Howdy Rowdy! Rotating Header Image

Squeeze ‘Em

At our family reunion this summer we visited an old homestead in the Rocky Mountains. It was fascinating. These people were given land from the government and they then had to live on the land, build a home, and improve it over time. The location was remote and the conditions were harsh.

On the long drive back home, in an attempt to distract the kids and get them to think about something, I asked what things we would need if we were to be modern-day homesteaders. I pointed out that one of the challenges would be to provide our own food; we simply couldn’t go to Wal-Mart and buy what we needed whenever we ran out. It was decided that we needed to raise chickens on this fictional homestead. The kids mentioned that we could use the eggs for baking and for breakfast, etc. Then, we could also kill the chickens for meat as well. I’ve never raised chickens and began to wonder if you have to do anything special for chickens to produce eggs — do they require a specific environment or anything else like that?

I put the question to the kids and I said, “If we raise chickens, how do we get them to lay eggs?” Porter immediately responded with a firm, “Ya squeeze ‘em!” So, there you have it… all you would-be homesteaders… just squeeze your chickens when you need eggs.

Escalante and a Dead Cow!

It’s been too long since putting anything here… I decided today’s the day for a new post.

During the recent fall-break for school we took the family down to Escalante, UT.  Nothing fancy, actually, it was bare-bones camping in the wilderness.  I’ve done that many times with the scouts but haven’t done it with the family and especially haven’t done it with female counterparts of our family.  It’s definitely harder on them than it is on the boys.  You know what I mean.

We left Thursday morning, Oct 14th and drove through Torrey, then on to highway 12 over the Boulder Pass.  On the way we saw this beautiful field of cut & bailed hay… with a dead cow on the side of the road to complete the scene!! It was bloated and looked like it would pop if you poked it with a stick. We stopped and Davis got his picture taken with the dead cow — very funny. (see picture link at the bottom to see it)

We were a little late to see the full golden sea of quakies changing but did see several beautiful areas where the leaves hadn’t all come down.  We had our fingers crossed that Calf Creek would have camping spots available — not.  So, we headed on over to Escalante and went to the Visitors Center.  They have a very nice facility there and the staff were extremely helpful in pointing us to an area where we could camp.  After a short break in town and picking up a few more supplies (we needed more water storage if we were going to primitive camp) we loaded back in the car and headed out on Hold In The Rock road.  We headed south for about 15 miles and then found a small road/trail that headed up over a small bluff where we made camp.  This severed as our base-station for the next several days.

A large field of prairie grass adjoined our camp area so Thane fashioned a make-shift “bat” from a large tree branch and the boys all had fun playing their own version of baseball.  Part of the reward of family trips is seeing the kids all interact and have fun with each other; Thane pitched while Porter practiced his swig – he actually hit a few too!

Day 1 was all driving and setting up camp – not too fun.  The next day we got up and drove another 15 miles south.  If you keep on driving you’ll end-up at Lake Powell where the pioneers crossed the canyon with their wagons!  We stopped to hike some of the popular slot canyons called Peek-a-boo, Spooky, and Dry Canyon.  These slot canyons are simply amazing — VERY narrow in sections and at mid-day they were so dark that many of my pictures without the flash didn’t turn out.  It’s a good thing I’ve lost a few pounds as we had been warned that if you’re over 200 lbs you may get stuck in the narrow sections.  They weren’t kidding!  You literally had to suck in your stomach to squeeze through several parts.  And, you find out really quickly if your claustrophobic; Natalie got just a little nervous in one section where we had to just stand and wait while other hikers heading out of the canyon tried to pass.  We just stood there, staring at a sheer slab of rock 2″ in front of your face.  Weird.

After leaving the slot canyon area we stopped at an area called “Devils Garden” that takes about 15-20 minutes to walk around.  The sun was low in the sky and it was just a cool area to watch the shadows stretch.

That night we enjoyed yummy dutch oven dinner and hanging out around the campfire.  As I laid in the tent that night I could hear the coyotes on the prowl; and they were very close by.  Dang, I should have taken my gun!

Day 3, Saturday, we packed up camp and drove back to Calf Creek campground.  We spent 3 or 4 hours doing the leisurely hike to Calf Creek Falls (lower); the hike was hot with the sun on our backs but the water at the falls was so incredibly icy cold that were were soon shivering and wishing we had some coats!  It was a great family hike and the falls are a nice reward at the end — highly recommend this one to anybody looking for a hike that 5-6 yr olds can do!

Here are some pictures… I’m not a great photographer but some of these start to capture the amazing things we saw; enjoy!  Link below will take you to the full picasa web album…

What a difference a (half)day makes!

I woke up this morning, went downstairs and saw this:

This is 9am

This is 3pm

And this is Paul, ska(sometimes known as) Charlie Brown. You're a Good Man Charlie Brown!

Redneck Thanksgiving 2009

Redneck Thanksgiving

A little video from our outing this Thanksgiving

Chased by girls

Here’s a quick update on a funny exchange I had with Porter the other day…

A few days ago I was talking with Porter and checking to see how his day had been. I typically ask the kids, “What did you learn at school today?” This seems to get a more thought-out response than when I ask, “What did you do today?” When I simply ask what the kids have done during the day I usually get the response, “oh, nothing.”

As I asked Porter what he had learned he pondered for a moment and then said, “I don’t know.” Trying to get some additional response I then asked, “Well, what did you do today?” His eye lit-up and he got a wide grin across his face and he said, “I got chased by girls today!” He was so excited when he said it; not because he was proud about how cute he must be because the girls were chasing him — it was more like he’d discovered new and amazing thing that he never knew existed. It was the same expression a child gets when they write their own name for the first time and they are so excited at their accomplishment.

We’re just hoping that his desire to run from the girls lasts a good, long time!


18 Years to Angel’s Landing

Well, it’s amazing how fast 18 years can go by… we celebrated our 18th anniversary this year by going to Zion National Park and hiking Angel’s Landing. I guess it’s a testament to the number of years that we’ve been married that our planning for the trip started just days before; no 3 or 6 month ramp-up on the planning process; no exotic location with 5-star amenities… just a quick drive to Southern Utah and a couple of nights stay in Springdale!

Actually, it turned out to be the perfect get-away and we had a lot of fun doing a few hikes and then taking in some relaxing dining and movies in the evenings.  Here are a bunch of pictures if you’ve got time to kill. 

Below is a track log of our hike to Angel’s Landing with a link to some interesting GPS analysis of the hike. One little tidbit… 2,500 vertical feet from base to summit! Both Natalie and I were a little apprehensive before the hike; we’d read about how many people have died from falling over the edge on the hike. So… if it’s 2,500 feet down… assuming free-fall terminal velocity is about 120 mi/hr, then you’d have approximately 14 seconds of time to contemplate meeting your maker… that’s something to think about!  However, it appears you could pull in your arms and legs, achieving 200 mph, and make the trip in a quick 8.5 seconds!


Map of Angels Landing


Ok — we all know what fasting is, right?  Going without food for a while… it builds inner-strength, has some good health benefits, and is a means to increased spiritual and religious enlightenment.  Well, somtimes kids don’t understand the meaning of words they don’t know; so, they determine the meaning from the context in which they’ve heard it used.  Saturday, as we were about to have an afternoon snack with the kids, Porter pulled up his stool to the counter and looked at his food with wide-eyes  then loudly said, “(whew) I’m fasting!”  It was a little out of place… so I asked, “Porter, do you know what fasting means?”  He quickly replied, “YES, It means you’re really hungry!”  I guess he’s heard his siblings complain a lot about being hungry during their fasting attemts.  All I can say is that it’s pretty funny hearing a 4-year-old announce that he’s “fasting” as he digs into his Saturday nachos!

Goblin Valley

Over this past weekend we took the scouts to Goblin Valley.  The weather was excellent and we had a great time.  We camped to the West of the main park entrance — campground and all surrounding areas were very crowded be we were able to find a great little spot with some small coves that made a great campground.

Saturday morning we broke camp early and headed into the park.  We had a great hike through the goblins and made a nice loop through the main park area.  After a few hours in the park we had some lunch and then 1/2 of the scout group headed home.  Those of us who could stay a little longer drove over to Little Wild Horse trail head and did a shortened hike through the slot canyon.  That was a great hike!  Would liked to have had a few more hours so we could have done the full loop of Little Wild Horse and Bell Canyon… maybe next time.

Herbie Rides Again!

This little gem brightened my whole day…  I was on my way to work today when Herbie passed me on the Freeway.  Holy cow, some people must really love The Love Bug!

Herbie the Love Bug!

Christmas 2008 Update

Here’s a little insight into our family and all that has happened this past year…

porterPorter is now 4 and is a very easy-going, fun-loving kid. He’s very enthusiastic about everything he does and often lets out an involuntary “whoo-hoo” when doing things he likes; like jumping off the stairs, hitting or kicking a ball, or whacking a sibling with a light-saber!


emmaEmma (7) has sprouted like a weed and put on some serious vertical this year. She loves crafts and is constantly drawing pictures and coloring. I think she keeps Crayola in business! She loves school and going to the bus each day with Eli. She thoroughly enjoys the “artistic” stuff she learns at school and has really improved with her reading skills. She also enjoys piano, dance, and swimming lessons.
eliEli (10) has had a fun year being the “big brother” to Emma in elementary school. He’s about the friendliest kid around (his teacher sometimes wishes Eli was less friendly) and is just fun to be around. He has a mind like a steel-trap, memorizing minute details and facts from school lessons and educational TV shows; however, his steel-trap-mind gets distracted easily! This causes no-end of frustration for his parents and teachers alike. Eli has also excelled at piano and magic — just ask him and he can pull of several different magic tricks right before your eyes! I think Eli might be the best singer in the family too; the other day I overheard him singing Broadway-style in his room, “would you rather wish on a staaaar….” He has a great little voice – I was impressed!
thane1Thane (13) looks like he might be our tall one. He looks like he’s been on the “rack” getting stretched out. He’s loving Jr. High school and, just like previous years, he doesn’t find many of his classes challenging. We are always asking what homework he has and his reply is always, “its already done.” He tried out for a percussion role with the school Jazz band and made it – so we’ve enjoyed seeing him perform in his concerts. He also got a drum set this year that has kept him busy practicing — thank goodness for basements!
davisDavis (15) is definitely a teenager — he’s a great kid and usually very happy-go-lucky (although there are the occasional “teenager” episodes where he isn’t so happy). He is VERY busy with a tough high school class load and his extra activities – the wrestling team and varsity ballroom dance. He puts in long days and he arrives early and comes home late just about every day. Even with his busy schedule he still gets almost perfect grades. Soon Davis will be driving… that makes us feel old! One highlight for Davis was a few weeks ago when he got to drive home from church (we hit a deer with our car and so we had a rental… so we figured he could practice with that car).
Natalie (29) is always busy! Between dance, piano, swimming, wrestling, band, and all the other activities the kids do she puts a lot of miles on the car. That $4+ gasoline was a killer; thankfully gas prices are much better now. Natalie now serves as the Relief Society President and that has kept her busy too. Even with all the demands on her time Natalie was able to arrange a very big SURPRISE birthday party for me (Paul) this summer – I turned 40 and Natalie managed to organize a HUGE party in total secrecy!
Paul (old). I am feeling my age but in an effort to “appear” youthful I jumped out of a perfectly good airplane for my 40th birthday (with Natalie’s encouragement). It was quite a rush for a guy who doesn’t like the “high dive” at the pool. 2008 had many business challenges but it was also filled with many wonderful family memories — especially from the four trips to Lake Powell and other trips to Moab, Zions (The Subway), Goblin Valley, Disneyland, and others. I was recently made the Scoutmaster in our ward and am looking forward to all the camping and other activities with the boys.