Sunday, November 23, 2008

Viva Puerto Rico!

Well my tan has faded and I've cleaned all the sand out of my suitcase, but since the east coast winter has started I can't help but wish I was back in Puerto Rico. I won a contest in the late summer and decided to celebrate with a trip to Puerto Rico with some of my best friends. Since most of us work for the government, we had a long veteran's day weekend and since moving to DC one of my goals while living on the east coast was to go to PR (incidentally the other is to go to the Domincan Republic--don't worry its on the travel plans for next year!). So naturally a beach trip with good friends was much needed after months of studying and the on comings of a cold winter.
I was the self appointed trip planner--the itinerary included a trip to the rain forest, a historic walk of old San Juan, plenty of beach time, some shopping, and of course great food.

During my travels to Latin America, I have seen more nasty and deformed dogs then I ever wanted to see. Like the over abundance of squirrels in Virgina, PR has surprisingly large amounts of stray cats. I think Grandma Phyl would have had a heart attack. There were literally hundreds of them--and I never over exaggerate!

We tried to beat Darel Ayn's record of 50 Pina Coladas in one week but we only managed about one a day.

For two days we travel to the small island of Vieques off the south east coast of PR. It was one of the largest bioluminese bays in the worlds. At dusk, we kayaked out to the middle of this bay and jumped in the water. Anytime you put anything in the water the color of the water turns from a dark midnight blue to a bright teal blue--almost as if there is a light underneath. There is a micro organism in the water that makes it glow when it is touched by anything. It was one of the coolest things I've done. The next day we went to a beach that only the locals know about. It was probably the most beautiful beach I have ever been on. We were the only ones there for most of the day and as you can see the water was practically clear.

Old San Juan is a beautiful city. It has retain a lot of its only colonial and latin influence but is also very modern.

Ok so I just couldn't resist--I knew I liked Puerto Rico when I saw this sign!

All in all it was a great trip. I did bring my LSAT books and managed to crack them a few times on the beach. It was a much needed break for DC and I would love to go back---anyone want in??

Monday, November 17, 2008

Save the Children

This (like Nick) is my first blog! Im sure that this blog will boring into comparison with all the new buzz on Nick's trip to go see Syd. But that's okay because when you are living at home with your parents you've got to do something to keep yourself busy! Recently I have been on this "fad" of saving little African children. So Chels is the humanitarian worker and I called her up a week ago and I am announcing my trip to Uganda summer of 2010! We are planning to go work in an orphanage and teach them about AIDs/HIVs for two weeks. It will actually be for my senior project and I cant wait to go. Hopefully after I am done with this trip I will have more experience and go back again a second time and help orphans with mental disabilities, which is what i really want to do! Although mom doesnt believe I will follow through with this, I will prove to everyone that I am totally serious about it! I will be earning money this summer to help pay for the trip and when I say earning I mean working in dads office (ughhh!). So help me save the children!

P.S. And if any of you have no idea what to get me for christmas you can get me a pic of African babies or something!

Paris (City of Love)

Well Sydney has requested that I enter into this world of blogging with the Smart family so here it goes. As you all know I had the marvelous opportunity (thank you Sheila and Darrell) to travel across the pond to where Sydney has been these past few months. Sydney was in shock when we met at the Eiffel Tower (pictures capture the true emotion). There is a video circulating out there of the magnificent reunion but I have not been able to get my hands on it. It was the most amazing week of my life. Having never been outside North America I only had ideas of what life was really like over there. I expected the French to be rude and smelly. The latter was true but the French are surprisingly nice I found. The don't eat to well other than the most amazing pastries ever. I am a major fan of the mass transit over there, except for those few times we barely missed the RER. Sydney and I were able to do so much in just five short days. There were no lines anywhere since it is sort of the "off season" over there. say way more than words so I will just give you a few of the near three hundred we took over the course of the week. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Shea's Graduation 2008

Shea's graduation 2008

Shea graduated this June from West Valley High School. Graduation from HS is not so much an accomplishment, but rather an important stepping stone to adulthood. Shea did well academically and will do well in College. Following graduation, all of his friends disappeared. The large group of kids who used to come over to our house to swim each day quit coming. They all had jobs and were working to save money for college. We missed the chaos of late afternoon swim parties at the Smart Community Swimming Hole. Note: note we will not miss the Boyz and their disgusting speedos, nor some of the hard music that we can't understand. The "goodtimes" that Shea and George Parsons had while working in the basement of Smart, Connell & Childers,
P.S more than made up for the fun and frolic he was missing with his friends.
Shea, George, Greg and Sam
Shea and Jorge

Shea and his Sisters, aka, "The Smart Sibs. "

Prom 2008

Graduation Party at Banks Lake with the Kirbys

Are those guapo Acapulco Cliff Divers in speedos, or just some whacked out dudes from West Valley jumping off the basalt cliffs at Banks Lake?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Happy B-day, Syd Bomb!!

Here's wishing you a cherry chip cake and a mushroom hair cut!
Syd, you're my favorite person to make Sunday afternoon treats with,

My favorite hockey teammate--Twinkee Twins foreva!

The best dance party instigator and

Smart Law office's' best employee of the month!

Hope you partying it up in Paris. Have a great birthday! Love ya!!!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Mt. Hood Redux

The Smart Family Mt. Hood climb 2008!

The Hogsback.

I am trying to record some of the significant family events from this year and so I decided to go back a couple of months and talk about our family Mt. Hood climb this year. I have been climbing Mt. Hood a lot in recent years because people are always wanting me to take them. I really wanted to climb with Shea. He missed our trip last year. Little D also wanted to climb, so we thought it would be good to couple this with the Smart Family reunion on the Oregon coast, that way Darcee and Brent could climb with us also. We had planned on having Nick and Sydney join us but it didn't work out because one of Nick's best friends was getting married that weekend and they had to get back to Utah. Syd climbed Mt. Hood last year, or maybe the year before, but she wanted to climb it with Nick (There's always next year.)

I enjoy the physical challenge of mountaineering. I am not into life threatening climbs. I just like to work to get to high places. I like the feeling of cold, thin air and working towards a summit. I am fine when I don't summit--I really just enjoy the challenge of summiting, whether we succeed or not. The reality is that mountains sometimes don't let you summit. You have to be patient and content with summiting when you can, and saving some summits for better weather. I like hiking and backpacking; and enjoying these activities almost as much as mountaineering. Although mountaineering is special because of the technical problem solving that it presents. Mt. Hood from the South Side is a great mountain to start on because it is reasonable in terms of physical requirements and it involves some technical challenges, that each year seem to be a little different.

Shea and Lil D glisading and having fun on the way down. the weather couldn't have been more perfect.

My handsome son and me on the summit!

Lil D and me celebrating on the summit!

Shea heading up in the dark.