I’ve been trying to improve my health lately. My teacher for the women’s weightlifting class I’m in (which is really fun BTW) told us about a program for hiking the Timpanogos Cave trail. Since it’s the 100th anniversary of the National Parks Service there’s a program where if you hike the trail up to the cave 100 times from May-beginning of Sept you get a free jacket.
I’m a sucker for big ideas and for about a week I was SO PUMPED to earn that jacket! But then I counted the days I had to hike and it was something like 115 at the time which meant I would have to go at least 6 days a week or do it twice a day which just wasn’t going to happen :/
I don’t have time for that! It takes me 2 hours to drive from my house to the trail, hike up and down, and then drive home. Most of the people whom I see hiking it multiple times are older (and probably don’t have little kids at home). So my friend Amy decided we would get ourselves our own reward when we hiked it 50 times 😉
It’s a pretty good hike: 1.5 miles up gaining about 1,100 ft. At times it’s really steep. I keep waiting for it to get noticeably easier but I just hiked it for the 13th time this morning and it’s still really hard in places. But I’ve shaved a few minutes off my time up so that’s good.
I normally leave the house at 6am so I’m back by 8 for N to leave for work, but last Friday my friend Amy and I took our kids with us around lunch time and went on the cave tour. It was fun but afterwards I was wiped out. Turns out it takes a lot of energy to cajole a whining 8-year-old up a mountain. It took us an hour and a half to get up to the cave when it normally takes about 43 min, ha!
I was looking forward to sleeping in this summer, but I have to get up even earlier than normal when I go hiking. But I love it!–I definitely love it more on the way down than on the way up–but I feel so invigorated and ready for anything. It usually wears off around 2pm when all I want to do is crawl in bed for a quick nap, but it’s nice while it lasts 😉
We had a really good weekend. We took the kids to see Zootopia which we all enjoyed and then N and I went on a date and had some delicious Pakistani food. I want to write more about both of those things, but today I wanted to let locals know about a fun event.
Lindsay Eager’s debut middle reader novel, Hour of the Bees*, is being released today and there’s a book launch party tonight. Lindsay is my friend and neighbor’s daughter and while I haven’t read Hour of the Bees yet (I’m picking up my copy at the party tonight) reviews seem to like it.
The synopsis from the publisher:
While her friends are spending their summers having pool parties and sleepovers, twelve-year-old Carolina–Carol–is spending hers in the middle of the New Mexico desert, helping her parents move the grandparents she’s never met into a home for people with dementia. At first, Carol avoids prickly Grandpa Serge, who is meaner than a rattler and speaks in dizzying circles. But as the summer wears on and the heat bears down, Carol finds herself drawn to him, fascinated by the crazy stories he tells her about a healing tree, a green-glass lake, and the bees that will bring back the rain and end a hundred years of drought. As the thin line between magic and reality starts to blur, Carol must decide for herself what is possible–and what it means to be true to her roots.
If you’re local and enjoy children’s lit or have a kid you think would like the book (me on both counts), come to the release party tonight! There’s going to be an author presentation, salsa bar, local honey tasting, and cupcakes. I’m going to be there 🙂
March 8th, 6:30pm
The Gardens at Dry Creek
877 North 100 East
Here in Utah we get an extra long weekend off of school in October so teachers can attend training. It’s called UEA or fall break. Half of Utah takes the opportunity to go to Disneyland and the other half heads down to southern Utah which is what we did.
We rented a cabin in Moab and spent a few days exploring Canyonlands National Park. The scenery was amazing and it wasn’t too crowded. At times it felt like we had the place to ourselves.
Hiking to the top of Whale Rock
E using his binoculars at Mesa Arch. They came with a Junior Ranger backpack we checked out from the visitor center (for free!)
Taking a break on the Aztec Butte hike.
The kids in front of an ancient Aztec grain pantry
E was enamored by the texture of this shrub and requested a photo 🙂
E climbing around and making me nervous.
It was a great trip. I think Canyonlands might be underrated as a national park. We only visited the Island In The Sky district (there are 4 different ones) but it was gorgeous. I’d say it’s on par with the Grand Canyon. Check it out if you get the chance.
The city of Provo hosts a big festival every 4th of July and one of the main events is a hot air balloon launch. I’ve always wanted to attend but we are really not early-risers if we can help it (especially N) so it never seemed like the right time. But this year our friends and neighbors were going and graciously offered us the two extra seats in their van so Mimi and I rolled out at bed at 5:10am and tagged along.
It was totally worth it 🙂
There were around 12 hot air balloons spread out on the ground in a field behind Provo High School waiting to be inflated. People sat on blankets and camping chairs hanging out and waiting. Unfortunately it was too windy for the balloons to launch but the crews still inflated them to show them off to the crowd (and then deflated them).
It was fascinating to see the crews inflate the balloons. It was crowded and people were able to stand close to the balloons as they went up. The heat coming off the burners was intense; we could feel it on our faces.
I didn’t mind that much that the balloons couldn’t launch since watching them inflate was so interesting but Mimi was a little bummed as you can see in the above picture. Later that day we were driving on the freeway past some windmills and she indignantly said, “They should have turn off those windmills so the balloons could’ve taken off!” and cracked us up.
Early morning wake up aside, it was great. I would definitely attend this or another balloon launch again if I have the chance.
If you’re in Utah the city of Sandy is having a balloon festival on August 7th and 8th, including a “balloon glow” in the evening. The website says that some of the pilots will need help so if you come early you may be able to volunteer to help crew a balloon–how cool would that be?
A few Saturdays ago we took the kids to Topaz mountain, something we’ve been wanting to for a long time. It’s a mountain range out in the west Utah desert with deposits of topaz and other semiprecious minerals. It’s public land and you can take home whatever you find.
Topaz mountain is in the middle of NOWHERE and about 2 and a half hours of driving from our house. After you turn off the main road the last few miles is rough going on a dirt road. I kept cringing every time our minivan scraped over another large or pointy rock. We had caravanned out with N’s parents which was fun and it was fun to spend time with them. It was also nice knowing that if we got a flat tire or had a mishap that we wouldn’t be stuck out there all alone since there’s no cell reception.
I had kind of thought there since it’s a public site there would be some facilities, at least a pit toilet but nope! Both of my suburban kids fussed about having to pee behind a bush but they got over it. They were really troopers about the whole thing.
Mimi, now one with the desert, post outdoor-pee.
N hanging out in a rare patch of shade.
We drove around to multiple sites and hacked away at the mountain for a while but didn’t find anything. But then as we were walking on the side of the road we started seeing little sparkling bits in the dirt.
Can you see the topaz? Click to view larger.
Ta-da! (Yeah, I know. It’s easier to see when the sun is glinting off it it.)
We ended up with a handful of little topaz crystals, these are just some of them.
Finding the crystals was fun. As you walked slowly you would see little sparkles and then if you retraced your last step you could find the crystals and pick them up. It was like a zen treasure hunt. Both of the kids really got into it; Mimi even found a bunch.
This is what happens if you ask them for a thumbs up 😉
Overall, it was a fun day trip and a nice change from our usual Saturday routine. It’s been weeks since we went and E still talks about it. On Father’s day we were asking him if he wanted to be a dad when he grew up and he thought about it and said, “Yes. And when I’m a dad I’m going to take my kids to Topaz mountain EVERY WEEKEND!” So I guess it was a hit 🙂
We’d like to go out again sometime to look for geodes which are supposedly plentiful nearby.
If you go, I’d recommend doing so on a day that isn’t too hot, taking plenty of water and food and preferably driving an SUV with 4-wheel drive.
On Saturday, N and I took the kids to an artists’ studio sale Linnie was participating in. The artists at the sale were cleaning out their studios and selling pieces at a big discounts.
I have a serious weakness when it comes to art (and let’s be honest–crafting books, cook books, and fabric) and enjoy collecting things that I like. We’ve run out of wall space in our house but I tell myself that when we eventually move it will be nice to already have pieces that means something to us to decorate the house with. (That makes sense, right? Or do I just sound like an unwell person on Hoarders?)
Linnie was selling mostly older pieces and I snagged this original on paper that I liked for $25. The photo I took of it isn’t very clear but the painting’s colors and texture are nice and it reminds me of a Bodhisattva so, score.
We were the only people at the art sale with small children which was a bit nerve-wracking. E and Mimi were both really good though so after the sale we stopped by two bakeries (one vegan for E, one not) and picked up a few treats.
We had been wanting to visit Les Madeleines so we picked up a few macaroons and tried the specialty, their Kouing Aman pastries which they’re well-known for.
IT WAS SO GOOD.
The top was crisp and caramelized and the inside was soft and pillowy. It was buttery and sweet with just the right touch of salt. It’s a good thing the bakery is over 30 minutes away from our house because my fitness plans might be seriously derailed if it was more convenient.
If you’re local and you haven’t been to Les Madeleines, go! (Except not today because they’re closed on Mondays 🙂
On Friday Mimi and I dropped E off at preschool and then swung by N’s office to pick him up for lunch. As we headed towards the freeway we spotted the Waffle Love truck parked at the Alpine park-and-ride. Since E wasn’t with us (his food allergies make normal waffles off-limits) we decided that the opportunity was too good to pass up so I flipped an illegal u-turn and ten minutes later we had gourmet waffles in our hot little hands.
We took our bounty back to N’s office and ate in the break room there. I got a liege waffle with Biscoff spread, cream, and strawberries. It was delicious and very filling (and probably my entire calorie allowance for the day).
As we were walking to the elevator we ran into the CEO, a trim 40-somthing guy with premature grey hair. N introduced us and when he we got to Mimi she looked at the CEO, pointed at him, and clearly said “Pa-pa!” which is what she called her grandpas. There was an awkward moment (he did not look thrilled) and the CEO asked Mimi if Pa-pa has grey hair like him and N interjected that Mimi calls all good-looking men Pa-pa. And then we fled to the elevator as soon as politeness would allow. Yeesh.
So on Saturday when we got out of the car at the Squaw Peak overlook we noticed a few people unpacking paragliders. The weather was gorgeous so we decided to stay and watch what happened.
When you’re driving around in Utah county you see paragliders high in the sky quite often but we had never seen any up close like this. They were only about twenty feet from where we were sitting.
E was intrigued by the people unpacking their parachutes but Mimi was much more fascinated by all the cigarette butts on the ground–gross.
It was really interesting to watch the gliders take off. It happened so fast that I missed it the first time. They would just start running downhill and then the wind would grab the sail (you could hear the loud SNAP of it catching the wind) and they would in the air.
This guy below had a rougher takeoff than his friends, though. The wind blew him back into the mountain and he bounced off the ground a few times before getting airborne. It was a little scary–he was fighting for control and for a second it looked like he might crash into the observers. Just watching him made my heart race; I wonder what his felt like.
But then just like that he was off like a bird.
If we had gotten to the overlook 30 minutes earlier we probably wouldn’t have waited to watch the gliders take off and 30 minutes later and they would have been gone already.
It was a special family outing, one that I’ll remember as a little bit magical because of our good luck.
On Saturday N and I took the kids and drove up into Provo Canyon to see the fall foliage. The trees up in the mountains change color several weeks before those on the valley floor and usually by the time I think about going up into the canyon the leaves there have already fallen.
But not this year! We drove up to the Squaw Peak overlook and the views were amazing.
At night Squaw Peak is popular with college kids looking for a spot to park and make-out. N and I never made it up there when we were dating–the laundromat parking lot next to my apartment complex was much more convenient 😉 –but I bet the views of the valley at night are awesome too.