Manina is 40! She requested to keep things small this year, not wanting to inconvenience anyone during the busy holiday season. But even with her request, she managed to have a pretty jam-packed day of celebration.
First thing was a breakfast and an all-expenses-paid shopping trip with a couple close friends. Emily, Penny and Manina enjoyed breakfast at the Black Bear Diner and then shopped at Downeast and then went on to Manina’s favorite store, the Loft. She found lots of cute outfits, and bought all of them.
After the shopping spree, Manina came home for Ellie’s gingerbread program (our last one) and a quick lunch and then it was off to Megan’s basketball game.
Right after Megan’s game, we drove to PF Changs for dinner. We enjoyed a semi-formal dinner with the kids (that usually doesn’t happen – we were happy they were well-behaved this time).
After dinner we all drove down to the Marriott Center for a BYU basketball game. Nick Emery, TJ Haws, Erik Mika and company all put on a pretty good show against Cal State – Bakersfield. The Roadrunners got within 10 towards the end, making the game a little nerve-wracking, but the Cougs held them off.
On the way home our neighbors even lit up their house with pink and yellow lights (because Manina had teasingly mentioned it a few days earlier).
While it was a great day, the highlight was all of the nice comments and notes and gifts that many people sent. Manina certainly has a way with people and has many friends who helped make her day very special. Happy birthday, Manina!
My employer gave me Veteran’s Day as a paid day off this year, so we checked the kids out of school (except Jake, he couldn’t miss a class), borrowed trailer, and drove down to Goblin Valley State park on Thursday night.
Because is was Thursday night, we didn’t have trouble finding a spot. So we setup camp in the dark in campsite (#20).
When the ranger came around Friday morning, he told us that site was reserved for the next night. The neighboring site (#16) was designated as a walk-in site, so if we moved next door we could claim it for the night. So we moved the tent and our few supplies and got ready for the day.
We had decided to hike Ding and Dang slot canyons. These are near Little Wildhorse canyon (which we’ve done a fewtimes before), but a little more technical and a bit longer. However, we felt prepared having conquered Peek-a-boo and Spooky just a few weeks ago.
We drove 1.25 miles along the riverbed/road after passing the Little Wildhorse trailhead. There was one other car parked, but we essentially had the place to ourselves on a beautiful fall day.
We hit the trail at 11:30am. I had a map of the hiked saved in my phone. I knew we would like along the riverbed and then take a fork off to the right to head up Ding canyon. Our plan was to loop around and come down Dang. It was a 6-mile loop.
As you can see from the GPS map above, we took a wrong turn after 7 minutes of hiking. Not having gone near far enough along the main trail. We called this unimpressive trail Damn canyon. I suggest you avoid it.
With the benefit of hindsight, I knew better. There were lots of signs that we weren’t in the right place. I didn’t double-check the map, which was stupid. But we were having fun scrambling over the rocks. But it quickly turned uphill and into some pretty nasty terrain and it became obvious that we were off course. The kids ate lunch and said some prayers while I scrambled to a high spot and was able to get some reception, just enough for my map application on my phone to show me where we were. We retraced our steps and got back to the main trail, but it was a 2 mile detour that wore our kids out.
When we got to Ding it was awesome. Cool terrain, deep slots with steep sheer walls and some fun semi-technical sections, and even some water.
The kids had a lot of fun, but we were worn out and losing daylight. After taking quite some time to shuttle everyone across a watery section we decided to turn back.
As we drove back to camp, the full moon was rising.
It was a beautiful night. We roasted hot dogs over the fire, popped popcorn, baked cookies in the oven in the trailer, and all listened to some scary stories from the Snap Judgement podcast in the tent.
But everyone was wiped out. We were all in bed by 9pm.
Saturday morning we woke up and packed up camp. Then we drove over to the Valley of the Goblins and played tag for a while and snapped some pictures.
As we drove home we listened to the BYU/SUU football game on the radio and talked about how we need to go back. Ding and Dang got the best of us this time, but we will be back. And we won’t be making the (damn) wrong turn next time.
On Thursday of our fall break Manina and the kids made the four-hour drive down to Bryce Canyon. Jake and I would drive down separately later that evening.
The girls (and Drew) stopped for lunch and met Rachel and Spencer and their family, with whom we would be spending the long weekend.
They went into Bryce, walking around the canyon rim, playing around and taking some pictures.
We had rented this older house in Tropic from VRBO, so it was fun to all hang out together that evening once we all got together.
We fired up the barbecue and cooked dinner while the kids had fun playing out in the yard. Later that evening we watched the BYU vs. Boise St. game (unlucky outcome) and planned our outing for the following day.
Day 2: Peekaboo and Spooky
Friday morning we decided to drive out to do some of Utah’s more famous slot canyons near Escalante. We made the hour-long drive along scenic Highway 12 and turned off onto Hole-in-the-Rock road just on the other side of town.
We then drove 25 miles down the washboard-i-est road ever until we got to the trailhead. After turning off the road, we still had a some traveling to go on a road which required a high-clearance vehicle, so the Haymonds left their minivan and all piled in our Suburban for the last mile or so to the trail head.
There was a bit of a line to enter the Peek-a-boo slot. I had some webbing which was super handy to help haul the little ones up a pretty technical entrance. Once we were in the slot, the kids loved it.
When we got to the top of Peek-a-boo, we stopped for a while and had some lunch. Then we hike across the desert following rock cairns until we were able to find the entrance to Spooky.
As we headed down Spooky, we found out that it lived up to its name. We dropped down a large drop, then into really skinny stuff. So cool, but hard to capture in a picture.
After the hike, we were all pretty tired. We stopped to eat in Escalane and stopped at a place called Nemo’s drive-in. The kids decided they’d had enough adventure for the day, so we crossed the parking lot to eat Subway instead. We later found out that Nemo’s is pretty well regarded, one of the “hidden gem” places to eat in Utah. So it wasn’t a perfect day.
Day 3: Lower Calf Creek
Early morning Manina and I got up early to watch the sunrise over Sunrise point at Bryce. It’s a pretty spectacular place.
Jake wanted to get back in time to mow some lawns, so he left in my car to drive home alone while the rest of us headed along the Scenic Highway 12 again, this time stopping at Lower Calf Creek falls for a hike.
It was 6 miles long in sand, but pretty flat. Our kids did great, but the younger Haymonds struggled. The towering waterfall was a cool payoff at the end of the out-and-back trail.
When we got back to the parking lot we had to wait for the little Haymonds for a while, and by then we were all ready for the long drive home. We got home Saturday night at 9:30pm, having squeezed every little bit of adventure out of our fall break.
Jacob has only been a licensed driver for a couple months. In the short time he has been driving, he has had the following incidents:
First, he got a speeding ticket and tried to keep it on the down-low. That didn’t work out so well since the first thing the police department does with a traffic offense with a minor is write a letter to your parents.
He had a collision with a deer. The deer pretty much hopped up onto the hood of the car leaving a nice dent and some scratches on the hood.
His buddy backed into him at homecoming, denting the driver’s door and front quarter panel
Now, my car isn’t a great car by any means — it’s a 2006.5 Kia Optima with almost 115k miles on it. But, I bought it new and have taken good care of it. It should have quite a lot of life left.
But, with school starting and Jake having an early-morning class, he has had to drive almost every day to school. The Lone Peak high school parking lot is famous for dings, dents, and frequent accidents. I just can’t have him wreck my car any more. So, when Uncle Greg said he was getting rid of his Honda, we jumped at it.
It’s a 1993 Honda Accord. The paint is peeling in a couple places and the hitch is almost rusted completely through, but mechanically it seems like it’s pretty good shape. If you look closely at the odometer, you’ll notice it has 340,763.6 miles on it.
It passed safety and emissions with flying colors. The mechanic said it’s not uncommon for the engines in these Honda’s to go for 500k+ miles.
Since it is a manual 5-speed transmission, Jake had to learn how to drive a stick. At one point, he made Drew cry because he was scared he was going to die as Jake jerkily started through an intersection and then stalled it out. But, he’s got the hang of it now.
We spent a whopping $500 on this car, so any miles we can squeeze out of it are purely bonus miles. Let’s hope this beater keeps going for many more miles.