East Lake Park Campground, Ashley National Forest, Utah

Great things happened this month. Little g turned 3, Mountain Dad turned 42 and I went on my first camping trip since learning I was pregnant. 
In general, being pregnant is a whole lot of discomfort. It’s harder to walk, eat, sleep, even get comfortable. When I first found out I was expecting I would’ve never willingly slept in a tent on a pad two inches thick, but a lot can happen between the first trimester and the second.  When Mountain Dad suggested we get away to celebrate his birthday I weighed the possible discomforts of camping against the benefits of a few days of outdoor experience. 
The outdoors won, which is what brought the Mountain Fam out to East Lake Park in Ashley National Forest. This mountain lake campground is located at 9,000 feet and closes for reservations on October 1st. For us that meant no running water (we just brought our own) and complete solitude. My research beforehand didn’t say we couldn’t stay there, nor were signs posted saying to vacate the premises so we took our chances and were glad it worked out.
East Lake Park is a high mountain lake with boat ramp. Fishing is big there, although without a boat or fishing poles we abstained. Instead we enjoyed the nearby off roading trail, including part of the famous Outlaw ATV trail that runs along the shores of the lake. 
One major drawback of camping at 9,000 feet in late October is the cold. I’m grateful for previous camping experience that taught me to always have a winter coat, hat and gloves as well as warm sleeping gear. Since we came prepared we all stayed toasty warm and spent a little more time next to the campfire than we would’ve otherwise.
The trip was great fun and enjoying the outdoors with my growing family was worth the inconveniences. 

My Go To Outdoor Space: Bridal Veil Falls, Provo Canyon, Utah

Everyone needs a place where they can connect with the outdoors. Our family is lucky to live in the mountains, but even with trees and fresh air all around our house I still find myself wanting to get OUT to the outdoors.

Our family’s go-to outdoor space is just a ten minute drive from home. Bridal Veil Falls, a gorgeous waterfall in Provo Canyon, Utah has a lot of things going for it. The paved trail makes it easy for a hike or bike. The short distance is easily managed by small feet. A river flowing along the trail allows for easy kid diversion and the destination is beyond compare – a giant waterfall with a fish pond next to it.

Whatever the season we love to visit Bridal Veil Falls (although, to be honest, the ice climbing of winter hasn’t interested us yet). But the best season to visit has to be autumn. Changing colors putting on their magical display can’t be beat.

On our most recent visit Big E rode his bike while little g and I walked the trail, admiring the fall foliage. Since Bridal Veil Falls is in the shadow of the mountain it can get cold, even when the sun is shining on the other side of the canyon. Luckily I hadn’t cleaned out my car and a red stocking cap kept little g from crying in discomfort.

Having this go-to place close by helps me get outside even when it’s chilly, I’m tired or my kids are cranky. Being outdoors relaxes me and helps me focus on some more important things than cleaning the house – family, nature and enjoying time with my kids. When I’m outdoors with my tots I feel like I’m a better parent. I’m teaching my kids to love the world around them, take care of it and enjoy the beauty of the natural world without lecturing or nagging. And they enjoy running, climbing, playing and exploring without the confines of the house.

So what’s your go-to outdoor space? A park? A running trail? Is there a place you go for a quick outdoors fix? If not, why not?

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Autumn at Sundance Resort: Bearclaw Supper Club, Harvest Market and Halloween Lift Rides

Autumn is a great time to be in the mountains. Our family lives near Sundance Resort in Utah and love to celebrate autumn with the great events hosted there. These are three of our favorites.

Bearclaw Supper Club

In September Mountain Dad and I enjoyed Sundance Resort’s newest fine dining experience – dinner al fresco on the patio of Bearclaw Cabin. On select nights in the summer and fall, guests can enjoy a lift ride to the top of Ray’s and Arrowhead lifts, a five course dinner, and live music from the highest point at the resort. The views are amazing.

Sundance Harvest Market

Every year Sundance Resort hosts a Harvest Market to beat all others. On the last Saturday of September artisans bring their crafts and wares to share in the beauty of the mountains. Although this year rain moved the event indoors, it did not disappoint.
What I love about the Harvest Market is experiencing the homemade. Whether it’s jewelry, artwork, home décor, furniture or food, the Sundance Harvest Market offers items you won’t find in any department store. I loved wandering the stalls, admiring handmade soaps, sampling Heber Valley Artisan Cheeses and listening to the talents of a local bluegrass band. My kids loved the owls from The Great Basin Wildlife Rescue. 

Halloween Lift Rides

I’m not a fan of haunted houses, I like my horror in more family friendly doses. That’s why I like Sundance Resort’s Halloween Lift ride. Riding Ray’s Lift on a crisp autumn night with scenes of ghosts, cemeteries, and skeletons below puts me in the Halloween mood. This year spooky lift rides will be offered nightly from October 23-November 1st (closed Sundays), 7:00-10:00pm weekdays, 7:00-11:00pm weekends. Don’t miss it.

Disclosure: Sundance Resort did not ask me to write this post, but I do blog for them at www.sundanceresortblog.com.

Sundance Resort Sounds of Summer

Autumn is in full swing but before we abandon summer for the year I wanted to post my last moment of summer fun. This is a post I originally wrote for the Sundance Resort Blog in August. Enjoy!

Sounds of Summer Concert Series by Susan Strayer
Warm weather, good music and relaxing on blanket on a lawn. All these things are synonymous with summer for me and Sundance Resort’s Sounds of Summer Concert series combines them all in one place.
This month, Sundance has sponsored a free outdoor concert every Sunday afternoon from 4-6:30 pm. Local bands including The Black Lilies, Book on Tapeworm, and The Nate Robinson Trio have shared their music with the Sundance crowd on Ray’s Lawn with the final group, Please Be Human, set to perform this Sunday, August 31st. With the mountain and Ray’s Lift as the perfect background scenery, the bands have brought a great feel to the resort, the perfect end of summer experience.
This past Sunday I packed a picnic and spread our blanket on Ray’s lawn to enjoy the musical talents of the Nate Robinson Trio. A reggae/country/rock band of local renown, the Nate Robinson Trio has been together since 2008, entertaining audiences of all ages.
My kids loved dancing along to the music, while my husband and I relaxed on the lawn. It turns out I didn’t even need to pack a picnic either. Concessions were available thanks to Sundance catering offering sandwiches and burgers for guests to enjoy.


If that kind of music isn’t your thing, don’t worry, each week has brought a different local flavor. The Black Lilies, and Book on Tapeworm have played as well and the final band scheduled is another local favorite, Please Be Human. The last week to enjoy the Sounds of Summer Concerts is this Sunday, August 31st from 4:00 – 6:30 pm.
The warm weather, good company and happy sounds of summer were the perfect way to celebrate the end of this great season. I hope the Sounds of Summer Concerts will become an annual tradition.
Don’t miss the final week of Sundance Resort’s Sounds of Summer Concert Series – Sunday, August 31 between 4:00-6:30 pm with the band Please Be Human.