We decided it was about time we escaped the urban scene once again, so Thursday night we drove up to the National Forest just outside Rocky Mountain National Park and snagged the last campsite. (I always feel a little bad when we do that; I hate seeing people driving around with cars full of gear looking disheartened.) We didn’t do anything terribly hardcore, but managed to squeeze in some hikes, s’mores, dutch oven goodness, star-gazing, and some general chillaxing. We kept wishing Cooper would decide to take up walking full-time so he wouldn’t get so dirty, but the kid had his own plan and wasn’t open to suggestions (see picture of filthy boy below). It was only a two day, two night trip, but we like to think that’s the beauty of living so close to beautiful places.
Back in January we pretty much planned all our family vacations for the month of June – a vacation to Alaska to see Noel’s parents and a camping trip to Southern Utah to rendezvous with my family. The hard thing about planning trips in January (other than not being able to foresee that you will buy a house the same month you plan your vacations) is that heat sounds like a good idea. Well, last Friday when we were packing our stuff and moaning over a forecast of high 90’s and low 100’s it no longer seemed like such a good idea. Still, the plans were made and we set off for Green River, Utah.
Despite being constantly sweaty and nearly eaten alive by mosquitos we had a grand old time visiting Goblin Valley, Arches, Moab, and a few sites near Green River (my hometown between the ages of 3-5). Everyone of course loved seeing Cooper and we of course loved having people around to share the burden of carrying him. We pounded gallons of water, enjoyed wearing Chacos, and had our own three day dutch oven cook-off with food that never disappointed. The shady campground and showers at Green River state park helped us avoid wilting and I believe our newly fixed car A/C was mentioned as a source of gratitude in every nightly prayer 🙂 Southern Utah will always hold a tender place in my heart, but I think from now on we’ll try to pay our visits in the fall or spring and visit the mountains during the summer.
Some of you know and others of you might have guessed, but we haven’t been in Colorado for the past month. We’ve been in DC while Noel worked on a month-long assignment for one of the parent organizations of his company. For a month we’ve been posing as a young, hip couple living in a happening apartment in Georgetown. We’ve adapted the local ways of scoffing at escalefters and avoiding the Smithsonian Metro station on weekends. We’ve waited in more lines than we’d like to remember and seen the beautiful cherry blossoms in full bloom. By the time this news hits the internet we’ll be on a plane headed to DIA. While DC has been fun and had many perks, we’re excited to return to a more low-key lifestyle and our single family home in a quiet neighborhood. There’s a lengthy gallery of photos below for those that are interested and I’m sure a few stories will sneak their way into our posts in the next little while.
My parents and my two brothers sacrificed their Fall Break to come and visit. We loved having them (especially Cooper, who never had to complain for lack of attention). Their visit started with a giant birthday bash for my now 17-year-old brother, Spencer. We were unable to find him a suitable girlfriend online, maybe next year. We took everyone on the famous brewery tour. We were part of the 5% of people that listened to all of the audio guide’s stories instead of racing to the end to get the allotted three free beers.
I don’t think the bartender had ever seen people so excited about free root beer and pink lemonade. We had fun hiking around Rocky Mountain National Park, Staring at the baby,taking advantage of my mom’s amazing photo skills (Here’s a sneak peak of our first ever Christmas card, I know you can’t hardly sleep at night you’re so excited for it.),
Here’s more pictures if you’re interested (which probably means you’re my grandparents :)). All the good ones are taken by my mom.
The days of summer are waning and we decided it was time to test Cooper and see if he really belongs in our family. We crammed gear into every spare inch of our little Honda and headed into the Rockies. (For a brief second we wished for a minivan, but quickly chased that unseemly thought away.) Cooper immediately began to display his love for the outdoors by giggling up a storm the second we set his stroller next to the fire pit. We hiked, ate dutch oven food, and got cozy in our backpacking tent. After two days of sleeping more than everyone else, not flinching when the wind whipped at the tent, and having the best hair, it was clear that Coop has what it takes to survive in the outdoors. We’ve decided to keep him.
Two weekends ago we were privileged to attend what I like to call M.O.S.S. or the McConkie Outdoor Survival School. The destination for this test of endurance was the Grand Canyon. This wasn’t the typical camping trip I am used to from my youth. (Drive up to overlook. “Look, there it is.” Drive away.) Over the weekend we hiked a total of 27 miles. Sunday (the day of “rest”) we hiked along the North Rim five miles out to Wildfross point and back. There was great scenery and wildlife all along the way.
Then Monday morning we did a grueling 17 mile hike going 5,000 feet down into the Grand Canyon and back out in the same day. We ran the first several miles into the canyon. Other tourists on foot and mule gawked in amazement: “Crazy.” “They won’t be doing that one the way out.” Nevertheless, we galloped down the North Kaibab Trail as the plant life, rock strata, and temperature changed around us. The rest of the clan got a bit ahead of me when I realized the precarious way the trail was carved into the side of a cliff about 2-3 miles in and I froze in my tracks as the vertigo overtook my mind. After inching along the trail clinging to the wall for a while, I found them all waiting for me at the beginning of some more switchbacks.
The hike continued down and down. We stop and refilled our water and dunked our shirts and selves in a creek. A rattlesnake shook his rattle at us from inside a pile of rocks he was hiding in. And finally we found our way to Ribbon Falls, our destination. It’s a beautiful little oasis in a side canyon with a long waterfall spraying from a cliff high above down onto a giant mossy stalagmite reaching up from the canyon floor.
After playing in the water and eating jerky, skittles, and granola bars, we began the ascent. As could be expected it was much like the descent except backwards and much slower and harder. Climbing out was like doing a sandy stair master for 5-6 hours straight. Somehow I didn’t notice the scary cliffs as much while walking past them this time. I was too busy hallucinating about dinner, my sleeping bag, and what I would put in my will.
Reaching the top is still kind of fuzzy in my memory. All I know is that, never has Dutch oven lasagna tasted so delicious.
PS The first two pictures are from another M.O.S.S. event: scaling snowy Mt. Magog in June.
As our last vacation of the summer, Noel and I went to Oregon with my family. Seven of us piled into my parent’s Ford Windstar minivan with all of our stuff and drove to a little coastal city called Manzanita. When we visited Fort Clatsop (a fort where Lewis and Clark stayed) and Noel used our National Parks pass to get us all in the clerk said, “Seven of you, all in the same car?” and stared at us with doubt and mistrust. Noel’s response was, “I know, it’s been a long drive.” The weather was lovely, the company was wonderful, and none of us wanted to leave, but now we’re back and we have to get back to school and work 🙁
So, last weekend we went to Bryce Canyon to run their half marathon. It was a great time. We met up with our neighbors Ryan and Brianna, and his sister Julie who was running it too. Ryan got this idea to run it in a suit in honor or his brother who had just left on a mission. Apparently the whole run he had people making smart remarks to him: “Priesthood meeting isn’t until tomorrow.” “Where’s your companion elder?” etc.
It was a very scenic race, very early, very downhill, and we got good times. We finished together in 1:38:34. Audrey even placed third in her age division again. Afterwords since we were not tired enough yet we piled into the car and saw the sites in Bryce Canyon and even did the Queen’s Garden trail.
On our way home I saw this ridiculous “wildlife museum” where they had “exotic deer” in a cage you could feed. I mean, I guess it would not be there if they did not make money at it. I thought it was pretty funny so we pulled over to take a picture and the proprietor of said establishment yelled out to us that we were not allowed to park there. I notified him that I was only going to be there for a few more seconds, long enough to take a picture and be on my way. Then he shouted that pictures were not allowed despite the fact that it is in clear view of the roadside. Nevertheless, at the peril of our lives, we bring you pictures of the exotic deer. You are all welcome.
It’s hot in our little apartment here in Logan. This last weekend we needed to get away to somewhere a little cooler, so we went to the Tetons. (Sorry I didn’t tell you Mom, but I think everyone’s weekend was a little less stressed this way.) Anyway, it’s a trip we meant to go on last summer but didn’t get to because it was raining when we wanted to go and we went to Moab instead. I was pretty excited for it and a few weeks ago went to the library and checked out every book they had on the area, partially because I wanted the information and partially because I didn’t want any other would be travelers from Logan to get any ideas.
Friday morning we got up super early and drove to Jackson stopping at every one of the 82 construction zones in between here and there and taking a small detour to Bennington?, Idaho. Our goal was to acquire one of the coveted tent-only sites at the “top 40 best campgrounds in America” Jenny Lake campground. However, when we rolled in at 11:00am we could hardly find a parking spot let alone a campsite. Upon looking around it didn’t look all that much different or better than any other campground I’ve ever been to, so when we got one of the last sites at Signal Mountain next to a circus tent and some people from California (no, they weren’t the same people) we were plenty happy enough.
The hiking was great out there even though there were so many people. Friday, after finding our campsite, we went up to Surprise Lake wearing our hiking-appropriate Chaco sandals. In spite of snow and the scoffs of people with their trekking poles, we made it. It’s just so odd to run into that much snow on the ground in July. The little lake was still partially frozen over. The next day we had planned on going up over Paintbrush Divide to Lake Solitude and around back down through Cascade Canyon, but apparently there was avalanche conditions on Paintbrush so we opted for a out and back hike up Cascade Canyon instead. It was absolutely gorgeous up there. However, the first part of the hike up to Inspiration Point is anything but inspirational due to the over abundance of tourists that rode the boat across Jenny Lake to get there. Once past that, the trail up the canyon is fabulous with shady pine forests, high snowcapped mountains, and waterfalls all over the place. Unfortunately while up there our camera decided that all the picture we had taken up to that point should be DELETED, and we didn’t realize it until we got back to camp that night, so there are only a few pictures of that hike and Surprise Lake. Sunday we relaxed and went swimming out in chilly Leigh Lake. (It used to be a glacier.) Monday we saw a moose in the campground in the wee hours of the morning and saw the sunrise from the top of Signal Mountain. On our way out of the park we stopped by the Lawrence S. Rockefeller Preserve and officially communed with nature on a little hike out to Phelps Lake.
When all was said and done we had about half of the pictures we took, a cumulative total of 30+ mosquito bites with some in places I didn’t know mosquitoes could get to, and some fond memories. I think next time will have to be a backpacking trip later in the summer. If there’s anyone who’s interested let me know.
Oh yeah, and the pictures are below.
Noel and I have gone on several hikes this summer where hikers in serious looking, ankle high boots wielding telescoping trekking poles have given us skeptical and somewhat infuriated looks as we pass them up on the trail in our open-toed, care-free Chacos. Most recently we were in the Tetons and after completing a 9.3 mile hike a group of hikers asked us, “How did you manage to get to the top in inappropriate footwear?” (It must be noted that they did not actually make it to the top themselves). Inappropriate footwear? Granted there were a few snow patches, but Chacos have much better traction than the inquirer’s white Reebok sneakers and lack the blisters that accompany any pair of hiking boots I’ve owned. I guess I’m just getting kind of tired of people thinking I am a sissy, froofy-girl who has never set foot on a mountain – I was even about to challenge this one guy to a race up the mountain last weekend, but luckily Noel stopped me.
Admittedly, I too used to think it was silly to hike in sandals, but after having my very own pair of Chacos for a year I too am converted. My broken in running shoes are experiencing tough competition. For those who are still skeptical, Noel and I compiled a gallery of “appropriate” Chaco usage . . . also Noel just pointed out to me that Chaco now makes hiking shoes too (for occasions where there is more than the occasional snow patch).