Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The GRANDEST proposal story


Phil and I started dating officially in February of 2010. We had met the previous month at the pool. If you didn't read that amusing story you can find it here. After a few ups and downs, such as meeting each other's families and me being gone for a month on Spring Summit, we started talking about marriage a little more seriously. Because the thought of marriage made me nervous I insisted that it was in terms like, "So if we did get married then....". We talked about all sorts of things from who would vacuum to which temple we would get married in (by the way I remember him saying he didn't mind vacuuming and he does it most of the time! His willingness to clean house was one of the things that helped me know he'd be a good husband :)) One day around the beginning of August I asked him "So if we did get married WHEN would we get married?" His answer was next spring or summer. I had always wanted to get married in the summer (what girl wouldn't after growing up watching this), but I thought that sounded like a long time away. I said "I was thinking more like December." Phil told me later that the wheels immediately started turning in his head. 

A few weeks later Phil saw that a grand opportunity was coming up (hehe.) Phil and I had both gotten the highest award for volunteering in the Outdoor Activities program which meant we were given the chance to go on any trip (rafting, climbing etc.) with the OA advisers as our guides. We picked climbing the Grand Teton with Scott Hurst. We drove to the trail head and set out with two other guys at 10 pm for the long hike up to the mountain. I won't go into details (partly because I was deliriously tired and have forgotten,) but lets just say hiking all night long was very difficult for me. There were multiple times that I think I would have just laid down and given up if it hadn't been for Phil encouraging me, giving me snacks for energy, and basically taking my hand and leading me up the mountain. It was dark and I was hot and exhausted. Looking down the mountain in the wee hours of the morning you could see the tiny headlights of other climbers. I remember thinking, We must be crazy.Why are we all doing this? The real challenge came though when we actually harnessed up and started climbing around dawn. The sun allowed me to see the thousands of miles down the mountain I could fall if something went seriously wrong. I broke down and basically started sobbing out of fear and exhaustion at the "belly roll" (see video below.) It was only the first of many terrifying moments to come, and only one of many times I thought I don't think I'm gong to make it. Each time I had to muster up just enough strength and courage to keep climbing. This video shows the section on the Owen Spaulding route that was most terrifying to me. It helps explains what I just can't describe in words.

Throughout the climb Phil did his best to make sure I was going to make it to the summit. When I cried because I was stuck on a pitch he consoled me and told me he knew it was scary but he knew I could make it. The higher we went, the colder and winder it got, and ice made some of the rock difficult to climb. At one point we saw dark clouds coming and had to make the decision whether to turn back or not. We continued, and luckily they blew over quickly.

It seemed surreal to me when we actually reached the top. It was now about 8:45 am on August 18th and I felt like I was on top of the world. We had been climbing on the shady side all morning, but now I was closer to the sun then I had ever been! The view was incredible. The Middle Teton looked awesome from above. I was so overwhelmed. And hungry. But Phil said we needed a picture on top of the highest boulder. So we got up on it. I smiled at the camera. I went to put my arm around him, but he was getting down on one knee. I turned to him, more surprised then I've ever been, and he said without preamble, "Lydia, will you marry me?"

I honestly had no idea he was going to propose. I was thinking he would in about 2 weeks, I'm not sure why. He hadn't given me any hints. In the moment he also hadn't led into it with a speech. Looking back though I guess he didn't need to. To me, the process of what we had just accomplished had showed me he loved me and would do everything he could to make me happy, that we could make it through hard things, and that we would have a life full of adventure. I remember thinking before we left when he packed the climbing gear while I bought food, We make a good team. We really do. Now not only was I thinking Yikes! I'm on top of a mountain, but Wow! I'm getting married! It was a big day to say the least. Repelling off the steepest part of the mountain was much easier then climbing it had been, despite the strong chilly wind. However, what the descent lacked in scariness it made up for in painfulness. Hiking downhill that far quickly turned our legs to jello. Burning Jello. My feet felt like lead. I remember talking to Phil about our wedding. It was so strange saying "When we get married..." instead of "If we get married..." Everyone hiked ahead of us but Phil and I stayed together and I felt a  new sense of togetherness. The last couple of miles I kept thinking I saw cars back at the trail head, only to find more trees around each bend. In the end we all made it safely home.

Something I hadn't anticipated was how happy and proud I would feel afterwards every time I see the Grand. I've been on top of that mountain. It's not just that I've been there though, it's that I pushed through every hard experience on the way up. I also didn't anticipate coming back with a fiance, but I guess that goes to show that some of the best moments in life are unexpected. It's been a year since the day that I said "Yes" and my life changed forever. The best part though is having that day and every day on to share with the person that means everything to me.

Monday, August 15, 2011

The tale of the Saguaro cactus

DISCLAIMER: the main character in this story dies. If you're the kind of person that can't handle that, 
stop reading now. 

Phil and I went to Southern Utah in April. Remember? If not, read this post. Well while we were there I convinced Phil that we needed one of these. A Saguaro cactus growing kit. Phil thought it was pretty ridiculous considering they mainly only grow in Arizona and we were in Moab, Utah. But I had visions of the huge cactus we'd have one day. And we could say we grew it from seed! The thing about Saguaros though is that they grow very slowly. Our kit informed us that this little guy would give us many years of enjoyment, reaching 4-6 inches tall in 10 years. There's no telling how many more decades (or centuries) it would take for it to sprout arms.

Well, I might not have watered it enough... and a couple of the cute baby cactuses died. And then we drove to California with it in the dashboard and it got fried. RIP. I think we might have to get another one and try again. I mean how many people can say they grew a cactus from SEED?

And when we're really old we'll have it planted in our front yard.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Somewhere between a small town and a big city

The story continues.

So we arrived. This "little town" is beautiful. It's not a little town though like they say. I mean come on so far I've seen multiple Target stores, Ross stores, Big 5s, and Lowe's. And they have a mall. And I sometimes use my GPS to find Walmart. They think their Walmart is small, which totally cracks me up. It's not a big city, but its a lot bigger then Rexburg (which in my opinion is the real small town, USA.)

The next morning after we arrived we started the hunt for an apartment.We looked at Craig's list before we arrived and thought it would be easy to find a good little apartment that would fit in our budget, but it soon became apparent that we would have to do some digging. Almost everyone we met warned us about living in the "oval area" because of gangs etc. No wonder all the cheap and sometimes dumpy places were there. I don't know how much crime really goes on but it sure has a reputation and there are definitely run down looking areas. One place we found was a really cute little duplex that I loved- all wood floors, beautiful kitchen, and good price- but it smelled like cigarette smoke BAD. Like we would have left the house smelling like chain smokers. And I would have been kicked out of my internship. Maybe not. It was sad.

There were times in the process when Phil and I got pretty frustrated. I felt like we were lost little puppies looking for a home. And it was hot outside. My internship was still being worked out and Phil hadn't gotten his job yet. (Why did we come here again?) At least we were able to understand each other's frustrations and just let it go. We needed some help in our search so we called a Bishop. (And the heavens open, and the angels sing!)

Bishop Frost told us to just come on over to his house. When we pulled up he and his wife came out the front door to welcome us. They invited us in for dinner. Looking back at this moment I realize this is when we went from knowing 0 people in Visalia to knowing 2 of the best people in the world. Bishop and Sister Frost told us about the nice people who helped them out when they first came to Visalia for an internship. I suddenly felt like we had a lot in common. After hearing that Phil and I met in a kayaking class we got a very interesting story about their 10 day kayaking trip in Canada. And the bishop is training for an Olympic length triathlon! How cool are these people? We were invited to stay at their house for the night, and then invited to stay until we found a place. We were complete strangers- but they completely opened up their home to us (including their pool!)  These people are like saints in my book. I don't know how I could say enough good things about them- they are two of the most Christ-like people I have ever met. They fed us, told us all about Visalia, let us watch movies and fed us popcorn, and even gave us tables, appliances, and food when we found our place.We stayed over the weekend and then on Monday Sister Frost had an idea! She knew a nice LDS couple with a pool house just up the street! And low and behold, the nice couple said they would rent it out for $300 a month, no utilities. We feel so very blessed. And that is how we came to live in the cutest little house on Sol road.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The crazy CURLS on my head

I had 3 inches cut off my hair last week and it was a BIG DEAL.

You might say, so what? Well, when I was 12 I got a A BAD haircut. Let me tell you, I'm pretty happy that this was one of the worst things that happened to me at that age considering all the other awful things that could have gone wrong. But trust me, this haircut was REALLY BAD. I almost wish I had a picture so you could see just what I'm talking about but few exist. (Probably because no one wanted to take a picture of the ugly duckling.)

I might have looked like the girl on the left a little
bit, or even the creepy lady on the right when I had bed head. Somewhere in the middle as far as age goes, but with a chubby face, acne, and braces.
I went in wanting shoulder length hair with layers and came out with a humiliating curly-almost-mullet.

From that day on I started growing out my hair and wishing my curly hair would just uncurl itself. I even tried to permanently straighten my hair with one of those straightening kits... didn't happen. I didn't know how to take care of my hair, and to make matters worse all of a sudden what I looked like really mattered. I "realized" that I needed cuter clothes, a skinnier body, and straight hair-because how else was I going to crimp it?! I hated my hair for a long time. Finally, after it grew out a bit and I grew up a little I decided my hair was okay and I stopped fighting it. For years I trimmed my own hair and I've only been to a hair salon a handful of times since the awful haircut.

For a few months I'd been thinking my hair had gotten too long to take care of- I never thought that would happen! So I got it cut and I love it. I'm so glad I've come to love the crazy curls on my head.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Where Nevada meets California

                           Where Nevada meets California you'll find this glorious sign. And you'll rejoice! 


After a long couple of days of packing and a long couple of days of driving, we arrived in Visalia. Hallelujah! Memorable moments from the trip:

  • A traffic jam to get into Nevada? Huh? (Road construction.) 

  • Gas station bathrooms in Nevada= gross. But bathrooms aside don't drive through Nevada unless it's absolutely necessary. Seriously. It's just sagebrush and Casinos. 

  • Camping in Winnemucca, Nevada on the dirt between the sage brush. The mosquitoes were insane!  

  • Entering California. All of a sudden there were lots of trees and sunshine and oranges! And the road construction stopped. And the bathrooms got clean, and the birds started singing! (Ok, I might be exaggerating, but not by much.)

  • Grapes! And tons of other things growing on trees and vines. 

  • The HUGE Philly cheese steak and Chicken fried steak we ate to celebrate our arrival in Visalia. Mmm. 

All in all a good trip. A big thanks goes to my husband for beforehand fixing everything on our car he thought might possibly break- our 4Runner did great pulling our heavily loaded trailer. AND he drove way more then I did. Love you Phil! 

Stay tuned for more.