Sunday, September 10, 2017

Wonderful Waterton

We had a little welcome committee waiting for us in Waterton. Byron and Erica beat us there, and my parents plus Curtis and Katie had arrived earlier that day. Katie’s parents were also there as our gracious hosts for the week. Katie’s family’s “cabin” is a cute two story house right in the center of Waterton on a well placed corner. Across one street were tennis courts, a park and a splash pad. Across the other was an indoor pool. Down a very short block was a tiny movie theater, market, and restaurants. A three minute walk took you to Pat’s, a convenience store that sold 5 cent candies. I didn’t know that cozy little towns like this still existed. It was dreamy and quaint and condensed and wonderful! I couldn’t wait to spend a week here.

Day 1 in Waterton saw Jeff and my Dad out for an early game of golf. We sent them to Cardston so they could make the grocery run we ran out of time for the day before. They saw plenty of beautiful views during their game, but the highlight was a bear on the course. While they golfed, we took the rest of the gang and went out to Red Rock Canyon for some river hiking. I was surprised to find red rock in Canada that reminded me of southern Utah.

We climbed along the sides for a bit, but eventually just stuck our feet in that freezing water and started trekking up the slot canyon. Every so often, we’d come to a rock slide and everyone would take a break to work up the guts and slide down it.

They weren’t big, but the water was frigid, and it took some courage to get your whole body wet! Aside from being an adventure to walk up, the canyon was beautiful, with greenery dripping down the sides and a rainbow of river rock along the bottom and banks. The kids never complained once while hiking, and Logan and Savannah actually asked to go farther when the little kids needed to turn around. My only regret is that Jeff didn’t make it back from golfing in time to join us. He would have loved it and I’m determined to one day come back and do it again altogether.

Later that afternoon we rendezvoused back at the house, then pulled out the bikes for our first Waterton bike ride. We took the kids around town, starting with the local waterfall, then down to the lake, across a path on the shoreline, and ending in a harbor before heading home. Isabelle’s newfound two-wheel skills came in handy, and I loved finding a family activity that was active, outdoors, and everyone enjoyed. It is the trifecta of recreation!

That evening we put the kids to bed and left Grandma and Grandpa in charge while we went to the late showing of Spiderman. The movie theater was vintage and adorable. It had a single man ticket booth out front, straight out of the 20s. Also from an earlier era, air conditioning was pointedly missing, and the slow moving ceiling fans just weren’t cutting it. I’ve never experienced hot flashes in a movie theater before, but we all did that night!

Tuesday took us to Pat’s in the morning to stock up on candy before hiking Bear’s Hump, a steep uphill hike with spectacular views of the city and lake. We knew the kids would complain, so we let them pick out candy that they could eat at the top as a reward. It worked splendidly, and I didn’t hear any complaints the whole way up, even from Sawyer who walked the whole thing. It was a tough hike because of the elevation change, but to compensate it was shady and not very far. At the top we could see the whole breathtaking valley. We sat on a bench to eat our candy and tried not to hyperventilate when our kids walked closer to the edge to see.

Also that day we took the kayaks out to the harbor to trade off taking rides while letting the rest of the group skip rocks from the shore. Rock skipping became a theme of the trip, and I was surprised to find that Logan was already pretty good at it. The rest of us learned over the next several days, especially as we found beach after beach of prime skipping rocks. Even Isabelle was able to consistently get two or three skips by the end of the week. Kayaking was one of my favorite activities, too. Due to a mussel threat, motorboats were banned on the lake this year, which meant we had plenty of glassy, untouched water to explore. It was so peaceful and relaxing on the water—I could have stayed out there all day.

Tuesday evening we went on a bear hunt around dusk to some of the bears’ favorite hang outs. We didn’t have to look long. We found a big black bear hanging out on the same hillside as a couple of deer. They weren’t bothering each other, but you could tell the deer were on high alert! We also did some research to find out the difference between black bears, brown bears, and grizzlies. We learned that grizzlies are actually a subspecies of brown bears and the only kind of brown bear found in North America. I had no idea! So our only two options were a black bear or grizzly, and we had been told only 4 or 5 grizzlies lived in the area, so we didn’t have high hopes to find one.

Wednesday was a bummer day for me. It was the coldest day of the week by a long shot. After hitting 85° the first day, we only touched an overcast and rainy 60° on Wednesday. We all broke out our warmest gear and stayed close to the fire most of the morning. I also woke up feeling nauseated, and though it never amounted to anything, I felt that way off and on the entire day. By afternoon, the weather had warmed up slightly and I was feeling a little bit better, so we took off to hike to Crandell Lake. Another beautiful hike to a beautiful destination. The trail had wildflowers and edible berries growing all along it, so we took in the sights and filled our bellies with thimbleberries and saskatoons as we went. Isabelle especially loved thimbleberries, and our return hike was lengthened by about 20 minutes as we let her search for and eat every berry she could find.

Crandell had some prime skipping rocks, so we spread out across the shore and competed for the most skips, longest skips, and highest skips. After collecting rocks for a while, we began to notice that some looked like states. Once we made that connection, we couldn’t stop finding state rocks! We ended up with a small collection, but we probably could have found all 50 if we’d stayed long enough.

Another funny note—both girls needed to use the bathroom at Crandell Lake. Since it was deep in the woods, the only available toilet was an outhouse that was one step down from a porta potty. No toilet paper, no light, and no lid. Their reactions were priceless! They were gagging and squeezing their noses the whole time, and the “drip dry” concept was completely appalling to Savannah, who finagled a baby wipe from baby Sterling. My city girls need to do some more rustic living!

(To be continued.)

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Oh, Canada!

Canada has long been on my bucket list of destinations. Jeff and I stopped in Victoria once on a cruise, but what I’ve really wanted to see is the raw, rugged mountains and stunning blue lakes of Alberta, especially near Calgary, my dad’s birthplace. That longing only increased when my brother married a girl with Canadian roots and started visiting Waterton, the Canadian side of Glacier National Park, every summer with her family. Their pictures were stunning, and I was dripping with jealousy.

So last summer, when Curtis and Katie starting tossing around the idea of having us all come with them to Waterton, I jumped at the chance and fully supported the idea. All summer long I anticipated this trip and could hardly wait to get my family out in the beautiful Canadian Rockies. It did not disappoint in the least, and in retrospect I can’t believe we packed in as much as we did, so I’ve got a lot to journal about!

But before I get to Waterton, I need to describe the adventure of getting there. It was a three day ordeal and was likely the craziest packing job I’ve ever done. We had a pretty busy week right on the tails of company leaving, and I really didn’t even start to think about packing until the night before we left. We weren’t leaving until the evening, but I needed to be completely packed by 2 pm so I could pick up Savannah from Chem Camp, Jeff from work, take the kids to their final swim meet in Lehi, and then get on the road straight from there. It didn’t seem too daunting—I had until 2, after all—but in typical Carly fashion, I tried to cram way too much in, and decided last minute to track down a bike rack and bring the kids’ bikes. My friend graciously lent me hers, so I zipped out to Saratoga Springs to pick it up. As I drove back home after picking it up, I did some quick math and realized I was barely going to make it home in time to turn around and take Savannah to camp. By the time I got back from picking her up, I would have just over an hour to pack up suitcases for the entire family, load the car, figure out the bike rack, feed everybody lunch, and get back on the road. I started to panic, big time.

During that hour, I think I ran a 10k around my house. I was sweating so hard by the time I finally got in the car! I was literally throwing clothes in suitcases, sometimes straight out of the dryer, inside out and unfolded. I am not a haphazard packer (in fact, I love inventing new ways to fold and pack to keep suitcases neat while traveling), but I was chucking clothes across the room like I was competing in a three-point contest. I overpacked for some of us, underpacked for others, but I didn’t have time to count and evaluate clothing selection. If I thought it might come in handy, it went in. (Oh, and did I mention our floors were getting refinished while we were gone so I had to move all the furniture off the wood?) Somehow I managed to get our suitcases packed, the car loaded (including golf clubs, hiking backpacks, board games, and bikes), the dog we were dog sitting dropped off at it’s next sitter’s house, and was only ten minutes late picking up Savannah from camp! We rushed to pick up Jeff, then drove straight to the swim meet, arriving just after they closed warm-ups.

After the swim meet, we drove three hours to Idaho Falls. Reflecting back, I probably should’ve bagged that first leg, came home after the swim meet, packed the right way, then left a little earlier the next day, but we were committed so we went with it. We spent the night in Idaho Falls, then took the next morning to relax and recover from such a crazy packing day!

Our morning in Idaho Falls was spent swimming at the hotel pool and walking along the Snake River just across the street. I had never really stopped to think why Idaho Falls was named such, but as we walked along the river I understood. A solid quarter mile of falls run the length of the river, creating a gorgeous backdrop for their river walk. We walked and played along the river until lunchtime, then grabbed a bite and got back on the road.

That night we stopped just a few hours north in Helena, MT. We had heard of some hot springs in Helena and wanted to check them out. There were three pools of various temperatures. The hottest (and nicest) pool was reserved for soaking only, so we opted for the modest and cooler lower pools so our kids could splash around. The pool was long and narrow, and had a deep end, so Jeff took Logan and Savannah to one end to work on diving while I kept the younger two at the shallow end. Byron and Erica had met up with us by Helena, so they played with us at the hot springs, too. Our overall takeaway: cool (or rather, hot ;), but probably not worth the $45 that it cost our family in entrance fees. Next time we’ll just chill in the hotel pool.

Sunday we hit up a local ward for sacrament meeting then reconvened our Sunday meeting in the mountains. Since Glacier was just a hop and a skip off our route to Canada, I couldn’t help making a detour to see some of it. We chose St. Mary Falls, a waterfall along the St. Mary River that feeds St. Mary Lake. The drive into Glacier was breathtaking. The only time I have seen water that color is in the Caribbean. Bright blue turquoise lake water surrounded by evergreens and jagged peaks is something to behold. The shoreline of St. Mary was burned in a recent fire, but that actually opened up our views of the water to take in the expansive beauty.

The hike to the falls was short and followed the shoreline. It was the first hike of our trip, so naturally there was lots of complaining. The falls themselves were awe inspiring. (I have a feeling I am going to run out of synonyms for beautiful as I describe the sights of this trip.) They had more of that turquoise, crystal clear water, this time gushing in powerful torrents that circled for a moment in a big pool before flowing under a bridge and continuing down the river. I loved looking down the river and being able to see straight through the clear water to the multi-colored river rock on the bottom. We scaled the rocks down to the bottom of the falls to feel how frigid the glacier water was before starting back on the trail. On the way home, we watched a moose wade through the water.

After leaving Glacier, we drove over the Canada border, through Cardston over to Waterton. We had hoped to stop in Cardston for groceries, but it turns out Cardston is predominantly LDS and they only had one grocery store open on Sunday, and it closed at 6. We arrived at 5:58. No go. So instead we took a little drive through town, checked out the Cardston temple, and then finished our drive to Waterton.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Construction Site

Last summer will forever go down in history as the summer we installed a yard. This summer will be the summer our home was a construction site. From May to July, we had contractors in and out nearly every day, at all hours. It was so nice to finally finish all our projects and just walk around the house without a bra and makeup again!

Here's what we've been up to:

1. Adding stairs to the deck. This is game changing. I can now get out to my backyard without having to go out the front and around or down through the basement. Hallelujah!

2. Fire pit. Jeff and I built this with our own two hands. It isn't perfect, but it adds just a bit of ambience and we've already consumed many a s'more as a completion reward.

3. Plants! Last year we put in grass and borders, this year I started planting. I burned out after the front yard, but I love watching it all grow and come together.

I started with the area around these utility boxes. Let's hope these plants grow nice and big to hide all that ugly plastic and metal!

Plumbego. The prettiest groundcover ever.

Knock-out roses. The only kind I'll try to grow with my black thumb.

The lacy looking light purple bush is called Agastache and it smells heavenly.

I was hesitant about this Rose of Sharon but it's doubled in size in a year and it's so beautiful and healthy, I will likely plant more in back!

My garden isn't doing too shabby, either. I've never had success with tomatoes like I have this year! I did have to add some deer protection, but aside from the green beans, I caught it in time to still have a flourishing crop.

Finishing the basement. This was the biggie. We added two bedrooms, a bathroom, some storage, and a family room. It was stressful and a money pit, but I LOVE it. It turned out just as I had hoped and sometimes I will just walk down there and sit on the couch to take it all in. We bought the sectional when it was still only framed, and I stressed about how it would fit and whether I would still like it two months later when it was finally delivered. I shouldn't have worried-- it is perfect for the room and I love everything about it! The barn doors were another splurge that I worried I would regret, but nope. They make the room, in my opinion.


This shelf was a vision I had that I was pretty nervous about right until the very end. I am a great copycat, but not such a great inventor. I couldn't find an example of what I wanted, so I just had to describe to our contractor the basic idea and hope he could make it come to life. It was more stressful than I had bargained for, but oh so worth it in the end! The decision to put a queen bed (for guests, when needed) in Logan's room meant there wouldn't be much room for anything else. This shelf is designed to be a desk, a nightstand, a Lego workspace, or any other surface Logan may need without taking up any of his precious real estate. Logan actually had the idea to add bins underneath for his Legos, and I think it's brilliant! To keep with the industrial vibe, we used food service containers instead of traditional plastic bins.

This room is empty for now, but has so much potential! While I decide what to do with it, the girls are taking it over as their play space, and that might just be it's permanent purpose. Temporarily. For awhile.

Now I just need to decide on a theme and start decorating! This part is just as overwhelming (if not more) than the actual finishing part, and has the potential to be pretty pricey, so I've just been ignoring it for the past few months. It will likely be awhile before anything ends up on the walls, but I'm ok with that. I'm just happy to have walls!