Saturday, April 6, 2013

Heaven in the Desert

I took three of my kids with me and traveled to St. George during our school district's Spring Break. We had a great time-- the sun was shining, the air was clear, the sky was SO blue-- just a gorgeous time to be in Utah. The condo we stayed at belongs to my parents, and it was very nice, though the complex was pretty crowded. I think half the state decided to go to SG for their breaks, too. But that's okay. It's too lovely a place to be bothered.

Places we went:
  • Swimming and basketball- the property at the condo has a lovely pool and hot tub area, a plush clubhouse and an excellent basketball court. The kids and I enjoyed the heck out of these "amenitites". Plus, the only place I could get wifi was in or near the clubhouse, so I spent some time on the huge covered patio overlooking the pool and checked my ever-important email while the kids swam-- awesome!
    The pool at the condo. You can't see my kids in this one. Taken from the patio with my laptop.
  • The Jacob Hamblin Home in nearby Santa Clara- this is an old Pioneer-era Mormon settler home with some interesting stories and a beautiful view. The tour was short and informative, though I would have liked it more had they allowed us to touch the old stuff- the beds, the tools and iron and cook pots and especially the books they had laying on display. Sigh... It was cool, though, and something to do if you're in the area and bored.
    Jacob Hamblin Home from
  • Just outside the town of Leeds (and I use the term town loosely) is a fantastic little canyon of red-rock gorgeousness, called "Red Cliffs Recreation Area". It is maintained by the BLM, and it costs $5 for a "Day Use" pass, and $15/night for camping. And what a gorgeous place to camp! We haven't done so, but if you have to camp... this is a stunning place to do it. We were there on a perfect weather day, too. The sky was clear and that amazing blue, the air was clean and the temps were between 70 and 80 degrees. I love being outside on days like that.
This is some of the prettiest scenery in the world (photos really can't capture the breathtaking beauty)-- red, sandy trails, towering sandstone cliffs, crystal blue sky, trickly water, and this time of year everything is alive and varying shades of green. We took three short hikes while we were there. 

First, we took the hike to the supposed dinosaur tracks embedded in stone. We hiked to the end of the short trail and couldn't see anything that looked like tracks. We weren't even sure if the trail had really ended. We wondered why the BLM doesn't have better signs on this trail, at least something designating to look down NOW to see the tracks...The picture is two of the kids at the beginning of the dino tracks trail, peeking in some holes in the rocks and looking for lizards-- we saw quite a few! 

Second, we took the hike we did three years ago when we were here before, to a little waterfall and natural pools. There is a larger, shallow pool that the kids liked to wade in, and a much deeper pool further in, between the cliffs. Last time we were here, a group of daring young men were jumping from the cliffs into the pool. This time, we had the place to ourselves and the water was very cold (first of April=snow melt!). 
The waterfall and deep pool. You won't catch me swimming here... but it is pretty.

The kids, posing in the wading area

Third, we went on the hike to see the Anasazi pueblo ruins. The hike itself wasn't terribly long or difficult, even when it became steep right at the end, and it was worth the mild effort. The view was spectacular-- the trail ends at the top of a small-ish mountain, and the ruins did not disappoint. I was glad to be up there before wasp season, too, as I'm sure they love to build nests in the wooden structures that shade some of the ruins. There are walkways and trails and some of the stone-lined pits are exposed and just out there, while others are covered, so I'm not sure what the BLM has in mind there, but there is a good educational display explaining what they think the stone pits were used for. Imagine living up that high in this beautiful place. Awesome!
One of the Anasazi rock pits-- used for cooking, I think

The Anasazi ruins- wooden walkways and protective coverings over some...

Another open pit-- amazing to think about how old this is...

We had lunch between hikes in the shaded picnic area, which is very nice, but the table we chose wasn't clean, so I would recommend bringing wipes and/or a table covering of some kind.

If you've never been before, this is a wonderful place to take kids. The hikes aren't terribly strenuous or long, the scenery is just as beautiful as anywhere else in Southern Utah, and if you get there early, the crowds aren't bad. But DO get there early. We drove there the day before, but when we pulled up and saw a long line of cars, and when it a cold drizzle started, we told the lady at the check-in station that we were changing our mind and would come back the next day. She said the line of cars were waiting to get in (meaning, it could be hours while they waited for someone to leave) and to get there by 9:30 if we didn't want to wait. So we did. We got there around 9:40 the next day and we found parking just fine and the trails weren't crowded at all. 

Vacation Highlights:
  •  The day before we left, I put my camera in my purse, & soon after realized the battery needed charging. So I took the battery out, plugged it in and the thought that clearly crossed my mind was "I'm going to forget that..." Yep. I forgot it. So the pictures I have are all from my son's iPod Touch and my other son's phone. Hence the fuzzy quality. Boo.
  • Kids can bicker anywhere, anytime. Even in a comfy leather-upholstered rental car with Arctic Circle candy bar milkshakes in hand. Amazing.
  • There are actually TV shows on-- every night! We got such a kick out of catching "Jeopardy", almost every night! We normally watch so little TV that it's kind of fun to just crash on the couch between activities and see what all the fuss is about!
  • My parents' condo doubles as an appliance museum. 
    • This is their blender. You think maybe my great-grandmother made the world's first strawberry smoothies in it? Maybe...
    • The dishwasher, which is dead (or dying), so we washed dishes the really old-fashioned way. With our hands, children. (And soap. I'm not a total neanderthal.)

    • This side-by-side fridge, which has a formerly fancy ice dispenser, but no light or water. Still, it matches everything else, in that dull, lifeless 1973 beige-with-wood-accents. Stylin'!
    • At least there was a microwave. Probably circa 1980-ish, though it looks older. Rotating plate? Nope. Timer? Nope. Light? There used to be, but it's not functioning now. We're hopeful that the popcorn we made in it won't give us cancer...
    • There is also a teeny, stacked washer/dryer unit, which works well, even though I'm fairly sure it was born before I was. And that's saying something...
We had a great Spring Break, relaxing and enjoying the warmer weather. Southern Utah is unique in its beauty-- and it's more than Zion and Bryce (which are amazing, too, btw). Now my kids think they might like to live in St. George. Of course, they've never been there in the peak summer heat, so they might change that tune...

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