Monday, February 20, 2017

Our visit to Hardware Ranch

Although March is right around the corner, I need to jump back a few weeks to when our friend Michael came to see us! I feel like, at this point, he doesn't need an introduction. To those faithful few who still visit our blog (bless you, friends!), you will remember that he is Mia's Dad. He was our neighbor in Germany 10 years ago when I first began writing on my blog! I can't believe my blog is almost 10!

He was in town and, lucky for us, set aside a Saturday for us to spend time together. Andrew had the idea to head North, toward Logan, Utah. Michael has been to Utah many times, but this was his first time traveling north of the Ogden area. We stopped and walked around the Logan temple and then headed to a place called Mortys for lunch. Morty's was recommended to us by friends and I have to say that we all loved it. Jumping back in the car, we made our way to Hyrum, Utah and then up toward Hardware Ranch.

I mentioned this on instagram, so forgive the repeat, but when Andrew and I were dating we would sometimes drive up various canyons in search of elk. Andrew loves to observe wildlife; elk being his favorite. Hardware Ranch is a place designed to keep the elk fed during the winter time. It initially began as a way to keep the elk from migrating down into farming territory and grazing there. So if you can, imagine Andrew's joy when we arrived and saw 700 elk together in one place!

I have to say I was surprised at how many people were there! Who knew that a sleigh ride into a field of elk would appeal to so many people! I owe my surprise to the fact that this experience costs money and also requires a rather long wait in line for the sleigh ride. I am sure if you arrived earlier in the day, the wait would be minimal; but for us, we stood out there for an hour and a half. By the time we made it on to the sleigh, we were popsicles.  Looking back, I shouldn't complain. The kids were well behaved and half way through the wait, Andrew surprised us all by busting out a thermos of hot chocolate.

The only hiccup came when I noticed that Forrest needed to go to the bathroom. When I suggested that he go with his dad to find a bush, he resisted. As I said, it was cold and I don't think he wanted to go through the hassle of taking off each layer. Also, the crowd of people might have made him think there would be zero privacy. We were nearing the front of the line and I had a feeling that if he procrastinated going to the bathroom, he would declare an emergency just as we were getting onto the sleigh.

Suddenly I had a thought. "Forrest!" I said with excitement. "Guess what will happen if you go pee pee on the snow?" He stopped fussing as he looked up at me with sudden interest, "What, Mama?" Smiling down at him I shamelessly explained, "It will make the snow turn yellow! Do you want to see that happen?" That's all it took. He and Andrew walked off to find their special spot for him to turn the snow yellow. Knowing that we had avoided a real problem, I was likewise "relieved." Ha, get it?

Finally, it was time to climb into the sleigh! It was interesting to learn about the ranch and the elk. I enjoyed cuddling up with the kids as we took our ride talked about our observations. Having had weeks of serious snow storms, we felt lucky to have enjoyed this outing on a lovely, clear day.
On our drive back home, we stopped by Cafe Rio (one of Michael's favorites). After eating dinner at our house, we played Pie Face, listened to Michael play piano, Henry play violin and enjoyed a game of charades. Michael is more than our friend. We do our best to emulate Michael and Johanna. Their advice and opinions matter a lot to us. Any opportunity we have to be with the Auras family is a real blessing. Looking back these past ten years, it's a small miracle or a tender mercy, if you will, that our families have been able to stay close.