Wednesday, June 29, 2011

the havasupai hiking/camping adventure part 1.

since i have known richard he has always talked about this camping trip his best friend mike takes every year to the grand canyon. and how bad he has always wanted to go. then i met mike, and he started talking about the same think trying to convince me to go. he showed me beautiful pictures and talked about all the fun they have. last year mike tried to recruit us, but it didnt work out with our florida vacation. as soon as we got back though mike went to work on us again. richard was totally on board but i wasnt. i love the outdoors, im a runner for goodness sake. however i am not a hiker. lets go play in the park or at the beach? i am there. lets go hike a mountain for fun? see you at the bottom with lunch. then there was the camping aspect. i grew up camping as a kid, and always had a good time. but my version of camping is driving to the campsite, taking your cooler full of alcohol and hamburgers/hotdogs, and having flush bathrooms somewhere close. but richard really wanted to go and wasnt going to leave me behind. so i finally gave in and said i would go. i had noooo idea what i was getting myself into.

we started planning in about february for our trip in the middle of june. i started hearing more details about this "adventure." like how you need to take all your food with you, that means freeze dried. there is a 10 MILE hike to the campsite. there is no fire. you need a headlamp to see at night. i will admit, it was starting to freak me out. what was i doing? then came this list, and i wondered even more.
after we got back from nashville, lora volunteered to take me shopping so we could start putting things together. i thought this was a little early, but figured it was good info. we started at rei to get an idea of the right size things for me. how big of a pack do i need, what size shoes do i wear in hiking boots, how much are camelbaks there? it started out easy enough, then i started to get more and more overwhelmed. the pack was $250, but apparently i can get one online for about $30. how does that make sense?! the hiking shoes were at least $120. the five finger sandal shoes that i needed were over $100. i had to start buying all these things like the next day and in all the same brands she suggested.
im supposed to carry that for 10 miles??
i always wanted to try these!
 then we stopped at walmart to look at their camping things. this was equally as overwhelming! she wanted me to buy everything that night. there were 2 problems with that plan. 1 richard was going to question every single thing i bought because he wasnt there to get the story. not something i was willing to go through so early. and most importantly 2 i wasnt willing to turn my dining room into camping central for the next month and a half.

i went home that night completely freaked out about what i was getting myself into. i never thought about getting out of it, i just wasnt sure i was going to be able to handle it. plus there were other outside voices telling me there was no way i was going to be able to handle this trip. once richard got home he calmed me down a little bit and i started to feel better. i did just keep thinking to myself though, i really dont want to go. and really hoped that feeling would go away as the trip got closer.

richard and i went shopping a few weeks later at sports authority. instantly i started feeling soo much better! we found good hiking shoes for only $60 and sandals for $30. we talked to one of the associates there and he gave us really good insight to the trip. he had done one similar a few years back and had some great advice. i finally admitted to richard that night over dinner why i had been a little crazy about the things to buy. i was getting so much "advice" from other people about the exact thing to buy that i was afraid if he bought anything different they would blame me. he told me that we were gonna take the "advice" and use as much as we could, but also make some of our decisions and stand by them. this trip was really startin to put me on edge! thank goodness i had richard who was just so excited that he wasnt going to let anything get him down about it.
not sure these are up to my fashion code...
the trip started drawing closer and closer and our dining room had started to transform. also friends were starting to drop like flies. mike had built in a buffer for this to happen, as it did every year. it all sounds like a good idea 6 months ago when we they didnt have to buy things or the reality hadnt actually set in that they really had to do it. if i was going to back out, now was the time. i decided i was in for the long haul. i had actually scored a pack from a friend's family that had done this trip multiple times! richard had also scored a pack from someone not able to go on the trip. we had also been able to borrow someones tent and 1 sleeping bag. that meant we only had to buy one. we had both bought our shoes and sandals. things were finally starting to fall into place.

the week we were going to leave was upon us and there were changes left, right, and center. our original plan was to drive together with matt since he was driving solo. no point in taking more cars than necessary. then 5 days before we leave matt completely pulls out because there is no camp fire at the site. now the 2 of us were left scrambling a bit to tune up richards car so we could take his. we then went over to get richards pack from mike and loras house and to start making final plans. when we got there lora was not lookin so good. turns out she had tweaked the hell out of her back earlier in the week walking her 2 60 pound dogs when another one had gotten out. she could barely drive to work across town she was in so much pain. with that injury we werent sure she was going to be able to go at all! we made plans to have mike and lora come by thursday night to help us pack since we had no idea what we were doing. richard wouldnt be there, but we could put his together no problem.

thank goodness they came over to help! our packs would have been all kinds of honked up without their help. lora also told me she wasnt going to be able to go:( we were finally going and she wasnt able too. the only plus was that we were able to borrow some of her things. this way richard and i could return a few things we bought and save some extra cash. we finished up and decided to meet the next day at their house about 545p so the 3 of us were going to drive together.
things for my pack.
things for richards pack. i think he needs some more things??
having our packs put together the night before was genius! when i got home friday from work we basically put our last things together and ate something fast before we were out the door to grab mike. he added a few things to richards pack that he was missing, like a sleeping pad, and we were ready to go. that morning was the first time i had woken up and was actaully excited about going. its like we had done soooo much talking and planning and wondering what if, that it had taken away from the fun. it was too late to make tons of changes or wonder what we missed. there were plenty of people going so if we did forget something, we could borrow from the group. it was finally time to go!

ready or not i was going!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

the mile high graduation.

graduation season was in full swing last month and early this month! i usually just look longingly at the people around me graduating, missing my own, and not believing how long it has been since i did that. my cousin liana was graduating from colorado state this year in and i had seriously thought about going, but didnt think it would actually happen. a few weeks before nashville my mom informed that she and my dad were going so i should come too. however with it being 2 weeks after we got back from nashville i just wasnt sure i could afford it. then my mom informed me that we scored buddy passes from my aunt who works for fronteir. we could now fly for $55 roundtrip! now thats a deal i could get behind:) we soon booked our rental car and hotel where the rest of the family was staying and was on our way!

getting to the airport was quite the feet since the 3 of us were all coming from different directions. richard was not coming, so it was just me and my parents. i definitely missed him, but it was really nice to have some time with just them. the night before i had checked us in super easily even with the buddy passes so all we had to do was check our bag and meet at the gate. the one downside to buddy passes is that you must fly standby and it is all based on seniority. so since we were not the actual employees they ranked higher in getting on the planes then we did. we were shooting for the 620pm flight, but it was looking pretty full. there was only 1 seat open on the flight once they got to the standby people, so we decided to hold off for the 750pm flight instead because all 3 of us could get on the same flight. only issue with that was mom and i's bags were going to fly on the earlier flight to denver, that was going to be an adventure to track them down.

we arrived in denver pretty much on time about 1130pm with warm cookies from the flight in our bellies. we had made plans to meet the family at the mexican restaurant right next to our hotel once we arrived, except as soon as we landed we found out it was closed. mom and i hadnt really eaten dinner beacuse we were countin on margaritas! we did find our bags pretty easy, they actually flew on our same flight so it was even better. then on to hunt down our rental car. we got on the bus dashing through the chilly denver air getting sleepier and hungrier by the minute. i had taken care of the rental care with the tricks richard had shown me over our last couple of trips. mom was so set on having an suv that could fit at least 5-6 people, so thats what i ordered. we ended up with a chevy traverse and since i had ordered the car i got to drive for the whole weekend! i forgot what it was like to drive sitting up that high haha.
i really wanted to get it one, but there was security everywhere!
after making the half hour trek to parker where my family lives we were ready to eat somethin fast and crash. we checked into our hotel only to find that the key didnt work. so dad went back down the hallway to get the front desk clerk. he told us the key thing just needed new batteries and it work. in the meantime mom and i had found a doorbell and had to try it out. right after the guy changed the batteries someone opened the door from the inside and asked if they could help us! oops. we went back to the lobby for a new room assignment that also had someone in it! by this point it was well past 1am and mom and i were about to pass out from hunger. dad decided to stay and figure out the room situation while we went and found food. we grabbed uncle thomas on the way to the car and went on a late night adventure when most things are closed. after going the wrong way and desperately looking for anything open we found a sonic! that just made everything better. once we made it back to the hotel we found out there were no room available, they had mixed up our reservations, and we were moving to the hotel next door. at least we had a bed at this point. oh and lemon berry slushies:)
we woke up the next morning with only about 5 hours of sleep so we could sightsee before making the drive up to fort collins for the 7pm graduation. great plan, until pretty much everyone else punked out on us. they wanted to stay and clean, or do nothing till we had to leave. i had never been to denver and couldnt wait to go look around. so the 3 of us decided to go on our own! it was really cold for the 2nd week in may, good thing i had repacked. we had sooo much fun!! we stopped in at the coolest bookstore ever and had fantastic coffee. then we wandered around 16th street and people watched, souvenior shopped, and talked with kyle on the phone. one of the funniest things we say was the location of the cheeecake factory, it was underneath the healthclub! now thats motivation.
moms new friend.

my new friend:)
the tattered cover bookstore.

we had made the plan to met everyone at maggianos near the hotel for lunch before going back to the hotel to change and make the drive. well we got there and were the only ones there! uncle thomas and aunt lana had fallen back to sleep and werent hungry. aunt nettie and the girls had just had lunch at a mexican food restauraunt instead. we figured we were already there, and we love it, might as well eat here. it was amazing! and we had so many leftovers for later that night. the three of us chatting was so great, and dad gave me the greatest compliments:) we made our way back to the hotel for a quick nap and to change before meeting the rest of the family.

once we got on the road it had now started to rain. now by rain, i mean pouring!! we were crawling through denver on the freeway to get up the hill to graduation. it was awful and scary since i was driving a new car. we finally got out of the rain and made pretty good time the rest of the way. we were all going to hang out at liana's apartment, which is really close to campus, then all head over after her so we could find seats. once we got to her apartment she gets out and announces that she forgot her keys in denver so now we have to find somewhere else to hang out for an hour. luckily there were things across the street, we decided on starbucks:) however, while making the walk to the stadium i found out there was a freakin pita pit acorss the street we could have been eating at instead!

it was friggin cold up there! so we walked pretty quickly to the stadium which was packed when we got there. we found seats halfway up the side though where we could all sit. there was about 12 of us total, what can i say we have a big family, and thats only about half of us. we waited the standard time to get going. we found her really easily on the floor, thank goodness for cell phones. we of course yelled and screamed as soon as liana's name was called. she was even able to hear us while walking across the stage!

walking acorss the stage!
 they actually hussled them through darn quick! the whole ceremony was about 2 hours. part of the group though left soon after her name was called to go wait outside then decided it was too cold and they would go wait in the pizza place instead. the cool group then got to meet the brand new graduate outside and take pictures!
the ruiz family.

the las vegas crew.

the cool group that stayed.
we have 2 college graduates now!
we headed back to gather the other lame group so we could make the advenutre back to parker. by this time i was starving and so ready for the leftovers in our fridge. they were so worth the wait when we got back. mom and i dove right in and that cake, so in love. we crashed pretty soon after that so we could meet the rest of the group in the morning for brunch at a seafood kitchen. it had been decided to meet at 1030am so we could still be on time for the graduation party that early afternoon. we were headed out the door when we got the phone call that the other group was already there and eating and by the time we got there they would probably already be done. we decided to go anyway because we were hungry and actually had a lot of fun with everyone. they decided to stay and hang out, which turned out to be the best because kyle got to call! we passed him around the table and everyone got to say hi. it was definitely the highlight of breakfast :)

afterwards we all headed over to aunt liz's house for the party. it was mostly just hanging out with the family and more food. we are really good at the eating thing! we watched the girls open their graduation presents and of course rake in the cash. liana graduated from college saturday night and bethany was graduating from high school a few days later. i even became a little attached to liana's dog pedro.
the standard hill picture.

the kids, theres always one picture.
pedro was so cute! and very well behaved.
 we had a pretty tight time schedule to get back to the airport since it is about 40 minutes from their house. with returning the rental car and again being on standby we tried to stick to the schedule pretty tight. we made it to the airport no problem and returned the rental car with ease. we had checked in the night before but had to print our boarding passes at the gate. i realized as we were trying to print and check-in bags that we not met a single person working for fronteir that was pleasant. everyone was really rude and seemed so annoyed i was even asking a question. we hightailed it out of there pretty quickly to the gate to be met by the only nice people of the whole trip. they warned us the flight was not looking good for us, not many seats left. we were praying that we would because the next flight wasnt for 4 hours. apparently we are not that lucky, because we did not get on that flight and got to hang out in the lovely denver airport forever. ps there really isnt much going on in that airport. however the ben and jerrys is amazing!

the downside of renting an suv!

on the shuttle from the rental car to the terminal.
 after a 50 minute delay on top of the extra 4 hours we were already in the airport for we finally got on the plane. lesson learned: i will never, ever fly standby again! once we finally got back to vegas i was so glad to be home and to see richard. it was weird to sleep without him for a few nights. but it was really fun to hang out with my parents in a new place on our own. plus now i can cross denver off my list of places to visit!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

the country adventure.

once i really began racing i knew that one day i wanted to go back to nashville for the race they hold every year.  the first year of racing the timing just didnt work out.  so i made sure it worked its way into the second year.  i already had an offer of a spare room for the weekend and could not wait to go back!  when richard and i started dating i wanted to take him with me hoping he would fall in love with the city too.  finally in 2011 it all fell into place. 

we began looking into tickets and hotels pretty early in the year hoping to score some sweet deals.  after weeks of checking we finally decided to buy.  thank goodness we did since tickets spiked$30 each way the next week!  i started training back in january for the race and was well prepared by the time it arrived.  we were both so excited about taking a vacation away.  this would also be the first time we would go to a race by ourselves. 

we left on a thursday evening since the race was on a saturday (seriously best idea ever).  we ended up driving to the airport ourselves since it was in the middle of the day and we were coming back pretty late on sunday night.  it wasnt my favorite idea ever, i wont lie, but it turned out to be a lot easier.  our flight was delayed about a half hour and by the time we finally landed in nashville the airport was about to close (who does that??).  we found a few people on our flight that were also going out for the race and i was getting more and more excited!

after picking up our rental car and heading to the hotel that was literally 2 minutes away from the airport we should have been exhausted.  except we had both slept in that day and the time change had really honked up our bodies.  i needed to get some decent sleep so my body could adjust and be ready for the big race on saturday.  we finally fell asleep watching the coverage of the royal wedding, even though i was dvring the whole thing at home.

friday morning came faster than we thought.  we woke up a little early so that we could eat breakfast at the hotel then went back to our room and were mesmerized by the replay of the royal wedding.  ok, maybe that was just me.  but richard was so sweet to leave the channel on so i could drool all i wanted:)  ps did you know the new princess and i have the same name, catherine elizbeth!  ok she spells it a little different.

we headed out to our first stop of the day, the race expo.  it is hands down one of my favorite parts of race weekend.  you are able to pick up your bib/race chip and wander around hundreds of booths filled with everything running.  its fantastic.
look out 1/2 marathon #4!

only runners think this is funny, its hilarious.

we headed back to our car with full intent to head out to the jack daniels distillery, until we found out the tour was $45 each!  that was a little rich for our blood but decided to still head out to murfeesboro so that richard could get his fast food fix.  we had found out there was an exit on the way that had a chick-fil-a, a white castle, and a steak shake all in the same shopping center and richard had been salivating ever since.  luckily there was a panera bread right next door so i could eat too.  we started at white castle.  and well...
needless to say he was a little excited
after stopping by chick-fil-a to take back to the hotel for a late night snack, we headed back the 30 minutes north to nashville.  except we didnt really have anything to do.  we had planned on the jack daniels tour and hadnt really made a back up plan.  we decided to visit the gaylord opry hotel, allowing me to cross one big thing off my list.  and oh let me tell you, i fell in love.
the stairs of my dreams, thanks to beauty and the beast.
the location of my imaginary wedding!

of course i found the red barn on the property.

we kept the evening simple and headed back downtown to find a restaurant i could carb up in and something we didnt have at home.  however we didnt really take into account the fact that there were 30,000 runners racing the next day and the restaurants were packed!  after an extremely long wait we had a really great dinner at the big river brewery, seriously delicious!  afterward we headed back to our hotel to try and get a good nights sleep before that awfully early alarm started blaring.

430am the next morning i was rolling out of bed to starting putting water in my system and food in my belly.  the weather was looking fanastic.  sunny with a high in the 80s.  it was actually the warmest day of the week.  with the location of our hotel we only had to walk up a small hill to get to the shuttles that would take us straight to the starting area.  if you ever have the opportunity to take a shuttle and not have to worry about it!  it is so worth the money.  

arriving at the start area was a little overwhelming.  being in a new city i didnt really know where i was going.  and this race had a separate start and finish line.  that meant that richard had to navigate his way from one end to the other, also not knowing where he was going.  i pretty quickly got in line for the bathrooms that were lined up everywhere in the large field at vanderbilt university.  that of course took forever!  and i was not willing to pay for vip porta potties. 
we make a lot of bathroom jokes.
before i knew it we were lining up.  which made the race time real and the fact that i was really hoping for a sub-2:14.  i had said it out loud only a few times and was ready to give it a go.  i gave richard my phone with directions to the finish line, kissed him for good luck, and told him to find me!  as i lined up in the corral he started walking.  except that i sent him in the wrong direction.  good thing he realized pretty quickly that his dots were not lining up and he turned around.  
richards adventure from start line to finish line. seriously best support team ever.
this was definitely one of the funnest races ever.  every stretch of the course was filled with cheering spectators!  they were out on their porches drinking and spraying hoses for the warm day.  then there were the hills.  holy crap!  this was the hilliest race i have ever ran and it was seriously tough.
every corner i turned i kept looking for richard but couldnt find him anywhere.  one of the coolest things was running over the freeway and looking down to see so many ups trucks (with all the checked runner gear) with a police escort headed toward the finish line.  the bands were great and the course was never boring.  and for the first time ever i actually stopped to use the bathroom at mile 10 because i literally couldnt hold it anymore!  

as we got to the split for the full and 1/2 marathon i knew we were getting very close to the finish and i literally only had 2 full miles left.  it was really starting to get warm out and i was ready to be done.  i also knew there was one more big hill.  and i still hadnt seen richard anywhere.  but if i was going to get my pr i knew i had to keep going and stop looking for him.  somehow though i knew exactly where he was without even seeing him.  
he caught me turning the corner toward the finish line.
i crossed the finish line almost right after this and found richard almost immediately.  i was ready to stop right there, except since there were so many runners i was literally almost getting run over so i had to keep moving.  it was the longest finishers chute ever with not really good food or drink.  plus i was dying to know my time.  i found richard outside the runner area and he was concerned with stretching/making sure i was ok (so good to me) and all i cared about was my time.  finally the text came through...
i was beyond excited and could not believe i finished in that time on such a tough course.  then the hurt set in.  we made our way toward the shuttles and i bought a finisher shirt on the way.  i was definitely ready to get out of there and eat some serious food!

my original food plan post race was to find somewhere to get chicken and waffles.  after that didnt really happen we ended up at the waffle house across the street from our hotel.  OMG it was amazing!  the best part was when i ordered tea they instantly asked "sweet or unsweet?"  i was in heaven.  after a good shower and quick nap (that richard fought in the beginning then kept asking to continue sleeping) we were back out to explore downtown nashville.  my friend jp had invited us to a bbq later that night with his runner group so we still had some time for ourselves.  

we walked very slowly, mostly because i walked like an 85 year old woman and because there were sooo many people!  all i wanted to do was eat.  i had gone 2 months without starbucks, fast food, and alcohol.  on top of that i hadnt had ice cream, pizza or anything fried for a month.  ice cream was definitely the top of that list!  we found mikes ice cream on broadway.  heaven.  the long line was 1000% worth it.  we souvenir shopped (mostly unsuccessful) and people watched a lot.  

finally came richards favorite part...the bbq he had been waiting months for.  we had gotten many recommendations about jacks and made our way into line after awhile of wandering downtown.  the line was through the restaurant, out the door, and down the block.  let me tell you though, totally worth it.  now richard was in heaven.  you can order as many meats and sides as you like.  there are divider plates, the sauce comes on the side, and the sweet tea comes right out of the jug!

we made our way to east nashville after that to meet up with jp and his runner group.  everyone was nice and welcoming, very southern hospitality.  richard and jp finally got to meet and i got to see what a real runner group looked like (it was awesome). 

we tried to convince jp to come out with us, it didnt work very well.  he gave us some great recommendations though of places to go and said he might meet us later.  richard and i headed back to our hotel to change and see the nightlife downtown.  all the bars were free to get in and i was ready to drink, plus there was a last call!  we only went to a few before the wear of the weekend set in and we ended up back at the hotel munchin on fast food right after last call. 

sunday we stayed in bed as long as we could and opted for a late check out.  we packed our things slowly, that day i walked around like a 75 year old woman, and made our way to the car to head out for pizza.  we had been saving pizza for the last day.  richard always likes to try pizza in the new cities we go to and i was dying for some.  jp had recommended pie in the sky near vanderbilt and when we arrived there wasnt many people there.  richard was weary, but we didnt know where else to go.  so glad we stayed!  you could order any salad on the menu as a side salad and the pizza was fantastic!  the longer we stayed to eat the more people showed up.  by the time we were leaving the place was getting pretty full.  i had found out where the pizza place was the day before and foundthat my favorite coffee place was just a few miles away, we had to go.  it was the first coffee i had in 2 months that was frilly and girly.  bongo java, also in heaven.  amazing!

we made our way back to the airport shortly after that so we could catch our flight.  i couldnt believe the trip was over.  it had been so much fun and a great getaway for the 2 of us.  maybe it will even be on the move to list one day...
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