The Family Practice

family life is a practice in balance and flow

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Southern Utah Getaway Pt 1

Last year I flew my mom out to Utah and took her on a much needed vacation/exploration of Southern Utah. On that trip we decided that even though we talk on the phone throughout the year and see each other over the holidays, it’s really nice to have time together – just us – and this trip needed to become an annual thing.

For that trip we stayed in Springdale for two nights, hiked in Zion and made a trek out to Snow Canyon State Park. It was sunny and warm and delightful.

My mom bought a bunch of touristy stuff like guide books and photo calendars and has lusted over the remainder of Southern Utah ever since. For this years trip we’re doing the whole enchilada (not to be confused with…The Whole Enchilada)

We started with a night in Springdale and a visit to Zion National Park but by the end of our trip we’ll be on the other side of the state in Moab, UT.

We are sort of following this route from when Nick and I took the boys to Southern Utah – except in the backwards order AND adding Zion.

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So imagine this map had a little marker “F” where it says “Zion National Park” – for day one we drove from “A” to that imaginary “F” where we checked in at the Pioneer Lodge. Now here’s a little tip for you, the Pioneer Lodge was on Groupon for $39/night. Whenever we plan a road trip or getaway I always search a couple places before booking. My favorites: Priceline, RueLaLa Getaways, Groupon and LivingSocial.

PS>that RueLaLa search left me daydreaming of this 7-night getaway to Palm Island…ay yi yi!

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But back to the trip at hand…

We checked in at the Pioneer Lodge around 3:30 on Sunday afternoon and decided to go into Zion NP so we could grab a map and take a quick glance at the park. We wound up driving the length of the park route (there’s no shuttle service in operation during the winter and that means the roads are open to personal vehicles). No matter how many times I’ve been here, it just blows me away every time with the grandness of it – the towering rock walls at every turn. I’d love to camp out for six months so I could photograph the everchanging lightscape, mist and shadows. It’s something that a thousand photographs can’t relay to a person who has never been. Simply incredible.

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As we were driving into the park there was this heavy mist rolling off the steep canyon walls.

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It was almost as if the canyon was growing taller as we drove deeper. Pretty cool feeling.

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Here we are at the end of the park drive – in the Temple of Sinawava – this is the farthest you can go by vehicle but it is the starting point of the popular “Narrows” hike up the Virgin River. Given that it was 34* out – and that even the Riverwalk Trail (a cement boardwalk) was closed – we skipped that :)

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I have a brand new camera (a FujiFilm Finepix ← that links to a refurbished model that is under $200!!) that I am learning how to use. I just opened it up on Valentine’s Day and this trip is the perfect playground to try out all the settings and options. I don’t think I captured this very well but I’m sharing anyway – the bright red loose sand, the river and then the hardened red rock/sandstone walls of the canyon behind.

Back in Springdale, we walked through the town a little even though most everything is closed for the season. We managed to find a few stores open and we of course went back to Oscars Cafe for dinner. And we ordered the exact same meal as last year. It was that good you guys! Why deviate from something you love?!

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Their Top Sirloin: comes with avocado butter, twice baked mashed potatoes inside a poblano pepper, black beans and some guacamole.

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We also started with some appetizers beforehand. The chips with house made salsa and guacamole were spot on. And even though that salad looks pretty simple, the dressing is something I would eat with a spoon! My mom and I were trying to place all the flavors – definitely a lot of dill and some lemon, maybe sage? I need to play around and try to recreate that. The beer you see, that’s an award winning local brew: Wasatch Fiesta Lager.

We found ourselves back at the hotel pretty early on which was great. We have both been under the wire to finish projects before making this trip happen and it’s nice to suddenly find ourselves with all this extra time.

In the morning we’ll head into Zion for a couple hikes and then we’ll take the east exit through the tunnel and head towards Bryce Canyon National Park.

*This is not a sponsored post but it does contain a couple affiliate links – thanks for your support!

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Weekend Update – Banff

*Just ignore the construction taking place on the site this week. I had a corrupted file and since this is just a hobby, well, tech issues move directly to the back burner. It should be resolved shortly :) *

Like most of you, we celebrated Valentine’s Day this weekend. Even if you’re single, I think Valentines’ Day – aside from the consumer nonsense that surrounds every holiday – is a great time to reflect on and appreciate the love around you – whether it’s love for community, your significant others, kids, or the homeless guy that waves hello every morning as if he’s never seen you before.

Nick and I generally don’t do big gifts for V Day but he broke the rules this time. He bought me a camera!

I’ve been working on the dining room and have been sending cell phone photos to my mom and mother-in-law. I was really excited to use the camera to get a decent photo of the dining room. Ha!

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For the big celebration, Nick and I went to a great dinner at Restaurant 1107 which is at the top of the highest building in downtown – all eleven stories of it :)

We’ve eaten there once before and I remembered it being a great meal but every time I have suggested going since, Nick has been all loose-y goose-y let’s go somewhere else. He finally gave in and made us reservations. Nick is super picky about salmon but ordered it anyway and…drum roll please…. he loved it! He admits that he remembered this place really wrong and that our meal was incredible. We enjoyed the view, the food and we chatted through the meal about all manner of things.

We do date nights rather frequently but for some reason the “big deal” dates still make for a nice change up in pace and we end up talking about things we usually don’t. I love it :)

After dinner we walked across the street to the historic Egyptian Theater for the Banff Mountain Film Festival.

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Neither of us have been to the festival before and we weren’t really sure what to expect. As it turns out, it was nine selected films and they were all very inspiring. If I had to pick a favorite, I think it would be Sufferfest 2 (<–links to a preview) but it’s hard to criticize any of the films. They all offered a great perspective and just make you want to 1) travel everywhere 2) be a badass athlete 3)drop everything and get outside. Sufferfest happens to take place in Utah for part of the adventure and that makes it especially fun to watch as well.

We saw nine films in total and it was just…wow.

The film they ended with was Afterglow which has been out for a while now and I’ve seen half a dozen times but is still so incredible. That one was filmed at Alyeska Ski Resort in Alaska.

Coming up…

One of my big goals for Sunday was to book the hotels for my upcoming trip to Southern Utah with my mom. She’s flying in on Thursday and we’re heading out together on Sunday for an adventure.

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You may remember that my mom came out last February and we did a mom-and-me trip down south as well. It’s crazy because last year it was mid-thirties and we left here hoping for temps above 60. This year it’s hovering high-fifties/mid-sixties here in Ogden and it’s been mid-seventies in lower portions of the state, although this week is predicted to be a bit colder.

The trip with my mom will be four days, three nights. We’re starting in Zion/Springdale and heading east to Bryce Canyon and even farther east to Arches/Moab on day three. We have three hotel nights and a lot of miles to cover and places to see along the way. I can’t wait!

You might also be interested in:

My Guide to Zion on a Budget

The Time a Car Rolled Into Us on the Way to Zion

And for those of you with kids:

Our Family Trip to Southern Utah: Day 1 and Day 2 (these have some nice maps I put together that could be useful in planning a trip of your own)

PS: this post about my mom’s first trip to Zion was a total foreshadowing of the failure that came during the marathon, it’s almost comical reading it now. I should have known…

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Mid-Day Date Escape

Well, as promised, yesterday was pretty jam packed and pretty dang awesome!

I worked through some random details on a couple projects yesterday – isn’t it always the tiny details that take the most time? – and then I picked Nick up for our fun adventure in Salt Lake City.

You might remember the group from the Chocolate Villa retreat I have worked at over the past two summers now.

Side note: When I went to find the link back to the Chocolate Villa event, I realized that I never got around to blogging about it this summer. I guess I shouldn’t really be surprised since that was the September from which I am still suffering PTSD (Post-traumatic-September-Disorder).

Anyway, Villa Leadership is the group that puts on Chocolate Villa and they reached out to me about attending a mystery lock-in which they are considering adding to their programming.

Nick and I were both able to attend and I thought it would be a fun, if not incredible random, mid-afternoon Thursday date :)

We arrived at The Gateway a little before 2pm and found out that our session wasn’t until 2:40 so we had quite a bit of extra time and wound up sneaking in a quick sushi date before the mystery began.

Our group met up at Mystery Escape Room just a little before our program was supposed to start and we got a quick rundown on the rules: don’t climb on things, don’t take things off the walls, we’d be watched the whole time and we would get some clues from time to time if we got stuck.

The theme for our adventure was pirates and to be honest, when they first sent us into the room I thought oh man this is going to be so easy and lame. Well, it wasn’t easy and we had to work as a group to solve several riddles, discover padlock codes and search for hidden keys, etc.

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You have only an hour to work through the puzzle and hoist your flag and we were able to solve it about 51 minutes in. The room we were in has about a 30% solve rate and now our group photo is on the wall with the other successful entrants. And yes, my eyes are closed :(

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Mystery Escape Room offers three difficulty levels of which ours was the easiest. They rotate the rooms out monthly so there’s always something new to try. Nick and I both agreed that this would be a fun thing to do for a birthday party or with a group of friends, and possibly even young professionals.

Which speaking of… we had OYP last night at the iFLY in the Salomon Center. Our group was talking about facing fears and after our group discussion we were able to “sky dive” in the fly tunnel. If you haven’t heard of iFLY before, it’s an indoor skydiving facility utilizing a vertical wind tunnel.

A VWT is a wind tunnel that moves air up in a vertical column. It’s mostly for purposes of recreation, but also serves as a valuable training device for skydivers and the military.

iFLY simply put is flying; you will soar on a column of air inside a vertical wind tunnel. iFLY uses the SkyVenture tunnel who is the world leader and most experienced company when it comes to vertical wind tunnels. SkyVenture has superior technology and is unique with multiple fans located at the top of the flight chamber which produces a wall-to-wall airflow that is smooth and fun to fly in. The air flow is totally controllable this combined with our professional instructors makes for the most exciting flight experience in a wind tunnel possible.

Nick and I have both done the iFLY before but we thought it’d be fun to do it again with our group. And it sure was!

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I didn’t get a picture of us in the tunnel so I grabbed this one of the iFLY Facebook page instead – it’s a fun one :)

If you’re interested you can find a recap of Ogden Young Professionals and also see when/where our next meeting is.

Today, I’m working from my office for a bit – I have an online training starting in a couple minutes so it’s time for me to sign off but I want to wish you all a Happy Valentine’s Day and to let you know that my Misfit Flash arrived in the mail yesterday and I’m now tracking my life via a tiny fit gadget. I’ll be giving a review on Monday once I’ve had a chance to wear it to the gym (this afternoon) and put in a long run (Saturday), etc. Have a great weekend!

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Two Good, One Ugly

I have had two great days of running this week!!

I ran an incredible 3.25 (incredible not for the distance but for how I felt) on Tuesday morning and I put in 5.25 on the river parkway with Nick last night.

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I have been making a point of drinking LOTS of water, keeping up with my iron intake and eating protein all day long. I can really feel the difference in my energy levels and endurance.

Then…there’s today. A crap shoot 1.25 that makes me want to cry a little. I woke up with a deep pain in my hip – its back – and that kept me up for several hours last night. I didn’t want to talk about it, let alone acknowledge it, so this morning I packed up my gym bag and as soon as I dropped the kiddos off at school I popped over to the gym, did some extra deep stretching and hit the treadmill.

I figured if I could get in a solid mile, the pain might lessen a bit and I could put in my scheduled three. It didn’t go down like that and I got through that single mile wincing and telling myself to just keep my stride strong and even.

Nick says: “so now what?”

Well, I figure I will take extra good care of my hips – that means lots of stretching, lots of yoga and I’ll probably go in for some body work to help me out too. Tomorrow is a rest day in terms of running so I will see if I can make it to the mid-day Body Flow class and really work on my hips. I have ten on the schedule for Saturday. Wish me luck!

And as for today, I’m going to cheer up real quick because I have a day full of fun things and shockingly little work :)

I have breakfast with some JL gals this morning, following a quick meeting with the local newspaper, after breakfast I’ll bust through my office work for a couple hours before I pick up Nick for a fun adventure “date.” A company I do a summer gig with contacted me to see if we’d be guinea pigs for a new team building activity they are thinking about incorporating in their program. It’s a mystery lock-in – I’ll let you know how it goes.

As soon as we solve the mystery and get free, we’re headed back to Ogden for Ogden Young Professionals! This month is all about fear-busting and breaking down barriers. I’m especially excited because after our meeting, we get to “sky dive” in the iFLY tunnel.

Not a bad day right? Even if it did start with a seriously bad run :)

Question of the day: How do you deal with training set-backs or injuries?

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The Best Run Yet

This morning I had what was probably my best run to-date, certainly my best one this year. I put in three miles before work at the gym, on the treadmill. I make that clarification because my new gym also has an indoor track which I alternate using for some of these shorter runs. Anyway, today was a treadmill day.

It didn’t start out beautiful. I wasn’t really feeling it for the first mile, my headphones were annoying me, the guy next to me was weird, Fox news was on the TV in front of me – and I don’t care which side of politics you’re on, that’s no way to start your day.

I took a potty break at mile one – that’s what I get for trying to hydrate and fuel up early in the morning – and then came back to finish my two remaining miles. The treadmill had of course reset during that time and so it was like I was starting fresh. Except my muscles were already warm, I had found my stride, and I was faster. I am always faster on subsequent miles.

And here’s a shocker for you: RUNNING IS SO FLIPPING MENTAL!

Even though I eased into that second mile and totally knew it was my second mile, the little ticker told me I was in the first mile.

So I reset it again after that mile was up.

And the third mile was even better.

Each new mile was just that, a brand new mile. I focused on each one and banged them out at a great(for me) pace.

I was sweaty, proud and feeling fantastic all before 8 am.

Which totally calls for a tub and a sauna.

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I really love that there’s a pool at our new gym and it doesn’t hurt that there’s also a hot tub, sauna and steam room. I have come to love getting my sweat on, slathering my face with Hippie Luxe, and hopping in the hot tub. By the time I simmer down a bit and then dry off in the sauna, my skin is fresh, clean and super duper soft.

All before work :)

After a couple hours at the office I was ravenous. I stopped at home to whip up a quick salad. My favorite antipasto salad, based on the one my mom used to make us just about daily.

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Romaine, diced Romas, cubed mozzarella, shreds of red cabbage, minced pepperoncinis, black olives and homemade Italian dressing. Yes yes yes.

As it turns out, I was really in the mood for salad today because when Nick arrived home from his quick work trip up to Washington, we stopped in to Brewskis for a mini-date.

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A beer for each of us (does that count as carb-loading for tomorrow’s run?) and a giant half salad for me. I don’t think a lot of people realize that Brewskis makes everything from total scratch. I love it because even though it’s a total pub/bar, I feel like I’m eating real food, not something warmed up from a plastic bag or a cardboard box.

Question of the day: Do you play mind games when you run? Ever reset the treadmill and pretend it’s mile one all over again?