Epicness knows no limits in Salt Lake City. It cannot be subdued by evil sorcerers, naysayers, kobolds, dork haters, trolls, hipsters, or hipster trolls. Earlier this month, the first FantasyCon in documented history took place in Utah’s prodigious capital. Five years in the making, this maiden con brought 55,000 attendees, an impressive number of celebrities, incredible props, and me to the Salt Palace.
We went to the FantasyCon kickoff party featuring DJ Elijah Wood. Halflings party wholeheartedly.
Beam me up Simon!
My first day at FantasyCon, I spent behind a table. Yes, I was the corporate equivalent of a booth babe. Okay, not really but I was collecting surveys for my company and a coworker did urge me to dress up like Tauriel to lure in participants. I didn’t and, honestly, it wasn’t necessary. We got the feedback we needed and a few lucky adventurers took home some first-rate raffle prizes, like an ocarina. Success for all parties! The rest of the con was mine to enjoy with Jason as a boisterous attendee.
This Thorin had an amazing costume and it was all handmade.
And in the un-cropped version, William Kircher, AKA Bifur, can be found wandering in the background.
FantasyCon had lots to glimpse, handle, and achieve. A battle arena beckoned the brave to test their skills with wooden weaponry. Plus, there were archery grounds, blacksmiths, glassblowers, fortune readers, marionette shows, exotic creatures, and many panels to observe and experience. Jason and I were never bored and never underwhelmed.
This dragon had a 53-foot wingspan. Pretty cool…or should I say steamy?
Yes, we got a picture with eleven Middle-earthmen. It was epic!
This rock monster was animated and noisy- perfect.
The stars were plentiful at this affair but not overpowering. Jason and I ecstatically met Summer Glau from Firefly and Simon Pegg but our favorite celebrities were larger than life…or larger than onscreen at least. Twelve actors from the Tolkien movies were present, which is a record, and among them were seven dwarves, not to be confused with Snow White’s bunch. These Durin’s heirs were not only enormously entertaining but they went well beyond any expectations in the kindness and approachability departments also. They were all remarkably accommodating and friendly, however, Jed Brophy was unimaginably so. He talked to us for over half an hour about filming the LOTR and Hobbit movies. We learned loads of set secrets. What a nice man and a congenial group. I hope you masters under the mountain will come see us again in Salt Lake City.
Hobbits aren’t generally fond of mines but I found this one surprisingly acceptable.
Hobbits love food but they prefer potatoes to plastic.
Jason and I have been to many nerdy cons. We have attended San Diego Comic-Con for years and have gone to all of the comic cons Salt Lake City has offered. Yes, we rank high in insanity and experience. So take it from a crazy veteran, if you’re thinking that FantasyCon is just more of the same and not worth your notice, you might want to think again. Even if you’re used to the convention scene, I believe you’ll find FantasyCon unique and enlivening. That’s why I was pleased to hear that it will be returning again next year.
FantasyCon was very interactive. You could fight things, mine things, eat things, hold things, and behold things.
Jason couldn’t pass up an opportunity to instigate this fearsome pose.
My recommendation to you geeks out there, yes, you with the Triforce tattoo and you with the Death Star pajamas, check it out. You won’t regret that quest.
I have, in my opinion, the best husband in the history of husbands. Am I biased? Maybe just a smidgen. However, no one can refute that he always does a bang-up job planning birthday parties for me. This year, to commemorate my earthly entrance, he arranged for a picnic in the park with our friends and their families followed by some rounds of volleyball.
Jason always goes far above and beyond the awesomeness of the typical husband. He planned my shindig well.
My friend Robyn made some terrific cupcakes for my bash.
Pizza, summer cherries, juicy watermelon, and cupcakes filled our bellies before volleyball sloshed them around. Our matches weren’t exactly intense but they were humorous. Need a visual? Just imagine a bunch of noisy chickens trying to keep a bottle cap airborne and you’re pretty close. The children present enthusiastically relished the slides, sand, and sugar readily available to them as the adults enjoyed their social and sporty distractions.
The kids were excited for slides and treats.
Jeremy and Bart: the utter essence of manly love.
Even Mother Nature seemed onboard with Jason’s party plan; the weather was substantially more ideal than I can ever remember late June being. I actually had to wear a light jacket. Ah… There’s something energizing about the hum of summer, especially when it’s an uncharacteristically temperate hum. Yes, cheery but not overpowering sunshine combined with yummy food, happy kids, laidback games, and high-quality company made for a delightful evening.
Volleyball, despite my inability to play it, is a summer standard that I consistently enjoy.
Let the record, and the picture, show that I did dive in for the cause.
Many thanks to that terrific husband of mine for scheming up this event. One can’t help feeling special when married to such a man. Happy birthday to me!
Sometimes running is more than just dashing. Sometimes it’s rather brilliant.
Here we’re just starting to get our color on.
This June, Jason and I again participated in Color Me Rad, a 5K run with a high degree of dye potential. Andrew and Simone also joined us for this pigmented romp in downtown Salt Lake City.
These outlandish tints may have been largely due to team mischief.
Even smurfs don’t get much bluer than that.
Calling Color Me Rad a “run” is slightly inaccurate. Jason and I jogged it very leisurely but, from the number of people we passed, you’d think we were Olympic sprinters. Still, our “fast” pace didn’t speed us past the shading stations too quickly; we got barraged with brightness plenty. And any bits of skin that weren’t stained before the finish line our teammates made short work of thereafter.
Jason and I dispersed plenty of dye upon each other.
It was a vivid event. I’m quite glad that we colored each other rad.
Disclaimer: This post was written by JASON not RACHEL. The inclusion of complete sentences, correct spellings, proper grammar, and/or punctuations marks within its paragraphs is neither explicitly guaranteed nor implicitly suggested. READ AT YOUR OWN RISK.
This is the story of my travels (Jason) to Amsterdam for a business presentation and the chaos that ensued. You would except that a simple flight, with one connecting flight, couldn’t have too many problems. But oh, how you would be wrong.
To start with, I got to the airport with plenty of time but Jeremy, my coworker and trip companion, well… They wouldn’t let him check-in because his passport didn’t look like him. He had washed it at least three times and it looked horrible.
Our first flight got delayed a few times until they finally cancel it. Because we had to be in Amsterdam Wednesday morning for the presentation, the Delta reps found some flights that “should” work. These flights were heading out of SLC at 1:00 AM to JFK. We would have thirty-five minutes to connect with a Virgin Atlantic flight, which would go through the London airport. At London we would have a forty-five-minute layover to get to our KLM flight to AMS. The attendant told us that if we could make the JFK then we should be set and not to worry about the KLM flight because there would be another one thirty minutes later. Yes, yes not to worry.
I don’t really sleep well on planes, so I slept for about five minutes the entire flight to New York. Once we got to JFK, we booked it off the plane and headed right to the Virgin Atlantic flight and made it easily.
Amsterdam was all sorts of decked out for the World Cup. The entire city was decorated.
We checked in and I got a window seat. I teased Jeremy because he was assigned an aisle chair and couldn’t lean against the window; I shouldn’t have teased him because I got it worse. We got to our seats, buckled in, and the flight took off. As soon as we made it to cruising altitude, well the person in front of me decided it was time to put his seat back. These international flights have no room, my knees were already right against his chair, and he decided to put his seat back. That continued for the entire flight. When it was time to land, he finally decided to put his chair back up. I didn’t get any sleep on that flight or any work done as I could hardly move.
We landed in London and even were a few minutes early! Oh wait there was a problem; we were at the back of the plane. As soon as we got off the plane, we ran until we hit a shuttle bus location. We had made good time until this point but then we had to wait ten minutes for the bus. This shuttle bus takes ten minutes to get to the terminal. Once we got off the shuttle, we ran again because we have less than fifteen minutes before the flight took off. We ran through the terminal and what did we find? Another security checkpoint. Luckily, the person checking the passports freaked out, looked at my passport, and told us to run!
Maybe Jeremy could run faster in some true Netherlanders shoes. BTW, look at that guy in the background. He knows we must be crazy Americans.
Unfortunately, we were still too late by two minutes. The terminal agent informed us that we wouldn’t be able to get on this plane and, since we didn’t technically have tickets but only a ticket receipt, we couldn’t get bumped to the next flight. KLM couldn’t do anything for us so we headed back to the terminal we had started out in. Delta had already headed home for the night so Virgin Atlantic offered to help us out. They got us one of the only rooms left at all the nearby airport hotels. This was a tiny room with the beds right next to each other. Jeremy and I practically slept in the same bed that night.
That night we got a good three hours of sleep before we were back to the airport trying to get onto a KLM flight to Amsterdam. Of course, they couldn’t find our tickets and they didn’t know where our luggage was, which we hadn’t seen since we left Salt Lake City. After some confusion, they at least got us tickets for the flight.
We landed in Amsterdam and ran to see if our baggage was on the plane and it was not. Heading to the baggage claim they actually somehow found Jeremy’s but they had no idea where mine was. However, since I’d only be in Amsterdam a day, they said I didn’t need to make a claim.
Next, we grabbed a taxi and headed to our hotel. The hotel was supposed to have rooms waiting for us, but they only had one when we get there, which was Jeremy’s. Since Jeremy’s room was ready, he took a shower and changed his clothes. While I just sprayed on some Axe body spray, tried to straighten out my crazy plane hair, and tucked in my shirt. Then we were off for the big preso to the customer!
We easily found the office, presented, knocked it out of the park…or we thought we had given our lack of sleep. Then we were off to relax, see a museum, and have a good dinner.
Amsterdam has amusing things like a Parade of Dogs, an entire hallway of giant dog statues… um, ok…
That night, because of my problems, my return flight was upgraded to first class by someone who shall not be named. However, the following morning when I got to the airport, of course, there were problems. My upgrade with Delta hadn’t gone through and Delta wasn’t on shift yet. After a bit, KLM did find the first class upgrade and somehow found my luggage. Could it be because of the upgrade? In fact, they found it in their warehouse and excitedly told me not to worry, it would follow me along and I’d see it in SLC. YEAH!
Once I got on the plane there were no more problems and, let’s just say, first class international is absolutely amazing! I couldn’t believe the difference. Finally, I landed in SLC, headed through a very slow customs line, went to grab my luggage, and, once again, it wasn’t there. I headed over to the baggage claim desk and, after an hour-long lecture on when and where to make a baggage claim, I was told that I would never see my luggage again. Deflated, I headed home. A few days later my luggage did show up in Santiago, Chile. WOW! How in the world did it get there… a few days later my luggage made it home and it appeared that it had made a world tour: SLC, ATL, LHR, AMS, CDG, AMS, CDG, SCL. That’s right, Santiago’s airport code is SCL. Mystery solved. And that is the end of my amazing d#mn Amsterdam trip.
P.S. The d#mn story continued with Jeremy getting pick pocketed in a flea market in Amsterdam the day I left, losing his passport and credit card.
The homeless guys thought it was great that we liked the pigeons. In fact, they gave us some bird seed and told Jeremy to not just throw the seed but to feed them out of his hand. Once they told him that pigeons can’t hurt you and that he was a coward, well, Jeremy fed the pigeons seed out of his hand. The look of disgust on his face with a big fat pigeon in his hand was priceless! I only wish I had taken a picture of it.
Earlier this summer, Jason and I decided on a fine Sunday to go hiking. We did a little research online and uncovered some information about Storm Window Arch in Corner Canyon. The trek to this granite gap was supposed to take 2-3 hours and seemed like it’d be a fun explorative jaunt so we opted to give it a try. The instructions on how to get there appeared relatively simple and yet…
The directions we found online for reaching this arch turned out to not be so great. We made it to the correct parking lot just fine but after we started out on our own feet things got frustrating. The instructions talked about a couple of different trails in the area and it wasn’t obvious, once we were staring them down, which one we were supposed to take. We ended up wandering in all the wrong places for over an hour even though we could see our destination unmoving above us. Blast those pointless circles! It was pretty exasperating and I’m sure there were moments when my hubby wished he had gotten lost by himself instead of with me.
Storm Window Arch is located in a cluster of rocks up on the hillside so it’s easy to keep your destination in sight even if you have no idea how to get to it.
Eventually, we did manage to find a route that took us to the arch. Our final climb, about 750 feet, was on a rather sketchy path that clearly doesn’t get much use. It became little more than a hint as we neared its apex. The growth on either side of this narrow track scratched my legs frequently and I came home looking like I’d buddied up with Edward Scissorhands. Still, that vague trail got us where we wanted to go.
The arch was cool but I thought the view surrounding it was more impressive. At our end point, we were cradled in the grassy crown of two valleys. The gloss of Utah Lake was visible on one side and the dense fuzz of Corner Canyon rolled away from us on the other.
Storm Window Arch kind of just bursts out of nowhere.
It was a pretty pleasant hike, besides that whole getting lost all over the place thing. So I’m going to do my community service for the day and give those interested in going to this arch the best directions I can on how to get there. Hopefully, my instructions won’t merit the torrential downpour of cursing that those we found generated.
How to get to Storm Window Arch: I’m going to skip the directions to Corner Canyon, which is located in Draper, because you can obtain those easily online. The Orson Smith Trailhead is the Corner Canyon access point you want to use. From that parking lot take the dirt road that heads south. Unless it has been raining, most cars should be able to travel this road with slow speeds, despite its lack of asphalt. After you have been on the road for a few minutes, you will cross another road. Don’t let this intersection confuse you; just continue going the direction you have been moving on the upper road. After about a mile, you will reach a parking lot for the Bonneville Shoreline Trail. Keep driving up the road for roughly another mile past this first parking lot until you hit another parking lot. This is the parking lot for the Jacob’s Ladder Trail and for you. When we came, there was a locked gate blocking the road just past this parking lot but I’m not sure if that gate is always shut.
Finding the right trail from the parking lot is a little tricky. Do NOT take Jacob’s Ladder. Instead, find a little path on the north side of the parking lot that heads up the hill. Apparently, this used to be Movie Road, a thoroughfare created for the filming of Devil’s Brigade back in the ‘60s. It has been allowed to thin and deteriorate into a footpath over the years.
The vista from the arch overlooks two valleys, Utah Lake, green groves, and humanity’s sprawl.
Once on Movie Road, continue following it for a few minutes until another trail crosses your path. Do not take this intersecting trail but, instead, keep moving forward down a small steep gully to a little river. (I’m not entirely sure if this river flows year round.) Cross the river and shortly thereafter, on your left, you will see an obscure track leading up the slope. It’s very indistinct so if you find yourself doubting whether it’s the right path, then you’re probably in the right place. Head on up.
As you persist to climb on this faint course, you may find several route options available. Yes, there seems to be a number of paths created in the area but, not to worry, they all appear to lead to the same place. And, luckily, your destination is obvious so you can’t get too horribly lost. On a side note, since the trails in this stretch are so unused and narrow, you will find bushes, and their coinciding scrapes, hard to avoid. I would recommend wearing pants if you don’t want your legs to look like the web of a very active and scratchy spider when all is said and done.
Once you have reached those stone outcroppings, you will find the arch somewhere in their middle section. It isn’t apparent until you’re right on it but, never fear, you’ll stumble upon it. It’s about twenty-five feet high and four feet wide. The arch is neat but the panorama from it is more spectacular in my opinion. Enjoy!