Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Zion National Park {Our first proper camping trip!}

Years and years ago when James was tiny we planned a camping trip that was doomed (read more about it here) and ever since then we've been hesitant to try again. Last year we decided to sleep over at the cabin to try to see what camping would be like, and it was doomed too. Ha!

But when my dad called four months ago hoping that we'd join him for camping in Zion National Park over Memorial Day we decided to go for it, not sure what we'd gotten ourselves into.

The drive down was wet. Rained the entire time and the forecast looked dreadful. We set up our tent in the rain and the next three days called for rain, rain and more rain.
But the kids were STOKED! They got sleeping bags for Christmas and have been so excited to test them out and finally sleep in them. My dad has a trailer RV thing with a rain canopy, so we scooted over to his site for dinner and to play in the warm (dry) trailer.
Bedtime rolled around and our tent was dry and cozy. Both kids fell asleep wonderfully and we slept all night without a hitch!
In the morning it was absolutely POURING. E and I questioned our sanity, who wants to try to enjoy our first camping trip with kids when all we could do was run from the tent to the car? We were feeling pretty blue. Instead of being soaked we decided to go to town for breakfast (luckily our favorite breakfast spot is in Springdale) and take a drive through the National Park after breakfast was done.
James and I got out to explore a few times. E was exhausted from his week long trip that he'd only just returned home from and Juliet was NOT having the rain.

All the washes were full of water, waterfalls were spilling off the cliffs and James and I explored and explored. We tried to rally the other two, but they were happy in the warm dry car.
Lots of dark clouds around lunch time, but not raining long enough to stop us from exploring near our campsite.
Juliet only wanted to be inside the tent. She loved it. She didn't want to hike or explore, she wanted to "snuggle in [her] cozy sleeping bag."
We took lots of hikes in the rain. This one E and Juliet missed because after an epic meltdown, Juliet decided to take a two and a half hour nap in the car. E was more than happy to stay with her while I hiked with my Dad and Tracie (his fiancé), her daughter and son-in-law, and their two children that are roughly James's age.
My dad and James were the happiest and fastest explorers of the bunch.
James really really likes these almost-cousins. When my dad marries his fiancé, I'll have two step-sisters and a step-brother (which is super odd for me to say, since I've only met two of them once), but anyhow, these will be our kids' cousins.
These three were as thick as thieves and never ever left each other's side.
Lots of rain meant we ate inside my dad's rain awning. But everyone was happy while the rain continued on.
The next day we woke up early to catch a shuttle into Zion Canyon. The kids were excited to hike Emerald Pools (which James has been on twice and Juliet has been on once!). We hiked both the lower and middle pools and were mostly rain free! Woot! Juliet even surprised us all, and after an early meltdown regarding hiking, she hiked the entire 1.5 mile loop herself.
The trail takes you directly under the falls, and this waterfall loving boy couldn't be happier.
I remembered that James and I took a photo on this rock on this hike two years ago, so I wanted to reproduce it.
Awe. James was Juliet's age on this trip and hiked so well even back then. 
After our hike we headed to the Zion Lodge for lunch. Not a bad view to enjoy.
The sky continued to clear. We hopped back on the shuttle and went to the last stop, where The Narrows hike starts. We wanted to just enjoy the scenery and let the kids play near the river.
Having sun was such a nice treat after such a cold trip! Both kids played happily near the river for two hours, James reworking the flow of the river in a spot and Juliet working hard on her "mud cake factory."
E and I just relaxed and enjoyed the views. Zion Canyon is so spectacular, pictures do it no justice.
We had to recreate this photo too! Can you get over James? He was four months old (E is behind him holding him up FYI). Circa March 2010.
And back again in March 2013.
And May 2015. I can not get over these, looking at them all side-by-side. 

She liked that her cactus shirt has yellow blossoms just like the "real cactus!"
 Finally we had an evening without rain! We made a fire and let the kids roast marshmallows.
The last morning we had sun! Finally! Not a rain cloud in the sky and sadly we were packing up to head home.

I truly wish these photos does Zion justice, really the don't even capture it.
One last hike in Kolab Canyons before heading home.
Camping, you win. We will do this again.
Our other trips to Zion with kids were in 2010 (James was itty bitty!) and then again in 2013. Links here.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Somebunny got a hair cut!

Juliet's hair was long and curly. Full of blonde tips and perfect curls. But she hated it brushed. And it tangled so easily that it was a nightmare every day.

For a long time I've wanted to bob her hair. Short. Like just below the ears. And today I did it. After her hair was freshly washed and brushed I bobbed it myself while she sat on the bathroom counter.

It looks so cute!
All the baby blonde is gone. Her hair looks so much darker now. Goodness I love this face.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Iao Valley {Maui}

Iao Valley State Park was a fantastic mini activity one afternoon. I say mini activity because there were only two short walking trails (we would have loved more hiking trails in this amazing region) but it was perfect to break up the beach days and enjoy the lovely green scenery.

It was amazing. Beyond beautiful. We were hoping to swim in the river since I remember that fondly from when I was there as a kid, but the air was a touch cool and the kids weren't intent on swimming.

Still, such a fantastic afternoon.

Everything was covered with moss and tiny ferns. It reminded me so much of Japan. There were even areas that the air smelled like Japan. These concrete steps looked like they belonged in a temple in the jungle somewhere.

This little bunny was happy to tease me in exchange for a smile.

Juliet loves rivers.
No huge waterfalls but plenty to keep this waterfall loving kiddo happy.
Are you sick of Maui posts yet? I am. ;)

Friday, May 15, 2015

Maui beaches, hotel and restaurants

I'm almost done with the Hawaii posts. I want to still do a post to cover Iao Valley, and possibly a little video, but after this one, and those, I'm done. Blogging epic weeks like our week in Hawaii is a daunting task, but so worth it. We love looking back on old travel blog posts.

This post is mostly a miss mash of iPhone photos that didn't fit into a post of its own. We spent as least some part of each day on the beach, and woke every morning to this view from our balcony.
Our hotel's landscaping was incredible, and there were waterfalls everywhere. The open air lobby had three waterfalls and these waterfalls were spilling from the rivers above. This guy was in LOVE.
Pool side drinks. Nothing better. This particular drink was called the lava flow, it was like a piña colada with strawberries. And notice the pool and the ocean directly behind? Heaven.
James tried snorkeling for the first time at Baby Beach. There were no waves there due to the coral reef breaking them farther out. The water was crystal clear, shallow and there were fish everywhere. I even saw a sea turtle the first morning we were there!
He loved snorkeling with daddy.
Telescopes were all over the beaches, apparently you can see humpback whales breeching from shore in the winter. 
Our favorite beach was called Black Rock. It had deep crystal clear water and the rock beyond was full of all sorts of coral and sea life. E and I took turns snorkeling there and we saw urchins, anemones, tons of varieties of colorful fish and some really big schools of fish. And even sea turtles! You could jump off areas of the rocks to the sea below and of course I did that. It was fantastic.
Paradise, truly. 
The kids loved swimming out past the waves, where the water was around eight feet deep. They wore their lifejackets and E and I got quite a work out treading water.
Lots of beach pictures look like this, my boy's back as he plays in the waves.

We ate almost every meal next to the beach and the views were so spectacular each time.
Dinner with a view.
Never did we feel over crowded or lost in a sea of people, instead almost everywhere we went it felt like we had the place to ourselves.

The view from our hotel's lawn. The land mass across the water in most of my pictures is another island, Lanai.
In addition to the beach, we spent a lot of time in the pools at our hotel. 

 Waterfalls, hottubs, slides and drinks. All anyone could need.
 Really, our resort was so pretty.
 See what I mean about never a crowd? Every chair was usually open!
And they had this soft two story play structure for kids. My kids spent hours playing on this.
Dinner our last night before heading to the airport was a bittersweet affair. We can not wait to come back.
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