Monday, June 26, 2017

Zion National Park

Last week on a work trip to Cedar City, I planned on doing a short hike in Zion National Park.  Taylor, Parker, Xander, Sophi and Lexi wanted to come with me.  We also invited their three cousins that live in St. George to come meet us for the hike and swimming in the hotel pool afterwards.  When we got out of the van in the small parking lot across from the trailhead, Trey looked up at the sheer cliff face in front of us.  He quickly spotted a bighorn sheep!  We were all excited.  In all of my hikes, this was the first bighorn I had seen in the wild.

As we started hiking, the sheep worked it's way towards the trail from above.  It ended up on the path just ahead of us, and we followed it for several hundred feet.  It was a really neat experience, and the kids were fascinated.  This particular trail is less than two miles round trip without much elevation gain, so it's pretty easy.  But the views at the end are unparalleled.  Even though it was short, it had lots of rocks and ups and downs and even overhangs that we had to navigate.  I was so proud of Lexi for working her way through all of that.  And a huge thanks to Taylor and Parker who guided her through much of it.  For most of the hike I carried Sophi in a backpack baby carrier (thanks Matt and Carla!), but she did walk some of it.  

The hotel we stayed at was right at the entrance to Zion NP and the views as we played in the pool and ate breakfast the next morning were breathtaking.  It is so much fun to have such great travel companions!


Ready to Go!
A new friend...

Great rock formations along the way...

Incredible views and vistas...

Taylor is having fun growing his hair out, but it gets in the way during a sweaty activity.  Fortunately, Sophi was willing to switch from pigtails to a ponytail and let Taylor borrow an elastic:)

Our hotel was fun.  It had a pool table and some computers in the lobby.  Something for everyone...

We stopped and visited Grandma Larsen in Richfield on the way home...

Friday, June 23, 2017


In Matthew 18:4, the Savior counsels that "whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven."  There are so many ways that little children demonstrate their greatness--so many ways they show their innocence and humility.

Sophi has a new best friend.  She lives just behind our house and they can walk across both back yards to visit each other.  This friend comes over pretty much every day during the summer.  She is the cutest thing ever.  They play together extremely well.  For the past few weeks, we've felt like we have another daughter.

Tonight at dinner, Sophi said something about being adopted.  Her friend's jaw practically dropped.  Her eyes bugged out.  "You're adopted?!?"  Sophi mentioned that Lexi and Cali (also at the table) were adopted too.  "They're adopted too?!?"  She had no idea.

What a beautiful world it would be if we could all look at each other as just people.  I was amazed by this little girl's simple example of acceptance and love.

A silly picture of their "breakfast for dinner."

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Ports of Call

We had three gorgeous ports of call on our cruise.  Our first stop was Grand Cayman.  Christi and I had been there two years before and had visited Stingray City.  Our previous visit had been magical as we had been able to interact with these beautiful creatures in their natural environment.  Unfortunately the wind was pretty strong and the water was choppy on this visit.  Each of the kids did get to interact with the stingrays, but it was not nearly as magical.  The rough water also made for a less-than-stellar snorkeling experience.

Our second port of call was Cozumel, and it was amazing.  Taylor, Parker and I got up early and went scuba diving.  The two boys had learned in Utah and certified in the crater in Heber.  Visibility about five feet.  So the almost infinite visibility of the Carribbean blew them away.  We saw sharks, barracuda, lots of tropical fish and an eagle ray.  So much fun.  Then we met up with Christi and the crew and visited the Dolphinarium.  The kids loved interacting with these amazing animals.

Our final port of call was Costa Maya.  For the most part we just relaxed on the beach, ate  yummy food and got massages.  Taylor and Parker went out on wave runners and some of the kids went snorkeling.  And of course there was shopping at every stop.

Grand Cayman doesn't have any shoreline deep enough for the cruise ships to dock, so they stay far out and you take small ferries or "tenders" to get to the island.  Here we are on our way in:

Before they met us in Cozumel, the girls got their hair braided:

Christi the contrarian:)

This craftsman quickly wove a bracelet that said "SOPHI"

At the Dolphinarium...

...we got to pet the dolphins...

...kiss the dolphins...

Lucky Dolphin!!!

...and swim with the dolphins!

Back to the ship in Cozumel!

Greeted by ancient Mayans in Costa Maya!

The beautiful Freedom of the Seas cruise ship.
Lexi and Jesi getting massages.
Hope to see you again soon, Costa Maya!!!

Well, there you have a pretty good summary of our trip.  It was the most amazing, most magical, most fun family vacation we could imagine.  We are so grateful it was able to happen!  Given that our flights were all free via frequent flier miles, we couldn't complain too much that we flew from Ft. Lauderdale to Seattle, had a 4 hour layover, then flew home.  But we were pretty tired!

Sophi crashed on Parker's shoulder during the ride home from the airport.

We hope we have the chance to vacation like this again some day.  In the meantime, I'll leave you with two parting gifts.  First, there isn't anything much cuter than Sophi grasping on to her upper bunk side rail as she sleeps...

Second, try not to smile as you listen to Conner's "Whoa's, Oh-No's, and Oh my Goodness's" as he rides the Thunder Mountain Railroad:)