Tuesday, September 30, 2008


I, along with most of you probably, absolutely love autumn. It's a fleeting season splashed with color, refreshing crispness in the air, and when all those warm soothing smells (cider, hot cocoa, pumpkin) find their way back into the air. So, when I won a romantic weekend getaway (for a Valentine's Day gift to Mark) to Sundance Resort over 7 months ago on a local news station - I knew right away that I wanted to book it for the end of September. And it was definitely worth the wait. I'm including a whole lot of pictures (2 dozen to be exact) in this post, and plan on being quite thorough in my description of our getaway...so there is my disclaimer. The first picture is one of the many shots we took of the beautiful display of colors that we enjoyed all weekend. Now, to explain exactly what I won with this little getaway...it was a two night stay in a Sundance Suite, and dinner for two at the Foundry Grill. Let's start first with the dinnner...

It was such a novelty to be able to choose whatever we wanted off of the menu with no regard to cost (everything was covered except gratuity). We shared a starter of their Fresh Halibut and Ahi Ceviche, and it was light and refreshing. Delicious. Then we each enjoyed delicious salads topped with things like pumpkin seeds, roasted corn, and pomegranate vinigarette. Mark had a soda and I enjoyed a raspberry lemonade (with fresh raspberries in it of course). We endulged ourselves by both ordering a steak - Mark got the Rib-Eye steak with carmelized onions & marsala sauce, garlic & thyme mashed potatoes, green beans, and onion straws. (I told you I was going to be thorough...) I ordered the Filet Mignon (which we both agree ended being the tastier of the two) with a sweet shitake port sauce, potato cakes wrapped in bacon, and spinach. Yum! And, as you see in the picture to the left, we managed to somehow have room for dessert! And I'm so glad that we did. This picture is of my vanilla bean panna cotta with mixed berries...and I can say without exaggerating that it is the best dessert that I've ever had. Seriously divine. Mark enjoyed a brownie sunday with cherry/vanilla ice cream topped with hot fudge and a rich cherry sauce. Fantastic meal!

As for where we stayed, it was nice. Comfortable, attention to detail, but simple. The cabins were made not to be the center of your attention, but to showcase the beautiful nature surrounding you. In fact the little TV in our room was so tiny that it was as if to remind you that it was a sidenote. As if to say that they would not have even included one in the room if they'd used their better judgement. And although we were happy to spend most of our time outside salivating at the beautiful foliage and magestic mountains...we also indulged ourselves (once it was dark) in a couple of movies that we been wanting to watch. We brought along the latest
Harry Potter Movie (yes we're a bit behind), as well as The Forbidden Kingdom. I really enjoyed both films, but have to say that it was a lot of fun to see Jackie Chan and Jet Li in the same movie together. I particularly loved the breathtaking scenery (it was filmed in mainland China) and thought the choreography was great. It's not a movie to take too seriously, but I found it very entertaining, especially those fight scenes.

Anyhow! Other than enjoying sleeping on a bed larger than our little double sized bed, and not doing any rushing around or multi-tasking, here are a few more of the things that we enjoyed:

Drinking cocoa, warm herbal tea, or cider while playing backgammon in our room.

Waking up to these wild turkeys outside our cabin one morning...and once in the middle of the night to a cricket that found its way inside (it was surprisingly loud!) - we never did find it, but it must've sensed its life being in danger so luckily it stopped the chirping.

We enjoyed some alone time with just the two of us. This is the only time that I've spent more than a few hours away from Noah, other than when I was in the hospital after giving birth to Lincoln...and I'd never been away from Lincoln for more than a few hours. So! I often felt like I was forgetting something. And, although we did miss our two little guys, it was really nice to just have a block of uninterrupted time to focus on each other. So, thank you soooo much to my mom for watching & taking such good care of Noah & Lincoln so that we could have this special weekend all to ourselves!

Since we'd been planning this getaway for so long, when our 7th anniversary rolled around last July we decided that as our gift to each other that we'd book a horseback ride to enjoy during our stay at Sundance. That was such a highlight of our weekend! We had a super helpful & friendly guide (Shay) that took us on the trail, and well-trained horses that carried us on our beautiful 2 hour trailride. This picture shows Shay in front, followed by Mark.

Both Mark & I each had our own cameras with us, so we took pictures back and forth at each other while riding. Surprisingly, only a couple of the pictures turned out blurry...although I have to mention one thing that was pretty funny. I told Mark to turn around for a picture (like in the picture below) while the horses were all still walking - not knowing that his horse was about to go down a little hill. Luckily Mark didn't fall off his horse, but I was treated to a pretty funny expression before he whipped himself back around to forward facing to pay attention.

Me from behind...Mark and I swapped the positions of our horses in the line-up part way through.

I had so much fun. I honestly must have said "this is soooo beautiful" 100 times. It really was.

My smokin' hot man on his horse "Donny". I loved how the paint's mane is blond and tail is brown. And aren't those leaves pretty too?

This was called the Stewart Falls Trailride, and I highly recommend it to anybody looking for a beautiful, relaxing horseback ride.

We didn't get a great shot of the falls, and the water wasn't rushing from it like it probably does in the spring, but it was still pretty. The waterfall is in the cave-like area in the middle of this cove. It was a nice place to stop and take a few pictures.

One of my favorite pictures from the weekend...

The two of us on our horses, with Mt. Timpanogas in the background.

I should mention that my horse's name was "Kimmy". She was a great horse, but I did have a hard time stopping her from grazing during the ride. Whenever she saw a particularly tasty looking bit of greenery there was no stopping her!

We enjoyed several groves of Aspen trees on our trail ride.

We had two other couples besides us in our group. We didn't talk as much to them as we did with Shay, but they seemed pretty nice.

As beautiful as these pictures are, they simply do no justice to experiencing it first hand...having the color all around you, the sun on your face, and the breeze in your hair. As cliche as it sounds, that's really how it was. Perfect.

Even the ferns and other undergrowth was changing colors, the ground looked soft and golden in some areas like this.

I told Mark that I can really see how people can become "addicted" to horseback riding. I'm so glad that we did it, and although I did end up a little bit saddle sore I'm sure I'd be a lot more sore (and tired!) if I'd covered all that ground by foot!

Now, before I tell about our last little activity of the weekend, we couldn't go on a vacation of any type without some type of hiccup (at least it wasn't a big one - like totaling a friend's car on the autobahn or having our apartment robbed while being gone...yes, we've experienced both). This time we experienced a hit and run on our car. The front of our car was backed into (and not reported). Bummer, huh? However, after spending a couple of hours with security at Sundance (who we have to mention were extremely helpful) and with a Provo police officer, we were able to confirm that it was actually a Sundance employee that had done it!

We had requested that security take a look at all of their company vehicles since their paint looks similar to the paint transfer on our car, he found one with un-reported damage that when parked next to our car...the damage lined up perfectly. I had to laugh when one of the security officers said with a look of shock, "I'm no C.S.I. but I'm pretty sure that couldn't match up more perfectly". The police officer got a copy of the employee's licence and left to go talk to him at his house (he wasn't on shift anymore), and he'll be following up with us about potential criminal charges (since the damage wasn't reported)...I doubt the poor guy is a Sundance employee anymore.

Anyway, Sundance has agreed to have their insurance cover the damage to our car (Thank goodness! We hadn't even gotten our other car back from the shop yet at that point!) So, other than a bit more inconvenience, everything is going to turn out fine. And! They gave us a voucher for another free dinner at their Grill for the inconvenience! Sweet. Now next Valentine's Day is covered :)

So! Lastly, we enjoyed a ride on the ski lift - which I highly recommend doing this time of year! We really want to do it again and rent mountain bikes to come down on next time, but this was lots of fun too. It was relaxing and we enjoyed beautiful views. I've been skiing/snowboarding at several of Utah's resorts, but never at Sundance. I bet that it's beautiful, and I liked how much less commercialized everything is there. Robert Redford (who owns the resort and it's surrounding 6,000 acres) is very "green" too and his environmental influence is felt throughout the resort area (check out this "power alternatives" link if this kind of thing interests you, and even if it doesn't, it's pretty impressive) .

Here's a "self portrait" from our lift ride...

And a quick shot from our little jaunt when we got off at the top of the lift.

A view of Mt. Timpanogos from the chair lift. It was fun to listen to Mark reminisce about the time he hiked to the top of that peak, the route, the mountain goats up top, etc. It's such a majestic mountain. Beautiful from all angles, especially when accented with such vibrant splashes of color!

And, lastly, just one more shot of the mountain & leaves. I just couldn't get enough of it all. What an amazing world that we live in.
Enjoy this fleeting season that we call fall, everyone! And, if you live in an area that enjoys this spectacular show of colors, be sure to slow down and at least take a walk or drive to enjoy them!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

10 Months (& 10 days) Old!

Well, I am finally getting around to Lincoln's 10 month post (even though we're 1/3 way through his next month now!) - yikes. Anyhoo...the photographer that we hired to do his 10 month photos stood us up (as I thoroughly mentioned in a previous post), so I did my own little photo shoot a few days ago. I'm sure that I could've payed more attention to detail, but I just ploppped him down in the front yard and snapped a bunch of pictures while Noah was sleeping. It was actually pretty fun. It'll be so fun someday to be able to get my own DSLR and take a few classes or workshops. Anyhow, here's one of my favorites from our "session" and I'll include some more at the end of this post...

When Linc was weighed on his "10 month birthday" he was 25 pounds & 8 ounces, which even though that's big - it's only 1/2 pound heavier than the previous month. So, I believe that we're hitting that plateau! Here's our sweet pea sleeping in our swing in the backyard. He pretty much takes his nap when & where he can get it.

Lincoln is starting to like "walking" while holding onto our hands, but not for long usually...then he just wants to get down and crawl around on his own.

He is so ticklish, and I just looove his squeal when he laughs.

Lincoln absolutely loves bath time, but don't ever expect to stay dry if you're the one bathing him - he goes NUTS splashing, and he thinks he's pretty funny too.

One of the few toys that Lincoln seems to show a clear preference for are cars. He loves cars! In fact, every day he crawls over to Noah's desk and pulls out this drawer of cars and plays with them. He even knows how to make the pull-back cars drive, and seems quite proud of himself when he watches them go...

And...it has begun. Lincoln can now pull himself up (unassisted) on furniture. And, although he's already taken a couple of tumbles (he bruised his chin today), he's starting to be able to get into sooo much more all of the sudden. It's so fun & rewarding to watch his excitement as he begins to master a new skill, and explore new things...but I'm also a bit apprehensive about things too, since I'm pretty sure that life is about to get a whole lot busier!

Well, here are a half dozen more photos from our little photo shoot. It was hard to not include a picture of every cute little expression, and every angle of our precious little guy...but I did narrow it down to these few. One thing that I should mention is that Lincoln has a head of curls in the back, and just one curl on his left side (the right when you're looking at him). I don't know if the curls will always be there or if they'll be gone after his first haircut, so I thought that I'd better at least mention them! (You can kinda see the one on the side in some of the pictures) I'll try to include a shot of the back of his head with his 11 month post :)


Friday, September 19, 2008

Wheeler Peak

Alas, I am finally posting my last entry from August (which chronologically should have been the first of the group since it's a re-cap of "The Hike" done on August 2, 2008)! Back in '95 when Mark graduated from high school - he and two of his good friends, Tommy & Ryan, decided that to keep in touch they would come together from wherever they were living and do a hike. Usually (when somebody hasn't just had knee surgery or something) they hike a high point in a different state - meaning, the highest peak in the state. This year it was New Mexico's turn, and they hiked Wheeler Peak. Here is a picture of the map at the trailhead, which shows the whole area. Feel free to click on it to see it larger if you want to. For documentation purposes, I should mention that Ryan was in town from Florida (with his wife Debi), so all three of them were able to drive down to NM together (on Aug. 1st) and stay the night in Taos. Then, they left for the hike first thing the next morning.

Here is a picture of the three of them (from left to right - Mark, Tommy & Ryan) at the first saddle. They are still below the treeline (obviously) and you can see Mount Baldy in the background...

Here's a pretty shot that Ryan took of Mark & Tommy as they were breaking the tree line.

The snow slides in the lower bowl just before the final climb were a refreshing part of the hike for them, since the day was starting to heat up.

A welcome difference between this high point versus others that they've done was the tundra grass and wildflowers. On their previous hikes it was just rock or skree once they got to this elevation.

Something that the guys saw on this trip, that they hadn't encountered on previous hikes, was a herd of bighorn sheep. The females were grouped in the lower bowl (see the second photo below) while the ram (pictured here) was roaming around up higher on the rocks closer to the high point.

Shown here behind Tom is Mt. Walter, which is the false summit for Wheeler Peak.

Approaching the top of Mt. Walter - off to the right you can see their first glimpse of Wheeler Peak.

This is just to show how beautiful the last ridge-line walk is with all the wildflowers and majestic peaks that surround it.

Behind Mark is one of the glacier lakes that are formed by snow runoff.

At most high points there is this geological marker confirming the high point. So, here is Wheeler Peak's - at 13,161 feet!

Wheeler Peak was unique in that it has this metal plaque that explains how the mountain got its name.

This friendly marmot was at the top of the peak scavenging food from tired hikers. Apparently this picture doesn't do it justice, it was really big (like the size of a large cat)!

Here's the handsome trio at the summit.

This is Mark during their descent. Gotta love the sky in this shot - I think it's a beautiful picture! Thanks, guys...for remembering to take all these great pictures to share your adventure with us.