Not a Sit-Your-Butt-On-The-Beach-And-Don’t-Move-It Kind of Trip

I’ve been trying to decide which topic to write about this time (how vulnerability rather than strength allows us to connect with each other, or, musings on why so very few of our friends and family members “like” or comment on my blog posts, or, the enormous blessings that have resulted from therapy and a lot of hard work, for example) but I just wasn’t feeling any of those this time. Over the years I’ve learned that my best writing happens when my brain starts racing, sentences begin to form in my mind, a spurt of energy comes, and I feel a sudden rush of urgency. I’ve tried following those cues to guide me when it’s time to put thoughts onto pages.

As I was thinking about the above topics, I just wasn’t feeling any of these physical and mental signs this time. But what else is there to write about these days? Then, as soon as I started thinking about documenting our upcoming trip, all those feelings came. So that’s what I’m going to focus on today and I’m excited!

In a future post, I’ll go into specifics about my process of financing and planning our trips…because it IS a process! This time, one that’s taken 9 months to fund and 4 months to organize. However, since I finished all of that and am now in the waiting game (6 weeks to go!), I want to focus this post on the more fun side of things and just tell you want our plans entail. Eeee!! We are so excited!

Great-Britain

Through the sometimes arduous task of deciding where we go next (dependent upon airline and hotel point availability, easy flights, season and weather, where I’m not susceptible to getting sick, etc.) we settled on a road trip through parts of England, Wales, and Scotland. Ireland was included originally but it quickly became apparent how much we’d have to cut out of Great Britain to make it work. Something had to give. Actually, LOTS of things had to give. There are just too many amazingly incredible places to visit in these countries! We had to do a lot of focusing and zeroing in on the places we ultimately felt we would enjoy the most.

Here’s rundown of our itinerary, subject to any needed flexibility when we’re actually on the ground:

  1. Fly nonstop red-eye from SLC to London.
  2. Take the train to our hotel in the Bloomsbury neighborhood of London. After resting up, we’ll take a double-decker bus to Big Ben and Kensington Gardens. We’ll walk through the gardens to the Princess Diana Playground.
  3. Ride the River Thames ferry to the Tate Modern Museum and eat our way through Borough Market. We’ll also walk across the Jubilee Footbridge when it’s lit up at night.
  4. Explore the Mayfair and Marylbone neighborhoods (or Notting Hill?). Head to St. James Park to watch the Cavalrys Parade and Changing of the Guard. Then we’ll pick up our rental car and head out of town to Eastbourne, a Victorian seafront town on the south coast.
  5. Go see the white cliffs at Seven Sisters Country Park, walk along the beach, and do some rockpooling (tidepooling). That night, Rob and Nate have plans to do the Warner Bros. Harry Potter Studio Tour. The girls and I will relax at the hotel.
  6. Rent a punting boat in Oxford and do a self-tour. Drive/walk through a couple of the Cotswold villages and play croquet at Hidcote Manor Garden.
  7. Stop at Ludlow (medieval town) and walk across the Pontcysyllte Aquaduct on our drive through Wales to Snowdonia National Park.
  8. Play on the beaches of the Lleyn Peninsula (most Welsh part of Wales).
  9. Try our hand at crabbing and visit Conwy Castle.
  10. Drive Winnat’s Pass to Castleton in the Peaks District and on through to York.
  11. Stop at Hadrian’s Wall and wherever else suits our fancy on the northeast coast.
  12. Visit Edinburgh’s Old Town and Royal Mile.
  13. Explore more Edinburgh, Culross, and drive to The Trossachs National Park.
  14. Hike through the forest to see Braklinn Falls and Devil’s Pulpit.
  15. Fly out of Glasgow (possibly stopping at the Necropolis on the way) back to London and catch our late afternoon flight to Boston.
  16. Walk Beacon Hill and maybe Boston Common or Feneuil Marketplace. Fly home!

Oh! One more thing I want to do while there…keep an ongoing list of all the new words/slang we can use in our speech once we are home. Their verbiage is so great and it’d be so fun to sprinkle it in whenever we feel like raising some eyebrows!

Half of our lodgings are normal Holiday Inn type of places, but I did book us in a few gems:

  • Victorian seaside row house B&B
  • YHA (youth and family hostels)
  • Mobile home by the beach
  • Hut in the woods of Snowdonia
  • A vestry (little apartment attached to an 1800s church)
  • Stately luxury hotel on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh
  • Converted manor house garage apartment in a mountain village

Animals we are endeavoring to see:

  • Shire or Clydesdale horses and Shetland ponies
  • Lots of starfish, crabs, etc.
  • Puffins
  • Highland cows

Food we are endeavoring to eat:

  • Fish and Chips
  • Scones with jam and clotted cream
  • Banoffee pie
  • Norfolk crab
  • Blakewell pudding
  • Hot cross buns
  • Rarebit
  • Jacket potatoes
  • Various cheeses
  • Sticky toffee pudding
  • Aberdeen angus beef
  • Scottish eggs
  • Lobster roll
  • Cod

That’s it! Easy peasy! Haha, don’t worry, I’m not daft. I DO realize that this itinerary (and menu) is NOT for the faint of heart or for those who actually like to RELAX on their vacation. This is more for the family who likes to see and do (and eat) as much as they can because they wonder if they’ll ever return to this part of the world again. This is for the family who loves the drive through the landscapes and towns as much as the destinations at the end of the road. This is the stuff that gets my blood flowing and my mood high. Ooooh, I LOVE it!

Maybe our next trip will just be a sit-your-butt-on-the-beach-and-don’t-move-it kind of trip…but I doubt it.

Summer Summary

Here’s just a quick(ish) roundup of all our summer antics.

Caroline got married to Scouts. Luckily the officiator was able to squeeze in his speech just before the runaway groom took off.

Nate got an exciting summer haircut. It’s not supposed to be a heart…but there was a miscommunication.

 

We went to the OKGO concert in Ogden and it was rad. Our kids are huge fans of their music videos. The confetti cannons that shot off regularly were much enjoyed and we all sang at the top of our lungs.

Umm…when did we get a teenager??

Bear Lake camping and wave running with the Snow family is always a lot of fun. Our kids are speed demons.

For my birthday we went mini-golfing, walked around the International Peace Gardens, got pastries from Gourmandise Bakery, explored Gilgal Sculpture Garden, and bought flowers.

I took the kids to BYU campus to visit a few of the museums there that don’t  necessitate a trip all on their own. Then we got super creamy ice cream, of course.

As far as my kids know, this is the famous liger from Napoleon Dynamite.

Eclipse-alypse 2017

Rob and Nate decided to hightail it up to Idaho to spend a couple of days camping in the path of totality. They loved it, even though it took them 7 hours to drive home + getting rear-ended (no auto damage to us).

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The girls and I had fun mini-golfing and watching the semi-eclipse with neighbors.

Other antics:

Cousin Twins. They look, sound, and act like they were grown in the same womb.

Rob is super excited about his new sun shade. I, however, get in the car and take it down as fast as I can before anyone else sees that it belongs to my car.

No explanation needed.

Foam Day!

Caroline’s favorite new accessory.

Nate’s gotten into fishing and wishes he had more chances to do it.


That’s our nutshell!

Overnighter at the Falls






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There is a wonderful place to explore just a 1 1/2 hours away from our house. Head up the canyon past Kamas and a half hour later is Provo River Falls. Man, are they awesome fun! You can’t get a picture of all of them because there are probably 15 waterfalls with shallow pools cascading down the mountain. You can just climb and play and swim all day! It can be a little busy on the weekends but we were pretty much the only ones there on the weekday.

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It can easily be done as a day trip but we decided to camp overnight. Our campsite was a bit overrun by mosquitos and chipmunks but we still had a good time.

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We took paints for nature art and our kids even made friends with the neighbors.
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We decided to try our hand at campfire pizza and we’ll call it a success.

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All in all we loved our time in the mountains.

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Spring Break in St. George

Our dear friends invited us to spend a long weekend with them at a condo in St. George for Spring Break. We replied an enthusiastic YES!

Rob spent a lot of time and made this super fun and cool video of our trip. It’s 20 minutes long so we don’t expect many of you to watch it.

For those who don’t want to spend 20 minutes of their day watching our family vacation video, here is a quick summary.

Red Cliffs Nature Preserve
This walk was awesome! This area is one that we will go to again and again.

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Zion National Park
We did the River Walk and the guys went into the Narrows for a few minutes.

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Hot Tubbing and Splash Pad Playing
No pictures, but I swear, the kids would be happy just doing this for 3 days straight.

Snow Canyon State Park
Sand dune fun!

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Snow Canyon State Park
Petrified sand dune fun!

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Thank you, thank you, thank you friends!! We had a super great and memorable time!

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Christmas, Christmas Time is Here

At least it was 2 months ago…You know how it is. Maybe you don’t. I recall seeing many Christmas posts in the week following the holiday. Ok, I guess it’s just me then.

It was fun seeing Nate in his Christmas Concert at school. He knew the songs really well and had a good performance.

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My mom invited us and other family members to This is the Place Heritage Park’s Candlelight Christmas.

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The kids really enjoyed going from building to building doing little crafts, hearing stories, learning a dance, seeing a live nativity, and getting a treat.

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This video of us girls learning the dance is so cute! <a href="Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug” target=”_blank”>Video link

Bonus: After everyone’s admission, only $5 was due to get a year-long family pass. Score! We will be using this as soon as the weather gets nicer.

Christmas Eve finally came. Due to a snowstorm, we barely made it out of our neighborhood to dinner at my mom and dad’s. We also barely made it back in! That night, our girls received their princess pjs and they’ve barely taken them off since!

We did a white elephant exchange and the gifts I brought were expensive Twinkies I scored in the corner of the Walmart parking lot. I ate a couple, let the kid’s try their one and only Twinkie they will ever have, and then gave the rest away.

Christmas Day brought fun surprises for everyone. The big ticket items were a new bike for Nate and a vanity with makeup for the girls.

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Here are the girls all dressed up. We’re in big trouble.

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One of the best surprises was when Madeleine opened a tin to find “cow”. Madeleine had lost cow in Denver over a year earlier and was still missing her. A few times since then I had looked online for a new one but never had any luck. Then, while in Denver again, I searched and finally found her! I posted this on FaceBook: “Dilemma: a year ago Madeleine lost her beloved stuffed “cow”. She has mentioned missing it over and over again ever since. She still looks at pictures of it and wishes she still had her. After searching and searching I finally found cow’s twin sister. She is on ebay…for $45! Do I splurge? Or just let madeleine learn the facts of life the hard way :)”  Pretty much everyone thought I should get it but a specific comment touched me. It said, “Teach her that sometimes life is good and full of miracles.” That answer touched me. Thanks, Trina! Even though it was exactly the same, including the flower, she knew it wasn’t the original. But Madeleine has loved having her cow again. <a href="Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug” target=”_blank”>Video Link

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This ribbon wand in her stocking has continued to be a huge hit. Video link

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Then we spent Christmas night at the Snow household and opened even more gifts.

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Once again, we had a busy but truly wonderful Christmas season. We are more blessed (or at least realize it more) every year. We love our family and friends, and of course our Savior, Jesus Christ. We can’t wait until next year when we can do it all over again!

Chase Squirrels, Climb Stairs, and Hang on a Cannon

We just got back from another trip to Denver, but here is our last post regarding our previous trip.

Our last evening we decided to give downtown another try. We stopped by the capitol building and the kids had a blast chasing the squirrels that have infested the grounds. The kids loved spotting them, screaming at them, and then chasing them up the trees. We could’ve spent a lot more time doing this, but there were some squirrel-loving homeless people hanging about who didn’t appreciate the cruelty the kids were imposing on trash-eating rodents.

Madeleine caught a big squirrelly one!

  

We headed up the stairs of the capitol building for the sole purpose of mom getting a family pic on the One Mile Above Sea Level step. Rob just had to put his foot in front of the engraving. Oh, well.

 

The sun was getting low and the light was nice and warm and beautiful.

 

Like daughter like mother.

 

The kids climbed all over the cannons on display. Luckily, there weren’t any cannon-loving homeless people hanging about.
We would’ve gotten in trouble for sure.

 

Nate said he did this so his butt would get shot to smithereens.

We then walked through Larimer Square with its streets lined with un-kid-friendly swanky restaurants. Rob and I really wished we could just sit ourselves down at any of the outdoor patios and order something delicious but we trudged on to find something suitable for less refined palates. We ended up at Ling & Louie’s. It was so, so good! We probably wouldn’t have normally taken the kids there, but I’d heard good things about it, it was practically empty so the kids couldn’t disturb many patrons, and I really wanted some asian food. The kids shared a bento box with chopsticks, which was really cool. So cool, that they ate more of it than they would have had it just come on plates with forks. Rob and I ate well, but the dessert we ordered was to die for. It was the Banana Caramel Spring Roll (a decadent spring roll filled with banana cheesecake and dusted with cinnamon and sugar. Served with fresh strawberries, caramel sauce and vanilla bean ice cream). Now, I don’t really like banana all that much, but this was amazing. We ooohed and awwwed our way through the decadence with pure pleasure. I hear they are opening a Ling & Louie’s in SLC in the future and we couldn’t be happier.

 

Thanks for coming along this trip to Denver with us! And much thanks to Rob for being willing to drag his crazy wife and kids along with him on his business trip. He could’ve easily gone alone and enjoyed some serious relaxation time but he loves us too much. Plus, he knows that would just tick me off Winking smile

Nebo Drive & Payson Lakes

Last weekend we piled in the car and drove down south to the Nebo Area.  We hoped to go a few weeks earlier to see the leaves change but couldn’t make it happen.  So yeah, the leaves were all down as we, or at least I (Rob) expected.  Every time we drove over a hill and beheld a valley filled with trees (sans leaves) I would chuckle a little because I knew Julie was agonizing over how beautiful it could have been…..if only…..  LOL!

We got out of the car at a few places along the drive to take a walk in the woods.  How fun it was to goof around with the kids.  We had a blast playing with sticks and rocks, throwing dirt and leaves, and jumping on logs.  Of course we made a lot of images. 

Nate has his mom’s amazing eyes!

Eventually we made our way to Payson Lakes.  We played in the dirt, mud, sand, and water for at least two hours! The kids found a old broken paddle to use as a make shift shovel.  Instant FUN!

Here is one of Madeleine with her pile of rocks and dirt.  She worked on this for about 20 minutes.  I’m not really sure what she was doing the entire time; However, we can rest assured that it was satisfying.  🙂

Here are a couple shots I took when I wasn’t playing with the kids.  We even found a few leaves for Julie!

I sure wish people would pick up their trash! Ugh!

 

Those interested can find a few more images in the web gallery.

Saturday @ Bear Lake

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Last Saturday the fam went to Bear Lake with Rob’s parents. What a wonderful day! The weather was perfect, the water was perfect, and the kids were perfect.

I’d say the only down side was the striped sunburns Rob and I got from not applying the sunscreen very well. But not a big deal.

Here are some fun pictures of us. Family can view more here.

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Nate 3.75

My hair can get a little shaggy when I let it grow too long.  In that shaggy state it is not uncommon for me to experience a little bed-head on Saturday mornings.  Some times this lasts in to the afternoon before I finally get around to showering.   Yesterday, while Julie was cutting my hair, Nate noticed my bed-head and asked…..  get ready for this….. he asked if I had some pee in my hair that was making it stick up!  Wow, I’m not sure how that train of thought came to fruition. 

Nate’s alter ego, Spiderman is very active in our home.  Sometimes I get to team up with him to fight the imaginary bad guys that have infiltrated our home and sometimes I get to be the super-strong bad guy.  I think I make a really good bad guy!  Nate usually wins by using his super strong muscles.  🙂  Nate has two pairs of Spiderman pajamas that get much more use during the day than at night.  If he could wear them everyday and all day long I know he would.

In the last couple of months Nate has finally started to like music.  In the past, Nate always asked me to turn off the music.  If I showed reluctance, he would take matters into his own hands and turn it off himself.  As you can imagine this was very stressful for a guy that likes music as much as I do.  What changed then?  Earlier this summer we took the kids to the Ogden Arts Festival where some live music was being played.  We sat down near the old fountain and listened to the music for a while.  The band wasn’t too bad and Nate was completely enthralled by the experience.  He liked the guy playing the guitar the most and asked if he could learn to play the “loud” guitar when he gets big.  So this was really exciting.  Now Nate loves to listen to music on one condition.  It must be “fast” music with electric guitar!  Some of his favorites right now are Aerosmith and Relient K.

Just the other evening Nate and I were chilling downstairs.  Madeleine was asleep and Julie was out doing some fun stuff on her own.  Nate randomly announced that he had a baby in his belly.  Smiling, I asked why he thought he had a baby in his belly.  With all the confidence in the world he stated that he knew he had a baby in his belly because his belly was big.  🙂  I explained that only mommy’s could have babies.  I think that conversation is just going to get more and more detailed as time goes on.  Ha. 

One of Nate’s classic laughing looks.  This is the laugh that is totally infections!  🙂

Here is a shot with Nate and me.  I love that kid so much.  I look back on what we have done together so far and also look forward to all the thing’s will do together.  Our family rocks.

I am one proud father.  Stay tuned for a similar post about little Madeleine.  She has also surprised me a little as of late.  🙂  All these photos can be found in this gallery on our website.