When I proposed the trip to Nessi, her only request was to "do something fun every day". I called Chels and my mama and asked them to put their thinking caps on. Nessi's first thought was that she wanted to take a hike through the beautiful red rocks near St. George, and as luck would have it, our very own professional hiking guide, Cindy, was also going to be in town! What a bonus! I wasn't sure how I'd survive a hike, but Chels assured me there were plenty of "easy" trails for those of us who might have to limp along!
The weather was gorgeous. We left our house in jackets and socks, but had soon shed both for short-sleeved shirts and flip-flops. The drive was pleasant, especially without a small black dog jumping from the front to back seat for five hours! Mom was thrilled to see us & have us stay with her. She had energy and looked better than she had during our last visit. Chels & Rob and their darling kids were as excited to see us as we were to see them. It would be a wonderful vacation.
One "fun day", we (Mom, Nessi, and I) spent a few hours at the Ford dealership to get the oil changed in her car and to run it through the car wash, and then went to see the new Disney movie, "Cinderella", with Mom and Chels and all the kids, except Jax (who stayed home with his daddy). It was wonderful. I held Olive on my lap the first part of the movie and then Knox climbed up for the second half. Olive was mesmerized by the costumes and the music. Knox happily munched popcorn from his own little sack until suddenly I realized he had slumped back against me & was snoring!
Another "fun day", all us girls & kids went shopping at a great Old Navy "pre-Easter" sale. Nessi got a cute new swimsuit and swim shorts, among other fun finds, and we ate lunch at Cafe Rio. Later, Mom & Ness & I went to a huge nail salon, where we squeezed in among other "Spring Breakers" to get pedicures. It felt great on my pale winter feet! So nice to be pampered.
Saturday, we went to the downtown Arts Festival. Chels & Ness headed off by themselves to take some senior pictures for graduation announcements, and Olive, Knox, and I walked around the booths to check things out. Of course, Grammy had to take them for a ride on the Merry-go-round! It was sunny & warm, so we found a shady spot where kids were making cute Easter crafts and I helped them make beaded necklaces & colored plastic eggs. We were just about to get our faces painted when Chels & Ness appeared, ready to head home via a quick stop at Swig's for a pink frosted cookie! Yum!
After a short nap, we were ready for the big hike! I wore a hat and a long-sleeved shirt and slathered my face & neck with sunscreen. We drove to a spot about five minutes from home (west of Green Valkey), where Cindy & Bob and other members of the family were waiting for us. Scoobie Doo was let out of the van, Jax was strapped into his daddy's backpack and lifted onto Rob's shoulders, we grabbed our water bottles, and off we went! I quickly discovered that my arthritic right knee was acting up, so any time we had to climb large rocks, I had to take either Chelsea's or Nessi's hand to lift myself up and over. Other than that, and being horribly out of shape & panting like a dog, I was able to keep up pretty well, even though I was at the rear of the group nearly the whole time. After a slight incline, we found ourselves in a beautiful ravine that wound its way through a natural bowl. The rocky terrain was a challenge, but the scenery was wonderful. Spring flowers were just starting to bloom and bright, pink flowers with a tissue-paper texture had popped out on prickly cactus plants. There was a breeze blowing that felt so refreshing. Every now and then, Cindy would stop and tell us about an interesting plant or rock formation or experience she'd had on a previous hike. It was so interesting. I was also very impressed with my little Olive. She is a natural hiker! She was at the head of the group the entire time, sometimes dragging poor Scoobie along or chasing him down a path. She was amazing! I was impressed with Rob and his little "load", Jax. I could barely make it on my own, let alone carry 20+ pounds of baby! Knox did well the first hour or so, and then he fell...and had to go potty (Rob: "When you're on a hike, you can go behind a bush any time, Knoxie!")...and was basically DONE. When we reached the summit of the butte (we'd hiked about 90 min, which was halfway, pat that point), I was overcome by the view. We could see all of the west side of St. George and beyond. It was fantastic. Nessi & I could have stayed there for hours. The descent was gradual and we were able to look out over the lip of the bowl and see the numerous bike trails, rock climbers, and even a zip line to the other side of the mountain. Breath-taking. Even though we knew we'd be sore the next day, I loved it, and I loved that Janessa had wanted to do this "fun" thing!
As wonderful as this "easy" hike was, we were exhausted at the end of the journey. We had a quick dinner & went right to bed. I was achy, so I took some Ibuprofen - maybe too much. I had been asleep about two hours when I woke with terrible foot cramps, sweating from the pain. As soon as I could walk, I hobbled to the kitchen for some water and a banana (for the potassium) and laid down to sleep again. Soon I jolted awake with the worst leg cramps I've ever had - in my thighs! I've never had thigh cramps before. The muscles actually felt like they were being twisted in knots! Once again, I found myself soaked in sweat from the pain. I couldn't stand up to walk out the cramps. I simply had to wait it out. This happened one more time & I was getting scared. This was not normal for me. I started to pray with all my might that the pain would go away and not come back, and that I'd be able to sleep the rest of the night. I was finally able to lay down & fall asleep, and the next thing I knew, it was morning and I had slept for hours. The real miracle was that I had little to no pain from the hike that morning and I remained pain-free the rest of the day. It was only after our long drive home that I started to feel stiff again, but the cramps never came back.
I think we made some wonderful memories in those few fun-filled days. That's all that counts. Simple little out-of-the-ordinary activities, a break from the hum-drum of life. Just what we needed.