Sunday, December 7, 2008

halloween 2008

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Halloween was so much fun this year! We had a big party and played BUNKO for prizes. The kids loved trick-or-treating, but Liv was more interested in all the decorations.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Pictures from MOAB over Memorial Day Weekend

Thanks to David Orrock for these great photos:

We had a great time with some old and new friends. You know you can't go wrong with a long weekend in MOAB.

What a Long, Strange Trip its Been....

Wow, what a long, strange one it has been. Hilary has finished school and accepted a position with the Utah Schools for the Deaf and Blind. She will be located at Millcreek Elementary and will teach a 2nd grade class.

Alexander is 4, going on 14. He just informed us that he is going to get married and 'be an army guy' as well as a 'monster truck driver.'

Olivia will be turning 1 at the end of the month. She is so happy all of the time, smiling, trying to talk as much as possible, and even signing the little bit of sign language Hilary has taught her.

I finished another year of teaching at South Hills Middle School in Riverton. I have really been blessed to be placed at such a cutting-edge school. Near the end of the year, I was asked to be a part of a 21st Century Technology Grant that will implement more technology into classrooms. Next year I will have 20 mac laptops for my classroom, a document camera, lcd projector, digital camera, video camera, and a multitude of other 'goodies' that really hit home with this newest generation of learners. I am really excited to head up t he project for the school. (The $ is great too)

We have been looking for a home the last few months, and found one in Daybreak we really liked. It was a bank owned home, everything we wanted, including a 3 car garage, but the same time we offered, another person did, and offered more...we got bumped. We were pretty upset, but we know that when one door closes, another opens.

We continued to look around at Daybreak, but nothing was right. We found one in Sandy, right by my parent's place, but once we offered, the countered, and it was just too much. We had figured we would wait a bit, and we were both feeling discouraged, though we went and looked at 2 more, both in Sandy.

The first one we looked at was great. Big bedrooms, fully finished, and more of Hilary and I's 'style' we like. I was sold, but I reserved my comments until after we looked at the second home. The second home was a pretty solid "No" on both of our accounts.

The more we talked, we decided to offer on the first house. After some negotiation, we are now in the process of buying that home. It is located in Sandy, right between Alta High School and Altara Elementary. Approx. 11900 S. and 900 E.

We are off to do (yet another) camping trip with members of the Expedition Portal, and online overlanding community. This was put together this year as the annual Father's Day Trip.

Next month, not only am I turning 29, we are going to Newport Beach for a week with Hilary's family, staying at a beautiful Marriott Resort.

August takes us to the Central America country of Belize for a little mom and dad getaway.

Somewhere in between, we will be moving........

Monday, March 3, 2008

Zion National Park March 2008

Friday at 6pm, Hilary says to me, "We should have planned to go somewhere this weekend." I replied, "Let's go somewhere right now!" "Even though you have chicken on the grill?" she said. "Yes!" I said, "Let's go to Zion."So we did it.
In haste, we left little Zander's bag at home, so we had to buy some clothes for him, took a dirt road out of the area, near Rockville, caught lots of sun, relaxed.Very rejuvenating. Shuttles aren't running yet, so we were able to drive into the main canyon. It was SO nice down there...I was -almost- too hot in long pants, but I was in a t-shirt and chacos.

I never really noticed before how much 'freshness' was down there in the springtime. Grass, moss, buds on the trees, etc. were all saying "hello" and inching their way out. Kinda like when you go outside on a really sunny day and you slowly blink your eyes a few times before you can go fully open.

San Rafael Swell

After much cabin fever, my brother in law Kevin and I decided that instead of hiking Grizzly Gulch (across from Alta Ski Resort) and spending the night up there, we would go South into the Swell. It is only a few short hours from our places, so we thought this might be a better, [I]and less crowded[/I] area to spend some time outside.
Places we visited are:
  • The 'Wedge' aka Little Grand Canyon
  • Buckhorn Wash Pictograph Panel
  • The dirt road that leads from Castle Dale to I- 70

Why the Pathfinder, rather than the Landcruiser?

Eh, just because...I haven't ever really used it off road, and we figured out what we were doing at the last minute and my rig was low on gas, so I decided that I would give it a try. It worked out well. It has gobs of power, uses half the gas my cruiser does, and we both just pretty much brought out backpacking equipment, so we didn't need the room.We made friends with who we dubbed "Sheriff Bill" upon getting out there. We stopped at one of the info. kiosks and he was there, pulled his police jeep up, and said, "Where are you looking to go?" We told him we were off to the Wedge and then to camp somewhere out there.

He gave us a look of you are going to do what and said, "I have a lot of people coming out here and they are getting stuck. I have a Tacoma down the road that is stuck, and I was stuck out there and I have this thing (his Jeep) with the lockers front and rear." He went on to tell us (after repeatedly sizing up the Nissan) that he didn't want to have to come pull us out. We parted ways after he gave us some ideas as to where it might not be too muddy to camp, and we were on our way.

The next morning, we went back up to the overlook, and just as we jumped in the rig, we heard a car coming. I commented to Kevin, "It is probably Sherriff Bill!" Sure enough, I had fired up the engine, and there he was. We chatted for a minute, and he told us, "Don'ttell anyone about us down here."I think his initial impression of us was that we were going to be 'the guys' that makes his weekend long, pulling an ill equipped car out of a snowbank. I then believe after we had spoken, he realized we weren't going to go do anything to get ourselves into trouble.Really, the roads out there weren't bad at all. some snow covered, and some icy, but the majority was nice and clear, some places a bit of dust was even kicking up behind us...I drove out in 2wd.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Roger wrote this for a monthly newsletter, detailing his experiences on the DV trip

Death Valley NYE Excursion
“I’m going to Death Valley National Park for New Years, “ I said to my lunch mates in the faculty lounge. “Death Valley?” they replied. “Yeah, Death Valley, you know, out in California.” I said. “Won’t it be cold?” a teacher commented. I could see where this was going, so I told them all I would bring in a magazine and show them some pictures. The magazine I brought in was Overland Journal, the first edition. Opinions changed.
I was given a copy of the first issue of Overland Journal in November while I was in Moab. I read that issue cover to cover, and I subscribed shortly thereafter. Perhaps one of the best articles I had read in quite some time was the article on Death Valley. I had read about a few people spending New Years in DV, and thought it might be something different than the normal Moab trip we tend to do.
We looked around at some possible campsites and came back the next day to book online, only to find most of the Furnace Creek Campground booked. Seems Death Valley is a hot place to spend NYE. We quickly booked our piece of the valley, and a day later, the entire campground was full.
We decided since I had the entire week between Christmas and New Years off we would go and visit my grandmother in Cedar City for a day before making the trip to California. We finally made it to the entrance of the park on Sunday the 30th. It was early still, and the shadows cast some unique forms across the floor of the desert. The initial stopping point was Zabriskie Point. It is a nice overlook into the valley, and gives a virgin Death Valley traveler their initial taste of the scale of this park. It is huge.
I grabbed an ice-cold Diet Coke w/Lime from the fridge (yea Engel), and jumped back into the 80, ready to see more, but also itching to get out and ‘be’ in the park. We found the campground entrance shack vacant, so we found our site, and set up camp. Interestingly enough, there was a built 80 parked 3 or 4 cars away. These are walk-in camp spots, so as I was toting Action Packers back and forth to the tent, I got a friendly “Nice Truck” from the other 80 owner. Turns out he was a member of Mud, as well as the Expedition Portal, and had come up with a few other Cruiser owners.
We spent the rest of the afternoon doing the touristy stuff, such as seeing the visitor center and just enjoying being out of the car. It was also imperative that three and a half year olds get time off for good car behavior (Portable DVD players are fantastic) so allowing little Alexander to get out and run around and climb on rocks was in order. I even caught a few people taking pictures of the wreath and rubber chicken strapped to the front of my truck. Thanks to Paul May for the great white elephant gift.
Hilary was busy with Olivia and so I was able to walk away and out off the road to sit in the dirt. I like to plant it in the dirt wherever I go, so I can get a feel for the land. I like to pick up the rocks, and inspect them closely, smell the air, run my hands through the dirt, and really experience an area close up. I like to think I am getting connected to the land, and not just seeing it from the drivers seat.
Back in camp, as soon as the sun went down, the nice 60+ degree weather turned cold. We attempted to buy wood from the market there, but similarly cold overnight temps cleaned them out the night before. I decided to burn part of the bag of charcoal I had brought for the dutch oven. It is amazing how a little heat from a fire can really make or break a cold night. I set the Engel thermometer on top of my truck before turning in for the night. It has a setting that displays maximum and minimum temperatures, so I reset the unit to observe the nighttime temps. When I awoke the next morning, the display read 25.5 as an overnight low. It certainly was much colder than the 36 had forecasted.
We knew of a few Cruiser and ExPo folks in the campground who were staying in the RV/trailer section as they were pulling Adventure Trailers, Teardrops, and Kamparoos. We made up our camp to be away for the day, and met up with the group. I was able to inspect an Adventure Trailer and a Kamparoo side by side. We will most likely be purchasing one of the Kamparoo Trailers next summer. The group decided to head for warmer climates in AZ, so Hilary and the kids loaded up and went on our way to the see where rocks move across the desert floor all by themselves-The Racetrack.
I was told by the more experienced DV travelers to air down my tires, and “drive fast.” After about 3 minutes on the road to the Racetrack, which just so happens to be the worst washboard I have ever been on, I stopped to air down. Once I was done fiddling with the tires, we went on our way, through Joshua Tree forests, washes, and eventually we made it to Teakettle Junction, which was more than just a sign for us. We had been beaten up on that road, and we knew we had to make it back out the same way. The junction indicated to us that we were very close. I believe the entire road is 29 miles, one-way.
We finally made it, right when the sun was on the Western horizon, threatening once again to take our nice warm temps away. The Racetrack is an awkward place. All at once an eerie silence tugs at you to leave, yet some sort of omnipotent power gives you an overwhelming sense of peace. I immediately started walking. I walked out to the middle of the ‘playa’ and sat down, once again to ‘be’ there. Off in the distance, I saw a car, “a Subaru?” I thought. I snapped a few pictures of the floor, and heard “Daaaaaddy!” from just out of earshot. I turned to see a fantastic sight out in front of me. It was Alexander, bungee cord in hand, telling me he wanted to go climb “those rocks.”
The look on his face is one that is forever etched into my mind. The young look of eagerness, passion, and of discovery was all over his face. I almost cried. I loved seeing him out there, ready and carefree. I was so proud that he was my son, and the sense of adventure he has developed in such a short time from his first camping trip when he was three months old.
We rounded up the bungee cords, and after a quick nursing of our little six-month-old Olivia, we were on our way back down the truly beaten path. We arrived back at the Ubehebe Crater as the sun was setting. We were getting some strange looks as I unloaded the roof rack (which had rattled loose) of gas cans, water cans, and such to fix the rack and gas up. I broke out the new air compressor, and set the pressures back up as I tightened up the rack again. The extra ten gallons we brought proved to be just right, and we were able to avoid buying the $4.12 gas in the valley.
That night, we were invited to a potluck with some fellow adventurers, but we were quite tired, and didn’t see anyone at the group site when we drove by. Once back in camp, I fired up some charcoal and put together perhaps one of the best dutch oven peach cobblers I have made to date. After about an hour of cook time, and Alexander getting his fill of Transformers in the tent, we enjoyed a little New Years celebration of our own. I had expected to hear a little bit of the New Year festivities, but it was surprisingly quiet. We decided to call it a night after sitting out quietly and watching satellites slip across the sky, (and after I fell asleep laying on the bench).
We broke camp early anticipating the long drive back to Salt Lake. We made a pit stop in Vegas, and then again in Cedar City to have dinner with Grandma. Finally, we made it back. I commented to Hilary, “Maybe we should do that again next year?” She smiled and rolled her eyes all at once saying, “Oh yeah Rog, how about Hawaii?”
Overall, Death Valley is a ‘must see’ destination. I don’t think I realized the scale of the park, and I really didn’t budget enough time. There is easily a solid month of exploring out there. Go prepared, all of the basics, and then add a few more. You are far from any major cities. I highly recommend the Racetrack, and sitting down for a few minutes out there. All by yourself, of course.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Pony Express Trail

We went on a cruising adventure with the Wasatch Cruisers Club early this month. Our first stop was at some Geode Beds. We were able to find some pretty amazing Geodes. Alexander was in his element! He was able to dig in the dirt and get extremely muddy! He loved hammering at the rocks and climbing down into some pits. Olivia and I hung out in the car most of the time to avoid being cold. We were gone from 8:00 and finally made it home around 10:00 that evening. The trail ended near Wendover, so we made our way to the Rainbow Casino and had ourselves a fantastic dinner. It was a great day!

New Beginnings

I began the next chaper in my life on January 7th. I am doing my student teaching at Millcreek Elementary in a 5th grade class! I love it so much! I have 6 wonderful students that I am so lucky to teach! I am also with the best teacher in the world, Cheryl Baker. She has been teaching Deaf children for 22 years! I am so amazed at the opportunities I will have to make a difference in children's lives. I am grateful that Cheryl is paving the road for me. It has been hard leaving my 'kiddies,' but they are with the next best person to mom, and that is 'nana' and 'Whitney.' Alexander is still attending pre-school 2 times a week with Mrs. Hammer, and absolutely loves it! He knows all his letters, both uppercase and lowercase, along with all his sounds. He has learned that it isn't always easy to get along with everyone, but does have pals to play "ninja" and "transformers." Olivia is getting ready to crawl. She just wants to run and play with Alexander. Roger is still plugging away at South Hills Middle School. His students love him and I even get text messages from them telling me how wonderful he is.

Bringing in the New Year!! Great in '08!

We brought in the new year doing what we love best! Cruising in our Cruiser and exploring the great wild west. Roger, Alexander, Liv and I went to Death Valley over new years for a little exploring. Death valley truly fits it's name but it is beautiful in it's own unique way. We saw a coyote up close and personal and visited the infamous 'race track' where the rocks mysteriously move across the sand. I have never been anywhere more pristine and more quiet. It was pretty amazing. While Salt Lake was experiencing the bitter cold, we were enjoying the near high 60's. We also met up with a few of the 'Expedition Portal' pals as well. It was a great adventure and look forward to going again someday.

Sitting on the side of the road...

Sitting on the side of the road...

Zander and Roger at the "Race Track"

Zander and Roger at the "Race Track"

Desert Floor at Death Valley

Desert Floor at Death Valley

Driving into the Wild Blue Yonder

Driving into the Wild Blue Yonder

So Happy Together....

So Happy Together....

Happy to be Camping???

Happy to be Camping???