Claire’s 13th Birthday

Happy birthday to Claire! Hard to believe we now have three teenage daughters in the house.

To celebrate, we took Claire out to lunch as usual. She chose Cubby’s again this year, and this year decided to bring her sister Katelyn along with Manina and me.

Claire and Manina at Cubby's

At lunch, we went through our standard questions like we did last year:

Cereal: Reese’s Puffs
Homemade dinner: tri-tip or Mac and cheese
Restaurant: Cubby’s
After school activity: penny boarding or basketball
Sport: basketball
Friend: too many to choose
School subject: ceramics

Finish the sentence:
I wish… I could remember the answer that I thought about earlier today
I really like to wear… my Patagonia Synchilla
I would describe myself as… a crazy oddball duckhead
When I grow up… I will have changed the world for the better
I love it when… we go camping
My favorite memory is… either Hawaii or Disneyland
I really look up to… I’ll say my parents
The best thing about me is… that I don’t like to describe myself
I want to practice… my basketball skills
I want the world to know… that they shouldn’t leave their cars running unless they need it
My biggest thing I want to accomplish at age 13 is… make amends with my siblings

In the evening, Claire invited two of her friends Andie and Ruby to join her at a BYU baseball game.

Andie, Claire, and Ruby at a BYU baseball game

We were lucky enough to have been given four VIP tickets, so Claire and her friends were able to eat all the popcorn, peanuts, sodas, candy bars, and brownies they could eat. Plus a catered dinner from Costa Vida! It was a cold evening, so we needed all those calories just to keep us warm.

In lieu of birthday gifts, Claire decided to redecorate her bedroom and she really did a good job putting everything together. Claire is a great girl and we’re sure glad she could have a great birthday!

Meadow Hot Springs 2019 Edition

After Gary and Kathy caught their plane back to Alaska, we packed up and went on a quick camping trip. We decided to head down to the Meadow hot springs, recreating a memory from nearly five years ago.

Claire got to bring along her friend Andie and Ellie invited Izzy, so our car was full of people and gear as we drove the two hours south.

The weather was a bit cold, and it was windy and threatening to rain when we arrived at our spot. We started to setup our camp when we realized that I had forgotten the tent stakes to our big wall tent. Off to a rough start.

I was pretty frustrated at leaving behind such a critical piece of gear, but I made a few phone calls and was able to find some stakes for sale about 20 minutes away back in Fillmore. I drove and bought the stakes and we were able to finally get our camp setup without any further drama.

Since we had arrived early in the afternoon, we still had some daylight to use. So we drove to the nearby lava tubes, hiking around and exploring some of the dark caves for a while.

Kids exploring the lava tubes while Manina takes the easy route

We took a bunch of pictures and climbed around and explored for about an hour or so.

Seth jumping to his certain demise
Claire taking in the scenery

As we drove the progressively less bumpy road back to camp we saw several pronghorn antelope bounding alongside us. We were all having fun and enjoying nature together.

Our next stop was to the hot springs for a nice warm bath. It was around sunset on a Friday night, so we were quickly outnumbered by a rowdier audience and didn’t stay too long.

Meadow hot springs at sunset

Back at camp we built a fire and cooked hot dogs for dinner before climbing into bed pretty much exhausted.

Cooking dinner around the campfire

It rained at night, but everyone stayed warm and dry and slept pretty well.

We woke up, ate breakfast, and packed up our camp. We were in the car and on the road by 10am, and listened to the first session of General Conference on the drive home.

Even though we had to come home and set everything back up to make sure it all dried out completely and cleaned up, it was still worth it. Even with the rough start, the marginal weather, and the effort involved, it’s always good to get away and spend time together in the great outdoors.

Gary & Kathy’s Spring Break Visit

During our spring break, we had the chance to have Gary & Kathy stop by with Ripley (their dog, and Finley’s half-brother).

On their drive up from Arizona and St. George, Gary was going a little too fast and got pulled over. Gary and the officer had a pleasant exchange about why Gary was in such a hurry. Gary told him about being from Alaska and coming down to get some sunshine and visit his grandchildren. The officer came back with only a warning and told him that this would have been $300 ticket. “So instead of paying the fine, go spend that on your grandkids.”

Gary got pulled over and got a citation with specific instructions

Gary took that quite literally and paid his ticket by showing up with a crisp $50 bill for each of his six grandkids. Not sure what the cop was thinking, because now anytime they ride with Grandpa Gary, they will be encouraging him to go faster and faster.

Gary paid his fine

Springtime in Utah is famously schizophrenic weather-wise. You can experience all five Utah seasons in the space of just a couple days. This happened while Gary & Kathy were with us, but the highlight of the trip was a quick trip to a nearby park to enjoy some sunshine.

Gary & Kathy sitting in the sun with Ripley and Finn

The kids fished (and caught nothing) and the dogs played and then took their humans on a good walk. We ate sandwiches and snacks and enjoyed the sun. It was a nice day out.

I’m sure Gary and Kathy were excited to head back home to Alaska after spending a couple months in Arizona, but we were certainly glad they were able to stop by our place for a few days during our spring break.

Drew’s First Scout Campout

Drew was pretty excited to attend his first scout campout. He even skipped a soccer game to attend, so that should tell you something.

We drove out to Lone Rock out west of Grantsville. I’ve never been to that site before, but it was a pretty good spot in the early spring.

The drive out was pretty rough with all the rush-hour traffic. Plus, the weather was not looking good. Very cold and rainy. But luckily Drew and I were prepared for the inclement weather.

Drew among the sagebrush as the sun starts to break through the clouds.

We got to our site and set up our tent and then turned our attention to dinner.

Our tent setup with Lone Rock in the background.
See why they call it Lone Rock?

It was cold and a little wet, but most of the storm had passed by, so we didn’t have any wind. It ended up being a nice night despite the cold.

Our Lone Rock campsite

In the morning, we got up decided to hike up to the top. Lone Rock is a popular place for climbing but there were plenty of routes up that didn’t require any ropes or gear.

On top of Lone Rock with our camp site in the background.

On the top there were some pretty impressive views.

Drew taking in the scenic view on Lone Rock

Drew was pretty excited about finding a few geocaches in the area, but unfortunately, the information sheets were left at home so we didn’t get a chance to look them up.

Really the only drawback was the litter and shells and casings that got left behind by target shooters. The scouts did a pretty good job of leaving no trace, and even cleaned up several hundred extra pieces of garbage from around our campsite. Definitely left it better than we found it.

SoCal 2019 – San Diego

After our great time at Disneyland, we decided to extend our vacation a few more days and go visit our favorite missionaries. Elder Mike Johnson and Sister Jan Johnson are serving a military-relations mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in San Diego. They’ve only serving for about a month, but we were excited to see them.

But before driving down, we had to make a stop at The Coffee Cup for brunch with Uncle Matt amid the pouring rain.

Four thumbs up at The Coffee Cup

The drive down the I-5 was through crazy heavy rains. We eventually arrived in San Diego and hung out at my mom and dad’s apartment complex for the evening.

Cabrillo National Monument

We packed some lunches and drove down the Point Loma peninsula to Cabrillo National Monument. We explored the tide pools and walked along the beach.

We looked for whales (didn’t see any), toured the lighthouse, and ate a picnic lunch while overlooking Coronado island. It was a beautiful area of San Diego and a fun place to visit for an afternoon.

Picnic at Cabrillo National Monument

Mission Beach Ride-athon

On Saturday morning Claire and Grandpa were putting together an electric assist for his wheelchair. After a few false starts and a trip to Home Depot to cut off a couple inches of aluminum tubing, we finally got it working.

New Rio Mobility Firefly electric assist.

After playing around with it for no more than 5 minutes, we decided to go to Mission Beach to try it out among the general public on a crowded and popular boardwalk. What is the worst that could happen?

Grandpa Mike would have been bored cruising along all by himself, so the rest of us rented various conveyances and we set off on a ride all around Mission Bay and then the boardwalk along the beach.

Riding bikes, scooters, trikes, etc. along Mission Bay in San Diego

A group like ours must have freaked out the folks we passed. We avoided causing too much havoc as we cruised around the bay on the bike trails and side streets.

Stopping to take in views of Mission Bay on a breezy day

After we’d explored and had our fun on the bikes, trikes, and electric scooters, we found a table in the park and had a picnic lunch. My folks had some missionary work to go do, so we parted ways and then we went to go visit the Denney family. We spent the afternoon at their house, catching up and letting all the kids play together before heading out to dinner.

Between our two families, we have 15 people. So even missing Jake who is in El Salvador, our combined crews are still a sight to behold, especially in Southern California. Despite all the stares and pointing we had a nice dinner at The Taco Stand in Encinitas and then some fancy dessert at Sidecar Donuts.

We had to get back early to pack up all our luggage and prepare for our long drive home on Sunday. We had a great week, from Hollywood, to Disneyland, and finishing up in San Diego, but it’s always good to be back home.