the great outdoors

On Cleaning Up My Potty Mouth in Salt Lake City

My sister and her husband moved from Portland, Oregon to Salt Lake City, Utah about six years ago. To be honest, I still haven’t forgiven them.

(Sadly, this was Brock’s only visit to Portland to see his Aunt Mel, before they up and abandoned all hope of living anywhere nearly this cool again.)

Utah seems to be the only state somehow untouched by U.S. law. Like, how is it the only state where there are legal loopholes for polygamous marriages? And how is it legal to have students attending public schools granted released time during school hours to get LDS education on the LDS seminary campuses that seem to be conveniently located on all the public school campuses (when every other state is fighting to the death for separation of church and state)? And how is it illegal to order alcohol without having food already on the table? There’s no, “Can I start you off with a glass of wine?” No beer on tap that’s over 3.2% alcohol content? Obviously I could go on and on.

So I will.

Because, as if these things aren’t bad enough, I came across this list of Dumb Ass Laws in Utah. (Yes, I added the ass for emphasis. And fortunately I’m not in Utah right now, because if I was, I would likely be arrested. According to this list, it is illegal for women to swear! HOW IS THAT LEGISLATABLE?!)


As I said, my sister lives there. And for those of you who don’t know me, I’m kind of close to my sister. (Okay, really close. Like, we’re pretty much the same person, just living in different states–and it will remain that way for as long as she lives in Utah.)

I recently went out to watch my sister’s kids while she and her husband were in Ethiopia. These little faces that the two of them made together are my favorite excuses to visit to this nonsensical place.

After many visits to Salt Lake City without ever actually going to the Great Salt Lake, I finally decided it was time to explore the place where the city got its name from. In the middle of the Great Salt Lake is a lovely little place called Antelope Island.  The kids and I headed to Antelope Island in search of antelope. Seemed reasonable. Many hours (and wrong turns) later, we had no antelope sightings to report. We did, however, sight buffalo, tens of thousands of birds, tens of thousands of dead birds (literally), cattle, and this crazy beautiful (salty) scenery.

I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised that we didn’t find antelope on Antelope Island. That would’ve made too much sense for Salt Lake City. But, as I’ve learned before, a place doesn’t need to make sense to be thoroughly enjoyed. Being with my sister and her family is enough to keep my heart and face happy.

So I suppose it’s a lot of bit because of my sister…


…and a little bit because of this view, that I am drawn back to Utah again and again.

According to Utah law, a husband is responsible for every criminal act committed by his wife while she is in his presence. Looks like I either need to clean up my potty mouth, or marry a man (or many!) before visiting my sister again.



We’ve gone two whole weeks without snow now, so I’m guessing the attention I lavished on Winter finally did the trick. 😉 This past weekend while I was in St. Louis journaling about my trip to Salt Lake City a few weeks back, I realized it was time to catch up on some undocumented adventures before launching full swing into this next travel season.

Remember that time I told you that I ate ice cream in Seattle, but didn’t actually tell you about my trip to Seattle? While I hold that ice cream teasers are always justifiable and need no explanation, I think I was waiting to disclose the details of my trip until I had a better reason to give you as to why Seattle – but, like ice cream, it really needs no explanation. So here it is.

Truth be told, I chose Seattle for my girlfriends’ and my annual Labor Day getaway this year because I had never explored the place The Everywhereist calls home. Anyone who knows me is not surprised by that reason. I thought it was time to see what it was that kept bringing my favorite blogger back to Seattle after all her travels (aside from her brilliantly bearded man, of course). It wasn’t hard to figure out.

Guys, you would love Seattle. I mean, anyone who loves Geraldine, coffee, seafood (or any good food for that matter), music, art, fresh flowers, the smell of salt water, beaches, mountains (or anything between beaches and mountains), architecture, design….what was I trying to say here?

If you like anything at all, you’ll like Seattle.

While we were there, a stranger made an astute observation. He pointed out that the four of us girls function as the four points of a compass. We loved the analogy, as it captured the rarity of our bond. We all come from totally different paths of life, have very distinct interests and styles, and our personalities are for sure as opposite as the North and South poles.

Here’s Jadah. Our Northern Star:

Tara is the beauty from the East:

Whitney’s as close to Southern charm as you’ll find in Minnesota:

And I’ll forever represent the West from whence I came:

How often are people gifted with not one, not two, but three friends who love you all the way to your soul and back? Naturally, the only way to signify this bond was to get matching tattoos. I mean, we were in Seattle, guys.

Totally joking, Dad. That’s just a random pic I found online. Unfortunately, we ran out of time to get tattoos because we were too busy (legally) getting high. DAD! I’M JOKING! We just drank coffee. A lot of coffee. (You can find a post I wrote about coffee in Seattle on this coffee blog I share with my mom and sisters.)

We spent four days in the city, and each day was as distinctively different as each girl. We explored Seattle as foodies, typical tourists, nature enthusiasts, and as besties. (Upon re-reading that sentence, I have become grossly aware of the fact that the term “besties” is about as annoying to read as bathroom selfies are to look at. Therefore, I hereby promise to never throw that word into a post again.)

We adventured our way through Seattle as foodies:

We adventured our way through Seattle as typical tourists:

We adventured our way through Seattle as nature enthusiasts:

We adventured our way through Seattle as besties the four points of a compass:

I realize the rare gift it is to journey through life with a group of friends whose magnetism is as beautiful as a compass rose. As soon as I am able to convince Geraldine that she was meant to be part of my inner circle, I’ll have a five point compass rose designed and inked. (And yes, Dad, I promise you’ll be the first to know.)

Okay, Winter, You Have My Attention

My friend’s dad recently passed away. When she was diffusing with her two sisters after the funeral, they realized that somehow their dad had convinced all three of them that they were his favorite daughter. I was blown away by the gift this man had left his girls. Somehow he had enough love and attention to make each girl in his house feel like they were the highest object of his affection.

Today is March 5. It was 5° when I woke up. We are expecting 5 inches of snow today, because evidently the half foot Winter dumped on us over the weekend wasn’t enough to get our attention. Evidently the multiple polar vortexes, broken records, and snow days have not given Winter enough satisfaction.

Laying in bed this morning, I started wondering if perhaps Winter was just craving attention.

I have made my affections for Spring, Summer and Fall very clear. I have celebrated the offerings of all three of the other seasons, without making much mentioning of my love for Winter. Perhaps Winter is feeling like a neglected child. Like she is not my favorite and the others are.

In case my oversight is the reason behind this temper tantrum Winter is throwing, I thought I should make my love for her known.

Since I only have one child, I haven’t had practice spreading my love out evenly. I haven’t had multiple objects of affection to convince that they are all my favorite. I haven’t figured out how this works as well as my friend’s dad did. I’m hoping, though, that this apology to Winter and acknowledgement of her beauty and the fun she offers, will suffice and make her stop acting like a bitter middle child. Fingers crossed.

Life in the Midwest Tundra

My favorite part of our condo is the floor to ceiling map mounted on my dining room wall. It is a conversation starter when I have company, and a dream starter when Brock and I share our dinners. Each night we dream about where we would go, who we would visit, what we would eat, and the things we would do if we could just jump right into the map. Tonight was the first time our vacation dreams took us off the map and to another planet.

Evidently Mars’ weather is better than this midwest tundra we’ve been living in for the past several days now. I woke up yesterday and checked my weather app:


Feels like -43°. Do the weather guys know that you don’t actually FEEL ANYTHING at -43°? Needless to say, B and I have remained indoors and have spent the hours coming up with creative ways to avoid cabin fever (though fevers and other sorts of raised temperatures aren’t sounding terrible at the moment).

In addition to putting away Christmas and planning out the year ahead, here are a few of the things that have kept us busy indoors these past few days:

  • Concocting magic potions that will turn our neighbor’s annoying cat into a polar bear (We decided a polar bear would be a good option for Brock to ride to school when it starts back up, since cars are not faring too well on roads here these days.)
  • Writing a book of ways to take over (errrr….save) the warmer parts of the world if we make it out of the tundra alive
  • Playing cartographer, and drawing each other maps of where we’ve hidden our buried (button) treasures (By the way, in case of emergency, our maps are hidden in our snow boots. Follow the map to find where we’ve hidden our treasure AND our hot chocolate. We deemed running out of hot chocolate far more dangerous than running out of money and treasure, so there’s an extra hidden stash.)

This arctic weather is crazy I tell you, and it has us doing crazy things–like dreaming of vacationing in places warmer than here–places (planets) 78 million miles FURTHER from the sun than we are!

2013, You Were Kind

As you know, I spent about half of 2013 on a coffee break. Now that I’ve finally put my mug down and picked my laptop back up, I thought I’d give you a synopsis of how just kind 2013 was to us.

Brock learned to read.
I learned to write (in HTML).

*Side note: Comparatively speaking, I’m only about as proficient in writing HTML as Brock is in reading English, though.

Brock hosted his first sleep over.
I hosted my first Flag Day party.

Brock got a new sled.
I got a new car.

Brock lost his first tooth.
I had a first date (for the first time in nearly a decade and a half).

One of Brock’s goals for 2013 was to meet his cousin, Ainsley.
It happened.
One of my goals for 2013 was to pay off my credit card debt.
It happened.
(On a single mom’s part-time salary, guys–it’s possible!)

A few other things that happened during my coffee break:

  • I went to 7 festivals, and 7 shows.
  • Brock tuned 7.
  • We adventured in 7 different states (one of which was a new state, as promised in last year’s recap).
  • I discovered 17 new coffee shops. (Did you honestly think I would’ve stopped at just 7?)

The Crusoes Conquer Pennsylvania (Vol. 1)

I love the primitivism of tent camping, but the adventure always presents me with this gnawing dilemma. I seem to have an identity crisis every time I go.

I can’t decide if camping gives me an opportunity to tap into the most authentic version of myself –like, I’m some distant daughter of Robinson Crusoe. Or is camping revitalizing in the sense that I am able to escape the most authentic version of myself–like, I’m some distant daughter of Kris Jenner (bahahah…I couldn’t even get through typing that without cracking myself up. The Kardashian comparison has only been made once in my life by a not-so-sober stranger, and I definitely did NOT take it as the compliment it was intended. Buuuuut we’re going to go with it for the sake of this post).

Last weekend as I was driving through the hillsides of Pennsylvania with my son and my tent in the back of the car, I found myself scheming up ways to buy a farm like this one, and become a shepherd:

As was the case, we were actively road-tripping and therefore did not have the time to stop and inquire about taking over the farm. I was concerned that the sun would set on us, making tent set up more of a challenge than what I had prepared myself for. (Okay, I had forgotten the flashlight.) So we drove on.

I think driving through Pennsylvania poses more of a threat than driving while texting does. How was I supposed to keep my eyes on the road with landscape this captivating?

I’m happy to report that we made it to our campsite. Alive. And with just enough light left to get the tent set up. Once set up, we tried settling in for the night.

It was a measly 27 degrees in the tent this night.

Brock and I have a hard time falling asleep in tents. Not because we’re uncomfortable. Not even because we’re cold. It’s because camping makes us giddy. We lay there laughing. About everything. And nothing.

The flash was super bright… 

…which is OBVIOUSLY hilarious.

It’s incredible that after a poor night’s sleep, we always seem to wake up with energy enough to conquer the world.

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Sadly, we were unable to enjoy the fruits of the land after our conquest. Even the Crusoe’s don’t have primitive problem solving techniques for every situation. So as to spare me my dignity (and you, your lunch), I’ll skip the reasons behind why our camping adventure took a turn–straight to the Hyatt Regency Hotel shortly after this picture.

Next post: Kadashians do Pittsburgh.

In Which I Meet My Grandma’s Boyfriend

(…And Other Tales of Equal Delight.)

My family would probably have done well to invest in a private jet decades ago. This summer, the acquired stamps on the passports of my siblings and parents included countries such as Haiti, Uganda, The Philippines, Mexico, and Thailand. Within three months time, all three of my siblings, each of their spouses, and both of my parents had added to the marked pages of their passports. By the end of the summer I decided it was time to join in on their fun.

The week before Brock started Kindergarten, we boarded the plane for the exotic destination of Denver, Colorado. (And yes, I checked in with my passport. And yes, wrote “Denver” on the next blank page. That’s legal, right?)

Denver holds a special place in my heart. It is where I ran my first official road race, the BolderBoulder. (Also, it’s where I became a mom.)

My brother and his wife now live in the city I loved and left. (Also, it’s where my brother’s wife will soon become a mom.)

There were a few reasons this recent trip was significant:

  1. I was able to celebrate my sister-in-law transitioning into her new role as mom (far more gracefully than I did, if I may add). We celebrated with a high tea.

    My sister-in-law is the goddess with child (front right).

    Being my first high tea, I was under the misconception that celebrating with a high tea meant I would have the opportunity to get high with my sister-in-law while we drank tea. I mean, we were Boulder, guys! I guess I hadn’t thought through the fact that she was pregnant, though. Pregnant and intelligent. The tea ended up being more of an opportunity for me to practice my lady-like manners, which we’ve previously established are meager at best.

    (Did you see me being all lady-like and sipping on tea, Grandma? And you thought I’d never grow up and be a proper lady.)

  2. I was able to spend quality time with my brother and one of my sisters, and their families.

    I have to say, there are no people in this world that I love or respect more than my family. There are also no people in this world that I drink more with than I do my family.

  3. I was able to introduce Brock to people, places, and things that are very important to me.


  4. I was able to love on my sweet baby girl.

    Trin is my only niece (as of right now), and she owns my heart. The whole thing really doesn’t make much sense, as I am not especially fond of kids. Or girls, for that matter.

    But she melts me every time.

As wonderful as the trip was, I do have one regret. I met my grandma’s boyfriend, but DID NOT GET A PICTURE OF THE EVENT!!! Maybe it was because I was caught up in his charm (really, he is a delightful man to be around). Maybe it was because I was distracted by the buffet of soft foods at the assisted living home they reside in. Or maybe it was because I am (still) in denial that my grandma is currently getting more action than I am. Whatever the case may be, I give you my word that I will capture the wonderment of Grandma’s new love next time I am in town.

In the meantime, can we please start looking into a private family jet, Mom and Dad?