work of art for her kindergarten teacher (because she misses her, being on Spring Break and all).  I put it on here because it shows that kids see beauty in just about everything.  And truth.  And you really don't have to make an effort. You probably can't read the captions because the picture turned out fuzzy, but she has labelled the items.  "Stick."  "Bark."  "Rocks."  and that lovely touch of pink? "Garbage."

Our spring break started with an Easter egg hunt Saturday morning.  Usually we have gone somewhere else, but Easter weekend was also General Conference, so we stayed home to watch it and just hid our own eggs.  Luke didn't really remember what to expect so it was really fun to see how tickled he was when he opened the eggs and there was candy inside!


This picture is fuzzy but I love Luke's excited face.








The day before Easter, after eating all that candy I had bought for them, my greedy children were still expecting the Easter bunny to come.  I did not grow up doing the Easter bunny thing--candy was for Saturday, Easter was about the Jesus' resurrection.  We usually got some kind of gift, also, like a new Easter dress, so I never felt deprived.  Mark's family did have the Easter bunny, so although I am pretty opposed to the whole lying to your kids on the holiest day of the year thing, I also think it's important for him to get to carry out his family's tradition.  So, sometimes he does.  He wasn't going to this year, but when I told the kids they'd already had enough stuff and candy, they were very upset.  So, I told them that the "Easter bunny", that Dad was in charge of, in heavy, exaggerated quotation marks, might still have time to go shopping that night if they went to bed nicely.  They smiled and were just as happy to go along with the joke, and get their stuff, too.  Here is the haul, without that messy green plastic grass that gets all over the house (my one request.)
So, Easter morning before Conference this is what I find.  The "Easter Bunny" brought some squirt guns and toy soldiers, which Mark explained were to set up on the edge of the tub or outside and try to shoot down.  Well, the boys didn't quite get what he was imagining, and while we were still eating our breakfast, they ran upstairs, suited up because we told them awhile ago they were too old to bathe together (plus they had already had real baths the night before), and filled up my big tub, hooting and hollering.  Luke joined in and we soon saw that the Easter Bunny made a huge oversight by not getting THREE guns.  (Luke got a short baseball bat.)

After Conference we went for a Sunday drive to our new lot.  No hole yet, sigh, but very soon.  We took a windy walk to the kids' new school.

On Tuesday we went downtown SLC to the Tracy Aviary.  The weather was lovely and cool and the birds were even lovelier.  Boston completed his Bear Scout award with this trip.  Cooper stopped in for a quick dental x-ray at Primary's to see if any of his teeth need extracting (he has FOUR top front teeth right now--they just curve right around his cleft--so the baby teeth haven't fallen out because there is nothing pushing against them.)  I also got to drop in and quickly visit my Grandma at the Huntsman Cancer center.  The kids aren't allowed so I left them in the van in the dark underground parking lot.  Haha.  When Grandpa (newly recovering from a knee surgery himself but, typical, still wanting to walk) and Aunt Kelly walked me back to the van, I related to the boys that Grandpa had seen a convict on Grandma's floor--a prisoner chained to his bed and the police had to guard him on his walks.  I thought they'd think that was awesome, but Cooper turned to Leslie, indignantly, "Leslie!  You said there WERE no bad guys down here!!"
And now, I feel like I need to be a bit of a travel promoter.  Today when my friend asked me what we did over spring break, I told her that we spent Thursday, Friday, and Saturday in Vernal (near the Colorado border).  She looked at me kind of confused and asked, "Why?"  I guess not many people around here go to Vernal or consider it much of a destination, but that's a shame because it was really great and there was a ton of stuff to do.  It wasn't crowded at all, and very family friendly. I wanted to go there because I had never been out to that part of my state and have been trying to help my family explore. I wanted to visit the Vernal Temple.  I also heard that there might be a few dinosaur things out there, and right now I have a two year old who is pretty into dinosaurs.  (His favorite show right now is Dinosaur Train, and when he is revved up he sings their theme song at the top of his lungs.)  Well, I made up what I thought was a pretty good itinerary before we left, and was surprised when we got to our hotel that they had a "Fourteen Days of Adventure" or something like that, with a tour guide pamphlet for each day, of awesome stuff to do around Vernal.  Who knew?  We also enjoyed just getting to stay in a nice hotel and having lots of restaurants to choose from.  (Usually we don't eat out much as a family besides ordering the occasional pizza because I'm too cheap, but for this vacation, I had a pretty decent food budget.  I packed light and only brought snacks.)
Our first stop was Dinosaur National Monument (which is actually a Natl. Park and extends into Colorado and includes a lot of Green River Canyon), where we visited "The Quarry".  It was pretty mind-blowing actually.  I knew it was where they had dug up some bones, but it turns out that it was this HUGE cliff face enclosed by a building to protect it, and although only about a third of the bones are still there, they were just piled.  It was crazy.  I think it said there are about 400 dinosaurs there, lots of different types, because it was a curve in the riverbed at some point where the carcasses got deposited.  Pretty cool to try to decide what kind of bone you were seeing. 


Did I mention that the kids were allowed to touch?  That made things much more relaxing for this mother.
 



Mark was trying to capture the size of this thing, it's still bigger than it looks here.  They had a big ramp so you could go up a floor and look at the upper section.  Luke pretty much refused to ride in his stroller and mostly wanted to race it up and down the ramp. 

Boston is helping Luke touch some of the bones.


Just down the road from The Quarry was a Fossil Discovery Trail.  It was a pleasant little hike but we decided that we were bad at spotting fossils. 
Since we didn't find any fossils, Mark decided to take a picture of our kids instead.  You probably won't believe this, but THIS IS NOT STAGED.  Our adorable children somehow all decided to pose exactly like their personalities would suggest.  On the left is Cooper, some cool athlete, needing a drink from sweating so hard.  Next is Luke, a happy little goofball.  Leslie is sweet and obedient, standing right where we want to and studiously ignoring the chaos around her.  Macy is stylin' with what looks like a long black dress at first glance, and totally striking a Miss Independent dance pose (although I think she was trying to point out an imaginary fossil), and Boston is Mr. Tough Guy Big Stuff.

We drove into the Park a little more to see Split Mountain--where the Green River literally split this mountain in half.  It was gorgeous and really made me want to come back and go rafting.
We found a place where we could stop and throw rocks in the Green River.  Luke pretty much thought he'd died and gone to heaven.  This spot was where some miners had panned for gold, and across the river were some beautiful cliffs and cottonwoods. 
 

Later that afternoon we went to the Western Heritage museum on Main and looked at a bunch of cool pioneer stuff.  They also had a clever exhibit of all the first ladies as dolls, with their period clothes, etc.  Macy would have loved it but she was under the impression that she was about to throw up, so our visit was a bit abbreviated.  She felt fine after dinner. 
I had dinner early and visited the Vernal Temple while Mark and the kids had pizza at the park and got ready for bed.  Mark came back to have a turn early the next morning, and ended up taking Leslie again on Saturday morning.
Luke was raring to go.  He loves wearing his Dad's or his brothers' hats.

Friday morning we went to Red Fleet Reservoir (also known as Little Lake Powell) to hike the Dinosaur Trackway.  It was a gorgeous lake and made me want to come back with a boat in the summer.  The weather was perfect for hiking and the trail was pretty mild up and down on sand and slickrock so Luke was happy to walk most of the way there himself.  In fact, he was pretty indignant when one of us insisted on holding his hand on the dicier areas.  I was glad that Mark didn't have to haul him in a heavy pack the whole way like last fall in Moab.  In this picture we are creeping up on a tiny baby bunny just under the overhang.  There were a lot of cottontails around.
At the end of the trail there is a large rock bank of the lake covered in dinosaur tracks.  Leslie is demonstrating one of the clearer ones directly above her hand.  The hike was about 1.5 miles one way.

We scaled down to the sandy beach and took a load off.  Once again, guess what Luke was doing...  That WHOLE morning, probably twenty times before we even saw the lake, he had asked me, "Throw rocks in the water?"  I assured him that yes, we would do that again.
The rest of the kids were also practicing their rock skipping skills with Mark.  (He's pretty good.)  A few of them later said this was their favorite part of the trip.
Luke finally let Mark give him a ride most of the way back.  He got scratched on some overhang but was cheered up pretty quickly by a cheese cracker in each hand.
That afternoon we went to a really large playground at the sports complex.  Pretty fancy.  This is not it.  Macy says her favorite part of the trip was this little (dinky and old) playground at our hotel, where apparently she was climbing trees.
After Luke (and I) got some naptime and everyone else got some cartoons, we visited the Dinosaur Field house.  It was a pretty good museum and had a lot of hands on stuff, but rest assured, fellow Lehites, it did not top the one we've got here at Thanksgiving Point. 
 

Luke pushed the stroller pretty much the whole time.  We should have left it in the van.





Luke is fond of saying, "Scary!"  He recognized the Pteranadon from his cartoon that he likes.
After a fun night at the Rec Center Pool (new with big water slides) and a good night's rest, Macy is ready for another hike.  For some reason I had three pairs of sun glasses and the kids kept swiping them.
This is a little wood teepee the kids tucked into at the McConkie Ranch, where we wandered along the base of the cliffs looking at all the petroglyphs.  I thought the petroglyphs were pretty cool and the valley the ranch was in was really gorgeous, but I think the kids mostly liked clamoring over and around the big rocks, etc. on the trail. 
 


Cooper kept finding caterpillars and carrying them around.  Macy tried that also, but she can't hike and talk to her caterpillar at the same time, so I made her put hers back.
This one was pretty high up.  I told the kids it was a Mom and a Dad.
 

See the glyph right above their heads?
Mark said this hike, although the shortest, was the hardest because we couldn't really let Luke go--too many big rocks to fall off or trip over--and he really wanted to be independent.  (The other kids were totally fine.)
After the petroglyphs, we hiked Moonstone Arch, near Steinaker Reservoir.  This is a pretty little wash at the beginning of the trail.  Once again, great weather and not crowded (but as luck would have it, a big group date of teenagers came up on our tail.  It was a Saturday morning and they were kind of cute and geeky.  And helped us not get lost.)
 

Mark thought it was funny that  the boys kept wanting to wear my girly sunglasses.
Stopping for a break.  It was slightly warmer than the day before and slightly more uphill, and the kids were a little more tired, but they did great not to complain.
 

This is the arch but you have to look close in this picture to see the line of the arch.  The teenagers were picnicking below.
This is directly under the arch.  It's just as big as the ones in Moab but not as red.
On the other side of the arch was this cool little keyhole cave up the side of the cliff.  The kids went up there and I stayed down below with Luke.

He wasn't happy about being left behind and got about a foot up off the sand.
 


I let Leslie climb up on top of the Arch. 

I didn't exactly let Boston climb up there, but he did anyway.

Luke played in the sand.

And played in the sand some more.  This is almost back to the van and he and Mark were waiting for the rest of us to catch up.  Boston had been teaching him to respond with a saying from our cousin Bridger the whole way home.  "Hello Dinosaur!  Hello, Lunch!"  We were laughing pretty hard.  Luke had also kept us in stitches on most of our drives by singing at the top of his lungs (and changing the key to a note higher every few minutes) the popular song "Counting Stars", also the Darth Vader march/morphing into the death march which was pretty funny, "Are You Sleeping, Brudder John?" and much to our delight and surprise, "I am My Own Grandpa!".  (One of Mark's grandpa's songs on the CD we got for Christmas.)  We made it a game to try to get him to switch songs and would keep coming back to his standbys halfway through.  That will probably be my favorite memory of the trip.
We told the kids the reward for their hard morning of hiking was a trip to Golden Corral.  They thought that was a pretty sweet deal.
Not sure what Cooper thinks is disgusting in this picture, but Luke liked the fish and the strawberries.  All in all, it was a great trip and we got home in time for me to do laundry, unpack, and vacuum out the car before bed.
Forgot to mention that Boston had his second piano recital.  He played "Home on the Range" and "What Does the Fox Say?" which was actually pretty challenging but that was what he wanted to do.  He did great and performs even better under pressure.  Cooper told him afterward that that was the best he had ever done.
Macy came down dressed as "Wumber Woman" right before this blog went to print.  Full on dark blue eyeshadow, too.  Just thought I'd tack that on.