Sugar-Filled Family Night

It was our turn to host family night for June.  I thought hard about an activity we could do that would be fun, and I decided we should frost sugar cookies!

The night started with dinner:  french dip, corn on the cob and fruit salad.  It was all very tasty.  Then we looked at some photos while we let dinner settle.  A bit later we broke out the frosting and went to town.

And look at all our beautiful creations!

Our Tree is Finally a Home

It's been several years since we planted it, but this spring our scarlet hawthorn finally has a resident, hopefully with more to come!

Memorial Day in Moab

At the last minute we decided to go to Moab for the weekend.  We wanted to see Pat's grandpa because we don't get the chance very often, and it didn't hurt that we would be escaping some nasty weather too.  We decided to take the jeep just in case we got a chance to hit a trail, but we really didn't think we would be able to.  We would be staying with Pat's aunt and uncle, who own the ice business in town.  As you can imagine, there is a large demand for ice on Memorial Day weekend, so we didn't expect to see much of them.

We left bright and early Saturday morning and arrived at about 11.  There wasn't anyone at the house, so we went down and found Grandpa in his trailer.  He took us over to the ice plant for a tour because we hadn't seen the new buildings yet.  Afterwards, he drove us down to the Arts Festival that was at the city park that weekend.  We had a nice afternoon checking out the booths and enjoying ribbon fries with nacho cheese and homemade ice cream - a very nutritious lunch.  I found a couple of things to bring home with me - a silk scarf died with all natural dyes, and a ceramic hummingbird glazed with super bright colors that will be right at home in my kitchen.  I will have to post pics later. 

After we were done in town we headed back to the house and planned on spending the afternoon relaxing in the warmth.  Shortly after we got there, one of Pat's cousin's friends who was also visiting for the weekend popped his head in the house and invited us to go hit a trail with him and some of his friends that afternoon.  We were excited to get to go out, so we got ready right away and tagged along with the group.  The trail we did is named Steel Bender, and now for lots of pictures:

The whole group starting out.

 Choosing the best path.

The biggest obstacle on the trail.  Most of the guys took a couple of tries to get up, 
but Pat crawled right up without even squeaking a tire.

Our traffic director.

 Just headed down the trail.

Coming off a fin.

The next day was almost a repeat.  Hung out at the house in the morning, and hit another trail in the afternoon.  This time it was just us and our new-found friends in a Rhino they borrowed from Pat's cousin.  This day we did Kane's Creek Canyon.  It was made even more enjoyable because our weather was sunny and mid 80s, and back home it was cold and snowy!

The first challenge on the trail.  This wasn't very hard, but it was a bit nerve-wracking 
because you are on an angle leaning towards a steep 60 foot drop.

Coming down another steep section, only to have to go up the other side.

This was probably the toughest section of trail, only because there were large boulders 
on both sides and the Jeep almost didn't fit down the middle.  At one point our rear 
fender was resting on the rock to the left, but we made it through without any damage.

 Once the trail finally drops down to the bottom of the canyon, you follow the creek 
for several miles, and cross it dozens of times. 

Cooling off toes in the clean, clear water.

A lot of the trail was going straight up the creek.

It was so pretty and green, especially compared to most of the Moab scenery.

Our new trail buddies - Greg & Karen.  Amazingly enough, they live about 10 minutes from our house.

Aren't we so cute?  This was a nice shady overhang in the rock.

Beautiful view of the creek as we start to climb back out of the canyon.  
Around this spot we did manage to tag our steering stabilizer shock on a rock just 
enough to dent it and pop the seal, so all the fluid leaked out.  One part to replace...

One more stop to play in the water and see this cute little waterfall hiding behind a boulder.

The waterfall is in the hole to the left.  I climbed down it just for fun.

One more steep climb.  I was walking it so I could spot if needed.

Really cool half-tunnel of rock.  This little creek was much bigger sometime in the past.

One more big obstacle, just for fun.  We could have gone around, but where's the challenge in that?

View from the other side.  It was a tall one!  He did eventually make it up.  
Sometimes our longer wheelbase helps, but in this case it made it more difficult.

That night Pat's aunt cooked us the most amazing ribs for our Memorial Day BBQ.  There were several salads and corn on the cob to go with.  We all stuffed ourselves and then sat outside and talked until bedtime.  It really was a fantastic weekend.  We're planning to try and make it back in the fall when the relatives might have a bit more free time to join us.

After all that fun, problems were bound to crop up.  We started home Monday morning and things were looking just fine.  We stopped to say goodbye to everyone and made one stop in town to get new trail stickers to add to the collection on the side of the jeep.  Then we stopped in Green River for gas and overheard some other travelers talking about the traffic in Utah County.  Apparently the freeway was completely stopped due to holiday traffic and reduced lanes from construction.  I was a little worried about that anyway, so when we heard them talking we decided to try a detour.  There is a dirt road that leaves Hwy 6 and heads north over the mountain to Strawberry Reservoir.  We knew it existed but had never been on it.  We didn't know if it would be open or not, but we decided to check it out.  We had plenty of time, so ever if we had to turn around we decided it would be a fun side adventure.

The first section of road was paved, all the way until the strawberry turnoff.  At the turnoff there was a sign saying that the road was closed due to snow.  We looked at the mountains and they were relatively free of snow.  We wondered if they just hadn't sent someone up to check it for a while, so we decided to keep going and see what we could see.  Besides, the jeep can go through more snow than your average vehicle, and we have the winch to help us out if we need it.  We went for quite a ways without seeing any snow on the road at all.  Then we passed a couple tiny patches that probably melted within a few days.  Then we found the five foot tall snow drift that was blocking almost the entire road.  There was a truck parked at the edge of the snow, and footprints headed away from it.  No other sign of the occupants at all.  

We stopped the jeep and got out for a bit to let the dogs run and see if there was any way we could get around the snow.  We finally decided that we were going to have to turn back.  We got in the jeep and went to start it, and nothing.  Pat checked the battery and it was showing totally dead.  We have no idea how that happened since we hadn't had any issues, and it had started without any problems at least three times already that day.  We were parked on a hill, so Pat decided to try and pop the clutch to get it started.  It was going to be a bit tricky because it would have to be in reverse, but it was worth a shot.  

Just as we were about to give it a shot, Damage started making pukey noises in the back of the jeep.  I jumped out and got him out in time for him to puke up a huge ball of grass.  Stupid dog.  I swear he thinks he's a cow.

We finally got situated and got the jeep rolling.  Pat tried to pop the clutch three times without success.  After that we were at the bottom of the hill and there was nowhere else to go.  My map showed that we were probably only a mile from the top of the mountain and I figured we were likely to get cell signal there.  Just before we decided to get moving, it started snowing on us.  Lots of giant, hard, almost hail-like snow.  And one of the jeep's windows was stuck down halfway so it was blowing right in.  Pat got a blanket thrown over the door so that we didn't get the interior soaked, and we settled in to wait for the snow to die down a bit.  

Just as the snow was slowing, the occupants of the truck came around the corner.  We were able to get a jump from them, and the jeep started just fine.  We were finally able to head down the mountain and continue our journey home.  When we got down to Spanish Fork we took Hwy 89 until we found an auto parts store. We stopped in and Pat grabbed a guy to test our battery and alternator.  As we were waiting, Damage started hoarking again, so I hurried and got him out of the jeep and let him puke on the rocks next to the parking lot as the friendly employee gave me a funky look.  Sorry, dude.  Better than in my car.  The battery and alternator tested just fine, so we still have no idea what caused it to randomly die on us.

Since we finally had cell signal I checked traffic and discovered that the freeway was moving just fine now, so we headed that direction.  A few blocks down the road there was a very nasty odor emanating from the rear of the jeep.  We pulled into a parking lot to investigate and discovered that Damage had diarreahhed all over the place.  It was one side of the jeep to the other.  Luckily we had let Zoe up into the back seat earlier because he was hogging all the room, so she stayed clean.  There wasn't really much we could do - nowhere to stop and try to clean it, so we rolled down our windows and turned up the heater.  It was a miserable drive back on the freeway with the cold and the wind and the stench.

We finally arrived home hours after we were planning to, and immediately got to work cleaning out the jeep.  Luckily the carpet in Wranglers comes out completely and pretty easily, and is fairly easy to wash.  The subwoofer was not so lucky.  It was bad enough we had to spray into the box, which then ruined the paper cone speaker.  Just one more thing to add to the list I guess.  Damage got a bath of his own on the front lawn with chilly water from the hose.  He usually gets a bath in the tub with nice warm water, and he did not like the cold one bit.  Too bad dude!  No way do you get to come in the house covered in poop.

After everything was clean we got to take a shower ourselves, then fall into a stupor in front of the TV.  Sometimes things are just too perfect and karma has to even it out.  Here's hoping that we don't have a drive quite that bad again.

May Book List

This Side of the Grave by Jeaniene Frost - 357 pages
Proven Guilty by Jim Butcher - 404 pages
Steel by Carrie Vaughn - 287 pages
Grave Sight by Charlaine Harris - 293 pages
White Night by Jim Butcher - 404 pages
Lover Unleashed by JR Ward - 489 pages

TOTAL - 6 Books - 2,234 pages

Steel and This Side of the Grave were just okay.  They weren't bad enough to stop reading, but they aren't anything I would recommend, which is a shame.

The Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher keeps getting better and better.  It won't be long before I'm caught up and have to wait a year or more to get the next book.

I really love the Southern Vampire books by Charlaine Harris, so I thought I would try her other series.  It was really good too!  Not quite as addictive, but I definitely want to continue the series.

The big read of the month was Lover Unleashed.  It's been out for over a month but I didn't get on the library's waiting list soon enough and it has taken way too long to be my turn.  It was such a great book!  Of all the paranormal romance series out there, this one is my favorite.  I like how over time the books have shifted from majorly focusing on one couple to including a bit of info for all the characters, though I am starting to miss the characters we got to know first.  They haven't had much of a storyline in the last few installments.