colorado national monument rim trail

Canyon Rim

“Keep your face to the sun and you will never see the shadows.”
Helen Keller

I had a short period of time between morning Mass at Immaculate Mary, and teaching at my elementary school job.

Which I love.

I love the kids. I love music. I love the school. I love my teacher friends. I love it.

But I had to get out.

I decided an easy, short run along the rim trail in Colorado National Monument was just the ticket. The only problem was: Matt had our pass.

So I talked the ranger at the booth into letting me in anyway.

I loved this run. So beautiful. So fun. I even took some time to lay on a boulder and enjoy the view.

Worth it.

Peek-a-boo and Spooky

“It’s OKAY to be scared. Being scared means you’re about to do something really, really brave.”
Mandy Hale, The Single Woman: Life, Love, and a Dash of Sass

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”
Jen Sincero, You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life

We woke at our awesome campsite and the kids got to work egg hunting.

We ate breakfast.

We packed up.

We went to the trailhead.

We hiked down, and into the first slot canyon available: Dry Wash Gulch..or something.

Tim was ‘fussy’ the whole time because I’d shown him some photos of Peek-a-boo gulch and he just wanted to get to the main event.

When we got there, my memory of hiking this place 10 years ago was blurry. You see, back then I hiked it with my former husband and I was more than a little overweight. And all I could think about was not complaining, doing my best to push myself so that he would maybe be proud of me. Or so I could keep up with him. Whatever. I was more focused on pleasing the person I was with than having a good time…


We get to the entrance and there’s this huge puddle at the bottom. And it’s a tough scrambly climb up into the slot canyon, using moki steps. That were wet.

Of course, Tim was the first one up. Trinity wasn’t far behind. She had to take off her pack. The two of them coached Connor up, and before I knew it, I had to make a choice:

Stay with Matt, or go with the kids.

Because there was no way Matt was going to climb up that with his camera.

So I made the choice: go with the kids.

It was scary as $#!^ but handed my pack up to Trinity and shimmied my way up…only to find that we couldn’t get down and were faced with a 4 foot shelf to climb up with a puddle of 12″ of mud/water/whoknowswhat at the bottom. Which is why Tim hadn’t moved on. The boy doesn’t like to get wet.

So I made the choice: take off our shoes, tie them to our packs.

I went first, waded through the water, climbed up onto the shelf [awesome that I was strong enough!] and lifted the kids up one by one.

There would be several more puddles to wade through, more lifting the kids through, lots of scrambling and man that thing was freaking awesome!!!!!!!!!!!! The kids LOVED it! And I loved watching them love it!!

Trinity, Connor, and I had our shoes off. I managed to get Tim through without having to wade through water. We LOVED the feel of the soft sand in our toes. We LOVED waltzing across the hot rocks.

We made it out of the canyon. I was so proud of my kids but also so worried about Matt. Not worried about him being safe or anything, but that he would…oh, I don’t know…be happy, I guess?

At the top of the canyon we had a snack and visited with some very nice dudes who were on a trip from Oregon. Those guys were awesome. Tim especially enjoyed chatting with them.

But I was worried/excited to find Matt again. The plan when we separated was that he would start climbing up Spooky and meet us somewhere.

So we hiked in the heat of the day over this huge mound of sand. I kept the kids on track, but let Trinity lead the way. When we reached the descent into Spooky the kids all ran down the sand. When they saw me at the top of the hill they were like, “MOM!! RUN!!!”

I ran down the hill to the cheers of my kiddos.

I really, really, really adore these three awesome little kids!!!!!!

They are seriously amazing and fabulous and a thousand other superlatives in one.

We started down Spooky…with the scary descent through a stack of boulders. I was able to coach the kids down it, and practically lifted Connor down. Worth it.

Then the gulch got super twisty and narrow….and every group we came across we asked about Matt.

Finally, one group said, “He’s right behind us.”

When we found him, I was high on a shelf and I looked down into his eyes and it was…amazing….bliss….heaven! I was so happy to see him!!!!

He’s my love.

The kids were happy to see him, too, and we had a lovely hike out as a family.

It was hot, and a steep climb back to the car, but we made it. Enjoyed sandwiches. Drank Gatorade. Then headed home.

It was an amazing, awesome, fun, memorable, blissful, happy, contented, family weekend.

I love my life.

[Here are some of Matt’s shots…]


Lower Calf Creek Falls Utah

Lower Calf Creek Falls

“I think that the best thing we can do for our children is to allow them to do things for themselves, allow them to be strong, allow them to experience life on their own terms, allow them to take the subway… let them be better people, let them believe more in themselves.”
C. JoyBell C.

I wanted to get away for the weekend, even though I knew it was Easter, Spring Break, and Gorgeous.

I don’t recall how I came to the conclusion that we had to spend enough time in the car to call it a ‘road trip’…but I do remember the endless internal debate: camp or motel….motel or camp….camping or motelling?

In the end I decided that unless the motel was pretty darn sketchy, camping would be a much better way to improve the life skills of my children, so we went with that.

We headed off down I70 into Utah. We listened to podcasts. I created a content calendar for one of my other websites. We chatted. We laughed. The kids kept asking questions.

When we got to Capitol Reef we stopped for a bit of pie at the Gifford House. We didn’t eat the pie right away…it’s better after a hike, right? So we pressed on, over to Torrey where we enjoyed delicious burgers and dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets, respectively.

Full to the brim and slightly sleepy, we drove over the Boulder Mountain where the aspens shook in the breeze, still leafless, and snow remained gracing the north-facing slopes.

The town of Boulder [don’t blink, you’ll miss it!] had some wild fields of flowers that made our eyes water. The drive across the hogsback on highway 12 is always epic, but especially so when you look to the right and see down into the canyon where you’re headed.

The Calf Creek Recreation area was completely packed with cars…but the trail was surprisingly un-packed. We had a lovely time in the desert warmth hiking past the beaver ponds, spotting the pictographs on the other side of the canyon, and trying to spot the granaries.

The hike feels very much like any other you might find in this part of Utah: sandy and dry with occasional wildflowers and interesting geology.

Until you get to the end.

It’s like you walk out of a western movie set and into Rivendell.

The trees tower above you, the walls weep on 3 sides. The temperature drops about 30 degrees, and you are presented with one of the Western United States’ most spectacular water falls.

We parked our packs around and spend another hour or so just enjoy it. Matt took several images, I took some video, and Trinity took her boots off and waded into the water.

As I’m trying to recover my own spirit of adventure, I opted to join her.

The water was like ice, but not unpleasant on my tired feet.

I couldn’t help but be impressed with the ownership all three of my kids had on this hike. They were occasionally separated from us or each other, but I was not concerned. I was thrilled at the look on Trinity’s face when she saw the falls…and started running to get there even faster! It was precisely what I had hoped!

The return hike was uneventful, other than the fact when we got back to the car I was able to bum a beer off a nice couple from SLC.

We wrapped up the day by driving down the Hole-In-The-Rock Road to the Dry Wash trailhead. Once we found it, we scoped out a nearby Jeep trail and found a lovely campsite under a cottonwood, with expansive views toward Lake Powell and a rock outcropping that was perfect for kids to climb on- and for me to hide Easter Eggs on, which, after getting the kids all settled in their tents, I did.

I’ll be honest. This was my first time camping with the kids where we didn’t share a tent, and I was probably more….anxious about it than any of them were. Fortunately, I had my lovely fiance there to talk me down.