Crabby, who’s crabby??!!

Well, it’s been a little while since I’ve written. Long story made short is that I didn’t get the CEO job I was a finalist for. Longmont and Centura would have been great, but it wasn’t meant to be. The feedback I received was all positive and even had smatterings of “you could have done this job two positions ago.” Regardless, I had a case of the “crabbiness” going on. Oh well, onward with the search and discussions!

In the time since I learned that my job hunt, and thus our adventure, would continue, we’ve seen some great places and had some opportunities with family and friends. In Utah, Maureen’s family hosted us and even included us on family game night and family walk night. I even got to see my very first ultimate frisbee tourney (nice work Dallin–he just scored 34 on his ACT for anyone looking for a smarty)! One day we were able to make the trip into Salt Lake City to see the sites and also meet up with a grad school and fellowship buddy, Jeremy Price. Price happened to be traveling through the area and we were able to meet up. It’s been something like 5 years since I’ve seen him, so being able to say hi was great. A real plus is that Jeremy is Mormon, so we had our own personal tour guide around Temple Square! The sites and history were great! Another happenstance meeting happened with Jennifer Wagenaar. Jennifer was the CNO in Aberdeen when I started working with them. She is now a regional CNO out in the Mountain States. When I texted her, she happened to also be in Temple Square. It was great to be able to say hi to her as well.

In addition to getting grounded with some great folks while face to face, I’ve been able to connect on the phone and via email. Once again, folks I’ve known have stepped up with great advice or great connections. Friends I’ve made through Leadership SD were willing to make connections for me for a position I’m in the running for in SD. Some of my great work colleagues have been willing to be references for me multiple times.

The past week we’ve had some fun in Oregon. Maureen posted about our seclusion in the national forest at a great campsite. We’ve had some fun clamming in a mud bog and yesterday we went crabbing for the first time. We had some luck and enjoyed a feast last night. Crabs sure are tasty when you pull them from the bay yourself!!

All in all, I’ve really got no reason to be crabby!!!

Redwoods National Park

Today we spent a very small amount of time at the Redwoods National and State Parks. Most of the area around there is a rainforest with a very thick floor. The trees were very tall and thick. Many of the large trees started as one tree on the ground but split into two trees. On the dirt road that we drove down we saw many banana slugs. These yellow slugs were very large and super sticky. We also saw some snails along the roads.

After our short time in California we went to Brookings, Oregon. A forest a few miles east of Brookings was the only place on the US mainland to be bombed by Japan during World War Two. The bombing was meant to start a large forest fire but it was put out a few hours after the bombing. 20 year later the pilot returned to Brookings with a 400 year old samurai sword that he presented to the city. We were able to see that sword in the library. (AT)

Jesse edit: We were led to believe (by a park volunteer) that we could take our tuck and camper to a particular view point. We turned onto the road only to discover no parking lot big enough for the camper. We made the assumption it must be further down the road!!! A couple miles later down a logging road, avoiding some majorly muddy areas and some “fun” maneuvering of the truck and camper finally got us turned around!!! I was a little nervous I was really going to get practice in with my backing skills!! (JGT)

Crater Lake National Park

Today we started the day at our amazing campsite. Crossing the big log over the stream is my favorite thing about being there. That, and just hanging out in the hammock. The drive to Crater Lake NP was not that long, the National Park sign was only a mile down the road. On our drive we started seeing 20 foot tall posts that marked the road, I’m guessing so snowplows know where the road is. Then we started seeing snow upon snow.

At the visitors center the snow was probably 15 feet tall. All of this but there was no snow at our campsite just miles away! It was crazy! As at all National Parks, I started out by getting the junior ranger packet. I finished the junior ranger packet at the visitor center while we watched a short movie. Snow was up to the roof here, we entered through a snow tunnel instead of the front door! Then we started up the road even more as we still hadn’t seen the lake. At the main lodge area we finally got a glimpse of it. We walked a little trail to an amazing view point. The water was so blue and smooth. The reflection was cool. The lodge had a gift shop and a little exhibit about the park. The lake was actually a large volcano and when it erupted the whole top came off! The lake is fed by rainwater and snow meltoff. The snow can get up to 45 feet tall and they don’t have all the roads plowed until the 4th of July. It’s the snowiest inhabitable place in America. And it was awesome!

I made a Vlog here too: (WT)

Winema National Forest Sno-Park

We like to call our current campsite the “secret national forest outside Crater Lake” site. BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land has been of great success to us in the west here, we’ve found some great hidden jewels of campsites on our trip. Most are free, and there are a couple of helpful websites similar to Yelp to let us know if our 33’ rig can fit in it or not!

We’re actually at a “sno-park” and I haven’t figured it out if it’s for stranded tourists(this area gets a ton of snow!) or for snowmobilers. Right off the road there are toilets, and a “community” log cabin without a front door that had a big fireplace you could make a fire if you are cold while setting up your tent/sleeping in car/after snowmobiling. A couple of fire rings and a huge paved parking lot finish off the upper section. We drove just past this area down a dirt road, around a corner and found outdoorsy heaven. Nobody is around, and our campsite is just off a clear water creek with large log bridges for the boys and dogs to run across. Andy’s first comment was that he loved it here rather then the deserts of Utah because of the “flora and fauna”. Seriously, what 14-year-old uses those words?! But I highly agree with him, we’ve had beautiful weather in the 70’s and to sit next to the rushing creek is amazing.

Only one kid has fallen off the log bridge into the water but that was to save their dog (not that he needed saving but it makes for a good story!). My boy scouts have worked on rank advancement, making fires, making traps for our drinks in the creek, drinking straight from the creek out of a special straw and making spears tied to ropes to catch fish in the creek even when we haven’t yet seen any fish. Woody made the comment that it feels like we’re the boxcar children, and that’s totally true(except we have a camper instead of a boxcar!) We’ve extended our stay here longer then expected just because of the exciting outdoors. We have no internet access and barely phone access, totally not a problem for a couple of days – it’s nice to be free of digital technology! This morning Woody went outside to try to set up a beaver den with sticks they had collected 2 days ago before we woke up but didn’t have any luck. His next creation was a pinecone pyramid that we got 5 chances to break using other pinecones. That was a blast to play for a little bit! Nice to see his imagination working when technology is taken away.

Gunner may be the happiest in the family, he’s totally leash free here. Gunner is good at sticking close by, but if he sees a squirrel, he’s going to run after it, watch it run up a tree, and then stare at the tree for “hours”! When he gets thirsty and hot he just jumps right into the creek. He does seem to have sap in random places around his body, I think I’m just going to use this stop as an excuse to give him a haircut to get rid of that stickiness! In the evening when he is exhausted, he just curls up into a ball by the fireplace waiting to go into the camper to jump on his bed(the couch) and then snoozle for 12 hours or so. It’s a looooong stretch in the morning when he wakes up! But not a bad life for this 10-year old! (MT)


Salt Lake City / Provo, Utah

Family brought us up to northern Utah – my cousin Beth and her family moved to Provo a couple years ago from Seattle. We were close and there was an outstanding offer to park in front of their house so there was high interest to visit! Gunner loved the huge fenced backyard – being off the leash is a rare sight on our travels. Having sunny weather in the 70’s made it great too!

Jesse and I have both been to SLC before, but it’s been 10+ years for both of us. It was great to check out downtown, Temple Square and the capital, all very walkable! One of Jesse’s good friends from Grad School happened to also be in town so that was fun to see him again. Temple Square was full of beautiful tulips and other brightly colored flowers – that was my favorite part of the day. We also worked on our family’s genealogy – parts of my family went back to the year 1400!!! We finished the day off listening to the Mormon Tabernacle (MoTab!) Choir practice – wow they sounded great!

We walked up to the state capital, it sits high on a hill overlooking everything, and we were allowed access to just about every part of the building, very much the “people’s capital”.

Beth’s husband Trent works for BYU as an Editor for a popular tv show on BYUTV called Studio C. It’s actually very funny – check it out on Youtube! They live very close to the campus of BYU so we checked out their museum of modern art and it was great! There was an M.C. Escher exhibit and also an exhibit from a hilarious artist that took Flemish style selfies in airplane bathrooms and made a family tree out of people on food packaging among other laugh out loud art. If you ever see art from Dina Katchadourian check it out!

We also took a day trip to nearby Park City, the sight of the 2002 Olympics. It’s a super fun big little ski town with lots of boutiques and cafes. Amazingly I think they just shut down the hill about a week or so ago, and it was 70 degrees when we were there! What’s super cool is that you can actually ski across a big bridge into downtown Park City, and they get on a ski lift to go back up the mountain right there outside a café! Just a bit further from the base of the ski resort, is the Olympic Training facility for bobsled and ski jumping. During the winter and summer, you can actually go down the bobsled course – but unfortunately not in the two shoulder seasons! In the summer you can ski jump into a pool too – now that would be amazing! There was also a great museum with lots of history of downhill skiing, and lots of memorabilia from the 2002 Olympics. It was fun seeing those memories.

Beth’s daughter Kajsa is home on school break from BYU-I, and among many other things, introduced us to Sodalicious. It’s a soda pop shop with tons of different flavors/recipes that our family enjoyed very much! Beth son Dallin introduced us to the sport of Ultimate Frisbee, or just “Ultimate”! He had a tournament that we watched all weekend, it was quite exciting cheering on the fast-paced action – his team did great as well!

We got in a couple of fun board games during our visit, seems we all like trivia and laughing! We’re loving seeing so many of our cousins and extended family on this trip. It’s great to see how everyone has changed and grown – and fun to show the boys off to those who haven’t seen them in forever! (MT)

Moab, Utah

When the boys were little, we would visit Duluth, Minnesota and Lake Superior every summer. I would schedule hikes around naps, travels and different road side attractions. But what I remember most is the their love of just throwing rocks into Lake Superior. They could seriously just be happy throwing these smooth black rocks into the lake, right under the Split Rock Lighthouse, for days. and days. and days. Free entertainment Jesse and I called it.

This week we’ve been staying in Moab, Utah at some BLM land (Bureau of Land Management) that is actually free to camp at. We are parked right under a rock wall initially meant for a bit of wind protection but ends up it is fantastic for boys to climb. There is so much to do in the area: hike, mountain bike, kayak, boat, or go off-roading with an ATV. But what the boys want to do most of all is climb the rocks. Like they look forward to going back and climbing! A couple nights ago they found a campsite up high, so we took their tent and they spent the night up there with Gunner. The views in the distance is of Arches National Park, so that’s pretty cool too..

They’ve become great (and cheap-except Andy still eats like a professional wrestler!) travelers to be with. We’ve been at the library in Moab a ton too, working on their studies. This library was voted the best small town library in 2007 and we can see why. They have been very accommodating to us all. Woody finished up his semester studies here – and he’s a happy camper for sure! Andy only has English to finish, which seems like a lot of busy work, but he still has plenty of time to finish.

Not a bad finish to 2 weeks of exploring Utah’s “Mighty 5” National Parks! (MT)

Arches National Park

We went to Arches NP today in Moab, Utah. In the visitor center I learned all about the 2000 arches in this park. Many are unnamed but some have funny names like Donut or Bacon Arch. On our drive through the park we saw a rock formation that looked just like a popsicle. We also saw the famous delicate arch from a distance.

My favorite part of the day was when we got to go climbing on some big rock formations. Our climb was tiered with about 5 small steep bursts. My brother and I really like climbing. When we came home my brother and I set up a tent on the top of a hill and camped there for the night. (AT)

Canyonlands National Park

Moab, Utah is home to 2 National Parks, and was to be our stop for a couple of days. I had been having pretty good luck finding RV parks that were first come first served in California, but all that came to a halt at Zion! Zion was crazy packed, and we got crazy nervous that there wouldn’t be any place for us to park the trailer that night. We ended up finding some amazing BLM land (Bureau of Land Management – federal land – our land!) to rest our tires on. That introduced us to the wide variety of BLM land available in Utah and especially around Moab.

Our (free!) campsite has us at the bottom of some super fun rocks for the boys to climb, and in the distance, you can see Arches National Park! We are prepared to live off the grid for a couple of days, propane is cheap and it won’t be so hot that we’ll need air conditioner to run.

We set up camp mid morning, and then took off to Canyonlands National Park for the afternoon. It’s hard to describe all the beauty that is here, it’s similar to the Grand Canyon but on a larger level(is that even possible!?!?). Again as we did at Bryce Canyon, it is like we are driving on the top of the mesas, looking down into the canyons, crevices and such.

Our first stop let us to a crazy steep and long canyon, and the next stop led us to the mesa arch, one of the famous landmarks in the park. It was my first natural rock arch to see up close and it was amazing. It was right on the edge of the mesa, and shot straight down on the other side. It had cracks in it that made it look like it could collapse at any time reminding us how fragile all the landscape is.

What was crazy about today, is that it was windy. A steady 30 mph but gusts of up to 50 mph were recorded. It was insane being close to ledges with that wind, turned me into a nervous Nelly for sure!

Woody participated in the junior ranger program here, and he was also awarded the Resource Stewardship Scout Ranger patch. He earned the patch by participating in many junior ranger programs, picking up trash at many of the parks, learning about protecting natural and cultural resources and sparking awareness in National Parks. What a neat opportunity for him to continue on with Boy Scouts on our travels. (MT)

Capital Reef National Park

Today we started the day off with a nice long sleep. Then we went to the Capital Reef National Park visitors center. There I got my junior ranger booklet. One of the requirements was to watch a movie. Conveniently it was starting in one minute so we rushed in there and sat down. The movie was really informative and interesting. At the end, a curtain behind the screen opened to show an amazing view of the park! So cool!

Then we went to the Gifford House in the Fruita part of the park, they make amazing pies with local fruit. On the way there we saw the fruit orchards on the side of the road and we all wanted some fruit because when the fruit is ready you can eat for free. Sadly the trees were only starting to bloom. When we got to the Gifford House we went in and we saw the pies and they looked so good. In one of the side rooms they had samples of salsa and cherry preserve. In all we bought a small ice cream, peach pie, salsa, sourdough bread, and cherry preserve. I think we were hungry!

Next we went to the 100 mile long waterpocket fold, which is a literal fold in the earths crust. We drove on a bumpy gravel road with gorgeous views until we got to the trail head of a hike that was one mile long one way to the water tanks. Me my brother and my mom all did it and my dad stayed back with Gunner. The hike was just walking along the bottom of a narrow canyon with high walls until we got to a really steep part which was .2 miles long. In those .2 miles I bet we gained 200 feet in elevation! We felt like we were off trail a bunch and there were a bunch of small lizards. At one part of the hike we went over a puddle and it was really hard. Then we went to the natural tanks that would normally have water but they were dry and full of sand. Then we started hiking back.

Next we started driving to a place that dad wanted to hike, Hickman Bridge. On the way we stopped at the Gifford house again to get another pie for desert(we ate the first one for lunch!). Me, my brother, and my dad hiked to the bridge and my mom stayed back with Gunner. It was really steep at the beginning but then it was pretty even for the rest of the hike. The rock bridge was amazing, and the hike back it was way easier. The view all over the Capital Reef was amazing. -(WT)

Red Canyon of the Dixie National Forest

Hey guys, Gunner Tischer here. I haven’t gotten a chance to write since New Orleans! So much has happened too! But I’ll start with the great day I had today out hiking with my people.

My morning starts the same, I wake up on the couch when my mom wakes up, then I slip past her onto her bed as she heats up the kettle. Seriously, that’s the drill every morning! Every once in awhile on this trip (I keep hearing, “It’s not a trip, it’s a lifestyle” from my kids and then giggling!) I have gone to a kennel when they thought it was best. But I haven’t had to go to a kennel for almost a month! The rural life is so much better for me then the big city! There are lots of great smells at the campgrounds we stay at, my favorite part is just sitting outside the camper with the sun on my face.

My other favorite thing to do is go for a car ride with my boys. I get to sit right between them, and sometimes I lay my head on Woody, and sometimes I lay my head on Andy. If I’m really hot, I’ll sprawl out on the floor but that doesn’t happen too much.

Today we went to the Red Canyon area of the Dixie National Forest between Zion and Bryce Canyon (whatever that means!) All I know is that I’m allowed on these trails and they were fun! I got to do some rock scrambling with Andy and Woody, and there was so much to sniff! My mom found a snake but I’m so proud of everyone in my family, especially my dad for not screaming. I didn’t get a good look at it, but I would have protected them.

Some parts of the trail were steep! And some we ran down. I love exercising with my family, I’m 10 now but I have the soul of a puppy so I’m happy to stay healthy hiking and breathing the fresh Utah air! I also slept the rest of the afternoon, evening and night so life is good for me for sure!

My people are always looking out for me too, I actually got a UTI recently so I got to see a vet in Las Vegas. He wanted to prescribe me medicine but couldn’t over state lines! My mom said it was a crazy mess trying to deal with that, and then we had to drive 25 miles to the nearest pharmacy to get it. I got treats with it too so I don’t mind taking the medicine. I’m doing just fine on the pills and so you know, I have another 10 years to go. Peace to you all – Gunner Tischer