Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Visiting Uncle Ralph

Back in October when my Aunt Krennie was getting married, my Uncle Ralph was in the hospital after having a mild heart attack and several surgeries to follow. I had originally thought I would be able to make it to the wedding, but later found out I couldn't go. Since they say "misery loves company" I decided this was the perfect time to drive down and visit Ralph since we both weren't able to go to the wedding.

To my surprise Ralph was doing great and I was able to spend a lot of time with him and tell him all about my new job. We even ate lunch in the Cafeteria together and tried to find some Nascar on TV. Even though I was only able to stay a short time, it was really great to see Ralph and to also see the Morales clan briefly.

On the way back to Utah, I stopped in Flagstaff for the night to stay with a friend from work. I didn't remember much from my last visit, so it was nice to get reaquainted with the town. The next day I drove back to Utah and got ready for work the next day. Hopefully in the future I can make more visits down South to visit Uncle Ralph and all the cousins again.

Ralph is home now and doing much better.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Ma Mere comes to Utah

Back in September my Mom came to visit me in Utah. We spent the first day exploring Saint George and I showed her where I work and even drove her close to the field area our kids are in. We also went to Snow Canyon State Park the first day, which is a beautiful park just outside Saint George. We attempted a couple of trails at the moderate level and decided it best to complete an easy trail because of the heat that day. It was warmer than usual for September!

The next day we went to Bryce Canyon National Park. On the way there we stopped at Cedar Breaks National Monument. My Mom was really impressed with the scenery and I was excited to collect stamps for my National Park Passport. At Bryce, we walked along the rim trail for a while and decided to head back as a Thunder Storm was rolling in. It turned out being a pretty cool lightening storm in the distance and once we were safely in the car and not struck it seemed even cooler. We got back in the car just in time to miss the rain and head to Cedar City for dinner at one of my favorite restaurants. Cafe Orleans, which I don't get to go to much because it's an hour drive, offers authentic New Orleans style food and was perfect for my Mom.

On the third day of touring the scenery Southern Utah has to offer, we headed to Zion National Park. We ate lunch just before entering the park and got there just in time for the rain, so we drove through the entire park to kill some time and then got on the shuttle to catch a trail. We had a nice walk on the Emerald Pools Trail and got to learn all about the park while on the shuttle. My Mom was equally as impressed with Zion as she was Bryce.

The final day of the visit, we headed to Las Vegas to watch the Cirque Du Soleil show, "Love". Being the huge Beatles fan that she is, my Mom really got into the show. After the show, we walked around for a while and decided we weren't much built for the Vegas Strip so we headed back to the hotel to relax.
The next morning I dropped my Mom off at the airport and we said our farewells. It was a really nice week and I look forward to having more visitors!

Road Tripping

Just after the Pug incident, a couple of co-workers of mine and I went on a little road trip. Since moving out to Utah, I was introduced to a band called The Avett Brothers. I instantly liked them and when I realized they were going to be performing in Los Angeles, I immediately decided I was going and asked around to see if other people wanted to go. Since I also hadn't been to Joshua Tree National Park, I decided that we could make a trip out of it and stop there on the way to LA.

Joshua Tree was not as impressive as most of the parks I've been too, but it was still of course amazing in it's own right. We camped in the park that night and made smore's and played a game my sister gave me called "bananograms" The next day we got up, took a few pictures and headed for the city.

Los Angeles isn't my favorite city in the world, but we tried to take advantage of the beautiful day and walked around as much as we could. We visited the Cathedral and happened to barge in on an actual wedding. It was a unique Cathedral and very different from any I had seen before and especially the one in DC. Later that night we headed to the Orpheum Theater for the show. We ended up running into a former client there, which was surprising.

The show was great and we all had a great time. Even though I don't live really close to any big cities, it's nice to know I can find good music just a few hours away.

Nameless and Cute

Early in September I got out of the field and had to do some training for work. One of my co-workers showed up to the thing with a young Pug puppy that she had found near her house. I immediately fell in love, being a Pug owner myself and offered to watch the homeless creature. In true form, she had a ton of personality and was immediately attached to whomever was taking care of her. I tried desperately to talk myself and others into keeping her, but circumstances did not permit. I even went as far as giving her the name Chloe and started to train her. Luckily one of the ladies that works in the office at Second Nature was able to take her home and keep her. She named her Maddie. So cute!

They Call Me FP

During most of the summer I worked in an adolescent girls group. After a shift or two I started wearing a very fashionable fanny pack. I had found that none of my pants had sufficient enough pockets to carry everything I needed on my person, so I thought this was a good solution. My friend and Co-worker, Jessica, started calling me "FP" in honor of the new fanny pack. Little did I know, this name would stick throughout the next few months as I continued to work in the girls group. All of the clients were calling me FP and the staff too. After a while I got moved to a different group and since then there has been no more nick names. It does, however, still amuse most staff teams that I wear a fanny pack and it is commonly asked, "What is really in Katelyn's fanny pack." I'm sure as I continue to work here I will acquire many more nick names.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

10 Down, A Lot More To Go

In the past couple of years, I made it a lofty goal to visit all the National Parks in the United States before I die. To make this goal a little more realistic, I don't really include the National Parks in Alaska that require private helicopter rides to get to. Maybe some day when I'm a millionaire, these will be feasible, but for now I will stick to parks I can actually afford to get to. Living in the West is really giving me the opportunity to actually make this goal happen.
A couple of weeks ago, I head to Bryce Canyon National Park. I had purchased a National Park pass for $80 back in May, which gets you into any park for free. The fee to get into Bryce Canyon was $25, so I am well on my way to getting my money's worth. I also stopped by Cedar Breaks National Monument on the way home, which is equally as stunning.

It was a beautiful day for a little bit of hiking and tourism. Ideally I would have liked to spend some more time there, but I still got to see some pretty amazing stuff. I plan on visiting Joshua Tree National Park in California in a few weeks.

Enjoy the Pictures.

Apparently Northern Utah is A Little Different...

About a month ago, I decided to take a trip to Northern Utah with one of my co-workers to climb the highest peak in Utah in the Uinta Mountains. The peak is about 13,500 feet, which when completed would beat my personal elevation record by about 4,000 feet. We headed first to Salt Lake City to check out Josh Ritter, a current favorite singer/song writer of mine. The show was in a really small venue and it was a lot of fun to see live music for the first time since coming out West.

The next morning we got up early and headed for the Uintas. We had planned a 3 day trip to hike in, summit the peak, and then hike out. Many lessons were learned on this trip.

Lesson #1: Just because you don't need bug spray in the desert, doesn't mean you wont need it in a much cooler and more wooded environment.

Lesson #2: The weather is extremely unpredictable at elevations above 10,000 feet.

Lesson #3: It takes a lot less time to hike with two people who do it for a living, than it does to hike with 10 clients who don't want to be hiking.

Lesson #4: It can and will get into the 30's at night during the summer in Northern Utah.

By the end of the first night I probably had about 15 bug bites and had accomplished killing at least as many mosquitoes. This pretty much meant that as soon as we had fed ourselves, we retired to the mosquito free tent. This would sometimes be as early as 7pm. This was partially due to the fact that we had underestimated the amount of time it would take us to hike and would get to our campsites late in the afternoon. The second day of hiking presented itself with a lot of cloud cover and thunderstorms. We got hailed on and rained on, but luckily this day was mostly flat and not challenging hiking. The day we summited the peak, however, the weather was even worse. We woke up to more rain, but decided to head for the peak anyways. I will say that it's pretty sketchy to climb up a bunch of loose rocks in the rain when a thunderstorm is threatening on the horizon and you are at the tallest height around.

We did successfully make it to the top and then briskly headed back down. By the time we got back to our campsite we had been hiking in rain and hail for hours, we were soaked and cold, had outrun a thunderstorm and were just generally pretty tired. Luckily we had some dry clothes and warm sleeping bags. The next day we hiked the 9 miles out to the car. Of course the weather was perfectly pleasant as we were leaving.

At the very least this trip prepared me, a little, for what is to come for the winter in the desert.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Jill's Birthday Bash

About a month ago, I flew home to help celebrate Jill's birthday and to visit with the family. The weekend began with a pizza party at Jill and Brett's, followed by ice skating at Fairfax Ice Arena where my Dad use to play hockey a lot. It was really weird to be back there, after not having been in so long. The whole group of us made our rounds around the rink and had fun being "kids" again. We then went back to the house for games and presents.
The next day, we all got hyped up for the Billy Joel/Elton John concert. First, I spent some time at the pool with Jill, Brett and the kids. My mom had bought the family tickets to the concert months ago and we were all very excited to go. We arrived at the Nationals Stadium and got comfortable for a fantastic show. The weather was perfect, but Elton's piano was not! A pedal got stuck, and he basically stormed off the stag
e in disgust claiming that, "we weren't going to do it like this." Bill Joel chimed in with, "That is what you call a Rock and Roll F*** up!" It was pretty funny. T
he show went on and the piano eventually got fixed. It was so fun to spend the evening with my Mom and Sister singing to songs we had grown up to.

Sadly, I had to fly home on Monday after a short visit. I was sad to not have the time to see some of my friends, but I really enjoyed the time I spent with my family. I hope we can have such fun weekends together in the future!


One of the most important parts of Second Nature's program is busting. This is basically the term we use for creating a fire. There are four parts to a busting set, that all play equally important roles in achieving the product of a fire. There is the fire board, used as the base for which an ember is created on. There is the spindle, used as the basis from which friction helps create the ember. There is the top rock, used to create down pressure on the spindle. And, there is the bow, used as the driving force behind the whole operation. This probably sounds confusing and the best way I could describe it, would be to show you. But, since I can't do that I took a shot at explaining it with words. Once you have an ember, you then place it into a next of bark and blow that into flames. The nest then has the ability to create a larger fire.
Busting has been one of the toughest challenges for me at Second Nature. In order to move up in the company and get promoted to a Level 1 staff and be able to actually do paperwork and be a "real" employee, you have to successfully create fire using a bow drill set and you have to do it in front of someone on the spot. For my three weeks as an intern, I was super nervous about this and worked hard to become a master at it, also called a "bustomatic". By my third week, I finally busted into flames.
When I got out of the field that third week, I took my test. I got my whole set prepped and busted an ember on the first try. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to blow it into flames so I had to keep trying. After about an hour of hard work and being ready to give up for the night I finally busted another ember and blew it into flames.

After a humbling experience with busting, I can finally take a breath and not stress over it anymore. However, it is still an important part of my job so I continue to work on it and try to improve my set. I only had one picture of busting and it's hard to see me, but I'm in the background getting ready to bust. I posted the other picture of me at work, just for fun.