Coyote Gulch April 2014

We did our second trip to Coyote Gulch this spring.  We had planned two different trips last year, one in the spring, one in the fall.  The first trip was canceled because Brett was overwhelmed with the work to finish and graduate high school, so we shortened our trip and went camping close to home instead.  In the fall, the weekend we had chosen was totally rained out (as was much of the fall) and Hole in the Rock road was closed due to a wash out.  We figured even if we were able to get in, we wouldn’t be able to get out again.  So, the first time the weather got warm enough this spring, we hurried down as soon as we could.

It was as beautiful as ever.

lucy fixing shoes


Since Dad wasn’t with us, Lucy had to take his place fixing her shoes (we always have a picture with my Dad arranging his socks or clipping toenails while we’re hiking.)  The hike in from the Hurricane Wash trailhead is very sandy but not as hot as last time — we were earlier in the year, and earlier in the day.

max's new backpack


Max got a new backpack and was able to carry some of his own gear — good for us since Brett was unable to go with us this trip.  He’s usually our packhorse.

max and desert toad


We found a little desert toad just as Hurricane Wash met Coyote Gulch.  This was a good trip for seeing wildlife:  elk, deer, antelope, and a juvenile bald eagle on the way down, deer, big lizards and this toad in the canyon.

lulu in coyote gulch max climbing at jacob hamblin


After a pause for climbing at Jacob Hamblin arch and refilling our water bottles at the spring around the corner, we hiked nearly to the natural bridge, to the best campsite ever.  On a high bench inside a huge alcove, it was just above a beautiful little waterfall.  Huge rocks blocked our campsite from view of other hikers in the river.  It was fabulous.

eden in coyote gulch max at waterfall by camp max and lucy on rocks at camp campsite coyote gulch


On Saturday, we hiked down to where Coyote Gulch meets the Escalante river, and then back to rest at our beautiful campsite before packing up and heading back out.

pretty water coyote gulch coyote natural bridge coyote gulch meets escalante


The water from Coyote Gulch meets the Escalante — Escalante is green and deep.

It was a great trip and felt good to be out on the desert again.


Quiet Blog = Finished Quilt

Only two years in the making . . . but remember correlation does not equal causation.

finished quilt closeup finished quilt

It’s machine pieced, extensively hand quilted, and the first of its kind made exclusively for me . . . by me.  And now maybe I’ll be seeing a little bit more of YOU!

Some of My Favorite Things January are . . .

This post is just a hodgepodge of a few things I think you will enjoy . . . things I enjoy.

  • Follow this hiker as she rambles across the United States and Canada in her tiny trailer, taking wonderful pictures along the way.  Her courage is amazing.
  • While you wait for Downton Abbey Season 3 to come out in a form you can watch, try out the series Land Girls (the first series at least is available from Netflix.)  The characters are engaging and the scenery is beautiful.
  • I finished reading Sometimes a Great Notion by Ken Kesey.  Truthfully, the adjective I most want to apply to this book is cinematic, but when I tried to watch the movie, I was disappointed.  I love Paul Newman, and the logging scenes seemed wonderful, but they just did not do justice to the complicated character interactions of this book.  It was a difficult read — the kind of book you have to start over the minute you finish it to figure out what really happened– but well worth the endeavor.
  • I am so excited about higher level courses being offered over Internet.  Coursera has a wonderful list of courses starting soon.  Eden and I took a course about World Music earlier this year, and while we were not able to finish all the assignments and get a certificate, we have since explored in more detail many of the things we learned.  Starting in January, I will be taking a Nutrition for Health Promotion class that promises to be very interesting.
  • Just finished Gretchen Rubin’s book Happier at Home.  It was a great follow-up to her first, Happiness Project, with many ideas to put to work.  One of the things I have put to work already is her plan to “suffer for 15 minutes” to accomplish a project she had been putting off.  It’s hardly suffering for me to quilt, but I have been working on quilting in 15 minute intervals, and have gotten a lot closer to finishing the quilt I’ve been working on all year.

Do you have some great recommendations to share?  Please leave a comment below.

Happy Sunday

“The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.”  Michelangelo

Hoping today that you set lofty goals and work to attain them!  Happy Sunday!

Our Mittens

For today: just a quick picture.  A sweet friend gave the kids and I each beautiful handmade mittens.  Now — if we would only have snow to use them!

Looking into the New Year: Focusing on what’s really important

Are you looking at the person deep inside as you think about your goals for 2012?  Let me share with you just a quote from a wonderful story I read by B. J. Chute, called The Jukebox and the Kallikaks.

“Corinne was beautiful and the jukebox was beautiful and they were, both of them, dumb.  But deep down in the heart of the jukebox, there was music.  And deep down in the heart of Corinne, there was just Corinne.”

Put simply, this was a story about some very simple people who recognized a very profound truth.  After spending the summer fighting over a girl,  brothers Mark and Jeb  make this statement because Corinne turned out to be exactly what she appeared to be.  It is not the way someone or something looks that is truly important.  While we rarely can make huge alterations in the way we look, we can make steps toward becoming a better person inside.  Also, changing the way we look without changing the interior person will only fool people for a little while.

Although I do not believe in any special significance to January 1, it is as good a time as any to reset and look forward to the next twelve months.  My kids would argue that I do this several times a year, especially in the spring and the fall.  Here are a few of the things I am making goals toward for the next year.

  1.  Read one non-fiction and one fiction book each month.
  2. Hike at least once a month.  (In 2011, we missed 4 months for long hikes: January and February were forgiveable, June and August were not.)
  3. Run outside at least once a week. (In 2011, I only ran outside 3 times in February and March.  That was too much treadmill.)
  4. Spend more time saying thank you.

What are some of your goals for 2012?  Remember that no matter how much makeup you wear, or how you are dressed, deep inside you will still be you.  Make you a good one.  Here’s looking forward to a wonderful 2012.

Lunar Eclipse

In my e-mail yesterday, I received a curriculum offer for ideas for studying the lunar eclipse that was going to happen this morning.  I didn’t buy any curriculum, but I did put a reminder alarm in my phone to watch for the eclipse.  From about 6:20 until 7:00 this morning, we were glued to the window.  Eden got some good pictures.

What an exciting morning!  We congratulated each other on being early risers, and on being in the right location to see this very interesting event.

The article I had read at stated that at some places on the earth, the eclipsed moon and the sun would be visible at the same time, because the atmosphere of the earth bends the light from the sun, causing the sun to appear before it has actually cleared the horizon.  Therefore, although the earth is actually directly between the sun and the moon (thereby eclipsing the moon), both would be visible at the same time.  Unfortunately, the eclipsed moon dropped behind the mountains here before the sun rose.  Oh well — it was still a great morning.

Hope you got to see the eclipse, and spend this day doing something interesting!

Relaxed Homeschooling — Community Art Resources

Sometimes I feel like I have split personality disorder.   Half of me wants to be a completely unschooling, backwoods homesteader, while the other half of me wants to take advantage of every art and music opportunity that a busy city can provide.  Although it means spending lots of time on the road, I guess we are lucky to live within driving distance of this sort of event.  So after a weekend spent feeding one side of my personality in the desert, we spent last weekend on the musical side.

Our family is a member of the Utah Symphony and Opera Youth Guild.  I heard about this by chance a few years ago, and immediately signed up for the program.  In return for a very nominal fee, my children and I have been able to participate in coat checking and educational opportunities offered by the guild, and see many wonderful concerts very inexpensively.  In addition, they offer many extras including a special youth guild recital in which selected members of the guild can perform with the Utah Symphony.

Last weekend, our whole family, including my parents, went to Abravanel Hall in Salt Lake City to see the Utah Symphony perform the Liszt Piano Concerto No. 2, Tottentanz, and two Ravel Suites (Mother Goose and Daphnis et Chloe.)  It was Maximus’ first experience with a full length symphony concert, and he was very excited to be included.  While he had gone to shorter, “Lollipops” series, and even an opera, I was unsure how he would sit quietly for the length of the full concert.  He did wonderfully.   The music was fantastic, as well.

Since all my children are musicians, I have long felt that exposure to live performances is a must as part of their school experience.  Even less-than-stellar live performances have an energy and spark the imagination in a way that listening to a recording usually does not.  Another reason to go to live performances is that we are exposed to music that we wouldn’t necessarily have chosen for ourselves.  For example, our last concert included a percussion concerto that was very exciting to watch.  I don’t know if my children dream of being on that stage while we are watching the concert, but I certainly dream of them being there someday.

How can you find out about programs like the youth guild?  Many organizations have special programs to attract children and educators to their events.  Many times, it is just a matter of visiting a web site and finding a live person to call or e-mail.  Look for a heading like “Education/Outreach.”  Once you have established contact, you can find out what they are offering and how you can take advantage of it.  Calling the box office is another way to find out about these programs.  Don’t be afraid to be a little pushy.  You are the media department for your little school!  Take advantage of these programs – you’ll be glad you did.

Hiking with the Family — Cane Wash, San Rafael Swell

We are so lucky to live within driving distance of many of Utah’s beautiful hikes — both mountain and desert.  The mountains are covered in snow right now, so we aren’t doing mountain hikes, but the desert still calls to us.  This weekend, with daytime highs in the 50s, we decided to head down through Buckhorn Draw in the San Rafael Swell to Cane Wash.  We had hiked the bottom of Cane Wash — where it meets the San Rafael River — several times, but this time we drove down a dirt road which led us to the wide, open top of the wash, and hiked down to the river.

Total Mileage:  13.35 miles round trip

Difficulty:  EASY! with climbing on side hills to satisfy your climbing urge

Time required:  6-8 hours

Reasons to go:  Beautiful scenery, high cliffs and calm desert colors, petrified forest

At the beginning of the walk, the wash was wide and open.  It was 32 degrees at 10:00 a.m., and ice was pretty solid on the little stream flowing down the wash.  It wasn’t hard to stay dry.  The mud was frozen, so it was easy to step on.

Everyone got their fill of ice sliding . . .

And rock climbing . . .

And trick fall practicing.

No, he didn’t hurt himself.  He practiced this fall about 6 times to get his picture like this.

As the canyon began to narrow, about mile 4, we began to see what appeared to be logs protruding from the sides of the cliff.  Soon, everywhere we looked we could see big chunks of petrified wood.  This petrified wood was easy to identify because much of it looked just like fallen, decomposing tree trunks — except they were made of rock.  It was interesting to discuss what kind of massive land slide or flood left these remnants for us to discover.

The rock the kids are sitting on is some kind of petrified stump or burl.

This was the largest log — probably 6 feet long and 2 feet in diameter.  It looked just like a fallen tree.

Since it is nearly winter, we brought along our little backpacking stove with us and had tea and coffee for our lunch break at the river about one o’clock.

It was much colder on the return trip, mostly because the sun had gone behind the cliffs, and we were walking in the shade.

We still took time break some ice, and look at this beautiful little pour-off (one of my favorite things about the desert.)

We made it back to the truck about 4:00 and returned home to a dinner of pumpkin spice waffles.  I think the thought of these waffles sustained us all on the last cold mile, and they were definitely a treat to come home to.  Best of all, they were easier than my usual waffle recipe, so it didn’t wear me out to make dinner.

It was an excellent day spent out in the sunshine.  We returned sunburnt and ready to face a little more winter.

Would you like some suggestions about how to get your family started hiking and backpacking?  Stay tuned or subscribe for some suggestions from my personal experience.

Do you have a good winter hiking trip?  Leave me a comment, please!

A Breakfast Date — Spending Time with the Kids You Love

I had a hot date this morning.  Maximus and I went out for breakfast at Guru’s.  We got all hyper eating Bananas Foster Pancakes.

We have a fairly recent tradition in our family.  Each month, Daddy and I each take one kid out for a special date.  That way, every other month is date month for each kid.  We try to do something not too expensive, but a special treat for just that one kid.  We’ve done sushi (my first time, too), a pirate play and a movie.  This month, we had the boys.   I like my dates to be in the morning, because I love to go out to breakfast.

After breakfast, we went to the library.  The library is a great date place because it is free, and no one in our family ever gets to spend enough undisturbed time at the library.  Last time we had a date there, I came home with 30 books.  Luckily the library doesn’t charge by the book.  (This is also the reason date night is never at Barnes and Noble.)

When the museum opened, we went to the Monte L. Bean Science Museum on the BYU campus.  Campus museums are cheap (read — free), quiet and best of all small.  Max had never seen taxidermy before, I guess.  He was really impressed.  We enjoyed all three floors in about an hour, and got lots of new ideas for school.

What I like best about having a date night with my kids is that I get to see them as individuals, and really listen to them without interruption.  They also get to know me better as an individual, I think, and hopefully that contributes to family unity.  I know it contributes to family happiness — everyone is excited for their turn.  It also limits begging, because we can always save up that treat for date night!

How do you find special time to be with your kids?  Leave me a comment.