Thursday, June 8, 2017

Birthday Trip 2017

Often for my birthday, I ask Robyn for a trip rather than presents.  I've found that I generally enjoy the experiences and the memories more than the things.  So she indulges me and lets me plan a small trip.

I was undecided about where to go until Robyn pointed out that there was a new temple in Wyoming.  That became the obvious answer as to where we should go.  So I planned a trip to Afton, Wyoming.

We also have another annual tradition where I take a half day off of work and go meet Robyn's students.  We decided that this particular day would be a good day to do it because then we could leave from Robyn's school and get a head start on our trip.

Then it turned out that Robyn's school had their end of year faculty party on the same day.  It meant that we didn't get off on our trip quite as quickly as we had planned, but I got to mingle with a few of Robyn's coworkers which was fun.

One of her coworkers was making balloon animals as part of the event.  I told her I wanted a pikachu.  I mostly meant it as a joke, figuring that she only did real animals and not pokemon.  But she totally made me a pikachu!

I think she did a pretty good job.  It was a great beginning to my birthday extravaganza.
After the elementary school festivities we began our road trip.  Afton is about a 4 hour drive, so we were able to get into town in time for a dinner that was only a little later than normal.  After dinner I told Robyn I needed a picture next to the most important landmark in Afton.  It's the world's largest elk-horn arch.

I'm not sure how many elk-horn arches there are in the world.  But apparently they are all smaller than this one.
I know it kind of looks like I'm getting a picture with that red car, but you're supposed to pay attention to the arch made out of antlers.

There's also a smaller bonus arch that you walk through to cross the street.
After that it was time to go to the hotel for important activities like sleeping.  The next morning was my actual birthday.  When I awoke, I got to open a card custom made by my niece.  I openned it up and laughed for a solid minute.
How great is this?
The morning activity was to go to the temple.  It's a tiny little temple, and they didn't have room for us to do an endowment session, so we did some sealings instead.  We got to sit and chat with the sealer for a while.  I love visiting temples in small towns, they just seem so much more personal.

The obligatory picture of Robyn next to flowers ar the temple is very important.
After the temple we had some lunch and then explored some of the great outdoors.  We wanted to hike to the world's largest intermittent spring.
This car was in the parking lot at the trailhead.  People in Wyoming just get it.  Am I right?

Cute little hiker.

Less cute little hiker.

Wilderness selfie

The sign explaining the intermittent spring.
So I've watched videos on youtube.  The river basically turns off and on when the spring turns off and on.  I wanted to experience the off and on nature of it, but it turns out that this early in the season there is so much runoff that it just keeps flowing.  We hung out at the spring for probably close to an hour but it just kept flowing.  Nevertheless, it was a really pretty area.

You can hike up to where the spring comes out of the rock, but we didn't want to hike over the ice.  So we just watched the river flow down from it.
I was a little disappointed to not experience the on/off nature of the spring, but the internet had warned me that labor day weekend is not the best time to go.  I actually was glad that we got as far as we did, because other years you wouldn't have even been able to make the hike because of so much snow.  So we got to see some pretty nature and that was good enough for me.

Sunday morning we departed back for home so I could celebrate my birthday with my parents and siblings.  But that morning I took walk around town to just see what there is to see.  Early morning walks in small towns are great.  These pics won't capture the quiet serenity of my morning walk, but they're kind of fun.
A random bear that was asking for a selfie.

The Star Valley Stake Tabernacle.  Why doesn't my stake have a tabernacle?

Just a park at the edge of town.  I loved that this town was nestled in wilderness.
All in all, it was a great birthday.  I couldn't ask for anything better.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Easter 2017

This year for Easter, Robyn and I were lucky enough to be able to celebrate with both of our families.  Of course, before all of the festivities, we had the opportunity to go to church to reflect on the true meaning of the day.  And Robyn was able to look extra cute with a brand new Easter dress.

First, we met with Robyn's family for dinner.  In her family, Easter is an opportunity to celebrate their Russian heritage.

We had some Russian Easter Bread.
 We had some delicious shashlik.
 After dinner, we had a little Easter egg hunt for the nieces and nephews.  They had lots of fun.  My favorite was my nephew Anders (not pictured) was walking around with his little basket singing a little song to himself that went like this:  "Easta Eggs.  Easta Eggs."

Then later in the evening we went over to my parents' house for more excitement.

It started with an Easter Egg hunt for the little people.

Then my mom had a special surprise.  She had setup a hunt for the big people as well.

Each person had an egg with their name on it that they had to find.  You weren't supposed to tell other people if you found their egg.  But people cheated anyway.  We had fun doing a big people hunt.

It says "Jeff #1".  I thought that meant I was the my mom's favorite.  Apparently, they all said #1, because the original plan was to do multiple eggs for everyone.

Jen found hers too!
 Naturally, after all the fun we had to do a selfie with everyone.  It's not a holiday without a selfie.
It was a fun Easter with 2 different wonderful families.

How did you spend Easter?

Sunday, January 29, 2017


Our friend Jared invited us to go snowshoeing up Provo Canyon on a couple weeks ago.  We deliberated a bit because we've gotten a bit out of shape in the past year, but we decided to make a go of it.  We needed to get some exercise and we especially needed to get out of the inversion in the valley.

There were three couples going, so we got together in Orem and then carpooled up to Big Springs park where the trailhead is.  (Fun fact:  that trail is where Robyn and I got engaged.  But it was during the summer when you don't have to hike through 2 feet of snow.)

Since we couldn't all fit in one car we decided to do a boy's car and a girl's car.

Obviously, both cars did group selfies.  And both cars arranged the individual members of each couple the same way.

The majority of the trail had been packed down pretty good, which was nice because I'm fat and wouldn't be able to handle breaking new trail for very long.  Along the way much cuteness ensued.
There was loving.

And kissing.
And more kissing

This is what happens when you give Jackie your phone.

The Vincis make drinking water look precious.

Eventually we arrive in a beautiful meadow.
We make the meadow look precious.

You may notice that I'm wearing shorts.  Because..  well, I was kind of hot.  Plus I don't own pants.

After that we headed back down the mountain.  It was a great little excursion with fresh air, beautiful nature and great friends.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Universal Studios

The final day of our California trip was spent in Universal Studios.

But the real focus of Universal Studios was Harry Potter world, as you'll see in a moment.

We arrived at the park and naturally had to get a selfie with the globe.

Once we got in the park, we saw Hogwarts castle and had to make a beeline for Hogsmeade.  Teanca had told us to do the other parts of Universal Studios first, because the lines would be shorter.  But we couldn't resist going to Harry Potter World immediately.
Robyn is cute in Hogsmeade.  Also, notice her Hufflepull Quidditch jersey.

Looking up at Hogwarts Castle

About to enter the caste
We went to the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride and the line basically runs through Hogwarts castle.
We enjoyed admiring all the details.  They did a good job of immersing us in the wizarding world.


Dumbledore's office

The sorting hat

After the castle, we tried a cold butter beer.  It was pretty good.  And then, it was on to the rest of the park.  I don't have nearly as many pictures from the rest of the park.  I guess we were just more enamored by the Harry Potter parts.  But here are a couple pictures.
I had to get a picture next to Kwik-E-Mart.  And it was important to say, "Thank you, come again."  several times, because I'm annoying like that.

The Jurassic Park ride was super fun.  The best part was when the Tyrannosaurus jumped out and terrified Robyn.  The picture above is her recreation of the face she made.  Note: that is a velociraptor and not a tyrannosaurs, but she was equally terrified of the raptors, so it's an accurate dramatization of how she looked on the ride.
After spending a few hours riding the other various rides we headed back into Harry Potter World for lunch at the Three Broomsticks.  I was impressed by how well managed it was.  They had you stand in line to order and then they had ushers find you a seat so you weren't wandering around like vultures trying to grab a table as soon as people left.
The food was really good.  And I met a cute Hufflepuff girl there.

This time around we got a hot butterbeer which was basically butterscotch hot chocolate.  It was even better than the cold butterbeer.

Diagon Alley

The Hogwarts Express
After our afternoon exploring all of the intricacies of Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley we went to a few of the other shops in Universal Studios.  They were kind of fun.  The most important thing I found were minions.  Naturally, I needed a selfie with them.

We ended our day in the early afternoon.  We had ridden all the rides we wanted, and we had explored Harry Potter World thoroughly.  We were both excited to have a few hours to just hang out in the hotel and rest up before our flight the next morning.  It was a great end to a great trip.
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