Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Adventures in Lake Tahoe

I wrote about road tripping to Lake Tahoe.  Now it's time to find out what we did once we got there.

Friday was our big adventure day.  But before the adventure there was some important sleeping time.  I let Robyn sleep in as late as she wanted.  I woke up early and had a small breakfast.  It actually got pretty cold in the morning and I started to fill a little chilled.  (This is a new thing that happens to me now.  It turns out losing 60 pounds makes you lose some insulation.)

I decided to go outside and soak in the hot tub by myself.  That was my primary activity all morning long.

I have to say, enjoying the quiet morning with the chirping birds, the hot tub, the brisk air and the beautiful view was the greatest thing ever.  The only thing that would have made it better was if Robyn joined me.  I kept hoping she would wake up and come out, but she was enjoying her sleeping, so I'm glad she got to do what she wanted to do.  At least I had my underwater camera with me to keep me entertained.

This is what it looked like in the hot tub

This is what the hot tub saw when it looked at me.

When I was done hot tubbing I went and took a shower and my loud bumbling throughout the cabin eventually woke Robyn up.  That meant it was time for our adventure to begin.

I had selected a couple hikes that I thought would be fun.  The first was the Rubicon trail beginning in DL Bliss state park.  My good friend, the internet, said that it had some of the most beautiful views of Lake Tahoe.  It's a trail that follows the shoreline, sometimes climbing up 3 or 400 feet above the water to give views looking down, other times going all the way down to the beach.  I figured it would be a good workout going up and down, but also a good experience in nature seeing lots of beauty.

I had planned to walk a good 2 miles of it (4 miles round trip.)  Unfortunately, the state of California had other plans.  When we got to the park we found this.

The park was closed.  It didn't even have anything to do with government shutdown.  It was just closed for the season.

That sign was accompanied by a barricade.  There was no way our car was getting through.  But we didn't let that stop us from our adventure.  We just started hiking earlier than we thought.

Beyond the barricade is there a world you long to see?
The one advantage to the closed park was that we had the whole place to ourselves.  We ran into a total of maybe 10 people the whole day.  This road beyond the barricade was 2 miles from the trail head.  Round trip that turned our 4 mile hike into 8 miles.  But it was sure beautiful.
There were lots of Lake views.

The deep blue of the water was amazing.

I never got tired of the beautiful trees and water.

Of course, 8 miles is a lot of walking.

We walked through Mordor.

We found the big trees of Endor.

We even made it to the beach.
The water was so beautiful.  Robyn said it just made her want to swim in it.  I told her that was not recommended, since the water is about 40 degrees.  She said she at least needed to touch it.  Usually I'm the one that needs to touch things, so I certainly didn't object.

After our 8 mile hike, we discussed if we wanted to do the second hike I had planned.  Since we had already gone 8 miles, which was double what we had planned, we were feeling a little tired.  But we didn't want to miss out, so we went to our second destination.

I had heard (again from my friend, the internet) that there were beautiful views on the trail to Cascade Falls.

Robyn is tired, and concerned that we are in the land of desolation.
 The good news is that we never saw the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet.

However, it definitely was not the super simple hike we had planned on.  First, this hike had the same problem our first hike had.  The park was closed, which meant we couldn't park at the trail head.  It was supposed to be a 2 mile hike, but there was an extra quarter mile added each way by walking from outside the park.  Plus, the internet said it was only a 150 foot climb.  The elevation change was 150 feet, but the trail went down and up at least 3 times, so the climb was more like 450 feet.  Normally, that amount of climb would not be a big deal, but our total walking that day was now amounting to 10.5 miles.  We were some tuckered out little tikes.

Nevertheless, the views were still very pretty.  The trail winds around Cascade Lake.

This is a view of Cascade Lake along the trail.
Also the timing of the hike allowed us to see the views across Lake Tahoe as the sun was setting.  We had Cascade Lake in the foreground and Lake Tahoe further away.
The camera didn't fully capture it, but the purple mountains were beautiful.
Later we got to watch the moon rise.

After passing the lake, the trail goes into a rocky area right before getting to the falls.  We were super tired and almost ready to turn around when we heard running water.  We continued to where we were only 100 feet away when what to my wondering eyes would appear but a naked guy.  Like totally nude, wearing nothing.  He and his girlfriend (or wife, or acquaintance, I'm not really sure, I didn't interview them) had apparently been skinny dipping.  I let Robyn know that we should probably sit down and wait a few minutes on the other side of the hill.  But we made sure to make plenty of loud noise during our waiting period.

Naked people are just like other wildlife that you encounter in nature.  You want to make plenty of noise so that they are aware you're there and you don't startle them.

Eventually, the naked team emerged from their quarantined area fully clothed.  The guy gave me a look that said, "I'm pretty sure you saw me naked and I appreciate that you aren't drawing attention to that fact."  I gave him a look that said, "Yes, I did and I'm sure glad that's over."

After their exit we climbed down into the "falls".   The waterfall was a bit anticlimactic.  It was mostly a stream that tumbles over a few rocks.  Robyn assured me that if it were early spring there would be lots of water.  I imagine in April or May it looks awesome.  In October it looks like this.  But, I guess in October visitors are infrequent enough that you can skinny dip if you feel inclined.

Doesn't it make you want to take your clothes off?  Me neither.
By the time we got back to the car, it was getting dark outside.  We had had more adventure than 2 old people like us are used to.  We went out to dinner at an italian restaurant called Scusa, in South Lake Tahoe. Foursquare told us to try the lobster ravioli.  Lobster Ravioli!  It was amazing.

That night the hot tub was my friend.  My legs and back were sore after a lot of hiking.  My old body is not used to that level of adventuring.

Are old people allowed to hike 10.5 miles in one day?  I'm not sure we should be.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

A Road Trip and a Candied Me

I wrote last week about how Robyn surprised me for our anniversary.  I also promised you that I would tell you how I surprised Robyn in turn.  Well, the time has come for all to be revealed.

Every year in October, Utah has a few days where they give teachers (and students) time off for Fall break.  We were married the week before this break so that Robyn (being a teacher) would have the time off for us to take a honeymoon.  So, it works out for us to take a trip every year the week after our anniversary.  This year, I surprised Robyn with a trip to Lake Tahoe.

First, I should tell you there were things she knew about the surprise.  She knew I was taking her on a road trip.  She knew it was 8ish hours away.  She knew we were going to visit a temple.  She knew we would be doing some hiking.  (It's clear that I'm not that good at keeping secrets.  Those are all the things that I had leaked in the preceding months.)

We began our road trip on Wednesday night.  I worked a full day on Wednesday, and we were going to make the first half of our road trip that night.  As we were driving, I told her I wanted to hear guesses about our destination.  Before she would say anything, she waited a few minutes to see which direction we were going.  As we started going north on I-15 she said her guesses were Montana and Lake Tahoe.

She really wanted it to be Lake Tahoe, but she was trying to not make me feel bad if it was Montana.  I told her we were on our way to Lake Tahoe.  She was very happy.

We had gotten off pretty close to on time.  Unfortunately, after driving about 20 minutes I realized I had forgotten her present.  So we had to turn around.

On the second try, we were 40 minutes later than planned.  But I had her present in tow.

Our stop off was in Elko, Nevada.  There's not much there, which is why I had brought her a present.  I figured that could make an unexciting evening a little exciting.

Her present was a bunch of M&Ms with our faces on them.  I've always wanted my face on an M&M, so it was just as much a present for me.  But it was a fun surprise for her as well.

Robyn showing off her new present.

The four types of deliciousness.

A bowl full of us.

Robyn is happy about her surprise.

If you want to see her open it, just watch this handy dandy video.

The next morning, I had found a fun place online to go to breakfast.  The deliciousness was overwhelming.  Normally I would just say that there was bacon involved, and that would be enough said.  But the pumpkin pancakes were amazing, and the hot chocolate overwhelmed me with joy.

This is what Robyn looked like, drinking my hot chocolate.

After an amazing breakfast, we continued our road trip.  That afternoon we made it to King's Beach, California.  We were staying in a super cute little cabin with a beautiful view of Lake Tahoe from the back porch.

Here are some views of the place.

This was our first view, what it looked like when we got out of the car.

A few feet closer.

Boulderdash: that's what the kids are calling the cabin we stayed at.

The front porch.  Totem pole included at no extra charge.

The back porch with the hot tub.

The view from the back porch/hot tub.
After getting settled, we went grocery shopping and had dinner at the cabin.  Then we did a short hike down to the lake.
Robyn is always cute.  Her time at Lake Tahoe is no exception.

Robyn enjoying the view.

The sun beginning to set over the lake.

Some silhouette views of the sunset.

Once the road trip part of the trip was over, the adventure was able to begin the next morning.  But, I'm tired, so I'll tell you more about that later.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Scuba in the Pool

Remember when I told you that I passed the Scuba written test?  Well, the next step was to begin actually learning the Scuba skills in a swimming pool.

When we first arrived at the pool, we had to prove that we could swim.  This was the hardest part of the whole class.  I didn't think it was very fair, because when we go diving we'll be able to breather underwater which means we can just relax.  Nonetheless, they made us swim the length of the pool ten times and then we had to tread water for 10 minutes.

Treading water was the worst part.  Robyn totally floats.  If I'm ever drowning, I'll just grab onto her because she is the best flotation device around.  I sink like a rock.  So that was the longest ten minutes of my life.

Next, he asked if we remembered what we had learned about how to setup all our gear.  We kind of looked at each other and said, "Ya, we prolly remember."

He told us we'd better remember because we need to setup our gear now.  Setting up Scuba gear is kind of like setting up a computer.  It's not that hard, you just make sure that every hose (or wire, in the case of a computer) is connected to something.  Then you put the regulator in your mouth and make sure if it gives you air.  Robyn and I both got ours connected backward at first, but we corrected it before he inspected, so that's our little secret.  (Just don't tell, okay?)

Finally we got to do actual Scuba stuff.  The first thing we had to do was figure out how much weight we needed.  He said that we should be able to kneel on the ground in 4 feet of water.  If you float at all, you're too buoyant.  Robyn needed to add somewhere around 1000 pounds to be able to kneel.  I needed to add nothing.  At least I could tell her I wasn't crazy when I was working so hard to stay afloat a few minutes earlier.

After getting our gear and weights all set up, we went over some of the same skills we had learned in our Scuba Discovery class.  We practiced getting water out of the mask while still underwater.  We practiced finding our regulator if it ever comes out of our mouth.  We learned how to equalize the water pressure in our ears.

Finally, after practicing our new skills for an hour or so he gave us some free play time.  He let us swim to the very depths of the pool.  That's right, we did a real bona fide dive to the extreme depth of about 9 feet.  We also had a photo shoot during our free swimming time.

It's precious to hold hands underwater.
Swimming backward is a special skill.  It's like swimming forward, only it's backward.
This is Robyn's superman stance.  But she's better than Superman because Superman can't breathe underwater.
Aren't Dave and Jen so precious?  I mean, not as precious as us, but still pretty precious.
This is our instructor.  He likes headstands.  He also likes peace.
So that was our first experience with Scuba in a swimming pool.  This Saturday is our second class in the pool, then we get to start our open water classes.  Won't that be fancy?

Friday, October 18, 2013

Anniversary Surprises

Friday was my Anniversary. (As I mentioned here)  It was a fabulous day.  I mentioned then that Robyn had some surprises in store for me.  You're about to find out what those surprises were, but I'll warn you now, there's lots of preciousness ahead.  Some may see the preciousness as "mushiness".  Whatever terminology you choose to use, there's plenty of it about to enter your life.

When I got home from work, I pulled my car into the garage and she was there ready to greet me before I came into the house.  She must have been diligently watching for me because there was something important she needed to tell me.

"You're not allowed to go into the bedroom."

She had blocked off one room of the house, where she had been working on a secret project.  What was that project?  Well, that was to remain a mystery at least for the time being, because it was time to go out for dinner.  She had planned a special dinner and I wasn't allowed to know where we were going.

Normally, I drive whenever we go anywhere, but I was in the passenger seat as we drove to our destination.  This was to avoid the awkwardness of the fact that I had no idea where dinner was going to occur.  I knew we had reservations at 7:00, so as we drove I was speculating where we might be going based on how much longer we had to drive.  When we started going south on I-15 I figured we were going to downtown Provo.  But we got off at Center Street in Orem.  I instantly said, "We're going somewhere in the Riverwoods, but I have no idea where!"

I was right.  We went to La Jolla Grove in the Riverwoods area.

The restaurant looks like you're in a lemon grove.  They also seated me across from a really cute girl.

We decided that there was no dieting for this meal.  So we each got an appetizer, a main course and a dessert.  But, I'm definitely a different person than I used to be.  After  I finished the appetizer, I was already starting to feel full.  What is that all about?

The good news is that fancy places don't give ginormous portions.  So I still enjoyed my whole meal.

I think the best part was this chocolate mousse cake which is one of the greatest things that has ever happened to me.

After dinner it was time to drive back home.  I was returned to the driver's seat since I was allowed to know that we were going home now.

When we got home, I was allowed to enter the bedroom.  This is what greeted me.
She had spent time going through all of our pictures and selecting specific ones that represented specific memories.  She had them printed and lined them around our bed with loads of cuteness.

Even more precious, she had written something she loved about me on the back of every picture.  There were such things as "I love how smart you are."  on the back of a pic us thinking with the thinker, or "I love how healthy you are getting." on the back of a pic of us on a big hiking trip.  There were even such awesome captions as "selfie" on the back of a selfie.  Is that not the most precious thing ever?

The answer is yes, it is the most precious thing ever.

Maybe next week you'll get to find out about how I surprised her.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

I shot zombies

For a few years I've had a tradition of taking my little sister on a "Haunted Date" as we like to call it.  This date serves a number of excellent purposes.  First, I get to spend quality time with my sister.  Second, I get to do something scary, which I cannot do with my wife.  (She really tried once.)  Third, and most importantly, I get to prepare for the zombie apocalypse.

That's right, Mellen and I got to SHOOT ZOMBIES!!

It was possibly the greatest thing I've ever done.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.  I have to start at the beginning.  We bought the combo pass that includes the Haunted Forest as well as Zombie WarZ.  We did the Haunted Forest first.  I hadn't been there for at least 5 years.  They've definitely upgraded a few things since then, but it was still the same Haunted Forest that I know and love.

Most importantly, they had the little area where you can be tortured.

You can see my diet has really been working.
They also had this creepy statue that totally scared Mellen.

You can see in the picture that it is a person in a costume because their hand is sticking out.  We didn't see that until after it jumped and scared Mellen.  It was pretty fabulous.

I had to share this picture because it was just precious.

After the Haunted Forest it was time to head over to Zombie WarZ.  This was a new attraction this year, so I had never been before.  I think it's owned by the same people as the Haunted Forest, or at least they are partnered together to sell combo tickets.  But, it's located about a mile away.  We had to follow signs to get there.  It's in a field in the middle of nowhere.

After you show them your ticket you get into a big truck with paintball guns mounted all along one side of the open bed.  When we got there, there was no line.  We got straight into the truck and sat down.  There is a big bench sitting in front of the guns, so you just claim your gun and sit in front of it.

It was good practice for the zombie apocalypse.  However, I did have to ask myself, "What if the zombies attack the other side of the truck?"  It was definitely a weak point that should be addressed.  Especially since the guns are mounted so that you can't pull them off and shoot behind you.  (You also can't turn them far enough to shoot the person sitting next to you, which was probably an important design specification.)

The truck drives through a few acres of land.  There are a few spots where animatronic zombies pop out of swamps or out of garbage cans, but for the most part there are actors that actually run at the truck.  I tried to video what I was seeing.  It was too dark to get a good idea of what it was like, but at least you can here how happy I was.

If that video didn't convince you of the joy of zombie killing, perhaps these pictures will.

Look how happy shooting zombies makes me.

Even Mellen was happy to shoot zombies.
The last picture I have to share with you is kind of funny, mostly because of the situation it was taken in.

It looks like I'm yelling something like "Die zombie die!"  But I was actually out of ammo at this point and was ad-libbing a song about the importance of killing zombies. (While still continuing to pull the trigger)  It was very passionate.

If there's one thing I realized on this year's haunted date, it's that I'm really excited for the zombie apocalypse.  As long as the zombies agree that they will not eat me if I get paint on them.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Five Years of Happily Ever After

I like movies.  I enjoy a good action adventure.  I enjoy being transported to strange places.  I enjoy intricate plots, silly comedies, or pure fantasies.  I even enjoy (though I seldom admit it) chick flicks.

My strategy for watching chick flicks is that I play on my computer while my wife watches them.  This allows me to remain aloof in a manly sort of way.  But, there's nothing manly about the way I excitedly proclaim, "I knew they would fall in love!  I'm so happy!".

I didn't like chick flicks before I was married.  I thought they were boring.  I guess once I got to begin living my own love story, I found love stories to be more interesting: The excitement you feel when you meet that special person.  The thrill of the chase as boy pursues girl. The awkward feeling when you're not sure if the person likes you back.  The heartbreak when the person doesn't like you back.  The elation when they do like you back.  More heartbreak when you realize they don't like you as much as you thought.  More elation when they finally reciprocate your feelings. (Repeat those last 2 as needed.)

All of those crazy things were part of my story.  It was awkward and messy and fun and beautiful and totally mine.  My story also had a proposal, and a wedding.  But that's where the movies usually end.  I think that's unfortunate.  Because the dating story is a good one.  But it's just a prequel to the real story.

In the real world, this is the beginning of the story.
Five years ago today, the above picture was taken.  The super awkward part of the story was over.  The real story had finally begun.

In the movies, they always simply live "happily ever after".  That's exactly what I've been doing for the past 5 years.  But that simple phrase doesn't really give it justice.

I think "happily ever after" means something different for everyone.  I imagine that, even for myself, as the "ever after" part gets longer and longer, I will have an ever evolving definition of the "happily" part.  So, while it is guaranteed to change, I thought I might share a little bit about what "happily ever after" has meant for me so far.  At least during its first five years.

Happily Ever After means getting to spend every day with your hero.
Some heroes wear towels instead of capes.

Happily Ever After means learning to communicate.  Even when it's hard.  It means learning to say what you mean and mean what you say.

Happily Ever After means you laugh together. A lot.

Happily Ever After means that you cry together.  

Happily Ever After means there is a hot kiss available when you need it.

Happily Ever After means there is someone to take care of you when you are not feeling well.

Happily Ever After means that you surprise each other.  Robyn is surprising me with something tonight.  I know it involves a dinner reservation that's fancy enough that I can't wear shorts. (Or maybe that's just her way of tricking me into wearing something nicer.)  Her surprise comes next week.  It involves taking off 2 days of work and travelling to an undisclosed location.

Happily Ever After means that sometimes you have to be apart.
But electronic devices allow you to stay connected.  And be as awkward as ever.

Did I mention awkward?
Happily Ever After means that you face really hard times.  But you face them together, and that makes it easier to get through those times.

Happily Ever After means making time to go to the temple.

Happily Ever After means that you make big life decisions together.  Sometimes it's really scary.

Happily Ever After means dancing in the kitchen.

Happily Ever After means you try to do things that seem impossible.  (Like starting a family for us).  But you have faith that the two of you plus the Lord can achieve even the impossible.

Happily Ever After means spending time with great friends.

Happily Ever After means taking selfies.

Be glad I only picked 3.  I had thousands to choose from.
Happily Ever After means having someone to cheer you on while you do something incredibly difficult like try to lost 100 pounds.

Happily Ever After means experiencing the world.

Happily Ever After means trying new things.
Sometimes those new things are bacon soda.  Sometimes it doesn't turn out well.

Happily Ever After means trying more new things.
Sometimes those new things are snorkeling in Hawaii.  That's guaranteed to turn out better.

Happily Ever After means you get to wake up in the middle of the night while your partner does incoherent things in their sleep.

Happily Ever After means spending time with family.

Happily Ever After means always having someone to talk to.

Happily Ever After means appreciating the majesty of God's creation.
There's true magic in a sunrise.

Happily Ever After means that, despite the best intentions, sometimes one of you will get cranky.
She's cute when she's cranky.
Happily Ever After means having someone to lean on while getting terrible news like diabetes or infertility.

Happily Ever After means taking picnics together in nature.
Picnics with selfies, of course.

Happily Ever After means there's always someone who has your back.

Happily Ever After means that you face the world together, hand in hand.

This is just a small piece of what Happily Ever After means to me.  All of these things are part of it.  But none of them truly capture its essence.  I am so happy to have the opportunity to be with my best friend, to enjoy her company, bask in her wisdom, lean on her for support, and laugh with her every single day.

Happy Anniversary my love!  Five years of Happily Ever After barely scratches the surface.  I look forward to many, many more.
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