Monday, July 23, 2012

State Fair

I love days off.  And three days off with mi esposo (that's spanish for, "my husband"...I've been working on learning that a lot more seriously I'll basically be Mexican when we move home), has been a very good time.  Today was probably the best day.  It started out bright and early with a 2-hr drive to Minot, ND.  Well, first it started out with this beautiful sunrise during a beautiful morning run! 

Then the drive to Minot.  We had an eye appointment for Tanner since he hasn't had one for over a decade.  He hates the eye doctor more than I hate dentists...and if you know either of us...that's saying a lot.  It all stems from him having to wear glasses since he was two years old, and having to get the worst eye drops ever. They have to dilate your eyes and apparently it stings.  His mom says they used to have to hold him down and it was usually quite the scene to get the Dr. to get the drops in.  Thankfully he has grown up a little bit the last 30 years. That all went well and Tanner was very pleased with the positive feedback from the doc.  He did end up getting some pretty sweet, sexy glasses that I'm rather excited for him to have.

Minot has a few significant things that Williston doesn't.  One - good restaurants.  We ate lunch at Buffalo Wild Wings, one of Tanner's favorites.  Becoming one of mine as well - they have a fantastic black bean burger.  And number two - decent stores.  We spent a fair amount of time perusing a glorious Barnes and Noble.  It was awesome.  And then....drum roll please...THE STATE FAIR!!! Woohoo!  So this fair started on Friday and goes till next Saturday.  We have been hearing people talk about for a week about how great it is and how huge it is and on and on.  So Tanner and I were expecting at least the size of the Utah State Fair if not bigger.  Boy oh boy were we sadly disappointed.  It was tiny.  Well, maybe not tiny but no where near the size of the Utah one.  They had a piddly supply of animals, a little petting zoo, a handful of serious farm equipment and a few buildings with vendors and stuff.  But there wasn't anything REALLY cool.  Plenty of food and carnival rides and games and such, but it was kind of a bust.  We made the most of it and had a good time, though.

This was one of Tanner's favorite...and the only good people watching caught on camera.  There was plenty more, though!

Some huge cow from Africa or something.  They had a water buffalo too, which I enjoyed :)

They had this cool little fishing and hunting place and we tried forever to get our little bobber thing into those fish's mouths.  Tanner won, not surprisingly.  My first shot went into the trees...if that tells you anything.  We also got to shoot some bow and arrows which was pretty fun. 

They don't mess around with their enormous farm equipment here!
In other exciting news, we have a new member of our family.  Simon, a 21 year old boy from Washington, D.C. area who has been attending BYU Idaho rolled into town Sunday morning, was at church, needed a place to stay, and Tanner said he could :)  We'd been talking about renting one of our rooms out to someone for awhile, it just hadn't ever happened, so we were both for the idea when the opportunity presented itself.  So now our previously somewhat packed storage room is a SEVERELY packed and minorly inaccessible storage room.  Oh will hopefully help him out.  Since T and I both have the gypsie/vagabond gene, we thought it would be nice to try and offer a roof over someones head while they got situated in this not so glorious town.  Our quaint little singlewide sure beats sleeping in his Honda. Tanner would definitely know seems how he lived in his little brothers VW Bus while in college and then his Hyundai Elantra for his first 3 weeks while living in Jackson Hole.  Truth be told, it's not really all that inconvenient and he seems nice enough.  Nothing is missing from the place yet :)

And to close...a little lovin' on our funny dogs.  They were cooped up all day while we were gone so right after we got home we took them to the park to play fetch.  First of all - Rozzi does NOT jump into the back of the car, she puts her front paws on the bumper, then waits for one of us to put our arms under her and lift her back legs up. She's a little high maintenance.  Tanner weighed her yesterday and she's just about 90lbs even - so picking her up and throwing her in the back of our cars is not doing our backs any favors.  One time a few months ago I opened the back of my car and she hopped right in - no coaxing whatsoever.  Has not even come close to doing it since.  Very annoying.  Well today, we tried, as always, to motivate her to jump in.  Nope.  Then Tanner opened the back seat door and stuck his head in and called to her and she hopped right in.  What the heck!?!?  So funny and crazy.  Whatever works.  So we drove to the park and played some fetch.  Samson LOVES fetch.  He'd play it 24/7 non stop if his 3 little legs would let him.  Rozzi just likes to pester him while he's going after it.  And by pester I mean bite his front leg, jump on him, plow into him, bite his head, etc etc.  Sometimes she'll beat him to the ball and bring it back part way, and sometimes she makes it all the way back to us.  Most of the time she just drops it half way and once it's out of her mouth it's the furthest thing from her mind. (we're really thinking she suffers from a serious bout of A.D.D.)  That's when Samson jumps in and grabs it.  Today she was doing that and she'd drop it and accidentally kick it forward a little bit and run after it like a goof and then Samson did this new between her back legs trick and grabbed it out from under her belly.  Probably is a lot more funny if you saw it but man these dogs are entertaining and bring all manner of joy and happiness and laughter to our lives :)  We love these guys!  (And on the way home, she wouldn't jump in back until Tanner did his little trick.  What a spaz!)

Friday, July 20, 2012

South Dakota!

Oh how we love vacations!  And a Stoddard vacation is ALWAYS a good time.  This trip to South Dakota was no exception to that rule.  My parents were talking about going to Mt. Rushmore even before we knew we were moving up here, so it worked out nicely.  We met them at our home-for-a-week; Horsethief Campground.  That night we got pizza and went to Rushmore.  No one but Tanner had ever seen it before, and I thought it was really cool!  They did this little lighting ceremony at night - a little speech from a park ranger, a video about the Presidents and why they were chosen to be on the mountain, and some other very patriotic type stuff.  It was actually really cool.  I felt quite proud to be an American :)  It's pretty impressive how they made it and that they even made it and that not one person even died while creating it. 

 Tuesday was a glorious hiking day.  We decided to hike the highest peak in South Dakota.  Sounds pretty intense, huh?  It really wasn't too bad.  It took us  most of the day, but we had some fun along the way.  (Tanner told me I can't post tons of pictures on the blog, so I'm trying to keep it at a minimum.  We got LOTS of really fun ones, and my parents have half of the great ones so this is just a teeny little taste). 
On top of Little Devil's Tower

This little guy was like 3 feet off the trail and didn't seem to care people were walking right by him.  Pretty cool. 
So beautiful!  I was really surprised at how gorgeous everything was around there.  The whole week was a wonderful dose of some much needed mountain time for both of us!  It was really cool how there were all these hills and then just sporadically there'd be these cool out-croppings of rock formation things.

Wednesday was cave day.  Tanner and Laura and I had our turn for our intense wild cave spelunking tour.  Apparently it's the toughest tour in all the national park system.  And it was intense.  We had to prove we'd fit through this little cement box that was 8.5 inches high and 24 inches wide before they'd even let us go through.  There was all manner of squeezing through tight sp!aces and climbing up ropes and squirming on our stomachs up and down and around and through.  It was so incredibly awesome!  There was a lot of really pretty and super cool stuff down there and it was just a fun challenge.  I was so proud of Tanner for conquering his fears for the day of small, confined, tight spaces. You can tell by the look on his face that he was about .00009 seconds away from completely snapping and killing any and everyone who was in the cave with him. I think the only thing that kept him from doing so, was he needed to know the way out  It was definitely a claustrophobic's nightmare.  But when it was all said and done, so much fun!  The rest of the group did another cave tour and then the other half did that wild tour on Saturday while Laura and I went on another hike.  Tanner had left Friday for Salt Lake for some family events (that unfortunately got canceled, but he still got some good golf in and it was great to see his family for a short time).

Thursday we went horseback riding and did a pretty scenic little drive.  Friday we got a pontoon boat and spent the whole day on a reservoir a little north of where we were camping.  So much fun.  We had a slide off the boat and it was glorious and relaxing.  I was bummed Tanner had to miss it all, but we still had a great time.  

My mom has all the great pics of boating.  My battery was almost dead.  Perhaps I'll have to put more on Facebook or I'll squeeze a few more in here when Tanner isn't looking :)
And these last pics are of Sylvan Lake.  It was pretty close to our campsite, and also is in the movie National Treasure 2.  Yep, we were we're practically superstars now :)  It was such a gorgeous lake!  It had a nice path around it that we strolled around.  My dad and Kathryn and I swam in it one evening.  Heather and Shane climbed around it.  And Laura and I did a hike from here Saturday.  And this is where we started our big long hike from.  It was a good place to be, for sure!

Then I drove home with my family Saturday and met up with Tanner for some fun family time on Sunday.  Dinner all together and fireworks at Weber State and lots of great playing with the nieces and nephews.  Family is awesome and we miss them already.  It was fun to come home to our little family with our doggies though :)  And now we're back to work (and Tanner is getting ready to start his new job in about a week) and we're already looking forward to the next vacation!  

Saturday, July 7, 2012

3rd of July

Tuesday was a pretty exciting day for me.  Although my parents live 2 minutes from Rocky Mountain Raceway, I had never before been to any car races in any shape or form.  They actually have a dirt track up here and Tanner made it to a couple races in the last couple of weeks.  So, he said it was high time I get my butt there with him, so I took off early from work and we headed to the races.  Holy moly it was fun times!  Talk about hick central though.  Spaghetti straps, mullets, fatness, beer, you name it, it was there.  Made for very interesting and entertaining people watching as well.  And the races were so exciting.  Tanner is a little bit of a redneck and was completely in heaven! It was nice having him there to explain everything and help me understand and appreciate what was going on.  They'd go so fast, every turn I was sure there was going to be a massive collision.  A couple weeks ago at the races while I was working, I got a text from Tanner saying that the ambulance was bringing in a guy that had wrecked.  I think he ended up doing ok, but it was pretty crazy. 

You have to wear these safety glasses because the dirt from the track gets flipped up from the cars and blows into the stands. We also live in North Dakota and the wind always blows here, so that didn't helps matters any either.

After a couple hours it started blowing a nasty looking storm the wrong direction; right towards us.  We thought we would be fine, but then a ton of lightning came and it was really close to us.  So, everyone basically took off.
It was a pretty cool storm actually.  We rushed to our car for fear of getting pelted by hail, because on a side note - a couple days before we headed off for our anniversary we had a nice hail storm that sounded like a heard of elephants on our roof all night.  It was insane.  Messed up a lot of cars around here - including Tanner's truck.
Didn't really want to get beat by anything like that.  So we went home, bummed because we didn't get to see the rest of the races and because there was supposed to be a killer firework show after the races. About 30 minutes after we got home, it got nice and so we went back to check it out. The cars were just getting warmed up again and the stands were packed. It was awesome.  So we watched the rest of the races which were great! After the storm passed we had perfect weather and the wind died down. After the races we saw the most incredible firework showr - that started right on July 4th, midnight.  It was amazing.  Tanner and I were blown away by how long and awesome and just mind blowing good it was :)  Especially for a little North Dakota town named Williston. I guess the guy who does them each year owns the only two firework stands in town and only works a couple weeks in July and then he's set for rest the year. Two weeks ago his father passed away, so naturally he dedicated this years show to his late father. It was a 17 minute grand finale, and I think that's an understatement. There's been major fireworks going on ALL over town all week.  Not so cool for Rozzi, though.  We loved it and it was a perfect celebration! 

Unfortunately I had to work early the next morning...but totally worth all lost sleep. Turns out someone else didn't have quite as good of an evening. There was a 21 year old kid that came in about 1am that morning.  Drunk...surprise surprise...and thinking it would be cool to hold a big mortar shell that you put big aerial fireworks in and light a fuse near his man-parts and act like that was shooting off fireworks.  Well, joke was on him when it blew up all said man parts. The doc said he couldn't even tell if he was looking at his testicles or not.  Apparently he pulverized everything down there and that was the talk of the whole hospital the whole next day. Wow. That's all I have to say. Oh, and DON'T light fireworks from your penis.  Usually won't end well.  Happy Independence Day America!

Longest Year of Carissa's Life!

This past weekend we had our first anniversary. We thought we would celebrate in style and go to the only "resort" town in North Dakota, called Medora. It's a small little town about 2 hours directly south of here. Before the oil boom, tourism was the #2 money producer in the state, behind agriculture. Carissa and I had decided that we would take turns with the anniversary. She would take the odd number years, and I the even numbered years. That way we can switch off and we each alternate on the bigger ones, like the 5th, 10th, 15th, 20th, and so on. To be honest, I think I'll have won the lottery if I can convince her to stay with me and my shinanigans for 10 years, so I'm really dreaming big for the 20th and anything beyond. ;-)

Carissa had surprised me a couple weeks prior to our anniversary with a little vacation package down there. The basic package includes a room for a night, dinner for two at their "pitchfork fondue" dinner and then two tickets to a musical. For a few extra dollars you can upgrade your room, and get a round of golf on one of the nicest golf courses in the state, so seems how I golfed on our wedding day and being the sweetheart she is, she splurged and went for the golf package as well.

That Saturday morning we dropped the dogs off at one of Carissa's co-workers and then took off. Apparently ol' Teddy Roosevelt spent a lot of time in Medora, so naturally everything down around there is named after him. We went to Roosevelt National Park to do some hiking. Carissa really wanted to do some 10+ mile hike, but being it was the hottest day of the year thus far, and the fact there are no trees or shade in North Dakota, we opted to do a handful of shorter 1-2 mile hikes. It was pretty fun and quite gorgeous. I was pleasantly surprised at how beautiful it was. Here are a few of the pics.

North Dakota Badlands

Carissa sitting in one of the few trees along the trails

Some wild mustangs we came upon

Big heard of Bison

After we did the hikes, we decided to run into town and check into the hotel room and wander around town for a bit. So we went and checked in, went to our room and opened the door to find this:

Needless to say, you can imagine our surprise to find THIS WAS THE UPGRADED ROOM! Keep in mind as well, this is a resort town (the only resort town their tourism depends on), so the room wasn't exactly cheap. We were a little shocked to say the least.

With our little package they have a really cool chuckwagon dinner buffet, called the pitchfork fondue, and they actually cook your steaks on pitchforks. 

As you can see from Carissa's plate, it was quite the feast. Suprising enough, it was quite tasty as well!

After dinner they have this really cool ampitheater right next door to the chow place, and they had a musical. The stage opens up and beyond the stage is this really cool view of some badlands and a river going through it.

Our seats were awesome! They were about 15 rows up, and right smack dab in the middle. Don't be alarmed by the empty seats. They all filled in. We had about an hour and a half to kill between the dinner and musical. As we were sitting there this HUGE elk came right up the hill beyond the stage.

Carissa will probably kill me I'm going to tell this story, but I loved it, and her sense of humor is one of the many reasons I feel I've won the lottery with her. As we were sitting there and we first saw the elk, Carissa said "Whoa, his rack is WAY bigger than mine!" I just about lost it. She catches me off guard with comments like that, but I love it.

These are a couple of pics we took during the show. It was a really good musical, and well done. They told the story of how Medora came to be, and about Teddy Roosevelt living in the area. They also sang a lot of current country songs as well as some original songs. I felt it was time well spent and the setting couldn't have been better. The weather was perfect as well, so all in all it was a good time......... right up until we got a text at 10:30 pm from the lady who was watching the dogs.....

She told Carissa that Rozzi and Samson were outside with her dogs in her fenced in yard, and a bunch of fireworks started going off, well it spooked Rozzi and she bolted. No clue as to how she got out of her yard, but she was M.I.A. Carissa wasn't too worried about it, but I was sick to my stomach. Carissa was unaware that fireworks mess with dogs in a bad way, and that this is the busiest time of year for the pounds and missing dogs because the fireworks spook dogs so bad. I had the most sickening feeling in my gut the rest of the night. We went back to the hotel and thought about leaving, but since it was almost 11 at that time and we were two hours away, we figured we wouldn't be able to do much, so we tried to get some rest. We also had this small glimmer of hope she would come back.

I also think Carissa was hopeful that I could golf in the morning, but if she hadn't turned up by the time we woke up, then I decided we would go home early. As much as I really wanted to play this golf course, I knew it would be a waste to even attempt to go play. We woke up and she still hadn't turned up anywhere, so we loaded up and came home. I stopped and bought some sunflower seeds and a Coke, and I think I had blown through the entire bag of seeds in about an hour. It was the longest and worst drive. Once we came home, we started going door to door, driving our cars all over town. We also made some fliers and paid some neighbor kids to ride their bikes and plaster them all over town. Being a Sunday, not many businesses were open, so we mainly just drove around looking for this little rascal!

We split up and each used up over a half of tank of gas looking for her. We were exhausted and decided to call it a day. Carissa and I hadn't really talked the entire drive home because we were both stressed out. After we had searched all day long, we came home and I think that was the first time we both really thought we had lost her. We made eye contact and we both just completely lost it. We sat and bawled our eyes out in the kitchen, just comletely broken hearted. Samson knew something was up and he came and nuzzled in between us and just gave us loves the rest of the evening. When we went to bed, he jumped up on the bed and cozzied in between us (completely uninvited) and just comforted us. It never ceases to amaze me how aware dogs are of your feelings, and just how great they are at loving you unconditionally.

Monday we both woke up and I had to work, but Carissa was free until 3:00 pm, so she went and got the rest of the fliers handed out and called the radio station. They have a call-in classified program for an hour everyday and she called in before hand to see if she could have them mention something on the show. The guy took her number and called her during the program and let her explain the situation and a little about Rozzi on the radio. Keep in mind, we live in a town that literally has two radio stations, so it was big to get the word out. The company I work for also does radio advertising, so I also called the radio station and talked to the saleman who does our ads. He asked about Rozzi and told me to come down to the station after lunch and he would let us record an ad, and run it 4-5 times a day for a week, and then if we still hadn't found her, he would run a second week for free. Now I know most of you are thinking, wow that must be expensive. Surprisingly enough, they were only going to charge us $50 to do all those ads. We figured, heck we are into the fliers for that kind of money, so why not.

The one good thing about Rozzi is the fact she is a Newfoundland (which is a breed that isn't very common). She is also a dark chocolate Newfoundland so she was even more rare than a black or a black and white one. So we knew if anyone had seen her and took her, or if someone had actually stolen her from the backyard (we were starting to go crazy, so we thought anything was possible) that we would recognize her. Our only fear of really losing her was the fact that she was lost late at night, and she was only one block away from the highway, so we were really scared she had been hit by a big rig.

Well it was after lunch and I was on my way down to the radio station, and was on the phone with Carissa  about what we should say and I got a phone call. I told Carissa I needed to answer it because it was a Williston number. I answered it, and a lady asked if I was missing a dog, and that she had her in her house. I pulled over and just lost it. So much pressure and tension about not knowing where she was, or what happened to her just broke our hearts. It was a culmination of a lot of emotions just coming to a boil.

I went and picked her up, and called Carissa to stay home because we found our dog!!! It was a very happy reunion and I was so glad to have her back. I tookk her home and just hugged Carissa. Rozzi was full of thorns and stickers and anything else you can imagine. She was exhausted. Completely parched and starving. She was missing for over 36 hours and I don't think she had eaten anything the entire time she was missing. The lady who found her, found her down by the river and so I'm sure she had drank her fair share of water, but she was starving. Once she was home, she ate a couple bowls of food, and went and laid down in our bathroom because the air vent blows right on her. I went in there and sat next to her and just pet her. Carissa noticed she had ticks all around her eyes, so we pinned her down and searched for ticks. We also took her to get an emergency shave and tick and flea removal.

Needless to say, we are so glad to have her back and we absolutely love having her and Samson around. My mom told me when I first got Samson over 2 years ago, that I was just setting myself up to have my heart broken. While that is definitely true, I wouldn't trade it for the world. I absolutely love these dogs! They are the worlds best dogs!