It’s common knowledge that Jason and I are a little crazy so it shouldn’t surprise anyone that we signed up to run two 5Ks on the same Saturday. While our decision to do what some would categorize as “sort of stupid” shouldn’t astonish any of you, the outcome of that borderline stupidity may shock everyone a little. I’m still a little flabbergasted myself.
When we found out a few weeks ago that one of Jason’s coworkers was organizing a race to help pay for the expensive specialized school his autistic child, Easton, attends we were onboard even though this 5K fell on the same day as another race we had already signed up for. I guess either our hearts are bigger than our brains or we are just idiots beyond reason.
Abigail and I were proud of our medals. We may not have outpaced too many people to get them but we outpaced enough.
Easton’s 5K was a small event with a little less than 100 runners involved but it was well organized. Some of our fellow R.A.C.ers, Jeremy Rowley and Abigail, tackled it with us and Jeremy brought his 10 year old boy Milo too. It was Milo’s first race ever and for a little kid that doesn’t exercise regularly I thought he did great. Sure, Jeremy had to give him a piggyback ride at one point and Milo totally collapsed in the grass right after he crossed the finish line, but he didn’t give up so good job Milo!
I didn’t push myself too much while moving along this course. I knew my next race was just hours away so beating some land speed records wasn’t part of my agenda. That’s why I was shocked when I found out that I had actually won 3rd place out of all the women. Abigail, who was about 30 seconds ahead of me, took 1st. I think she was equally surprised. I’m still not exactly sure how we pulled it off but somehow I’m now no longer a total loser.
Milo only made it a few feet past the finish before he crashed in the grass. He was feeling sickly after his uncustomary exercise.
Jason and I had signed up for our second 5K of the day, the Night of the Running Dead, months ago. We participated in this event, which is a nice mix of horror and health, last year. You can either run it as a zombie or a human. Humans get a 2 minute head start and then the zombies are let loose on them. Pretty awesome, right? Jason and I again opted to represent the undead. Zombies are trendy and disgusting so kind of wonderful in our book.
Last year’s undead race had some organizational challenges. It took place in the middle of a toasty afternoon plus the route, with its morphing loops, was anyone’s guess. But we liked the creepy concept so we wanted to give this run one more shot. Unfortunately, all of the friends that joined us last year weren’t as forgiving. The fear of resurrecting the combination of sweltering temperatures and confusion that made them feel like they really were the living dead in need of brains kept them from registering. Jason and I had faith though that the past would not be revived and we were right. We thought this year’s race was fabulous and I believe the thousands of other participants would agree with us.
We didn't use latex to putrefy ourselves this year because last time our sweat pooled underneath those patches transforming us into even fouler creatures than we had anticipated. But I think we still fit the part without it.
The run started at 9:00 PM, 9:02 if you were a zombie. It could have been freezing by that time in the evening but instead it was perfect. What a pleasant night for an apocalypse. Before the start we were shown news clips of the infection that led to the reanimation revolution. The clips ended with a report that the president had ordered the bombing of Salt Lake City due to its raging zombie infestation and then all of a sudden fireworks exploded representing that airstrike. It was rather cool.
More entertainment was in store for us after we headed on our way. Our route went through some residential areas and many of those residents came outside to watch the hordes of corpses sprint past. Some of them even brought out their lawn chairs like the throngs of scampering carcasses were part of a glitzy parade. It made me chuckle. We were also greeted along our path by some professional zombies ranging from the wandering to the menacing. They added another element of spookiness and fun.
Jason found his golden brain quite satisfying.
I thought I might be sluggish and all tuckered out during this race seeing as it was my second one of the day but the refreshing evening air and the power of my vile disguise propelled me forward. I guess I really am a creature of the night. I kept a faster pace than I had at Easton’s and finished 15th in my age category. Since my group included all 19-34 year olds I was satisfied with that placement. Jason, on the other hand, was fixated on achieving the type of satisfaction that only comes from a full belly. He finished 1st in his age group and was awarded a golden brain. He was pretty excited about his win; I didn’t know the reanimated could be so animated.
Doing two races in one day was a nutty plan but it certainly wasn’t our first ill-conceived scheme and I hope it won’t be our last. Besides Jason’s calves being practically useless the next day and my ankle being a little stiff and swollen we weren’t really any worse for wear though and since we both took home a medal maybe double events should be the new Sabin standard…or perhaps not.
There are many remote regions in Utah. Places that you’ve never heard of that are no less lovely than some of the state’s more traveled spots. Jason and I just visited one of those areas.
I am an eager explorer; my unquenchable curiosity is no doubt the culprit. So when I recently came across information on Kodachrome Basin, a state park that Jason and I had never been to, I decided that it was time we took a little trip. Kodachrome Basin State Park is in south-central Utah about half an hour from Bryce Canyon National Park. You’d think that with its proximity to Bryce it would be a popular detour but apparently that’s not the case. I, however, was intent on not only visiting Kodachrome’s striking spires of sandstone but on making them a destination instead of an afterthought.
The ashen-tipped hills of Angel's Palace looked like they belonged on another planet.
Jason and I set aside a weekend for our adventure and stayed in a cute KOA cabin about 15 minutes outside the park. We spent a day investigating Kodachrome’s unfamiliar terrain and found that while this region’s garbled rock formations and vivid landscapes reminded us of several other places in Southern Utah, it had a look of its own. For starters, it was surprisingly green. When you’re in the middle of a desert you don’t expect to see fields of flourishing Indian rice and corral grasses bending gracefully to the wind. Kodachrome’s slopes gather water, which explains its basin title, so the environment is relatively lush. My favorite thing about Kodachrome though wasn’t its abundance of plant life but its absence of human life. We saw only a handful of people on each of the trails we explored. That seclusion made the park’s grandeur even more pronounced.
This rock looked like a massive dinosaur bone but it was just one of the many odd spires strewn across Kodachrome.
Jason's favorite bit of the whole trip was the snack break we took while sitting in a nook above Shakespeare Arch.
The trail options at Kodachrome weren’t limitless but they were more than enough to fill up our day. We took in a birds-eye view from the plateaus of the Angel’s Palace Trail then we checked out Shakespeare Arch, the only arch in Kodachrome, from the slickrock above it. To finish off our day we hiked the Panorama Trail and walked among its pipe giants and secret passageways.
Shakespeare Arch wasn't expansive but it was quaint.
On our way back from Kodachrome we diverted into the neighboring Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument to gawk at Grosvenor Arch. This double arch, with its gold-streaked sandstone, was impressive and unlike any other arch I’ve seen. Its immovable curves were worth the long jerky dirt road we had to take to get to them.
Grosvenor Arch was striking in the sunset with its gilded tones and lofty splendor.
We slept in sleeping bags and roasted marshmallows by the campfire but I don't think you could call our cabin's modern accommodations camping.
Although the focus of our excursion was surveying the hitherto unknown, Jason and I couldn’t go right by Bryce Canyon and not go in for a bit even if both of us have been there on numerous occasions. That would be a crime against convenience and nature. But no need for concern, Bryce ended up being part of our explorations of the undiscovered anyway. We opted to try out a trail through the canyon that we had never taken before: the Peekaboo Loop. This path is nearly 5 miles long and is categorized as strenuous thanks to its many ups and downs. That classification is precisely why we could never successfully convince any of the family members or friends we’ve gone to Bryce with to attempt it. And now that I’ve done this loop I have to say that laziness really is the bane of beholding beauty. The Peekaboo Loop was much less crowded than Bryce’s shorter trails and the scenery was stunning. Pale sandstone hoodoos towered above us and bled into their more colorful counterparts making the terrain look foreign to Earth. Gorgeous!
The world is submersed in beauty at Bryce Canyon so choosing a picture spot is difficult.
The Windows were imposing and impressive.
Eventually all good things must end though. Our wonderful weekend was over far too quickly but we stretched out the fun a tad by deviating from our route home to check out a couple of cool places. We took a few minutes to hike to the Mossy Cave and stopped at Widtsoe, a real ghost town deserted in the 1930s.
I'm not sure what I was doing here but it had to do with coercion from Jason.
Though not technically inside Bryce Canyon, the Mossy Cave path is part of the national park. It heads up a brightly tinted canyon to, not surprisingly, a mossy cave along with a waterfall created by the early Mormon settlers a hundred years ago as a segment of the Tropic Canal. Despite its uninspiring name, the Mossy Cave was a pleasant easy hike.
Thor's Hammer is one of the most photographed hoodoos in Bryce Canyon for good reasons.
Widtsoe was a peculiar place. While not completely a ghost town, someone had recently built a large cabin up on the hillside behind it, it still had that forgotten vibe. Its few remaining buildings, which somehow had escaped the government’s bulldozers in the 40s, looked like they belonged on a horror movie set with their crumbling plaster and rotting wood. Jason loved their spookiness and I had to hold him back from stupidly jumping right into the decay. Although the remnants of this town were odd enough, the cemetery was stranger still. Most of the graves were from about 1910-1930 but there were a few as recent as 2012. This graveyard was as isolated as they come. With nothing but the desert wind rustling through the hardy junipers and the tinkling of wind chimes left by loved ones to disturb the absolute silence, I can’t think of a more peaceful resting place. But it was also on the eerie side. The arid landscape had not been altered much by those interred and the graves were so haphazardly placed it almost seemed as if the ground had just sprouted the tombstones along with the dry grasses. Only the mounds of dirt marking the burial sites implied a human presence but those piles, which conjured images of the Wild West or the rushed entombments of an epidemic, amplified the atmosphere of creepiness rather than reduced it. Yes, the Widtsoe cemetery is probably not a place you’d catch me lurking in after dark.
This house has stood unoccupied for nearly 80 years.
The inside of that abandoned house was a mess of rot and deterioration.
Our Kodachrome weekend was perfection. We discovered magnificence that made me small, serenity that left me silenced, and eccentricity that gave me goose bumps. Not bad for a little outing just a few hours away. Utah has a lot to offer off the beaten path. Jason and I won’t ever get tired of examining its unknowns or revisiting our favorites. After all, life isn’t something to be endured but something to be explored.
Disclaimer: If you have a dairy intolerance best to avoid this post; the cheese is sure to give you indigestion.
Jason and I have been married for over a decade and in that entire period we’ve never become blasé about each other or weary of being together. We are as wrapped up in each other as two people can be and still just as ecstatic about our life as a couple.
What’s the secret to our marital success? Jason is awesome but that’s no secret and while my fantastic man definitely makes our relationship much easier, our happiness is the result of many factors, one of which is surprises.
If I hadn't been in the middle of a workday myself, I would have cocooned Jason's entire car. But, since my time was limited, I just webbed the inside and left him a bucket of horror movies and zombie Legos.
I love surprising my husband: bringing treats to his work randomly, making him secret batches of cupcakes, assembling singers for a sudden birthday serenade, or plastering his office with superhero paraphernalia. Those little unexpected gestures remind him that he’s still the center of my universe plus they serve as a benevolent outlet for my mischievous tendencies. Earlier this month, with it being the Halloween season and all, I decided to web his car while he was at work and leave him some cocooned goodies. Perhaps this scheme was a little reminiscent of a junior high prank but his young mind seemed to appreciate it. He drove around the rest of the day with his webs intact and now, weeks later, he still refuses to let me remove the last remnants of his surprise. If only cobwebs were always that thrilling, I’d never have to dust again.
I couldn't just entangle the car's innards and not leave a calling card.
So if you haven’t done anything nice out of the blue for your husband or wife recently what gives? When you were dating your spouse you made that extra effort to ensure that your special someone felt special, right? If now that they are your partner in everything, and supposedly the person who matters more to you than anyone else in this world, you don’t still make that additional effort then shame on you. I will never stop spoiling Jason because he will never cease to be the best part of my life. And, fortunately, my surprise tactics seem to be great marital bliss boosters; you may want to try some similar techniques yourself. Either way, may the river of cheese flow as freely for you and yours.
I think somewhere in the scriptures it says, “He who is not dirty let him become as a little piggy.” No? Well, I’m sure it’s going to make the next edition.
Jason and I did the Dirty last week with Abigail, Jeremy Rowley, my brother Drew, and his wife Simone. The Dirty Dish is a filth fest for runners. It’s really more about freeing yourself from acceptable hygiene practices than getting exercise. As you slosh your way through a 5 or 10K, whichever you’re tough enough for, you’ll find yourself in slimy pits, on top of muddy ramparts, or in the midst of a stinky lake.
I made duck feet and feathery tails for me and Jason. They went from pristinely clean to filthy in just five minutes.
Most members of our team were Dash veterans so they knew what we were in for. We expected muck in places where the sun don’t shine and being worn out beyond reckoning. We were surprised by one thing though: this year’s obstacles were a lot wetter. The water to dirt ratio was significantly higher than last time; there was less soggy soil and more pools of filth. We were in one of the first groups out the chute so the temps up in Soldier Hollow were still in the 40s and all those puddles were awfully cold. Most of us had numb hands and arms after our first dip but we kept moving to discourage our chilled extremities from giving ideas to the rest of our bodies.
You had to either go over or under these pipes. Under was a guaranteed mess but over was more precarious.
The slop ‘n slide was sloppier this year, so naturally more fun.
Another change for me from last year was the condition of my ankle. Tearing my tendon 3 months ago meant that this time I had to contend with a testy foot. Thanks to my injury I couldn’t just jump into the murky depths, I had to carefully navigate my way through them so as not to damage my tendon any further. That caution and instability made me feel infinitely weaker, a bit like an old lady, a curious state for an unabashed mud seeker. But even with all that extra care my ankle was still pretty aggravated with me after the run. I guess there’s just no pleasing some tendons.
Simone bypassed quite a few obstacles so she didn’t look like she had fallen into the vat of Hershey’s extra chunky chocolate that had swallowed the rest of us.
Jeremy, Drew, and Jason were giggly with delight throwing globs of mud at each other.
This year we continued our juvenile costuming tradition by naming our team MuckTales and dressing like ducks. Yes, MuckTales is a play on DuckTales, that Disney cartoon you watched incessantly when you were a kid. Jason and I came as two of the triplets. I believe we were Dewey and Louie but don’t quote me on that. However, you can quote me on this universal truth: sopping sweatpants make running really uncomfortable. The white sweatpants Jason and I wore to represent our duck feathers were a very bad idea. They absorbed all that muddy liquid like sponges and we came out of each trench about 15 pounds of gross sludge heavier. You don’t know chaffing until you’ve sprinted while sporting gritty dripping sweatpants. Although most of the other participants didn’t seem to recognize our characters, everyone caught on that we were ducks except for a delirious couple that thought we were piggies for some reason. (The feathers and beaks didn’t clue you in?) I guess with all our layers of goo we probably looked more like sewer treatment pond scrapings than anything else.
Our group, with the exception of Simone, looked like we had been dredged up from the bottom of a bog by the time we crossed the finish line.
We had a lovely grubby time running the Dirty Dash again. It was a bit chilly and I think our whole group was still cold hours later from that foul freezing water but it was all worth it for the chance to completely put aside cleanliness and see Jeremy get hit in his open mouth with a mud bomb. I will long treasure my mucky memories and the grime I keep digging out of my toenails. Dirt and fond recollections are the gifts that just keep on giving.