Saturday, June 14, 2014

Vacation: St. George And Zion

I've been quiet on my blog lately for several reasons. These last two weeks have been kind of crazy. First, my daughter Rachel came into town for a visit. Then, our bikes were stolen out of our garage, so we had to deal with that, which included finding replacement bikes so that we could continue our training. Then, a couple of days later, I picked up our four youngest kids (whom we refer to collectively as the Quads) to head out on family vacation to southern Utah. I didn't have an opportunity to blog while we were gone, so now I'm going to play catch up, along with continuing a series of posts about why I left the Mormon Church.

We headed to St. George last Friday, and our first stop was at Sand Hollow Reservoir northeast of St. George. It was someplace Mark had been, and he thought the kids would enjoy it. Not for the last time on our trip, I was very surprised at the adventurousness of the kids. As the above picture shows, there were red rock "islands" out in the reservoir, and we had to swim across open water to get to the first one, then the second one in the background. In some places, the kids could walk on rock ledges pretty far.

Why was I surprised? Part of it was due to the fact that some of the kids have expressed concerns over and over again - when we're at home in the city - about whether something is "safe." Although Mark and I have been consciously working to help them realize that the world is not inherently a scary and dangerous place, I was still surprised that none of them expressed any concern about whether swimming away from shore in a lake was "safe" (granted, they had noodles, but still ...).

From Sand Hollow, we drove on in to St. George. We had discovered at the lake that - of course - one of the kids had left their swim suit - and their sandals - at our house, so we had to make a stop at K-Mark on our way to the hotel. This was the same place we had stayed on our way back from Disneyland last year. We would be there two nights, and I swore when we left on Sunday morning that never again would we try to cram two adults and four kids in one hotel room. Life is too short.

The kids enjoyed swimming at the hotel's pool that evening.

The next morning, we set out for Zion National Park. On the way there, we were barraged with questions about what it would be like, what we would do, etc., etc. This is another attribute of more than one of the Quads. They want to know ahead of time what lies ahead of them. I think it must be a control thing. But it drove us freaking nuts throughout the trip. We tried, I think somewhat successfully by the end of the vacation, to teach the kids that they should stop obsessing what lies ahead and simply let it unfold.

It's hard to do justice to the beauty of Zion, which consists of a deep, beautiful canyon with towering rock face walls opening occasionally onto mountain vistas. Mark took the above picture, and below are a few I took several years ago when I visited Zion for the first time.

Our first stop as we entered the park was to purchase water bottles from the Visitors Center gift shop. Then the kids filled them up at a spring water station just outside. Some of them were suspicious that the water was actually safe to drink. Sigh.

From there, it was onto a tram to head up the canyon to the point where there is a paved mile-long path to the head of the canyon.

They liked the tram but were definitely not excited about the "hike." Here's how Mark expressed it in an email to his family:
"Joseph and I realized that the kids would probably not appreciate the beauty of the parks but we wanted to at a minimum expose them. We took a 2 mile hike (total) and they threatened to get the UN involved... something about crimes against humanity. Funny how the moaning and groaning stopped when at the turn around point they got to play in the river. All of a sudden the sun wasn't so hot and they had a burst of energy. They played longer than we walked."
This picture does some justice to the beauty of the place

Trying to catch little fish

As Mark wrote, we at least exposed the kids to the beauty of Zion. I told myself that they are just like hundreds of thousands of other kids whose parents have dragged them to national parks so that they could see and appreciate scenic wonders. We needed to be patient with them, I told myself, even when they said, "This is boring." 

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