Thursday, July 20, 2023

Goblin Valley (June 9)

First, I should warn you that there are a million pictures from our short stop in Goblin Valley. And although Goblin Valley is a whole lot of fun to visit...there's not really a big variety of things to do there. You just kind around in the desert...and climb on hoodoos and things.

This means that pictures will very likely outweigh my text. This happens routinely with my Goblin Valley posts.

To quote from my 2012-self

Even though Goblin Valley is an interesting place to hike around and explore it's apparently not a very interesting place to write about—I believe I ran into the same problem while discussing Goblin Valley last year [when I said "the trip could be summed up as: we climbed on rocks—a lot"].

In short, we climbed on things, we jumped off of things, we played in the dirt, and we got hot and sweaty.

This year was no exception. We hiked around. We climbed on things. We had a blast. And...yup.

There are, however, a few important stories to share...

As I mentioned in an earlier post, Rachel and I both made the drive from Grover to Goblin Valley. We were pretty proud of ourselves, even though it was a drive through the middle of nowhere and we saw like two other vehicles. Still, it was the longest stretch either of us have ever driven and it's technically a highway or freeway or something. 

Now, I personally remember the entrance to Goblin Valley being a gravel road, but apparently it's paved now (or it always was paved and my memory is wonky; we haven't been since 2012 (we had planned to go in 2018 but could not because the roads home from Goblin Valley were closed due to wildfires that year). Having expected a gravel road, I was pleasantly surprised by the lovely even-surfaced asphalt. 

Had Phoebe known to expect a gravel road, she probably would have been disappointed because she loved when we drove on gravel roads in Capitol Reef and Grover. She'd take a deep breath, open her mouth, and let a sing-song, "Ahhhhhhhhhhh!" jostle out of her body as the car jerked around. She thought it was great!

Anyway, I was expecting the entrance to Goblin Valley to be gravel. It was paved. It was fine. 

We got up to the ticket booth and Rachel paid through the window, took the parking pass, and drove on into the park. We got up to the booth right behind her and the employee kind of chuckled as he greeted us. We didn't know why. We just paid the entrance fee, took the parking pass, listened to his instructions, and headed to the parking lot. 

The parking pass was just a receipt that we had to tape to the windshield—nothing too fancy. 

I found a parking spot and Andrew stuck the parking pass on the window.

We unloaded the kids in our car and convened with the kids in the other car. Rachel could not stop laughing. Here is what happened when she drove through the entrance:

The attendant could tell that she was rather nervous and remarked on it, saying something like, "Is your dad making you drive?"

Rachel giggled out a little, "Yeah."

She already thought this was funny because it was her grandpa making her drive, not her father. She was a little agitated about having to conduct this transaction, but she managed to pay the entrance fee, and took the parking pass from the attendant. She was listening intently to the instructions she was being told. 

"This parking pass needs to be taped to the inside of your windshield," the attendant told her.

Rachel took the parking pass and immediately taped it to the windshield...right in front of her face!

"Are you a little nervous?" the attendant asked. 

"What?" Rachel asked, and then—realizing her blunder and quickly snatching the pass back off the window and thrusting it at her grandpa—squeaked out, "Oh."

Rachel is an excellent sport, though. She recovered from her embarrassment (laughed about it with us a whole lot because it was hilarious) and had a wonderful time climbing around.

Miriam, on the other hand, was in a bit of a sour mood because Benjamin, Zoë, and Alexander kept following her around asking, "What are you eating? What are you eating? What are you eating?" And she didn't think she should have to pay penance for a mistake she made when she was two! 

She sampled some mud at Grover when she was two and I just happened to catch it on video and asked her what she was eating. In response she mewled out the most delicate little, "Mud!"

That story has become—as the children are fond of saying—"family lore."

It's true that the little kids were, perhaps, bringing it up a bit much. I hadn't even noticed, truthfully, until Miriam felt over-badgered and shrieked at her siblings to "STOP ASKING THAT!" 

But we managed to soothe all feathers. When the teasers claimed "family lore," I explained that it's wonderful to remember family lore, and it's wonderful to share laughter (and/or tears, when necessary) about family lore, but it's not wonderful to tease someone to the point of tears. They need to be aware of people's cues and recognize when they're crossing the line...which evidently they had crossed. Therefore they owed Miriam an apology and needed to change their behaviour. 

I also assured Miriam that no one thought she was in danger of eating any mud today. Rather, they were bringing up the story because she was so adorable as a toddler and even though none of them were even there (part of her argument about why they should "STOP IT ALREADY!") they just loved little baby Miriam. How could they not?! She was so sweet! 

But they also love today-Miriam, and because she found having three little kids trailing her and asking, "What are you eating?" on repeat annoying (again I ask—how could she not?!), it was only right that they knock it off for a while. 

But seriously though—wasn't Miriam just the cutest little mud-eater?

She was. And we were so proud of her for (1) not eating any mud this trip and (2) taking a deep breath and letting go of her annoyance so that she could have a good time with everybody else. That's admirable, really, because sometimes that can be very hard to do (but it's such a good skill to have).

Here's Miriam up on a hoodoo:

The last little story that I'll mention at the get-go is of Phoebe proclaiming the very formulaic sentence of "Wa-wa, dirt...mud!" after watching Andrew pour some water onto the ground so the kids could watch how quickly the sun-baked soil would slurp it up.

Here are Phoebe, Alexander, and Zoë gathered around the mud Andrew manufactured:

Here's Phoebe carrying a rock around, happy as a...little kid carrying a rock around.

She loved Goblin Valley, of course, but she also probably would have been just as happy to carry a rock around our front yard. That's just how little kids are (and perhaps how we all should be).

Here's Zoë up on a rock:

Here's Alexander attempting to scale to the top of this hoodoo:

We ended up directing him to a shorter rock:

Benjamin was a tricky one for me to catch on camera. He was bound and determined to climb the highest hoodoo he could find. Ultimately he ended up being out-climbed by Miriam, but he was running all around climbing up and down and jumping all over the place.

He was often more of a speck than anything...

It's really quite easy to become nothing but a speck in the stark landscape. 

The ruddy haze of the dusty canyon floor seems to almost erase people as they walk into the distance, then suddenly they vanish behind a hoodoo and it's hard to know for certain where they'll pop out again.

I climbed up pretty high among the hoodoos, myself, but couldn't get away with too much exploration because...

...Phoebe wanted to make sure I always had my two feet planted firmly and safely on the ground. Here she is holding her arms up and bellowing, "Moooooooom!" at me:

Andrew also kept her as his "hiking buddy" for quite a while as well while I was being a "hiking buddy" for other children. 

He lifted her up on various rocks, which she (mostly) seemed to enjoy:

I said enjoy, Phoebe! (Ah, there's a smile.)

There's a view of Benjamin in the background!

Here's a few picture of Alexander:

And Zoë:

And Benjamin:

And Miriam:

And Rachel:

I think these pictures of Phoebe hanging out with her big brothers are just the sweetest:

Phoebe was a climbing machine! She didn't get anywhere near as high as the big kids did (because she is comparatively rather little) but she was climbing just about everything she possibly could!

Here she is trying (somewhat successfully) to squeeze through a little crevice:

And here's Phoebe sliding down a hill on her little bottom:

She often uses this method when she feels nervous about walking down a downgrade. In fact, it's not uncommon to see her scooching down our driveway on her rear end (our driveway is a serious hill). I know this is one of her modes of transportation and yet...I didn't expect her to commit to so much scooching when I got her dressed in the morning. Evidently I should have put pants on her instead of shorts. Her poor legs got a little scraped up...but I guess if it was really bothering her she would have stopped.

Let's is Phoebe running across the rather desolate landscape:

Something strikes me as funny about seeing a baby all alone in the desert like this (even though I know she's not alone because I'm right behind the camera):

Here are Rachel and Miriam posing with their Y arms. Evidently this is one of our go-to poses. Can't say I blame's a good pose! Haha!

Rachel thinks this pose became popular in our family when we hiked Y Mountain when she was a little girl (the time she was ruthlessly "attacked" by butterflies). She very well could be right about that because there are a lot of pictures of us making Y's with our arms in that post. We told her it was a cool thing to do when she was four years old and it just kinda...stuck.

I believe that this is the highest hoodoo we climbed. The kids all made it to varying heights—with Miriam making it to the highest point of all—and I climbed up to help Zoë navigate her descent because she was too scared to come down alone.

Here are Rachel and Benjamin still working their way down:

And here they are down and chasing after Grandpa on his way to explore somewhere:

Here I am, trailing after Alexander and Phoebe:

Those two were good little buddies:

Here they are being a train in this little path carved out by water however long ago:

And here's a few more shots of Alexander doing some jumping and climbing:

And having a little discussion with Miriam:

And here are the big kids up on some rocks:

And all the kids, save Phoebe scattered amongst the hoodoos:

Here are a few more attempts at a family picture:

And here are all the kids with Grandpa (we had to take it quickly before Phoebe wandered out of the shot; she was not in the mood to cooperate for a group picture, though she did stand still and smile for a brief second):

And finally, here's a selfie of me and Andrew:

We're always so busy chasing children here there and everywhere that at times it feels like we hardly get a chance to breathe, let alone enjoy each other's company, but we managed to sneak a few minutes of being each other's hiking buddies on our way back to the car (with a few children in tow, of course). 

I don't know why I'm complaining about that because we literally spent 91 hours (and then some) sitting in the car next to each other on this road trip, so it's not like we never get to see each other. But can be hard to remember to take a minute to capture us when we're so focused on capturing memories of (and for) the children. 

Up until last Friday, we hadn't gone out together—just the two of us—in...who even knows how long! It's been years! Because Alexander was a (very clingy) baby and then the pandemic hit and then Phoebe came along. And before that, I mean, who even knows!! But on Friday evening, Grandpa came over to hang out with the kids while Andrew and I went to the temple, which was lovely. Rachel—who is turning 16 tomorrow!!—is very capable of babysitting, of course, but it's nice to have Grandpa there as well so that she doesn't necessarily feel put upon. Anyway, all that is to say that Andrew and I haven't "gone out" for a long time and even on this vacation were almost orbiting around each other as we tended to the needs of this child or that, without ever really hanging out with each other. So it was nice to get to hike back to the car with him.

And Phoebe.

And Alex.

And Zoë show you the uncropped version of our little "ussie":

But we wouldn't have it any other way because our kids are wonderful company! I'm so glad we could make this road trip happen; I'm sure it will supply us with "family lore" for years to come!

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