Saturday, October 29, 2011

Lori and I did a cleanse diet recently. All we ate were fruits, vegetables, nuts, oats and brown rice. And we had to drink our weight in ounces of water everyday. We did the diet for a week and were really strict about it. It was actually pretty yummy. We bought a ton of different fruits and veggies and mostly ate those.

As the diet went along we got more and more creative with our food and meals. Like almonds and pecans are even more delicious toasted in the oven for a little bit. And brown rice takes 8 cups of water to one cup of rice to make it soft and chewy. Potato wedges baked with lots of salt and pepper and garlic powder are so yummy even Kurt will eat our healthy food.

Throughout the week Lori had lots of funny, weird, ridiculous things to say...

Day 2: "This is the best dinner we've had in two days!"

Day 3: "I think I'm slowly starving to death."
           "Should we eat crap stuff just for today?"
           "I'm just gonna lick this French fry."

Day 4: "I'm probably going to get high from this sauce."

Day 5: "Honey! You better jump on this bandwagon!"

Day 6: "Should we cheat just for today?!?"
            "Kurt ate my potato wedge when he can eat anything he wants in the world!"

Friday, October 7, 2011

Yellowstone Birthday Escape

For my 30th birthday I wanted to do something big! I really wanted to spend a week in Florida with Kimberly, but my car had other plans for my vacation money. So I decided I wanted to go camping and geocaching in Yellowstone National Park for the weekend. I wanted Lori and Kurt and Brooklyn to come and they all agreed to. But when Kurt's parents found out we were going to be sleeping in a tent in bear country they said that Brooklyn wasn't allowed to go. I was bummed but at least we wouldn't have to worry about a little toddler the whole trip. Then Kurt decided he would stay home with Brooklyn since he doesn't like geocaching or hiking or walking or anything fun. I was bummed again but now we wouldn't have either baby slowing us down. 

So Lori and I set off on a great adventure to ring in my 30's!

We took off on Friday night and planned to get to our campsite at Madison campground in time to set up camp in the daylight and then hang out by the fire and roast marshmallows. But we were almost to West Yellowstone when we passed this sign:

We immediately made a U-turn and headed to the rodeo for the night.

We were super excited for the spontaneous rodeo!

A storm moved in and we got soaking wet and almost blown away.

The rodeo clown asked me to participate in something down in the ring and I enthusiastically volunteered. I didn't know it was a dance competition until I was down there and in front of the crowd. I should have won! I danced way better than that little kid. But he won the stupid frisbee anyways.

We got to meet the awesome (and pretty cute) cowboys afterwards.

Lori and I slept in way too long on Saturday morning so we ate a quick breakfast and hopped in the car for a long day of power caching. I had planned and mapped out all the earth caches and virtual caches that we were going to get in Yellowstone. Actual physical geocaches can't be hid in national parks, so there are earth caches or virtual caches. To log the find you have to go to a specific location, landmark, geological feature, etc. and take a picture and/or answer some questions about the place or thing. It's all very educational, which may not sound fun but it is. 

There is a buffalo lying on the ground behind us.

I loved climbing all over this pile of basalt ruins. I felt like a little kid.

It was way hotter than we thought it would be and we were sweating our boobs off running from cache to cache. So we found a river and changed into our swimsuits to play in it. I built a dam so we could sit in a pool of cool water. It was pretty much the greatest thing to happen to us.

Yellowstone Falls is one of the most amazing things I have ever seen in my life. 

This view was literally breathtaking. The colorful canyon, the falls, the sunset. Perfection. 

I found a herd of about 19 buffalo and was so excited I took off running across the parking lot to get closer to them. Lori stayed behind and took pictures of me acting crazy.

Our campground did a presentation at night in the amphitheater. It was about all the fires in Yellowstone throughout its history. It was super interesting.

Lori and I made delicious fajitas for dinner and then roasted marshmallows. I made her try a graham cracker-less s'more. It's a marshmallow with 2 pieces of chocolate sandwiching it. YUM!

The next morning we started a lot earlier and first thing we see on our way to a geocache was a freakin' grizzly bear! We stood across the river and watched it for a half hour. We were close enough to see its fur move as it walked. It had just killed something and was carrying a big piece of it around and then went behind a tree to eat it. It was pretty dangerous of us to be so close so we finally got out of there.

The mud pots are one of my favorite things in the park. I can't really explain why though.

This fumarole is called Red Spouter and it really is a brilliant red in the middle.

A view of Upper Geyser Basin and the Old Faithful Lodge.

One of the last caches we got was at Old Faithful.

I had such an incredible weekend that I really didn't want to go home. I seriously wanted to stay in Yellowstone with Lori and go geocaching for another week or month or 3. Throughout our 2 day stay we saw 25 buffalo, 15 elk, 4 coyotes, 2 sandhill cranes, 2 black bears, 1 grizzly bear and 1 other geocacher. We found 41 of the 50 US states license plates, 5 of the 13 Canadian provinces and found 31 of the 55 geocaches in the park. 

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Snapshot of Idaho: American & Idaho Flags

On September 11th I was driving around with a full tank of gas and nothing to do. I passed by this flag pole with the American and Idaho State flags with the sun lighting them up from behind. It was such a beautiful reminder of all that our country stands for and has been through. 

Friday, August 26, 2011

Snapshot of Idaho: Windmills

I've been slightly homesick lately so I love that there are a bunch of windmills up on the hills near my house. There are no where near the amount that are on the Altamont back home, but it's like a little piece of it for me to have. 

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Snapshot of Idaho: Weeds

There are these giant dandelion weeds all over in southeast Idaho. By the side of the roads and in people's yards and in fields and everywhere! But especially in the vacant lots in the neighborhood I live in. They grow waist high and the flower heads are as big as my fist. And when the wind blows the seeds off the plant the air is saturated with little puffs that cling to your clothes and hair. 

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Adventures in Kayaking

It started off as a nice and relaxing weekend camping at Greys River in Wyoming...

I went with my brother-in-law's family for their annual Larson Family Reunion.

We basically just pulled off the side of the road and pitched a tent. Well, all the other families had trailers, but Lori, Kurt, Brooklyn and I roughed it in a tent. 

We had a blast all weekend. We had marshmallow gun wars, roasted Starbursts, had pinecone wars around the fire and then again at the river, watched the kids play in the creek, rode bikes and 4-wheelers. Lori, Cody and I even did a little geocaching and got eaten by mosquitos.

Oh yeah, and we went kayaking. 

It was my very first time kayaking. I've been river rafting and tubing hundreds of times, but never kayaking. It was amazing. It was incredible. It was one of the scariest moments of my life...

I went down a couple times with Kurt's uncle Jeff on a short and mild, but fun, portion of the river. We were doing awesome paddling together. I loved the cold water and getting splashed in the rapids. It was too short of a trip for me. I wanted to be on the river all day. So I was especially disappointed when the four oldest guys took the kayaks out for a long trip from the top of the mountain back down to our campsite, and all the rest of us had to go to this gorgeous mountain lake and play. 

We stayed at the lake for an hour or more and then decided to head back to camp and go see how the guys were doing. We weren't even close to camp when we saw the guys standing on the side of the road. We knew something was wrong so we stopped and jumped out of the trucks. Sure enough, one of the kayaks had crashed and Scott (Kurt's dad) and Dave (Kurt's uncle) had got dumped and banged up pretty good. Dave was alright but Scott had a dent in his shin and was bleeding and already bruising. He had hobbled along the side of the road, refusing to get back on the river, until we stopped for them.

As we were all standing around talking about what had happened Jeff asked if anyone wanted to continue kayaking with him. I immediately, and enthusiastically, volunteered. No one else would. Not even the other guys that had been on the river but not gotten hurt. I guess I should have realized that maybe they knew something I didn't. Lori and Kurt almost took the other kayak down with us but Scott told Kurt not to go, so they stayed behind. 

Before Jeff and I got on the river we made sure I had all of the proper safety equipment. I tried on 3 different life jackets until one was tight enough and still comfortable enough to row in. Jeff adjusted my helmet until it fit perfectly. Then everyone said their last goodbyes (seriously) and left us to the river. 

Jeff gave me a million pointers and scenarios before we actually got going. "I'm going to be the rudder and you are going to just paddle while I steer." "When I say 'full force' paddle as hard as you can. Don't stop paddling. No matter what." "Hang onto your oar if we spill. Cause if we get the kayak, but no oars, then we have to hike out with it." "If we spill then get to the shore as fast as you can." "We don't want to get dumped in the canyon that's up ahead because then we'll have to hike out of it." "If we get dumped then go down the river feet first to protect your head." "If we notice some major rapids up ahead we'll get out and climb up to check them out. And then decide if we want to continue or hike around that spot." 

While he was giving me the Kayaking 101 lecture I was thinking: is this something I should be doing? And I felt good about it. I felt like it was okay for me to do. So with all that we got in the kayak and on the river.

Wyoming is absolutely gorgeous. I just sat there and marveled in the awesome scenery that surrounded us. The sun was setting and it casted the perfect glow on the river and the trees. We were having a blast and moving right along. We even practiced our rowing for the upcoming rapids. So when we came to the actual rapids and Jeff shouted, "full force!," I knew what to do and was confident. I paddled and paddled and paddled. My arms ached but I kept going and going. We were sailing through those waves and doing fine until all of the sudden we weren't. 

Neither Jeff nor I saw it coming. One second we were in the kayak and on top of the river, and the next we were rolling underneath the waves. I rolled a couple times and then made my way to the surface. I couldn't breathe and I couldn't catch my breath. I was getting pulled down the river and pounded by the waves and battered by the rocks. I still had my oar in my hand and was attempting to swim with the other. Then I saw Jeff's oar float by me and grabbed for it. Then I had 2 oars in one hand and was still trying to swim like that. All of the sudden Jeff bumped into me from behind and I turned to look at him. I saw the look on his face and thought, oh no, we are going to die. 

I immediately ditched the oars and tried to survive what was happening to me. I still couldn't breathe, I was still being pelted by the waves, I was still being hammered by the rocks. I seriously thought I was going to die. I couldn't swim. I was busy trying not to drown. I thought it was never going to end. Then all of the sudden there was a quick break in the rapids and I booked it for the shore. When I was able to get to the bank I reached for some bushes that were hanging into the water and held on for dear life. The water was still really swift there but shallow. I just laid there, face down in the water, holding onto the branches. I was alive. I looked up and saw Jeff on the other side of the river.

I finally got up out of the water because I knew Jeff would be worrying and wondering if I was alright. I was devastated. We were on completely different sides of the wide river with no way to get to each other. He was shouting and gesturing to me but I was in shock and couldn't comprehend what was going on. I knew we were out of immediate danger so I just let myself freak out for a second. I held up my hands for Jeff to wait a second and I put my head between my legs for a couple seconds and tried to catch my breath. What had just happened? My legs were bleeding, my arm was hurting, my hand was bleeding but I couldn't tell from where, my whole body hurt. I was seriously in shock.

After a couple seconds I stood up and let Jeff know I was okay. He said he was okay too. Then we set about the task of getting out of there. And when I say "there" I mean the canyon we weren't supposed to get dumped in. We couldn't really hear each other because the river was just wide enough and the river too loud. So we mostly used our hands to communicate. I was on the side of the road and the steepest side of the canyon. He asked if I was okay to climb up. I said yeah and tried to scale the mountain that was probably at a 60 degree angle while Jeff watched me with concern from the other side. I couldn't do it. I kept sliding down. I was dripping wet and my legs hurt so bad. So I walked upstream a little bit, where it was less steep, and tried again. No luck. 

So Jeff called to me and motioned with his hands where to climb up and what direction to go. I found a fallen tree that I managed to scramble up to and then literally climbed up the tree that was leaning on the mountain. When I got to the top of the tree Jeff could see I was alright and so he started hiking downstream on his side. I proceeded to climb up by grabbing onto any tree or bush or plant that would hold my weight and pulling myself up. That was all the strength I had to do. I turned around a couple times to look back down into the canyon and knew that one wrong step and I would be right back in that river. 

When I got to a point where the ground was starting to level out I stopped to sit on a rock to catch my breath that I still hadn't caught since falling into the river. After a minute I looked up and saw one of the 4-wheelers that Kurt's family had brought camping. I had sat down right by the road and didn't even know it. I got up and walked to the road and looked over to see Kurt's brother and uncle and aunt looking down into the canyon. I called to them while stumbling over. They rushed to me to check me out. I'm sure I looked like death. A second later Kurt and Lori come screeching up in the truck. As soon as I saw Lori I burst into tears. She ran to me and held me while I cried into her chest and said, "it was so bad," over and over. 

I hadn't let myself cry up until that point. I knew that I was hurt and scared but I knew that I was all alone and no one else was going to help me. So what good would crying do? But when I finally had someone there who could help me and comfort me I let loose. At least for a minute. Then I became seriously concerned about Jeff and making sure he was okay. More of the family arrived and we followed Jeff down the river from across it. I refused to go back to camp until I knew for sure that Jeff was okay. But then I started to get worried that he was perfectly fine. No cuts or bruises or injuries. So I said that he better be hurt just a little bit or I would be mad.

Our kayak and one of the oars had been rescued so they used that to get across the river where it was a little mellower and pick up Jeff and take him back to camp. We met them at the river where they got out. Jeff and I went to each other and assessed the other's injuries. He was okay but he did have a couple scrapes and hurt his tailbone pretty bad. I was glad. Glad he was alive and well, and glad he wasn't completely unscathed from that ordeal. 

Kurt's mom Debbie let me take a shower in their trailer so I could wash off all the blood and dirt. Then Lori cleaned and bandaged my legs and finger. I had a deep cut on my finger that might have needed stitches if all the skin hadn't been removed. I was still in shock. Freezing and shivering. So I got dressed in jeans and a thermal shirt and then wrapped myself in a blanket and stayed in the trailer for awhile. Jeff and his brother-in-law Kevin had driven back up the mountain to take some pictures of the river where we crashed. So he stopped by to show them to me. He also showed me pictures of the river downstream from where we got dumped. We were really lucky we got out where we did. Or else we really would have died. And I was lucky I got to shore where I did because there was a drop off on my side that would have killed me. 

Everything that happened was pretty incredible. Kevin and his wife Becky had been at the top of the canyon watching us kayak down the river and saw the whole thing happen. They said that the kayak stayed in the rapid right where we got dumped out, and just stayed there spinning for a minute or more. Jeff and I were lucky to not get caught in that.  

When they saw us spill Kevin took off on the 4-wheeler to head back to camp to tell everyone and get help. Lori and Kurt swear that Kevin showed up and shouted that we had crashed and to go to the river and look for bodies. Of course Lori started freaking out. They drove up to a spot on the river where some other people were camping and asked them for rope and to help. Lori cried to some guy that her sister was in the river and he was really sympathetic and sweet to her. They found the kayak and one of the oars there, but no bodies. That must have been when they raced up the mountain to where I was. 

Jeff is a total dare devil, adrenaline junkie, thrill seeker, crazy dude. But he told me that if he doesn't feel good about doing something then he won't do it. Before we went down the river he said he felt good about going too. This accident really shook him up too. All of his family could tell. I could tell and I don't know Jeff that well. His mom said she was glad he got hurt because sometimes Jeff needs to be shaken up. Maybe this really was something we both just needed to go through.

Several times after this has happen Jeff has asked me how I got to the side of the river so fast. I think what Jeff is really saying to me is, I didn't know you were such a fast swimmer, and that makes me kind of proud. And thankful for all the swimming I've done in my life. Swimming lessons, boogie boarding and body surfing in the ocean, tubing and rafting in rivers and swimming in friends and neighbors pools.

The next day we all took it really easy. I hobbled around camp pretty good, but we mostly sat by the creek watching the kids play. Scott and I compared wounds. Jeff wouldn't compare with us because his was on his tailbone. Scott's looked way worse than mine. Even through all the healing his has been worse than mine.

Not to say that my injuries were minor. I got hurt really bad. One of my elbows was scratched and bruised, the other arm had big cuts on the back, there was a bruise on my side, the gash in my finger and then my legs. From toes to mid thigh I was banged up and bruised. I even took several days off of work because of the pain and swelling in my legs. Three days after the crash this is what my legs looked like.

Now all my bruises have disappeared but I still have lots of tenderness in certain areas. The gash in my shin is gross. Lori won't even look at it unless I make her. It is slightly infected but healing well. I'm pretty sure I'll have some lasting damage to my left knee. It just feels weird and hurts often. But other than all that I'm great! I loved kayaking. I don't regret going on that trip. I would go again even. With a better kayak and maybe if the river was lower. Jeff and I have over analyzed everything that happened and there was almost nothing we could have done to prevent what happened.

I'm going kayaking this weekend. In a calm lake but at least I'm getting back on the horse. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Snapshot of Idaho: City of Idaho Falls Seal

Since I recently moved to a new city and state I have lots to explore and learn about my new surroundings. So I've decided to photograph things I see that interest or intrigue me and share them all with you.

This is the City of Idaho Falls seal. I tried to find out the meaning behind it but I couldn't and got bored. 

I Scream!!!

Last week was Farr Candy Company and Bonneville County's 100th birthday celebration. The whole city went downtown to help Farr's beat the world record for the most scoops of ice cream scooped in one hour. So Lori, Kurt, Brooklyn, Sky, Heidi, Autumn and I all went to help eat the ice cream. The record to beat was 3,000 and they definitely did that with 6,284 scoops!  

Panorama of the downtown streets blocked off, and the line of people waiting for ice cream snaked all around it. 

The group waiting for the hour to begin so we could get our scoop. Kurt and Sky work downtown so Kurt walked over as soon as he got off and got us a really good spot in line.

One of the old ice cream trucks owned by Farr's.

I don't know who was flown in by the helicopter, but they landed in the middle of the blocked off streets and a guy got out and gave a folded up American flag to the color guard that paraded around.

Everyone who was going to get ice cream had to get their hand stamped with a cute little ice cream cone stamp. Even Brooklyn and Autumn got their hands stamped.

I got everyone together for a group picture in front of the old Bonneville Hotel once we got our ice cream.

Lori got mint chocolate chip.

 Kurt did too.

Sky got his and Autumn's cookies and cream. Heidi got huckleberry.

Autumn got a couple tastes.

Brooklyn sucked down a whole ice cream cone all by herself. She would scream if her dad tried to help her out by licking up the drips. She got all sticky and messy. 

I got huckleberry. It was really good!

The Farr family collects a bunch of different vehicles. Classic cars and trucks, new cars and trucks, unusual cars and trucks. Here is me in front of a honest-to-goodness DeLorean. Only about 6,500 still exist today from the 9,000 built.

Here is a link to a short newscast about the ice cream celebration.