Wednesday, July 30, 2014


This past weekend we had the opportunity to go backpacking into Havasupai.  It was our first real backpacking trip (I say it was real.  I was informed by one of the hardcore backpackers on the trip that hiking ten miles and staying somewhere for several days is not actually real backpacking.  Real backpacking entails ten or more miles per day.  Nevertheless, it was real enough for me.)

If you're unfamiliar with Havasupai, it's a beautiful area located in Havasu canyon which is a subsidiary to the Grand Canyon.  It's located inside a native american reservation, and is maintained by the natives.  To get there you have to hike in 10 miles, but once you are there, there is a campground with waterfalls, a freshwater spring, a beautiful river, plenty of hiking and swimming opportunities, and just general awesomeness.  I'll share a few of the most memorable experiences from the trip, in chronological order.

Hiking In
We arrived at the parking lot about 9:00 at night.  One thing you do not want to do is make this hike during the day, because the heat will kill you.  It took us 20-30 minutes or so to get all the backpacks out, get changed into hiking clothing, and get ourselves ready for the hike, so we started hiking around 9:30 in the evening.

The campground is about ten miles from the parking lot.  It's 8 miles to the village of Supai, and an additional 2 to the campground itself.  Hiking in is primarily downhill, but between hiking in the dark and hiking through sand, I was having a hard time of it.  I was so tired, I was pretty sure I would die.  (I suppose it also didn't help that we were making the long trek after a long day of driving.)  Despite being exhausted, look what a cute hiker I was.

The ten miles get way longer when you get caught in a repeating gif image.

Sleeping in The horse's bathroom
You aren't supposed to camp on the trail.  You're only supposed to camp in the campground.  So we're not going to call it camping.  Let's just say that we stopped to take a nap after about 7 miles.  The place where we stopped had an abundance of horse droppings.  We didn't think much of it.  We each just made sure that we weren't laying on top of any of the droppings.  In the middle of the night, several wild horses wandered into our little napping space (not a camp).  They neighed at us in a very cranky manner.  We should have realized that we were in their bathroom.  I would be cranky too if I got up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom and there were 12 people sleeping there.

The bats
The bats were one of my favorite things on this trip.  I've never seen them in such numbers.  At night you could catch a glimpse of one or two, and you could definitely hear their little chirps, but first thing in the morning you could lay and look at the sky and see dozens of them flying around catching bugs.  I figure as long as they don't turn into vampires, and they eat the bugs that eat me, I will always be friends with the bats.  Especially since they're so cool to watch.

My first view of the river
I'd been told that the water in Havasupai is beautiful, but nothing could have prepared me for how beautiful it actually was.  The water has a deep turquoise color.  It honestly looks like ocean water.  The word on the street is that it's caused by the high limestone content.  All I know is that my first glimpse of the river took my breath away.

Picnics in the river
I ate as many meals as I possibly could in the river.  Why would you eat (or do anything) in the heat of the area known as "not the river" when you could be doing things in the river.
This is the proper way to have a picnic.

Havasu Falls
As we were hiking into the campground, I had several views of the river and of waterfalls.  But that didn't stop Havasu Falls from taking my breath away.  It's absolutely stunning, and pictures don't do it justice.

The Ladder of Death
One of the prettiest waterfalls is called Mooney Falls.  (Apparently, it's named for a guy named Mooney who tried to climb down it and died, kind of like Clayton ravine from Back to the Future.)  To get down to it, they have built a descending stair of death.  It involves ladders, going through caves, and mostly just trying to avoid death as you descend a couple hundred feet almost vertically.

The sign warns you beforehand that you might die.
You go through tunnels where it's likely you'll be eaten by Shelob.

Some areas have chains you need to hold onto.
This is looking up at the bottom third of it, which is the most treacherous part.

Mooney Falls
Once we got down to Mooney Falls we spent the whole day there, because I was not going up and down the ladder of death twice.
Look how precious we were.

It's important to lay in the water and take pictures of my feet.

Rope swing
From Mooney falls we headed down the river, to see what we could see.  The first thing we encountered was a rope swing.
Robyn grabs the rope

And she releases it gracefully

My dismount was less graceful.

Trekking Down the River
From there we just hiked down the river.  We jumped off cascades when we encountered them.  We waded through shallow parts.  We swam through deep parts.  It was super fun.
Look at my adventurous wife!

The Shower
We found a little outcropping that totally functioned like a shower.
I told Dave to do a Maybelline pose.  He should be a model.

But Robyn is still cuter, even without the Maybelline pose.

Jumping off the falls
Robyn and I both jumped off of lower Navajo Falls.  It took me a while to get the courage but I did it.

Here's me.

Here's Robyn

How cute is it that she screamed on the way down and then screamed when she came up because she wasn't done screaming?

Upper Navajo Falls
I had tons of fun playing in the upper falls.  When we first walked up to it, I figured it was too hardcore to play in.  It turned out that it was one of my favorites.  We swam under a little ourcropping that made a little cave.  We showered in it, we swam against the current.  It was great.

About to head into the mayhem.

Sometimes I hide from waterfalls with the safety of rock
I was important to do a He Man pose in the maelstrom.

Erin and Robyn making the waterfall cuter.

Robyn had to make the waterfall more precious than you can possibly imagine.

All in all, it was a fabulous trip. There were a few negatives. One girl spilled boiling water on herself and burned herself super bad. Some squirrels got into the same girl's food, ate some of it and pooped on what they didn't eat. One girl said she didn't like bacon. (It broke my heart. I told her I would turn the car around and end her precious trip real soon.) But other than that, I'd say it was amazing.

There are way too many cool pictures for a blog post, so watch Facebook for the rest of them.  (I'll get them posted soon.  Don't rush me.)  And if you're really lucky, I might even blog about how we got out of the canyon.  (You think we walked?  Who would do that?)

Friday, July 18, 2014

The Family Reunion and My trip to Clovis!

Jeff wrote about how I was gone for a week, but he didn't say what happened at the family reunion the week before or what I was up to in Clovis, Ca (my home town).

My family was able to get together for a family reunion in Sundance, Ut.  We have not had everyone together for the past four years.  Since then we have had at least 7 new members added to the family (In one way or another).  It was so nice to be with all of my brothers and sisters again.  We always have so much fun when we are together.

We stayed in a HUGE cabin.  This is the theater room, where Jeff and I slept.  Jeff was happy that we got to sleep under a Star Wars poster.

Here we are playing Heads Up in the theater room.


playing by the river

I got to hold lots of squishy nieces and nephews! 

Me and my sisters! Look Ann has two hands! That doesn't happen too often with the twins these days.

Here is the whole family together!  We had a wonderful photographer who has done many of our other family events.  Here is her blog if you want to see more.

Well, after all the food, fun and family I was going to drive back to California with my dad.  My Mom was planning on staying with Megan (the VERY pregnant one in the picture) because she was due in the next week.  My mom was going to stay with her until the baby was born and then a few days after that to help.  That meant that my dad was going to have to drive back home by himself.  Driving alone for 13 hours is not a good idea, so I offered to go along so I could visit with friends and my Oma (grandmother, who is 94).  My oldest nephew, Alex, wanted to come too so we made it a road trip!  

The great news was that the morning we were to leave for California, Megan had the baby!  We were so happy that she and the baby were both healthy.  We made a quick detour and visited them at the hospital before we left.  I'm glad we were able to see them because otherwise my dad would not have had the chance to see his newest grandson before leaving for home.

My sister and her cute family!  This is just a day or so after the family reunion, good timing!

We had fresh fruits and veggies everyday.  Most of them were from my dad's garden, but we had to get some famous Fresno State corn! Mmmmmm!

We made a fresh peach pie with my dads peaches.

We also went to the Clovis Farmers Market.  That is one of my favorite summer activities.

We had so much fun hanging out.  This night we walked over to the frozen yogurt shop.

I had a lot of fun with my Oma too.  I don't know why I only took one picture of her and she would not be happy if I posted it anywhere other people might see.  She took us out to dinner and we went and got our nails done together.  I love my Oma so much, so I am glad I had the opportunity to spend a little extra time with her.  She seemed like she was feeling better, but at 94 we don't know how many more precious days we get to have with her.

Well, I flew home on Monday afternoon and got in late to Salt Lake.  I had a great time with my family but it was sure nice to be home and back with Jeff.

A week of Bachelorhood!

Last week, I was without a wife for the entire week.

Robyn's family had been in town the previous week, and so Robyn took the opportunity to ride back with her Dad to California so that she could visit friends and family back there, and most importantly to spend some quality time with her aging grandmother.

I didn't really have any plans to do anything while she was gone.  I mostly figured I'd read a whole bunch of books.  (That's what I do when she's home, so I figured I'd do it even more when she's gone.)
Naturally, I read an issue of Astounding Science Fiction from 1938.  It nearly disintegrated in my hands.

In addition to reading, it turned out there were lots of people willing to spend quality time with me, and keep me busy.

So here are a few of the things I spent time doing.

I went on a super sweet hike to Stewart Falls with Jen and Todd.

Look how precious we were

It was a super fun hike.  I've done that hike at least 3 or 4 times before, but it's the first time I've done it since losing lots of weight.  It turns out it's a way easier hike than I remember.  (I should have worn a 70 pound backpack to simulate what it would be like to hike it back then.) Here are a few bonus pictures from the hike:
I loved the thick vegetation.  It almost felt like we were in Hawaii or somewhere not Utah.

I told Jen and Todd to look precious.

This spider was weird.  It looked like a black widow but it was white.  I shall give it the highly scientific name of white widow.

This butterfly was just taking a sip from the flowers.

The trees provided a nice window to get a first glimpse of the falls.

It's important to take a selfie at the falls.
What up Stewart Falls!
It turns out I like hiking, so I take lots of pictures.  Who would have thought?

On a different night, I had a very special man date.  Matt and I saw The Edge of Tomorrow.  I really liked it.  It turns out our last man date was to see Oblivion.  We just like to see Tom Cruise Sci-fi movies together.
Look how precious we were in the theater.

I spent a whole afternoon organizing my books.  They're almost 90% organized now.  All authors are together within themselves and there are even genres together.  It's amazing.

I even got to see my little Bro and my future nephew.  Don't they totally look alike?

Of course, the most time consuming thing all week was that my Mom put me to work on several different nights scanning pictures of my grandparents.  It was actually really cool.  It was a lot of work, though, because most of them were glued into albums and so I had to scan whole pages and then use Photoshop to separate them into multiple images.  I'm still not actually finished with that task.
I'd say it was a successful week of bachelorhood, but I'm glad to have my wife back.  Being married is way better.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Cozumel, Mexico

The last port on our recent Caribbean cruise was in Cozumel, Mexico.  My first view when I looked out at the port was a beautiful one.
We got off the ship to head for our excursion. It was strange, though. Because it seemed super dark outside.  Then I realized, it was because of the massive ships parked next to each other. We were walking down a massive hallway where the sun had no chance to peek in.
I call it cruise ship corridor.  Look at that cute girl I was with.

Our excursion was with a company called Fury.  They have catamarans that ferry people around.  The catamaran itself is pretty fun.  They play music, they serve drinks (It was an open bar, people were doing their best to consume as much free alcohol as possible.  I even got in on the craziness, by drinking like 3 glasses of 7-up.  I still drank more water than soda, obviously.  Let's not get too crazy.) and you can look out at the beautiful ocean as you glide across it.

The first place the catamaran took us was to a reef area that was probably 20-30 feet deep.  Naturally, I was the first person off the boat.  While everyone else was trying to figure out how to put their fins on and then walk down the stairs into the water, I just jumped off the side of the boat and put the fins on while floating.  It's way easier that way.  Plus, I didn't have to stand in a line filled with awkward people trying to walk in fins.

I make snorkeling look good.

It was an amazing snorkeling destination.  I was surprised by how much awesome wildlife I saw.

We saw a ray.

We saw fish.

We saw lots of fish.

There was even a Robyn floating in the water.

I thought I saw a sea snake.  I did some research when I got home, and found it this is a sharptail eel.

If I had one complaint about the excursion it would be this:  there was a lifeguard type individual who was attached to a buoy.  The whole time he sat there yelling, "stay close to the buoy."  They never gave us any guidance about what that meant, but most people tried to stay within ten or fifteen feet of the buoy.   That meant there were loads of people stacked on top of each other.  So, it kind of made the overall experience not as good.  Despite that, I loved it, because it was an amazing location.

You can see how surrounded by people I was.  But I was also surrounded by fish.

Lots and lots of fish
After the snorkeling, there was a second part to the excursion.  We got back on the catamaran for about 40 minutes to ride to a private beach owned by the Fury catamaran company.

Chillin' on the catamaran

The sail, and all the people.

When we got there, it was a really nice beach with lots of toys available to play with.

The beach with all of the various toys.

A few different catamarans parked while their occupants played in the water.
I had to climb this mightly slide. (and slide down the other side)

Robyn did her mermaid float.  It's a little infuriating how easily she floats, when I just sink.

John and Carol were precious.

Our preciousness with the catamaran in the background.

We relaxed, we played in the water, we hunted seashells.  We had a great time.  Then it was time to head back.  We boarded the catamaran again, it took us for another 30-40 minute ride back to the dock where our ship was waiting.

On this part of the trip, there was a special little treat.  We were sitting on the front of the boat, and we started noticing flying fish that would periodically jump up and fly 30 or 40 feet.  It was soooo cool to watch.

The moral of the story (every story has a moral) is that Cozumel is awesome.  You should totally go there.