Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Spring Break in St. George

Ok, I know this is a little late, but I am determined to get caught up.

For Spring Break this year, we went with my family (and some of my extended family) to St. George. It was great to hang out and spend time together. Our favorite part was this amazing hike we went on. Below are some of our favorite pics. Please note, I got really burned the day before (I haven't been burned in years) and decided to stay completely covered - including this lovely Guatemalan hat from Jackson - all day long.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

SE Utah

While it is wonderful being home, Kevin and I have had kind of a hard time adjusting to not traveling the world on the weekends. We both started to feel, well, bored. Not to mention that we really missed those long hours spent in the car together and whole days of nothing but each other and a new adventure - I know, pretty mushy. We decided while we were gone that we never wanted to just settle, we always want to be doing new things and going new places. So, a few weekends ago, we went on a "walk-a-bout" to the stores near our apartment and bought 2 big maps - one of the world and one of the U.S. On the world map, we marked off all the places we have been so far and a few places we would like to visit this year. On the U.S. map, we drew routes - routes to any place we might want to go within an 11-hour driving radius. I know, we're a little spoiled. My mom was making fun of us - "oh, they have to go on a vacation.." but you try traveling that much for almost a year and then going to nothing. We can't quit cold-turkey, we need a patch - a Utah patch.

This weekend, we decided to begin. We took off on Friday right after work and began the 5 hour drive to SE Utah. We stayed in a run-down, cheap hotel in the tiny town of Monticello. Free breakfast, free internet - man we love being in the U.S. In the morning, we drove the additional 2 hours to the 4 Corners Monument. It was a great time a year to go to all of these places, since it was nice weather with no crowds. We had plenty of time to run around the states, make silly poses and find ways to be in 4 states at once. We added a cool dream-catcher Christmas ornament to our collection and continued on our journey.

Mexican hat is one of the many structures found in the area. I love how all of the names of these are so completely obvious - can't you see the guy in the Mexican hat? Ole!

It was another 1 1/2 to our main focus of the trip - Monument Valley. Neither of us had ever been there before, and I can't believe we have lived so close to such an incredible place. I still cannot quite figure out how these huge structures can shoot up out of the earth the way they do. The park is located entirely on a Navajo Reservation, so it was a little more protected and they encouraged you to go with a guided tour in a big truck over the dirt roads. However, this is not the Hillyard way, and we toughed it out in our new car. It reminded us of some of the lava roads we traversed in Hawaii - only this time our vehicle functioned infinitely better!

This road is also famous for being featured in the movie Forest Gump.

One of the best benefits of being on a Navajo reservation? The Navajo Tacos!! I am still craving them...

The Window

Camel - I love whoever named these!

3 Sisters

Sadly, no. I did not get this scrape by climbing some gnarly rock. I fell off the treadmill machine. Don't ask.

We returned that night to our awesome hotel for some respite, and after church in Monticello (the ward there is incredibly large for such a small town) we continued up to Moab and Arches National Park. This was my first time here and I absolutely loved it! It was a perfect day and there was almost no one there. We wish we would have had more time, we had to skip a few of the hikes, but we will definitely be back.

We also met a cute retired couple here. They offered to take a picture for us and then completely opened up about their lives to us (for some reason, this happens to us all the time). They spend about 80% of the year traveling, taking pictures of baby wolves in Montana, exploring the ice in Antarctica and touring Africa. Let's just say they gave us some ideas.

This one we had completely to ourselves. Kevin was like a little kid - climbing and jumping and doing tricks in the soft sand. Super fun!

We had such a great weekend, it was so refreshing. I can't wait to go somewhere new again!!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

We Are the Champions!

I've been waiting to post this segment until I could get some more pictures from my fam, but we cannot seem to find the chord that hooks the video camera to the computer so, alas, the few I have will have to suffice.

My sister Emily is on Hillcrest's Drill Team and after an incredible season and tons of work, we made it to state a few weeks ago. Kevin and I missed her State and Region competitions last year since we were in Hawaii, and it broke my heart! I remember watching their dances on YouTube and just crying :) So, I was completely overjoyed to be able to be there this year and waited in line and sat in the gym all day Friday to see her perform. It was an intense and tiring day - but it sure paid off! Hillcrest took first in every single category and won the ultimate State Champion title! It was such a blast!! I have to say, it is really fun to be on the winning team! Great job Em!

Wow, I think I really should have been voted "Senior Most Likely to be a Super Senior."

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Moving On

Ok, I am officially catching us up. We have been home from Europe for about 2 1/2 months now and I need to get over my avoidance of our blog. We just took so many pictures and were always sharing our experiences that I haven't felt like doing any of that for a little while. Not to mention that now we are home I feel like our regular, every day experiences are not "blog-worthy" - but, oh, they are and I have been selfish not to share them with everyone. Haha, ok, really I just need to do it for myself so I can have a place to vent and a place to look back and remember what we actually did during this time. So read, or don't read, but I submit our lives to the mercy of the blogging world!

First of all, we came home! It was so wonderful to see our family and friends again! Kevin and I were thrilled that we could go to the grocery store on any corner, find somewhere to eat after 8:00 at night and have more than just a suitcase full of clothes! Everything seemed so cheap compared to Europe that it took us a little while to re-adjust to our spending limit too.

As an added bonus, my brother got home from his mission the day after we got back! It made the perfect grand reunion!!

We had a great Christmas and New Years and loved being home for the holidays. As a tradition, we have bought Christmas ornaments from each place we have traveled to over the years. We got some amazing ones this last year and it was so fun to finally be able to put them all out on a tree! We have actually always been moving at Christmas time, so this was the first year we have had a real Christmas tree. Some nights we would just sit and look at it, sharing memories from each of the ornaments.

We've also had a lot of new changes. We stayed with my parents for a few weeks after we got home and then moved into a cute little apartment just north of them. I can't even say how much fun I had re-discovering all of our stuff and closing out our storage shed. I cannot believe the amount of stuff we have accumulated over the last 2 1/2 years, but it was a wonderful sight to see things that was actually ours.

Kevin, being the networker that he is, found a job almost immediately. He works as a Sales Rep for a building supply company called Lansing. He's just finishing up training, but it so great to have a real job! We get full benefits and a company car and a gas card...sigh...I am so excited to go to the dentist. Its a really great company too. He had a sales conference this week and spent all day Monday in meetings and then all day Tuesday snowmobiling! No fair!

I have been working at Singers Unlimited, the performing studio I took all growing up. My brother and sister still take there and my mom and sister work there too, so it is a nice, familiar place to be. I'm still looking for something else to do during the day, though I must say I enjoy the little time off and am keeping busy with thousands of random things!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Best Cruise Ever!

So we decided to leave Europe with a bang - a big bang. Call us crazy, but we ended our adventures this year with a 12-day cruise to Greece, Egypt and Turkey. I still can't believe we really did it, but it was amazing! We had the best time and it was the perfect way to end. After traveling so often through Europe, it was overwhelmingly wonderful to not have to worry about places to stay, or where to eat, or getting lost - it just was perfect, blissful travel to places we wouldn't have made it to without the cruise. Plus, we got to spend even more time together without any interruptions whatsoever. I think it will always be one of my very favorite trips. The next 3 posts are the places we went and a few of the adventures we had!

Plus, I loved going to a fancy dinner every once in a while!


We stopped in two places in Turkey. The first was the ancient city of Ephesus. The port city is now called Izmir, but Ephesus was one of the 7 churches in Asia Minor right before the apostasy. This is supposedly where John wrote his Gospel, Paul preached (letters to the Ephesians ringing any bells?), and where the Virgin Mary's house is. The ruins of Ephesus are also some of the most well-preserved in the world, since the cause for its desertion was disease instead of war, natural disaster, etc. It was the coolest place and I loved feeling like I was walking where ancient Apostles walked! I especially loved seeing Mary's house and imaging her living out the remainder of her days there.

There was also a huge amphitheater where they would punish and persecute Christians. This is also where many of the Gladiators fought. This is Kevin pretending he is a Gladiator.

The second place we stopped was in Istanbul. I have to say Turkey was completely different than I expected. The country is working fervently on becoming a member of the European Union and, as such, are surprisingly modern. Everyone speaks English, everything is really clean, the roads are brand new and the people are more than enthusiastic about introducing you to their culture and country. Turkey is technically considered both Europe and Asia, so it also has a wide variety of culture and influence.

This is one of the most famous mosques. We got there right when they were calling people to prayer over the loudspeaker. It is known for the blue tiles surrounding the inside and is often called the Blue Mosque.

It really was beautiful inside. We had to take off our shoes and they even thought my shade shirt was too immodest on the arms and made me wear this blue cloth around me. I was embarrassed that I hadn't dressed appropriately for their religion and kept wondering if they looked at me like I was a sinful infidel. Oh well.

Right across the street from the Blue Mosque is the Haggia Sophia. Interestingly enough, it was a Christian church and then a mosque and is now a museum of the combination.

One of my favorite parts about Turkey was this cute lady. We went down into some old cisterns under the city and I offered her my arm as we went down the stairs. She never left my side after that! She was 85 years old and I was actually amazed at how well she did! She climbed back up those stairs holding my hand but without a pause! She also went with Kevin and I all around the Bazaar after this as well and could haggle like nothing you've ever seen! I always get so nervous because I feel like I am taking advantage of people who need more than I do, but these people adored her while she practically got things for free! It was the funniest thing I've ever seen! I actually got a letter in the mail from her last week saying how much she loved us! She also bought me the funny hat in the picture! Such a cute lady!