Thursday, July 28, 2016

Vacation 2016: Day 9

This day we explored Yosemite. We started in the Visitor's Center to plan our day. The first hike we chose was to this waterfall.
The upper and lower falls together make this the tallest waterfall in North America. Pretty cool.
While we were wandering and hiking, the older three kids got to climb. Tyler took them on a little climb and they thoroughly enjoyed being able to scramble around.
After that adventure, the kids were a little hot so we headed back to our van for lunch.
After lunch, we got some more coffee and headed back over to the Visitor's Center to learn a little about how the granite formation of Yosemite were formed. Oooo, ahhh.
Then we took a walk through the meadow where we had a nice view of Half Dome.
Again with Half Dome.
After that, we walked to a beach along the river. It was a much longer walk than I had anticipated when I suggested it. We also planned on wading across the river there to get to our van. The river was too deep. So I left Tyler and the kids to play in the river while I took a long walk back to our van. Only one kid ended up drenched from falling in the river. We'll call it a win.
We stopped as we drove out of the valley to admire the view.
After that, we took yet another hike. This time we were going to see a grove of sequoias. Each of the kids found a walking stick for the hike.
After much, much walking we found a sequoia!
 This is a dead sequoia that someone long ago cut a tunnel through. This used to be a road so cars could drive through the tree.
After our very long walk down to the grove, we had a very long walk back up. The little boys weren't able to handle it so they were carried. Tyler even carried both for a bit.
And then we both carried one. It made for quite a workout.
So by the time we got back to our site for dinner, we were hungry! dogs over the fire never tasted so good!

Vacation 2016: Day 8

 We left our hotel, stopped for some groceries and coffee, and headed out toward Yosemite. Western Nevada is pretty sparce so we had to get creative with entertainment in the van. Albert was pretty good at staying busy.
 It was amazing how desolate our path was. Here we stopped at a diner/gas station in a tiny town. It was the best looking gas station we had seen in at least 100 miles. We bought everyone a a special treat along the way. Then we turned and ended up on the weirdest road I've seen. This stretch of highway was a bit like a rollercoaster. There were miles of these little hills; actually they were too small to be called hills but were bigger than bumps. Whatever you called them, they were interesting. We couldn't go highway speeds and you would have been nervous on them if you had a vehicle with a trailer. It was certainly an adventure!
We entered Yosemite from the east. We had to drive over a gorgeous mountain pass to get there and it was definitely worth it. It was also pretty great to go from 100 Degrees in Las Vegas to patches of snow at Tioga Pass.
 We drove from the east entrance to our campsite and saw the entire width of Yosemite in the process. Our campsite was pretty awesome. Check out this pinecone Addilyn found!
Once we got to our site, I worked on dinner and Tyler and the kids worked on setting up our tent.

 The first night in Yosemite we had burgers.
After dinner, we feasted on roasted marshmallows. Yum! 
Behind us is our campsite, complete with bear-proof container. Since Yosemite has bears, you are not supposed to leave food anywhere but in these bear-proof boxes. If you leave food in your cars, they might break in just to get it. Craziness!
The park rangers had just gone through and cleared all of the brush from the camp grounds so there was ample firewood around our site. Whenever we needed to get the fire going quickly, we would throw some of the pine brush on and it would smell like a pine tree air freshener for a while. Burn, burn!

Vacation 2016: Day 7

 In the morning, we packed up our tent, ate a little breakfast and headed out for the day. Our first stop was to get coffee and plan out our hike at the Visitor's Center. After talking to a park ranger, we found a hike that didn't appear to be too difficult for our crew and set off.
Our trail of choice was Bright Angel trail. It had a couple of tunnels/archways and a very nice view of the canyon. This is us at the first tunnel. We hoped we might make it to the second tunnel but our crew was getting tired, and considering the fact that we had to hike back up, we wanted to turn around sooner rather than later.
After all that hiking, we were ready for some lunch. We wandered around the market place, looking for a pressed penny machine (unfortunately it was broken) and settled on some postcards to send to a friend and show to our class back home. Then we headed out to the picnic tables and enjoyed our lunch in the cool shade.
Before we left, we headed back over to Mather Point for another look at the spectacular views. The kids also got to climb around a little which made all of them pretty happy.
Enjoying the view.
Hanging precariously from the canyon wall.
Actually, there was a pretty large ledge there. Asher was wandering around behind Tyler in this picture.
All that hiking and climbing wore these two out. I love their matching sleeping expressions.
 We left the Grand Canyon (stopping to get that pressed penny at a general store just outside the park) and started our drive to Las Vegas. As we were driving, we saw this large sandstorm forming to our north. It was really cool to watch. When we stopped for gas in Kingman, we got an alert on our phone warning us about this sandstorm. Luckily, when we turned north we were on the other side of a ridge of mountains so we didn't get stuck in the storm.
After a few more hours in the van, we arrived at Hoover Dam. I had seen quite of few references to Hoover Dam in different movies but nearly all of them were from the mid-90s so they didn't have the awesome bridge.
 It was 111 degrees outside that day. Ugh!
A family divided.
After all that hiking and no shower, we were a pretty grimy group when we got to Las Vegas. Check out those dirty feet!
This was our hotel in Las Vegas. Our room wasn't in the main building of the hotel so our kids didn't see any of the hoopla. We did drive up and down the strip once after dark though so we could all experience the lights of Las Vegas.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Vacation 2016: Day 6

Day 6 is when we officially started our vacation. Our first stop on our "official" vacation was to get Elias some flip flops. One of his flip flops broke during Covenant Kids and duct tape really wasn't doing the trick in holding it together. New shoes!!
After a stop for groceries and coffee, we were ready to head out on the open road. We headed north out of Phoenix. We ended up stopping in Flagstaff, AZ for our big meal of the day: Smashburger. Addilyn was pretty jazzed that they have gluten-free hamburger buns so she (and I) could have a "normal" hamburger.
After that, it was a straight on through to the Grand Canyon. This was our first official view of said canyon.
 Me and my brood.
Tyler took Addilyn out on this big rock. I wasn't expecting to be as nervous as I was here. I was freaking out a bit. Luckily, all the other mothers in the area were freaking out a bit too.  At least I know I'm not alone.
Tyler took the bigger three on a short hike while Albert and I found a nice rock to sit on and admire the view. We also really enjoyed watching a mother and her teenage daughter try to take a picture on the same rock that Addilyn and Tyler were on. They both really wanted to get a shot of the daughter on that rock but were super nervous. The girl ended up scooting on her stomach because she was so afraid. To her credit, she faced her fear and ended up with a very nice shot as her reward. I thoroughly enjoyed the banter between the mother and daughter, though, as she strove for her goal.
The view from the bottom of their hike.
A little scrambling always makes these kids happy.
 We drove down the road a bit to Mather Point for a spectacular view. This very nice person offered to take our picture. Albert wasn't having it. For every family picture for the entire vacation, Albert wasn't having it. Years from now, he's going to look back and wonder why he was screaming this entire trip. Our only response is because he's three.
We found a nice camping spot in the Kaibab National Forest. Tyler doesn't handle altitude changes very well so he was feel pretty rough by this time of the day but he managed to get the tent all put together while the kids and I worried about dinner. I may have also had some help with dinner from some pirates as well.
This camping spot was far off the beaten path and really secluded. It was interesting (and a little unnerving) to hear the coyotes yip to each other as they headed out for their evening hunt. After that the night was quiet and peaceful.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Vacation 2016: Day 5

Day 5 was a big day. That was a lot going on from beginning to end. It started with more Covenant Kids and going to the morning session. Then there was a birthday party.
And corresponding cupcakes.
Tyler may have been pretty wiped by this point.
Then in the afternoon, Tyler went to rehearsal for the evening's service and the rest of us went and played at the waterpark again.
Check out the sleepy boy on the left...and Addilyn's hair!!
After all of our waterpark fun, we headed back to our room to rest and get ready for the evening's festivities. The kids watched some random kid TV (terrifying!!) and then we ate some sandwiches in the room and got all dressed up.
 Looking sharp and ready to go!

Our group took up an entire row!
Luckily it was a row between sections which meant we had a lot of space for Albert to lay on the floor and play with his cars. And the rest of the kids made sure that everyone was properly hydrated at the water station right next to our seats.
I know him! Here Tyler was officially ordained.
Father-Son selfie.

This picture makes me laugh. Tyler and his parents were taking a picture together when Gary Walters, the President of the ECC and John Wenrich, one of the Executive Ministers joined them.

After the service there was a reception with cake and friends. Albert was so tired that he actually fell asleep in my arms (that hasn't happened in a couple of years)! Unfortunately, he's much heavier than he was a couple of years ago so I couldn't hold him very long. It was fun to catch up with friends and celebrate their collective hardwork. Well done, ordinands!!