Utah is really, really, ridiculously good looking

So I’ve picked up a couple of pictures from recent activities, and seriously, Utah is just a gorgeous place. The first one is from a hike that I went on with my dad a week or two ago. It was a little less than three miles in, so not super long or anything, but you are rewarded with some beautiful vistas. There are drinking fountains along the way, so you know it’s a serious hike…

Hike

The view climbing up rock canyon. Sorry for the weird lighting. You take what you can get when you’re hiking.

The other picture is one that I took at my nephew’s soccer game. You can see him just behind the kid with the red shirt. More importantly, look at the mountains. This was the view on a soccer field in a public park where elementary school kids play. The sun was starting to  go down and it turned the mountains this bright gold color. Even after growing up here, I’m still amazed that you have these amazing views just right outside.

zach soccer

I don’t think there are too many places in the world where you can play soccer with a view like that.

Fun at the Museum

IMG_20140908_163541256

This is the picture you get when you tell your kids to say “dinosaurs!”

We’ve taken our little family to a couple of museums lately. The first one was actually a backup plan. Since it was a sunny, beautiful day, we decided to go to the park. Of course, by the time we shaved the yak and were ready to get out the door it had started raining. Time for a visit to the BYU Earth Science museum.

IMG_20140908_163638950

I was always scared to put my head in that thing as a kid. My kids take after me.

Photo Strip

Photo booths are totally fun, and totally overpriced.

There are tons of fossils in Utah. Because of that, even a small museum can have some really cool stuff. Bonnie and I have been to the museum of natural history in New York and it’s one of the only museums out East that I’ve seen with a good fossil collection. The BYU museum, on the other hand, lacks the massive budget and resources of a New York museum, but it still has some great fossils, and was the perfect size for the two kids. There are tons of things to look at and touch, so it’s really fun.

The other museum that we went to last week was the Museum of Natural Curiosity at Thanksgiving Point. We have a family pass that lets us get into a bunch of children’s museums all over the country, so we didn’t have to pay when we went. It’s basically a huge activity center. We didn’t see the whole thing, but we spend a lot of time in a room with a bunch of science demonstrations on movement and mechanics (or something like that). It was super cool.

We also had a great time in the section with a lot of wind and water things. There’s even this huge area where kids (and adults) can build structures that can spray water, or direct the flow different ways. You don’t even have to worry about getting the floor all wet. It’s really well done that way. Anyway, we all had a great time taking a few field trips, especially since we were able to go during non-peak hours. Hooray for having cool stuff (almost) completely to ourselves!

So, does anyone else know any really fun and free museums or activities in the Orem/Provo area (or thereabouts)? We’re always looking for fun stuff that we can take the kids to.

image

R is really good at smiling naturally.

Thankful Thursday 6 – State Holidays Edition

I was looking for a picture of Gene, but I don't have one, so here's one of the kids with their Nana-his oldest daughter.

I was looking for a picture of Gene, but I don’t have one, so here’s one of the kids with their Nana-his oldest daughter.

Happy 24th of July! I’m not really much of an exclamation mark guy, buy that sentence looks weird without it. If you don’t know me personally and you’re reading this, just imagine Eeyore delivering that sentence and you’ll have a good idea of how I’d actually say it.

Just now I was curious how many state holidays actually exist, and there are more than I thought. Here’s a list. Did you know that Indiana celebrates Lincoln’s birthday as an official state holiday, but that they hold the celebration the day after Thanksgiving, instead of in February when it actually was? That’s odd, right? Thanks for the factoid, internet.

So today in Utah it’s Pioneer Day. It commemorates the day that Brigham Young and the first group of Mormon pioneers entered the Salt Lake valley in 1847. I’m grateful for the pioneers and their sacrifices. Whenever I get the chance to really think about what they did, I’m just blown away.

Today is also an important observance on Bonnie’s side of the family: it’s Grandpa Gene’s birthday. Grandpa Gene is Bonnie’s maternal grandfather. He passed away before I joined the family, but by all accounts he was an amazing and inspiring person. I’m grateful that my wife and kids have inherited such a fantastic legacy.

Finally, we’re also right in the middle of a family reunion with all of Bonnie’s brothers and sisters. We’ve spent most of the week up at their cabin in Provo canyon, so I’m stealing a few minutes to get this post out. It’s been a lot of fun, and deserves its own post, but I’m grateful that we’ve had the opportunity to spend time together. Also, apologies to anyone who commented in the last few days, I haven’t been near my computer for a bit.

So like I said, there’s much to be grateful for today. It’s been a good week, and we’ve still got a few more days of reunion to go. I’m looking forward to it.

Thankful Thursday 5 – Hiking

This is a view of one of the peaks as you start out on the trail.

This is a view of one of the peaks as you start out on the Slate Canyon trail.

I decided to set some goals for myself while I’m in  Utah. I need to have some direction and control, especially when I don’t have much control over other areas of my life at this moment.

One area I need to work on is physical fitness. I’m not in particularly good shape. I’m not hugely obese or anything, but I’ve definitely got a few extra pounds. I can’t run fast. I can’t jump high. I’m a terrrible swimmer. I’ve never done a pull-up…

You get the picture.

On the other hand, I’ve always aspired to the ideal of the Renaissance man. I’m a pretty talented person generally, but if one area in my life is neglected, physical fitness is it.

With that in mind, my physical fitness goal is to hike the summit of Mount Timpanogos. I’ve lived almost my whole life looking up at that mountain, and I’ve never hiked to the top. I’m giving myself a couple months to get into some sort of shape (round is a shape, right?), and I’ve started doing some easier hikes in the area. Last week I hiked Battle Creek with the kids, which is a short, easy hike to a waterfall. This morning I tried hiking Slate Canyon by myself.

I did not make it all the way through the trail (I mis-typed that as trial initially, which is close enough); I don’t even think I made it halfway through the trail. It was steep and I can’t breath at elevation yet. However, I still had a really nice time. How many places have views like this just ten minutes from home?

This is looking out of the valley on the way down.

This is looking out over the valley on the way down the trail..

If I was in better shape I would have been singing or humming, rather than gasping and huffing, but I had two songs going through my head as I did the hike: For the Beauty of the Earth and Wolf’s Fußreise (here’s a translation).

Fun Fact: If you time your steps to fit with the beat of the song you’re imagining, then the song will get slower and slower in your head as you tire out. I was walking to the most dirge-like For the Beauty of the Earth that you can imagine.

The truth is that Utah wilderness is sublime. I’m grateful that I have some time to explore it and see how amazing it is.