Sunday, July 13, 2008

Wide Open Tight Spaces

I've noticed a change in my life. It seems that my friends know more about what is going on in my family than I do. I've read our "family" blog all of maybe three times. Each time I went here it was because someone made a comment about an accomplishment of one of my daughters and I was oblivious giving them a generic response like, "yeah, isn't that great". Have I really been that out of touch? I suppose I should take the title of our blog as a hint. It's bad enough, but to avoid it from changing to "4 girls and some Dad" or "4 girls and that Guy", I'm sharing a not-so-secret place that I love to take my family (and friends) each year. Public camping sites with RV hookups are for old people and rednecks. Oh, and apparently wife beaters.

I like open spaces. I like my privacy. I like to get away from it all. So it's ironic that one of my all-time favorite camping spots is a cave-like rock formation in Canyonlands 150 miles south of Moab that sits near a favorite family rated slot-canyon. I think I like it so much because the trip combines a lot of things I like; camping, jeeping, hiking, slot canyons, and lots of friends.
Canyonlands' Elephant Hill is a gem and someplace every family should go to. Specifically, camp in site #4 at Devils Kitchen (#2 is a second choice). This place is remote. Moab is 1.5 hours away if you need anything and of course, you usually do. We've been lucky so far and only broken down 3 out of 6 of 7 trips there. Simple things like front upper track bar ball links falling off, pitman steering arm breaks at the compression gear, spring retention clamps failing, and I think we broke a sway bar disconnect or two. But don't let that deter you, those are all easy trail fixes - bring lots of water and don't forget your spare pitman arm (Kevin!).

Rather than be wordy, I'm including some photos of our last trip. It really is one of my favorite spots in our local area and kids NEVER forget this place. The slot canyon is called "The Joint Trail" and is only a half mile hike to the entrance and only about a quarter mile inside. This trail hike makes the trip worth it. Yes, you can rappel into your campsite, explore the many hidden passageways leading from one campsite to the next through a network of dark connected tunnels, or just sit back and admire the amazing beauty around you for hours and hours but this hike is definitely a must-do.

Once inside the slot canyon, the kids can go wild. The width of the canyon is 3 ft with walls of 150ft+. There is a special side route that we always take the kids through that requires removing belts, hats, and exhaling for 5 seconds while slipping through. I don't get on the scale to check my weight much but once a year at this spot I know if I've added 10 pounds. We've only had one person get stuck and a good relaxing exhale solved that (sorry, I swear it looked like you would fit!). Kids love the narrow parts but if you are claustrophobic, stick to the main trail.
- B.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Little Fishes

Swimming lessons are a summertime rite of passage at our house. A few years ago we found a private teacher through Dive Utah and she is amazing. In addition she lives in Draper and has a heated pool in her backyard, what more could I ask for?

Two summers ago Betsy worked with Brin on water safety. This summer Brin learned the breaststroke and by the end of our 21 day imprint can cross the long length of the pool by herself. We swam with friends earlier this week and it was back to panic mode for me because suddenly Brin feels like she can go anywhere. With her little waist belt she feels invincible.

It was amazing to watch all of the girls progress. Sadie is like a little frog, within the first week she had coordinated her breaststoke arms and kick together and it has given her the freedom of the pool. She is quick and strong and confident.

Betsy's pool is not quite big enough for Emilee but while the other girls had their lessons she practiced her breaststroke, her freestyle and worked on her butterfly legs. It was amazing to watch her with fins in the water, so graceful and powerful.

During the last three weeks of swim lessons each of the girls has asked...Mom, could we get our own pool? It made me happy, I have three girls who love to be in the water as much as I do and maybe someday...after all if Dad gets to have a harley, shouldn't the rest of us have a pool?!?

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Fountain Frolics

Quintessential Sadie

This is what summer is all about. My sister Lisa is visiting from California and on Thursday all the sisters (and sis-in-law, of course) got together at a local park. By the time we finished eating all of our kids were pink-cheeked and sweating and the fountain on the other side was to cool to pass up. This is how to spend 100 degree days!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Testing the Limit

Van 2 for the Wasatch Back

Friday June 20th has been on my calendar for many months and was a day I was looking forward to and dreading in equal amounts. I was looking forward to running with my friends and dreading being the slowest. I was anticipating a lot of fun and camaraderie and dreading running on no sleep. I was eager to see what I could do and how far I could go and dreading the unknown. I learned that I'm not afraid of sweat, exhaustion, or hills and I learned that I can push my limit!

The Wasatch Back Ragnar Relay is a 180 mile relay race from Logan to Park City, UT. Each team has 12 runners who each run 3 different legs throughout the race. The team has 2 vans with 6 runners each and they leapfrog each other over the course to have runners at each of the 35 exchange points along the way.

It was awesome, brutal, but awesome.

I was runner #7, the first runner from our van at every major exchange point. Van #1 started at 8:20 ish in the morning in Logan and we just met them at our first exchange point in Liberty. I am a morning runner--during the school year I'm home by 7:00am ish and during the summer home by 8:00 in time for Brian to leave for work. So starting at 2:00 in the afternoon in 94 degree heat (I swear it was 100 on the road) was a new experience. Those first 4 miles were HOT! But then they were over and I only had 2 legs and 8 miles left to go!!

Our team name was Legs, Breasts, Wings and our car decorations: an enormous bra, pink wings and stuffed nylon legs complete with running shoes garnered a lot of attention along the course. It made for some fun camaraderie and funny comments along the road.

After all six of us had run we passed the "baton" back to Van #1 at Snowbasin and headed to the lodge for massages, ICE cold showers and FOOD! And then we hit the road so we could be at the next exchange point.

I started Leg #2 at East Canyon State Park at about 11:15. It was a little scary to accept the baton from Kelli and take off into the darkness with my little headlamp all by my lonesome. And then after about a mile it was awesome! Other relay cars (and much to my dismay too many runners) passed often enough that it wasn't complete solitude, and yet it was. With no i-pod and only the sound of my own breathing it was by far my favorite leg. My husband (who is the greatest) met us that night to shadow the nighttime runners. He and his friend lit the road for us with their bike lights and carried our water bottles. He was about 25 minutes to late for my run but he shadowed each of the others and let our Van just be at the next stop catnapping until they came in. Now that is true love!! After we finally passed the baton off to Van #1 at Rockport Reservoir around 4:30 am we headed in to Heber for "bed".

After a quick $2 shower (worth every penny) we crashed literally on to the wrestling mats laid out in the gym at 5:45 and had about 2 hours of sleep until we got the call that it was time to go again.

Leg #3 was the hardest for me, I started around 9:00 so it wasn't to hot yet, but I went from feeling like I had totally fresh legs the first 1/2 mile to "just keep running, just keep running" for the last 2 miles. I was exhausted! But then I got back in the car and got to cheer everyone on the rest of the race. It was incredible to watch my friends run. I knew how tired I was on my flat route and to watch them run hills and perservere was inspiring!

We crossed the finish line together 30 hours, 24 minutes and 34 seconds after our start! A third place finish for our women-sub-masters category. And we're signed up already for next year...anyone wanna run?