Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Crazy, Fun Family!

Our lives are so crazy, but they're wonderful, too. On October 9, all seven of us loaded up into the Ford and drove up to Oregon for my little brother Tyler's wedding. This time Christi went with us, so it was a considerably easier trip, although a 12-hour drive always has it's challenges. We stopped overnight in Boise and stayed with my best friend from high school. It's always fun to see him and reconnect. Tyler's wedding was great and it was wonderful to have my entire family together for the first time in years. Matt and Carla and their 3 kids flew up from Dallas. Our boys really loved being with their cousins again. It was particularly great to see Matt, since he's in the army and will leave in December for a year in Iraq. Good luck, Bro! Thanks for your commitment to, sacrifice for and dedication to our country. We love you. Thanks also to Carla, Walker, Carter and Vivian for giving up your husband and dad for so long. We didn't take any pics while we were up there, but my sister, Jen, will be sending some soon and we'll post some of those.

Christi flew back two days before the rest of us returned, and my Dad drove down with us. We stopped in Boise again, this time at my cousin's home. You really do have to be a saint to welcome our three-ring circus into your home! Then on Thursday, Taylor, Parker, my dad and I left for a camping trip in SE Utah. We found a great campsite right on the Colorado River just outside of Moab, UT. It was a beautiful spot, with views up and down the canyon formed by the river. We arrived just in time to set up our tent while there was still light. We enjoyed a beautiful sunset as we built our campfire and it was dark as we roasted hot dogs and s'mores. Then we noticed an amazing sight. The light of the rising moon was vividly lighting up the western walls of the canyon we were in. Since we were so close to the eastern wall, we wouldn't be able to see the moon itself for quite a while, but the red rock in the moonlight was a tremendous sight. Parker brought his 3/4 size guitar on the trip, and played "She'll be coming round the mountain" next to the campfire. Since this is about the only song he can play, we sang it about 15 times. I played several of my songs as well. After that, we went into the tent and played Monopoly until 12:45. The boys loved it. Grandpa endured (with a convincing smile on his face, I might add!) It was a great night. (My dad didn't sleep well that night, due to the fact that he was freezing, but other than that, it was pretty much perfect.)

The next morning I fixed blueberry pancakes, thick-sliced bacon and scrambled eggs for breakfast. (For some reason I love to cook while camping. As Christi will testify, that's the ONLY time I love to cook:) Then we set off to explore Arches National Park. We hiked several beautiful trails, including the one around balanced rock, the windows arches, double arch. As the day was winding down, we hiked the 3-mile round trip, 480 foot ascent to delicate arch. (Utah's unofficial state symbol). On prior trips to Arches, this had been my favorite experience, so I played it up to my dad and the boys, and it did not disappoint. We arrived just before sunset and were able to see the red rock lit up like it was on fire. You can see in the slide show the large number of photographers there to capture the moment. And believe me, they were very vocal if some poor, unsuspecting hiker wandered too near the arch in those last 15 minutes of sunlight! That night we had tin-foil dinners (with potatoes, carrots and onions from our own garden!:) that were delicious. The boys were practically falling asleep on their plates, so dad and I helped them get to bed and cleaned up afterwards. A spare sleeping bag ensured that all four of us slept great that night.

Saturday we got up later than we had hoped and therefore almost didn't take what turned out to be by far the best hike of the weekend. The reason we had picked the Gold Bar campsite was because it was located directly across the highway from the trailhead for Corona Arch. This arch is not in the National Park, and so it is not very well known. Even though we didn't get away from camp until 1:00 pm, we decided it would still be nice to try this new hike (similar to delicate arch hike-3 miles and 440 foot ascent). WOW were we glad we decided to go. The best arch at Arches National Park isn't even in the park! The hike itself was absolutely magnificent with views of the colorado river, huge red rock cliffs and the LaSalle mountains on the horizon. The arch itself is huge. Over 100 feet tall, it is a very imposing sight. While we were there, we saw several people rappelling from the top and down the center of the arch. Scary! After returning from this hike, we went back to the park to see Landscape arch. Not as tall as double arch or corona arch, this is the longest arch in the park. It is over a football field in length, and ridiculously thin in certain parts. It looks like it should collapse any moment! We winded up the day visiting dead horse point state park, which is like a small version of the grand canyon. Amazing. We stayed there until it got pitch black and saw the most stars I'd ever seen in the sky. What a beautiful sight!

Instead of driving the 4.5 hours home, we just drove to my in-laws house in Ferron, UT, which cut off about two and a half hours for us. They weren't home, but were generous enough to let us use the "Hotel Nelson" for the night. The next day we went to church and then visited the cemetery to pay our respects to the boys' Grandma Great (Dean's mom). Grandpa Great met us there and gave us an amazing family history lesson as we walked around the beautiful grounds. We visited the boys great-great grandparents as well as several great-great aunts and uncles. As Grandpa Great showed us around, he pointed out that he knew a lot more people in the cemetery than in the town!

What a fun weekend. We feel very blessed to live in an area with such diverse natural wonders. We feel very blessed to live in a home with such diverse and wonderful children.


Surgery Went Great!

Dean's surgery went very smoothly and he is recovering well. Thanks for all of your comments and concern. He is still in ICU, but is progressing according to schedule.