To usher in more of Summer, we decided that we needed that all-important trip to a National Park. Last year I took Turtle to Capital Reef. She had a blast. But she'd always wanted to see Zion.

So this time it was going to happen. Turtle was getting ready to move (more on that in an upcoming post), so we knew this was our only chance. Joshy decided to join us, and we were more than happy to have him along for the ride.

I asked to leave work early as early as possible (to which my boss laughed. Me leave early? HA). My boss was in a strangely good mood and stopped what he was working on and started getting out tour books and maps and telling me all about where we should go in the park (I never even told him that's WHY I wanted to leave early... he got the info through the grapevine). I was super taken aback. Then, even funnier, he went to lunch and when he got back he was like WHY ARE YOU STILL HERE?! LOL When I asked to leave early I meant like 3pm. Not 11am. Why would I come to work for just 3 hours?! So that was a pretty humorous experience.

Joshy met me at my house and we went to Turtle's to get her. She piled in and we were off. The drive down went really fast because we were deeply engrossed in finishing off The Silver Chair (book review in an upcoming post) and starting The Horse and His Boy (ditto).

We were looking for somewhere to camp outside Zion, but we missed it on the way in, so we decided to see if there was any camping inside. There was one spot left! Lucky! It was just light enough for us to get our tent up. The pay spot was pretty much all rocks/gravel, so not the most comfortable sleeping arrangement. It wasn't bedtime yet, so we wanted to do something. We snagged a bus up canyon to the Emerald Pools (even though it was dark). Night hike! We did fine for a while just hiking in the dark, but then we got to a part with a lot of rocks so we had to bust out the flashlight. The pools were pretty cool, even though we couldn't really see them. Then we hiked back down, caught the last bus, and settled in for the night.

I didn't sleep so good that night. In and out of sleep alot, and the ground was super uncomfortable. We pretty much woke up with the sun. Joshy and I went to the first-come, first-serve campground to scope a spot. We found a really awesome one (with sand!) and a giant shade tree and I sat there and "camped" while Joshy went back, shoved everything in the car, and he and Turtle came over to our new site.

We set up the new site and staked the tent and such while Turtle made us breakfast of tortillas, peanut butter and honey. Mmm carbs! Then we hopped the bus to Angel's Landing - Turtle's dream hike.

We made Turtle go really fast because the trail was still in the shade and she was dying. But the sun was coming up and it was going to be REALLY hot, so we pushed her. She agreed that it was totally worth it.

When we were almost all the way up, we stopped in some shade and found some people who were visiting from like NYC or something, and they had to decided to quit. All that work and you aren't even going to the top!? We dragged them with us the rest of the way. We were not about to stand by and let them come that far and then just go home. Pshh.

Finally, after hours and hours (not really, but it felt like it to Turtle!) we were at the TOP!!! YAY!!!

I felt like the top of Capital Reef was cooler, but that's me. We met these two guys at the top who were reading Scripture. They were super Catholics from Ohio, right near where I grew up. They'd spent time at a monastery that Turtle's uncle was the Abbott of. We chatted with them about Ohio, and nature, and God, and all kinds of things. They were pretty cool people. I've always been interested in the way other people believe, and how that belief translates into the way that they live their lives. The underpinnings of all that intrigue me to no end.

We hung out on top for a while, had lunch, and just enjoyed the view.

Then it was time to go back down. And we knew it was a looooong way down!

The sun was out and it was indeed HOT. Turtle was struggling, but we pushed and made it okay. We took the bus back to camp and then decided we wanted to go into town and see the sights and get some food. We had lunch at a mexican restaurant, then went to a candy store. When we got back, we were trying to decide what to do. It was way hot, so we decided to go swimming. We found a spot at the Virgin river where some other people were hanging out, and we got in to join them.

This is NOT where we were swimming... that picture is of the river at a much more swollen spot. In the shallows where we were, it was barely over our ankles.

We played with rocks and waded and generally had a grand ol' time. There were some people upriver from us whose kids were rafting in tubes and having a blast. Downriver from us there were a bunch of rapids. Scary looking rapids. Especially with the river as swollen as it was.

Then came a moment I lived to regret (thank goodness), but one that I still find myself mulling over more than a month later. One of the kids, I dunno she was 7 or 8, did not get off her tube in time and stop and went past her family toward the rapids. She turned and looked at us with panic on her face and said "help me!" She was swept away and her parents were yelling and screaming. She managed to grab onto a branch halfway through the rapids, but it wasn't going to hold, and no one in her family was in a spot to reach her. I was already wading in the river, and I was the closest person.

What should I have done? I was super sacred for this poor girl! So I made the decision to go and help her. I was crossing the river to get to the side she was clinging near, but I never made it. The current was so powerful it swept me right off my feet. If you pay attention to the news, you know there have been like 14 drownings in the last month because the rivers are so bad.

I lost my footing and was swept away. And now I couldn't think of saving the girl at all, I had to save myself! I was scared to say the least. The water was rushing so strong there was no way I was going to be able to stop and get up again - It was now a matter of incur as little damage as possible and keep my head above water. I smashed into rock after rock in the rapids. I didn't swallow any water, and eventually made it through the rapids okay, but when I managed to swim to the side at a calmer spot, my legs were bleeding all over. I was so tore up.

And then I started thinking... was that really stupid of me? I knew people were drowning, I should have realized that the current would be wicked strong, I should have realized that would happen, but what about the girl? Should I have just not cared and left her to fend for herself? Someone from her family eventually got to her and she was fine, and not one of them ever said anything to me about it. I don't even know if they noticed that I'd tried to save the girl...

I got back in the water and cooled my aching legs, which bruised badly and took weeks to completely heal, and thought about these things. Was I really dumb for trying to help her since I could have lost my own life? I haven't settled on an answer yet.

After that I was pretty much done at the river. On the way back to our campsite, we met up with the Catholic boys again. They were in our same campground! So we chatted some more and then agreed to do evening prayers with them. I was super curious about the way they worshiped. I don't know why that sort of practice is so fascinating to me, but it is.

We decided we were tired and I voted for a nap, commenting that we always seem to be go, go, go whenever we vacation, and we never just chill out. Turtle agreed and we zonked. It was an awesome nap.

After we woke up we debated doing another hike, but decided against it because it would take too long to get up the canyon. So we played cards - good ol' war and 21. And then when we were hungry we went and got ice cream and ranch dressing right outside the park (not together! the ranch was for the veggies we had back at camp. silly). Then we had dinner and just relaxed.

We hung around for a long time before the Catholics finally got back from town. We started a fire and did evening prayers and it was so neat to see them pray and sing in latin and they were so of one mind, it was really cool. A discussion ensued about belief and doctrine that I wasn't interested in in the least. I like to see how and why people do things, especially when it comes to things as deep-seated as faith, but I couldn't care less about the small places we are going to differ in tenet and principle. I already know your views aren't mine, and that's enough for me. So I went to bed while the others kept chatting.

Next morning we packed everything and moved over to the Visitor Center. We took the bus all the way to the Temple of Sinawava and hiked as far as we could up the narrows (just to the mouth - the narrows were closed because the river was too high).

So we'd seen all we could see pretty much. Time to turn around and go home. We started winding our way down the canyon and decided to visit weeping rock, since rumor had it they had hanging gardens.

It was a pretty cool spot. Water coming off the overhang all around us and such. I read a sign that told me about Observation Point, which is apparently higher than Angel's Landing, and I was like WHAT?! Why haven't I ever heard of this?! I want to do that one! We didn't have time though. I'd have to come back. We wound our way back down canyon and then went into town for some brunch at Wild Cat Willy's before heading home, which again resulted in me reading more of The Chronicles of Narnia (reviews coming soon). We wanted to leave the park early Sunday so we would still have time to do stuff that night before work Monday.

Stay tuned for more awesome summer trips!

Part of the reason I have been so lax in my blogging is that it's summer. And I ALWAYS sucks at blogging during summer, because it's awesome outside, so I hate being in my house, which means I can't be bothered to be around typing about all the wonderful things I'm doing! Seriously people! The sun is calling me! I'm really good at blogging in the winter though, as the beginning of this year proved. But I don't like being more than 6 months behind with the events in ye ole life either, so. I'm just going to have to make sacrifices.

Bring on the summer of 2011! WOOO!!!!

First event - my birthday. Well, technically that's in Spring, but whatevs. Last year Turtle rocked the awesome boat with surprise laser tag and werewolves. Rounded with an enchilada party by my former roomie. I had no idea how 2011 was going to shape up. But I wanted something fun, low-key, yummy, and amazing.

So I decided to have a party at Faustina (voted best restaurant of 2010 by me) with all my friends. We booked their private room, and my favorite server, because you can't have a party without HER!

That place looked amazing. The tables were all set up in a horseshoe shape and I got to sit in the very center, and just be loved. Balloons!

So many people came to the party! It was so great to see all of them and feel so loved!

After we ate, I totally tried to get a dessert and was talking it up to everyone. But they all said they'd ordered dessert already and I totally didn't clue in, so I ordered one anyway. Silly me. Because of course Turtle got me a birthday cake!!!

After we had delicious, it was time for presents! Woohoo! People had been bugging me about what to get, so I finally broke down and made a list, even though it was all for naught. Turtle had totally been conspiring with all my friends for months.

Jas gave me a homemade card (cute!) and movie tickets:

M&M got me WEREWOLVES (finally). LOL, I was supposed to get it last October but the give-it-to-me-via-halloween-costume-contest idea backfired. :P

Then came the kicker. Turtle's conspiracy revealed. There had been a posterboard up at the bar (hidden!) where as people came in they signed it with a love note and taped some $$$ to it. Then it was presented to me as a Friend Couch Fund!

(It looks kind empty at the initial presenting because alot of people hadn't known where to find it, so they signed and taped after the fact). I'm TOTALLY okay with that.

Such an AWESOME GIFT!!! Thank you to each and every one who contributed. Y'all's rockstars!

With the help of my friends, I was able to purchase a magnificent corduroy sectional on Memorial Day. It's pretty much my favorite! It came with 12 pillows!! SQUEEE. I slept on it every night for the first week I had it (except when other people were crashing on it >.>)

[picture of couch forthcoming]

So all in all, my birthday was FANTASTIC, everything I wanted it to be, and more. I am so thankful to have so many awesome people in my life who love and support me and that I am proud to call "friend."

Thanks for such a memorable night. Here's hoping for many more just like it!

Wow, it's taken a while to get going with Movies in 2011. Halfway through I decided to start putting the dates I saw them, so people have a better frame of reference for how soon or (more usually the case) how late I saw them. Anyway, here are the first 17 movies to cross my path in 2011. Enjoy!

Charlie St. Cloud - Grade: B-. I was actually really excited to see this movie, even though it was Efron (not an oogling, drooling fan). The trailers made it look soooo good. The movie itself was alright. I was not super emotionally invested, so it didn't hit me super hard, but it wasn't completely flat either. There were a couple points where I thought they were going to ruin a good story with some crazy Sixth Sense-esque twist. Which would have upset me AND been really cool. Bottom line: it wasn't bad. Not great, but wasn't bad.

The Mothman Prophecies - Grade: C. Wow. This movie was NOT what I was expecting to be at all. I am so glad that my friend A was over to watch with me. This movie was kind of scary! I don't know that I would have wanted to watch it alone. The plot was kind of weird and I wasn't such a fan of the end. But not terrible. Wasn't really impressed, just scared, which was alright in its own right.

The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader - Grade: B+. Arguably, this movie was better than Prince Caspian, but I didn't think it was as good as The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. I definitely don't like the way they keep changing the book just to give Tilda Swinton face time. I like Edmund more and more each movie that comes out. Lucy was hard to swallow though. There were parts you could tell that Georgie Henley was forcing herself to believe herself. That came through and totally took me out of being able to immerse myself in the movie. By far, the best part of this movie is Will Poulter. Hands down, no arguing. LOVED him in Son of Rambow and loved him in this. The kid is just a great actor.

Black Swan - Grade: D. Yech. So many people loved this movie. So you'll probably disagree, and you'll probably hate, but I'm fine with that. This movie was a hot mess. And there was WAY, WAY, WAY too much vag and girl parts. GROSSED to the max. I missed the crazy brilliance of it all. The story was good, but parts were unclear and confusing. My favorite part though was when Turtle screamed OUT LOUD in the theater. That was hilarious. When it was over, I was left wanting more. Dunno. Maybe I saw a different movie than everyone else, but I didn't like it.

Legends of the Fall - Grade: D. This came highly recommended from Turtle. The story was insanity. Brothers going to war and all falling in love with the same girl. The movie was full of poor choices, and I questioned more than once, "Why would x do that? Ridiculous. He/she wouldn't make that decision." The movie was confusing in many places, especially with regards to the character of Tristan. They covered way too much, way too quickly for us to invest in him as a main character.

Fight the Future (X-Files) - Grade: B. Alot of critical acclaim surrounding this movie. How hard for Chris Carter to make something that appealed to die-hard fans while being able to create something for an audience unfamiliar with any of the show. Then the added challenge of picking up the end of Season 5, and segueing into Season 6. The Season 6 opener was also painstakingly difficult, as Carter had to develop an episode the continued the series from Season 5 with the knowledge that not everyone would have seen the movie. Geez. Alot of people said that the movie could not be treated as such, and that really, it should be more viewed as a two-hour episode of the show. I can agree with that. Turtle and I watched all 202 episodes in the first half of 2011. We put the movie in between Season 5 ad 6 as it was designed. I love the X-Files, so really there can be no wrong for me. The movie helped explained alot of the Mythology behind X-Files, which was helpful for Turtle who was always wanting all the pieces to fall into place so she could understand everything. I highly recommend The X-Files to everyone willing to believe. I WANT TO BELIEVE.

I am Number Four - Grade: B-. So after seeing this movie, I learned that a) it is supposedly the first of a trilogy, and b) it is based on a series of books. So. I need to get the books. I didn't know a whole lot about this movie going into it, so I was kind of excited to be swept away in the story. The plot was definitely interesting and got me hooked. But as a stand-alone, I did not feel fulfilled at the end. Again, this raises the issue - will it be a trilogy? If so, maybe I will like the first movie more later. But when it was done, there were still a million unanswered questions for me. There was so much that was never explained. The special effects were great, the concept original, and the actors all excellent. But there was so much left undone that I was just... I guess now I know how people felt after watching The Lord of the Rings (though I can't remember now if it was the first or second that just...ended), without knowing anything of the story beforehand. We'll see how my opinion changes as the other movies come out.

Source Code - Grade: A-. I really, really liked this movie. Until the end. And then they twisted it just a little bit farther than necessary. I was happy with it, thought it was super interesting, exciting, and well acted, and then it was going to end and I was going to be fine. But then they had to add that last little twist. It was gratuitous if you ask me, and ruined an otherwise wonderful movie. The concept was definitely cool though. And no one can wrong with Gyllenhaal.

Conviction - Grade: B. First off, this is a true story, which is just incredible. Second, I saw trailers for this and immediately thought it looked good enough to see; so when the opportunity presented itself, I naturally accepted. I have always loved Hilary Swank, and this was a movie about fighting for your family. Which is paramount for me. I would do anything for the ones I love. But then there were problems. The legal portrayals were all wrong for one - trust me, I work in the industry. I know how court proceedings go. Second, Hilary and Sam Rockwell did not connect on the level that siblings should. I tried so hard to believe them and believe their emotion and it just didn't work for me. I've been saying that alot recently - I wonder if I'm desensitized? Unable to feel? I don't think so, but it's crossed my mind.

Water for Elephants (April 22) - Grade: C-. I was wholly unprepared for the screen adaption of this book I love. One of the things I absolutely loved about the book was how real and gritty it was. I fully expected this to be portrayed truthfully on screen - part of why I was so all about seeing this movie. But it wasn't. The movie adaptation was entirely romanticized and a love story. Which was so disappointing to me, because the value I placed in this book I placed in its real feel and honesty toward life as it was under the Big Top. And the movie was none of that. Not to mention puke-face Pattison played the male lead. *Gag* I tried with all my might to disassociate him from his past films (none of which I saw, so it wasn't *that* hard). Overall, though, I was totally disappointed by this movie. As is almost always true: Stick to the book.

Red Riding Hood (April 27) - Grade: A-. Saw this movie on my "holiday break" for Administrative Professional's Day. I'd missed seeing it with all my friends because of work, so this seemed fitting that I got to see it on company time. The movie was totally WEREWOLVES the game on the big screen. Being a huge fan of that party game, and having played over 100 times, I watched the movie in the same way I play the game. Absolutely everyone the movie threw suspicion on, I immediately ruled out as the Wolf. I had narrowed it down to two people by the time they did the "reveal." The one thing that was wrong with this movie was the END. If her boy becomes a wolf, then she needs to become a wolf too, and they go off and be wolves together. That's how you do a love story like this.

The King's Speech (May 8): Grade: A-. I really liked this movie. I believe it deserving of the hype and the awards. I deeply identified with King George VI, having to struggle with something within oneself viewed to be irksome, frustrating, and impeding that is inherent. His struggle was deeply personal for me and by the end of the movie, I found myself racked with emotion; heaving sobs that are not often evinced or provoked. To me, much of his impediment was not from fear of failure, or the past, but of being great. How many of us harbor this fear, while refusing to give it place by acknowledgment? How many of us are held back not by shortcoming, but by fear of being astonishingly brilliant? I may be party to this same anxiety in some areas of my life, and so as King George VI succeeded, I was awash with envy, success, pride, and happiness. I liked that the movie was able to draw so much from me. However, I wish it had done so with more characters than just Colin Firth. His performance was breath-taking, convincing, and exceptional. None of the other characters showed such depth, emotion, and commitment, and for that I was a little disappointed.

Battle of Los Angeles (May 14) - Grade: F. Not to be confused with Battle: Los Angeles. Wait, what? Yeah, that's right. Some idiots made a movie with pretty much the EXACT same title, at the same time, about the same thing. SERIOUSLY so upset. Cuz I *thought* I was watching Battle: Los Angeles, but no. I didn't think there could be a worse movie than 2012 or Legion, but this was. It was an abomination to film-making. The actors were awful, the special effects were from the 80's, it was so bad I was actually ANGRY when I found out I'd seen the wrong movie. And I watched the whole thing! It may have been trying to be CAMP, but even if it was, it failed at that too. Just abysmal.

SALT (May 14) - Grade: B. Movie 2 on my weekend marathon. (I discovered Netflix via Turtle *grin*). This one actually wasn't all that bad. I've never been a huge fan of Jolie, but I don't hate her. I liked her in WANTED. It reminded me alot of Bourne/Bond, but with it's own plot. The whole trained-as-a-kid, forgot-who-you-were was kind of a lame plot point, but eh. It was pretty good, all things considered.

Kick-Ass (May 14) - Grade: A-. I'd never really considered seeing this movie since it had Aaron Johnson at its head (whom I confused for Michael Cera (who I *don't* like (not him, but generally the type of movies he is in; although I loved Scott Pilgrim)). So I figured it was in that genre of films like Superbad that I have no interest in seeing. I was pleasantly surprised, however. The movie is definitely campy, but does so in an ethical way. I thought Chloe Moretz was wonderful, and now I am even more intrigued to see Let Me In, since she stars alongside Kodi Smit-McPhee, who I loved in The Road. It was bloody and violent, but that was to be expected for something like this, so I rolled with it. Not really a kid movie, lol

Sucker-Punch (May 15) - Grade: A. Okay, now before you say anything, I'm going to start out defending this movie. A lot, a lot, a lot of people hated this movie. It sucked, it was awful, the plot was everywhere, it was campy, and just bad. But I am not those people. I super LOVED this movie. I thought it was EPIC. I thought the plot was brilliant, I loved the messages throughout, the cinematography was breath-taking. I thought this movie deserved way more credit than it was given. I love the Inception-like layers and the intricacies in the plot, that left many people confused and lost. I loved how seamlessly fantasy and reality blurred. I loved the way they used imaginative battles/struggles to get small victories in real life. I felt like this movie said SO much in so little time about life, love, and the way we cope/deal with the things that are thrown at us. I absolutely loved this movie.

Kung Fu Panda 2 (May 29th) - Grade: B+. Not the biggest Jack Black fan out there. But I enjoyed the first one, so I went to see the second at the prompting of some friends. And I was not disappointed. The movie was funny in all the right places, the plot was creative and fun, and the villain was very ingeniously crafted.

Of these 17 movies, I'd have to say my favorite was Sucker-Punch. That movie just connected with me on all the right levels, in all the right ways. Absolutely loved it. Stay tuned for more Movies in 2011! Also coming soon: the first book reviews of 2011! Thrilling!

Today I am celebrating LIFE.

I found this video on youtube and have watched it 9 times so far. I think it's just gorgeous.

I think it's so cool to see a representation of our Earth in this way. Granted, it ignores alot of the squalor, plight, and tribulation our planet faces, but I think it's a really neat depiction of who we are as a global entity, not countries who disagree and have strife with one another. I think we, and the earth, have so much to offer in our diversity, eclecticism, and natural grace, beauty, and strength.

I found it very interesting to see that there were only 3 brief shots of industrialized countries. I think we too often forget how much more WORLD is out there, that we do not partake of on a regular basis. Today I'm thinking of that and appreciating the nature and beauty that I am surrounded with.

Why don't you take a moment and do the same. Because it's all around you - you just have to remember to look for it.

And there's nothing new. So much for my internet-bred promises. *SIGH*


But really... I will blog.

Watch me.

Please pardon the dust. Contrary to creeping suspicion, we are open.

Just wanted to drop a note so the silence doesn't kill off my lovely readers (especially the swarm of new kids (welcome!) who have just started following).

NEW POSTS COMING SOON. REAL SOON. (Like hopefully Friday soon. No later than Monday soon). Get excited.

That is all.


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