Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Back packing, Subaru Outback, and other outdoor adventures…

September could maybe be considered our most “tree-hugging” month thus far as the title may imply.
Labor Day Weekend, Mike and I left for our first overnight backpacking trip after work on Friday. It is only about a three mile hike, but it’s a pretty good workout, and it is definitely worth the views. Mike had done it several years ago but it had been a while and he was excited to get me out back packing. By the time we arrived, it was dark outside and we were ready to hit the sack. We set up camp and went to bed for the night. In the morning, we warmed up with some hot cocoa and reaped the benefits of our efforts the previous night. It was so pretty! We explored around the three different lakes. Lake Blanche is the biggest and the most famous of the three. However, they were all really pretty. It was fun to spend time together with just the two of us in the great outdoors. I am a fan of the short back packing trips. After exploring around for a while, we returned to the city for a family party. I know you are thinking our life is always a party. To that I would say, yes, you are correct!

On Labor Day, after getting excused from work for the day, we walked around the different lots looking for cars, eating free hot dogs, popcorn, and drinking free soda. But that was about all the success we had that day. We spent the next week looking heavily for cars, particularly on KSL. As both of us were getting settled in our jobs, we quickly realized it was time to replace Mike’s Eclipse. With Mike driving through Parley’s every day we wanted to get an all wheel drive vehicle for safety purposes. We thought a Subaru was the best route to go. They are a good car, last a long time, and they retain their value. During our search we met with several people, one whose name was Dean was particularly interesting. He told us how he was very particular who bought his car. In a way, he was interviewing us to buy his car. Yup, he was in no hurry to sell it. He was an older guy but he had some neat experiences throughout his life. He had worked with some Olympic skiers which he said were like his own sons; apparently he was a really good skier. His car was nice, but unfortunately, he was asking way too much for it.

But we didn’t need to wait for too long. In Roy, on KSL, we found a white Subaru Outback which was in our price range with pretty low miles. We also were already going to be in the area anyways as we were spending the night at Danny and Haley’s house. Saturday morning we checked it out and walked away with it that day. We felt bad because she was super attached to her car, they owed more than what they were selling it for, and they had only had it for a year and put very few miles on it. In their opinion, Orem was a road trip. They had to sell it because they were going to have a baby. She made a comment, however, about how it was her first baby. It was a little awkward. Then as she handed us the keys to drive away she had a tear in her eye. But what could we do? They needed to sell it and we wanted to buy it. On the drive home, the tank proved its usefulness, as it went through the heavy rains without faltering one bit. Yet we would still earn the reputation of tree-hugging, democratic, lesbian hippies. Oh well, it was our nice new little truck and we love it!

Throughout the rest of September, we continued our outdoor adventures. We went on several little Sunday strolls in the backcountry. We even attempted to climb Mount Olympus. Unfortunately, we ran into a few mishaps. I was getting a big blister on my heel from poor choice in footwear and Mike had eaten something that was not settling well in his little belly. The poor guy had to take several pit stops it was kind of a “crappy” situation if you know what I mean. No need to worry, we will conquer it one day. Because we have heard that if we keep practicing we will be able to climb a mountain! Next time we will be better prepared.

Although, this experience did not sway us from the outdoors one bit. In fact, we were ready to get out there and climb another mountain. On the 22nd of September, we backpacked up to Red Pine Lake with B-rad and Mary. If you think we are intense, you should meet them. They had just returned from a bike ride clear across the country. They sold almost everything they owned and hopped on their bikes for several months. It is definitely not for everybody, but you have to respect their dedication. They had some pretty crazy tan lines and it sounds like a lot of really cool experiences. We got to hear about their trip over some frozen yogurt. It was my first time meeting these two, though Mike had spoken highly of them on several occasions. He loved to tell me how B-rad had tattooed the game of Operation on his chest. Yes, I asked to see it. On the hike up, it was fun to get to know them even better. I got to hear about his re-entrance into the church and how they met. We got to the top and made a hearty meal of chicken and rice. The next morning, we had another good meal of pancakes. People hiking up in the morning were pretty jealous. The distance they could smell it from was getting larger and larger as well with each new hiker. After a rewarding breakfast, we explored around for a while, climbing on rocks, taking pictures, and walking around the lake. We were really becoming one with nature.

Jackson Hole’s final run of the season….

To celebrate a new job starting, we went to none other than Jackson Hole. It was another great trip and great way to close the rafting season. Lauren and Janice came along as well. Before Leaving, Lauren had made me a plate full of cupcakes, one representing each year of my life. Pretty creative, eh? I think Janice felt a little uncomfortable around the married folk so she clung to Lauren. Yet she was about to realize we were still just as cool and normal as before. The first night as we were driving into town, we were welcomed with some flashing blue and red lights. Mike got pulled over for speeding. Luckily the cop had some pity on us and we got away with just a warning. With that behind us, we decided to set up camp for the night. Mike was kind enough to lend his tent from when he was 8 to Janice and Lauren for the trip. It was tiny. Needless to say, they had some pretty cozy nights. Jake and Netti, Nick aka “Big Hands”, Ryan and Kenzie, and some of Ryan’s high school friends were also there for the trip.

The next morning we set out for the real adventure, the Snake River. It was a little later in the season so it was a little chilly. Fortunately, for me Mike let me borrow his dry suit. Janice and Nick got off to a pretty good start trying to push each other into the river. Lauren, Janice, and Nick all went in. Lauren and Janice thought I too deserved to go into the water. They underestimated my strength and could not pry me from the bench. Although, later Mike would get me in the water as he had everyone stop to look at the “bubbly water.” We weren’t nervous about drowning, though, because we had “Lifeguard Chalmers” and his lovely wife, a nurse, on board with us. It was a great ride.

In fact, it was so fun we had to do it again even though it started raining. This go around we stopped to jump at Big Kahuna and Lunch Counter. Both were exciting in their own ways. Big Kahuna for cliff diving and then a huge natural water slide, and Lunch Counter because you can disappear under water for a brief moment in time. The second run was a little more rushed because Jake and Netti had to get back, but we definitely utilized the time we had. After a great rafting day, we returned to camp, hopped on the Teton bus, and went to Sidewinders for some Nachos and wings. There was still some life to the night, so we shopped around town and checked out the new Teton Whitewater office. Janice also needed to grab her souvenir for the trip. Mission accomplished.

The next day, was Sunday so we toned it back a notch. We did the usual Sunday routine and went to church. Although, the sacrament meeting was pretty cool. It was something that I had never done before, where you just sing hymns all sacrament meeting. It really enjoyed it. After church Ryan and Kenzie joined the four of us and we went hiking to Phelps Lake and Huckleberry Point. As we were chilling in the lake, we saw the storm clouds coming in. It was really cool to watch the rain slowly get closer and closer. We pushed our luck a little too far and had to end up chilling under the trees for a while for protection. Eventually it cleared up for a moment, when we all made a dash for the car. Good thing we were all in good shape, otherwise it could have been a little awkward. The rain really spiced up the day. Later we returned for some chili dogs, the hot dogs reeked up the place, but were good nevertheless. Jackson was a great trip, yet again. But are you really surprised?

Friday, March 9, 2012

My Birthday Review…

Mike started my birthday celebration a week before my birthday started. Saturday, the 13th of August, he surprised me and we went golfing. We went to the Lakeside Golf Course because they let you golf for free on your birthday. It was Mike’s first time going to golf the full 9 holes in probably 15 years. We had fun finding a lot of balls on the course. We searched for stray balls whenever we had the chance. We started with 6 balls and ended up leaving with close to 16 or 17 balls. Now that’s golfing! Mike did very well he got par three times. I got one par and one birdie (one below par) on a 5 par hole. I think it was my first birdie! Yes, I did win if you were wondering. No, he didn’t give it to me because it was my birthday either. It was a lot of fun. After we stopped by my Grandpa and Grandma Swenson’s house and had a nice cold Pepsi. They always have funny stories whether it is about Tammy puttering around, the old folks, or other random stories. The fun continued with a pool party later that night. Danny, Haley, Jon, Alair, Morgan, Joe, Dave’s family, and Mama Deb and Papa Hill all came by. We had a pizza party and went crazy!

The following Tuesday, the 16th, I met Mike in Park City for a birthday dinner. I was able to see his office, meet some of his coworkers, and then he drove me to the surprise destination of Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse! It is a really nice restaurant with lots of good and really expensive food.Mike and I decided that we are not the high roller type. The food is great but we enjoy other restaurants just as much and they aren't nearly as pricey. Plus, we noticed because we didn't order wine our waiter was not as friendly to us as the table next to us, who ordered wine. He was showing them pictures of his dog and joking around with them, pretty weird. After dinner we walked around the Park City Lodge. We saw a chess set and I challenged Mike to a game of chess. I skunked him and won the prize of 4 Andes Mints! It was great to finally beat him at a smart person game. He is always winning me in Scrabble and Strategic games. So it was a nice change. The night only got better. We went to the outlets and only had a short time before closing so we were running to the different stores, laughing the whole time. We were like little kids again. Mike kept saying, “You want this? You wanna buy this? Well what do you want? You have to get something!” It was really cute. In the end we ended up with a black shade shirt. It was a great birthday dinner.

Thursday night we took off to St. George. On Friday, I stopped by my dad’s office to meet his coworkers. Emily was dying to meet me, but hardly said two words to me, pretty funny. After the real fun started though we tried out a place called Anti Gravity, my dad had set it up and was really looking forward to it. There are huge tramps everywhere. We played dodge ball, ran through the obstacle course, jumped around, and watched dad wrestle with a little kid who was about eight. He just kind of attacked my dad. It was hilarious and we all got a good laugh. Later the same weird kid came up and tried to challenge him again. It was really, really funny. After Anti Gravity we headed off to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. It was really pretty not to mention HUGE. Saturday morning came quickly as we rose to see the sunrise. It was really pretty over the canyon. Then we got ready for the big MULE ADVENTURE. It was the highlight of the trip.

We learned a lot about Mules:

  1. They are very gaseous. They were ripping them up and down the mountain, especially Mom’s mule.
  2. They have more endurance, live longer, are stronger, smarter, and more sure footed than horses. Although, not as quick.
  3. All males are infertile and only about 30% of females can produce.
  4. They are NOT half donkey/half horse because they have 63 chromosomes. Therefore, you can tell whether it’s more donkey or horse by looking at it.
  5. They go to the bathroom a lot.

We had a really great time. We got to go about two miles down into the canyon. That night we ate at the lodge restaurant. It was good but definitely overpriced and they didn’t’ even give us the sunset view window. Not that we always expect the best seat in the house, but it only seems right if you reserved it four months in advance. What total weirdos! Sunday was my birthday, we partied and so many people wished me well as I grew one year older. Another great birthday!

Salt Lake City gave me a present a week later. Throughout August, I had been applying to pretty much anywhere just trying to get something going. I was getting desperate to do anything; I even went to several interviews to sell Aerus vacuum cleaners. I met with a recruiter at the Recruiting Connection. However, they all weren’t completely random. I had phone interviews and face-to-face interviews with United Health Group which I thought sounded like a good company. I also went for a Tennis and Tutoring job which I thought I was highly qualified for but they decided to go another route. My lack of experience was really biting me in the butt. Stevens-Henager College was finally willing to take a chance on me. I was going to start on August 29th and I was going to be one of their newest “Admissions Consultants.” I was finally going to be able to get some work experience to add to my resume. It was a start. So thank you Steven’s Henager College for the belated birthday gift.

Holladay here we come…

Upon returning to Logan we had a lot to get done before Mike’s job started. Packing up all of our goods, selling the car, selling our apartment contract, and finding a new place to live were our next priorities. As before mentioned, Alex and his wife let us know they wanted to purchase our contract last Friday. On Sunday, our car buyer returned to Logan and took away Lil’ Red. We were able to sell it for Just under $900 dollars and it didn’t even have a working engine. Thank you sports car! With two big items out of the way, we could now focus on the actual move. We spent the next week searching for apartments and clearing out our old apartment. We had found several different apartments within our price range that we decided we should check out. With our places on paper, we drove to all the different apartments. It was pretty easy to tell why several of them were in our price range. The areas were run down and a little sketchy. But we pressed on. Mike had shown me one picture on KSL of an apartment that looked really nice with a brick wall. It was our last stop of the day. It was a cute little French Condo and I loved it. It wasn’t the cheapest place on our list but it was nice, in a good location, with a nice courtyard, and was a good value. A week later, on July 30th, we would be calling it home. As an extra benefit, brand new carpet was put in earlier that day. We did it. We had gotten everything taken care of and moved within a week and a half of a job offer. Someone up above had our backs.

Monday, the first of August, was Mike’s first day at work. Lauren was also going to go through the temple for the first time and invited me to go with her. I got up with plenty of time and was so proud of myself because I was going to be early. Marty and Debbie were even kind enough to let me borrow the Taurus so I could attend. However, on my way out I realized with everything going on I had completely spaced getting my temple recommend out of Mike’s wallet. I was devastated. I called Mike and he was already at work. I rushed up to Park City and tried getting in touch with my old bishop so he could verify for me. No such luck. I made it to Park City and arrived at the Salt Lake Temple at 9:15. I was 15 minutes to late. They let me know I could get in my temple clothes and meet her at the end. I did just that. I apologized over and over again but she reassured me she was in shock anyways so it wasn't a big deal. Afterwards, we went to lunch and took some pictures. It was a lot of fun to be there with her.

After going to the temple, I returned the Taurus to the Hill family and waited for Mike to pick me up after work. I had brought the Taurus back safely, but it wouldn’t stay safe for long. Joe left for work just before 4:00. A few minutes later, Debbie received a phone call from Joe. He had crashed the Taurus. We would later find out it was totaled. Luckily, nobody was hurt. Jon was pretty ticked because he was going to buy the car. It was the most mad I have ever seen him, he didn’t say much he was just the quiet scary kind. Though, I can’t say I blame him. I probably would have been even worse in his situation.

Salt Lake was already off to an exciting start. Mike’s job was pushing him and stretching him past his comfort zone. He had a big learning curve ahead of him, but he was catching on rather quickly. He is a brilliant guy. Work was keeping him pretty busy. Conversely, I had a lot of time on my hands. I was able to unload the apartment and get settled in just a couple of days. My next big item was to follow in Mike's footsteps and get a job.

I couldn't simply put in applications all day, so I had to find a few other things to keep me busy and feeling productive. I helped coach at the high school girls’ tennis camp, went to the temple, and got some projects done. I went to Mama Deb’s house and she helped me sew my first bed skirt. I also put together two books from Mike’s mission, one was “Letters from Home” and the other was “Letters from Russia”. It was a fun project and Mike really seemed to like it. We also helped with Jon and Alair’s engagement. We set up a candlelight Cafe Rio dinner on our group patio overlooking the courtyard. It was fun to be a part of it. The music was timed perfectly, it looked real good, and we only had a few slight mishaps. Like playing with the lights in our apartment too much or forgetting to give them their salad dressing sliding it over to them through our window. But they were on cloud nine and didn't seem to mind. So, as you can see, my downtime wasn't completely useless.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

South Fork of the Payette River…

We had so much fun in Jackson that we needed to get away to another rafting adventure. Ryan and Kenzie invited us the next weekend to try the South Fork of the Payette River. We invited Devin and Brittany to join us on our car ride. Earlier that day Mike had driven back up to Afton to tow Lil’ Red home. We washed her and got her ready to sell. Fortunately for us, there is a group out there that loves Eclipses making it rather easy to sell. A man was going to come all the way up from Salt Lake and tow it home himself. We called Alex Thatcher, a fellow Aggie tennis player, to assist us in the transaction since we were going to be leaving for Idaho. On our drive, we found out our buyer unfortunately had some bad luck and his truck died in Brigham City. He had to hire a tow truck to take him home. However, to our benefit, Alex and his expecting wife liked our apartment so much they wanted to purchase it! Things were really working out for us.

We stopped in Boise for the night to rest up for the big river the following day. The next morning we woke up early, packed up, and drove the rest of the way to our big adventure. We dropped off our gear at a campground, changed into our swimsuits, and braved the river. It was the best river rafting I had EVER done. Unlike other rafting trips, this river has one rapid after the next. During one part of the river you have to pull out to avoid going down a mild waterfall. It gets a little intense at that spot to say the least. But even throughout, you always have to be on guard to make it to safety. We had such a good time the first time down that we had to try it again.

The first ride took about three hours and we made it through without spilling. We cannot say the same about the second ride. Yet, the second ride was much more enjoyable. We had two spills on our raft. Ryan and Kenzie’s raft was wondering what the heck was going on. The first spill sent half of the boat in the water, including Mike. I thought I was going to go in but realized I was safe. In my head I thought “I’m still on the boat!” Brittany, Devin’s girlfriend at the time, got stuck between the raft and a rock. I watched her as she closed her eyes and went under. Don’t worry, she wasn’t hurt. One girl started freaking out, first river trip, because her husband was in the water. She was yelling at Mike, “Get Him!” But Mike didn’t feel too bad because he would have been able to pull him in earlier, except she sent him after her flip flop. The next spill, however, I went in the water and knocked some others in with me. As you can see, it was a pretty crazy and fun ride!

Mike gets a job…

Upon returning from Jackson, Mike got the much awaited call from Sam. He had a job! After putting in his 9 months at Icon, he was finally going to be free. We were grateful for the job Mike had at Icon, however, it was a great feeling to be able to move on from that place. Mike had been denied several promotions because he HAD an MBA. I know it doesn’t make any sense. But it’s true. Mike was going to be the newest employee of Zane Benefits in Park City, Utah. Now was his time to shine. He was going to be on the sales and marketing team of a company with less than 10 employees all Mike's age. Plus, they provided a fully stoked kitchen for their employees, profit sharing, and stock options. Bonus! He was to start in a week and a half. Needless to say, we had a lot to do. However, for now it was time to celebrate with another river adventure.

Island Park and Jackson Hole…

The second round at Island Park I was officially part of the family. The family didn't have to worry about if Mike and I were in the same room together. This year the focus was on making sure Jon and Alair played it safe. Thankfully Mike and I were past that stage in our relationship. Mike and I were able to enjoy most of the week up at the cabin. Icon had given him the whole week off. When we first arrived there was a little bit of tension in the cabin. Lack of sleep, Nerf guns, and crazy kids were the contributors. Nevertheless, we had a great week. It was a lot of fun and I felt more comfortable with the family. I knew them more on a personal basis this year. Therefore, I could throw out jokes about Julie’s age or hang out with the others when Mike wasn't around.

In fact, Mike had to leave for a day to go have his second interview with Zane Benefits. He was willing to make the trip because he had a really good shot at getting the job. One of his mission friends, Sam, had worked there for several years and was their top sales guy. He put in a good recommendation for Mike. Unfortunately, no offer was made at this point. While Mike was gone, I floated down the river with John and Julie and their boys. John spotted a big bull moose in the river. We paddled back up creek to get a closer look; we were able to get within 20 feet of the guy. It wasn’t too happy with us; it was staring at us with its ears back. It was pretty nerve racking but it was awesome!

We saw lots of other animals as well, a highlight of the trip. We were up close and personal with a black bear. It was headed right towards the crowd of people and I was probably only 200 feet away or so at one point. We all watched as it swam across the lake and encroached on a Crane’s nest. The crane was not welcoming. It flapped its wings at the bear. To our surprise, the bear climbed up the tree! We also saw a mama bear with her two cubs and then another bear which climbed out of the river and climbed up a hill. A good year for bears! But that was not all; we also went on a successful wolf watching adventure and saw many, many buffalo. The trip was a lot of fun. We had good conversations, lots of junk food, saw the sights, watched good movies, and some good laughs.

After Island Park, Mike and I took off on our own adventure to Jackson Hole. We met up with Devin, his girlfriend Brittany, and his three sisters. The river was about 19,000 CFS and was the best run I had ever done. There was a new wave called “Double D” which was fun, even though Mike had done the river many times he still had to get his bearings. Because of the high water level, the Big Kahuna was very mild, but Lunch Counter was huge! The waves were probably 10 feet above our heads down in our little raft. Darla, Devin’s youngest sister, was absolutely horrified. I was even a little scared, but it was a blast!

Later that night we went into town. We checked out our pictures from our river adventure. Mike learned my secret that sometimes in the really big rapids I forget to paddle. In rafting that is a social disgrace. Mike was surely disappointed that it was his own wife breaking the rules, but lucky for me he is quick to forgive. While in the shop, Mike saw one of his pictures on the wall from when he was a guide. He was a celebrity! The lady told us they show off that picture to a lot of their customers. Because of his fame, she gave us our pictures for free! Later that night, the group traveled to Bar J Wranglers. It was something Mike had never done in all his years in Jackson. It was a fun show with lots of good food. It was a fun trip to Jackson.

The next day we were on our way back to Logan when we had a little mishap. Mike’s engine had ceased by Afton, Wyoming. The ’97 Mitsubishi Eclipse had its last ride. Black smoke had been emitting from our car, we tried to make it to the next town but it died too soon. We hadn’t been stopped a couple of minutes before a lady named Nan stopped to help us. She was our little angel that day. She was so willing to help and offered us a place to stay for the night. Unfortunately, we needed to get back to Logan for work. So she called her daughter-in-law, Carrie, to help us out. She recommended a mechanic in town and called her dad to help tow our car over there. Nan then took us to her house and fed us some sandwiches for dinner. Nan and Carrie then drove us all the way down to Montpelier, Idaho, about an hour drive. They would not accept any money, not even for gas. Nan just told us to pass along the favor. Kori, my cousin, then drove up from Paradise to meet us in Montpelier. She too would not accept any money even though it took her over three hours! We truly were blessed to have so many kind and generous people willing to help us out. The Lord does watch out for us and is willing to provide help in many forms. We are very blessed.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Water parks, fireworks, and job interviews…

As a precursor to the 4th of July, my dad was in town for some business. He invited us all to attend 7 Peaks, a water park with him. It was a blast. Mike and I got down a little later because of work, but we made sure to get on as many slides and attractions as possible, including the steep slides. After getting of the steep slides, you had to hurry and check to make sure you were presentable; otherwise you might be more exposed than you like. The rope swings were fun too and Mike topped everyone with his back flip! Our favorite attractions, however, were the boomerang and the vortex. The boomerang is like a big half-pipe and the vortex is like a toilet bowl. It was a good time.

It was now that time again to light up the sky with fireworks! We spent the day prepping by going to lunch and Target with Shree, my mom, and my grandma where Mike purchased his first, and only, v-neck. My grandpa later joined us for “17 Miracles”. Later that night Mike and I revisited the Eaglewood fireworks. We were able to walk around and visit with family and friends. Mike’s uncle Curt was nice enough to have us over for the ideal 4th of July food, hot dogs, chips, and soda. We also got to catch up with Kacee and Brandon who have been living in Washington. It seems like everything is going really well for them. The rest of the night we enjoyed the lights in the sky!

We were able to have our own show at the Hill house on Sunday, July 3rd. Danny and John Price were kind enough to provide the entertainment. This year the exploding fireworks were made legal which made the show all the better. It was also fun to have our own firework show with the family. The 4th of July was spent in Mueller Park Canyon with my mom, Mac, and the Bingham side. We had a fire, hot dogs, and caught up with the family. Mike and I gave each other a little peck and my 8 year old cousin Olivia was watching. She looked up at us with a disgusted look and said, “Perverts!” It was pretty great. We then hiked up part of Elephant Rock with Shree’s family and had good conversation. Mike Brose shared his business experiences with us and gave Mike some useful advice. It was good preparation for the business opportunities that would shortly present themselves.

My mom returned with us to Logan later that night. It was fun to have somebody to spend my days with while Mike was at work. We did various projects around the house. My mom has the artsy eye so it was fun to use her expertise. We framed and hung our desert flower pictures, filled a vase with dried flowers and grass, and spiced up our bedroom with some brown pillows and cloth to make a bed skirt. Unfortunately, Mike was stuck at ICON. However, we had fun during the night time. We went out to eat, got lots of free pizza from Firehouse, gave my mom a tour of Logan, and enjoyed the chocolate waterfall at S.E. Needham Jewelry.

On Thursday the marathon of interviews began. We ran down to Kaysville for some job interviews. Mike and I interviewed for Ragnar. The next morning, he interviewed with Zane Benefits. Then we impressed Ragnar enough to return for our second interview, together. Group interviews are not a good idea. It is awkward when they don’t specify who they want to answer the question. Plus, I may have said a few things which didn’t work in our favor. Like how the only bad things I had heard were from Mike and we both interviewed because it was a double shot at the job. Nevertheless, it gave us hope to have interviews after a long dry spell. Zane Benefits was looking like it had great potential for Mike. We were about to embrace some big changes in the near future. Mike's Icon era was about to come to a close.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Graduation, Oregon Coast, and Ragnar...AKA PARTY!!

On June 6th, I graduated from college. Ben and I were in the same graduation class. He had been doing the executive program over the past couple years. We celebrated that night with the parents at Maddox in Brigham City. Marty was able to eat a whole two pound stake, you better believe he was loving it. Mike and I were officially leaving the formal world of education. We were ready to be true business folks. To celebrate we took a week vacation down the Oregon Coast with Ryan and Kenzie. As soon as I was done with my last test, we were packed up and hit the road. We were in 6 states in 6 days with over 2,200 miles of driving. Talk about an adventure and a perfect getaway. Mike and I were able to party all day again without school and work getting in the way. The first night was designated to driving as far as we could before a reasonable hour. After midnight, we decided it was probably time to think about settling down for the night. So, we pulled off the freeway, and camped out with the sagebrush in Oregon.

The next day we continued on our journey into Washington. We were on our way to stay with Brother and Sister Beus, one of Mike’s and Ryan’s Mission Presidents in Russia, in Othello Washington. But before arriving we stopped at a huge dam where they assist the Salmon on their swim upstream. They have a conservatory room where you can look at the fish and they are just sucking the corner of the wall trying not to be pulled away by the current. Bet you are pretty jealous, eh? The Beus’s were a great family; we enjoyed games, good conversation, a fun family barbeque, and our first and only shower of the week. At the barbeque we got to meet some of their grandkids. They were so funny. One of the little boys peed in the middle of the field and the other one had us all cracking up on multiple occasions. Ohhh yea!! After church the next day, we decided it was time to hit the road again. We had a lot of ground to cover.

Our Oregon Coast adventure officially began in Astoria with a look at the “Columbia” lighthouse. Oregon is beautiful with tons of greenery and pine trees everywhere. We felt like it was a mix between Hawaii and Washington. Each night we camped in a fun and interesting spot. Our first night was on a cliff’s edge. It was stunning. The next morning we awoke and checked out the famous Tillamook Cheese Factory and Air Museum, which is the largest wooden Hanger ever built. After getting a taste for the city life, we ventured off into nature again. We went on a cliff side hike right alongside the ocean. One of the nice benefits of this trip, is we did not have any real agenda so we were highly flexible. Anytime we saw something of interest, we pulled over and checked it out. We saw blowholes, played around on the rocks, learned about sea anemones, and saw very active barking seals.

Later that day, we drove to Florence and searched for a place to camp for the night. It was quite the most difficult place because it is a bigger city. Nevertheless, we conquered. We stopped at Fred Meyers for some groceries. Turns out there were some really big sand dunes located right behind the store. It was going to be our next camp out. We got ready for bed in the parking lot, yes it was still light outside, and ran up into the dunes. Ryan had to park the car in a local neighborhood to avoid any suspicion. Only to run across the dunes like an escaped convict. It was hilarious.

The next day consisted of various beach stops. It was fun to walk up and down the beach, play on the rocks, and just have good conversation. Mike found a sweet cave to play in when the tide died down. It was a lot of fun. We continued to stop in random places, until we arrived in the redwoods in California. We decided to go the cheap route and camp in a “primitive” area. Well, if you consider running water and flushing toilets primitive. The camp host was a friendly guy. It was probably because he was living out his dream of 20 years. Yes, he seriously had waited that long to get the job. Don’t worry, he celebrated with his tailor made cameo shirt which said “Camp Host”. Here we did the most traditional camping. We made a fire and roasted some marshmallow, set up a hammock, and hung out.

The next morning was off to a slower start but then went on my favorite hike of the trip. The trees were huge! You could walk through several of them. During one part of the hike we had to cross a stream. The water was too much for Mike, he could not resist it no matter how hard he tried. He succumbed and got into the freezing water. Somehow he was also able to convince Ryan to come in with him. Kenzie and I were smarter and we just chilled on the rocks soaking in the sun. Although, Ryan and Mike tried to claim they got a bath in before the long ride home. I’m not too sure. That night was the worst camping spot of all. It was really pretty, but it was infested with mosquitoes. They were everywhere. We had to take cover in our tents after we ate a whole pound of beef stick. Not a good idea, we smelled it all night long. We were playing crap head in Ryan and Kenzie’s tent and I let one slip. I was not going to take the fall, at least not yet. They thought it was Mike and he didn’t know any different so he took it. That is until I confessed in secrecy to him in our tent that it was me. He was laughing so hard they asked what it was. Mike said it was too good to keep in so he told them our secret! It was pretty funny. The next day we would spend the rest of the day driving back to our home sweet home and then helping Ryan and Kenzie move into their new house. It was a great trip, good company, good weather, really pretty, and lots of good memories. Happy Graduation!

The next morning we were able to sleep in and then get ready for Ragnar. Mike had sufficiently grown out his rag stash. We were ready for this crazy event. Some people are really desperate for attention, girls in underwear, men in diapers, you get the idea. But the race was much more entertaining than it sounds. I was in Van 2 with Mike, Danny, Marty, Curt, Chris, and John. The other van was Haley, Julie, Steph, Joe, Tyson (cousin), and Tyler (friend to Tyson). I took Uncle Curt’s 3rd leg as the alternate. He didn’t really need an alternate, but he was kind enough to let me take one. I ran 5.9 miles in just over 47 min with a slight incline. I passed at least 20 people and wasn’t passed once. Although, I did have fresh legs and everybody else was on their third run. Needless, to say I had a slight advantage. Danny ran all the way up this huge hill. He counted to 10 over and over again. That is what you call dedication. Marty pulled his best time of the year on his first run. Mike was a stud as always pulling good times on hard runs with little training. Yes, I may be the one to blame for his lack of training. With hardly any sleep, our team ran for 31.5 hours, fueling ourselves of mostly junk food. That is the definition of crazy.

Lake Powell…

Over Mac’s 19th Birthday, the Swenson crew took a trip down to Lake Powell. It has been a long, long time since our last trip there. One could almost say too long. It was a blast. Mike and I met up with the crew at my parent’s house late Thursday night. The next morning we made the journey to Lake Powell. On the first day, we were able to go on an Antelope Slot Canyon Tour. Because it is on the Indian Reservation you have to have to be taken on a guided tour. Levi had served part of his mission in Page, so he introduced us to Chief Tsosie’s tour group and got us a slight discount and the promise of a flute performance, which we would later discover also included a little legend history as well. Once all of the business was taken care of, we took off in the Res Rocket or better known as big vans, and headed to the canyon. The canyon was AMAZING! It has the neatest curves and formations for about a mile. Many famous pictures have been taken there. Although, our pictures were not nearly as amazing, they were still pretty darn good! We also had some good laughs. Mac was called a tomboy. On the way out, Levi told the tour guide that a group of people said “Skii billagona” to him. She looked really surprised and gave him a look because it means “sexy white man”. But the best laugh of the day came on the drive out. The Res Rocket got a little bumpy and papa hit his head on the side of the door. He was insisting that it was bleeding and kept rubbing his head. Fortunately, we didn’t have to take him to the hospital. It was a close call though.

The next day we got to go boating all day! It was so fun. We went tubing, skiing, wakeboarding, wake surfing, cruising around the lake, and rocking out to some tunes. Tubing was my favorite part. We had some crazy tube rides. We all had some little burns from the tube. Mac wins the award for best tubing of the day. First off, she was hilarious to watch. On one ride, Levi’s arm was crushing her head into the tube but they were having a grand time. It was really funny to watch. On another ride she was not willing to be thrown off the tube. She hung on for dear life. Many times we thought she was a goner but she proved us wrong time and time again. My dad steered her around a tourist boat and they loved the show and were able to witness her final dive.
She got launched probably 6 feet up in the air and dove back into the water. It was quite a show. Levi took the award for best wipe out wakeboarding. He ripped the little piece of skin connecting his gums to his lips. Mike took the award for best wake surfing and Papa with skiing. Mom had just had surgery so was a trooper for coming. Which leaves me and Michelle as the Average Joe’s who had a lot of fun! Later that night, Mike tried to convince the family that Frisbee throwing was much harder to master than throwing a ball. He would never live that down. Sunday was Mac’s birthday we gave her chalk and a Sponge Bob movie and she couldn't have been happier.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

San Rafael Swells…

We knew before we left it was going to be a short adventure, but decided to go for it anyways. Mike was itching to get out and I had never been to San Rafael. Mike used to go down there on a regular basis with his uncle Marcel and wanted to show me what it was all about. So after work on Friday, and a little while of deliberation, we hoped in the car to head down south. We arrived at about 10 o’clock and needed to release some energy. Little Wild Horse canyon was calling out to us. It was my first slot canyon, nice and simple. We had good conversation under the moonlight and our headlamps.

After our hike, we set up camp in the dark. We got a tent for our wedding and Mike was super pumped to try it out. It is a great tent! We got up the next morning and were going to do the famous Ding and Dang slot canyon. To our dismay, rain clouds were up above and we couldn’t chance getting stuck in the mud roads with our little car. So we went to explore other avenues. We met a lady who was traveling around all by herself in a little van. We talked to her for a little while, she gave us a book of hikes in Utah, and told us of a hike where you could find hieroglyphics. Well we never found the hieroglyphics, but did discover some rocks which would explode when you threw them at the wall. We thought we were pretty strong.

With only a few hours left, we decided to try one final hike. Mike had done a hike in the past that he recommended could be a fun one to try, the Wild Horse Window. It is a cool sight to see. It’s a cave, with a big arch, and a hole in the top. Yes, it has all three! We went into the cave and went up to this little ledge. We were talking and then we kissed and this older traveling group from Moab thought Mike was proposing to me. It was pretty funny; we let them know we had been married for about 6 months. They were a unique group. They had on hiking gear and were ready for anything!

We got talking to one lady who is a drummer at a park in Moab. She was originally from back East but after a trip to Moab, she loved it so much she had to move there. We learned of her hatred for Wal-Mart, yet even she had to succumb and go there at times for the right goods. After a little while, we parted ways and made our way back to the car. On the way back, we took close-up pictures of various desert flowers. Five of them are now proudly displayed in our apartment. Upon getting back to the car we realized we had a little extra time. On our way out, we stopped by the ruins giving us a little taste of history. Although initial deliberations were made, it was worth the trip, as always!