A few weeks ago Rob and I decided to to go camping down South for the weekend. We both took Friday off work so we could have a full three-day weekend to spend some time outside camping, hiking, and exploring. We had wanted to camp a lot this summer, but the summer just flew by and now winter is fast approaching! Our plan was to make it to Kanarraville Thursday night and then camp at the RV Park there, but we got a later start then we had hoped to on Thursday afternoon and we hit rush hour traffic as we were heading out. It got dark quickly into our drive, so around 8 or so I suggested that we pull off at the next campground we saw and check if they had any campsites available. Luckily for us, the next campground we found was Yuba State Park.
Even though it wasn’t very late, it was already pretty dark when we pulled in to check out the campground. As we drove around we found that there were two available tent sites near the lake, so we quickly parked and set up our tent at site 21. The bathrooms/showers were conveniently close to our campsite too. It was a nice location, from what little we could see in the night.
There was so little light pollution out where we were, we could see the stars beautifully lighting up the night sky. Because it was so crystal clear, and it didn’t feel too cold, we decided to leave the rain fly off of the tent so that we could stare up at the stars as we went to sleep. The sky was picturesque. We couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful star-filled night; the sky seemed to perfectly capture the title of Vincent Van Gogh’s famous painting “starry night.”
I didn’t sleep very well during the night because it got really cold in our tent and I was freezing most of the night, and our little twin air mattress isn’t exactly made for two people to share; especially when one of those two people is a blanket stealer. After not really sleeping most of the night, I decided to get up when I saw a little bit of light starting to illuminate the sky. Since I was awake, I wanted to take advantage of this opportunity to watch the sunrise.
Although I could feel some of the warmth of the sun as its rays danced along the arms and body of my jacket, there was a bitter cold chill that hung in the air. My hands, feet, and nose were as cold as ice. I was so wrapped up in watching the gorgeous colors as they appeared in the sky, I hadn’t even noticed the cold; it wasn’t until Rob crawled out of the tent and grabbed my hand as we were walking down to the edge of the lake that I realized my hands were frozen solid.
Our campsite was in a perfect little spot near the receding lake. As we walked down to the lake we could see that the water level was extremely low; probably 25 feet lower than its normal level. There was a boat ramp on the South end of the lake, but no boats on the lake at that point. The water was also pretty chilly, so if people were going to be boating, it probably wouldn’t have been until later on in the afternoon anyway.
Shortly after we came back from the lake we made hot cocoa and ate a nice hot breakfast. I sat in a strategic spot on the edge of the picnic beach in the sunshine so that the I was being warmed on the outside and the inside; the sun warming my outside and the hot cocoa warming my insides. We finished up breakfast, packed up camp, and headed towards the freeway.
Just as we left the campsite we stopped and got a picture with the Yuba State Park sign. At the beginning of the summer we had decided we want to get to all of the Utah State Parks before we move out of Utah, so we’ve got a lot of work to do over the next two years before Rob graduates from school. Each time we go to a state park we take a picture with that state park sign. Yuba State Park was a perfect stopping point for the first night of our three-day camping adventure, and now we can check one more state park off of our long list!
In our new place up in the avenues, our kitchen is pretty small, but we don’t let that stop us from cooking or baking delicious foods.
I love sugar cookies! I like to make them during the holidays to share with family, friends, and neighbors, but the family recipe that I love and usually use to make them always takes me a lot of time; making the dough, giving it time to refrigerate, rolling the dough out, cutting out fun shapes for each holiday, baking each pan of shaped cutouts, letting each batch cool, frosting/decorating each cookie….takes me hours every time. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s a blast and I love making them, but when I want to make them in large quantities, it sometimes takes me longer than I have time for.
A few weeks ago a friend of mine sent me a recipe for sugar cookies that she really likes, so this year for Halloween I decided to try her recipe instead. I was a little worried about trying a new recipe because I like our family recipe so well, but I like trying new things and the recipe seemed pretty simple. I started mixing the dough around 6:30pm and finished frosting the last batch of cookies at about 10pm. This may seem like a long time, but considering this is mixing, baking, cooling, and frosting over four dozen cookies, I don’t think that is too bad. And I had time to eat dinner and watch a few Jimmy Fallon skits while the cookies were in the oven, so it wasn’t a full 3 1/2 hours dedicated solely to the cookies. I just had to be close by to listen for the timer. The biggest time saver was rolling the dough into small individual golf-size balls instead of rolling it out and cutting it into shapes. If I was just making a small batch I would still use my family recipe and cut it into shapes, but I think the shapes are a lot more fun than just the standard circles, but if you’re looking to save time and make sugar cookies in large quantities, this is a great recipe. The frosting for this particular recipe was delicious and one I had never heard of or tried for sugar cookies before as well. The secret ingredient was sour cream. It was easy to make and so yummy! Everyone that I gave out cookies to for Halloween loved them. I would definitely use this recipe again. Happy baking!
We like to go on our own little adventures as often as we can! We love to explore new places. Today we were in American Fork for my cousin’s wedding so we planned to go on a hike somewhere in the area after the wedding. My cousin Nathan had suggested Battle Creek Falls in American Fork Canyon, so we decided to pursue it.
We couldn’t have asked for more perfect weather. The sun was shining between the canyon walls and brightly colored leaves littered the ground; I love the fall! The first half mile up to the falls the trail was wide and you could tell it was well-traveled. We continued hiking beyond the falls up to Curley Spring; which In my opinion is an adorable name for anything. There were some steep hills and the trail thinned out as we continued climbing up the canyon. We met a nice couple who offered to take our picture near the spring; first non-selfie photo we’ve been able to get together hiking in months! Normally there aren’t many people around to take our picture when we’re hiking. The view from the spring was calm and beautiful. Not too challenging and a short hike but a nice hike for enjoying the scenery and getting a little swear on. I’m so glad we got outside and took advantage of the fall weather while it’s still here. We are so blessed to live in such a gorgeous state and to be surrounded by the mountains. I’ve said it before, but of all of the places I could be, being in the mountains is by far my favorite place in all the world.
A few days after Rob and I had a discussion and decided we didn’t want to date other people, it was General Conference weekend and Rob’s family was getting together up Payson Canyon to have a fire… at least that is all the information Rob gave me I learned quickly that I had to be specific if I wanted any details out of him. He had just said they were getting together for dinner and a fire up the canyon, but forgot to mention that his family was camping in their RV for 2 nights and had invited us to stay the night there with them.
Rob and I drove up Big Cottonwood Canyon Saturday evening and hiked a short distance up one of the trails not too far up the canyon. We both love being in the mountains, so we go up there as often as we can. Since the General Priesthood session is now being publicly broadcast live, we were able to listen to the Priesthood session while sitting on a large rock that looked out into the ravine; the sun was setting between the jagged rock faces as we listened. It was a beautiful scene. I really enjoyed listening to conference out away from the world in a sense; in the mountains, in God’s country.
We hiked back down to the car as the last speaker was finishing up so that we wouldn’t get to Payson canyon to meet his family too late. By the time we got to the base of the canyon, it was already dark. We tried to call and text Rob’s Mom and sister, but cell phone service was really spotty. As we drove around looking for the RV, I had no idea what we were looking for so I wasn’t much help. I had this picture in my head of his family having a small little camper; but after passing several campers and rv’s without Rob slowing down, I started to get the impression that the picture of the family RV I had in my mind was a lot smaller than the Spangenberg’s RV.
We made several loops around the campgrounds in the canyon, but still hadn’t found their RV. After driving around for probably a half hour with no luck, we passed a large RV on our right side, parked by itself in a big open dirt lot with a few trees, but I didn’t even look twice, because I had no idea we were looking for a bus that big! Rob called and was able to talk to his sister for a minute to find out where they were. He flipped the car around and a few minutes later we pulled up near the huge bus I had seen. I said to Rob, “That’s your family’s RV?!” The whole time I was looking for a little family camper, boy was I wrong!
We parked the car in the dirt lot near the RV. I don’t normally get nervous, especially to meet new people, but before we got out of the car, I got a little nervous. Rob had been a little bit hesitant about bringing me to meet his family, or so it seemed, so my nerves were a little tense as we approached his cute family standing around the campfire. He hadn’t told me a lot about them, other than a few basic things, and I was pretty sure he had told them very little, if anything, about me, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. His entire family wasn’t there, so that was a little less intimidating. His brothers TJ and Ryan, and sister J were doing other things that night, so only 2 of his sisters, Lins and Sarah, Lins’s 2 boys, and his parents were there.
I don’t think I realized how big of a deal it was for Rob to bring me to meet his family, especially so early on in our relationship, until several weeks later. I was the first official “girlfriend” Rob had ever brought home, so I think that is why he was a little bit hesitant and nervous to have me meet his family. And for that reason, I think his family, especially his mom and sister Lins, were anxious/excited to meet me as well. Lins had mentioned to him several times that she wanted to meet me and Rob’s mom had asked about me quite a few times too, but Rob hadn’t said much. Rob and I had gone four-wheeling up behind Aaron and Lins’s house in Payson a week or two before he brought me to meet his family, and we had forgotten our muddy shoes at their house in the garage. Lins told Rob she was going to hold our shoes hostage until she got to meet me. I thought that was pretty cute and clever!… So maybe the real reason Rob brought me to meet his family so early on was because he really wanted those shoes back 😉
Anyway, meeting Rob’s family wasn’t nearly as nerve racking as I thought it might be. Rob quietly introduced me to his family as we walked up to the campfire. We roasted marshmallows and visited until the fire died down and it got chilly. I got to hold little baby Ledger, Aaron and Lindsey’s 3 week old little boy, as we got to know each other around the fire. He was adorable. Everyone was friendly, warm, and easy to talk to. As Mom Spangenberg and Lins asked me questions, I realized how little Rob had talked to them about me. Seemed like everything they were hearing, they were definitely hearing for the first time.
As everyone settled down for the night, his family invited us to stay the night in the V with them and have breakfast and listen to General Conference with them in the morning. We hadn’t brought clothes or anything to stay the night, which wasn’t an issue, but I had my crossfit exam the following afternoon and wanted to be sure I was well rested and not stressed about getting to Park City on time for the exam. We decided to stay, but let them know we wouldn’t be able to stay after breakfast because of my exam. We like to be spontaneous! We stayed the night at Aaron and Lindsey’s house just at the base of Payson canyon.
The next morning when we showed up for breakfast, in the same clothes (didn’t really have any other options), not having showered, me wearing whatever traces of makeup were leftover from the day before, smelling like campfire, and both having been roughed up by Ralph the night hair dresser during the night, we were looking real good. I wasn’t too concerned about our appearance, but when I walked in and everyone else was looking fresh, clean, and put together, I just had to laugh inside; Hoping they are all well acquainted with Ralph the night hair dresser on occasion too 😀.
That morning I found out what an amazing cook Dad Spangenberg is when he made us homemade ebelskivers for breakfast – holy delicious!! To me they are basically thicker, glorified crepe balls smothered in coconut syrup. I seriously just stopped counting how many I was eating and kept enjoying them until I thought I might burst, then made room for a few more, because they were so yummy! I love food so much and dang the Spangenberg’s know how to make delicious food – all day all night! It was cool to watch Dan as he worked to make these tasty pancake creations; perfectly baked, lightly browned, all the way around. I certainly can’t make a pancake look or taste that good.
We visited a little more during breakfast and then after we were stuffed to the rafters we played outside with cute little Hudson, Rob’s 3 year old nephew, and his 11 year old sister Sarah before we took off. I had fun spending time with and getting to know Rob’s family a little better and hoped that they had enjoyed our time together too! I hoped we would be seeing more of each other 😀.
Rob and I love to hike, as is evidenced by the fact that we met on a backpacking trip! Rob and his cousin Justin (who we named quadrangles, because his quads kept cramping up during the lost coast hike) had been talking about wanting to hike Lone Peak a little bit towards the end of our lost coast hike; inviting anyone who wanted to come along. A few weeks later, after Rob and I had been hanging out/going on dates for about 3 weeks, Justin, Rob, and I decided to take on the Lone Peak.
We started hiking mid-morning after driving on a very rocky unpaved road infested with pot holes and deep ditches. Justin’s wife Ali and daughter Haddi were with us in the car too. They dropped us off at the trail head and headed back to their home.
It was really beautiful outside. I love hiking in September and October in Utah, because the weather has usually cooled down some during the day, but isn’t too cold during the night – perfect for hiking and camping. We knew that the ascent to the top of the peak was going to be a difficult climb, but I don’t think any of us had anticipated how steep some of the trails leading up to the rocky peak were going to be. There were parts that we had to stop every 30 feet or so to catch our breaths, because it was such a steep climb! Plus Rob and I hadn’t been getting very much sleep that week (or the previous three weeks since we had started dating), because we would stay up late talking, eating ice cream, going out to eat, going out to watch storms at our cool spot that overlooks the city, hiking to hot springs at midnight, and going on all kinds of adventures late into the night! So the lack of sleep was finally catching up to us, especially Rob, because he had been pulling some doubles at work on top of us staying up late, so he was sleeping even less than I was part of that time.
We found shade under a few trees along the trail and stopped to have some snacks; snacks didn’t help to wake us up much. Rob was practically asleep half-way through our little snack break. The hot sun, steady climbing, and sleep deprivation were the perfect recipe for exhaustion. Rob and I were ready for a nap by that point. Justin was jazzed and ready to go!
We didn’t stop for too long, and continued to make our way slowly up the steep climb to Lone Peak. We took pictures, chatted, and laughed together as we hiked. We were pack hiking as well, so the weight of our packs was beginning to make itself known as we ascended to the top of the peak. Justin of course did some birding as we hiked as well. Justin and I had bonded pretty early on during the lost coast hike, and I think that was partly due to the fact that we both love birds! I especially love chickens and quails. Chickens are so funny to watch and quails are just so cute!
When we got to the top of Lone Peak we could see for miles around. The view was absolutely breath taking. The rocks were light gray and very sharp/jagged, but it was so worth the trek to the top. We enjoyed some lunch while sitting on the peak. Both Rob and I fell asleep on that warm rocky mountain top; Perfect renewal activity after a difficult hike.
The picture above and below are of the steep backside of Lone Peak looking up. This picture doesn’t do it justice – it was really sketchy coming down this side of the mountain, with shifty rocks and a lot of loose boulders. I was pretty nervous coming down this, especially with a pack on, because I felt unbalanced and unsure about every step. Rob helped talk me through my foot placement the whole way down. I would not have made it down without him. I was worried that I was a burden on him and that I was holding him back from getting down as quickly and as dangerously as he would have liked to. I didn’t want him to feel like I was holding him back, especially with how recently we had started dating. The last thing a guy wants is some girl holding him back from what he wants to do, or so I thought. I don’t usually get nervous hiking anywhere, not even up on narrow, high cliffs, but this descent had my heart racing and my mind all kinds of geekin’ out!
Sunset was a beautiful relief and calmed my heart down after scaling down that beastly backside of Lone peak. I was seriously just happy we all three made it down safely without any major injuries, externally anyway – pretty sure I am scarred internally for life after that. 😉
The sun went down before we were able to find a spot to hang our hammocks and have a fire, but both Rob and Justin had headlamps, so we were in good shape. We set up camp right by a small lake with a stream. We used the stream to filter water. I held one end of the filter down just below the waters surface while Rob pumped water into our water bottles. This was at the end of September and we were very high up in the mountains so keep that in mind while reading this next part. The stream was excruciatingly cold! Thinking back on it these 8 months later, I can still remember how cold it was. I forced my mind to go somewhere else as I held that little filter down in the stream. It was bitter cold. The cold water stung my small hands like a million tiny push pins as they pierced the waters surface. Ten minutes or so later, my hands were just beginning to regain circulation. Pain shot through my hands in spurts as the numbness slowly wore off. Brrrrr that was bone chilling cold!
We set up our hammocks and then made a fire. I was so happy to have a fire. I love the smell of campfire and I was so cold I was excited to warm up by the fire before crawling into my sleeping bag. Justin went to bed before Rob and I did. We sat by the fire for a little longer and talked, but I was really unsure how he was feeling about me at this point, especially after having to help me all the way down the back of Lone Peak. We didn’t say up long. We were both tired.
We had hung our hammocks from the same tree on one end and then angled them in a v shape to tress that were just the right distance apart. Justin had set up his hammock a little ways down the hill from us. I was glad Rob was close by. I don’t like to sleep out in the wild alone, or far away from people. Having him close made me feel safe.
I have never liked being the last one to fall sleep. I always have a hard time going to sleep if I know that everyone is already sleeping, especially out camping. My mind starts to wander and create all of these creepy ideas in my head with every sound I hear. Rob fell asleep before me, but I was so tired, I was able to fall asleep shortly after him.
But during the night it got really really windy and the swaying of my hammock combined with the sound of the wind woke me up. It sounded like I was in a violent wind storm and being cocooned inside of my sleeping bag just intensified the sounds around me. The movement of the bag brushing up against the hammock created a horrible brushing sound, like something big was walking through the tall grass. I sat quietly in my sleeping bag, trying to calm my rapidly beating heart. I peeked my head over the edge of the hammock to see if Rob was awake, but he was sound asleep, snoring in fact. I shouldn’t have checked to see if he was awake, because it only made things worse knowing I was the only one awake. I debated for a while about waking him up, because I was kind of scared with all of the unfamiliar sounds I was hearing and the darkness surrounding me. After trying to talk myself out of it, I finally decided to try to wake him up. The third time I called his name, to my relief, he finally woke up. Just knowing he was awake made me feel better. I knew I wasn’t alone. I talked to him for a few minutes and was able to fall asleep not too long after that. He was really sweet and just talked to me and made me feel safe without even knowing that I had been nervous and was having trouble sleeping.
The next morning we were woken up by raindrops on our faces. We groaned about the chilly rain and talked for a little bit as the rain kept falling. Eventually we both curled back up in our sleeping bags, pulling the edges of the hammock tightly around ourselves; snug, warm, and sheltered from the rain we fell back to sleep.
When we woke up the second time the rain was coming down even harder and we decided it was time to pack up and hike out. The rain began really coming down hard as we walked around the lake and climbed over a small ridge to start making our way out of the mountains. It rained for almost the entire 3 or so hours that it took us to hike out of the canyon. We didn’t mind getting wet. It was a little chilly, but it was a beautiful hike and we had an awesome little over-nighter out in the mountains! Rob and I love adventure and we love the mountains – so it was rad.
Spoiler ALERT: First kiss might have happened sometime during this date
Rob opened the car door for me when he picked me up. He has a always been a gentleman. He always opens the door for me everywhere we go; it still means a lot to me. After we got in the car we drove up MillCreek Canyon with a movie and Rob’s hammock. It was still light out when we finally settled on a spot to park the car and find a forested area to hang the hammock. There were lots of trees in the area, but not very many that were the right distance apart to hang the hammock. After walking south of the road into the trees a little ways, down near the river and not finding anywhere that was ideal, we decided to look for a place north of the road.
After hiking far enough away from the road that the sound of passing cars was slightly muffled and not too intrusive, we hung the hammock between two small, strong trees. Getting both of us into the hammock was like an unplanned wrestling match, with the hammock swaying and sliding down lower and lower between the trees as we tried to get settled in! It was hilarious! We were laughing throughout the process. By the time we finally got situated together in the hammock, we were only hanging about 2 feet from the ground; but there was no way we were getting out and starting that process all over again! Ha!
Propping my iPad up on our legs in a stable position turned out to be a more difficult feat than we thought it would be. Rob ended up having to hold the iPad with his left hand then conveniently placed his other around around me. With two bodies in his little one-person hammock, cuddling was a guarantee….movie or no movie… and I don’t think either of us minded one bit.
By the time the movie was over it was really dark out. The air was a little crisp, but we stayed tightly wrapped together under our small blanket to keep warm. The night sky was perfectly clear; the stars looked absolutely gorgeous. We laid in the hammock and talked about anything and everything for hours. Towards the end of the movie, Rob slipped his hand into mine and we cuddled up a little tighter. I loved being close to him. I felt safe. After we had been talking for a little while, our bodies having shifted some in the hammock, cheeks now gently resting on one another, there was a lingering pause in our conversation and Rob bravely leaned down and kissed me. It was kind of an awkward position to kiss in, especially for a first kiss, but first kisses are almost always a little awkward; other than that it was a cute and pleasant surprise to me. I wasn’t sure if he was too interested in me at that point, as more than a friend, and it had taken him almost the entire movie to hold my hand, so I didn’t expect him to try for a kiss, but I was glad he did! I needed a man who would take initiative, and he certainly did! He carried himself with an easy-going and confident demeanor, and that made it easier to be myself around him.
As we continued to talk, at some point, I am guessing after midnight, we heard big footsteps and deep heavy breathing coming from a very large animal, extremely close to us. It felt like we were in a horror film and everyone in the audience could see the giant beast about to eat us, but we couldn’t do anything but sit still and wait. I was terrified. I could sense that Rob was scared too, but he kept his composure really well. He made me feel safe and protected in his arms. He gently told me to keep quiet. I laid there tense, my body paralyzed. I could feel our heats beating rapidly, both of us breathing heavily but trying not to make any noise. Rob slowly reached one of his arms out of the hammock and felt around on the ground for anything he could throw. He found a stick and threw in a distance away from us, trying to get a better read on where the animal was hiding in relation to us. The large beast still panting, we kept quiet and motionless in our I didn’t dare get out of the hammock!
After what seemed like a very very long period of waiting, hoping, and praying (me, praying my brains out), the animal finally took off into the woods in the opposite direction of us. What a relief! We both really think it was a moose because of the heaviness of the footsteps and the volume/depth of the breathing, but thank goodness we will never know what big beastly animal came to visit us that night! I am just glad that whatever it was didn’t get any closer to us and didn’t stay too long. Dang that was terrifying.
It took a while for my heart to calm down, but even after my heart rate slowed, my mind kept exploring the possibility of that massive mystery animal coming back for round two. Every time I heard anything rustle in the trees or bushes, I was sure our mystery moose had returned and was planning to get up close and personal!
We stayed in the hammock and talked until about 3am. I was genuinely enjoying our conversations, but part of me was also petrified thinking about leaving the safety of the hammock and having to make a mad dash for the car knowing the animal was still out there; so that was in the back of my mind as we talked. We finally decided we should probably get home or we were going to fall asleep out there in the canyon. I quickly half-way put my shoes on and sprinted/fumbled myself down the small hill to the car; almost falling on my face at least 3 times along the way. When we were safely inside the car I took a deep breath and looked at Rob, completely calm and collected, and had to laugh at myself for where I let my mind take me.
I noticed how bright the moon was that night as we drove back to my little house in Millcreek. The roads were well lit and it didn’t seem quite as late as it actually was. When we pulled up to my house, we talked for another half hour or so. Rob came around to the passenger side of the car as I got out, and then walked me to the door.
We could have talked all night and well into the morning. I loved talking to him; hearing about his life, his travels, his thoughts and opinions. Each day we spent time together I got more and more glimpses into who he was; an incredibly smart, genuine, and humble guy who loves learning. It had been so long since I had felt such a natural connection with a guy, I was still somewhat in disbelief about how easy this friendship and attraction were developing. I liked it, but I was unsure about his intentions/interests, so I was trying not to read into anything at this point. Either way, we were having an awesome time together and it was clear that both of us were enjoying the ride.
Rob texted me Monday night not long after he got my phone number. We texted throughout each day for the next few days that week. Monday before he had asked for my number, we had talked a little bit about going on a hike together soon, but I was waiting for him to initiate that. I wasn’t playing hard to get, but feel it’s the guys responsibility to do the asking. My thought process was, if he’s interested in me, he will initiate. My brother Tracy always use to say, guys don’t hang out with girls they are not at least somewhat interested in; they just don’t. That had been true in my experience up to this point, so I was standing by that belief.
Thursday afternoon rolled around and Rob texted me something vague like, “I am thinking about hiking tonight, you in?” I wasn’t sure if that meant he was hiking and would like me to go with him or if he was just informing me that he was going hiking and it didn’t matter to him if I came with him or not. Oh how boys communicate so differently from girls I assumed the best and took him up on his offer.
When Rob picked me up from work, I realized I was wearing the exact same shirt, shoes, and workout capris that I had been wearing for most of the lost coast trip. Great, I was thinking. He’s going to think I don’t have any other clothes. Instead of feeling awkward about it, I just laughed it off with him when I got in his car. That was one of those small moments that showed me that he didn’t really care about superficial things. He was down to earth and so real with me. I loved that about him. It was one of the first things that really attracted me to him.
We drove out near Big Cottonwood Canyon to the trail head for a hike called Bells Canyon. The hike was only about 5 miles round trip, but the last 3/4 to 1 mile stretch we were climbing in elevation almost the whole time and the trail was covered with large and small boulders. I was sweating bullets. We talked all the way up to the falls and all the way back down to the car; Rob’s occasional deep breaths almost unnoticeable under my heavy breathing. Ha! Since the sun had gone down, and we didn’t bring any flashlights (other than Rob’s phone) the hike down was a little slower than the hike up, but that gave us more time to talk and get to know each other better; which was nice. I learned a lot about him during our hiking adventures
I learned a lot of cool things about Rob on that hike. I learned that he wants to live/raise a family internationally for at least a few years, which I would love to do as well. We both love languages. He served a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Piura, Peru returning in 2010. He loved Peru so much he has been back to visit since returning from his mission. We both LOVE food (that was a non-negotiable) for both of us. That is just a few things I leaned about him.
After we were done hiking both of us were hungry (but I’m always hungry so that wasn’t unusual for me) . We drove down to Sugar House and found a little pizza place along 2100 South to grab a bite to eat. We shared a medium size pizza. I am a very slow eater, so he was done with his dinner before I was finished with my second slice of pizza. Up to this point, just based on his body language and our conversations, I had no idea if this was us just hanging out or a date, but I hadn’t really put much thought into it. When the waiter brought out the bill and Rob immediately got out his credit card, I figured it was a date, or maybe he just felt sorry for me because I only owned one pair of clothes and could use a free meal.
He drove me home and when we got to my house we sat in his car and talked until 2 am. It was awesome. He was easy to talk to. We could talk about anything. I loved that. Both of us hated the dating games and we expressed that real quick.
When Rob and I talked about our first date a few months later, I learned that we were on the same page that day. At this point neither of us were sure if we were interested in being more than friends or not, but we liked what we saw and we were definitely interested in spending more time together. We had fun together no matter what we were doing.
I saved him in my phone as “Rob Lost Coast” and he stayed that way in my phone until just a few weeks ago :).
Flying home was an adventure to say the least. Leaving Bangkok late because of a late incoming was a great start to the trip. We finally took off around 3am. The flight was completely packed and we were all ready to get going. Unfortunately about two hours into the flight the pilot came over the intercom and said we had a fuel problem and we were diverting to New Delhi. We landed in Delhi and sat on the plane for 2 1/2 hours while maintenance fixed it, finally taking off after that. What was supposed to be a 12 hours flight turned into just over 16 hours.
After landing in London we had to mess with getting rebooked, and they put us on a flight to Chicago connecting to another flight onto LA. We grabbed a quick sandwich and rushed to board the flight to Chicago. Again once boarded we were delayed because of thunderstorms. Heathrow had shut down all of it’s runways and we sat on the tarmac for another hour and a half. Finally arriving in Chicago, we cleared customs and immigration, and of course we arrived late and had to be booked onto another flight to LAX. Mom and TJ will end up staying the night, missing their fourth and final flight to SLC because of the days events. I’ll stay in LA for a couple days driving back home with Nick and Alex.
It’s been an long adventurous day, and because of the delays, and time zone changes, we have been living in Thursday the 14th for over 38 hours. It’s been our longest and most unproductive day yet.
Bangkok was the last mega city that I visited on the trip. After having only spent 5 days there, I think I can say that I really like it. There is a certain raw gritty city vibe that the city gives off. On top of the phenomenal food, culture, unique markets (floating, and train), and the skytrain, it is a city vastly different from others I’ve visited such as Tokyo, Seoul, Beijing, and Chongqing. Although a huge tourist destination, I didn’t really get the sense of being overwhelmed by foreigners. Sure walking down some of the expat streets, in the malls, and down the infamous Kao Sarn road you are inundated with foreigners, but outside that it was few and far between.
We spent the first day hunting down some of the markets for souvenirs and handicrafts, spending a good chunk of the day wandering around the city, and through a couple of the shopping malls. Malls here in the US are nothing compared to malls here in Asia. The malls here are ENORMOUS, and often are littered with countless high-end brand names of clothing, jewelry, perfume, and shoes. More often than not the stores are empty, but there are plenty of “shoppers” milling about. While walking around one of the nicer malls here in Bangkok, we stumbled onto a famous Michelin star restaurant called “Din Tai Fung”. It is a famous dumpling restaurant in Hong Kong and has branched out to select cities. We debated going in and eating, but finally did ordering an order of pork, and chicken dumplings, and some pork sweet buns. Turns out, its famous for a reason. The pork dumplings were phenomenal. Slightly sweet, with mouthwatering juice as you bit into it. It really was fantastic, and cheap! We ended up paying like $14 for all three of us. After eating, we set our sights on Chinatown. It was a long trek though the city, but after 2 subway rides and a couple miles of walking we finally arrived at a street filled with fresh fruit, seafood, and countless street food options. I grabbed an oyster omelet that was fantastic, and then we trucked back to a side alley and found a fancy chef that was cooking up orders like a maniac; throwing up a ball of fire every time he started cooking a new dish. I ordered seafood stir-fry that was amazing. Mouthwatering crab, squid, shrimp, and scallops all fried together with a small plate of rice. Walking away from the day quite full, I finally understood why Bangkok is considered a street food sanctuary. The food we’ve eaten just over the past 2 days has been outstanding.
We visited two markets the next day that were also very cool, and unique to Thailand. The first was the Mekong train market. Long ago, train tracks wound their way through a town, and eventually over time, a market sprung up on both sides of the tracks. Today it has grown to the point that sellers are peddling their goods right on the train tracks, and you are forced to walk down the length of the track to navigate to the different parts of the market. The cool thing is that the tracks are still active with a train rolling through 6 times a day. When approaching, the train blares its horn, and like clockwork, all the sellers pull back the awnings, and push back their tables, and like magic the pathway is cleared for the train to creep on through. It slowly chugged by within inches of us, and skimming over the fruits and vegetables that were still on the ground. Passing by us, the awnings were dropped, tables pushed back out, and within seconds, people filled back in and it looked like nothing had happened. This is something that you definitely cannot find in the States, and sadly something that probably won’t be around in a couple of years in Thailand. I don’t think it is very well known, but was much better that the floating market, which was overflowing with tourists, and seemed to be a fabricated picture perfect photo op for the tourists. It was also cool with seemingly endless passageways of water, each canal filled with people and their boats selling everything from wooden elephants, to photo ops with pythons, to mango sticky rice. Somehow I imagine that 5 years ago this was an awesome destination as the Thai people really used it as a “market” and actually purchased their daily food items, selling here to support their families. Although cool see, I don’t think I’d come back., as it’s a tourist hotpot with the endless “sales people” pushing their various wares.
There are many things about Bangkok that I love and these are just some of them. I can’t wait to come back. Thailand is an amazing destination, and I would have loved to have some more time to explore the city. I would love to rent a bike and cycle down through the soother peninsula, or take time to explore up north and see all of the ancient ruins. I will definitely be back, and I hope that when I do come I’ll get to see the rest of the country. The little bit I did see was stunning, and I know that Thailand has a lot more to offer when it comes to destinations off the beaten path.