We spent 2 jam-packed weeks in Utah this summer. I didn't feel like I got my camera out very often, yet I still have a bajillion pictures to sort through! I guess that just goes to show how much fun we had, since I only documented about half of it. The trip began with an 18-hour drive through 5 states. We left Thursday morning, stayed the night in Fisco, CO, then finished up Friday, getting in around 5 pm. Less than an hour after we got there, the rest of the crew arrived (all Jeff's siblings plus spouses and kids and his parents). We took advantage of all being together and got a babysitter (bless you Samantha for taking on all those kids!) and had a group date night. We played laser tag at Trafalga then ate at Los Hermanos for dinner. It was hot and muggy in the laser tag arena and full of crazy kids, but we had a blast! On these family trips we get caught up entertaining all the kids and sometimes forget to enjoy being together as adults, so it was nice to take an evening and just act like kids ourselves.
Saturday was the children's parade and carnival at Spanish Fork's Fiesta Days. The kids dressed up in princess dresses and cowboy hats and walked with a float that was about sharing the gospel around the world. Yeah, I'm not sure I can make the connection, either. It was a stretch, but they all had a blast.
The other highlight of the morning was catching a fish in the fish rodeo. The idea was that if you caught a special fish, you got a prize, but to our kids, the fish itself was the prize. They were all so excited to have a fish of their own. Sadly, none of the fish survived even an hour.
Grandma and Grandpa treated the older kids to a turn in these plastic balls. They reminded me of giant hamster balls.
I wanted to try and remember some of the less "scheduled" parts of our trip as well, such as breakfast with Grandma on the deck on Sunday morning. My kids are so lucky. They have the greatest grandparents that always want to be with them, even if it means eating at a kid-sized table. They have the silliest conversations when they all get together. I think this one was all about who liked what. Someone would yell out, "Who likes pancakes?" Then everyone who liked pancakes would raise their hand. It was all fine and somewhat normal until they ran out of foods and had to get creative-- "Who likes water?" "Who likes dirt?" This is deep conversation material, I'm telling ya.
Tuesday was spent in Salt Lake. We debated about whether to drive or take Frontrunner (the commuter train which recently extended it's route to Provo). Ultimately, Frontrunner sounded like a more exciting experience, and boy were we right. The kids LOVED riding the train, and I actually probably preferred it as well. It was so nice to just sit back and relax instead of being focused on the road or having to turn around and hand something to the kids every few minutes. It did take a little longer, but it was all part of the adventure.
Once in Salt Lake, we took the kids to the Church History Museum while Amy and Joe went to the temple. We should have done the same, but someone (ok, it was me) forgot to pack their recommend. After taking a quick walk through temple square, we went to see the oh-so-talked-about City Creek. I was actually pretty impressed, despite all the hype. I loved the indoor/outdoor aspect of it, and they actually had a good variety of stores, including the most interactive Disney store I've ever been in.
Wednesday was Pioneer Day, and the purpose for planning our trip when we did. We started off with the traditional Fiesta Days parade. My nephew and his friend (along with some other family) were part of 2000+ young men that marched in the parade representing the 2000 stripling warriors. It was really inspiring and incredible to see that many young men standing together, representing the same faith and courage that Helaman's army did over 2000 years ago.
Wednesday afternoon we got together for a mini-reunion with our Smith relatives. I always love getting together with family, but the occasion was even more fun because of the blow up waterslide, water drum train, and watermelon eating contest. I also was glad my brother, Curtis, came for part of it so we could catch up with him.
By Thursday we were all ready for a recovery day. But Friday was another day of fun. It started with a trip to the park to see some of my friends from our Saratoga Springs days (2006-2008). I always love getting together to see these amazing friends that have somehow withstood the test of time and distance. Coincidentally, two others who have moved away were there that day as well, so we had a fun time catching up. It was almost overwhelming to see how many children we have produced in the seven years since we all lived in the same neighborhood. Hard to believe there was only one when we moved in.
That afternoon we took the kids to Trafalga for rides, laser tag, and miniature golf. Their amazing Aunt Katy planned a cousin birthday party to celebrate the whole years' worth of birthdays. It was such a cute idea and they all felt so special.
Saturday we spent the afternoon at a nearby reservoir. Again, we have the greatest parents. Who else besides a grandpa would haul kids around on their back in freezing water?
Sunday was spent in Salt Lake at James and Katy's ward and later at their home. We took Jeff to the airport that night to fly back home to work for a few days. He came back later that week to drive us home. Am I a lucky girl or what? Here are a few pictures from our Sunday walk.
Monday we divided and conquered. Katy and I took the little guys (Savannah and younger) to the zoo while Amy took the older kids back to Seven Peaks. It was a perfect zoo day and although we didn't stay long, the animals we saw were being super active! The polar bear was a riot. He kept swimming right up to the glass where we were standing and doing flips in the water. A regular performer. We also went to the bird show. I'd never been before but it was really entertaining. The birds would fly inches from our heads (including hawks and owls). Plus the amphitheater was shaded. Double bonus.
Tuesday I was able to visit with some Orem friends (so fun to see you Chelsea!) before heading up to the Timpanogos Temple to take pictures for our cousins that were being sealed to their little girl. I miss being around for special occasions in the family, so I was thrilled that our trip overlapped with this day.
Wednesday was our last day in Utah, and I intended to spend it packing and running my last few errands. However, Logan came down with a bug (gross version: threw up in the grocery store parking lot) so we turned around and went straight back home. Oh, and I also locked myself out of the house (with my cell phone inside the house) and couldn't remember the garage code. I had a panicked few minutes, said a quick prayer, and suddenly the code came to me out of the blue. We came home, got into the house, and spent the rest of the day doing laundry and watching movies. I am grateful the Lord answers prayers, and very quickly when needed!
Thursday began our journey home. It was a relatively uneventful day other than nearly running out of gas (gotta love rural Nebraska) and a crazy rainstorm complete with tornado watch about 30 minutes outside of our hotel.
Friday we finished our trip, but not without two detours. First we stopped at the Winter Quarters temple and visitor's center in Nebraska. It has been fun to visit different church historic sites across the country and see how they all tie together. The Mormon Battalion split from their group at Winter Quarters, so now we've been to both the start and end of their journey. And this was one of the first stops after leaving Nauvoo, which we visited last summer. Also, our drive that we'd just made followed pretty closely that of the Mormon pioneers, so we were able to reflect on what it would have been like to walk that entire route.
And that was our trip. Phew! Two weeks in one blog post... sorry about that. We do not intend to travel any more until this next baby is at least a few months old, so this will be the last vacation post for awhile. In the meantime, we are enjoying being home and back on a schedule, especially now that school has started. But we are thankful for the wild and crazy weeks we had with all our Pendleton family this summer and can't wait to see you again!