Normally we don’t follow the public school calendar in regard to breaks. It’s so much more fun to travel when everyone else is in school! But my extended family planned a family reunion in Moab this weekend, right during fall break, so I made an exception and made some travel plans. In my head anyway. DH didn’t know for sure if he could go with us until about a week or two ago so I didn’t make any concrete plans because I just wasn’t sure if I was up to traveling to Moab with five children by myself.
But the planets aligned and DH got someone to work his Friday night shift so we could get serious about a vacation. I think this was the longest we’ve been able to get away since we went to Boston three years ago. And it was a well needed break.
First we drove to Cedar City on Wednesday to catch one of the last performances of Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure at the Shakespeare Festival. D didn’t want to go, so originally we were going to send him and the younger two to the festival childcare. But Little A had been kind of clingy and fussy during the last little week so we decided she’d be much happier staying with Daddy. So I ended up taking just A and C to Sherlock Holmes (which was wonderful.) One day DH and I will actually be able to go to the theater together instead of trading off children.
Before the play though, we were able to hit the swimming pool. C and D are showing off the “school photo pose” they just learned from Studio C as they wait to go down to the pool.
Little A got a big closet to sleep in.
She also discovered toilet paper.
In fact she discovered a lot on this trip. She finally figured out how to get herself from lying on the floor to sitting up, and she was also fascinated by the bottom dresser drawers that could be pulled out. She tried to get up on her knees and climb over them. I think this girl’s a mover; she wants to get up and go.
Thursday morning we drove over to Bryce Canyon. Normally on vacations, I seem to be blessed with a double dose of patience for dealing with all the stresses of travel with children and being in close quarters for hours on end and the disruptions to our comfort zones. But I just about lost it on this journey. We were trying to listen to our book on cd and E would not stop asking questions. I wished he could read so I could have typed out an itinerary and told him to just read it. It was nonstop–
Where are we going? When will we get there? Where will we eat lunch? Where will we sleep? Will we eat breakfast there? When are we going home? What day is it tomorrow? Where will we go then? What’s the day after that? Where will I sleep that day? Where will we eat? Then what? And then what?
Over and over and over again. And he never asks Daddy. It’s always, “Mom?” After turning off the book on cd one too many times to answer a question I’d already answered at least twice before, I’d had enough. Luckily we were just about to Bryce and E finally understood that Mommy needed some peace and quiet for a bit.
It was so good to get out of that car.
A couple from Vermont pulled up in their camper right after we took this picture. We asked the boys to come back to the car so others could take photos, but this couple said it was alright–they’d love to have our boys in their photo. They were missing their four grandsons who live in Virginia and it was the wife’s birthday and she said her best birthday present so far was to see our four energetic boys and have a nice conversation with us. It was nice. They’d been at Bryce for ten days and were headed down to the Grand Canyon next.
We got into the park just in time to have a picnic lunch. Then the boys wanted to hike. But E looked over the edge and didn’t want to hike down at all, so DH told me to take the older three and he’d stay with E and Little A. I think he could tell I still needed some time away from a certain 4-year-old. We hiked down from Sunset Point on the Navajo Loop into an area called Wall Street which was a very narrow canyon with lots of switchbacks on the trail taking us down to the bottom of the canyon. For some reason I was thinking it was rated an easier trail, but it definitely wasn’t!
Here’s a photo from another trip, looking down into Wall Street:
We hiked clear to the bottom!
And found this amazing tree.
I’ve never hiked down that far into Bryce Canyon before and it was different to experience the hoodoos and the rock formations from the bottom of the canyon. Of course once you’re down, you have to hike back up to the top.
As we were coming up by Thor’s Hammer, some guys wanted to know if we were from around here. They were impressed at how fast we were hiking. I said we were from Salt Lake City, which I didn’t think was that high (I googled it to find out we’re at about 4230 ft.) but they said they were coming from sea level so I had to admit we were probably a little more acclimated. A and C really were going quickly. We finished the loop in about an hour. Personally I thought I might die before I reached the top. That’s the most strenuous thing I’ve done since before I got pregnant with Little A.
The view from the top:
E and Little A kept each other (and I understand, several tour groups) entertained while we were gone.
Then we drove out to Bryce Point, where we tried to get all five children to look at the camera:
It kind of worked.
And then to Fairyland Canyon:
At this point, we were all ready for more food and Little A was in need of a nap, so we headed into Tropic for pizza. Then the boys wanted to swim some more, so Little and A and I had some girl time alone. We ended the night with driving back to Bryce Point to look at the stars. Bryce Canyon is one of the darkest and therefore best places in North America for star gazing. We found the Big and Little Dippers, but not much else. We should have brushed up on our constellations beforehand. I have a cool night sky app, but left my phone in the car and didn’t want to disturb the other people there by opening the car door again. It took us long enough to get everyone out in the first place. DH’s star app wasn’t nearly as helpful. It was really cold besides, and both E and D were ready to be done in a hurry, so we headed back for some well-earned rest.
Part 2 coming up!