Alright, I admit it. My kids are pretty much addicted to video games.
I'm pretty sure that makes them 100% normal digital agers, but it doesn't mean I have to like it or give up on my fight to coerce them into other interests (and Josh is my faithful partner in this endeavor...I just happen to be the one on the front lines most of the time).
And so, given the chance to spend a week in the loveliness of Southern Utah with my parents, the adults in this household grabbed on with both hands and declared this a week of "unplugged."
Most people under 18 were not thrilled about this idea.
Ok, pretty much all people under 18 were not thrilled with this idea (except Ellie, she is just happy no matter what if she can hang with the rest of us).
It meant not only no tablets or computers, but also no movies during the nearly five hour drive to Tropic, Utah and nothing involving earbuds in any way. "This is going to be torture!" I heard this despaired cry over and over again. It didn't sway me. I'm a big fat meanie at heart (just ask my small ones).
Anyway, on Sunday afternoon we started out. My older three babies rode with me while the younger three rode with my parents to start. Since there was nothing to watch but scenery, I offered to read a book to my sweethearts who were all grumpy that my book did not come in video form...but I persisted and pretty soon all three of them were engrossed in the dystopian fun of "Animal Farm" by George Orwell (I do love the classics...and incidentally we stopped for dinner with nine pages left in the book and the kids BEGGED me to finish reading before they had to get out...but I said no and let their grandmother finish the story when we got back in after our stop and kids swapped cars...a little bit of dramatic tension never killed anyone plus children begging to be read to is music to my ears).
We stopped at Cove Fort to cook dinner on our camp stove and eat so the kids got to explores the fort for a bit (it is free and owned by the LDS church but open to anyone...it's a great, historic stop).
Everyone's favorite thing was taking turns rolling these metal wheels with a stick like the original fort dwelling children often did for entertainment (they didn't have video games either, poor things). It was not really so much easy to do, but my kids got pretty good and they really had fun.
|My mom and dad getting in on the action. Mom was an expert ring roller.|
After dinner we had to hustle our way to Tropic to our campground so that we could get checked in and set up before they closed the office. We ended up squeaking in just in time and setting up a tent and pop-up camper in the muddy black of a windy Sunday night.
|Tent. Dark. Not great, but do-able.|
Monday morning we made breakfast and headed off to explore. I had promised the children that I would not overload them with long hikes and I kept my word. Our first stop was Bryce Canyon. We figured now that he is nearly 15 it was about time our son Bryce met the canyon which shares his name.
Due to technical difficulties my dad could not come with us on this little explore and this was the only explore my mom was able to attend as well. It was a wild week for those two...and not really in a good way (I'll tell you about that later).
|Bryce enjoying his sister and his canyon.|
We didn't stop our exploration with the famous scattering of hoodoos seen above (they really are called hoodoos, I didn't make that up). We meandered through other parts of Bryce's treasures as well. This lovely waterfall hike was the kids favorite part of the day.
The local store plopped a piano onto their front walk inviting anyone interested to tap out a tune and promising they would clap if you played. They didn't. We were disappointed. So we clapped instead and all had fun taking turns on the keyboard.
Tuesday my parents were still engaged elsewhere so we opted to take a trip to Saint George so they wouldn't miss the canyon fun we had planned. There is a children's museum in Saint George that was fun for the younger kids (a little too young for our older ones though).
We came out after a couple of hours (they really did have fun even if much of the fun was helping younger siblings have fun) to sweltering temps of 108+. It was toasty.
So we topped the day with a trip to Nielsen's Frozen Custard. Yummy!!
We drove back to our campsite where the kids got creative finding "unplugged" activities. Logan made friends with a stick and then turned that into all kinds of fun. He and Parker played hockey using sticks and a plastic drink cap.
Logan also became a rodeo cowboy using his new friend, the stick.
Wednesday, still without my parents, we decided to stay close to Tropic (in case Mom and Dad needed help) and so we wound our way to Grand Staircase National Monument. A super cute lady at the visitor center pointed us in the direction of a great family hike and off we went.
Cool, shady fun in the slot canyon was the perfect way to spend the day.
There was just enough water running through the canyon to keep our shoes clean and keep the temps perfect. It was a really really great hike.
I also got to see cactus in bloom for the first time in my live (I've lived in Utah since I was six and I've seen a lot of cactus, but never quite like this).
We then drove the 50 mile scenic highway and were awed by the views. It was a great afternoon.
There was construction on the scenic route (who am I kidding, there was construction EVERYWHERE) and Josh and I were lamenting how awful it would be to have to work out in the heat of the afternoon like this and how rough that would be. Two of my littles (Aubrey and Parker) took it upon themselves to scuttle out of the car and take a bag of Famous Amos cookies to this worker because they are amazing and thoughtful. For sweet!! Love those kidlets.
Thursday we gave up on waiting for my parents so we went to Zions National Park without them (sorry, parents).
It was pretty warm, but the kids mostly forged ahead without complaining (except for the smallest DeMoux who was sure she was on the verge of death by heat).
And then, miracle of miracles, we made it to the end of the short trail and the water at the mouth of the narrows was just what the doctor ordered. After traipsing into the cool depths no one was complaining any more, not even the small, nearly melted one.
|Ellie still holding shape despite the near-melting heat of summer.|
And then we piled back in the car where I prepped lunch and we started the drive back to camp...
...and everyone except Bryce fell asleep. Except Parker says he wasn't asleep (except he really was).
That night my parents returned to us whole and repaired and ready for fun. But the trip was over.
So, trying to salvage things, the next day we stopped at Freemont Indian State Park and museum which was on the way home so that my dad could say he did do at least ONE thing while we were on vacation. Poor dad.
|Kids climbing out of the pit house. Pretty fabulous.|
|G grinding our very own corn...not as easy as you think.|
|Incredible wall art around the park.|
And then we came home and the first thing anyone said was "Mom, can I have the wifi password?" so I knew life was back to normal.
But for five full days, despite their original horror, no one whined about the absence of electronics. And since then, the kids have told me quietly how much fun this trip really was. And that's something.