Happy 4th of July! We were sure we'd find some kind of fun community celebration to take part in today. But we couldn't find anything! And it was even harder finding anything that was open today. Luckily while researching our trip, we came across an advertisement for a beautiful looking garden in Lehi, called "Thanksgiving Gardens". We took our chances that it would be open and made the 30 minute drive to Lehi to check it out. Am I ever glad we DID!! They were some of the most beautiful gardens I've ever seen. Gazebos, beautiful arches, secret gardens, waterfalls, and fountains - stunning.
I was even more happy that hubby decided to rent us a golf cart to tour around the gardens in - I had pulled both my calf muscles on Day 3 somehow, and walking has been extremely painful for me since. Besides, there would be no way the girls could have made the walk around the gardens - they were THAT big. It took us over 2 hours to explore them and that was zipping along in a golf cart!
After exploring those gardens, we headed just down the lane to the Children's Discovery gardens, which were both beautiful and fun for the kids. There was an enormous metal Ark, complete with Noah and his wife, and full of pairs of animals spouting water from their mouths (or trunks, or whatever). We loved this outing so much - I recommend taking time to check it out next time you are in the Salt Lake valley. Don't miss it!!
We stopped in at a local deli for a bite to eat, then hubby mentioned how he'd love to try and find a marina (Saltair) on the Great Salt Lake that he had visited with his family about 20 years ago. He wasn't even sure if it existed still, but walking by faith he drove in the general direction and soon we found the same place! It was no where near it's former glory, but it was still so fascinating. The lake, because no rivers run OUT of it, just sits and evaporates leaving it extremely salty. The lake's levels also change depending on the season, and the year. We ran into some tourists who had last been there in 1987 which had been the highest level the lake had been on record! This year it was kind of low and we could walk out very far before reaching the shoreline. We saw families walking out into the water for a long distance without the water even reaching their knees! It's such a neat lake! As we walked back to the saltair building we licked our lips and couldn't believe how salty they were! Salt air is well named!
We visited the gift shop and left with a bag of genuine Salt lake salt water taffy. Yum!
By this time it was suppertime and we were sore and exhausted, but feeling SO great! We absolutely LOVED our day - all of us! The kids were begging to go back - and secretly, so was I!
Sunday. Peace. Serenity. Joy.
We got up bright and early, dressed for church, then headed to the Joseph Smith Memorial Building for church. It was such a neat experience to attend Relief Society in a huge room with marble pillars, and luxurious drapes on floor to ceiling windows. Sunday school was held in a large room overlooking the Salt Lake Temple, and Sacrament Meeting was held in a GORGEOUS sacrament room with a beautiful organ with huge pipes, marble pillars, and gold leafing. Stunning. We were so glad we went there. The people were fabulous, as well. Our girls were taught Primary by the Primary president for Visiting Children! Neat, eh?
What better way to spend a Sunday in Salt Lake than enjoying Temple Square? We went through the Church History Museum which had a wonderful exhibit about the Tabernacle building as well as an exhibit called "I Am a Child of God", which the girls adored. They were able to tend and care for some baby dolls, dress up in Nativity costumes, and act out Lehi's Dream! Fun.
We took the girls to the North Visitor's Center to show them the Christus, which takes my breath away each and every time I see it. We took the girl's photo in front of it, then moved on to a beautiful video tour presentation on the Family: A Proclamation To The World. It was AWESOME!! I was moved to tears once again as we listened to and watched a film about a family who exemplified the teachings from the Proclamation as they went through different experiences in their lives. I highly recommend this tour.
Just as we finished the Family Proclamation tour, we walked down the hallway to the theater to watch the Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration film. Again, WOW! I had to fight back tears as I watched that account of his extraordinary life and I felt the Spirit testify to my heart that YES, Joseph Smith was indeed a prophet of the Lord, who restored the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the earth. I have no doubt. It is a wonderful film and I can't wait for it to be released onto DVD so I can have a copy in my home. Even the girls were riveted by it (all except for the 2 youngest who fell asleep).
We wanted to visit the Tabernacle building, however there was an organ recital in progress, so instead we went into the "Quiet" room where we could look through a window into the Tabernacle. It's amazing how that building was constructed, especially back then. The quality of work was so fine that the building has lasted well over 100 years. It's amazing!
Of course we took some photos in front of the Salt Lake Temple (just a magnificent building) though it was very crowded and VERY hot! The girls were getting tired, and I have to admit that Hubby and I were, too, as it was Fast Sunday and we had been fasting for nearly 24 hours by then. Add to that all of the walking we had done, and the heat of the day and we were pretty wiped out! We headed back to the hotel to rest and relax for the remainder of the day.
We were up early (do you see the trend here?), got ready and headed out to Oquirrh Mountain Temple Open House, which was about a 20 minute drive, or so, away. We had no idea how busy it would be! There were hundreds of people there! There were large white tents which showed a brief introductory video, then we were led to the temple where we could go in and be led around each of the rooms. This temple was probably 90% stone flooring (now, I'm not a flooring expert, so I have no clue whether it was marble, or granite or whatever) which meant that we didn't have to wear those little white booties on our feet. We just walked through in our shoes!
Everything was set up to run SO smoothly, very efficient. I was so glad that our children had an opportunity to walk through a temple as children. I hope the memory will be significant for them. As Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said, "Heaven would not be heaven with out [his] family." I agree. I know the Lord is kind and merciful, and would not be God if He did not prepare a way for families to be families forever!
This temple was so extraordinarily beautiful! I thought it would be more like the smaller temples that have been built, but it was much larger with many levels, and enough ordinance rooms for 2 sessions to be going simultaneously! Such a great idea! It was definitely a highlight of our trip, for me.
We headed to a couple of stores after that - a scrapbooking store, being one of them! It was called "Pebbles in my Pocket" and it was great! The prices were right, too. I bought a few things and as I was headed back to the van, my husband pointed out a cute little hair salon and asked if I wanted to get my hair cut while they waited and watched a movie in the van. Obviously I had been complaining a little too much about my hair, wanting to chop it shorter, and obviously my hubby is a great listener and was giving a GREAT opportunity! Of course I jumped at it! I'm glad I did, too, because the price was right and the girl did a wonderful job. She is one of the few stylists I've had that did exactly what I wanted AND styled it the way I love. I was very impressed! WAHOO!
Our day ended on a very high note when we were invited to my hubby's childhood friend's home to share dinner and family home evening. It was about a 20 minute drive to their gorgeous home, and the girls made quick friends with their four daughters of the same age (can you believe it?). Hubby loved catching up with his buddy and their family was so accommodating - especially since our girls decided it would be fun to act wild and crazy the entire time. (sheesh!). TJ made a pen pal with their daughter, B, and we all had a great visit. Thanks, S family!!
Tuesday morning we got up and headed out to a neat place called "Antelope Island". It's an island in the Great Salt Lake where herds of Antelope and Bison roam. We met up with some good friends of ours from home with their four kiddos in the gift shop, which was surrounded by TONNES of these HUGE spiders. Perhaps if you live in South America these won't seem HUGE, but to me they were HUGE. And there were LOTS of them! Thankfully they were not poisonous, so no need to fear :)
We headed down the road to a beach where the girls were able to swim in the Salt Lake. It's anywhere from 4-7 times saltier than the ocean, with salt built up on the lake floor up to 3-4 feet! CRAZY! The sand was gorgeous, the brine flies.... not so much. They were EVERYWHERE in large swarms along the waterline. I'm not sure you can see in this video, but there were millions of them. Gross.
The girls swam for almost an hour before we headed back to the van for some lunch.
We parted from our friends and headed back into downtown Salt Lake City to check out the phenomenal Gateway outdoor mall and take the kids to the Children's museum (which was free with our passes from our Science Center in Saskatchewan).
The mall was huge, trendy, and gorgeous! It was fun to walk through and look at all of the little touches they added to make it beautiful and interesting. There was a fun fountain area that kids could play in to cool off. With temperatures in the high 30's, I was tempted myself!
The kids really enjoyed the children's museum (Discovery Gateway). They spent most of their time in the Employment Center - and no, it's not that ;) The kids could try out several different careers like a grocer, a firefighter, a farmer, a cowboy - you name it! Super fun stuff. I wish we could have spent more time there, but it was getting to be supper time. Besides we were pretty hot and exhausted by the end of the day!
And that concludes part 2. I may be a while getting part 3 up as I've got a little girl sick with pneumonia. It's taking a bit of my attention at the moment. But, stay tuned, part 3 will eventually make it's way here :) And thanks to the 2 people actually reading this! (Yes, Lynn, you are one of them!!)