You know, long-lost sisters reunited at last! She lives in India, I live in Texas. . . The twain just don't meet often enough for my liking. I hadn't seen Shannon in way too long, and we had so much fun together.
The best thing about Utah is COUSINS! Ella and Nat had a terrific time playing and playing and PLAYING with Jacob, Laurinda, and Lindley from Pleasant Grove and Spencer, Zack, and Alli (My Palli) all the way from India! (We missed Nico and Cata very much--they were enjoying themselves in Chile.)
Here's Nat and Alli. I call her Alli My Palli, and Nat calls her "Alli-da-palli". They WUV each other.
Hayrides and rock candy--it just doesn't get any better.
Here the cousins pose on their great-grandpa's tractor.
We tie-died patriotic t-shirts for the 4th of July.
I made all the girls matching skirts.
All the kids had fun bouncing around at Kangaroo Zoo.
A trip to Hogle Zoo is always a must. (Not pictured: a harrowing train ride through a hail storm)
Uncle Steve, a.k.a Cap'n Beav, planned a pirate treasure hunt for the kids, complete with sword fighting, rope swinging, talking like a pirate, and dubloons!
Okay, we didn't actually hike to the top of the mountain, but we did make it to the cave, which is no small feat, especially with two small fry. The hike up is strenuous, to say the least--all switchbacks, all the way. Before they even let you hike up, a ranger talks you through all the ways you may die on the way up--falling off the mountain, having rocks fall on you, et cetera. I quote from the ranger spiel: "Red lines on the trail denote rock fall danger zones. Continue walking through these areas--do not stop! Rock slide will sound like hands clapping. Should you hear that sound, get close to the face of the mountain, crouch down and cover your head with your arms." They are so concerned about giving you the best chances at making it back to the bottom alive that after the cave tour and before you hike back down another ranger gives you ANOTHER speech full of doom and dire warnings: "There is a tendency to feel that once you have made it up the mountain, the hard part is over. People DIE on their way down because they aren't being careful."
To be fair, it is a scary trail, generally without railings and very steep. I don't mean to mock the rangers--they know their stuff and do a great job. I have no problem, however, making fun of fellow hikers. You know how when you go on something like a cave tour you really get to know the strangers with whom you are briefly trapped underground? We narrowly avoided getting put in a tour group with a woman I named "The Gobbler" because of her loud and incessant turkey-like laugh. That was a close one! In our group was a woman whose questions made me giggle. The best of all came at the end of the tour, after the "don't die" lecture. The ranger mentioned that the Provo River running through the canyon was extremely high and dangerous, and that people should exercise extreme caution near it because one person had already died in it this year. (These rangers are a wealth of statistics of local deaths and maimings.) The woman in question then asked the ranger a question so fabulous I wondered if I had heard her correctly. As she made her way down the treacherous path, I murmured to the ranger, "Did she just ask you where the river is?" to which he replied, "Yup." I said, "Did you tell her it is AT THE BOTTOM OF THE CANYON?!" to which he replied, with a smirk, "Yup." I looked around at the steep and narrow canyon we were perilously perched above and wondered exactly where else a river would be hiding.
Anyhoo, here are some pictures of us on the hike. We made it to the top and all the way back down to the bottom without even one rock slide!