Sunday, June 29, 2014

Mule Hollow / Hiking List

So, we like to hike. Didn't realize quite how much until recently, but we are trying to act on that like since it is a healthy one. About a week ago, Nick and I went hiking with Mom. We went to the Mule Hollow Trail since it was closer to the bottom of the mountain. It is net a well kept trail. The plants cover the path and hit you all the way up to your neck. Anyway, it was a workout climb. Fairly steep, rather hard to find. We didn't even get to the end because we got to the point where we couldn't find the trail anymore. Then, on the way down Nick reached back to grab my hand and help me over something. That was good cause I tripped right about then and sort of stamped on the ground (much like you do when you trip and catch yourself...). That was good because the rattlesnake that was less than two feet in front of Nick fell off the trail and into the water when I stamped. That was good cause neither of us saw it until it fell. A little bit shaken up and more wary we continued down. Near the end we saw a tarantula wandering around (my first wild tarantula siting). I did not take it well. We made it past him, however, and got to the bottom ready for our next hike.

Im going to start listing the hikes we do this summer.
1. Bells Canyon
2. Mule Hollow
3. Donut Falls
4. Red Potato Trail
5. Silver Lake
6.Twin Lakes
7. Mt. Aire
8. Lake Mary, Martha, and Catherine and up to Sunrise Peak
9. Albion Meadows (x2) and Cecret Lake
10. Timpanogas cave
12.weird camp hike
13. Butler fork
14. Red pine
15. Red pine second lake
16. 1/2 Catherine pass
17. Snowbird Tram Hike (after school started)

School starts tomorrow, so I guess Summer is over, (the fun part anyway). Last night, Nick and I went on our end of summer date. We went to Sizzler and got the steak and endless shrimp. According to our estimations, Nick ate upwards of eighty shrimp. Then we drove up Little Cottonwood Canyon to star gaze, something we had not ever done together. Nick brought his backpacking bag stuffed with two sleeping bags and the air mattress. We got up the canyon when it was still light so we decided to hike until the sun went down. Now, I would say it says a lot about the current shape we are in that we were able to hike for a mile without breaking a sweat after eating endless shrimp. Anyway, while we were hiking we found the perfect stargazing spot. When the sun went down we hiked back to the car, got the stuff, hiked back to the perfect spot, and set up our luxury bed. I took off my shoes and climbed in with Nick and we watched the stars come out. The first and brightest star of the night was Vega. It was so fun just to talk, and eat chocolate, and watch shooting stars. It was very peaceful and I almost fell asleep. At one point Nick asked when I wanted to go. We decided that we would go after we saw one more shooting star (if it happened within the next twenty minutes). I looked up at Vega and said the satr rhyme, "Star light, star bright, first star I saw tonight, I wish I may, I wish I might see another shooting star before I go home". The second I finished, a very long, bright, shooting star arched across the sky. Nick and I looked at each other and decided that that was our sign to clean up. We put everything away, except my sleeping bag (I wore it) and hiked back to the car in the dark.

Bungalow Nights

  We hauled our luggage off the boat windblown and excited for whatever lay ahead. We wound our way off the wooden dock and toward the commotion slightly further inland. There were people from all over the world surrounding a small hut being bombarded by eager to please natives. There was a poster that displayed the many hotel options for the tiny island and each option seemed to have a local person ready to take any interested party to their desired location. We followed our fearless leader as she scanned the poster and found a reasonably priced situation. Before we knew it, we had an eager guide at our feet ready to take us to our temporary residence.
      We trudged after him through muddy streets surrounded by people of every nationality. Tiny restaurants tempted tourists, offering foods from all over the world, booths promised adventures in every form, vendors sold everything from coconut pancakes to magnum bars, and there was water. Everywhere. It was sold in every kind of container imaginable in varying amounts. I think I realized for the first time, as we were following a local to our unknown location that I was going to have to buy my water from now on. A rather foreign concept for someone who has been known to skip the cup and drink directly from the tap.
   Anyway, the longer we walked, the smaller the crowds became and the less busy the shops were. The terrain became slanted and we began heading upward, then we saw it. Our "hotel" looked like anything but a hotel. There were rooms that resembled tree houses because they were stacked haphazardly on top of each other and leaning right into the jungle. The lobby was a wooden canopy full of bamboo picnic tables, a wooden concierge desk, and an open kitchen. We got to the desk and got two rooms. Alisha and I, who were perpetually together, got a room up the stairs behind the "lobby". We made our way up and opened the door. It was a tiny room. There was a double bed immediately to our right, a slightly busted arm chair sitting in a corner, a fan on a table, and a bathroom. The bathroom was a shower head and a toilet in one room (a practice that was pretty common in Thailand). I was feeling less adventurous than I thought I might as a realized that it was a million degrees and the door didn't even close all the way. We settled in by turning on the fan and taking off our shirts to stand in front of it. While trying to cool down we realized we could see the kitchen and the kitchen could see us through the window we hadn't even realized we had. We waved and continued moving with the fan.
     Eventually we went to find the rest of our crew. They had an even better room than we did. It was much bigger than ours, however it consisted of three mattresses covered with mosquito nets on the floor. They had a bigger bathroom and a hammock as well. However, the ceiling of the bungalow was not attached to the walls.
    After absorbing the amazingness of our rooms we headed to to the beach and hiked the island. We also sampled several types of shakes, including sexy berry. The day was great. As we headed back to our scary rooms eating our magnum bars and trying to avoid stepping on frogs we hoped that they had cooled down. Alisha and I entered our room and found that, not only was it just as hot, but it was covered in bugs. The walls and the mattress had all kind of insects on them. We bravely tried to deal with them for a few minutes before we went to the desk and asked for new sheets. They brought us some and swept the walls and rolled their eyes at us. We slept on the edge of the bed as far from the wall as possible and sweated. It was an awful night.

The Bungalow Room

     The next morning we got up and had another day full of adventures. Delicious food, stunning views, attractive tourists. It was mothers day so we headed back early to Skype with our moms. All five of us crowded in our little room because we got wifi, being near the kitchen had its perk. We spent several hours taking turns on the laptops. Eventually some of us headed to the other room. We watched a movie through the mosquito nets and  waited for bedtime. Near the end of the movie Alisha and Sarah came into the bungalow with the fan in in hand. Now, I figured if the fan, the only source of happiness in our room, was being removed, that was a bad sign. I was right. Alisha told us that a huge lizard had just fallen off the wall in our room and run into the bathroom. (After some intense research she thinks it was a monitor lizard.) Whatever it was, we were not about to sleep in our room with it. So we crowded on the mattresses in the other room and spent a miserable night squashed and sweating under the mosquito nets.

A sign near the lobby

     At dawn the next morning we, Alisha and I, woke up simultaneously and walked to the front desk in our pajamas. We told them our room was unsatisfactory and wanted something better. The clerk told us that they had air conditioned rooms for just a little bit more. We took it and went to check it out. It was tiled, air conditioned, clean, airtight, painted, it had sheets, and there was not a bug in sight.
     We spent the rest of the vacation in luxury with all five of us jammed in our room at all times. I remember the island being significantly more appealing when we could go home to a nice place at the end of the day. Go figure.

I already wrote about Thailand on my other blog but this was one experience that I want to make sure I remember.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

The Wedding Trip

Before you read this, you need to know that it is primarily a travelogue. Normally I refrain from these, but the trip just started to blend together so I need to sort it out for my own sake.

Quick background: My brother and his fiance planned to get married in the Nauvoo, Illinois temple on June 12th. Nick and I are not rich enough to fly anywhere so we went with my parents, Ben, and Candace. They were nice enough to give us the backseat of their minivan and pretty much pay our way there. In order to make the 4000 miles a bit more enjoyable we took a lot of random detours, saw a lot of the "biggest ________ in the world" type things, stopped in every state that was on our way (Candace really wants to visit all 50 states in her life), and went to Chicago for a few days.

Day 1: Thursday June 5th 2014
Drove from Sandy, Utah to North Platte, Nebraska.
10 hours 665 miles
I'm fairly sure that we did nothing but drive that day. When Candace and I researched things to do between here and Nebraska there wasn't much. We did watch the first two Harry Potter movies (we had a goal to watch all eight on the trip). Oh, and we stopped and saw Historic Fort Cody (which was across the street from our hotel).

Fort Cody

2 headed cow in Fort Cody

Day 2: Friday June 6th 
North Platte, Nebraska to Council Bluffs, Iowa.
4 hours 285 miles
After checking into our hotel in Iowa, we drove back to Omaha, Nebraska in order to go to Jones Bros Cupcakes and check out the night market and the statue park.

Jones Bros

Pioneer statue park

Night Market

Park Across the street from Night Market

Day 3: Saturday June 7th
Council Bluffs. Iowa to New Buffalo Michigan.
7.5 hours 515 miles
This day was a little bit more exciting. First thing in the morning we got up and drove to the Winter Quarters temple. Mom and I did initiatories and Candace, Dad, and Nick did baptisms. While waiting for them to be done with baptisms, Mom and I went to the visitors center. We met a very nice sister missionary who mom gave a tour to. Once we were on the road again, we saw a Volkswagen spider in a random field. We saw the Maoi Dude (which looked way cooler on-line than it did in person). The maoi dude was described as an Easter Island like head with a chill expression on his face. What the internet did not tell us was that he is the mascot for a small neighborhood park.

Winter Quarters Visitor Center

Spider Beetle

Bug statue at the wrong park

The Maoi Dude in all his glory

Day 4: Sunday June 8th 

New Buffalo, Michigan to Chicago, Illinois
1.5 hours 70 miles
Went for a walk next to lake Michigan, it looked like the beach. On the way to our hotel we stopped at a singles ward and went to sacrament. We then drove to our hotel, we were on the 11th floor or something, and followed Nick to find food. We ended up in a skyscraper called the Water Towers eating at Wow Boa. We then wandered around Chicago a little it. Late that night we ended up at Gino's pizza for dinner with Mom's family. That place had the best pizza crust I have ever had.

Gino's Pizza

My Favorite Building (right by our hotel)

Day 5: Monday June 9th
We went to all the places that Candace really wanted to see. Navy Pier, Millennial Park, and the Willis (Sears) Tower. We had dinner with Candace at a Thai Restaurant that was quite delicious. 

Navy Pier

Millennial Park

The Bean

The View from the 103rd floor of Willis Tower

The box that sticks out of the Willis Tower (Sky Deck)

Day 6: Tuesday June 10th 
It poured all day. Nevertheless Nick, Candace, Ben, and I rented city bikes which we used to get ourselves to the planetarium and Chinatown. We had more pizza for dinner with moms family. 

The Planetarium

Chinatown Chicago

Day 7: Wednesday June 11th
Chicago, Illinois to Nauvoo, Illinois.
4.5 Hours 270 miles
Stopped at Sam's Club on the way to buy post wedding food. Saw the fireflies on our night time walk through old Nauvoo. Got our own room for the first time on the trip. Missed Candace :) Moms family stayed in the giant house with us.

Outside Brigham Young's House

Candace Peeking in the Red Brick Store

Joseph Smith's Grave

John Taylor's House

The Nauvoo Temple

Day 8: Thursday June 12th WEDDING DAY
Wedding, wedding lunch, then explored Nauvoo. Nick got a ring and a brick. Both of which really excited him.

Outside Nauvoo Temple waiting for Spence and Hannah

Spencer's camera sock

Wedding lunch waiting for Spence and Hannah

Day 9: Friday June 13th 
Nauvoo, Illinois to Rochester Minnesota (by way of Wisconsin)
5 hours 290 miles
Got the house ready to leave. Went to Carthage Jail. Helped Grandpa get his plane tickets reserved. Tried to look at the moon, couldn't find it.

Day 10: Saturday June 14th
Rochester, Minnesota to St. Cloud, Minnesota.
2.5 Hours, 150 miles
Took a very scenic route. Went to the mall of America. Spencer and Hannah's wedding reception.

Mall of America Lego Store

Mall of America Amusement Park

Wedding Reception

Cake Cutting

Day 11: Sunday June 15th
St. Cloud Minnesota to Murdo South Dakota (via North Dakota)
8 hours 500 miles
Ended up at interesting hotel where they gave us breakfast out of a chuckwagon....

Day 12: Monday June 16th
Murdo, South Dakota to Gillette, Wyoming (via Mt. Rushmore)
7 hours 400 miles
The Badlands, Wall Drug, Mt. Rushmore, the president city, and the water park hotel.

Bad Lands South Dakota

Mt. Rushmore

The Jackalope at Wall Drug
Samples of the presidents on every block end

Day 13:  Tuesday June 17th
Gillette, Wyoming to Sandy Utah
8 hours 535 miles
Drove and drove and drove and drove.

Stuff that stands out :)

 1. Nick and I had the pleasure of rooming with Candace at all 10 hotels. Candace did my hair for both Spencer's wedding and reception. She hung out with us in Nauvoo and both days in Chicago. We watched Runaway Bride together and played at the water park. We are all super tight now.

2. On day 2 in Chicago, everyone under 25 in my immediate family, opted to use the city bikes that were stationed all over the place to get around. It seemed like great plan to make it to the many destinations that we mapped out. However, we did not count on it pouring. We rode the bikes in mild rain to the planetarium several miles away from our hotel, locked the bikes up and went in. When we got out, the bike station we had locked the bikes into was broken. That left us a little bit stranded considering it was raining buckets. We pulled our dollars and caught a bus halfway to Chinatown. We managed to get new bikes at a nearby station and rode another few mile. When we got to Chinatown, we had a really delicious meal and wandered around hoping for the rain to stop. It didn't and Ben was slightly crippled from all the blisters he had gotten the day before. He called and begged mom to drive the 5 miles from the hotel and pick us up. She agreed because she is a good mom. We waited in a bizarre underground food court. We split a smoothie so that I could use the bathroom. No money no bathroom etc.

3. Over two days Nick easily ate his own large deep dish pizza (there were a lot of leftovers).

4. According to Nick and Ben, the mall of America was not exciting cause they couldn't find a sword shop.

5. The water park at the hotel  was so much fun. It wasn't huge or anything but I think I went down the water slides at least 30 times. Mom went with us. It was so much fun to be able to play and act like a kid.

6. The Thai place we ate at in Chicago was tiny and below street level. Nick, Candace, and I had a delightful meal and I got to watch Candace try green curry.

7. We watched all eight Harry Potter movies on the trip. I feel like Harry traveled the country with us.

8. We all stood in the line at Spencer and Hannah's wedding reception for the whole two hours. It was a good opportunity to get to know Hannah's brothers as well as a lot of people who know and love Hannah.