Sunday, July 4, 2010

Go West

When I left for college, "home" was an hour from the Pacific ocean. Since then, each of the last four moves has been a move further east until, now, at last, I live about 90 minutes from the Atlantic. This place has been good to us, and it has been good for our kids to set down some roots, but I miss my family and miss the grand landscape of the West. As you may guess, then, last month's family reunion in Utah was many kinds of wonderful.

Big thanks go to Tiff and Kyle for allowing their condo to serve as the principal refugee camp. We got there in time for a little Father's Day grilling.

After performing our carnivorous duty, Mom and Dad's demands for a three-generation talent show were met with singing, dancing (tango and freestyle), piano, guitar, heavy lifting, and Bryce's attempt to get his eyes more than half open (he succeeded, but only just).
Monday was for hanging out, lunch with old friends, and preening for family pictures. We were a fine looking bunch, but you will have to take my word for it until we receive digital copies. How about it, Science?

Tuesday we took an extended family trip through the Salt Lake Temple, which was beautiful and memorable. Many thanks to Koosh, Mish, and Bob for generously allowing themselves to be drafted into babysitting duty--we really appreciated you making the trip possible. We capped off the day with a visit to an old friend of my parents, who hooked us up with some backyard pony rides:

I don't know what's going on here--I think Nora and cousin Erik are planning an elaborate mischief.

In the middle of the week we took visits to Welfare Square, the Humanitarian Center, Temple Square and the observation deck at the Church Office Building. It was great to see some of facilities out of which flow the global work of the Church. I came away understanding a little better the methods and scope of our efforts to do good in all the world.

The last few days of the week were spent largely outdoors, first on a hike up Big Cottonwood Canyon, and then on an overnight trip to Bryce Canyon. With an unusually snowy spring, Cottonwood was fresh and beautiful.
Mish put pet turtle Teancum on a leash and let him get a big taste of freedom. From the look of this picture, Erik also enjoyed riding on Teancum's back:
The water at Donut Falls was glacier-cold, but just about everyone dipped their toes in it.

When we got back from the falls, there was just enough time to engage in a fun new family tradition--Iron Chef. The surprise ingredients were black beans, avocado, cornbread mix and tofu. With three teams competing, everyone stunned each other with their creativity. I couldn't stop snitching from the competition.
The drive down to Bryce Canyon was a little long for a day trip, but full of the awesome landscape I remember. Bryce itself was breathtaking.

Everyone agreed that the hike down into the canyon was well worth it:
However, the kids were less enthusiastic about the 2-mile, 550 foot ascent out of the canyon. They are turning into real hikers, but I'm still going with the "Before" picture:
That night the whole family joined us for foil dinners, baked apples, and s'mores. The next morning I managed to squeeze in a memorable sunrise run along the canyon rim, and returned to find the camp overrun by adorable two-headed monsters:
We finished out the week visiting K's sister in west Orem, affording me the opportunity to look up our old home. It was still there, looking very much the same:
Ian, Johnny and Aiden capitalized on their shared love of Pokemon.

One of the best parts about the trip was meeting three new nephews (Charlie and Alex from my side, Lucas from K's side. Here's K with the latter.

I should mention before wrapping up that all four of the kids behaved surprisingly well on both plane rides, helped immeasurably by Delta's personalized television screens. The trip back was tiring but mostly painless, and our arrival at home was met with gigantic vegetables.
I cannot stress enough how wonderful it was to see everyone. Like our garden, it pleases me more and more to see how the little family our parents started continues to bear fruit.