We had a wonderful pancake breakfast by Aunt Susan and Uncle Morris’ RV. It was freezing cold and rather windy. I joined Stephanie by the griddle and we toasted our hands above the eggs and pancakes while they were being cooked. It was that cold.
After breakfast we packed up to go hiking in Zion National Park. We all brought sweaters, of course, and just as we got to the visitor’s center the sun popped out from behind the dazzling plateaus and we soon began to wonder why we had brought sweaters along. We ended up stuffing them in our backpacks and packing them around all day, which is rather unfortunate when you’re already trying to pack around children.
Our first hike was to the lower Emerald Pool, which is where Rachel saw the monkeys. She loved the hike, and we didn’t just see monkeys, either. We saw a lovely green caterpillar on the trail, too.
Rachel and I followed the path right under the waterfall, which Rachel thought was really neat.
“Wow!” she exclaimed, “This is like a waterfall!”
A man walking past us overheard her and said, “This is a waterfall.”
When we were finished standing under the waterfall we sat down for some lunch.
On the way back we spotted a wild turkey…
And a squirrel…
…who did squirrely things like foraging for nuts and stuffing them into his cheeks.
When we got back to the trailhead we stopped to rest while we waited for Grandpa to find us. He had taken some of the older cousins to the Middle or Upper Emerald Pools. I don’t remember which. All I know is that I didn’t go because I was carrying Meme and it sounded too far to go with them.
When the rest of the troupe had caught up with us we headed over to The Lodge to finish our lunches on the lawn, then we piled into the shuttle to head to the Temple of Sinawava to do the Riverside Walk, which was beautiful…and completely overrun by squirrels.
There were so many squirrels, in fact, that we changed the name from Riverside Walk to Squirrel Walk. Some of us still walked in the river—like girl-whose-name-I-can’t-remember, Garrett, Grandpa, and Megan—but most of us walked with the squirrels.
There were fat, lazy squirrels everywhere you looked. They were obviously very well-fed, despite the authority’s attempts to get the tourists not to, and just wouldn’t get out of the way. I almost stepped on one while I was giving Rachel a piggy-back and Grandma touched one that was just sitting on the wall staring at the hikers. He wheeled around in a frenzy and almost bit her…but she came out of it with all her fingers intact.
Rachel was a little
terrified wary of the squirrels, but what else is new?
About halfway through the hike we found the Kleins/Andersons who were picnicking in a little alcove off the beaten path. It was fun to keep running into our family on the trail with our matchy-matchy backpacks.
They were being pestered by a lame squirrel. And I mean that in the sense that the squirrel really was lame—he was dragging his front paw and just looked so pitiful. But he wouldn’t leave anyone alone! Seriously they should fine the animals for stealing food from humans instead of fining the humans for feeding the squirrels because these little guys are vicious beggars.
Aside from being accosted by squirrels at every turn, the walk was really quite beautiful.
Zion National Park is a rather popular destination so the trails are pretty much constantly swarming with people which meant that we were often forced to walk single-file in order to allow foot traffic from the opposite direction to pass. Rachel had a blast running between me, Grandma, and Sarah. She would grab someone’s hand and then let go and run to the person ahead and then run to the next person and then backtrack to the beginning of the line again. As she did it she chanted, “From my mom…to my grandma…to my aunt…from my mom…to my grandma…to my…ummm…ummm…ummm…”
Her mind had gone blank. I helped her fill it in.
“Fruit roll-up bum!”
Oh, have I not told that story yet? Sarah begged me not to…but I told her I would, anyway. Sometimes her “no” means “please, do.”
The previous evening we were sitting in the pavilion having a short family meeting before departing for bed. Rachel had been eating a fruit-by-the-foot, which, if you don’t know, is three feet of sticky, sugary “fruit” rolled up on three-feet of wax paper. It’s only about an inch wide and is incredibly difficult for preschoolers to eat.
Rachel had given up eating it and had left it, sticky with saliva, on a camping chair. The very camping chair that Sarah chose to sit on. Needless to say, the fruit-by-the-foot (which we invariably call “fruit roll-up” because it is just as rolled as actual “fruit roll-ups,” if not more) adhered to her rear end.
She carried Rachel back to the hotel for me while I carried Meme. While we were walking she felt something hit the back of her leg.
“Did I drop something?” she asked.
We stopped and looked behind her and found the yucky, soggy fruit roll-up that Rachel had been working on.
“Oh, Rachel must have dropped this,” she said.
We went into the hotel and got the girls ready for bed. Rachel asked Sarah to lie down with her and Sarah obliged. It was then that I noticed an odd blob on Sarah’s rear.
“There’s something on your pants,” I told Sarah.
“Where?” she asked.
“On your bum,” I said.
She reached behind her and pulled off a large blob of fruit roll-up and then proceeded to be very embarrassed about how she had made the walk from the pavilion to the hotel with a fruit roll-up tail and wondered how many people noticed but didn’t say anything.
It was really quite hilarious. We joked the next morning about packing our lunches by sticking them to Sarah’s rear end. She didn’t find it as funny as the rest of us.
Anyway, it was a fun walk. Did I say that already? It was. At least on the way there. Both the girls were content to gaze at their new surroundings. Miriam sucked her thumb a lot.
Rachel took some pictures of herself…
And of me…
We enjoyed the hanging gardens on the sandstone cliffs…
And in the end we played in the river with our cousins Leah and Adrian. For some reason the children seemed to really enjoy this part even though the water was freezing cold.
Everyone else stayed high and dry.
When we were finished playing in the river Rachel asked if we would be taking the bus back to the hotel. I told her that we would be.
“Okay, will you wait for the bus with me?”
“Of course,” I told her.
She put on her shoes, climbed up the stairs from the riverbank to the trail and sat on the wall.
“What are you doing?” I asked her.
“Waiting for the bus,” she smiled.
“Oh, no. The bus doesn’t come here. We have to walk all the way back to where we got off the bus before we can get back on it.”
Rachel started wailing.
Needless to say, the walk back to the trailhead was…less fun.
Auntie Sarah offered to carry Miriam, though, which was nice. Miriam’s only 19 lbs. but after carrying her around all day it starts to feel like she weighs more like 50 lbs.
In spite of the slow, whiney pace we were keeping we managed to make good time and caught up with Grandma’s sisters. We snapped a few pictures with Aunt Dorothy and Aunt Susan while Rachel slammed her head into Grandma’s leg and Miriam screamed for me.
Aunt Linda just laughed at us. I’m sure she was just happy she didn’t have to drag two screaming children to the trailhead.
Rachel fell asleep on the ride back down the canyon. She was plum tuckered out. When we got to the hotel, though, she quickly gathered her wits and demanded that I take her swimming. Jana’s kids were already in the pool and Rachel was only too happy to join them. Daddy showed up while we were swimming and came to hang out with us at the pool. We were happy to finally see him!
Before dinner Aunt Marci and cousin Therena broke out a bouncy house. The kids had a great time and were even pretty good about taking turns. They wouldn’t get off when it was time for dinner so they deflated it while the kids were still inside. Leah had to be dragged out because even though there was nothing left to bounce on she still didn’t want to leave.
In the evening we held a talent show—Anderson idol! It was one of those things where no one really wanted to participate but everyone did, anyway, and it ended up being a lot of fun.
Grandma, Dorothy, and Linda were the backup singers for Susan. They lip-synched the Sister Sledge song “We Are Family” and it was quite the act.
Grandma really got into her part.
I took charge of our family’s number since no one else wanted to. Andrew said we would just quietly not participate but it would have been really embarrassing if we hadn’t gotten an act together since they announced everyone’s family to call them onto stage. Everyone else had something ready—Dorothy’s family sang Popcorn Popping and other families did little things like that—so I was glad we did, too.
Uncle Morris awarded everyone with glow sticks.
Rachel and Miriam loved them.
Rachel fell asleep hugging her glow stick and when she came into bed with Andrew and I in the middle of the night she managed to bring four glow sticks with her. We quietly threw them out the next day after they had lost their glow…