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as the old saying goes: "If you don't like the weather in UT, move to California wait 5 minutes!"

We just got back from our 4-day jaunt to Southern UT and had a blast. Below is the play by play, interspersed with doses of Maggie cuteness:

1. Wednesday it poured buckets of rain on us the entire drive there. Not fun. Parts of the 15 now allow you to do 80 mph (they call them experimentation zones, though what they are experimenting with seems to be human fatality statistics) but I opted to go 70 mph the whole way, what with the rain and all. I was pretty uncomfortable with the number of cars whizzing past me.

2. We checked into our hotel at Ruby's that advertised a lakeview and actually gave it to us. The room was fab, especially because the fridge was huge and fit all our food. This saved me from having to hassle with excess food in the cooler and multi-day ice bucket runs.

3. Having dealt with adverse weather before (ie the entire 10 days in Yellowstone, multiple rainy trips to the cabin), we decided to hike to Mossy Cave in the hail Wed night. Unlike the trips above, we were prepared with umbrellas, about 10 different coats, 10 pairs of gloves, hats, scarves, etc so the hike was fine. And the nice thing about the Southern UT soil is that the dirt doesn't turn into quite the mud we experience hiking in the rain at the cabin. We had extra towels for the car to keep it clean.

4. Back to Mossy Cave. It was still frozen! I have a picture of my last trip there, circa 1989, and Jodi and I were climbing in it. No more. It now is fenced off.

5. TH morning we got up and headed off to Sunrise point. It was 27 degrees per the RAV 4, but only seriously only felt like it was maybe in the 40s. I couldn't even see my breath. I'm not sure how temperatures work there, but it never felt as cold as it said it was. We hiked down into Bryce Canyon among the hoodoos and the tunnels in the cliffs and Maggie loved it. We kept pace with an older couple from Upstate NY. They couldn't believe we kept up with them with kids in tow. I couldn't believe they kept up with us. We are used to 8000 foot elevation hiking; they are not. They were good company. The switchback out of the canyon was tough, as it was rather muddy and each step had to be pulled out of the clay. But we did it!

6. FR was a nightmare. It was supposed to be warmer than TH but was way worse. We took the 18-mile path to Rainbow point, elevation 9115 feet, to do a simple 1-mile loop hike at Bristlecone to see the fetrified forest. We finally found the trail, after endless searching, when we realized it was buried beneath our feet about 3 feet below the snowpack. Why the damned park website couldn't simply tell me any hike at the south end would be impassible until June is beyond me, but that's the government for you. We spent a good 15 minutes getting all bundled up and situated in the hiking carriers only to go back to the car and unbundle. Poor Dalton was sleeping too. The rest of the drive was bitterly cold, so we saw what we could through the car windows. Maggie entertained us by playing with her My Little Ponies in the backseat. They were talking about snow, hiking in Bryce Canyon, that one has a unicorn horn and one doesn't, etc.

7. We arrived back at our room around 12:30 to find it still unmade, so we went swimming. It was awesome! We had the pool to ourselves. Maggie is still very apprehensive about swimming but finally let us teach her a few things. Every time we asked her to do something, she'd say "I would not could not" to quote a verse from Sam-I-am. Dalton seemed to enjoy swimming in the spa where the water was warmer. Maggie kept throwing his toys in the water and we had to fish them out before they sank to the bottom.

8. Getting back to our room at 2:30, it still wasn't made! The maid was one door away so we had to leave again but it was so depressingly cold and windy outside. So we drove and drove and drove. First on the 12 through Tropic, then through another small nameless town, for a sign to Escalante and Kodachrome. We ended up in the middle of nowhere at Kodachrome state park. It was warmer and we had sunshine down there (at only 5800 feet) so we paid the $6 and went it. We had a great time. They have some paved walks so Maggie could finally run around. I'm glad we decided to try this park. We also saw the Escalante trail, and I really wanted to do it, but it's a dirt road down to the grand canyon and it was getting dark. We'll have to research it and try it another time.

9. SAT was finally warmer! But we were still mad at Bryce Canyon so we checked out and played in Red Canyon. We did two hikes with a couple from France who had a 5-year old boy. It was finally warm enough to eat outdoors so we had a picnic on our hike and it was fabulous. 50 degrees is perfect hiking weather when you are toting kids around. We finally had blue skies as well.

10. We opted to go home on the 89, which was awesome because it was deserted. We went through Circleville, where Butch Cassidy's sister lives, and stopped at Big Rock Candy Mountain, which is possibly the lamest pit stop known to man. There was no candy to speak of, just a diner full of old people. I told Susie I would never spend the night there, as it feels like one of those places populated by pod people.

11. We ate out twice. Once at McD's on the way down, mostly because I needed out of the rain and Maggie needed to release some energy in a play place. The other was at the Ruby's restaurant. For $18/person, it's not worth it. None of the food there is worth it, as Lonely Plant aptly pointed out to us. So I'm glad we took our own food. We had Naked Juice, pop tarts, hummus, chips, a 5 lb bag of Sour Patch Kids, and croissant sandwiches to tide us over. We ate well on our own.

12. Maggie is a good sport and loves hiking, though she always tries to get us onto paths that are the wrong way or don't exist. Dalton still dislikes hiking. He's the most content when we are all corralled in the hotel room and he has a full bed to himself to play on. Maggie also liked staying in the hotel because it has cable so we let her watch Playhouse Disney in the mornings while we got ready.

13. Both kids were so good in the car we hardly needed the portable DVD player. Dalton slept the whole way home, including during our entire stop at Cove Fort. It was a slow day at the fort and we were accosted by missionaries within minutes of our arrival.

14. We passed a place near Richfield called Fremont Indian Reserve that is hiking to caves with Native American Carvings. I'm very intrigued and know what our next day trip will be!

15. Lonely Plant doesn't always get it right. They think all Mormons are gay-bashers (they're only partly right) and that Mitt Romney was governor of UT. But their facts about the parks themselves tend to be more correct.

16. Maggie kept calling our hotel a cabin and said she liked Grandma's cabin better. I think she misses the pool table.

17. We bought two souvenirs: a yellow Smokey the bear shirt for Maggie and Dalton and a puzzle of Bryce Canyon. Maggie spotted it within seconds of entering the VC. That and the face cards (or matching as she calls it). I told her she needs to wear the Smokey shirt for Uncle Brook. Smokey and two bear cubs are putting out a fire. Maggie says "where did the fire go" so I showed them it was put out with water. We want no fire in the mountains I told her. "No fire in the mountains, only letters" she says. I later noticed it says "Only you can prevent forest fires" on the bottom of the shirt.

18. Everytime we saw hoodoos and arches, Maggie would point out the hole. "Who put the hole there?" I would ask here. "Collette did it," she says. I guess it's along a similar vein to who let the dogs out.

19. Maggie is fascinated with the letters on the mountain. She really wants to find an M. Just before Big Rock Candy joke is a town of 12 called called Marysville. They may not have running water, or indoor plumbing, but they have the prettiest M on the mountain! Maggie was thrilled.

20. We noted we were out hiking on Frances's 58th birthday. We think we paid decent homage to her by taking our kids out to find America, though we did avoid KOA.


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