Thursday, August 30, 2007

15th Anniversary, Day One: The Hike

(Our wedding announcement photo, 1992)

Allen and I are simple people. That said, we did not have any grand plans for our 15th anniversary. However, our good friends Ken and Vickie invited us to join them and a group of their friends and family on a 3-day trip to Idaho and Wyoming. Anniversary festivities all planned out for us? How could we resist?! So, arrangements were made for the kids (Thanks Lyle and Eva!) and off we went on our little adventure.

The pre-first day was driving to our destination: Driggs, Idaho. Once we traveled past Idaho Falls (beautiful!) the trip was uneventful, so I won't bore you with the details. (Night trips are always a little more exciting for people like me who think every reflection of light to the side of the road is most likely the glare of a deer's eyes, ready to bolt in front of the car. What are they trying to accomplish with that, anyway? Haven't they seen their friends and family cross these roads, walk toward the light, and never return? It's nighttime! Go to bed already, where it's safe! The grass is NOT greener on the other side...)

Once we arrived in Driggs and located our hotel, we could not sleep. We are both night owls, and knowing we needed to rise bright and early at 4:30 a.m. did not matter. Plus, we don't watch T.V. at home, and - MAN ALIVE - there are all kinds of things in that box these days! Plenty of smut, but also home decorating, remodeling, real-life mysteries, some E.R. true-stories show where they're trying to figure out what the heck is wrong with someone before the paralysis spreads to his head and he stops breathing...could YOU turn this stuff off? Oh, yeah - and 24/7 sports. One of us was thrilled with that, the other was not.

Oh, yeah - the trip.

Before we know it, 4:30 a.m. rolls around, and we did what we do best: hit the snooze button (just once!) and then prepare for hike day. The plan was this: Hike Table Mountain after breakfast. And that we did.

We were told that Table Mountain is about a 14-mile hike, round-trip. I had planned to do some walking ahead of time, but it never happened.

"I'm young," I told myself. "I can totally do this."

My body laughed just now, as I typed that.

My problem is this: when I am challenged with a task that seems difficult or unattainable, I face it head on. I like to prove to myself that I can do things. So, Table Mountain? 14 miles? Bring it on.
The hike was beautiful. Scattered wildflowers, a variety of trees, even some wildlife. We enjoyed the conversation with our fellow hikers as we made our merry way along the trail and over streams. After we had gone at least 5 or 6 miles, my sweetheart (who has been on this hike twice previously with Scouts) happily announced, "We're probably about 1/4 of the way there now." Quick math...14 miles, 7 miles each of that...


But we continued on, enjoying the scenery and stopping for occasional breaks and photo opportunities. Allen continued to point out where Table Mountain was along the way.

"See that teeny tiny speck, WAY off in the distance below Grand Teton? That's where we're going."
Up we continued, up numerous switchbacks and eventually to a kind of plateau. At this point we could see Table Mountain off in the distance well enough to get a picture. (It's the little nub in the far right corner) I think we were more than halfway there at this point. I hate to admit this, but I was getting a little tired. And a little sore. But, nothing I couldn't handle. I was ready to CONQUER Table Mountain!

This is where the hike got really uphill. Up, up, up we went. I decided it was best to keep pushing on and not stop. I sang songs in my head with a steady tempo and kept pace with them, trying to keep up with Allen.

I think he was running by now. The man can hike.

After navigating over a large field of rocks (there is some really cool word for this but I can't remember it and can't find it anywhere - I think it starts with a "g") the real climb began. The last uphill pitch of the hike was deceptively steep. I did lots of singing here, keeping pace with 'American Pie' and 'The Sound of Music'. I wanted to walk to more upbeat songs, but my legs mocked me when I tried.

Did I mention that I have a fear of heights? It doesn't make sense, does it? I told you, I like a good challenge. As long as I didn't look back to where I came from, I was fine. The last 100 feet or so was up through some rock. I held on to the mountain with one hand and the ground with the other. Here's the last bit of the trail, almost to the top!As I stepped onto the mountain and looked over at the Tetons, I decided it was all worth it. What a breathtaking view! It was like being on the top of the world.
As we watched the rest of our group, as well as other hikers, making their way to the summit, clouds began to roll in. I have an aversion to being struck by lightening, so I started to make my way down... Oh. my.

It was steep. Did I really climb up this trail?? What was I thinking?

"Our sentiments exactly," said my knees.

We made our way down, back across the big field of rocks (Gravant? Is that the word? No, that's a river...but it's got some fancy French spelling...Gross Ventre or something...I talked to Allen - he's the one who kept using the word - it's called talus. Or, even better sounding, scree. Don't you love learning new words?!) and back to the switchbacks.

The evil switchbacks.

This is where the piggybacks began.

Piggyback is not a fancy word for part of the trail. It is a word used to describe the way a sturdy man can carry his wife down a mountain when her knees refuse to move. If it was up to Allen, he would have given me a piggyback ride the whole way down. He's that kind of guy. But, remember, I must CONQUER the trail! Here is where I got to know Gary.

Gary is an EMT. Ken and Vickie invited Gary and his wife Kathy on our little excursion, too. Gary had drugs. Ken had ace wraps and knee braces. Between the two of them, I had everything I needed on the way down the mountain. Well, the three of them. We can't forget my pack hubby. On the occasion that my knees would lock up, Allen would insist that I hop aboard.

Ken, his son Korey, and Gary stayed with Allen and I the whole way down. I told them they could go on ahead if they wanted. Their wives were further down the trail. They stayed with me.

I know I slowed them down.

I know they were looking out for me.

I love those guys.

On my last piggyback ride, fairly near the end of the trail, Gary pointed out something across the stream...
We would have missed the moose if it were not for Gary's noticing it. I think we were all watching for rocks on the trail at this point, no one was enjoying the beauty that completely surrounded us because we were all looking forward to the padded seats in our air conditioned rides back to the hotel. Again, beautiful.

By the time we arrived at the hotel, I could not even stand on my own. Allen threw me over his shoulder and carried me in.

By the next day, I could walk again. I looked a bit odd, but I could walk.

My advice to all: Don't run on pavement. I did that all through high school while on the cross-country team, and my knees have hated me ever since. Be nice to your knees, and they'll be nice to you as the years creep up on you.

Just out of curiosity, I looked up Table Mountain after we got home. Here is what I found: "This 11-mile roundtrip hike seems much longer than it really is because of the 4,000-foot elevation gain."

11 miles? No way. I'm sticking with 14. Or 20.

Stay tuned for Day 2: The River!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Lucky Number 13

Here they are, the newest married couple in the family, Rachel and Jeremy.

I have had many ideas for blog posts rolling around in my head over the last couple weeks, and one idea was to write about the remarkable family that I was lucky enough to marry into. That post is coming soon, but I will give you a small teaser for now and mention that my handsome husband has 15 siblings. Add him to the mix and, that's right, 16 kids. Rachel is #13 and easily one of my favorites. Don't get me wrong, I love them all, but there's something about this girl that just makes me a happier person. As you can see, she is gorgeous, but the best part is that the whole person is beautiful - not just the outer appearance.

A fun fact: Jeremy is the oldest boy in his family and Rachel is the youngest girl in her family.

Congratulations, Rachel and Jeremy! Thanks for letting us be a part of all the fun.

(When children enter the picture, remember that there are not many other Gerbertas around. And it's a good name.)

Saturday, August 11, 2007

A Little Bird Told Me...

Look at what we found in our garage last weekend: a beautiful little hummingbird. And because I am not trained in determining the gender of hummingbirds, I am guessing it was a girl. Just work with me here.

Allen-the-elder has been remodeling our front room, which includes plenty of woodwork that he creates in the garage. And it is beautiful - he has amazing talent when it comes to such things. I'll do a before-and-after post when he's done. So, back to our new family friend, Humming Birdie.

I went into the garage to bring my sweetheart some breakfast and there she was, fluttering around the ceiling rafters, bringing a smallish warmth to my heart. Did I mention I have a fascination with the beauty of birds in flight? Then Hum B. landed daintily on a power cord to rest. I have never seen a hummingbird at such close range before, and sitting still. After watching Hum B. fly around for a while, seemingly frustrated at not being able to find a way back into the wild blue yonder, (despite the fact the the garage door was WIDE open) we tried to help her find a way out.

Oh, how we tried.

We filled a bowl with maple syrupy-sweet water and placed it near the garage window whose screen had been removed. No dice.

We filled another bowl with sugar-water and placed it at the end of one of the power cords Hum B. favored as a resting place. Ineffective.

We borrowed a neighbor's hummingbird feeder and hung it near the window, filled with sweet, colorful goodness. Failure.

We draped a colorful cloth near the window, hoping it would bring fond memories of tasty flowers to her little hummingbird mind. Futile.

She could not seem to see below ceiling level. We moved the feeder to where she could nourish herself, and gave up until nightfall.

When darkness came we turned off all the lights and shone a light outside of the garage window. Surely Hum B. would find her way out!

Sunday morning dawned and we anxiously ran to the garage to see if our feathered friend had escaped the confines of the garage. Nope. I had one last hope. I vaguely remembered one of our church leaders giving a talk about a similar experience with a sparrow trapped in the Salt Lake City Tabernacle, so I looked it up on our church's website. We had already used the same method of attempting to help the bird escape, but the talk beautifully illustrated another message:

"The sparrow reminds me of the predicament many of us find ourselves in. We feel trapped by our own actions or by the actions of others. We feel frustrations from health problems, family problems, and finances. We fly from one point to another, flapping our wings and making a lot of noise, but that does not solve our problems. But just as God loved that sparrow, he loves each of us and will give us inspiration and direction if we will only ask."

When we returned from our church meetings, the bird had found freedom.

I think someone was trying to tell me something. Something I really needed to hear.

Message received, and thank you.

Monday, August 6, 2007


I have mentioned that my kids are amazing, and I wasn't kidding. At the risk of revealing their secret identities (you won't tell, will you?), two of my kids are actually known superheroes. That's right. Batman and Superman reside under the same roof as the rest of us, right here in our fine city. Here is the proof that Batman exists:
One of EM's friends is running a Summer Camp for pre-school kids to earn some money. It's pure genius, really. We live right smack dab in the middle of oodles of little people in need of summer fun. Last week was Superhero Week for the boys, which culminated with an appearance by Batman himself. About a half hour before Batman was scheduled to appear, we scrambled through our existing costumes to create the Batsuit.

Cape? Check.

Mask? Shirt? Tights? Boots? Uh-oh.

Lucky for Batman, his mother is experienced in the art of costume creation.

Felt? Check. Ribbon? Check. Stapler? Check. Pantyhose? Check.

Batsuit complete.

We were a bit concerned that his braces or ragged Nikes might have given him away. Our worries were unfounded. When Batman first casually strolled over to the unsuspecting group of boys, he went unnoticed. As soon as he was pointed out ("Look, guys, who's that? It's Batman!") the boys were simply awestruck. They were amazed that the REAL Batman was actually gracing them with his presence. It was like watching people who encounter a movie star and don't know what to say or do.

Case in point: This is Tiger. AM and Tiger know each other. They have played together. AM has been Tiger's babysitter on numerous occasions. Tiger is amazed that Batman is here, calling him by name. (I guess those Incredibles weren't kidding when they said that the mask was the secret to concealing your identity!) It didn't take long for him to warm up to the idea of a picture, though. Here are Batman and Tiger with their "Scare-the-bad-guys" faces.
And then we have Superman, who has often been seen flying around the halls of his elementary school. Mr. Z was able to capture him as he zoomed by his classroom one day...
The truly amazing thing here is that Superman is his disguise. That's right, boys and girls, he's Superman all the time. All-a-Boy is his Super Identity.

But mom hasn't created the All-a-Boy suit yet.

So, until next time, stay tuned - Same bat-time, same bat-channel!