Saturday, August 30, 2014

Grand Canyon

I have been looking forward to this trip for years.  seriously.  years.
We considered it last year, but Rick felt like Cole was a bit too young.
(the age limit is 10 which I think is appropriate, I'm glad we waited.  Cole is 8 and I think that is on the young side of things.  I wouldn't have wanted to take him any earlier now that I have done it and I know.)
This is just a small sample of the 800+ pictures that we took.  Some with a Cannon, a gopro, a dive camera for the rapids and waterfalls, and a few iphones.  The rest of the photos and stories will be in a photobook, if I ever get around to it.
Getting our gear ready at Lee's Ferry.

Navajo Bridge

Our first stop was Red Wall Cavern.  It doesn't look like much when you are on the water, but as you walk into this small looking cave, it just keeps going.  It's the view looking back towards the water that is so impressive.

Sierra rode front, right for every single rapid.

When we camped the first night there was some lightning and we had checked the weather forecast and knew there was a chance of rain, but we still didn't think too much of it.  It was warm but sometime in the night it started to sprinkle.  We were just sleeping on cots on the beach--no tent.  It sprinkled for a bit and then stopped.  I got up to use the bathroom and went back to bed.  Then it started to rain.  We all pulled out our tarps and put them over our cots like little mini tents.  Well, it worked somewhat for the girls.  As for the rest of us, it was more like a sieve.  We were soaking wet.  No sleep.  So, we got up and found our rain gear in the wet, dark night.  Then the sun slowly started to come up.  I was dang cold and starting to wonder what I had gotten myself into.  Our guides put up an "easy-up" for a little rain protection and started boiling water for coffee and hot chocolate.

Once we kinda started to warm up, we took a look around.
The waterfalls were breathtaking.  Red water was falling all around us.  I figured, I was already wet and wasn't going to get any warmer just standing, so we started walking around to get a better view of the waterfalls.  The theme of our trip was "this rarely ever happens" and we knew that seeing waterfalls of this magnitude in Grand Canyon was a once-in-a-lifetime event.  Even our guides said that they had never seen waterfalls like this from a rainstorm in the middle of the night.  We just walked around shivering and snapping pictures in the rain.  Amazing.
As we got on the boat that morning to leave camp and head down the river, Cole leaned over to me and said, "Mom, I was praying so hard that the rain would stop."  It finally stopped as we were finishing breakfast.  Poor little kid was freezing.  Not enough fat on him.  All the hot chocolate in camp couldn't keep him warm!

This was how we slept at night.  I had just gotten up as the sun was coming up to take a trip to the bathroom (aka groover).  I couldn't help snap this shot of the fam sleeping on the beach.  Only a slight chance of rain this night, and we were safe. 
Cole had a hard time staying on the cot.

Deer Creek Falls

Deer Creek Falls

This is the closest we came to a shower all week.

One of our guides brought a small guitar and Summer played some tunes while we sang along.

Havasu Falls
This was one of the prettiest sights on the whole river.  After spending the week in red, red, muddy water, we pull off onto some rocks and hike to the most beautiful blue water.
It's so cool when we first start hiking to Havasu and you can see where the aqua blue water drains into the main channel of the Colorado (which was exceptionally red after the rains a few days earlier)

It's so pretty.  I just wanted to stay all day and soak up all of the beauty knowing that I have been here twice (20 years ago & now) and the chances are slim I will ever return again to this place.

When I went on a river trip with Rick 20 years ago, we hiked up to this same spot.  The water level was a little higher and we were jumping off the rock on the other side of the small waterfall.  I remember climbing up and not daring to jump.  After what seemed like 30 minutes, I finally jumped.  Rick took a picture of me jumping (finally).  So, this time, after watching all of the kids and a few adults jump off the rock, I knew I had to do it.  I hiked up with Cole.  He was impatient and worked his way in front of me so he could jump first.  And then with only a slight hesitation, I stepped to the edge of the rock and jumped.  I'm not much of a water person, so once was enough.  But I knew I had to do it or I would always regret it.  I was proud of myself for just stepping up and jumping.  

We were so lucky to be on a trip with other families.  We had even prepped the kids that there would be other people on our trip that would probably live a different lifestyle than we do.  (for example, passengers are told that water and lemonade will be provided but if they want pop or alcohol, then they have to bring their own.  There was not one drop of alcohol or pop loaded in the cooler.  And that "rarely ever happens".  
So, we knew we were lucky to have 3 other families with us on a river trip.  This is me with 2 of the other moms from the trip.
Kelli, Michaeline from Chicago, and Melinda from New York City.

Shelby, Summer, and Sierra, with our NYC friends, Malen, Christina, and Anna

Sierra, Summer, Michaeline, and Gabby

All of the kids from our trip
(that many kids on one trip..."rarely ever happens")

The whole gang.

And our crew...Nate, Russ, Kevin, Jordan & Julie.
With honorary river guide Cole.
We had no idea that Jordan & Julie would be on our trip.  They are from Mapleton.
They're friends with Nate, our trip leader, who is from Vegas.  Nate invited Jordan and Julie to join to the crew.  We established right away that we were both from Mapleton, but it took a few days for us to make the connection to how we all know each other.  Julie worked at the preschool that Cole went to (hobble creek learning center) and most recently she is working at the Springville Art Museum.  She met Summer a few weeks ago when she volunteered at Art City Days.  It's such a small world.  Jordan and Julie are amazing people.  It was such a blessing to get to know them better and to have an amazing experience on the river with them.  Glad to make new friends.

We finished our trip with helicopter ride out of the Canyon.  I admit, it wasn't something that I was looking forward to at all.  But, it was pretty dang amazing.

Our view of the river as the helicopter was taking us up to the ranch to catch a plane back to Lee's Ferry.

Here we are on the plane.  It was a tiny plane.  And a rough ride.  Cole was crying and nearly used his barf bag multiple times.  I'm sure that if he had, I would have been a close second.  It was a rough ride.
And, for Shelby's first time on a plane, she was in the front of the plane and the rest of us were in the very back.  I think there were a total of 18 people on the plane.  

This was definitely the hardest thing we have ever done.  I still remember when it started to rain and I was freezing and wondering if I would ever get out of the canyon alive.  But, as I look back at these pictures, it almost makes me cry (which isn't a hard thing to do, really).  I am so glad we did this.  So glad that we could do this as a family.  Proud of my kids for doing really hard stuff.  And mostly not even whining...that "rarely ever happens."

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Dixie Leadership Conference

So, I was lucky enough to be a chaperone for the Maple Mountain Student Council to attend the Dixie Leadership Conference in St. George.  It was a jam-packed, fun-filled few days.  Here are some highlights...

Love the red rock scenery.  And the weather was very mild for July.

When we moved to Utah, I worried about where to enroll the kids in school.  We lived in Orem, but planned on living in Springville.  I tried to enroll them at Sage Creek, but the day before school started, we decided that they should go to school in Orem.  It would be for 1 year.  Summer had the most amazing teacher and made great friends at Foothill Elementary.  She reconnected with some of those same friends who are now on the student council at AF and Orem.  Small world.  
Less Serious.
Less less serious

One of the activities was to attend the Little Mermaid at Tuachan.  It was so well executed.  I have heard people describe some of the effects but it exceeded all of my expectations.  And it was a bonus that it was about 90 degrees rather than the usual 110.  Oh, and we also shared a spot in the audience with Mitt and Anne Romney.  I think all 483 students tried to get up close and take a selfie of Mitt.  
Summer did a pretty good job and was mostly inconspicuous.  As were the other 482 selflies.  Not.

We did a service project at the Food Bank.

I listened in on most of the of speakers, activities, and discussions.  This one was the highlight event of the conference.  They listened to motivational speakers, did some hands on (literally) exercises, and the culminating event was breaking a board using martial art skills.

Summer gets herself psyched to break the board...

Last minute instruction…

And she breaks the board.  YES!!

Here are all of the MMHS students with their broken boards.  It was impressive and emotional.  
I thought that the conference was absolutely outstanding.  It would do a lot of high school students (and adults) well to attend a conference like this.  I can't believe how much I learned from sitting in on so many of the activities.  Super inspiring.
When the conference was complete, they joined in a circle of prayer to give thanks for their opportunity to attend the conference and to serve their fellow students.

*one story that I wanted to record…At the beginning of the conference, I walked in with Coach Smith. The man who was giving instructions to the group was a voice and name I recognized:  Gary Dunn.  He was on the faculty at my high school.  I asked Coach Smith about him.  Coach said that he knew Gary Dunn well and that Gary started this leadership conference years ago and it just keeps growing and getting better each year.  Gary Dunn is currently the student council advisor at Lone Peak High School.  They sent 60+ students to the conference from their school alone.
I was so impressed with the conference that I found Gary Dunn at the very end, after the evaluation session with all of the advisors.  I briefly told him what an amazing week he had put together and I also told him that I remembered him from OHS, and then I said "you know class of '88--we were State Champions in Football." He reached for my hand and asked if he could tell me a story.  Lots of other advisors and DSU people were standing around, but I said yes.  First, he asked me my name.  I said, "I am Kelli Robison.  I was a cheerleader."  He said, "I clearly remember you.  You were short, with dark hair, and a darling smile--exactly like you have right now."  I told him the names of a few of my friends and that I married Rick Herlevi.  Rick was a library aid and worked in the library for one of his classes. Mr. Dunn was a library assistant.  I don't even think he taught anything or had much interaction with students, but he did remember Rick, too.  Gary said to me, as he continued to hold my hand in his, "that is the year that changed my life.  That football season changed my life.  I started recording that football games and compiling highlight clips.  I was just doing what I liked to do.  And the football team just kept winning.  And I just kept recording games and highlights.  At the end of the season, I put together a State Championship Highlight video and we showed it in the auditorium for an assembly.  One thing led to another and people started asking for a copy of the video.  With the limited technology that we had at the time, I started making copies of the video and selling them.  I realized that I was good at this, I liked to do it, and I had talent.  It was at that time that I decided to finish my training and become an instructor and eventually a student government advisor.  So, that is the year that changed my life.  Every time the football team has a reunion, they still invite me to come show the highlight video."
I told Gary, "You a a bit of a hero to them, too.  You provided a very valuable gift to those young men and to all of us in recording those memories for us."
And Gary said, "that is kind, but they changed my life forever and helped me become who I was meant to be."
And, of course, I am practically crying.  I told him that we still have a copy of the highlight video in our own personal archives.  It's such a small world!!  I love that he took the time to tell me that story in front of all those other people.  What a great week!!