I have a goal this year to do one hike a month. It seems fairly doable. We did this month's hike today at Morgan Territory with the Spencers. It ended up having significantly more elevation change than I anticipated, so it was more strenuous than planned. But, we all made it through the other side. It was about 2.5 miles. Lots of nice dense woods, a few patches of open hillside, but the sky was a bit overcast so it wasn't too hot.
About a third of the way on we had to cross a stream and a tree had fallen right at the crossing. So we had to climb under and around the tree and as we crossed. Corinne put her foot right into the muddy water. We rung out her sock as best we could, but she did the rest of the hike with a soggy foot. No blisters though.
I got some neat pictures of mushrooms and some little wildflowers:
After returning from our impromptu trip to Utah we poured our remaining energy into getting ready for Christmas morning.
As evening fell we drank hot chocolate, ate cheese fondue, read stories, the girls danced while Jess sang "The Twelve Days of Christmas," they opened their presents for each other, and then we ushered them off to bed.
After several hours of wrapping presents and rearranging furniture the house was ready for Christmas morning and Jess and I were ready to catch a few hours of sleep in the meantime.
Christmas morning the girls, amazingly, were not up until ~6:45. And then the party began. I set up a video call with Mom and Mollie so they could join our festivities since Mom's house was rather quiet that morning.
And the following several days have been filled with recuperating, game playing, house cleaning, book reading, and wishing that vacation would last a little longer.
After talking to Mom on Sat. Dec. 18 I floated the idea to Jess about us packing up the van and driving to Utah to visit with Erin and Dad for a few days while Erin's kids were with their father for the first part of winter break. Our friend Sarah agreed to take care of the kitties and we engaged a crash program for packing up. The girls had already gone to bed so we got up when they did at 6am the next morning and told them of our sudden plans. They were very excited, until they realized they would miss an art class and a gymnastics class, then they were upset, but we got through it.
So we ate breakfast, got dressed, and finished piling our stuff and ourselves into the van and pulled out of the driveway at about 8:00. We got around the corner and down the street when the tire-pressure monitoring alert came on. So I stopped and measured the tire pressure and found all four tires were about 8 PSI low. So, back to the house to run the air compressor and fill them up. THEN we were pulling out of the driveway again at about 8:30.
We drove and we drove and we drove. The girls watched Christmas specials on DVD in the back. Jess and I listened to podcasts in the front. And we drove some more. I-80 across the Sierra-Nevadas was clear as it hadn't had a storm in a couple of weeks, but one was coming and we knew we'd need to take the Las Vegas route to get home later in the week.
We drove through a McDonald's in Sparks, NV to grab some lunch and eat on the go. We stopped for a fresh tank of gas in Winnemucca, NV and, ugh, more McDonald's for dinner in Wendover (in which your choices are McDonald's or Burger King). Then we drove some more and arrived at Erin's house at ~8:30pm after 11 hours of traveling.
We hadn't told anyone we were coming, so we really wanted to arrive before it got late.
So we arrived Sunday night and stayed for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.
The girls got to play in some leftover snow:
And we enjoyed a sunset:
We cooked some food, played some games, and helped out with tasks around the house.
We also made a trip down to Mapleton to visit with Christopher-and-Jenny's family for a few hours:
And on Thursday we loaded back up into the van and headed home. Donner Pass on I-80 was expected to get something like 30 inches of snow that day and night so we headed south through Las Vegas. A lunch at Culver's in St. George, a whole lot of rain, dinner from Panda Express and Wetzel's Pretzels in Barstow, a lot more rain, some patches of really dense fog, and about 16 hours later we were home. Exhausted, but home. It was after midnight so already Christmas Eve.
We had learned during lunch that Dad had fallen chasing Erin's dog (which had taken off with the bag of rolls I made) and cut his head open and so they were in urgent care waiting for stitches. Which was really just the cherry on top of the super crappy several weeks of life at Erin's house.
After getting some sleep we began the whirlwind process of getting ready for Christmas with grocery shopping, house cleaning, baking, cutting a lot of things from the "to do" list, and then a whole lot of wrapping.
On Monday afternoon we went for a hike at Morgan Territory. I like it there. It has some very New England-y sections: trees, mossy rocks, and meandering trails. So much more enjoyable to hike than trails across open terrain in the sun. Corinne ran just about the entire hike (2+ miles!) and only complained about her legs being tired near the end, but she never sat down and refused to move without being carried. So that made it even more pleasant. We brought a couple of walkie-talkies the girls have and Corinne spent most of the time running ahead and talking to us with the radio, which she thought was a blast. Heather wore butterfly wings, because why not?
On Wednesday, Corinne helped me make a triple-layer, salted-caramel cheesecake and Heather made pumpkin pie filling while I supervised (I made the pie crust).
And on Thanksgiving we got to enjoy our new dining set for quite the feast. We could actually put the food on the table with us and have a centerpiece!
Corinne wasn't feeling well. She was running a fever and was complaining of nausea and she fell asleep on the couch during the day. She ate most of one roll for dinner and went to bed before dessert. So that took a bit of the excitement out of the day for her. Jess took her for a COVID test Friday morning which came back negative and she's fine now.
We tried a new single-strand braiding technique for the rolls this year which is kind of fun. Clearly we have a little work to do on consistency though.
I spent Friday putting up Christmas lights outside and Jess took down the fall decorations inside. We're going to have to work for our tree this year. None of the local places seem to be carrying grand firs. So we'll have to drive at least 30 minutes somewhere to get one if we want one.