25 November 2015

Bryce Canyon

When we were down in St George for my marathon in October, Mr B and i stopped by Cedar Breaks on our way back north. It gave me a desire to visit Bryce Canyon, but i didn't think that it was going to happen this year.

And then, a couple of weeks ago, one Tuesday night we were discussing our weekend plans. For some reason, i suggested driving to southern Utah to Bryce Canyon that weekend. Not really expecting Mr B to take me seriously, i was shocked when he said, "Well....I'd just have to be back for my meetings on Sunday morning..."

So we went!

 We drove down to Provo on Friday after work. Saturday morning, we woke up early and finished the trip, arriving mid-morning to the canyon. Mr B had never been there. i was sooo excited for him to see it, that i was bouncing for most of our drive.

looking out over Inspiration Point
We spent the first couple of hours at the different lookout points, getting a view of the amphitheater from above and enjoying a picnic lunch. 

Dusting of snow

Although i had visited, i had never hiked down among the hoodoos. After some research, i had selected a 7 mile hike for us that looped in a figure 8 and combined three of the "best trails" in that part of the park. We were pretty stoked as we dropped down into the slot-like canyons. It didn't take us long to realize that you can't grasp the magnitude of the place until you get down inside and hike around the amphitheater.

There were some other hikers (especially at the very start of the hike) but it was pretty empty for the most part. It was chilly during the day, with the high temperature peaking in the mid40s. But with the beautiful sunshine (and our fairly strenuous hike) we were just fine.

The most surprising thing to me was how interesting and different every mile of the hike was. Sometimes we were right next to the hoodoos and the trees:

Sometimes we were in narrow slot canyons between fins:

Sometimes we were going through tunnels:

And, sometimes those tunnels led us to look out over fabulous vistas:

Besides that, the hike was very up and down and windy, which kept it engaging and exciting.

Looking down on the switchbacks we just climbed
We took sooo many pictures because we were both blown away by the unique beauty of the place. In the end, we finally realized a camera was never going to capture it.

After our hike, we went out to "Bryce Overlook" which was the best one of the park. We bundled up, got ourselves our picnic dinner and watched the sunset.

Then we bundled up even more (man did it get cold!) and hunkered down to watch the stars come out. The milky way appeared in the sky above us. We both saw several brightly shooting stars and saw the moon set. It was cold, clear and stunningly beautiful. When we were sufficiently frozen, we trooped back to the car and drove back to Provo for the night.

Based on the storm the swept into the west this week, that will be our last non-snow related adventure of the year. i'm so grateful we had a chance to do one last spontaneous hike together in a magnificent place.

23 November 2015

Do You Hear the Muscles Scream?

Legs Miserables reunited for my last race of the year. 

i was nervous because i only ran a couple of times between the St George full marathon and this race. Putting so many miles on the months before really did a number on my legs and i was battling with who knows what (shin splints? a stress fracture? tendinitis?) but basically it hurt to run and i knew the best thing would be to rest before this race. 

Fun to run with these talented folks again
It was another ULTRA relay. 1 van. 200 miles, 6 people. 30ish hours. Each runner averaging 30-35 miles total. No time to sleep. Painful. Ridiculous. And exhilarating. This race was down in Las Vegas.

The start line was up in the Mountains to the Northwest of town and it was nice and cold for us (especially those teammates from Texas).

Maybe i'm a Ragnar addict

i was totally outclassed by this team. They were fast and relentless. i am NOT fast. However, i didn't ever give up, no matter how tired or how much i was hurting or how hot i got. So maybe that means i'm relentless too?
Switching the baton at an exchange
Run, Jennifer, Run!
We started at the top of the mountain behind me

There was the usual Ragnar/relay silliness. Some of it can be blamed on lack of sleep, tired legs, and being stuck in a van without showering and with the same people for over 30 hours. But some of it is just because i had a hilarious team.

When you get lost, stick up your giraffe heads and we will find you!

Because it was the beginning of November, the nights were already eternal. It was a little bit difficult to run in darkness for SO MANY HOURS. But luckily i had some new reflective running tights. And my dad came around to cheer us on for a couple of hours.

Night gear! Vest, headlamp and dotty tights

Besides my father, i did have some great cheerleaders communicating via text messages. My favorite was my nephew.

"Go Auntie Geege!"
"F#$& your injuries!"

When we saw the sun come up and reflect on Lake Mead, we all cheered. It was almost as exciting as finishing the race. Almost.

Yay for daylight!
Along with daylight came the heat. My second to last leg was along the edge of the Lake for a bit and then along a windy trail through (and up) the foothills around it. It was beautifully ugly and very interesting, although difficult leg.

hot sun
No van support on this trail

For the first time EVER in one of my relays, my last leg was not either 1- ridiculously long 2- ridiculously steep 3- BOTH. In fact, it was my shortest and easiest. Man did it feel good to end the race running my heart out on my last leg and sprinting in to my personal finish.


We still had three runners after me to go, though. Which meant one more sunset and another couple of hours of running in the dark. We were so glad to finish.

"Together We Ran 200ish Miles"

Since we ran UTAH Wasatch Back Ragnar and LAS VEGAS Ragnar in the same year, we got the coveted "Saints and Sinners" medallions. i never thought i would be able to do an ultra relay. And to double medal on an ultra team kind of blew my mind.

This is the first time in a VERY long time that i am not currently signed up for a race in the future. i'm sure that next summer will see me racing again. And i am still running. But it's kind of nice just to RUN right now, without stressing out about an upcoming race.

16 November 2015

And then there was William

i thought i couldn't love another little human being as much as i love my niece. Apparently, my new nephew is an exception. 

i got to drive up to Montana to meet him before he was even three weeks old. i cannot wait until January when they move just a little bit closer to me.

The drive up
My first time holding William 
"Get out of my face, Aunt Jennifer!" 
"Oh my heck...I have to put up with her my whole life??"
William curled up in my lap
Morning time cuddles
Handsome little man
Baby wearing

Sister+baby+cinnamon icecream=Happy Jennifer
Up at 1am because i wanted to watch him sleep

i love these people. i'm glad they are mine. 
He's pretty much my favorite little goober of a boy ever. i am grateful that he is in my life. 

04 November 2015

Fam Damily

i am head over heels in love with being an Aunt. For my 30th birthday present, Erika and my not-so-little-anymore niece came to visit me. Even my brother-in-law spent a night or two at my house.

We rode bikes, went to the zoo, played at the park, climbed on the toys in Arctic Circle, watched Disney movies, painted our nails, fed the ducks, braided our hair, built duplo trains, visited the library, stalked BYUI campus and had dance parties in the living room.

Love this mug
Erika and Jane at the zoo
Hugging the goats at the zoo 
Playing at home
Erika and Jane. Braids a la Jennifer

Duck pond
Wandering on the college campus
"I can do it myself!"
Belle got more attention that i think she wanted. Although she didn't complain about all the food Jane fed her!

"What is this little person?"
"No one can see me, right?"
Yogurt sharing
When the boys arrived (Erika's hubby and Ian) we had a campfire and went bowling.

i wish they didn't live so far away, but i am so glad i got to kiss that cute little face!