The Almost 50 Miler

July 27-30, 2016
Spending the weekend with my family was such a blast and a wild adventure!  Rob and I flew into Portland around 9:00 Wednesday night. Lindsey had left her car in the economy lot for us so we wouldn’t have to rent a car. We found the car in the blue lot. The car has a few surprises of its own…The trunk lock was broken so Rob crawled inside the trunk from the inside of the car, sweating like crazy, and zip tied it closed. We couldn’t leave it at the trail head with our belongings inside if everything was free access from the trunk. The transmission had some issues. It would make a loud thumping sound almost every time Rob let off the breaks. Sounded like someone was pounding on the floor boards from underneath the car. And there was no air conditioning. We were so grateful to have a car, even if it had a few quirks of its own :}

We needed a few supplies that we couldn’t bring on the plane with us, so we went out of our way to find a Wal-Mart. You can imagine what kind of people we ran into at this practically off-the-grid Wal-Mart, especially at this hour of night. When we finally walked in, a huge area was taped off because they were jack hammering the floor – Yes I’m serious! They were jack hammering during operating hours, and it was SO LOUD! I felt like I was walking through a nightmare with how loud and chaotic the Wal-Mart was and how out of it both Rob and I were. We were both tired and Rob was grumpy because he was sweaty and we didn’t have air conditioning in the car. We wandered around aimlessly for way longer than we needed to trying to find snacks and drinks to keep us awake on the drive; Laughing about how we could pick up mac n’ cheese and women’s’ apparel in the same section, because of how the aisles had been shuffled around so that they could work on the floor. After about 45 minutes we walked out with gatorade, 2 bags of Sanitas tortilla chips (Rob’s staple), and a few other treats. It was a memorable trip :]

We were so tired, instead of making the drive all the way to the Obsidian trail head, we found a place to camp next to Detroit Lake. The lake was beautiful to see in the morning. We drove about 2 hours to meet up with my mom and Conner. I was so happy to see them, because my mom didn’t sleep all night with her hip aching and so I thought they might change their minds and not come for the hike, but they made it! She is so strong and amazing. She wanted to do it for Isaiah. She is always sacrificing for others, especially our family.

We picked Mom and Conner up in Lindsey’s car, left the suburban at the trail head and drove the 2 hours to Sister’s Mirror Lake trail head. It was pretty hot out. It took us 2 1/2 hours to hike the short 3.5 miles to the lake. I could tell Mom was in a lot of pain. We tried to get her to let us take some things from her pack to lighten the weight, but she wanted to do it herself. We were worried about her. Lookin’ like Quasimodo as she walked; limping and favoring her stronger hip. We nicknamed her Quasi. We felt so bad for her.

Conner eating dry Top Ramen noodles on the trail. Gross. :}

We arrived at the lake early afternoon. The scenery was gorgeous. So much green! The rest of our family of hikers hadn’t made it to the lake yet, so we continued on the trail in search of them. Shortly after we began, we ran into Lindsey and Isaiah. They were hot, sweaty, and we could tell they had been hiking a very long time. They had filtered water at every lake they came to, but it wasn’t nearly enough. They were completely out of water and had been for miles. They had planned for about a 12 mile hike that day, but it turned out to be over 17 miles! They were not prepared for that kind of mileage. They had split up, into three groups of two, each group moving at their best pace. Dad and Maddie were together somewhere in the middle of the pack. Lucas was sick and had a sprained ankle. Andi had been recovering from surgery the last few months, so they were bringing up the rear. Doing exceptionally well!

Mom and I hiked in with water for Dad, Maddie, Luke, and Andi. They were so grateful to see us! Dad looked exhausted. He only had one tiny water bottle for the whole hike! Not nearly enough water, especially with how much they were sweating. After all that hiking, and climbing, he wasn’t even hungry. He was definitely dehydrated and most likely had heat stroke.












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When we made it back to camp, the mosquitoes were horrible!! Lucas and I both had bad sunburns and were already itchy and pealing. The mosquitoes only complicated things. They always love me. I got inside of my and Rob’s tent to take refuge from the fleets of mosquitoes that were eating me alive. But when I got in I noticed 1, then 2, then 3, then 4, then 5…those little buggers were everywhere! I started to geek out; scratching everywhere. They didn’t bother Rob one bit. He was calm and found humor in the situation, but kindly escorted the villains from the tent for my sake. Took me a while to get out of the tent and brave the mosquitoes again, but I did.

Later on we made a fire. Rob surprised the kids with popcorn he made over his stove. Special treat! Treats always taste better when you’re camping :} We were going to continue on the next day and hike up to Obsidian, but Isaiah decided the 40 miles they had hiked over the past 4 days was good enough. Instead we hiked out Friday morning and went out to Mazatlan; Isaiah’s favorite! The 50 miler had been for Isaiah all along, his last family trip before he left on his mission, so he got to choose where we ate and what we did the rest of the weekend. Nobody was disappointed with Mazatlan. They never short change us on the chips and salsa! We had an awesome weekend together. Isaiah was so happy we could all hike with him. It meant so much to him.

Crystal Geyser/Goblin Valley State Park

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A little late posting this, but better late than never…What an adventure our Memorial Day weekend was! Our state park excursion continues! Sunday morning we woke up to find that we had chosen a beautiful little campsite near Crystal Geyser. We had pulled in so late the night before, we couldn’t see what a great spot it was until the morning. It was already pretty hot when I woke up around 8. My little sleeping beauty was still asleep in the tent. I got up and started to get everything out to make breakfast so we could eat shortly after he woke up. I thought I was doing a good job staying quiet. As I began to organize myself to get breakfast cooking, I looked up at the open tent door and my cute hubinator was awake smiling at me. I found a semi-flat rock and drug all of the breakfast supplies over near the tent so we could use it as a cooking surface.



We were in a pretty low profile area. We had seen a few campers the night before when we were looking for a spot to set up camp, but I hadn’t seen anyone since I had gotten up in the morning. As we were cooking breakfast, a man and woman approached us. They asked us how long we had been there and if we had seen any movement from the geyser.  They told us they were from Germany. They were both very sweet and friendly.

After some discussion, we learned that they had been traveling around the US and Canada for the last few years in their adventure mobile! The adventure mobile was awesome! The tires were HUGE and looked like they could drive through anything! Looked like a dream come true. We would love to travel around the world in a bus or our own adventure mobile some day.

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While cooking breakfast, the German couple got excited and informed us that there was some movement int he geyser. There was a single bleacher for seating. This was a BIG deal geyser if you can’t tell. 😉 We stood by and watched as the geyser bubbled and boiled, but we after about 10 minutes of anticipating the eruption, we left somewhat disappointed. We packed up and drove to the only nearby church in Green River to attend Sacrament meeting. Our car was looking pretty awesome when we pulled into the parking lot… definitely looked like we had been having some fun :}


We hadn’t found a place to shower on Saturday and we forgot to pack clothes for church, so we put on the cleanest clothes we had and headed into the building. I am sure we looked and smelled lovely. But as we walked in a man noticed us and motioned towards two seats in the row he and his family were sitting in. Hopefully he didn’t regret that kind gesture after we sat down in all our camp smellin’ glory. :} They were very kind and made us feel welcome.

After the meeting we hurried out to the car, changed, and drove around trying to find Little Dragon Canyon. The dirt roads were not too well-traveled so it was like a little kids roller coaster! Too fun! Luckily we didn’t get stuck or run out of gas. :} We never found Little Dragon Canyon but we did find a cool canyon that was filled with greenery. There were no other people in the canyon. We had it all to ourselves. We blazed our own path and had the scrapes and pit stains to prove it.


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Our next stop was Goblin Valley. Doesn’t that name sound rad?? GOBLIN VALLEY…sounds like a place for adventures to be had! It was about a 45 minute drive from Green River. When we pulled in I was surprised at how many people there were in the parking lot and out exploring the goblins, because of how hot it was. We arrived around 3 in the afternoon and it was scorching hot. Really hot and dry. Rob told me that years ago on a family trip, Dad Spangenberg had forgotten his shoes in Goblin Valley. Sadly we didn’t see them there. The goblins probably gobbled them up, because that’s what goblins eat for lunch, shoes!



We had so much fun exploring this desert play ground. Rob had been there before, but I was stunned to see the beauty of God’s handiwork in this rugged and remote part of Utah. The rock sculptures were amazing. Each goblin uniquely sculpted by the elements over time. No two sculptures exactly alike. Made me think of people and how each of us are are shaped and changed by experiences throughout a life time.  No two people exactly alike.





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As we ran around and climbed on top of the goblins in the valley, dark clouds started to roll in. The wind picked up as we reached the butte. The wind was a nice cool relief from the suns hot rays. Thunder cracked and rain began to fall. The rain felt so good. We ran through the rain to the pavilion at the edge of the parking lot. I love rain. I love storms too. Storms are especially cool in the middle of in the desert. It was a gorgeous day to be in Goblin Valley. We will definitely come back someday.

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Echo Triathlon: RACE Day!

My alarm went off at 4:30 Saturday morning. I hadn’t gone to bed as early as I had wanted to Friday night, but I still felt well rested and was pumped for the race. The olympic swim wasn’t scheduled to begin until 7:00, but I needed to get dressed, make and eat breakfast, double check my gear, put my number tattoo on both arms, and it was about a 45 minute drive up to the reservoir from our house, so I wanted to leave by no later than 5:00. I was going to make eggs, turkey sausage, and peanut butter toast, my usual, but decided when I woke up that I wanted to make a german pancake instead. That was a mistake.

Rob was so sweet. He got up around 4:45 and whipped up the german pancake mix and got it into the oven for me. It would have been done about 5:05, which was fine, only a few minutes later than I wanted to leave. I continued getting ready. Rob helped me put my tattoos on both arms. I was disappointed that they were not going to do body markings on our legs like they typically do for triathlons, so Rob kindly used his artistic skills and wrote my number in permanent pen on my right calf. Number 70! I thought that was pretty great :) I got my shoes on and my bag all organized. I got my water bottle and nutrition bottle out of the fridge and set them on the table. I was ready to go other than breakfast.




I opened the oven to check on the pancake at about 5:05, but it still wasn’t done. I looked at the temperature and realized that the oven was about 100 degrees lower than the cooking temp. I was so nervous about getting to the race early and having time to settle in, I started to panic. I told Rob we should just leave the pancake and not worry about breakfast. He was not on board. He was the only one thinking logically at this point. I was in panic mode. He was right, I did need to eat something before I worked my booty out for 4 hours. I was so stressed about parking, riding my bike the 2 miles to the start, and setting up my stuff at the transition, I wasn’t thinking about food. I wanted to get on the road. He patiently sat me down and got me busy doing something else. It worked for a few minutes, but as the clock ticked I got more and more nervous. As soon as the pancake was done we were out the door!

We had been on the road about 10 minutes when Rob asked if I had  photo ID with me. I had left my wallet on the table at home. I quickly read back through the race day instructions, specifically the part that said, “you MUST have current photo ID at registration. No photo ID, NO RACE!” We turned around immediately and headed back home. This added about 15 extra minutes. I started crying and had a total meltdown in the car on the way home. Rob was so good and stayed calm the whole time. He helped me calm down and focus on anything other than the time. After I calmed down and stopped stressing, we danced and sang to songs on the radio and laughed a lot the rest of the drive. Laughter is the best! :)

I put my wet suit on in the car so I was ready to ride as soon as we parked at the High School. I had put all of my other gear (goggles, tank top, shoes, socks) in the mesh bag my wet suit had come in, and slung it over my shoulder as I got on my bike. My cute hubinator gave me a big kiss and sent me on my way.  We were both all smiles as I got on my bike and rode away. Great way to start a race! :)


Right when I pulled into the transition area I saw TJ. He helped me find my designated spot to hang my bike and set up my running gear. I picked up my chip timer from a booth near the lake – didn’t even need my photo ID! Hah! I was relaxed and excited. I only used the porta-potty once, which is a miracle for me! I usually have to go to the bathroom at least 3 times before a competition because I get so nervous and my adrenaline is pumping!  I put my swim cap and goggles on my head. It was a little windy, but I wasn’t cold in my wet suit.  I found a place along a bend in the grass carpet to put my flip flops so I could easily find them after the swim. Blue and orange, couldn’t miss them. TJ had spray painted his gold. Ain’t nobody got time for that! 😉

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Luckily they were running a little behind schedule for the start. Due to the choppiness of the water, it had taken more time to get the orange triangle buoys anchored in the water. I was glad because I wanted to get in the water before the swim; swim around a bit to get use to the water temperature and get some water down in my wet suit so it was less of a shock when we started the race. There was plenty of time for that. They even had people holding sticks with a paper on top that gave average swim times for 100 yards. Based on my 43 minute mile swim the week before, I figured my average 100 yard time was 2:40. They didn’t have that slow of an average, which was really reassuring, not! Hah! Way to boost my cofience before the race had even begun. No worries slow poke, you’re the slowest person here! I just went to the time closest to my average, which was 2:30. I was ok with that. I made small talk with a few of the athletes. Most of them looked seasoned, serious business, but some of them were just there to have fun or were using the race as a training for an ironman. I wasn’t worried. I was ready to go!


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TJ was freezing waiting in his Speedo. He and one other guy wore Speedos. They became instant friends :} They made a few announcements through a megaphone and then the race began! It was a rolling start. The chip timers didn’t activate until we crossed the start line, so there was no pushing or shoving to get into the water. I think I was the very last person to get in the water. As I was crossing the start line, I heard someone call my name. I looked back and saw that my Uncle Ben had surprised me and come to support me at the race! Seeing my hubby there watching me compete for the first time since we got married gave me an adrenaline rush. Then seeing my sweet uncle there cheering me on as well gave me another burst of energy. I was so excited as I got into the water!

The three orange buoys placed in a triangle shape in the water to mark the swim course. It was so nice to have something big and bright to look to as I was swimming. It make it so much easier to stay on course. I accidentally gently kicked a guy behind me twice; the same guy, twice! I switched to side stroke to apologize. I felt so bad. He wasn’t upset, he actually apologized to me because he was behind me so it was his responsibility to be watching out for me. I didn’t get kicked or punched even once during the swim.

As I swam I felt strong and relaxed. I had trained hardest for the swim. I saw many people switch to back stroke when they got tired. I didn’t back stroke or even tread water. I wasn’t sprinting, but I kept a steady pace and never stopped swimming. I even passed a few people. I felt great! I really enjoyed the swim! I didn’t feel tired or too out of breath when I got out of the water. That made me think I could have swam faster, but I was just happy to have finished and had no major panic moments while I was out there. I ran out of the water feeling happy and pumped for the bike!



The Bike
I found my flip flops easily and jogged to my bike. I had trouble getting my wetsuit off. The suit was like a giant suction cup. I slipped my cap and goggles off and took my timing chip off my ankle so I wouldn’t have to try to slide the wet suit over it. I put my helmet on, hopped on my bike and I was off!

The bike course was beautiful. It was a loop. The first 12 miles were a gradual include with a few flats. The last 12 miles had a little more down hill and one up hill, but nothing major. The overall elevation gain was only about 625 feet. I was pedaling fast, but I kept getting passed by people. The worst was being passed by two old guys. Geez. You’d think I could stay up with the oldies, but nope. They were fast! Zoomed right past me! Everyone of them in full tri-suit and very sleek, probably expensive, bikes.  I hadn’t trained too much on the bike so I anticipated the 24.8 mile course would take me about 2 hours. I pedaled hard and enjoyed the ride. I didn’t take any breaks. I drank my nutrition along the way, took a sip about every 15 minutes or so.

I realized about halfway through the bike I had forgotten to put my timing chip back on after I changed out of my wet suit. I planned to grab it when I got to the transition. I was a little bummed I wouldn’t get my bike splits, but I wasn’t super competitive with anyone at this point so I wasn’t too worried about it. It was my first tri and I wanted to have a good time. I rode into the transition feeling pretty good. Legs weren’t exhausted. I really enjoyed the ride. It was fun, even if old people were passing me!


The Run
I took off my helmet, hung my bike, and started to run. Just before leaving the transition I remembered that I hadn’t grabbed my chip timer again! I turned around and ran back to get it. Rob looked confused when he saw me coming back, probably thought I had lost my mind at that point :} The picture below is me trying to tell Rob what had happened. Not sure he caught it.


The 6.2 mile run was along the Rail Trail. The course was fairly flat, no big hills, but it was the toughest part of the race for me. I had a side ache for at least the first 3 miles. I think it was from the nutrition. I hadn’t conditioned my body well enough to the it. I had only used it on one previous ride/run about a week before the race and I had gotten a side ache then too. That was an amateur mistake. I should have conditioned my body better to the nutrition.

Something similar happened to me when I ran my first half marathon in September of 2009. The first 4 miles of the race were all up hill and so I assumed that I would need some energy after that massive climb. I didn’t feel low energy, actually felt really good, but I still took an energy shot, lime flavor, at the top of the hill. I was bloated and felt heavy and gross for the rest of the race. I hadn’t trained with energy shots at all, so it was totally foreign to my body. It did not like that at all. Not awesome. I need to listen to my body better. Conditioning myself to energy shots, blocks, or nutrition is something I will need to work on if I continue racing.

About 2 1/2 miles into the run I got a little bit of a second wind. I started running faster, feeling pretty good. Then shortly after I passed the 3 mile aide station, the front of my right hip started hurting/aching pretty bad. I walked/jogged the last few miles and then started sprinting just before I could see the finish line. I sprinted through the ache and crossed the finish line super happy.



Rob, TJ, and uncle Ben were right there as I crossed the finish line. I was very emotional when I finished. I bent over with put my hands on my knees and fought back the tears. I wasn’t upset. I was overcome with emotion. I had finished a triathlon! I hadn’t even swam, bike, and run consecutively in one training session, or even in the same day during my training, so I had no idea how this day was going to play out. And for the first time in competition, I had competed with the a mindset of doing my best, not comparing myself to anyone else, and not holding myself to any unrealistic standards. And it was FUN!!

I had overcome a panic attack in the water, swam and biked way faster than I anticipated I could, and finished in under 4 hours! My finishing time was 3:23:21. My swim time was 34:26, which blew me away! Rob kept saying, you dominated the swim. I could tell he was very proud of his little woman and that made me even happier :) My bike time was 1:36, which surprised me too. I feel good about that time. My run time was longer than I wanted it to be, but not by much. I was hoping for an hour or just under an hour, but it took me 1:06:02. It was a great day and I had a blast!


Olympic Triathlon: Training Part II

Week 6
By this point in training Rob and I were both pretty worn out and had a lot going on, so the plan to swim 3 times that week didn’t happen. I ran once during the week and went to a Crossfit class but I was achy and painfully sore through my hips and gluteus medius for a day and a half after the run. I definitely over did it at Crossfit, having done over 300 air squats. Other than that those two days, not much training happened that week.

Week 7
I was pretty worried about going swimming this week; afraid to face the reality that I might have lost my gains over the last 6 weeks. Tuesday afternoon, after an early morning, a decent amount of driving, and a long day of wedding festivities, we had planned to go swimming. Rob and I were both tired, did not feel like going swimming for an hour, but I told him I knew I needed to go. Instead of going home, we drove straight to the Salt Lake Rec Center from the wedding luncheon in Provo. When we got there Rob realized he had forgotten his swim bag. I could tell how tired he was, and I told him it was not a big deal, he didn’t need to swim with me. He didn’t fight me on it too much, so I know he was pretty worn out. He didn’t want to leave so he hung out and slept on the grass while I swam.

My plan was to swim about 1300 meters in the outdoor pool, which is 50 meters one length of the pool; so down and back 100 meters. In other words I was planning on swimming 26 laps. I swam 6 laps in one lane and then got kicked out of my lane by a guy I think was a swim coach for a high school team. He didn’t say much, but he must have noticed my swim cap, because he tapped me on the head with a paddle board and then as I lifted my head from the water and looked up at him he asked me if I knew Lindsey Spangenberg. The swim cap I was wearing was one TJ had given me and it had the words “Captain Spangenberg” printed in white lettering along the side of the black cap. I said, “yes she is my sister-in-law.” He seemed to lose interest in me at that point, realizing that I was not a legendary Spangenberg swimmer. He told me they were going to be using the lane, not giving me any option to stay. I was a little bit frustrated that I had to stop, because this was going to be my first 1300 meters without stopping, but I got over it pretty quick and found a different lane to share with another swimmer.

I got in and began swimming again. It was nice and sunny outside. My goggles don’t have any tint to them, just clear, so each time I would lift my head to take a breath I would close my eyes because the sun was so bright. This is when I realized I don’t swim very straight, because I kept running into the lane lines when I would take a breath. Pretty sure that is what the bruise just above my right elbow was from. I didn’t want to buy tinted goggles, because I was worried about them being too hard to see out of in open water. I wanted to have the best visibility I could get, so clear goggles seemed like the best option to me when I bought them. If I keep swimming for exercise after the race, I might want to get some tinted goggles.

I was sharing a lane with only one other person when I got in to swim, but as I kept swimming two other women joined our lane. One of them was just using a kick board to go up and down the lane and wasn’t moving very quickly. I was swimming along and didn’t realize she was just up ahead of me, got too close to her, and got kicked in the face. It wasn’t too bad, but was a wake up call for me that I would need to pay more attention to those around me during the race so I didn’t get kicked in the face! Lesson learned.

Somewhere along the way I decided I wanted to swim further than the 1300 meters and rounded it off at 1500 meters for the day. I didn’t feel very fast, and hadn’t paid too much attention to the time, but felt really good when I finished. I was really happy about that! When I got out to the car to share my success story with Rob, he wasn’t there. He had gone in to try to watch me swim, but was a little too late and I was already done at that point.

The next morning I got up before 6, got dressed, and ate a piece of peanut butter toast on my way to the rec center. I didn’t waste any time in the locker room. I got in the pool about 6:17. My goal was to swim a full mile without stopping. When I began, I thought that 66 lengths (25 yards per length) was a full mile but as I was swimming, and counting my laps, as I neared close to 60 laps, I noticed a sign on the wall directly in front of my lane that read: 1 mile = 72 laps. I looked at the time and began to swim faster and faster. The water felt great. I was in total control of my breathing. My strokes felt strong and consistent as I plowed through the water. Initially I wasn’t shooting for any specific time, but as I got closer and closer to finishing that mile, I peered up at the clock and challenged myself to finish before the clock read 7:00 on the dot.

I continued to swim, feeling comfortable with my breathing and stroke rate, not panting for breath; moving steadily through the water. I swam hard; harder than I ever have before. I wanted that mile before 7:00. When I got to the end of the pool, finishing lap 72, I touched the concrete and looked up at the clock. When I saw 6:59:17 on the clock my heart took flight! I had done it! I had swam a full mile without stopping for the first time in my life, and I had finished it in under 43 minutes! Dang I felt good! My first mile felt fantastic! I climbed out of the pool feeling  hot and extremely thirsty for the first time since we started training. That is when I knew the training was paying off, and I was getting faster! I couldn’t wipe the grin off my face all the way home. Couldn’t wait to tell my incredibly attractive coach at home that his little womanator swam a mile in less than 43 minutes!

When I got home and told him how the swim had gone he got so excited! He was so proud of his dedicated little wifey waking up so early and swimming her little heart out. :)


After my two long swims this week, I felt comfortable with the swim portion of the race and thought I should spend some time getting comfortable on my borrowed bike and getting a feel for the transition between the bike and the run. Thursday night Rob was working late so I decided I would bike from home and go for time, not worrying about distance. I figured the 24.8 mile bike would take me about 2 or so hours, so I planned to spend just over an hour on the bike and then to go for about a 3 mile run afterwards. That would be about half of each of the race distances in both the bike and the run.

I was sleepy when I got home from work, and contemplated taking a nap and then getting out on my bike, but I pushed myself to get changed and forego the nap. Good thing too. It was about 6:30 when I began to ride. The sun was still up but there was a light breeze, perfect weather for riding! I rode straight up B Street to 11th Avenue. B Street is a pretty steady incline all the way up to 11th, other than the semi-flat intersections where the roads cross. After I made it to 11th, I rode down Bonneville Boulevard to the entrance of City Creek Canyon. I was planning to ride up City Creek Canyon, Rob’s suggestion, but when I got there I found out that the canyon is closed to bikes on even days. I quickly re-routed and headed back along Bonneville Blvd. towards the Capitol building.

I rode up Capitol Blvd. to the gated community, which was about a mile, came back down, and circled back around halfway down Bonneville Blvd. I turned off on Freedom Trail that lead down to Memory Grove. It was so beautiful through that area. I remember running up Freedom Trail many times when I was training for Ragnar a few years ago, and it was my nemesis. My friend and I would run it after work, so early evening, during the late spring. Typically these runs would be on days that I had also done Crossfit at work during lunch, so by the time we set out to run I was already pooped. Each run up that trail felt so long and I felt heavy, sluggish, and out of breath every time…and riding my bike down this trail I felt like I was saying, “take that you rotten trail, I beat you!” I was flying down that trail on my bike!



When I got back from my ride, I felt great! I had ridden for just under an hour. I quickly parked my bike in the house, drank a little bit of water, took off my helmet, locked the house, stuffed the key on my person, and then took off on my run. I took the same route I had ridden my bike on, but just shortened it some. My legs didn’t feel too bad at first, but after that long up hill to 11th Ave., my legs were heavy and I had a side ache the rest of the run. I think the side ache was from the nutrition I was drinking while I was biking. My stomach wasn’t use to it.

I was happy that the next mile and a half or so were mainly downhill with some flats, and there was only one decent climb towards the end of the run. I slowly jogged up the hill along 2nd Avenue and made my way back to our house. I timed my run on Strava, just to help me get a sense of my pace for those couple miles. I wanted to see how much slower I was running after biking for that hour. I made my way up B Street finishing the loop, and looked at my phone to see my time and pace. I had run about 3.3 miles in just under 30 minutes. I was happy with that time! I am hoping to finish the run during the triathlon in about an hour, and this pace would get me finishing the run in just under an hour. When I got home I felt worked; like I just got my butt kicked at the gym, but at the same time I was pumped that I had just finished my first bike/run transition too! A little late in the game, but at least I got it done and I had a great time biking.

Physical Therapy
I also forgot to mention that a few weeks into my training, I started seeing a physical therapist for overall fatigue that I have been experiencing for about eight months or so, and some aggravating hip pains and shooting pains in my legs, lower back, and hips. The pains in my back and hips especially seem to flare up near the end of a 3 mile run and then they will usually ache for a day or so afterwards. The physical therapist thinks that the pain in my hips and glutes are possibly from an issue with one of the disks in my lower back. He could feel that there was some inflammation near the lower part of my spine as he would press on my back. Inflammation is usually a sign that your body is trying to protect something that is broken or damaged. It was very tender and sometimes painful when he would press in certain areas. When he first started working on my body (week 1 and 2 of meeting with him) he said that my hips were out of alignment; my right hip slightly higher than my left. So he pulled on my feet/legs to try to even them out. Then each week he would have me stand facing away from him with my feet only a few inches apart and he would look at my hips to see if they had shifted at all or were still in alignment. The last two weeks of therapy, he said that my alignment was looking much better and my hips were staying level.

My physical therapist’s name was Dave Moss and his intern was Mary Grow. His assistant’s name is Steve. They work at Salt Lake Hand and Ortho. I met with Dave about twice a week over the course of 6 weeks for an hour each session. He and his assistants would have me do the same exercises each week. Most of the exercises were to strengthen my core and my lateral plane. He said that my frontal plane was very strong, but my lateral plane was pretty weak in comparison, just because lateral movements aren’t as common for us to do, so those areas are routinely under-worked.  He also gave me an at home program with 6 exercises/stretches to do twice a day everyday. I was really faithful at doing them at least once a day everyday for the first 4 weeks or so, but I got busier and more tired as training went on, so regrettably I was only doing them a few times a week when I remembered.

I was the physical therapist for 10 sessions; 9 before my race and 1 time the week after.  The feelings of fatigue I have been experiencing were happening at least a few times a month for the past better part of a year, but with the physical therapy, both at the office and the at-home program, reducing my running to no more than 3 miles per run, and only doing body weight movements (no olympic lifting or other lifting with weight), I am starting to notice a difference with the overall fatigue. I am feeling fatigued much less frequently and that is a huge blessing! The hip, back, glute, and fatigue issues are not completely gone, but at least now it hasn’t just been me being a wannie about nothing. Even though we are not totally certain what the issue is, at least he has narrowed it down to something in my lower back and I have some strategies to make it less painful.

On my last day of PT, I brought homemade milk chocolate gelato with chocolate curls that Rob and I had stuffed into a Ben & Jerry’s container for Dave and Steve. They were equally surprised and giddy at the same time. They got some spoons and began to eat it in the middle of the office. Dave said, “this is going to be gone today!” I think they kind of liked it. :)

Week 8
July 4, 2016: Second Open Water Swim
The final week of training I had planned to only swim once or twice, nothing hard, to conserve my energy for the race. Rob’s cousin Josh swims and organizes a lot of open water swim races and swimming for fun. He had invited me to come out to Jordanelle Reservoir Monday morning to swim with him and a few others. He said they usually swim about 1 mile. I thought it would be prefect practice for me a few days before the race, because it would give me a chance to boost my confidence in my ability to swim a long distance in open water.

I showed up a few minutes before 6. I wasn’t feeling too nervous, but a little bit. I was mainly only concerned about the water temperature, because I don’t do well in super cold water. Josh had said the water was suppose to be about 68 degrees. That didn’t sound too cold to me, but it was also 6:00 in the am, and it was pretty windy. Josh said the others were already swimming so just the two of us would be swimming together. As we walked out to the water I told him I am pretty slow and he didn’t have to stay with me, but he reassured me that he was there for fun and wanted to stay with me. That was really reassuring and made me feel more comfortable right away know that he was going to stay with me.

We made a plan to swim out to the first orange buoy and then we would swim along the white buoys to the end and back, which would be about a mile. Josh told me that the initial getting in the water is his least favorite part, mine too, but getting in the water wasn’t bad at all. The body parts out of the water were actually way colder then the body parts in the water.

We got in and began to swim. The water was pretty choppy. I was swimming freestyle for the first several strokes, but the waves were just big enough that each time I would lift my head to get a breath water cover my nose and mouth, so I couldn’t get a breath. I started coughing and my heart began to racing. I was panting. I slowly side stroked the rest of the way out to the buoy so I could keep my head out of the water and try to slow my breathing down. I still felt completely rational mentally, but I couldn’t get my breathing to slow down. My body was freaking out inside. Josh was waiting for me out at the buoy. I was kind of embarrassed, and felt bad that he was waiting, but he was so kind and reassured me that I was fine and could wear his flotation belt just for security. I tied the belt around my waist and we began to swim again. I swam side stroke again, because I only breathe on the right side when I swim freestyle, and the waves were coming from that direction, so instead of fighting the waves, I just decided to swim side stroke until I could calm my heart and breathing down. I tried to focus on the gorgeous sun rising in the distance, but my goggles were pretty fogged up and my heart was racing so I wasn’t really able to enjoy it until I got out of the water.

We swam slowly from buoy to buoy. We swam maybe quarter of a mile and I was still panicking inside and couldn’t calm get myself to calm down inside for some reason. After about 4 buoys I told Josh I thought that was far enough and we could head back. I swam breast stroke between the last two buoys and then side stroked to the dock. I felt kind of embarrassed about what had happened. I have never had terrible experiences in water or been afraid of the water, so I would never have anticipated feeling this way. I don’t know if it was the waves, the wind, the dark water, the depth, or a combination of all of them, but it totally unexpected. I was so grateful Josh was there and that he was so patient with me. He never made me feel dumb, even though I was a little bit embarrassed. He even shared an experience he had had a few years ago at this same reservoir, having a panic attack in the water, even though he had been swimming open water for years. That made me feel a little better knowing that I was not alone and that it has happened to other people too; even experienced swimmers.

We got out of the water and talked for a little bit, but I started shaking because I was so cold so we parted ways. As I drove the 45 minutes back to Salt Lake, I was feeling really discouraged, fighting tears the whole way home.  When I got home I crawled into bed, hoping not to wake Rob, but he woke up as soon as I got into bed. He asked me how it was and that was when the water works started. I told him all about the swim and the panic attack. He was so sweet and helped comfort me and helped me recognize what I had accomplished instead of focusing on what I felt I had failed on. I’d gotten up early on a holiday, 4:50 am, driven almost an hour to a reservoir. Gotten in the water at 6:00 am and spent almost an hour in the water. So even though the swim hadn’t gone anything like what I had hoped for, I had gone and done it, and I didn’t quit. When I panicked, I didn’t immediately get out and go home. I stayed in the water and I swam! That was success, no matter how small. Progress is progress, no matter how small! I was especially grateful for Rob and Josh that day.

The rest of the day I was pretty anxious thinking about my race coming up in 4 days. I was just worried that what had happened that morning might happen again during the race. Even though I was nervous, I knew I needed to get back in open water before the race on Saturday. I needed to get comfortable in the water again. So Rob and I decided to go to Echo Reservoir on Tuesday night to go for a little swim!

July 5, 2016: Third Open Water Swim
Tuesday after we work, after replacing our car battery in the Auto Zone parking lot (we were dripping with sweat). We were ready for a nice cool swim! We headed to Echo reservoir, which is about a 45 minute drive from Salt Lake. We drove around the lake to get familiar with the area.  It was a beautiful area, with lots of red rock and trees. We found an area to park, changed, I said a silent prayer in my mind, and we walked down to the lake. I was a little nervous as I was getting changed, not sure what would happen out in the water, but I was not about ready to let one scary experience stop me from doing what I had been training so hard for the last 2 months.


I waded into the water and waited for Rob to get the gumption to get in with me, but he was really cold. I told him he really didn’t have to swim with me if he didn’t want to and could just wait on the shore. I could see his wheels turning, debating whether or not he really wanted to get in the water. I waited another minute or two and then dove in and started swimming! I didn’t want to stand and debate any longer, I wanted to get out there and get comfortable swimming again!

I swam out to the first buoy and treaded water for a few minutes, feeling pretty good. Visibility in the water was 2-3 feet, and I couldn’t see or touch the bottom so I am guessing it was pretty deep. The elevation at the reservoir is about 5560 feet, which is about 1330 feet higher than Salt Lake. The water was a little choppy, about as choppy as Jordanelle on Monday, but less windy. I wasn’t as nervous once I got in the water as I thought I would be. I could hear Rob letting out little sounds of discomfort as he made his way deeper and deeper into the water. I was trying not to laugh at him too hard, but it was pretty hilarious. He eventually made it in all the way into the water and swam out to me. I thought the water temperature was so nice and refreshing!

I could see another buoy not too far and thought it would be good for me to swim back and forth between the buoys, kind of using them as a safety net. And so that I could see that I was getting somewhere, unlike when I was swimming along the shore at Utah Lake and felt like I was swimming in place the whole time. That was not awesome :}

Rob and I spent about an hour swimming back and forth between the two buoys, treading water, and training myself to stay calm even when the waves came and got in my nose and month. We had fun and just enjoyed swimming together. Rob was cold the whole time, even while we swam. Poor guy. As we swam back to shore, I felt a sense of pride in myself for having the courage to get back out in the water and swim. I was grateful to have Rob there with me. He was the most awesome supporter and swim coach I could have asked for!


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Just keep swimming swimming swimming :)

Olympic Triathlon: Training Part I

July 9, 2016
Today I competed in my first triathlon! I signed up about 2 months ago the week after watching TJ, Rob’s brother, compete in an half IRONMAN in St. George. I was inspired as I watched each individual fight through personal challenges, overcoming physical fatigue and exhaustion, perverse weather conditions, and mechanical problems to complete the course. I wanted to know what that felt like. I wanted to be apart of something like that. I wanted to compete in something that was more than just running or weightlifting. I signed up for a sprint triathlon back in the winter of 2014, but while I was training I sprained my ankle and wasn’t able to compete. I had only competed in running and Crossfit events since college. I thought it would a nice change to train for swimming and biking.

When I signed up for Echo, I had exactly 8 weeks to train. I knew that the swimming was going to be my biggest challenge, because I am not a strong swimmer. I had never trained for or competed in any swimming  race, and had never swam distance in open water. Luckily I have a husband who was a swimmer growing up and offered to coach me in swimming through my training.

The first day we began swimming, Rob and TJ capped me with a swim cap (I might add, it was my first time ever wearing a swim cap). I learned that swim caps are one size fits all… which I don’t think ever works, “one size fits all”, but the cap TJ let me borrow seemed to fit just fine. We got in the water and Rob and T had me swim a few laps, about 50 yards down and back a few times so they could watch and observe. Rob later admitted that I was terrible that first day. I was not shocked by his evaluation. I knew I needed a LOT of work in the swimming department, which was why I determined to swim 3 days a week every week until the triathlon. I only missed one week during the 8 weeks of training.

Rob found a 6 week program on-line for how to get an amateur/beginner swimming a mile in 6 weeks and we followed that schedule each week. I would do the same swim workout each day, 3 days a week. Then the next week Rob would give me a new workout to do. For example, one of the first weeks my workout each day looked something like this:

400 yards x 2 with 12 breaths in-between each 400
100 yards x 4 with 10 breaths in-between each 100
50 yards x 4 with 8 breaths in-between each 50
100 yard cool down

The first few weeks I was pretty uncomfortable in the water; trying to learn how to breath every other stroke while attempting to maintain consistent strokes and some kind of rhythm between my arms and legs. Rob was trying to help me with my form at the same time, so while I was swimming I felt like I was having to focus on 10 different things at the same time. Such as, exhaling immediately when I put my head in the water, kicking my feet at a constant pace (which pace did not have to match my arm strokes, a very difficult concept for me to put into motion being a dancer and doing everything with rhythm unintentionally). Stroking my arms at a consistent pace and not panicking when I need to adjust my breaths, keeping my fingers together and pulling my arms through the water to propel myself forward (not just letting my arms kind of slowly drift through the water). Also inhaling for a breath immediately when my mouth came out of the water but not gasping for air, keeping my breathing controlled and not panicky when I increased my stroke rate, breathing to the side by barley tilting my head to the side each third stroke, etc.

I felt very frustrated some days, because I didn’t feel I was making much progress. As Rob watched me, he usually found more things for me to work on. It was good for him to correct me, because I couldn’t get better if I didn’t know what I was doing wrong, but some days I felt so discouraged, even felt like I was getting worse a few times.

As we continued to swim, and I mean we, because Rob swam with me almost every week over the course of those 8 weeks, after about 5 weeks we started to see real progress in my swimming. At that point we were up to swimming 1000 yards without a break. It was time for an open water swim! We decided we would kill two birds with one stone by going to Utah Lake and swimming there, checking another Utah State Park off our list!

Week 5
June 18, 2016 – First Open Water Swim: Utah Lake
It was a beautiful day. We arrived around 3:00pm. It was kind of busy but we found a great spot for me to swim that was in the no wake zone. There were no other swimmers in that area. The water was nice and warm so I had no trouble getting right in. I had to walk about 150 feet from the shore to get to an area that was deep enough to swim and it still was really shallow. The water was pretty dirty. Visibility was only about 6″, so I couldn’t even see my hands or much of my arms in the water with each stroke.

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As I swam, Rob walked along the shore to keep an eye on me. In the water I had no concept of time or distance. Rob had pointed out what I thought was a bus in the distance as a point of reference, which I learned afterwards was actually just a building. But it was so far away, as I swam I couldn’t tell if I was getting closer or further away. I kept looking up to the shore to look at Rob as a reference, but since he was also moving as I moved, it felt like I was getting nowhere.

After I had been swimming for what felt like quite a while, fighting a little bit of a current, and not swimming very straight because of limited visibility, I felt really frustrated and finally stood up and yelled to Rob, “am I getting anywhere?!” He yelled back in the affirmative, “yeah look behind you at how far you’ve come!” I looked back and could see that the jetty was a little ways back, but it didn’t look very far. He said I had been swimming for about 45 minutes. I was pleasantly surprised and frustrated at the same time, because I figured there was no way I could have gone anywhere close to 3/4 or 1 mile, but I had to have gone a decent distance if I had been swimming for 45 minutes.

Utah Lake

We decided to have me swim for 48 minutes, for no good reason. When the 48 minutes was up I stood up and walked towards Rob. The water was only about 3 feet deep I am guessing, because I kept scooping up dirt off the bottom of the lake throughout the swim. I felt good, but realized that open water swimming presents a few more challenges to swimming than pool swimming. It was challenging in ways that I hadn’t really thought about. Pool swimming and open water are very different.

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That little black thing that looks like a bird in the water is me swimming. :)

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The gnats were really bad near the water at the lake. Rob was getting eaten alive walking along the shore watching me swim, so he cleverly tucked my shirt up into his glasses to cover his ears and neck.

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I was glad I had the experience and it made me more confident in my ability to swim open water, but also made me realize that I may be doing more breast stroke and side stroke during the race to keep my head above water. You have to look where you are going when you’re in a lake so you don’t start swimming in the wrong direction and waste a bunch of energy going off course. Rob and I estimated the distance of my swim to be about 2/3 of a mile, based on Google maps. I was happy with it, even though it was a little less than I wanted to swim. I felt accomplished having successfully swam in open water for 48 minutes and getting out of the water feeling good, not exhausted or defeated. Success!

Moonflower Canyon

When we were in Southern Utah for Memorial Day weekend, we thought about going to Arches National Park. We knew it was suppose to be extremely busy, given it was a holiday weekend, but since we were so close by, we thought we would drive by the entrance and check it out before we made our decision.

As we got closer to the entrance, we could see cars lined up for probably over a mile; one of the lanes on the freeway had been marked off with cones to funnel the chaos that had come from all over the world to visit this beautiful national park. That alone made our decision very easy, no thanks, maybe next time Arches!

Rob just kept on driving and we passed the park and drove right into Moab. He and some of his family had been to a little canyon in Moab that they did some climbing in a few years back and he wanted to take me there, so that is how we ended up at Moonflower Canyon.


There was a narrow crack between these two huge rock faces that was  with logs about 4-5 inches in diameter in a zigzag formation.  It was a little adventure playground!





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Dead Horse Point State Park

We slept right through the sunrise Saturday morning; not waking up until we had been baked to a crisp in our little tent oven. Rob even slept through the sound of me unzipping the tent to get out and use the bathroom, and by bathroom I mean popping a squat behind a sage bush. He was out cold. My little sleeping handsome was laying face up snoring soundly on our over-sized air mattress. Dang I wish I slept as soundly as he does. He can fall asleep the moment his head hits the pillow and almost nothing can wake him during the night.



We discovered in the morning, our campsite was pretty rad. After Rob woke up we decided to forego spending time to cook breakfast and quickly packed up camp and got on the road; excited to get to our first destination, morning hairdos and all!


With it being Memorial day weekend, we figured any of the state parks in Southern Utah would be really busy, but we were willing to take the risk and fight the crowds if we had to, to continue our state park quest! It was only about a 45 minute drive to Dead Horse Point State Park from where we had camped so we were there in no time! Although the two campgrounds near the park, Horse Thief and Cowboy Camp, were very busy, we did see at least one open campsite at Cowboy Camp. And we were pleasantly surprised to find that the park was not very busy at all.


We hiked along the East Rim, about a 1.5 mile hike to the point. Along our way we saw the Potash ponds in the distance. They were a vibrant aqua and cobalt blue. Beautiful contrast of rich blues against the dark browns, grays, and greens in the surrounding rocks and pale greenish brown Colorado river.





potash ponds

The East Rim trail was pretty flat and very easy, more like a leisure walk than a hike. Rob wanted to take a time-lapse of the clouds moving in the distance, so we stopped for a little 15 minute snack break, fig and blueberry fig bars, about half mile from the point. We were in no hurry, just enjoying the day. Surprisingly, even on Memorial Day weekend, we had the whole trail to ourselves. It wasn’t until we reached the Dead Horse Point lookout that we saw quite a few people. No hiking is required to get to the lookout. You can literally drive up to and park about 50 feet from the point and there are at least two pavilions with picnic tables if you’re looking for somewhere to eat lunch in the shade. We didn’t bring lunches with us, only some little snacks, so we just walked through the pavilions and headed straight for the point.


Rob’s head was beginning to get pretty sun burned to so he turned my light weight pullover into a lovely turban.  :)




I am not sure exactly what I was expecting when I saw it for the first time, but for me, it was a bit of shock and awe. The water in the river was a muddy brown color and it wasn’t moving much at all. When I think river, I think movement. This was not a fast flowing river. This was a very quiet, still river. I was fascinated by this. Wowed by the thought that this quiet, humble river has shaped these rock walls into the gorgeous sculptures that they are today. I was in awe.




We spent some time walking around the area, looking at the magnificent scene, and taking pictures. Rob thinks it’s dumb when people want to pose for pictures on top of specific rocks or other things, but I think it’s fun and memorable, so he just shakes his head at me, totally embarrassed by his wife, while I have my picture taken just like the other tourists… sometimes I can get him to join me if I am really lucky. 😉


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We had a wonderful time at Dead Horse Point State Park. It was a great time of year to come, the weather was fantastic, and the views were breathtaking! I would definitely recommend it as a must-see if you are planning a trip to Southern Utah!

Memorial Day Weekend/Green River State Park

For Memorial Day weekend this year Rob and I decided to explore some of the state parks not too far from home. We left work early Friday afternoon and headed South until we hit Spanish Fork; turning off of I-15 South to Highway 6 through Spanish Fork Canyon.  The traffic was much more mellow along Highway 6 and the clouds looked incredible. Clouds have always fascinated me. They are always changing and are so full of life!


Rob was pretty hungry a few hours into our drive, but I convinced him that we should wait to get dinner until we got to Green River. A friend of mine owns a restaurant in Green River and I had wanted to go there for quite a while but hadn’t made it to down to out there.

When we arrived at the restaurant it was very busy. We were put on a waiting list. The cashier informed us that it would be a 30 minute wait. The menu items were double dollars. The restaurant was in a beautiful location right next to the river.  The interior was reflective of the surrounding landscape, but with an upscale feel. With how busy it was, the food descriptions on the menu, and the pictures/reviews on Yelp, Rob and I figured the food had to be good so we thought it would be worth the wait!


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We sat in a casual waiting area with light weight, brightly colored furniture and a lot of windows, which filled the space with natural light. I love natural light, so for me, this was a great little spot to relax  and wait. The bathrooms were kind of funny, with large silhouettes on each door, making the gender designation unmistakable.





After we were seated it took the waitress quite a while to greet us. I ordered a navajo taco grilled chicken salad and Rob ordered the green chili burger with onion rings. Rob’s burger and onion rings weren’t too bad, but both were cold. Same with my navajo taco. The portion sizes were large, but the food was cold. If it had been warm I bet it would have been really tasty! Overall we were not too impressed with the food, and felt it was kind of pricey, but the location was great.  We could see the sun setting over the Green River from our little booth; that was gorgeous!

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After dinner Rob and I went out behind the restaurant to get a closer look at the beautiful sunset on the river. We love to be outside, especially when it’s nice and warm and we’re in a new place. So many things to explore when you are visiting somewhere new!

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Shortly after we left the restaurant, we drove over to Green River State Park to see if they had any campsites available; with it being Memorial day weekend the campground was full, which we expected. But we wanted to see the park anyway. To one side of the campground was a vibrant green golf course, and to the other side of the campground was the Green River. Gorgeous little spot.


We left the park around 9:15 and set out to find a campsite for the night. Rob is fantastic at finding BLM land and/or campgrounds for us to camp on short notice. Most of the camping trips we have been on together, we haven’t reserved campsites ahead of time. In fact, there has only been one camping trip that we’ve been on together that we reserved a campground beforehand. There are so many places we want to go and things we want to do, we have a hard time deciding in advance where we want to go for three day weekends. We usually don’t decide until last minute where we want to go, so we can’t really reserve campsites ahead of time .

Friday night though, we found a great place to camp just outside of Green River. It was just BLM land, so no picnic tables, fire pits, or hole in ground toilets, but we practically had the whole area to ourselves! One thrilling thing about finding a campsite late in the evening and setting up camp in the dark is, you wake up to some amazing surroundings that you had no idea were apart of your reality until the sun sheds light on them in the morning!

Utah State Park Quest Continues…


Rob and I set a goal last fall that we want to visit every state park in Utah before we move out of the state. There are 43 state parks in Utah. No that doesn’t seem like that many, but they are scattered all over the state; some that are in pretty remote places. So… in order to meet our goal it is going to require strategic planning on our part.

Great Salt Lake Sate Marina

Last weekend we decided to take a short day trip out to visit the Great Salt Lake State Marina, near the Saltair. I have lived in Salt Lake for about 7 years now and I had never been out to the Great Salt Lake Marina!  My dad had wanted to take my family out to swim at the Great Salt Lake last summer when we vacationed out in Park City, but we didn’t make it to the lake.

I was surprised by how much I learned as I read about the lake and the history of some of the surrounding areas. I had been to the Saltair once for a concert in 2013 and another time with some friends on a long bike ride that began at the Airport, but I had no idea that the Saltair had such rich history and was such a popular hub when it was first built in the early 1890’s. The Saltair is only about 16 miles from downtown Salt Lake City and use to attract people from all over the world; particularly for swimming in the Great Salt Lake. Because of the high salt content, people float like corks on the surface! I think that is rad! The only saltier body of water in the world is the Dead Sea. Rob and I haven’t swam in it together yet, but we will be back to swim for sure.

Great salt lake


When we first got out of the car I could smell the salt in the air; reminding me of the Bay Front back home. The water was pretty low. There were a surprising number of tourists poking around. The wind was pretty chilly, especially on the dock. It was a fun Saturday afternoon adventure not too far from home. 6 out of 43 state parks, 37 to go! #utahstateparks





Glacier National Park – Part 1: Grinnell Glacier

Since Rob and I used most of my PTO (9 of 10 days for the year) for our honeymoon, we decided that we wanted to take advantage of every three day weekend we got off for the rest of 2015. About a week before Fourth of July weekend, we thought about making the 11 hour drive to Glacier National Park for the weekend. We were a little bit worried that we weren’t going to see many, if any, glaciers because of the time of year we were going, and because we wanted to spend more time than just 2 short days there, but after some debate, we decided that this was a perfect time to go. If we didn’t go then, who knows when we would have been able to make the time to go. We would rather spend 2 days in this an amazing place then not go at all – we decided it was time for an adventure!

We left work around 2:00 Thursday afternoon and began our long drive to Montana. The drive was absolutely beautiful! After driving about 9+ hours, around 11pm, we decided to stop short about an hour and a half from Glacier to find a spot to camp for the night. We couldn’t find any campsites nearby as we searched on-line so we began to really pay attention to any signs we saw along the road, hoping we would get lucky and find a decent campsite soon. I said a little prayer and within a few minutes I saw a sign for a reservoir. I thought that finding campsites near a reservoir was a better bet than anything we had seen up to that point, so we turned around and followed signs to the reservoir. Even though it was dark when we arrived, we were pleasantly surprised to find not only campsites, but even a potty right by the reservoir. Huge blessing! We pulled in and set up camp for the night.

The next morning I woke up early and sat outside enjoying the scenery and quiet of the morning by the lake. Rob had been driving most of the way the day before, so I wanted to let him sleep as long as possible, but I finally work Rob up around 9, anxious to get to Glacier! We were both really excited about getting to Glacier and didn’t want to waste any time, especially when we were less than 2 hours away from the park!

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Morning Hair

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It was a nice drive all the way to the park, but when we pulled up to the gate and could see some of the mountains in the distance, that was more than enough confirmation that we had made the right decision to make the long drive! As we drove through the first part of the park, we didn’t say much, both of us of in awe of the beauty all around us. Normally Rob isn’t too keen on being in or taking pictures, but he had no issues with us getting a photo in front of the entrance sign to the park.

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Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park

Our first day in the park we planned to hike to Grinnell Glacier. About a week before we came to glacier, I was informed that glacier is big time bear country by Rob’s dad. He told us a story about a family who was camping next to his family when he was a kid, and how a bear had come and ripped open their cooler during the night. Hello!  That bear was way too close for comfort for me! I don’t know why I hadn’t realized or researched whether or not Glacier was a big bear territory or how often bears are sited at Glacier National Park, but I hadn’t. I was totally ignorant to that; probably because seeing a bear up close and personal is not on my bucket list and if I kept myself in ignorance then I wouldn’t worry, get super worked up,or psych myself out about it and decide I wasn’t brave enough to go. Well, too late for that. I was terrified. Dad Spangenberg told us to make sure we had bear mace and we would be fine. In my mind that meant that the possibility of us not only seeing a bear was completely real, but a great enough chance that we would be in close proximity to a bear and we would be stupid not to be prepared. Fantastic. Sounded like a dream. I am pretty sure my face went white as a sheet after he finished that story. Bears at a distance, just fine. Bears close enough that I can see their pupils, NO freakin’ thank you!

We had gone down to a local market before we entered the park, to inquire about bells. We stopped one of the employees, a young, mountain-looking kid, wearing a forest green vest, assuming he could help us. When I asked him if they carried bells, he looked at me with a cocky boyish grin, and said “you mean for bears?!” Rob and I nodded our heads in unison in the affirmative. The boy in immediate response, jolted back, almost painfully holding back the laughter, “Hah! We locals use the good ol’ fashioned way!” He paused to look at us, as if to emphasize our stupidity,  and then gently lifted his hands to just above eye  level close to our faces, and demonstrated a slow clap, looking at us with a smirk on his face, studying our ignorant faces as he clapped. So needless to say, his answer was not comforting. We left the market empty handed; me still terrified.

Well now, here we were, standing in front of the trail head to Grinnell Glacier. The hike was about 11 miles in total. There was a sign at the trailhead  and several more signs along the trail for the first mile or so that said the following in BOLD lettering: “Entering Grizzly Country – There is no guarantee of your safety. Bears have injured and killed visitors and may attack without warning and for no apparent reason.” That sure made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside after reading that….not! It took some major coaxing from my sweet, protective/persuasive husband and a promise that he would make noise with me the entire time we were hiking, and I finally jumped on board for the hike; still scared and hesitant, but not wanting to let my fears stop me from experiencing this incredible place that we drove so far to enjoy and appreciate. I can honestly say, I have not been that scared in a long time. Rob and I said a prayer asking for protection and I prayed quietly in my mind throughout the hike as we clapped and yelled every few steps. I kept yelling Suuuuuwee inbetween claps. That was the call I was taught to use when I worked in the desert a few years ago; couldn’t have been a better time to use it than here. I thought maybe other hikers would be annoyed or laugh at us because of all the noise we were making, but many of them were so grateful, they even said thank you as we passed them on the trail; Rob and I couldn’t help but laugh as we watched some of them walk away; their little bells hanging from the bottom of their backpacks, jingling softly as they passed.

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Grinnell Glacier

The hike was absolutely stunning. The colors were vibrant and the weather was perfect. At one part of the trail, you actually walk through the run off of a waterfall, or you can walk through the waterfall itself. The water was freezing, but refreshing.

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Glacier National Park

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We didn’t actually see any bears along the trail, which I was thankful for, but we did see fresh bear poop and a paw print in the mud just a foot or so off of the trail. I think it would be amazing to see a bear at a distance, but dang was I glad we didn’t see one up close. The bears that are common in this territory are black bears and grizzly bears. They say with black bears you fight back (they are smaller than grizzly bears) and with grizzly bears you play dead. I was rehearsing these things in my head before we started hiking, just in case.

grizzly bear poop
Fresh bear poop and bear track.

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The glacier itself was unlike anything I had ever seen before. The water was a vibrant blue with huge chunks of thick ice floating on top. The ice was pretty thick in some spots but not everywhere. We sat down by the edge of the water and ate lunch; taking time to relax and enjoy this gorgeous place that we had worked so hard to get to. I am so glad that we did this hike! I would definitely recommend it to anyone who is venturing out to Glacier National Park and looking for a scenic hike. There is some climbing in elevation, but nothing extremely steep and the path is well marked. It is not a very difficult hike and the views are breath taking all along the trail. We would definitely do this hike again. Great choice for our first hike in Glacier!

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Rob and Covina's Adventures