Thursday, March 31, 2011

A Weekend Where it's Warm

Like birds often do, my family flocked south last weekend to Hurricane, Utah - home of my grandparents, Jim and Shirley Baker. Grandpa Jim was turning 80, so my grandma had worked secretly for two months planning a surprise birthday for him. Over 100 people would attend. When I got down there Thursday night my grandpa pulled me aside and said, "Ya know, I love your grandma but she's driving me crazy! She's always disappearing or up to something and she won't tell me what's going on." I nodded and shook my head simultaneously as people do when they're overtly agreeing with something. "Oh, yeah.. that's just something all old women do I think..." Nodding some more. Yeah. He'd buy that right? He took a deep breath, then said, "Ya know, chicken is getting so expensive..." I'm pretty sure he hadn't heard a word I'd said, but it didn't matter. We were now onto more important things, like the price of chicken.

That's one of many things I love about going down to my grandparents' place. Random conversations in which you glean bits of timeless wisdom, mixed with ample spoonfuls of humor. It's the best...

Any trip to Southern Utah isn't complete without hiking. And the best part of the hike is in the details, right? The texture in this picture makes me want to touch that moss...

Tyler and Ryan - my two hiking buddies.

It was a beautiful day, albeit a little hazy.

Our hike of choice: Red Cliffs Recreation Area. It's like a giant sandstone playground.

With the warm afternoon sun on the rear porch, you can't help but smile.

The setup for the birthday was festive.

Surprise!!! He was so touched by this that he could hardly speak. It was incredible.

Lexi and Shannon. :)

Grandma and Grandpa.

Our awesome family.

I made sure to catch them while laughing. I love this picture...

Later, we hiked out to the edge of the Virgin River. It's quite the drop. Thank you, Chad, for standing in for scale.

On the other end of the photographic spectrum is this macro photo of pebbles in the sand. The way they erode, even at a miniscule scale, fascinates me.

ATV on the river bed that had been washed away in a flash flood. I couldn't help but wonder if somebody had been riding it, or if it was carried off of somebody's property. The thing looked brand new besides the fact that it was full of debris and some damage to the handlebars. I almost wished I could find the owner and tell them their ATV was found. :)

All in all, it was a fantastic weekend full of adventure, laughter, and wonderful family memories. I love my grandparents and appreciate any chance I have to go visit them. The hiking isn't bad, either. :)


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Crazy Apocalyptic Dream

When the dream began, I was walking in the filthy deserts of Mexico at about 6:00 pm, thirty minutes before the sun would disappear over the mountains on the horizon. The air tasted of dust and alfalfa, as the fields were beginning to grow lush, turning the landscape into a checkerboard of fragrant life and dry, listless dirt. I was out with two missionaries who were still learning the language. They were both American and spoke with a slow, steady, sloppy accent. I admired what they were doing and was happy I was there with them. My reason for being there wasn't exactly known to me. I only knew that I was there to help them and that I was involved somehow with the American government.

The three of us approached an old farmer resting in the seat of his tractor as it idled in the afternoon heat. The grime he wore in the wrinkles on his face spoke of the poverty he'd become acquainted with, but his smile told of a happiness I found myself admiring. We talked to him of God and life and everything else missionaries share, but he repeatedly explained to us - in the most polite way possible - that he was not interested. I sensed a conflict in his expression, as if he was truly interested in what we were teaching, but felt nervous about being seen near us. It was then, while we were conversing, that I saw a fighter jet in the distance crossing the sky. I continued listening to the man tell us about his life and his family, while occasionally glancing over at the jet. It seemed so out of place in the valley. It's contrail tearing the sky in two, scarring the otherwise immaculate blue that encompassed us above. I began to laugh at a farmer's joke that the man on the tractor was telling when a flash filled the sky - a grotesque fireball rising from the broken hull of the jet, which was then spinning as it dropped to the distant desert. At this point the guy on the tractor started crying, telling us he couldn't talk to us anymore. In the distance, the wreckage of the fighter jet erupted into an enormous explosion that resembled a mushroom cloud. The sound took awhile to hit us, nearly knocking us over as we ran desperately for cover.

Later in the dream, I was standing out in the desert at dusk with four or five others which included my friend, Justin, my uncle Brent, a few Mexican guys and that girl from SWAT (Michelle Rodriguez). They had all been out there working on something to do with oil and had also seen the explosion. One of the Mexican guys had a radio and we listened to a report that told us about an invasion wherein we would be killed on sight. Luckily for us, Michelle Rodriguez knew of a shelter hidden in a desert cave which was cool and safe during the day. We decided that this would be ideal, even though there was a government base very near where we were hiding in which a lot of activity took place. Men could be seen shouting in a strange language, coming to and from this base in jeeps, tanks, etc very similar to the movie Red Dawn, if you've seen it. One day there was more commotion than usual at the base and everyone disappeared in a matter of minutes. We tuned in on our emergency radios again only to hear a broken transmission about strange deaths, horrifying discoveries, and the end of the world.

After that,the dream got fuzzy, but I distinctly remember us standing outside the shelter cave discussing the recent events when we see something falling out of the sky. It looks like a balloon at first, but as it gets closer we can see that it's a guy in a damaged parachute. He hits the ground really hard only fifty or so feet from us and it sounds like his legs break on impact. We rush over to help him out and then realize that he has been dead for some time. His body is slightly decomposed, purple, and grotesque. His badges indicate that he was US Air Force and an astronaut and tucked into his jumpsuit is a very fancy letter-like invitation thing. And though our curiosity begs us to open the envelope, we don't dare pull it away from his body. Nobody dares touch the corpse.

Even later in the dream (and this is where things get really fuzzy) Brent comes back to our shelter with others who I suppose are some of the few that have survived - a large Mexican guy, two black guys who look like gang thugs, and that really attractive detective from "Crash." She carries some papers with her which are more invitations, like the one we saw on the corpse which by this time we'd had the decency to bury, but not before removing the envelope. She mentions that each one speaks of one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse and that each message was pulled from a body of a dead astronaut which fell from the sky. It all makes sense to me at this point and I swear to everyone that this dream is a movie I've seen and that it ends well for most of us.

And then I wake up.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Alcatraz and SF

As a child, so many years ago, I had few serious goals in life, but I remember very distinctly one goal in particular. While watching trolley's ding up and down the steep city avenues in one of the catchiest commercials of all time, I remember vowing to someday eat a bowl of Rice-a-Roni in San Fransisco! After all, it was THE San Fransisco treat!

Alas, the opportunity finally came a few weekends ago and I squandered it. I failed to down a bowl of genuine San Fransisco-born Rice-a-Roni. Somehow, I still ended up having a blast. I owe a huge shout out to my great friends Justin and Katt Santistevan for allowing us to stay with them and acting as tour guides. I also owe a shout out to Corianne Reynolds for being an excellent travel companion. And finally, a shout out to Will Santistevan who made the ride to and from Monterrey thoroughly entertaining and entirely pleasant.

The vacation began a bit rough. We ended up getting into the Oakland airport at around midnight on Wednesday, but after a short night of rest, we were ready to spend Thursday touring San Fransisco.

Our first stop was Alcatraz...

Despite the very cold and rainy conditions, we were stoked. :)

Some awesome sculpture out near the bay. Not sure what it means...

The island prison loomed in the distance.

Cool sign.

Love that guard house.

I wanted to tour every nook and cranny of that building.

Parts of the island are overgrown and in ruin - destroyed by a fire, I think.

Another place I would have loved to sneak down to...

I thought I looked funny in this picture. My fist is clenched and my smile is almost a grimace. I wonder if Cori was having trouble with my camera. :)

Love the way the depth of field turns the people in the background into ghost-like forms...

Caught this picture of Cori in the coolest alley on the island.

As we were ferried across the bay, these gulls drifted just behind the boat.

The clouds broke just in time for the setting sun to peek through and paint the city with gorgeous light.

Thank you, clouds. :)

That was the end of our first day there. I'll post more tomorrow. :)


Saturday, March 5, 2011

How the Mighty Have Fallen

I'm not usually one for gossip, but this affects something near and dear to me - namely, sports, and more specifically, BYU Basketball. So, in the interest of getting to the bottom of the Brandon Davies drama, I'm going to do my best Mormon housewife impression and share the gossip-y love.

Apparently, BD was sleeping around. It wasn't his girlfriend as ASU at all that he got preggo, but some skank from UVU.

The full story is found here:

Jayci Stephen is a harlot (and Brandon Davies is a man-whore)

I know I may sound harsh, but this is one of the greatest BYU teams in history with potential to do what has never been done before, and now we're looking at the possibility of being eliminated in the first round. :(

Maybe she'll name the baby "Brandon." Or maybe she'll name him "Dreamkiller McSeasonWrecker" Yeah... I think that's a fitting name.