Everything's Better in Vernal

Last week, we took a family trip to Vernal and stayed at the Dart Homestead. Ralph and Susan were also hosting Bridgett and her boys visiting from Minnesota and four nieces from Chicago. It worked out really well because there were plenty of kids (and animals) for my kids to play with.

So. . .

What is there to do in Vernal?

LOTS of things.

One of the first stops was the Big Kahuna water slide. Rachel and Lucy loved the lenient rules. (They didn't have many. . . and didn't bother to enforce the ones they had.)

Hence this sign:

The rule about not playing in front of the slide wasn't really necessary because water shot out of the slide so hard and fast that the kids landed right in front of the stairs.

I intended to get a group shot of all four older girls, but I could only catch Kayla and Lucy. Check out Lucy's super long toes.

My favorite part was watching the little bodies come down the slide:

Back in 2001, I wanted to get married in the Vernal Utah Temple, but my two grandmothers weren't up for the long drive. Ever since then, I've planned on going back for a session, but it's never worked out. I finally got my chance. (Barely. . . we locked our car keys in the bedroom and then my recommend was actually rejected!) And thanks to Susan and Bridgett, Steve and I were able to go together.

We got back to the Darts just in time to help prepare dinner:

And catch these funny pictures of Darwin. He was way too busy playing in the water to notice (or care) that his shorts had fallen down.

That night we had a fun visit from Becky and family. I got to hold her fourth (and final) little baby, named Andrew. Clay's play-by-play of his recent surgery was definitely a highlight of the trip.

The next morning, we met my friend, Mindy, at the the fairly new community center to make some crafts. I'm not sure if they were supposed to, but while we were there, the kids played on the slide:

And played on the NEOS Wall. I want one in my house.

Then we were off to the dinosaur museum. We didn't go out to Dinosaur National Monument because the Quarry is still being rebuilt. (It is expected to reopen this fall. Finally.)

It was our second visit at the museum, officially called the Utah Field House of Natural History State Park Museum. It's an okay stop, but next time we will skip it and go to just go out to the Monument instead. If I could do it over again, I probably would have skipped the museum this time and driven out to go on the Fossil Discovery Trail.

But Adam did think it was pretty cool that his dad was tall enough to lift him up to touch the dinosaurs:

Then we ate lunch at an undisclosed location, where I was forbidden to take any photos.

Our next destination was Mindy's parents' house. And it truly was a destination. This picture shows Rachel and Lucy on the pirate ship playhouse with Mindy's two boys. There was also an entire playground to play on. We had a nice visit, and I got to hold her baby, Lucy. You should read Mindy's post about her experience in the baby show at the county fair because it's hilarious.

If I knew how to add flashing lights around a something, this is where they would belong. When friends like Becca ask what they shouldn't miss in Vernal, I tell them to go to the Sno Biz shack on Main Street. Vernal has the best snow cones in the world. Partly because they aren't really snow cones. Snow cones are hard and crunchy, but Sno Biz serves shaved ice. Fluffy shaved ice with delicious flavors, like Georgia Peach (half strawberry, half peach).

Nobody does cream like they do. When you order Blueberries 'n Cream, they use blueberry syrup and then drizzle real cream over the top. The cream is a thick, sweet substance, similar to sweetened condensed milk. (I spent years trying to get the recipe out of them, but they weren't willing to share.) When I lived in Vernal, I was definitely one of Sno Biz's biggest customers. I was there twice a day and even looked into opening one myself. I think we might reconsider that option when Rachel and Lucy are old enough to put to work. I love Sno Biz shaved ice. You can find locations in your area here, although strangely, there are no locations listed in Utah. Hmmmm. Maybe I do need to hurry and open one up. . .

No trip to Vernal is complete without a picture in front of the pink dinosaur.

Or a visit with Don and Elga. I'll link this to Lucy's blog once she posts her picture of the dead cows.

Before we left, the kids also fit in some Go Fish playing:

Some little baby kitten petting:

Some nature collection making: (this is Adam's)

Some exciting Ranger-riding:

And even some thrilling Ranger DRIVING! (Thanks, Justin.)

Susan and Ralph (and Bridgett) were wonderful hosts and I'm already looking forward to our next trip. Even though we don't have family in Vernal anymore, we have enough things on our list to keep us going back for years. On my list:

canoeing at Red Fleet
biking to La Point
riding horses with Jade
rafting the river
backpacking to Jones Hole
playing tennis at the Wilcken's
boating at Flaming Gorge
watching a movie at the drive in

Vernal really is a cool place. Rachel told me she wouldn't mind if we decided to move there. I'll think we'll stick to our biennial summer trips, but I'm thrilled to know she enjoys it so much.


blakeandcourt said...

Yay! I love this post because most people think Vernal=ick! It's crazy how this place has grown on me. Glad you had a good trip. I am excited for the new quarry too. The museum is getting a little overdone.

The Ballard's said...

I am 100% SURE I know what the "cream" is!! -I will tell you if you tell me about where you ate lunch-

Rebecca said...

I really, really love the inside of the Vernal Temple.

I did not like it at all when mom and dad lived in Vernal, but mainly because I didn't know anyone there and because it took SO long to get there.

Debra said...

Wish we could have been there! Next time. Your list sounds fun minus the road biking to LaPoint....haven't you seen the way people drive on that road?

byoung said...

hmmm did you eat somewhere that starts with a c and ends with a rio? we did too.
and do open a sno-biz, i'll come help you run it!!!

looks like your trip was way more exciting than ours!

emily ballard said...

No, it wasn't Cafe Rio :)

It was WAY worse than Cafe Rio.

Can you believe I've never eaten there?!?

James and Jade Bethers said...

Hey I made the list!!!!!!

I have a boat too, so I can cover Flaming Gorge as well if needed! Glad you had fun! Wish I would have been in town to visit with you!

Ramanda said...

Justin's face is the best in that last photo! This post made me extremely home sick!I am a bit jealous that you got to see so many awesome people Like the Dart's, The Anderson's, and Becky. Vernal is a fabulous place! I am proud to call it home!