Wednesday, May 30

mountain of death


Good idea: Spending Memorial Day out in nature, hiking with beloved family members.
Bad idea: Spending Memorial Day on mountain of death, hiking with hardcore risk-taking husband and brother.

So on Monday Doug, Ben, and I set out for a simple hike on a mountain we later learned is called Maple Mountain. It's the peak immediately to the south of Y Mountain. Ben and Doug thought they had identified a trail using Google Earth (gulp), but when we set out Monday morning it was tricky to identify. They found a trail, and we headed up. If I had to describe it in one word, I'd call this trail "vertical." And if I had to describe how I felt in one word, I'd choose "pukey." The trail we started using was really just a deer or big-horned sheep trail, so it eventually ended. We spent the next three or four hours using different animal trails to climb higher and higher.

Now I feel I should explain that Doug and Ben are very courageous borderline crazy when it comes to mountains. They are smart hikers, but they are willing to try anything if they think they can do it. Doug knows I am the complete opposite, so they were very patient and kind with me. We did stop from time to time to let them climb up something scary while I waited at the bottom with my cell phone, ready to call 911. A few times, though, the only way up was using the rocks, so they had to help me get up things I would never normally choose to climb. Never ever ever.

Another thing about those two is that they "like" wild animals. If an animal is furry and smaller than the palm of my hand, I also "like" it. But if it doesn't meet both of those requirements, you can pretty much count on me freaking out. So when we encountered the first snake of the day about half-way up, it's safe to say I freaked out. I can't explain the obscenities that were let loose (I don't really know where they come from... they escape from my lips as if I have turrets), but I do know that snakes are the scariest thing I can picture on this earth. Really--THE scariest. It slithered away, but it wasn't the last of our posse's wildlife sightings. We saw some deer, Ben and Doug saw a very annoyed mountain goat (those are apparently aggressive and territorial--awesome), Ben saw a big snake (he also thought he heard a rattler), and we saw a cave-like den of some animal. We didn't dare hang around to find out who lived there.

So we continued up and up, and I admit I was getting more and more freaked out. The hike was seriously gorgeous and we couldn't have asked for nicer weather, but I'm just not Ben and Doug. That was my conclusion. I maxed out near the top when the only way to continue was by climbing a lot of rocks, so Doug and I watched Ben as he made it to the very top. He said the grove up there was amazing and that the view was spectacular. I'm sure Doug was disappointed he didn't get to go up, but I was grateful he stayed back with his weepy ball and chain.

As we turned to head back down, we had a tough time finding the trail. We had to backtrack and rediscover it a few times. At some parts we ended up just heading straight through the brush, scratching up our arms and hands and coating our socks and shoes with all kinds of plant seedy things. It took us a few hours to get down, and it was all very steep with too many cliff edges around for my liking. Either Ben or Doug held my hand the whole way, and Doug said I was trembling for most of the trip down. It managed to even rain a bit near the end ("Well, could be worse. Could be raining."). Our feet and legs were killing us, especially Ben who got shin splints in one leg.

But we survived. We got some fantastic pictures, and I managed to cry only twice. It really was quite the adventure and pretty cool now that it's over. But near the end, Doug asked me, "So, you're never going to do this type of hike with us again, are you." Safe to say I said no way jose--I hike on human trails, and that's it.

Warning: Looong column of pictures.


This should be on a brochure for Utah or something. Such a great pic!










Watch that first step... it's a dooozy.


The cave or animal den of wonders. Yikes.




Back on horizontal ground, picking all the seed things off of our socks and shoes.

park city central

PC means a lot of things to us. Politically Correct, Provo Craft, Peace Corps, or even Puke Can. But for us this weekend, it meant Park City.

I especially needed the illusion of a vacation, so last Friday we drove up to Park City and spent the night. We got a sweet deal on a nice hotel room (King size bed... how could we ever go back to our Queen?!), and we couldn't resist. We checked out Main Street Friday evening and ate at a delicious Thai restaurant. The service was pretty slow because we weren't rich nor famous (we watched a couple come after us and practically leave before us... Doug swore the guy was in some movie once), but the food was fantastic all the same. As we were rushing back to our hotel to get into the pool before it closed, the Toyota decided to play a joke on us and get a flat tire. Luckily Doug was there and I suddenly realized that despite years and years of Young Women's activities devoted to changing flat tires, I somehow don't know how to do it. Eesh. Don't tell my dad! So we laughed our way through that, and felt grateful that the spare wasn't a tiny donut but a real tire.

Saturday morning we swam and swam, and then went over to the Olympic Park so we could do the alpine slide. It was freaking awesome. You ride up a ski lift to the top of a mountain and ride a toboggan down at warp speed. It's great! We also checked out the museums there, taking advantage of designated "photo op" spots. We then went to the outlet mall where we shopped our little hearts out. We maxed out on a collection of Visa gift cards I'd been collecting from work, and finally bought some stuff with my Christmas bonus. We had a blast and even though the whole "trip" lasted about 24 hours, it really hit the spot. Go PC!

Wednesday, May 23

extreme croquet anyone?

Seven wickets.
Six mallets.
Three teams.
Two winners.
One freaking hilly park.

This could mean only one thing...

EXTREME CROQUET!!!!

In celebration of our dear friend Melissa’s birthday, last Saturday the Allers put together a game of pure genius. They call it extreme croquet and extreme it is. They set up a course in Rock Canyon Park, a park near us that is hill-tastic (see pic of Sarah on top of a hill in all her glory). They make it extreme by placing the wickets (the little arches you’re aiming to get your ball through) on the edges of hills, in the middle of patches of trees, in tall clumps of grass, in a ring of rocks, and so forth. For example, if you hit your ball wrong on the edge of the hill, hasta la vista. It could roll all the way down the hill, especially if it hit the dreaded asphalt path (see pic of Doug yelling in frustration). Jake got caught going up and down the hill for a good twenty minutes. It wasn’t pretty.

We were in teams according to marriages, and Team Spurlock and Team Aller (they had other team names that were fantastic but I’ve already forgotten them--sorry guys) put up a good fight. Sarah claimed Dino (her internal baby) as a slight disadvantage, though, because it was really hard to swing the mallet with her pregnant stomach. Dumb ol’ Dave was totally schooling us, but I was hanging on right behind him. However, he managed to aggressively keep me away from the final wicket by knocking me into a pile of boulders. Again. And again. (We were laughing so hard.) The rest of the players were stuck in the patch of trees for quite some time (see pic), so they were no help.

When the rest of the other players FINALLY caught up with us, Dave still managed to thwart our success. Melissa snuck by, giving us a run for our money. And even though Jake had battled with the hill forever, he came out of nowhere to almost steal the victory with Melissa! As if! But luckily a turn of events gave Dave a taste of screwing up (something I was quite familiar with), Jake didn’t have a chance to get through, and somehow Team Shafer came in victorious. We became los champions.

It was a hilarious game. I recommend it to one and all. :)

Monday, May 21

jake


Today our nephew Jake would have been 9 months old. We sure do love and miss that little guy!

Wednesday, May 16

zoobie, zoobie, zoo...

For you non-Utahns, it's a tradition in these parts for schools to paint representative letters on mountains near them. BYU has painted a gigantic white Y on the mountain above BYU, thus marking our territory. The mountain the Y is on is pretty cool, so they've made a hiking trail leading right up to the Y. It's quite steep, but it's a really short hike. And it has a killer view.

Since I've become really good at sitting at a desk for 8 hours a day, and less good at moving my body, we decided we'd do a quick hike up to the Y last week. We can see it from our kitchen window, so why not?

Another thing about hiking up the Y, is that it's a true blue BYU experience. 100% zoobie. I'm surprised it's not one of the graduation requirements. And the silly thing is that Doug has never taken the plunge and gone up! I admit I'd never done it until I was a junior and one night Scott, Lindy, and I said, "Well, I guess we should hike the Y tonight." And we did. And we climbed all over the actual Y even though we learned later you're not supposed to.

Anyway, we planned it so we'd get up there just in time for sunset, and we scored. It was beautiful! And we even got to witness a couple have possibly their first hand-holding experience (you can see them sitting below us in the pictures). They were sufficiently awkward and we enjoyed the show. Oh, and we saw a snake, which Doug loved. I, however, could have thrown up on the spot.

But it was really really fun and got me motivated to move my body more often. It also gave Doug a more complete and enriched BYU experience. He is now one step closer to graduation. :)

Enlarge the second picture and you can see campus, parts of Provo, Utah Lake, and our house. It's on the left... somewhere...

scary stats

• Over 21,000 adults in Utah County are functionally illiterate.
• Project Read (program through Provo City Library) reaches about 2% of those who need help.
• 15% of the workforce is functionally illiterate.
• 40% of Americans cannot determine correct change.
• 25% of Americans cannot address an envelope well enough to reach its destination.
• 42% of high school seniors will graduate with barely adequate reading and writing skills.
• 10% of the drivers on the highway cannot read road signs.

Illiteracy sucks. You can learn more through Project Read, a program run by our local library. Or look for something in your area.

Friday, May 11

a hillbilly's whisker

"The water got within 'a hillbilly's whisker from going over in several places,' Holt County Sheriff Kirby Felumb said Thursday."

Flooding in Missouri: very not funny
Comment about flooding in Missouri from local sheriff: VERY funny

From article on cnn.com today.

Thursday, May 10

birthday de jenn

Today is my sister Jenn’s day of birth! She’s turning the big 2-8. Ancient. She’s had a heck of a year, but boy has she shown incredible class, grace, and strength. She’s a fantastic sister, mom, comedian, and friend. I’m a huge fan of Jenn.

If you'd like to send birthday wishes, blog-stalk her!

PS- While Lexi is hating her life in this picture, I thought Jenn looked fab.

Monday, May 7

cinco de mayo

I hope you all had a feliz Cinco de Mayo! The Allers were gracious hosts to Doug, Ben, Whit, the boys, and me on Saturday night. As we all know, Cinco de Mayo commemorates the victory of a Mexican army over an invading French army in Puebla, Mexico. (If you think I had to look that up, you're right.) In Mexico it's a minor holiday, but (despite what a loud-mouthed coworker told me today) it's still celebrated by many Mexicans in Veracruz, Puebla, Mexico City, etc. But let's get real--I think Americans have a lot more fun with it!
For Mexican-Americans it's a way to connect with their history and perhaps get drunk at the same time. For white folks like us it was an excuse to get togther and eat a ridiculous amount of Mexican food. We just ate and ate. We grilled some tasty chicken, had tortillas (corn, of course!), black beans, salsa, chips, vegies, cucumbers with lime and salt (one of my favs!), mixed drinks (Dave has a way with drink mixes and soda), Sangria soda, and on and on. Do you see why we were sick?? We even let a few prove their manliness by eating some jalapenos. And some of us were even able to save room for a 100% not-Mexican-style cake. But we made it into a Mexican flag, so we felt it was fitting.
We topped the night off with some Wii and watching old SNL episodes. The evening was enjoyed by all. Viva Mexico.
See Alicia's Cinco de Mayo par-tay on her blog. It's good to know we weren't alone.

Friday, May 4

slight injury

Doug called me at work just before I was about to leave yesterday and said something like, "Don't freak out." That's always a start to something fabulous! Turns out he'd been cutting onions for dinner and he sliced his finger. It wouldn't top bleeding, so we decided he might be stitches-bound. I met him at the BYU Urgent Care as they wree already giving him several adhesive-type stitches. Real stitches would have been extremely painful on his finger and they weren't necessary. The nurse set him up with a gigantic white bandage, and I'm happy to report he's alive and well. I'm also happy to report that it was the middle finger on his left hand that was wounded, so it appears he's often presenting a rude gesture. That huge bandage has led to some good jokes.
This picture, however, does show his sadness as he realized he had to do his hair onehanded this morning. Hair is a serious thing to Doug, and it is never, ever, EVER a onehanded affair.
In other news, only one of the 27 seeds we've been coaching is growing. They mock us. Maybe we should be cautious with child-rearing.

Wednesday, May 2

Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde

My ingenious wife and my genius self have discovered a way to breed a man eating plant... okay, really we just decided that we were going to use the previously way over-grown patch of dirt near our front door as a means of carrying out a science experiment. This photo is after weeding. The experiment is technically called "The simultaneous growing of green beans in varied mediums of soil just for the heck of it."

Here are the methods:

3 groups

Group 1: soil from front door patch

Group 2: Miracle Grow potting soil

Group 3: mixed soil from both

We had three germination cups for each group. In two cups of each we planted three seeds a piece. The third of each group we left empty for the water germinated seeds. We have been water-germinating six seeds in total, three of which will be placed in each of the empty cups once these three have slightly sprouted.

I am pleased to say that on day 4 we have quite a sprout starting in one of the mixed soil cups. We eagerly await the arrival of the rest.

i heart LA

CNN reported yesterday that Los Angeles has the worst air around. According to a study by the American Lung Association, LA is numero uno on the most polluted cities in America. Such a fact brought back fond memories of my red, watery eyes during the hottest parts of the summer. When allergies didn’t seem to be the cause, we finally concluded that the valley’s pollution was just too much for my eyeballs. There’s just nothing like sharing the gospel with wee beaty red eyes that make you look like a drug user.

On a side note, I am having a seriously hard time seeing the computer screen at work these days because my eyes feel like unto my LA days. They just look less red. This time I do think it’s allergies. Not drugs, not pollution. Thanks, Utah.

On a side note, I found it extremely funny that other top ten “bad air” cities included Birmingham and St. Louis. Is that surprising to you too? And for the record, some of my favorite cities like Philadelphia, New York, and Doylestown were nowhere to be found on such list. haHA!

Tuesday, May 1

still a kid

My last blog reminded me of conversations I like to have with my nieces and nephews. I can thank Lindy for the line of questioning.

I really enjoyed one I had with my nephew Jeff. I asked him, as I like to ask all the nieces and nephews, "Am I a kid or a grown-up?" This specific time he crinkled up his nose and said, "Well, a kid." I went on to explain that I was attending a university, I had served a mission, I had a driver's license, I paid my own insurance, and I could write my own résumé. Then I asked, "So how could I be a kid if I do all those things?"

He just shrugged his shoulders and said matter-of-factly, "Well, you don't have any kids."

Dangit. No wonder I don't feel like an adult.