Weekend at Cascade Springs

Another weekend and another quick fall hike…

This weekend we drove up to Cascade Springs which is a collection of artesian springs and pools surrounded by wooden walk ways and paved trails.   This is a very family friend hike… (only 1.25 miles).  This also was my choice and I do have to admit that I fooled Isabelle into thinking it was a  much longer hike.   Lucky for me it is a very beautiful place… so there was only a little bit of complaining.  (none from the kids or myself of course… we found the hike just right).

Unfortunately I forgot my good camera so please be forgiving of lower quality phone camera pictures.

Parks Pin

Before I begin with Cascade Springs I wanted to share the park pin we just received for our work on the trail last week.  (see Weekend with hiking, trail work, and sagebrush dye)  I had no idea that we were celebrating the 60th anniversary for this state park.  Receiving the pin was a nice surprise.

HMM…  Is it still volunteer work if they pay you with a pin?

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My family would often take a Sunday drive up to Cascade Springs when I was a kid and I have not been back since I was probably 15 or 16.   There are two routes one of which is much shorter but is a dirt road.  When I was a kid that road was not suitable for a normal car.  We made that drive in a Dune Buggy (or Buggy Dune as my little sister called it).  I wonder if people still call them Dune Buggies? more importantly are they still cool?… I am not ashamed to admit that I felt cool just being in the back seat.

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Before we headed out I “googled” the short route  and the results stated that it was still a dirt road that “may” not be suitable for a “family” car.

So… we took the long way!

This was a beautiful drive but with all of the switch backs three of us got car sick, including the driver.   This made me decide that on the way home we would take the shorter route… dirt road… family car warning be darned.

To all of our surprise the dirt road was a much better drive.  The road was wider and the switchbacks didn’t seem as frequent. The road also didn’t break the “family” car. (Just got it really dirty) Again I must state that this was lucky since I was driving Isabelle’s car and she had just replaced the front windshield two days before (She kept warning me that I had better not let a rock hit the new windshield… like I could stop that)

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You can see our drive on the map.   Blue is going and red is returning… all the little squiggly bumps you see on the lines are the actual switch backs.  (Where the blue and red meet is Cascade Springs)

I mentioned before that we struggled with car sickness on the way to Cascade Springs and because of the long drive we had to make a “pit” stop just before we arrived.  My wife after completing her “business” noticed me with my phone.   She made some remark about “not being stupid…  and some warning about not taking a picture of her there just for my blog”.   After hearing that I of course decided that it was a “must share moment”  so here it is!

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After the quick pit stop we finally arrived at Cascade Springs.    The place has changed a little but it was still very familiar and brought back very fond memories.  One  memory that came back  was of me being here as a pre-teen with my buddies.

I remember back then with those “buddies” deciding we would pull off our first “con” job.   (Being older I realize that this makes me sound horrible but when I was a kid  I considered “conmen” really smart and clever and who doesn’t want to be “smart and clever” ).   At that time park services had a sign at the springs that read “litter awareness badge” and showed a pull tab from a can.  (This sign has long been taken down… hmm I wonder how many kids now would know what the picture on that sign was showing).   We collected these pull tabs, mostly off of our own cans, and sat below the sign.   With every passing person we would offer to sell them a “litter awareness badge” for 50 cents.   You wouldn’t believe how many said yes until they saw what we were selling. I can’t say I had much luck selling “badges” but I still made a dollar that day… most importantly I felt “clever”.

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Can you believe I actually found a picture of that old sign?…  The internet is amazing.

Here are some pictures from our hike… maybe less words and stories but I can’t promise that.

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Well… here comes more words.. sorry.   I think on the same day we were trying to sell those badges we decided to have a nice swim in the small pool of water you see above.   Probably not a big deal… except back then we didn’t swim with clothes… always naked… you know so our moms wouldn’t see our wet clothes.   (We were always concerned about our mother’s feelings…  plus back then getting in trouble often ended with a task of cutting a willow… if you know what that means)

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Yep… I have weird kids!

I want to make a “call out” to the park rangers.   These men and women really make a difference in all of our outdoor adventures and this one is no exception.   As we were leaving the park we passed two rangers who had set up a display.   They had hides from local animals and allowed the children to touch them.  (bear, bobcat, moose, mule deer, mountain lion… etc.)   They followed up the touching with hand sanitizer which eased Isabelle’s sensitivities.  This was awesome… the only thing that could have made it better would have been to allow us to “sample” each wild animal.  In my head I imagined small sliders of each animal’s meat…  of course barbecued on local wood.  I thought about making the suggestion but I know they are already overworked and under paid.

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That is all I have to write about for now…Thank you for taking the time to visit my blog!


Weekend with hiking, trail work, and sagebrush dye

This weekend we were off again on another hike.  I love the outdoors and nature but the real reason is that my French (French in a good way) wife Isabelle is making us go again.  So you have some context around this “making us go”,  I need to let you know that she is really cheap…  umm….ya… I mean it in a good way. (hope that keeps me out of trouble when she reads this).   In an earlier post I mentioned that Isabelle bought a “Utah State Parks Annual Pass”.  That pass cost a ‘whopping” $75 dollars and she is going to make sure we get our moneys worth.

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This week we are hiking the Dutch Hollow Trails.    I am very familiar with this area since when I was about 16 years old I had a “winter camp” here.  I hate winter camps more than I currently hate our “Utah State Parks Annual Pass”.  Way back then the goal for the winter camp was to learn “survival”.   With this in mind I was suppose to sleep in a “snow cave” I had built the week before.   Snow caves are suppose to help you survive but mine was more of a homemade deep freezer.  I remember retiring to the cave and noticing that my sleeping bag was frozen to the ground.   Being wise beyond my years, or  maybe just not stupid, I left the cave to place myself in front of a huge fire.   That night instead of sleeping I spent the entire night  feeding that fire wood and alternating my front side and then my backside to the fire’s heat.  I did learn the best way to survive the cold extremes of winter is to stay home.

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As you can see Dutch Hollows is primarily scrub oak and sagebrush.   The trails are awesome for mountain biking and well kind of crappy for hiking.    There is not much shade and well you are continually stepping off the trail to let bikers pass.  Of course all of this didn’t deter Isabelle from pushing us onwards.  (Got to have a positive return on that 75 dollar investment)

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Along the trail we came across a “station”.   This station had pruners and a shovel rake combination thingy… kind of like a huge spork.  The sign read “volunteers make trails better”.   We decided that we would volunteer to do our part.   The sign stated follow the direction of the red arrow and mark off 60 paces.   Isabelle started marking off the distance but I told her that it would be better if Ben did this.   Out loud I said it would be good for his counting.   In my head I knew that his short legs would walk off the smallest distance and to ensure this I whispered to him to take very small steps.

We then started cleaning the trail. (jesh…I thought our 75 dollars paid for this)

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Doesn’t this newly groomed section of this trail look awesome!

I have complained some about Isabelle and these hiking trips but they make me remember my grandfather.   He was not a church going kind of guy but he used to tell me that being in nature was his church.  He saw the hand of God in everything… and I do as well including in my wonderful family.  I again am proud of the boys and their mother for their hard work and their willingness to make things better for others.

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After all of this work (around 30 minutes) we decided it was time to hike home.   I noticed all of the sage brush and decided I wanted to see how well it dyed wool.   I think sagebrush blue/green is beautiful but I knew that would not be the color I would get.   All of us grabbed large handfuls of the sagebrush and carried it back to the car.   Ben said he loved the way it smelled… (that is before I started to boil it).

I will not go into much details since I followed the same steps as when I dyed with onions (previous post) minus the baking soda.. Readers of the last post ask me about the smell of the onions… let me just say… onions are nothing compared to the eye watering smell of the sage.

Here are pictures that show the steps and outcome… (minus lots of words… and the smell)

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You can see that the sagebrush dyed the wool a nice yellow.  I had expected yellow (googled it) but was worried when I first saw the brownish color of the water and then worried more when I saw the florescent yellow color of the wet wool.  Fortunately the color mellowed as it dried.

Thanks for taking time to read this… Now… get out and go for a hike (I mean that in a good way)

Weekend with Waterfalls

This weekend we decided to visit a nearby place called Sundance.  This is beautiful area on the slopes of Mt. Timpanogos.  You may have heard of this place… or maybe not.   It is the location of the Sundance Film Festival and Sundance Ski Resort and I think a lot of this area including the resort is owned by the actor Robert Redford.

We were going to drop by and say hi to Robert… but you know how actors can be… talk… talk… talk… and we had some serious hiking to do.  (I didn’t know this at the time. I was hoping for a lazy Saturday and thought we were just going to take the lift to the top of the mountain… oh the deception… Isabelle)

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My daughter Gwen was excited because she had been here with her friends and they hiked up to a waterfall… Stewart Falls.  Isabelle and the kids wanted to do the hike and I tried to convince them that we were already at the falls… (see the above picture…unfortunately none of them fell for it)

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We bought our  lift tickets and because we were more than 4 we got a family discount. (10%… how awesome…).   I hadn’t noticed that my camera lens had a smudge and almost all of my pictures on the ride up show this smudge on the bottom right side. (you can see the blurry spot on my son’s shirt in the picture above… Sam is my oldest son)   Luckily I saw this before we started hiking and cleaned it so only half the pictures suck. How annoying it would have been to have every picture blurry.

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When Ben got on the lift and we started the ascent I could sense his excitement mixed with fear. (youngest son… love the missing teeth… note that darn smudge)  He kept telling me that we could probably survive if the cable broke… we just needed to land on our feet.  He also said that dying would be much better than being killed.  I am still trying to figure that one out.    (Every good adventure must have a little bit of life threatening fear moments)

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Isabelle and Sam road in the chair in front of Gwen, Ben, and I.   Sam was laughing at his mother because she kept saying that it was much scarier than in France.   She told him in France there was a bar that came down and without the bar it didn’t feel as safe.   Well…  They have the same bars on these chairs but she didn’t see it nor pull it down.   All the while Sam knew about the bar was not going to tell her.  You can see the bar above their heads.

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You can put your mountain bike on the side of the chair and ride with it up to the top and then have an incredible descent on that bike to the bottom.   Ben noticed all of the many bikers and he continually yelled “Hello… Bikers!”.

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There were several places mid ride where you could get off and bike or hike around.   I don’t know if you have noticed the signs… but I wonder who this “Ray” is.

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With my penchant for “weird pictures” my kids are always on the look out.  They noticed this sign and Gwen said, “Dad here is one of your pictures”. So I took it.  I am not sure what is happening to that poor guy but I feel really bad for him.

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The lift didn’t just go up but it went up and over then down the other side.  Once at the bottom we caught a second lift to the top of the mountain you see in front of us.

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Here is a view from the chair almost at the top.   This is looking back at midway where our “bunker” is.   (Actually I call it our “bunker”… If you ask Isabelle it is our “Country Home”).   On our way up I kept hearing a high pitched buzz… like grinding metal and I puzzled about it’s origin.

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At the top I realized what I was hearing.   If you look in the picture above you will see two cables on the right (above that dang smudge).   These cables are zip lines… crazy ones.. in fact there is four zip lines in all.

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Doesn’t this look amazing… and I am sure they will survive the cable breaking if they manage to land on their feet.   I really wanted to do this but Ben was too young and well even he wasn’t I don’t think I could have convinced him or his mother into going.

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The view from the top from both directions is awe inspiring.   This is looking down the opposite way of the zip line… breathtaking isn’t it… even with the smudge.

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There are buildings on the top and one of the lift operators mentioned that we should try the nachos.   Ben is allergic to milk so nachos are out of the question… lucky for him Isabelle packed celery.   (I laughed feeling sorry for him but he said he loves it)  Isabelle wanted to hike down from there and we started whining.   In fact we whined so much that one of the workers at the top said if you want a great hike take the lift mid way down and from that point take the Stewart’s Fall trail.

SO…. THAT IS WHAT WE DID… what a fantastic and kind of dangerous hike!

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I say dangerous… and we were warned.   If you read the top sign above you will see that the trail is going to be a “real hike”.   The second sign below it states that the trail was “more difficult than normal” with water to cross, snow, fast moving runoff, and other obstacles.   (I was excited to see what other obstacles would be there)

I had to warn the kids that this is a hike they could not “play around” on.   I warned them that it was going to be very dangerous.   Ben responded with “don’t worry dad… danger is not my middle name”.

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This trail had its “hard” moments but it was often shaded, mostly down hill since we were starting from the top and it offered amazing views.   I was a tiny bit worried because I had no idea how far the trail was and wondered when Ben or the other kids would start to complain.

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The closer we got to the falls the more dense the plants became.   The kids pointed out the plant in the picture above stating that they think Dr. Seuss got his ideas for his trees from it.

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One section we had to cross a small water fall and the rocks were very slippery and the “down” side of the trail was very steep.  I didn’t take a picture of that and you unfortunately can’t tell from the pictures below… but it made me rethink our hike for a small moment.

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As I carried Ben across he looked less afraid than on the lift.  It warms my heart that he trusts me so much… but I wonder if I should teach him to be a bit more skeptical of my capabilities.

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We finally arrived at the waterfall and it was spectacular and also crowded.   Most people hiked up to the falls on another trail and we had no idea that there would be this many people.  Gwen and Ben decided that they “had” to walk under it.   I said go ahead and was going to just watch.  I then became weary and decided I had best go with them.  I don’t know what I was thinking… while it was very warm outside this water was ice cold.  After seeing me do this, Isabelle and Sam decided to avoid the “fun”.

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You can’t see me but I am holding Ben’s hand under the water while Gwen is watching us come out.   (She was suppose to go through with us but when she felt the icy water she immediately abandoned us and ran through to the other side)

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Here we are out of the falls soaking wet and freezing.   I didn’t think this through very well… especially when it came to the wet chaffing clothes that made the rest of the hike miserable.  It was already getting kind of late so we decided that it was time to get home.  I still didn’t know how long this would be and it turns out we had two miles to hike before we would arrive back at the resort.

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After arriving back at our starting point I was ready to get home and believe it or not still wet.   I am very proud of the children and how well they did on this hike.  Not once did I hear a complaint nor any fighting.   In fact they helped one another through the “hard” parts and were quick to offer each other encouragement.  (sometimes families rock)   Definitely a fantastic weekend!… and we didn’t have to worry about dying or being killed.

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Weekend lizard hunting and dancing

I am late writing this… and I almost decided to skip this week.  BUT….  I decided that I had best keep with my blogging goal (at least once a week) and write about my weekend family hike…


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The boys pointing the way to go… This is a train stop for the Heber  Valley Railroad… or as we always called it the “Heber Creeper”… (didn’t know that “Heber Creeper” was not the real name… wonder if they changed it…. hmmm… Creeper is such a cool name)  I used to smash pennies on this track.

Before I begin… I just realized how fortunate for all of you who are still reading this that I didn’t just lay around in bed all weekend and watch TV… that would have made for a really boring post.    Warning this might not be any better than that…


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Here is the start of the trail… nice and shaded.

Isabelle has taken upon herself to ensure that the family becomes “active”.  She purchased a year pass to all of the state parks and being extremely “frugal” she is going to make sure that we get our value.   This weekend we hiked the Deer Creek trail starting from  Soldier Hollow. ( this is the place of the 2002 winter Olympics and right next to my childhood home)

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I do not believe this trail existed when I was a kid.   I remember just walking the railroad tracks.   At the beginning of the trail you can see a big rock.   If you look closely you will see the profile of a face.

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When I was a kid I remember the first time I  hiked up to this rock.   I was with a friend named John and he insisted that I sit in the “eye”.   Once I did he explained to me that this was a “cursed” rock.  If anyone sat in the eye… they would haunted by the spirit of a Indian warrior.   I laughed when he said it but inside I was really freaked out.   In fact if you add up all of the nights I woke up with nightmares of arrows being shot at me by this ghost I think I lost at least a weeks worth of sleep.  John liked to scare me.  I liked John…  but just not that part of him.  He was also the one that introduced me to the Ouija board with all of the related scary stories.   Not cool now that I think about it… and well I might be just as bad because I wanted to have my kids sit in the eye and tell the same story.

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When going on a hike it is important to heed all state park signs.  This one told us that we couldn’t have motor vehicles.  We also have to leave our pet dogs or our pet cows in the car… or maybe even home.  Yep this is a “cow free” trail… (Cows are always unfairly excluded)   The sign included a warning for snakes with a picture of a rattle snake.   I told the boys (Gwen didn’t come) that I was big enough to not to have to worry about the bite being fatal… but they would probably die within minutes.   (You can never be too careful).   The boys laughed off my warning… little did they know what lied just up the trail.

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YES… The first “wild” thing we saw was a snake!  and as far as the boys were concerned this was a “baby rattler”.   Not sure why they thought this other than they didn’t know what a gopher snake looked like and I happened to mention that it looked like a rattle snake. (Didn’t lie… it kind of looks like a rattle snake… without the rattle)

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I mentioned that I used to catch lizards here and the boys asked if they could catch and keep one.   I said sure.  (Isabelle gave me the  “look”)   With this as a new goal, the boys began showing real enthusiasm for the hike.   Lizards are pretty hard to catch and with my eyes they are now even more difficult to see.  Can you see the lizard in the picture above?

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Here is a close up…  can you see it now? Fortunately for me the boys chased many but were not able to catch one.   (Lizards stink and Isabelle would have been very angry with me for letting them believe they could keep one)

While the boys enjoyed the lizard hunting… (Next week we are bringing our blow guns) Isabelle and I enjoyed the view and the flowers.   Here are some of those pictures.


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This is looking north towards our weekend “bunker”… (Isabelle hates it when I call it that… she calls it our “Maison de Campagne”)

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Looking South… towards the dam.   This is a reservoir.

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We hiked 4 miles round trip and the boys actually were making plans for the next weekend hike.   Isabelle and I were very happy that the children got out and spent some time away from all of their “screens”.   Both Ben and Sam at least were able to touch a lizard… Isabelle  said next hike we are going to bring hand sanitizer… and I re-lived some very dear childhood memories.  I use to “skinny dip” on this side of the lake.

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Here is the end of the trail and the end of this post.   Before I finish I wanted to share a video.   Ben and Isabelle went to a wedding reception later that evening and Ben proclaimed that he was the “KING OF DANCE”.   I hope you enjoy some of his “moves”.

Leaving again… But first a small hike!

I am just about to get on another airplane and fly away from my family.   I am going to share more about that in coming posts… (hmmm  reading this back made me realize my subtle attempt at getting all of you to come back and read my posts… isn’t that subtle.)

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Before I leave I want to post the last activity I did with my family… (kind of a… I feel guilty for leaving them… so I better do a “quality” time activity).   Isabelle chose our family “quality time” activity…. Hiking.   (I like hiking… the kids are a little bit more ambivalent)

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Here we are on the start of our 1-2 mile hike…   This part of the trail is mainly in the scrub oak… I like scrub oak…just don’t find it as beautiful as pines and  aspens.   I told the kids they need to help me find some “Nettle” (left off the “Stinging” part).  I want to use it for some natural dyeing… and told them they would have to pick it and carry it for me since I am “allergic”.

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Isabelle looked it up on her phone and realized I was talking about “ortie” and informed the kids that they would not be “helping” me until next time.   (She informed them they would need gloves and bags to carry the plants back in…  all of this of course ruining my fun)

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As the trail moved up the canyon (Snake Creek Canyon) we left the scrub oak and entered into the pines and aspens.   I find this incredibly beautiful and this brings me back to childhood camping memories.   This trail passes the cabin of one of the early Swiss settlers of Midway (Johannes Huber).  This cabin and creamery were built in 1878 and along the trail there are small plaques describing his farm or small parts of the Huber family life.

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Here is an example… and on it is an old recipe.   I love finding old medicinal recipes.    This is a treatment for Bronchitis and Asthma… made from whisky and pine oil.   I really want to try this… even though I suffer from neither.  Someone reading this… give it a try… and let me know how it works.  (if it kills you… don’t sue me)

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They are calling us to board the plane… so I must go… I will publish this without proof reading it… Boy am I living on the edge… The last picture is of us “hiking” back… With the hopes you will come back to my blog…

 I promise to have pictures from my trip…. (not going to tell you where… )

Update: ( did this on the plane)

Isabelle asked me to post a picture of myself… And then she texted me this one… Of course my cheeks are puffed out while I am trying to blow a snake grass whistle… What is worse…. It wouldn’t whistle….