Utah Bound

We’re wheels up on our way to Utah and I couldn’t be more excited. For the ten months, our oldest was deployed overseas and is finally home!!!!! I can’t tell you how hard it was as a mother to have a kid down range. I can only think of the Military moms and wife’s that came before me when the technology took keep us connected didn’t exist. My heart would have been in my throat daily if I had to wait for a letter via post. Technology, as sucky as it can be, was an absolute god send during his deployment. Anyway, I’m super excited to be spending the next week plus out West with my boys.

Turks and Caicos

Last month I spent six days in the beautiful Turks and Caicos with my beautiful Momcation friends. This trip has been three years in the making and delayed twice due to COVID. We stayed in the most incredible villa, Tip of the Tail Villa, which was absolutely beautiful inside and out. Moreover, the villa comes with a staff including a butler, maids and a professional chef. Needless to say, Chef and Sheldon spoiled us rotten. We ate like queens day in and day out. Every meal was better than the last one. I don’t think I could even pick a favorite if I tried because they were all that good.

Usually on Momcation, we hang out almost exclusively at the house maybe going on one excursion. This time we took several excursions and all were well worth it. Wednesday night we hit up the world famous Da Conch Shack, which has a live junkanoo band that night. Honestly, it lived up to expectations. Our food was super tasty and the atmosphere was phenomenal. Thursday night we went to the world Famous Fish Fry. It was okay, but Da Conch shack was better. Friday night we did a sunset champagne cruise, which was absolutely sublime. We even saw some dolphins. Lastly, saturday morning we went Kayaking in the mangroves, which was incredible. We saw a large amount of baby sea turtles and baby sharks, which were super cute. Our adventures this trip were awesome.

If you’ve never been there before you should definitely consider it as a must-see destination. The beaches and waters of Turks and Caicos are second to none. In fact, the water in Turks and Caicos is on a whole other level. The different shades of blue are breathtakingly beautiful. More than that, the people of Turks and Caicos are super hospitable and welcoming. We didn’t run into one rude person, which after living in South Florida is a nice change.

Things to do when in Turks:

  • Go to Grace Bay and enjoy the beautiful white sand beaches. It’s a beautiful spot. You won’t regret spending time here.
  • Visit Da Conch Shack (Wednesday if you want to see the Junkanoo band.) This restaurant is extremely popular, so make you make a reservation a couple of weeks before you trip.
  • Champagne Sunset Sail through Ocean Vibes was absolutely amazing. They have an open bar and plenty of food form local restaurants to keep you well fed as you drink.
  • Kayak tour with Rising Tide Charters. There are several kayak tour operators in the area, but what I loved about Paddle King Jennings and Rising Tide Charters was that our excursion was only us. We had a small intimate group whereas the other tours were quite large. Our guide brought a cooler full of water for us and was eager to share all he knew about the Islands, the mangroves and the animals that inhabit the mangroves.
  • Visit Mudjin Harbor on Middle Caicos. It’s not the easiest place to get to, but if you have the time I highly recommend it. We didn’t visit Middle Caicos this trip, but did visit Mudjin Harbor on our first Momcation in 2018.

Back Home

Well we finally made it back home early this morning from our wonderful Utah trip. We had an absolutely marvelous time spending time as a family together out west. It was the first time we’ve been able to see my parents since the pandemic started. Obviously, it was great to see them again. Moreover, we were all excited to see Jake. We haven’t been able to see him since last Christmas.

Our trip back home wasn’t as smooth as I would have liked, but it wasn’t horrible either. Our first flight was delayed as our pilots’ previous flight was delayed. Since we were connecting in Atlanta, I was worried that we’d miss our connection. Fortunately, we made it in time for our connection to Fort Lauderdale. Of course, it didn’t hurt that our connecting flight was also delayed.

We finally landed in Fort Lauderdale at 1:00 am. Our bags, less one, quickly made there way to baggage claim. Unfortunately, the Mayor’s hockey stick didn’t make the connecting flight in Atlanta. Thankfully, Delta had already caught it and started the process of getting it to us today. Fortunately, they have a delivery service that dropped off the bag this afternoon. It was a bit of an annoyance this morning, but Delta quickly solved it so I’m not upset about it at all.

The hardest part of our trip back home was saying goodbye. It’s always excruciatingly hard to say goodbye to Jake. I hate that we’re not able to see him as often as we would like. Fortunately, he is thriving which makes it a bit easier to leave. Also, I’m already planning my next trip to visit him. Naturally, it was also hard to say goodbye to my folks. We really enjoyed our time together. Tonight it will be an early bed time for all of us given the lack of sleep we got last night.

Aircraft Spotting

Yesterday morning we set off aircraft spotting just south of base in hopes of seeing the F-35s takeoff. We had narrowed it down to a window of time they usually take off, so we knew approximately when we needed to be there. Turns out we were there earlier than we needed to be, but that was okay as we ended up seeing an A-10 flying. This was the first time I’ve seen an A-10 flying out here.

Fortunately, it was a beautiful morning for aircraft spotting. The skies were clear and the temperatures were cool yet comfortable. As we waited for the aircraft to take off there was plenty of scenery to take in. To the east, we had the beautiful mountains of the Wasatch Front. To the south and west we had the Great Salt Lake, Antelope Island and the Lakeside Mountains. The mountains of the Wasatch front were covered with beautiful, fall colors.

Before we saw the F35s takeoff, we saw the A-10 come back in for landing. It was pretty far away, but I still managed to get some semi decent pictures of the bird. Finally, after waiting for a couple hours, the F35s began to take off. They’re incredibly loud even for fighter jets. It’s an impressive sound as the takeoff over you with the afterburners on.

I brought my camera and new lens as I wanted to see how it would perform taking pictures of fast moving aircraft. The camera performed way better than I did when I tried to take a video of one taking off. Overall, I was pleased with the way photos turned out with the exception of the straight on pictures. For some reason, the straight on pictures look like shadows and lack definition. I’m not sure if it was the sun or the angle of the picture. Nevertheless, it’s something I’m going to try to figure out for next time.

After aircraft spotting, we went back to the AirBnB for brunch. The Hubby made French toast, scrambled eggs and some awesome bacon. To celebrate Jake’s accomplishment we had a mimosa toast, which was fabulous. Afterwards, we played some Phase 10 and just hung out. Jake and Mel went to the mall to pick up a couple items. Once they returned, we headed to North Ogden Park for some volleyball. Spoiler alert, I’m not great at volleyball. Nonetheless, we had a great time and worked up a nice appetite.

For dinner, we made chili on Jake’s request. While I cooked, they played another rousing game of Phase 10. Meanwhile, the Hubby ran back to Smith’s to pick up the kidney beans we had forgotten the first time we were there. Speaking of that, Goalielocks dropped his Apple Watch in the parking lot when he got out of th me car. Fortunately, we’re here in Utah and someone turned it in to customer service. Thank god this happened in Utah and not back home in Florida where people are opportunistic vultures.

We called it a night early as Mel had to get to the airport around 4:30 this morning for her flight back to Florida. We had hoped that she could push it back a day, but it simply wasn’t affordable. Today we’re going to finish packing up Jake’s apartment and hopefully go for a hike. As for our meals, it will be leftovers and anything we can eat to clear the fridge.

Family Pictures

Yesterday we took family pictures and packed up Jake some more. The 3 mile hike and rappelling down to the waterfall took a lot out of all of us. Except my hubby who went for a badass trail run up the peak of the mountain behind our house. Meanwhile, my arms, shoulder and sciatic nerve are protesting Wednesday’s activity.

Initially, I had planned on taking the photos Antelope Island. However, the haze would make it difficult to get a good pictures. Also, the hike up to Buffalo Point is more vigorous than I remembered. By the time, we’d get to the top, our finery would be covered in dirt and dust. Additionally, it would be tough for my dad to make the hike up with his bad knee.

Consequently, I decided to take the photos in the backyard of the AirBnB. It would have been nice to find a spot where we could have the brilliantly colored maples behind us, but we couldn’t think of a spot that was easily accessible. Nevertheless, the backyard is beautiful and the mountains were to the background.

Naturally, trying to take a picture of all of us takes some time and effort. The boys aren’t always compliant or cooperative when doing photo shoots. Moreover, I don’t like myself in photos, which makes it difficult to find one I like. Nonetheless, the photos turned out fairly decent. We’re going to take a few more family pictures in the AirBnB this afternoon.

After taking the photos, we headed to Jake’s to pack up more of his stuff. We’ve made quite a bit of progress this far. No we only have his bathroom, bedroom and couch to pack up. Hopefully, we’re able to knock out the remainder of the packing tomorrow morning. This way we have the rest of Saturday to hang out and have fun.

Today we’re going to go try to see some F-35s takeoff. Each morning we’ve been in Target, we’ve heard them jet overhead. Naturally, we’re going to plan to be on the south end of the run way at that time. Hopefully, I’m able to get some good pictures with my mack daddy lens.

Adventure on the Mountain

Yesterday we had a wonderful adventure on the mountain courtesy of the Farmington Creek Trail – upper canyon section. Goalielocks, the Mayor and myself hiked this trail last year. However that adventure on the mountain went sideways when we got separated on the mountain. In fact, the whole reason I had chosen that trail was so we could rappel down to the waterfall. Obviously, since we got separated, we couldn’t safely rappel to the waterfall.

This time the weather was absolutely perfect. It was in the 60s when we started our hike, but it cooled off dramatically as we ascended the mountain. Last year, it was over 96 degrees when we hiked the trail. One thing this trail has is plenty of shade, which is awesome. The trees all around us were spectacularly colored. I definitely miss the fall colors.

The hike itself is a 3 mile up and back hike with an elevation gain of 950. It’s not an easy hike, but is bit overly hard either. It’s challenging in a good way. After the hike, both times, I felt proud of my accomplishment. This time the younger two patiently waited at the waterfall for us all to get there. I was a bit concerned they would try to rappel down to the waterfall without us.

At the turn around point is a beautiful waterfall. To get down to the waterfall, you have to rappel down a 50 foot rocky wall. Needless to say, it looked quite intimidating especially after the first half of the hike. The hubby went first to make sure the rest of us were able to make it down safely. Surprisingly, the descent was the hardest part.

Once we all made it down to the bottom, we explored a little bit and took some pictures. The temperature near the waterfall was probably in the 40s as the mountain water was quite cold. After taking some pictures and catching our breath, we headed back up the rock wall. The ascent was definitely easier, but I still had to sit and let my heart rate come back to normal.




The descent down the trail was much easier than the ascent. In fact, it really gave us an opportunity to drink in the beauty of our surroundings. Some of maple trees leaves had become a vibrant pink, while others had become a light peach color. The fall colors were absolutely spectacular up close. We also had beautiful views of the Great Salt Lake. The rain, the region got Tuesday night, cleared out the smoky haze nicely.

Unbeknownst to us, the real adventure was to begin as we left the trailhead. Apparently, the forest ranger had opened the trailhead in error. Upon realizing his error, he decided to lock the gates to the trailhead. That’s right folks, the ranger locked us and our fellow hikers in the Wasatch National Forest. Apparently, an old couple was leaving as he locked the gates. Initially, he told them he’d open the gates again at 6:00 pm. Eventually, he acquiesced and told them he’d open it once he finished his work in forty five minutes. It’s important to note the trailhead has no facilities, no benches, tables or bathrooms. Moreover, he could have let the old couple leave instead of insisting they wait for him.

By the time, we reached the line to leave it was already four cars deep. The whole experience was a bit disconcerting given we had all drank a bunch of water when we got back to the car. Eventually, we got sick of sitting, so we walked down to the gate to checkout the lock situation. Sadly the padlock was encase in a giant medal pole making it difficult to smash it open. As we, and several of our fellow hikers examined the gate, the Forest Ranger came back to open it up.

This ranger, who locked it and wouldn’t unlock it for the old couple, was wearing dress slacks, a white shirt and a forest service vest. Nonetheless, I can’t imagine the type of work he was doing on the road in that outfit. Honestly, it smacked of a power trip. After all, he opened the park in error. Upon realizing his error, he shouldn’t have locked all the hikers in the park.

Once we left the forest, we got gas and headed back to Ogden. We were all bit hungry, so we stopped and got everyone a burger and In N Out. It was the perfect amount of food to tide us over until dinner. Speaking of dinner, we headed to Rovalis the home of lavender lemonade for a nice dinner. The Mayor has been obsessed with this lemonade since he first tried it last year. We ended our night with a rousing game of hot seat.

If you go,

Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest

Farmington Creek Trail

In-N-Out Burger

Rovalis

Hill Aerospace Museum

Yesterday morning we headed over to the Hill Aerospace Museum near base. It’s a neat museum featuring the past and present of aviation in the Air Force. Since we forgot our masks, we started our tour outside where they have an impressive collection of aircraft. An added bonus was the two F-35s that flew overhead as we walked the display.

The museum is broken up into two galleries inside. One features the bombers and aircraft of World War 1 and World War 2. While the other features the fighter jets and helicopters. We had hope to see the Raptor they obtained in 2020, but it’s not ready to be displayed yet. Nonetheless, the fighter wing of the museum didn’t disappoint.

After the museum, we headed back to the AirBnB for a wonderful lunch cooked by Jake and Mel. They made us spaghetti with sauce and garlic bread. It was wonderful. Once we finished eating, we headed over to Jake’s to start the process of packing up his apartment. While my parents and I packed up the kitchen, the hubby dropped the Mayor off at the rink for two hours of stick and puck.

We managed to pack up his whole kitchen and his artwork before Jake got home. The Hubby, Grandpa and Jake were then able to bring the stuff to his new storage locker. Today we’re hoping to pack up one more room for him. We’re trying to do it in bite size pieces, so he had ample time to spend with us and Melly.

For dinner we headed to the Prairie Schooner Steakhouse. The boys and I had lunch there last year and it was super cute. In fact, the boys really enjoyed eating under a covered wagon with the trails of animals nearby. Thus we wanted to share the experience with the Hubby, Mel and my parents. The food was good. They cooked my steak (the cowgirl) perfectly. After dinner, we headed back to the Airbnb to watch some IT Crowd while we played Uno.

If you go:

Hill Aerospace Museum

Prairie Schooner Steak House

Antelope Island

Yesterday we were able to get back out to Antelope Island, which is one of my favorite places here. Albeit that’s not what we had planned for the day. We had planned to eat breakfast at Scrambled, but they’re now closed on Mondays. Consequently, we ended up eating at Chris’ Cafe. The diner was super cute and they had a nice tribute to our fallen soldiers.

Pretty much the entire table had pancakes for breakfast. I enjoyed my pancakes although my dad’s were a bit hard. The hash browns and eggs were really good, but the bacon was a bit suspect. Nevertheless, it was a super filling breakfast that held all of us over to dinner. Since we were so far west on Antelope Dr. already, I bought passes to Antelope Island state park as we finished breakfast.

The park costs $15/day per car, which is reasonable. The island is normally surrounded by the Great Salt Lake on all sides with a causeway connecting it to the mainland. This year, however, there was no water on either side of of the causeway until we got super close to the island. It’s incredible to see just how low the lake levels are this year. Last year, the water was much higher and functioned like a mirror when you took picture. It was so beautiful.

The water level was low and there was a great haze over the lake. Consequently, we could hear the F-35s overhead, but couldn’t see them. Our first stop on the island was the visitors center. One thing I loved in the visitor center was a map they update daily showing where on the island you can find the resident wildlife. They also had maps showing the historically low lake levels and historically high lake levels.

My hope this year was that we’d see both bison and antelope. Thankfully, we saw plenty of bison on our drive around the island. One of my favorite places on the island is Buffalos Point. This is where we took the incredible sunset photos last year. We also saw several bison. Afterwards we started our drive back to the mainland. Fortunately, we found a small herd of bison on our way out. The Hubby pulled over so we could take some pictures of the bison. As we drove off the island, we saw there were two bison and Antelope!! Woohoo! Again he pulled over, so I could get pictures of the animals. They’re so beautiful.

We spent most the day relaxing at home. Although we did take the Mayor to stick and puck at the ice rink on the Weber State Campus. While he skated, the Hubby and I walked the trail at Beus Park. This was a short half a mile trail around a pond. After our brief walk, we headed back to the rink to watch the Mayor skate.

Since the park trail was super easy, I was craving a hike. The Hubby and I decided to hike the mountain behind the house. He’s been hiking the many paths on the mountain each morning. The hardest part of the hike was the scramble up to the Bonneville Shore trail. Once we got up to the main trail, it was a pretty easy hike. The scenery was absolutely gorgeous as you could see all of the valley and the setting sun. For dinner we had leftover tacos and nachos. Today we’re headed to the aerospace museum.

If you go:

Antelope Island State Park

Chris’ Cafe

Ice Sheet at Weber State

Photography:

The wildlife photos were taken with my Canon T6i and a Canon 70-200 f/2.8 lens. We were never closer than a half a mile to any of the animals photographed, which is smart because bison can be mean.

Snowbasin

Yesterday morning we headed to beautiful Snowbasin. The boys and I did this hike with Melly last year and we all loved it. Consequently, I was eager for us to do it again. To get there, we had to drive through the beautiful canyon. The drive through this canyon takes a bit longer as it’s one lane each way and there’s some road construction. Nevertheless, it was a spectacular ride.

Snowbasin was quite busy when we got there due to a Xterra trail race that was happening that morning. Additionally, they also had a Germanfest starting at noon. Surprisingly the top of the mountain was not crowded. The ride up the gondola was breathtaking with fall colors all around us. Fortunately or maybe unfortunately, we were all able to fit into one gondola car. Goalielocks and the Mayor in that close of quarters is never a good combination.

While we went to hike to the summit, my folks walked the area near the ski lodge. The trail up to the summit is fairly easy. Albeit it didn’t feel easy on the way up. The hike starts at 8,500 feet, so it’s only a gain of just over 500 feet. It, however, felt like I hiked an elevation gain of 1,000 feet. Nonetheless, it was a beautiful hike up to the summit of Mount Ogden.

We spent twenty minutes at the summit taking pictures and enjoying the beautiful views of the Great Salt Lake to the west and the valley and mountains to the east. As we sat, the boys started a game of seeing who could hit the sign with the most rocks. It was a funny moment and a great way to catch our breath before heading down the mountain.

After Snowbasin we headed back to the AirBnB to enjoy our leftovers from Hibachi. Post lunch Grandma, Jake, the Mayor and I headed to Walmart to pick up packing supplies and few additional items. I was anxious to get some chapstick as my lips were killing me. The air is so dry out here that I also had buy some hand lotion.

The rest of the day we chilled at home. For dinner, I made beef tacos. I cooked up three pounds of beef and we don’t have too much meat left. We’re trying to eat at the AirBnB as much as possible since it’s cheaper and healthier. After dinner, we played the game Hot Seat, which was a ton of fun.

If you go:

Snowbasin

Games:

Hot Seat

Celebrating Melly

Yesterday was all about acclimating to the altitude and celebrating Melly and her 20th birthday. It was fun to have everyone together here in Utah to celebrate with her. We started our day with a nice pancake breakfast in her honor. In fact, we even got to test the AirBnB’s smoke alarms courtesy of the pound of bacon the Hubby cooked.

After breakfast, we headed to Kohl’s to pick up some hiking boots for the boys and a new suitcase for Melly. Goalielocks had forgotten to pack his boots, while the Mayor had outgrown his old pair. While at Kohl’s I found the perfect opal bracelet for Melly. My parents, my hubby and I, Jake and Melly, and Goalielocks and Isa all started dating in October, so I bought both girls a piece of opal jewelry for their birthday. Jake treated us to Chick-Fil-a before we headed to the mall.

We spent the afternoon chilling at the AirBnb. Before we headed to dinner, we played a rousing and endless game of Uno. Apparently, they added a shuffle hand card with the new edition. Consequently, it turned Uno into a never ending game. Nonetheless, it was super fun.

For dinner, we headed to Tokyo Station in downtown Ogden. It’s a hibachi restaurant that happens to be the only one locally that has yum yum sauce. I’m not sure how a hibachi restaurant could function without yum yum sauce. The wait was long since they don’t take reservations, but the food was worth the wait. Most of us has the filet mignon, while Goalielocks and the Mayor had the chicken and shrimp pairing.

After dinner we headed back to the AirBnB to have birthday cake and play games. I had bought a cheesecake for Melly while we were out and about. Additionally, I had some super cute candles delivered with the cake. The card game was a ton of fun although the name escapes me at the moment. This morning we’re headed over to Snow Basin on the east side of the mountains.