It's only fitting that I just happen to be eating wasabi fried peas while typing this post since I spent most of this vacation snacking on them.
We decided to be adventurous and try somewhere new and exciting for UEA weekend. Lake Powell. We haven't been there since I was pregnant with Morgan, 8 years ago. It always sounded like so much work, preparation and planning. And anyone who knows me knows that I am NOT a planner. But this time it was different. We weren't going to camp on the lake but stay in a hotel instead -- with THREE queen beds in the room. And free breakfast. And a town full of restaurants for dinner. The only preparation needed was packing our clothes, boat stuff, some snacks/drinks and bread, peanut butter and honey for lunch (which I think we ended up just bringing back home with us. Everyone preferred Aunt Rae's turkey sandwiches on yummy, squishy rolls).
We drove 7 hours southeast and finally made it to Page, Arizona. The scenery on the drive was . . . Beautiful! The changing leaves. Open grassy field after open field. Old barns and animals. Mountains that changed colors as we drove. I think I had forgotten how beautiful Utah is.
We lucked out and had beautiful weather. Sunny and warm. And we had the lake almost to ourselves. Don't think I've ever seen the boat ramp this empty at Lake Powell.
We enjoyed spending the weekend with family and friends. Gavin's brother, Jeff, and his family joined us and our best friends, The Wares. It was perfect for the kids and for the adults.
We had big plans for our first day on the lake. A boat trip to Rainbow Bridge. We're still not sure but we've heard it's about a 4 hour boat ride each way. We made it about 30 minutes when both of our boats hit a sandbar in the middle of the lake. The Ware's hit it going full speed and ruined their prop. We watched boat after boat hit the same sand bar. And we even laughed a little, feeling a little better that we weren't the only ones who didn't see the shallow, sandy area in the middle of the channel. We spent the day at the beach instead and let the kids play in the water, dig in the red sand, find shells and pearls and enjoy the beauty all around us.
Jeff made this cool panoramic picture of our beach on his iphone
And this is how we ended the day on the lake. . . towing Adam's boat back to the marina.
We spent the next morning at Sand Hill in Wahweap Bay.
Climbing up the big hill
Nixon and Griffin were inseparable on this trip. They liked all of the writing on the rock walls and pretended to read what was written. Griffin, "I love you very much!" and then it was Nixon's turn, "You die!" That couldn't describe these boys and their personalities any better.
My family. . . minus Ryan. He had his biggest football game of the season and after much begging and bribing from his coaches, I decided to let him stay home with his best friend so he could play in the big game. They lost. Ryan did contribute to the game and had a big catch and touchdown. And he loved staying at his friend's home and felt like he had a great UEA vacation as well. But we missed him and definitely noticed his absence.
Everytime we go boating, Gavin tries to get me in the water to ski. I always have the same response, "I'm already cold. The water is freezing. It's too rough. Take me to Lake Powell and I'll waterski." Now I remember why I love waterskiing in Lake Powell. The sun is shining. The water is warm. And not a wave for miles. It's perfect! So I had to stay true to my word. Here's the proof:
I love this picture of Gavin. He's looking back at me while I'm skiing. Can't you just feel the love? I can!
It was funny to look through the pictures of Gavin and me waterskiing. The expression on our faces does not make it look like we are enjoying ourselves. Note to self--smile next time. It really was fun but it is a lot of work. My arms and lats (had to google to find out what those muscles were called. Obviously not used very often by me) were sore for days. Wish we would've had time for one more skiing adventure.
I'm smiling and feeling the love for Gavin but I'm also feeling the fear. I hate driving the boat.
The kids enjoyed another day on the beach. Jack wanted to make a milkshake.
And everyday ended the same. With my three little ones asleep in my arms.
Afternoon storm warnings kept us off the lake on the 3rd day. Well that and it was the Sabbath. So we did the next best thing--The Glen Canyon Dam Tour. We learned lots of interesting dam facts. Grabbed any and every dam photo op. And were probably the loudest group that has ever done the dam tour.
Our tour guide knew exactly what to expect when he saw our group. He is a father of 9 children. He kindly suggested we use some wheelchairs to keep the little ones contained. Best advice ever. The kids loved it almost as much as we did.
And because we hadn't had enough touring for the day and had already missed the river rafting tour for the day, we headed out on the bumpiest ride ever to tour Antelope Canyon. Morgan thought the ride was the purpose of the tour. She kept her arms up in the air the entire ride and screamed, "wahoo!" for the duration of the ride. Mia, Griffin and Nixon rode inside the truck. I opened the door to get the kids out of the truck when we got to the canyon and Mia looked totally confused and managed to say, "Whoa mom!" with a huge smile!
Antelope Canyon is described as "breathtaking and tranquil". And it is . . . breathtaking, even with 8 kids running through it. The slot canyons are narrow with just enough room for our group to walk through it. We could touch both sides of the canyon in some places. It's made out of the Navajo sandstone. I think I may have taken several hundred pictures inside the canyon. It was amazing!
Snuggling up together to watch TV. Who cares if there's two other beds. Being together is always the best!
The long drive home. Literally. It took us almost 12 hours to drive home. No one was quite ready for the trip and sightseeing to be over so we made the most of our last day.
If you see this sign that says "You're Here. Moqui Cave" Just keep on driving. Don't stop. Really. Don't give in to the tempting words of friends when they say we can see 140 million years of history in the cave. It's more of dedication to the current owner's family and heritage. And then some weird stuff that I still don't know what it had to do with the cave. Money from all over the world. And fluorescent minerals/rocks from all over the world.
But just think of the happy memories that would've been missed if we hadn't have stopped. Like these great group photos in front of the cave.
We left early in the morning with the hopes of having time to go through Bryce Canyon on our way home. We stopped at a little cafe for lunch right outside the park entrance.
I'm not sure what was being said between these two when this picture was taken but if I had to guess it would have something to do with coffee. Griffin had never heard that word before this trip. Nixon got his soda cup that had a hot beverage lid. He looked at Griffin and said, "I like to pretend to drink my coffee." Griffin wanted to be part of the action and said, "Yah. I like to pretend to drink cough too." This was probably when Nixon made sure Griffin knew how to say it correctly because he definitely knew the correct word on the rest of the ride home.
Ah, the good life. Drinking our soda pop without a straw and slurping it through that little opening and pretending like it's hot.
Bryce Canyon is amazing. I know I keep using that word but I can't think of a better word to describe it. It doesn't even seem real. You can't even imagine what you are going to see as you are walking up the path to overlook Bruce Amphitheater. And then you get to the edge of the lookout and . . . you see this!
And we finally made it home. Reunited with Ryan. Unpacked the car. And found out the hamster escaped while we were gone. I thought he was dead for sure. But this past week, Ryan has put food and water out for him on the floor every night and it's gone in the morning. So either we are feeding some random family of mice or we have a pet that we may never see again.