Utah Trip – Hiking

Our Utah trip this past summer was awesome. Of course, the highlight was being reunited with Jake, but we also had some great adventures together. One of my favorite things to do in Utah is hiking in the mountains. Unfortunately, I was not in great shape this time because I had just started running again. Consequently, the first hike in Utah’s heat and at a much higher elevation didn’t end well for me. I definitely lost my cookies going up the mountain. Fortunately, Jake and the Mayor took great care of me and we got down the mountain safely and intact.

The medicine I’m on with Calibrate is great, but nausea can be pretty bad, especially with exertion. Hence, I lost the cookies on the first hike. Our second hike was an easier trail with more shade, but the elevation and heat still kicked my arse. This time I was careful it take more breaks and keep my heart rate lower. I didn’t lose my lunch that time, but the hike kicked my butt. We did see a beautiful snake slither across the trail. Thankfully, it was not poisonous. Unfortunately, it was too quick for us, so nobody for a picture.

One of the most unique hikes we did was at the Golden Spike National Historical Park. This park is about an hour northwest of Ogaden on the northern shore of the Great Salt Lake. Rather than a hike up a mountainside, we hiked down to the shores of Salt Lake. Due to the drought, the American West has experienced, the lake is at its lowest level. Consequently, we hiked across the dried-up lake bed for more than a mile to reach the shore of the lake.

It was striking how dead birds or insects would lay preserved from the salt on the lake’s bed. As we approached the shore where the waves were breaking, there was a wide crust of salt running parallel to the waterline. As you looked out over the lake, it was a beautiful blue with haze coming off the water. It was gorgeous! Meanwhile, the waves of the lake had a bright reddish hue that made the lake look otherworldly. I was not tempted to go in the red water, but Jake and the Mayor did. They both said it felt like an Epsom salt bath. When they walked out of the lake, a layer of salt was left behind on their legs. Naturally, they collected some salt to use at home.

Beyond the beautiful hike on the bed of the Great Salt Lake, Golden Spike National Historical Park is a pretty neat place. They still have Victorian-era locomotives that travel the tracks, so visitors can see what they looked like. There is now a plaque where the golden spike used to be commemorating the coming together on the intercontinental railroad. As for the actual spike, it’s now on display at Stanford University.

There are several other hikes you can do at the park. We opted, however, to drive up to the Chinese Arch. It was a terrifying drive with a drop off of thousands feet to the right side. Meanwhile, the gravel road up to the arch was super narrow. While the arch was worth the drive, I’d probably go for the hike the next time around. I wouldn’t want to do that drive again.

My favorite hike this trip, however, was to Gloria Falls in Little Cottonwood Canyon. I love hiking the Cottonwood Canyons because it’s significantly cooler than hiking in and around Ogden. Our elevation at the start of the hike was over 7800 feet. By the time we hit the waterfall, our altitude was almost 9,000 feet. Thankfully, this particular hike is not arduous because if it was I really would have struggled. Once we got to the falls, the air temperature was in the low 60s. The rushing water coming off the mountains certainly had a chilling effect.

Gloria Falls, it’s absolutely stunning and worth the hike. There is plenty of space to take a good rest or eat a picnic lunch, which is awesome. If I had planned better, I would have brought lunch. The hike itself provides stunning vistas out over the forests of the canyon, the mountains, and the distant valley. It’s a popular hike, so you’ll want to head out early to find parking. Also, the last part of the trail is unmarked. Consequently, be sure to download the map from the AllTrails app, so you don’t get lost. Albeit, you’ll likely run into plenty of people on your way up to the falls. Nonetheless, this is a trail I’d hike again anytime I found myself in Utah.

One of the solo hikes I did on our last Utah trip was right next to the Weber Ice Sheet. It is a simple half-mile paved loop around a pond. While the boys enjoyed open skating, I enjoyed walking around the pond and picking blackberries. I was shocked when a beautiful doe crossed in front of me as she went near the pond to eat. When I looped around again, she was standing in the middle of the path just taking it all in. After seeing all the videos of bison goring stupid tourists at Yellowstone, I decided to give her a wide berth. Unfortunately, she was not there when I came back to run the next day.

All in all, we had some great hikes during this last Utah trip. Ones that I’ll certainly explore again. I’d love to spend more time hiking and exploring both Little Cottonwood and Big Cottonwood Canyons. Also, if my parents travel with us again, I think they’d really enjoy Golden Spike National Historical Park. Now back in Florida, I can tell you that I miss waking up in the mountains every morning. I love being up on the mountain exploring everything and every view it has to offer. There’s something almost spiritual about it! Anyway, I love Utah and I love hiking in Utah!

Deployment Diaries – The Homecoming!

I wrote my deployment diaries throughout the entirety of Jake’s deployment, but ultimately only published a few of them. After all, I think the ravings of a worried mother would have eventually gotten redundant for you all. Nonetheless, writing daily whether I published them or not brought me peace. Initially, I had expected that Jake would return in time for graduation. Unfortunately, given world events that was not the case.

Finally, this summer we had hints that he’d be returning stateside. Naturally, I held my breath because I didn’t want to get too excited in case he got extended again. After all, his and now our schedule is at the mercy of the military. And then the text, we’d been waiting for finally came, he was about to take off on his return flight home. Crazily, he had to wait until this point because until the plane is rolling down the runway, the military could change their mind and make them stay.

Like the stalker mom I am, I naturally found his flight and followed it throughout the night and the next day. I may have had a slight heart attack as his plane hit a radar dead zone in the middle of the Atlantic and fell off the screen. Fortunately, his plane was not in the dead zone for long and his plane re-emerged from the dead zone, I breathed a long sigh of relief.

Unfortunately for Jake, the journey home took several days with several stops. When he finally made it home, we were overseas. Oh, the irony. Fortunately, our trip was quick. Nevertheless, I was able to fill his new apartment with groceries from the Bahamas thanks to Shipt. His friends and Sgt helped him move in. Thankfully, his girlfriend was able to get there the Monday after he returned, which was awesome. I definitely didn’t want him alone.

Finally, about a week after he returned the boys and I were able to fly out and see him. Honestly, I thought my heart was going to burst from anticipation. It was a long day of flying, but we finally got to our Airbnb at around 11:30. On the ride from the airport, we had ordered pizza. It turns out it was the worst Papa John’s pizza any of us had ever had. Nevertheless, none of that really mattered to any of us as we were all back together.

When he first pulled up, we went out to greet both him and Melly, I think I hugged Jake for a good solid ten minutes. Or at least until his younger brothers started making fun of me. Some day when they have kids they’ll understand the emotional investment and the need for a ten-minute hug. As hugs go, I’d say it was the best ever. There’s no better hug than one from your child that just returned safely from deployment. During the course of that world record-setting hug, I could feel the weight of the world lift off my shoulders. No longer did I have to carry the stress of him being in constant peril in an uncertain world.

To all our friends and family that supported us throughout his deployment, we love you and thank you dearly. Jake loved all the beautiful cards, care packages, and goodies he received while being down range. He surely felt the love. His deployment was not without its scary moments, but he also had great command and a squadron that took care of him down range. He was also able to have some fun adventures that he’ll always relish. The one thing he won’t miss is the ridiculous temperatures and humidity of the Persian Gulf. Lastly, my heart is with all the military mothers that came before me who, unlike me, didn’t have the technology to communicate with their children regularly. I can’t imagine their pain. And this will close out my deployment diaries for now.

Deployment Diary – Saying Goodbye

I decided to keep an electronic diary of my thoughts during deployment. By the time this is published, he will be back home.

Saying goodbye to our eldest is never easy, but this last time it was particularly hard. This time it would be the last time I got to hug him before he left on his first deployment. To say that hug contained a lot of emotion and love would be a gross understatement. While he was excited for this new adventure, the mom in me couldn’t help but be anxious and worried sick. Naturally, I tried my best to hide this from him. After all, I didn’t want him feeding off my anxiety. Nor did I want him worrying about his mom.

Perhaps the hardest part of all of this is not knowing the details. He’s limited in what he can share with for obvious reasons, but it makes it hard when you don’t know the when and where. At the moment, we’re just waiting for the shoe to drop. Obviously, it’s been a bit nerve wracking.

Utah Bound

We’re wheels up on our way to Utah and I couldn’t be more excited. For the ten months, our oldest was deployed overseas and is finally home!!!!! I can’t tell you how hard it was as a mother to have a kid down range. I can only think of the Military moms and wife’s that came before me when the technology took keep us connected didn’t exist. My heart would have been in my throat daily if I had to wait for a letter via post. Technology, as sucky as it can be, was an absolute god send during his deployment. Anyway, I’m super excited to be spending the next week plus out West with my boys.

Twilight Zone

Last weekend’s hockey tournament was like stepping into the twilight zone. To be fair, it’s our fault for going. The memorial day tournament, as long as we’ve been involved in Florida hockey, has been an unmitigated disaster/twilight zone. This year’s tournament was no exception. Our weekend also had a 70s/80s flair courtesy of the Saddlebrook Resort. The furniture in our room was probably older than all of us.

Sunday was by far the worst day. Our first game of the day was an absolute disaster. In fact, it’s probably the worst hockey experience I’ve had to date. That my friends is saying a lot. One of the refs was not sober and did the job at a level commensurate to his lack of sobriety. There were only two refs as well because folks don’t want to pay for four. We should demand that there are four at the higher levels.

Consequently, the other team ended up with two goals that should never have happened. One the opposing goalie caught the puck and held it. There should have been a whistle or a play the puck here, but there wasn’t. As our boys came off to change, the goalie release the puck to his teammate, who naturally got a breakaway and scored. The second goal happened after the puck hit the netting in the neutral zone and wasn’t whistled dead. Apparently, the puck never crossed the line either, but that wasn’t something I could see from my vantage point.

By the third period, we had tied it up and the game started to devolve. There were several skirmishes that resulted in players being tossed from the game. Strangely, the refs never reported any player numbers or corresponding infractions. It was an absolutely odd situation. However, it would only get weirder after the game when the opposing coach added a goal for his son to the scoresheet. Thankfully, there was someone in the tournament office that watched the game and knew it had ended in a tie. Who does that shit?

The assistant coach added a goal for his son after the game.

The oddness of the day was punctuated in our second game by an opposing parent that walked back and forth behind the bench flicking off the kids. Seriously? I should also say the opposing coach was an asshole trying to get us to forfeit stating we had suspended players that were playing. Obviously, that was complete bullshit. I firmly told the coach to take note of the suspensions already noted as served on the scoresheet. He took a picture and huffed back to his bench. What a loser. At any rate, I will happily skip next year’s twilight zone tournament.

Monday we headed home, which is always a fun drive. There’s no worse road to drive than State Road 60. It’s awful anytime of the day and in any kind of weather. Once we got home, we quickly left again to go see my brother and sister in law that can to town Thursday. We all had a blast at the BBQ and the kids got to hang with their cousins, which was great.

Turks and Caicos

Last month I spent six days in the beautiful Turks and Caicos with my beautiful Momcation friends. This trip has been three years in the making and delayed twice due to COVID. We stayed in the most incredible villa, Tip of the Tail Villa, which was absolutely beautiful inside and out. Moreover, the villa comes with a staff including a butler, maids and a professional chef. Needless to say, Chef and Sheldon spoiled us rotten. We ate like queens day in and day out. Every meal was better than the last one. I don’t think I could even pick a favorite if I tried because they were all that good.

Usually on Momcation, we hang out almost exclusively at the house maybe going on one excursion. This time we took several excursions and all were well worth it. Wednesday night we hit up the world famous Da Conch Shack, which has a live junkanoo band that night. Honestly, it lived up to expectations. Our food was super tasty and the atmosphere was phenomenal. Thursday night we went to the world Famous Fish Fry. It was okay, but Da Conch shack was better. Friday night we did a sunset champagne cruise, which was absolutely sublime. We even saw some dolphins. Lastly, saturday morning we went Kayaking in the mangroves, which was incredible. We saw a large amount of baby sea turtles and baby sharks, which were super cute. Our adventures this trip were awesome.

If you’ve never been there before you should definitely consider it as a must-see destination. The beaches and waters of Turks and Caicos are second to none. In fact, the water in Turks and Caicos is on a whole other level. The different shades of blue are breathtakingly beautiful. More than that, the people of Turks and Caicos are super hospitable and welcoming. We didn’t run into one rude person, which after living in South Florida is a nice change.

Things to do when in Turks:

  • Go to Grace Bay and enjoy the beautiful white sand beaches. It’s a beautiful spot. You won’t regret spending time here.
  • Visit Da Conch Shack (Wednesday if you want to see the Junkanoo band.) This restaurant is extremely popular, so make you make a reservation a couple of weeks before you trip.
  • Champagne Sunset Sail through Ocean Vibes was absolutely amazing. They have an open bar and plenty of food form local restaurants to keep you well fed as you drink.
  • Kayak tour with Rising Tide Charters. There are several kayak tour operators in the area, but what I loved about Paddle King Jennings and Rising Tide Charters was that our excursion was only us. We had a small intimate group whereas the other tours were quite large. Our guide brought a cooler full of water for us and was eager to share all he knew about the Islands, the mangroves and the animals that inhabit the mangroves.
  • Visit Mudjin Harbor on Middle Caicos. It’s not the easiest place to get to, but if you have the time I highly recommend it. We didn’t visit Middle Caicos this trip, but did visit Mudjin Harbor on our first Momcation in 2018.

En Route

I’m officially en route to Turks and Caicos for Momcation 3.0. This trip has been three years in the making and couldn’t have come a moment too soon. To say I need some rest and relaxation would be an absolute understatement. For the next five days, there will be no fucks given about anything as I soak up the sun in paradise with some of my favorite people!

Monday, Monday

Monday, Monday…. What a song and what a day. As my boss adroitly reminded us all in our noon meeting, we were now the farthest possible from a new Monday morning. Ah, it’s the little things in life. Work was still a bit slow, but I managed to be pretty productive. I’m going to call today a big win. There are some changes coming, which was expected given the state of the business and the lack of seasonal employees.

Happily, I was finally able to work out for the first time since I jacked up my finger and foot. It felt great, but I’m sure I’ll feel this leg day tomorrow. Moreover, it will be interesting to see how my run goes tomorrow since I haven’t run in a few weeks. There’s always a bit of a falloff when you take some time off running. Hopefully, the fall off isn’t too far.

On a brighter note, (see what I did there?) my sunburn is still red, but not quite as painful today. Fortunately, we have plenty of after sun care lotion. Obviously, I’ll be absolutely coated with sunscreen when I’m in Turks later this month. Did I mention I can’t wait for Momcation? The last few month have been an absolute shitstorm of a hell scape. I’d write about it here, but you might get confused and think I started writing fiction. Anyway, a few days with good friends in paradise will serve me well. And now this Monday, Monday is about to come to an end.

Morning at Urgent Care

So I spent my morning at urgent care after I got hurt taking the dogs out. Anakin ran hard for the banana grove and tore the leash out of my hand. Both leashes went flying, so I ran quickly to collect them before the dogs realized they were free. Meanwhile, the pain from my finger made me absolutely nauseous. As I brought the dogs in, I caught a glimpse of my poor, injured finger.

I quickly took the leashes off once the dogs weee safely inside before heading to the bathroom to lose my cookies. Obviously, it was a completely miserable span of ten minutes. My hubby was kind enough to call the urgent care to check on the wait times. My boss gave me the green light to do whatever i neeeded. Consequently, I was able to see the doctor before starting my day.

By the time we got to the urgent care, the wait had grown from fifteen minutes to forty five minutes. Due to the extended wait gome, we went back home to wait it out. Fortunately, I was able to get some work done. As luck would have it, I was able to take one call that resulted in a great sale. Once I finished the call, we headed back to the urgent care. Our timing was perfect, they were ready for me as soon as we got back.


Thankfully, I don’t think I broke it. There was an area of concern that the doctor wasn’t sure about, so he was waiting to hear back from radiology. Consequently, we’re treating it as a severe sprain unless the radiologist says differently. Nevertheless, I had to skip my workout today, which is a total bummer. Despite my morning at urgent care, my day ended up being really productive.

The mayor is up in Buffalo and had two games today. They won their first game 8-1 and he had two goals. The second game ended in a 1-1 time, which isn’t a bad result. After all, this is the first time a lot of these kids are playing together. Tonight they’re out to dinner and I’m sure enjoying all that Buffalo has to offer. He has two more games tomorrow, which we’ll be watching from afar. I love watching him play!!

Buffalo Bound

The Mayor was Buffalo bound this morning for a fun, spring hockey tournament. Due to work schedules, the hubby and I weren’t able to make the trip, which is a total bummer. Fortunately, he was able to go with his friend Ryder and his mom, our friend, Elizabeth. They left FLL at the ass crack of dawn to head north to New York.

My hubby was kind enough to drive them to the airport this morning. Due to a 5:30 am flight, they had to leave the house before 3:30 this morning. I kept waking up every hour nervous that they’d sleep through their alarms despite the fact I wasn’t going with them. Honestly, I should have known better. The Mayor was showered and ready to go well before 3:30. And just like that he was Buffalo bound.


Once they left, I was finally able to get some good sleep. Unfortunately, I may have slept too well as I didn’t wake up until 8:05. The main problem there, of course, is that I start work at 8:00 am. Thank god I work from home and am a top tier agent, so I can pop in late without issue. Naturally, I never take advantage of that flexibility. I can’t help myself and am always, except for today, ten minutes early to work.

My stomach has been bothering me, but I all still managed to get my run in. I may have, however, cut the cooldown short because I spent too much time throwing up. So there’s that fun. The run itself went pretty well. The medicine I started as part of the Calibrate program makes me super nauseous. Fortunately, the nausea lessens after a few days.

The highlight of the afternoon was hearing from Jake. He looks and sounds amazing. His job is keeping him busy, but he looked well rested. After we talked to Jake, the hubby grilled up some amazing steaks and roasted some sweet potatoes. It was a very yummy dinner. I love sweet potatoes. We definitely have plenty of steaks to eat for dinner tomorrow. In the meantime, I can’t wait to see all the pictures from the Mayor’s Buffalo bound trip.