18 Oct 2014 @ 8:02 PM 

While Wendy and I were visiting in St. George Utah earlier, we stopped at a museum that is run by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. If you don’t live in Utah, you don’t understand the cultural significance that the church, as they like to call themselves, has on living here. The missionaries that were running the tour were of course proselytizing during the tour. We got to talking about how we go to a Baptist church, Risen Life Church. It came up that there were no LDS families on our street. That is where we learned a new term. We live on what the LDS church calls Gentile Street. According to this missionary, there’s one in every ward. Wards are small neighborhoods around the ward/church building they gather at. Anyway, we thought it was a funny term.

Tags Categories: Religion, Status Updates, Vacations Posted By: jason
Last Edit: 18 Oct 2014 @ 08 11 PM

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 07 Oct 2011 @ 1:01 PM 

Trip Photos

A while back, sometime in the late 90’s, I read about a place in Southwestern Colorado called the Weminuche Wilderness. Also known as The Backpacker’s Nirvana, it is located in the San Juan National Forest. I made my first visit to there in 1998 with a Philmont friend, Bill Sassani, where we did an overnight trip, and then drove around the area. I was hooked. I wanted to do more exploring in the Weminuche. I’ve made two more additional trips there since then. Once with Wendy in 2007 where we backpacked up the Valecito River. The other time with my brother Chris and a college friend Ramsey where we did some day hiking the week before my wedding in 2009.

There is an historical narrow gauge railroad that runs between the towns of Durango and Silverton called the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad (D&SNGR). It runs along the western edge of the Weminuche Wilderness and makes a few stops along the way. I read about how backpackers use the train to access the wilderness, and I soon decided that one day I wanted to make a backpacking trip that took advantage of the train.

In the book Hiking Colorado’s Weminuche and South San Juan Wilderness Areas, there is a hike described using the train to do a trip. The hike starts with the train dropping you off at the Elk Park stop, and then you get picked up at the Neddleton stop. Wendy and I decided to do the hike over 6 days and 5 nights..

Wendy had some additional time off outside of the planned hiking days so we decided to do some extra touring around. Our first day we drove to Telluride, CO where we spent the night at the Victorian Inn. From the door of the inn, you could smell a mouthwatering restaurant. It smelled like a steak place, but I wanted to have a steak at the end of the trip, so we decided to try another restaurant. The inn was located within walking distance of the main strip of town where the shops and restaurants were located. We found an Italian restaurant called the Telluride Bistro. I had the best chicken parmesan I’ve ever had before. After dinner we took the free gondola up to the ski area. It was a nice little moonlit ride up and back.

Telluride, CO

Next morning, during our free breakfast at the inn, we overheard some other guests referring to some snow coming in the next few days. The weather report I had seen earlier referred to a chance of snow, and these folks were talking about inches accumulating in Telluride. It was something to consider. We headed out towards Silverton. The drive between Ouray and Silverton is hands down my favorite drive in the country. Its a beautiful mountain drive that puts you up along sheer rock walls, with beautiful views, colorful mountains, and old mining ruins. Its a windy road that is just fun to drive, so it can be hard to look and drive. We took our time getting to Silverton stopping to read signs and take photos. We ran into some rain along the way too, a precursor to the upcoming days.

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Posted By: jason
Last Edit: 07 Oct 2011 @ 01 01 PM

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 07 Jul 2011 @ 9:54 PM 

Wendy had some time off over the 4th of July Weekend, so we decided to take a little vacation. We hadn’t really made any kind of plans on what we wanted to do, so we decided to make a road trip out of it. We had both heard that northern California is very pretty, so we decided to head that way. Wendy did all the planning and found places for us to stay and things to do. I was content to just come along for the ride. With the high gas prices, we decided it was better to take my car, Bullet, the Nissan Versa. I was hoping to get good gas mileage with the highway driving, but overall it was about what I got driving around in town here 30MPG.

We left Salt Lake on June 30th. We had to drop Madie off at another boarding place as Dogmode was full for the weekend. Heading west, we crossed the Bonneville Salt Flats. It was an interesting thing to see. Flat white ground. Thankfully, this was the day after a cold front had pushed into the area, so it was pleasant traveling weather.

Bonneville Salt Flats

At the Nevada-Utah border is a town called Wendover. It advertises here in Salt Lake for its resort casinos. This picture depticts how the casino is built literally on the state line making it as close as possible for those looking for a respite from LDS land. The white line in the middle of the road is the state line and it says Nevada and Utah on either side of it.

Nevada - Utah state line

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Posted By: jason
Last Edit: 08 Jul 2011 @ 05 41 PM

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 09 Sep 2010 @ 9:42 PM 

Last month Wendy and I took a backpacking trip to Glacier National Park in Montana. We had planned to go there around this time last year, but instead we had our wedding. The plan was to take two days to drive up and two days to drive back while spending 6 days and 5 nights in the back country. Beforehand we did two shakedown hikes to help get us ready for the trip. Both trips were 3 days 2 nights. One was in Uinta Wilderness and the other was in American Fork Canyon. This was also our first time to take Madie with us, and she really enjoyed the trips.

When we left town, we left Madie, our German Shepherd, at doggy day care at Dogmode. She seems to really like it there, and we have been impressed with how well they treat the dogs. We drove all the way to Missoula, MT the first day by interstate. That took most of the day and left us with about another three hours to get to the park. More importantly about the day, according to Wendy, it was Wendy’s birthday! She opened gifts and had cake a couple of days earlier to celebrate.

The next day, we toured around Missoula a little. Missoula is one of the bases where the National Forest service keeps some of its smokejumper wildland firefighters. I was particularly interested in this and was excited to get to see the base. There was a college intern there that was taking care of the visitor’s center and gave us a tour.

This is the base for the National Forest service Missoula Smokejumpers

After driving around town a little more, we headed on to Glacier. We bought a National Parks annual pass earlier this year and used this to get into the park. Once inside we headed to the West Glacier visitors center. I have to say, I was not impressed at all with the visitor’s center. It wasn’t very big and it didn’t display much information. Even the gift shop was just a small room. We later discovered that the newer larger visitor center was on the East side of the park. From there we headed over to the backcountry office where we got our permit for staying in the backcountry. A number of national parks have gone to a backcountry permit or reservation system to help regulate the number of visitors to areas of the park. This helps with overcrowding issues that have been happening in national parks.

The sign to the entrance of Glacier National Park on the West Entrance

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Posted By: jason
Last Edit: 18 Sep 2010 @ 10 40 PM

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This Spring, Wendy and I decided to go to Phoenix, AZ for a short trip, mostly because I wanted to go see my beloved Cubs at Spring Training. I had never been to Spring Training, but I had wanted to for quite a while now. We were there from 3/28-3/30. It was a great time to go as the weather was on the verge of being too hot, but still nice, and it was towards the end of Spring Training, so the regular season players would be playing more and be taking it more seriously.

Our first stop after getting our rental car was to grab a bite to eat. We drove around downtown Phoenix a bit, but had difficulty finding reasonable parking near the pizza place we wanted to try. Wendy found a soda fountain (thanks to google maps on the cell phone) called MacAlpine’s nearby that we ate at for lunch. It was a nice little place. It was set in the 50’s. The food was good and the strawberry cheesecake milkshake we had for dessert was even better. According to their menu, they are the oldest operating soda fountain.

From there we headed to the Hall of Flame Fire Museum which was located next to the Oakland Athletic’s spring training field where they were playing a game as we drove by. The museum was great. It had a very impressive collection of old fire equipment and history. It had lots of hand drawn and horse drawn wagons as well as old motor driven fire trucks. It was very interesting to learn about the history of firefighting through the years. They had a section dedicated to wildland firefighting as well. I would recommend it to anyone who has the chance to go see it. Pictures

Next we went to the nearby Desert Botanical Garden. Wendy was excited to see wild flowers. I thought it was silly to have a botanical garden in the desert, but they had a lot of cool plants after all. Pictures

After the gardens, we went to check into our hotel. Wendy managed to find a great deal for us at The Hilton Phoenix East. Normally above our price range, but we got it for a great price. It was a nice hotel with large and comfortable rooms. The pillows on the bed were really soft.

While we were out that night we had stopped at a Target so I could get a baseball and sharpies. I hoped to get some autographs at the game. For dinner the first night, we ate at Grimaldi’s Pizzeria. It was some great pizza. You have to build your own pizza, and it was a bit pricey. We got a pizza with pepperoni, Italian sausage, and onions.

Next day, we decided to try to get to the Cubs game early in hopes to get autographs. For breakfast we went to a nearby place called The Good Egg. Really good breakfast with lots of choices.

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Posted By: jason
Last Edit: 18 Sep 2010 @ 10 43 PM

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