Man alive I spent a lot of my growing-up time in a pretty amazing state. Utah is an incredibly beautiful place.
We took our time driving through it.
And tried so soak up as much of that beauty as we could.
I have wanted to do the Zion's Narrows together as a family for years. I planned to do that this year, but I still don't think Lucy is quite ready to enjoy it, which means the rest of us wouldn't enjoy it either (she's our little gauge of how fun things are sometimes:). So luckily I had some tips from my family for other options to soak in some beauty on the way home.
My brother used to live in St. George so he knows all the hikes and beauty around that area. He suggested we go hike in Leeds Canyon.
This is called the "Dragon Hike" because of this huge piece of wood that supposedly looks like a Dragon's head. We couldn't see the dragon resemblance but Lucy sure liked the shade it provided. (It was H-O-T!)
Grace needed a hair flipping partner so I obliged.
Elle did too.
Apparently if you hike up further (which we would have done if the stars had aligned and we weren't on a tight schedule...and it wasn't so darn hot...and we didn't have whining Lucy), there are places that look like the Narrows but with more red rock beauty and there are pools and waterfalls (maybe more in the winter than in the summer). Some day we'll make it up further.
If you ever find yourself in Southern Utah and want to check this place out (which would be very smart of you), here are the directions:
If you're coming North from St. George, take exit 22 toward Leeds. If you're coming South, I don't know what to tell you because there is no exit 22 that way. We were coming South and it just never came. So we had to turn around and come North. So sorry, that doesn't really help people coming South...
At the end of the freeway off-ramp, turn right onto Old Highway 91 which is a frontage road.
Follow that road for a couple miles south (back the way you came). Pass the sign for the Red Cliffs Recreation Area and turn West (right).
You will pass under two freeway tunnels that look like this:
Follow the paved road for 1.3 miles into the campground where you will find the trailhead.
Then sit and oooooo and aaaaaahhhhh over the beauty you will find.
We also went to the Shakespeare Festival. My plan was to go to take the family to "Twelfth Night" because I need to expose these kids to more culture. And Shakespeare is pretty cultural I tell you. I always think of "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" when I think of Shakespeare. I just LOVE how that mother's plan to raise her family out of poverty was to insist that they read a page of the Bible and a page of Shakespeare every day. (More thoughts about that favorite book of mine back HERE.)
We didn't end up having enough time for the play (can you tell I'm trying to ease the family into loving road trips? Specifically one larger family member?), so we looked up everything we could about Shakespeare online and had a little trivia lesson in the car. Did you know that Shakespeare wrote over 37 plays and is responsible for so many of the every-day phrases we use like "wild goose chase" and "for goodness' sake" and "forever and a day?" His plays have been translated into every single living language and are performed more than ever other playwright. Ever.
My mom took me to the Shakespeare Festival years ago. It was pretty cool. Some day we'll spend more time there, but for this trip we just took a quick walk around the grounds.
In talking to the girls I was impressed with how much Elle remembered about studying Shakespeare from school. Made me happy.
The last stop of the day was Tuacahn.
Tuacahn is this amazing natural amphitheater where they put on broadway plays. It nestles in the middle of the most gorgeous red rock canyon. I had always heard about it and always wanted to go. I figured it was a perfect time to take our girls. It was the one thing on the road trip I wasn't so sad about Max missing because it was "The Little Mermaid."
But even Dave loved it, so maybe I do wish Max was there...
We had all been talking about this all day and were so excited.
Having a little girl like Lucy makes things like this even better.
I can't believe this is the only overall shot I got:
Just imagine those rocks surrounding going all the way up.
Oh, here you can see a little better:
But my favorite part was watching Lucy's eyes shine in the dark, mesmerized by the whole thing. And her little comments were priceless (she doesn't think things in her mind, she just says them right out loud, which is sometimes a little embarrassing for the other kids, and sometimes completely delightful).
In this case it was the latter:)
I may or may not have shed a tear or two as the fireworks burst into the air with my family surrounding me in such a beautiful place at the end of a great production.
I love people who come up with ideas like that. I praise the guy or girl who said, "hey, this is a gorgeous canyon not being put to use...let's put an outdoor theater here!" I love creative minds that think outside the box.
Lucy got to meet Ariel and Prince Eric at the end.
Thank you, Tuacahn, for a magical evening!
(For more info. about Tuacahn click HERE.)
What a beautiful day Utah gave us.
We left with tired eyes and filled-the-the-brim grateful hearts.