Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Eating greens. Green heirloom tomato, avocado, fresh basil, lime juice. I love eating healthy, but only when it tastes good. I was half-way through this bowl when I realized it was the yummiest thing I'd eaten all week. Food that good deserves a photo so as not to be forgotten. And no, I am not avoiding posting about my 10 year class reunion by posting about my dinner. Honest.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Finding Middle C

Piano love. We've had a beautiful new piece of wood move into our living room. A dear friend of mine recently moved home to Australia and gifted me this gorgeous vintage piano. I'm in love. She's big and curvy (the piano, not my friend) and a bit dinged up around the edges, which makes me love her that much more. So far, I've only been dusting her. But I believe life is a process, in which I am here to find continual improvement. As a shy little tom-boy in my youth, playing the piano did not tickle my fancy. I was mortified of the recitals. So I quit. Admittedly, I've always wished that I didn't. And somewhere on the east coast while still on her "summer-moon" my mom just exhaled loudly I told you so. Wish me luck, I start piano lessons this week.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Day Four: Grand Canyon, North Rim, Thunder River Trail

Day FOUR, we rise, pack up, and eat breakfast at 4 am because we have a long day ahead, back to the rim. We start hiking in the dark with headlamps on. The trail is rigorous and sometimes difficult to find. We reach the western edge of Surprise Valley just in time to greet the sun. We cross Surprise Valley, ascend the Red Wall back to the Esplanade, stopping everywhere that offers even a speck of shade. Crossing the Esplanade I imagine this is what Mars looks and feels like. The 50 switchbacks are approaching, but we stop first for lunch and a cat nap under a huge flat rock. When we reach the 50 switchbacks (yes, FIFTY) I am nearly out of water and food. Todd counts out loud each switchback. I want to die. The last 1/2 mile to the top completely demoralizes me. Finally, we reach the summit and I'm so hot and exhausted and completely depleted of energy that even my eyeballs are sweating. Ok, so maybe that was tears. Justified because I made it! I actually made it.

TNT we can't thank you enough. Thanks for daring to take your princess baby sister backpacking in the Grand Canyon. Although for you it was just another day at the office, for us this was an unforgettable challenge that we won't soon forget.

Day Three: Grand Canyon, North Rim, Thunder River Trail

Day THREE, in the morning I discover a scorpion under my tent. Nice. TNT had begun a science experiment turning the silty river water into crystal clear drinking water. It totally worked and I totally drank it because I'm now hard core like that. We start hiking early in an attempt to beat the heat. However, the heat comes fast. We hike up and up along the river and the views are really quite spectacular. I learn quickly that every living thing in the canyon has a thorn or needle on it. We spot several Desert Big Horn Sheep climbing among the craggy outcroppings. Eventually we crest the Cogswell Butte saddle and descend towards Deer Creek.
Water! The Deer Creek narrows are the highlight of the whole trip. It's nice and cool and practically air conditioned along the creek with plenty of places to relax among the natural pools and waterfalls. After lunch we follow the creek and play in the natural slides and slot canyons. It's beyond awesome. Then we hike down to Deer Creek Falls, which spills over 100 feet into the Colorado River. River rafters stop here daily for lunch and day hiking. Seems a bit unfair that they simply stroll up here in their yuppie motorized rafts like it's a ride at Disneyland. The falls are stunning. I'm now in love with the Grand Canyon. We play as long as we can in the narrows, fix a hearty mac & cheese dinner, and then set up camp nearby in the dark. It's hot and muggy along the swamp of the creek.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Day Two: Grand Canyon, North Rim, Thunder River Trail

Day TWO, we drop through a break in the Red Wall cliffs into Surprise Valley. It's hot hot hot. Surprise! It's August, in the Grand Canyon, but the heat is still shocking. Our destination is Thunder River Falls, and it's absolutely incredible. This river, one of the shortest and steepest in the world, spits right out from the side of the canyon wall. We eat lunch in the spray of the falls, taking turns drenching ourselves. The fellas try to climb up to the cave, but the rocks are too hot to touch. Jody manages to curl up into a ball and take a nap - her hair and makeup are perfect. I'm not bitter. My brother resembles Indiana Jones.

Wait...maybe he IS Indiana Jones. Only more dangerous. We continue along Tapeats Creek, making several stream crossings. At one point I have a panic attack because we are hiking a very narrow section of trail very high above the ground and my brain does not like it. Tom comes back to save me like a good big brother. This is a repeating pattern in my life. We push through. I don't die and take this as encouragement to keep going. At the bottom, I lay my whole body fully clothed in the creek; it feels like a York Peppermint Patty commercial. Todd calls the next section "the death march" and after rock climbing for what was not 'just a mile' we eventually reach camp at a sandy beach near Mile 135 Rapids along the Colorado River. The river is blood red and carrying a lot of silt. Boy, we are tired.

Day One: Grand Canyon, North Rim, Thunder River Trail

Bucket List item #271: Hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, and be sure to come back up. CHECK. My brother Tom and his partner Todd are backpacking guides (among other things) for REI. They so kindly  invited us on their "research trip" for the Thunder River trail of the North Rim where they will be taking 5 other groups during September. We were thrilled to be part of the 'scout out the water sources, find the petroglyphs and best camp sites, and how hard can we push these people before they want to die' group. People, they do this for fun. And for money, but mostly because they love it. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity to backpack into one of the natural wonders of the world with legitimate professionals. To say the least, it was an amazing experience.

I can say that now, having spent 3 nights sleeping in my own soft bed. Plus I've taken multiple showers, armed with a razor, being sure not to take one drop of shampoo for granted. But trust me. There were a few moments on this trip where my spirits weren't so high, my body was refusing to cooperate, and my mind could simply not grapple with one more switchback. Our last night in the canyon, I recall laying awake at Deer Creek camp, still thinking about the rattlesnake I passed on the trail but didn't see. Which surprisingly was more disturbing than if I had actually seen it. Unbeknownst to me, the commotion in the tent next door was only Todd being stung by a scorpion. It's unimaginably hot, given that it's 2 o'clock am, and if I take off any more clothing I'm likely to scare away even the gnats. But by that point, the gnats have become a welcome friend simply because they are alive. So there I am sharing this profound connection with gnats because we are both survivors of the canyon, and I'm thinking about this whole adventure being just terrible and wonderful at the same time. I am a princess. So shoot me.
Day ONE, at the trailhead. We look excited and refreshed. We are pansies. We know nothing of what is in front of us. Off we go on the Bill Hall trail towards Monument Point, down the 50 switchbacks, past Crazy Jug Point, toward the esplanade where we stay the first night on the edge of the Red Wall with our first view of the mighty Colorado River below. We took time to find ancient petroglyphs and the natural "tanks" where we could collect and filter water. Blisters? Yes. Heat Exhaustion? Yes. Having fun yet? Yes. Tom and Todd prove to be excellent camp chefs. The stars are beautiful and bright beyond words and we spend the early evening dark splayed out on smooth rocks watching shooting stars and identifying constellations. It was perfect. And then Todd busted out the Peanut M&M's. Then it was perfection.


Wednesday, August 18, 2010


Elder Duncan (AKA Russell the Muscle) is back from serving a two-year mission in Adelaide, Australia for our church. Fresh off the mission, he's returning to a lot of changes including two marriages, one niece, and one nephew. He's as handsome as can be, and skinnier too (if that's even possible for a RM?). Welcome home Russell! You've been missed.

PS check out the video of his airport homecoming. He couldn't get to his dad fast enough. Chokes me up every time.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Community Supported Agriculture

BD here. I've been MIA in the blogosphere for quite some time now and, frankly, it took a conversation at work about CSA's and food in general to spur me to have something to blog about. Go figure. A few others at work and I were chatting about it and I decided (with the master chef's permission, of course) to take the plunge and buy a mid-season share.

Today, I jumped in half-way through the farmer's season. The best part is that the food traveled less than 30 miles from the ground to my countertop. Here's what we ended up with for our first veggie share:

A little detail of my favorite item (at least out of those I've tasted) - Dragon's Tongue Beans. They're a Dutch heirloom version of our common green (string) beans. Not only do they look amazing, they taste good to boot.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

On the Mend

My super fast, super buff, triathlete sister had a bad crash last weekend at the Spudman Triathlon. And when I say "bad" I mean she shattered her pelvis in two places. It's BAD. And totally sad sad sad. Especially for this girl, who lives for the competition.
Last Sunday we drove Papa Ed's suburban to Idaho to rescue her from the Burley hospital and drove her home on a mattress. One week later she's doing pretty well considering she can't really move her body. Today on "Marci Watch" we got her out of bed to have breakfast on the back porch and to get some fresh air. Then it was back to bed, where she'll be for a while. But knowing her, she'll be back on her feet running again before we know it.