This is going to be long and a lot of writing, so I hope it's not too boring. Hopefully the accompanying slideshow in the previous post makes up for it.
A little background about me and Utah...when I was 1 we moved from Ellensburg, Washington (where I was born) to Salt Lake City and lived there until I was 3 or 4 when we moved to Cedar Valley. We lived there until I was about 8. We lived for a short time in nearby American Fork and Lehi respectively when I was 9 before moving to Gig Harbor, Washington when I was 10 (my 10th birthday (8/25) was celebrated at a park when we were between houses in Utah and Washington). I missed Utah for the next few years and still considered it home until I started junior high. We went back to Utah as a family when I was 12 and that was the last time I'd been to Cedar Valley and seen my old best friends Sally and Josie. Then I went back to Utah for three summers when I was I think 13, 14, and 15 for Academy for Girls at BYU (it's about 2 weeks and it's a summer campy kind of thing). I hadn't been to Cedar Valley, Provo or Salt Lake until this trip a few weeks ago. When I was 18 I went to St. George (technically 17, I turned 18 a few days after arriving) and spent a quarter at Dixie College. I really love it in St. George, I find the red rocks calming. So I hadn't been back to Utah at all for 11 years, when in the past I'd returned there often.
Okay, so...that night that I wrote from the motel lobby (it was Wednesday 7/30), I don't know if it was clear that I drove alone with the kids from San Diego to St. George (Mike had to stay behind for work). So when I got sick, I really was in trouble because there was no one else. But, we made it there just in time and by the next morning (Thursday 7/31) I felt much better. But my luck hadn't turned up just yet. I was looking forward to a morning of fun for the kids to prepare them for another long drive. We were going to go have breakfast, then come back and let the kids play at the playground at the motel until it was time to check out. I went to load up the van first thing so we wouldn't have to worry about that and could just check out when it was time. When I got out there I saw that there was a procession of ants going from a bush into the sliding door of the van. They were all over, not just in one area, and there were hudreds of them. I guess even though it was a bad thing, the good thing out of it is that I found out about it first thing in the morning so I had time to deal with it (and before it got blazing hot too...it was already at least 90 degrees at 9:00 in the morning.). I couldn't even work out how I was going to deal with this on my own, so I went to the motel lobby and enlisted some help from their maintenance guy. An hour of vacuuming later we were on our way to breakfast. When we got back I saw there were still several ants in the van (I think they were coming out of the vents). So I went back to the motel lobby and ended up getting some bug spray from them because I didn't want to have ants popping up on the long drive and having the girls freaking out. The kids did get to play for a bit, but only about 15 minutes worth.
Before we headed out of town for Provo, we stopped by the St. George Temple and said hello to our friend Kaye Bair (which was calming after a hectic morning). Then I drove around St. George taking the pictures you see in the slideshow, and we were on our way up to Provo.
So the drive up was pretty good, and when we got to my cousin Randy's house my parents had just gotten back there as well, so it was perfect timing. (I hadn't met Randy and his family before, so it was nice to have my parents there too since I'm shy. My parents had been helping my sister Calyn get ready for the wedding. Thursday was also Calyn's birthday) They have a really great house for kids, so it was nice to let the kids unwind a bit before we were on to the next thing. The next thing being going to Mike's sister Kristine and her new husband Alex's house. I really wish I'd brought the camera along since they have a really fabulous view. We had dinner with them and visited for awhile, and then went back to my cousin's and shortly after that we went to bed. I was amazed that Kristine's and Randy's houses were only five minutes apart!
Then the next morning (Friday 8/1), another surprise was that my friend Brandi's house was only about five minutes from my cousin Randy's house as well! What a small world (I was using a GPS the whole time, so I didn't really know where I was going until I was going). That day was extremely busy and tiring but also a lot of fun. Brandi and I met up and went to Liberty Park in Salt Lake. We had lunch, the kids went on some rides, then Brandi needed to go. There were a lot of things to do at Liberty Park, but we were limited on time. They have an aviary, lots of playgrounds, paddleboats, a swimming pool, tennis courts, maybe more that I've forgotten. After Brandi left we were going to go to the aviary but for whatever reason we didn't and the girls just played on the hill for awhile and then we left for the next thing.
I should mention that it was 102 degrees that day, but I didn't know that until the end of the day when someone told me. Maybe it's a good thing I didn't know because I probably wouldn't have attempted to do as much as we did and had us holed up. I've had heat stroke before and it wasn't fun, I wouldn't want to be responsible for getting my kids sick. At our next stop I started getting worried about just that and was pushing water on the kids like crazy.
The next stop was the Salt Lake City temple in Temple Square. (It was tour of the temples week --- we had been to the San Diego Temple on the Sunday before we left, but I didn't get pictures that day. Then St. George and Salt Lake's.) We walked around and went to my favorite part of Temple Square, which also happened to be the most relief from the heat all day...the Christus statue in the visitor center. After we'd cooled off enough we walked back to the van.
Next up was my niece Marque's wedding! My poor sister and parents were a wreck when I got there. They had been working so hard in the heat and none of them thought they would make it to the wedding because they just wanted to collapse. But they pulled themselves together, and it was a beautiful time. I saw a few people that I hadn't seen in such a long time, so it was really great. But unfortunately after such a long day leading up to the wedding the kids were ready to go after only about two hours at the wedding. We grabbed our dinner on the way home and headed back to cousin Randy's. We visited with his family for a little while and then we hit the hay.
On Saturday (8/2) Randy and my mom had a meeting in Salt Lake, so my dad stayed with me and we went to visit my childhood town Cedar Valley (Audra, I was going to call you, but we didn't have enough time!). It was so cool to be back there. I really expected more change so I was happy with what was the same. There were some sad changes, but the most important things were the same. Mike grew up in Silverdale, so the girls get to see in person all the places attached to Mike's childhood memories, but they had never been to my childhood places, so it was really special for me.
So then my dad and I drove to St. George...it was really nice to drive with him and talk about things. He told me all about life on the farm in Moses Lake and the different crops they grew, his parents and their life in Vernal and my grandpa's involvement in the dinosaur discoveries there, and his pioneer grandparents. I love learning about all that stuff.
In St. George we spent the evening with Kaye and some other people (my mom and Randy beat us there) for another meeting. So we got to spend the night at Kaye's after all (she was the one I was going to stay with the first night when we went to the motel instead). We were going to drive from Provo to San Diego in one shot on Saturday, but Mike ended up working through the weekend so there was no rush. And I sure am glad because it would have been P-A-I-N-F-U-L to try to do it all at once. Sunday my parents and I pushed off from St. George and had a nice drive back to San Diego. They had the girls in their car and it made things so much easier for me because Edward slept so much better.
And...that's pretty much it! It was so great to be back. It was like I missed the place so much but didn't realize it until I was there! The downside was that it all felt very rushed and again, my being on my own with the kids, it was exhausting. I'm happy I was able to hit the most important places, but there are still a lot of other places I would have gone.
In the next post I'll have more pictures and talk about the week my parents spent here.