Kevin and Michelle were invited last August by their dear friends, the Dickens, to go on an Eastern Caribbean cruise from March 3-10, leaving from Ft Lauderdale. Having never cruised together, not counting their lives in general, they had to go. We spent 7 magical days on the Emerald Princess with stops at ports in the Bahamas, St Marteen, St Thomas, and the Grand Turk. Each island was unique with great scenery and activities. The beach on the French side of St Marteen was the most beautiful we have ever seen. We snorkeled on two islands, played with sting rays near Grand Turk and enjoyed the friendship of our company of eleven. The food was fattening and delicious. The Great House on St Thomas had incredible views of 20 other US Virgin Islands. The three comedians on the ship were in great form and the other shows were entertaining and enjoyable, except the crude one where we walked out. (Oh well, you can't expect perfection in this life.) We enjoyed the break from our house of 14 persons and were reminded why we fell in love in the first place. It was a great trip and we didn't feel guilty leaving the rest of our family behind.
We had a great fall break this past October, 2009 when we flew to Cancun and stayed 3 nights in Playa Del Carmen and two nights in Cancun. The trip was with my gorgeous wife and our three youngest sons, Taylor, Morgan and Jaden. We saw the ruins of Tulum, the ruins of Coba, went para sailing, a first for all of us, spent the day at Xcaret, that magical aqua-archeological park. The two underground rivers were awesome and the night show was amazing. We also took the Jungle Tour on our two passenger speed boats in the lagoon between Cancun and the Caribbean, and swam in a magnificent cenote, a large underground cave full of water and limestone formations. We enjoyed perfect weather and great food. We swam and played for hours and stayed in two spectacular hotels. We felt bad that only 3 children were available to go with us, but then the older ones have already had plenty of fun. On our way home
we spent the day with Becky and DJ Morgan in Houston and got to see our great Sowards' relatives in Texas, the Houston Space Museum, and had a great Mexican dinner at Pappasitos, probably Livi's favorite place. It was a wonderful trip with great memories spent with family and the wonders of the Yucatan.
Last weekend Kevin took Nate, Taylor and Morgan to Idaho and Yellowstone. Ashley and Randy came with us. We stayed at the Island Park cabin a night, took in dinner and the play, "Less Miserables" at the Macks Inn Playhouse, attended church and spent 2 beautiful days in Yellowstone, driving the south and the north loops. We saw the Grand Canyon and the lower and upper falls of the Yellowstone River, the Lake, and Hayden Valley on Saturday and Tower Falls and Mammoth Hot Springs on Sunday. This grand old park never gets boring and inspires every time you go. We also took a quick side trip to Quake Lake, on the 50 year anniversary of the great Yellowstone earthquake of '59. It was a great road trip. It was very nice to spend two evenings with Kevin's parents in quiet conversation while Ashley hosted the boys.
During the first two weeks of June for Nathan's graduation, Kevin, Michelle, Hailey, and Nathan embarked on a travel experience more satisfying than any other we have ever done . The art work, sculptures, and architecture of these two great countries defies description. Paris (3 days), Venice (3 days), Florence (3 days), and Rome (5 days) were all amazing and surpassed everything we had ever heard of them. We toured the Louvre, the Orsay, and Rodin Museums and took evening rides on the Seine along the Notre Dame Cathedral and Eiffel Tower in Paris. . We saw Michelangelo's, Verrocchio's, and Donatello's Davids in Florence and Bernini's David in Rome. They are all amazing. We visited St Mark's Basilica and Square in Venice, toured the amazing Doge Palace, and rode gondolas on the canals. The Florence Duomo Basilica, Baptistry, and Museum are amazing and we didn't want to leave the Uffizi gallery or the Pitti Palace. Florence is too wonderful to describe. The sculptures on Italy's public buildings not worthy of museum placement are better generally than anything we have ever seen in our country.
We never dreamed we could see so much of Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Rafael, Bernini, Donatello, Cortona, and other Renaissance masters or the incredible art and treasures of the Medici family. We saw ancient and modern Rome. The Coleseum, Pantheon, Trevi fountain, Spanish steps, Forum, etc. continue to amaze centuries later. The Vatican Museum, Sistine Chapel, and the four large Basilicas in Rome took our breaths away. The Borghese Gallery in Rome had "Apollo and Daphne" and scores of other masterpieces. It was an amazing and unforgettable trip. We can't wait to go back someday.
We haven't posted b/c we have been so incredibly busy. Among our highlights: we have had one wedding and two wedding receptions in our back yard; Kevin, Michelle, Hailey and Nathan traveled to France and Italy the first two weeks of June. This will be the subject of another post. While we were in Europe, Taylor went to So. Cal. for a fun orchestra tour, performing at grade schools and at Disneyland. He saw a Dodgers game and ate at Medieval Times.
Kevin and the 3 Sutterfield boys attended the Sowards reunion at Bear Lake, Laketown, Utah in mid June. It was great to see everyone from Paula's family and enjoy the wave runners, and Pickelville Playhouse's production of "Annie Get Your Gun." Lousie and Scott were the perfect hosts. In early July, Michelle went with two of her sisters and her friend to see Hailey and stay two nights at Zions Ponderosa, near the east entrance of Zions National Park. They wall climbed, 4 wheeled and paint balled and enjoyed the girls retreat. The next month we went to Idaho for a wonderful family reunion to celebrate the honor Kevin's folks had at being named grand marshals of the Fremont County Pioneer Days parade from July 23-25. We had a double trailer float with 60 of Kevin's parents' posterity riding behind the grand marshal car. What a great memory for all of us. During the July 4th weekend, we rented a nice condominium in Park City and played with Michelle's sister's, Stephanie, family. We saw an outdoor concert and great fireworks at The Canyons Resort on July 3, and enjoyed a full day of activities the next day at Park City Mountain Resort. The Alpine Slide and Coaster, wall climbing, miniature golf, etc. were great. We had five birthdays in 30 days with Morgan, Jaden and Kevin in July and Taylor and Nathan in early August. Kevin took the three Sutterfield boys to Island Park for a day and to Yellowstone for two days while Michelle hung out with her parents, and her two out of state sisters and their families last weekend. Nathan received his endowment during an incredible live session at the Manti temple in July, and he has continued his temple service in Vernal, Provo (where he was able to baptize Hailey, Taylor and Morgan), Timpanogos, Salt Lake (where he saw his cousin married), and Rexburg, Idaho. We also visited the Oquirrh Mountain temple open house in early August as a family. Kevin, Nathan and Morgan also went to Vernal in July to visit Paula's mom and brother and his wife. It was great to see them in their homes and to go to dinner and to the temple with them. What an amazing summer. We are attaching a few photos of the events.
Wow: May is busy when you have a quiver full of children who are school age. Dallin graduated from Snow College with honors. Taylor was inducted into the National Honor Society and had a solo in the choir performance. Morgan played percussion in the band concert, and he had a solo in the 8th grade choir. Jaden and Morgan both sang in the Jr High year end choir performance to our delight. Like Nate, Taylor and Dallin had great dates to the Art Ball. We had so much fun as a family (and had parent bragging rights) with our children this spring. Hailey was very busy and less than a week after her semester ended she went to Zions Ponderosa, a destination resort just east of Zions National Park, for a paid summer internship as an event coordinator. Alas, we don't have pictures of her because she left so fast, but we will post several when we post our Italy trip we took the first two weeks of June. Enjoy the pictures and videos. Morgan is in the hat. (I took some better videos but they are on my video camera.)