Monday, October 17, 2016

Pregnancy Q & A

This is such an exciting and heart breaking post to write!  We are so excited that God has blessed with a wee one on the way.  And, at the same time, our hearts break for our friends that desire for this and it is not going (or has not gone) as planned.  You are not far from our hearts and thoughts.  We are learning how to walk the path of deep deep joy and at the exact time deep grief.

Because we have friends all of the world we wanted to take a moment and let you know how life is looking for us as we experience pregnancy (and then I can look back some day and remember...see Answer #1).

Q: Has the baby eaten your brain?
A: Yes, yes it has.  There are days when I know that my students think I am stupid.  I can't remember things that should be so easy to think of.  I did mention to Ian the other night that I should maybe give myself some grace - I don't know how many women try to reteach themselves (and then teach students) Calculus II and Multivariable Calculus while pregnant.

Q: So far does everything look good?
A: Yup!  I had a small moment of panic during the 12 week check up when the doctor could not find the heartbeat.  She assured us that everything is okay and our child is just so active that they could not get a good reading.  (Of course, my child is going to be active and have ants in his or her pants.)  I have been lectured at both my doctor's appointments about weight gain.  People!  I can't exercise, I can't drink alcohol, the only stress relief available is ice cream and pumpkin cinnamon rolls (thank you sweet and amazing husband for making a ridiculous amount!). So our kid might be born obese...sorrynotsorry.

Q: When are you due?
A: April 17th, 2017 - I am not putting too much hope on that exact day.  I keep thinking late April.  If we end up in Denver long term, I really really hope that our kid's birthday is not 4/20.
I am really holding out that we may have a May Day (May 1st) baby. I want to make it as far through the school year as possible. Will I eat my words come April? Yup. But I really want to be there for my other babies (who are so cute and adorable this year!)

Q: How are you feeling?
A: Shocked and disbelief.  I can't really believe that there is a human inside of me.

Q: Have you experienced any morning sickness or symptoms?
A: Yes.  I was pretty nauseous weeks 6 through 12.  I threw up during weeks 7, 8, and 9.  Between marathon training earlier this year and morning sickness, I am ready to not throw up again for a long time.  I tried all the remedies I could find online - none of them really helped.  At this point (14 weeks) I am exhausted, apathetic towards life, and the nausea comes and goes.

Q: Will you find out the gender?
A: Most likely.  If we are going to have a girl, I need to start telling Ian to NOT spoil the kid rotten (I think the grandparents/relatives will do enough spoiling).  In Korea, he was such a softie for little girls.  And he spoils me like there is no tomorrow, so I can only imagine how many ponies he would buy for our daughter.

Q: Do you think you want a girl or a boy?
A: I have an older brother and I absolutely LOVED growing up with an older brother.  Ian has a twin brother that was super fun to grow up with as well.  I would say that Ian and I both would pick a boy if we got to pick, but we don't.  Also, I hate the cliche, "I don't care if it is a girl or a boy as long it is healthy." Unhealthy babies are awesome too!  Ian and I will love and adore our baby regardless if he or she is healthy or not (I could go on, but I will get off my soapbox now).

Q: Are your parents excited?
A: Excited is an understatement for both of our parents.

Q: How is running?
A: Nonexistent.  I realized that if I run, the next day I threw up every 30 minutes.  Same thing would happen if I went for a walk.  So I am not exercising right now.  I have been encouraged to give it a try now that I am in my second trimester.  I have gone for a couple of 10 minute strolls (leisurely walking pace) just to get outside for a bit.

That are all the common questions I can think of right now.  Let me know if there is anything I forgot.

Something that I pray often is, "Lord, prepare our hearts for what you have for us."  I started praying this last May when I thought about Ian graduating and our future was unknown.  Now there is a baby thrown into the mix and worry can creep in quite often.  So if there is a prayer to cover this pregnancy and the next year of our life, it is this one.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Napa Valley Marathon

I ran the Napa Valley Marathon this past March and wanted to blog about it before I forgot too many of the details.  In some ways, I have so many memories of our time in Napa and in other ways, it is just a big blur.

Saturday, March 5th
I flew from Denver to San Francisco.  Ian flew from Santa Ana (where he had been at a conference for grad school) up to San Francisco.  We rented the cheapest car we could at the airport.  BUT they were out of them?  So we got a new Dodge Charger to drive around California.  It was fun and super nice!  The two main things I remember from Saturday is #1) The weather was not great - it was rainy sideways.  and #2.) I kept telling Ian, "I can't believe that I am going to run a marathon tomorrow.  Have I even trained for this?"  Considering that I had spent the last 6 months of my life doing little else, I am not sure why my brain had such a hard time processing that I was really going to run a marathon again.

We checked out the race expo and found our hotel.  I went for a quick 2 mile run on the dreadmill (in the most ghetto 24 hour fitness ever) and we went out for dinner at the Olive Garden (while it continued to rain sideways).  We tried to get to bed early.

Sunday, March 6th.
RACE DAY!  From the moment I woke up (which was really early) I tried to manage my nervousness by telling myself that I was wasting energy to have my heart rate up and "the hay was already in the barn".  I covered myself with vaseline as I was anxious about chafing. IT STOPPED RAINING (later on the bus, I heard some people say it stopped around 3:30am).  Huge Shoutout to Ian - he woke up super early to drive me to the dropoff point and did a great job of listening to me ramble about running stuff.  I don't know if I could run races without Ian.

I got to the finish line and found a bus to jump on.  We were driven 26.2 miles out to the start line.  26.2 miles is a long, long way when you are riding on a bus with strangers in the dark at five o'clock in the morning.  An older guy sat next to me on the bus.  We chatted a bit, but I think he was just as nervous as I was.
This was right behind the port-a-pots.  Prettiest Starting Line Ever!
Once we got to the start line, people were piling off the bus.  I stayed on with about 5 other people.  It was chilly outside and we were in the middle of nowhere and still had an hour before race started.  Eventually, I got off, found the restroom and warmed up a bit.  I was thankful that I had layered up because it was cold.  It felt like time had stopped and 7am would never come. The announcer/starter was hilarious!  He carried on conversations with people over the microphone (we could only hear his side).

Finally it was time to start!  They sang the national anthem and said a benediction.  I threw my throw away pants to the side, took a selfie, and we were off.
Ready to roll
Miles 1-6 - weather: sunny
I had a hard time settling into a good pace.  I started out too slow and then I was running way too fast.  There weren't any pace groups and I did not want to spend the entire race staring at my watch.  I will say that I felt SO LOVED during those first six miles - my phone was going off like crazy with texts of well wishes from people in Colorado (and Illinois).  I read each one.  It made me realize how strong of a community we have here.

I also was texting my girls, Emily and Allie.  Although they did not physically train with me each day, they were my support from the get go.  They listened to me talk about training and long runs and fueling on long runs and played, "this is the better than..." and never once made me feel like I talked about marathon training too much.

For the most part, I was running about 10 seconds per mile faster than I wanted.  I kept telling myself, "save it for mile it for mile it for mile 20".  I finally got into a good rhythm of running off of feel for the first half mile of each mile and then slowing myself down and really focusing on my watch for the second half of each mile.

I ate a couple bites of a clif bar at mile 6 and congratulated myself for getting close to be 25% of the way done.

Mile 7-12 weather: cloudy
There was someone around my pace named Amy.  Amy had the BEST friends.  Her friends made a sign that Amy's name on it.  Spectators were only allowed at certain points on the course.  Amy's friends were at every single spectator spot.  So I started cheering for them.  "Yeah, Amy's friends!  You guys ROCK!  What great friends!!"  There were also people sitting in lawn chairs in their driveways drinking their coffee cheering us on - it was so cute.  I was feeling good about my rhythm of half a mile off of feel, half a mile off of the watch.  I think I was coming through mile markers about a minute (overall) faster than I wanted to.  I did a lot of math during miles 6-20.  I had another snack around mile 12/13.

Miles 13-20 weather: mix of clouds and sun, some sections were crazy windy.
I can not remember anything too specific about these miles.  I think I did a lot of math about my pace and I played, "this is the better than..." and texted Emily and Allie a couple of times.  I really tried to focus in and just take it a mile as it came.  I settled into running near someone else (Amy perhaps?!?) for about 5 miles.  It was nice to pace off someone and not worry so much about my timing.

Mile 20 - I remember two things as I passed the 20 Mile Marker: #1.) I wanted to be done.  I was exhausted, but I just wanted to stop running at that point and #2.) My stomach did not feel great.  I decided to skip my snack.  I convinced myself to try to keep drinking water. (My water had Nuun in it.)

Getting from mile 20-21 felt like the lllooonnngggeeesssttt mile of my life.  I think I checked my watch about 200 times during that mile.  My pace was okay, but my brain was having a hard time doing the math.  Mile 20 feels like such a great accomplishment.  I started counting down at mile one: 1 mile down, 25 to go.  So by the time 20 rolls around, it feels like you are almost done.  Except you still have 55 minutes of running to go.

Mile 21-23 weather: cloudy
I remember getting really scared because my brain was having a hard time thinking.  I kept trying to figure out my pace and where I should be but I just could hold all the numbers in my mind.  I am not sure how I stayed on pace at this point (running at sea level? the bajillon squats and lunges I did during training?) but I am so glad my legs kept rolling.

Mile 23 & 24
The sky opened up and poured - which was awesome.  It felt so good that have the rain cool us off.  I am a salty sweater, so salt was getting in my eyes, but I did not care too much. Some people I was running by were saying things like, "Thank you Jesus!  Thank you Jesus for this rain!"  I tried to play "this is better than ___" but I could not think past a few words.  My pace was okay.  My stomach hurt.  My legs were fatigued.  I started to realize that as long as I did not 100% tank I was going to make it under 4 hours.

Mile 24.5-26.2
At mile 24.5 I hit the wall.  I think I had hit the wall mentally back around mile 20 but my body was done at 24.5.  I wanted to stop.  I knew my form was not great.  I knew my pace was not great.  I just wanted to stop.  The finish line felt miles and miles away.  Thankfully I texted Emily at some point and she texted back, "BREATHE!" which was actually really helpful.  I could focus on breathing.  Also, I was with it enough to know that as long as I did not quit, I would PR.  My garmin had me at 26.2 in 3 hours 56 minutes and 47 seconds.  The race was a bit longer (26.5?) and I finished in 3:58 on their time.  I cried as I came down the shoot and finished.  I was so happy to have finally finished a marathon in under 4 hours.  Glory, glory, hallelujah!

Once I crossed the finish line, an older volunteer man thought I was going to pass out.  He grabbed my arm and made me walk around.  I did not have warm or happy feelings towards him.  I just wanted to sit down.  I had convinced myself the last 6 miles if I could just sit down my stomach would feel better.  Ian came and rescued me from the old man.  I made Ian promise me that if I ever talk about running another marathon that he would break both my legs.  He just looked at me and said, "Wait ten years - you will run another one."  Example #908839473 of Ian knows me better than I know myself.

We hung out quite a while after the race.  I got a free massage.  Ian walked all the way to the car in a downpour to grab my bag.  The finish line was at a high school so they had (hot!) showers available.  It may have been the best shower of my life.  The person who won the marathon won their weight in wine.  They actually put them on a two balance scale with the person one side and wine on the other side.

Our San Francisco (and Friday night) Tradition
Eventually we started to head back towards San Francisco.  We had not gotten far when I told Ian that we needed to stop at a grocery store.  Thank the Lord that I was aware enough to tell him.  He pulled into the parking lot.  I asked him to go in and buy some Sprite.  He parked.  I jumped out and started puking next to a tree, barefooted.  It was not the best moment of my life.  Ian came out with the Sprite.  I sent him back in for napkins or paper towels or something.  He came back out.  I think I asked him to go back in for something else, but I can't remember.  Thankfully I felt much better after I threw up (unlike my previous marathon).

Headed Home!
We found a great Korean restaurant on our way back to San Francisco.  We also stopped by Buena Vista for an Irish Coffee (for Ian).  We stayed in a hotel near the airport so we returned the rental car and went to bed.  I think we woke up at 2:30 the next morning for an early flight.  Ian had his Hebrew midterm when we got back to Denver.  I was excited to go to school the next day and tell my students that I had done well.  They were so sweet and supportive (or just knew how to get me to not talk about math...)

Whew!  That was a long post.  I am so proud of the work I put in to accomplish a goal that I had set for myself 5 years ago.  I am thankful for the community that celebrates us and with us.  I am in awe of the One who is Emmanuel - He was with me every moment of my training and racing.

Bucket List:
run a marathon under 4 hours

Sunday, December 20, 2015

2015 Thankfuls

To say that I am late on this post it quite the understatement, but the tradition must continue!

Usually when asked, people share people and things that they are thankful for.  I have had the nagging thought for a long time, "What if I was a starving, homeless, physically disabled, unclothed, orphaned child?"  "What does that child have to be thankful for?"

I realize that this is a sad and graphic picture to paint, but it gets to the heart of the questions, "what can I be thankful for regardless of my circumstances?" and "can I truly give thanks in any situation?"

Past Years: 2014 and 2012 (there are others under the Thankfuls tab)

According to my worldview, the resounding answer is, "YES!"  So I tried to take it on for this year's thankful list:

1.) God is Sovereign - He has supreme authority
2.) God is Faithful - He does not leave me nor forsake me
3.) God is Good - regardless
4.) God has a plan
5.) God's plan includes saving me FROM sin and evil and saving me TO a community of believers
6.) God offers believers Peace that passes all understanding
7.) God is Wise - Because God is Wise and Good, I can trust His Sovereignty
8.) God offers us Rest - not veg out and do nothing, but rest for our souls
9.) God's Word
10.) God is Eternal - I do not need to worry about a time when He will not Be
11.) God is All-Knowing
12.) God is Big - bigger than _________ (let's not create false dichotomies)
13.) God Creates - He created and continues to Create
14.) God can and does Redeem
15.) God is accessible - I can pray and be heard
16.) God Blesses - this may be repetitive of 6 and 8, He has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. (Eph. 1:3)
17.) We have the Holy Spirit
18.) We are not alone
19.) God is my Provider
20.) God is my Friend
21.) God is Light and in Him there is no darkness (1 John 1:5)
22.) God is our Hope - and offers us hope in all circumstances
23.) God is our Father - this
24.) God is LOVE - God defines what love looks like
25.) God is our Refuge
26.) and Strength
27.) An Ever Present Help in times of trouble (Psalms 41:6)
28.) God is Joy and offers us His Joy
29.) God is the Performer of Miracles
30.) God sent Jesus so that we may have life and life to the full
31.) God is Just - even when I do not see it
32.) God is Healer - physically, emotionally, relationally
33.) God does not fit into the box I try to make for Him, after all he is wild
34.) God Forgives
35.) God does not give us a spirit of Fear, but of power, love, and self control (2 Timothy 1:7)
36.) God Rescues (maybe I already said that in #4 and #5?)
37.) God is Passionate about His Glory
38.) God has shown us community within Himself - Trinitarian
39.) God has made a helper suitable for man
40.) God remembers and keeps his Covenants
41.) God has Built his Church and the gates of Hell can not prevail against it
42.) Jesus scorned the shame - so we do not have to
43.) God is the Deliverer from Fear
44.) God has proven himself trustworthy
45.) God has given each believer Spiritual Gifts
46.) The Holy Spirit is our deposit,
47.) guarantee
48.) and Seal (2 Corinthians 1:22 and Ephesians 1:13)
49.) God disciplines us
50.) We have an Example in Jesus
51.) Our Identity is in Christ
52.) God is my Joy - not a temporary emotion based on circumstances, but a permanent attitude of my Heart (because of Who HE is and What HE has done)

What are you thankful for?

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

First Full Day in Dublin (2015 Summer Adventure Part 6)

Disclaimer: The main reason for these posts is to remember our trip in the summer of 2015. There will probably be too many details and lots of parenthetic statements. Feel free to scroll through and just look at pictures. Also, I teach math - not writing.

Our first full 24 hour day in Dublin was FULL!  Ian woke up around 5am and took a shower.  He hung out in the community room until 7am - planning our day and researching fun things to do.  I woke up around 5:30am and went for a 4 mile run along the river.  When I got done, we ate the free breakfast provided by the hostel - bread, cereal, juice, and coffee.  After breakfast, I took a shower and we got organized for the day.

We set off to Starbucks and had a real cup of coffee.  We decided what we wanted to do for the day.  We walked to Guiness factory and bought our ticket for the day.  (If I remember correctly, they only sell so many tickets per day.  Once you have the admission ticket, you can enter at any time.)  I filled my water bottle in their restroom. (This happened constantly on our trip - find a place for Alissa to get some water.)  Once we had our tickets (that cost 36 euros) we headed back across town to Trinity College.  On our way there, we stopped in a grocery store and bought some cheese, a smoothie, and a scone.  The small shop had a lot of carbs - crackers, bread, etc and dairy.

We were only interested in part of Trinity College and that was the Long Room and Book of Kells.  The intro exhibits to the Book of Kells were interesting and informative.  The viewing room of the Book of Kells was unfortunate.  (The Book of Kells is an (overly?) illustrated book of the Gospels in Latin from around 800 - if this trip was anything, it was a history lesson).  People stood around the display and looked and did NOT move.  I thought some assertive pace-setters would have been helpful.  We got a couple of glances at it (no pictures allowed).  I got frustrated so we headed upstairs to the Long Room.
The Long Room looked like a Harry Potter Room
The coolest thing on display was a harp.  It is the oldest harp in Ireland and the design for Ireland's seal/symbol was based on the shape of the harp.  The second coolest thing was a parchment calling the citizens of Ireland to freedom in 1916.
Oldest Harp in Ireland 
The Long Room housed 200,000 of the oldest books of Trinity College.  They had busts of famous figures such Plato and Irish statesmen in front of each bookshelf.  They also had displays down the middle of the room.  The Hobbit was on display and categorized under Norse Myth.  We finished exploring the Long Room and headed to the Dublin Castle.
Dublin Castle - bust (for us).  We used the restroom, looked around, and headed out.  We decided to grab some lunch and went to Bobo's.  I had a full Irish breakfast - YUM! Ian had The Dubliner burger - it had a special sauce and good fries.  I will forever be a fan of Irish and English breakfasts!  They usually include bacon and ham, eggs, tomato, baked beans, and bread.  Bobo's was my childhood dream come true - there were murals of cows on the wall and cowhide on the back of the benches.  It was a fun restaurant.  We were both a bit tired at the end of the lunch (jet lag?).
We walked to St. Patrick's (THEE Saint Patrick's Cathedral).  We did not want to pay to go inside, so we sat outside in the park and took pictures.  The park was nice, the church was pretty.  We saw the well where Saint Patrick used to baptize people in the 5th Century.
We started to meander towards the Guinness Factory.  We stopped in several thrift store on our way, but did not find any gems.  One thing I learned while living in Korea - don't just do the tourist-y things.  Walk into small shops, look into the barber's, peruse the post office - try to take in the ordinary along with the extraordinary.  It reinforces the idea that the way they do things in other countries and cultures is not necessarily good or bad, just different.
The Guinness Storehouse is a seven story building where we learned about the brewing process.  It was a really well done museum (I don't know if museum is the right word to use, but it is the best I can come up with).  It is a self-guided tour of each stage of the brewing process - which is scientific and has changed over the years.  It was interactive and engaging.  We skipped the Tasting Room where you learn how to pour (from a tap) the perfect pint.  The tour ends on the seventh floor with a free pint and a 360 degree view of the city.
On our way back towards the hostel, we stopped in St. Augustine and St. John the Baptist Cathedral (the longest name ever?).  We voted (lit an electric candle) and prayed to Jesus.  We hope Jesus wins.  In our experience, Mary usually does.  We ate dinner at Apache Pizza for dinner - Hawaiian pizza.  It was odd to us that a restaurant in Ireland is named after a Native American Tribe.  The pizza was only 10 euros - we felt like it was a good deal.  We headed to the hostel, checked our email, and went to bed between 7-8pm.  We were exhausted.

What a full day! Looking back, I am impressed with how much we did in a day.  I made a note that the weather was windy and chilly.  If the sun was out, it was comfortable.  I also made a note about how good the coffee shop music is in Ireland.  It is from 10-15 years ago, but far superior to American coffee shop music.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Day 1 in Dublin (2015 Summer Adventures Part 5)

Disclaimer: The main reason for these posts is to remember our amazing trip in the summer of 2015.  There will probably be too many details and lots of parenthetic statements.  Feel free to scan and just look at pictures.  Also, I am a runner - not a writer.

We arrived in Dublin around 11:30am local time.  Customs were a breeze.  I was on the hunt for water.  I was feeling fairly nauseous from the lack of sleep and too much coffee drank on the flight.  Would you believe that there is only one drinking fountain in all of Dublin's International Airport!?!?  My perseverance paid off and I found it.

We took an express bus from the airport into the city.  There were about 9 stops during its 30 minute route.  My very first memory of seeing Dublin was Aldi's.  They have Aldi's in Ireland, but not in Colorado - how is that possible?  We also saw a fun bridge that was designed to look like a harp - harps are the national emblem of Ireland.  We got off on at the correct stop (in the pouring rain) and then proceeded to get quite lost.  Well maybe we were not lost, we just could not locate the hostel for the life of us.  We did not understand how the streets were labeled and we just kept wandering.  The streets were not straight and some times they would change names at intersections.

We finally found our hostel (Barnacles Temple Bar House) and checked in. Our bunks were not ready so we walked to the nearby Joy Cafe.  It was a quaint place.  They had sandwiches and tea.  Alissa had 7up and Ian had a HUGE chicken club sandwich.  It was delicious and hit the spot for both of us.
If you would have told me 10 years ago that I would be backpacking through the UK for 3+ weeks with just one backpack - I would not have believed you.  But we did it and not only survived, but thrived.  AND I packed running clothes.  

When we got back to the hostel, we were allowed to head up to our room.  We dropped the uneaten half of Ian's sandwich off in the fridge and located the restrooms.  We settled our bags in our lockers.  We got bunk beds - Ian took the lower one and I claimed the top bunk.  I grabbed my eye mask and feel asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow.  I think at this point we had gotten about 4 hours of sleep in the past 50 hours.  We slept from 3pm to 5am the next morning.  I did wake up somewhere around 10pm and eat half of the delicious chicken club sandwich.  We both slept fairly soundly but we were treated to a free concert through the open window in our room.  We shared the room with about 10 other people.  The bathroom was attached to the room - which was nice.  Our hostel was located in a central and fun area of Dublin.  I would definitely stay there again.

So our first day in Dublin was not that exciting - I don't think we even took any pictures.  But we made it!  And adventure was just waiting for us!

This was taken in Ireland - later in our trip.
The verse we memorized during our trip was "The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him and He helps me.  My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him."  Psalm 28:7

Monday, July 6, 2015

San Francisco Layover (2015 Summer Adventures Part 4)

Disclaimer: The main reason for these posts is to remember our amazing trip in the summer of 2015.  There will probably be too many details and lots of parenthetic statements.  Feel free to scroll through and just look at pictures.  Also, I am a runner - not a writer.

On Monday, July 6th we started our UK Backpacking Adventure Trip at 3am.  We had gone to bed pretty late the night before, but we were so excited that we did not feel too tired.  You know who your friends are when you ask, "Can you drive us to the airport at 4am?"

We got to the airport and realized that we were not the only people catching an early flight the Monday morning after the July 4th weekend (whoops!).  We got in a long security line at 4:53am and got through security by 5:30.  Our flight boarded at 5:40am.  We napped and read the in-flight magazine on our way to San Fran (it is a somewhat long story as to why flew from Denver to SFO to Dublin if you want to hear the whole long thing ask me)  We arrived in SFO at 7:45am (local time).  We met Michael (who had been a volunteer since 2001) at the tourist info desk.  He gave us a briefing on BART (Bay Area Public Transportation) and attractions to check out.

Equipped with some maps and info, we set off.  I thought California had played a bad trick on us - it was freezing!  And the subway/BART was ghe-tto! (Ian would say that I am acting like a first world white girl right now...ahem).  Once we got to the Empardicio stop, I was happy to see palm trees and the ocean - wootwoot!  We started at Pier 0 and started walking towards Pier 40 (maybe a mile-ish).  We stopped for coffee along the way.  All the piers were along the ocean.  We toured Pier 39, it had cool shops.  We tried to see the seals that usually hang out in the area, but there was only 1 and it was not a healthy seal.  We learned that the seals swim to Mexico in the summer and then return in early to mid August.
We could see Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge.  Thankfully, California was good to us and it warmed up.

San Francisco is to China as bike rides are to 1 dollah, 1 dollah, 1 dollllaaahhhh.  (Everywhere you go, there are people aggressively trying to talk you into a taking a bike ride over the Golden Gate Bridge just like the one dollar people in China).

We found the Buena Vista Cafe.  It is about 2 blocks off the ocean and known as the American Home of the Irish Coffee.  We hang out with some friends every Friday night and every Friday night we have an Irish Coffee after dinner.  It signals "weekend" to us.  We split an Irish Coffee - the best part (in my opinion) is the hand whipped, whipped cream - yum!  The bartender was quirky and beyond laid-back.  He made the Irish Coffees without a care if he splashed too much coffee or accidentally spilled some.

Then we walked up a long steep hill (we had our backpacks with us all day) to see Lombard Street.  There were great views of the ocean.  We took a few pictures once we found Lombard Street and then headed back down to Fisherman's Warf.

Everyone (and I do mean every single person that we know from the west coast) holds a high opinion of In-N-Out.  Neither Ian or I had eaten there before so we thought, "when in California, eat some InNOut".
The place was PACKED.  We both had a burger and fries, the burger scored a 6.5/10 for us.  Once we finished lunch, we had back to the BART stop and returned to the airport.  We got through security fast.  We found our gate and just hung out for a while.  We boarded the plane around 4:45-5pm.  I remember thinking, "We could fly home right now and I would feel like we have been on vacation...and the adventure hasn't even started."

It was not the best flight of my life, but it was definitely not the worst.  It was also a long flight (10ish hours) but we have definitely flown for longer.  I drank too much coffee, not enough water.  There were unsupervised teenagers.  And the little TV on the back of the seats was hit or miss.  On the upside, we had a great "goody bag" with inflatable neck pillows, earbuds, earplugs, green socks, toothbrush and toothpaste.

The verse we memorized during our trip was "The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him and He helps me.  My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him."  Psalm 28:7

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Trip to Utah Part B (2015 Summer Adventures Part 3)

At this point, I just want to skip ahead and tell you all about backpacking in the UK, but I also teach math (and am an istj), which means we must go in order:

On Friday, we broke camp and headed north towards Salt Lake City.  We stopped by Utah Lighthouse Ministries and met Sandra Tanner!  This has been on our (Ian's) bucket list for about 5 years, so it was really an amazing privilige to be able to meet Sandra Tanner and chat with her.  She was so nice!  We got to stay with some friends in the Salt Lake City area. Neal, the pastor of Mountain Road Church, and his wife, Christie, are such sweet people!  We had such a good time getting to know them.  Since we were staying with them, we stopped by the church and helped take down decorations from their week of Vacation Bible School.

On Saturday we enjoyed a slow morning of breakfast, coffee, and visiting with Neal and Christie.  We decided to head to Antelope Island State Park and go for a hike.  Antelope Island is a really cool little island.  You drive across a long bridge to get to the island.

Thank you Google Maps for showing us where Antelope Island is

We stopped by a the park office to get a map and buy postcards.  They have bison, antelope, mule deer, and bighorn sheep.  We tried to see some (or any) of these animals while we were driving to the trail head.  We did not see any animals (foreshadowing?).  The first thing I noticed when we parked at the trail head was the lack of trees.  I think Salt Lake City has a similar elevation of Denver and the sun is powerful in June.  We had already slathered ourselves with sunscreen so we set off.

We started hiking.  I said, "Wow!  There are a lot of grasshoppers!"  We kept hiking. We tried to talk, we tried to play games, we tried to pretend that the trail was not the incarnation of the plague of the grasshoppers (I am stretching it a bit...locust and grasshoppers are similar), but it.was.not.possible.

There were so many grasshoppers!  Each step there were 4 or 5 grasshoppers jumping up - which may not sound bad when you are at home in your jammies, sipping coffee and writing a blog post, but there is a reason that God sent a plague of locust/grasshopper. {Lordhavemercy, they are so annoying!} After about a mile, we stopped and tried to decide what we should do: Hike 6 miles with grasshoppers or turn around and do something else.  Since we were on vacation and there was no prize for enduring the grasshoppers, we turned around and headed back to the car.

We did take a picture before leaving Antelope Island.
We decided to drive east and check out Park City, Utah.  Ian drove the 2ish hours to Park City while I complained about dehydration and feeling nausea.  As soon as we arrived in Park City, I thought, "We are back in Colorado - this feels like a mountain town".  I am not exactly sure how to explain what that means, but Park City did not feel like the rest of Utah.  It was a cute town (by cute I mean, very clean, up to date, and suburb white girl).  We found the Wasatch Brew Pub and caught a World Cup Soccer Game while sipping a Polygamy Porter (actual name of the beer - no comment) and learning about the history of the Wasatch Brew Company.

So surprising/shocking that it is funny (that was my reaction at least)
We headed back to Salt Lake City - it was a pretty drive.  We enjoyed a fun evening of grilling out with Neal, Christie, their son, and grandkids.  It is so special to hear stories of God's faithfulness and mighty power.  Any time we have heard stories about God moving in great ways, we have also heard about the challenge, difficulty, and pain of following God - it helps keep our feet planted firmly.

Sunday we packed, headed to church, and then started our drive back to Colorado.  We took Interstate 80 back (instead of Interstate 70 which we drove on our way out).  This took us more through Wyoming.  I love driving on interstates in the west - it is so relaxing (to me).  I was somewhat concerned as we kept getting wind warnings (gusts of 60 mph!?!?) but we were fine.
One more picture from "Grasshopper" Island
I think we got home around 10pm and just went to bed.  It was so fun to camp and vacation in Utah.  The culture is different than Colorado.  The scenery is different than Colorado. We had a great time and made fun memories!

Up next: Our trip (in 25 blog posts probably) to the UK!