Saturday, October 30, 2010

Start Smart Basketball........AgAiN!

One of the things that I love about Riverdale is the "Start Smart" program the Sheri Burrows runs. She does it for baseball and basketball and she's amazing. She teaches the little ones how to really play the sports, AND how to do it RIGHT! This is the 6th year that we've done the basketball course. 2 With Ty, 2 with Matt and now 2 with IZ. He's so cute and he loves going, AnD he loves that Sheri teases him about being a mini Matt. Here are a few fun pictures!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

5 Kids, 5 Days,5 National Parks=AMAZING Vacation!

Day1: Drive and Dead Horse Point

Today was a lot of fun. We left home at about 8 and headed south! I was shocked at how well the kids did on the drive. It's been a long time since we've been able to do a road trip because of ornery little ones so I was nervous but they were AWESOME! No whining or fighting at all! WAHOO!!!!!

We got to Dead Horse Point around 2:00 and took a minute to play in the Visitors Center before setting up camp. We haven't ever camped at Dead Horse Point before and so I didn't know what to expect BUT I now have a new favorite camp ground! It was so clean and pretty!

After setting up camp we got our bikes and hit the slick rock! I didn't know how Isaac would do (No gears or hand brakes and all) but he did great. Everyone did great. The over looks that we rode to were amazing and the kids all had fun tackling the “obstacles” that we encountered. UNTIL Tyler crashed and landed on a prickly pear and yucca plant that is! His legs and bottom were full of spines and he was NOT a happy camper! We pulled out what we could and finished the ride. I know he didn't really have any options, but he sure was a great sport! The ride was only about 2 miles but with all of the slick rock and ups and downs it was enough!

After we put our bikes away we drove out to “the point”. It was just gorgeous and being there just before/through sunset made it ever prettier. The kids loved the view but REALLY loved all of the rocks that they got to climb on. Even Nick decided that he was big enough and ran off and up to the top of a big rock. BOYS! One of my favorite things about Dead Horse Point is the road out to the point. The neck of the point is only about 40-50 feet wide with the road right down the middle. Kinda freaky but VERY cool. The boys and I walked across the neck and they had fun making a chain across the road. LOVE it! BTW the bathrooms at Dead Horse Point are GORGEOUS and SO CLEAN!!!!! Loved that!!!

Dinner was a late one that night and man the kids were CRAZY! WAY to many burps at that dinner table. I don't know what it is about camping that send all manners out the window.:) Tyler and Isaac slept in Tyler's tent and the rest of us were in the big one. Nick was up almost all night coughing. Which woke up Lucas. Which means they were both in bed with us all night. Made for a LONG night. ARGH.

Day 2 : Arches

Wednesday morning was gorgeous though and regardless of the lack of sleep, everyone was up and excited to hit Arches! We had yummy blueberry pancakes and then were off! I love driving into Arches. It's just SO amazing. So different and So striking. My favorite thing about Arches is that you have to hike to see most of the really cool stuff. I love that it takes some work to get the good stuff.

The drive to Arches was a lot of fun. I plugged my laptop in and turned on Dynamite. The kids sang and sang all the way there! I love listening to them sing!

ANYWAY, our first hike of the day was the Devils Garden Trail. The first arches we saw were Pot Hole and Pine Tree Arches. It was fun to listen to the kids as they really started to realize how HUGE and amazing the arches were.

Then it was off to see Landscape Arch. It's a bit of a hike and the little ones were getting a little bored I think when we came around a bend and Landscape Arch was visible. The chorus of “Ohhh” and “Wow” was fun to hear. Each boy had to take turns “holding up the arch” and Nick had to play in the sand. He loved it so much it was really hard to get him back in to the back pack!

The hike back (of course) was a little long for the kids but they were rewarded with more rocks to climb right by the bathrooms!

We loaded back into the van and headed to Sand Dune Arch. My personal favorite! Years ago when we went to Arches with Mary and her room mates (my first time to Arches) I fell in love with Sand Dune Arch. It's close to the road, it's shady, it's got beautiful sand to play in AND Mary and I climbed on top of the arch and felt pretty darn cool! Anyway, we ate our lunch on the sidewalk and then started out to find the arch. It didn't disappoint. The boys loved it!!! Tyler, Matt and Isaac all climbed on top of the arch, Lucas and Nick loved the sand and eventually they all ended up rolling in and flipping in the sand. They were covered but happy!

Then it was time for Delicate Arch. I was a little nervous about how the kids would do on the hike. It's long and hot. But, as usual they AMAZED me! Nick slept most of the way to the top in the back pack, but the others almost RAN to the top. Lucas kept saying that he was a mountain goat. It was so fun. I kept telling the kids that yes, the hike was hard. BUT it was so worth it and they would be so glad that they did it. When we came around the bend and they saw delicate arch they really were in awe. Tyler said “Wow, your right. It WAS totally worth it!” We took a few pictures and then I told the boys to come with me over the wall and we'd walk down to the arch. They were so nervous, but not because it was steep. They were worried that it was “against the law”. HAHAHAHAHAHA. I kept telling them that it was fine and that we weren't breaking the law! Mike took some pictures of us and then “broke the law” himself and joined us! While we were taking pictures down by the arch someone dropped their lens cap from up above and we all just stood there and watched as it rolled ALL THE WAY DOWN and into the “abyss”. It actually made me a little nervous. I didn't want my little ones to roll like that! After a while we started back down, and Lucas decided that he was going to count all of the trail markers and we hiked down. I think the final count was 42. He's so stinkin cute!

After Delicate Arch, as tired as we were, we still had to hurry off to another hike! We still wanted to see Double Arch (the one where they filmed the cave scene at the beginning of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade) and Balanced rock before the sun went down. Both were amazing and I was shocked that the boys were all still walking and in good spirits!

Once it was too dark to see anything we decided to head to Moab for dollar burgers, some free WIFI and cough medicine for Nick! The boys were all (except for Ty) out by 8:00. Needless to say we all slept well!

Day 3 Canyonlands & Capitol Reef

We had just finished a yummy breakfast of blueberry pancakes and sausage when Nick grabbed my glasses off of my face and snapped them in half!!!!! AAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I was NOT a happy mommy! In fact I was in tears! I hadn't brought any contacts and I'm BLIND without my glasses. I got in the car and threw them onto the dash. The funny thing though is that when I did that Mike said “Be careful! You don't want to brake them!” hahahahahahahahaha. Really? Anyway, he took them into the visitors center and managed to tape them back together with scotch tape. I tried and tried to get my eye Doc to call a prescription to St. George BUT of course they were not willing to help out and I was a stressed out mamma. It took a few deep breaths (and thankfully a long ride to Canyonlands) and I was fine. Mike felt pretty sure that we could fix them with superglue and I have learned not to doubt Mike's abilities to fix things!

I hadn't ever been to Canyonlands before and I was in awe. It's so......HUGE!!! It was so fun for me to listen to the boys talk about the geology of the canyon. Yeah, they're their Dad's boys!

After Canyonlands we all loaded up again and headed for Capitol Reef. I didn't really know what to expect. I hadn't ever even been close to it before, so when we got there I was really surprised. It's so different from any of the others. SO pretty! The colors are what really struck me at Capitol Reef. We stopped at a little waterfall hike. It was really steep and it made me a little nervous because of the water. BUT it was gorgeous.......I've been saying that a lot huh?

We also found a great hike that Mike hadn't ever been on. It was called the “Hickman Bridge Trail”. It was a little tough in parts but SO fun. Mike kept saying “Oh I am so glad we did this hike!” And I agree with him!

We had fun learning the difference between a "bridge" and an "arch"! Water vs. air!

After the hike we went to see the petroglyphs!

Then we drove around the park a bit and then set up at the picnic area to make a quick taco salad for dinner. The boys ran around playing “army” while Mike and I made dinner. While we were eating some deer came right past us and the kids went nuts. Especially Nick. He was just squealing and laughing! And then he made his hand into a gun and started making shooting sounds. It was SO funny! Then it was off to St. George! It was VERY late when we got to St. George but thankfully the kiddo's stayed asleep!

Day 4: Zion National Park

Well, I have to say that it was VERY nice to take a shower! Everyone was finally clean as we started out Friday morning for Zions. Grandma Staten also fed us all breakfast AND put together lunch while I got kid's ready! It was great! (In fact when we got back from Zion she has also washed and folded our dirty laundry :)!!)

Now, back to our day at Zion. Even as I write this I have to sigh. I love Zion Canyon. It's so beautiful. I love the red rock contrasting with the green evergreen's. I also love that Zion has a shuttle. I love that I find parking once and be good for the day! When we got to the Canyon everyone was hungry again already (of course) and so we ate lunch early and then headed off!

Our first hike of the day was Emerald Pools. I hadn't ever done this particular hike and had no idea what to expect. Mike kept saying that it was one of his favorites and that I would love it. Well......I did! There are 3 pools. Lower, middle and upper. They are all so different and all so fun! The lower has a fun waterfall, which the kids loved. The water makes everything so lush! Isaac LOVED the mud at the lower pool!

The middle pool was just as pretty but smaller with a little stream running through it. The kids loved putting sticks in the stream and watching them until they disappeared.

The third pool is a little harder to get to but absolutely AMAZING. It's down in a little depression. It feels like you are in the jungle. I just LOVED it. The boys were in heaven too. It was the perfect little boy spot. We played there for a while and then started the hike back down!

On the way down we found a tarantula. Ick. But the boys thought it was so cool!

Next we hiked to Weeping Rock. I love Weeping Rock. I love that ALL that water is ground water!

Then we rode the shuttle up the canyon so we could see the Great White Throne. I love the contrast of the red and white rock. From there we could also see people hiking Angels Landing. SOME day I'm totally going to do that hike. Not with little kids, but I will hike it!!

Then we rode the shuttle to the end and walked along the river walk. Mike and the boys decided to get in the freezing cold water and so of course I had to keep up........we're so dumb! It was FREEZINNG. I just put my feet in and that was enough for me. But Tyler, Matt and Isaac decided that they had to walk out in to it and get on a rock. Which was a great idea until Isaac and then Matt fell in and got totally soaked!!! True to form Isaac laughed and Matt cried :) I had a hard time not laughing! My silly kids! The sun was going down too, which made it even worse! The only thing I had for Matt to change into was by black tank top that I was wearing under my red shirt.....NOT COOL. Matt was embarrassed. Warmer and drier, but embarrassed. Ty was laughing at him and so I told him that he had to trade Matt shirts and wear the tank top. Hehehehe. He wasn't happy. It only took a few seconds and he was begging to wear Matt's wet shirt. :) We hurried back and got on the shuttle hoping it would help with the “frozen children” problem. Of course, all of the windows were open :( so they just had to suck it up and freeze! Actually they didn't complain at all. They just shook and turned blue :)Then it was back to St. George and the warm bath tub and warm dinner that were waiting for us! We spend a relaxing evening with Grandma and Grandpa. Something in dinner (we have no idea what) caused Mike's first “food allergic reaction” in years. Poor Mike. He was so bad that I was starting to worry. Finally the Benadryl kicked in and he could breath enough to go to bed! Tyler and Lucas decided to sleep in the back yard in Tyler's tent and the others slept in the house. All in all, it was a great warm nights sleep!

Day 5: Bryce Canyon and Headin Home!

Saturday Morning started bright and early. We quickly packed up, ate breakfast, said goodbye and hit the road! All over St. George I kept seeing campaign signs for “Don Ipson”. Kinda funny since that the same name as my mom's 2nd husband! We took some pictures to send to her.......hehehehehe.

We decided to head to Bryce Canyon by driving through Cedar City and up the Canyon there. Before we left Cedar though we went into a grocer store to get some snacks and use the bathroom (for some reason my boys had to go every 5 minutes on this trip). While in the store the boys found some little machine guns. So cute. So loud. So NOT GOOD for a road trip! UGH. I just kept telling myself that it was better than a screaming Nick! Right???

The drive was gorgeous! I love that area up by Cedar Beak and Brian Head.

The kids did great as usual and were really excited when we finally got to Bryce. I love Bryce Canyon. I think it's probably my favorite. I'm not totally sure, but probably ! I mean......It's just so breath taking! We started at the top of the Canyon and worked our way down ending with our big hike at the Navajo Loop.

We made some German friends on a little hike to Inspiration Point. They boys were so excited because they could use their limited German Vocabulary! The German tourists thought the kids were so cute and they couldn't believe we had 5 boys! In fact everywhere we went in Bryce foreigners were commenting on our 5 boys and asking to take our picture. Hmmm. :)

After Inspiration Point we headed over to Navajo Loop. Part of the trail was closed but we still got a good hike out of it. I love the steep switch backs. Lucas was really nervous because of the steep edges, but the boys all did a great job. My bottom got a little sore (ok VERY SORE) when Lucas got nervous and yanked on my arm. I fell, hard, right on a sharp pointy rock! OUCH! At least it was me and not the kids though!!

Finally we hit the Visitor Center/Museum, got our final souvenirs and hit the road! BTW, my sweet wonderful boys had to go to the bathroom every 20 minutes!!!!!!! ARGH!!

We stopped in Beaver for dinner and ended up eating at McDonalds. Not because we wanted to exactly, but because of the play place :) we figured it would help get out that last little bit of energy before the LONG drive home! We pulled into our driveway just before Midnight. PHEW. We were all beat but so happy and so rejuvenated!

5 days, 5 kids, 5 National Parks (and 1 State Park)= a TRULY great vacation that will never be forgotten!