After our wonderful day at Bryce we headed to Zion’s National Park. We started our visit with the Canyon Overlook trail, which was a real winner- a perfect way to be introduced to the grandeur of the park. Scotland got his taste of 4-year-old “high adventure” aka rock climbing, and trails running alongside steep drop offs.



Scotter is like his Mom in his preference for unpaved, rugged paths. He LOVED this trail with it’s natural rock steps and abundance of boulders to climb. (He always chooses the path least traveled.)

“Look Mom, I’m a rock climber!”


Anders was SO happy being outdoors all day. He enjoyed the pack, even taking a long nap the second day. Though he was always thrilled when we got him out to hike, play in the water or red sand.


We all played in the sand at the top for a good hour. Gotta love a nature vacation for teaching you to slow down and enjoy the simple things.

We swung by to see the popular “Weeping Rock,” It was, unfortunately, less impressive that time of year, being void of the fern and flowers its known for. Though the boys liked running through the dripping water. After our stunning drive to the park and a couple of fun hikes we headed to St. George to connect with Tom’s folks at the condo we rented together. The next day we spent exploring St. George and the Red Rocks Recreational area.

St. George Temple
We visited the St. George temple- which must have been recently painted because it was blindingly white. I’ve always wanted to visit the Nauvoo temple and have regretted we didn’t make the trip while we lived in Cleveland. So it was fun to see the St. George temple since the design is the same. Tom’s Dad told us a story about his grandparents. They traveled a good distance to be married in the St. George temple, and at that time there were rooms at the top of the temple where honeymooners could stay the first night after they were sealed! Apparently that small circle near the top, is the window of the room!

We felt so lucky that it worked out last minute to connect with Pam and Stan. They are such adoring grandparents and the boys always soak up their attention.


We spent a bit of time in the visitor’s center. I had a really sweet experience with Scotland. Talking about the Christus and walking through the room with artwork portraying the life of the Savior. He’s a spiritual curious and sensitive boy. And I love getting to share this beautiful side of existence with him.

We visited several of the church history sites there such as the above, Brigham Young’s winter home.

His actual bed and cane.

Brigham was quite ill much of the time while he lived here, he did most of his business in this upstairs room. Just outside of the room at the top of the stairs was a window that he would often stand at and look out- as he could see the progress on both the tabernacle and the temple from there. It was moving to think of the great man with extraordinary vision who lived in these quarters.

Red Cliffs recreational area

The colors were so beautiful- with the bright spring green of the cottonwood trees, the brilliant blue sky and the orangish-red rock.

Playing in the sand with Poppa. I always appreciate how willing my father-in-law is to get down and play with my boys. (Notice that he and Anders are matching. Blue jeans and a gray polo! It wasn’t intentional, but certainly cute.)

Boys in ball caps. A favorite.

We had so much fun exploring this place. Scotland crawled up one hole and proclaimed: “I just POPPED right out of the ground!”

 
Hiking is one of my favorite activities with the boys. I feel like we’re both in our element and we connect better. Sometimes at home I don’t feel like the “fun one” because I get focused on keeping things clean, teaching, and keeping the household running. But outdoors I’m all about adventure, energy and exploration.  I’m realizing that I really need to plan at least a monthly hike with the boys. We all love it, and we live in the perfect area for it. We finished the day off with pizza, milkshakes, and a movie at the Condo. Mmmm!

The next day we headed back to Zions, this time with Pam and Stan. We started off with the Riverside walk.

Anders thought it was a severe injustice that Scotland could walk in the river and he couldn’t.  (I finally bought him rain boots today!) In my opinion kids should live in rain boots. They just lend themselves to so much more fun. (You wouldn’t believe how many people commented on how lucky Scotland was to be wearing rainboots! He takes FULL advantage of them.)




We hiked up to the narrows and were lucky enough to see six deer make a river crossing. There were a bunch of people geared up to hike the narrows. I was seriously tempted to do it, since I knew Tom’s parents could have watched the boys. But if just didn’t seem like the right time. We’ll go back in ten years when we can do it with the boys. I can’t imagine a more thrilling trip with teenagers!

This rock was so fun, we both slid down it several times on our bums.

There are more beautiful times to visit Zions, but as Pam said, going this time of year, before the trees have leafed out, allowed us to see more. (I love how Pam finds the positive!)

Running under the waterfall on the Emerald Pools trail.


The sun was so intense, I kept getting white washed pictures. Oh well, I”ll take the sun anyday!

I planned this trip. And and read tons of blogs and trail journals about people’s favorite parts of Zions. As a result I really wanted to experience the slot canyons. Most of them require three to five miles of hiking, which I knew wasn’t feasible with the boys. So I spoke with one ranger about possibilities to see slot canyons without much hiking and she told me about this one. There was no marked trail. I never wouldn’t have thought I could just go wondering off into the park, had two rangers not told me I could. Tom, Scotland and I all climbed under a bridge and down a series of boulders until we dropped down into this. Scotter even got to experience quick sand for the first time! I must add my in-laws were so sweet to make this happen. I felt rather selfish on this trip. I had all these high hopes of what we’d see and do, even though I braced myself for the reality of traveling with kiddos. We’d had a full day and everyone was pretty tired, so I stayed quiet regarding my hope to still try to find a slot canyon, but my father-in-law, remembering my earlier enthusiasm, determined that “We’ve got to get Kjirsti her slot canyon before we go!” We drove across the park, partially so they could experience the Mount Carmel Tunnel- which is SUCH a thrill, and so that I could get the tiniest taste of canyoneering.


Mount Carmel Tunnel

It’s a gorgeous park, with such interesting terrain. I really got the high adventure bug researching this trip. I feel more alive in nature, I feel stronger, more capable. Perhaps it reminds me of hard backpacking trips, carrying WAY more weight than I should have because I was determined to carry more than my petite sister. Or perhaps its that Petersen blood- we love our land. Regardless, those feelings surged as we spent these three days entirely outside and I loved it!

2 Responses

  1. Hello Kjirsti, I happened on to your family blog and loved seeing you and your beautiful family. I think we are related. Robert Pettijohn, Tom’s grandfather was my brother. I live in Roy, UT near Ogden. I am 87, about a year older than Cathy. My husband, Jes Morrise is 90. We have six children and they, with their children and grandchildren now number 50 posterity. They are all active LDS; about 18 have served missions and most of those have attended BYU. Several live in Provo including our 2nd son and his wife who are presently serving as President of the Seoul South Mission. Tom has grandparents who were handcart pioneers. One was Anders Christensen from Denmark. Pres. Howard W. Hunter and I share the same great-grandmother. We will be studying him this year in RS/PH. Your wonderful sons share the DNA of a prophet! I have wondered about Tom. I have a letter from him when he was on his mission to France. So happy to know all is well and that he and Cassie are carrying on in the great work of the gospel with all its blessings. I had some poems published in the Ensign years ago. You can find them on the internet. Also more info. about me by googling my name and adding “Utah”. Best to you and love, Martha Pettijohn Morrise

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