Soccer has been fun, but a little more involved than we planned on. The first surprise was that we had practice twice each week. But happily, the boys' teams practice on the same day at the same time on the same field, so that hasn't been too much of an issue. And really, the weather has been so beautiful that we want to be outside, anyway. The second surprise was that this league does a lot of double headers (apparently more so this season than in years past). And with two kids playing soccer, we've had a double header for one of their teams every week, meaning we have three soccer games to be at instead of two. This Saturday, we actually have FOUR games. The first week, our three games were one right after the other, but for the past few weeks, the games have had breaks in between--but we live 20 minutes from the field, so the breaks aren't long enough to go home. I'm not trying to whine but to make a point: soccer has completely taken over our Saturdays. The past few Saturdays, between birthday parties, priesthood session, the women's broadcast, and get-togethers with friends, our nights have been occupied as well. These are all good things, but our five family needed a BREAK.
Happily, the break came in the form of a random Saturday off from games! That's right, ZERO games! We had tentative plans with some friends, but decided we needed a family day more than anything. We talked all week about what we should do, trying to settle on something awesome yet not too taxing. We finally came up with a day trip to Valley of Fire.
First thing Saturday morning, we grabbed a ton of water bottles and hopped into the car. After a stop at Wal-Mart for a big sandwich, chips, fruit, donuts, and ice--and an unplanned purchase of a handful of shirts for $1 and a pair of shorts for $3--we were on our way. Funny side note: while we were loading the car, Asher came in and said, "Mom, since it is a really long drive can we...." I cut him off (that's kind of rude, huh?) and said, "Of course! We already grabbed the movie book!" And then he said, "Oh, I was going to ask if we could read!" Haha. Joke's on me. They watched a movie on the way, but did read on the way home.
When we got to Valley of Fire, our first stop was the visitor's center where Reed immediately and without hesitation climbed all the way to the TOP of a rock formation. I have no sense of distance/height but I would guess it was about the height of a two-story building. (I'm probably wrong but we will go with it). Asher followed suit, but stopped about 2/3 of the way up, deciding he'd gone high enough. And Lila, of course, started climbing, too. She needed a little help but with a few boosts and a few hand holds, she made it to Asher! The day was off to a good start.
The next stop was an Atlatl throwing demonstration (!) where we got to take a turn throwing with an Atlatl(!!). Ryan was much better than I was. We climbed to the petroglyphs next, then hopped back in to the car to drive to the Beehives for more climbing. The kids' favorite kind of "hike" is the kind where there's no trail per say and a lot of climbing/scrambling. We call this a "ninja hike" and they were quite happy to find that the Beehives were worthy of the ninja title. Lila was the biggest surprise of the day. She ninja hiked with the best of them. We didn't even bring our hiking backpack carrier (probably because we couldn't since we gave it away because Lila is SO BIG now!) (run-on sentence) (I don't even care) (kind of).
We were pretty hungry by this point, so we drove up to the cabin ruins to have a picnic. While we were eating, an older lady complimented us on what great parents Ryan and I were--out with the kids, listening to their stories, paying attention to them. Sometimes people are just great and can really make your day. After we ate we, of course, had to explore the cabins, then played in the sand pits nearby.
Our lunch had revived us, so we decided to try a real hike with an actual trail--the White Domes. You start by losing a ton of elevation as you walk through a very sandy trail. Then you get to wind through a few slot canyons, which were really cool--both literally and figuratively. We were in to early afternoon by now and the day was quite warm, so the slot canyons and the shade they offered were a blessed respite from the heat. At one point, we did stray somewhat off the trail, climbing up a short hill to another shady retreat. The boys decided that the big patches of shade were "shade parades" and the the small patches of shade were "shade-a-manias". In the shade parade, we enjoyed a very re-energizing snack and drink. After our detour, Lila told us her legs were "almost asleep" and we realized that her little legs had carried her quite far--so Ryan gave her a shoulder ride to finish out the hike. The boys kept commenting that the landscape was "pretty pretty" (as in quite pretty). Our favorite parts of the hike (other than the shade parades) were the rock that looked like a potty, the "strawberry banana" rocks (they were yellow and red), and the rock formation that looked like the top of a giant bum crack. I'm not even joking.
We were pretty wiped out, so we decided to head home. On our way home, though, we stopped at the Goodwill Clearance Center, where we came across all kinds of treasures--including a scooter for Reed! After shopping, we decided to see if we could make our way home an adventure by avoiding driving on Blue Diamond Road. We saw all kinds of interesting houses, then ran into a super cool park we'd never seen before! We immediately pulled over to investigate and ended up playing for over an hour. Reed rode his scooter, Asher pumped himself on the swing, Lila made a new friend to play with, and both boys did a lot of tree climbing. They are slowly but surely getting much braver and more willing to try going higher in the trees.
By now we were really wiped out, so we drove home (and yes we were able to avoid Blue Diamond Road :), had dinner, and tucked the kids in to bed! We all had such a great day. It was so perfect just to spend the day as a five family doing what we love best--adventuring. Thanks for the break, soccer. We needed it!