Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Moab 2011 - The adventure in which I learn that there is such a thing as MANDATORY FUN TIME!

Holy Schmoly!  Where to start???

Okay, so Tuffy's girl Montana's family has an annual outing to Moab, UT.  Tuffy was invited to go along last year and came home gushing about how great it was, how much fun and how we really should do this.

Maybe a subtle or not so subtle hint later, we found ourselves invited since a bedroom had opened up.

They rent a house on the south end of town with 6 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, family rooms, a fenced backyard, laundry room and of course the whole kitchen deal.  When everyone chips in, it is an extremely reasonable lodging option.  Everyone takes a turn with meals and no one needs to eat out.  I will confess that I hit the Maverick one morning for my crack in a can and maple bar.

Everyone left Wednesday morning, except for Dave, Chloee and me.  I had to get home from St George first, so by the time we got packed and on the road, it was after 8pm.  Looking at a 4 hour drive minimum, we knew we would be pulling in late.  Totally didn't care - just wanted to get there!

Splenda drove, Chloee slept, and I turned on my ipod and sang out loud in the back seat.
I can't resist snapping pics of her sleeping - so sweet and angelic!

The moon was nearly full and while I tried hard to get just the right pic, there were clouds and the whole issue of the moving car

Tuffy pointed out that the image ended up looking like a heart!  Omen of what is to come with this trip

I did want to hear and see all that they did that first night while we were driving down.  How cool is a nighttime hike to Delicate arch by a full moon?

Not gonna lie - insanely jealous!  This is now on my list of MUST DO!

We got there, was shown our bedroom, dumped our crap and hit the sack.  Tuffy and 'Tana spent that first night on our floor

So cute.  See how careful they are to keep distance and use separate blankets?

The next day we staggered up, everyone foraged their own breakfasts, packed lunches and got ready for the river!

We rented some rafts, lifejackets and oars from a local company.  With experienced river runners in Noel and Dayton, we didn't need a tour guide - they completely handled it!

Emme and Weston getting ready to launch.

We all slathered on sunscreen, moved some cars down river to the lunch pull out and then went over the rules.
Noel and Dayton are amazing outdoorsmen!  Holy cow, felt like I was in the presence of professionals!  I knew that we were in for a great time!

Now it was time to put away the good camera and pull out the crappy disposable waterproof one.  Forgive the poor picture quality

We found a rope swing on the riverbank and of course Chloee had to follow all the big kids and do it too!

Noel stayed close by with a log to grab any drifting swingers

'Tana giving it a go

And that would be me. Graceful much? *snort*

Chloee loved the river. 

View at our pull out for lunch.  Such beautiful country!

Chloee wanted to take her turn rowing

And she wanted to get out in the river and play.  'Course it's also helpful for when ya gotta pee

Having so much fun!

Tuffy are you cooling off or taking a leak?

Our group was large enough that we needed two rafts.  We had fun trying to race and of course the water fights!  I was a terrible bucket-of-water-thrower, but Tuffy was killing it.  Until he dropped it in the rapids, jumped out after it and rescued it. 

Rowing.  I shoulda flexed my awesome muscles

Yes, it IS a disposable camera with a smudge on the lens

l-r Splenda, Alexis, Chloee, Noel, Tuffy, and the cute corner of white hair would be Hunter

Splenda, Tuffy, Chloee, Noel, Alexis, Montana, the snippet of blonde on the right is Savannah and then Hunter up front

I realize this is a random shot and prolly got snapped on accident, but the blue sky....really?  Could it be any bluer?  I think not.  It was a GORGEOUS day and so much fun!

After heading back to the house, cleaning up a bit, dinner and some brief relaxing

Chloee and Sierra showing us their Hello Kitty shirts

Cheesing it up for the camera and showing off the playdough pancake

Devin was a good sport to let Allie play with his hair.  Her expression in the background is so her!!

We headed off to our next adventure

The kids called it the Indian ladder

Basically a very small, narrow hole in the rocks that one climbs up

Some were wise enough to park it in the chairs

Great shot there Splenda Daddy - thanks for that!  Could my ass be any bigger?

Splenda is so tall that he had trouble negotiating the narrow beginning

At the top!  Dayton, me and Noel

My signature - "Peace, love and temple marriage"

Even a little higher with the Tuffster

The littles trying.  Hunter was amazingly brave and did it.  Chloee had to be told she was too young.
Not only physically was it challenging, but not for anyone claustrophobic.  It was dang tight in there!

View from the top

Me and my man

Braydee and Noel

And then we have to get our way back down.  Even more scary!

And of course a quick nap on the way home

That night was pretty special. Special enough that I didn't feel like I wanted to take pictures and share that way, but let me give you a glimpse.

Background - Montana's family is very close. I mean they are tight in a way that I see in few other families other than maybe my own. The first day was Larry's (Patriarch and Grandfather) birthday. The kids had planned a surprise for him.

We all pulled out chairs and sat in a circle in the backyard. Each of his children and grandchildren wrote a letter to him expressing their love, memories and honoring him. They started with the youngest and went to the oldest. As each person took their turn, they stood with Larry and read aloud their letters.
I was very touched. In fact, I felt like a very quiet spectator at a sacred gathering.
Lot's of the memories were funny and everyone got a good laugh or too. Many were extremely touching. In particular, I remember one son telling about a picture he had of himself playing baseball. And that the picture of him wasn't what he loved so much, but the blurry figure in the background that was his father there watching him play was what he loved. That picture represented the support throughout the years that his father had given him.

It was such a sweet and awesome experience to be allowed to witness. The Spirit was strong, the unity and love between those family members is something that all families should aspire to. And Larry? What an example of a great father, grandfather and friend to his posterity. What a privilege to rub shoulders with these good people!

When we finally came in, Tuffy had some weird looking bite on his back

Is that the weirdest thing ever??  Not a whole lot of itching, but luckily Noel had an antihistamine handy, and once that got on board, it settled down.  By morning, it was just a little red mark like a mosquito bite.  So strange

The next morning was more adventure, but I quickly and thankfully learned that this family doesn't start the day without kneeling as a group for prayer.  I have to admit that I was extremely impressed by this.

The day's plans involved hiking to Corona Arch.  We loaded up lunches, snacks and water and headed out

Taking a break in the shade

We call him Akmed the terrorist *silence - I keel you!*

Me and the Bird in a self portrait - isn't she so dang cute?

Corona arch

lunch break - 'Tana, Tuffy, Braydee and Devin

Noel had climbed up inside the corner of the arch and the littles had to follow
What a cool shot!

After the big hike, we headed back to the house and some down time

Lots of cards

Hunter teaching Chloee how to play Uno

After some dinner, we got back into some water clothes and headed to an amazing waterfall and Ken's lake

The water was FREEZING cold!

Chloee loved to play with 'Tana

You can see how fast and hard that water is coming!

Splenda braving it

Dayton, Emme and Braydee behind the falls

It's so freaking cold!

And slippery
Devin, Savannah, Braydee and Noel

The lake was beautiful and fun!

I liked watching the dogs fetch their balls

And of course can't miss a shot of the sleeping angel

That night was AWESOME!  They have a tradition of cowboy poetry and music.  Noel, Dayton and Emme are extremely talented.  Everyone grabbed some snacks, cuddle blankets and headed outside for the circle of fun!

Noel reading some cowboy poetry - so funny!

Dayton singing.  I didn't get a shot of Emme singing purely because I was absolutely in awe.  Her voice is amazing and the song she sang she had written for Dayton - incredibly beautiful!

It was another late night staying up talking and getting to know each other better.  Good times!

The next day there were two options.  One - hike Mt Peel with the adventurous group or Two - go shopping with everyone else.
I had decided early on I was going to do the hike.  I wanted the workout on my legs and I wanted to see the spectacular view that I knew I was in for.  However, after thinking it over and even praying about it, I decided that I would pass.  I still have a lot of races and events (3 marathons, a relay, a half marathon) that I need my body injury free for.  My fear was that something stupid would happen - like me falling= to tweak something that would put me out for the season.  So sadly, I told them I wasn't gonna go after all and stayed home to shop.

This is what I missed out on:

Dayton - you look cold!

Kyle and Noel

The brave ones l-r  Braydee, Noel, Andy, Kyle and Dayton

Looks great doesn't it?  Kudos to Dayton, Noel, Kyle, Andy and Braydee for being the brave ones!  Although, Kyle's injuries made me more glad that I made the choice to forgo the adventure

In the meantime, the rest of us hit the Farmer's market and then main street for some shopping

The girls got Hello Kitty purses and kitties and they were the hit for the rest of the vacay!

Can't shop without a stop for ice-cream!!  Thanks for finding the place Emme!

And most exciting - somewhere in a quiet, private and personal moment there on main street in Moab - Tuffy and Montana made it official and got engaged!!  Real rings are coming on Friday - Congrats you two!! Love you both and can't wait to start planning the partay!!

And of course, just like any good show - there is a grand finale....
For this trip it was the trip to Dead Horse Point at sunset

Montana, Braydee and Alexis (sisters)

Dayton and Emme - the ledge makes me nervous!!

l-r  Larry, Noel, Tuffy, 'Tana, Braydee, Alexis, Savannah, Sierra, Dana and Karen
I learned that snacks at all times are necessary  : )

You can never have too many jumping pictures right?

And then my camera battery died.  No charger.  Lame.

The rest of the trip was great. 
We packed up Sunday morning, Dayton gave us a beautiful spiritual message for Sunday, and everyone headed home.  For me, it was sad.  I wanted just a couple more days to enjoy the red rock, the desert, the amazing scenery and the fantastic people.

Lessons learned in Moab:

1.   You can never pack enough snacks.  And snacks should be packed for EVERY venture away from the house.

2.  With 20 people all trying to get ready and out the door, you will never leave at the time you say you will.  And it's okay.

3.  You can never have enough water.

4.  An early morning run is STILL hot in Moab.  And don't pretend that you know where you are going.  You will get lost.

5.  Totally cool to pee in the Colorado river.

6.  Chloee is amazingly adventurous and brave.  And I love that about her.

7.  You can be surrounded by talented people, and when enjoying them by moonlight, you will feel contentment that you haven't in a long time.

8.  Vegetarians and carnivores CAN eat the same meal with only minor adjustments.

9.  Watching vegetarians eat makes me want to eat more healthy.  Right after I shove the rest of this Ding Dong in my mouth.

10.  I need more weekend getaways.  I have so much at my fingertips here in UT that I am not taking advantage of.

11.  Inside jokes are the best.  MANDATORY FUN TIME!

12.  You can share a house and several days with people that you didn't know very well to begin with and come home loving them more than ever.

So that's it.  That's Moab in a HUGE nutshell.  Yeah, I should have broken the posts up into chapters but it's such a pain to get them to cross over into Facebook and Google +, that one BIG, LONG post is what you get.  And if you actually read it all and looked at every single picture - well.......yeah you!

Now, I think it's time to start looking forward to another jaunt to Moab!


Connie said...

I don't know where to begin! What an awesome trip! Moab is beautiful and your pictures captured it! Some of those pictures made me a little queasy; the heights and the tight squeeze through the canyons. (I'd definitely feel better starting the day with prayer!) However, those pictures brought out the fun, craziness, and togetherness you all had. What a nice birthday celebration for Larry.
Congrats to the engaged couple!

CountessLaurie said...

sounds like you had a great time!!
congrats to Tuffy and Tana! And Sissy is adorable...

DesertHen said...

Go Me! I read the entire post and looked at every picture! The ones taken with the waterproof disposable look like vintage photos taken in the 70's. So cool! I got vertigo looking at a few of those "way high up" shots! You captured some amazing pics and moments! It sure is nice to get away and have some unplanned fun. I realized that this weekend as the girls in our family traveled to Calif to attend a baby shower for my niece! FUN times should be mandatory on a REGULAR basis! So glad you had a wonderful trip! =)

just call me jo said...

What a blessedly fun time. I've never had that much fun with that many people. You're so lucky. And brave too. Some of those climbs were positively scary--glorious, but scary. My daughter's been on a retreat to Moab, but I've never been I need to go some day--before it's too late. (Moab will most likely always be there, but I won't always be here...hahah)

gigi said...

Have Mercy, Woman!! What a post and it looks like "JUST WHAT THE DOCTOR ORDERED FOR YOU"! So excited for the engagement!!!!! Your family is really growing and in such sweet and special ways!
So glad you got away and do it again SOON!

Wife Of A Salesman said...

Wow, what do you think the chances are of one of my kids marrying into that family? I want to go!
Nick & Bird? Nick & Ali? Nick & Savannah? Audrey & Devin? Audrey & Weston? Audrey & Hunter? William & Sierra? Hmmm...I actually think the odds are in my favor and plenty of options for my kiddos.

" Hit It......." said...

Yay Me...! I loved looking at your pictures. I am glad you got away. You are right; you can never have to many jumping pictures. Love them.

btw - Chloe' has never looked happier. I can see it in her face.

Amy said...

I have never been to Moab! It looks like great fun. There really is a lot to do here in Utah if you take the time to do it. That is my problem: taking the time and then actually doing it.

Great picture. I love that Chloee is so adventurous. And congrats to the newly engaged!

wendy said...

Oh my gosh...what a marvelous trip!! I love Moab. When the kids were young, and I was married to hubby #1, we always used to go to the Jeep Safari. It was great.

I enjoyed all the pictures.
Glad to hear you got your Crack in a can and maple bar.
Peace, Love, and Temple Marriage.
that was a good one my friend.

Lara said...

Wow. I'm sure I can't address everything, but I felt like I was there with you!

Congratulations on the engagement, and on the entire vacation. I'm embarrassed to say that I lived in Utah most of my life and have only driven through Moab. You're so right about taking advantage of what Utah offers!

Glad you had such a wonderful time!

Garden of Egan said...

OK, I think you made my tired ache. Really.
I'm exhausted.

You are a fabulous photographer. You get such personality shots.

I love the one with the newly engaged couple with the sun behind them. Awwwww.

Sounds like an wonderful family and so good to be a part of.

Next you need to come up this direction and hike around Jenny Lake!
Maybe climb Table Rock!

Mae Rae said...

my word this has made me jealous. this looks like an AMAZING trip.

Thanks for sharing.

Mrs. H said...

Just letting you know I read this...

I'm jealous of the young love.

and wonder if Duke and I can come along next year.

but Im not about to get in water that people pee in.

Mrs. H said...

Ha HA... it called me Mrs. H.


Mamafamilias said...

How dang fun! You make me want to take a trip to Utah. If my money-ship would just come in, I could quit my job and come. However, I will NOT be standing that close to the edge of those cliffs or whatever. Looking at those pictures almost made me pee, and not in the Colorado River either.

Congratulations on the engagement!

Diaper Diva said...

Sister in laws just headed on girls trip to Moab without me. I am sad! No one to watch the kiddos. Really, who do you ask to take that on....
LOVE, love love that shot of you and aplenda with the canyons in the background. What an awesome trip!

Cheeseboy said...

First, I can not believe you loaded all these pictures in one post. That must have taken FOREVER.

Looks like the trip of a lifetime. I think the last time I was in Moab I was 18 or so. Forever ago. Looking forward to going back someday. I'd love to do the Delicate Arch in the moonlight hike.

Pedaling said...

Melissa, you really got some super fantastic shots...some of the best, ever!
i first saw many of these on facebook and was just giddy inside for you.
this was needed.
it really looks like the perfect little get away...i could almost feel the stress melting away from you.

really happy for you and all yours. it's amazing what this kind of get away can do for your soul.