Friday, June 10, 2016

Vacation 2016 Part 3: Utah fun with family

On Saturday after we picked Neil up from the airport, we headed to the mountains as a family. I was SO happy to have this time--it was seriously one of my favorite bits of the whole trip. We went up our beloved American Fork Canyon and the weather was just beautiful--cool and a tiny bit rainy. The views were heavenly and we were SOOOO happy to be together again!!!

 We managed to walk about 2.5 miles in an hour, which is a pretty quick clip when you're toting along little kids! Half the time the kids were running--we even had some whole-family running down the best steep bits, which was so fun. And I was so, so, so thrilled to see Neil, especially after the whole flight debacle (long story short--he arrived at the airport at about noon ET and got in at 1 PM MT the next day). I was pretty darn exhausted after my week of solo parenting and just so happy to have my partner and best friend back--this was the longest we've ever been apart.

At one point it started to rain and Luke was really upset, so I picked this giant leaf and told him it was an elf hat. He was 100% fine after that and wore the leaf for about 20 minutes until it got limp enough that it kept sliding off his head. 

Beautiful--I love these mountains so much! This is where Neil and I had our second date so it's always a special place for us. 

At one point I said to Neil, "You know, when we're home, I think, 'Oh, these woods are great! We don't need the mountains!' and then it takes about twenty seconds back here before I change my mind..."

Gorgeous snow-melt stream. It was so cold! 

After our hour was up, we drove back down the canyon to Neil's parents' house, where several of his brothers and sisters had gathered with various bits of their families--everyone is getting to the stage where they have lots of commitments, but we were super excited to see everyone who was available that day and really appreciated the effort everyone had made to see us! I was so glad his dad gathered everyone for this photo because I didn't take any pictures during dinner...too busy trying to keep Nathan alive. :-)

I took a couple of sneaky photos in church the next day because these kiddos are just so darn cute together...and I loved Caleb's kicked-back attitude chilling on Neil's lap. 

On Sunday evening we drove down to Nephi to meet up with his extended family at his grandfather's grave. I have no idea what happened to me in this picture--I was standing right next to Neil! All those tall nieces and nephews blocked me out, I guess--that's the problem with marrying into a family where the guys all top 6'5" or so. (Poor Nathan had the WORST time this evening--too many people who looked like clones of his daddy! He walked up to the group, looked around in disbelief at all the tall dark-haired men, and immediately started screaming for his daddy and did not leave Neil's arms for the next two hours. Poor kid had just found Neil again after a week and he was not about to lose his dad again!) But the other kids had an awesome time with cousins and second cousins while the adults caught up--there were a number of people we hadn't seen since our wedding so it was great to have this chance to reconnect!

The next day was Memorial Day--the guys got up at 6 AM and played basketball for a few hours, then we went for another hike in the canyon with Ruth, Jordan, Evelyn, and Caleb. We covered 4 miles over a trail that was pretty intense at times! I was so beat when we were done--my run that afternoon felt like the worst part of a marathon. :-(

But our route was SO gorgeous! Food for the soul. 

It was pretty awesome getting the kids over these "bridges" without getting soaked...

Apparently this was quite a popular riding trail! I think we passed more riders than hikers...and we definitely passed a lot of horse droppings! (My kids got really good on this trip at identifying horse/elk/buffalo droppings. Always good to know we're educating them on the important things.)

Starting to get a little tired...I was really impressed with how well the kids did! We played a few games to keep them going (Ruth and Evelyn had a very involved "You are Mulan! The Huns are coming!" thing going on for quite awhile). 

Cute Evelyn saw me taking photos and ran up to pose. Love this girl!

It was such a beautiful day--I'm so glad we were able to spend those hours in the mountains!

I didn't get any pictures later that evening, but we had a pretty splendiferous night--Jordan grilled up a bunch of yummy things, we made lots of delicious salads, and my cousin Richard, who I haven't seen in about a decade, came down from Salt Lake for the evening. It was SO fun to catch up with him--we were super close friends as teenagers (born six days apart) and I've missed him! We had a great time catching up and laughing over old memories. And then Rosalind and Chris returned from their adventures with Chris's family, so we got to spend the rest of the evening with everyone all together! I love my family SO much and it was such a treat to see so many of them! (Rosalind and Chris live in NC and were just visiting UT that weekend, which was a big motivator for me in coming out at this particular time! They are leaving for a year in Hong Kong next month so they will miss our family reunion in Florida this fall...sad for all of us, so I'm really glad we had this weekend together!)

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