Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2015 Resolutions (and 2014 review)

Here were my 2014 Resolutions:

1.) Run a Spartan Race (signed up with Brandon!): Done and done!
2.) Run at least one Half-Marathon (I'm thinking the SLC Half...): SLC Half, Nebo Half, Moab Half...
3.) Try to do 100 push-ups near to consecutively...(I started working on this one but fizzled with the holidays) Still doable!
4.) Learn to swim properly (so I can maybe do a triathlon some day...) I pretty much gave this up at the beginning of the year when I got my rock climbing membership. I didn't want to pay for two gym memberships, so I dropped the one with the pool and kept the one with the climbing walls!
5.) Hike a new mountain: King's Peak!
6.) Grow some herbs or vegetables (I have a yard! I should take advantage of it if I stay in one place long enough to do that!): Mint (x4 species), Parsley, Rosemary, Basil (x2 species), and cherry tomatoes! I tried for some other things, but they didn't make it...
7.) Read 50 books. Reading dwindled for me with college and though I did better in the past year, I'd really like to improve. Some progress, but not a whole lot here. I too easily get distracted wanting to reread books I've read already, and those don't really count. 
8.) Figure the whole knitting thing out properly. I've knitted scarves since I was a freshman in college, but I'd really like to learn the fundamentals so I can expand what I'm able to do in that department. Yeah...this didn't happen, though I did a fair amount of sewing instead!
9.) Join a rock climbing gym and learn to boulder. Gear acquired, let's do it!: Done and done!

Five out of nine! That's not too bad!

Resolutions for 2015:

1.) Get Married! (May 2015, here we come! Lots to do between now and then. I know it's a silly resolution, as it is more of an event, but I'm putting it on here anyway.)
2.) Except on days that I am physically unable, try to exercise at least a little every day. That can a 50 minutes climbing, 30 minute walk, 20 minute jog, or 10 burpees - whatever, as long as I do something every day that I'm not physically unable.
3.) Do not purchase any tootsie rolls or licorice for myself. It's ok for me to eat them, and even buy them as long as I'm not the intended target, but no buying them for myself. I might try to extend this to all candy, but that's tentative at best.
4.) Hike another new mountain!
5.) Get a new job! The one have now is really good for so many reasons, but it's time to step up my game.
6.) Read at least 25 new books. Its a pretty big cutback from last years goal, but I think it will be easier for me to focus on - approximately two a month - Firefight in January, Shadows of Self in late 2015 (exciting!).
7.) Complete at least five sewing projects. (I've got three sitting in my lap right now, so I just need to more in the space of a year.)
8.) Run at least one half marathon - maybe the Spartan again.

9.) (Late add) I'd really like to work on my Portuguese.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Story

Big news! Brandon and I are (finally) officially engaged! Woo! :)

In our many trips to Logan these past several months, one of the additional reasons for our trips up there, which I didn't mention, was to design a ring at S.E. Needhams. When we went up way back on October 10th for True Aggie Night and the gallery walk, we'd spent so much time having dinner at Le Nonne that we only had time to go to one place before the gallery walk was over - and we went to S.E. Needhams. We were so impressed with the customer service and the apparent ease of the process there, that we decided we wanted to work with them. About a week later on the 18th, we went back up to do a couple things, but mainly to go back and talk with someone about getting stared on a ring design ( Lars!). Then began the long process of going back and forth through email to tweak and perfect the design we wanted. It took about five weeks of emailing and a visit to the store to look at a wax model to complete the design. Around November 23rd we were done - ready to give the green light and push forward. In retrospect, five weeks doesn't seem like a loooong time, but it felt like a long time while we were doing it. At that point they estimated four to six weeks to have it done - though were pushing to have it done by Christmas.

Another long wait ensued. At this point I ducked out of the emailing process with Lars and left the rest to Brandon - occasionally inquiring as to what the current status was. I knew we'd likely have it by Christmas, but that was about it.

Fast forward to last Tuesday, December 16th. This was the first evening I suspected anything. Brandon and I rarely made reservations anywhere, so for him to make such a solid plan for the evening made me wonder if maybe he already had the ring. I'm pretty sure I took a little extra time getting ready that evening, just in case...but the evening proceeded without major event.

(Talking with him about this later, he said that the confusion was intentional - that he'd thought about doing strange odd things (singing telegrams, etc.) just to throw me off so it would be more of a surprise, since at the first introduction of any legitimate clue, he knew I'd know what was up.)

Nothing of note (on my end) happened through the rest of the week. Work, work, work. Our usual routine in the evenings, though Brandon did go up to Zach's for a guys night on Friday (the 19th).

So, yesterday when we made plans in the afternoon to get together around 7:30, I thought nothing of it. I have this entire week off, so I spent yesterday rock climbing (ripped a callous off (blister under the callous) while climbing the second time yesterday), running errands, and beginning to work on overdue projects. When Brandon texted me around 7:10 to see if I was hungry then, I said yes and then in about two minutes changed out of the comfy house clothes I was in into something more normal (quite the opposite of the extra time I'd taken to get ready the previous Tuesday).

Brandon came and picked me up, we chatted about where to go for dinner, and he mentioned that we hadn't been to Sawadee in awhile, so we headed there. Custard and sticky rice and a dish of Pad See Ewe later, and we were very satisfied. He'd told me the ring would likely be done at the beginning of the week, so he had tentative plans to drive up there the next day (Tuesday). He had a soccer game in the evening that we were planning on going to. It was all proceeding normally until Brandon pulled out an envelope and handed it to me. Clue number one. A lovely note with a hidden message (which I couldn't at first decipher until I realized the letters were scrambled) took us to Temple Square. Clue number two took us to Memory Grove. We parked there and walked in, and in the chill wind, Brandon presented me with a third card, full of wonderful memories and thoughts. As we shivered in the wind on a little stone bench, Brandon explained his thought process over the past several years. It was pretty much impossible to tell if he was shivering exclusively because of the cold or if he was also nervous. And then he presented me with a little Needhams box which (laughingly) held a beautiful blue ring pop. In consternation I looked at the ring pop, not sure what exactly to do with it. And then he got down on one knee and pulled out another box with something quite different inside and asked me if I'd marry him. I told him I would (of course!), and then couldn't pull him back to the bench fast enough (it was too cold not to huddle together!). We sat there for awhile longer, laughing and talking, and then walked back to the warmth of the car.

Beautiful London Blue Topaz.

Turns out that Brandon actually picked up the ring on the previous Friday before his guys night. He'd gone up early in the afternoon to head there first. When he'd pulled into Needhams, he'd parked the car and just as he was going into the store, got a call from his parents and talked to them for a bit. After getting off the phone, he finally went in to talk with Lars and pick everything up. At this point he'd probably been in the store about an hour, between the phone call and everything else. However, when he went to leave, he couldn't find his keys. They looked around the store but couldn't find them. So he went out to check in his car and discovered that in his excitement/nervousness to pick up the ring he'd not only left his keys in his car, but he'd left the car running. (This is probably the most amusing detail to me from the whole sequence of events.) Fortunately it was still unlocked, and no one had decided to drive off with it. He'd then gone to the guys night as planned and proceeded to have the ring burning a hole in his closet through the rest of the weekend until last night.

Love this man!

To say that we are happy is an understatement. Excited, joyful, calm, peaceful, ecstatic, full of laughter and smiles - so happy. This has been a long time coming, so I know it will come as little surprise to any of you. But we're so excited to spend the rest of our lives together, to continue our adventures. I have no doubt that things will be hard at times, but I'm confident that they will also be wonderful and worthwhile.

We met for the first time in September 2010, went our separate ways, met again in September 2011, and have dated since then. We've got a few years under our belts already, but we look forward to many many more!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Copper Onion

This morning I went rock climbing for the first time in just over a week. I know that sounds like a short time, but in the sport of rock climbing, even a few days seems to remove a lot of the muscle and callous build up. It was a harder rock climbing hour than usual, but also wonderful to be back at it.

I find that the more regularly I exercise, the more balance the rest of my life seems to be. Not a first time realization, but something that I need to constantly remind myself of.

In other news, last night Brandon and I finally made it to The Copper Onion downtown. It's the kind of place where you need to make a reservation at before you go - not the kind of thing that works well with Brandon and I being fairly spontaneous in our current eating habits. The Copper Onion has American cuisine, and does it well. We shared Sauteed Mushrooms (delicious, though more for the garnish of potato sticks and fried eggs than the mushrooms), The Ballard Farm Griddled Pork Chop (also delicious - particularly the polenta), and a Brownie Sundae (delicious, but so rich!). Everything was very good, and the portions were reasonable (not huge). Our only complaint, or rather - observation, was that it was so full of tables and people that it felt like a big city restaurant - packed and loud. I know that vibe appeals to some people, but it's not our favorite. We like being able to have a conversation without leaning over the table or having to yell. Still, I'm glad we made it down!

I'm looking forward to the end of this week. Things are crazy busy at work at the moment, but I have all of next week off! Exciting! I have a few projects I'd like to catch up on and just taking a solid break will be good. I can't believe how quickly time passes!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

A California Thanksgiving: Pictures

Ah! It's been more several weeks and I still haven't posted my Thanksgiving photos here! Here are a few of them!

Got a little bouldering in on our walk. 

An incredible tree that we climbed!

Enjoying the tree!

Enjoying the tree!

Enjoying the tree!

I took very few food shots - but this is what we made as an
appetizer for lunch Thanksgiving day!

Incredible sunset at La Jolla beach.

First contact with the water!

Incredible sunset. 

The best company! (I never got one of Rusty
and Lisa - but they were there too!)

Love this guy!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Excuses, excuses...

Hello from Tuesday evening! It's been awhile, but I have lots of good excuses. ;) Well, at least two...

1.) A juicy cold that I probably took home from Thanksgiving. It was pretty mild last week, present, but not overpowering, but when my stress level shot up and stayed up last week, it probably dropped my immune system a few notches and when I finally made it to this past week, the cold came on full force. So, as you might imagine, this past weekend and this week and been full of hot tea, orange juice, sooooo much water (and thus, frequent trips to the bathroom), tissues, and cough suppressants. And compromised sleep, since drinking four cups of water before you go to bed requires midnight bathroom visits. Perhaps too much information, but there you have it.

2.) Work has been CRAZY busy. We have a ton of groups who go on trips in January, which means I have to get any leaving in the first half of January out in December. We also have Christmas events coming. All good things, but each and every group and event has at least a dozen moving parts. It's like we went from a calm faucet drip to a roaring fire hose. Or at least that's what it feels like. Between that and other projects I have outside of work, the whole sum has has also contributed to stressful thoughts in the middle of the night.

So, maybe that's it, but that's enough. I head to Alabama/Georgia to spend a little quality time with my family this weekend, and then I have the week of Christmas off. And I couldn't be looking forward to that more than I am. We're not doing anything super exciting for Christmas, but I desperately just need some time off.

I still need to post a few of the pictures from Thanksgiving here (they've been on facebook for awhile, but I just haven't gotten around to posting them here). We've had some other good things going on, but not much to tell. Birthday dinner and party for Seth Penrose (woo!), Festival of Trees, a little rock climbing (when I feel well enough to go...I so badly want to go every morning, but I need a little more sleep right now than usual since it's so interrupted), and more of the normal stuff.

Update: Oh, and, for the record, all I want right now is sugary goodness, which is, of course, one of the worst things I can consume with a cold....

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Winter? Already?

Winter is doing it's best to be here early.

This morning as I walked outside to my car at 6:30, very light snow was falling. It was collecting a bit on the roads, but otherwise not sticking. More the sandy kind of snow that blows in patterns across the freeway. Very pretty, but perhaps too soon?

It can be chilly here in Utah in the winter, but with little to no humidity, I don't normally notice too much. However, perhaps due to the fact that we had temperatures closer to 60 degrees as recently as Tuesday, the last two days (today and yesterday) have felt very cold. Additionally, the wind was incredibly strong on Wednesday. I think most of the leaves that were left on the trees were persuaded to find a new home.

I don't usually mind cold weather, as long as I can indulge in space heaters, hot herbal tea, hot chocolate, copious amounts of layered clothing, soup, and corn bags, but it still feels a little too soon for this. We're not even half way through November! We still have all of December, January, March, and April to deal with cold snowy weather. :/

Ah, well, here it is, all the same.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


So, yesterday was wonderful.

I woke up early and read for a little while before getting ready for work. On my way to work (I'd left just a few minutes later than I should have so I was late getting to work), I was about two minutes from work when one of my coworkers called and wanted to check on traffic. Noting that this was an unusual call to receive, I was not entirely surprised when I arrived and everyone was gathered in my office to sing Happy Birthday to me and share delicious donuts. And to top that off, Jody brought me some beautiful gerbera daisies (potted!).

Beautiful Gerbera Daisies!
Work was pretty normal, but instead of leaving at 5:00, I left at 3:00 so I got to leave while the sun was still shining! Once home I chatted with my roommate for about an hour before running over to meet Brandon at his house. I'd been up in the kitchen the entire time, but just before I left I went downstairs to drop off my backpack and my door was closed. Thinking this was a little weird, but perhaps there had been someone there working on heater (they often close my door when they come over), I didn't think much of it. Until I opened my door and found my room filled with balloons. :) On my bed was a pack of Hi-Chews and a beautiful card from Brandon.

Incredible card artwork. 

Apparently, after Brandon had dropped me off the night before, he'd gone to the grocery store and picked up some balloons. He and Nate and blown up about half of them at his house (70-ish balloons) and then brought them all over at lunch yesterday to finish blowing up the second half. AnnMarie had heard them downstairs and came down and helped them. 140 balloons later, and my room was swimming in balloons. :)

Balloons - everywhere! 

After meeting up, Brandon and I headed North to Logan. We stopped by Gossner's (eggnog!), ran another few errands, and then had dinner at Le Nonne (delicious - though Pier wasn't there, so not quite as delicious!). While there, there was a table of about six people who'd been sitting by the window. After we'd been sitting at our table for a little while, they asked the servers if they could move to the table next to us to get away from the draft by the window. As they were walking over, Brandon whispered to me that one of the women in the group looked very familiar. A little later, we happened to exchange some conversation and the woman declared that it was her 50th birthday! Excited, I told her that it was my 26th birthday today as well! Half way there! She then remarked to Brandon that he looked very familiar to her, but she couldn't figure out where she knew him from. He asked her if she'd worked up at the University and then everything clicked. Turns out that Brandon worked with her a lot up at the University Library. Flora. She'd been a much beloved staff member of the students. Always happy and cheerful to work with. And from our brief interactions that night, I can definitely understand why they all loved her. Definitely one of the best parts of our night. :)

And then we drove back home, hung out for a little while at Brandon's, and then I headed home for the night. A good day!

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Moab Trail (Half) Marathon

This past weekend Brandon and I adventured down to Moab for a change of scene. We left mid-day on Friday and drove through central Utah towards Moab. The scenery on the way down is beautiful, but strange - like another planet. In fact, I'm fairly certain that they shoot a lot of movies that are set on other planets in that region.

We arrived in Moab, checked in at our hotel (all of six days in operation - so, very clean and fresh), and then went straight to Milt's Stop & Eat to pick up my packet and eat dinner. Everything we ate at Milt's was delicious, but especially their shakes. Back at the hotel we spent a good while in the hot tub outside, chatting with a few of our fellow hotel guests. The one downside we discovered to the newness of the hotel was that some of the kinks, such as consistently hot bath water, hadn't quite been sorted out yet.

Saturday morning we woke up bright and early and got ready, had breakfast, and packed our stuff up before checking out. Relative to many of the races I've done before, this one started fairly later in the morning, with several waves ranging from 8:30 AM to about 9:00 AM. So, while we got up early-ish, it wasn't a particularly painful time.

The drive to the race start wasn't bad, just a meandering little road between the red rocks and river. We got to the race start, I ditched most of the extra layers I'd planned on wearing (long sleeve shirt, jacket, and gloves), as well as my small backpack I'd planned on taking, and then I was pretty much off! Even though the race starts were staggered, we didn't have a lot of time to hang around before my wave started. 

The Race Camp/Start/Finish.

Loading up my pockets with the necessary items. 

Almost all of the races I'd done until this weekend were road races. There were a handful of trail 5Ks, and the Spartan this last summer, but flat or downhill road races is where I'm generally most comfortable. This race was definitely not flat. With total elevation changes of over 1000 feet (not all at once, thankfully), it definitely brought some challenges. And of course, the footwork was the kind where you had to constantly be watching for the next rock ledge to jump up. So, where a normal half might take me about two hours, this one took me four. 

Beautiful views!

Fantastic day!

Some of the more unexpected parts included the following,

-Only two pit stops with food and water, at about miles six and ten - I very quickly regretted not bringing my pack, just for the fluid. However, each stop was very well stocked with water, heed (a disgusting electrolyte drink), coke (random unusual drink for a race like this), cut bananas, cut oranges, cookies, fruit snacks, and energy gels. I stopped both times and ate, drank, and rested until I was ready to continue.

One of the steeper climbs (though it
doesn't look to bad here). 
-Near the second pit stop (almost mile ten), as I rounded a ledge to begin descending into the crevice leading out, the path was suddenly blocked with a long line of runners. Apparently, up ahead, there was a small choke point where everyone had to individually jump down. As a result of this, I waited in line for at least thirty minutes - a ridiculous thing to have to do in a race like this. While it's nice to take a break, a long break like that results in cold muscles that have to be reawakened, and right when everyone has really hit their stride. 

View of the ledge I'm about to follow. 

View of the line ahead. 

View of the line behind. 

-I'd known there would be some of this, but the last two miles or so of the run was mostly down in the riverbed, literally in the water. Off and on we waded through the thigh deep water and ran across the mud. And while I didn't really want to get wet, I didn't mind so much. My legs and knees were really feeling it at this point and the shock of the cold water felt good. 

Coming out of one of the water sections of the river bank.

Just about the end of mile twelve we had a brief jaunt along the road before heading back into the riverbed. As I was nearing the ascent to the road I heard Brandon call my name! He'd been sitting up the hill along the bank waiting for me. I'd originally thought it would take me between two to three and a half hours, but he'd come back to the finish line (from reading and walking around) around two hours in. Noting that I wasn't there, he found that spot on the bank and waited there. As I came up to the road he walked/ran with me until I went back down and then met me at the finish line. 

The last stretch of road. 
Handsome brief running companion!

I'm a huge fan of sprinting at the end, but not until right at the finish did we come up out of the riverbed, so I had a very short distance to sprint.

Done! We grabbed a little food (soda, quesadilla, soup, cookies, chips, fruit snacks, etc.) and then headed back to town. Since we couldn't think of anywhere else to go on short noticed and had enjoyed Milt's so much the evening before, we went back there for lunch. We'd considered walking around town, perhaps going to the local Celtic Festival, or seeing a movie in town, but by the time we finished lunch we just decided to head home - good decision as I was too exhausted to be good for much else. 

Finisher Mug!

It was a long and challenging run, but going to Moab, seeing the deep red rock of the area and running across the landscape - all definitely worth it.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Haus am See - Peter Fox

In the typical pattern of discovering things way after they're cool, this is one of my new favorite songs. :)

(Peter Fox - Haus am See (official video))

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Terms of Referral: The Bad and Ok.

None-offensive words that I do not like being referred to by anyone other than my significant other (and sparingly there):


(Other exceptions: familiar terms that my family uses, when any of them are used very clearly ironically.)

Words I don't mind:

-Lady ("Hey, lady! How's it going?")
-Woman ("This woman I work with loves to read") (Not, "Hey, woman!")
-Friend ("Hey friend, how's it going?")
-Person ("This person I work with loves to read.")

I know they aren't as "cool" sounding, but they're a lot more respectful sounding, even when I know you're not trying to be disrespectful.

When in doubt, just call me by my name. :) That always works.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Another Afternoon in Logan

This past weekend we made another trip up to Logan. It's a bit of a drive (a little less than 90 minutes - less when Brandon is driving ;) ), but we like it up there.

Among our errands we did the following things:

-Stopped at Gossner's in Logan and got flavored milk, Swiss cheese, and egg nog. Brandon had had the milk before, we sampled the cheese and knew it was good, but the kicker was the egg nog. We opened one of the containers yesterday (sealed so they don't need to be refrigerated until opened) and it was delicious! Brandon's comment, "Should we just skip Halloween and go straight to Christmas?" So, next time we're up there, more of that for us. We'll just stock up. It's good until April 2015.

-Stopped at Aggie Ice Cream and got Aggie Blue Mint ice cream. Brandon couldn't remember whether he liked it. He does. So do I. It's delicious.

-Picked up some Guarana Antarctica from Macey's (they probably have this in SLC, but I don't know where).

-Had breakfast for lunch at Angie's in Logan. Good memories for Brandon from his time at USU. Basically a more local equivalent of IHOP.

-Met up with my Aunt Kimberly (and her mom) at Angie's and caught up a little. She was in town this weekend visiting my cousin Ashleigh who goes to USU.

-Was spotted by Charity while she was out jogging (Charity it the wife of Ben. Ben is the oldest Call son, a fantastic family who we met when we moved to Batesville and have been good friends with since). I love the random "Someone thought they saw you - were you here yesterday?" kind of messages.

-Went to a Halloween costume shop and brain stormed ideas for a simple costume for our West Coast Halloween party.

Not a bad afternoon!

Monday, October 13, 2014

True Aggie Night!

This past Friday Brandon and switching things up a bit and drove up to Logan.

The main incentive for going up there was to go to Le Nonne, a fantastic little Italian restaurant that Brandon's cousins own and run. We went there a few years ago and the food was a little disappointing. This time, however, as his cousin was back in the kitchen leaving his expertise on every dish, it was absolutely delicious. We'd planned on going to dinner and then doing the gallery walk, but by the time we finished eating and talking with Pier, we had about ten minutes of the gallery walk left. So we briefly stopped in at one place before they closed.

We'd then planned on going to see Dracula: Untold, but not quite remembering that it was opening weekend, and running a little late, by the time we got to the theater (just a few minutes before the movie started), there were four seats left in the theater and none of them were together. So, we decided to pass on the movie. However, we'd meant to use the movie to kill some time, so we were left a little footloose and fancy free for a little longer than we'd have preferred. Why were we waiting around? True Aggie Night!

There are two occasions where a person can kiss someone on top of the "A" pedestal and become a True Aggie. If they're kissing someone who is already a True Aggie, then they can do it at midnight on any full moon. If both participants aren't True Aggies yet, then it has to be at midnight during Homecoming. Though Brandon is already a True Aggie, Homecoming weekend happened to coincide with the gallery walk, so we decided to do both the same weekend.

As we had some time to kill, we drove around Logan for awhile, visiting various places, and took a brief nap nearing the midnight hour. But we finally were close enough to midnight that we wandered up the hill to the "A" pedestal where a ton of people were standing around in a huge crowd. We found the end of the line to the "A" (with perhaps 400 people in front of us), and once the clock struck 12:00, waited for our turn. We probably waited about thirty minutes, but it was quite entertaining just to see and experience everything. Although we both felt out of place, we both look young enough that I doubt anyone would have guessed we weren't students. There were also four or five proposals in the line ahead of us. You'd think after the first one that the other four would have left the rings in their pockets and waited for a more private/personal moment, but no, there it was.

The drive home was late, but we were awake enough after our thirty minutes in line for it to not be too bad.

Not a bad way to spend a Friday night! We made up for it by doing almost nothing on Saturday. The only thing we did of some significance, was for me and my roommates to clean out our freezer. This may sound like a nothing thing, but understand that because of the highly varied schedule that we all follow, having us all in the kitchen at the same time almost never happens. And this has (apparently) been the case for several years. The disgusting freezer was gutted, cleaned, and more than half the content was unclaimed and disposed of. I can put things in the freezer now! :)

Monday, October 6, 2014

A Rather Exciting Weekend

Happy Monday!

This weekend was particularly exciting for me as, (after I'd finished mowing the lawn and washing my sheets) as I was vacuuming my room on Friday evening, I slightly shifted my bed and noticed some black and white spots on the rug beneath it. Mold! Gross, gross, gross! I moved my bed to discover that there was quite a bit of it. Ugh.

After freaking out a bit (what caused the mold, what needed to be done about it, where was I going to stay, how long would it take to fix the problem, how big of a problem was it?!), I texted my landlord and he said he'd stop by first thing on Saturday morning and take a look at it. To counteract the smell of mold I'd sprayed the rug with cleaner and the combining effect was an awful stench (thank goodness for my running mask/air filter!). I tidied my room up, packed a change of clothes and a few things, and headed over to Brandon's house. Thank goodness Brandon only lives a few blocks away and has a spare bedroom.

Saturday morning my landlord came over, looked at the rug/carpet, at the walls, and guessed that the most likely source of the problems was either a.) runoff from the sprinklers or b.) the large quantity of rain we'd had in the past several weeks. Either way, the carpets needed to either be treated or completely replaced. Additionally, gutters needed to be added to the house (why we don't already have gutters, I don't know) to try and the sprinklers could be turned off for the winter. To be clear, he guessed that the ground water was somehow accumulating from those sources and seeping down through the wall, making the carpet damp, and causing the mold.

So, he helped me roll up the rug and took that to dispose of it, taking the worst of the mold, and then turned off the sprinklers and helped me move a few of the large items that were ready to be moved at that moment. And he later texted me and let me know that they were for sure just planning on replacing the carpet.

Sunday evening (yesterday), I went back and packed all of my stuff out of my room (for the record, I have a ton of books) into the laundry space just outside my room. Brandon helped me move the bigger furniture items. It felt pretty identical to moving, but with none of the purpose that goes behind moving.

So, today they should be coming and ripping out my old carpet. They'll then let it air out and dry for a few days (my fan will be pulling double duty!) and then put down the new carpet. And we should have gutters soon.

It's a pain. A significant pain. But I think everything will be taken care of.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Monday Thoughts

Happy Monday morning!

Notes from this weekend:

Reminder: Any driver (not on a race course) who doesn't use their turn signal is BY DEFAULT a bad driver. It's not that hard to do, people.

Caution: I should not go into a PetSmart (or probably a humane society) unless I am prepared to either a.) have my heart wrenched our by the homeless kitties there, or b.) walk out having adopted at least one cat. There were probably ten cats at the PetSmart near where we climb and I wanted to adopt them all. Honestly, they were all beautiful, healthy, and friendly, chirping and nuzzling against the bars of their kennel. They just wanted some love and I wanted to give it to them!

In other news, we have Duane and Shauna here for a few days! A good soak in the hot tub last night with them, Brandon's soccer game tonight, and dinner tomorrow!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Comic Con and Nebo Half

Hello from the late middle of September! Sorry it's been a few weeks since I've written.

Things have been pretty uneventful here the last few weeks, but we did a few fun things the weekend after King's Peak.

So, I obtained a multiday pass and a Thursday pass for Comic Con in the week preceding the event. Premise set. Brandon and I headed over to Comic Con that Thursday around 5:00. As we crossed the street to get to the Salt Palace, we saw an enormous line. After inquiring I discovered that was, in fact, simply the registration/entrance line. We proceeded to follow this line to the end of it, about three quarters of the way South on the West side of the building. The line from there wrapped around the entire two block complex to registration entrance on the South side. So, we're looking at at least three quarters of a mile of slow moving line. We eventually made it around to the registration doors, only to discover an equal size line inside the room. We got there around 5:00 and we were a little more than halfway through the inside line at 8:00, the official closing time of ComicCon. It was in no way clear whether that was the closing time of the entry doors, the expo floor, or the entire event. We figured since they were still letting people into the registration hall up until 8:00 that it was the just the doors that closed at 8:00. Turns out it was the first two of those. At 8:00 they made announcement that ComicCon was "closed" for the night and to seek the nearest entrance. They also turned out about half the lights in the room we were in. Up until that point we'd been waiting in neat lines indicated by the tape on the ground. However, when the lights turned out, chaos erupted and the the entire waiting crowd rushed towards the registration desks - lines forgotten. Had there been physical barriers, this would not have happened. So, we're now crushed in a crowd with everyone elbowing their way to the front. We're annoyed. For several reasons:

1.) The complete lack of organization to handle the capacity of people who have arrived at this event (120,000 that day?), even just to get them in the door.
2.) The complete lack of communication from the staff to the guests. (What happens at 8:00? Why would you make us wait in line for hours only to have the event close before we even get in the door?)
3.) The apparent waste of time for Brandon and his Thursday pass, useless now that the day is over and the event closed.

Finally someone yells from the sidelines that the registration will still be open until everyone gets through and gets their bracelets so they can get in without waiting in line Friday or Saturday, but while that solves one problem (why we'd been waiting in line for that long), it didn't solve the other problem of Brandon's Thursday pass. When we finally got to the front (after being followed by THE most annoying group of high schoolers who were attempting to make as obnoxious and loud of a ruckus as they could) we asked about the Thursday pass and they informed us that we could switch it for a Friday or Saturday pass. Now, after more than three hours of frustration, a small, but significant reparation. So, Saturday for Brandon! As awful as those hours in line were, if we'd been able to pick a day to go together, Saturday would have been the day.

Completely spent and tired from waiting in line (we were driving away around 9:00), we grabbed some Cheesey-Pull-A-Part bread (or whatever it is called) from The Pie and headed back to Brandon's to watch some America Ninja Warrior and unwind. Evening done. Not quite what we expected, but not entirely terrible either.

Massive event. So many people!
So, Friday I went on my own to a few panels and wandered the expo and Saturday Brandon and I went together into the horde of people. Both Friday and Saturday we were able to walk right in, no line, no wait. There were way too many people there Saturday, but it was still enjoyable. We made it to a few more panels, wandered the expo, saw lots of cool costumes, and played some games with a few friends we met up with (Thomas!).

All in all, a good experience, but the Salt Lake Comic Con organizers definitely have some reorganizing to do to handle the massive interest and participation in their event. They need to get the entry details right and they need to expand to other venues. But, this was their second year, so I'm willing to cut them a little slack. ;)

Grant Imahara from Mythbusters.

Lego Iron Man

Azog from The Hobbit.


Trolls from the Hobbit!

Trolls from the Hobbit!

Trolls from the Hobbit!

Trolls from the Hobbit!

Saturday morning, just to make things interesting, I got up at 4:00, made my oatmeal, and headed down to Payson to catch the bus up the Canyon towards Mount Nebo so I could run the Nebo half. They had a bonfire at the top to help us stay warm. It was a good race, all downhill and not too eventful. I was able to keep a pretty strong pace the first half and a moderate pace the second half, finally accomplishing a half marathon in less than two hours. Spending the rest of my day standing at ComicCon was a little tough, but still worth it.

Fire to keep us warm!

I think I'm ready!

At the start line. 

Let the race begin!

Before with one of my coworkers!

Classic running selfie.

Done and done!

I had a small epiphany regarding my Marathon last year. I'd assumed that I hurt after the marathon for a while simply because of the mileage. However, following Nebo everyone I'd known who'd done it hurt for days. I have no interest in running another Marathon simply because the training is long and awful, but, hypothetically, if I were to choose another one which wasn't entirely downhill, it's likely that it wouldn't be as awful afterwards. Good to know, not that it will change anything. ;)

And as a last add, I had another coworker who ran the Big Cottonwood Half Marathon the following weekend. In preparation for that we both decided to volunteer on the Thursday before the race. Hard work, but kind of cool to see the inside of the process.

An uncommon sight of all the mile markers together.
Those poor souls. 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Top of Utah

We did it! This past weekend we climbed to the top of King's Peak and to the top of Utah! Highest peak in Utah at 13,528 feet!

Friday morning Brandon headed in for a few hours of work and then came home and we finished packing just in time for Zach to meet us at Brandon's house. We got some sandwiches at Subway and then headed out! It was about a three hour drive along I-80 and then the forest road that lead South from I-80 towards the Henry's Fork Trailhead. Beautiful drive, particularly the last bit towards the mountain. The landscape changed quickly from rolling plains to pine forests to mountains.

Ready to head out on the trail!

We arrived at the trailhead, found a place to park (the parking lot was packed!) and then headed out around 4:00 in the afternoon. Hiking in wasn't bad at all (just a little bit of rain at one point). It was about eight miles in to our camping spot and it took us about four hours, getting us to where we wanted to be with just enough time find a spot and gather some wood for a fire. We'd originally planned on camping at Dollar Lake (which, by the way, is not visible at any point from the trail - it's entirely hidden by the trees), but when we got close to the lake we saw a sign that said if we camped on the West side of the trail (Dollar Lake is on the East side) we could build a campfire. So West side it was, right in the midst of the trees. After setting up our tent and gathering wood we got our stove going to boil water for our dehydrated meals and then tried to build a fire. Fire building did not go particularly well. Everything was damp from the recent light rain, and between that and the darkness setting in, we struggled to get even a weak fire going. We did eventually make it happen, but it was the kind of fire you had to watch constantly, rather than the kind that was solidly going. A little time by the fire, warm dinners, and it was off to bed!

Heading into the mountains.

Rain ponchos for our packs (and us).

Beautiful trail!

King's Peak is the little point right in the middle. 

Saturday morning we woke up fairly early, made some hot breakfast, and replenished our water, taking our time and enjoying the morning. Around 9:25 we headed back on the trail, this time with our day packs rather than our hiking packs with all of our gear. The first part of the hike Saturday morning was South through the valley slowly rising towards Gunsight Pass. A very pretty part of the trail. All along the way (throughout the entire three days), there was a constant variety of colors. The rocks were sometimes striped and always covered in neon lichen of some kind. Wild flowers were everywhere. Perhaps it was just the right time of the year, but even the grass was a wide variety of greens and reds.

Heading up the traverse just pass Gunsight.

Once we reached Gunsight Pass we headed up the traverse to the upper valley. The traverse was a shortcut that would take us directly up the side of the mountain rather than down into another valley before taking us up again. Definitely the better route to take, in my opinion. Once up the traverse the hard part of the hike started.

The mileage for each day was slightly longer than we'd anticipated, but Saturdays hike up the mountain was particularly long (closer to 14 miles round trip that day). Once up the traverse, we crossed what seemed to be an endless valley of awkwardly shaped rocks. We knew generally where we were going (towards the base of the last part of King's Peak), and had the slight assistance of frequently placed cairns, but it still took us a lot longer than we'd anticipated. Near the base of the last part of the peak, we finally ran into the greater part of the snow. By then I wasn't sure if I really needed to summit or just call it good where we were. Frequently through the last slope we took breaks just to try and muster the energy and will power to keep going up. I think our loss of ambition might have been partly due to the terrible wind and cold (not to mention that it was snowing), but also that the air simply didn't have as much oxygen as we were used to so it took almost no time for us to be winded between breaks.

One of many cairns. 

The view backwards over the valley of rocks. 

The view onwards towards the summit!

At the summit! We made it!

Incredible view from the mountain.

But on we pressed (Zach was a trooper - I swear he wasn't touched by the altitude at all!), and we made it! All the way to the top! And you know, we were there for maybe five minutes before the sun broke out and the weather entirely shifted. Gorgeous views all the way back down. We'd played switch off all day with a man and his son (Mike and Enoch - 50 and 17 respectively), and we did this all the way to the top, arriving just before them. On our way back down we passed two people just below the summit, but then the path was almost completely empty all the way back down. This was odd, as we'd had lots of company up until the base of the last part of the summit, but it turns out that most of our previous fellow travelers had been turned off by the weather and turned back. We met a number of them back along the trail. I'll admit, this made me feel a lot better about our moments of wanting to turn back. But still glad that we'd gone on, particularly with how the weather had turned once we were up there.

Just heading down from the summit.

Sunlit view!

This was the "trail" for a good portion of the hike. 

Better trails in the valley where we camped.

The way back down seemed to go much smoother and faster, though it still took awhile. We filled back up on water on our way back and gathered a little bit of firewood. However, as we arrived back in camp with a fair amount of light left, we had plenty of time to seek out the dryer branches rather than the plethora of wet wood available to us. Between the still not-super-dry wood we had and the addition of a steady wind, I'd say that making the fire the second night might have actually been harder, even with our additional preparations. However, the efforts finally paid off and we had a strong fire with plenty of fuel to let us relax. So warm. It took Brandon and I two shots to get dinner right, as the first meal we'd made (white chilly) was too spicy for us. When you're super hungry and just need to fill your stomach, it isn't the time for your food to be too spicy to eat. But the second meal worked fine. It rained more that night after we'd all climbed into our tent, but not enough to keep us from sleeping.

Sunday morning we woke up not too early and gathered our things together, had some breakfast (freeze dried granola with blueberries - yum!) and then headed out. It was probably the coolest morning/day aside from up at the summit, but once we got moving we were able to warm up. It took us closer to three and a half hours to get back to the car, but we were so happy once we got there. Brandon had hurt the lower part of his leg a bit (perhaps a high ankle sprain) on Saturday, so he was probably the most happy to finally be off his feet. And we had the pleasure to be of assistance to some fellow hikers who'd returned to their vehicle to discover the battery dead. Hooray for Zach's dad keeping a jumper cables in their truck that we borrowed! There really couldn't be much of a worse location to have car troubles than down there.

Done and done! Back at the parking lot!

The drive back to Salt Lake was wonderful and quick. And then naps and rest dominated most of the rest of the day. But we did it! Made it there and back! And while it was difficult (30+ miles), it was very worthwhile.

A quick turn around, I have the Nebo Half marathon this Saturday and in and around the half we've got ComicCon here this weekend! I got some last minute inexpensive/free tickets so we'll be making some stops there over the weekend!

Note: As usual, there are a plethora more pictures on Facebook.