Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Capitol Reef

I started off my Memorial Day weekend with a scheduled shoulder surgery.  Back in high school I separated my shoulder my senior year at a wrestling tournament.  It got better, but once every few years I re-injure it by running into a tree mountain biking or crashing while snow skiing.  It usually gets better after a few weeks, but I injured it last December and it never improved.  I went to my physician and they couldn't see anything, so they had me go to physical therapy.  After a few visits the physical therapist without improvement, I finally went to an orthopedic surgeon here in Park City, Dr. Metcalf.  He is the one that operated on Tiger Woods.  He's an amazing surgeon.  Anyway he checked me out and found arthritic bone spurs on my joint and that the clavicle was rubbing bone on bone on the AC joint.  He didn't initially want to do surgery, but wanted to pursue a steroid shot first to see if it worked.  After three days, the relief from the shot wore off.  At that point he decided it would be best to go ahead and do the surgery.
Lisa drove me to the hospital that morning for my surgery.

The surgery went pretty well.  They removed the arthritic bone spurs and shaved off the end of my clavicle.  Here's a photo of the newly cleaned off clavicle.  Not as cool as Lisa's brain photos, but still pretty cool.

I don't do well coming out of general anesthesia.  Even with phenergan I still feel like I need to puke.  It took me a few hours to overcome the nasty effects of the drugs.

The doctor was pretty minimally invasive with the surgery and just left three holes.  Well done doc!

After surgery, we went home and decided that the next morning we would head out to Capitol Reef for the weekend.  I packed up the trailer the night before, so Lisa just had to drive it down there.  I figured I could either be miserable at home, or go be miserable somewhere beautiful and let the kids run around and have fun.  I think I made the right call.
It rained on us right when we were about to arrive.  Rain on that soil turns things incredibly muddy and slick.  We got stuck really, really bad at first.  After a lot of work and some prayers, I was able to get us out.  We then went and found the closest and easiest camp site at that point.
The kids were soooo muddy.  It was a mess.

Cole and Blake with their sticks.  This is a common site while camping with them.  They almost always have sticks in hand and are whacking everything in site.

Me chilling in the lawn chair.

Lisa taking a selfie while pampering me.

Saturday morning we headed into the park.  Lisa, her mom, Tucker and Aubrey hiked the Grand Wash.  I drove around to the other end with the two little boys to pick them up.

One big advantage of the rain storms was all the wildflowers that were in bloom.  They were gorgeous.

Here's the narrows section of the Grand Wash.

After the Grand Wash, I went back to the trailer to sleep while the rest went to hike Hickman Bridge.  We had done these hikes as a family 5 years ago, so I wasn't really missing out.

They were all great little hikers

Saturday was Susan's birthday, so Lisa bought a turtle pie (her favorite) and we all sang her happy birthday.  I think it was a good birthday for her.

The kids loved their turtle pie while sitting around the fire.

On Sunday we decided to take the long drive through the northern end of the park.  We had never gone to the area before because it's so out of the way and isolated, but we decided this was a good time to explore it.  It is a 60 mile loop that has several really scenic overlooks.

The views were well worth the drive.  Spectacular scenery in a rarely visited part of the park.

Me and my bride.

These two goofballs really wanted to pose on top of this mound.  They are funny.

Lisa and I walked out on the ledge of this look out point and left everyone else back on safer ground.  It was a fairly precarious point, and we didn't feel like herding the little kids around with the sheer drop offs that were there.

While hiking to one look out point the two little boys held hands and said that they were being best friends.  Silly boys.

Here are some cool views in Cathedral Valley. The kids named each one of these monoliths a castle of some sort.  There was an ogre castle. Elsa's castle, a knight's castle, etc.

This is huge sinkhole that was interesting.

Temple of the Sun.

This was "Glass Mountain".  When I asked the kids afterwards what their favorite part of the trip was, all of them surprisingly said it was glass mountain.
This is a small (about 20 feet high) mound of pure gypsum crystals.  It glistens in the sunlight.  The kids thought it was super cool and enjoyed climbing around on it.

As I mentioned earlier, the rains had the desert blossoming.  It was quite stunning.

On our way out we passed the spot where I was so badly stuck.  I wish we would have thought to take a picture while I was stuck.  It was bad.  I was up to the axles in mud.  Off to the left is a cliff drop off, so we are lucky at least that we slid to the right into the pit instead of to the left off the edge.

In all it was a fun, adventurous trip to Capitol Reef.

Monday, May 26, 2014


Cody had a dental course that he was going to take in Scottsdale, Arizona a few weeks ago, so we decided to go as a family. Over the years, I have found that I know more and more people down in that area. We left Tuesday and got there in time for dinner and then went to the hotel. Cody went to pick up his brother from his airport while I got the kids settled in to bed. We stay in villas that have a pull out bed. 2 kids alternated on the bed each night and the others slept on pillows on the floor. We stayed at this same hotel back in 2012.The kids remembered the pool. First thing Wednesday morning we went to the pool. Swimming at 8am is a delight when the water isn't freezing and either is the air. Blake stills needs to learn to float in his life jacket unassisted. He hasn't grasped the concept that he won't drown. We were swimming buddies.
 The other kids did awesome. Tucker is a little fish and Aubrey follows right behind. The hotel had a small pool, seen in the picture here, and a larger pool with a waterfall and hot tub. We utilized both. All 4 of the kids start swimming lessons next week once school is out.
 After our morning swim we got ready to meet up with my brain cancer friend Jen. She picked us up from her hotel and we dropped off our car at Cody's class location so that he could join us later in the day. Jen lives in Gilbert, which is about 45 minutes away from Scottsdale. I looked up a bunch of fun things to do with my kids and she joined us on our trip to Cerrata's Candy Factory. You walk in and smell chocolate. It was awesome. A couple busloads of kids were on a field trip during our tour, but we still received our free sample and then I purchased this chocolate brain that was for sell. Jen and I cut it in half. Very fitting for us. Maybe the chocolate has filled in our holes. : )
 After the chocolate tour we drove to her house. Her older kids were getting home from school soon and they all played for hours. The Ropers ordered take out from Cafe Rio and when Jen's husband got home from work he brought dinner as well. Jen's husband is a dentist too. Thankfully Jen is doing well with her cancer like me. She's done with chemo and acclimating to her old/new life. She had an MRI the day before so we knew she was doing really well.
One of Jen's and my neighbors/friends was in town with her family too. Haley and I went to Churchill and Skyline together. She has 3 boys that played along with everyone else. We had fun talking and enjoying one another company.

Thursday I made plans with my friend that lived in Baltimore, but overlapped us and moved in right after we left. Her husband grew up in Heber, so we met through the grapevine and visit whenever we are in the others town. Sheryl told me about the Play Factory. There was a Groupon for it so I bought it and we let the kids play for an hour or so. It had a climbing wall which helped keep my kids entertained. I guess it's mostly for Blake/Cole age. Sheryl's kids were at school as well, so my kids had to wait around for playmates.

Aubrey did awesome on the wall. She outclimbed Tucker, even though he won't admit it. Blake even gave it a try.

 It was definitely hot while we were in Arizona, but it felt great to us. It had snowed the week before in Midway. I loved these bright yellow flowers and had Aubrey pose by them.
 After the play factory I grabbed lunch for my kids and we drove over to the Bennett's house to swim in their pool. Tucker was so happy when their Blake came home from school.

 Ian is an endodontist and when he was done with work he picked Cody up and then we all drove to Oregano's pizza for dinner. It is an Arizona highlight and a must eat. The wait was 45 minutes even though we arrived early. We needed two tables and put the older 6 kids at one table and us adults and the babies at the table next door. Perfect. The kids were relatively good and we were able to talk and enjoy ourselves.
 Friday morning I took the kids to the McCormick Railroad Park. We went last time we were in town and they loved it. For a couple dollars you can ride the train and the carousal. We also visited the park and had fun until it was too hot.

 I met up with my dental school friend, Hannah, that lives in Gilbert for lunch. We ate at Pei Wei. So good. She had her fifth baby girl last fall and I hadn't met her yet. Hannah's sister lives 2 streets away from me, so I get to see Hannah when she comes to visit her family.
 After lunch we went back to the hotel and relaxed. I found out that my friend Holly was in town too. Her husband was at the same dental class as Cody. We were the same year in dental school. Holly is pregnant with identical twin boys and due in a few months. It was so great to see her for a little bit.
 One of the highlights of the trip for the kids was seeing bunnies at our hotel. They were everywhere. Too fast to catch, but Cody caught this one with is camera phone before it ran away. We swam as a family Friday night after taking uncle Carson to the airport. He flew down and attended the class with Cody as well.
We left after breakfast Saturday morning to our next destination. The Grand Canyon. The South Rim to be exact.
 It was nearing lunchtime, and Cody saw a sign for a Pizza Hut, so we drove around for 30 minutes trying to find it in the park. We never did find it, but saw lots of elk lying down in the shade.
 We ate in the Grand Canyon village and still had pizza and wings. Aubrey devoured 5 wings and a slice of pizza. I think she's growing!
 We stopped at several of the viewpoints along the south rim. I've been to the North Rim before, but was a kid and remember it being much scarier and deeper. It is pretty amazing though.
 The kids gave a family from Georgia quite the scare as they would rush toward the cliff fence. We all came home alive in one piece.

 The railing was big enough, so why not put your body underneath the bar.
 The last stop on our trek was the Desert View Watchtower. It was hot inside, but we climbed all the way to the top.

 I was coming along slower than Cody, Tucker and Aubrey and snapped a picture of them from below.
 We had a great time and the kids already talk about when we get to see our Arizona friends again. Cody says there is another class he can take next year, so 2015 it will be!