After a long day of having fun when home last week, I checked my facebook feed and I discovered that some of my old buddies had gotten together that day and they had gone to lunch together. The reason for the get together was that one of them lives in Okinawa, Japan. I figured that I had missed my boat since I was heading out the next morning and commented out loud to my sister in law and my mother that my friends had all gone to lunch together. Oh well….. I don’t like commitment with old friends as it is enough of a challenge just to visit family members. Later that evening, we went to a community event and my sister in law says that she sees my friend….. My luck has changed and I get to visit with my good friend while she is stateside from Okinawa as her husband is a dentist there with the US Air Force. It was so awesome to see her since it had been several years and then she told me to come to a party with our other friends that she had been to lunch with earlier in the day. So, I ended up hanging out with people I hadn’t spent time with in over 25 years as a group. It was my old track team buddies. They were fast back in the day and now I was meeting the next generation. (—the offspring as a few of them had married each other)  One of them even said that his soon to be senior is the fastest in the school. To some people that might seem pretty arrogant, but since mom and dad were also super fast back in the day, it was simply a fun to hear fact. My friends were all pretty much nerdy athletes so it was a good wholesome group to grow up with. I never lived and breathed running like them though and spent more of my youth in my music and travel pursuits. There are now 2 high schools in the hometown and 2 of my old friends had to leave the party to get to bed cause they had to wake up and coach cross country in the morning; one at each of the now rival schools. Life goes by in the blink of an eye. FUN NIGHT!

I made it after all.

We weren’t likely to make it to the folks’ house this summer due to reasons in the last post, but we were actually able to leave in the nick of time. We drove over 2500 miles these last 8 days with a lot of fun in the mix. When we arrived in Southern Utah on Sunday night and it started a downpour, it looked like our hiking would be put on hold. Monday was a cool and rainy day so we stayed home and recovered from the drive. On Tuesday morning, I checked the weather and we jumped in the car to go to my favorite destination: Zion National Park. When we arrived at Zion to take the shuttle bus, it felt like Disneyland there were SO many people there. Of course I know there are around 2 million visitors a year there, but it was really something to see the lines. Last year, we were there on a slightly rainy cool day so we didn’t head to The Narrows so we really couldn’t wait to get in there. Despite the rain from the day before, there was no rain scheduled for that day so we went in. You DO NOT enter canyons when there is rain or chance of rain. Flash floods can and DO occur. We had an awesome few hours and the kids loved it. They were quite angry to be taken away from their cousins in town, but they got over it when they saw the awesomeness. We were missing our oldest as she was farming with other cousins in Idaho so it was just the 4 of us. The muddy water represents the rain from the previous day. When you hike in The Narrows for a few hours, you do not need special gear, but you can rent special shoes if you want to at a local shop. We just always plow right in with our running shoes. Also, a lot of people will have walking sticks. I usually just leave it to chance and use one if I find one. (The real stick kind not the ski pole looking kind!) I do not like to carry a lot of gear. I like to be realistic and I don’t like to carry extra stuff. I need water, food, and a camera. We ate at the lodge before the hike so we didn’t carry any food. Since you are walking in water, you probably won’t get thirsty on this hike, but on the other Zion hikes it is critical. However, you will see people who seem really prepared and others who just go for it. You have to do what you can with your own comfort level. As for the lines at the shuttle, I also had never seen so many people inside this hike. Despite the fact that I’ve been there many many times, I could really not comprehend nor describe the beauty of this destination. It is truly something to behold and experience.

narrows2 narrows1

I have finally arrived, but I’m not sure where…..

This morning while I was organizing my closet and I heard some noise in my yard, I was wondering what the noise was all about and then I remembered that the gardner/lawn mower was out there. I have always been the chief lawn mower for our home, but it was time to outsource since we are moving and I don’t want the yard to get overrun before we hopefully soon see a SOLD sign in our yard. Also, I wanted to verify the quality of work beforehand. After all, now I’m paying someone for THIS!

Growing up, we always had a lawn guy because we never had a lawn mower that functioned so my mom in frustration quit dealing with that and hired a guy. He would later be my high school Spanish teacher, but he was always at first the lawn guy to me. Another reason we had a lawn guy was that when we went to visit my relatives in Kansas one summer in the early eighties, the day we showed up my cousin’s wife had cut off her toe due to mowing the lawn in flip flops. So…. my mom was not very excited to raise lawn mowers, but she made sure we knew that you NEVER mow the lawn in flip flops. I have some awesome old running shoes that are usually coated in an inch of mud to do my yard work in and an automatic shut off mower if I fall, but I can never forget every time I pull out the lawn mower the trip to the hospital to see my cousin’s way ex-wife after she lost her toe.

Besides my lawn excitement, we have been doing some good local walks because we are currently stuck on location waiting for paperwork and house stuff to be worked out. I have also been doing a lot of trips to the Goodwill. I am a big fan of Goodwill and I buy stuff there sometimes like a good Oregonian, but mostly take my stuff there A LOT. Actually, as Mormons we have our own brand of Goodwill and it is called DI. (short for Deseret Industries) In Utah, it is a verb. To D-I your stuff……. Since the Goodwill is much more convenient to me in Oregon, it is where my treasures go. One of the days, I even went to a different Goodwill to drop off stuff since I thought I’d seen the workers too many times already that day. Today, I made 2 trips and I’m past the point of caring if they’ve seen me too much. I parted with Moby Dick this afternoon when I was feeling realistic that I don’t think anyone is going to ever read that unless forced in AP English so it needed to go too. As much as I feel like a minimalist, 8 years of stuff adds up.

Silver Falls State Park

Lately my friends had been posting on Facebook about going to Silver Falls State Park. I knew it wasn’t too far away, but we’d never made it there. Since it is a place surrounded by water, I figured with the near 100 degree temps it was safe to go to a place like that in Oregon; in the colder temps, probably not so much. We gathered our picnic goods and headed out for a fun 4th of July. It was a bit longer of a trek than anticipated from Portland suburbs, but Oregon is a pretty place so driving isn’t drudgery. After finally arriving from a road with pretty much just ourselves, the park entrance had a fairly long line of cars. We paid our $5 and we were lucky to find ample parking spots. We ate our deli sandwiches out of our cooler since they would need to be kept cold and then packed up other edible food items which weren’t so temperature sensitive, but would be highly desirable once we got going. (peanut butter sandwiches, granola bars, H20) The first observation was that they had a gorgeous lodge. I am a super big fan of old time historic Western lodges and this one was really nice. Inside the lodge, there was a restaurant which we didn’t check out and another similarly awesome lodge a bit further on that was a gift shop. Of course I had to fend off my daughter asking if we could buy something…… “No, but maybe we’ll go inside AFTER we hike!” At the closest waterfall, there were a lot of people, but it was pretty clear it wasn’t going to remain that way. We had a map and planned on going as far as we could, but needing an escape path if possible since the whole loop was a bit more than we wanted to put the kids through. I was grateful that we were pretty much in the shade for 1st half of the hike, but I expected it would be sunny and brutal at some point. Being in Oregon, there is always glorious shade even in the worst of heat. At one point while posing for a photo, I lost my glasses over a ledge. However, I wasn’t going to let go of my OLD sunglasses without a fight though so I went after them in a not super dangerous, but slightly reminiscent of Naked and Afraid fashion. I was NOT naked, but I had to get a bit more friendly with some questionable (poison ivy?) shrubbery than I would have cared to do. I got them back, but not before alarming a few people about my well being as I was below the path in some bushes. If you ever need to grab a bush/limb while hiking, grab the thickest most alive looking branch you can find; all others WILL fail you.  After my return to the pathway, we continued on our way seeing more incredible waterfalls and even doing some swimming. We lucked out and we were really always in shady areas so it was quite pleasant. When we finally thought we were done and did a little jig, it turned out we still had another 1.2 miles to go to get to the entrance near where our car was located. We were all exhausted at the end, but we were all happy we were able to go to this amazing place and have a fun hike.

Bright legs!

My father has always been dark skinned for a WHITE guy, but if you saw his legs you could potentially go blind. Though he had black hair and has always worked outside, his legs are like alabaster. So, today when my white legs were seeing the sun and my daughter told me my legs were bright I just agreed. Growing up in Southern Utah, I got my first diagnosis of basil cell carcinoma (least deadly form of skin cancer) when I was 27. It was successfully removed and I am supposed to go for yearly skin checks. In Southern Utah, the sun just looks brighter there. The sky is so beautiful blue and the sun shines there most days. I also think the lack of industry probably contributes to uber low pollution so the blue sky there does not look like the blue cloudless Oregon sky like we had today. So….I avoid the sun by living in Oregon and trying to NOT get sunburned when I am in the sun.

I don’t think I’ll make it to my favorite hiking destination this summer: ZION NATIONAL PARK due to being very busy, but this morning we put my 13 year old and #1 walking partner on the plane to my hometown PDX-SLC-CDC so maybe she’ll make it there. I’m pretty sure I need to task my brother with getting her out for a hike behind the house in the canyon at least, but tomorrow she’ll be spending the 4th in an old fashioned home town kind of way. We are unsure of our plans for Independence Day beyond a hot dog roast and avoiding any traffic hot spots.