Doing the Loop: A Toone family road trip

A few weeks ago, there was a kid-switch in the family. Our son Trevin went with his cousins to attend a basketball camp while Ryan and Kena’s only-daughter, Evia, spent a few days with Grandma Connie. At the end of the week, our families met up in southern Utah to exchange hostages. Since we were already far from home, we decided to make this into a mini-vacation and drive around the state for a few days to see what new and interesting things we could find. Here is a summary of our trip. 

Friday, July 10

We left for Antimony around 11 a.m. On the way out of town we picked up Evia from Grandma Connie’s house, along with some sandwiches and healthy snacks at the grocery store. As we drove south on I-15, we listened to the funeral of President Boyd K. Packer.

A little after 1 p.m., we reached Payson. We stopped at the first of many parks to let the kids stretch their legs and use the bathroom. We also changed the first of many diapers and fed the first of many bottles (we felt clever for preparing a cooler with chilled milk). That’s when we learned sweet Elise had suffered the first of a few disgusting blowouts. Lisa was so upset she started talking to me in Spanish (no bad words :)). One of the tires looked a little low on air but was ultimately fine the entire trip. On the way out of town we stopped to walk the Payson Temple grounds and take a few photos.

It was a peaceful drive. We left I-15 at Scipio and continued south. It was the first of several small towns along our route and we liked seeing the old, pioneer style homes and other historic buildings in the community.

A great panorama during our drive.

A great panorama during our drive.

A short time later, we drove through Koosharem and stopped at a café for milkshakes. I had never ever heard of the place, but they make great shakes if you ever pass through.

If you are ever in Koosharem, do yourself a favor and stop at the Cafe for a milkshake.

If you are ever in Koosharem, do yourself a favor and stop at the Cafe for a milkshake.

Around 5 p.m., we reached the city limits of Antimony and checked into our room at the Rockin’ R Ranch. On the other end of town, we met Ryan and Kena, having just arrived at her family’s home. The kids played in a nearby park and I went with Ryan, his father-in-law, and his sons Daxon and Bridger, to do a little fishing at Otter Creek Reservoir. Unfortunately, I didn’t have my fishing license, but everyone else caught several fish.

Left, Bridger the conquering hero. Right, Daxon chills while waiting to catch his next fish.

Left, Bridger the conquering hero. Right, Daxon chills while waiting to catch his next fish.

We returned an hour or two later to eat scones a.k.a. Navajo Tacos, followed by an intense brotherly game of basketball at the park. The pole holding the hoop was a little questionable, like it could come crashing down anytime, but amazingly it held together. There was even a chain net, so this was true street ball. It was a fun, competitive game, and it became evident the boys are getting bigger and better.

Another panorama.

Another landscape panorama.

We retired to a busy Rockin’ R Ranch where it looked like they were hosting a few family reunions. We paid to stay the night in a room with five beds, a pair of bunk beds and one queen. There was a big fan in the middle of the beds and I was worried one of the boys would be decapitated by the fan while climbing the ladder to the upper bunk, but fortunately there were no accidents. We had a pretty decent night once everyone settled down.

Saturday, July 11

Around 9 a.m., we checked out of the Rockin R and returned to the Roberts reunion for breakfast. They were very kind and generous to share their meals with us, so shout out to the Roberts’ clan.

Over the next two days, we drove from Antimony to Cannonville and looped all the way to Ephraim and beyond.

Our route was a loop around central Utah.

Our route was a loop around central Utah.

Just after 10:30 a.m., we arrived at the Bryce Canyon Pines Restaurant and bought each member of the family a piece of delicious pie. I got banana-blueberry. We also picked up Subway sandwiches for a picnic later and filled up the gas tank across from the famous Ruby’s Inn.

One final landscape panorama.

A third landscape panorama.

From there we passed through Cannonville and continued to Henrieville. Along the way we listened to the soundtrack for upcoming Garland community theater presentation of the “Music Man.” By the end of the day I think we had listened to the entire soundtrack at least 25 times. Lisa and I now know the words to “76 Trombones” and “The Wells Fargo Wagon” just as well as the boys.

lunch

Stopping at the park in Henrieville for lunch.

It was a beautiful day and not too hot. We stopped at the only park in Henrieville to eat our sandwiches and pie. Emma was so happy to get out and run. Kalen had just as much fun chasing her.

Emmy J. loved the parks.

Emmy J. loved the parks.

An hour later we drove through Escalante. We stopped briefly at the Escalante Interagency (BLM) Visitor’s Center and the Hole-in-the-Rock Escalante Heritage Center. The boys enjoyed both stops.

Left, the visitor's center and a cool bug collection. Right, the Hole-in-the-Rock Heritage Center.

Left, the visitor’s center and a cool bug collection. Right, the Hole-in-the-Rock Heritage Center.

At the Hole-in-the-Rock, Trevin and Kalen got matching arrowhead necklaces. Kalen also bought a little rock with Indian rock art. My No. 2 son has a fascination with geology right now, so I was happy to pay $1 for the souvenir.

The next stop came in Boulder at Anasazi State Park. To our pleasant surprise, there was a large crowd outside the park. Boulder Heritage Days was in full effect and there was hardly an open parking spot. They had booths set up and a band was playing. There was an interesting crowd of hippie/tree-hugger types, my kind of people. 🙂

At Anasazi State Park in Boulder.

At Anasazi State Park in Boulder.

With the band playing songs we’d never ever heard, we entered the museum and spent about 30 minutes at Anasazi State Park. It reminded me a lot of Mesa Verde Park in Colorado, but on a much smaller scale. After the tour, Lisa fed Elise while me and the boys pushed Emma across the parking lot in Elise’s wheelchair.

Lisa feeds Elise while we push Emmy in the wheelchair.

Lisa feeds Elise while we push Emmy in the wheelchair.

The ride from Boulder to a series of small towns, Torrey, Bicknell, Lyman and Loa, was over mountainous terrain with beautiful scenery, but it made Lisa a little car sick. The van got a workout on the hills, which led us into a discussion about the right time to get a new family vehicle. It might be time to repair the brakes. At times they felt strained as we sped down the mountain. As we left the mountains, Lisa started to feel better. Once again, the sounds of the “Music Man” kept us awake.

I thought this was a cool shot.

I thought this was a cool shot.

Around 4:45 p.m., Elise started to cry. This motivated us to stop at a park in the tiny community of Loa, where we could take care of her. The park was right next to an old pioneer home with a monument and a cool LDS church with a rocky, pioneer exterior. As we started back on the road, we decided we would hold up that night in Richfield, less than an hour away.

The LDS Church in Loa.

The LDS Church in Loa.

We pulled into Richfield around 5:30 p.m. There was some debate about where to stay, but we settled on the Fairfield Inn and Suites. They gave us a reasonable price for two queen beds and couch bed, which worked great for the girls. They also had a nice pool and hot tub.

The kids were hungry. The Frontier Village reminded us of an old Rexburg favorite, Frontier Pies, so we decided to go there. Somehow I missed seeing the wheelchair ramp and carried Elise up the stairs in her wheelchair. After being seated, a nice man informed us there was a wheelchair ramp on the other side of the building. Thanks, good to know, I thought.

While we waited for our dinner, another man approached our table.

“Excuse me, do you own a silver Kia Sedona van?” he said.

“Yes,” I said.

“Your side door is wide open,” he said. “Just thought you should know.”

I quickly went outside and confirmed he was right. One of the boys had left it open while getting Emmy out her carseat. I was so grateful to see we hadn’t been robbed. We had a lot of valuables sitting out. Our fun trip could have taken a sudden, sour turn. I locked it up, then found the man’s table and thanked him again. As I returned to the table, I wondered who might visit our table next? Just the waitress with the check.

It should also be noted that Trevin ordered a big plate of spaghetti and hardly ate any of it due to claims of “being full.” He was saving himself for the pool. “You could have ordered something smaller,” I told him.

Back at the hotel, I went with the boys to the pool while Lisa prepared the girls for bed. The boys had the pool and hot tub all to themselves for more than an hour and were quite content to splash and play.

The boys go swimming at the hotel pool.

The boys go swimming at the hotel pool.

What vacation would not be complete without a stop at the Wal-Mart. Before the night was over I made an emergency trip to get some “nighttime” diapers for sweet Elise. She was having a hard time getting through the night without leaving a surprise on the sheets by morning. The nighttime diapers proved to be the solution we needed. We had a reasonably comfortable night.

Sunday, July 12

The next morning we went down to breakfast in two shifts. Lisa, Trevin and Emma went first. When they returned, I went down with Kalen. The continental breakfast has vastly improved since my days traveling with Utah State. They had everything, including bacon, sausage, eggs, waffles, pancakes, toast, juice, cereal, fruit, muffins, oatmeal, etc. It was easy to get full with that hearty start to the day.

When we had filled our bellies and the van was loaded, we struck out for our last stop, Marysvale. Now let me just say for the record that we didn’t go to church, and I felt guilty about that. Next time we will.

As we turned off I-70, we saw a sign for Fremont Indian State Park and Museum in Clear Creek Canyon, and decided to take a look. It was a good call. We had a delightful time. We had the whole place to ourselves. The kids liked the museum. We even did a little hike up to see rock art.

The boys claim they can draw better than this artist.

The boys claim they can draw better than this native American artist. They are so humble.

Lisa and the boys showed great interest in the early Native American rock art and we documented the walk with several photos.

At Fremont Indian State Park.

At Fremont Indian State Park and museum. In the middle photo, Trevin, in the white shirt, was captured in a pose that reminded me of the famous Bigfoot photo. He does wear size 13. Right, sweet Elise was worn out by the end of the walk.

The next stop was the Big Rock Candy Mountain Resort, where we increased our sugar levels with treats. The kids liked that. They ate it on the way to Bullion Canyon and the “Canyon of Gold Tour.”

Here are some different things we found in Bullion Canyon.

Here are some different things we found in Bullion Canyon.

Around noon, we paid $1 for a brochure and learned some interesting things. In the late 1800s, prospectors found evidence that the Spanish had once mined the area. The area boomed to more than 1,000 residents, with many of them working the canyon in hopes of striking it rich. As you drive up the canyon’s gravely, rocky road, you can see a series of old buildings and mining equipment, shadows of the former operation. We were loaded down in the family van, which worked this time, but if we even go back it should be by ATV or truck.

The boys by a replica cabin in Bullion Canyon.

The boys by a replica cabin in Bullion Canyon.

It was fun to see this mining ghost town and imagine hundreds of miners living working the mines to get rich a long time ago. Fortunately, no one fell down a mineshaft and we made it out of the canyon in one piece.

The boys in Bullion City.

The boys in Bullion City.

We returned to Richfield, ate Subways at a park, and pushed on to Salina, Gunnison, Sterling, Manti and Ephraim. Lisa had never been to Manti, so it was fun to drive down main street, see the restored pioneer homes and stop for a closer look at the temple and its castle-like architecture.

The Manti Temple.

The Manti Temple.

There was also a cool park and reflection pool at the bottom of the hill. I told the boys about coming to the Manti Pageant as a youth with the young men and young women of the old Garland 3rd ward in the 1990s. It was the first time I saw protestors and street preachers at a church event. I remember it was eye-opening to walk around and hear people engage these weirdos in religious debates.

The castle known as the Manti Temple.

The castle known as the Manti Temple.

Mommy and Emmy by Manti hill.

Mommy and Emmy by Manti hill.

A family selfie by the Manti Temple.

A family selfie by the Manti Temple.

About six miles north, Ephraim, we stopped at the Wal-Mart for one last bathroom stop. Then it was on to the small town of Moroni, and Nephi and Provo. Along the way we listened to the latest volume of “Tennis Shoes Among the Nephites.”

The Manti Tabernacle.

The Manti Tabernacle.

Around 6 p.m., we made one last stop in Centerville to refuel and get a snack before driving the rest of the way to Riverside. About five minutes before we pulled in, we heard Elise vomit and have a diarrhea episode, a fitting end to our journey.

Thank you for taking time to read this exhausting, 2,000-word travelogue. You are a loyal friend if you survived reading this post. Here’s to more Toone family memories!

My favorite photo from the whole trip includes the most important people in my life.

My favorite photo from the whole trip includes the most important people in my life.

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Trent Toone

My name is Trent Toone and I’m a journalist for the Deseret News, where I write for a variety of feature sections. I was raised in Northern Utah and graduated from the University of Utah in 2003. Since then I have worked for several newspapers and received various awards over my journalism career. I am the author of “No Excuses, No Regrets: The Eric Weddle Story,” the sports biography of San Diego Chargers safety Eric Weddle. I served an LDS mission to Santiago, Chile, and spent a year teaching seminary. Like my father before me, I am a proud Eagle Scout. My wife Lisa and I have four children and live in Northern Utah. Feel free to contact me by emailing to trent.b.toone (at) gmail (dot) com.

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