I bought this outfit a year ago on super sale. It's been sitting in Juliet's dresser since last Easter. I've been dying to dress her in it, and with three Easter functions on Friday, I decided the day had come.
Zion National Park on our last two days was just as divine. Don't be fooled. Traveling with two kids had more than one meltdown (it was a daily thing actually) and quite a few moments of Juliet being a big pill. But really, traveling with family is amazing.
Saturday morning was our coldest in the park. We traveled up out of Zion Canyon to our family's secret "wedding hike" and the sun was just breaking over the cliffs.
The beautiful untouched wash was in the shade, and it was coooold!
We were and always are the only hikers in this special spot where my aunt and uncle got married twenty plus years ago.
Even with the promise of treats, James was not feeling it. I couldn't blame him really, when he finally cried that his hands were too cold to keep hiking, I took them in mine and he was right, they were freezing!
Finally, ever so slowly the sun crept higher into the sky and we turned back around hoping to find a sliver of sun.
And back near the beginning of the hike we found it. Beautiful glorious sunshine.
So instead of hiking we found a large puddle and some huge rocks and threw them off the ledge. James was in heaven. And the sun warmed us all right up.
Juliet spent the entire time crawling in the warm sand. (Notice she is in her winter coat!)
Later in the day after nap time we went back into the park with James's completed Jr. Ranger booklet. James had to talk to a ranger in the visitor's center, show what he completed in his booklet, and swear in as a Junior Ranger. It was the cutest moment of my life. He was so shy and so proud. When they said "you are now a junior ranger" he said "no, I'm James."
But they gave him a badge and he was so thrilled.
Checking out this prize. I love this picture because you can see his secret freckles.
Since it was still quite chilly we decided to head to the sunny river again instead of go on the hike we were planning (which was in the shade). Juliet was thrilled with our choice.
How could she be sad when there's sand, rocks, and leaves to try to eat at lightning speed?
E and I took turning watching the baby and playing with James. We also relaxed and enjoyed the view. What's not to love? Unreal.
There were lots of rocks to be had, which meant lots of splashing.
No rock is too big for him.
Since the previous night we'd spent some more money and dined at Zion Lodge for dinner, on our last night we decided to go back to the pizza joint and get some more wood fired goodness.
We arrived back at our hotel exhausted and happy, and peeked out onto our back patio to see this beautiful sunset.
On our last day we woke up teasing that we shouldn't leave. What would they do if we just stayed another night, and another?
After regretfully packing up our room and eating another delicious breakfast we drove through the Zion tunnel once more and stopped at the Canyon Overlook hike. This hike is awesome if you are not afraid of heights. It weaves back along the canyon to the most amazing overlook in Zion (okay, maybe second to Angel's Landing).
E and I were worried about James near the edge and prepped him over and over on the way in that there is danger, and to stick close to us and hold our hand if we ask. Luckily he did a great job obeying (not a three year old's strong suit).
Air was once again warmer and views were out of this world.
This photo might be one of my favorites from the trip. Not because of the smiles or lack there of, but because it looks just like photos of my childhood with my siblings in Utah's National Parks. Jackets layered over sweatshirts, hand-me-downs and crooked hats. Children exploring together, not looking up to see the lens. Perfection.
This is what I get when I say "look at me!" over and over.
At the overlook James was awesome. This looks like he's right on the edge, but I assure you, he is not.
Our first trip with two children was a raging success. Even the drive home was amazingly easy. Until next time Zion, we are pooped.
After a fairly successful night in our hotel room we dressed and headed out to breakfast. Normally we love eating out for breakfast, but haven't done it for quite some time. Vacation however means breakfast out, and it was divine.
We went to Oscar's, which we remembered was fantastic from the last time we were in Zion, and again, it didn't disappoint.
*And whenever we go to restaurants with two kids (which is actually fairly often) we always order two high chairs. James is big enough for a booster seat or even just the chair, but we like that in a high chair he can't get down without our help, makes the meal much smoother.
After we were fed we headed to the visitor center to get James a Jr. Ranger workbook and Juliet her first National Park Passport. We LOVE these, you stamp them each time you visit a park, and it is seriously so fun to look back on. James's passport has five stamps (Zion at four months, Capitol Reef, Arches, and Fire Island National Seashore, along with this trip to Zion) and E's and mine is packed full of stamps.
After the visitor's center we decided to take it easy our first morning and headed to the river. The weather was so nice, warm in the sun and cool in the shade. James is beyond thrilled to spend hours near any river where he can throw rocks.
Soon we were shedding layers and enjoying the sun in our t-shirts (all while it was snowing back home).
Zion's landscape is incredible. I've been to lots and lots of National Parks, and Zion ranks among my top favorites (Yosemite might be my favorite of all).
My favorite boy was all smiles.
While James stayed busy throwing rocks, Juliet stayed busy climbing over and onto everything. She'd shove sand, sticks and rocks in her mouth and was being quite a little challenge. She did not want to be held. She needed to be exploring and tasting things for herself.
After a very successful nap time where everyone slept (heaven) we headed to the trail we'd been looking forward to since making our Zion reservation. Emerald Pools promised a nice length trail, a waterfall, lots of views, and an all around perfect hike for us.
We spotted this guy first thing.
As long as Daddy kept walking she was happy.
We wove up and down the steep mountain and even walked under the waterfall. This portion of the trail was wet because the fall was actually overhead. James LOVED it.
Juliet thought all the splashing was quite fun too (you can see all the water on the sunshade on the pack).
As we approached middle Emerald Pools, James said "I want to keep hiking!" We were not planning on going all the way to the upper pools, the trail was steep and the footing was quite tricky.
But we were all doing so well, and James is seriously the best hiker in the world, we decided to go for it.
The trail was steep with large rocky steps, some double the size of a standard step. And James never slowed down or asked to break. He was being adorable, saying "hi! My name's James!" to everyone he passed on the trail, and every time E and I wanted to break he'd say "let's keep hiking!"
Up up up.
We finally reached the upper falls, and it was worth the climb. Beautiful.
Juliet at this point wasn't feeling it. She was cold and grumpy. Plus, getting five teeth at once didn't help the cause. Sweet grumpy bunny.
A snack and some snuggled cheered her up.
Back down the trail. We kept worrying that James would tire out soon, the trail was tricky even for us, but he kept going and never even asked to rest.
Views were amazing.
Back under the waterfall.
He was loving it and got quite wet.
Day two was amazing. Such another happy day. So needed, after our very difficult winter.