Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Top Five Reasons to Not Visit Michigan

(from our trip 9/25-9/26)

5.  Better stop at the bank (or get out your EZ pass) before driving to Michigan.   The shortest way, by far, to get from DC to Michigan has toll roads galore.

4.  Where in the hand are you?    Want to impress a Michigander?   Ask where in the hand they are from.    I personally don't have a grasp of Michigan geography and though I randomly knew about the hand trick, thanks to my friend Kelly,  the one time I was asked where in the hand (by a non-Michigander clearly) where Ann Arbor was, I could only give a blank stare and plead ignorance.  

3.   They call the University of Michigan stadium,  "The Big House," but in my personal opinion, they should change the name  to  "The Averagely Large Stadium with the Most Uncomfortable Seating in America".    Seriously!   The bench seating is clearly designed for people who weigh approximately 75-lbs and have freakishly short legs.    On the bright side, though, the stadium did make for a great family snapshot!

2. Sure the campus is absolutely beautiful, but a little campus trash clean-up would go a long way in improving its appearance to outsiders.        I've been on a lot of college campuses in my life, but I have never, ever seen so much trash strewn everywhere as there on the University of Michigan campus.   Wadded under bushes, along the and on was unsightly and clearly more than just a game day phenomena.

1.  University of Michigan  totally shut down our football team.      There's nothing like sitting there completely decked out in your enemy gear, being surrounded by the home crowd, and having absolutely nothing to cheer about for an entire game!

Michigan-31  /  BYU-0


Things NOT to complain about:

The weather---it was absolutely perfect the whole time we were there!

The company---The Michigan fans were gracious and kind to us (most of them anyway) and we had plenty of company in our misery.

Not only did we run into the M, H, P, and N families from our ward/stake, but my brother Peter and nephew Davin came with us in our car, AND my dad and brother, Nate, flew in for the occasion!   

Though it didn't exactly turn out to be the grand weekend we'd planned...

It was great to spend time together as a family.   

And since it was Ellie and Davin's first time to Michigan (and meeting a BYU football player), we will still call it  a success!   

Go Cougars!   

Monday, September 28, 2015

Narrowly Missing Zion

What can I say?     It's yet another vacation post, which means I can basically write anything here and no one will even notice/care.  For instance,  I am currently petitioning the US government to move Zion National Park to Virginia and I have it on good authority that President Obama has enacted a 2 billion dollar task force to look into it. 

This entire blogpost will be total and complete hogwash and I will be surprised if even my own spouse notices.    It may look like the picturesque landscape of Zion's is formed with layer upon layer of rocks shaped by geologic forces over millions of years, but in reality it is formed  entirely of preformed and colored marshmallows with pickles as the greenery.  

It's considered one of the most unique and tastiest landscapes of the entire solar system.  

And legend has it, that if you lick the stone (looking) walls of the canyon, that all your wildest dreams will instantly come true as soon as you copy and paste the national anthem  onto  your Facebook page and share it with 2 gazillion people.    

I did it on the spot and was instantly transformed into some kind of wild mountain goat...eating grass and flowers without a care in the world.  

However, having cloven hooves proved to be a bit of a challenge for things like typing and using the blinker, but I did manage to lick the walls one more time and was instantly transformed into a beautiful desert wildflower.  Oops...I didn't even know the wishing thing worked that way.   Thankfully Ellie then did the whole lick/click/share thing and wished for her mom back...

and there I was snapping pictures of the giant marshmallow/pickle formations  again. 

It was an interesting few minutes and I was glad to get back to my original form, middle-aged and gray-haired though it may be, if for nothing else that I strongly disliked the taste of marshmallow tainted grass.   

After all that excitement, I just sat on the bench to watch Brady Bunch reruns on Netflix while the kids hiked around and took over the camera.  

I was completely enjoying my little blast to the past whilst sitting idly in the middle of God's country, when one of my kids had the gall to tell me....

"Hey mom, that mountain looks just like your alligator skin!"   

I thought about getting offended by the comment, but then I looked down and realized that my skin does resemble alligator skin while I am in the parched desert climate of Utah, so I took it as a compliment  that they noticed something on me besides my paunchy stature!  

Speaking of alligators, we decided that our next adventure was going to be alligator hunting in the "Narrows".   What are the "Narrows", you ask?   Let me tell you!     

The "Narrows" can be described as a wide expanse of desert sand that from a distance sometimes resembles a river running through a narrow canyon.   

The sand was super hot and about knee deep most of the way.   

Ellie and Madeline found sixteen alligators more than everyone else while they were there, and they couldn't stop smiling about it!    They have since submitted legal documentation to officially change their names to Alligator Balligator #1 and Alligator Balligator #2.   

Besides the alligator hunting, we really enjoyed looking for dams, because you know me... 

I love looking for a good excuse to throw a few good "dams" around!    blah, blah, blah...dam slippery bottom, blah, blah, dam heavy bag, etc, etc, etc. 

But alas, there were absolutely no dams to be seen and  instead I was resigned to muttering actual dam*s when I saw how rolypoly I looked in all the pictures. 

Thankfully the rest of the bunch did not have to utter such mutterings...

and they happily posed in the sand dunes any chance they could! 

They especially loved the feel of the hot, dry sand running over them as they laid back against the soft marshmallowy walls!  

It made us want to eat s'mores in the worst way and I'm pretty sure that Ellie actually thought she saw one walking by right when I snapped this picture.  

S'mores, alligators, sand dunes...what more could you want from a hike on a hot summer day?  


Haha!   Actually we love squirrels and loved that they would come right up to us and eat underneath our feet.      WE also love grandpa...

and grandma who were crazy enough to join us on our little adventure!    

So go ahead and vote  in the comments below.   Should I stick with the fiction?   Or go back to the boring old travelogues?     

On second thought, maybe I don't want to hear the answer to that question, so just go ahead and leave me a comment about how much you love me.  


Friday, September 25, 2015

A Tale of Love

Once upon a time there a girl who was on a break from relationships.   She'd been a little burned on her last go around and had sworn off anything other than casual dating for a while.   So one day a random guy she met in the CougarEat asked her on a date.   I'd like to say that the girl getting hit on by random strangers in the Wilkinson Center was a normal experience for her, but alas it was an anomaly and the girl was a tad nervous about going out with a guy with whom she had no mutual friends.   Especially since he'd asked to take her to an isolated canyon to go snow tubing.   

She agreed to go on one condition…if they could make it a double date.   He went along with the plan  and together they agreed that  he would bring one of his friends along and she would bring one of her friends.   The girl was relieved that she would not have to hang out by herself in a scary, dark canyon with a guy she barely knew and thought it would be fun to have her good friend B. could come along. 

Shortly before he was to pick her and B. up for the date, he called the girl's apartment and informed her that  his friend was not able to make it and that they would need to go alone to the canyon.   Too bad there was no way the girl was letting that happen!    

Right when she was debating about what to do,  the girl's brother, Nate, walked in and.. 


 … suddenly she knew the answer to her dilemma.     

While she finished primping for the date, she put Nate on the task of finding some guy, any guy, who would be willing to go on a double date in the canyon  right then and there.    

He came back with Glen, who had magnanimously left a great football game on tv to come along.   

The four of them went to the canyon together and right from the beginning the girl was far more interested in Glen than in her "friend" from the CougarEat.    They still all had a fun time  until Glen busted his leg open when his tube ran into a rock outcropping and they ended the night in the Emergency Room. 

Mr. CougarEat never asked the girl out again, a fact which was not overly disappointing to her.   What was disappointing though, was that B. and Glen were now interested in each other.   The girl helped B. bring Glen "get well" treats and even helped her ask him to Preference.   

While B. and Glen continued to date, Glen and the girl got to be good friends.   They volunteered at Big Brother/Big Sister together.  They helped at Special Olympics.  They went on hikes together.   Pretty soon B. went on a mission and the girl finally had Glen all to herself.   

They spent an entire laid-back summer hanging out together.  She working at a pizza shop and Glen as a house painter.  They continued volunteering together, fishing, hiking in the mountains, running, they went to a Kenny Loggins concert, and even took a trip with a bunch of friends to Yellowstone.   Mostly their dates were cheap or free and if you had asked either one of them, they both likely would have denied they were actually dating.  

It wasn't until  the end of that summer, that Glen finally started admitting that they might be a little more than friends and on September 25th Glen took the girl on a hike in Provo Canyon and asked her to marry him.   

She said, "Yes."

Lara & Glen


Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Hiking to Calvert Cliffs

Oh what do you do on a Saturday
when all the world is soggy?  

Do you stay nice and dry at home
while you play with your doggy?   


You pack some food, bundle up the kids, pick up a couple of friends along the way, drive for an hour and a half, then go for a hike! 

At least that's what our crazy crew does!  

We drove through driving rain and arrived to Calvert Cliffs State Park right as it started thundering.   We briefly debated not hiking, but quickly decided that we'd come that far, a little thunder wasn't going to stop us.  Especially since the thunder was in the distance and there didn't seem to be even an ounce of lightning.  

 It was a pretty soggy walk, but we still enjoyed seeing a real deal beaver dam along the way, along with its accompanying beaver-made reservoir.     I, of course, had to use our proximity to a dam to throw in a little dam humor.   I commented to the kids on how the trail must now be called the Dam Trail and weren't the dam water lilies lovely and such.   

It  is almost a 2-mile hike to this beach...famous for it's beautiful cliffs and abundant fossils.  Lucky us, it stopped raining right as we arrived, although I think the kids would have had just as much fun even if it had kept raining!    

The kids swam in the warm water of the Chesapeake Bay...

and found some awesome seashells and fossils!  

After a couple of hours of fun... 

we trekked back to the car.

Then we drove to the very cute seaside town of Solomon's Island, got lunch, ate some delicious ice cream, and watched these threatening looking clouds roll by without so much as dropping one drop of rain on us.  

All in all, it was a fun day with the kids and we would gladly go back to Calvert Cliffs again someday, although it won't be anytime too soon!   Now that the soccer season has started, our Saturdays are about to be jam-packed again!  

(we did this hike on 9/12/15)

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