Thursday, November 28, 2013


The longer I'm away from home, the more I find myself missing, loving, and admiring my family. As a kid growing up in your parent's home, it's easy to take things for granted and not enjoy life. Being away has shown me many things, and today I'm thanking God for them and counting each of them as blessings.

I'm thankful for my parents, and how dedicated they were to protecting me. I'm thankful that I grew up in a conservative household, and that my parents took/take raising us as a high responsibility. I'm thankful that they homeschooled me, and that they allowed me to continue living at home until my wedding day. I'm thankful for their rules, discipline, teaching, and how they gathered us into the same room multiple times a week for dinners and family times.

I'm thankful for my siblings, as crazy as they are, and I'd do anything to just be around them and surrounded by that silliness now. I was so blessed to grow up in a family that knows how to have fun! I love looking back and remembering growing up with all these people, and even though it could be annoying, loud, insane, I wouldn't want to have grown up any other way.

I'm thankful that we lived so close to grandparents, and that family was always priority over holidays. My grandparents are the best ever, and now that I'm married I'd say what I'm most thankful for are the marriages in my family. Every couple is different, yet works together so well, and each is a great example for my marriage. I miss them all, but I'm so thankful I get to go back in a month to spend more time with them.

I hope they all know my heart is with them today, and that I'm very much looking forward to seeing them again!

 Last Thanksgiving, eating lunch with my family on Mt. Lemmon in Tucson

So blessed!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Rainy Road trip in Cochise County

The rain may have altered some of our plans, but it definitely didn't spoil today's adventure! We successfully found 8 letterboxes and enjoyed more of Arizona that we hadn't seen before. However, we weren't able to see as much as we wanted of Chiricahua National Park due to rain, cold, and snow causing closed roads. But from what we saw, it looks amazing and we're looking forward to going back and doing more hiking someday!

Every week I am more and more amazed by God's creation all around. I love everything I've seen, and I keep hearing about more places that I need to visit! I'm certain He put in overtime when designing Arizona's mountains and rock formations. ;)

I hope you enjoy the pictures of this adventure as much as I do!

Texas Canyon

Dragoon, AZ

 It might have been windy, rainy, and cold, but the clouds were amazing!

 If you go to Arizona and only drive on interstates, you are seriously missing out on the beauty of the back highways.

 Willcox, AZ

 Dos Cabezas, AZ

Driving toward Chiracahua National Park:

 Some pictures from inside the park:

 Jaguars in AZ? Yes!

 I love the red bark on this dogwood tree:

 We also visited the gravesite for John Ringo

 Back at Texas Canyon on the way home. There are some quality boxes around here! :)

Panoramic view from highway 186 heading toward Chiracahua National Monument

Friday, November 22, 2013

Hiking in Saguaro National Park

Winter is coming - it's getting much cooler and is starting to rain. Thankfully, we were able to get out and go hiking and boxing before the rain started today. (it's been pouring off and on since last night!) Because Curtis has school and we only have 2 hours until sunset when he gets home, we split up this hike into 2 days. On Wednesday, we hiked around 3 miles up toward Wasson Peak on Sweetwater trail, and Thursday we hiked the other way, down Thunderbird trail. All of the hiking was on Saguaro National Park West of Tucson, but the 2 boxes we got were cleverly hidden off of the park territory.

With these 5 more miles hiked, we have now hiked around 100 miles since we got married, almost 4 months ago. The longest trail that we've hiked together was around only 5 miles, so with that you can see that we have done lots of  <5 mile hikes on many, many trails. Someday I'll be strong enough to hike to one of these mountains with Curtis, but for now I'm enjoying what short hikes I can take to get used to the elevation and endurance. With all the beauty that we find in Arizona, it really isn't hard to enjoy!

See the cactus with the weird growth on the top? It is a crested saguaro.

Being here makes me wish I was better with photography to be able to capture all the beauty!

Hopefully we'll be able to have another Saturday adventure this weekend despite the predicted rain and Tour de Tucson!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Slideshow from our Wedding

This was the slideshow shown at our wedding - first of Curtis and I growing up, then of how our relationship progressed over the years. The songs I used were "Waited for You" by Matthew West and "Foreverandever Etc." by David Crowder Band. No copyright infringement intended, please enjoy :)

A Series of Saturday Adventures

Since our wedding day, we haven't had a single "lazy Saturday". We've made it a goal to always go do something exciting each weekend. There's so much to do around here, it makes finding a new adventure pretty easy. I'm going to give a run down of everything we've been doing, and hopefully I'll get caught up posting pictures and more details later.

us with Esteban, the baby saguaro. (August 31)

Here we go… our series of Saturday adventures!

July 27 - Our wedding day!

August 3 - (on honeymoon) Crossed the border into US from Sault St. Marie, ON and drove to Indian River, MI

August 10 - (on honeymoon) Drove from London, ON, crossed the Rainbow Bridge over Niagara Falls and after hiking/letterboxing in New York and Pennsylvania we drove to somewhere in Ohio about 10 miles out from Indiana to spend the night.

August 17 - Moving to Arizona - After 2 days of driving we finally arrived at our new home! Before arriving we did some hiking in Flagstaff and visited some friends.

August 24 - We drove down to Nogales, AZ with some friends and got letterboxes all the way down. (2 weeks after crossing the Canadian border into US we were at the Mexican border!)

August 31 - Had lunch with some friends then drove up the Catalina Highway to Mt. Lemmon and got many boxes the whole way up. (Saw my 2nd tarantula since moving here) Got our baby saguaro, Esteban!

September 7 - Drove to Vail, AZ and got many letterboxes; visited Colossal Cave Park but didn't go in the caves yet…(we've done that twice now, just not on a Saturday!)

September 14 - Went to a gun show, then letterboxing in the Southeast part of the city. Curtis' dad came down that weekend, and we visited Colossal caves with him on Sunday.

September 21 - Hiked 5 miles to Romero pools.

September 28 - After brunch with our letterboxing friends at Golden Corral, we drove to Phoenix and visited some friends and found a Krispy Kremes!

October 5 - Hiked 5 miles on Seven Falls trail in the Catalinas/Sabino Canyon area. Letterboxed!

October 12 - This weekend we went to Albuquerque, NM to see the international hot air balloon festival. Amazing! Also did lots of hiking on 7 different trails on the way there and back.

October 19 - (this whole week was "National Letterboxing Week" so we did lots of hiking and got around 30 boxes on 13 different trails) We drove up the Catalina Highway and did more hiking in Summerhaven, AZ (at the top of Mt. Lemmon)

October 26 - My birthday weekend! We went to San Diego, CA and stayed on the ocean. Visited the zoo, USS Midway, and Cabrillo National Park, and did lots of hiking on the way there and back.

November 2 - Hiked a mile on the trail connecting the Gordon Hirabayashi area to Molino Basin on the Catalina Highway and got 8 boxes. Then hiked 4 miles on the Sycamore Reservoir trail and got 6 more boxes.

November 9 - Drove to Gilbert, AZ for a Letterboxing event, "Early Christmas in AZ". Came back and went to the U of A homecoming football game - our first ever experience going to a college football game!

November 16 - Visited the Biosphere 2 near Oracle, AZ. Went to Peppersauce and hiked, letterboxed in Oracle, then on our way back hiked 2 miles in Honeybee Canyon in Oro Valley.

And all of that was just on Saturdays. ;) I'm loving our new home and all the adventures we have! Check back later for more posts containing pictures soon.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Cheering From Afar

Thinking of my amazingly talented brother today as he had his first basketball game of the season! He's so gifted in sports, and also so fun to watch while he plays and interacts with his teammates. I so wish I could be able to be there and watch him begin this new season.

I'm also remembering one of his games last season where he, my mom and I basically had to go to the middle of nowhere Missouri. 

How "middle of nowhere?"

Well, there were zebras and camels… 

Good times.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Our Honeymoon: Tour of the Great Lakes

 The day after our wedding, we took off on a 2 week long honeymoon that my brand new husband had planned for us. We started off driving 6 hours to St. Paul, MN. Here, we're in Decorah, IA, searching for letterboxes. We were unlucky the first day, but that most definitely did not set the tone for the rest of our trip!

 We couldn't have asked for better weather for our wedding weekend!

 Dipping our feet in the Mississippi River in St. Paul

 A view from our hotel, downtown St. Paul

 We stayed 2 nights in a lovely bed and breakfast in this lighthouse in Two Harbors, MN. It's right on the edge of Lake Superior, and the town is surprisingly full of attractions - and letterboxes!

 A view of our lighthouse from afar

 Lake Superior

 My love and I :)

 We saw many waterfalls on our trip! This is at Gooseberry Falls near Two Harbors, MN

 Ever heard of these? It's a Whispering Giant statue, carved by Peter Wolf Toth. He carved one for every state, and we just so happened to drive by this one in Minnesota! Fun fact, there's also a letterbox for every statue!
 We agreed that this was our favorite letterboxing location we've seen so far. It's on a hiking trail off the Gunflint Trail in Minnesota, and this is actually called Honeymoon Bluff. A great example of a beautiful place we wouldn't have found otherwise if we weren't boxing!

After this, we crossed the border into Ontario, Canada!

Kakabekka Falls in Ontario, Canada. The Niagara Falls of the West!

After spending 2 days in Thundery Bay, we made our way across the North shore of Lake Superior. This was by far our favorite drive of the trip, there was hardly any traffic or road construction and everything went smoothly. There are also several quality drive by boxes with fun stories to them!
White River, ON - Birthplace of Winnie the Pooh!
Wawa Goose in Wawa, ON
Chippewa Falls - North of Sault St. Marie

After crossing back into Michigan, we stayed in a family cottage in Northern lower peninsula of Michigan. We made several day trips, including Mackinaw Island and along the shore of Lake Michigan.
Lake Huron from Mackinaw Island
The beautiful Mackinaw Island - We figured out that letterboxing is truly the best way to enjoy this island. It's really a big tourist trap, and the best way to enjoy the beauty of the island in peace is to walk around the trails that letterboxing takes you on. Also, it's free ;)

We stayed at the cottage for 5 days before moving on, across the bridge in St. Clair, MI and back into Canada. We stayed in London, ON for a few days and caught the tail end of the Shakespeare festival in Stratford - we saw Othello!

Finally, on the Saturday 2 weeks after our wedding, we crossed the Rainbow bridge over Niagara Falls back into the US.

We drove home that Saturday and Sunday, driving along the South shore of Lake Eerie, completing our tour of the Great Lakes. :) Over 3000 miles we put on to our faithful truck, the Yeti!

*Attention fellow Letterboxers* We have a traveler, Happy Honeymooners, that asks a question about our honeymoon. This post should help you figure it out. Be sure to try to answer the question if you ever meet us on the trails or at an event!