Saturday, August 1, 2009

Adventures at Thanksgiving Point - Out and About in Utah

As soon as I figured out what to do with Lilly on our day at Thanksgiving Point, I suddenly had a new concern during those insomniac hours in the middle of the night: there would be other bloggers there. I'd read their very cool, much more professional blogs. I'm really just an amateur. I was about to be exposed for what I really am: a mom without a clue. My kids wear clothes from JCPenney (my father-in-law was an executive of the JCPenney company, thank you) not J.Crew. They're lucky if they have clean faces and they almost always need a haircut. I never get pedicures and occasionally I get a chance to shave my legs. What's more, I can barely walk in high heels (just ask my friend at church who saw me literally tottering down the hall and nearly fall right over). If I do happen to wear something "cool" it's because either my niece or my younger sister gave it to me. And I still have at least 20 pounds of "baby fat" to get rid of before I can fit into the majority of my not-so-cool clothes. Besides all that, I find other women extremely intimidating.

I shouldn't have been so freaked out, because the other mommy bloggers were cool in a nice way. They were surely more pulled-together than I was, but they were also friendly and "normal". I met and visited with several very cool women and I was very impressed (and still a little intimidated, I admit).

We started our day at Thanksgiving Point by riding on the Trolley Car to the Gardens. The ride on the Trolley Car was three-years-old Thomas's favorite part of the day. He's "into" rides. We gathered with the other bloggers to learn a little about the history of the Gardens. I had to smile when the guide asked if anyone had any questions and Amberly's hand shot right up. She asked if the gardens had purple pansies (our family's favorite flower). The answer was simple: not right now. It's too hot for the spring flower.

A guided tour of the gardens was offered and I really wanted to go, but my children insisted that we explore on our own. Fine. The Gardens offered the use of umbrellas to keep us out of the sun and Amberly insisted on carrying one (she started out carrying one--I ended up carrying one).

The Gardens were beautiful. The first thing we saw was this marvelous hill. And there's really only one possible thing that you can do if you see a hill this marvelous--run! We went the opposite direction from the tour and spent quite some time viewing the beautiful, though man-made waterfalls. My eight-year-old son Neal, who knows all kinds of interesting facts, told us that the waterfalls were the tallest man-made waterfalls in the world. I haven't actually verified that this is true, but my past experience with Neal's "facts" are that he's usually right. Whether or not they are the tallest, the waterfalls really were very inspiring.

We wandered through the Gardens and I discovered many great locations for photography shoots. My subjects were not terribly willing to pose but perhaps some day we'll return just for pictures. I did manage to get them to hold still for one shot. It was a really hot day and we don't really enjoy the heat (we keep our house very cool all year round). I actually thought that I might melt. So, when we do come back to the Gardens, we will be sure to pick a cooler day.

At noon, we met for a catered picnic lunch. I had the turkey sandwich with avocado, the fresh fruit and pasta salad. The kids enjoyed the fruit, salad, chips and cookies. It was all delicious. We had one minor melt down by Thomas when his peanut butter cookie broke, but other than that we enjoyed a lovely picnic in the shade while we visited with new friends. We took our time eating and didn't get to spend much time in the Children's Discovery Garden. It looked like a lot of fun and we will definitely have to return there.

Much to Thomas's delight, we rode on the Trolley Car again from the Gardens to Farm Country. During the ride, after explaining our next adventures, the guide asked if anyone had any questions, Amberly's hand shot up again. This time, she wanted to know if we could ride the ponies. Yes, we could. So, we rushed out, first thing, to ride the ponies. Amberly LOVES horses. When we spend time at my parents' farm, she spends her time with the horses. Amberly and Neal enjoy riding but Thomas has typically been terrified whenever we put him on a horse. These ponies were smaller and apparently less scary. Thomas enjoyed his ride and described it to his father later as, "I rode on the merry-go-round with real horses".

We also visited with other animals and rode on the wagon driven by a friendly farmer with a great sense of humor. The heat was getting to all of us by then and we were glad when it was time to move on to an indoor, air conditioned venue. We'll have to visit Farm Country again on a cooler day. And we'll bring Lilly next time because I know she would love seeing the farm animals--everything from pigs to llamas.

Our next venue was the Museum of Ancient Life. My parents live in Vernal, Utah and we frequently go to the Utah Field House of Natural History in Vernal. We always have a good time there, but the Museum of Ancient Life at Thanksgiving Point is bigger and more thorough with a lot of hand-on activities for the kids. Again, we were offered a guided tour given by the palaeontologist himself, but my kids again begged to go it on our own. So we did.
There was one area that was completely dark except for the pin pricks of light (like stars). I couldn't see anything once I was inside. My kids went in before me and when we got out, only Neal and Amberly were out. Thomas was still somewhere inside. Neal went back in and fortunately came out with Thomas, who was completely fascinated and spent much of the time asking to go back to the "dark place".

My kids and apparently all the kids especially enjoyed playing in the water/erosion exhibit where they could really get dirty (the kids without the special aprons would be mine) and learn how water erodes the dirt over time. They also enjoyed the area where they could use tools to carefully brush away sand from the buried dinosaur bones.

Neal weighs approximately the same as a small dinosaur. He insisted that I join him on the scale and unfortunately, together (with the other kids) we weigh about as much as a parasaurolophus.

Molly spent the entire day in her little stroller sucking on her fingers. Sometimes she was awake. Sometimes she was asleep. But the fingers were always in her mouth.

Unfortunately, the battery on my camera died about this time. Our day at Thanksgiving Point was far from over. After our tour of the Museum of Ancient Life, the kids were able to make a plaster mold and use drill to carve around a fossil in the Junior Paleo Lab. They looked very cute with their safety goggles.

Next, the group walked across the plaza to the Emporium. Amberly's comment when she saw all the beautiful fabrics, home decor, trinkets, and jewelry made me smile. With a big smile and her eyes open wide she said, "Well, this is interesting." We walked carefully through the store with constant reminders from me to look with their eyes and not with their fingers. We had a quick "rest" stop and then we went to the kitchens in the back of the Emporium for our special cooking class.

Neal and Amberly got their own cute aprons and they got to learn how to decorate cookies and brownies. We do a lot of cooking at our house, but this kitchen is cool and much bigger than ours with lots of counter space for the kids to work their "cooking" skills. Sampling their creations was definitely my favorite part of that experience.

My dear hubby met us as the cooking class was finishing. From there we said good byes to our darling children as they went to have pizza (not pepperoni but still good, according to Neal) and do crafts (Amberly was in her heaven). Hubby and I joined the other couples at the Harvest Restaurant for a very delicious meal. It was so nice to spend some time without the kids (Molly stayed with us and was pretty good) and eat incredible food (my husband wants to write the review of Harvest and I'll let him).

We were definitely ready for bed by the end of the day but we had such a good time and made some great memories. Thanksgiving Point isn't exactly an inexpensive experience so we were grateful for the opportunity to go for free. Because we live relatively close to Thanksgiving Point and we have a rather large family we are considering the more economical choice of a family membership next year. Perhaps we'll have to ask Santa Clause for one this Christmas.

Don't miss your chance to win tickets for a family of four to attend the venues at Thanksgiving Point. Click here to enter.


Keri said...

goodness, we must be kindred spirits. i read all your worries about your toes unshaved legs and thought THIS IS SO ME!!! next time you have a utah blogger-mom event, i would love to come. we can dream about being more organized (although from reading your blog it sounds like you have it ALL PUT TOGETHER nicely. )
BTW i hate shopping so i wear clothes from high school (10+ years ago) and my daughter wears hand me downs from neighbors.
feel better?? :)

Katie Stoddart said...

For a great cheap family pass- you should get the Tracy Aviary pass. It is under $50, and you get to goto the zoo and TP farm free 1st Thurs of every month, free weekdays to Ogdens dino park, half price to the aquarium, plus others ( I can't remeber) This has been our first year and we havemore than got our money worth.