The first week of August we spent seven days in Utah--five in the mountains of Park City and two in Southern Utah in Moab. 

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Before we left I told people we were going on vacation in Utah. But the Monday after we returned I saw a blog post on Facebook clarifying whether you are on a vacation or a trip. Among other hallmarks to be aware of:

If your final destination has a kitchen, you are not on vacation. You are on a trip. If you have to grocery shop before or during your time away, it is a trip. If you, at any time during your stay, have to load or unload a dishwasher, that is a Groundhog-Day-style trip....If you are a Stay-at-Home Parent, you aren't even on a trip. You are on a work trip, and, in a perfect world, the entire "journey to a place" would be a tax write-off. The only known and quantifiable "break" you are getting from life is that for about a week you will not have to open and sort the mail. Other than that, it's business as usual.
She's right. It wasn't a vacation. But it was a very, very lovely family trip, indeed.

We didn't pick Utah; it picked us.

Back in March we were scheming ways to get back to Singapore for a visit. In considering our options the idea of a house swap occurred to me. I asked around and learned that a friend of a friend's parents do it. I made a phone date with Barb to learn more, and was sold after about 45 minutes. Barb is a home swap evangelist.

Nothing panned out in Singapore, but not long after we signed up, a guy in Park City reached out to us. He was hoping to spend some time in Nashville with his family. He offered us a range of dates in the fall or summer. We took the first week in August, and so boarded a plane for Utah with his home's gate code and high hopes.

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Contrary to the sleepy Manimal's expression here, we weren't disappointed.

The house was absolutely lovely. And our hosts (who were traveling elsewhere) were so hospitable. We were welcomed with a bottle of wine and plenty of space to spread out.

Hamish chose her own room--the one with the soft brown blanket!-- and the Manimal slept down the hall. We borrowed the master bedroom and enjoyed a bathroom bigger than our current bedroom.

When traveling with little kids, you do sacrifice some vacation things in favor of keeping a schedule that keeps everyone sane: No one really slept in. We did go to the grocery our first day to stock the fridge with breakfast and a few lunches and snacks. And everyone kept their nap schedules.

But we also did lots of things that qualify as special. We visited the library three times to read as many books as Hamish wanted. We watched movies in the amazing in-home theater. 

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We hiked. We rock climbed. We put the kids to bed and sat in the hot tub under the stars. We ate cotton candy and mussels and good cheese and hot dogs. We took bubble baths with jets (the kids) and steam showers (the adults). We watched the skiers practice their crazy arial stunts into a pool. We rode the bus around town and the gondola up and down the mountain and a paddle boat around an alpine lake. 

It was a very, very good trip.

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