Saturday, July 21, 2012

Tiny little baby pool

We do what we can to stay cool around here...

Monday, July 16, 2012

Girls Camp 2012

Man, do I love Girls Camp. Exactly 50 hours after pulling into our driveway from the Odyssey, I took off for Pickett State Park. I got to be a leader again this year--Allison and I were over the third years. We got lucky, they were all good, sweet girls who indulged in minimal drama. We had an olympic theme which made for a lot of fun activities.
My very favorite part? Watching Emma. Her first year was even more awesome than I guessed it would be. She was made for Girls Camp--the songs, the dancing, the pranks, the camaraderie. She thrived. I'm so thankful I could be a fly on the wall and see it all happen.
Second favorite part? Archery. That was fun.

Six-man plank walk.

All the First Years...that's Emma way at the top.

All the leaders...that's me way at the top.

Scott got to shoot some too when he came for Bishop's night.

You never know when you might need to hunt a squirrel and
trade it at the seam for some medicine or something...

Everyone from West Hills ward.

Twin Arches hike

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The one where the whole thing is put to music

Okay, I lied just a little. There's one more Odyssey post. I couldn't drive all over the country and not make a movie out of it, could I?

Of course I couldn't.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Odyssey - Part 6

The last Odyssey post. For real. Can you believe it? And it's only about a month after we got home.

Fun fact: I finally finished unpacking just last week. One suitcase had been nestled against a far wall in our bedroom holding a few pairs of socks and a couple of shirts ever since we returned. Ha! How's that for procrastination?

Our final stop was Albuquerque, NM. Our final hosts, Katie and Noah. We were so glad to get to see them again and let the cousins catch up with each other. As always, their excellent hosting and good food made us ready for a return trip anytime.

We started out with a trip to Costco to get some eats for the last long drive home the next day and the kids were introduced to the wonderful world of churros. Now I'm more excited than ever that Knoxville is getting its very own Costco soon. (Take that, Sams Club.)

It was a hot day so we decided to cool off at a local splash pad. We were also lucky enough to crash a birthday party there and get some unexpected cake.

That night Emma got to babysit all seven kids while Scott and I went on a double date with Katie and Noah. We rode on a tram up the side of a mountain where just one of us may have been pretty certain the cable would snap at any moment and we would plummet 1000 feet to our grisly deaths, and couldn't stop thinking about how horrific those seconds of plummeting would be. But the other three thought it was pretty neat.

Looking out the tram and up the mountain.

We woke up early the next morning and psyched ourselves up for the final haul. Next stop: home, sweet home. Originally we were going to split the last stretch into two shorter days of driving, but a strong desire to get it over with motivated us to leave early and push on through in one really long day of driving. We thought we'd end up arriving 1-2am Knoxville time. It would have been really great if that had actually happened. As it was, we pulled in to our driveway about 5am (but no big deal, we were still on Mountain time so it only felt like 3am :)). We took turns driving and napping. I was behind the wheel the last two and a half hours from Nashville to home. It reminded me of when we moved from Utah nine years ago and drove that same stretch. So good to be home.

We did plan one fun rest stop along the way...nothing breaks up a long day of driving like spray painting Cadillacs.

"Tell your mother you <3 her"

"Dr. Who"



"Amme, Neb, Shoj, Aidyl, Notfa
The story begins here"

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Odyssey - Part 5

And then do you know what we did next? We teamed up with Joel and Jenica and their boys and left San Francisco Monday morning and drove ourselves right over to Yosemite National Park.

It was stunning, two words: stun-ning.
Here's what we loved: the mountains. El Capitan and Half Dome especially, so easily recognizable from within Yosemite Valley. And the greenery crawling all over those beautiful rock walls. I can't over-emphasize the gorgeousness. Yosemite was definitely another place where I wish we had stayed longer. Days and days to drive around the whole thing and hike all the hikes. A few more days would have been especially nice because, guess what? The one half-day we were there it rained. Then it poured. Then it showered. When we were first driving in it was just really cloudy (see photos above), but pretty much as soon as we got settled in and were ready to go the clouds burst and didn't quit. All that soaking rain coupled with temperatures hovering in the 40s, frankly I'm surprised we look back on it with fondness. But we do.

We drove all that way and had reserved a place to stay the night. What was there to do besides fashion some quick trash-bag ponchos for the kids and make the most of it?

Lower Yosemite Falls

Scott and Joel ventured on up to the very base of the falls.

By the time we finished with our outdoor exploration we were soaked and chilled to the bone. So we headed back to our campsite (we stayed in a small tent-ish shelter with three cinderblock walls and a canvas ceiling plus canvas curtains in front), and got everyone changed into warm, dry pajamas. We wrapped everyone up in blankets, and while Scott told the little girls a bedtime story the big kids went over to their cousin's tent to play Yahtzee. We all turned in a little early, glad to be close together in that little tent, living out our adventure we'd planned for so long. I know how awful it sounds, I know. But I'm not lying, it was anything but awful. Thanks, Joel and Jenica, for spear-heading the extended time together.

The next morning, as we were headed out on the next leg of the odyssey the sun was shining and we couldn't help but to start planning a return trip (but yeah, we'll go when it's a bit warmer). Our route took us over Tioga Pass, which was closed because of ice when we were ready to leave so we had about an hour to climb around on rocks while we waited for it to open up.

Tioga pass was full of beautifully snow-covered pine trees and took us up to 9943 feet. But just one day of driving and the cold of Yosemite seemed a distant memory as we basked in the warmth of our next destination--St. George, UT.

Here we stayed with our good friends who used to live in Knoxville, the Christians. It's a good thing we did, because they know how to show us a good time...including but not limited to swimming at the pool, roasting s'mores, and having a cookout. But first we needed to work up an appetite, so we loaded everyone up right away and headed to Zion's National Park (I know, I know, National Parks two days in a row! Who are we, Ansel Adams?).

We decided to hike Angel's Landing. Guess what there was plenty of opportunity to do along the trail? Yes, climb up on rocks.

Most of the kids and Jenny and I only went as far as Scout Lookout just above Walter's Wiggles (look at the second photo on the link and you can see the Wiggles...I carried Lydia on my back up those bad boys. I know. I'm awesome).

The view from Scout Lookout
The last half mile of the trail we knew was more difficult and dangerous. So Jenny and I took the kids and began a leisurely walk back down, taking plenty of time to stop and look at an owl and make some great cakes out of red dirt. But not all of the kids came down. Ben and Josh each decided they wanted to go for the summit, so they went with Scott and Brett all the way up. Neither they nor Scott realized just how treacherous it would be, with steep drop-offs on either side of the narrow path. Both boys were scared as they clung to the anchored chain with one hand and held fast to one of the dads' hands with their other. Josh was pretty much hyperventilating most of the way and was heard to remark, "This shouldn't be called Angel's Landing, it should be Devil's Pass." But guess what?

They did it.

We were so proud.

(Notice Ben's death grip on the pole. And Scott's death grip on the boys. And look at Josh's face. That's his absolutely terrified smile.)