While in California, Mom pointed out the fact that Jackson and Henry were set to get baptized on the same day...Amanda and I had talked about it but didn't even realize it would be a problem. Ha! Since the drive to the beach had been so awesome, it didn't take long for me to form the plan of driving to Denver over Labor Day weekend to go to Henry's baptism, and on the way stop in Moab to visit Arches.
Britt had told me that all 4th grade students can get a free pass to all of the National Parks, and so instead of renewing our year pass in Montana at Glacier, waited until September 1 so Lily could save us some money. We left after school on August 31 on an AWESOME ride where we didn't stop ONE TIME. It was AMAZING. Sure I was driving with the gas light on for the last 28 miles on the pitch black side road to Moab, but we made it! After getting some gas and snacks at McDonalds, we drove to our Motel 8, which I had paid a very low price for and was crossing my fingers it wasn't too ghetto. Sure there was a police car and some belligerent customers in the lobby, but no danger!
The next morning we got up bright and early and after breakfast and printing off Lily's free pass, drove up to Arches where the entry woman informed us Lily was the first 4th grader card of the year! Lily was super excited, she was quite proud of the fact she was saving us lots of money.
After some time spent in the Visitors Center (such neat exhibits, the older kids were so excited), we went to the Balanced Rock, then off to the Sand Dune Arch. This was the favorite by far as the walk included walking through sand in the shade of a slot canyon. So so so nice. Perfect temperatures, the kids were so happy in the sand, it was wonderful.
The kids all wanted separate photos on this rock that I really didn't want Ada to climb alone, but she is more stubborn than me, although I was able to stay pretty close to her and help her down.
The next two (1 1/2) walks it was getting hot and although everyone was still super excited any time they saw an arch, it was definitely getting time to get on the road to get to Denver.
But not before a bathroom break. Remembering how Lily tortured me on her first camping trip when she refused to use an outhouse but refused to wear a diaper....yes I totally waited with my camera ready for her to come out. We had a good laugh over that face!
After tempting the kids with Cafe Rio and a huge park at a place 1.5 hours away, we were in the car again! And then again went with no stops all the way to Denver, again driving the last 20+ miles with the gas light on until we were close to Amanda's. Such good travelers! Although I'm sure they got the sense pretty quickly that I was not going to put up with any errant behavior without yelling at the top of my voice, so for the most part things were pretty peaceful. The kids were SO EXCITED to get there, and I was so excited to not be driving anymore.
The next morning we headed over to the Children's Museum, which was even more awesome than we remembered. Lots of super fun exhibits, the favorite being the climbing one where the kids climbed up like 4 floors or something. They did it 3 times. Unfortunately I had left the apples in the car, and Isaac got to a point where the bowl of Cocoa Puffs he had for breakfast wasn't cutting it, and he lost it pretty bad, just cried and cried, saying he wanted to go home. Instead of grabbing an apple for the one boy, I forced everybody to leave even though they probably could have been happy for another 2 hours if fed. But lesson learned I guess. Adam flew in that night and it was very nice to not be a single parent anymore.
Henry's baptism was the next morning, and I was lucky enough to give the talk on baptism. Practicing that helped me stay awake on that long drive. Even after all of the sharing times and lessons given, I really don't understand why it's so hard to get up and speak. It was a fun day and after the big luncheon afterwards we basically rested. Mom and Dad and Tyler's parents were around as well, it was just a really nice group to spend time with. Tyler took the time to play Splendor with Jackson one morning while I was still sleeping. Tyler's parents made sure to watch Lily's gymnastics routine with lots of compliments. And of course it is always nice to be around Amanda. Time with her is a treasure for sure.
We drove home Monday, a much quicker trip with another adult. Unfortunately for my future travel plans, the kids did NOT do well with making up the 3 missed days of homework. Isaac likes to take about 80 pictures a day with my phone, and this shot is a pretty normal occurrence.
This one too - giving choices for food. Not that he ever goes along with that. I regret so much the practices I instilled or the genes I passed on to these kids that make almost every meal a struggle.
Since we had to wait for the free National Park pass, we also had to wait to go on our annual Back to School Narrows hike in Zions. But it was still beautiful weather and it is always a treat to spend time with the older kids without the craziness that the littles sometimes bring into the picture.
We had to park the care outside of Zions, so we walked through the entrance. The line for people with passes was much empty compared to a very long one that needed to pay. Lily walked up first with her card and the man made a big deal about her being a 4th grader. She had the biggest smile on her face and didn't mind a bit thinking everybody was looking at her. After waiting in a 10 minute line to get onto a bus (SO BUSY), we were off. We saw a few dear, wild turkeys, and really it was just so neat answering their questions and looking at things they were pointing out. Although it took a while to get used to the chilly water, it really is such a neat hike. The kids were so excited about this waterfall, and the gorgeous views are just stunning.
The kids took a while to get into that little nook. The walk back it was getting pretty warm, and Lily struggled to finish without whining, which she got teased about quite a bit, but overall it was a wonderful day spent with two wonderful kids. And that we got to finish off with wonderful Pizza Wagon pizza - bonus!