Friday, September 27, 2013

Summer Fun With Our Kids - Wyoming

Following our cruise to Alaska, we flew to Salt Lake City and spent a couple of nights at Bobby's house.  His family was vacationing in Oregon with friends, which worked out well, because our intent was to get our Christmas shopping and gift wrapping completed for the grand kids.  We decided to provide a small gift to Linley, Emma, and Max on each of the twelve days of Christmas.  They receive so many gifts to open on Christmas day from their parents and other relatives, that we decided it might be more fun for them to spread out the surprises over a longer period of time.  That meant purchasing and wrapping 36 gifts!  We also bought a few things for Paige and Elynor and a few birthday presents for Emma's August birthday.   And since we didn't know when we would be back in the states, we also put aside a few additional birthday gifts for Paige, Max and Elli.  Additionally, Bob and I drove down to Springville and hiked up Hobble Creek Canyon to find the piece of property we purchased from the Hills and Jeffers.  It is in a beautiful area overlooking the left fork of the creek.  Hopefully someday we will be able to build something there.  When mom and dad and Myrna and Jim jointly purchased two lots in the Springwood Development, there were plans for water lines and electricity to be put in.  But it appears that the developers skipped out of the deal and never made good on their promises.  We have not been able to get any answers about the future of this development, so our property may never become more than a primitive campsite . . . even though there are some really beautiful homes going up all around the area.  Here are a few photos taken around our property.

We drove up to Rock Springs, Wyoming, on Wednesday.  It was great to be able to see the area that Stephanie and family are now calling home.  They have a beautiful big home up on the mountainside and are happy to be back in a smaller rural community.  It's nice for them to be in a good-sized English speaking ward where Emma can enjoy the benefits of primary and the association of more church friends.  It's a little hard to settle in to an established small town community, but they are adjusting and keeping busy with lots of visits to family who are nearby once again.  Paige has struggled with allergies, eczema and asthma and it has been a challenge for Stephanie to determine how to avoid the many triggers.  Testing revealed that Paige is allergic to many basic foods including wheat, milk, soy, eggs and bananas.  She also seems to have some negative reactions to most topical creams and lotions, along with things in the environment such as molds and dust.  And viral illnesses also trigger a reaction.  So Paige's poor little chubby cheeks, arms and legs are often red and scaly  We hope that she will be able to outgrow some of these problems, but with parents who both have allergy and asthma, she may have to deal with these things for a long time.


Paige was learning how to crawl and climb while we were there.  Like her Uncle Mike, she is a blankie cuddler and thumb sucker, which makes for a pretty easy baby!  We enjoyed walking down by the river and at the park nearby, Emma found her older neighbor friend who quickly took her under wing.  They climbed rocks and played in the water fountains.  Grandpa and I enjoyed going to watch a couple of Emma's soccer games.  We were quite amused as Emma tried to figure out all the rules of the game, including no picking up the ball with your hands, and no tackling!  She is a little like Ferdinand the bull, chatting with her friend or chasing butterflies on the field.  She had some nice kicks, an accidental header, and a strong throw-in or two.  I think her favorite part of the game was getting to wear her pink shorts, socks and shoes!

On Friday morning, Stephanie and I took Emma and Paige for a little rafting experience.  It was a beautiful float down a portion of the Green River, even though Emma was not in the mood to get wet or dirty.  Grandpa was kind enough to help us shuttle the cars!

Saturday, we took a trip to Flaming Gorge.  Ben was planning to take us out on their boat, but since a storm was blowing in, we decided just to take a scenic drive out to the gorge.  When we arrived, the weather was actually quite nice, so we hiked around a bit and discovered all kinds of fun things.  Grandpa showed Emma some soft leaves she could use if she needed to go potty in the wilderness. Emma thought that was pretty funny!  Emma found some crawdad claws, a bunny, and some crazy rocks which we made into funny faces.  You've gotta love her pirate girl!  Skipping rocks and a rock throwing target in the water kept us entertained for a while before heading back home. (Definitely a couple of Hill Family activities in action!)

A trip to Wyoming wouldn't be complete without attending a rodeo!  This time we left the girls at home with a sitter and went on a double date with Stephanie and Ben.  We even caught some prizes that were randomly thrown to the audience.  Yeah, we were also wondering what those crazy light up toys were!

Sunday we went to church and Emma got to wear her new birthday dress from Gaga and Grandpa.  She sure knows how to model!  Paige was pretty cute in her new purple dress, too!  It was great to see their new ward family, where Stephanie is enjoying teaching Relief Society and Ben was working with the Young Men and Scouts.

 We packed and loaded the cars with camping gear and departed from Green River on Tuesday, with sights set on more fun in Utah with Bobby's family.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Victoria, British Columbia

The last port we visited on our Alaskan cruise was Victoria, British Columbia.  We arrived after dinner and only had a few hours here, so we decided to tour the Butchart Gardens.  I remember as a child going on a Hill Family road trip up the northern Pacific Coast and into Vancouver Island.  I was in the motor home with Grandma Hill and my cousins, Tracy Jeffers and Karen Page.  I have so many wonderful memories of that trip, from the unbelievable color of Crater Lake to the grandeur of the Redwood Forest!  I remember the "seaweed whips" we played with on the island beach and digging for clams.  In Provo, I used to walk down the road to a little "Fish and Chips" restaurant where I fell in love with "clam chowder".  One night while vacationing on Vancouver Island, we took all the clams we had collected and made our own chowder.  I was so disgusted with what a clam looked like and the process involved in chopping up the clams, that I could hardly bring myself to eat it!  Clam chowder has never tasted as good as when I was a child after that experience.  But I do still crave a sour dough bread bowl filled with the yummy porridge.  (I'm thinking San Francisco . . . !)  The point of this story was to mention that there were two highlights I was so looking forward to on that road trip.  The first was to go up to the top of the Seattle Space Needle, and the second was to visit Butchart Gardens.  The disappointment was almost more than I could bear when Grandma got lost and somehow we missed visiting those much anticipated sights!  So now you can imagine my joy at finally being able to see both of these sights, many many years later, on another Hill Family vacation!

Butchart Gardens lived up to my expectations and more!  The landscaping and color of the gardens was impeccable and the combination of flowers, shrubbery, and trees was inspiring.  I've never felt confident putting together colors and textures of flowers to create the gardens I'd love to have in my own yard.  But being there instilled in me a desire to try . . . to just copy of few of those artistic combinations at home!  (Someday when we have a yard again.)  Perhaps some of these photos will be the inspiration you need as well.

The surprisingly long and unique fireworks show held around a pond in Butchart Gardens after dark was a wonderful way to bring a fabulous week to it's conclusion.  The fireworks were set to music and portrayed a story of the marvels of nature.  The sky lite up with scenes of flowers and bees buzzing around the garden.  The show was an amazing synchronized performance of fountains, fire, and colors that dazzled the senses.  My amateur photography attempts could not adequately record the spectacular displays, but perhaps they will get your imagination rolling and your curiosity peaked.

Our Hill Family Alaskan cruise will always hold a special place in our hearts.  I am awed by the magnificence and beauty of God's creations, and no matter how impressive the works of man, nothing can compare in glory to the handwork of God.  Like my dad used to express when hiking in the lush green Uinta mountains to the north, or the stunning red rock canyons of the National Parks down south, "I can't imagine a heaven more beautiful than this glorious earth"!