This week we took off for Capitol Reef National Park. We drove into the park just in time to eat dinner in the park by the visitors center and then find ourselves a nice camping spot in the middle of nowhere. (Those are our tents and car just to the left of Herbie's mouth in the picture above.)

We put the kids to bed about an hour late, but as I Woo and I lay in separate tents with wiggling and giggling kids who refused to go to sleep, we had an epiphany that we should've had a long time ago: the kids are not going to go to sleep before the sun goes down on a camping trip. 

Also, we will never enjoy time in the evening around the campfire without them. There is no use even trying because by the time they finally fall asleep, that's all we want to do too.
Woo (lecturing Herbie): As the oldest, you should've been the bigger man. I don't care if Moses was fooling around, you were giggling and that was not helping at all. 
I was in a tent with Archie. Did that mean that I rolled up a mat and played peekaboo out the other end with him? And then took pictures? And then poked him in his round belly until he giggled? 
But I did not keep everyone else awake.

In the morning we viewed some petroglyphs (mildly interesting) and went on a (to be honest) pretty boring hike of my own choosing (Grand Wash).

The most exciting thing that happened was Linus found this phone so he could take some pictures and chat while hiking.

The second most exciting thing that happened was a giant guided tour from Dixie State came down the trail. A couple of them took pictures of the kids.

Penelope was pleasantly surprised to see someone that looked like Grandma. And then another. And then another.
Penelope: That looks like Grandma!
And that looks like Grandma!
And that looks like Grandma!
We went on the scenic drive, which was scenic and had the added bonus of putting five out of six kids to sleep.

And then the fun could begin because the cousins were here!

Lyndy turned out to be a much better hike picker than I was. We immediately went on one that had lots of little "caves" for the kids to explore.

We ate dinner again in the park with some deer. Moses and Herbie kept talking about petting one, but it was all talk. They never got any closer than what you see here.

And we went back to camp. Brody set up their tent. 

Herbie continued his infatuation with girl cousins by taking Taija on a hike up the nearest peak. Ruby and Marcus and Moses dug up "crystals" they found and made a castle of them. Linus and Bentley discovered they were the same age. Something that Bentley found hard to believe because "I'm bigger than him."
Bentley: I'm in pre-kore (preschool) 
Woo: You're going into the peace corps, Bentley? 
That's great. You'll bring the world a lot of peace.
Moses won the award for dirtiest face.

And yes, the competition was quite fierce.

Brody got a campfire roaring and then took off for a mountain dew. Er ... some candles to ward away the gnats ...

The fire worked it's universal magic by causing some kids to ponder the complexities of life.

Others were compelled to tell tall tales. (Ruby told a long and meandering tale that Woo pronounced "riveting." Marcus recounted the plot of The Sandlot.)

It caused others to reflect on the beauty of nature and family relationships.

And others to fight with all their might to keep their eyes open just one second longer.

It even caused some to suddenly become camera shy.

And then it was time to go to bed.

To be continued ...