Thursday, October 22, 2009


While booking my plane ticket home from Texas, Southwest was having a special to Chicago. Well my friend Mark lives there and I had wanted to go visit him and see the city, so I headed up to Illinois (another first for me) and after Mark patiently waited through 2 hours of traffic we were finally reunited.

We were able to go to the city of course we made our way to the famous bean which is cooler than I ever thought a bean could be, we walked down to navy pier, saw the skyscrapers, listened to street drumers, and of course ate traditional Chicago Deep Dish at Uno's!

As a special treat look what we found as part of the city art on display - a metal moose or an "urban" moose as I refer to some up North. What better way to end my season from Alaska! Thanks Mark for being a great host - and for watching all those crazy Hero's episodes late into the night, I can't wait to see you again!

Four States - One Day!

Sorry for the pause on postings but I have completed my very long road trip across the country. On our last day driving together AL and I left Denver and headed east (besides my layover day in New York this is the furthest east I've been in the United States - kind of crazy huh)! So my first times through both Kansas and Oklahoma, and not as bad as everyone says, yes it's flat but the sky was really cool that day!

Also fun story about Kansas and Oklahoma, we saw signs for Cracker Barrel and wanted to eat there together so we stopped in Kansas at one about 2:00pm and it just so happened that is was chicken cheese broccoli casserole night but it didn't start until 4pm. We asked the waitress if they had any ready by any chance and they didn't so we made an executive decision, get back in the truck and drive until we found a restraurant after 4pm. Sure enough outside of Oklahoma we were very happy and I got a surprise, because we were close enough to Texas apparently the Dr. Pepper is different down here (I think it has something to do with the sugar), but it was almost too sweet for me - which is suprising right!

And after the Daines put us up for the night after a long drive I said goodbye to Amy Lou after a great Alaskan adventure and 19 days with one great red truck - what a trooper. But I'd do it all over again in a heartbeat and AL you were a great road trip buddy! Miss you!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

National Parks and Rocks

So since I've been traveling with AL she has increased my awareness on two subjects: Geology (that's what she has her degree in) and National Parks! Our park system in the United States is actually pretty great and AL totally chewed me out for being in Utah 5 years and not taking advantage of what I had nearby. So on the way to Denver we stopped at Arches National Park, and let me tell you I'm in LOVE! It was so beautiful and so fun - I'm totally going to go back and spend more time there and hopefully visit the other major parks nearby too!

The Windows Arch

Then when we got to the Denver area our friend Mark took us up to Estes Park in the Rocky Mountains which was beautiful in a different way. We saw Rams in the canyon and Elk on the golf course and some of the first snow fall of the year in the mountains nearby (well we drove through it the night before too)!

Estes, CO Elevation: 7,522 ft.

My dad was out hunting in Washington and this guy was so close!

Then we ended our Denver stay by meeting up with the Giblette clan for dinner which is always a good time with many laughs, I need more excuses to come back!

Me, Chantel (Sydney) & Josh, (Brooklyn) Tara & Brent, Michelle & Clint

NZ Reunion

Well since I was passing through Utah over conference weekend I figured why not see what friends from my study abroad can I get together for a mini reunion! After a few e-mails and some out-of-towners that made a great effort we ended up having quite the turnout - I think there was half of our group, including yes the one boy (who we apparently didn't drive to a mental institution after months of girls singing in the vans) but now is a "real" lawyer - congrats Josh! We of course missed our other friends who were not able to attend but hopefully it won't be long before we see them again too!

Back Row: Colie, Sharmaine, Emily, Janne, Shelly, Jessica, Josh, & Amy Jo
Front Row: Rachel, Rebecca, Tara, Me, Alicia, Meagan, Stephanie

It was so good to see everyone and it's so funny how the volume levels just rise when we get together - everyone catching up on missions, marriages, school, job, etc. and how much we still laugh when we get together! I'm so grateful for a group who actively invested in relationships with each other while we were in our program, and how hard we all work to stay in touch. Love you guys!

Tara, Em, Jess, AJ, Rach, Megs, Me

Tweed Street Crew - when you ride your bike everywhere your best friends are usually those who live close by (and you know you really like them when you constantly ride into the wind both ways just to watch a movie or play games)!

Are you ready for some Football!

After we left Oregon we stopped in Boise for a night to visit with my grandparents and to meet my cousins daughter who was born while I was up in Alaska. (I don't know why but I sometimes just completely forget to get the camera out - I'll take pictures over Thanksgiving)! Unfortunately the stop was short as we had a schedule to keep and a football game to get to Friday night!

First we stopped by the Malad Gorge on our way to SLC, then we met up with my friend Marilyn at "The Pie" for their famous University pizza and headed down to tour temple square!

Then we got down to business and drove to Provo, hit up the bookstore for some Cougar apparel for the game! We enjoyed watching a game live as the Cougars beat Utah State and it was just great to be back in the stadium - AND my friend Steve who walked onto the team was able to go in for some plays so I was so happy that I was there in person to watch him play (he almost sacked the QB his first play)!

AL almost had the fight song learned by the end of the game - GO COUGARS!

Steve is the one on the bottom right (#96) - so proud of him!

And thanks again Rob (Cody & Benji too) for the tickets!


So second stop in the lower 48 was the Portland area! I was able to spend some time with my niece and nephew (he cries when he looks at me though because I'm not his mom)! And my niece is getting so big and talking so much - she is really growing up and it's so fun, unfortunately she doesn't YELL my name anymore but now I can teach her great things to say.

Sitting by the Red Cedars near Multnomah Falls

Then I made sure to take Amy Lou out to Lincoln City to see the Oregon Coast for the first time - Shaun also called us to let us know that there was a Tsunami warning that night from the Samoa earthquake, it was ALL the news could talk about although the waves only rose .5 - 2 ft larger than normal, but we enjoyed the coast anyway!
And we got to meet my friend Matt for breakfast on the way out - it was this great little mom & pop place called "The Cake House" on Ross Island bridge and 10th street near downtown Portland - great price and HUGE portions!

We're going to be BFFLFE!
(Best Friends For Like Freaking Ever)

The stay was definitely too short though so I'll have to go back and visit again here soon!