Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Summer time

Summer is in full swing and we are taking advantage of each sunny day. Today we picked blueberries. The kids are their weight in berries, but we somehow managed to come out of the field with seven pounds. We will be making a lot of blueberry muffins.

Our neighborhood has an annual Fourth of July party with bounce houses and food and such. The kids bounced for about four hours. We skipped fireworks this year; between the mega-party and Scott working that night, I didn't feel like dragging everyone out of the house and staying up late.

Our parks have lots of activities over the summer. Phoebe could stay busy just at parks all day every day this summer.
The kids had a lemonade and cookie stand. We made homemade chocolate chip cookies and homemade lemonade. Bruce sold the cookies for a quarter each. Phoebe sold the lemonade for "a smile." They made about ten bucks (I made Bruce split the money with Phoebe). 

Some summer days still bring rain, so one rainy day we spent at the Children's Museum. That place never gets old.

Phoebe recently acquired rollerblades and is building her skills quickly.

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Saturday, July 04, 2015

Death Hollow and other lovely adventures

Scott went on this hike a few years ago and really wanted to share the suffering/ experience, so we took a week and went to Southern Utah for some adventure. Scott's sisters, Leslie and Lana, and their husbands were crazy enough to come with us. We flew into Salt Lake City, stayed with Leslie and Marc for a day, attended a Raymond family reunion, then drove to Escalante. We drove through a campground, but it was completely full so we pulled off the side of a road and camped. It was dark when we set up camp, so the photo above shows what we woke up to: scrubby dry wilderness (and some really tasty oatmeal that Scott made).
We packed up camp the next morning, drove to the top of Hell's Backbone Road, said goodbye to the truck, and started hiking. That would be me somewhere in the first six-ish miles, still smiling with my backpack on.
 The hiking was all downhill (or rather, canyon), thank goodness. There wasn't much of a trail though: we did a lot of hacking through brambly shrubs. There were lots of prickly pear cacti on the ground and one segment caught my leg and bounced to the other calf, where it stuck. I tugged at it a little and its spiny barbs seemed jammed into my leg. Nurse Leslie came to my aid, plucking the spines out of my leg (and getting a few in her fingers in the process).
I wore trashy running shoes on my first day. Scott said hiking boots would be too heavy and wouldn't be any good in the water, so I dug these gems out of my Goodwill pile before the trip. The first day's hike was very sandy, so I stopped a few times to dump sand out.
 We all stopped under shade and leaned our packs against trees for a quick rest. It was in the high-90s while we were there. It was hot, but I'm glad it was that hot; you'll see why later.
 There were a lot of great moments on this trip and here is one of them. Lana is taking a rest, chowing on a Slim Jim with a knife in hand. Awesome.
 Here is why I was glad it was hot: we waded and swam through lots of water. I was worried it would be cold and I would freeze every night being all wet and cold. The water wasn't too bad though and the heat dried us off quickly.
 There wasn't much trail at first, but we eventually made it to a dry creek bed that we followed. The creek had some pot holes and long stagnant pools. Sometimes we swam through. Sometimes it was a little more complicated like the photo above: lower the pack down, climb down, ferry backpack across the water on cheap inflatable tube, climb out.
 After 14ish miles of hiking on the first day, we set up camp on this nice sandstone. It felt good to kick off my sandy shoes and walk around barefoot on the warm stone. The place was beautiful, but frogs loved it too: there were some really loud ones that night.
 It was back to business in the morning, hiking down the creek and over boulders...
 ...swimming through more water.
 Most of the time the creek was shallow. I wore my sandals and was glad I could wash the sand out from my toes every few minutes. I fell at least a dozen times though: the bottom of the creek had uneven slime-covered footing and I was a little clumsy with my backpack (this was my first backpacking trip).
 We camped here after the second day. Notice the clothesline with the sleeping bag? Because of all the swimming and hiking through water, we packed our things into waterproof bags, but one of our bags failed so Scott's sleeping bag is hanging up to dry. Bummer.
 The third day was to be our last; we had a hotel booked for that night. We weren't exactly sure how many miles we were from the end (where our cars were stashed), but knew we had a long way to go. We hiked fast. There was some swimming, but not nearly as much as the day before. Most of the day there was a legit trail too. It was mostly sandy and mostly draped in poison ivy, but it was there.
 We hiked by some cliff dwellings...
 ...and a natural arch.
 We hiked by a natural bridge.
 You can see it better in the upper right.
 The last few miles were hot and sandy, but we saw other people hiking and knew we were closing in on the end. We finished our 30ish mile backpacking trip and made it to the hotel with plenty of time to spare. We ate dinner, took turns cleaning up for the first time in a few days, and laid around. We were all too tired to do anything.
 The next day, we checked out of the hotel and embarked on a shorter hike. Our plan was to do some car camping and day-hikes over the next few days. Scott really wanted to hike in some slot canyons, so we drove out Hole-in-the-Rock Road to some supposedly spectacular ones.
 We hiked for a mile or two through a narrow canyon, thinking it would get tighter and crazier at some point.
 It was beautiful and it was easy hiking.
 Eventually the trail came up out of the canyon and into the desert above. We followed cairns all over the hot desert and couldn't seem to find the other slot canyons we came for.

 This would be Scott and Marc consulting the map and staring around the desert landscape for awhile.
We eventually made it to the right slot canyon; turns out the narrow canyon we hiked down was just the dry fork of a river. By the time we got to this point, we had already hiked for over an hour and I was tired from the previous few days of hiking. Scott, Leslie and Marc hiked into the slot canyon and Lana, her husband Scott (yes, also named Scott) and I hiked back to the truck. I totally wimped out.

Soon everyone wimped out though. Instead of camping that night, we decided to pack up and head back to civilization. It all worked out though. Scott got his adventure vacation fix and I got to relax a little in the end. We went to a movie, went to the temple, spent lots of time with our nieces and nephews, and walked around the BYU campus where we met. Vacation success.

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While we were gone...

Scott and I took a trip without the kids. It had been three years since the last time we did a kid-less vacation (Costa Rica, to celebrate the end of med school) and Scott wanted to do something so crazy that we absolutely could not bring kids with us. I was really nervous about leaving the kids for a week. Okay, mostly I was nervous about leaving Oliver for a week. He is a true momma's boy, has some tricky communication issues, and really likes routines and familiarity. Our original plan was to drive to Ohio and leave the kids with my parents, then fly to Utah for our crazy hiking trip. But the school-year got much longer with all the snow days, so our vacation fell on the last week of school. I know the last week of school is often useless, but we already pulled the kids out of school for a week of vacation in October and they had a lot of other things going on that week too. My awesome parents agreed to come to Boston and take care of them here. I know, I am still spoiled.
I was so nervous about leaving the kids that I wrote out six pages of notes, schedules, emergency phone numbers, etc. They said Oliver looked for me the first day we were gone (that top picture is from that grouchy first day, Father's Day), but then was fine. They even took photos to prove that he was fine. That would be him at Soccer Nights, a local week-long soccer camp.
The kids attended parties, visited splash parks, had Field Day at school, showed off their portfolios at school.
 They went to "Barn Babies" at the library - an awesome program where a truck-load of barn animals wrapped in towels and diapers come to the library for kids to pet and touch. Phoebe loves this annual event so much; one year we missed it and she didn't forgive me until we went the next year.
Bruce celebrated the end-of-the-year with his fellow Webelo Scouts. This age is just so weird. Props to the leaders that work with them.
 The last day of school finally came on June 25. Seriously almost July. Phoebe already misses her friends. We have visited her teachers twice at the school in the past week.

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