Summer is heating up and we're doing our best to take advantage of every tube-free minute we've been given. Just 48 hours after we waved good-bye to those lousy green tanks we had the family car packed and on the road. We were seeking crisper, cleaner air and a change of scenery in a few of Utah's many giant-sized playgrounds.
Our first stop was the sleepy little town of Marysvale. It's a back country, ATV-lovers paradise. All we knew is that it was about three-quarters of the distance to Bryce Canyon and featured several mom-and-pop-type outcroppings of log cabins where the boys could play wild west for the night. It was hometown, friendly and is now permanently on the list of things to do in years to come.
In fact, we so enjoyed the look of the mountains that surrounded our outpost that we decided to rent a family-size ATV and head for the hills. (Yes--we were getting in touch with our inner redneck and loving it!) We saw an abandoned mine town. A waterfall. More butterflies than you could count. And breathtaking views in every direction.
The boys donned crash helmets and McKay didn't know what to make of the open air ride. He licked the air, he laughed, and then he promptly succumbed to the loud, but steady hum of the engine--and napped! Too funny.
Covered in dirt and smiles from head to toe, we piled back into our favorite people mover and headed to our destination: Bryce Canyon.
This place never disappoints. It is stunning. Every time. When we started planning this trip a couple of months ago it began with a race. I had no idea the Canyon offered an annual half marathon. After learning that one of my favorite destinations played host to one of my favorite pastimes--I had to be part of it. The only hang up was whether or not we were brave enough to take on three little bodies sleeping in the same hotel room. We were concerned with finding a hotel that wouldn't make us crawl at the thought of McKay on its carpets. It just so happened that a new hotel near the Park entrance was slated to open its doors shortly before the race. We made our reservations and relished in the new paint smell and fresh furniture upon our arrival. PERFECT.
The hotel was gorgeous. The race incredible. And the hiking afterward, a trip highlight. (Although I would not recommend racing and hiking steep terrain within hours of each other and then sitting still in the car for the five hour ride home--Can you spell s-o-r-e? Ouch!)
We bought a great backpack for hauling our little butterball up and down Bryce's famed amphitheater. He loved it. And once again, took Matt's steady pace and the peaceful scenery as an opportune time to catch a few zzzz's. The site of a sleeping baby seemed to draw more attention from the multitude of European tourists there than the canyon itself. Do people not take babies on vacation in other countries? Whatever.
The boys were troopers and made their way through three miles of strenuous and steep trail like champs. It was HOT. Honestly, they were impressive. I am so lucky to have this crew.
In any event, we're home and showered and ready to plan our next adventure. I've been looked at a little sideways from some for being so "normal" in our routine with McKay. The store. Vacations. Church. I've thought a lot about this comment, this criticism. My only answer is this--how else should we be? This is our normal. Everything we've been through in the past year was designed to get us here. Here to playing and wrestling with his brothers. Here to road trips. Here to hiking and enjoying the outdoors. Here to swimming and swinging and the zoo. Here to living.
No matter what's ahead, no matter how much time God is willing to give us with McKay (we're voting for a ridiculously long lifetime thank you very much), we have been trusted to assure he lives--and we take that assignment seriously. Not just the breathing in and out part, but the really living and enjoying and laughing and experiencing parts. Because that's the stuff that makes life worth living, the stuff that energizes our souls and makes us stronger. And praise be that right now he is able and healthy enough to do it all. Besides, all it takes is one look at him--without the tanks and tubes--and you must admit, you would really never know. So shhh, it's our little secret and we'll agree to let the kid be a kid.