Outside School

Where we live in Southern AZ, we’re blessed with spring temperatures already.  It has become a daily thing for my girls to request “outside school”.  We set up a blanket and all of our work for that day right outside our front door.  The girls take turns doing their work on the blanket with me and playing in the driveway.  We take out our bikes, scooters, chalk, etc.

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We get so much more work done when we do outside school!  Even though they are continuously playing, they are more motivated to focus on their work when its their turn and BECAUSE they are continuously playing, they don’t get restless and fidgety.

I love outside school too because it gives us a rare opportunity for 1 on 1 learning time.  Neither of my girls nap anymore so we usually all 3 sit at the table and work together.  It works fine but I know that 1 on 1 time is important too.  Outside school keeps one happy and playing and not interrupting while I get to focus on the other.  And then we switch!!

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These girls would probably do a week worth of school in one day, as long as we did it outside!

Bryce Zion Campground

For our trips to Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks, we decided to stay at the Bryce Zion Campground.  Since we didn’t pack all of our camping gear, we reserved one of their Kozy Kamping Kabins.  The Kabin was a super cute log cabin with a double bed and twin bunk beds.  Keep in mind, this is in place of a tent and not much bigger than one.  Actually, our family tent is bigger than the cabin but this was for convenience.  The cabins do not have anything besides the beds and a tiny desk and chair.  Outside, there is a small bench and porch at each cabin, a grill, a firepit, and a picnic table.  We did bring some of our essential camp cooking supplies as we were planning on camp cooking for this portion of the trip. There is a communal camp bathroom with showers which was always very clean.  The property had horses that are usually used for trail rides.  There was a sign saying rides were temporarily suspended but the horses were fun to watch and pet anyway.  They had ice and firewood for sale and a small convenience mart with some food and toiletries.

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The biggest NEGATIVE to staying here…they never told us that we were supposed to supply our own bedding.  We’ve never stayed in the cabins before so we didn’t know.  I called the day of check in, as we were driving between parks, to see what time we could check in.  They informed me at that point that we supplied the bedding.  There was nowhere for us to buy bedding without going 50+ miles out of our way.  They ended up having a bedding set for the double bed that we could rent.  Luckily, we had Poppy (dad’s dad) with us and we were able to forage enough blankets out of his truck for the girls’ bedding.  Providing our own bedding was not an issue but we needed to know that was the deal!  I have since checked their website and our confirmation emails and it doesn’t state that anywhere…so if you ever stay somewhere like this, be sure to double check!

But overall, we really like the location and the cabin was a great place to stay if you want the camping experience without hauling the tent out.

Capitol Reef National Park

The first stop on our National Park road trip from SLC back to home in AZ was Capitol Reef.  We knew this was one of the smaller of Utah’s Mighty 5 but we were excited to cross another park off the list.  Although we are normally camping people, we knew it wasn’t going to be feasible since this was at the end of a month long vacation.  Packing our camping gear in addition to our regular vacation clothes and gear was just too much.  So we found Capitol Reef Resort, which has been recently renovated.  I wasn’t sure what to expect because the reviews were mixed but it was so worth it!!  We had a room in the back with red rock views.  The view was incredible.  There was a cow pasture right outside our room too and of course, the girls loved that!!  Dad and I were enthralled with the view while the girls could have watched the cows for hours.

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During our day at Capitol Reef, we:

*hiked the Fremont River Trail.  The trail started out kind of slow.  We could hear the river but not see it and the trail took us right through a campground.  I was not impressed and wondering who picked this hike (because surely if it was me, dad wasn’t going to let me live it down!).  But then it opened up. And boy did it!  There was a good bit of an incline, great sweeping views.  It ended being about 1.5 miles roundtrip and the 4.5 year old managed it like a champ….just a bit of stumbling on the way down due to loose rocks and tired legs but she made it in one piece!

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*ate ice cream and pie at the Gifford House. Ice Cream was the treat after completing our hike and we tried all 3 flavors.  Strawberry was the best!  If you want to try the pie, buy it early!  We were there first thing in the morning and the cases were full of cinnamon rolls and all flavors of pies!  We only grabbed coffee during that visit.  We went back in the early evening to grab pie before going to the hotel.  There was still pie left but at that point, you get what you get and you don’t complain.  There were maybe 5 pies total, we got an apple.  We actually ended up eating the pie for breakfast the next morning…in the truck, on the way to our next stop.  Pie isn’t very good car food.  But the pie itself was delicious!  Great flaky crust, sweet apple filling, and crumbles on top.  But we recommend eating it while stationary.

*went to a Jr Ranger program at the Nature Center. As a requirement for getting her Jr. Ranger badge, A has to go to one ranger led program.  We were luckily enough to have a kids program that fit perfectly into our schedule.  We went to one about the Capitol Reef Ecosystem, held by Cinamin at the Ripple Creek Nature Center.  The program was interactive and informative, A really got into it and afterwards, kept referencing back to things she learned there.  The Nature Center itself was really fun too and had a ton of hands on stuff for the kids to do.

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*drove the scenic drive.  This was our naptime activity.  While the girls napped, mom and dad ooh’ed and aah’ed over the scenery.  It was truly spectacular.  I am in constant awe of the world around us.  We recommend (if you have a high clearance, 4 wheel drive) taking any and all off-roads that you come across.  We were there after some big storms so there were a few of the dirt roads that were still closed but we went down most and found some awesome spots.

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We had a great visit at Capitol Reef and if you are ever in the area, DO NOT PASS it up!!  The only thing I was looking forward to but unable to do was picking fruit in the orchards.  Unfortunately, we happened to be there on an off day when there was no ripe fruit to be picked.  I guess that just means we’ll have to make another trip 🙂

Dinosaur Park

One of my new favorite places to visit in Utah is Ogden’s Dinosaur Park!

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It was a really fun park with so much for the kids and plenty for the adults too. They gave the kids Field Guides to fill out so the girls were searching for the different types of dinos and then answering questions about them. There was a prize for completing your field guide….but don’t hold your breath. The prize was a teeny tiny ‘fossil’ that was really a letdown. You could have also picked a free ticket for a return visit as your prize but since we aren’t local, that wasn’t really an option for us. Other than the prize, we had a great visit!

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There is an outside trail with huge dinosaurs all along the trail. There are also actual playground parks and picnic areas to let the kids play and run around. Then the inside is more of traditional museum attractions.  We had a ton of fun and will likely make this a regular stop on our Utah vacations!

Family and Fresh Air

Our IL leg of vacation is winding down and while we are sad at having to leave soon, we have had so much fun! We have spent much of our time at “Grandma’s Lake”.  I love Grandma’s Lake so much and am so thankful that I got to grow up spending time here and now my kids do too. The Lake house was built in 1915 and our family has owned it since the 20’s. We threw a big 100 year party and it was a huge success!

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The top picture is my grandma with some of her great grandchildren!

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Hopefully we keep the Lake in the family for another 100 years so that future generations grow up here too, just enjoying family and fresh air ♡