Yesterday, we took down the wheelchair ramp we built for Noel’s mom. It kind of felt like life was coming full circle since exactly one year before that, Noel hopped on a plane to bring his mom to the lower 48 to live with us. October has been a highly reminiscent month for us as we look back on a year that changed and continues to change us. This October has been far less frenetic and more emotionally stable than last October for which I am grateful. The other day I was talking with a friend about our year. We shared some of the hard things from our lives and how they’ve taught us to better appreciate life, not get so uptight about things that don’t really matter, and live in the moment. This October has been full of lots of sweet moments and I’m doing my best to bank all the memories I can because I know that life also will dish out some things that are bitter.
Our fall break is a generous single day off school. To celebrate, we went to the Solar Decathlon. Noel talked about it all week, but even with his enthusiasm, I wasn’t catching the vision. (In my mind it was strictly a solar panel competition.) When we walked onto the lot though and I saw all the gorgeous, modern houses my interest level immediately increased. The students worked hard on the houses and their designs were very creative. I’m already dreaming about the net zero energy home Noel and I are going to build some day.
The next day, we went on our annual trip to the pumpkin patch. The kids love it even though it’s the same routine every year.
Our biggest event of October was a trip to Lake Powell. All of my siblings, a brother-in-law, my parents, Noel, and I had signed up to run a 1/2 marathon there. Noel’s aunt, Marsha, and uncle, Dennis, also live in Page, AZ, so it was sort of a reunion for both sides of our family. I didn’t end up running the 1/2 marathon because of my ankle injury. (I’ve only worked up to 4 miles and am supposed stick to running on the treadmill or really flat surfaces.) Instead, Cooper and I volunteered at the finish line and handed out medals. I felt a little left out, but it was still fun. Even though I kind of wish the lake didn’t exist, it’s still a beautiful place and a great backdrop for a race.
After the race, we took my family to see some of the Lake Powell sites. One of the places we took them was Horseshoe Bend. A little over 11 years ago, Noel’s parents were living in Page and I went there to meet them. Noel took me to Horseshoe Bend and we took the top photo. For years, it was one of my favorite pictures of us, in spite of the squinting. We’ve grown up a little, but only deepened in our love for each other.
On our way home from Page, we spent the night in Moab. We stopped and took a picture in front of Cooper’s favorite Moab attraction. This comparison kills me. Less time has elapsed (2.5 years), but they’ve grown so much!
We also visited one of my favorite Moab attractions: Arches. By this point, I’ve seen just about everything in Arches (much of it two or three times), but I’ve never been to the Fiery Furnace. Both of our kids are finally old enough to be allowed to go and since we were there on the off-season we had a higher chance of getting permits. The ranger really tried to discourage us from taking the kids, especially Ellen, on a self-guided tour. (They didn’t have any spots available on the ranger led tour for four days so that wasn’t an option.) He kept stressing how difficult the climbing would be and how easy it was to get lost. Honestly, it was kind of reassuring to have someone judge our choice of adventure with children. It means we’re still pushing the envelope. We continued the permit process in spite of the disapproval of the ranger and I’m so glad we did.
The kids loved all the climbing. (Let’s be honest, so did I.) It was like a giant playground and so much less crowded than the rest of Arches.* There was a series of tiny arrows inside the Fiery Furnace that leads people on a safe path. They were sometimes difficult to find since they were also brown and could blend in with the rock, but I was really good at finding them. (I have what Noel calls a “spidey sense,” or the ability to always spot spiders in any room and I think it also translated into camouflaged sign finding.) We only got off “trail” once, but it was pretty obvious to us; we never felt like we were lost. The Fiery Furnace is my new favorite part of Arches. When we came out of the Fiery Furnace the ranger that had been so reluctant about our plan was there waiting to lead a tour. We felt a little vindicated to report an amazing experience.
Today was the annual children’s program at our church. Cooper read his part all on his own and Ellen said her part clearly into the microphone. After church we went on a walk. The kids held hands and giggled as they chattered nonsense back and forth. When we came back home Noel and I took a nap while the kids peaceably built a fort in the backyard. An entire afternoon like that is pretty rare, so I tried to savor it in all it’s beauty.
Here are some other pictures from our October adventures.
*Side Note: NPS is considering raising fees at their 17 most visited parks (Arches is one of them). I personally have some complicated thoughts on the subject, but there is a public comment period for it for those wishing to express an opinion.