Thursday, September 26, 2013

To Tri or Not to Tri!

At the end of April, one of the Utah State fraternity's was putting on a triathlon.  Because it was at the school, it was better priced than most.  Ryan and Kenzie were going to do it and invited us to join. Neither Mike and I had ever done a triathlon and thought at this price it was worth testing the waters.  We slept over at Ryan and Kenzie's house so we could get up bright and early, ready to get our race on.  Saturday morning we arose and checked into the race.  We went through the orientation and were getting pumped. Mike and I were well equipped with our basic swim goggles and hefty mountain bikes.  Ryan and Kenzie had done a few in their days and were giving us some tricks of the trade for faster transitions between events.  We followed their advice by laying out our clothes by the bikes, rolling down the socks, and loosening up the shoes all in the hopes of saving a minute or two.  We were going to need all the help we could get.

It was only a sprint triathlon meaning a 500 yard swim, 10 mile bike ride, and a 5K run.  Doesn't sound so bad, right?  Think again.  The race started in the hyper pools.  Ryan, Kenzie, and Mike all did some warm up laps to get started.  I was a little chilled so I waited it out instead.  Eventually it was time for the first wave to get started.  I was getting more and more nervous the closer it got to my time.  It wasn't like I was expecting to win, but my competitive streak was definitely showing it's colors.  Initially, we were hoping for the warmer pool until someone mentioned you swim faster in a cooler pool.  We quickly switched our mind set, as mentioned before, we could use all the help we could get.  But luck was not on our side, we were both in the warm pool.  Mike and I were swimming side by side in the same line.  He beat me by a few seconds but we were both pulling in at 12 minutes.  After swallowing and burping up some significant water, it was time to get onto the bikes.  I stumbled out to my bike and Mike and I started out biking together.  It didn't last too long as Mike showed his strength and pushed quickly ahead.  He outshone me by eight minutes in this leg of the race as I was at a remarkable 46 minutes compared to his 38.  Unfortunately, being on mountain bikes proved to be a much larger disadvantage than either of us had previously thought.

After getting past left and right, we were finally to the last stretch the 5K run.  Both of us were pretty spent by this point, but we persevered.  I ran past one of the volunteers and said something along the lines of, "Only crazy people do this".  As I was promptly reminded, I was one of them.  However, I got a boost of extra strength when I ran past the library.  Behind me running in her socks, is my friend Druanne Murray!  She ran by my side for a bit giving me the will to keep going.  I was just trudging along.  Finally, the end was in sight and I lost my balance.  I ate it on the sidewalk with the finish line in sight.  Luckily I wasn't going so fast as to get road rash, just a little embarrassed.  I finished the race and was spent.  Mike had finished the 5K in 24 minutes bringing his total time to 1 hour and 16 minutes.  I was 11 minutes behind at 1 hour and 27 minutes, with a 26 minute 5K.  Mike placed 32nd for the men and I was 15th for the women.  However, it wasn't too shabby considering we burped our way through the pool, lumbered through on our mountain bikes, and I ate it on the run.  Not bad for our first triathlon!  We treated ourselves to a meal at the Beehive Grill for all of our hard work.  Mike would also serve to brighten our spirits the next day on the rope swing.  We were out for a nice casual bike ride and came across a nice rope swing across a little creek.  Mike was getting fancy and tried to run in a circle, while holding onto the rope, around the banks, but he didn't have quite enough momentum.  He was left hanging until his strength exhausted him and he fell into the creek.  It was a good end to the weekend!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

From the South to the North!

My dad's birthday was quickly approaching, so we thought it would be a great time to get away to St. George.  We were there the weekend prior to his birthday so we could start the "Birthday Week" celebration. We lived up the weekend with a variety of sports, including: swimming, baseball, tennis, and kickball.  Our birthday gift may have played a small role in some of the activity selection.  We had wisely given him a kids baseball bat and baseball along with a Sponge Bob kickball.  Pretty smart planning, eh?  We played a little baseball in the backyard and had a home-run derby. There were many balls we had to retrieve from over the fence, because we were that good  In the pool, Levi introduced us to a game called "Pencil, Cannonball, or Dive".  You had to jump off the diving board and someone would call out one of the three positions.  In mid-air, you had to switch into that position.  So simple, yet so fun.

We also played a little tennis at the Summit Athletic Club  They had a little drop-in doubles where you could show up and they would pair you up to play some fun doubles matches.  Levi and Michelle were partners, Mac had a younger male counterpart, my mom was paired up with a nice gentleman, and Mike and I made an unstoppable team.  To my dad's dismay, he was hoping we were going to be on the same team.  Instead he was paired off with a very serious player.  Let's just say my dad wasn't having the best of time as he was feeling the pressure and not living up to his double's partner's expectations.  It didn't help that we were smoking them, too!  Though when frustrations were very visible, we backed off a little too much giving them a chance to close in on us.  Don't worry, we still pulled it out.  Later the teams were switched up and the "serious" player was on Michelle's team.  He was very friendly to her only making the whole situation that much more enjoyable.  After playing a little doubles, I played a little one-on-one with my parent's neighbor.  The others, minus my mom, went in for an ab workout led by Levi.  Mike was so sore within the next few days he couldn't even stand up all the way.  It was pretty hilarious.Among all the activities and fun, Mike's favorite part of the weekend., however, was the time we were able to spend in the Salon.  I decided it was time to chop off my hair and spice things up a bit.  We were both a little nervous after the initial snips.  But I must say, it turned out rather sassy!  We had to show it off, so what better way than pedaling around the neighborhood on the beach cruiser tandem bicycle.

The next weekend we headed to the other end of the state and joined Danny and Haley and Jon and Julie's family at Crystal Hot Springs.  Wellyn and Everett loved going down the water slide and we had a blast joining them on the fun.  Mike, Danny, and Jon entertained us to see who could do the highest breach out of the water.   We also had a contest to see who could crawl across the pool fastest and many other games most normal people wouldn't understand.  But what do they know anyways they are right there with us enjoying soaking in warm water that smells like rotten eggs. Life can't get much better.  After a fun night in the hot pots, we spent our first night camping in the good ole' Subaru Outback.  It actually worked out pretty well and worked as our own personal mini-trailer.

The next day we took off to Logan for the rest of the weekend.  We joined Kenzie's family at Britain's high school track meet.  She is a nationally ranked high jumper so that was fun to see for a little bit.  Kenzie hung back with her family while Mike, Devin, and Ryan kayaked a portion of the Logan river.  I volunteered to run shuttle and get a little shut eye as they ran the river.  The boy's worked up quite an appetite so we stopped at Mo Betta Steaks and had ourselves a delightful Hawaiian feast.  Later that night we sat deliberating what our next plan of attack should be.  We waited till the last second and then rushed off to the theater to catch a movie.  Ryan and Kenzie were also excited to introduce us to Zeppe's Italian Water which was a new addition to Logan.  Pretty much it is a fancy snow cone with some ice cream- aka delectable. Though the biggest news of the weekend,  Mike and I decided we were ready to bring little junior Hill's into the world.  It was the start of one of our biggest adventures yet!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

A Swell Start to Spring!

During the month of March my company got me into doing a bracket for March Madness.  I had never done it before and was excited to see what it was all about.  I decided it would be fun to have a little side contest with Mike as well.  Neither of us really follow college basketball so I thought it would even the playing fields.  Let's just say Mike smoked me.  At the beginning, it was relatively close.  However, with each passing round I fell further and further behind.  Needless to say, Mike won the first year.  It's funny how often you check the final scores though once you have written down your picks for the year. It definitely spices up March.  So we decided it was a tradition we would continue and I was determined to get him next year.

With March Madness heating up March and spring rapidly approaching, it could only mean one thing, it was time to get out the camping gear again.  On the weekend of the 22nd of March, we were going to join Ryan and Kenzie and Dusty and Michelle on their trip to San Rafael Swells.  They would be carpooling down and as a way for us to save on a little extra gas money they suggested we pick up their siblings, Donna and Britain, and split gas money with them.  Mike was able to pick them up and then swing by my work and grab me as well.  With the crew on board, we were ready to hit the road, literally.  Mike was loving driving the Subaru in the swells.  He was hitting those curves so fast and was all the more encouraged with Donna and Britain squealing and laughing the whole time.  They were loving their little roller coaster ride. I, on the other hand, was a little more nervous for not only our safety but also the well being of the car.  Mike was 100% confident we would be just fine.  Thankfully, he was right, despite a few close calls, we pulled safely into the campsite.

By the time we arrived, it was dark and time to set up camp.  We were camping by the entrance to Ding and Dang.  Unfortunately, we couldn't get up there quite as early as the other car and join them on their hike through the canyon.  However, Donna was able to find a pretty sweet cross bow that provided great entertainment to the group, especially Mike.  It was a homemade bow that shot sticks a good 20 feet or so.  We all enjoyed sitting around the fire watching Mike and a few of the others shooting sticks out into the surrounding area.  The trip was off to a great start.  In the morning, we awoke and drove over to the trail head for Baptist Draw.  Ryan had his handy navigation tool and we began the 9-10 mile journey.  It was a fun hike with several different repels.  I had an awkward repel where I was heading down head first.  The others had a pretty good laugh and Ryan was able to help straighten me out before reaching the bottom.  After several miles of hiking we stopped to have some lunch.  We enjoyed throwing sandstone at the walls and watching the sandstone explode into a powdered mess.  After dropping off the largest repel, the canyon shortly opens up to a larger slot.  We again sat to rest before making the final trek up to the car.  Again rocks were thrown, but this time it was more of a game where we tried to hit particular targets.  Perhaps there is a correlation with being tired and having a desire to throw rocks.  Either way it worked out that way for us.  It was a fun trip. 

The next week was conference weekend so we decided to hang around town.  Let's be real, we couldn't fathom missing the famous Hill Family Potato Bar in between Sunday sessions of conference.  The Wednesday before conference we had a game night at the Hill residence.  As always, there was a yummy dessert involved.  On this particular night, we had pie because Village Inn ran a special on their pies on Wednesday nights.  We played games, laughing, chatting, and eating pie.  All was well until we got to the last slice of pie.  Trouble quickly arose as the situation became clear to those at the table.  Let's just say, I had never seen grown men act like animals  to get the last remaining piece of pie.  They were like savages.  It could have been because we had just seen or were going to see the Hunger Games or it could have been the Hills natural drive for sugar. All I know, is it was quite entertaining.

Well, conference weekend had arrived and as usual, Mr. Mac had their buy one suit get one for $1 sale.  Danny and Mike went in on the offer together.  They must have been feeling in sync as they even bought the same suit.  But you can't blame them when it was such a good looking suit!  Saturday morning we awoke and turned on the Saturday Morning session at our place and then decided we would watch the afternoon session at the Hill home.  We were itching to get out and ride our bikes since the weather was getting nicer.  We thought we could even ride our bikes to there place in between sessions.  It was a brilliant plan, it was only 13 miles and most of it would be pretty easy going.  Or so we thought.  Turns out strong head wind along with our mountain bikes, aka non-road bikes, can prove quite challenging.  At times, it seemed as if we weren't making any progress.  It took us over an hour to go those measly 13 miles, but it was definitely worth the experience.  Not to mention we would be able to recuperate the next day as we were not only spiritually fed but as we carbo-loaded on delicious potatoes!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Solutionreach Here I Come!

 After a few months of searching and interviewing, I was finally starting to see the results.  I had received an offer for a Customer Support Representative at Solutionreach but was also waiting to hear back from  I let know I had received another offer, however, was still interested in their company.  Fortunately for me, they countered with another offer.  Now decisions had to be made.  I applied Mike's technique of doing a pro's and con's list.  Only problem is they had the same pay, about the same drive time, many of the same perks, and both had the intent to move me out of the entry level roll relatively quickly.  Ultimately, it was going to come down to which company I wanted to be at and what type of work I wanted to do.

I decided if I was stuck in an entry level position for a while, the work description sounded more exciting at Solutionreach.  Haley's sister, Stephanie, along with several of the people I had interviewed with, told me the entry level position at SEO is very monotonous.  I was also impressed with several of the personnel, not to mention a few personal connections, at Solutionreach.  Joseph Stith, a family friend of Uncle Rob, called me after I had been extended the offer and was willing to answer any questions I had.  I could tell he was genuinely interested in my success.  He even mentioned the possibility of me moving over to Adobe seeing they could probably pay me more.  Karmen and Steve, one of Mike's friends from high school, were also much more excited when they extended the offer.  Mike had also vouched for Steve and his Uncle Rob who both worked at Solutionreach and loved it.  With my mind made up, I accepted the offer and would start employment on March 16th.  I was pumped!

I let Steven's Henager know I would be accepting another offer.  My supervisor, technically known as my ADOA (Assistant Director of Admissions), had seen it coming.  He said they would miss me but he didn't seem too put out.  Although he should have been, since I was on course to make a record month of sales for myself and get enough starts (6 or more) to earn "Top Dog" status.  Yet I can't be too offended because I was ready to get out of there except for I was sad to leave my good friend Meghann.  Nevertheless, it was definitely the right move and Meghann would again be joining forces with me a few months down the road. To make it only sweeter, she got a porcelain dog from Mike, another employee at Steven's Henager, to award me for my unofficial Top Dog status!  We celebrated the weekend prior by playing games with Dave and Amanda, going to see "Man on the Edge", and having a pizza party with Grandpa Goates.  Even though the pay was less, it was definitely worth the switch.  We would see more benefits to come...but that my friends is for a later time!  

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Desert and me some adventure!

It was time to break up the winter and head down south and get a few rays of sunshine.  That's right,
St. George here we come!  Ryan and Kenzie had planned a trip to go down south to the Shakespeare festival with Amy, Ryan's sister, and her husband Jeff.  They figured since they were down south they would also utilize some time in St. George for none other than a little biking and canyoneering.  We thought it sounded like an excellent opportunity.  They liked us joining as well because we were able to stay at my parent's house in St. George.  My mom played the role of excellent host and was kind enough to supply us with some active goodies-trail mix, granola bars, and sandwiches along with full on meals.  Not to mention each couple got to have their own king size bed to sleep in.  Pretty luxurious for a bunch of outdoor bums!

Needless to say, we lived it up.  In our short time down there we did a slot canyon and two different biking adventures.  Mac and her college roommate, Sarah, joined us for Yankee Doodle a shorter slot canyon in Silver Reef near Zion's National Park.  It was one of my favorite slot canyons I have ever done.  It had it all and it only took 3-4 hours.  There were rappels, places where you had to chimney across some water in a tighter spot, and even a make shift zip line.  To top it off, it was a really pretty slot canyon.  Can't get much better!  Also, on the trip we did a couple of bike rides.  We did one of my favorite
mountain biking spots, Bear Claw Poppy, where Mike had his "incident" last Thanksgiving, and a new trail called Barrel Roll.  Luckily this time we didn't have any problems at Bear Claw Poppy.  We enjoyed the rolly-pollys and challenging each other to make it up the steep climbs.  I was definitely the worst biker there, which would be more apparent in our next ride.  Barrel Roll was much more challenging ride than Bear Claw Poppy. I was always in dead last place as I walked my bike through many of the technical spots.  I was not finding joy in the "challenge" and hence had a pretty bad attitude.  I usually like to be in the front or feel like I can at least keep up with the gang.  The others all finished the ride and had their bikes parked by the time I made it to the end.  Don't worry there were multiple spots where they still waited for me to catch up as well.  Looking back, I should have been more like the "little engine that could" and I could have had another fun ride to add to the list because it did have some fun stretches and some pretty views. On Sunday, my mom joined us as we took it easy with some walks around Zion and went on a pretty drive through the park.  It was a nice relaxing, yet chilly day, to wrap up the weekend.

By now it was the end of February and we still had a few more ski passes to use.  We decided we had to go for it.  We enjoyed the mountain air and skiing around with just the two of us.  We did a few moguls, the usual box jumps, skiing through the trees, and flying down the mountain.  Unfortunately, on this trip I forgot to pack my ski poles.  I disappeared into the trees for a while and came out with my makeshift ski poles.  Mike thought it was pretty entertaining along with several of the workers there.  But a girl has to do what a girl has to do, right?

The next weekend we mixed it up and returned to Logan.  Mike and I stayed up late chatting with some friends leading to a decision which would change our lives forever.  She was talking about her own experience with the "pill".  It wasn't until we heard her story that we realized the impact the pill had on us as well!  I had always heard about the "pill" leading to some girls going crazy.  However, I never felt like it had really impacted me, as I wasn't seeing hallucinations or crying every minute, until we heard her story.  We always just excused it as a stressful time because we were adjusting.  Later that night we decided it was time to go off the dreaded "pill" and see if it would make a difference.  In the next few months, we would begin to see the more mentally stable and secure me return.  It truly was a turn around for us.

Saturday we did two different types of sledding adventures- both unique in their own sense.  The first adventure was with Ryan and Kenzie.  They trekked up the mountain on their ski's and Mike and I climbed up in our snow shoes.  It was a silent hike as they enjoyed the peace and serenity of the mountains.  I wished I had my tunes to keep me pumped but soon enough we would be to the top of the mountain where it would be sledding time.  Mike and I were able to get a few long spurts on the sled together but mostly it was short little spurts where Mike ended up running down a lot of the mountain.  Ryan and Kenzie had no problem navigating down the mountain on their ski's.  After being teased on the Mountain with our attempt at sledding, we decided to try it out again later that night with Amanda and Tyler.  We were cruising down Old Main Hill and even broke a sled doing so.  Only this time it was unique as we unexpectedly found a mattress some others were done using.  They let us take ownership of the mattress contributing to what many of us would later refer to as the "best sledding we had ever done!"  We flew down the hill so fast it was as if we were floating down the mountain. Amanda and I had it good as Mike and Tyler drug the mattress up to the top again while Amanda and I shot the breeze.  I guess you could say it is a benefit of being a lady. After sledding some others were hungry and nothing could satisfy their pallets except for a little fried bacon, it was a great night.

The next weekend we returned to the slopes for our last ski of the season.  Jon and Jon Goates both joined us as well.  This time, we did it their style, which was in style.  We dressed up for the slopes. Both Jon's put on their lovely turtle necks and suits while Mike and I did a little more random style.  I had my bling-bling shirt and Mike wore his Sweedish green army pants.  Mike also spiced it up by bringing his wrestling mask.  We were looking good.  Plus it just so happens a professional photographer was out snapping some pictures as well- good thing he could capture my excellent technique on camera. In actuality my form was below top notch, but lets be real, we all looked positively goofy!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Love is in the Air!

Yup, you guessed it, it's the magical day when Cupid floats through the air shooting his love darts at people, the day many know as Valentine's Day.  Though Valentine's day is miserable for some, I am fortunate enough to already have my Valentine's date picked out this year and for the rest to come with my best friend and husband, Mr. Mike.  This year for Valentine's day we already had made some plans at the Food Bank with some friends, so we had our "true" Valentine's day dinner a few day's in advance.  We met Sam and Whitney at Cafe Trio at the base of Big Cottonwood Canyon.  Mike thought we were headed for a Mexican restaurant, based on the name, so we were both a little surprised to find it was actually an Italian restaurant.  The food was respectable, however, the best part was the size of Mike's meatball.  It was practically as big as my hand, it was huge!

Although eating the man size meatball was enjoyable, we decided to eat at one of our favorite restaurants, Rancherito's for the actual holiday.  Best Valentine's Day dinner yet! We did a quick dinner before and then headed down to the Food Bank to meet Scott and Meghann to sort some food and do a little service on this day of love.  We had been attending the Food Bank every couple weeks to every month for a little while now.  Scott and Meghann also volunteered there as well as Scott was looking to be a Fireman and so he needed some volunteer hours.  Nevertheless, we enjoyed working there and having an opportunity to serve.  However, we were not always the best at planning in advance and not surprisingly the only day they had left in February was Valentine's Day.  So we thought, what better way to spend the day of love than serving others?  Yup, we are that good.

No snow...Huge Snowman?

With hanging around town for the past few weeks, we needed to get out of the city and up into the mountains for a real winter adventure despite the bum winter season we had thus far. We decided to head up to Logan for the weekend.  Ryan and Kenzie were kind enough to let us stay with them and were also ready for some quality snow time.  Late Saturday morning Jon, Danny, and Haley joined the fun as well.  We had our snow shoes packed and were ready to hit the mountains.  Danny loves watching animals, so he suggested we head up Blacksmith Fork Canyon to do none other than see the elk at the Hardware Ranch.  We thought it seemed like a reasonable request and then we could also find a spot up the canyon to do some snow shoeing.
*Not Actual Snowman-Our's was way better!

After getting our feel for the elk, we decided it was time.  We found a nice pull off on Blacksmith Fork Canyon and started our winter hike.  We climbed up some big hills and walked around for a while.  Some of the boys starting rolling huge balls of snow.  Hence, we had no other choice than to make a giant snow man.  We built the largest snow man I have ever built.  Danny was using his cross fit moves to pump everybody up.  It took all of the boys strength to lift the different pieces of the snowman. Nevertheless, we were able to complete it.  By some estimates they say it was 8 feet high other estimates get as high as 10 feet.  Either way it was pretty awesome.  We added the arms, legs, nose and the whole works.  Yet it was the hair and mustache made of straw which really made our snowman unique.

We were feeling pretty satisfied with our snowman and even joked that hikers better beware as they came around the corner to find our great creation.  To celebrate we tried the famous Pizza Pie Cafe.  Ryan and Kenzie had a coupon for four of us for $20 -which included unlimited pizza, pasta, and salad.  Sounds like a deal that simply couldn't be passed up.  Needless to say, we stuffed our faces.  One of the best parts was the dessert pizzas- Oreo, Cookie Dough, and Cinnamon were all among the favorites.  We decided then and there we would be returning to Pizza Heaven.  We left filling full and satisfied as we made our little resources go a long way!