Almost There

I’m almost there. Four more days of our crazy season and I’ll be done. It’s been fun and productive, but I’m utterly exhausted. I look forward to getting more sleep and seeing people socially again. This year’s AEP has gone much better than last years. It’s a bit easier since it’s my second year and I’m not fighting for a permanent spot.

Today was a pain in the ass. Tech rolled out an update to our CRM. The problem was, however, that the business forgot to include lead delivery to our department and a few others in the requirements. Consequently, we sat twiddling our thumbs this morning until IT fixed the system. This makes me appreciate the amazing partnership we had (the business) with IT and our operations partners during our Salesforce rollout at Kaplan.

Of course, today’s highlight was the phone xcall from Jake. He looked good. His wifi is so spotty that it’s hard to hear him at times. Nonetheless, it’s great to hear his voice and see his face. Thankfully, he continues to look and sound great, which eases this mama’s mind. I’m sure going to miss having him home for Christmas this year. Hopefully, he’ll be able to come home next Christmas.

The puppies continue to be the best sales assistants a gal can find. Although poor Athena’s belly has been rumbling all day. The diet dog food does a number on her guy. She is, however, losing weight which is super important. Anakin was trying to convince me to share my breaded chicken with him tonight. Honestly, it was quite cute even if he was being annoying. The Mayor made dinner for us tonight, which was super helpful. Meanwhile, I’m almost there; to the end of AEP!

Struggle

The holidays are an awesome time, but for many folks it can be a struggle. Our Thanksgiving was awesome. We had a great time celebrating with our family in Florida, but there was an emptiness there. It’s our second Thanksgiving with Jake not at the table and it doesn’t get easier. We did get a special call from him, which did ease the pain somewhat. Nevertheless, I miss him.

The FaceTime was a lot of fun. He got to talk to my Grandma, who he is really close to, my uncle, my parents and of course my brothers and their families. It was really special for him to be able to talk with my Grandma. She was so delighted to be able to chat with him. Honestly, it was the perfect Thanksgiving surprise.

I took some time off from blogging last week because I’m emotionally, physically and mentally exhausted. So much so that I slept most of Thanksgiving. I fell asleep at my brother’s after dinner and was in bed by 8:30 pm. Staying awake was definitely a struggle for me on Thanksgiving. Sometimes it’s just best to rest and take a break than stress write a blog.

AEP will be over in little more than a week and then I will spend December recuperating. My company is giving us the option to take as much time off in December as we want, which is awesome. Except for the fact, it’s a sales job and to make money, you have to be present. I’ll be taking some time off, but I intend to maximize my time in the office.

Anyway, this holiday season choose kindness. There are so many people dealing with unseen challenges one couldn’t imagine, be nice. Be the person that brings someone else up. It’s free to be nice, so give the gift of kindness this holiday season. Your kindness may make all the difference for someone who is struggling this season.

Family Pictures

Yesterday we took family pictures and packed up Jake some more. The 3 mile hike and rappelling down to the waterfall took a lot out of all of us. Except my hubby who went for a badass trail run up the peak of the mountain behind our house. Meanwhile, my arms, shoulder and sciatic nerve are protesting Wednesday’s activity.

Initially, I had planned on taking the photos Antelope Island. However, the haze would make it difficult to get a good pictures. Also, the hike up to Buffalo Point is more vigorous than I remembered. By the time, we’d get to the top, our finery would be covered in dirt and dust. Additionally, it would be tough for my dad to make the hike up with his bad knee.

Consequently, I decided to take the photos in the backyard of the AirBnB. It would have been nice to find a spot where we could have the brilliantly colored maples behind us, but we couldn’t think of a spot that was easily accessible. Nevertheless, the backyard is beautiful and the mountains were to the background.

Naturally, trying to take a picture of all of us takes some time and effort. The boys aren’t always compliant or cooperative when doing photo shoots. Moreover, I don’t like myself in photos, which makes it difficult to find one I like. Nonetheless, the photos turned out fairly decent. We’re going to take a few more family pictures in the AirBnB this afternoon.

After taking the photos, we headed to Jake’s to pack up more of his stuff. We’ve made quite a bit of progress this far. No we only have his bathroom, bedroom and couch to pack up. Hopefully, we’re able to knock out the remainder of the packing tomorrow morning. This way we have the rest of Saturday to hang out and have fun.

Today we’re going to go try to see some F-35s takeoff. Each morning we’ve been in Target, we’ve heard them jet overhead. Naturally, we’re going to plan to be on the south end of the run way at that time. Hopefully, I’m able to get some good pictures with my mack daddy lens.

Adventure on the Mountain

Yesterday we had a wonderful adventure on the mountain courtesy of the Farmington Creek Trail – upper canyon section. Goalielocks, the Mayor and myself hiked this trail last year. However that adventure on the mountain went sideways when we got separated on the mountain. In fact, the whole reason I had chosen that trail was so we could rappel down to the waterfall. Obviously, since we got separated, we couldn’t safely rappel to the waterfall.

This time the weather was absolutely perfect. It was in the 60s when we started our hike, but it cooled off dramatically as we ascended the mountain. Last year, it was over 96 degrees when we hiked the trail. One thing this trail has is plenty of shade, which is awesome. The trees all around us were spectacularly colored. I definitely miss the fall colors.

The hike itself is a 3 mile up and back hike with an elevation gain of 950. It’s not an easy hike, but is bit overly hard either. It’s challenging in a good way. After the hike, both times, I felt proud of my accomplishment. This time the younger two patiently waited at the waterfall for us all to get there. I was a bit concerned they would try to rappel down to the waterfall without us.

At the turn around point is a beautiful waterfall. To get down to the waterfall, you have to rappel down a 50 foot rocky wall. Needless to say, it looked quite intimidating especially after the first half of the hike. The hubby went first to make sure the rest of us were able to make it down safely. Surprisingly, the descent was the hardest part.

Once we all made it down to the bottom, we explored a little bit and took some pictures. The temperature near the waterfall was probably in the 40s as the mountain water was quite cold. After taking some pictures and catching our breath, we headed back up the rock wall. The ascent was definitely easier, but I still had to sit and let my heart rate come back to normal.




The descent down the trail was much easier than the ascent. In fact, it really gave us an opportunity to drink in the beauty of our surroundings. Some of maple trees leaves had become a vibrant pink, while others had become a light peach color. The fall colors were absolutely spectacular up close. We also had beautiful views of the Great Salt Lake. The rain, the region got Tuesday night, cleared out the smoky haze nicely.

Unbeknownst to us, the real adventure was to begin as we left the trailhead. Apparently, the forest ranger had opened the trailhead in error. Upon realizing his error, he decided to lock the gates to the trailhead. That’s right folks, the ranger locked us and our fellow hikers in the Wasatch National Forest. Apparently, an old couple was leaving as he locked the gates. Initially, he told them he’d open the gates again at 6:00 pm. Eventually, he acquiesced and told them he’d open it once he finished his work in forty five minutes. It’s important to note the trailhead has no facilities, no benches, tables or bathrooms. Moreover, he could have let the old couple leave instead of insisting they wait for him.

By the time, we reached the line to leave it was already four cars deep. The whole experience was a bit disconcerting given we had all drank a bunch of water when we got back to the car. Eventually, we got sick of sitting, so we walked down to the gate to checkout the lock situation. Sadly the padlock was encase in a giant medal pole making it difficult to smash it open. As we, and several of our fellow hikers examined the gate, the Forest Ranger came back to open it up.

This ranger, who locked it and wouldn’t unlock it for the old couple, was wearing dress slacks, a white shirt and a forest service vest. Nonetheless, I can’t imagine the type of work he was doing on the road in that outfit. Honestly, it smacked of a power trip. After all, he opened the park in error. Upon realizing his error, he shouldn’t have locked all the hikers in the park.

Once we left the forest, we got gas and headed back to Ogden. We were all bit hungry, so we stopped and got everyone a burger and In N Out. It was the perfect amount of food to tide us over until dinner. Speaking of dinner, we headed to Rovalis the home of lavender lemonade for a nice dinner. The Mayor has been obsessed with this lemonade since he first tried it last year. We ended our night with a rousing game of hot seat.

If you go,

Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest

Farmington Creek Trail

In-N-Out Burger

Rovalis

Hill Aerospace Museum

Yesterday morning we headed over to the Hill Aerospace Museum near base. It’s a neat museum featuring the past and present of aviation in the Air Force. Since we forgot our masks, we started our tour outside where they have an impressive collection of aircraft. An added bonus was the two F-35s that flew overhead as we walked the display.

The museum is broken up into two galleries inside. One features the bombers and aircraft of World War 1 and World War 2. While the other features the fighter jets and helicopters. We had hope to see the Raptor they obtained in 2020, but it’s not ready to be displayed yet. Nonetheless, the fighter wing of the museum didn’t disappoint.

After the museum, we headed back to the AirBnB for a wonderful lunch cooked by Jake and Mel. They made us spaghetti with sauce and garlic bread. It was wonderful. Once we finished eating, we headed over to Jake’s to start the process of packing up his apartment. While my parents and I packed up the kitchen, the hubby dropped the Mayor off at the rink for two hours of stick and puck.

We managed to pack up his whole kitchen and his artwork before Jake got home. The Hubby, Grandpa and Jake were then able to bring the stuff to his new storage locker. Today we’re hoping to pack up one more room for him. We’re trying to do it in bite size pieces, so he had ample time to spend with us and Melly.

For dinner we headed to the Prairie Schooner Steakhouse. The boys and I had lunch there last year and it was super cute. In fact, the boys really enjoyed eating under a covered wagon with the trails of animals nearby. Thus we wanted to share the experience with the Hubby, Mel and my parents. The food was good. They cooked my steak (the cowgirl) perfectly. After dinner, we headed back to the Airbnb to watch some IT Crowd while we played Uno.

If you go:

Hill Aerospace Museum

Prairie Schooner Steak House

Antelope Island

Yesterday we were able to get back out to Antelope Island, which is one of my favorite places here. Albeit that’s not what we had planned for the day. We had planned to eat breakfast at Scrambled, but they’re now closed on Mondays. Consequently, we ended up eating at Chris’ Cafe. The diner was super cute and they had a nice tribute to our fallen soldiers.

Pretty much the entire table had pancakes for breakfast. I enjoyed my pancakes although my dad’s were a bit hard. The hash browns and eggs were really good, but the bacon was a bit suspect. Nevertheless, it was a super filling breakfast that held all of us over to dinner. Since we were so far west on Antelope Dr. already, I bought passes to Antelope Island state park as we finished breakfast.

The park costs $15/day per car, which is reasonable. The island is normally surrounded by the Great Salt Lake on all sides with a causeway connecting it to the mainland. This year, however, there was no water on either side of of the causeway until we got super close to the island. It’s incredible to see just how low the lake levels are this year. Last year, the water was much higher and functioned like a mirror when you took picture. It was so beautiful.

The water level was low and there was a great haze over the lake. Consequently, we could hear the F-35s overhead, but couldn’t see them. Our first stop on the island was the visitors center. One thing I loved in the visitor center was a map they update daily showing where on the island you can find the resident wildlife. They also had maps showing the historically low lake levels and historically high lake levels.

My hope this year was that we’d see both bison and antelope. Thankfully, we saw plenty of bison on our drive around the island. One of my favorite places on the island is Buffalos Point. This is where we took the incredible sunset photos last year. We also saw several bison. Afterwards we started our drive back to the mainland. Fortunately, we found a small herd of bison on our way out. The Hubby pulled over so we could take some pictures of the bison. As we drove off the island, we saw there were two bison and Antelope!! Woohoo! Again he pulled over, so I could get pictures of the animals. They’re so beautiful.

We spent most the day relaxing at home. Although we did take the Mayor to stick and puck at the ice rink on the Weber State Campus. While he skated, the Hubby and I walked the trail at Beus Park. This was a short half a mile trail around a pond. After our brief walk, we headed back to the rink to watch the Mayor skate.

Since the park trail was super easy, I was craving a hike. The Hubby and I decided to hike the mountain behind the house. He’s been hiking the many paths on the mountain each morning. The hardest part of the hike was the scramble up to the Bonneville Shore trail. Once we got up to the main trail, it was a pretty easy hike. The scenery was absolutely gorgeous as you could see all of the valley and the setting sun. For dinner we had leftover tacos and nachos. Today we’re headed to the aerospace museum.

If you go:

Antelope Island State Park

Chris’ Cafe

Ice Sheet at Weber State

Photography:

The wildlife photos were taken with my Canon T6i and a Canon 70-200 f/2.8 lens. We were never closer than a half a mile to any of the animals photographed, which is smart because bison can be mean.

Snowbasin

Yesterday morning we headed to beautiful Snowbasin. The boys and I did this hike with Melly last year and we all loved it. Consequently, I was eager for us to do it again. To get there, we had to drive through the beautiful canyon. The drive through this canyon takes a bit longer as it’s one lane each way and there’s some road construction. Nevertheless, it was a spectacular ride.

Snowbasin was quite busy when we got there due to a Xterra trail race that was happening that morning. Additionally, they also had a Germanfest starting at noon. Surprisingly the top of the mountain was not crowded. The ride up the gondola was breathtaking with fall colors all around us. Fortunately or maybe unfortunately, we were all able to fit into one gondola car. Goalielocks and the Mayor in that close of quarters is never a good combination.

While we went to hike to the summit, my folks walked the area near the ski lodge. The trail up to the summit is fairly easy. Albeit it didn’t feel easy on the way up. The hike starts at 8,500 feet, so it’s only a gain of just over 500 feet. It, however, felt like I hiked an elevation gain of 1,000 feet. Nonetheless, it was a beautiful hike up to the summit of Mount Ogden.

We spent twenty minutes at the summit taking pictures and enjoying the beautiful views of the Great Salt Lake to the west and the valley and mountains to the east. As we sat, the boys started a game of seeing who could hit the sign with the most rocks. It was a funny moment and a great way to catch our breath before heading down the mountain.

After Snowbasin we headed back to the AirBnB to enjoy our leftovers from Hibachi. Post lunch Grandma, Jake, the Mayor and I headed to Walmart to pick up packing supplies and few additional items. I was anxious to get some chapstick as my lips were killing me. The air is so dry out here that I also had buy some hand lotion.

The rest of the day we chilled at home. For dinner, I made beef tacos. I cooked up three pounds of beef and we don’t have too much meat left. We’re trying to eat at the AirBnB as much as possible since it’s cheaper and healthier. After dinner, we played the game Hot Seat, which was a ton of fun.

If you go:

Snowbasin

Games:

Hot Seat

Celebrating Melly

Yesterday was all about acclimating to the altitude and celebrating Melly and her 20th birthday. It was fun to have everyone together here in Utah to celebrate with her. We started our day with a nice pancake breakfast in her honor. In fact, we even got to test the AirBnB’s smoke alarms courtesy of the pound of bacon the Hubby cooked.

After breakfast, we headed to Kohl’s to pick up some hiking boots for the boys and a new suitcase for Melly. Goalielocks had forgotten to pack his boots, while the Mayor had outgrown his old pair. While at Kohl’s I found the perfect opal bracelet for Melly. My parents, my hubby and I, Jake and Melly, and Goalielocks and Isa all started dating in October, so I bought both girls a piece of opal jewelry for their birthday. Jake treated us to Chick-Fil-a before we headed to the mall.

We spent the afternoon chilling at the AirBnb. Before we headed to dinner, we played a rousing and endless game of Uno. Apparently, they added a shuffle hand card with the new edition. Consequently, it turned Uno into a never ending game. Nonetheless, it was super fun.

For dinner, we headed to Tokyo Station in downtown Ogden. It’s a hibachi restaurant that happens to be the only one locally that has yum yum sauce. I’m not sure how a hibachi restaurant could function without yum yum sauce. The wait was long since they don’t take reservations, but the food was worth the wait. Most of us has the filet mignon, while Goalielocks and the Mayor had the chicken and shrimp pairing.

After dinner we headed back to the AirBnB to have birthday cake and play games. I had bought a cheesecake for Melly while we were out and about. Additionally, I had some super cute candles delivered with the cake. The card game was a ton of fun although the name escapes me at the moment. This morning we’re headed over to Snow Basin on the east side of the mountains.

Utah Day One

Utah day one was a big success despite the lack of sleep the night before. Fortunately, our flights out West were smooth sailing. Thank you Delta! Once we got into SLC, I went to get the rental car set before my parents flight landed. Luckily, the logistics we planned worked out perfectly.

I ordered pizza to be delivered to Jake’s apartment as we drove North to Ogden. Since it was around 2:00 by the time we got to Ogden, it was still too early to check into our AirBnB. Thanks to Uber Eats and good timing, our pizza got to Jake’s about a minute after we arrived. Speaking of Jake’s place, it’s absolutely perfect for him. It’s a really nice place.

After hanging out at Jake’s for a bit, we headed over to our AirBnB. The place is just over 3 miles north east of Jake’s place, which is perfect. Thankfully, the AirBnB is as perfect in person as it looked on the website. Moreover, the owners decked it out completely with everything you could need and more. I love the place!

We spent the evening at home, I had groceries delivered via Shipt. Afterwards, we headed to Smith’s to buy meats for dinner. The house has a nice gas grill, which we were more than happy to use. For dinner, we had burger, brats and Luke’s grilled potatoes. It was really nice to be able to eat outside under the stars without sweating off my weight in water.

Today is Mel’s birthday, so we’ll be celebrating her all day as we acclimate to the altitude. We’re hoping to the mountains behind us tomorrow morning before heading to Antelope Island for family pictures in the evening. Hopefully, this time we’ll actually see some Antelope on the island! Utah day one was a success. I love Utah!

On My Way

I’m on my way to see my boy!!! We left the house at 4:00 am, which sucked. Needless to say, we’re all going to need naps on the flight. Our first flight is a quick jaunt to Atlanta, so I probably won’t sleep until the second flight. I am hoping that the MacDonald’s in Atlanta isn’t out if egg mcmuffins again because that was a real buzz kill last time.

This is the first time I’ve taken a long vacation since starting my new job. I have to say it was nice setting the out of office notification and knowing I won’t check email until I’m back. Thankfully, its a complete 180 from my last job where the expected you to be plugged in 24/7. Obviously, I don’t miss those days at all!! Well, I’m on my way and I’m going to enjoy watching Dumb and Dumber.