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Our family has been making the hour trip to Antelope Island a handful of times a year since we moved to SLC 3 plus years ago. It’s best to come in early spring or mid fall (anytime in-between results so many bugs in the air it can be difficult to walk comfortably through them). The state park is also a great place to see antelope and bison when you can spot them!
Today Connor, Moonshine and I had quite the adventure at the island by ourselves. Our favorite spot to park at is the ladyfinger camping site. There is a soft sandy path from this parking lot down to this beach which we always enjoy.
On the way back to the car, Connor told me he had to poop RIGHT NOW! So that’s not Moonshine’s poop I’m holding but it is in his poop bags 😂 Connor kept saying he didn’t have to bring his toilet seat when we camp now and he could squat outside like us (yay – finally – no more strapping that huge toilet seat to our pack)!
When we finally made our way back to the car, I threw our coats in the car, my backpack and apparently my keys, too. I accidentally locked us out without realizing it! I stopped a passerby and asked to use their phone then called Jerry to tell him we needed help. Connor, Moonshine and I sat on the cold ground for about 1 hour plus until he arrived to help us out. In the whole time, no one passing ever asked us if we needed help (which was a good lesson for me to teach Connor about being observant and asking people if they need help if they look like they may).
So there we have it – a funny adventure and a somewhat scary one (being stranded is always a little nerve-wracking) all in one outing! And I cannot believe Connor is over 4 years old and this is the first time I’ve locked us out of the car! Things just always feel a little more hectic with a kiddo and a dog in tow, ya know?!
In September, the boys did an overnight camp at this location in Spanish Fork, Utah and raved about how much they loved it.
So a few days ago, I returned with them for the 5 mile out and back hike and we enjoyed a dip in the hot springs while our dog, Moonshine, kept watch. And then 4 days later I took Connor and Moonshine by myself because we loved it so much we had to go back again!
It’s a relatively easy hike (Connor let us wear him in our Tula most of the hike so we made good time) and the colors of the leaves are gorgeous this time of year. There were enough spots easily accessible for Moonshine to take a dip in the water himself which we always appreciate. We were able to filter our own water as well. Connor loves to help Jerry filter water and I am amazed that by 4 years old, he already understands the dos and don’ts and how to of filtering his own water!
*This is a popular location so we recommend getting there as early as possible to get the best spots in the hot springs and to get a parking spot of course.
Sometimes you get in the car and you have a concrete plan. Other times, you just pack up your gear and go. This trip was one of those times. We headed towards Vernal, Utah and we checked out a couple places we thought would work out but they weren’t kid/dog friendly (who wants to set up camp where people left shell casings and broken beer bottles everywhere)?!
Luckily, we had seen a KOA campsite in town. We all discussed it and agreed it wasn’t the camping we had it mind but we were 3 hours from home and we set out to tent camp for the night and that’s what we were still going to do!
The campsite was VERY kid friendly. There was so much for Connor to explore before we set up our tents, made dinner and called it a night.
The lesson learned from this trip is that you can always find something to do, even if it wasn’t the original plan; you just have to be open to new experiences and making the best of what you have available.
As warmer weather approached and spring was in the air, Connor was excited to go camping again. Riding high off the successful adventure in Goblin Valley, we decided to give Capitol Reef another try. We found the same camping spot we had before and then did one better. We followed a small trail in the back of the camping area and went a couple hundred feet up into the mountains and found some terrific and secluded places to camp. We chased lizards, played on rocks, practiced climbing mountains (Connor wanted practice so when he’s older he can do it for real), ate s’mores and enjoyed a cozy night of sleep.
The next day we went on a few small hikes in the park and looked for….scorpions and tarantulas of course! Unfortunately for Connor (and fortunately for us) we struck out on those two cheaters but still had a wonderful time looking at all the caterpillars that had recently hatched.
We love camping in the desert for a number of reasons but none more so than it adds months to our camping calendar since it’s warmer there longer.
Connor had been asking to go camping where he could find scorpions and tarantulas. It was early spring, so the desert seemed like a great place to visit, but Jerry was still nervous about driving that far and Connor possibly not wanting to stay overnight. Jerry decided to throw caution to the wind and just go for it. He decided on goblin valley because it’s great for kids and was only about 4 hours from our home. Connor absolutely loved it! They explored for about 1 hour and then found a great campsite just a few miles outside the park to set up camp. After setting up camp, they went back to goblin valley to find lizards, beetles, a cave, beautiful scenery and of course goblin like features rising from the desert floor. They did not find any scorpions or tarantulas unfortunately (or fortunately depending on one’s tastes). The night went really well, Connor absolutely loved it and they returned home to tell Momma and Moonshine all about it (with Connor declaring he was a camping kiddo at this point)!
*We decided since it was the desert and it would be warm with no water features for Moonshine to swim in, he would stay home with Heather. He doesn’t do well when it’s warm and he doesn’t have access to at least a stream of water to cool off in. We have had him almost 1 year and have never left him as a family. We have found out from experience that he has separation anxiety from Connor after a couple days time so we’re holding off leaving him as long as possible!
In October 2016, a few months after Connor turned 3, we decided to give tent camping another go – this time closer to home. We chose willow lake, up big cottonwood canyon because it wasn’t too far from our house (JUST in case we needed to leave again). The hike was just under a mile so we packed everything with us we would need in our packs and set off! The hike was easy and the views were gorgeous, especially with the leaves changing colors.
Connor was SO excited and interested in everything we were doing. He loved the seesaw, making a fire to have s’mores for the first time ever (something every child never forgets)! When we went to sleep he was as snug as a bug in a rug (but momma’s nose was freezing all night)!
This overnight trip was definitely a success and one we would recommend to anyone (except dogs are not allowed up big cottonwood canyon which is a bummer – but for good reason since it’s a watershed). Connor talked about this experience for a very long time. The spring/summer Connor turned 4, he turned into an old camping pro and it’s all second nature to him now.
In September 2015, a few months after Connor turned 2, we decided to try and tent camp for the first time. He loved rocks at the time (still does) so we thought Capitol Reef National Park in south central Utah would be a good choice. It’s about 3 hours from us so it was a doable car trip at that age, although it was still difficult (he’s an explorer – he doesn’t like to be contained for long)!
We chose a place to set up camp and everything was going well; he enjoyed playing with his 2 trucks he brought, he “helped” Jerry set up the tent, we made a fire and cooked in the cast iron skillet we brought. When it started to get really dark out there is when the trouble started. Poor Connor didn’t know what to do with himself besides repeating that we needed to go home because it was dark! He started to lose it and we couldn’t calm him down. We didn’t want to keep other campers near us awake or wake them up so we packed up and headed home.
We were a little disappointed but we were also laughing about it because we had been teaching him at home when it’s dark, we have to go inside for the night!! So we chalked it up to the experience of what it was and decided the next time we camped it would be a little closer to home….just in case. Luckily, our second time camping was a HUGE success and has been since. We’ll share more of that in our next post 😊
Our family is passionate about living a simple, intentional life with less stuff and more of what matters; the things that cannot be bought. We value spending time together and focus on encouraging Connor’s love for the outdoors.
From the time Connor started walking at 7 1/2 months, he would ask in his own ways to be outside (at that young of an age, this meant being near the door and making sounds and motions until we all went outside). When he was an infant, we naturally spent a lot of time outside to help calm him down; fresh air and a nice breeze along with movement in a baby carrier always seemed to do the trick. Or maybe he inherited his love of nature from Jerry, who is always on the hunt for the next big and exciting backpacking/camping trip. Whatever the reason – we couldn’t be happier that Connor enjoys being outside more than in, that he loves exploring new places and is always up for a new adventure.
We moved from Lexington, Kentucky to a suburb outside of Salt Lake City, Utah when he was 13 months old. We knew that Utah would be a wonderful place to raise Connor with endless opportunities in nature to discover. We have been here for a little over 3 years and while we’ve done a lot, it feels like we’ve barely scratched the surface!
We are excited to share all of our adventures here. Until next time, you will find us in our natural state; wake.explore.repeat!