I know some of you don’t get to experience the beauty of fall colors right outside your window. This time of year I feel sorry for you southern California-ites and Floridians (talk about role reversal).
There’s something magical about autumn. The leaves put on their kaleidoscope display, the air is crisp and the smell of nature is all around.
Several times in the past month I have looked around with awe at the beauty around me. I want to share some of that beauty with you through this photo essay. Enjoy.
|Little G on the walk to pickup Big E from the bus.|
|Me, Mountain Dad and Baby L|
|The view from my hammock.|
|On the walk home from the bus stop.|
|In our yard. Little g is in a swimsuit, playing in the leaves.
Just after this she put on a winter hat. Talk about an all season girl.
|Another view from the hammock.|
|The tots on the Grotto Trail.|
|Big E on the Grotto Trail.|
|Exploring the river with friends.|
|Go little g! You can do it.|
|Baby L on the MonkeyMat.|
|A parting shot of Mountain Dad.|
This post is part of a series of weekly gear reviews. Check back most Wednesdays* for reviews of cool gear for outdoor families.
While Big E and little g slid down the dirt slides, explored the stream and ran around with their friends the adults enjoyed the leaves. Occasionally we called the kids back to the trail in an attempt to finish the hike in less than three hours, but they were having so much fun playing we didn’t try too hard.
The colors were beautiful, the weather was perfect and the hike ideal. The trail is only 0.3 miles long, and ends in a twenty foot tall waterfall cave. And although the trail was fairly busy, it still had a feel of seclusion in the grotto.
We all enjoyed the hike so much we stopped for a picnic on the way out. Luckily I had my Monkey Mat to make things easier.
The Monkey Mat is a portable floor that folds into a convenient pouch making it an easy carry along for outdoor adventures. It was given to me for review at Outdoor Retailer and I’ve used it more than I expected in the last two months.
Now you may be thinking, isn’t that the same as a blanket? Although a blanket can serve the same purpose, the Monkey Mat stands out as being conveniently portable, as in it can fit in a large pocket or purse or clip onto a belt loop, backpack or stroller. The 5 by 5 foot square of water resistant material has weighted corners and toy and stake loops but folds up into the attached 6 by 6 inch zippered pouch.
There are times with a baby that I just need a clean place to put her down – going to the bathroom, helping another child, carrying something. The Monkey Mat makes that aspect of outdoor adventures much easier. At 6 months and not crawling yet, Baby L is the perfect age for the Monkey Mat. We’ve taken it on picnics, to the water park, as a stroller cover, even to put her down on my dirty floor at home. Within an hour of getting it I used it as a place to change a diaper on the side of a parking lot.
I have found that lugging three kids’ worth of stuff around makes me want to declutter everything, including what I take on outdoor adventures. The Monkey Mat gives me a space saving option that has made outdoor time more comfortable when sitting on the bare ground won’t work.
But even with the convenience of it, I don’t know that I would buy it myself. I’m frugal by nature and spending money for a portable floor when I already have a blanket or baby wrap seems redundant. With that said, had I received it as a baby shower gift I would use it all the time. It is a great gift for an outdoors loving parent.
Bottom line, when I have the Monkey Mat with me it can be a life saver, but sometimes it’s redundant. It’s list price is $19.99.
- Lightweight, portable, and packable
- Fits into attached pouch and clips onto bags, belts, or strollers.
- Water Resistant
- Machine Washable (don’t dry it in the dryer to keep the water resistance)
- Redundant if you already have a blanket or towel
*I know this is a Thursday, but I ran out of time to finish yesterday.
Directions to Grotto Trail in Utah:
Take I-15 to Payson Exit 254. Head South on Main Street until 100 North, Turn Left. Go East until 600 East and Turn Right. This road takes up up Payson Canyon. Follow for approx 7 miles to the trail head of Grotto Falls.