Thursday, June 30, 2016

Wildhorse Window

One time my husband rented “Encino Man” for the kids while I was at a meeting.  Ever since they have been obsessed with cavemen.  Rather than fight it I decided to go with it and found a really cool hike to do in the San Rafael Swell that ends with real live petroglyphs.  Even though we hike all the time they are still little kids and love to complain about it so the idea of seeing actual caveman writing was enough to get them going.

See that little cave opening at the top of this picture?  That’s the spot.  There’s no actual trail, although there are some cairns occasionally.   Mostly you just have to keep as straight a line as you can towards that cave.

The website I found said it was about a mile hike but we didn’t keep as straight a line as we could have because we ended hiking about  2 ½ there and about 3 back.

Not that anyone was complaining though.  It hardly even feels like a hike because you just kind of wander all over this amazing slick rock.



So we just kept making our way towards the cave.  Sometimes in view sometimes not.  When suddenly we found ourselves in a wash.  Sand can perk up even the weariest hikers!

At the very end of the hike up to the cave there are several of these rain catcher low spots.  Such a fun change of scenery.


It’s an enormous caves full of echoes and centuries of water stains.   Such a cool place.  But we did come to see the caveman stuff.  


So cool.  I haven’t been to “Newspaper Rock” in Canyonlands but I’ve read that these are pretty comparable.  It was fun to see them up close and personal.

Definitely worth a “peeps” break.

The Wildhorse Window cave gets it’s name from this massive hole in the ceiling of the caves which makes the most haunting noise as the winds roars through it.  

We loved this hike.  Lots of variety, plenty of lizards and cool plants along the way, and a really astounding cave at the end.  This is a must next time you’re near Goblin Valley!

And if you’re really lucky, you may even get a little lost on the way back to the car like we did and find yourself the mini secret slot canyon!


Wildhorse Window
From Green River, Utah follow I-70 west for 11 miles to Exit #149 and Highway 24.  Follow Highway 24 south for 24 miles to mile maker 136 and the signed turn-off to Goblin Valley State Park.  Follow the Goblin Valley road west for 5.2 miles to Temple Junction and a BLM information kiosk.
      At Temple Junction, the road heading west (straight ahead) leads to the Temple Mountain Pictographs and other destinations. Take the road heading south (left) and follow it for 0.3 miles to an unsigned dirt road heading west (right). Follow the dirt road for 0.3 miles to its end overlooking Temple Wash. This is the Wild Horse Window Trailhead.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Easy family service activity

Gordon B. Hinckley said, "The happiest people I know are those who lose themselves in the service of others." I have wanted to impress upon my children the importance of looking for opportunities to serve. This day was an easy and very rewarding activity. We went through all of our old towels and baby blankets (how in the world did we end up with so many soft baby blankets?!) and washed them, then delivered them to our local animal shelter. 

They were so grateful for the baby blankets because they are softer and not many people donate soft blankets. When this sweet employee told us that the baby blankets get used for the kittens and puppies, my kids just about died with excitement!

She even let us go and see the 2-day old kittens! 

As we left, I asked them how they felt inside knowing they just helped some sad little animals? All of them said it made them so happy to give their soft blankets to poor little animals! 

Monday, June 27, 2016

The Grotto - Upper Falls

We’re always on the lookout for a kid friendly easy peasy hike.  The Grotto is Payson Canyon is just the thing.  A quick hike full of cool log bridges to cross and plenty of shade and even a waterfall at the end.  This hike just can’t be beat! The grotto hike can get crowded so we like to go early in the day if possible.  Another way to beat the crowds though is to continue hiking up past the waterfall to the top.


You’re not going to run into anybody up here and there is much more water to splash around in.


Since you’ve come this far you may as well keep going.  This hike seriously just gets better and better the further you explore.  My kids love a good dirt slide.  They just can’t help themselves.

This is a great family hike that everyone will love!  Also, Since you’re in payson anyway you should do yourself a favor and stop by the Payson Sip n Spot for your dirty dr. pepper and a homemade oreo cookie!


Place:  The Grotto
Location:  The trailhead is located on a big switchback on the Payson Canyon highway. There are places to park on both sides of the road but can quickly fill up with cars and horse trailers going on both this trail and the Benny Creek Trail.
Length of hike: .62 miles to waterfall
Difficulty: easy

Things to know: strollers are not suggested for this hike.  Also, there are no bathrooms available at the trail but there are some down the canyon road.

Friday, June 24, 2016


One of our all time favorite places to go when we're kid-less is thrift shopping.  In fact, when we're on vacation, we always make a point to stop at a local thrift store to see what we can find.  The ritzier the area the better the thrift store is going to be. Our all time favorite places are the ten thousand Goodwill's in Portland.  If you were to come into my house and start snooping through things probably about 85% of my stuff is second hand.  I love it!  So here are my favorite things to find at a thrift store:

--I always start out at the glassware and serveware.  I love milk glass and I've found dozens of little pieces to add to my growing collection.

--Next we check the videos and tapes.  Yes, we still have a VHS player and a tape player.  We love tapes because we don't have to be as careful with them as DVDs or CDs.  Just be sure to open the case and make sure you're really getting what your thinking.  One time I bought "What about Bob" and ended up with "Winnie the Pooh."  Bitter disappointment.

--Skim through the games section.  Usually the games are complete and usually under 2 bucks.  My kids only play a game a few times before it gets shelved, so at $2 I don't feel too bad about it.

--I never look at furniture or appliances.  They are usually not worth the money.

--Then John and I split up while he looks at boy clothes and I look at girls.  He likes button up, vintage cowboy shirts.  I like to have something in mind that I'm looking for.  Like right now I'm looking for pencil skirts and graphic t shirts.  (my uniform this summer)

--Last of all we end up at shoes.  I know some people have issues with second hand shoes.  I absolutely have no issue.  I just wipe them out with a wipey and call it a good deal.  Seriously you guys, I have like a hundred of the cutest shoes you've ever seen.  They are ALL from thrift stores.  You just can't beat the prices.

We'll spend like $50 and come home with 6 bags full of treasures.  It's the most fun!! And yes, John bought that whole outfit!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Toquerville Falls

Psssssst, want in on a secret?  The best swimming hole in Southern Utah that no one knows about?  Seriously, Toquerville Falls is just about the best picnic spot there is.


Warm water, beautiful view, waterfalls everywhere you look.  And it is right in the middle of the Southern Utah desert.


To get there, drive 11 miles north from Toquerville along Spring Creek to the pristine waters of the falls.


There really isn’t any deep water so you don’t need to worry about kids.  On the lower waterfall it gets a little deeper.  About waist high for an adult.  But you have to hike around to get down there so it’s unlikely toddlers will make it over there without you.  


Because this is more of a destination than a hike and you can drive right to the water's edge you can bring whatever food you want.  We had dinner here one night.



You’ll will love this secret little spot!  The only thing you really need to know about Toquerville Falls in that the dirt road into it is ruddy and pitted.  We made it in our minivan but there were spots where I was gripping my armrests pretty tight.  I would be careful just after a rainstorm or anytime you might guess it would be especially muddy.  

Place:  Toquerville Falls
Locations:  From state Route 17, the only highway through Toquerville, turn east onto Spring Street. This will be your road for the next 5.8 miles. This drive typically takes about 30 minutes to get to the falls.
Hours: best in the summer

Price: FREE!!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Evenflo Snugli Cross Terrain Carrier

As a retired junior high history teacher, I love to research for all sorts of items that will be used in our family for years. One item has been a backpack we can hike with comfortably (and is comfortable for the child) and can also hold diapers, wipes, snacks, water. We wanted a backpack that would not throw us off balance because the center of gravity balance was too high. We also wanted one that wouldn't place the child higher than our head (because it is too easy to forget and accidentally bonk the child's head on a tree branch or rock). After much research and reading reviews about different carriers, we settled on the Snugli Cross Terrain backpack. It has been great for us! It is light, the packet to hold all we need for the baby, our water, etc is located under the child (they sit on it) which is handy when needing to access it without unloading the child. There are several pockets along the waist belt and back to store smaller items (like keys, cell phone, chapstick). 

We put the sun shade on, but our baby wanted to feel the warmth this day, so we just adjusted it so only the back of his head was protected. 

Along with many pockets, there are also hooks and clips to hold whatever else you made need on the hike. 

It is our best pack to carry everything including lifejackets, other children's water! Disclaimer: it is no longer being produced, but the good news is: you may be able to score one for a steal on eBay! 

Monday, June 20, 2016

Hike to the "G"

Our family has hiked to Battle Creek Falls in Pleasant Grove, Utah, but we had never hiked to the "G" which starts at the same trailhead. So one afternoon this spring, we decided that we should try the other hike on that mountain. It was a cloudy day (which was such a great thing since there is very little shade along the hike), and so we strapped on our Camelbaks and headed up the mountain. When you get to the parking lot, you can either follow the sign and turn to the right, or you can go across the bright blue bridge and pass the picnic tables to access the trail (we chose the bridge to "trip trap" across it like the three billy goats gruff).

This what it looks like when you meet up with the trail just past the picnic area:

The beginning of the trail is long and steep and exposed as it follows the mountain face.

I was honestly surprised that there was no complaining - well, until my 4 year old tripped and "hurt" her hand.

 The trail is very well marked and had a few spots where it was not level, but my children (including our 2 year old) maneuvered it just fine.

 A nice feature of this hike, was the many "rock chairs" along the way to stop and rest from the steepness.

There were even a few logs to rest on.

Once you see these junipers on the left along with a cell/radio tower (we had climbed quite a bit by this point), the trail then enters the shady section.

This shady section of scrub oak would be such a relief in the summer and fall when there are leaves on the trees.

Even the baby liked to peek around to see where the "G" was  - not far from this point.

 We were all surprised at how the "G" was made. We have hiked to BYU's "Y" which is four times the size and made of boulders that are cemented together and painted; the "G" is white fencing material (like a chain link fence) and you are not allowed on it.

We hiked all around the edge of the letter - be careful with young ones, this is VERY steep - and enjoyed a snack and pointed out different landmarks before turning around and heading back down.

The view was beautiful and the hike was fast on the way down (but a bit hard on my knees).

Drive west on 200 South in Pleasant Grove all the way to the end. It ends at the parking lot which is also the same one for the BattleCreek Falls hike. 

Go on a cloudy day as the first long part of the hike is exposed and it would be really hot.

Friday, June 17, 2016

French Kiss Friday

I realized that a different (and perhaps difficult, at least for me) date idea is to do something that your spouse enjoys even if it isn't in your comfort zone. My husband and I had a mini-getaway to Southern Utah for our anniversary and he wanted to go mountain biking with me while we were there. I haven't ridden a mountain bike in probably 14 years, but my husband enjoys it. I remember that I used to like riding along dirt trails and going up and down hills, but many years ago I got into road biking and never went back. In fact, I haven't even ridden my road bike since having children - only my beach cruiser with a bike trailer attached. Needless to say, I am a bit rusty on the bike. We hit the Bear Claw Poppy Trail with in the Green Valley Loop in St. George. It was beautiful and HOT. My husband was pretty excited to ride this trail again and to show me the beauty of this easy (with difficult sections) trail. At first, I really didn't think it was fun - I had a hard time finding the "right" gear and kept switching gears. My husband gave me suggestions so it wouldn't be so hard and I would quit stopping and getting off the bike. I felt so wobbly and so uncoordinated and was only having about 40% fun. 

Finally, I got in front of him and that seemed to help because then I didn't feel the need to "keep up with his pace." Why do husband's only have one speed, FAST?! I enjoyed the trail much better; although at that point, it was pretty level which also helped. 

Because of the patience of my husband - and bit of my willingness to keep going - I started staying on my bike during the longer, more technical downhills (uphill was still tough and I walked those, let's not be crazy) and actually having fun! The moral of the story for a French Kiss Friday is to try something that your spouse enjoys - biking, wood working, reading, coding, watching sports, sky diving, whatever it is your spouse will really appreciate the effort and you may find that you want to continue going with him! Good luck!