Thursday, July 31, 2008

Why I'm not applying to be a forest ranger any time soon

The summer after fourth grade my friend Carrie and I loaded onto an old yellow school bus with a couple dozen other girls and headed up to the mountains for a three-day summer camp. I took along a sleeping bag, some warm clothes and wore my favorite neon orange fanny pack (don't judge--it was the 80's) which was loaded up with snacks and $5 from my mom in case the bus stopped at a gas station and I wanted to buy a treat. I soon found out that the outdoor skills I had learned in Girl Scouts, including how to build a fake--albeit delicious--fire out of pretzel sticks and marshmallows and the appropriate way to fix a French braid (part of our "good grooming" badge, which was embroidered with a mirror and brush), wouldn't get me far.

At the camp, every time we did something well, completed a task first or got the best score on something, we were given a large wooden bead to thread through the string we were supposed to wear on our belt loop. While participating in an archery exercise, Carrie hit the bull's eye while I hit an errant pine tree branch. While fishing, she baited her hook and caught a glistening, wiggly fish. I paid a girl with my $5 treat money to bait mine (no way was I touching a worm) and caught a bunch of mud in the cuff of my jeans. Carrie was one of the first to get her little camp fire going while mine remained a pile of leaves and sticks. And the rest of the camp went on that way. After the second day, Carrie's string looked like it had recently been an integral part of roaring Mardi Gras festivities while mine looked like a shoelace.

I caved into the humiliation of not earning a single bead and, along with another beadless wonder, sneaked into the tent where they kept them in a tub. We grabbed a handful and crept back to our tents. A few minutes later, disgusted with my thievery, I turned myself in and tearfully confessed to my crime. I was such a pitiful case that the camp counselors felt sorry for me and let me keep them, saying that they were "honesty beads."

Needless to say, I'm not exactly what you would call "outdoorsy," despite being from the huntin', fishin', four-wheelin' and campin' hot-spot of Carbon County. I haven't been camping in years, I hardly ever hike and I don't really like being dirty. I do, however, love the idea of being in the great outdoors and I can appreciate the beauty of Utah's mountains that are minutes from my door but hardly ever enjoyed by me.

In an effort to change this part of my lifestyle, I made Zach accompany me on a hike last weekend. I was feeling anxious to breathe some fresh air and enjoy the loveliness of our surroundings. We took our little dog, Sydney, loaded up the Explorer and set out on our adventure. (Parker is not keen on being outside for more than the few minutes it takes to sun himself while sipping a fruity drink with matching cocktail umbrella.)

I researched a nice trail for us and printed off the directions from a hiking enthusiast Web site. A word of advice: Be ye not so stupid. Never print off directions from a hiking enthusiast Web site. These hikers are apparently trying to kill intruders to their sacred trails and will intentionally lead you astray.

According to the map of death, I mean, the directions I got from a hiking enthusiast Web site, if we left our house by noon, we should be home a few hours later. Perfect.

I packed us some snacks, a water bowl for Sydney and other hiking essentials and we set out. We followed the directions to the letter and soon found the reservoir that signaled we were getting close to the trailhead. The directions said that immediately after the reservoir, look for the horse riding area and take the dirt road to the right. This dirt road would switchback up the mountain for 4 miles and we would magically appear at a second reservoir and the entrance to the hiking trail.

Easy enough.

We passed the first reservoir, saw the horse trailers lined up along with a sign saying "equestrian something or other" (I'm paraphrasing here) and noticed the dirt road to the right. We took the road and proceeded up the bumpiest, scariest path (conveniently located on the edge of several cliffs) upon which I have ever traveled.

As we climbed up this sad excuse for a road, the poor Explorer was put in 4-wheel drive, I grabbed on to the door handles and tried not to cry. We passed a few hard-core Jeeps, a couple of dirt bikes and multiple ATV-ers [side note: Apparently to drive a 4-wheeler you must be shirtless, weigh at least 400 pounds and have no consideration for your fellow road travelers.]. Everyone seemed to stare at us with the same "What are you doing here?" expression and we carried on.

After nearly TWO EXCRUCIATING HOURS (even though we figured we were in the wrong place, there was nowhere to turn around), we got to the top of the mountain and asked a nice man in a huge Jeep where we could find the hiking trail/reservoir we were after.

He gave us a bewildered look and stifled a laugh.

Not exactly the response we were looking for.

He told us it was on the other side of the mountain. Yikes. We traveled back down the road and to the paved area where we originally turned off. I was ready to go home but Zach was determined to find out where we made an error. Turns out that if we had driven about 100 feet further before turning off, we would have found the real horse area and the correct dirt road. Details, details.

We found the right road, braved it up the mountain (it was much easier and far less scary this time) and ended up enjoying what little daylight was left at the reservoir. Our "hike" consisted of us walking about 40 feet up the several-mile trail, putting out a blanket and having a picnic with the nature-filled noises of dozens of families loading up their cars in the parking lot. Just like in the movies.

It was still a fun day. Even though I had to unfortunately use the bathroom in an outhouse, twice!, Sydney went swimming for the first time ever and I only had a mild heart attack watching her, Zach and I were able to breathe that fresh air we'd heard so much about and the Explorer got to go off-road--previously the closest she'd been was traveling through the potholes on 33rd South.

A very good day after all.

(Left): Z & Syd at the lake after we
finally found it.
(Right): Syd and me taking a rest after our 45-second hike.

(L): Post-picnic, on the "trail." (R): Built Ford tough.

Sydney is staring at me, wondering why, from this angle, I suddenly look 9 months pregnant.

And it was an even better day when we saw this beautiful site signaling that we were home and had survived our adventure in the mountains:

Ah, the smell of smog, the glare of the pavement and the sounds of sirens in the distance. Home sweet home.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Golf Carts Not Hand Carts

To celebrate Utah's favorite holiday, Pioneer Day on July 24, Teri, Mark, Zach and I hit the links in the early morning hours--emphasis on the early, our tee time was 7:40 a.m. On our day off. We enjoyed this day off work at our luxurious home club, Nibley Park. If you've never been to Nibley and plan to play there some day, you will need to know the dress code: cut-off denim shorts, sleeveless t-shirts and hopefully a cigarette dangling from your mouth. It's quite high-brow.

"See, Teri, that guy's mullet and midriff-bearing football jersey is exactly what
Phil Mickelson wore in the last tournament."

We played nine holes and had a wonderful time. A scout for the LPGA was there, saw Teri and me, and signed us up immediately to join the tour. OK, that didn't happen. But it totally could have because we really are that good. I even managed to play to the 1st-8th holes using the same ball. That's never happened to me before and I am very proud of myself.

Teri and I had so much fun playing together we even hit our tee shots
to almost the exact same spot.

Mark is demonstrating his golf attire modeling skills.

It was probably the most fun I've ever had playing golf and we made sure to refuel with a delicious breakfast at the clubhouse afterwards.

Our foursome after playing nine holes.

I find the fact that we spent part of this important day trekking over hills, through valleys and across streams in a cart without air conditioning the perfect way to salute our pioneer ancestors.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Monday Lovely: Domino Book of Decorating

It hits bookstore shelves in the fall, but you can pre-order yours today.

Domino is one of my favorite magazines and the fact that the editors have put together a whole book on decorating is the best news I've had since realizing the only thing better than Hot Dog on a Stick's Hot Dog on a Stick is the Cheese on a Stick. Perfection.

And I have a sneaking suspicion this book will have fewer calories.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Flashback Friday: Flying the friendly skies

Grandpa showing me the ropes during an early flying lesson

A significant part of my childhood was spent at local airports. My dad is a pilot and we had an airplane when I was growing up, as did my grandpa and uncle. I remember going to the hangar where we kept our plane in Price and visiting with the lovely woman who ran the airport, Ardith. She would give me a Salted Nut Roll while I would "help" my dad do important plane maintenance or accompany him for a scenic ride.

One of my grandfather's planes was used for the US Dept. of Agriculture to spot animal predators that would harm farmers' livestock. On this plane he had a machine attached to the wing that would shoot out long, kite-like flags that were used to mark where certain animals were spotted.

When we would get into town, he would always buzz over our house to let us know he was there, often flying about a telephone pole's height off the ground, waving at us and then shooting flags out for us to chase. Sometimes he would fly over our friends' houses as well if we were playing there outside, needless to say, making my brother, sister and I the coolest kids in the neighborhood, er, rural subdivision.

Growing up, I assumed I would eventually have a pilots' license and airplane as well. That was before I learned how hard it is for me to just park my car [see: large dent and scratch to the driver's side door of the Explorer].


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Sydney and I are outnumbered

We had our ultrasound this week and...

It's a boy!

Or, at least the doctor said he would be very, very surprised if it isn't. The baby, who we're tentatively calling Mirando* for the time being, was very shy about showing us his face and kept putting his hand over it every time we wanted him to look at us. He was not, however, shy about mooning us, since he showed his little bum every chance he got (just like his dad).

We're thrilled!

*I've offered the name Mirando to each of my friends who have been expecting baby boys over the years--I believe this started with Nicole when she was pregnant with Cooper. Since then, for reasons I will never understand, Aubrey, Amanda, Diania, Heather, Jill, Jamie, Katie and others have all turned it down. I'm assuming it's because it's such a fantastic, sophisticated name the parents are worried it places too much stress on the baby at the thought of having to live up to its greatness. Right?

Monday, July 21, 2008

Monday Lovely: Hi-ho cherry-o

This weekend Z & I decided that we don't do nearly enough "summery" things. We don't camp. We don't swim much. We don't hike or mountain bike or boat or do other active, outdoorsy things. I would like very much for that to change, preferably without me having to break a sweat.

We do, however, eat our weight in fresh produce. Every year, for about three months or so, we enjoy replacing our regular high-fructose corn syrup-laden snacks (I figured this is a fair description since isn't that in everything?) with delicious fresh fruits and veggies.

My friend & coworker Clint presented me with a huge bag full of these delicious beauties and they lasted all of, oh, a few hours at our house. A few flavorful, delightful hours.


Friday, July 18, 2008

Flashback Friday: The glorious day of my birth

This week I turned 29 years old. I have no idea how this happened. I'm fully convinced that someone is playing a trick on me and that I am actually still 24, since that's the age for some reason I always go to say if I have to answer a question about how old I am and I don't think about it first.

In honor of the extraordinary day I entered the world, my mom sent me some pictures to commemorate the occasion.

With my flowing locks of hair, I'm rocking the mic during baby karaoke

Fresh out of the oven

Several months later, I'm equally alarmed at having to wear 35 pounds of clothing
and my dad's striking resemblance to a 1970's version of Abraham Lincoln

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Overheard: Sure to replace the "honor student" bumper sticker

Proud Mom: Our son can't talk, but he can make an awesome fart noise.


Bad Guys: Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid

Recently Zach and I played host to some of our fellow SoTro (SOuth of TROlley neighborhood) residents for Neighborhood Watch Night. Everyone congregated in our dining room, including our informative and very tough looking liason with the SLPD, a local detective. Trust me, you don't want to mess with him.

We learned about fighting crime in our neighborhood and also used it as an excuse for a friendly get-together. Zach and I have mentioned in the past that living in our house is almost like camping. And not just because we were lacking fully functioning running water and had an unhealthy amount of dirt within our immediate living quarters when we first moved in. Our neighborhood reminds me of childhood camping trips where lots of family friends would park their trailers or tents near each other and you could kind of wander from one person's place to the next, hanging out, sitting outside telling stories and laughing. It's not uncommon at all for us to see neighbors outside, stop and talk to them and then before we know it, others have also gathered and we set up an impromptu dinner party where everyone rummages around for whatever is in their fridge, wine cellar (i.e., the little shelf next to the toaster) or fruit basket and a delicious evening ensues.

On this Neighborhood Watch Night we ventured out onto our front porch and everyone realized that we were all lacking in the dinner party item contribution department so Zach called up a connection we have at Z Pizzeria and had some pies delivered.

Mark and Zach keepin' it real on the porch swing.
They are scaring away drug dealers with their toughness.

Satu, Alex, Mark and Daniel taking a bite out of crime.

Ryan is warning criminals to stay far, far away from his home, car
and thin crust with extra cheese.

We found out that not only do we excel at fighting crime, we are also experts at fighting hunger. Particularly our own.


Wednesday, July 9, 2008

It's a Toss-Up Between the Guy in the Fountain and the One in the Pool

Maybe it's because some of the "photobombers" on this site remind me a little too much of things my always-proper, extremely shy husband would do in someone else's photo if he had the chance, I think the Web site below may be one of the best to ever hit the Internet.

PS: If pressed hams and some inappropriate, immature gestures make you uncomfortable, you'll have to overlook a few of the pictures on here.

PPS: I found the link on MightyGirl.