Saturday, April 30, 2016


Easter crept up on me this year. When it falls in March, I never get anything ready on time. So our Easter baskets may have been a little small this year, but we still had a fun Easter Weekend.

It began with a Friday night performance that we heard about at church. It was an Easter "musical" of sorts. There were songs sung by different people who knew Jesus Christ such as Mary, Judas, Peter, and Pilate. There were Bible videos playing at some parts and choir songs at other parts. It was okay. It tried a little too hard to be non denominational, and while our kids were very good, it was definitely hard for them to sit still. Dax even fell asleep (so did dad, I just didn't take a picture of him).
The movies were the best part!
Some of the characters did have good voices.
Too tired to make it through the show.
Then Saturday morning we went to an Easter Egg Hunt at the Alder's ward. They invited us to come to their ward breakfast and easter egg hunt. The breakfast was great, and we laughed at all the kids taking 5-6 pieces of bacon at a time! I think Randy wanted to do that, but he is a little bit more mature than the 6 year-olds.

After breakfast, the boys went on an Easter Egg hunt. They got lots of eggs and candy. Seth only picked up blue eggs, and Mark and Dax tried to find the best hidden eggs possible. It was a chilly morning, so mom's toes were almost frozen off by the time we headed back to our house.
Mark being silly while we wait for breakfast to be ready.
Ready to fill our baskets!
Seth and Laurie had fun together.
Dax found some eggs in the drinking fountain, but I think he missed the hidden pink egg underneath.
The Easter Egg Hunt gang 
It was Grandpa Daniels' birthday, so we had a special lunch for him with Grandma and the Webbs. We ate sandwiches and cinnamon rolls, and had a good afternoon before Grandma and Grandpa had to leave for their missionary work at the Conference Center.
Happy Birthday Grandpa Daniels!
Then we headed up to This is the Place Heritage Park for Baby Animal Days. This is one of our favorite state parks, so we were excited to have free tickets to the Baby Animal Days activities. There were adorable baby goats, chicks, bunnies, and ducks, but we had more fun exploring the grounds and interacting with the "pioneers." The boys got a shave, panned for gold and weighed it in the bank, became leather apprentices, rode the train, and lots more. There are lots of pictures on our other blog, but here are some favorites!
The boys loved holding the baby chicks!
Mark got in trouble at school, so he had to stand with his nose on the wall while holding books.
They have a new mini train to ride which was fun, especially since we saw geese nesting!
We also had some free doughnuts that were delicious!
Seth really liked beating the rugs. He has a good swing for it.
Just yesterday, Seth asked me when we were going to the place where we mowed the dirt.
As you can see, Mark and Dax are "mowing the dirt."
Finally, Easter day came, and we had a wonderful day at church, taking a nap, and then we visited the Alpine Easter Walk. This is a new adventure by the same people who do the Alpine Living Nativity. They had a few things to look at, and a short video to watch. It only took about 10-15 minutes, but the empty tomb was amazing. I felt like it really drove home the message that Jesus is resurrected--in a more visual way anyway.
Alpine Easter Walk

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Zion: Day 5

It was our last day in Zion, and usually Dad likes to be up early and on the road for home so we can get everything cleaned up. But today he forced himself to slow down and stretch out the vacation for one more day. We started by sleeping in all the way to 7:30am. Amazing, huh?

After breakfast we wanted to stop by a state park called Sand Hollow. After being disappointed by Quail Creek early in the week, we weren't sure what to expect. This reservoir is beautiful, though. It is easily the best "water" state park we've been to. There are gorgeous red rocks that the boys enjoyed throwing into the lake.

We walked along the shore for a little while and watched the birds on the water. There were buffleheads and red-breasted mergansers. We also found some really cool rocks called Moqui marbles. There were tons of them on the shore. We enjoyed this gentle stroll, skipping stones and taking pictures as much as anything we did on this trip.

Dax was in rock-throwing heaven.
At first we thought the Mokoi Marbles were rabbit or deer dung.
The layers of rock are soft enough to break with your fingers.
The red rocks and the crystal clear water was gorgeous.
Mark and Dad had a great time skipping the flat sandstone across the water.
There were lots of little curves and crevices in the sandstone.
We need to come back with a boat!
That wasn't the end of the Sand Hollow, though. We drove around to the other side of the reservoir and there is a really nice beach. Above it on the hill there is also a sandy area for ATVs. We headed down to the beach and played in the soft sand, but the water was really cold this time of year, which seemed to affect everyone but Dax. By the time we left, Mom was planning a trip back to Sand Hollow State Park.
The beach was nice, though we heard the swimmer's itch can be bad.
The boys didn't mind freezing their toes off.
The sand on the beach was soft and very red.
We had meant to avoid St. George on this trip, but we really wanted to check out the Johnson Farm Dinosaur Museum, which was created in 2000 when a construction crew flipped over a piece of sandstone and found a very clear dinosaur track. The museum is still in the works, but there are an amazing number of dinosaur prints, and a wide variety of other things, too. There are swim prints, mud cracks, and many other types of trace fossils. It will be interesting to see what they do with this museum in the future as it is currently an active dig.

The museum also has some interactive elements that we loved. Seth liked the room with toy dinosaurs, especially the triceratops with a bite out of it. Dax liked the dinosaur rubbings that you could do with the side of a crayon. Mark liked the sandpit where you could make your own dinosaur tracks. And Mom liked the origami station, where she made a pterodactyl and a T-rex. We ended up spending almost 2 hours checking out this dinosaur spot.

We always love a new dinosaur adventure!
There are so many trackways in this area.
This is one of the few displays you can touch (if you're standing on one foot).
You can't touch these even if you're standing on one foot.
Dax was pretending he was the dinosaur that made this track.
The boys are running away from a pretty terrible meat-eater.
Outside the museum you can take a picture.
We'd never seen a track making activity.
By then it was lunch time, and in the spirit of keeping things cheap, we had lunch at Costco. Since we were in St. George, we decided to try a few more indoor sites as it was raining.

The Church runs four sites in St. George. The first was Brigham Young's Summer Home. We had struck out on an earlier attempt to visit, but this time we were in luck. It was really cool to see the prophet's study where he received revelations, and though the house was a mansion for the times, it was very practical in terms of space. There were three bedrooms upstairs: for Brigham, for his wife, and one for the housekeeper. Downstairs there was a kitchen, a dining room, and a receiving room with an old piano for entertaining guests. We learned that St. George was originally started as a cotton mission, meaning saints were called to leave the Wasatch Front and go south to grow cotton. The "George" is George A. Smith, grandfather of the prophet, who was known as the Potato Saint because he planted potatoes along the Mormon Trail, and then made sure that the immigrants ate the peels so that they didn't get scurvy. So we will be calling the town Potato St. George from now on.
It doesn't look rainy, but it was.
The Pioneers painted all the pine to look like different kinds of fancy wood.
Our second stop was just down the street at the Tabernacle. We've visited the Salt Lake, Paris, Provo (now a Temple), and of course, Alpine, but it was really cool to see the Tabernacle in St. George where Lorenzo Snow gave his famous speech about tithing. One interesting fact about the balcony is that Brigham Young thought it was too high, so he made them lower it 5 feet. This means that you go up the spiral staircase to the landing, then down 5 steps into the balcony. We probably enjoyed this tour more than any of the day.

The chairs are beautiful, but not very comfy.
There's Lorenzo Snow at the pulpit! No, wait, that's just us.
Every prophet except Joseph Smith has spoken at the St. George Tabernacle.
The third stop was the Temple Visitor Center. The boys were excited to see the cannon, which was used to crush gravel into the ground to make a more solid footing for the Temple. Seth also had a great time "coloring" temples on the digital screen. There was a beautiful Christus statue, too, and one of the sister missionaries sat us down and talked to the boys about Family Home Evening.
The boys already had this temple in their books.
Seth wanted to watch all the videos with President Monson which Mom thought was darling!
We decided we might as well hit the last church history stop in St. George, which is actually in Santa Clara. We drove out to Jacob Hamblin's home. We didn't know a lot about Hamblin (well, Mom did) but he was a diplomat between the Church, the United States, and the Indians in the area. Everyone respected him as a fair, honest man. His home was much more humble than Brigham Young's, with a kitchen and two bedrooms, along with a storage space downstairs. Upstairs was one large room where the family lived, as well as a loft that could hold many beds so that travelers could stop and stay if necessary. One strange thing was the door on the second floor that opened to the eaves. They think this was because they used the eaves to hang food and linens to dry. We were really impressed with the kind of honest, simple man Jacob Hamblin was.
We're glad the boys are great at these old sites. They know a lot about the Pioneers.
After that, we started the long drive home, but there was one more adventure. After stopping in Beaver to find the kids Wendy's, Mom and Dad decided to hold out for Cluff's Car-hop in Fillmore. It meant eating at near 7pm, but it was worth it. They have the best fries and burgers in the whole state! We even had homemade hot fudge shakes afterward.
The shakes are great! Not pictured: World's best french fries and amazing burgers.
We arrived home at 9, and Dax and Seth had been asleep for awhile. Luckily they went right to bed. Mom and Dad were super-tired, too, but we managed to get the trip cleaned up and put away by 10 pm so we could fall into bed. This was definitely a trip that we'll always remember.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Zion: Day 4

This morning we went back to Zion and rode the shuttle in for the Emerald Pools hike. We started at the Grotto and hiked the Kayenta Trail back to the top first. Seth made the entire hike to the upper pool without being carried. He has really been a trooper on this trip. Dax carried the snacks the entire way-- he insisted because Mark carried a backpack yesterday. The trail hiked in this way was a bit longer, but not so steep. It also allowed us to do the trail in such a way that we finished at the lower pool behind the waterfall last, which was nice.
Ready for another awesome hike in Zion!
There are a lot of beautiful wildflowers in Zion in the Spring.
The views on the Kayenta Trail are amazing.
Seth wanted to take a picture by every flower he spotted--even this lone yellow one!
When we got to the upper pool, we were really amazed at the height of the waterfall. In fact, we weren't really expecting a waterfall, just an emerald pool. It actually looked more like a mustard pool. We carried Seth down most of the way to the middle pool, which we had passed on the way up. Then he walked most of the way back to the shuttle stop. We figured he did close to two and a half miles today.
This is the middle pool, but I think Randy snapped an awesome shot here!
Seth was such a great hiker. I still can't believe how much he walked.
The upper pool waterfall is SO tall!
Someone was nice enough to take a picture next to the "emerald" pool.
It's brown---let's just call it what it is!
The boys were also super-excited to walk behind the waterfall at the lower pool. They stood in the shower and giggled for about 10 minutes. Seth kept saying, "This is just like that crying rock," and he was right. Emerald Pools is the closest thing to a must-do hike in Zion.
They were excited about this part of the hike because it's almost like a slot canyon.
Dax's turn to be silly by the sign!
Walking behind the waterfalls was amazing!
The boys LOVED it!
Look how wet Seth is...ha ha!
There he goes again...
Mark was such a great help. He carried a backpack every day on the hikes. He is growing up.
Seth and Dax loved the shuttle rides.
On the way out of the park, we were stunned at the number of people waiting in line for the shuttle. It stretched a city block. There were cars lined up for a half-mile going into the park as well. It must be really crowded here in the summer. Mercifully, we were on our way to a less-busy part of the park.

Our next stop was Grafton ghost town. We'd done a ghost town before and had a lot of fun, and Grafton seemed to be fairly popular, and it is only a few minutes off the beaten path. As it turns out, Grafton is a restored ghost town. Someone has restored and protected the remaining 6 or 7 buildings. There are interpretive signs and obvious reconstructions. The town was still very interesting, but it was much different than the town of Sego we saw on a trip to Moab last year.
Dax had to read all of the gravestones before we could leave the cemetery.
Grafton was in a beautiful place.
This swing was famous for causing injury to lots of people!
I think Grafton would be a great place to live, well, other than the flooding of the river all the time.
The old bridge was one of the highlights of the Ghost Town.
Next we needed lunch. It was getting past noon, and everyone was a little grumpy. We searched for a park in Virgin, and there was one listed. Unfortunately, there was only 1 picnic table in a pile of tumbleweeds and no grass. We made the best of it and ate in the van. Then we had another grand Zion adventure planned for the afternoon.

As we were going over our options last night, we noticed a road on the map called Kolob Terrace Road. Neither of us had paid any attention to it, and both of us really wanted to drive it and see what was out there. We were told that there were only backcountry trails of considerable length, but we've hiked enough in the last three days, and a pleasant drive seemed nice.

It's 25 miles out the road, and it climbs high up into the mountains. In fact, we ended up at an iced over reservoir surrounded by snow called Kolob Reservoir. Apparently the road only opened this week. The drive was really beautiful, and we did see some pretty cool birds, all of them in different shades of blue. In a pond we saw a ruddy duck with a bright blue bill. Farther up the road, after Dax and Seth had fallen asleep we saw pretty pinyon jay. And toward the very end of the loop just where snow first started to appear, we stopped for a Stellar's Jay. He was too far away to get a picture, but a mountain bluebird was kind enough to alight nearby for a photo. This drive was just the thing to slow down the pace and relax a little bit today.
We saw a Ruddy Duck. Their blue bills are so cool!
Mark and Dad threw some snowballs while Seth and Dax slept.
I didn't even know there was snow in Southern Utah! ;)
We love the beautiful mountain bluebirds.
Kolob Reservoir was still completely iced over, but I would love to come back here in July!
The Kolob Terrace Road was very beautiful.
We got off the mountain at about 3pm, and we stopped at a gift shop called Fort Virgin that we'd passed a few times. For a dollar you could wander through their old village which had 8 or 9 buildings including a bank, a brothel, an undertaker's shop, and a jail. Seth wanted to play tag, so Dad had to capture the kids one-by-one and put them in jail. If they were tagged, they could escape, but Dad is still pretty quick and rounded up all three varmints several times without too many daring escapes.

There was also a petting zoo at the fort, and for a dollar you could buy three carrots. We spent two more dollars and watched the boys be too frightened to feed them to the animals. There were llamas, donkeys, ponies, and deer, all of which rushed to the fence if they saw a carrot in your hand. One hilarious donkey kicked the metal fence making a loud clanging sound until you'd finally bring him a carrot. We've been trying to keep our cost down this vacation with meals in the hotel and all, but this was definitely $7 well spent.
Seth loved being in jail!
Randy really wanted a picture by this shop!
Mark was the only one who was brave enough to feed the animals without freaking out!
I think my face matches the pony's face!
Dad caught all these outlaws.
The llamas were very hungry.
We had fun running around for awhile.
We got back into Hurricane in time to visit the Hurricane Heritage museum. There isn't a whole lot there except for the story of how they built the canal to get water to this place. Well, there is a piece of wedding cake that is 110 years old and a slab of bacon from the 1940s which the boys thought was pretty gross. Outside they had a playground, though and the boys had an awesome time on the slides and monkeybars for about a half-hour before dinner.
The park and museum area was beautiful.
The museum wasn't big, but there are about 10 different signs, so you won't miss it!
Tonight was our night to eat out, and we picked a place here in town. Our meals say a lot about us: Dad had the chopped steak with gravy, primarily so he could dip his french fries in gravy the way he likes. Mom had a BLT; she even said, "You can always count on good ol' BLT." Mark went with the macaroni and cheese because it said "Kraft" right there on the kids menu. Dax had spaghetti because Grandpa told him "You can't be an Ockey unless you like spaghetti!" so he eats it with relish any chance he gets-- whether he likes it or not, he sure acts like he does. And Seth ordered a hamburger that he didn't want to eat, but he used as a bartering tool for what he really did want. "Okay, I eat 5 more bites and I get to go in the pool, and then 3 more bites and I get an ice cream cone." This is the usual story for us at restaurants.

After that, we came home and hopped in the pool, which was all the kids really want to do anyway!
Dax scarfed down the spaghetti. 
They all ate ice cream!

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