LEAVING ON A JET PLANE
MADELINE WITH GRANDMA AND GRANDPA
RUNNING AND BIKING WITH MY DAD
I was really glad that I was able to spend a few days with my parents after going to Don’s funeral. I really needed that time to just be with my parents without other distractions. Madeline loved spending time with each of them either playing with toys in the house or walking to the park and playing there. I was able to run once and bike twice with my dad. We took advantage of the gravel bikes and did Snow Canyon one day and then rode Turkey Farm road and went a little longer to connect with Snow Canyon. That was a really long bike ride but a lot of fun to do with my dad. I loved spending some quiet moments with my parents at home, eating good food and binge watching The Chosen. It was a trip I didn’t know I needed but realized after how much it helped me to heal and feel whole.
LEAVING ON A JET PLANE
MADELINE WITH GRANDMA AND GRANDPA
RUNNING AND BIKING WITH MY DAD
It was a Sunday when I got the text saying that my Grandpa Don had passed away. He was the only grandpa I have ever known. Grandpa Don married my grandmother a little less than 50 years ago. He was 89 years old and lived such a full life. I have so many happy memories visiting Don and Grandma and doing things like riding the horses, driving up to the cabin, teasing the cats, going snowmobiling, riding on the boat, feeding the baby deer he was nurturing and many more moments during the time he worked for the Division of Wildlife in southern Utah. He was adventurous and caring. When my grandmother passed away in 1995, he was so lonely until he met JoJo who has taken such good care of him these last 20 years. The last time my older kids saw Don was 6 years ago. I just can’t believe it was that long ago. Madeline and I flew out to attend the funeral. Death is a hard conversation to have with a 4-year-old. As much as she didn’t understand what I told her about dying, she definitely understood that all JoJo needed was lots of love. My Madeline is such a sensitive soul. It warmed my heart to see her give JoJo the love she needed. Death is hard. But more than that is the regret of not having visited more these past 5-10 years. All we have when our loved ones leave are the memories we made together. I was really glad I was able to attend the funeral.
One of the fun things about being around Sara’s parents is their love for biking. It’s great to have grandparents who are active and want to go out and do things. There are lots of great trails by their house like the Murdock trail, the Provo Canyon River Trail, and then long loops through the mountains to make sure that your legs will be burning and your lungs weeping. Sara, Franz, and Mike did the Alpine loop, which is a stunning, beautiful climb around Mount Timpanogos. The trees and scenery are stunning. Sara flew up the climb and proved that she is still Queen of the Mountain. Coming down, Franz went so fast it was a little unnerving to try to keep up. That man has no fear. It was a great ride. Another great ride we did with all the kids was biking up the Provo River trail to Vivian Park. It’s a great ride and just a beautiful river with great scenery. The kids did great. At the top of the trail, there was a park for Madeline to play at with her siblings. The best part, of course, was that the way back was all downhill. Downhill makes for happy kids.
Any vacation wouldn’t be complete without some silly long hike. Mount Timpanogos seems like a straightforward hike, and for the most part it is, but it is a long, long hike. The waterfalls, wildflowers, and stunning views make it all worth it. Peter and Andrew basically raced up the mountain, proving that it's really annoying to go hiking with younger people with good lungs and springy legs, but we kept up with them pretty well. Emerald Lake was beautiful and there were mountain goats just hanging out alongside the trail. Crossing the snowbanks was tough, but getting to the summit wasn’t too bad, especially since we’re pretty used to the altitude. The views from the top were perfect. It was a beautiful day to be in the mountains. The real beast was coming back down. It’s just a long, long way by the time you get back down. The entire hike was sixteen miles round trip. Sara ran down the last couple of miles and the boys spent time just enjoying all the waterfalls. Afterwards, it was a race to IN-N-OUT for everyone so we could refuel our bodies. It was such a great hike, but one we would pay for with sore legs for the next couple of days.
written by Mike
Deer Creek Reservoir is just up the road from Provo and is a pretty great body of water. The views from the shore are spectacular with Mount Timpanogos towering over the northwest shoreline and Park City to the northeast. The water was pretty temperate. When we got there, we saw one of the giant inflatable obstacle courses like we did in Mexico, so we sent the older kids off to do that and got the rest of the kayaks and paddle boards set up. We also rented a jet ski, which was a lot of fun. We only crashed it once, but it was a lot of fun for Mike to go flying in the air with the girls and pretend they were seagulls. Madeline loved the Jet Ski and went out multiple times. We would have people paddle board out, trade out for the person on the jet ski and go off into the lake. It’s crazy how fast those things go and just so much fun. No wonder people like going to the lake!
One of my favorite things to do in life is go hiking. So it was a great day to be able to get up early and hike with my best friend up Y mountain. Bonus fact, it was also the place of our first date. It was fun to hike up the switchbacks, take in the views and just sit and talk and look over the world. Plus, we did it all before anyone else really got up in the morning. There’s something great about being up in the mountains and watching the sun come up on the world. Makes you grateful that you were around for another year to take it all in. Later on that day, we had doughnuts and opened presents. I’m always happy when I get a surprise for my birthday. For years, I have been coveting a new Taylor guitar. It was pretty great to be surprised with a new guitar for my birthday, super fun to play with great sound and great action. Abby was a sport because her birthday got delayed until we got to Utah. I think it paid off for her in the end and it was worth the wait. Great food and good times. Birthdays are about being with family, laughing, and eating too much frosting.
written by Mike
Everybody knows that the best way to celebrate the birth of our country is to eat hamburgers, hot dogs and blow stuff up. And that’s what we did. Fortunately, in Utah, fireworks are fully legal in every insane permutation you can imagine. Being starved for entertainment, we decided to join the locals and go crazy with big fireworks. It was a lot of fun. Madeline had some sparklers, the girls did cherry bombs and spinners and the boys lit off the big displays. There were so many fireworks going off in the neighboring streets that it was like we had our own private show. It was quite the event and a whole lot of fun.
My mom and I planned a surprise baby shower for Ruby. We bought cute plates and table décor ahead of time and even had cute cupcakes and other treats that we brought with us. Ruby was so excited and surprised. She got some really cute things for baby Cali. It was so fun to be able to do this for her as her family.
After getting back from the lake we spent some time relaxing at the house before heading out again but this time to go horseback riding. Grandma Anne and Grandpa Franz watched Madeline so Mike and I could take the big kids to go on a horseback riding adventure. John, Amy and Kyle came with us too. Abby was really nervous, so they spent a few minutes with her on her horse before everyone else got on their horse. Everyone aged 16 and under had to wear helmets. Peter wasn't that thrilled with wearing a helmet, but he did it anyways. The ride was through the most beautiful scenery. We rode through grassy meadows and then up through aspen trees and other dense tree areas. We even got to do a water crossing. It seemed like we were heading up for quite a while before reaching a plateau. We loved riding at the top of the plateau and some of us got excited with our horses and tried to pass each other. Some of the horses got really snippy with the horses in front of them. We all had to try and keep a decent distance between our horses. All in all, everyone had a great time riding horses through the wilderness and no one fell off or got hurt. We all rewarded ourselves with shakes afterwards. Some of us got the famous Bear Lake raspberry shakes and others opted for some sort of candy bar shake. You really couldn’t go wrong because they all tasted delicious!
Bear Lake is a lot bigger than I had expected. We were so excited to spend the morning playing at the lake. We headed over first with our kids and got the sunshade set up, so we had a cool place to sit while the kids played in the water. We brought the three kayaks that were sitting in the garage of the big house and the kids all took turns going out exploring in them. Mike headed over with Peter and rented a jet ski and each of the kids took turns going for a ride. It was hilarious watching the girls bob up and down as Mike did donuts in the water. I wasn’t sure if they would love it or freak out. They love it and asked to go again and again. I must admit that I was a little freaked out when we got going above 40 miles/hour but boy was it a rush. Eventually everyone else from the house showed up at the lake for some fun. Everyone took turns on the kayaks but only our kids ended up wanting to go on the jet ski.
It has been almost 6 years since the entire Kelsch/Wilhelm clan has gotten together. We spent a glorious 4 days together in Bear Lake at the coolest and most interesting house for my parent's 50th Anniversary. We called it the Big House. With three levels, 9 bedrooms, a theatre room, an indoor gym equipped with a trampoline, play set and half basketball court, an area on level 2 devoted solely to video gaming, and slides connecting each level inside the house and outside the house, it was a kids dream house. We spent most of our time in the house just chilling and letting the kids roam and do whatever they wanted. Each one of adult couples took turns fixing dinner. We played games, watched movies, took naps, and explore the sites in and around Bear Lake. It was great catching up with everyone's families and bonding like old times. I sure hope it's not another 6 years before we do this again.
We had family photos taken during our Kelsch/Wilhelm Family Reunion. I found and hired a photographer to do a big family photo shoot with the entire clan. We first went to a grassy meadow backdrop but that didn’t last long because Brandon kind of freaked out. We got a few big group shots and then some smaller family shots before heading over to the lake. The little kids seemed to do much better by the lake. Madeline did have a small melt down moment but in the end, we were able to get some good family photos of the big group and some with our smaller family. It was really great to not have the pressure to pose everyone for a big group shot. In hindsight, I think I could have done just as good of a job if not better than the photographer. Sometimes it is just nice giving the reigns to someone else.