Recently, our family traveled to Utah for two family reunions and a mini-trip to Moab. Considering that our daughter is a terrible traveler (and has been since infancy) we anticipated this trip with mixed emotions- happy to visit family/friends and dread that we wouldn't live to tell the tale. Our trips to Utah are always crammed full of activity. There is too much to do and see in too little time, and we still go home with things undone. Overall, the trip was a success and we had a great time, but it was at times a bit chaotic. A booklet about Moab that I found in our hotel instructed that the first rule of navigating the desert is to "expect the unexpected and prepare for it" (Which, in my opinion is lame, unhelpful advice. For someone who likes to be prepared, the Unexpected is far too vast to realistically prepare for it. Alien Invasions, stampeding zebras, bubonic plague... where do I start? But, I digress). This advice would certainly ring true with our trip. Here is a rough summary:
- Family Reunion #1: Great fun, complete with a family picture, a trip to BYU, a chance meeting of BYU baseball players, playing with cousins, and many activities for young and old. On the last day, we had a "Hoo-ah Grand Finale" with a mandatory evacuation due to a threatening wild fire with only 15 minutes to pack our belongings and leave (a game to include in future reunions?). This was not an ideal way to part, but sure to make the reunion memorable... appropriate since the theme was 'Remember'.
- Mini-trip to Moab: Luckily, the evacuation landed us at my aunt and uncle's house for dinner. When they learned of our trip to Moab and how grossly unprepared we were for it, they equipped us with a child carrier, some camel packs, and Keens. I had foolishly minimized the threat that the heat and sun would be and was grateful for their intervention. As seasoned campers/adventurers, they gave us as much instruction as they could and sent us on our way. The first day we visited Goblin Valley. Despite the heat it was a hit, and my son discovered a love for climbing. Dinner in Moab and a swim in the pool rounded out our day. The next morning I opened our curtains to an overcast, threatening sky. It proceeded to rain intermittently throughout the morning and afternoon. (While packing my husband had joked, "Should we bring our umbrella?" With zero percent of rain in the forecast, we left it home. Little did we know that our prayers for a fun vacation would be competing with most Utahn's prayers for rain). The rain let up long enough for us to fit in a couple of hikes at Arches National Park: the upper viewpoint to Delicate Arch and Sand Dune Arch. The grey clouds were not picturesque, but they did eliminate the risk of heat stroke. After a late lunch, the weather cleared and we finished up our Arches trip by hiking Double Arch. We hit Dead Horse Point on the way out of town- which nearly didn't happen because my daughter had actually fallen asleep in the car (a miracle) and we seriously considered passing it by. Perhaps the hardest decision of my life to date.
- Family Reunion #2:This reunion brought us more fun with cousins, lots of sugar consumption, Olympic competitions, and lots of music. We were happy to end our gypsy-like travels and find respite for a few days in peaceful accommodations. The rain found us again and our reunion was forced to finish up in a church gym. Somehow, my husband and I have picked up some bad vacation karma. We think that we should move to the desert. It would be a rain forest in no time.
I must admit, through the stress and pressure of our travels, I could actually see my children growing closer together. Being in the car for hours on end forced them to entertain each other and it was so fun to watch (this mainly consisted of my son doing slapstick comedy for my daughter, which happens to be her favorite genre). One night, my son gazed lovingly into his sister's porta-crib and received such big smiles in return that his love for her overflowed, and he expressed to me a sincere and sweet love for her. It's moments like that that make it all worth it. I want my children to be friends.
That being said, I think it might take awhile for us to recover enough to go on another trip. This family bonding business is exhausting.