Adventure #12 … Pioneer Days (July 18-24)

I decided from the get-go that I’d lay over in Salt Lake when my fellow cowgirls headed home. I had a blast all week hanging out with Jen, Rhett, and Cyd and playing with the kids, Jolie (5 going on 12), Rafe (a solid 3), and Maverick (3 months and ready to roll over for the first time).

Frosting on the cake: Si and Susan drove the six hours from their home in Meeker, Colorado to join us for a day and a half. Cyd was visiting, so the three Woodruff kids had a mini-reunion which was very special since we had not been together since our dad’s funeral three years ago. Dan flew in for the weekend which meant we had a full compliment of in-laws as well.

Two extra special activities: Pioneer Days is in July each year. It is a celebration of the arrival in the Utah Territory in 1847 of Brigham Young and the Mormons who were looking for a new place to settle, one that was far enough west and isolated enough that they would not be persecuted and run off like they had been in New York, Ohio, Missouri, and Illinois. We enjoyed two of the various events planned during the week, a concert and a parade. The concert was in the Conference Center on Temple Square (the Square is the #1 tourist attraction in Utah) and featured the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square. They performed three tributes to the pioneers who trudged their way west and then focused the rest of the program on Broadway hits to a capacity crowd of 21,000. Laura Osnes, fresh from playing Cinderella on Broadway, was the guest soloist. A stop at Dairy Queen on the way home topped off a perfect day.

The parade, a week after the concert, was in the center of town and featured colorful floats of all sorts as well as marching bands, pipers decked out in  kilts, motorcycle police, horse drawn wagons of all sorts, hand carts, Chinese dragons, clowns … you name it. We decided to celebrate the fun experience with a stop for lunch at Bruges Waffles and Frites. By lunch I mean dessert and French fries. My waffle was topped with fresh strawberries, ice cream, and whipped cream. Rhett’s featured melted Belgian chocolate. All enjoyed under the shade of a tree.

Crafts class for the craft-challenged: Jen has a lot of fun making her own greeting cards, tags, and bakery boxes and offered to teach Cyd and me how to use the equipment and make one card and one box each. Oh boy did she have her work cut out for her. No kidding, it took us two whole nights to make our cards. Jen admits it was not what would be considered a card for beginners but still…two whole nights! We laughed so hard our sides ached. Jen finally declared it Crafts Class for Seniors which just made us burst out laughing again. In spite of all our fits and starts our cards turned out beautifully. We gave Jen a one night break and then tackled the boxes. I have to say they were easier although it took to midnight for us both to assemble ours. They turned out great with not a single flaw that couldn’t be disguised.

Other highlights:  One afternoon all the girls went to see the new Cinderella movie which was so cute. Jolie’s favorite part was when the Fairy God Mother did her magic and turned her miserable dress and Cinderella’s into beautiful princess dresses.

Jolie and I played princess and slept together. She made me promise that we’d sleep with our eyes open all night so we could talk anytime we wanted to. We also set up a little beauty salon, but the make up side of the house collapsed, unfortunately, when we lost our make up privileges as a consequence for abusing Mom’s cosmetics. Bummer.

Rafe’s favorite things involve transportation of any kind. You have him at truck or train. Fresh fruit of any kind is a close second. He favored Cyd, so I had to force myself on him, poor thing, which he tolerated well. He always shot out a greeting while he walked passed me toward Grandma Cyd.

Maverick was just a precious lump that took in all the noise and excitement without a fuss. He slept, cooed, napped, and entertained himself wherever we put him and could easily be bribed with a pacifier. He was swaddled before bed at night, so I especially enjoyed watching him stretch his mini-limbs in the morning. It took a few minutes before he worked out all the kinks and was ready to take on the day.

In order to have the kids to ourselves, we offered Jen and Rhett a night out. We ran the two big kids through the sprinkler, loaded and reloaded soaker water guns, catered SpaghettiOs for dinner. Thanks to the magic spell Cyd cast, we had them to bed and asleep before their parents got home. I hate to admit it, but it took two of us to take proper care of the three of them.

My fun week ended at Olympic Park (think 2002) in Park City, Utah. We had just enough time before my 5:00 pm flight to squeeze in two activities. The first one was an amazing ski jump demonstration with Olympians as well as hopefuls practicing their various jumps, twists, spins, and flips off steep runs of various heights into a million gallon pool of water. The finale had all the performers going down at once and successfully hitting their mark in the swimming pool. A must since it would be a disaster for them to land on top of one another all decked out in skis and boots. From the ski jump pool we headed to the zip line. While Jen watched the little people Cyd, Rhett, and I headed up the lift to strap on gear for the 55 mile an hour zip down 1,400+ feet. Cyd and I both admit to screaming as soon as we shot off the platform. No time for fries, waffles, or ice cream cones to top of the wonderfully fun week; we had just enough time to get me to the airport for a fast good bye and my flight home.

Jen and Rhett were wonderful hosts who went out of their way to make me feel totally at home. I had such a blast with the kids and had free rein to pitch in anytime, dispense snacks off schedule, cuddle Maverick even when he was sleeping, and save our gum to chew again tomorrow.


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