Every Kid Outdoors Pass: Visiting Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park

Our oldest son is in fourth grade and he qualifies for the Every Kid Outdoors pass this year. This means that he and the family get free access to hundreds of parks, lands, and waters for an entire year. It is an amazing program for all fourth grade students in the United States.

We have previously purchased the America the Beautiful pass which is the Interagency Pass that provides access to more than 2,000 federal recreation areas across the United States. Our family didn’t purchase an America the Beautiful pass this year because we knew Caden would qualify for the Every Kid Outdoors pass. With this in mind we want to create really special memories for him and our family this year using his pass.

Our family packed up and headed to Utah last week to visit Zion and Bryce National Park. Along the way we stopped at the Hoover Dam and also took a drive through Las Vegas. We stayed in Saint George which ended up being a great starting point for our adventures to the National Parks.

Having never been to Utah before I purchased this book to help our family make the most of our two full days we had for Zion and Bryce. It was very helpful and I highly recommend this series by Moon Travel.

Bryce Canyon National Park

The weather was overcast and rainy the first day in the parks so we decided to go to Bryce to see the Canyon. We drove to Bryce on the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway which took us into Zion Park and it was well worth the extra 40 minutes of travel time. At the entrance to Zion, Caden handed the park ranger his paper pass we had printed out. The ranger made a big deal about Caden being responsible for us in the parks and exchanged the paper pass for the Every Kid Outdoors card. It was super cute. Once Caden signed the back of his card we were on our way to Bryce Canyon.

Zion-Mount Carmel Highway

From the Zion Park entrance the drive took about 2 1/2 hours to get to Bryce Canyon. It was a beautiful drive and honestly didn’t seem that long. We had the kids leave their tablets at the house we stayed at to make sure they really got to see everything as we went.

We stopped at The Rock Stop in Orderville and the kids got to pick out souvenirs and also had some tasty donuts. They enjoyed the donuts so much we stopped on the way back from Bryce for more.

Bryce Canyon National Park

The weather was windy, cold, and wet when we arrived at Bryce Canyon. I am not sure how busy it typically is at noon during the week but we didn’t wait long at the entrance and were able to park at the lodge. This worked out perfectly because Sunrise and Sunset Points are easily within walking distance to these locations to overlook the canyon.

I am so proud of the kids for how well they did during this trip. We walked 2 miles around the rim before it started to rain more. Bryce Canyon is beautiful.

Zion National Park

The weather was gorgeous! Mid September weather didn’t disappoint. It was 58 degrees when we arrived at 9am and when we left at 2pm it was 72 degrees. Our kids are 10, 8, 5, and 5 years of age and we were able to hike 6 miles with them the day we went.

We used the shuttle bus to get around and parked our car at the visitor center. Being midweek we were still able to get a parking spot inside the park. By the time we left there was no parking available at the visitor center and many spots were filled close to the Zion Park entrance in Springdale.

Thanks to our guidebook I had a general idea which hikes I thought we could manage with the kids. Our day started at Stop 9 Temple of Sinawava for the Riverside Walk. It was a perfect paved trail that led down The Narrows.

Up next we took a bus to the Grotto and hiked a dirt trail to the lodge. This took 20 minutes. Once we reached the lodge we had our peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and snacks.

Our last hike of the day was Lower Emerald Pools. Again this was also paved but was uphill. The kids were troopers and were super excited to see the waterfall.

Before leaving the park we took the bus to The Court of the Patriarchs and saw Abraham, Issac, and Jacob.

Saint George & Washington, Utah

Saint George and Washington were a great starting point for all our adventures this trip. It worked out fantastic especially for Zion National Park. Bryce Canyon was more of a drive but the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway was beautiful.

If you are traveling to this area with children here are some places and activities I would recommend.

Pinkbox Doughnuts

Donuts. The cutest donuts ever. They also have vegan donuts which I appreciate because of my egg allergy. I lost it and couldn’t contain my laughter when I order the poo donuts for the kids. Be warned the tops of those things are made of frosting.

Thunder Junction All Abilities Park

We loved this park and visited three times during our trip. There is a splash park, playground, and train. The entire park is dinosaur themed.

Pop Drinks

On our way to Swig to get sodas after our day of hiking we drove by Pop and decided to try something new. We are glad we did. The soda mixes were great and they gave the kids popcorn with their drinks.

Dino Cliffs Trail

This was our last hike of the trip. It was slightly difficult to find and had it not been for local hiker we would have given up looking. In case you use AllTrails like we do don’t let the app route you to the hike. It had has park in the wrong area. Thankfully we were redirected by a hiker to the correct location. Once we located the trailhead and hiked down the wash area our dinosaur loving kids were able to see the dinosaur footprints hardened in the sedimentary rock. There are 17 well preserved tracks which paleontologists suggest were from bipedal, meat-eating dinosaurs during the Jurassic Period. From the trailhead it is a short distance to the tracks. Round trip this took us about 30 minutes.

We had a fantastic time in Southern Utah and would love to go back. The kids have already asked if we can go again next year. In total we hiked 10 miles in three days. Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park are beautiful and I am so glad this trip was able to happen.

If you are in or near the Mesa, Arizona area the Tonto National Forest Mesa Ranger District has the Every Kid Outdoors cards available in case your fourth grader would like to trade in the paper pass for a card.


Valentine’s Day & Rapid COVID-19 Tests

Life feels like it is moving pretty fast lately. Which is weird because we have been at home for such a long time now that I can only imagine what it is going to feel like when we return to a more “normal” routine. This Wednesday if all goes according to plan we will celebrate our 100th day of homeschool. I am just so proud of all of us.

On Valentine’s Day the kids woke up to treats on the kitchen table and a few new books to read. They also got In-N-Out Burger for dinner at the house from my parents. They were so excited because it was the first time they have had it in over a year. It is so expensive for our family to eat out and when the pandemic happened last year we made a choice to only eat at home. This has saved us so much money because for our family to eat burger’s and fries it costs $50. We don’t want to get into the habit of eating out as often as we were so we will be keeping this treat strictly for birthday’s or other special occasions to celebrate.

Josh and I celebrated Valentine’s Day by using a gift certificate from our dentist to Vincitorio’s Restaurant. Josh picked up the food curbside and we had a date night at home after the kids went to bed. We had a wonderful dinner and live streamed Josh Groban’s Valentine’s Day show. Thank you so much to our dentist, Dr. Anita Elliot, and staff. Josh and I have been going to her office for over a decade. If you are local and looking for a dentist we highly recommend Elliot Dental.

Our week was also filled with Josh going to get rapid COVID tests due to exposures from coworkers. Thankfully both tests were negative and I am just so glad he has had his first and second vaccinations. Huge shoutout to his fire department for having these rapid tests available. On a side note my grandparents go this week for their second shot and my dad is going to get his first. As of Sunday 500,000 people in the United States have died in the current pandemic, this is not far from reaching the grim milestone of 1918 (where 675,000 died). Just so sad.

We have been trying to spend as much time outside as possible lately because the weather has been beautiful. Our backyard sunsets have been amazing lately.

And we have also been taking advantage of our America the Beautiful Pass and hiking and picnicking. This week we hiked by the Salt River and got to see several wild horses on the trail.

Lastly our weekend finished with Josh ripping out a section of our daughter’s wall that had dry rotted. Several days ago he told me that he wanted to build a larger shed in our backyard which prompted me to kindly remind him of the wall project had been on the list for several months.

I love my husband so much and this was all it took to get him motivated to fix the wall. While talking over our plan with my dad on the phone he recommended bleaching the area to kill any mold and spraying foam insulation around the pipe. After the phone call Josh went to Home Depot to buy foam insulation, came home, and got to work.

Hours later we were finishing up texturing the new drywall. I asked Josh if he had remembered to bleach the interior of wall because I had forgotten to do it and assumed he had. He had assumed I had bleached it. And sadly the wall was torn apart again, bleach was sprayed, and another trip to Home Depot was made. We are hoping that the wall will be finished later this week.

Reading about what has been happening in Texas over the last week has made me so grateful to have electricity in my house and running water. If you live in Texas and have experienced lack of electricity and water I am so sorry. You have been in my thoughts and prayers.

I hope you enjoyed this recap of our last few days. Have a great final week of February and thanks for stopping by the blog and reading today.


My Husband’s Experience Getting The Second COVID-19 Vaccine at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, AZ

Josh got his second Pfizer vaccine last week at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, AZ. This is not the location where he received his first dose due to our county not having enough vaccines to schedule appointments. I am so thankful we were able to schedule his second appointment at the 21 day mark from his first vaccine at the state vaccination site.


We live about an hour away from State Farm Stadium. Due to a traffic accident on the road he arrived right at the time of his appointment. He was in a long line of cars that moved fairly quickly. He showed his QR code that came with the confirmation email, drivers license and also his employee identification. 

Josh stayed in the car the entire time. Once he recieved the shot he waited the 15 minutes to see if he had any complications. Again, just like the first shot, he said it didn’t hurt and 15 minutes later he was back on the freeway driving home. 

In total he was at the stadium for 45 minutes. He said it was well organized and as soon as he got the vaccine he had an email in his inbox confirming the vaccination.


He felt fine. He was maybe a little more tired the evening of his shot but his arm was more sore from the first shot. Thankfully he didn’t experience body aches or a fever.


I have now used this website to schedule six appointments for multiple family members. I have seen the not so great version of this website where you had to search every single date for an appointment and enter in your information each time you tried to search for an appointment because there was no save feature.

Last week when I went to schedule a vaccination for my dad the website update had corrected these issues. Thank you Arizona Department of Health Services for fixing your website. I was in and out of the website with an appointment secured for my dad in 5 minutes. I couldn’t believe it. 

If you or someone you know is getting a vaccine at the state site you are now guaranteed a second appointment. When my grandparents went for their first dose they were both scheduled before they left the stadium. Since I booked the appointments all their confirmation emails came to me. When I opened up the emails I noticed that only my grandpa had been scheduled. I mention this only to say make sure you double check those emails. Thankfully I was able to go into the website and schedule my grandma on the same day 10 minutes after his appointment time. 

If you made it this far, thank you for reading my ramblings. I am really looking forward to brighter days ahead. Josh is well on his way to being fully vaccinated. He is almost at the two week mark since his second shot. Obviously he will still be taking precautions, as will our other family members who have been vaccinated. But at this moment I am feeling hopeful and so thankful he was able to get both doses.