A World without walls
everyday life while homeschooling overseas
Josh with his 'cousin', the Joshua Tree, in Mesquite.
After our bout with the Hoover Dam's heat, we decided to call it a day. We headed to Mesquite to stay the night at a place where we could sleep and then have a great buffet breakfast before heading out. It was lovely. We all slept well, then we had our buffet breakfast full of fruit, eggs, bacon, sausage, and a create-your-own-omelette bar! Mmmmmm...
Then, off we went! We stopped in St. George as mom and dad had to take back their rental car. WAIT! STOP! REWIND! Why did my mom and dad have a rental car, you ask? Well, I'll tell you. They had come down to St. George to helped my grandpa who had a quintuple bypass surgery a week before we went down to the cabin in Zions. Their car was really acting up, though! The A/C went out, and it started overheating all the time! When they came to the cabin with us, the car had some SERIOUS overheating issues. They almost didn't make it up to the cabin! They had to go back to St George again the next day to help take my grandpa back home from the rehab center, and on the way back to the cabin, the overheating got SO BAD that the transmission started to go out! They got to the gate at the entrance to the road to the cabin, stopped to enter the code, and found that the car would not go into drive anymore! Gah! So, my dad being the ingenious person that he is, he put the car in reverse, flipped it around, and drove all the way to the cabin in reverse!! Oh my! Good thing he didn't overshoot or anything! Ha! We were all really worried about it, so I rode with my dad, and Devin took our car, and the next day we went to St George to see if we could put the car at Grandma's house and get a rental car that would take them to the Grand Canyon and back. It worked no problem, and the rental car was such a relief as we traveled to many hot locations.
Now, we were back in St. George, the rental car needed to be returned, and the car had to be dealt with. My dad decided that the thing he wanted to do was just drive straight to Idaho without stopping! Whew! So, we did!!!! I bought a whole bunch of new movies and popped them in one right after another during the entire 8 hour trip from St. George to Idaho! Mom and dad made it without incident even though there were some iffy moments when the needle would start to climb! We stopped off at Devin's parents' house to grab the rest of our bags then hurried back on the road again to catch up with my parents. It was an intense day full of travel and MAN, am I DONE with long car trips! Good gravy. But, we made it up to Rexburg and it's nice to be in a place where it's a little cooler. Time for some Idaho fun!
Proof of the heat!!!
After our reunion, we headed off on our way back to Idaho. Since it's a LONG ways, we made some stops. Funnily enough, going from the Grand Canyon to Hoover Dam (which was our next planned stop) took a LONG LONG time! I think we stopped every 20 minutes! Sheesh! Someone had to go to the bathroom; someone needed a drink; someone needed to go to the bathroom again; we needed gas; everyone was hungry...Good night! Regardless, we did finally make it to the Hoover Dam. We went over the suspension bridge without even knowing it! :( We didn't take a Dam tour as it was $35 a person, and we didn't even go into the Visitors' Center as it was $8 a person just to go inside! So, we had a couple of Dam Dogs, got some Dam postcards from the Dam Souvenir store, took some Dam pictures and enjoyed the HEAT (I was going to make another Dam joke about the heat, but it was too appropriate, since it was 113 degrees, so I decided not to. The metal on the handrails in the SHADE was too hot to touch there! Wow!!).
Regardless of the intense heat and the absolute exhaustion of everyone involved, it was a nice stopover! Glad we were there for the whole 1/2 hour we spent looking around. That was about all we could take. Whew.
I hadn't seen my mom's side of the family for a VERY long time! Some of them, it had been a few years (my grandma). Some had been 10 years, some 20+, and some I'd never even met! It was a great time to be together. WAY too short, I thought, but it was good to enjoy even that short time! Our venue of choice this year was the Grand Canyon! We stayed in Williams, AZ. What a fun little town! It boasted as being the last town on Route 66 to be bypassed. It reminded me a little of Radiator Springs (from the movie Cars)--a small town still trying to be small while still trying to be noticed! There were live performances at many of the restaurants, and there was a live Wild West type show in the middle of the street every evening! So fun!!
The Grand Canyon
This place does deserve it's own title! It was amazing! It's SO HUGE that it looks just totally unreal.
We had such a lovely time! Of course, it wasn't without its issues (like Peter screaming most of the morning, and Josh being a little on the grumpy side...and everyone was HOT HOT HOT and miserable during our little hike), but I think that's part of the 'charm' of family get-togethers! Ha! I could have only wished for a few days' more so we could have had more time to chat and play and maybe do some hiking!
One of my favorite highlights from the trip were eating lunch by the clock tower! We had just arrived and were trying to find somewhere to eat (well, and someTHING to eat! My parents were in charge of dinner and had dutch oven on the menu--only no one counted on one thing--the fire alert was on extreme and you weren't allowed to start any fires with wood, charcoal, or anything else! Gah!! We looked and looked for somewhere to cook it to no avail. Finally, we just parked ourselves by a big clock on a street corner, dug into our coolers and came up with cold cuts and veggies, etc., and ate right there! We did run into one little issue: It started to rain while we were eating! It didn't rain very hard, and the sun was still shining, however, my poor displaced and exhausted children had some serious issues with that rain! Andrew loved it. Josh complained. Claire sobbed her little heart out. :( Poor little girl. It didn't last long and was pretty funny since it was sunny, but it was enough to throw a real wrench in the enjoyment of dinner for my little ducklings.
My other favorite highlights were: going running with my cousin Leah! It was so nice to get out and run and chat with my cousin! Thanks, Leah, for running with me! I also enjoyed our one late night chat in the hotel hallway! Wish we could have done it again! Thank you everyone who came and made this a fun reunion!
As we were traveling down to the Grand Canyon, we happened upon a few other places to visit that were pretty darn awesome! We saw some lovely scenery along the way:
Claire needed to go to the bathroom BADLY, so we took a quick detour and found the most awesome place! It was the tail end of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Park! Apparently, they have little outbuildings for their park all over the place because that park covers a HUGE amount of land. I never knew what it was all about, but the Grand Staircase NP is all about geology (as are most NPs)--it shows the age of the rock as a staircase. It was interesting. This outbuilding was mostly about the dinosaur bones and fossils they'd found in the area. So cool! And the kids even did a Jr Scientist program while we were there!
I saw some pretty desert flowers in bloom! How stuff lives out here in this HEAT is totally beyond me. Honestly. It was over 100 degrees without a drop of water in sight and there were FLOWERS?? Wow.
We then headed down the road some more and found Lake Powell and the Colorado river running next to us, along with a super cool Dam! Glen Canyon!
The grassy area at the bottom of the dam is bigger than a football field! Wow! We were going to take a tour, but couldn't because of time constraints, which was a real shame. The kids, however, still managed to find the Jr Ranger program (wow!) and looked at some very cool exhibits at the visitors' center:
Going over the bridge away from the Dam...
I was very impressed by the Glen Canyon Dam. It looked almost as big as the Hoover Dam! I wonder why it doesn't get as much hype? They're both on the same river... Anyway, it was pretty impressive and I'm happy we stopped by to take a look!
The lovely deck
Out of all the places we've stayed thus far, this cabin is the nicest!! (I'm guessing it will be the nicest of ALL the places we'll stay...) Throughout our whole trip, Peter BEGS and BEGS to 'go home' (to Finland). Here, he has not asked to go home. He says he wants to stay! This is a big step for him! Poor kid is just so displaced!! So, we have a few cameos of our stay at this super fun and enormously huge cabin in Zions...
We had a lovely time staying here. The kids played and played with plenty of room; they put on live plays for all of us in the theater room (when we weren't watching movies, of course)! There was plenty of room for everyone to spread out and have their own space. It was marvelous! And now, it's time to move on to another location for fun and family and more National Parks adventures!
Up high where only Angels should land! :)
Angels Landing is the signature hike of Zions National Park. Could be that it's a pretty long strenuous hike; could be that it's infamous because many people have fallen and died on that hike; could be that it's an AMAZING view that gives a great sense of accomplishment; could be that it's NOT a family hike and that gives it more draw... Well, whatever it is, it deserves its fame! This is a hike I've always been curious about. I've heard about it for years and years (usually spoken of with dread or with the information that someone else fell off and died). Quite frankly, it's been one that I've always wanted to try. This year, we got an opportunity!! Devin wanted to do it, too, along with 2 of his brothers in law, Derek and Eric. So, we decided that since we could all stay in the cabin, we'd leave at like 5:30 in the morning and head over to do the hike while everyone was sleeping. We couldn't have timed it better!!!
On our way we saw a whole herd of buffalo on the road! We also saw some porcupines and some deer! So fun to see wildlife along the way!
There was hardly anyone there that early in the morning as we hopped onto the shuttle to take us to the beginning of our hike. And it was SO lovely and cool! The sun had come up, but it wasn't shining on us yet--it was hitting the very tips of the mountain. It was so fresh and beautiful...and felt like we were the only people in the park! (I have seriously come to love being in the National Parks early in the morning. If you ever get the chance to do it--DO IT!!)
The following photo is the same picture...yes...but I added a little red line for your viewing convenience! The red line is the path we took up to Angels Landing! Scary? Yes. Awesome? YES!!! And this was taken after we had already climbed some serious switchbacks and we were pretty high up!
The guys kept singing songs while we were hiking, like Derek's rendition of 'The Iron Rod': "Hold to the Chain! The Stainless Steel Chain!" I had that in my head the whole time as I went, white knuckling it, up the mountain, hand over hand on that chain!! The drop off was pretty serious!! I could see how people could fall to their death. And no, no one could survive that fall.
On the way down, Eric started singing "Firm as the Mountains Around Us" (Carry On), and that was in my head as I hopped and skipped my way down. For some reason, don't ask me why, going down was MUCH easier than going up, and I've had no problems with any vertigo since. Interesting. (These are hymns in the LDS hymn book, in case anyone was wondering.) We had a great time hiking, and I couldn't have picked better hiking buddies!
And, of course, the coveted slide show for your viewing pleasure:
Angels Landing in all her glory.
I can't believe we were at the top of that amazing mountain! It was an incredible experience! Am I glad I did it? YES!!! Would I do it again? YES!!! Would I recommend it? Absolutely!! But, I do have to say what the park Rangers warn everyone else who inquires about the hike: It is NOT for people afraid of heights!! :) Awesome and inspiring and worth the time. It took us 2 hours to hike up, and one hour to hike down. Good times were had by all!
The beauty of Zions... How I love these great mountains! And how I wonder what the heck made the people who lived here decide to blow a tunnel through it? Not that it's not super cool...it's just not the first thing that would come to my mind. I would see all those mountains and valleys and think, "Well, I guess this is it! The end of the line, people! Pull out your sleeping bags and start up the camp fires!" Luckily, the people back then were thinking a little more outside the box and wanted a faster way through the crazy mountain area. (Did I mention that my Great Grandfather helped to build that mile+ long tunnel through the mountains of Zions? Pretty cool.)
Regardless of what the early settlers did and thought, it is still an amazing and imposing place! We took the kids in and wandered around a bit. We took the shuttle in and did a short hike to the entrance of the Narrows:
The best was when Andrew fell and screamed his lovely, screeching, howling scream, so I carried him on my shoulders for over a mile. It was SOOOOO HOT!! That was NOT an easy hike with an almost 6 year old on your shoulders. The whole time, though, he kept telling me how it just hurt so much and he couldn't walk. Then, as I told him we were near the end, he told me he was feeling much better! So I asked if he would want to walk the rest of the way to the end. He replied, "No, I still can't walk yet, but I bet that by the time we get to the end, I'll be all better!" It cracked me up! When we arrived at the bus stop and I let him down, he bounced around and told me how he was all better now! Miraculous! And then he told me how he didn't used to like hiking but now he loved it! Ha!! Well, I'm glad I could help...I guess...
We also did the Jr. Ranger program. For part of that, we had to attend a Ranger led program. We found one called Majestic Music, where the Ranger taught us songs that children who lived in the area long ago used to sing; taught us games they played; and showed us old pictures. It was interesting and fun and the kids loved learning the songs and playing the games (Duck, duck, Goose, and Simon Says):
We enjoyed our shuttle ride to the different areas and hikes. It was super cool looking out the top of the shuttle to see the tops of the mountains! My favorite was when someone saw us sitting with our kids and asked, "Are they ALL yours??!?!?" and when I answered yes, they get that wide eyed look... Come on people, 4 kids is NOT that many!
At the end of the day, the kids earned their badges and we enjoyed a nice day at the park...and we were happy to return to the cabin and enjoy the theater room! :)
Andrew and Steve.
Summer is definitely time for family reunions! We had our Hendriksen family reunion, and now it's time for the Hill family reunion! It was completely fun and perfect! We started off the day by renting an entire swimming pool park for just the family!! Wow!!! It was SO much fun! The best part, though, was Andrew. We were prepping the kids before heading in to the pool by telling them that EVERY person in the pool would be someone they were related to! That's pretty cool. So as soon as we got in, Andrew just started running up to people and hugging them tightly around the knees and exclaiming, "It's SO nice to meet you!!" So cute!! He sure made a lot of friends! :) What a kid!
After the swimming, we headed over to a huge city park where they'd rented a place outside to sit and eat and do all sorts of fun activities ( like a raffle--where Claire picked a Book of Mormon and a scripture case as her prize! What a kid!!) The kids played at the park and had a marvelous time. That's the happiest I've seen Peter since we moved. (Poor kid isn't handling the move very well AT ALL!!)
It was amazingly fun and we loved being able to see so much of the family and reconnect with people! A HUGE thank you to all those who worked tirelessly to organize such a great and memorable event for such a big family! :)
June 21st was Meirae's birthday. Since we didn't get home from Moab area until late at night (which created quite a fiasco for everyone due to some miscommunications...doh!) we celebrated the next day! Tamara's in-laws generously let us all use their cabin and we had a great time playing at the park and in the grass, playing tennis, drinking out of the drinking fountain, roasting hot dogs and chicken shishkabobs, and, of course, eating cake and ice cream!
Hooray for family fun! Happy Birthday, Meirae! :)
As I was sitting at breakfast the other day, I started flipping through a booklet that belonged to my brother in law all about scenic byways in Utah. I found one that was just a few miles away that looked super cool! You passed by petroglyphs, dinosaur tracks, an arch called the 'Jug Arch' that was a sideways arch (just as the name suggests), and brought you to a back entrance to Canyonlands NP. Well, the back entrance wasn't paved and said you needed high clearance, but hey, we have an SUV with 4x4 capacity and high clearance!! So, we decided to take the plunge and at least drive down the byway until the end of the paved road and see what happens! So, off we went!! :)
We had a great time driving down through the canyon. We saw some rock climbers along the way and then stopped to look at all the petroglyphs:
We found the dinosaur tracks on a big rock and hiked up to see them:
We found the jug arch and I jumped out of the car and took some pictures:
Then the real fun began!! Robyn and Eric were with us, but decided that their van probably wasn't high enough clearance. Um, it's a good thing they went the other way!! We went 20 miles and it took us 1 1/2 hours!!! HA!! I have to admit that, while there were some VERY scary white knucklers, it was super SUPER cool to enter Canyonlands NP through the back door and go up the side of a cliff to get to the visitor's center! We saw a Canyonlands that most people never see! It was totally worth it to me and made our trip there VERY memorable! In the backseat, we had Josh and Peter and two nieces: Jolie and Julia. Julia kept telling us stories about a jeep tour she went on with her family that was REALLY scary--how they went up HUGE boulders and went almost straight up. Then, she made the comment a little later, that the road we were currently on was even scarier! Ha! We had a great time and it took about 1/2 hour after we reached the top before I could feel my legs and arms again! Doh! I think I should have taken more deep breaths... So, here are a few shots from our backroad-offroad adventure:
By far, the coolest picture I took was a panoramic view of the Colorado River Gooseneck while I stood on a ledge. Again, the picture just doesn't do this justice!
That was an intense ride that cured my vertigo. Everything else pales in comparison to that ride! Whew!
Who Am I?
As a Stay At Home Mom of 4 wonderful children, I have the amazing opportunity not only to home school them, but to do so in many different places! I am married to the most amazingly wonderful (and handsome) man in the whole world! Together, we seek out, every day, that Joy in the Journey that makes life exciting!
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