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Monday, September 4, 2017

Grand Teton National Park


Since Glacier National Park was a bust... we decided to hang out at Grand Teton National Park on our way home... just to get in something fun. We also stopped wherever we thought was beautiful to take pictures along the way....


Then we woke up in Grand Teton and chilled at Jenny Lake before heading home. It was a beautiful end to a crazy trip.







Sunday, September 3, 2017

Glacier National Park - The Trip of Troubs

It was my first trip with Melanie. We had just met once before to see if we wanted to be adventure buddies and Glacier National Park was our first trip. We were both pumped because we had never been. I knew it was a long drive, so we waited for the 3 day weekend. I was also pumped to try out the new set up in my car.

We left Friday after work and didn't leave as soon as I wanted, and then were stuck in traffic of everyone leaving town. So we ended up in a city I had never been to in Idaho when we got too tired and I decided to pull over on a quiet street to sleep for the night. I have to say... my car is pretty comfortable. I am happy about that. We woke up the next morning and continued on our journey. As we got closer and closer we realized that Idaho and Wyoming and Montana were all on fire! How did we not hear about this? Seriously. Maybe because all the news was going to the hurricanes down south. Natural disasters are happening everywhere I guess.

Like I said before, it is a LONG drive to Glacier, so we ended up getting into the National Park at 1 or 2pm. We were excited to be there, but it was also a bit of a disappointment because everything was just so smokey, it was taking away from the views. We went to Lake McDonald first because Melanie had been dreaming to go for so many years. We enjoyed our time there at the lake for an hour or so. I blogged about that already.

When we finally decided to leave the Lake and go check out what else was around the park and where we were going to park the car to sleep that night it was close to 4pm. We got back in my car and decided to head on this little road up and around the lake. The road had some erosion on it and one spot was pretty bad. My back tire ended up hitting a bad erosion spot and gave me a flat tire. We were both so bummed. We had just gotten to the park and it was already ruined. I was hoping the tire could be repaired, but it wasn't looking good. I didn't have any cell service, but thankfully, Melanie knew how to change a tire and was ready to get down in the mud to do it. The sad part was... we basically had to take apart my entire car set up in order to get to the spare tire and the jack and all the stuff we needed to change the tire.

We had taken all the stuff out of my car. SO many people drove by us (including rangers). I thought for sure people would stop to see if we needed any help. Nope! Even a ranger stopped and asked if we needed help. I said yes, it would be great if we could get some help and they said okay, they would send someone to help.... and NOBODY ever came. It was kind of making me lose faith in nice people. Melanie was pretty much done changing the tire when a very nice young couple finally stopped and asked if we needed any help. They told us they had driven by and could see exactly what happened. They thought for sure when they turned around we would have other people trying to help us. Nope! They were the first and one people to offer to help. They were locals from Montana and were the sweetest. Even though Melanie was just about done changing the tire, the young man made sure the lug nuts were on tight. He also got in the mud to help with the entire thing. After my flat tire was off, they got their dog blanket from their car and put it on top of my car and tied my flat tire to the top of my car so it wouldn't get the inside of my car dirty. How thoughtful is that? They were super helpful and we were so happy they stopped and we thanked them over and over again.




After the spare tire was on and the flat tire was on top of the car, we knew we had to drive back to town to get it fixed. At this point it is 5pm on Saturday evening. My fear was that we were not going to be able to find a shop that was open to help us. As soon as we got cell service, we started checking every shop in the very small town that we were in. My fear was correct, everything was closed. Since it was a holiday weekend, everything would be closed until Tuesday morning. We needed to be back by Monday night... so we were in trouble.

We ended up pulling into the local Jiffy Lube, because they were still open for another hour. I knew they weren't a tire shop, but I though maybe they could still help us somehow. Maybe my tire only needed to be patched and not replaced. They would be able to do that. They checked out my tire and told us the bad news that it would need to be replaced. For the next hour or so, they all were calling everyone they knew trying to get us new tires. They even stayed an hour after closing trying to help us. It was so kind. They were really nice doing everything they could to try and help even though they couldn't help us at their shop. At 7pm they finally had to give up and call it a night and went home. After Melanie and I also making several phone calls... we also kind of gave up and felt very defeated. Both of our parents were even making phone calls. I called my insurance that gives road side assistance and they couldn't help either. It was all so discouraging. My dad suggested calling the local bishop... which I thought was silly and used as a last resort... but finally called the bishop and got the answering machine and never got a call back and gave up on everything after that.


After a very discouraging evening, Melanie and I were trying to figure out what to do. We couldn't drive far on my spare tire and there was nothing to do in town besides eat fast food. We couldn't even go see a movie. There were no movie theaters in town. Sooo.... we decided to park and sleep at the church parking lot. I just put in LDS church in the GPS and it lead me there. We parked in the back under a tree and opened my trunk and hung out. Once nice thing about that is that you are automatically connected to WiFi. Ha ha. We were also not the only ones who decided to sleep in the parking lot. Soon, another car joined as well. They never came out to socialize though.

We knew that church started the next morning at 9am. We looked homeless... we weren't looking to attend the ward, in fact... I wanted to be out of the parking lot before anyone started getting there for church. However, then I had a change of heart. I wanted to be there when church started and I wanted people to see us. Maybe someone could help us.

People started showing up for church. I had the trunk open and my table out, making breakfast. Mostly we got weird looks from people as they went into the building. Probably because we looked homeless and were making breakfast out of the back of my car that we obviously slept in last night. A couple of guys said cool set up as they walked away.... but THEN a nice woman parked right next to us in the shade. She had a dog in the car. She came up to us and asked how we were doing and asked if we were members. We said we were members and soon found out she was deaf. Now I was bummed that I only knew a tiny bit of sign language... but she read lips really well. We told her how we got a flat tire and were stuck and needed to get home and the whole story. She went in to get a member of the bishopric to see if they could help and then came back out with him. He told us there was a guy in the ward that actually worked for Les Schwab. However, he had just had back surgery so he couldn't help, but he called him to see if anyone else could. He made a call to someone else at the shop and told us they would open up shop to fix my tires. We were SO relieved.

The nice deaf woman told us that she just takes the sacrament and then goes home to take care of her mother, and when she came out to follow her home and she would take care of us. At first we said it was nice of her but we didn't want to be a bother... but she replied "It's no trouble, you are family". After all the stress of trying to get out of our situation, those words almost brought me to tears. What a christ-like example she is. Bringing us into her home with no questions, not knowing who we are except that we were members of the church and that was all she needed to know. So we followed her home. She told us to make ourselves at home. There was a guest house if we wanted a nap. She fed us a snack and got us water. She let us shower. It was so kind.


While Melanie took a shower, I sat down and talked to her mother who she takes care of full time. She was knitting. I guess that is all she can do these days, so she does a lot of it. I talked to her a little bit about where she was from and how long they had been in Montana and all the wildlife they see in their backyard. I noticed her mom had an accent, so I asked her where she was from. She told me she was from Germany. I thought that was cool. The sweet deaf woman later told me that her mom is a Holocaust survivor. WHAT?! I am glad that I didn't know that until later because I probably would have been nosey and started asking a bunch of questions and she said her mom doesn't like talking about it. She was a nice lady. They both were. Before we left, she made sure we both had our favorite color slippers that she had knitted herself. What a gift! We thought they were both the sweetest. Soon we were both showered and had eaten and gathered our stuff and were ready to drive to the Les Schwab. The deaf woman gave us her information in case we needed to get back in touch or needed a place to stay... even if we came back in the future. She also followed us to the Les Schwab and stayed there until she knew we were taken care of. Bless her heart. There needs to be more people like her in the world.


The big bummer was that I couldn't replace just one tire. They didn't have my tires in stalk, so I had to get 4 new tires on which ended up being over $1,000 which of course my dad paid for because we had been in touch and let I him know what was happening and as soon as he found out I needed all new tires he said it could be an early birthday present. That is what my dad does. Just like his mom... he takes care of people. It is what he does best. It was an even bigger bummer because it had just been a little over a year since I had gotten new tires on. They were still in great shape. So they told me they would ship my other tires to the nearest Les Schwab near me and I could purchase a 4th tire when I got home and when these tires are bad one day... I don't have to buy new tires, I can just put my others ones back on. So that is what we did. The guy that had opened up shop just to put new tires on my car was SO nice. Seriously... couldn't have been nicer. We told him how much we appreciated him doing this and he said it was no problem at all. Just wanted to make sure we could get home safe. As Melanie and I were talking about the roller coaster we had been through in the last 24 hours... we found out that they had shut down Glacier National Park because of the fires. All the events that happened and all the help we got.. as I was talking about it with her, I started to cry because I was touched by all the nice people that helped us. Less than an hour later I had new tires on my car and we were on our way. The night before we were not even sure if we were going to be able to get home until Tuesday night... we thought we would be stuck in Montana until shops opened up again... but here we were less that 24 hours later (Sunday at noon) and I had new tires and we were on our way with a day and a half left to get home. Amazing right?


So we drove away from the fires. We decided to spend the night in Grand Teton National Park... because I love it there and it is closer to home and hopefully not on fire. Turns out it was still pretty smokey there, but we were able to wake up to the Tetons and spend some time on Jenny Lake before we drove home.

What a crazy adventure for Melanie and I's first trip together. We for sure were disappointed by the fires and getting a flat tire and all the stress and worrying that came with that. However, at the end of the trip we both decided that it was still a great trip. It was a renewed faith in humanity trip. There are so many kind people out there that are willing to help a total stranger in need. I needed that reminder. I think I forget that sometimes because I focus on all the morons that I am surrounded by. It was also a great reminder of Christ - Like love and service in the church and that you can count on the church when you are stranded in other states. I forget that because my last ward was not the best experience for me. I didn't feel like I felt much love there... but the sweet deaf lady treated us like family, because we are all brothers and sisters in the church. I mean... we should treat everyone with the same kindness, and many did. It made me think though... would I have done the same thing? I left that trip wanting to be more like those people that helped us. I hope that I would if the opportunity came up.

I need to redo Glacier National Park... when it isn't on fire and do all the things I wanted to do. However, I am still thankful for for this trip and what it taught me. We all need to show each other this kind of love. We need to be there for those in need. When opportunities of service come our way, we need to step up to the plate. I'm so thankful to everyone in Montana that stepped up for us.


Saturday, September 2, 2017

Lake McDonald, Glacier National Park


One of my goals this year was to visit a new National Park. Glacier National Park was pretty high on my list... but I couldn't find many people that wanted to go with me because it is a 10 hour drive. Well... my friend that does my lashes hooked me up with one of her friends that is single and loves to travel and loves the outdoors like me. We met up for dinner to chat and see if we meshed and then decided we were ok to take an adventure together and decided this would be our first adventure. It was a holiday weekend so we had an extra day PLUS Melanie had always wanted to go to Glacier National Park too. She dreamed of seeing Lake McDonald. The largest Lake in the National Park.

So we made the 10 hour drive to Montana on Friday after work. We spent the night in my car somewhere in Idaho, but got to the National Park by the next afternoon. First thing we did... Go to Lake McDonald. That is actually the only thing we did... that story will come in the next blog post. Nobody told us that the National Park was on fire before we went. Or that pretty much Idaho to Montana was all on fire. It was pretty bad. That being said... the Lake was beautiful and we enjoyed our time there.



One of the things that Lake McDonald is known for is all of it's colorful rocks. We had fun looking at them and picking out our favorites. I even brought a few home to put in my Fish bowl.



What a beautiful place. I will have to go back when it is not on fire to see what it looks like. :)



Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Mazda CX-5 Camper Project


Ever since I started becoming obsessed with being outdoors, I have seen and been so fascinated with Van and Bus conversations. I love the idea of being able to stay in your car instead of having to set up and take down camp or staying in a hotel. I obviously don't have a van or a bus... so I couldn't do that as much as I wanted to. However... I do have a car that is big enough that I can sleep in. So I started searching online to see if other people had come up with a solution for smaller SUV's like mine. I saw things here and there that I liked, but nothing like what I wanted.

SO... I came up with my own design and asked my cousin Dave if he would be up for a cousin project. Thankfully he said yes and he enjoys building things. So I told him my idea and he loved it and got to work. No plans.... just measuring my space and cutting wood and improving my plan as we went. Love it! Dave is so talented.


My idea? Well, I wanted to build a platform that had 2 or 3 drawers underneath. With the size of my car and what I wanted, 2 made sense. I wanted one to pull out and be a long table that I could prepare food on or for me and a couple other people to eat on or whatever other reason you need a table. The other would pull out and it would be an actual drawer with storage and then at the end of it would be a sink so that I can wash a dish, brush my teeth or wash my hands. Dave one-uped my idea and turned the sink into a transformer. Then of course on top of the platform is the bed. It is pretty comfy too I might add. It is an air mattress with memory foam on top. Now I just need to make covers for the windows and I think I am set.



To personalize the entire thing, I decided that I wanted to do some wood burning on it. I of course have never done wood burning before, but I thought I would go for it anyway. I like some of it more than others... but I love how my tree around the sink turned out. My mom even helped me wood burn some of the trees.







I LOVE how it turned out. Dave it amazing. It may sound weird to some, but I love that I can sleep in my car. I also love that on a road trip... if we get hungry, we can just pull over to a pretty spot and set up quickly to make lunch or whatever. It is just so easy and convenient and awesome. It was the best solution for what I wanted from a Van conversion for my SUV. I will make a video at some point to give a tour of the entire thing... but until then, these pictures will have to do. Thank you Dave for helping make my vision come true.



Saturday, August 26, 2017

A Day in the Unitas with Drew


I was itching to go outside and Drew had never been to the Uintas. So... we decided to take a day trip up there. It was a beautiful day.

Something that I appreciate adventuring with Drew, is that he love photography like I do. So we both took our time and took pictures and just relaxed and enjoyed the beautiful surroundings.

I had been to Provo River Falls before.. but never explored down the River from the Falls. It's beautiful.





I also brought 2 hammocks so that we could kick back and relax by the lake while we were there. Drew had never hammocked before! Can you believe that? Well, he loved it. I'm pretty sure that he wants a hammock now.




After we explored and relaxed and took lots of pictures... the sun went down and we decided to head home. So happy to have Drew as my co-worker and now friend and sometimes nature/photography buddy and so glad that he wanted to explore the Unitas with me.





Monday, August 21, 2017

Total Solar Eclipse


I don't know why, but I thought this eclipse was going to be like the last one I saw. However it wasn't. If I would have known the difference between the Eclipse's I would have traveled to Idaho to watch this one.... but I'm dumb and treated it like any other day and went to work. What a mistake.

I did however go full Tracy style and dress for the occasion. AKA I wore my moon shirt.


Work did give us glasses and made a party (ish) out of watch the big event. So my team all went outside... along with a lot of the rest of the company that was around to watch as the time got closer to the totality of the eclipse which for us in Utah was at 90% I think.


Although the temperature became cooler and the lighting did get a little weird/darker... it wasn't anything like I heard it was in the states of complete totality where it got dark like night time and got a lot cooler outside. My sister, Jamie and brother in law, Dan made the trip to Idaho to see it. I really with I would have also. Here is the picture Dan got in Idaho.


Here is the picture I got here in Utah.


Yep... I know... pretty lame. I guess that means I will just have to travel to the next one. At least my co-workers and I had some fun. And yes, we listened to Total Eclipse of the Sun while it was happening.