Aspen Grove 2016

I guess it must be theoretically possible to not have an amazing time at Aspen Grove Family Camp in Provo Canyon (near Sundance).

Here’s the short video summary:

And the long version for road trips and Sunday afternoons:

A few highlights of our week there:

  • Laser tag
  • High ropes course
  • Hiking to Stewart Falls
  • Sand volleyball
  • Dodgeball – parents vs. teens
  • Water Frolics
  • Aspen Follies (outdoor games)
  • Frontier Games
  • Wood Pen Turning
  • Fishing
  • All-you-can-eat food
  • All-you-can-buy Graham Canyon ice cream
  • Giant slip ‘n’ slide
  • Campfire singalong
  • Pie-eating contest
  • Pottery and other crafts
  • Water balloon launching
  • Archery
  • Air rifle range

Oh, yeah, and did I mention that your kids are off in classes every day, led by enthusiastic BYU students, so the parents can enjoy the week?

We’ll be back next year.

On going kind of viral

Over Memorial Day weekend we drove from Utah to Montana and back, 10 hours each way, to visit my brother’s family. We had a great time even though the visit had to end with the apology “I’m sorry my dog killed your chicken.” I grew up sleeping during long drives, but most of our five kids are road trip insomniacs. (Number four once made it from Atlanta to SLC without sleeping a wink in the car. It was super fun for everyone.)

On this trip the second-born passed her time making lip sync videos. She showed her favorite to her mom during the last 30 minutes of the drive. My wife has a great laugh and I couldn’t help but laugh at her laugh as I drove along the normally humorless Interstate 15.

I watched it that night and then sent it to my family. My brother said, “Wow!!! Prepare to have it go viral.” I got her permission and then posted it to my Facebook the next morning. Here it is:

Within a few hours it was spreading quickly among my sizable extended family. I have a lot of cousins, but before long I could tell that more than just my cousins were watching. Facebook view counts are easier to come by than YouTube views because of the auto-play feature — everyone who scrolls past it in their feed counts as a view. But comments and shares indicated that a lot of people could relate to being trapped in a van with oblivious family members, kept sane only by the music you love.

KSL was the first news outlet to contact me. They did a great little article (“2-4-6-0-Fun!”) called
Have You Seen This? Utah teen makes hilarious ‘Les Mis’ video during family road trip.

It was locked in an intense popularity battle with the story of a moose giving birth in the Lowe’s parking lot and then took over the #1 spot for a day or two.

Their Facebook post was shared over a thousand times.

KUTV came next. They didn’t contact me, but an editor with the amazing name of Cimaron Neugebauer, wrote up a small article based on the limited details in my Facebook post: Utah teen makes epic Les Misérables lip sync video on 10-hour road trip.

My wife and I were endlessly entertained by the overwhelmingly positive comments. Seriously, there were only like four jerks out of thousands of comments, which is a new experience for me on the Internet. A KSL commenter expressed her surprise as well that Utahans were actually being civil about a KSL story on Facebook.

Utahans being nice

Here are a few of my favorites:

Parents can’t resist giving each other online advice, so we had one mom who took the time to let us know she would prefer it if our kids had spent all 20 hours gazing out the window:

And another mom whose watchful eye would never have let this activity go on unnoticed:

A reporter with the Idaho Statesmen contacted me and posted a short article on their website. A few minutes later they figured out that my dad is an Idaho state senator and quickly added a local spin to it: Video by Idaho senate leader’s granddaughter goes viral.

This is where the trolls started to come out but they were few in number, at least. It was difficult not to feed them.

After about a week views reached 200,000 on Facebook and the pace slowed. Then Deseret News picked it up for their UTubers feature: Utah teen makes ‘Les Miserables’ music video during 10-hour drive. They linked to the YouTube version instead of Facebook and pushed it to about 6,000 views.

Some more attention came from Familyshare.com – Girl takes the internet by storm with her hilarious rendition of ‘Les Mis’

And it even made a minor appearance on reddit.

The video is now two weeks old and its 15 minutes of fame are just about over. It never approached the view counts of cute puppy videos and my daughter is still unrecognized in public. Ellen never called. The Les Miserables Broadway Facebook page liked the video but didn’t call us with free tickets and airfare. But it was pretty fun while it lasted and I’m happy it brought at least a few minutes of joy to most people who saw it.

I spent entirely too much time on Facebook over the past 15 days and need a social media cleanse now. Maybe a long road trip.

Last Day in Italy – Florence and Pisa

Day 7
It’s coming to an end. Our final art gallery was Galleria dell’Accademia where Michelangelo’s David is housed. (There’s a replica outside Palazzo Vecchio but the original was moved to the Accademia). This was a perfect gallery to save for last because it’s relatively small with just a few must-sees. I enjoyed the small History of Music section with a spinnet built by Cristofori, the inventor of the piano. In front of David we met a couple from Fayetteville, Georgia. (I was going to say “an older couple” but they were probably only 5 years older than us.) She was wondering whether David was depicted before or after slaying Goliath. He was more interested in why David was naked. “Did they really fight in the nude back then? If not, why do artists insist on removing their battle gear?” (Say with a strong Southern accent.)

I ate the most amazing artichoke heart and tomato pizza and then we took a detour to Pisa to see the famous leaning tower. Our expectations were low — we mostly wanted the tourist photos — but Pisa was a great little town. The mile walk from the train station to the leaning tower was lined with great shops, open markets, and nice views.

We fit in another crepe and gelato and headed back to Florence to retrieve our luggage from the hotel and took a final train back to Rome, exhausted. We had falafels and kebabs at a great little shop by the train station and took our final taxi at light speed to our final hotel near the Rome airport. The (French) song on the taxi radio is still in my head: Maître Gims – Est-ce que tu m’aimes. Well, it is battling it out with the gypsy accordion music.

An air traffic controller strike threatened to delay our flights home, but we all made it out on time. I watched the following movies during the 28 hours we spent in the air:

  • Creed – 2.5 stars
  • Concussion – 3 stars
  • Hunger Games final – 3 stars
  • Monster Hunt (Chinese) – a hearty 4 stars for pure weirdness and a catchy little musical number
  • Half of Daddy’s Home – 1 star

I also got some reading done, but not as much as I should have.

I am happy to report that despite all the carbs consumed, I gained no weight on the trip. Monica and Wendy wore Fitbits and we averaged 25,000 steps (about 9 miles) per day. Now let’s see what kind of damage these seven boxes of Cruesli will do.

Show me the video