Saturday, July 25, 2020

Hiking the Small Stuff: Temple Quarry Trail

Well, folks, we not only survived but thrived on our Lisa Falls Hike, and less than a week later, we were at it again! We again took to Little Cottonwood Canyon near Sandy, Utah, to try our next baby-preschooler-six-year-old-friendly hike: Temple Quarry Loop. It has its own dedicated lot, but we missed the turn and parked at one nearby, figuring we'd just walk over. It's nice to know there's nearby parking if the lot is full; however, that's a busy road to cross with kids, so dad brought the car down to us after the hike was over. Lesson learned.

Here's the deets: Temple Quarry is a paved loop only 0.3 miles long. The elevation gain is 19 feet, so this is a mellow, peaceful circle. Did I mention it is paved? Yes, this appears to be a stroller-friendly hike!

Stroller-friendly, that is, if you stay on the path. The concrete loop is interspersed with signs and placards that give the history (and insanity?) of quarrying and dragging giant blocks of granite for the Salt Lake City Temple to the valley using wooden carts and oxen. However, there are also dirt trails off the main trail that lead to the nearby river, and our boys loved scampering up and down those to the water's edge. Again, they love water. Throwing rocks in the water will amuse for a very long time...

The vistas and wildflowers were beautiful in late May.

The hike was yet another win, and we plan to go back, maybe with grandma and grandpa. We suspect they'll enjoy the history and beautiful views (and their knees will hopefully like the even, paved trail.)

Sunday, July 19, 2020

A Very Tiny House in the Middle of the Woods (or Playroom)

Several months ago, I had a chance to combine two of my favorite hobbies--woodworking and making doll things for my granddaughters. While browsing Ana White's woodworking ideas for a different project, I happened to see plans for building a cabin hangout for 18 inch dolls. It seemed like a perfect joint present for two of my granddaughters who are sisters and have birthdays just a few weeks a part.

Here is a photo of the project from her site and a link:

I already had some of the wood I needed, but my guess is that even if I had started from scratch, building the cabin itself would have cost less than $50. The current list price for a similar, plastic cabin at a retail store is $185. Accessories add to the cost but can also be done on a budget. More about that in a moment.

I followed her plans as outlined with one exception. Instead of painting some of the wood white, I chose to paint only the back wall (forest green) and then, after sanding, I coated the rest of the cabin with clear polyurethane. I like the look of the natural wood but wanted to protect it as well. Here is a picture before I added the roof and the back wall:

And here is the completed cabin.

The Ana White site also has plans for accessories, including a darling cot. I chose to go a different direction with things I already had. Instead of building a cot, I created a hammock out of the cover that came with a hammock I purchased for our back porch. It stretches across the cabin from the left back to the right front. I simply used cup hooks. When it's not in use, it hangs out of the way in the back corner:

Knowing that I might build this at some point, I purchased several cabin appropriate ornaments after Christmas last year. One of the funnest things I found was a small string of  battery operated fairy lights decorated with twigs and pine cones. I hung it along the eaves and secured the battery back with velcro strips on the back of the cabin. It is out of sight but easy to access to turn the lights on and off.

These lanterns are a little large scale wise, but I love them and used them anyway. I hung one on each side of the cabin with small hooks.

The gingham bear picture, tackle box, fishing tales sign, and checked backpack are all repurposed Christmas ornaments. I made the wooden shelf from wood scraps left over from the project.

Both the fishing pole, resting in the back corner, and the picnic basket were thrift store finds. (The picnic basket was my five year old granddaughter's absolute favorite part of the cabin.)

Happy Camping!

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Hiking with (Very Small) Kids: Lisa Falls Trail

Covid-19 is clogging up our national parks with stir-crazy, outdoors enthusiasts, but that’s not a problem when you live 20 minutes from the mountains. No, the greatest challenge to hiking in the mountains with children is… the children.  I find that people use the term “family-friendly” loosely on hiking websites and apps; perhaps their families consists of robust, fit teenagers. Mine has a baby, a preschooler, and a six-year-old along with my husband and myself, and though I want to instill in them a sense of wonder for nature and a sense of reward for accomplishing hard things, most hikes are too difficult for our set. Well do I remember the many hikes of my childhood, and I hated them all. They were simply too arduous for a kid.

So, are there excursions in the Salt Lake area we can realistically do with my short-legged companions and a baby strapped to my back? The answer appears to be yes, and this is our summer to discover them.

Our first hiking attempt? Lisa Falls Trails. Here are the deets: it’s a 0.3 mile out and back hike with 121 feet of elevation gain. It’s located in Little Cottonwood Canyon, and Google Maps did a pretty good job telling us when to pull over and park. There’s no dedicated, paved lot, perse, but there was plenty of gravely parking off the road. We were initially unsure where to find the trail head, but we followed more knowledgeable hikers to the correct spot.

Water is, apparently, a great incentive for my children, and luckily there are many hikes in the Salt Lake area that culminate in a waterfall. This one is a rocky climb which, come to find out, is exactly what my boys enjoy. Scrambling over rocks is much more enjoyable for them than walking on pavement. We appreciated the late morning shade that lasted up until the falls themselves. Our attempt was in late May, and though the trail itself didn’t seem overcrowded, there were groups of people gathered at the top. Social distancing was more difficult at the actual falls. Thus we didn't stay too long; a few quick pics, and we were back in the trees, enjoying the scramble back down.

Kids are parents alike found this a short and sweet winner.