Monday, April 1, 2013

I could have DIED!!

We just spent a fun weekend in St. George with our good friends Bret and Paula, and according to Melanie ... I HAVE to blog about it. She's kinda bossy, and she's pregnant, so I'm going to just do as I'm told and not ask a bunch of silly questions.
 We beat Bret and Paula down there by a good 7 hours, and the weather was FANTASTIC, so we hopped on our bikes as soon as we pulled in and rode all around Ivins, Santa Clara, and St. George. They have a million bike trails down there. Unfortunately they don't all connect to each other, but we had a lot of fun exploring all around. Longest ride I've been on in over a year, and it was awesome. Love me some St. George sunshine.

After a little shopping the next morning, we headed up to Toquerville looking for a supposedly very cool waterfall ... which apparently does not exist or is very well hidden. We figured since the Virgin River was basically a little puddle, there wasn't likely to be much of a waterfall 30 miles upstream.  So, after one too many u-turns and "road closed" signs we decided to go to Zion National Park instead. 

Little did we know, St. Patrick's Day weekend is a very big deal in the quaint little town of Springdale, Utah, which happens to be the gateway town to Zion National Park. They throw a big celebration complete with live band and parade down their little main street. We stopped for a quick bite to eat at The Flying Monkey and watched the small-town parade in style. I saw about as much spray-painted green hair, green painted faces, and too-short shorts on old guys driving John Deere tractors as I ever hoped to.

Our afternoon consisted of the greatest trickery known to mankind ...pulled off by Dave and Paula. Dave has been asking me to do the Angel's Landing hike since we met (nearly 17 years ago), and I have been consistent in my NO to that. I have not only refused to hike it but have strictly FORBID him from hiking it. Too scary, too dangerous, Dave goofs off too much ... believe me, I had my reasons, and I fully intended to resist his persuasive efforts until the end of time. Well here we were with just adults, no kids, and not only Dave's begging but Paula's as well. Really?!!? These two are troublemakers I tell ya.

Paula had hiked this before and was actually saying things like, "It's not too bad" and "I don't remember it being too scary." Ummm.... WHAT WAS THAT?!?!

 So they did it. They talked me and and Bret into it. I don't know if I've ever seen Dave so excited (and of course ETERNALLY grateful to Paula). He was just sure he'd NEVER get the chance to do this hike. I'll tell you what, hikes are no laughing matter to Dave. He REALLY enjoys this kind of stuff. I don't mind hiking, but I'm pretty invested in staying on this Earth as well. You might say I'm somewhat torn.

 It was a BEAUTIFUL day. Perfect weather and great company.

 Did I mention Dave swore the hike was only 2.5 miles (and I believe Paula backed him up)? Turns out it is 2.5 miles ONE WAY. Just to clarify.

 The first part of that hike is not bad at all. It really is beautiful. And we were hiking kind of back in a canyon. Somehow it felt almost ... SAFE.

 Walter's Wiggles is pretty cool. We tried to keep track of how many switchbacks there were, but you know us ... we got talking and got distracted and lost count on both trips. 

So far so good ... and then we reach Scout Lookout (i.e. the end of SAFETY as we know it). This is the sign at Scout Lookout which tells us how many people have DIED on this hike SINCE 2004. My question is "When was the sign printed???!!?" Isn't the fact that they need a sign like this at all a bit of a PROBLEM?
 To be totally honest, heights freak me out. I don't even like going over a freeway overpass. When I'm up high (and by that I mean anything higher than about 10 feet), the world beneath me feels like it's slowly spinning and I feel like I'm tipping. So once we reached this part of the hike, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't panicking a bit. That narrow strip of mountain behind us is what's known as Angel's Landing. It looked narrow and steep and just scary. Not a good idea for me ... for SURE!

At this point, Dave graciously offered me an "out." Once he saw what we were about to do, he figured he better quit pushing and leave it up to me if I wanted to go on or not. Now I was SCARED to death, but I'm not an idiot either. If I didn't finish this hike (or let him at least finish), I was NEVER going to hear the end of it ... not for the rest of ETERNITY. He promised we'd go slow and he'd stay right behind me. He promised not to goof around or get close to the edge ... blah, blah, blah. I made him promise two more things before I'd go on ... that he'd NEVER ask me to go on this hike again and that he'd NEVER even consider taking any of my children on it. Off we went.

Paula somewhat cheerfully admitted that it was not how she remembered ... that is was somehow more scary now. Good to know Paula ... good to know. She hiked in front of the three of us for the rest of the way up. She said she had to. She couldn't look at us. If we were going to fall to our deaths, she was not going to watch. Uhhhh .... COME AGAIN?!?!

 So off we went holding on to the chains and crawling on our hands/knees, staying as far away from the edge as possible. I am not kidding you ... I was so SO scared! It's steep, narrow, and kinda slippery. And of course people are coming down as we were going up, so we'd have to share the path which was wide enough for ONE person ... not two. It felt like I couldn't look around cause I could see the world spinning and it did weird things to my balance. Bret hiked right in front of me and Dave was right behind me. So basically I have the back of Bret's legs and his white tennis shoes permanently imprinted in my brain. There were a few times when I realized there were tears in my eyes. It was crazy. I can't think of another time when I've been that scared for that long.

 See that face ... a perfect mixture of "I'm going to kill someone" and "I'm going to PUKE." Make sure and note the ridiculous drop-off to the canyon floor just feet to my side. Perfect.

 Thankfully it didn't occur to me until we were almost done how many thousands of people and their dirty germy hands had touched that chain, cause I'm here to tell you it would have been a problem for me. I didn't dare to touch, and I didn't dare to let go.

It was steep and kinda tricky in places with your footing. Paula and I had not made wise hiking apparel choices that morning and were jealous of the loose baggy shorts on all those professional hikers, as we sported our skin tight jean capris. Yeah ... those were super comfortable.

This picture is NUTS. Look at how far down it is!!

 Finally ... we MADE IT. We survived. We lived to tell the tale. This is the top of Angel's Landing.

 You could walk out further, closer to the edge, but I sat down right where I was (confident I had fulfilled my duty) and refused to move.  Paula joined me. Dave and Bret walked out further towards the cliff's edge (a mere 1500 feet off the canyon floor) and Paula and I discussed our various options with spending their life insurance money.

This is the view from the edge ... I wouldn't know.

 So now that I conquered one of the scariest afternoons of my life ... piece of cake, right.?  Oh ... except for the fact that we still had to climb down. In some cases, better. In some cases, worse (see picture above).

Still on the way down. Don't worry ... I've got it under control. Check out the color on my hand. Haha

We took this after we came down from Angel's Landing ... at least I think it was after. Guess how I know that? Cause I'm SMILING!! I survived. I overcame. I lived to see another day. I did not become a statistic on a sign (printing date unknown) of people who died on this hike.

And what do I get from this experience you ask? Well a few significant things. First, Dave is never allowed to ask me to go on this hike again. I can assure you I will never do it again. Had I known it was like that, I never would have done it. I way overestimated my adventurousness (?). Second, of course I'm proud of myself for accomplishing something I never thought I could do. You know, "You can do hard things" and all that. And last but not least I have a lifetime worth of
object lesson/spiritual thought/talk/lesson/devotional material about holding onto the Iron Rod and staying as far away from the edge as possible. And that you might say was worth it.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Antelope by Moonlight

Paula and I decided to do the Antelope by Moonlight bike ride this year. This was actually our first organized ride for this year (cause we are both TOO DANG BUSY), and it was a lot of fun. When I think about it, we must be completely crazy. There were 2000 riders, it was 10:00 p.m. and very dark, this ride attracts an unusual amount of Boy Scouts, glow sticks are apparently prone to coming unhooked and falling onto the road where they become very hazardous to road bikes, and for whatever reason there really wasn't a bright moon that night (which I think is false advertising for a ride called Antelope by Moonlight). But you know Paula and I ... wherever we are, we're gonna HAVE FUN!!

Usually on rides like this, there is a staggered start time so everyone is spread out. This time, not so much, and that was NUTS! We all had headlights and reflectors on and glow sticks so at least we were all kinda visible, but all those bright lights made it hard to see and I ended up focusing on not crashing into people and hardly ever watched the road right in front of me which is somewhat dangerous ... especially for me.

Right off the bat, there was a bit of a climb and then a long downhill. I was reminded of my own recklessness and the dangers of riding at night in a big hurry when I realized I was FLYING (I'm not going to tell you how fast) down a hill in the dark on a 1.25 inch tire and I had lost Paula. Ooops. And once we got separated, it was hard to find each other, but we figured it out.
 It was harder than usual to navigate in the dark and keep from hitting people, and there were a lot of people missing the whole "slow on the right, pass on the left" thing. These must be the same people who drive on Utah roads. Weird. So it made for a kinda crazy ride. Did I mention it was at 10:00 at night?!

I had spent that day up at Deer Creek boating with my family for about five hours. While I LOVE going to the lake and we had a really fun day boating, it probably wasn't the best idea before a night ride. It was only 23.47 miles which is normally not a problem, but I was EXHAUSTED!! We had a long slow gradual climb at the very end of the ride, and it KICKED MY TRASH!  I knew I was struggling, but I looked down at my speedometer and realized how SLOW I was going ... 3.8 mph!! Really ?!?! I was honestly worried about starting to roll BACKWARDS!! But you know you me, I am NOT getting off that bike!! And then I looked at my watch ... 11:48 p.m. Well, that makes sense. Paula, because she is AMAZING, flew up the hill, and because she is a good friend, she waited for me at the top and said, "We always finish together." What a rockstar. Love that girl.
I guess maybe we look a little alike. Just a little.

This is our after-ride picture, and if I do say so myself, we don't look too bad. Of course, you can't really get the full effect of the helmet-hair in this pic. Too bad for you.The ride of course was around Antelope Island which is about 90 minutes from here, so we still had to drive home after we finished and got home around 1:45. Just a bit tired the next day.

And the shirts. Gotta have the shirts. I didn't get a very good picture, but it says "End of the World, Mayan Meltdown 2012" on it. Whatever that means.

Independence Day

For our Fourth of July this year, we skipped the big parade and headed up to the mountains to hike the G with the Olsens, and we had a great time. It wasn't too hot, and it's not too long of a hike, but it was pretty steep. I was a little baffled as to HOW I had hiked it so many times before at night with a flashlight. I was in high school, what can I say?

You can tell who the overachievers are in these two families. The rest of us were satisfied with arriving at the base of the G and sat down to rest. These two ran on up to the top. Apparently the view is "much better" from up there. Just ask Jackson and Kylee.

It's hard to see in this picture, but Dave and Bret both think they need goatees in order to be real men... or something ... blah, blah, blah. I lovingly refer to this phenomenon as a mid-life crisis. Problem is, they both feel obligated to shave them off before church on Sunday, so they only grow them out during the week and they never get soft. Whatever.

We stopped by the Purple Turtle for shakes and tater gems (yum) after our hike and then went over to Neptune Park. We actually had a big BBQ and went to a fabulous neighborhood fireworks show that night, but I apparently did not remember to take pictures. That kinda sounds like me.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Love this

I ran across this quote the other day, and I LOVE it. It explains EXACTLY how I feel about our country, and the people in it right now:

"We are living in a time of great crisis. The country is torn with scandal and with criticism, with faultfinding and condemnation. It is an easy thing to climb on the bandwagon and join the hotheads in condemnation, little realizing that when they do, they are not just tearing down a man, they are tearing down a nation, and they are striking at the underpinnings of one of the greatest of all nations of all the world--a nation that was founded upon an inspired declaration we call the Constitution of the United States. The Lord said it was written by men whom he raised up for that very purpose, and that Constitution stands today as a model to all the nations to pattern their lives...

Men may fail in this country. Earthquakes may come, seas may heave themselves beyond their bounds, there may be drought and disaster and hardship, as we may call it, but this nation, founded as it was a foundation of principles laid down by men whom God raised up, will never fail!...

While it is true there are dangers and difficulties that lie ahead of us, we must not assume that we are going to lie down and watch the country go to ruin. We should not be heard to predict ills and calamities for the nation. On the contrary, we should be providing optimistic support of the nation...

It is the negative, pessimistic comments about the nation that do as much harm as anything to the country today...We should not be so concerned about finding out what is wrong with America, but we should be finding what is right about America and should be speaking optimistically and enthusiastically about America...

Yes, men may fail, but this nation won't fail. I have faith in America, and you and I must have faith in America if we understand the teachings of the gospel of Jesus Christ." - Harold B. Lee

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

That's just gross

 I can't recall where it originated, but the kids and I have a tradition that whenever we go to the dentist or orthodontist, we stop for a donut on the way home. I truly do not remember how this came about, and while it does defy some logic (especially regarding the dentist), I do enjoy a good donut, and so do they. Apparently I need to have a little talk to them about what constitutes a GOOD donut.
These little gems are maple bars sprinkled with BACON, and that is truly disgusting. Even if I ate bacon, I sure as heck would NOT put it on a donut. Austin has perfected the "died and gone to heaven" look pretty well. He saves it for things like bacon-sprinkled donuts.