Scott had this past Friday off from work because they are moving their office upstairs, so we decided to go on a short trip. There are several national parks in Utah and we've seen a couple of them, Zions and Arches, over the past couple of years so we decided to hit another one. We told the kids a week before hand, when we made reservations at our hotel, all about our upcoming trip. To say they were excited would be an understatement. All week long they talked about it. They talked of nothing else. They lost sleep over it. They all packed their own bags(which were huge and bulging, even though we were only going for one night) a week before the trip. I kept them somewhat busy by having them do extra money chores they could spend at Bryce Canyon, once their other chores were completed for the day. This was actually really nice. Elisabeth folded three loads of laundry for me, Charlie cleaned out and organized the shed, they stayed on top of their homework, piano practice and bedrooms without too much reminding/nagging from me.
Even though we stayed in a hotel, I told Scott this should count as our family camping trip for this year. He was okay with that. I mean, we're still going hiking, we have to drive for while, I'm really pregnant, trips cost money and so do visiting national parks, and besides, I'll have a new baby in the summer and I don't want to do any camping for now.
Friday morning, once Charlie was through with school(he get's out at 1030 on Friday), we took off for Bryce Canyon. It's about a 4 hour drive. We checked out several Magic Tree House audio books from the library which they listened to, and they watched a movie on our portable dvd player, each way. I was nervous how I would do having to sit for so long, but it went okay. I brought along a small pillow to put behind my lower back which I used during part of the trip. I also choose to do a lot of the driving so that I didn't have to be constantly picking up things off the floor and turning around handing things to children...twisting, turning and bending in this body right now is just plain difficult.
Once we got to Bryce Canyon City, we checked into our hotel and went swimming at the indoor pool. This was one of the highlights of the trip for the kids. After swimming we went for dinner and then came back to the hotel and watched, 'Luck of the Irish' on the disney channel while laying in bed with our pajamas, eating popcorn and other treats the kids had bought with their own, hard-earned money :). They loved watching a show on TV(we don't have cable), sleeping all together and buying whatever they wanted. Sleeping arrangements were as follows: Charles slept in the chair with the ottoman pushed up to it, Annabelle and Elisabeth shared the queen bed, Scott and I had the other queen bed, and Jane slept in a portable crib....well actually she slept in the crib for half the night and with Scott and I for half the night because she knew we were near and wanted to be with us. Needless to say, Scott and I didn't sleep wonderfully. I'm pretty sure Charles had the best nights sleep :).I didn't realize before hand, just how small the town we were visiting would be. There were no grocery stores, just an extremely over priced, small grocery area in a hotel. There were three places to eat dinner out, within a 30 minute driving radius, and all three were at hotels(though there are a few more to choose from during the touristy months of May through the end of summer). We choose to eat dinner at a hotel that was known and liked by the locals. It's also famous for their homemade pies. We wanted to get a slice of their famous banana cream pies-- they had blueberry and strawberry-- but the waitress informed us they were out of both of those fruits for the night but that the manager would be driving to another town tonight to get some more for tomorrow. So we went with a lemon meringue pie which was amazing! It really was, and I don't even like pie, especially lemon meringue. We actually went back the next afternoon on our way out and picked up a slice of the banana strawberry cream pie. It was fun to eat dinner in such a small town, where everyone knew everyone else and strangers struck up conversations with us because we were new in town. Here is a picture of Jane finishing off dad's side of potato, ham soup. We didn't eat dinner until 7pm which is an hour and a half later than usual and the soup was brought out first so Charlie, Annabelle and I helped Scott out with his soup as well :).
The next day we went into the National Park, went through the museum and watched a short movie at the visitors center, worked with the kids through their junior ranger packets and went on a hike. Here are Charlie and Annabelle in the Museum, and then a couple of pictures of the kids being sworn in or taking the oath of a junior ranger. They said having to raise their right hand while repeating after the ranger was kind of embarrassing; but they liked it :). Jane and I didn't actually hike because it started to lightly snow, so instead we dropped them off at point A, then drove down to point B and waited for them to arrive about 30 minutes later(that way their hike was all down grade as well). While we waited we walked out to the view point to have a look around, but it was cold so we didn't stay out too long.
Elisabeth looks frighteningly/nauseatingly close to the edge in this picture, doesn't she? But Scott assures me she was at least 5 feet away from the edge. We stopped at several view points to have a look(beautiful!) and at one stop, Elisabeth got asked to help an older couple with something. The next day she was supposed to give a talk in church(which we work on together, now that she's getting older) and she asked if we'd be able to work in that story somehow. We did, easily. So here is her talk with the details from her adventure at Bryce Canyon.
"The theme for this month is, 'Living prophets teach me to choose the right'. Twice a year we hear our prophet speak to us at general conference. Our prophet today is President Monson. During one general conference, President Monson said, 'What is most important almost always involves the people around us.'
This weekend our family visited Bryce Canyon. While we were outside looking at one of the viewpoints, an older man asked us if we could help him with something. Him and his wife were locked out of their van. But they had a window open big enough for a child to fit through. The only problem was there were three dogs inside. They said they were nice, but I was scared. But I also knew that people are important and I wanted to choose the right and help them. My dad lifted me into the van through the window and I unlocked there door. The dogs came over to me and I was nervous, but I was happy to have helped someone in need." -Elisabeth Smith
And I'd just like to add that her mom was really scared too! I said a couple of prayers on her behalf as she was lowered into that van with three dogs. We didn't know these people, we didn't know the dogs, many dogs tend to be territorial, Elisabeth is small and if something were to happen to her while she was inside the van, we'd have a hard time getting to her...probably have to break a window. Yeah, I was really nervous. I'm grateful the Lord protected her and that she was able to help out this older couple.