Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Backpacking at Brighton

For this year's backpacking trip, we decided to do a hike up in Big Cottonwood Canyon (a very beautiful canyon, mind you). We started our hike at the base of the Brighton Ski Resort and hiked up the grassy, full of wild flowers slopes up to Lake Mary.
All ready to go! Elanor hiked the whole way by herself this year and carried a little backpack. It was 2 miles in!
Walking on the ski slopes.
Lake Mary.
Lake Mary is such a gorgeous alpine lake but they don't allow swimming as these lakes are part of the watershed.
She climbed up that rock.
Lake Mary was about a mile and a half from the trailhead.

After Lake Mary, we had another 1/2 mile to go, but Elanor was getting tired so it took a bit longer. We passed another small lake above Lake Mary, but our destination was Lake Catherine.
"The hills are alive with the sound of music."

So many wild flowers!
We made it to Lake Catherine!
It was getting late and we were tired, so we set up camp a little way away from the lake, made dinner and went to bed.

I woke up around seven before the other two and went outside to snap some pictures, but no before I got a quick photo of Elanor sleeping!
Our view right out of our tent.

Our campsite in the morning light.
A few feet from our campsite, there was a view of Lake Mary and the other lake which I cannot remember the name of to the west.

To the east, there was a view of Lake Catherine.
 I then climbed up a huge rock formation to get some better shots.

I love the morning light (this has not been edited at all!).
This was at the top of the rock formation I climbed up. I added a stone.
Lake Catherine.
More chair lifts.
Lake Mary, farther away, and another lake.

Lake Mary.

More of the same, but it was just so beautiful and I could not help myself!
 Wild flowers!

Back at the campsite.
This little girl woke up!
She was pretty proud of herself for climbing all the way up there.
An attempt at a family photo.

 We then ate some oatmeal, packed up, hiked down (last 1/2 mile was hard again).
At the bottom of the trail we met up with some friends and went to lunch (we were incredibly dirty) and then went home, showered, and took naps. It was a beautiful hike and I am so glad we all like to hike and backpack. It would not be as fun if I had to force Tyler or Elanor to go. The mountains in Utah are beautiful. The valley is nice and the views of the mountains are stellar, but sometimes in the heat and smog, I forget how beautiful Utah is. 

These mountains are heavenly. 

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Weekly Photo

We went backpacking this weekend and I will post some more pictures tomorrow since it was so beautiful!

Friday, July 25, 2014

The Weekly Photo

I know this was supposed to be posted on Monday, but this week just got away from me somehow. I felt like we have had a busy couple of days.

I love this picture, because we got together with some friends from SVU and it was so lovely to see our children getting along and becoming friends. I think if the parents are friends, then the kids will be friends too--almost all of the time.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014


My dad read my sister and I The Hobbit and other Tolkien short stories when we were young. When I was about 10, I read The Hobbit, again but on my own. For my 12th birthday, my dad got me my own copy of The Lord of the Rings. I read it and fell in love. It is still one of the very best books I have ever read. Several months after I got the book, "The Fellowship of the Ring" came out in theaters. These movies are the closest I have ever come to being a fan girl (and I really was not close---I am not really nor like that).

My middle and high school years are filled with a lot of Lord of the Rings memories, from waiting in line for each of the three movies, to re-reading the books, watching all of the special features and having movie marathons once the movies (extended edition) came out on DVD. My sister, and my friends, Caitlin and Mallory (twins), and I, were all in the same class our 8th grade (Jessica's 7th grade) year (at our middle school classes were still pretty much like grade school, with just one teacher). We all sat next to each other and were in a corner near the back and side wall. I am not sure how it started, but we started a collage on that wall. There were pictures of Aragorn, the hobbits, Legolas, etc. from the movie, there were our own drawings, quotes, etc. It mostly was all of Lord of the Rings stuff. We practiced writing our names in dwarvish runes and Elvish and put those up in the collage.  I think our teacher must have just liked it, because for whatever reason he did not care that we stapled all this stuff all over the wall. I wish I had a picture of it! I have such happy memories from this time and it cemented a love of all things Tolkien in my young heart. I have since reread The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit many times and I love them more with each reread. 

So, when I saw that there was going to be a FantasyCon here in Salt Lake City, and Sean Astin (Samwise Gamgee), Billy Boyd (Pippin), John Rhys-Davies (Gimli), Sylvester McCoy (Radagast the Brown, also Doctor Who) and several of the dwarves from "The Hobbit" movie were going to be there, there was no way I was not going to be there. 

FantasyCon was so perfect (it would be better if the whole fellowship or at least all four hobbits were there, though). They had a Middle-Earth kick off panel--with everyone mentioned above, plus a producer from "The Lord of the Rings" films (you know the balding guy with a dorky voice), an artist from the movies and Onering.net. It was wonderful. There was also a panel of just Billy Boyd and Sean Astin--talking about being in the films. Plus, everyone had a spotlight and the dwarf who played Gloin (Gimli's dad) and John Rhys-Davies had a father-son panel, which was pretty hilarious. Basically, my middle school heart grew two sizes too big.

Now, for some pictures!

I dressed Elanor up as Elanor Gamgee (Sam's daughter)--this is who she is named after. 
Quickly made Hobbit feet.
{but a not so quickly made dress (I made the dress)}
They had a cute princess area where girls could try on these super awesome princess apron/dresses. I want to make one like that! They had a table set up and they could have a tea party with princesses.

The Fairy Godmother let them pick out a dress and put it on them saying, "Bipiddi, boppity, boo!".

On a Hobbit set.
Jabba the Hut--Tyler did come to FantasyCon--but he is not in any pictures!
Elanor was pretty excited to find this girl dressed like Merida!
Elanor was obsessed with this dragon. It was her favorite thing there.
A pretty cool fountain.

We went to Sylvester McCoy's spotlight (Radagast and 7th Doctor) and he was hilarious! He also said a lot of really insightful things. I especially liked when he talked about the Doctor and his abhorrence with violence/weapons and said that we should look on fighting. etc. as man's greatest weakness, not strength.
He had great comedic timing.

Middle Earth kick off!
The Dwarves (who made me like "The Hobbit" movie so much more). They were all so entertaining and kind.
Especially this dwarf--he was so nice to Elanor. In the main area, they had booths set up for every actor and you could go up and talk to them and this guy (Graham McTavish-- Dwalin) was so easy to talk to! He talked to us for about 10 minutes telling Elanor all about riding in the barrels. He quickly became our favorite dwarf.
And there they are.
Billy Boyd!
 Someone requested that Billy Boyd sing the song from "The Return of the King" and he kindly obliged. I did get a video:

 We went up and talked to Sean Astin and Billy Boyd at their booths.  Billy Boyd was so sweet and talked princesses with Elanor. The first thing Sean Astin said was "Hi, Elanor!". He knew who she was based on her costume and that kinda made my day.
A quick picture while we were waiting in line.
We also took a picture with Sean Astin (Tyler could not make it for this--so it looks like an awkward family photo..). This was actually the only day I dressed up as well. It is a pretty lame elf costume and I should not have bothered. I am sort of embarrassed by this picture and did not want Sean Astin to think I was weird. Elanor kindly reassured me saying, "Mom, you look beautiful and Sean Astin liked you. "

 Billy Boyd and Sean Astin together were wonderful!

We also went to their separate spotlights. Sean Astin was just so sweet and good (he even said a Sam speech and some Goonies lines!!). Billy Boyd was hilarious and so entertaining. He loves being in front of an audience and so does John Rhys-Davies--that guy is laugh out loud funny!

It was a wonderful three days. It was a dream come true (for real). 

And in closing a cute video of Elanor dancing to the music from a band at FantasyCon: