The ramblings of a woman,
wife, & mother, who loves:
Jesus / my man / the three,
learning about parenting /
mamahood / childbirth,
cooking foods healthy /
international / yummy,
pretending to garden /
write / design,
attempting to run /
exercise / lift weights,
enjoying traveling /
camping / adventures,
finding ways to love /
serve / sacrifice for others.

It is not to say she does these things
with style or grace, or even skill.

Sixth Day: Looking Glass & Mama's First Trail Run

Wed Oct 1 10:41:00 CDT 2014 - Wed Oct 1 10:41:00 CDT 2014

Travel Log: 25 March 2012

Climb ON!

Today, our, *sniff*, last day of Spring Break, we planned to climb a new (set in 2010), yet increasingly popular rock south of Moab called Looking Glass Rock.

looking glass

Photo credit. Would you believe I forgot to step back and take a photo of the whole, breathtaking amphitheatre that is Looking Glass Rock? The sandstone rock sits alone in a flat, desert field, surrounded by small brush and no other rock formations. 


We planned to climb up the east rib (seen on the right), a 5.5 PG13 sport route, that is 400' long, and required 3 pitches. (A pitch means the length of rope usually will run out at that point. At the top of one pitch you have to stop and collect all your rope and then start again.) In reality, you can scramble up the east rib and free climb it without a rope, because it is not technical and doesn't even require the use of climbing shoes. EXCEPT for the fact that it is PG13. PG13 stands as a type of warning about a climb and the warning for this climb is that it has a 135' free fall rappel in order to get down. It is important to have a rope and have the rope long enough to be folded in two and still reach the ground. (Tho, in reality you could simply climb back down the rib or, as we've seen, be crazy enough to base jump a dangerously short distance.)


Amos teaching us how to climb 3 people at a time. Make mental note of the horizontal crevice at his knee.


Amos, Josh, and I climbed as three roped together, meaning once Amos was to the first pitch he would belay both Josh and I climbing at the same time. Next, Joe and his 12 year old son Isaac would climb together. Third, Amos would go up again with Molly and Kari as three roped together. We didn't let our three kids climb this route because they had never rappeled by themselves before and we didn't think learning to rappel on a 135' free fall was a good idea. (Tho, little did we know one year later we would have all 3 of them learn to rappel on a 120' free fall, whoops!)


Joe and Isaac beginning the second pitch.

The day we chose to climb this route it was INCREDIBLY windy. Winds were steady at 27mph with forceful gusts between 40-50mph. Even though I cursed the wind, the climb was as easy as scrambling and incredibly fast moving. We hung out at the top for a while, took in the amazing panoramic view, I even happened to *cough* find *cough* a restroom up there, and we waited for Joe and Isaac.


Directly above the hole you can see Josh and my orange helmets looking over the edge.

In order to begin the rappel, you have to climb down into a crevice and find the rappel bolts at the top of the eye slit. Thankfully, we had incredibly experienced Amos to set up the rappel. He then threw the rope down to Molly who would act as our "fireman's belay." A "fireman's belay" means that, heaven-forbid, the person rappeling loses control, the person at the bottom of the rope can pull both ends tight, thus stopping the person from falling along the rope any further down. 


Amos, our amazing friend and experienced guide, and his equally amazing & experienced wife, Molly, waiting to start the rappel.


The view down to the bottom.


Molly getting excited in the wind to do the rappel. You can see how strong the wind was by the effect on her ponytail. Oy!


Kari, backing up and dropping into the free fall rappel.

It's probably just me, but when I was a little kid playing hide-n-seek or jailbreak, once I found my hiding spot I would immediately find myself "holding it." I was simply too excited and too scared all at the same time. The anxiety of wondering when or if someone would find me got me all riled up inside and I, well, always needed to find a restroom as soon as I was hidden! I experienced a similar situation when I was waiting my turn to rappel. Even though I had just used the restroom minutes before, once I was waiting in line for my turn to do my first rappel in 15 years (my previous one only being 15' at a day camp), I was too excited and too scared and found myself "holding it." Hahaha! :)!


Me, coming out of the eye slit.


You can see the boys playing at the bottom of the face, above the boulder field inside the amphitheatre.


Molly acting as fireman's belay for Josh as the younger kids watch. Another good reason for a fireman's belay this day was the wind. Oh!, the wind!


It wasn't until later that I would be told about how the start/base of this climb (that area I mentioned above by Amos's knee) and near the area that these two are sitting, is a favorite hangout of a number of rattlesnakes, 6-foot long rattlesnakes. Ignorance of that information is not bliss, we were really lucky this day nothing happened.

The entire climbing experience at Looking Glass Rock was not incredibly tiring and it did not take long except for the fact that we had multiple groups of climbers. We were back to our condo area mid-afternoon and made plans to run/hike Negro Bill Canyon with our group of other friends in town. 


This is O & M at the beginning of the trail. It soon narrows to a 1' wide trail winding around trees, bushes, boulders, etc.

You may remember this trail being the ending area for the Porcupine Rim MTB trail. Porcupine Rim swoops around the top edge and the north side of Negro Bill Canyon, while this trail goes into the canyon itself. Negro Bill Canyon is named after the first non-caucasian to explore the canyon back in 1877. At the end of the trail into the canyon is Morning Glory Bridge. Though often referred to as Morning Glory Arch, it is considered to be a bridge because a natural spring runs underneath it. There are hiking/biking trails that go across the bridge as well as bolts for groups to rappel down into the canyon at the end of their hike. Rappelers can also do a simul-rappel on the bridge which seems like a bit much for me, oy!


Josh took the kids along the trail and I ran with 5 others. For me, this was not only my longest run since I broke my foot (4.8 miles) but also my inaugural trail run and I was definitely hooked. The trail into the canyon criss-crossed back and fourth across the stream countless times and has a wonderful mix of gradual climbs and steep rock scrambling. It was exciting to experience the different terrains while running and exhilarating to go from normal runing on dirt or sand to high stepping and technical foot placement around larger rocks. Even though my ankle hurt like a mother when we finished the run, it also made me believe that running a farther distance, like a half marathon, would be possible for me someday.


This was the last day that everyone else we knew was staying in Moab. We were the only ones sticking around for 3 more days. Tomorrow was a Monday and Josh had to turn back on his email and get back to work and the kids and I had to get back into school as well. Just like in CA, we would be able to add play after school and work were done. But for tonight, the last night of Spring Break, we would party it up with our friends, with whom we had enjoyed countless adventures over the previous week. What an amazing experience it was!


Fifth Day: Bouldering & Hiking & Winery

Tue Sep 30 11:06:00 CDT 2014 - Tue Sep 30 11:06:00 CDT 2014

In 1736, Benjamin Franklin coined the phrase in Poor Richard's Almanac, "Fish and Visitors stink in 3 days." Tho, we've changed it to specifically be "3 nights," with how often Josh and I have said this over the years, you'd think we coined it. This is not a critique on our visitors/family/friends, it's about us, as our family begins to definitely "stink" after 3 nights. I can't emphasize enough, "It's not you, it's me," is actually what this is all about. :)!

It started years upon years ago, when we had our first vacation with some extended family, all staying in the same house for a week. At the end of first three nights everyone was happiest and having an amazing time. But, while we all love our family VERY MUCH, there came a point, on the eve of the fourth night that you could sense we were done, d-o-n-e, done. Too much togetherness, too much lots of people crammed in a small space, too much trying to be on our best behavior, too much trying to keep everyone happy, too much stress for mama trying to hold it all together, we were all done. The morning of the fifth day, I wanted to lock the five of us in my bedroom so that no more stress, no more insanity could be had. 

You have to remember at the time we had the above experience, I was a sleep-deprived, zombie mom with 3 little ones. For example, during my normal days, quite honestly, I loved to simply lay on the floor and let the children use me as a jungle gym while I attempted to add an extra 5 minutes of sleep to my mere 4 hours of sleep/day lifestyle. I was not ready to share this type of behavior with others around and my pride (and false teachings) kept me from simply asking for others to help me while in mixed company. 

In addition, we had a child with an undiagnosed allergy at the time. The only thing we saw was out of the blue we now had a situation that required attention. What my self-conscious mind (and false teachings) had told me was that I was a bad mom for not being able to have perfect little children all the time. By spending a week with mixed company the fact that things were not perfect was becoming ever-so-clear for others to see and, quite honestly, my pride did not like it. (Yes, I have issues. I told you, "It's not you, it's me," rings true! Oy!)

By the time we could finally leave, I never wanted to go on another group vacation ever again. It was then Josh and I made our new rule: Limit trips with others in the same place to 3 nights, that way, we can all leave on happy terms vs. frazzled and stressed, leave not wanting to go vs. can't leave fast enough. This rule has served us well even as we have all aged and matured. 

Travel Log: 24 March 2012

And now, here we were, the morning of the fifth day, spending a week vacation with friends. Even though we had our individual condos, I began to feel like we were starting to rub others the wrong way. Sometimes my feelings are all in my head, but the fact that they could be true, made me want to take some alone time and keep our distance for a bit. This morning, we did just that. Have our friends go off and do things without us. The down time was definitely good for the kids and helped to reset my mind, as well. We could do this, we could last a whole week!

When we were ready, we met up with our friends at the Big Bend Bouldering Area, just 7 miles northeast of Moab. This is a great area to boulder not only for the quantity and quality, but also, once again, for its ease of access. The parking lot is right by the boulders, the ground around the boulders is incredibly flat and perfect for crash mats, and there were countless, non-route boulders that the kids could easily play on. And, crazy enough, it just so happened, other friends were in Moab at the same time as us and everyone had gotten together for bouldering. Who knew! 



Photos taken by my friend Tracey, who we ran into that day. Crazy! 

It was another hot day in the desert and one of the things the kids and I wanted to do was go to the local watering hole while Josh went on a long road bike ride. Locals for years have tried to keep this place a secret, but over time, a trail was made, word got out in hiking books, a parking lot installed, and tourists came. (If only they would cutdown the street sign to make it more difficult to find, :)!)

The one mile hike into the canyon to the watering hold criss-crossed the mountain stream, the MOUNTAIN stream. You could see the snow-capped mountains this water came from, it was still only March, and even on a 90 degree day, this water was skin-numbing cold. At times the crossings were a few feet wide and 4" deep and other times it was 20' wide and 18" deep. By the time we arrived at the watering hole the kids were becoming frozen to the core. (Well, except our little girl, who managed a free ride over every crossing. Lucky girl.)

They tried, OH!, how the kids tried to play in the actual watering hole but the cold temperature was simply too much and they couldn't even get up to their chests. Instead, they threw rocks and ran around, trying to warm their bodies. Except for one little guy, who sat shivering in a towel with his mom wrapped around him. Poor guy!

watering hole

watering hole

Oddly enough, it was when we were almost to the watering hole that we ran into more friends on the trail who had just so happened to come to Moab for the weekend! What a small, small world!

With how many off adventures the guys had been on, us women had planned to go out this night to one of the local wineries, which there are only two to choose from. Because my friends had already been to the one, we opted for the other one. We were following our GPS to its location and when the paved road became a dirt road, you could see the young grape vines and then a group of what looked like double wide trailer buildings, or pre-fab buildings of the same size. The parking lot had 5 cars parked outside so we all went in, with expectations high.

Once in the building, we knew we couldn't leave. Not because the place was SO amazing, but because we had found ourselves in an awkward situation. This wasn't what we had expected and all of us raised-Iowa-nice-women, didn't know how to get out of the situation quickly yet gracefully.

Upon stepping in the double wide building, we were standing in a tiny 8' x 8' area sectioned off specifically for visitors. Squeezed in this area were shelves displaying random items for sale, other storage, and 2 other winery visitors. Behind the counter, was the curious man who owned the winery. With the five of us, all crammed in the space, standing on top of each other, we could have fanagled around the other two visitors and made an escape. However, I think the first two guests saw this as their opportunity to run and they quickly took it, leaving us women there to make polite conversation until we too could escape.

Though hardly 50, the man's skin had obviously been living in the desert sun for many years, it was dry, cracked, and ashy with time. He gave us a darkened toothy, and partially toothless, smile and then stared at us. It felt as if he didn't want us there either but he had us there. Trying to make the best of the awkward situation, I asked the man random questions and tried to find a way of escape. He had owned the winery for 20 years, he had water rights to the lake up in the La Sal Mountains, he had lost all his vines a few years back and was just getting them going again, he loved to eat burgers at Milts, and now that he was going, he had opinions on everything and wanted to share it with us. And throughout the conversation and the tasting, we were not convinced of his winemaking ability. Once we felt the tasting had gone on long enough, I realized we were supposed to pay for each tasting or buy a bottle of wine to get the tasting for "free." I bought a bottle and we backed ourselves to the door, cutting off his conversation to make our final exit.

Once in the car, we laughed our way to the Thai restaurant he tried to convince us out of and we completely enjoyed our delicious food and drinks. Today had been a crazy day of taking a family time-out, chance meetings of two different groups of friends, a verge of hypothermia by the kids, and a curious "winemaker." Tomorrow would be a more normal day with 140' rappels...

I should also note that the winery was put up for sale shortly after our visit and is now under new ownership. The old winery owner is now flipping burgers at Milts. The new owners are working hard to make a go of the winery. I wish them the very best! It can only get better! :)!


Fourth Day: Skating/Biking & Hiking

Fri Sep 26 07:36:00 CDT 2014 - Fri Sep 26 07:36:00 CDT 2014

Travel Log: 23 March 2012

My friend, the kids, and I took off for a morning of fun at the skatepark and downtown Moab for shopping while the guys went on a new mountain biking adventure. 



This time for their mountain biking adventure, they chose a "real" MTB trail, a black diamond trail called Porcupine Rim. Porcupine Rim is one of the original, intense MTB trails in Moab. The way the trail is traditionally ridden is riders are dropped off at the trailhead located inside the Sand Flats Recreation Area (just to the east of Moab, past the most breathtaking recycle dump you've ever seen). Depending on your start point, the trail is between 11-14 miles long. It starts off at around 7,200 ft. elevation and drops almost 3,000 ft. before it ends at the trailhead at Negro Bill Canyon.

It is the final 3 miles of the trail that are the most intense and technical because of its slick rock, its 2' drops, and its highly exposed areas, just to name a few of the obstacles. And, in October of 2012, just six months after our guys rode there, Outdoor Magazine labeled Porcupine Rim one of the seven most dangerous trips you can take. At the Negro Bill Canyon trailhead there is a monument in memory of two young men from Iowa who plunged 150' to their death on the trail.

And my husband rode this on his single speed, fixed frame MTB. Amazing.

Now, my husband had attached his GoPro to the front of his bike for this ride. It is during the video of the final 3 miles that my heart jumps up to my throat and stops beating. In the video the camera is pointed out front and a little down, catching a view of his front tire. On the bouncy video, you can see the incredibly narrow, sandy and rocky, single track Josh is riding on, the rocks jutting up to his left and a cliff dropping down on his right. Then, he hit something off. A rock, a sandy patch, a drop, I can't remember. The camera's view jumps around wildly as it instantly changes to that of falling down the cliff face, peering into the canyon below, and then yanked back up onto the trail and brought to an abrupt stop.

I don't know if it is the fish bowl view of the GoPro or the angle the camera is pointed in, but watching the video it feels as if you are right there, in the moment, and you can't help but gasp when the bike starts to fall and shout, "Oh! My! Gosh! Oh! My! Gosh! Oh!..." over and over again when the movement stops and you are amazed that the rider (The rider? No, amazed) my husband didn't go off the cliff. (Oh! My! Gosh!)


I forgot to mention, they got to experience amazing views like this above photo throughout the majority of their trip. Whoa! Beautiful!

Thinking about it now, it was truly a fluke what Josh hit, but at the time it served as a good reminder to be respectful of the fun yet on-the-verge-of-dangerous situations we were in. It's like the first time your parents give you your own pocket knife and, even with all their instructions, you immediately cut yourself. It's never a bad cut, but it's enough to shake you a little, remind you of their warnings and instruction, and to take heed for the future. For this trip, this fluke of a hit, helped reground me as a mother to make certain that I was taking heed for the safety of the children on all our adventures.

Thankfully, our three guys returned safe (Well, Josh is convinced he has a stress fracture in his wrist from the rigid frame bike, but "safe" enought, :)!) from their adventure and when we were all reunited we decided to do an easy family hike. We went into Arches National Park and visited Sand Dune Arch and Broken Arch. The two mile, incredibly flat loop was the perfect tame adventure that we all needed. It did get a little interesting at one point when a dad and a couple kids went off to make a bathroom and couldn't find us again, but by the end, we were all reunited, and ever-so-thankful to be in one piece.

broken arch


Can you spy the children in this photo?

skyline arch



Third Day Moab: Slab Climbing

Thu Sep 25 15:45:00 CDT 2014 - Thu Sep 25 15:45:00 CDT 2014

Travel Log: 22 March 2012

Our "rest" day was wonderful, but let's get back to climbing! Climb ON!

Today, we planned for an all day of slab climbing in the Kane Creek Canyon on a piece of wall called the Ice Cream Parlor. Kane Creek Canyon is just west of the town of Moab. What starts off as the paved road of Kane Creek Boulevard running along the Colorado River becomes a gravel road as it diverges south. The narrow, twisting, dirt road quickly drops you lower and lower into Kane Creek Canyon. The trickiest section of road is so narrow you have to pay attention to traffic coming from the other direction. Safe passing areas are few along your descent and backing up along the steep cliffs would be a risky maneuver. For being a remote location, the road is frequented by jeeps, atvs, and motorbikes, as well as the massive trucks pulling flatbed trailers to drop off those vehicles, as well as random groups of campers using the charming, buried campsites along the canyon, and to top it off climbers, groups of friends, like us, or large climbing tour groups and their vans.

Kane Canyon

Like the spot in Donnelly Canyon, we chose the Ice Cream Parlor for its family friendly nature. You can park your car right at the bottom and have a "short" walk up the boulder field to the base of the breathtaking red wingate sandstone. The routes range from trad to sport, from 5.5 to 5.12, from 40' to 220', and, unlike the ever popular Wall Street on Potash Road where your belayer is standing ON the white line of a highway, this area has a "safe" waiting (aka play) area for little ones.


This photo was taken along the trail up to the base of the wall. If you look to the middle on the far right you can see Josh's blue shirt up on the wall.


Josh (in blue) going up 5.6 Corner a 50' tall trad route. The other climber to his right is on Parlor Game.



Max (top) and Zeke (below) starting on Black Slab 5.6 (which is actually a 5.7), 50' tall, sport route.

The Ice Cream Parlor is also a wonderful place to climb because all the routes are within 8' of each other. We picked a home base and then our talented friends were able to set up multiple ropes so that everyone had the ability to climb often. From a simple 5.5, 40' tall, sport route called Brewed Awakenings to a 5.7+, 70' tall, sport route called Slab Route 5.7 to a 5.9, 50' tall sport route called Parlor Game. (See, once again, some creative names, some not so much, :)!)

What you may notice in the above photos is the darker, almost black areas on the what-you'd-expect-to-be red sandstone. These black areas are called "desert varnish" and is a blackish manganese-iron deposit that forms over many years due to rain and bacteria. (This desert varnish is a popular surface to find the Native American petrogylphs drawn into.) The climbing routes on these flat, black slabs are slick and are at a 65-85 degree angle, and, as is typical in slab climbing, the climber has to trust in their footing and friction because they have only the tiniest of hand holds at their disposal. Once again, this type of climbing was a first for us and the boys, but it was a fabulous experience! 


What about our little girl?! Even though our girl had been on a rope at the climbing gym and on indoor bouldering walls, she wasn't interested in climbing on this trip. She mostly played in the boulder fields, chased lizards, and entertained the rest of us. If you can't tell from the above photo, it was a crazy sunny and hot day. We were literally baking on the wall. But our girl found the only shady spot big enough to hide in and spent a good amount of the day playing there in the sand. 

The truth is, in climbing, if you have anything more than a 2 climbers to 1 rope ratio, there is a lot of waiting. Waiting to make sure all your gear is secure/safe, waiting while the lead climber sets up a route, waiting while they tie off on the top anchors, waiting while the next person switches to belayer and climber, waiting while everyone checks gear safety again, waiting your turn, waiting for everyone to climb one route so you can move the rope to another area... a whole lotta waiting. This is especially true when you bring little ones on a climbing adventure and is another reason why having a "safe" place to wait is important. The kids really are troopers for waiting so much!

We ended this day exhausted and sunburned and I think we even ran out of water. Once back to our condo area, we enjoyed a meal together and began planning out just how much fun we could cram into our next day's "rest" day. :)!


Second Day Moab: Biking & Playing

Wed Sep 24 10:06:00 CDT 2014 - Wed Sep 24 10:06:00 CDT 2014

Travel Log: 21 March 2012

While it is entirely possible to go rock climbing every day, the lay climber's climbing muscles are happiest if you aim for an every other day climbing plan. Alternating in Moab is a challenge because you have infinite options to choose from! Moab is world reknown for its beauty and rock climbing, but it is also known for its hiking, canyoneering, camping, 4x4 jeeping, skydiving, base jumping, rafting, road cycling, cyclocross cycling, and its unbelievable forms of mountain biking. For this trip we alternated rock climbing with biking/hiking.

Mountain biking has many forms in Moab and even over the last 3 years has grown in number and popularity. A majority of the original MTB trails in Moab are hard core, black diamond trails, taking the rider across slick rock and along towering cliff edges. Recently, they have been building new trail areas with a number of green and blue trails, perfect for first time mountain bikers and possible on cyclocross/touring bikes. The new blue/green trails are as beautiful and scenic as the iconic Slickrock Bike Trail, but then again, you're in Moab, and even their recycle dump is considered the most picturesque one in the world.

ride adventure

Josh continually said (and says*) that he had unfinished business in Moab after our first day trip of just hiking. (*Even to this day, after we have gone back to Moab multiple times, he still says he has unfinished business. There is simply an endless amount of adventures to be had in Moab!) This trip, he brought not only his road bike to ride on the deserted paved roads but also his new mountain bike: a Niner One Nine, single speed, fixed frame mountain bike. (At the time, single speeds were the hipster thing to do, ha! :)!)


While the kids and I went out with the other kids on mini adventures of climbing the sand dune, trips to the skatepark, and shopping at the rock shop, four of the adults in our party tackled the trails. The first trail they tried was technically an OHV trail for jeeps called Fins and Things. While one should expect sand in the desert, this trail had more sand than planned, causing the group to dismount their bikes and push more times than they would have liked. 

Speaking of sand, it's come to the point, too, that I now know to only take the kids to the 100' sand dune once per Moab visit. With how much jumping and rolling and sand angel making that takes place, it is the messiest day in the desert. For days after I am finding sand in pockets, sand imbedded in scalp, sand in car... goodness! You'd think we were in the desert! I should also mention, one of the kids' favorite visits immediately after the sand dune is to the Moab Rock Shop. This amazing place can keep the kids' attention for hours with its extensive collections. If you're lucky enough, Lin himself is there and will mesmorize the kids with his stories and knowledge.  

sand dune

sand dune

sand dune

As our kids have aged, we have been able to tackle more extreme adventures with them, but for this trip the alternating of rock climbing and mild adventures served them well. Our condo area was proving a great source of fun for the kids with its basketball court and having everyone in the same location made group dinners a wonderful time for everyone to recount their day's excursions and plan the next day's outing of merriment. 


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About Me and This Blog...

Begin Our Adventures of Fall/Winter 2012 to CA, MN, CO
   Ladies Trip to Napa Valley
   My Parents Rode in a Plane!

Begin Our Adventures of Summer 2012 to MN and CO
   Vacation to the North Shore and Cabin
   Boulder for the Summer
   Life in Boulder

Begin Our Adventures of Winter/Spring 2012 to UT
   The Drive to CO/UT Begins
   Vacation in Moab
   Living in Moab / Denver

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   The Drive to CA Begins
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   Life at Czech English Camp
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