Thursday, July 26, 2012

Utah 2012: Week 2

A continued chronicle of our Summer 2012 Utah visit:

Wednesday and Thursday of last week (July 18th and 19th) were pretty mellow. Melanie had plans with her mom to visit the new City Creek mall on Wednesday afternoon / evening. Wanting to have something fun to look forward to in the day, and wanting to make sure we had some time together as a family, Melanie and I took the boys to Sconecutter for lunch. We got the boys some kids’ meals, and Melanie and I ate our sandwiches, spicy fries, and drank Diet Dr. Pepper. We all then had some cinnamon and honey butter scones for dessert. It’s been years since I’ve eaten at Sconecutter, and I quite enjoyed myself.

After Melanie took off to City Creek mall around 3:30pm or so, I found myself doing little more than following Creegan around, trying to prevent him from destroying things in Melanie’s parents’ house. This was stressful and none-too-fun for me, so I decided to pack the kids up and take them to my parents’ house in the Midvale area. This was my first visit of the year to my own parents’ home. My boys are much less familiar with my parents than with Melanie’s, so they were a bit shy. Still, they handled things fairly well. By around 7pm or so, my parents offered to take me to dinner. I wasn’t feeling incredibly hungry, but they made me choose a place, so I had us all go to Five Guys Burgers and Fries. Melanie and I discovered Five Guys in Atlanta, shortly before moving to Tallahassee. We loved them and were sad we had discovered them so late. At the time, there weren’t any Five Guys in Tallahassee. As luck would have it, a Five Guys opened in Tallahassee shortly after we moved there. Regardless, Five Guys wasn’t in Utah when we used to live here. My parents had never tried it, so I thought I’d introduce it to them. Despite my not being very hungry, I ate plenty and thoroughly enjoyed every bite of it. I also enjoyed hanging out with just my mom and dad (and, of course, my boys). I don’t usually have an opportunity to visit my parents without at least two or three other family members being around. That can make it hard to get into deep conversations or to feel like you’ve had more than a superficial, casual exchange. So it was nice to have some concentrated time together.

Thursday was a work day. We stayed home all day. Not much to say. But Friday was full of adventure. It was Melanie’s dad’s birthday. We started the day by going up Big Cottonwood Canyon and hiking around Silver Lake (a very flat, kid-friendly hike). We packed a lunch and ate it before setting off around the lake. It was quite fun, and shady enough in most spots not to feel too uncomfortably warm. The kids loved it and wanted to stop every few feet to do this, that, or the other. Eddie and Peter enjoyed climbing rocks, and Edison frequently stopped to jump atop a rock and demand that we take a photo of him. Considering how short the hike is, we took plenty of time to complete it. Almost too much by the time it was all said and done. But it was fun.

On Friday night, we took to Melanie’s paternal grandparents’ house in Highland, about 25-30 minutes away (in good traffic, which we did not have) from Melanie’s parents’ house. We had an outdoor barbecue to celebrate Ron’s birthday. Once again, the kids had a lot of fun. Melanie’s grandparents live on a large property with lots of fun things for kids to do. They could explore, play on swings, drown in the creek, etc. They even had a chance to roast marshmallows, which Edison proved himself to have quite a talent for doing. It was a fun day.

Saturday was designated as a day to visit my family. We got up in the morning, got ready for the day, and took to my parents with a short detour to Beyond Glaze (yes, again!). This time around, I tried a Pumpkin Chocolate Chip donut and an Apple Crisp donut. I was mostly excited for the former, but I didn’t care for it a great deal. The Apple Crisp was quite good, though. At my parents’ house, I was able to visit not only Mom and Dad, but all three of my sisters. My dad generously took us all to lunch at a nearby La Frontera. It was a bit hectic with 12 of us, nearly half of which are young children. But I was pleased to get some good Mexican food in my system—two flour chile verde enchiladas, beans, and rice to be more specific. Melanie was thrilled to get a cheddar cheese enchilada, which doesn’t exist in the South, from what we’ve seen. After lunch, we hung out at my parents’ place for a bit longer and then headed home.

On Sunday, Melanie and I went to church with her side of the family (those that weren’t sick, anyway) and then headed back to my parents’ house. We saw all the same people again. Not much else to say about it. At night, Melanie and I watched the season finale of The Bachelorette. Melanie had watched the entire season, mostly because her friends have a weekly get together that revolves around the show. I had only seen one previous episode this season, but I enjoyed it fairly well, considering. (Mostly, I think just enjoyed hanging out with my wife, to tell you the truth.)

On Monday, I was abandoned to my work. Melanie had some friend and family visiting to do in the Layton area, and I spent pretty much the entire day in the spare bedroom of Melanie’s parents’ house, which is my office for the time being. After Melanie left in the morning, I literally saw nobody else until she got home around 5pm. It wasn’t as terribly lonely as I thought it would be. Shortly after 5:30pm, Melanie’s older brother, Mark, showed up and we had a big family dinner together. Melanie and I had originally planned on taking the kids to a baseball game that night, but she and the kids were understandably worn out by this point. We decided to postpone the game. I, however, was still aching to get out of the house. And so, after getting the kids to sleep, Melanie and I went on a drive. It was a rather aimless endeavor, but it was good for us. I made us stop for a late night snack at Taco Time, as it had been about 5 hours since we’d eaten. Taco Time is a fast-food Mexican restaurant that I used to consider rather delicious. I wasn’t very impressed this time around. It wasn’t bad, but I don’t think I’ll care if I never eat there again. (Sorry, Taco Time. Adieu, amigo!)

After a few relatively low-key days, Melanie and I had some special things planned for Tuesday. We had arranged to meet up with my sister JoAnna and her kids (and husband) to swim at the West Valley Family Fitness Center. We ended up being rather late for the gig, and it turns out my sister ended up being rather early. They were feeling about done by the time we got there, so we didn’t spend as much time with them as we’d hoped. But we were able to see them for a little while, and that was cool. Not that it was incredibly easy to visit with them anyway. The pool is large and has a waterslide, as well as lots of other fun things for kids to play around on/in/with. There are big buckets high above your heads that fill with water and periodically dump themselves into the pool (and generally on top of an eagerly waiting child). There are various pipes that spray water in various directions and with varying degrees of intensity. All of these things combine to make a lot of noise, and that makes it rather hard to carry on a conversation in the pool. (Not to mention the fact that you’re trying to take care of your kids and let them play around at the same time.) Alas, the visit was brief, but Melanie and I stayed at the pool for quite a while anyway, right up until they were about to close the place. Being Pioneer Day, a Utah holiday, they were closing up early, but we’d been there for about 90 minutes, which seemed like plenty to us.

After leaving the Center, we took to Trolley Square mall in downtown SLC. Last year, we had dined at The Old Spaghetti Factory during our visit to SLC, and it was a smashing success. The kids loved it, and it was a beautiful experience. We hoped to recreate that experience this year around. But Creegan was of a different mind. All he wanted to do was scream and throw things. It was quite awful, truth be told. Melanie and I had to take turns walking around the mall with him while the other one of us spent a few minutes at a time eating. Needless to say, I didn’t enjoy my food as much because of it. The Mizithra was delicious, but the noodles were a bit pastier than they should’ve been. I also had some of the clam sauce, which for the first time I realized tastes very much like the “milk spaghetti” I have had a few times in my youth. My blackberry Italian cream soda was good, and Eddie and Peter actually did a great job eating their meals. Once we left the restaurant, Creegan was fine and dandy. We let the kids explore Trolley Square for a while. I’ve always found the mall to be extremely picturesque, but despite its upscale nature, it’s quite good for kids. Much to the dismay of the retailers who are housed there, it seems there are rarely very many people inside Trolley Square. It feels like you’re walking around a large abandoned building, which I think is kind of cool. As did the kids, who ran around without the slightest hesitation. I took a lot of pictures, and I’m hoping some of them turned out well. I’ll post them in the future.

As noted above, Tuesday was Pioneer Day. It celebrates the day the Mormon pioneers arrived in the Salt Lake Valley and Brigham Young famously (though not actually verbatim) declared, “This is the place!” In Utah, it’s like the 4th of July all over again, with morning parades and nighttime fireworks shows, etc. We hadn’t planned to go see any of the big fireworks shows, but we thought it would be fun to set off some of the grocery-store-grade fireworks at home. Melanie’s parents had purchased some, and we set them off around 9:30pm or so. Yes, it was another late night, but it was fun. It was also surprisingly redundant, in that people all over the valley were setting off fireworks of all kinds, and everywhere you looked, fireworks were exploding before your eyes. From the front yard of Melanie’s parents’ house, we could see three or four mini-fireworks shows, all of which were of the shoot-up-into-the-sky variety. Our fireworks were more humble – a collection of one-foot tall canisters that spit sparks for approximately 15 seconds each. Each firework seemed nearly identical to the last, but the kids didn’t seem to mind. They loved ‘em. It was a good night.

And those are the highlights of week two of our trip to Utah.

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