Our Utah Adventure!

“Never lose your sense of wonder”  -Anonymous

2 weeks ago we drove 1,100 miles one way to the town of Moab, Utah for our family vacation. To say this was a great vacation is an understatement. I was SO EXCITED to go to Utah. I have never been west of Denver, CO on the ground (I have flown to California a few times), and our kids had never seen the mountains or desert or Utah. I/we planned this vacation for quite some time and I was thrilled that it all worked out. I could write an entire blog about how I researched, booked and packed for our family of 7 to go for 8 days. Packing and planning for 7 people is quite an undertaking. We also asked a cousin, Maddie, to come along and help us with the kids. She agreed and she was such a great help! There is no way we could have had this great experience without her, and we were so happy to have her along! Another perk was that due to Gabriel being in 4th grade, our entire family got into all of the National Parks for free through the every kid in a park program. Winning!

We stretched the drive over 3 days, stopping in Council Bluffs, IA and Denver, CO to stay with family overnight. They were all so generous to let 8 of us stay overnight! We did enjoy this extra time with family. Total (without stops) the drive was about 18 hours. It took us much, much longer than this!


The views through the Rocky mountains were beautiful!

First of all, Utah is like another planet. The landscape is so different! The air is dry as a bone and the landscape changes (sometimes drastically) every few miles. Made the drive very interesting! Once we made it to Utah we headed to the visitor center and the grocery store! I had booked us an Airbnb condo for 4 nights and it literally was a dream. We had 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a full kitchen, pullout couch, washer and dryer, a pool and hot tub and everything we needed other than food for a comparable price to the many of the hotels in Moab. We stocked up for the week and saved a lot of money this way! We will definitely do Airbnb again!

Later that night we set our eyes for the first time in Arches National Park. AMAZING. We saw the double arch and the sunset in the park. Beauty all around. Pictures of course don’t do it justice but I will share anyways:


Double arch. See the tiny white spec on the right? That’s a person! We were probably 1/4 mile away from the arch here.




The next 4 days we spent exploring Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, Dead Horse Point State Park and Moab. Arches National Park has 2000 arches!! We did a LOT of hiking, to the tune of 6-8 miles/day. The trails were rated either easy, moderate or difficult. We did 1 difficult trail that was 3 miles steeply uphill the first half with a spectacular end of the Delicate Arch, and the rest were easy/moderate. The kids did really well overall. We all wore Camelbak backpacks full of water and J or I packed Kateri on our back or put her in the jogging stroller, depending on the route. On the steep ledges and cliffs (they were everywhere!) we were especially careful with Ruth because we all know how she is. I actually bought a leash backpack for the trip and Ruth loved that thing, so that worked well. We definitely all got over our fear of heights because we stood on the edge of 1000 foot cliffs with no guardrails! It was incredibly hot, with the hottest day 107 deg. At one time our van read 118 deg on the asphalt! Of course there was no humidity, but the sun was super strong!


Sitting on the edge of a 2 mile crater in Canyonlands. I had a death grip on Ruth




Lucy on top of Whale Rock after a 600 foot ascent!


Gabriel on top of Whale Rock with some of Canyonlands National Park in the background



Dead Horse Point State Park


Finding some shade on the most difficult hike we did


The end of the trail leading up to the Delicate Arch, one of the most iconic arches. Talk about being a nervous nelly. We told the kids to keep one hand on the rock and go slow. And Ruth got her leash out.


The Delicate Arch. SO BEAUTIFUL


Ruth wanted to go in the Delicate Arch. Standing where we were was like standing on a garage roof with a 2000 foot drop into the canyon behind us!  SO BIG!!!




Dead Horse Point State Park


Everything in Utah is MASSIVE. Everything reminded me of prehistoric times and of course pictures don’t catch the depth or magnitude of the landscape. It was so striking and awesome!

One of the last things we did (on a very HOT day, I might add), was to hike to a local waterfall and swimming hole that my seasoned traveller sister in law told us about! This was a weird hike where the trail was not marked well and we had to cross a large stream several times, but the end was worth it! Large bluffs surrounded the swimming hole and the kids were jumping off the waterfall into the water. Good times!


Part of the trail





Our condo was so great! So much room and saved us a lot on food. Good views of some red rock out our patio door as well! I have to give Maddie a shout out here. She was SUCH a great help. Case in point: one morning I woke up and Ruth had had a potty accident overnight. Maddie had changed her, stripped the bed, started that bedding in the washer, gave Ruth a bath and started breakfast. I was so amazed and grateful! We had such a good time with her!

We definitely want to return to Utah again and see more. Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon, the sand hills and others are on our list! Have van, will travel!

If you have the chance, GO TO UTAH!!!!!!

Friday Five: 7/5/19


Cool family action shot, right? Photo cred to Aunt Mel, as usual. I believe we all look so serious because 1) We are walking up to a funeral 2) I was yelling at Gabriel to STOP hiking up his pants because they are not meant to sit around your ribcage and give you constant wedgies AND 3) It was HOT. Welcome to summer in Iowa.

  1. 20190628_142726.jpg5th baby, doing her best to break the door on the dishwasher. She’s 11 months old now! How does that happen?! She loves scooting all around the house, getting into the bathroom (potty chair is her favorite), ransacking the pantry, eating food that she previously dropped from her highchair and climbing the stairs. Kateri continues to have the best dimple in her right cheek and can now sport a ponytail directly on top of her head. She loves all of her siblings, but Gabriel is definitely her favorite.
  2. 20190702_153851.jpg4th child, helping daddy pick out glasses. Ruth continues to keep us on our toes and highly contributes to my aging process. Happenings lately include attempting to go down waterslides alone at the waterpark, using obscene amounts of handsoap, running around naked outside daily, and getting stuck in her pajamas. Ruth has earned the nickname ‘Rampage’ by one of her uncles and I think it truly fits her. She loves to read books and I think this is the only time she sits still with me!
  3. 1069.jpeg3rd child, currently the sweetest and tenderhearted of them all. Amelia was beyond thrilled to get her first trophy. It has her name on it and everything! She’s enjoying her kindergarten summer homework packet and the slip’n’slide and basically being my constant sidekick. She dutifully does her chores each day with the least amount of whining and is very compassionate and loving. Other than the other day when she swung her stick-turned-baseball-bat squarely into the back of Ruth’s skull, she’s quite a gentle soul.
  4. 20190704_152042(0).jpg 2nd child, still remains the sassiest. We are in the depths of our first fair project season, so Goodwill here we come! We are on a mission to repurpose Goodwill artifacts, and so far she’s made a garden flower from glass dishes (very cool!) and we are making a girl’s dress from this man’s shirt. Wish us luck. Lucy continues to think she needs to have the last word and sometimes I wonder how many eye rolls I can receive in a day. She is becoming quite a baker and she’ll tell you all about her brownies if you ask.
  5. 20190602_070900.jpg1st child and I spent a {very early} morning volunteering at the Iowa Pigman Triathlon together to help raise money for his swim team. Gabriel got super into this. He’s also a mowing machine this summer. He’s got 4 lawns that he cuts weekly and is stashing his cash to pay for part of his swim team this fall. I’ve been very impressed by his motivation and drive. He’s also highly enjoying his daily popsicles, (I have to put a cap on how many they can have in a day!) his new bike, (he rode 13 miles a few weekends ago!!) the pool, and is looking forward to learning to weld for HIS fair project {NOT my idea…ahem}

They occasionally do get along, and then I snap a picture quick to remember that things like this really do sometimes happen!