Tuesday, June 23, 2009

It's Official!

I just realized that I forgot to share some very important news: last week, Jesse was officially contracted to be the DCE at Hope!
We've sort of known that we would be staying here, but it had to be through an official vote from the church members. They kicked us out during the voter's meeting last Sunday (or, 2 Sundays ago--the 14th) so that they could vote on it.
Jesse and I sat in his office waiting, but it wasn't long until one of the girls from Jesse's youth group trotted in and told us we could come back.
When we walked into the fellowship hall, everyone was smiling and laughing, and they all began clapping as we walked back to our seats. The president of the assembly laughed and said "I guess you don't need to ask us the verdict!"
Even though we had a pretty good guess that they would be contracting Jesse at the end of his internship, it's a wonderful feeling to know for sure!

Our wonderful landlords have extended their welcome for us to continue living in the little home that we love so much, and now we're getting ready to settle into another year in the Valley!

On a side note, Jesse is running VBS at Hope this week, and it's turning out to be a great success! It's keeping us both busy, and very exhausted, since we have to leave our home at 6am each day to set things up! All of Jesse's evening commitments (youth groups, board meetings) are taking a break this week because of VBS, and we're enjoying being able to come home together for dinner every night and experience a week like "normal people!"

I'd better not get too spoiled :)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Our Anniversary Trip

We are home!
And although it's good to be home, part of us wants to freeze this last week and be able to return to it whenever we want to.
I guess that's what pictures are for...and boy, do I have a lot of them! (351, to be exact).

What a blessing to be able to escape for the world for a week and just be together. No youth groups, no church council meetings, no summer planning, no cellphones, nothing to take us away from simply being us. It was so wonderful!

The trip was so packed and I have so many pictures, that the only way I can really do this that makes any sense is to tell you our adventures day by day.

Please don't be overwhelmed by the amount of pictures and stories I have included. I don't expect anyone to make it all the way through this in one sitting! It took ME three days to put it together, so don't feel pressured to do better than that!

Wednesday, June 3rd
Jesse and I woke bright and early to pack up the car and set out on the road. Since I get migraines as a passenger in a car, Jesse let me drive and he entertained us by reading aloud and playing Catchphrase with me (our own one-sided version).
We drove for about 6 hours up to Zion National Park in Utah, stopping along the way to stretch and take pictures of whatever fancied us.
Here we are minutes after entering Zion. What a gorgeous place!

I don't remember if I've said this before or not, but the reason that inspired the trip was that Jesse had never been to Zion OR the Grand Canyon. This trip made it my 4th time to each of them, and to me, going through life this long without seeing either is a crime. Jesse was in awe of the majesty of Zion (why do you think they called it Zion?)

We set up our campsite that night and then spent some time looking around the visitor center and planning our activities for the next day. So many beautiful hiking trails to do, it was hard to make the choices!

Back relaxing at the campsite...

Jesse has decided that this is the life!

Enjoying my "camper stew"--beef, mushrooms, carrots, onion, and bell pepper cooked over the campfire. Yum!

Beautiful moon rising over Watchman mountain

We saw a mule deer out in the woods that night, but the picture came out really dark since it was after dusk. Just take my word for it!

We also went for a walk by the Virgin River which was steps away from our campsite. It was a gorgeous walk!

Thursday, June 4th
The next morning, we got up bright and early, packed up all of our things (even though we camped in Zion for two nights, we had to move to a different campsite for the second night), and hit the trail.
Our first destination was the Emerald Pools Trail. It's a 3 mile trail that weaves around the mountain and leads to you the upper, middle, and lower pools that are emerald green from algae and the reflection of the trees surrounding them. Water from the upper pool cascades down to the others from beautiful waterfalls that are apparently usually a lot more active than they were while we were there, but they were still gorgeous.

Best way to begin any day :)

I loved this bridge! Gorgeous view of the Virgin River and the mountains of Zion.

Isn't it pretty?

Middle Emerald Pool is the first one you come to on the trail.
Here we are testing out the self-timer on our camera!
I tried being the one who had to run at first, but we ended up with about 3 or 4 pictures of me mid-way to the rock before we decided to let Jesse be the running man :)

Pretty wildflowers along the trail

Jesse at Upper Emerald Pool. See how green it is?

No panicking, Mom! We made it back safely, right? :)

I really wanted to take my chaise home with me!

Lower Emerald Pool

My little friend.

View of Emerald Falls before we walked under it.

We got a couple to take our picture for us. I love this picture except for the way that Jesse's leg looks like one of mine and makes me appear very unlady-like!!!

After our hike through the Emerald Pools trail, we took the Zion shuttle all the way through the park. It's a great system--free transport and a tour-like speech the whole drive!

Here is a view of one of the most photographed areas of the park:
The Pulpit and the Altar

That beautiful river again...

We got off the shuttle at the Weeping Rock stop, and hiked up the trail to see the beautiful waterfall there.

Standing under Weeping Rock and looking out at the Great White Throne

My handsome guy under Weeping Rock

A little damp from standing under the fall!

"Just" another beautiful view!

Wow, and these pictures are only from one day of our trip!

Friday, June 5th
We got up early again and packed up our site. Friday was a busy day! We started out with the 3 hour trip from Zion down to North Rim, spent a few hours there, and then drove 5 hours to get down to South Rim.

On our way out of Zion National Park, we stopped on the side of the road to pose with the amazing arch there

And, of course, we had to stop at Checkerboard too!

First shot of us at the Grand Canyon!

If this brown hoodie starts looking familiar, you have to understand how cold and windy it was! I packed shorts and tank tops for every day of our trip, and only at Jesse's suggestion included a pair of jeans and that sweatshirt. Little did I know how chilly it really would be! Those two things ended up being my wardrobe for pretty much the rest of the trip.

Just beautiful!

Jesse taking in his first views of the Grand Canyon

I've never seen Titanic, but this is my Rose impression :)

Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous!

A view of the Grand Canyon Lodge where we had lunch

I have fond memories of spending time there with Papa and Ami for my 16th birthday, and it was fun to return to the same spot where we had eaten lunch together and sit in the same lounge room where Papa and Ami and I had sat watching clouds float over the canyon changing the colors of the rocks from orange to red to purple.

Jesse and I sat in the lounge (which has huge floor to ceiling windows and couches set up for perfect views) drinking coffee and hot chocolate and writing post cards. It was such a pleasant and peaceful time!

After spending a few hours at North Rim, Jesse and I got back in the car and drove the long drive down to South Rim.

When we drove up to Mather's Campground, we were surprised to see two elk sitting in the middle of a campsite right down the road. We hurriedly parked the car at our site and dashed back to see the biggest elk we'd ever seen.

Here's the ironic part of the story: after all of the crazy hikes we did the day before, jumping over rocks and climbing across streams, I twisted my ankle in my haste to see the elk! Nothing impressive like getting injured during a perilous hike, no...I had to fall off of a curb while rushing over to see two silly animals! Definitely ironic.

I was so excited to see the elk, though, that even though my ankle hurt insanely and Jesse tried to convince me to go back to camp so he could check on my foot, I just clutched onto him and hobbled over to the elk.

Here we are anyway!

After I was appeased, we went back to our campsite and set up camp. We enjoyed a night with a campfire-cooked meal and s'mores, then went to sleep so we'd have lots of energy for the day ahead.

Saturday, June 6th
This--I think--was the only day on our trip where we slept in past 6:30. It was wonderful! We were well-rested and ready to spend the day seeing all the sights along South Rim.
First, though, we made a run to the general store there and bought an ace bandage and some advil to help reduce the pain in my ankle. There was no stopping me this trip!

Our first stop was Desert View. It's a beautiful spot with a watchtower that was built in 1930 by Mary Colter. We loved it! It provided a gorgeous view of the canyon, and the architecture alone made the trip worth it!

Standing in front of the Watchtower

This sign just cracked us up!

Beautiful paintings inside the Watchtower

Incredible view from the Watchtower!

From Desert View, we drove to Navajo Point.

Look! You can see Watchtower from here :)

Just bein' silly

Next was Moran Point

Jesse "ho humming" the Grand Canyon

I'm pretty sure that the following pictures are also from Moran Point, but I don't have any way of knowing! The cool thing about the following pictures is that they were taken on an old trail that was used by miners to carry up coal from their mines. We hiked a good way down it, but due to my ankle, turned around after a little while.

Another couple took this picture for us.

Painful ankles can't keep me down!

Check out how steep it is!

Mather Point is such a popular point that it was very difficult to get a parking spot. The parking lot was completely full, and cars were lined along the highway for nearly a mile. I was freaked out about how we had to park our car.

Jesse took a more humorous approach!

He is a bit of a is his literal impression of "camping at Mather's" (we're staying in Mather's Campground)

Enjoying the view from Mather's Point

That night, we ended the day by watching the sunset at Yavapai Point. It's a walk away from Mather's Campground, and has a beautiful view of the southwestern portion of the Grand Canyon.


Sunday, June 7th
We got up bright and early on Sunday morning because we were determined to conquer the Bright Angel Trail before the 11am community church service. By 7:00, we were standing at the brink of the canyon taking this picture

Not even 5 minutes down the trail, we ran into mountain goats! It was the funniest thing. There were two of them just chilling out on the trail. We had to get within touching distance before they got out of the way and let us pass.

Jesse standing in the first tunnel on the trail.

Look how far in we are!

Hiking down the Grand Canyon. I am Woman!!!


Mule train (man, it is NOT fun waiting on the side of the trail for all of them to pass!)

How beautiful is this?

We made unexpected friendships on the trail when we ran into two travelers: Jan ("Yahn") from South Africa, and Ben from Ireland. We enjoyed talking with them while at a rest stop along the trail, and found out that they were Christians.

Actually, our conversation began when Jan asked Jesse what the cross he wore meant to him. Jesse replied that it meant that Jesus had saved him by dying on the cross and rising again, to which Jan burst out "right on, man, right on!"

Ben and Jan had met each other at the bottom of the Grand Canyon while camping out at Phantom Ranch. They bonded and hiked together up to South Rim enjoying each other's company. What an interesting alliance! A South African evangelist in his 30s and an Irish high schooler who plays in a Christian rock band. They humored us greatly and we enjoyed our time on the trail with them.

Before we parted ways, Jesse and I mentioned that we'd be attending the community church service at the Rim. The guys made no promises, but we were very pleased when we arrived at the church service and found ourselves sitting right behind them!

After the service, the pastor announced that there would be a potluck at the home of one of the church members directly afterward. Jesse and I decided to go, and Ben and Jan were very intrigued at the idea of homemade food after two days at the bottom of the Canyon with nothing more to eat than peanuts and raisins! The four of us drove over to the potluck in our car, and we enjoyed about 3 hours of fellowshipping with other Christians and learning about their ministry in the Grand Canyon. It was a wonderful experience!

When we got back to our campsite that afternoon, we napped, played Scrabble, read together, and reminisced about what we were doing a year ago the day before our wedding. It was such a nice, laid-back afternoon, and we thoroughly enjoyed it. We also ran down to Yavapai Point again to enjoy our last sunset at the Grand Canyon, and spent hours that night basking in the warmth of our campfire and toasting marshmallows and drinking hot chocolate.

Monday, June 8th
--Our First Anniversary!

I don't have many pictures from this day, but we did have a wonderful time!
We packed up our campsite first thing, then headed to the showers to feel nice and pretty for our special day.
We spoiled ourselves by eating breakfast at El Tovar Hotel (I can't say "the El Tovar Hotel" without thinking of Mickey Blue Eyes...)
It was delicious! El Tovar Hotel is the oldest hotel at the Grand Canyon. It's where famous people have been staying at the Grand Canyon for 90 years, now.
We enjoyed it immensely. Jesse and I both had a delicious breakfast, made even better with a beautiful cream horn pastry crowned with berries and a shared mimosa.

After our beautiful breakfast, we went out to look at the Grand Canyon for the last time.

How funny is it that with all of the pictures we took during our trip, this is really the only one we have of our anniversary? I have no idea how that happened! I guess we were just so happy celebrating the day together that we really just neglected the camera.

It was such a funny, eclectic day! After leaving the Grand Canyon, we drove down to the town of Williams, Arizona, where our bed and breakfast was for that night. Check-in wasn't until 4pm, but we arrived in Williams at about 12:30. Unsure what to do with the 3 1/2 hours we had, we walked around the tiny historical town. The visitor center was about as big as our living room at home. It cracked us up!

Jesse dragged me into a cowboy hat store at one point and had a woman helping me choose a hat for over half an hour. It was so funny! I've never envisioned myself wearing one for anything but a costume accessory, and the shop owner considered a crime that I didn't own one. We eventually left empty handed. Even if it is a crime not to own one, I consider it even more of a crime to pay $174 for what I would use as a costume accessory! Maybe someday :)

Cowboy hats are very common in Williams, AZ, though. Nearly everyone we passed on the street was wearing one. Jesse kept saying how sad he was that he had left his at home.

While walking down the street, we noticed an Old Time Photo studio that takes those funny old western pictures. I managed to talk Jesse into it, and we had a lot of fun dressing up and posing.

It was a funny contrast from one June 8th to the next--from blushing bride and handsome groom to saloon girl and sheriff!

After we had walked through the entire town, we decided to drive up to the neighborhood where our B&B was and look around. We found a dam with a reservoir above it that was actually very beautiful. We sat with our backs against the dam looking out over the town of Williams and reminiscing about our wedding day a year before. It was so serene that we almost didn't want to leave when 4:00 rolled around.

When we got to Firelight Bed and Breakfast, we were warmly greeted by the host, Erik. He was so friendly and made us feel at home right away. Once we had unpacked and settled into our room, we got to look around the rest of the house. We were the only guests that night, so the whole house was practically ours!

It was a beautiful place. I definitely encourage you to check it out yourself! Firelight Bed and Breakfast.

Around 6, we left the house and went to get dinner and see the gunfight show that the town of Williams puts on every night at 7:00. It was a lot of fun to watch, and if you ever go to Williams, you should go see it!

Jesse and I stayed up til nearly 2am enjoying all the things there were to do at that house! Erik entertained us with his accordion and harmonica performance that he does on the historical Grand Canyon train 3 times a week. He's very talented, and it was a lot of fun to listen to him.

The house also has a restored shuffle board from the 20s, an entire Wii system, and tons of board games. Jesse and I had never seen a shuffle board before, and had a blast challenging each other and trying to figure out how to make those crazy little puck things STOP at the end of the run!

We had a lot of fun :)

Tuesday, June 9th
The next morning, Jesse and I woke up to the smell of food cooking and the sound of Erik's boots stomping across the kitchen floor. He was doing his train gig that morning after breakfast, and was all dressed up for the part.
Here I am with our amazing host!

Look at this amazing spread! We were so spoiled!

Erik left around 9 and welcomed us to stay as long as we wanted. We enjoyed some more shuffle board and Wii, and then tore ourselves away to pack and head home.

It was such a wonderful trip that we barely wanted to leave. But once we hit the California border, I was itching to be home. It seemed cruel to me that the California border was 6 1/2 hours away from home! Once I was in California, I wanted to be HOME, and it was the hardest thing to comprehend that I still had 6 hours ahead of me!

When we finally got home, we loaded all of our pictures onto the computer and just sat reminiscing. What a wonderful time our first anniversary was!