Our Independence Day Weekend: Camping in the City of Rocks and Fireworks

^^What camp looked like the second evening.^^
^^I'm so lucky Conrad isn't crawling just yet.  He was happy just to stay put and play in the weeds and grass our first night!^^

Since we enjoyed our day rock climbing on the Fourth of July last year so much, we've been planning on doing it again--but better.  A few weeks ago, we booked a couple of campsites nestled in the trees among the giant granite majesties of the desert and loaded the truck with practically everything but the kitchen sink.  Between three families, I think we had enough food (but not enough ice) to last a week!  Our Independence Day camping trip may not have gone completely perfectly, but it will no doubt forever live in my boys' minds as one of their favorite childhood memories.  

^^Bath Rock.  Our campsite was in the trees in the foreground to the right.  We scaled that side.  In fact, the route Rollercoaster was my first lead climb ever Monday morning!^^
^^Enjoying some root beer floats for dessert the first night.^^
^^Staring at the coals in the dying fire.^^
^^Making ice cream in a bag.  Shake it, Addy!!!  Haha.^^
^^Bath Rock keeping watch over our campsite Sunday night.^^

After talking with Bron for a while around the camp fire our first night, I looked in the tent to find the above peaceful scene.  Problem was, I had to climb between them!  I didn't sleep much that first night.  Levi was restless; he kept tossing and turning.  Finally, sometime in the middle of the night, he sat up and rolled right off the end of the mattress and on to his brother.  Jed woke up in an angry stupor and yelled at him.  It was funny, but not funny enough for me to laugh out loud in the moment; I was just tired.  So the next night, I put Levi on the floor and Jed on the bed with me.  We all slept much better (probably from sheer exhaustion) but somehow Jed managed to roll out of his sleeping bag and fall off the foot of the bed onto his brother too!  Haha.  Revenge?  I'm not sure.  Jed doesn't even remember it happening.  All that tossing and turning woke Conrad up, of course.  Luckily, a little nursing or some patting on his chest helped him fall back to sleep fast.  Conrad's little hand found my nose and lips and seemed to stay there for comfort until he started dreaming.  I really enjoyed holding that little bundle in my arms all night long. 

Where did Bron sleep?  Oh, he was comfortably snuggled in his hammock a few yards away.  The tent wasn't big enough for my air mattress and him. 

Funny story about that mattress: It's a double thick queen sized air mattress.  I insisted we go camping with it because I'm a princess and I value my sleep.  However, the machine to blow up the mattress had to be connected to the truck, but a fully blown up mattress wouldn't fit through the door of the tent.  So what did we do?  We stuffed the empty mattress inside the tent, blew it up beside the truck, and then carried the whole contraption up the trail to the campsite and then set up the tent.  Brilliant thinking, if you ask me.  Bron, however, claims that was a hick move.  Whatever.  Worth it!

By the way, check out THIS ARTICLE for a legit review of the best air mattresses of 2017. 

^^Our circus playing among the rocks while we did a little climbing.^^
^^My little monkey hanging out on my hip.^^

After getting kicked off of Rollercoaster (my very first lead climb!) due to some ignorant elitist folks, we found a new place to climb: Swiss Cheese, Velveeta, and Scream Cheese.  Aaron is up there leading Scream Cheese.  Impressive!  People gawked at how many kids we had with us, but really, I'm proud that we're exposing our children to the outdoors and that they're using their imaginations and having fun without help from electronics.  It's so good for them!    

The 92 degree heat of the afternoon forced us back to camp to seek shade along with some lunch.  My friend Amy was so smart to bring books for the boys to read!  They stayed entertained (and CALM!) for quite a while.

^^Father and son afternoon hammock hangs.^^
^^The risk of heat exhaustion nagged our thoughts, so we dunked the boys' shirts in ice water inside the coolers and made the kids wear them.  Awesome.  Sooo nice and cool!^^
^^Monday evening light.^^
^^Easton and Jed playing with monster trucks in the dirt next to the Horsley's tent.^^
^^Little boy details: a handful of peanut butter balls and a stick gun shoved into its "holster".^^
^^Campsite bouldering.  The kids are so funny.  They climb higher without a rope than with one!^^
^^The real story.  Haha.  Aaron taking a little snooze while I feed the baby some rice cereal.^^
^^Roasting hot dogs and brats for dinner.  The Stanger family joined us at camp late Monday afternoon.^^

Everyone cleared out of the City Monday evening, leaving routes open everywhere.  We hopped on Rollercoaster once again for some evening fun and entertainment.  I think it's so cool to look like a little fly scaling a giant rock wall!

^^Jed found this neat heart shaped rock.  I love these pictures of him.  So sincere.  So him.^^
^^Levi showing me how high he can climb.  Note that look of concentration and effort!^^
^^See?  The kids will climb high all on their own, but strap a harness and rope to them and they freak out!  They're so funny.  We were glad that Jed actually wanted to get geared up though!^^
^^Finding some joy bouncing around repelling.^^
^^Levi suppressing his nerves and fear to climb higher!^^

On Tuesday morning, the Stanger family treated us to hot donuts made right there in camp.  They were covered in powdered sugar that melted into a glaze.  Wow.  A donut never tasted so delicious!  Afterwards, we did a little climbing on the side of bath rock while it remained in the shade.  Bron wanted to conquer a 5.10a route.  It wasn't meant to be that morning.  Shelly took quite a lead fall trying to climb that route and wound up leaving some blood on the rock.  Ouch!  Fortunately, she's just fine.  We will hopefully come back to claim that route in a year or two when we've gained some more strength and talent!

We broke camp around noon and made it home with time to spare for unpacking, showers, and some relaxation before heading back out in the evening to enjoy the Burley fireworks!  We picked up a pizza around 8PM and headed to the golf course.  We let the kids play with their friends while we waited for the sun to set.  From where we sat, we could actually see the firemen igniting the mortars.  We literally sat directly underneath the colorful bursts!  The fireworks were as big as life, making the show feel absolutely incredible.  Conrad sat on my lap with just his head poking up through the nursing cover to protect him from pesky mosquitoes.  I think I had just as much fun watching Conrad's face see fireworks for the first time as I had actually watching the show.  He sighed and talked as they burst above us and then halfway through the show rolled over in my arms and fell fast asleep.  I can't believe he slept through all that!

Wednesday morning we nursed our holiday "hangover" with naps for everyone at 11:30AM and lots of loads of laundry.  All that effort and lack of sleep was worth every bit.  I wouldn't have it any other way.  These experiences and memories are the moments that make up a life well lived.  And we are so fortunate to be living it here in the beautiful USA, a place of opportunity and freedom.

^^Waiting for the fireworks to start.^^
^^Crazy kids who happen to be some of the best of friends: Abram, Owyn, Addy, Oliver, Conrad, Jed, and Levi.^^
^^Addy with the coolest light up headband underneath the fireworks show.^^


  1. Looks amazing! You guys are such fun parents!

  2. That sounds like the best 4th of July! What a blast. So fun to share it with friends!


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