In Which I Learn to Enjoy Roughin’ It


Growing up, my family would go camping once or twice a year max. Generally our version of camping included staying by a lake in a rented trailer, eating peanut M&Ms and playing Skip-Bo until someone else (grandpa) prepares a legit BBQ dinner. Also, there was always enough Shasta Cream Soda floating around to hydrate a tiny nation. We aren’t exactly hard-core.

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Don’t get me wrong, I have definitely spent more than one night in a tent. It’s just that some of those nights the tent was in my backyard. And I may or may not have spent the time watching a movie on a TV hooked up to the house with a fifty foot extension cord. And crawled back into my bed at 3 am.


Basically this all boils down to me not exactly married to the idea that a tent is my best friend and that an air mattress is just as good as the real thing. I’d rather spend my nights away in a hotel. One with a fancy tub and cable so I can indulge in my Grey’s Anatomy obsession. Please and Thanks.

(In order to save face I will say that the rest of my family is actually pretty into camping. It’s just me that struggles. Go figure.)

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However, last week that all changed. Our friends talked us into a legit two night camping trip at the Union Valley Reservoir campgrounds in the Eldorado National Forest. We are talking tents, cooking our own food, outhouses…the whole shebang. Although I was a little skeptical we headed up Friday night right after work. Four hours of traffic-induced mania later, we made it. Crisp cool air, stars that weren’t covered by San Francisco pollution, a gleaming lake…I was sold.

IMG_3409 IMG_3424The next two days were filled with all sorts of camping goodies.  Tubing in the lake and managing to get mega-sunburned. A cute baby with dirt stained cheeks. Dutch-oven dinners compliments of the Beards, who rock outdoor cooking. Seriously. They are basically camping wizards.

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Saturday afternoon we hiked to Bassi Falls. Ashley and I dance-partied along the way, while the guys imitated The Office Parkour episode and 360-ed from rock to rock. Once there they braved the icy-cold water; I on the other hand was content to save my limbs from frostbite, thank you very much.

IMG_3602 IMG_3666Not to be forgotten was the keys-locked-in-the-truck episode. A few broken sticks, prayers, manipulated tent poles and a package of bandaids later we broke into that car ninja style.

Good food, good friends, lake water and pine trees all contributed to change my mind about camping. I am basically ready to head out into the middle of nowhere with only a moment’s notice. As long as there aren’t spiders. That changes everything.



If I am being 100% honest, one of the things we miss the very most about Saint George is Café Rio. Call it the fat girl in me, but I get legitimately depressed when I think about all of the tomatillo dressing, sweet pork barbacoa and flour tortillas (oh, the tortillas…they deserve their very own spot in the celestial kingdom) going on several hundred miles away from me. Like straight up slit my wrists and cry to emo music depressed (too far?). For example, my sister sent me a picture of her recent Café Rio visit and I almost considered not talking to her for a week.

IMG_2214IMG_2289IMG_2341In a moment of divine intervention, Ryan and I found a few recipes online that help hold us over in between visits to Heaven (Heaven = pork enchiladas, naturally). However,  it can all be rather time consuming so we only make them ourselves once or twice a year. Thank goodness I’m lazy or my hips and butt would jiggle even more than they already do (try not to picture that…sorry).IMG_2338IMG_2337IMG_2344

In an effort to spread our unadulterated joy, we decided to keep tradition alive and throw the 2nd Annual Cinco de Mayo Food Extravaganza. We invited a few friends and made a feast fit for genuine Luchadores. It featured cilantro-lime rice, sweet pork barbacoa, fresh flour torillas, seasoned black beans, tomatillo ranch dressing and more toppings than I care to admit.

IMG_2244IMG_2302IMG_2303Not to toot my own horn, but I think it all turned out pretty great. I’m already anticipating next year. Now all you Utahn’s don’t let me hear that you are taking your easy access for granted; that’s just despicable. And quite possibly a deal-breaker.


China Beach and Croque Madame

Late last week I decided to do what I do best and play the part of third wheel by tagging along with my friend and her husband for a Friday adventure in San Francisco. (Side note: Not to toot my own horn, but I’m a pretty great third wheel during busy season. And I’m not too embarrassed about it, either). The day’s main attraction, China Beach:

IMG_1839Imagine this, you are driving through homes that had to have cost more than our country’s current debt when suddenly you find yourself in the cutest little cove you ever did see. With a perfect view of the Pacific and our friend the Golden Gate, the spot is ideal for afternoons spent wishing it was warm enough to wear a swimsuit.


IMG_1909Surprisingly, there weren’t that many people hanging around; besides a few brave souls baring their winter white in bikinis, it was rather quiet. We did meet an intense fisherman who was catching crabs like nobody’s business, and that was pretty cool, I guess.

IMG_1899IMG_1922In an attempt to make up for my third-wheel status, I played paparazzi for my friends. Their baby girl is practically my favorite person these days and I couldn’t help myself. I mean, could you?



IMG_1930After a while our bellies started grumbling. So we considered the fact that San Francisco is home to the best food on earth, swung by the financial district to pick up a certain accountant and headed to a little french lunch.


I really, really wish I could remember the name of the restaurant (Peyton, a little help here?) because my life was changed by their Croque Madame. If you have never had one, find the nearest French place and order one, STAT. This is the stuff that food babies and dreams are made of, people.


All in all, it was a pretty terrific day. My spirits were revitalized with a little ocean air and my belly left happy. What more can a girl ask for?

I Love You, Ron Swanson

Leslie: Why would anybody ever eat anything besides breakfast food?

Ron: People are idiots, Leslie

Because we are die hard Parks and Rec fans (and because I pretty much bleed waffles and honey, no syrup fans here!) Ryan and I decided it was high time we packed on a few pounds by hosting a breakfast-for-dinner Parks and Recreation viewing party.  I mean really, besides church there is no better religion than breakfast food and laughter, am I right or what?

Guests: a few rad people. Namely, the Beards, the Aikeles, and the Joneses.


Activities: cramming as much breakfast food as we could into our all-too-willing bellies. Oh, and laughing our faces off compliments of Ron Swanson, Leslie Knope, Tom Haverford and the gang.

Food: Waffles, fruit (to ease the fat guilt just a little), OJ, bacon, waffles, bacon, eggs, whipped cream, waffles, bacon, waffles…you get the idea. I forgot to get pics of the actual food. I was too busy shoving it down my gullet.




Highlights: Super cute babies that may have made my ovaries sing just a little bit. Ok, a lot.


Lowlights: My husband’s Ron Swanson impersonation complete with nasty sex-offender mustache, comb-over hair and flannel-tucked-into-too-high-khakis. Seriously folks, I refused to kiss him till that nasty thing was shaved off his handsome mug.



Are you drooling yet? If not because of the bacon grease smell I’m sure you are over Ryan’s mustache. He’s sexy and he knows it.