Jason and I just got back from Moab. We had a great time, as we always do when we visit that region.
Blue skies and red rock: Moab is gorgeous!
We took our mountain bikes down with us and tested them out on the demanding paths to Klondike Bluffs and Hidden Canyon.
The entire desert seemed to be in bloom. Surprising bunches of red, pink, yellow, and white dotted the landscape.
The Klondike Bluffs trail took us over some pretty steep slickrock, which was lined with prehistoric dinosaur tracks, to the bluffs high above Arches National Park. It was a fantastic and tiring ride.
Do you see that grin on Jason's face? That comes from speeding over delicious slickrock at a dizzying rate.
Our journey to Hidden Canyon turned out to be more eventful than anticipated. The wind was in a foul humor that day. It rampaged as we tried to climb over the slickrock, pelting sand into our faces and adding another layer of difficulty to our ascent. Not only did we have to work much harder to pedal against the wind, we also had to struggle to keep our bikes stable as the persistent gusts threatened to blow us off our precarious trail. We weren’t entirely successful in this ongoing battle. As I was traversing some tricky rock the wind literally knocked me and my bike over. That cunning wind! Jason was more than willing to give up at that point but I wasn’t about to let that obstinate breeze whip me. He was glad we had stuck with it when we reached Hidden Canyon though. We got to enjoy its spectacular fiery sandstone ebbs and precipices in complete solitude. The ride back from Hidden Canyon was a cinch. The wind that had made our outgoing trip needlessly difficult aided us on our way back. We flew over the slickrock carried by gravity and the turbulent air. A small cactus growing in the middle of the trail made for a temporary setback when I unknowingly stepped on it but after some quick needle removal we were on our way again.
Hidden Canyon was a stunning and chaotic blend of brilliant oranges and reds. We got to marvel at its edge without a single being to disturb our awe.
Jason paused on our way back from Hidden Canyon to illustrate that he had conquered.
We took a break from all that biking by enjoying an afternoon hiking in Arches National Park. The wind was our temperamental companion at Arches as well. It made the 90+ temps quite comfortable but we were relentlessly bombarded by airborne sand as we explored. Oh well, a little grit in the eyes and ears never hurt anyone too much.
Viewing the graceful and puzzling curves of Delicate Arch was worth facing the blasts of wind that ripped across the plateau it remarkably ascends from.
Double Arch is one of my favorite spots in Arches and it's as good of a place as any for Jason to act silly in front of the camera.
Balanced Rock is one of the many gravity-defying oddities at Arches. How does it do that?
The North and South Window arches together form "the spectacles" from their backsides. Jason whined a bit when I requested that we take the long way around so we could view them from this angle. Poor boy! How could a wife be so cruel?
It was a crazy and delightful trip! We returned home sunburned, sand burned, scraped, bruised, and exhausted. I got more banged up than Jason but he won the prize for the worst injury, a title he has held our last two visits to Moab. He managed to pull a back muscle somewhere in the middle of our hiking/biking frenzy and he has been hobbling around like a decrepit old man ever since we arrived home.
When 600 powerful women converge on one location donning braids and biking shorts you ought to know that they mean business.
About a week ago I biked in a ride called Goldilocks. As its extremely girly name would suggest, this was a women only ride. The participants had the option of going 15, 30, or 60 miles and they were welcome to change their minds on which distance they were doing at any time. This wasn’t a competition; there was no starting times or disqualifications. You just commenced whenever you got the inclination and went at your own pace.
Here Jenn and I are at the starting line ready to begin tearing it up.
Even though this was Goldilocks’ first year it was very well organized and the route, which traveled through some lovely farmland, was clearly marked. I think even my scatterbrained brother Drew could have found his way. At the halfway point a beautifully catered lunch awaited the riders. Jason said you could tell this was a girly affair because the table spread at the luncheon looked way to cute to be meant for men. I agree; you men don’t deserve something so adorable.
Talk about girly! Every detail on the tables was feminine right down to the tread on those bike tires, which was in the shape of flowers.
It was fantastic to see so many capable women participating in this event. Groups of sisters, ladies with their mothers, bunches of girlfriends – they were all there and having a great time.
I was hoping to get a posse of my girlfriends to ride Goldilocks with me but for some reason they all seemed intimidated by the miles involved. Only one friend stepped up to the challenge: Jenn Marchbanks. Yeah Jenn! We opted to do 15 miles this year but next year I am aiming for riding at least 30.
Here I am nearly to the end of my 15 miles.
You men may feel like you completely missed out – you did – but don’t be too glum. Jason and I are going to ride in the Tour de Riverton on July 3rd. It’s a non-competitive 25 mile ride and men are allowed, or tolerated at the very least. So come join us! I guarantee that it won’t be as grueling as you imagine and it will be worth the effort.
One of Jason’s coworkers from India, Prafulla, visited Utah for the first time recently and since he had never seen snow before this trip, and it was a complete novelty to him, we volunteered to take him to Snowbird Resort so he could take a tram ride up the mountain and get an excellent view of all that snow-covered terrain. He was extremely excited but very nervous about this plan.
Prafulla didn’t own a coat or any other winter attire. Why would he? He’s from a region of the world that pretty much never experiences weather colder than 60 degrees Fahrenheit. We got him some loaner gear though and bundled him up so he was ready to make his way up the mountain.
Prafulla had lots of layers on but he still seemed to think it was intolerably cold.
Jason and I considered the weather pretty pleasant and didn’t even bother zipping up our coats but Prafulla thought it was unbelievably freezing even with the coat, scarf, beanie, gloves, hand warmers, and face gator he was wearing. He immediately became very concerned when his lips and fingers started going a little numb. This was a sensation he had never experienced before and didn’t understand. We explained over and over that it was completely normal but he had a hard time conceptualizing how it could be okay and was quite certain that his extremities would never recover. Eventually he stopped questioning us about it but he continued to move his fingers repetitively within his gloves in a pinching motion because he couldn’t quite shake the fear that they would freeze solid or fall off and thought that this movement would be a good preventative measure. Jason and I had a hard time not laughing and we weren’t entirely successful in stifling our giggles.
Prafulla was awed by the view as the tram climbed up to the peak but he was still nervous about his cold parts and concerned that the tram might not be safe. When we reached the saddle he wasn’t too eager to exit and the frigid wind did nothing to encourage him but we eventually coaxed him off the tram and out onto the gusty slopes to take a look around. He said that being there near the summit, with the wind blowing snow into his eyes, he understood how the people that climb Everest feel. Although I don’t think our little excursion was quite on par with scaling Everest it was a big deal to our friend; it was a once in a lifetime experience for him.
It was snowing and windy at the top of Hidden Peak. Jason didn't mind...Prafulla did.
In addition to taking a tram ride we showed Prafulla around the resort a bit. He couldn’t believe that people rode chairlifts up the mountain. He thought they looked entirely too risky and he seemed anxious just glancing at them. We also tried to teach him how to make a snowball. It turns out that it’s a little difficult for those that didn’t grow up playing in snow to comprehend the basics of snowball making. He didn’t understand how to pack the balls so they were more like snowblobs.
Taking Prafulla to Snowbird was nearly as much fun for me and Jason as it was for him. He was wowed and intimidated by what we considered completely ordinary; his reactions to the perfectly commonplace were quite entertaining. Those reactions also reminded me that here in Utah, where we have such extreme and unique environments, we truly do live in nature’s wonderland.
I love music. I love playing it, listening to it, and dancing to it. Give me a beat or a bow and I am a happy woman. Jason and I used to frequently go Western Swing Dancing before we were married; we were pretty decent at it and could even do a few impressive looking flips. We also took a ballroom dance class right before we got married to help our “first dance” as a couple go a little smoother. Sadly, we have not danced much together since then, partly due to a lack of opportunity and partly due to Jason promptly forgetting everything we learned in our class shortly after we completed it.
Since Jason failed to retain any of the moves from our previous ballroom class the last couple of years I have been requesting that he take another dance class with me. My pestering finally paid off. He agreed to take a class with me through UVU’s continuing education as part of my Christmas present this year but he made the mistake of making me sign us up for the class. And that is how our dance class became our dance classes. Yes, I figured one more class would most likely not kill him…and that was a chance I was willing to take. So we’ve had back to back ballroom and swing classes every week for the last two months. Jason did indeed survive the experience though I think he occasionally bemoaned his fate and had a hard time keeping all the different dances we learned straight. Even I had difficulty remembering what moves went with what dances sometimes because between West Coast Swing, Jitterbug, Cha-Cha, Fox Trot, Waltz, and Nightclub Two step there was plenty of footwork to get confused about.
Jason is dipping me here. This particular move was not one we had to learn in dance class; we perfected it long ago - and I think I've only banged my head on the ground or been dropped a few times while doing it.
We eventually sorted the jumble of dance steps out and we both felt like our classes were a success. Jason even told me one night as we were practicing our moves that he had reached “dancing queen” status. I’m not entirely sure that that’s a good thing but at least he is a fairly confident dancer now. I am determined to keep up the dancing this time so that Jason doesn’t just brain-dump everything he’s learned again. With that in mind we went dancing last Saturday night at the Pleasant Grove Recreation Center. Every Saturday night the rec center has dancing on two floors, one floor for West Coast Swing and Two Step and another for Western Swing. We had a lot of fun bouncing between the floors and swapping dance styles.
If any of you, our buddies, want to groove with us let us know; we will definitely be shaking it up again soon. By the way, it’s only $5 to get into the rec center and, for those of you who feel a little intimidated on the dance floor, free dance classes are offered an hour before the dancing begins every week. So there are no excuses not to sway it up. Hey, if Jason can become a dancing queen then anyone can.
Jason and I rarely miss an opportunity to live it up. We firmly believe that life is worth celebrating and what better excuse to party than reaching nine years in an amazing marriage. It was Jason’s turn to be in charge of the anniversary revelries this year and he wisely chose Las Vegas, the partying Mecca of the world, as our celebration location.
We stayed at a hotel on the strip, the Palazzo, in a room overlooking the strip. It was surprisingly entertaining watching the constant bustle of people and Treasure Island Resort’s Sirens show from our birds-eye view. All that cannon fire, smoke, and lighting looked pretty cool from 24 floors up.
As sweet as the view from our hotel window was, surveying tiny swarms of people could not keep me from my true purpose. For there are two things I love about Vegas: the excellent shopping and the amazing food. Jason is a smart man; he knows that I’m quite fond of both of these things and that they go a long way in increasing Rachel vacation satisfaction. So he planned for a day of shopping and assumed the risk to our wallets. We found a great shopping center, Town Square, just south of the strip. Among its many stores was a large H&M – the reason we chose this particular shopping venue. An unanticipated plus of purchasing at this center was that getting from store to store required walking outside, which meant an opportunity to have some rays intersperse our shopping experience. This turned out to be a rather big plus because the temps were in the high 70’s and low 80’s the entire time we were in Vegas, with never even a hint of a cloud in the sky. Ahhh…sunshine and shopping …I felt like I had gone to consumer heaven.
That is the smile of a woman in shopping bliss. Pay attention men for while that look means your woman is uncharacteristically happy it also means your wallet may be terminally ill.
Jason fulfilled my desire for some first-rate food by taking me to dinner at Mon Ami Gabi, a French restaurant located in the Paris hotel. The filet mignon with a Merlot butter sauce I ordered was super yummy! I’m drooling just remembering how it seemed to practically melt away in your mouth. Delicious!
This is me and Jason after we ate so much we could barely walk back to our hotel room.
In between burning through money and chowing down we found time to attend the Cirque du Soleil show LOVE, which features Beatles music. We loved it! Jason said it reminded him of a dream and I definitely agree that it had an intoxicatingly imaginative dreamlike quality.
Jason and I were trying to appear groovy here but it didn't quite work. We would probably need some hard drugs in our systems to really pull off that look.
We also couldn’t resist spending a little time reading books by the hotel pool. With weather that nice who could refrain from sneaking in a little sun? And what sane person would want to refrain? Certainly not me.
It was a great trip but that’s no surprise. After all, I prefer spending Jason’s money over anyone else’s and there’s no one I’d rather stuff my face with until I feel like I might possibly vomit. A great trip, a great marriage, a great man – life is pretty darn great!