Sunday, August 15, 2010

That one time when I was in the car with Grant and Jill for 25+ hours



I don't know how common it is to enjoy every minute of an eleven hour car ride but with Grant and Jill Ensign every moment was entertaining! We drove up to Portland to visit Josh over Memorial Day weekend. The drive from Provo to Boise and through Eastern Oregon was one of the most fun roadtrips I've been on yet! Whatever self-built barriers we had prior to the trip were obliterated as we slowly lost our minds on the long drive. We talked, listened to music, played games, teased Grant about losing every ABC game we played, sang numerous songs really loud, talked some more, giggled, then giggled uncontrollably, then started crying... It was a hilarious drive up to Portland!
The last few hours were rather intense for me. I was anxious to see Josh (since I hadn't seen him for four weeks) and I was anxious for Jill as she bravely drove along the Columbia River Gorge in a downpour. She safely got us to the hotel where we met Josh. I was so happy! After settling into our rooms we let the GPS guide us to a good place to eat--Buffalo Wild Wings. We hungrily devoured our food and caught one of the NBA playoff games. Afterwards, we drove across the Willamette to tour around Portland and check out the Rose Festival carnival. We spent most of the time driving around in circles trying to get to the place we wanted to park. We awkwardly snatched the spot and walked in the drizzle down to the water front. The whole park was covered in mud. Jill was picking her way through in her new white tennis shoes and I was climbing up Josh to avoid getting my sandals sucked into the mud pits. We were cold and damp but the carnvial lights were beautiful and helped make the whole adventure fun. We found a little zoo where they displayed a huge porcupine, a gigantic Bengal tiger, a juvenile lion, and a super creepy reptile room. The boys spent a lot of time in the reptile room while Jill and I stared in amazement (and suspense) at the tiger. It was being kept in a cage of pencil-thin metal bars and plastic tie-downs. It didn't seem very stable or safe--so we stood there and stared anyways.
The main event we were waiting for at the Festival was the Lighting of the Bridge, the Lighting of the Rose, and the fireworks. We stood huddled in a fairly small group as we waited for the highly anticipated Lighting of the Bridge. The four of us couldn't wait to see beautiful white lights draped along the bridge or whatever stunning decor the city had planned. At the end of the countdown, the bridge we were looking at on our right didn't change. We looked around and followed the stares and pitiful "OOooos" to the bridge on our left whose concrete pillars were being teased with fading lavendar, rose, and blush colored lights. It was a huge disappointment. But it prepared us for the Lighting of the Rose behind us which was nothing but flipping the switch to the neon lights. Lame. So we were ready to leave before the fireworks even started. It must be noted that Grant and Jill are firework conessieurs and we've learned our lesson from taking them to firework shows that don't meet their high standards and expectations. I so badly wanted to electrify them with my beloved Portland city and felt that a lame show would start them off with a horrible impression desperately in need of redemption. Well, redemption was able to save its grace for another day because the fireworks show was off the hook! The lameness of the previous events was directly related to the 1% of the budget used for non-firework displays. They shot incredible fireworks from off of a boat in the river for 45 minutes! Grant and Jill were actually getting tired of the spectacular but long show. The four of us cheered loud for the big ones, hoping to put an end to it so we could get out of the cold rain but the fireworks had the Energizer bunny as their champion. We endured and were grateful.
The next morning we drove to Shari's (one of my favorite places to eat on the mission) and played Go Fish while we waited for breakfast. The food was not so great but they serve pie there 24 hours a day so it made up for the tasteless forkfulls of breakfast--even though we never ended up ordering a slice of pie. After breakfast we drove to Multnomah Falls (another one of my favorite places). Again, we walked around damp and cold from all the spray coming off of the water. The waterfall was so beautiful and definitely worth it. Grant and Jill hiked to the very top while Josh and I enjoyed some time together on a bench in an outlook.
We then drove back across the river and made our way around town and up to Washington Park. We walked around the Rose Gardens enjoying the soggy sunshine. While the dad in Jill made her want to hike to the top of Multnomah Falls, the dad in me made me stop at every rose bush and take pictures. The gardens were filled with stunning rhododendron bushes and rows and rows of rose bushes (I'm rather tickled by that line). After meandering through the gardens we drove through the gorgeous hillside neighborhoods and made our way down to 23rd Street for some incredible window shopping. We found a beautiful dress shop, a thrift store that left us with a bad feeling we couldn't put our finger on, kitchen stores, furniture stores, and a soap store celebrating a grand opening with a band, finger food, and wine. The placed was fun, festive, and packed. We stayed long enough for Jill to have an awkwardly large glob of lotion spill down her pants and shoes. Then it was on to lunch at Pizza Schmizza for delicious margharita and meat-lovers pizzas, embarassing videos, and lots and lots of laughs.
We spent the evening driving to the Oregon Coast and picking out the perfect camping spot at Cannon Beach. Josh and I had camped there two years earlier on our first wedding anniversary. Now we were celebrating our third year anniversary and couldn't have picked better company. The four of us set up our tents and then wandered down to the beach. It was a nice, chilly evening on the coast which made a hot chocolate treat aftwards a perfect ending to the night.

The next morning it rained so we all crammed into one humid and stinky tent to watch Wall E on a computer. When we woke up again we headed down to the beaches to walk around. Josh took the opportunity to astound us all with his knowledge of sea creatures and their scientific names. It was neat to listen to him tell us every detail he knew about each jellyfish, crab, seaweed, seal, sand dollar, and sea star. The beaches went on for miles and miles (as most beaches do). It was really nice to be able to spend that quality time with Josh just meandering up and down the beach. We were going to have our lunch of hot soups with bread and brie (provided by Safeway) on the beach but we decided to grab a warm, dry hotel room and eat it there instead. The hotel room was nice except for the fact that the room decor was hideous (I'm changing my major to hotel decor) and the hotel was next to a store with a giant picture of Bigfoot on it. Despite the numerous songs I made up of Sasquatch/Bigfoot/Harry from Harry and the Hendersons on the drive up to Oregon, I really am scared of finding it. He's creepy and ugly. I hate him--and was teased constantly about it throughout the trip.

The next day, after spending a pleasant night enjoying the sound of rain from inside our warm hotel room, we walked around the shops and candy stores of Cannon Beach and Seaside. The climax was eating at Mo's for dinner. One of Josh's favorite traditions is eating a heaping bowl of hot, sandy clam chowder at Mo's. I became converted when we came out to the Coast for our two years ago and now we were happy to share the tradition with Grant and Jill.

The trip was too short but we had a really great time. I've never laughed so hard, so often! One of the highlights was making Grant nearly throw up from laughing so hard! Oh...good times. We left Josh in Portland to wait for his ride down to Coos Bay, four hours south of Portland. Actually, we said our goodbyes at the Best Buy which made us think it was just like the BuyMore from the TV show Chuck. That made the goodbyes seem cooler and more bearable.

The drive back to Provo was a little sad but still pleasant nonetheless. Grant and Jill deserve kudos for driving the eleven hours straight home. It was exhausting for all of us but made for a happy ending to a happy weekend.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Bijou Market Spring 2010

The Bijou Market was held on the 5th of June this year. I love the Saturday market feel of the craft show. For the most part, the creators try to keep it relaxed and enjoyable. It's good if you want something fun to do on a Saturday afternoon; it's bad if you want your handmade goods snatched up in a shopping frenzy.

This spring it was held at the Cherry Hill mansion in Orem again. The booths were set up throughout the orchard. In the center the organizers had placed large patio chairs, blankets, floor pillows, and magazines so you could relax and enjoy the afternoon. Just behind the craft fair was a roped off area for the owner's horse to meander around. The atmosphere was picturesque!

Grant, Jill, and I worked hard to creatively display the onesies, shirts, pennant banners, canvas boards, and tea towels. I think we did a great job with what we had to work with. I couldn't have pulled it all off without Grant and Jill. They were lifesavers!

Monday, August 9, 2010

While He Was Gone: St. George and Las Vegas

While Josh was frolicking through the rocky tide pools of chilly Coos Bay, I made a solo trip down to visit some of my best girlfriends. With plenty of snacks, my favorite music (don't even be embarrassed that I brought my NSYNC cds), and a trusty GPS, the four-hour drive wasn't so bad.

I first stopped in St. George to meet up with my old college buddy, Pacha, and her fabulous new roommates. They were all so amiable and funny. Pacha and I stayed up talking outside, catching up on everything. It was really nice to talk for hours and cover all that's happened in the last four years. The best part, I have to say, was when she showed that the baseball fields they used for filming the second High School Musical movie were right across the street from her house! I may or may not have giggled like a 7th-grade girl as she later gave me a tour of the resort, pool, and golf course where they filmed a majority of HSM2. So great!

The next day we went to the St. George temple together. As we were walking in, I ran into my first mission president and his wife who I hadn't seen in five years. The Westons were so nice to remember my name. It was exciting to see them again.

Our session was wonderful. It was really neat to be in a gorgeously decorated 140-year old temple and to think about all the incredible people who built it and the amazing things that happened inside.

Rachel and I took pictures outside and it couldn't have been a more beautiful day. The temple looked like a cake! I love that Pacha and I are both wearing glasses. There are so many good memories with the Martels and their eye glasses...

On Saturday afternoon I drove another two hours down to Las Vegas to visit Josh and Willow Batt. They gave me the royal treatment while I stayed with them. We went out to dinner at a new sushi restaurant near their home. There were about a hundred different kinds of rolls and they all had scandalous names. I won't even tell you what some of the names were but it made the menu a rather entertaining piece of reading material. After our delicious dinner we walked around the outdoor malls. The three of us strolled into my favorite store, Anthropologie, where Willow came across a flowering pot that she had created. Apparently she didn't realize that her work was being showcased in the window display of Anthropologie! Willow is such an amazing artist/designer/creator/iceskater/cook/yogini/decorator/photographer/choreographer/model/woman. I love being around Willow because she's an inspiring person to be with. Some people have a certain place they like to go to where they think and find refreshment; my place is anywhere with Willow.
Later that night we went to Whole Foods Market and bought cacao powder, coconut oil, and almond butter to make homemade chocolate. It was delicious and literally melted in our mouths. The rest of my weekend was spent hiking around the red rock, playing games with their friends, coloring and drawing with Willow, sweating through a fantastic yoga class (taught by Willow, of course), having thoughtful conversations, going for a trot through the nature preserve, driving around the Strip, eating good food, and watching Willow practice her graceful ice skating routine. It was so nice to be with the Batts again. They are great friends!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

New York, NEW YORK!

At the beginning of May I went on a Girl's Trip with the ladies of my In-Law's family. Kim, Dana, Ashley, and I flew out of Salt Lake City to meet up with Lucia, Angela, Judy, and Anna in New York City. I was a bawling mess in the airport since I was leaving Josh a few days before he drove out to the Oregon Coast for the next six weeks. For me it was heart-wrenching. We had been side-by-side for the past two and a half years. The last time he left it was only for a weekend trip to Georgia. So this separation was a big deal for me.

But Josh made his absence a lot more bearable with a little surprise when I arrived at LaGuardia. I turned my phone on after we got off the plane and I discovered that I had a very sweet text message from him. Having a text on my phone was a foreign concept for me. As it turned out, Josh had added texting to my plan so we could communicate more frequently. I almost started crying all over again! It was so sweet and I immediately felt more connected to him.

Outside of the airport, Kim picked up a taxi cab for us. I'd never been in a cab before. And our driver was crazy! He was flying in and out of lanes, speeding through intersections, and everything else you might expect from a big city driver. I'm sure that our driver was like all the other NYC cab drivers but it felt like a roller coaster ride for me.

We spent our first night at the Belvedere hotel. It was old and regal and beautiful and fabulous! The four of us dropped our bags in our room and took off to grab a bite to eat. We found Carves and grabbed a slice of pizza. After our late-night snack we walked down to Times Square. I'd forgotten how crazy Saturday nights on Times Square could be. We meandered over to where our hotel for the next night would be (where we should've been staying tonight had it not been completely booked) and found the area all taped off with yellow police tape. People were crowded behind the barricade and I thought we were all gaping at a movie set. We asked one tall man what was going on and he said, "Umm, I'm not quite sure but there are rumors that there's a bomb." Oh...And we're all standing around staring at it. We kind of laughed incredulously and moved on. Back at the hotel room, we turned on the TV to discover that there had been a car bomb. Through the rest of the week the story unfolded to be the terrorist bomb that hadn't ever detonated. Faisal Shahzad was arrested days later just before his international flight took off. It was hard to believe that the whole thing was a real threat--it seemed too much like a movie.

Other than the bomb threat, the week was simply delightful and rather incredible! I could honestly say, "What didn't we do?!" Here's the list:

-breakfast at delis with romantic flowers along the outside wall
-gorgeous views from our 32nd floor room of the Marriott Marquis
-St. Patrick's Cathedral
-American Girl store
-Trump Towers
-Rockefeller Center
-Billy Elliott at the Imperial Theatre
-Museum of Modern Art
-lunch on a bench in Central Park
-carriage ride through Central Park
-hiding out from the rain in the Plaza Hotel
-Etsy craft night in Brooklyn
-5th Avenue shopping
-yoga class (with Elvis music) at Broadway Dance Center
-watching Ashley's dance classes at BDC
-The Cloister
-scary Canal Street
-fabulous shops like Madewell and Lululemon
-In the Heights starring Corbin Bleu
-"Top of the Roc" at night
-Ellis Island
-Statue of Liberty
-Battery Park and the Financial District
-Magnolia Bakery
-George Washington's pew and the 9/11 memorial in St. Paul's Cathedral
-Metropolitan Museum of Art
-seeing Matthew Morrison (Mr. Schuester) from GLEE at the Italian restaurant
-South Pacific at the Lincoln Center
-working out in our fabulous 11th floor gym
-another bomb threat on Friday
-reading The Lost City of Z in the lobby of the Marriott Marquis with my hazelnut/toffee steamer and fruit, cracker, and cheese platter from Starbucks
-Ashley freaking out about seeing Oprah, Gail, and Denzel Washington after his play
-stalking Elder Jeffrey R. Holland and his wife into the elevator as they got out of their taxi cab
-picking up almost a dollar in change from off the streets