Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Ward Pioneer Picnic and Tom's Ice Cream Party

Our ward puts on an annual picnic and kid's parade each year to celebrate Pioneer Day.  This year, April and Devon were here visiting and they joined mom and our family for the event.  It was a lot of fun!  We had a potluck picnic with salads, sides, desserts, and BBQ beef sandwiches.  The weather was perfect and the wind cooperated just in time for the festivities.  Crafts for the kids followed after the picnic, then the parade.  Kids could decorate and bring their bikes or wagons to accompany them if they wanted to.  Lily wanted to be an ox and pull her toy wagon which she would decorate to look like a covered wagon.  She's the cutest ox I've ever seen.  She made little horns from paper and attached them to a hair band to wear around her head.  Amara cut out strips of paper and colored them with markers, then taped them all over her bike for homemade streamers.  The parade was cute and I have video in the slideshow I put together...  Steve and I also were asked to participate in a square dance, and although the idea was met with a little reluctance at first, we had fun getting to know the dance and our ward members (no video of that).

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After the fun night, we decided to take Tom out for his birthday dessert while April was still in town.  We went to Rocky's Place and everyone (except me who can't eat sugar) had yummy ice cream treats.  Devon was definitely tired was was temporarily pacified by bites of ice cream being sneaked his way.  Steve was re-living being a kid again as his cone disintegrated in his hand.  Lily and Amara shared a very loaded banana split sundae complete with fudge, nuts, marshmallow creme, and cherries.  Tom, April, and mom all had shakes with yummy mix-ins.  It was late, we were sticky, and we all had a good time.
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Sunday, October 14, 2012

Amara's Birthday- She's a Whole Hand!

We were still on our camping trip when Amara's 5th birthday rolled around.  We didn't stop the fun, but just continued on the rest of the day in celebration of Amara.  We woke up to a rock chuck sitting on the porch of the guard station we were staying at.  Surely he was there to wish Amara a happy birthday!  We pulled out the present that Grandma and Grandpa Christensen sent in the mail a few days prior.  She couldn't wait to see what she got!
 It was a bunch of fun books.  That is perfect for a little girl like her who knows how to read and often will pick up books to read to herself or others.

 After the Ranger visited us, he left Amara and Lily a sticker and a frisbee.  They had fun with it while we packed up our stuff.

 Goodbye Guard Station!  It was fun, but we're ready for our real beds.
 The views were spectacular on the way back into Vernal.  We still had some morning left when we arrived in Vernal, so we took the kids to the Kid's Canal in Vernal where they could go fishing.  We saw 2 fish about 4 inches long, but they weren't biting the powerbait we brought.  Amara did catch something, though...
 ...a mess of sticks and weeds.

While in Vernal we had Amara choose where she wanted to eat for her birthday lunch and she chose Golden Corral (with a little mild persuasion from Steve).  She loves the chocolate wonderfall, the ice cream with candies you can dump all over it, and the cotton candy.  All the other food is just there for decoration. 

After we ate, we went to Walmart to buy her a birthday present.  She got to pick one and Lily got to pick one to give her.  She picked a pack of horses that came with a saddle and reins, which she absolutely loves!  Before she got this toy, she would take her other toy horses and use the clay we have to make them saddles and reins so her toys could ride them properly.  Lily got her a little dog that wags it's tail and moves it's head when you pet it.  Amara loves puppies and playing like she is one, so of course she loved this little pet.  I find it all over the house in "beds" that Amara has made out of dish cloths or boxes or baskets or shoes or whatever she can find.

Before we left Walmart, we picked up an extra ice block.  We had plans for that.  We decided to go ice-blocking down the hill by our church with the leftover ice chunks from our cooler.

 The day didn't end with ice blocking!  We got showered up and went bowling at the new Ute Bowling Alley in Fort Duchesne.  It was a lot of fun!  They had a few bugs in their scoring software (not that it mattered much), but other than that we had fun bowling with bumpers.  They had bowling balls that were light weight for kids.

 Amara had a technique that seemed to work for her.  She'd roll the ball down the lane, then lay down and point which direction the ball needed to go.  With bumper bowling, I really thought I'd have no problem breaking 100 this time, but no luck.  Our final scores ranged between 68-115.
I don't remember where we went out to eat that night, but I remember that I ran to the store and bought some goodies to make a quick cake for Amara.  I used Little Debby Zebra Cakes and Cosmic brownies and sandwiched a layer of ice cream in the middle to make her 5-minute-ice-cream cake.

 Grandma came over for cake and brought her gift for Amara.
 Hurry!  The ice cream is melting!

3 Birthday Celebrations

This past August, we were blessed to be in town to celebrate Devon's 1st birthday, Malia's 5th birthday, and Rexton's birth.  Family celebrations are one of my favorite things in life!  Devon's party was at the Discovery Park in Pleasant Grove.  Malia celebrated at Chuck E. Cheese in Orem.  And Rexton, well, he was in the hospital because he was just a preemie and only his parents and very few others could see him, but we celebrated him nonetheless.
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Our Hike-n-Camp-n-Fish-n-Tour-n-Picnic Trip! WHEW!

At the end of July, we decided to take a few days and really explore the Uinta Basin.  We packed up the van and went up into the forest.  We discovered a fun hike- the John boy trail- in the Red Fleet State Park.  It ascends a mountainside of red cliffs and the view from on top is spectacular!  The hike was fun and family-friendly, and the weather was nice that day with enough cloud cover to keep us from sizzling.

 We made it!
 On our way down we heard what we thought was thunder close by.  But, it turned out to be an explosion at the mines across the way.

We made it back just in time to drive to our camping spot for the night- a yurt in the Uintas!
 The yurt was accommodating in a primitive sort of way.  We only had to shoo one mouse out at night and although we saw plenty of spiders, they didn't bite us... whew!  I did have one crawl over my foot as I stood up to find my shoes at night and anyone who knows how terrified of spiders I am can imagine my horrification.  Despite the spiders, I was happy we were in a sturdy yurt and not a tent, since we definitely were in bear country and I felt a little more secure.  Our hikes around the place were short and not too deep into the woods because I was sure a bear was ready for his human-dinner.  That was somewhat disappointing to Steve.  He wanted to explore. 

We had a small picnic out on our deck. 
Later that night, we saw a little owl perched on that railing post, surely awaiting his mouse-dinner that was lurking in the woodpile.  You can barely see him in the dark, but he's out there.
It was disappointing that there were fire restrictions in place, so we could have no open flames.  Darn! Luckily we still could roast marshmallows in the wood burning stove in the yurt.


After a good night's sleep, it was time to clean up and get going on the day's adventures.
We saw and heard lots of wildlife in the mountains even as we drove to our next destination, the Historic Swett Ranch near Flaming Gorge. It's known because it was the first place in the area to get telephone service, and acted as a hub for for the surrounding communities in it's time.
We were pretty much by ourselves on the homestead.  The tour is self-guided and it's like walking back in time.  The place was beautiful and peaceful.

 We walked all around discovering all the little buildings and bridges.
 We found the old outhouse. 

 And we found the cold storage cellar.  Complete with running electricity!  With a flip of a light switch we had light and could hunch our way to the back where they used to keep potatoes and other food stored.
 The hummingbirds joined us for a picnic on the porch.  They were fun to watch and they weren't afraid of us in the least!  They kept fighting each other for the sugar water in those feeders.
After lunch, we went to Flaming Gorge to visit the dam and also go fishing.  We drove over the bridge to the tour-spot.

 The tour began at the top of the dam, then they took us down in the longest elevator ride I've ever been on to the bottom of the dam.

 We went from the top, down to the bottom.

And back to the top again.
 It was breathtaking both at the top and at the bottom!  It's a must-see for anyone in the area!  Next time I think we'll bring some change to feed the fish at the bottom.  They were swarming waiting for food.
 We decided to try fishing right near the visitor's center.  The kids played in the sand while Steve fished and caught nothing.

After no fish and a long warm day in the sun, we were ready to get to our home for the evening, an old guard station from the 1930s that now is rentable.  We couldn't wait for the warm showers and indoor plumbing.  Unfortunately...
 That's not what we found.  The water was turned off to the place, apparently the pipes need repairing.  EEW!
 No shower, no indoor plumbing.  Actually, there was a layer of dirt on everything.  I was a little put-out.  But we had to make the most of this cute-but-seriously-in-need-of-a-clean place.  So we used wet wipes for our showers and hand sanitizer as our wash-up.  We thankfully packed enough water and buckets to get by for washing dishes.  We played a game and read some books as a family before we went to bed. 

 The fridge was supposed to work.  It was warm and smelled of mold.  We didn't use it.  Plus, it's a propane fridge.  Just the idea of that freaked me out.  Good thing we had just enough ice in our cooler to keep food fresh.
 Steve was brave and lit the stove, but after we used it I swear I could still smell gas, so we left the windows open and kept the propane turned off unless we were using it.

 There's the sink I wanted to use.
Lily is standing on the bridge that led to the outhouse we had to use.
 At least the scenery was beautiful.  The white house to the right in the picture below is actually a bunk house that sleeps up to 8 more people, but good thing we didn't invite anyone else because there were no bunk beds as promised, and the floor was loaded with rodent feces.
We had fun at the Colton Guard Station despite all the disappointments.  During the passing thunderstorm at night, we were able to sleep and we didn't even really know it had rained until we got up the next morning and saw the ground wet outside.  I let the ranger know in the morning that the place was falsely advertised and he said that I should've gotten a phone call telling me about the plumbing being off.  Well I didn't receive any such call.  I told him the place needed a good cleaning and it was gross for which he responded that the place is rented out so often that the rangers don't have time to come in between groups to clean it.  Tsk. Tsk.

At least we had our own home-sweet-home to look forward to and new family memories.