Thursday, November 29, 2007

I Love My Grandma...and other shout outs.

I've recently noticed how intense the sense of taste is...maybe that's why I love eating so much. Anyway, my grandparents have always kept a garden and I've always looked forward to their fresh raspberries and peaches. I didn't see the grandparents often when I was really young, but during one of those visits my grandma introduced me to what is still my favorite breakfast if not one of my favorite all-time meals: fruit and cream with a little sugar. Actually my adult tastes have morphed it into fruit and vanilla almond milk with artificial sweetener, but it's still the best thing I've ever put in my mouth. I was at work this morning waiting for our month-end meeting to end so I could finally have "the" breakfast. The meeting this month was actually fairly quick, but then my boss wanted to have a discussion on the state of the economy, a topic in which I normally would have been very interested, but I had fruit and cream waiting for me in the break room! How dare he prolong the meeting! well I finally got my breakfast, and as I sat back in my chair to savor the tasty goodness I kept thinking of how awesome my grandma is for sharing this wonderful treat with me all those years ago. Thanks Grandma, I love you.

Whitney Ingram recently mentioned the "mystery water park" on I-15 in the Mojave Desert, and I made a quick comment about its origins. Well she went above and beyond the call of duty in researching it and enlightening as all with information about the legendary park (legendary for anyone who's driven up the 15 and wondered why the park is there and why it's NEVER open). Anyway I was blog hopping and came across this picture taken at that water park on Carson Day's site Whitney, this one's for you!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Day 3: I heart Queenstown. Total distance traveled: 370 miles.

So I'll say it now: Queenstown was our favorite place of the trip. Tons of outdoorsy things to do, cool people, surreal scenery, and great restaurants. Halo: Forbidden Bites was our favorite cafe - especially for breakfast. The french toast was heavenly and they had these great juice blends. Anyway, on Monday we left Queenstown to head up to Christchurch, planning to stop at Mt. Cook along the way.

The Docks at Steamer's Warf, with the heart of Queenstown behind Kenny. Look hard and you can see me in this picture.

I got a new wide angle camera lens and flash for this trip, and spent a lot of the time playing with it. Here's the same dock, but looking the other way at Lake Wakatipu.

I hate hospitals and funerals...but LOVE cemeteries, especially old decaying ones like these. It's less macabre than it may seem; growing up in Boston, my family used to picnic in old cemeteries; my brother and I would play hide-and-seek and jump off tombs. Random, I know, but the cemeteries in Boston were beautiful and full of interesting graves of famous founding fathers. Anyway, this one was way up on the hill in Queenstown by the Gondola.

On our way out of town we passed by the first bungee jump location, still in operation, but closed that day.

Mt. Cook, New Zealand's tallest peak is in the middle of nowhere. It had been hours since we'd passed a town. So you can imagine how surprised we were to see 10-15 of these guys riding these bikes on some remote highway. Apparantly there's a club for this where they get dressed up and cruise. How do they get down?

Remember The Waterboy? Glacier water is really that blue.

Because we're immature... (you may need to click on this picture and view it up close.) For all the nerds out there, they filmed Lord of the Rings in this valley.

So... there's no way I took this; it's a photo of a poster at the visitor center. Mt. Cook was covered in clouds when we got there, but we could see the glaciers. All I could think about were those stories in Outsider Magazine about hikers dying on glaciers and people finding their ripped-apart remains years later. I think I want to be buried on a glacier and then after 20 years, some climber can find my femur.

Sheep EVERYWHERE. I read somewhere that there are 50 million sheep in NZ or 5 for every person. I totally believe it.

We found this hotel in Christchurch online while still in CA, but it was booked solid for its opening week, but we figured we'd give it a shot - and we got a room! It was super high-tech, green friendly, and modern. The virtual consierge was the best and included categories like "odd, but hip." The room's lighting schemes were mood sensitive and the alarm clock simulated the sun rise rather than an awful buzzer. Hotel So and the What Bar was the best hotel!

After a LONG drive, Kenny was ready for bed. Thank you Hotel So for down comforters!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Day 2: The 8th Wonder of the World. Total distance traveled: 370 miles.

For the educational part of todays entry, Fiords are glacier valleys that have been flooded as sea level rises. They're essentially huge steep mountains rising up out of the ocean. There's a gallery in Park City that showcases photos of the Norwegian fiords (among other places), and I've always been fascinated by them. Maybe its an interest in my Norweigan heritage. Anyway, the southern part of New Zealand is pretty close to Antartica and has huger glaciers (and penguins!) and ...fiords! The most famous of which is Milford Sound, which Rudyard Kipling called the Eighth Wonder of the World. Anyway, so, we had to go! It was a four hour drive each way, during which we learned that 100 kilometers per hour is not very fast (approx. 6o miles per hour) and that's assuming the roads ever straightened out long enough to get going that fast. The drive took us through small towns, huge fields of sheep, cows, and deer - yes they have deer ranches - and through the scariest tunnel that looked like someone did little more than to blast their way through a mountain and throw some gravel down.

As we drove, I kept picturing that cheesy (but amazing) scene in Sound of Music where Maria runs through the alpine fields..I needed to reenact it, but because of all the lifestock, everything is fenced in. As we entered Fiordland National Park, I finally found an open field and got to run through it. Here Kenny stops long enough for me to take a photo...

I think the most frustrating thing about the trip was that we couldn't capture the scale/color/beauty of everything we saw. This picture is actually disappointing, but it shows the huge, u-shaped glacial valleys that became the fiords.

We walked out onto this delta to get a panaramic view of the Fiords and specifically of Mitre's Peak. It was really cold and windy...

Because my husband is beautiful...

We were alone, so this shot was hard to get, but after several attempts positioning the camera on different rocks we finally got it!

So most towns were not much more than a cafe and gas station along the high way. We passed through the town of Athol on our way to Milford Sound and Kenny had to get a picture with the sign...Now everyone hold your tongue and say "Athol"

Also in Athol, was this small house with a fairly large yard entirely fenced in with beach cruisers...

It was a long day! We topped it off with a great dinner and a stroll about Queenstown. I'll have more Queenstown pics on Day 3.

Monday, November 26, 2007

The Month of Fun from Day 1

Jill typing...So I've worked a grand total of 8 days this month. Kenny, with two orthodontist appointments this month, has only worked 6. Not bad, especially considering I've managed to use only 5 vacation days and 1 sick day (honestly, too)! As mentioned in prior blog entries, we got to spend ten amazing days in New Zealand and then made our way to Utah for Thanksgiving with the fam. Kenny was a bit overwhelmed by all the pictures, so he started a flickr account. I'll post some here, but if you're really interested you can view the rest here: (Kenny to fill in).

So to begin with New Zealand: Day 1. total distance traveled: 11,400 miles.

For reference purposes...

We left Thursday, Nov. 8 at 9pm. 13 hours and 10,450 miles later we landed in Aukland (on the North Island) on Saturday, November 10 at 7am. While waiting for our next flight that would take us to Queenstown (another 900 miles south), we enjoyed the free food and comfortable chairs in the airport lounge thanks to some new friends, the Cowies. (Kiwis are honestly some of the nicest people I've ever met.) Well, our flight was delayed for three hours, so after a free lunch at the airport, another two hour flight and a quick drive (on the wrong side of the road) to town, we were finally there and ready to start our vacation.

Our view of The Remarkables (part of the Southern Alps) as we flew into Queenstown

Kenny was a fabulous chauffeur the whole time and managed to stay on the correct side of the road all but one time. Budget Rental Cars was ready for us and had plastered the car with these great stickers to help him remember to "Keep Left."

We had the best view of the Remarkables from our hotel room right on Lake Wakatipu in Queenstown.

After traveling for almost 20 hours, we were understandably a bit tired and, as a result, had a mix up with our hotel room. We were booked in 702A, but Kenny went to room 702. For some reason the key worked, and I didn't notice we had entered the wrong room. Room 702 turned out to be a corner suite at least twice as big as our apartment complete with two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a kitchen, dining room, living room, fireplace and floor to ceiling windows overlooking the lake. After flying coach, we were like fat kids in a candy shop. It was a dream come true.

We started a fire, kicked back, and fell asleep (with every intention of getting up for dinner, which didn't happen; we were out for the night). The next day we realized we had been in the wrong room. Room 702A was nice enough, but just an average hotel room. Oh well; we were royalty for at least one night!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

One More Day!

Tomorrow we finally leave for New Zealand! It seems like we've been planning this forever, yet we still don't have anything actually planned other than plane tickets, our first night's hotel, and a rental car. We're so excited (and obviously, I'm not getting any work done)! I need to get out of here!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Fun With Nephews

First of all, we want to congratulate Amelia and Justin (Hud) on the birth of their new baby, Sloan Charles Lyon, and thank them for giving us another perfect nephew... and taking some of the baby pressure off of us for a while. They took this picture ('s too good to be mine), and I just love it. Welcome Sloan!

Because Amelia was recuperating from childbirth, Kenny and I took Hudson to our ward's Halloween Trunk-or-Treat party where Kenny essentially followed Hudson around for a few hours (while I played with my new camera lens and flash - fun!). Ward members kept asking whose kid we stole, and Kenny would reply that Hudson was his son from his first marriage. I guess it was mean, but still pretty funny. Too bad no one did the math: Hudson is two, and Kenny and I have been married over four years. Oh well; it was better watching everyone feel awkward.

At the end of the party, we sat on the pavement while Elise and Hudson (and Skyler) went through Hudson's stash of "trick-or-treats". Elise had to name each piece of candy as he pulled it out of his bucket and lined it up. In all, pretty entertaining!

UPDATE to prior post: I did get the promotion and raise I hoped for - more than I had hoped for actually! And I got it before the Boot Camp results even came back!