Friday, August 31, 2012

Day 1: Martin's Cove, Wyoming, and Getting Lost

First off - let me start by saying that on our road trip we wanted to see all 50 states license plates. We didn't see them all (almost though), but 25 of the states, including Alaska and Hawaii were seen while traveling the roads of Wyoming. With that being said... 

We didn't plan anything in Wyoming during our trip. We figured that we didn't really need to see anything there. My dad lived in Rock Springs, Wyoming and he had nothing good to say about the state, so we decided to just pass through it. BUT then we saw a sign that said "Martin's Cove next left" and we decided to check it out. Martin's Cove is a historical sight on the Mormon and Oregon Trails. The Martin Handcart Company was stuck in this particular area during a severe winter storm. Around 145 people died during their journey to Salt Lake City, Utah. 

This was such an amazing place to see. We loved learning the history of the pioneers and we loved being able to learn of the conditions that led to them being stranded out in the freezing cold. It is amazing how when you visit the sight of an incident like this you feel a sense of awe and reverence. I felt the same type of feeling while visiting the Pearl Harbor Memorial in Honolulu and the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC. There is a certain spirit that permeates places dedicated to the tragic death of so many.

But even with the seriousness of the event that occurred in 1856, we were still able to have fun while we learned about the pioneers. We even pulled a handcart for a little ways.

We loved the beauty of the sight. There were antelope and deer everywhere. The guides told us that they will get just a few feet away from you. They aren't really afraid of humans. 

There were stairs leading to the actual cove, but all the rest of the trails are dirt. They have you walk from the visitors center to the cove so you can see just how far they had to go once they made it to the trading post in order to find shelter from the wind. We were spoiled and were driven in an ATV to about a mile away since we weren't planning on spending a lot of time, but we are grateful we were able to walk the last mile and ponder on the sacrifices of those who have gone before us.

The actual sight of Martin's Cove.

There is a cool story involved in saving those who were stranded that includes at least 4 young men who carried frozen pioneers across the river to get them to safety. Those young men are memorialized in statues near the river and the tour guide gave us great descriptions of the stories. You can read a little about the stories here. 
Although we weren't planning on stopping at Martin's Cove, we are really grateful we did. It set us about 4.5 hours back on our trip (we stayed for a while) and when we finally got to North Dakota it was dark, nearly 10:00 and there is no 3G out in the middle of the sticks, so we drove around in the middle of nowhere for a while until we were able to find our campsite. Our GPS led us to literally a dirt road that was the "center" of the town where we were staying. I don't know if our GPS was trying to lead us into the woods to get killed or what, but we were quite upset with her inability to guide us in the right direction. Luckily we had pretty good intuition about where to go and we made it safely to our destination. 

Thursday, August 30, 2012

We've Seen a lot of Places

Now that we've had a few days to catch our breath (although I doubt I'll be breathing normally for long with all this grad school homework) I figured I should start to blog about our trip. This may end up becoming a long mini-series of places we've seen, and I'm sure everyone will enjoy it. :)

We drove from Utah to Vermont. 36 hours if you drive straight through. We did not want to drive straight through, so it took us 46 hours on the road, and 10 days of being homeless. Since the United States has so much to offer, we knew we had to visit a few of the national/historical sights along the way. We drove to Mt. Rushmore, Des Moines, Nauvoo, Chicago, Kirtland, Niagara Falls, Palmyra, and finally, Brattleboro, Vermont. 

Since we were moving here for the next year of our lives, we loaded up our car with all our "necessities" and started on the road. My amazing coworkers got us a bike rack so we could transport my bike back east. I'm hoping to get a lot of use out of that bike before the weather turns to winter-like.

As soon as we started driving we began having fun. Do you see the sun rising in the background? It was a joyous time in the car, singing and hanging out.

But... Caitlin can only take my singing voice for so long, so she pulled out a box full of road trip games that my mom sent us and we played Go Fish for a little while in the car.

One of my coworkers also got us this great tripod that we used a ton on our trip. We were sick of having every picture of us be from arms length away. It was quite convenient, and we got a lot of great pictures with it.

Moving has been difficult for us. It is weird being in a new place and not knowing anyone. It is also hard to have such separate lives for the time being. I wish Caitlin could come to my classes so she could help me with my homework every night. :) But luckily we still have each other and we are going to do our best to enjoy every aspect of our time in New England. 

Monday, August 27, 2012

We Have Arrived!

We have finally arrived in Vermont and we could not be more out of our element. We are in the COUNTRY. New England is full of old houses, barns, trees, one-lane bridges, and space. Oh there is so much space! 

It is really quite different than Provo, and we are still trying to adjust. It really just feels like we are on vacation in the woods. We are staying in a 3rd floor apartment for the first week we are here. Our place isn't available until September 1st so our landlady helped us find this cute little apartment for us to stay in. It is the perfect place for us to live right now. We only wish we had visitors since there are two bedrooms and three beds and a futon! 

The town we are staying in is called Newfane, and it literally has nothing in it. We are in the CENTER of town - and there is only half a mile of sidewalk in the entire town. We know because we took a stroll on Sunday to explore our surroundings. The only other option was to go into the woods, but Caitlin isn't country-fied enough for that yet.

On our stroll we found this little plaque (with attached slabs for benches) that is in memory of the man who founded the town. He donated all the land that hosts the town buildings, such as the police station and city hall (which looks like an old church). Everything here actually looks old and repurposed. All the dental offices and art galleries (we've seen a lot of those) are in the first floor of the owners home. It is so weird to see a New England style house hosting a dental office. 

Our house has a cute little balcony on it as well. We haven't eaten anything out there since it's been so hot here, but we are loving the fact that we have one. We stroll out there at night once it's cooled off a little. :)

It also has some of the most comfortable furniture we've ever enjoyed. Caitlin took a two hour sunday nap and then found this comfortable chair that would keep her warm after I opened all the windows at night.

We are really actually enjoying it quite a bit. It's really different, and really far away from civilization, but it will become home soon enough. I'll blog more about our trip and our adventures in New England, but now I need to get ready to go to orientation for my new school! Seems like a dream that I'm starting school today - hopefully everything goes well!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Killing Bugs

Sometimes Caitlin is afraid of spiders. It doesn't happen too frequently, but last night she was terrified. I have to admit that spiders give me the creeps, but I am still willing to kill them. Caitlin couldn't get close to this one that was in our room last night.

She kept squealing and jumping on the bed to make sure it wouldn't touch her. I asked her to grab a shoe and pretend like she was killing it, but that was the closest she would get. Don't worry though, I killed it for her. :) 

And my reputation as an insect killer must've gotten out because one of the girls that works for the endodontist next door came into our office this morning to see if I could kill a bug for her. She described it as a spider/centipede. I was a little skeptical, and we couldn't find it in the few minutes we spent searching her office, so I told her I would come back if it made an appearance again. Well it did, and I'm proud to say that I squashed that little bugger more than necessary. It was a house centipede, which is one of the creepiest looking things I've ever seen (see below). It was at least 2.5 inches long and it moved super fast. I can feel a million bugs crawling up my legs as I write about this too. This thing was freaky. I would much rather have a spider in my room than a nasty house centipede. 

Don't worry, Wikepedia told me all about the interaction these creepy crawlies have with humans, "Unlike its shorter-legged but much larger tropical cousins, Scutigera coleoptrata can live its entire life inside a building, usually the ground levels of homes. They are generally considered harmless to humans. Bites (stings) are extremely uncommon, and the forcipules of most house centipedes are not strong enough to penetrate human skin. Stings are generally no worse than a bee's sting, with its venom causing redness and mild to severe swelling." Hopefully I never encounter one ever again! 

Swimming the Snake

Caitlin and I both love to swim/play in the water when it's hot outside, but for some reason we had not gone swimming all summer! When we went to visit my dad this past weekend we were really grateful that my dad lives on the river. It gave us the perfect opportunity to get wet and enjoy some time in the sun.

And of course, since we spent so much time out in the sun, we had to stop by Kiwi Loco to cool off afterward. What could be better than time on the river and frozen yogurt? This summer is for sure ending too soon! 

Feeding the Ducks

I love watching birds, but especially ducks. So I was extremely excited when I saw that our countdown led us to the duck pond to give those guys some grub. We got there just before sunset so you can't really see the ducks on the pond, but they were grateful for the stale pieces of bread we threw their way.

Both Caitlin and I tried to feed the weak little ducks. The ones that seemed to be bullied. For some odd reason, even if the ducks look exactly the same, we didn't like the agressive ones. So we spent a long while trying to distract the meaner ducks so we could pelt the nicer ones with large chunks of bread. 
We are lucky that BYU has a duck pond so close. Hopefully we'll be able to find some sort of aquatic birds out in Vermont. According to Wikepedia, there are 41 species of aquatic fowl in Vermont. 

Family Reunion Weekend

A few weeks ago we had a family reunion for my grandma's side of the family. It was all sorts of fun and entertaining, and it was great to be able to see everyone one last time before we head out to Vermont. My grandma kept everyone entertained with Minute to Win it. She had us stacking dice, bouncing ping-pong balls, and sliding cookies down our faces. She was a great sport and even tried to do some herself.

We camped at a hot springs, but Caitlin and I didn't really have time to go swimming since we left for Rexburg in the middle of the reunion, but we did have a lot of fun camping. We clearly didn't shower after we woke up. We figured that if we were camping, we may as well be dirty. 

Here are a few other shots from the reunion:

My grandma and my cousin Kristen.

Me, Caitlin, and my Aunt Amy.

My mom with a few of her siblings, Layne, Amy, and Marla.

My mom and her kids.

Playing cards - which we do at every family get together.

Colton, my Aunt Geke, and cousin Mitch.

My cousin Kristen, grandma, and mom.

It was fun being able to go to the reunion, and Caitlin and I are excited when our families start doing immediate family reunions. Maybe one day when we're grown-ups that will start happening. 

Cooking like Campers

So before Caitlin and I moved out of our apartment (officially) we put all of our things in storage. It was about a week and a half before we actually moved out, but it was the most convenient time for us to make the trip to Burley to store our stuff. But since we put all of our things in storage, we didn't have anything to cook with. Actually, that is a lie, we had our crock pot which helped us with every dinner we cooked for that week and a half. But on the weekend after we moved our stuff out - we realized that we needed a way to cook other types of foods. We didn't do any grocery shopping, so we were out of a lot of key ingredients for foods, but when you are hungry you become extremely resourceful.

We decided one morning that we needed to eat our eggs - which gave us the idea to make German pancakes. Since we had no pan to cook them in, we lined a small box with aluminum foil and baked our pancakes that way. 

They actually turned out really nicely. A lot of the pancakes were stuck on the bottom, and since we had no measuring cups the flavor wasn't the same as it usually is - but for not really having anything, we thought they were great!

Luckily we had paper plates and plastic utensils that we could eat off of. Every day when we cooked, we felt like we were camping. When else do you use foil to line your pans and eat off of paper plates? We're lucky now to be staying with the Smith family until we leave - but I doubt we will ever forget the adventure we had while we cooked like we were camping.