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the best of the southwest

It took us three months to recap our three-week road trip through the Southwest, the memories of our adventures sustaining us through the cold winter months in DC. Having just made it through a record-setting snowstorm, we are preparing to hibernate indoors once more this weekend. While the weather service warns of “life-threatening” Arctic chills, we’ll warm up with one last look at the highlights from our trip. This post is an index of sorts, a “best of” list of our travels.

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more Munchkin madness

The toddler years are like a warning shot – the first indication that your sweet, little baby will grow up and leave before you know it. In the blink of an eye, it seems, we went from marveling at every little developmental milestone to not being able to keep track of them all. And now that our fiercely independent two-year-old has the run of the house, all we can do is try to keep up and get as many snuggles in as possible before he decides he no longer likes to be hugged and kissed.

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into the valley of fire

Vegas, baby! VEGAS!! The Holy Grail for gamblers and 90’s cult movie fans, and the final destination of our Southwest road trip. En route to Sin City, we stopped by the Valley of Fire, a small Nevada state park that packs a lot of punch. In fact, we had to strike a balance between seeing all of its highlights and reaching Vegas at a reasonable time.

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American safari, part two

Our first road trip out West, we saw coyotes and foxes, in addition to various other more commonplace animals. Part of the joy of spending time outdoors, of course, is encountering animals in their natural habitats. Although no predators deigned to show themselves during our recent road trip through the American Southwest, the wildlife encounters we did have – some a little too close for comfort, even – left us feeling incredibly fortunate.

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two-for-the-price-of-one birthday special

We set two alarms, rising with the sun. Zion was calling. We had already spent two days hiking in Utah’s grandest national park, but we had saved the best for last. Not only was this our last day in Utah, but it was also D’s birthday, which he had long wanted to celebrate atop Angel’s Landing.

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Snowzilla: the morning after

After hunkering down all of Saturday and watching the blizzard rage on into the night, we were excited to see the sun beaming down today. Perfect weather to play outside and enjoy the accumulation from one of the most powerful snowstorms to ever hit the East Coast.

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adult literature

Have you ever walked into a bookstore and found yourself completely at a loss? You know there are dozens of books you want to read. Some have been recommended by friends or in literary reviews, others are time-tested classics. You might have even made a list at one point, and yet as soon as you set foot in the store your mind goes blank and you can’t recall a single title or author. It happens to us all the time, and though we enjoy browsing the shelves of independent book stores, we find it helpful to have at least a few specific books in mind. Having recently put together a list of Munchkin’s favorite books, here are a few adult recommendations from our shelves.

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winter is coming

Washington, D.C. does not know how to handle winter, as anyone who has lived in the District will readily attest. At the slightest hint of snow, public schools close, government buildings shut down, stores sell out of their stocks, and public transportation grinds to a half. With snowfall this weekend predicted to reach the highest level in a hundred years, potentially, D.C. authorities hit the panic button early. Schools closed before a single snowflake had fallen. We also got half a snow day, with FSI joining other federal agencies in dismissing all staff by noon.

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toddler book review

About a year ago, we did a couple of posts on Munchkin’s favorite baby books. There are a handful of those early board books that still hold his interest, but by and large he has moved on to more advanced toddler literature. S’s mom had saved the books from her childhood, and we have incorporated a few of the classics S loved as a kid into Munchkin’s book collection. We also stocked up on Russian-language books before leaving Chisinau, though these have been less popular with our young, avid reader.

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a hitchhiker’s guide to Zion

Zion National Park is Utah’s Yosemite. It is big, beautiful, and full of massive monoliths that tower over a green valley. A placid river winds its serpentine way between the peaks, sometimes flooding the valley in monsoon season. Unlike many of the other parks we had visited during our road trip, which can be seen in a day or two, Zion demands more time and attention. With our stay in Utah winding down, we spent our last three days in the state hiking in Zion.

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