Monday, June 20, 2011

Bryce Canyon

Um, so I'll just say better late than never.  We'll ignore the fact that this has been sitting in my edit posts list for almost three years.

For Labor Day 2008, Hunter and I went camping for two nights with my brother Scott, his wife Kristi and their two beautiful little ones Tyler and Reese in Bryce Canyon. The second night we were joined by Kristi's sister, her husband and their three children. We were quite the group of campers. Especially with 4 children under 2 1/2 years old. I, being somewhat scatterbrained that particular day when I packed for the trip, forgot to bring my camera. Of course, this means that I have no absolutely amazing photos of the truly awe-inspiring scenery that we enjoyed while camping and hiking around the area. Our campsite was right on the edge of the canyon, which means we had breathtaking vistas just over the rise that provided a nice little nook for our tents. I truly wish that I could capture the moment in words, but let's face it, I'm really not that talented with description, and frankly I just don't know if anyone could really do it justice. Pictures don't really do it justice either, so even the most talented writer should not feel taken aback by my dismissal of their talents in this regard. Okay, some pictures and descriptions are definitely better than others. Still, nothing is quite like being there and experiencing the beauties and majesty of creation in person. Well, since I forgot my camera, as well as forgetting that I have a camera phone (give me a break - I was camping, we had no service, my phone was off practically the entire time, and camera phone pictures from this particular phone were generally not that great anyway), I have hijacked other people's pictures to use in lieu of the pictures I might have taken had I been a little more with it the morning we left to go camping. In all honesty, these pictures are probably better than the ones I would have taken anyway.  Hurrah for people who willingly share their lives on the internet. Oh wait...

Okay, so we departed on Friday, August 29th for our Labor Day weekend camping extravaganza. The car was incredibly full. More than incredibly full. I can't even begin to describe how full it was. Tyler had a nice little area around his booster seat in the far back seat that was pretty much just the right size for his little body and a pillow. At first I worried about him being smashed by the camping gear that surrounded him on all sides should we have had the unfortunate experience of being in a crash, but then I realized that pretty much everything around him was wedged into place so tightly that even I really couldn't move it. Then, of course, I realized that the rest of us would probably not fair very well either since we were all wedged into some sort of uncomfortable position with heavy and dangerous items over, next to, or behind our heads. As my brother put it, "If we crash, we all die." Glad to know I'd have company in Heaven. You may think I'm exaggerating, but really, imagine this picture to the right without the spaces and some people wedged in there.

This would have been a great time to take a picture. Alas, it was not to be.

We got there late and had some trouble getting the little ones to sleep as a result.  The second night, when I could just put Hunter in the tent and let him doze off without anyone else around worked out much better.  As it was, he spent time that night going between his pack-n-play (we had two of them in the tent - it was a nice, bit tent) and my sleeping bag.  The next day, however, was worth the packed car and the somewhat sleep deprived night.  Really, Hunter did amazingly well for his first camping trip and the fact that he was only one and a half years old.  He's a champ.

We went on a beautiful hike while we were there (it was quite long for an 18 month old, but luckily I was able to borrow a baby backpack carrier for a good chunk of the time, which made life a lot easier).  We did the Navajo Loop trail, which is 1.3 miles round trip, and takes you through the stunning Wall Street rock formation with walls and narrows that are characteristic of the formations in Bryce Canyon.  I really loved it.  For one, you get to hike through narrow passages like this:

There was one part where you climb down into the narrows that was particularly neat, though I don't think the pictures do it justice, though you do get a sense of the height of the rock fins that isn't quite as apparent in some other photos.  Of course, you eventually also had to climb out again. :-)

The narrows and the Wall Street corridor were easily my favorite parts of the hike.  In between the narrow walls of rock, there are several douglas firs that have been growing there for hundreds of year.  They are majestic.

I also wanted to add in these picture to give you a better idea of their actual size:

And, while being down there, you could look up and have views like this:

I really loved it.  Around the campfire that night my brother told ghost/alien stories about the hoodoos which were thoroughly entertaining.  Hoodoos are the spires of rock that are characteristic of Bryce Canyon and the Colorado Plateau and some other areas in the states.  Supposedly, hoodoos are more abundant in Bryce Canyon than anywhere else on Earth.  I didn't get my fact checker out for that one.

These are formed mostly by a process called frost wedging, where water seeps into the rocks and freezes overnight, which expands in the rock, creating little gaps and crevices, and then thaws again leave new holes in the rock.  Bryce Canyon experiences 200 freeze/thaw cycles each year (if you would like this and other information on hoodoos, Bryce Canyon, and other national parks, visit the National Park Service website).  Of course, according to my brother's stories, they are really aliens trapped in rock form.  Who knows when they might wake up?  ;-)

I would love to go back to Bryce Canyon, cramped car and all.  It was beautiful, the company was fantastic, the hiking was thoroughly enjoyable (it always has to be enough work to make it worth it in my mind), and since I'm always a fan of camping, well, there you have it.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Starved Rock

I finally, after quite a while, went hiking this weekend, and I took some pictures.  One picture, in particular, made my day (mostly because in general I am not all that great at taking pictures and I felt extraordinarily lucky).  Here is a sample:

 And the money shot:

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Pinching Pennies

Hunter is learning all about money.  Supposedly.  Well, we're working on it.  This is how it all started.  He got a responsibility chart that has all kinds of responsibilities for all ages.  This is us hanging it up in the bedroom:
 Yes, Hunter has his own drill that he is helping out with.  :-)  The chart currently has responsibilities on it like going potty, sharing, saying please and thank you, getting ready for bed, etc.  All very age appropriate for a preschooler.  And, we get to change them as he gets older.  I love it.  I'm more excited about it at this point than he is.  Although he does love the smiley faces he gets to put up for doing everything.  Here is the final product:
Those little circles underneath on the white board are his little smiley face magnets.  He loves them.  So, in celebration of this new reward system, I decided to provide actual rewards for the things that Hunter the form of quarters.  Of course, then I realized my great opportunity to actually teach him about money from his very first dollar.  Which led to a new project.  Piggy banks.  Yep.  Plural.  Four of them, to be exact.  They came plain, but I couldn't just leave them that way.  Besides, Hunter insisted that at least one of them wear shoes.  So, with some porcelain paint, a sharpie from an obliging neighbor, and a little boy with a bunch of ideas, we came up with these:
 Meet (from left clockwise) Bacon Beckham, Piggy Blackbeard, Penny Porkchop, and Pippin.

Why four pigs, you ask?  Well, I figured that he would need a little piggy bank for every type of little fund about which I was inclined to teach him.
Blackbeard is for savings (he be settin' aside some booty), Penny is for mission savings (indeed), Pippin is for tithing, and Beckham is Hunter's fun money piggy.  Am I overdoing it?  Perhaps.  Regardless, I had fun making these little guys anyway and Hunter LOVES them.  And he talks about them quite regularly as if they are his little friends.  I am glad that he is fond of them.  Maybe that means they will stick around for awhile.  Now on to being consistent with keeping track of Hunter's 'responsibilities' so the little tyke can have something to put inside of them.

Monday, June 06, 2011

The Evolution of a Self-Portrait Artist

Hunter has been very involved lately with perfecting his self-portrait skills.  This is about where he began:

Though, he quickly progressed:

It didn't take very long before he was constantly taking self-portraits like these (which, if I do say so, are quite good.  I love his crazy little faces.  FYI, the hat is not his, nor mine, but it is amazing.):

And my personal favorite thus far:

He also really likes to take close-up shots of me in which I also make funny faces.  He is getting quite good at it: