If your family is like mine then you have some kids that love the snow and some kids that hate the snow. Our ratio is 5:1 but that one kid can make things miserable for the rest of us on family adventures.
One of the winter traditions that all 6 of us enjoy is to go tubing as a family. We have gone tubing at Soldier Hollow in Midway and Woodward Park in Park City. Both are fantastic places that include a conveyor belt to take you to the top of the hill. It makes life a lot easier. Dragging multiple tubes up the hill all while holding little kids hands etc is NOT EASY!
The convenience of these hills does come at a price. Tickets for a 2 hour time period can run up to $34 a person. However, Groupon does deals every year and makes the experience much more affordable. Make sure you check for deals before you go.
This is one of our favorite winter adventures as a family. Ben and I have as much fun as the kids!
So what do you think? Want to try speed tubing with a no effort climb?
This time of year gives me all the feels. I love the unity that I feel as part of a community and the attitude of gratitude that is in everyone’s hearts. I love the spirit of giving and the sense that the world is bigger than what we see day to day. We look beyond our own needs to see what good can be done in the world. It’s magical and I cherish it.
Each year our family tries to give back in meaningful ways. I feel like I need to preface that with the fact that we are far from perfect, but we try and be proactive about serving. Each year my kids ask about serving and get excited for the opportunities. It makes my mom heart happy. I wanted to share some of the simple things we do each year to help give back. I would love if you shared some of the things you do with me in the comments that way I can grow our possibilities.
Make bags for the homeless and leave them in your car. We often see people standing outside grocery stores etc with signs asking for help. When we see someone like that we give them a bag and wish them a Merry Christmas. My kids love it! Here is what we put in our bags: *Gloves *Fleece Blanket *Beanie *Socks *Food *Water bottle *McDonalds Gift cards *Notecard that we wrote a message on. I got everything on Amazon and spent about $160 for 12 bags
2. Volunteer at a local Food Pantry. Tabitha’s Way and the Food and Care Coalition are two food pantries close to my house. A simple google search would direct you to one close to you. Food Pantry’s need a variety of items as well as cash and volunteers to pack and hand out food. Grab some girlfriends and make an afternoon of it or bring your kids. Most pantries have an age requirement for kids, but it is worth looking into. I’m bringing my 10 and 12-year-old next time I go. Visit their website and schedule a time to go help. You won’t regret it.
3. Sub for Santa. There are so many families that are barely able to make ends meet, especially this year with covid. I have worked with the United Way in Utah for the past several years and I am always impressed with how well organized it is. When you sign up you can decide if you want to sponsor an individual or a family. If you choose a family you can even specify how many children. Once you are assigned a family you receive their contact information and can contact them about the ages of children and needs etc. United Way gives you a gift shopping outline that keeps things within a budget and fair across all families. It is so helpful. They suggest about $125 per person to spend on gifts and necessities.
4. Angel Tree. This is a great option if sponsoring an individual or a family is overwhelming for you. An angel tree gives you the option to buy one item for someone and drop it off at a neutral location. I know many churches do giving trees as well as grocery stores and department stores. Keep your eyes peeled I guarantee you will see one this holiday season.
5. Draw pictures and write notes for the elderly and drop off at an assisted living center. I can’t even imagine how lonely the elderly are right now being cut off from visiting and hugging their family. They could use some cheering up and cards/notes/pictures is a great covid friendly way to brighten their day.
I know there are a million other ways to serve. Will you share with me what you do in the comments? I would love to add to my list.
Dripping Rock is a hidden gem in Spanish Fork, Utah. The trail starts on the south side of the road next to the Spanish Oaks Golf Course. There is a small parking lot for you to park and begin. The trail runs alongside the river with several options to go down to the water throughout.
You can go down to the river early on your walk or wait until the bridge. Both are really fun options. We chose to go down early on our hike and make our way through the river, stopping at all the areas the rock drips. The kids were in heaven.
I recommend water shoes or hiking sandals. Walking in the river is really fun but the rocks make shoes necessary. It’s not difficult to walk in the water. My three year old did great. The water stays shallow and slow moving the entire walk up to the bridge.
If you aren’t interested in the swings or jumping off the little waterfall you can stay down river where the rock dips. Less crowded and lots of room to play.
After playing at the dripping rock for awhile, we decided to go the bridge and find the swings. It’s only .7 mile from the parking lot to the bridge.
We ended up spending the most time at the bridge. My kids couldn’t get enough of the swing and the jump.
When it was time to head back home they all asked if we could come back the next day. Dripping Rock is our new favorite place to play in the summer heat.
Yosemite National Park has been on my bucket list for years. I asked Ben if we could go this year and he said he would prefer to go just the two of us without kids because of the long drive. Maybe next year we could pull that off. Fast forward a few months and our friend, Joe Baker, asked Ben to accompany him and his son on an epic boys trip. Ben immediately said yes. I then convinced my parents to come with us so that I could go with my other 3 kids and explore Yosemite as well.
The plan was for Ben and Kyle to spend two days on Lost Arrow Spire while the rest of us hiked and explored other areas of Yosemite. The week before the trip Joe’s wife, Ann, invited me to camp up at the top of Yosemite Falls with the rest of the group. My parents agreed to watch my other 3 kids and I went with Ben and Kyle up the falls.
The hike up to Yosemite Falls was an extremely hard hike. It is almost 4 miles and over 3,000 feet elevation gain. It is steep! It was hot and I was carrying a heavy pack. I never complained because my 10 year old was doing it right along side me and he never complained. He’s a stud.
Once we got to the top of the falls we took a break. We spent hours swimming in the water and cliff jumping. It felt amazing! We were grateful the water was low and we were able to play in it.
After our break, we packed back up and started the 1/2 mile hike to Lost Arrow Spire. Once we arrived at the spire it was GO time. Ben and Kyle harnessed up and waited until the team of people was ready for them. (There was an entire team of people helping make this happen. Guys had gone up the night before and set up the rappels, traverse, and port-a-ledges. The team also included a film crew. We couldn’t have done it without them!)
At sunset, it was time to rappel over to the spire. Kyle was nervous but he was brave. I yelled to him and asked him how he was doing while he was on the traverse. He yelled back and said that he was good. That put my mom heart at ease.
After watching the boys cross over to Lost Arrow Spire and get settled in, it was time for me to set up my camp for the night. It was pitch black by the time I headed up to find a spot. Thank goodness for headlamps! I set up my tent, cooked my dinner, and called it a night. It was my first time camping overnight by myself. I ended up sleeping better than I ever have camping before. It was awesome! It was also the opposite of Ben’s night.
The next morning I radioed Ben on our walkie talkies to see how their night went. He told me that it was the worst night of his life. He didn’t sleep at all. He joked that the first thing he was going to do when we got home was sell the port-a-ledge. I got to talk to Kyle and cheer him on for the big day that was in front of him.
After packing up my little campsite I ate breakfast and headed down to the cliff’s edge to watch the boys jumar, rappel and traverse back over. When I got to the edge they were playing the card game old maid and shooting nerf guns at each other. (They tied a string to the balls of the nerf gun and were able to shoot the balls without loosing them. GENIUS!)
After the nerf guns and card game they flew a kite. It was quite a sight. Anyone in that part of the park could see the kite flying.
After packing back up they had to make their way up the spire and then over the traverse before jumaring their way up to yesterday’s starting point. It took a while.
All that was left was to hike back down. We stopped at the pools to play for a few minutes and filter water before making the long trek down. What a day!
If I hadn’t been there to witness this adventure in person I wouldn’t have believed the magnitude of it all. Our friend Joe is a big dreamer. He came up with all of this and all I can say is WOW! We feel privileged to have been able to experience it.
When the opportunity to adventure comes along. Take it!
One of our favorite stops during our big Yosemite trip was Buck Eye Hot Springs. The hot springs are a little oasis just outside of Bridgeport, California. The best part of these hot springs is the fact that the river runs right next to the pools. You can hop back and forth between the hot pools and the cold river. It’s the perfect combo.
Hot springs are known for bringing out the nudists. Weekends and evenings are the most popular time for nudists to emerge. We went on a weekday and only found a few other families in the pools. We were able to social distance and have plenty of space to be comfortable.
The drive to the hot springs is a dirt road for 3 miles. Our van made it just fine. Once you get to the parking lot the trail down to the springs is short but steep and involves loose dirt. We made it down just fine but it was outside of my mom’s comfort zone so she stayed in the van while we played.
There were several pools to choose from. The first pool was the warmest. It was the temperature of a hot tub. The pools cooled down the further down the river they were. It’s nice to find the pool with the temperature that suits you best.
In addition to the pools next to the river there were two small pools near the top of the trail head. People were soaking in them so we didn’t get to check them out at all.
We loved our time at the hot springs and recommend them to anyone in the area.
P.S. There are two other hot spring locations in the area. Travertine and Benton hot springs. We read good things about them both online but never checked them out. We decided on Buck Eye because of the river running next to it. The hot and cold tub mentality reminded us of Switzerland and is a feature that Benton loves!
While we were in Southern Utah we explored a location just outside of Zion National Park, called Lambs Knoll. Lambs Knoll is literally next to the fence of Zion park boundaries and is a large playground for adventure lovers like us. There are several climbing routes and slot canyons to explore. All require the proper gear.
We didn’t have time to climb or do more than one canyon so we plan on going back. We did one canyon called Snake Alley. It involved three rappels, the third was one of the most spectacular rappels I have ever done. To get to the starting point of the rappel you had to squeeze through a narrow slot and then as you overlook the cliff you notice you are in another slot with sides hundreds of feet high and it will require you to hike out by squeezing through a tough section for 100 feet. It was gorgeous!
My kids were champs and had such good attitudes. My three year old did every rappel with me and kept saying how fun he thought it all was. He mentioned it was like going down a slide. My nine year old really came into his own and asked to be the first to rappel each time. He couldn’t get enough.
As always know before you go. Canyoneering is one of our favorite family activities and we love sharing it with you. Please be safe and know what you are getting into. Don’t go unprepared.