Saturday, September 5, 2009

Antelope Island Exploration

Today we woke up WELL before the crack of dawn, collected Cousin C and headed south to Antelope Island State Park, a very large natural island in the Great Salt Lake, for a hot air balloon and kite festival. While the girls and I enjoyed the ultimate balloon festival last fall, C had never seen a hot air balloon up close, so we'd decided to try to hit the morning launch.

Well, turns out there isn't a launch at this relatively new festival. In fact, there were half a dozen balloons, only one of which managed to get itself upright. But THAT balloon's captain invited all the children to torch the stove - quite a thrill, particularly for the youngest set who still isn't even allowed to experiment with matches yet. Pull the string and, "VOOOM," 40,000 BTUs at their fingertips!

After the up-close-and-personal look at the balloons, we headed to historic Garr Ranch, the longest continually operational ranch in the state. Today it's part of the state park, and visitors are welcome to touch (with care) just about anything on the site, and explore the structures and grounds. Today, they also had several activities that thrilled E to know end and certainly provided entertainment for V: candle dipping, handkerchief doll making, hoop throwing, hoop rolling and other pioneer activities. With C's sharp eye leading the way, we were also able to spot a Great Horned Owl in the grove just below the house.

We headed back to the festival in hopes of seeing some kites, but the wind had died almost completely down. At its peak, we saw 6 kites in the air (granted, we were at the ranch house for a couple of hours so may have missed a true peak), but a Texas kiting couple provided a game (bol racing) for the kids, with simple kites for the winners. Dozens of kites were given away to kids, most of whom ran off their energy in the field trying to get their newfound toys in flight.

We haven't geocached in quite a while, but I thought this would be a good, unique place to find one. So, we put a call in to Cousin K who looked up coordinates for us. It was a short walk, easy find, and nice view.

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