Nine Mile Canyon

Oops.  Shall we just ignore the fact that it’s been almost a year since my last post and move on? 😳🙈

Over the long weekend we took the kids on a last-minute trip to Nine Mile Canyon, UT.  Nine Mile Canyon has one of the highest concentrations of rock art around and it’s only about 2.5 hours away from us.  It was a great time.

I had read about Nine Mile Canyon while looking up rock art in Utah.  We’ve seen petroglyphs (carved rock art) at different places around Utah and I think they’re fascinating.  There’s something moving about seeing art that another person made over 1,000 years and that has endured the blazing sun and rain storms since.

In front of “The Great Hunt” which is one of the most famous petroglyph panels. It was a little surreal to be able to hop out of the car and take in this treasure all on our own.
Mimi and “The Great Buffalo” panel.
E in the entrance of a cave possibly used by the Fremont people for storage.
N and E by Balance Rock


Recently Mimi saved up her money to buy herself a camera and she put it to good use on this trip.
I cranked up the contrast on this pic to show more detail.
There are old ranch buildings scattered throughout the canyon.
It’s amazing that you can just walk right up to this fantastic art. Sadly, some of them have been vandalized which is really frustrating.  This is why we can’t have nice things, people.
E looking over a map of the canyon.
E reading a brochure about the canyon at the ranch.

It was a great trip and one I highly recommend.   The drive only took us 2.5 hours.  We drove down Sunday night and slept over at Nine Mile Ranch which is located right outside the canyon.  The ranch’s location can’t be beat and it’s nice to be able to head straight into the canyon in the morning instead of immediately after the drive down.

We stayed in the bunk and breakfast in the “Family Room” which had a queen and bunk beds for the kids.  The guest rooms were in the basement and our room was pretty stuffy/musty and our dust allergies flared up.  Mimi got so congested and coughed so much in her sleep that she threw up which was difficult to deal with.

Mimi was fine once she got out of the basement and Monday morning the gracious family who run the ranch served us a delicious breakfast.

If we stayed there again I would book one of their cabins rather than the bunkhouse.   If you’re a camper they have sites which are only $15.  Or you can stay at the Super 8 in Wellington which is about 40 minutes from the canyon which is honestly what we should have done in hindsight.


If you go be sure to have a full tank of gas and plenty of water and food–there are no services or cell reception.  This map and going by the mile markers was helpful in finding the rock art.  We hardly saw anyone else while we were there–it was a real treat to have the whole place to ourselves.  Nine Mile Canyon is an overlooked gem.






Cayonlands National Park

20151017_0075_zpsltjjuvkq-1Here 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.

4th of July: Balloon Festival

A picture of a young girl in a striped tshirt standing in front of a half-inflated rainbow-colored hot air balloon.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 🙂
20150704_0142_zpscydxca1p-2There 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).

A crew squeezing the air out of a deflating balloon.

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.

20150704_0138_zpsayjncmrb-2Early 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?

Disneyland: Residence Inn Anaheim

The kids watching TV in their room
The kids watching TV in their room

After talking to friends and literally spending a few hours checking out hotels online (because I like to stress myself out) I booked us at the Residence Inn Anaheim Resort Area/Garden Grove.

I wanted a suite so the kids would have their own room and we would have a fridge for E’s food.  Our suite was spacious with two bedrooms, each with their own TVs and adjoining bathrooms, a living room with another TV, a dining table for 4 and a full kitchen (full-sized fridge, dishwasher, stove/oven, and microwave).  Having all that space was great and meant we could easily separate the kids when they got cranky/or when Mimi needed to take a nap.


  • Good price for the space (I booked our plane tickets and hotel together and saved money).
  • Friendly and helpful staff (I was trying to find a vending machine with something other than soda in it (which they didn’t have) and when I asked the front desk they gave me a couple bottles of Snapple from their break room and wouldn’t let me pay or tip them for them)
  • Decent complimentary breakfast with hot items like waffles, eggs, oatmeal, and sausages in addition to bagels, fruit, and cereal.
  • Grocery-shopping service: In the morning you can fill out a card requesting the items you want and they will shop for them and drop them off in your room in the afternoon along with a photocopy of the store receipt.  We had a rental car but were always too tired to go out by the time we got back to the hotel so this was a nice option.
  • It’s the first stop of the shuttle going to Disneyland which only stops at one or two other hotels so we always got seats and the ride was fairly short.
  • Quiet rooms and good water pressure even on the 17th floor.


  • It’s further away from Disneyland than several hotels and walking with kids isn’t really an option. (But the shuttle was easy to use).
  • The shuttle stop at Disneyland was out by the street and a long walk from the park gate but it wasn’t a huge deal.
  • The hotel is a little older and showing some signs of wear–it didn’t really bother me though since then I wasn’t worried about my kids damaging things 😉
  • Housekeeping’s routine was to clean our room in the mid-afternoon which was when we were back in our hotel room for some down time so we missed them two days in a row.
  • There are only 2 elevators so in the morning rush they get crowded.
  • Parking costs about $14 a day and the lot was crowded and the spaces were tight.

Overall, we really liked the Residence Inn Anaheim Resort Area/Garden Grove.  I think it’s a good place to stay if you’re going to Disneyland and you don’t mind not being able to walk to the park.

Disneyland: Meeting Mickey

KidsMickey_zps8azfyqzu-1We’re in the home stretch, friends!  School gets out for us tomorrow and it’s probably a toss up as to whether E or I are more excited about him not having any more homework.

The weeks have been whipping by in a blur (per usual around here) and I wanted to blog about a trip to Disneyland we took at the end of April before the details escaped me.  We haven’t been on a family vacation in a few years and thought the kids were good ages to go and it turned out wonderfully.

We wanted to limit the time N and the kids missed work and school and so we flew into the Long Beach airport instead of driving.  It was our first time using this airport and we loved it!  It’s small, relaxed, and very easy to get around.  We picked up our rental car, stopped by a Whole Foods to get some food allergy-safe food for E, and then had dinner at a fun Korean fusion burrito place we found online.  After dinner we drove to our hotel and as we got to our room and started unpacking we watched an impressive fireworks display from our window.  And then we put the kids to bed in their bunk beds and closed the door on their separate bedroom and it was awesome 🙂

The next morning we headed into Disneyland for the first of our three days at the parks.  It was a Wednesday and busy but not crazy crowded.  As we walked into the park we were checking out Main Street when we saw Minnie pop out of an unmarked door.  Mimi loves Minnie but before we could approach her Minnie grabbed a couple of kids by the hand and booked it across the square to where a long line immediately formed.  The kids were a little dejected at having missed Minnie but then Mickey popped out of the same door!  E and Mimi ran up to him and he grabbed their hands and immediately started hauling it out of there.

As soon as people saw Mickey they joined the quickly-growing crowd following him and the kids.  N and I had to weave in and out of the crowd and scramble to keep up with them.  Mickey took the kids to what I’m assuming was his assigned meet-and-greet spot, I quickly snapped a pic of them with my phone, and we said goodbye.

It was a surprising and memorable start to our Disneyland trip 🙂

Adventure at Topaz Mountain

Sibling togetherness!  (Also, photobomb by N.)

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 at Topaz mountain
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
Can you see the topaz?  Click to view larger.

Topaz on the ground at topaz mountain
Ta-da!  (Yeah, I know.  It’s easier to see when the sun is glinting off it it.)

topaz crystals from topaz mountain
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.

Literally my first time at the rodeo

We have family from Korea in town visiting for the summer and I’ve been racking my brain trying to think of typical “American” things they would enjoy.  Every year our town puts on a rodeo and I thought it doesn’t get much more “American” than that so last night E and I took them.

I haven’t taken a lot of photos with my dSLR lately but I took with me and it was fun to take some photos.   

I think that last photo might be my favorite.

I thought for sure that 5-year-old E would be captivated by the exciting events but he was much more interested in following the rodeo clowns’ (somewhat dirty) banter. What can I say?  The kid loves jokes.

Even though I grew up in Washington state and have lived in Utah for 10+ years I hadn’t seen this side of the American West before in real life. I did feel a bit out of place (our group of Koreans was a little conspicuous) but over all it was interesting and fun.   

The Lehi Roundup continues tonight and tomorrow if you want to check it out. 

How about you–have you ever been to a rodeo before? Would you want to go to one? 

Out and About: Hill Aerospace Museum

I don’t get to see my brother Steven that often; he has special needs and lives with my parents so when he and my mom visited a few weeks ago it was a treat.

Steven loves airplanes, trains, and trucks so I thought I trip to the Hill Aerospace museum would be right up his alley. We’ve taken the kids before and E always enjoys it. We all had a lot of fun. 

I hadn’t planned it, but once we got there we noticed that E’s red pants matched his Superman jacket  and really completed the look.  So of course we took the opportunity to ham it up a bit 🙂