Friday, July 29, 2011

A Place Where Everyone Knows Your Name

The list of things I love unconditionally has grown exponentially since I was young, and it was a long list even then.

Jelly Belly's
San Diego

Being a "grown-up" my list has gotten much deeper and more meaningful. Things that last longer and things I've worked for.

My Bed
Garbage Disposals
Every single person in my family
Chocolate (yes, this is a grown-up one. I may develop acid reflux and I realize my days with chocolate may be numbered.)

But one thing that has stayed on both lists and has almost become a source of life, happiness and energy- is Hiking. Since I was young, I've remembered acknowledging how PRESENT I am when I hike. My mind seems so clear and thoughts are real, meaningful and significant. There's something about the fresh air and the complete rawness of nature that frees you.

In high school and college I typically hiked alone. Without hesitation I would start up trails such as Cecret Lake, White Pine, Devil's Castle and trails I don't even know the names of, or if they even were named. I preferred hiking alone. That way I was always able to notice that moment of clarity and peace, without distraction. Being present.
I only had one hike where I realized I shouldn't be alone-
or I should have least specified to someone (anyone) where I was. It was June, and the snow hadn't melted off yet. When I reached the higher elevations a storm set in that brought dense fog. I couldn't tell what direction I was going or see the trail well due to thes snow. The fog brought rain and I started falling waist deep into spots of the snow- completely oblivious of what was below me. I turned and ran any way that was "down" and reached the bottom safely.. but pretty shaken. Didn't stop me though. I went back to finish it, later.
Since marriage and childbirth- my free time has obviously been occupied to fill the needs of others. We'd get out there now and then, but it was nothing like it used to be; the limitless time factor, the freedom. And now we had a child that we had to watch with every foot of elevation we stacked on him, as the air got thinner and thinner. I hope we can make it a hobby and part of our lifestyle as a family.

But yesterday- I got to hike with someone that shared the same passion for it as I have, and someone I haven't hiked with in YEARS. My friend Stefanie came into town and we arranged to meet together with our friend Alli and do a great hike. MY favorite hike in Utah is Sunset Peak.
It is the perfect combination of difficulty, beauty, horizons and length to make for a great day-hike. We immediately felt the exhilaration when we stepped out of the car into Albion Basin. The temperature was cool and everything was SO GREEN due to all the rain so late this year.

Without too much effort, us 30-year olds marched up the trail to the peak and summited 10,468ft in the sky. The view up there is amazing, I call it the "four corners" because you can see Brighton, Heber, Timpanogos, and Snowbird all standing from one spot.

On the way down we ran into a few older hikers with their Trekkie's and they stopped to let us pass. They asked how old we were and we all said "THIRTY!" as if we were so old and proud to have made it to the top. They pointed to the man and told us he was 89, then told us that they came up the long way,from Mt. Supreme. Humility and admiration spilled over all three of us and we envied these cute people that were up here enjoying nature and comradery, which they have probably have been enjoying for decades. I can't wait to be like that.

The feeling I get when I hike is ALWAYS there, it is there every single time I go back. It's like returning to a place where I am welcome and loved, and the feeling is mutual. Thank you Stef and Alli for making it such a GREAT day, and I hope we can all take advantage of what is so easily accessible to us.
(more pictures of Sunset Peak, HERE.)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Bear Lake

The Trent's first Bear Lake trip was this past weekend. It couldn't have been better. We stayed at the KOA campground with Jen and Teagan. KOA's are GREAT. I've never stayed on an "organized" campground before, and the balance between sleeping in a tent enclosed by a fence, and between roughing it outside with a bathroom complete with flushing toilet and warm shower- made me completely comfortable. I love them. However, next time I wouldn't mind pitching the tent in a forest without the loud neighbors...

We spent our time with the super-fun Lamoreaux Family. We had dinner the first night there with many of them at Cafe Sabor. I'll spare the Cafe Sabor any embarrassment and just say they had an 'off night.' But we had some fun conversations and ate some reasonably good mexican food. Just be sure to never ask for a vegetarian mean and expect that they didn't just pull the chicken out of the already pre-made pasta.... Or expect there to be napkins and silverware for you. Or menus. But a nice night for friends and family to have a god time.
The beaches at Bear Lake are great. The water is nice and cool and the kids can reach for a great length of the shoreline. Jack and Teagan had fun playing in the sand and water. Jack could sit on a beach from sun up to sun down, if we let him.

Every one came to hang out at the beach and it was a BEAUTIFUL day, perfect for chilling at the beach and boating. Jen's Uncle Bob was the best host on the lake, he had a great boat, and this awesome raft that Jack, Teagan (and Josh) played around with at the beach while the others were out on the lake.
It's pretty awesome that Jen and I have been friends for 28 years and still get along swimmingly....
(I chose wisely when I picked my husband..)

This was Jack's first time boating! He was nervous about it, but I reassured him that because I know him best, I knew he'd like it. And I was of course right. But it took just a short w
hile for him to shake his nerves off, he had a few funny faces on and I took a lot of pictures of him just because every time I looked at him he had a new expression, and they were so raw it was like seeing exactly how he was feeling spelled out on his face. Cute thing.

He loved riding on the boat, and he was fine with going fast as long as one of us was sitting with him. He'd often come crawl on my lap and wrap my arms around his little life vest. It's so strange because sometimes Jack is so fearless and brave, and at times where I expect him to be just fine he suddenly has this vulnerability and gets so shy. It's very unlike him. But once you get him out there and going he perks up.

The best was when we started wake boarding and Jen got up immediately and was perfectly gliding behind the boat. Jack was SO impressed with Josh's skills, he was cheering him on telling him how well he was doing and how AWESOME he was. When I went out (I haven't tried to wake board for ten years, and didn't even succeed those ten years ago...) I finally got up after 5 or 6 tries and Jack watched me crash every time. I was fine, the crashes weren't TOO rough, but when I got back in Jack told me he didn't think I was cut out for this sport.

He wasn't beaming with pride like he was when Josh got back in the boat. Then Jen tried wake surfing, something I've never seen (thus making me feel REALLY old..) but it was quite awkward and tricky. Not to mention the water was getting choppy and making it more difficult. But Jen kept falling down and Jack turned to me and said "That looks like YOU, Mom!" Then of course, Josh tried it, got up instantly and then cruised around and made it seem like he was almost bored. He grew up surfing so Jen and I didn't let it get us too upset.
I'm glad Josh had so much fun, this is stuff he should be doing more often. Jack too. The water in Bear Lake is usually pretty cold (so I'm told,) but this year it was so nice. Even Jack jumped in so he could see if he would 'really float' in his life vest. He didn't turn blue, which is a great indicator the water is a decent temperature. I'm really proud of myself for finally standing up on a wakeboard. I've had a fear of water sports, and after telling Jack that he couldn't say he didn't like boating until he tried it, Jack told me I could say I didn't like wake boarding until I tried it. He was right.

Then came the part for tubing. This was another thing that I thought once Jack did it, he was gonna LOVE it. We got him onto the raft without any issue (I threw the "you can't say you don't like it till you try it" thing RIGHT BACK AT him.) But when Bob gave Jack the signals to "slow down" or "go faster" Jack took control on the raft and kept giving Bob a thumbs down. After about 1 minute Jack started yelling "We're done, Bob! We're Done!" It was pretty funny. Not to mention the expression on his face.

On the last day, we went to Minnetonka Cave, a pretty sweet cave only about 20 minutes away that drops 60 degrees once you get inside. After being yanked around by a boat and crashing quite a few times, my muscles weren't too stoked about the 888 steps going up and down this cave, but I actually handled it quite well, not to mention Jack, who was probably low oxygen at that elevation. He did great and had a good time.

Jen and Teagan had already done the cave before but let us in on the little secret that at the end of the cave (3000 ft in) they shut the lights off. It is definitely the darkest dark you have ever seen. With that cold temperature and extreme darkness... I could sleep like a baby in there. We had a great hike in and a great hike out, the tour guide sang some sweet chamber music in the "ballroom" on the way out, then showed us a baby bat at the opening of the cave. All very interesting for parents and children alike.

I only post this picture of Jack the look on his face is that of some rabid creature we could have run into in these woods. He was wired and tired all at the same time.

This is was such a fun trip and Bear Lake is such an awesome place (I had 3 raspberry shakes...) we will certainly be going back again... and we'll be dragging all of you with us :)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Four Ways To Spend the Fourth

1. Camping
We chose to camp in my parent's backyard. It is the prime location for first-timer's like Jack in the case he gets scared or cold, grandma's nice, warm house it right there to remedy. Or- if mom develops some sort of gastrointestinal infection and needs to camp out by the toilet. But we had lots of fun doing summersaults, fireworks, and roasting s'mores over the open range..
2. Shooting off Barely Legal Fireworks
Josh's sister's family was in town from Arizona. They love a good explosion- and Derek came prepared with fireworks such as the "Corrupt" and "The PowerHouse." We each had a turn hold ignited roman candles (including our wee children..), and got to watch a great show of all the fireworks across Midway and Heber in the rain.
(only one fire was started, but it was immediately put out by a bucket of water and Tasha's foot.)
3. Fishing
Just outside of Charleston we found a great spot on the Provo River to try and fish. There were snakes and mosquito's and lots of sun. Right off the bat, Derek got a 14" cut throat. It was a beauty. The kids were thrilled (almost as much as Derek was..) and my nephew Soren did a great job cleaning it. I caught 3 mosquito bites.
4. Watching the Storm
The day after the 4th, we had dinner in Park City and later went to a park when a huge storm rolled in. It brought a huge rainbow that stuck around for 45 minutes and only improved with time. When the rain subsided some people set off fireworks (mortar's..) just beneath the rainbow. It was a gorgeous night, and a perfect way to end the weekend.
Happy 4th of July, everyone.