Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas 2011

Once again we traveled to Vancouver for Christmas.  This time we were traveling with Claire, which gave us some concern ahead of time but turned out to be a non-issue.  Claire was a great traveler, either sleeping or being quiet on all four legs of our journey!  Someone in the Bellingham airport even called her the perfect baby! Megan picked us up late Wednesday evening after we arrived in Bellingham.  Other than Claire crying in the border lineup, our trip to Vancouver went very smoothly.

In Vancouver, we went to the Festival of Lights at VanDusen Gardens for the first time.  It features 1.4 million lights on display in a garden.  It was much bigger and brighter than the display at the Idaho Botanical Garden but way more crowded.  I think I like the Idaho experience better - less crowded, more spaced out, and it has LED trees!  Dave works at the garden and was very helpful in arranging our visit - thank you Dave!

Our visit to Vancouver was dampened by a stomach flu bug that was being passed around.  Dave, Greg, Liz, Megan, and Emily were all affected but somehow all three of us managed to escape.  Despite at least one person being sick for much of the visit, we did a little bit of shopping, attended the Christmas Eve service at Kerrisdale Presbyterian Church, and were there for the Christmas brunch and Christmas dinner at the Shepherd house. We had lots of good times with family and had a great time giving and receiving presents!  Of course Claire had a big haul, consisting of books, toys, clothes (thank you Dave for the Santa suit!), and other items.  Everyone was excited to meet Claire and we were very happy that she behaved well during her first trip away from home.

Our return trip was also uneventful (thank you Claire!) and was highlighted by a quick stop at Trader Joe's in Bellingham where we got a few things to cram into our already stuffed suitcases and some food to eat in the Bellingham airport.  We got home late in the evening on Tuesday and I had to look forward to two days of work.

We hope everyone had a great Christmas!

Christmas 2011 Pictures!
Christmas 2011 Video
Present Opening Video

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Claire - December 2011 Update

Here are a few pictures of Claire from the past month or so.  The last few are taken from the nighttime Christmas light display "Winter Garden aGlow" at the Idaho Botanical Garden which we attended with Bonnie.  We offer our apologizes for the low quality cell phone pictures.  While the poor quality pictures may not reveal it, the lights were great and Claire was mesmerized the whole time!  Also included are a couple of pictures from downtown Boise.  Enjoy!

Claire December 2011 Pictures!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Christmas Decorations

Usually we don't do much in the way of decoration, but this year we decided to up the ante a bit.  Besides the usual tree and train, we put lights on the house, car, and my desk at work.  I got the idea for putting lights on the car from Ian and it has proven very popular here!

Christmas 2011 Decorations Pictures!
Train Video

Monday, December 12, 2011

Bull Mountain Snowshoe

Dan invited me on a snowshoe trip to Bull Mountain just over the Utah border.  This peak is noted for being a county highpoint and for having substantial topological prominence.  Dan had failed on this peak the weekend prior (due to bad weather and navigational errors) and was ready for revenge.  We met at 5am and were soon heading to south central Idaho to bag the peak.  After a stop in Burley crossed the Utah line and we were at the trailhead ready to go just before 9am.  The weather was pretty good for us - mild temperatures (in the 30s), high clouds, and minimal wind.

We were able to make good progress up the ATV trail and thence to a smaller trail up Lake Fork.  This trail started out good but was soon obscured by blowdowns in several places.  Dan did an amazing job bypassing the obstructions and managing to find the trail fragments, making what would have been an arduous struggle through snowy forest into a reasonable endeavor.  Eventually we worked our way high enough that we could see a clear path to the ridge leading to the summit.  It was a steep grunt up to the ridge top, but from there it was a straightforward ascent to the very flat summit of Bull Mountain.

The summit views were great and took in some ranges I had not seen in a long time.  Due to fog, we couldn't see the Great Salt Lake immediately to our south.  The summit register was filled with familiar names from the county highpointing community and made for great reading.  Other than the flatness of the summit, everything about this peak was great.  Our descent was much quicker than our ascent and we were easily back on the interstate heading home before dark.

On the way home, we stopped at Wendy's in Burley.  This choice was questionable due to the really slow service.  The highlight of the Wendy's visit was the person in front of us who had to wait 5-10 minutes to get his order taken.  After ordering a frosty, the cashier said "That's it?!  If I had known you were only ordering a frosty, I would have taken your order much sooner!".  Fortunately we didn't have to wait as long as he did for our orders but I left with a great memory of bad restaurant service.

In short, this was a very fun and rewarding snowshoe ascent under very pleasant conditions.

Bull Mountain Snowshoe Pictures!
GPS Track
Dan's Trip Report

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Peak 5140' Hike

A few weeks ago, I embarked on a short hike in the Boise foothills above Robie Creek.  The destination was Peak 5140', a little known peak in a mostly ignored area.  After driving up Robie Creek and over Crooked Summit I parked at a suitable spot and began hiking up up the west slopes of the peak.  The going was easy at first but got brushier as a I got higher.  After slogging for a bit, I eventually reached the summit which was simply a mass of brush with no views.  Disappointing, but not unexpected!

After a short time visiting the high areas in the brush, I decided I'd see if I could find a good route over to nearby Daggett Point.  I quickly found a good trail and made nice progress, however soon I was surfing through heavy brush again slowly descending toward Daggett Creek.  Since I had limited time, I chose to turn around and save Daggett Point for another day.

On the way out I decided to explore a third peak, Zephyr Ridge Point.  A little bit of hiking from Crooked Summit revealed it has a house on top and is part of the Wilderness Ranch subdivision.  At that point I lost interest and returned to the vehicle.  Only one peak, but it was nice to see a nearby area that is seldom hiked.

Peak 5140' Pictures
Trip statistics: 3h, 4 miles, 1600' elevation gain

Monday, November 28, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011

This year for Thanksgiving Katie, Claire, and I met Gary and Bonnie for dinner.  This year dinner was at Berryhill & Co., an upper-end casual restaurant in downtown Boise.  They had a buffet which featured turkey, roast beef, ham, an excellent salad, bread (yum), mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, vegetables, pasta, and various dessert dishes including pumpkin pie.  It was very good and made for a very enjoyable Thanksgiving evening!  Oh and Claire was very quiet throughout dinner!

The rest of the weekend was dominated by football watching and Christmas decorating.  There will be a separate blog post on the decorations but for now we have a few more Claire pictures!

Claire Thanksgiving Pictures
Claire's Bath Video
Claire Babbling Video

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Granite Peak Hike

Dan put together a trip with Michael and Sean to visit Granite Peak in Nevada.  After minimal deliberation, I decided to join.  We left Boise just after 6am on Sunday and began the long drive down to northern Nevada.  It was just after 10am when we parked at the trailhead above Hinkey Summit and below Granite Peak.  From the start, it was a relatively quick hike up and down the peak at just over two hours for the round trip.  The route was very straightforward (follow a fence line, then hike up) and got us to the top in a very direct fashion.  The summit block has some easy and fun class 3 climbing to finish off the ascent.  The summit views from Granite were impressive and were new vistas for all of us!

Since we drove so far, we weren't content for settling for one short hike.  We also climbed nearby Peak 8560+ and Buckskin Mountain before departing.  Both of these were very simple and direct ascents from nearby roads.  Michael's FJ Cruiser was very helpful in getting us close to these peaks!

In short, this was a great hike with two new hiking partners in a new area under beautiful Fall skies and warm weather.  Simply put, it was a great day!

Granite Peak Pictures!
GPS Track
Dan's Trip Report

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Claire - Halloween Update

Below are a few pictures of Claire in her various Halloween outfits and a duck costume courtesy of Katie's coworker Richard.  While Claire looks cute in the costume, she wasn't very happy with it and we were lucky to get any pictures where she wasn't fussing!

Also included are a few older pictures from my phone!

Claire - Halloween Pictures

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Gardiner Peak Hike

On Sunday I went on a short hike in the Boise foothills.  The destination was Gardiner Peak, a little known peak in the Boise foothills which seemed to have a trail.  I parked at Peace Rock (along the Boise Ridge Road south of Bogus Basin) and followed the very obvious bicycle trail through the forest in the general direction of the peak.  Before long, there was a junction and I headed right.  From there the trail climbs to an open ridge and leads almost all the way to the summit.  A quick jaunt off of the trail under the forest canopy led me to the summit, which is adorned by a cairn and register.  Summit views are limited but I was blown away with how pleasant the day was - warm weather with a mild breeze and lots of Fall colors!

The day was so enjoyable I extended the hike by exploring the trail in the direction of Clear Creek Summit.  I didn't go all the way but it probably extended the hike by an hour or so.  In my opinion, this little known hike is one of the most pleasant in the foothills!

Trip statistics: 7.25 miles, 1100' elevation gain, 2.25 hours

Gardiner Peak Hike Pictures!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Claire - October 2011

Here are few pictures of Claire (and the rest of the family) from Grandma Vickery's visit.   As a special bonus for our readers, a few other pictures are included as well.  Enjoy!

Claire - October 2011

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Claire's First Bath

Here are a few pictures from Claire's first bath last Thursday.  She seemed to like the water very much and didn't put up any sort of fuss.  Our future swimmer perhaps??

Bath Pictures!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Baby Pictures

We decided to post a few baby pictures of us as well as few more of Claire.  Enjoy!

Baby Pictures!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Announcing Claire Elizabeth Vickery!

As many of our readers have likely heard, our daughter Claire Elizabeth Vickery was born on Wednesday September 14, 2011 at 4:50AM MDT at St. Luke's Hospital in Meridian.  She weighed 7lbs 6oz and was 21" tall!

Katie's doctor recommended that she be induced so we headed to the hospital around 2:30PM on Tuesday afternoon.  As the induction progressed, Katie's contractions intensified around 11PM and she labored through the early morning.  The nurses initially didn't think the labor was progressing well but around 3AM it became clear things were moving quickly.  By 4:15AM or so it became apparent to all of the staff that the baby was imminent and after a little bit of delivery drama, Claire emerged into the world healthy at 4:50AM!  It was truly a magical moment for me, unlike anything I've experienced before.  After I got to hold her, I was surprised how calm Claire was after such a traumatic experience!

The labor and delivery was difficult for Katie but she was great and healthy as well.  I'll let her elaborate on her experience in a future blog post!  Afterwards, we spent the next two nights at the hospital getting acquainted with Claire and trying to get her feeding properly, a task that is still ongoing but progressing nicely.  The nurses at the hospital were great and provided all kinds of help with regard to laboring, baby care, feeding, swaddling, and anything else we needed.  On Thursday Claire got her first visitors: our friend Diana, her Great-Grandma Dow, her Grandaunt Bonnie and her Granduncle Gary.  She may have not shown it, but I know she was super-excited to meet all the new people!  On Friday Claire got to go on her first car ride as we were officially discharged to begin our life together.  On Saturday Liz (Katie's Mom) arrived from Vancouver to meet her new granddaughter and hopefully make our transition a little less overwhelming.

Claire has her first doctor appointment tomorrow which will hopefully be all good news.  Then after that, she'll be ready for her one week birthday.  More soon!

Baby Pictures!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Due Date!!.. and a Short Hike

Today is our due date, however as of this typing there is no sign of "Baby Vickery" arriving imminently.  Katie has her doctor appointment tomorrow so maybe we'll know more then.  For now, it is day-by-day!

With Katie's approval I used the nice weather and "lack of babyness" to go on a short hike in the Boise foothills.  After leaving the house, I tuned in the Jaguars game on the satellite radio and listened to them achieve an opening day victory.  As that was playing out, I drove up the 8th Street Extension which was quite rough - I got my old LeSabre up this road in 2001 and now there are a few spots where I wasn't sure about the Escape making it.  But all was well and I was soon hiking uphill toward Peak 6218', an extremely obscure peak along the Boise Ridge.  The hike promised to be short, only a half mile each way.  I started in an open area but soon found myself trying to avoid increasing amounts of brush.  It soon became evident that the peak is surrounded by an unbroken thicket of chaparral and other vegetation which I would have to confront directly.  What I assumed would be a short and easy hike turned into a arduous slog through thick, chest-high (and higher) vegetation.  Eventually I made the summit, which fortunately features a small rocky area devoid of the brush that was everywhere else.  The views of the surrounding area were good, including the Bogus Basin area, Boise Peak, and Gardiner Peak.  I decided to descend a different way (a more western aspect) but found the brush to be just as bad that way.  On the way home, I drove down Bogus Basin Road which is a much better access route than 8th Street for this area.

In short, I don't really recommend anyone climb this peak unless that person likes miserable plodding through thickets.  Maybe it would be better in late Fall?

Trip statistics:  1.25 miles, 650' elevation gain, 1.5 hours
Peak 6218' Hike Pictures

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Baby Vickery Update time!

Well, folks, once again it's update time on the baby-baking process! This time, there are even some exciting pictures to entertain you! So, sit back, relax, and let the 39-weeks-pregnant lady do all the talking (er..typing) :-)

As Zach mentioned in his last post, this past Friday was officially my last day of work - I'm now on Maternity Leave, so I've joined the ranks of the unemployed! While it's very strange to think that I won't be going back to work on Tuesday, I know it will be great to have a different type of boss once this little kiddo arrives!

Last Saturday (Aug 27th) was my baby shower with all my coworkers. It was a very relaxed afternoon of chatting, baby-holding (one of my coworkers brought her 3-week-old son), and snacks (including homemade peanut butter & jelly cupcakes with peanut butter buttercream frosting...I have an AMAZING coworker/cupcake-making queen!). Oh, there was also some gift-opening that took place! My coworkers were outrageously generous, and the little peanut now has a whole bunch of blankets, lots of onesies, many toys & books (including "Love You Forever" by Robert Munsch!) and adorable stuffed animals, to name just a few items! We also got a few packs of diapers & wipes, so we're set for at least a couple of weeks in that department. One of my coworkers donated her (barely used!) baby carrier, as well as her (gently used) baby monitors among other things. It was a wonderful day, and as soon as the host sends me the pictures she took, I'll get them posted! For now, you can see some of the items in the below pictures of the nursery.

The nursery has progressed, and we now have most stuff ready to go, including the artwork I found online. There are still a few things that we need to get (a laundry basket might be useful, for instance!), but that's something I'll be working on this week. I'm also going to try my hand at making a mobile to hang over the crib...because it is appalling to me that crib mobiles range from $50 (for your standard plastic arm with little animals hanging from it) to $80 or $120 (for a handmade mobile out of dowels/fishing line/hand-sewn felt animals). I figure that I can pick up a dowel from Home Depot, some cheap fishing line and some felt animals or something from the Craft store, and throw it all together for much cheaper! We'll see how this goes...wish me luck!

****You can click on the below pictures to make them bigger*****

View from the doorway, looking into the nursery (note my awesome Cabbage Patch Kids sitting on the toybox - one was even used for swaddling practice!). Also, the blanket over the side of the crib was a gift from Zach's coworker Linda - just beautiful!
View of the change-table/dresser station, as well as the bookshelf (lovingly filled by Grandma Vickery & the Aprim family!), and my Mom's awesome rocking chair that she rocked all of us in, just a few years ago! The green blanket is from IKEA, and is being used as a buffer to keep the rocking chair back from hitting the wall. You can also see the artwork on the walls - more on that shortly! The stainless steel garbage can by the door is actually the diaper pail :-)
A shot of the ceiling & light fixture, so you can see the colors & the sunshiney light!
View of the crib (don't worry, the blanket & stuffed animals/pillow will be removed before the baby is put in the crib - don't want any suffocation to take place! Also, the crib bumpers (there's one on the front, too) are made of breathable mesh...I haven't made up my mind about their design/colors yet, but if anything they'll keep the kid from getting limbs stuck through the crib slats! The adorable blue dog was a gift (along with other great items!) from Jan's friend Michelle, in Tampa - thank you, Michelle! You can also see the hand-made blanket on the front a little better in this shot.
A shot of the (kinda wild!) curtains!
Here's a close-up of the alphabet print I found on - the artist who made this print (who is from Kamloops, BC!), also made the farm animal prints below - so cute!!
What? A sheep? How unexpected!
And of course an adorable pig!
And finally, this cow was too cute to pass up!
Me, modeling the awesome cloth diapers I got on sale - look at those totally adorable colours! In case anyone wonders, we'll be doing disposable diapers for the first few months (while we adjust to life as parents!) and then I'll try switching to cloth (at least while we're home - travelling with cloth diapers just seems like a LOT of trouble & mess!). This is our starter set of 6 - I couldn't pass up the sale, and loved the colours. Plus, they're "one size", with adjustable snaps, so they'll fit from infant to toddler.
Annnnnd finally...Here are a couple of shots of me in all my 39-week-pregnant glory. Pardon the "goofball" aspect of the first picture!
The profile picture was a special request from my Auntie Barb (Hi Manitoba relatives/readers!), but I figured others might also be interested!

And there you have it, folks - a baby update, complete with pictures! Big plans for this week include:
- Sleeping
- Washing/folding/organizing baby clothes
- Cleaning
- Shopping for a few things
- Attempting to be crafty & try to make a crib mobile
- Doctor's appointment & Non-Stress Test (to monitor the baby's heartbeat)
- Cooking/Baking to stock up some food in the freezer

Should be an exciting week! Hope you have a great week, too!

Also, sending lots and lots of love & hugs to my Grandma, who is being sprung from the hospital & heading home today...I'm sure you're glad to be outta there, Grandma!! We love you!


Boise Hawks Game

Despite living in the Boise area for nearly five years (!), Katie and I had never been to a Boise Hawks baseball game together. I last went during my bachelor days back in 2003. On Friday evening (after Katie's last day before starting maternity leave), we went to our first game. The opponent: Katie's hometown Vancouver Canadians! We arrived at 6:45pm just in time to hear the last few bars of O Canada before getting to our seats. The weather was perfect as it has just started to cool off after a hot summer. The game was well played and decided on a top-of-the ninth RBI double and the Canadians won 3-2. The night also featured guest mascot Reggy (and his pal, a 9 foot inflatable monkey) and a nice fireworks display after the game. It was a sold-out crowd and a great way to spend a Friday night!

Game writeup

Early action with Reggy doing a dance

Monday, August 22, 2011

North Twin and Red Cone Peak Climb

At 6am, I met Dan and Tom (author of Idaho: A Climbing Guide) for the long drive to climb North Twin in the Lost River Range. We arrived in Arco at 9am and met Margo (who drove in from Pocatello) for the drive to the trailhead. The road up Elbow Canyon was pretty good and we were moving around 10am.

The route starts along an road/ATV trail, crosses a very nice meadow and enters a thick forest. The forest was a surprise and is very uncommon for a Lost River ascent, particularly on the west side. Down in the trees we made a slight navigational error but after a correction we made our way above treeline and into a gorgeous basin beneath the northwest face of North Twin. A short class 3 stretch got us into the upper reaches of the basin after which we soon were able to take a nice break at the flowery saddle between North Twin and nearby Red Cone Peak.

After our break, we made the final push to the top of North Twin. On our way up we saw some sheep who were just as interested in us as we were them. They probably aren't used to visitors on this seldom-climbed peak! After they scattered, we finished the climb on very solid terrain. Once on top, we enjoyed beautiful weather and the incredible panorama of the Lost River Range. Some clouds were looking questionable for awhile but once on the summit it was clear that they would not threaten our day.

We descended to the saddle and then all agreed to make the short climb up Red Cone Peak. We actually didn't know the name of this peak until we discovered Rick Baugher's register from 1993 - it appeared that we were the first visitors since then! After a brief time on the summit of Red Cone Peak, we descended the canyon to the northwest of Red Cone Peak. This was a very direct descent on mostly solid terrain, although it was a bit of a slog since it came at the end of a long day.

Once at the truck we all enjoyed a beer - thanks Margo! It hit the spot and after a few minutes we headed back to Arco. As we were leaving Elbow Canyon we saw a black bear which made some serious climbing moves up a cliff to get away. Impressive!! Before we parted ways, we had a nice dinner at Pickle's Place in Arco. This was memorable especially for the large group of French (Cajun?) speakers in there. Our drive home was long but uneventful and I didn't get home until 11:45pm. A long but great day in the mountains with a great group!

North Twin/Red Cone Peak Pictures!
GPS Track
Dan's Trip Report
Margo's Trip Report

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Peak 11087' Climb

Last Sunday Dan and I climbed Peak 11087' in the Boulder Mountains. We left Boise just after 6am and were hiking around 9am. Dan had an evening commitment so we were hoping to get back to Boise by 7pm.

The hike starts on a nice trail up the West Fork of the North Fork of the Big Wood River. After heading up the trail for roughly two and half miles, we left the trail and headed straight up toward the basin containing Lake 10062'. Once up in the basin below the lake, we started heading directly up the south slopes of the peak. Initially this was pretty easy but the terrain degenerated into steep, loose Boulder Mountain scree as we got above 10000'. Between that and my struggling with the elevation, it was a bit of a slog for awhile. Eventually we reached the reached the ridge top and the footing got much better. From there it was a direct class 2 ascent to the summit, which has an incredible view of the Boulders and surrounding mountains!

After enjoyed a well-earned break on the summit and taking in the great views, we headed down with the realization we weren't going to make our 7pm return time. After quickly descending the scree, Dan found us a more direct and enjoyable route back to the trail. Before hitting the trail we filtered some water from the West Fork and enjoyed some high quality H2O to help us finish the hike.

We ended up missing our return time by 45 minutes but it was still an outstanding day!

Peak 11087' Pictures!
GPS Track
Dan's Trip Report

Monday, August 15, 2011

Aprim Family Visit 2011!!

In the first weekend of August, we were lucky enough to have the Aprim family visit us from Vancouver! Ben, Megan, Emily & Matthew made the drive down (with no A/C, and almost 100*F weather in Boise), stopping overnight to camp & arriving on Friday night.
We spent Friday night hanging out & having dinner, and the kids enjoyed the free Water Park (aka our neighbors sprinklers!).
On Saturday, it was a scorcher of a day, so after a leisurely breakfast of eggs, bacon, toast & fruit, we headed out to Settler's Park. This park was pretty great - in addition to a water park, it also had a very cool Pirate Ship-themed playground, a rock-climbing area for kids, a fishing pond, baseball diamonds, soccer fields, tennis courts & horseshoe pits! The kids had a wonderful time running around on the playground & getting drenched at the water park!
After hanging out at the water park for the afternoon, we headed back to the house for dinner & the kids ran around in our backyard sprinklers - yay for our at-home water park!
Sunday was another low-key day. Megan & I did some shopping and Ben & Zach took the kids on a little shopping excursion of their own, to Wal-Mart & Fred Meyer. The kids got remote-controlled trucks that Zach & Ben had fun doing "quality control" on :-) We had home-made pizza for dinner, and tried to call it an early night, since the Aprims had to head out the next morning, and Zach & I had to go back to work.
On Monday, Megan, Ben & the kids left for their next adventure, in Bend, OR. We were sad to see them go, but had SUCH a great visit!! We're so glad they were able to make it down here & hang out with us for a few days! Thanks guys!! :-)
There are a couple of pictures below for everyone's viewing pleasure.
(PS: I promise that Megan & I didn't wear matching shirts on purpose!!)

The gang at Settler's Park

Playing with Legos on the patio

Also, as a teaser: We'll be finishing up the nursery soon & will post some pictures for everyone to see...and maybe I'll sneak in a picture of me looking (barely) pregnant (even with only 1 month to go!).
Have a great week, everyone!
Katie & Zach

Friday, August 12, 2011

Seven Year Anniversary!

Katie and I celebrated our seven year anniversary today! Mostly it was spent at work but in the evening we went to the Idaho Shakespeare Festival and watched their production of Cabaret (not a Shakespeare play, but that's how they roll). After a quick dinner at the cafe (which provides pretty good food and Table Rock beer) we settled in for the show in our lawn seats. It was a very memorable evening as it was the first time we've ever been to a play together! We both enjoyed the production and the outdoor theater by the river is outstanding. It makes me definitely want to go again and see another play!

Yay for seven years of marriage!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Texas Trip 2011

My parents arranged a trip to visit family in Texas so I decided to tag along. Katie didn't go because she is in the third trimester of baking Baby Vickery!

We coordinated our flights and I arrived on Friday the 29th and quickly met my parents at the airport. Pretty soon we had our car rented and were off to the hotel, the Comfort Suites in Grand Prairie. This hotel was memorable mainly for the softball tournament and baby shower it hosted while we were there. Oh, and the bed was really comfortable.

After meeting Teresa and Charles (and their new dog Rosie), we headed to Babe's Chicken in Arlington for a great family style dinner. The place was super popular as we had to wait close to an hour for our large group to be seated. Attending were myself, my parents, Aunt Teresa, Uncle Charles, my cousin Becky, her husband Kenny, their two children Brayden and Grace, my cousin Matt and his fiancee Kasey, Charles' parents Clint and Barbara, Grand-Aunt Joyce, cousin once removed Letitia and her husband Chip, cousin once removed Loretta and her husband Charlie. Suffice to say it was a big group but the restaurant was designed to handle it! The only sad part was that I didn't take any pictures...

A constant theme of the trip was Texas' epic heat wave and drought. As we arrived the Dallas area had experienced high temperatures above 100° for over 30 straight days! Combined with the fact that there had been no significant rain in two months, everything was super dry and brown looking. I'm trying my best rain dances to help but sadly they appear ineffective...

On Saturday we (myself, my parents, Teresa, and Charles) went to visit my Nana in Palestine. Before we got too far down the road we had a breakfast at the Cracker Barrel in Desoto. Along the way to Palestine we stopped at Teresa and Charles' lot where they plan to build a retirement home. It was in a very nice area along a reservoir with a nice clubhouse - sadly, my camera ate the pictures. After the stop, we continued to Palestine where my Nana is in the care of the Alzheimer's unit of the Cartmell Home. She is doing pretty well physically but Alzheimer's has definitely taken a toll on her mind - I think she only had a vague idea about who my parents were and I'm not sure she knew who I was at all. It was great to see Nana but of course very hard to see how much Alzheimer's had affected her. The facility was very nice and the staff in the Alzheimer's unit were impressive - that is one tough job! After we left the Cartmell Home, we had a late lunch at El Toro (yay for their green sauce) before making stops at Pilgrim Cemetery near Elkhart and Crawford Cemetery near Slocum. These two cemeteries are where many of my Vickery and Seymour relatives are buried, including my Papa Vickery. From there we headed home, getting back to the hotel late in the evening.

On Sunday my Mom and Teresa decided we should go to a giant flea market in Canton, which is a little ways east of the Dallas area. This flea market was massive, I would estimate a square mile in area, with countless open-air buildings, parking areas, and even one air-conditioned building. Upon getting there we proceeded to walk around the flea market in the triple digit heat. Both Dad and myself surrendered to the heat after awhile and just sat there drinking water. Teresa, Charles, and Mom did a better job staying at it but the heat eventually got to Mom. Of particular note were the eating establishments at this flea market, highlighted by the fried food emporium. I am proud to say I ate no food at the flea market! On the way back home we ate lunch at the Ranchero (a decent buffet) and stopped at an improbably placed bead store along I-20.

On Monday we went to Frisco to meet my Mom's former co-worker Kathy and her husband Lloyd at La Hacienda Ranch in Frisco. It was Kathy and Lloyd's anniversary so we all had a nice lunch to celebrate! The restaurant was really good and I really enjoyed my enchilada with chili on it. The restaurant was founded by the inventor of the frozen margarita machine which is an interesting bit of trivia. Afterwards Kathy, Mom, and Teresa wanted to go shopping at Sam Moon's and T.J. Maxx. I decided I would rather walk around the giant mall nearby so I did that. I was blown away when I saw that the mall had an ice rink in it. Combined with the Barnes & Noble and Chick-Fil-A, this was a pretty solid place to hang out.

On Tuesday we headed home. Once again we coordinated flights with both of us departing around 10:30am. For once our flights were in the same terminal so we were able to hang out at the gate until our flights were almost ready to board. We said our goodbyes with the memories of a great trip together!

Texas Trip 2011 Pictures!
Mom's Texas Pictures!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Observation Peak Hike

Last Sunday, I met Todd and Dan for a hike up Observation Peak in the Sawtooths. Also joining the party were Todd's two excellent hiking dogs Leo and Roxy. After meeting at 9am, we headed out around 9:15am. The drive was smooth and we were hiking just after 11:30am.

Observation Peak is the only Sawtooth peak with a trail to the top. Thus, the hike was unusually easy for the Sawtooths. However the typical long approach was still present. We spent most of our time hiking up the Trail Creek drainage which was scenic and enjoyable. The trail was well-graded but more overgrown than we expected. We also only saw two other people on the trail all day - pretty sparse for peak season. The creek crossings were a little bit high but the only risk was getting water in my boots. We had been in a mild burn area for much of the hike but once we got near Stanley Lake Creek it turned into total destruction with no vegetation anywhere. In this burn area we hit snow which was firm and supported us well. Soon we were on the summit, just over four hours in.

The summit was incredible with perfect temperatures, no wind, and outstanding views of the northern and western parts of the Sawtooth Range. We all enjoyed a nice leisurely break on top before heading back down. We made good time on the descent, highlighted by a nice glissade on the upper slopes of the peak. Upon arriving at the trailhead, we were deflated upon discovering Dan's vehicle has suffered a flat time. Fortunately the spare was in order and we were able to roll home on the doughnut - though we didn't get home until after 10pm!

Observation Peak Pictures!
GPS Track
Dan's Trip Report

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Business Trip #3

Immediately after returning from our Vancouver trip, I had to get on a plane for a business trip to Covington, LA, where one of our offices is located. My day started with our arrival back from Vancouver just before 1am on Wednesday the 6th. After an abbreviated sleep, I woke up about 8am, went running, mowed the yard, fought fires at work, then went to the airport to fly to New Orleans. After a stop in San Francisco (a beautiful place to fly in and out of), the three of us arrived in the Crescent City at 12am Thursday morning. After arriving, we drove another 45 minutes across the Lake Ponchartrain Causeway (the second longest bridge in the world!), finally getting to the hotel just after 1am. Long day!!

Thursday was our meeting day where we had engineering discussions from roughly 8-5. Lunch was from McAlister's Deli, which I didn't know still existed. They used to be around Florida in the 1990's. After an evening tour of the lab, we went to Don's for dinner and drinks. The oysters were great and I discovered a new favorite beer, Jefferson Stout. The South apparently is milk stout central which makes it awesome!

Friday was a travel day but we had some time to spend before our afternoon departure. I had a quick breakfast at the Covington Chick-Fil-A which was celebrating Cow Appreciation Day. After breakfast, we were able to squeeze in a brief walking tour of the French Quarter before heading home. After a quick cruise through Jackson Square and along Bourbon Street, we grabbed a quick lunch before heading to the airport. The flight home was interesting because we ran into two other coworkers at the New Orleans airport (they were doing demos in New Iberia, LA) and one of our sales guys was on our final leg home from Denver. Clearly it was a busy week for office travel!

Business Trip Pictures!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Canada Trip 2011!!

2011 has been full of lots of great trips for Zach & I - highlights have included LA/Long Beach in January, our wonderful visit to Florida, and Portland at the end of May. This past long weekend was no different! We headed up to Vancouver to spend some time with the Shepherd/Aprim side of the family. We left Boise late in the day on Wednesday June 30, and drove all night, arriving in Vancouver around 11am on Thursday morning.

Thursday was a low-key day, since we were both pretty wiped out from pulling an all-night drive-a-thon, although luckily we had our Sirius XM Radio in the car, which kept the drive more interesting! Friday was Canada Day, and I spent some time in North Vancouver visiting with my friend Jenn, and then we had a lovely dinner at White Spot with my Mom, Dave & Greg.
On Saturday, I got together with my friend Linsie, and then Zach, Mom, Dave & I spent some time (DAAAAAAYS, if you ask Dave & Zach!) at IKEA, picking up a few things including our new light fixture for the nursery, which Zach is putting up this weekend.
Sunday was a beautiful day for a party, and we had a great one! Mom made delicious burgers, spinach salad & potato salad, Dave grilled the burgers & we enjoyed 2 fantastic dessert options - Pavlova with whipped cream & berries and blackberry pie (or galette, because we're fancy!), made with berries that were hand-picked by Auntie Margaret! YUM!! What wonderful spread of food! Along with Mom, Dave & Greg, we were also able to visit with Megan, Ben, Emily & Matthew, as well as Auntie Margaret, Auntie Maggie & Uncle Barry and Uncle Tom. It was SO nice to see everyone...thank you for the birthday gifts!
Sunday night took a turn for the worse when Greg, who was playing in a co-ed recreational soccer game, got tripped by an opponent & took a very bad fall. He ended up in Emergency, with a fractured pelvis (OUCH!!). He spent the night in Emergency, and was admitted on Monday so that he could have surgery done on Tuesday morning (the morning we left). He's now sporting 3 steel pins & a steel plate in his hip, so we can all call him Bionic Man! Greg, you have seriously been a trooper through all of this!!

Greg was able to come home on Friday, and has been settling in & adjusting to life on crutches. He'll likely be on the crutches for a couple of months, but who knows - he surprised the physio-therapists by dominating the crutches on Thursday, 2 days after surgery, which they weren't expecting! I'm sure he'll be back on the soccer field in no time! ;-)

So, apart from all that craziness, we had a great trip! Tuesday was spent driving home, and we got in around was a loooong day, to say the least. Zach left on Wednesday afternoon for his business trip to Loooo-zianna, but he'll get to that in the next post!

Below are a few pictures from our party on Sunday. Enjoy!

Canada Trip 2011 Pictures!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Patio Upgrades

In March we had a patio cover installed by Affordable Patio Covers. In May there was finally enough decent weather to stain it. This month we finally got some patio furniture and a sun shade (thanks Costco!) so now the space is actually usable! We may put up one more shade (for the other side of the patio) but it is nice to now have an outdoor option for dinner and relaxation!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Buttercup Mountain Hike

Matt and I climbed Buttercup Mountain in the Smoky Mountains on the 18th. Since it was Katie's birthday, I was looking for a peak that wouldn't keep us out too late in the afternoon. This dovetailed nicely with the weather forecast, which predicted worsening weather later in the day.

We left Boise about 6:15am and had a quick and uneventful drive through Fairfield and up the Willow Creek Road. After being stopped by private property in the Cherry Creek area, we went part way up the road to Buttercup Mine and started our hike there. We parked around 6100' and quickly gained a ridge which contained an ATV trail for a short ways. Eventually the trail ended and we simply followed the occasionally steep ridge all the way to the summit. By the time we reached the top clouds were starting to envelop the surrounding high peaks and a few flurries were starting to fall. After a brief time on the summit, we retraced our path back to the vehicle. Fortunately, the weather held for us!

As we were heading home, we hit the rain around Corral and it never let up - I think Katie was surprised we actually had decent weather on our hike! Plus I was home in plenty of time for Katie's birthday dinner!

Buttercup Mountain Pictures!
GPS Track

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Oregon Camping 2011

In the spirit of past MVP trips, once again we met Joey, Sam, Cecilia, Tracy, and Dan for a short (two night) camping trip. This year's destination was Deschutes State Park along the Columbia River just east of The Dalles, Oregon. We arrived on the afternoon of Friday the 10th and were the first to show up. We checked out the park and played some Scrabble (Katie won) before the Pilons arrived later in the afternoon. Our immediate observation was that the park was quite windy and it nearly blew away our Scrabble board! Fortunately it calmed down just after sundown and was pleasant during the rest of our stay. Another interesting feature we immediately observed was the horde of super-aggressive blackbirds that would swoop down on you, chirp incessantly, and poop in your general direction. Unfortunately, the birds never calmed down!

On Friday night we enjoyed a hot dog dinner and sat around the fire and waited for Tracy and Dan to arrive late in the evening - they made it just after dark. After hanging around the fire and chatting for a while, we retired for the night. Sadly, our sleep was interrupted by the Union Pacific trains rolling by the campground several times through the night - this wouldn't have been so bad if they didn't blow the horn roughly five times each time they passed the campground! Argh!!

Saturday was a great mix of eating, hiking, hanging out in the sun, napping (in between trains), and taking it easy. Just like camping should be! The hiking was spectacular and consisted of a nice trail paralleling the Deschutes River upstream. Sunday we spent the morning packing up and enjoying Katie's lovely bacon and french toast breakfast! After some group pictures, we were on the road just after noon for the long drive back to Boise.

I really liked the campsites and the hiking/biking options at this campground but the train noise was pretty bad. It quickly became pretty obvious why we were some of the few tenters in the whole campground! Even with that, it was a great weekend camping with friends!

Oregon Camping Pictures!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Katie's another year older!

As most of our loyal followers know, yesterday was my birthday - yep, I'm 24 - you guessed correctly! ;-) Zach left eaaaarly in the morning for a hike with his buddy Matt - he'll be posting separately about that, I'm sure. Matt's moving down to Salt Lake City to go to Grad School, so it was probably their last hike together.
I enjoyed a leisurely morning, complete with sleeping in & looking outside to realize that the weather was much poopier than anticipated! It was drizzly & icky...didn't the weatherman realize it was my birthday?! Anyway, my day was quiet - I talked to a couple of friends on the phone, and then headed over to Target to wander the aisles for awhile. I headed home, did some reading (I recently finished The Help, which was excellent, and am now working on A Recipe For Bees, which is also proving very good.
After a little TV watching, Zach came home & we headed out for a fantastic dinner at a local Italian restaurant called Gino's (I can't provide a link to their website, because they don't have one!). The food was wonderful - I had amazingly light, fluffy gnocchi in a cheese sauce, and Zach loved his Chicken Parmigiana...we also had some calamari that had a very light batter & were served with excellent marinara sauce. YUM!
After that deliciousness, we went to see the new Steven Spielberg movie, Super 8, which was quite good - it reminded me a lot of ET or The Goonies, from back in the 80's - a group of kids witness a train wreck & then spend the movie trying to figure out what happened.

So, that's the story of my 24th (!) birthday :-)
Happy Birthday (June 17th) to my Mother-In-Law, Jan!!


Thursday, June 16, 2011

The (long-awaited) update on the baby!

Well, as Zach mentioned in his last post (was it really TWO WEEKS ago?!), we spent the Memorial Day long weekend (last weekend of May) in Portland, checking out some great restaurants & sights as well as wandering through IKEA!
The main purpose of our IKEA trip was to pick out & pick up furniture for the nursery, which was quite the experience...I had forgotten how exhausting it can be to spend 2.5 hrs in IKEA!
Here's a rundown of what we picked out (click on the link to see a picture!)

1) Crib (which converts into a toddler bed)
2) Dresser & removable Change Table top (so it can be a standard dress once the Change Table is no longer needed)
3) Wall Shelf/Hanger (to go over the change table)
4) Toy Box/Storage
5) Crazy Curtains!

Yes, the curtains are kind of bold, but we're going to paint the walls a light green (a little darker than celery, perhaps), and these curtains will add a punch of interest! We're going to paint the ceiling a sky blue color, and IKEA also has a very cute sunshine light fixture that we're thinking of getting when we're in Vancouver in a couple of weeks (or maybe Seattle, on the way home).

So, that's what we've got so far for the nursery. We also picked up a Playpen & Stroller/Carseat "Travel System" from Babies R Us, and recently registered there - Zach worked the scanner gun like a professional! I think it's funny that the stroller/car seat we picked is named Ben! :-) Aprims representing!
We also recently got a special delivery from the Vickery Grandparents - lots of awesome books, and a big box stuffed with a huuuuge assortment of fantastic clothes, blankets & other really fun stuff! Thank you very much, Jan & Ron!

In non-nursery news, we've started Childbirth Prep classes at the hospital where I'll be delivering. We've been to two classes so far, with two more to go, and it's been very interesting! The instructor seems to lean more towards natural, med-free childbirth, which is what I'm interested in (and I'm the only one in my class that wants to go natural!). A co-worker of mine (who had 2 c-sections, one of which was scheduled 4 months before she was due) told me yesterday that she'd "MUCH rather recover from a c-section than actually give birth" :-0 I was kind of shocked at that!
We'll also be taking a Hospital Tour, along with a Baby Care Basics Class, a Nursing class & a class specifically geared to Natural hopefully we'll be as prepared as possible, at least in theory!

I've been feeling pretty good these days - lots of movement & kicks most days from the little one. Apart from slightly swollen ankles/feet, I haven't had many other complaints - we went camping last weekend & it was a success, which was a relief!

I think that covers everything, but I might be missing a few details - my brain is mush lately! We're going to try & relax this weekend, maybe start painting (!!) and go for an Italian dinner on Saturday night...apparently I'm going to be a year older or something - where did the time go?!

Also, big congratulations to my cousin Jason & his wife Susan, on the arrival (June 2nd) of their new little boy, Brandon Campbell Savage! He's adorable!!

We hope you're all doing well & enjoying these lovely June days!
Lots of love,
Katie & Zach

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Portland Trip

Katie and I used Memorial Day weekend to check out Portland and most importantly to do some shopping for still-unnamed Baby Vickery. The drive from Boise is long and unexciting but fortunately we had a XM radio receiver to increase the entertainment factor. By far our biggest shopping commitment was at Ikea looking for nursery furniture and various other household items. That store is special because after 2+ hours of looking at stuff I was totally exhausted, particularly mentally. Too much discussion of household decor I think. At any rate, we picked up a few items for the nursery which Katie will be blogging about soon!

While in Portland, we ate at a few interesting restaurants. Upon arrival, the Deschutes Public House was our first stop and along with the top quality beer I really enjoyed my elk burger with a soft pretzel that we shared as an appetizer. We were both amazed that the place, despite being very large, had huge lines the entire time we were in the area. After our great meal, we walked around downtown and then spent some time in Powell's Books, easily the biggest bookstore I've ever been in. Their technical book selection is impressive and I ended up getting a book on functional programming. We also stopped by the Whole Foods before retiring for the night.

On Saturday we visited Pine State Biscuits for breakfast and had some amazing biscuits - our order included them with sausage, chicken, and jam/butter and every combination was outstanding! This nice repast was followed by marathon shopping and a side trip to see the Capitol at Salem. Dinner was at Dove Vivi, which featured some amazing pizza on a cornmeal crust like nothing either of us had ever experienced. Finally, I insisted on a brief stop at the Bridgeport Brewpub for a beer. The beer was definitely good and the menu looked comparable to Deschutes' offerings. It is definitely somewhere to go in the future! We had also hoped to attend a Portland Timbers MLS game on Saturday, but tickets started at $60 on the secondary market and that is just way to much for a soccer game!

On Monday we did some more shopping, visiting Katie's favorite store Trader Joe's and also the Uwajimaya where Katie found lots of exciting Udon noodle varieties. Before leaving town we had a quick lunch at Burgerville which is a pretty good quality fast food place in the greater Portland area.

Despite a lot of driving, it was a very enjoyable trip. I didn't know that much about Portland but I was definitely impressed with what we saw and Portland's beer options are the best of anywhere I've seen. Also, as of this past weekend, we've finally finished getting rid of excess furniture and we can now start the process of assembling all the new furniture we bought and setting up the nursery.

Oregon Pictures! (sorry, the only pictures we took were in Salem)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Spring Hikes - Cervidae Peak, Peak 4921', Mt. Heinen, Peak 5720'+

On consecutive weekends I hiked some local peaks near Boise. On the 14th I used a Saturday to complete my 5th ascent of Cervidae Peak - this time by the standard southeast ridge route. Sadly, no Cervidae were seen but I did have a brief encounter with a dusky grouse not unlike the one that harassed Dan and I on our recent hike to Hutton Peak. Afterwards, I decided to scout some alternate routes on Mt Heinen and visit Peak 4123' above Cottonwood Ranger Station. I climbed Peak 4123' from the ranger station and it was pretty much a steep hike straight to the summit. Views were pretty unremarkable as the peak is surrounded higher terrain.

On the 20th I decided to hike Mt. Heinen from the north. I last climbed this peak in 2008 via the arduous SSE ridge route and was looking for something different. Approaching from the north makes the ascent of the peak much easier, allows visiting obscure Peak 5720'+, and also lets me check out a new area. This was a really enjoyable hike, nearly all of which is on either a closed road (until June 15) or motorcycle trail. This terrain was fortuitous because once again I forgot my boots and had to hike in tennis shoes. The hike itself was pretty mellow except for the steep climb up Mt Heinen's north slopes. I didn't bring a map and as a result I only visited one of the two summits of Peak 5720', although I'm certain it was the higher one. Something to do when I return to this area!

Cervidae Peak/Peak 4123' Hike Pictures
GPS Track
Trip statistics: 5.52 miles, 2:43h, 2940' elevation gain

Mount Heinen/Peak 5720'+ Hike Pictures
GPS Track
Trip statistics: 9.86 miles, 4:09h, 2408' elevation gain

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Peak 4973' Hike

My employer was kind enough to grant us Good Friday as a holiday. Being the non-religious person that I am, I opted to use the day to do some Spring hiking. It had stormed the previous day so I decided to choose a lower elevation peak that would hopefully avoid most of the snow and mud. I chose Peak 4973', an obscure peak near Lucky Peak Reservoir.

This peak can be climbed from several directions but I opted to hike from the saddle on Blacks Creek Rd. This route is interesting because the starting and ending elevations are almost the same! Despite my choice, conditions were quite soft and occasionally muddy on the shadier aspects, which is definitely unusual for late April. Above 5000' on the ridge, there were a few inches of fresh snow melting fast. Despite the sogginess, the hike was quite enjoyable as the ridge over to 4973' is seldom traveled and featured numerous deer, grouse, and raptor sightings. Hiking felt a little bit like cardio interval training as the ridge provides many ups and downs along the way.

The peak itself has a flat summit but with a great view of the surrounding foothills. After taking in the views, I proceeded to "descend" which actually involved about the same amount of work as the "ascent". Still a great day to be out hiking!

Trip statistics: 10.92 miles, 3013' elevation gain, 4:34h

Peak 4973' Pictures!
GPS Track

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Spring Hikes: Big Foot Butte, Hutton Peak, Fiddler BM

For both of the past two weekends I've hiked in the area surrounding Boise to enjoy the milder weather that has finally arrived.

On the 3rd I went on a short hike to Big Foot Butte on the Snake River Plain. This unremarkable destination was chosen because it allowed me to become the first person to visit the nine summits of Ada County. Heady stuff I know. I could have driven closer to the top but instead I parked a little ways away to get an actual hiking experience. Despite the windy conditions, it was an enjoyable and relaxing hike with great 360° views of the mountains surrounding the plain. The "summit" of Big Foot Butte is very flat and a GPS is highly recommended to find the high ground.

An interesting thing about Big Foot Butte is that it is located adjacent to the Idaho National Guard's Orchard Training Area which makes for interesting scenery. The roads reaching the butte feature lots of range targets, lookout towers, junked cars, signs advising of unexploded ordnance, etc. While in the area I also visited the summits of Flagstaff Butte (a very short hike) and Little Joe Butte (a drive-up).

Last Sunday (the 10th), I planned on climbing Peak 4973' near Boise. After driving to the trailhead I was getting ready to hit the trail and Dan pulled up out of the blue. Coincidentally he was in the area at the same time and planning on climbing nearby Hutton Peak and Fiddler BM. After considering this alternative, I jumped in and we drove down the road to hike the two peaks together. As we were getting ready, an angry grouse confronted us and was following us around and even pecking at Dan. As we started our hike the grouse followed us for at least 5 minutes before it lost interest in us. Unsurprisingly, the same grouse was still on guard when we returned to the vehicle!

The hike up to Hutton Peak was straightforward and only took 90 minutes or so. We took a short break atop the peak and took in the very nice Spring scenery of the lower Boise Mountains. From Hutton Peak we hiked over to Fiddler BM along a well-defined motorcycle track which led us over a number of ups and downs on the ridge top. Fiddler BM is an unremarkable peak along a ridge leading to Danskin Peak but does have a good view of most of the Danskin range. We mostly retraced our steps on the way back but we did take a shortcut to descend to the car a little faster. We were both a little tired by the end as our bodies are clearly still in early season shape!

Big Foot Butte Pictures!
Big Foot Butte trip statistics: 4 miles, 400' elevation gain, 1:20h

Hutton Peak/Fiddler BM Pictures!
Hutton Peak/Fiddler BM GPS Track

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Florida 2011

Katie and I decided to go to Florida to spend some time with my parents and to enjoy the beautiful weather - and we were not disappointed on either count! We arrived on Saturday the 12th and were immediately impressed with the warm weather and sunny skies which continued for our entire stay!

During the first part of our trip we stayed at my parents' house in St. Augustine. One of the first things we did was stop at a running store, Jacksonville Running Company, for me to reboot my running career after the debilitating achilles debacle of last Fall. They did a video analysis of my stride and diagnosed me with overpronation and recommended the Asics GT-2160 which so far has worked wonders. I was able to run several times in Florida and roughly three times a week since. No more outlet mall running shoes for me!

Other highlights of the trip include bowling at Latitude 30, watching DVDs from my Dad's extensive collection, checking out the Sensus (my employer) water meter technology in my parents' neighborhood, walking around downtown St. Augustine, and visiting the Alligator Farm. The Alligator Farm was outstanding and is much more than just alligators, it is more like a zoo with a focus on alligators and crocodiles. It features every single alligator and crocodile species on the planet, a very impressive rookery, tortoises and other reptiles, birds, and even other animals like tapirs. They even have a zipline which I'd like to try some day. The frenzied alligator feeding was definitely the highlight of our visit!

On Thursday we drove down to Sunrise where we stayed for the south Florida part of our trip. On Friday we went to a Spring Training game in Jupiter where the Marlins played the Astros. I hadn't been to a Spring Training game since 1990 and I was reminded that it really is a great way to watch professional baseball! The game was great, albeit one-sided (the Astros totally dominated). It was an afternoon game and all of us got a little sunburn, in my case despite the fact that I used sunblock. I could definitely tell the difference between the Florida sun and the Idaho sun on this trip! After the game we drove through Palm Beach and stopped at the Flagler Museum, a converted estate. Sadly we couldn't visit because we arrived right as it was closing. However the view from outside was impressive enough!

Saturday we visited the other Miami (not the one in Manitoba). We were hoping to walk around South Beach but the area was totally packed and congested - it must have been the Spring Break crowds? After struggling to find somewhere to park, we instead we went over the main part of Miami and stopped at the Bayside for lunch and a walk along the waterfront. Bayside is right near the cruise terminal and was clearly a tourist shopping area. Once we checked everything out, we headed down to Key Biscayne to visit Cape Florida State Park. The causeway leading over there is beautiful as was the beach and historic lighthouse in the state park at the south end of Key Biscayne. The beach was super popular and for good reason! From there we headed back to Sunrise and a dinner at Scruby's was our final meal of the vacation.

Despite not wanting to leave, on Sunday the 20th we flew out of Ft. Lauderdale and returned to Boise with its 40 degree temperatures and rain. Boo!

Florida Vacation Pictures!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Baby Vickery!

As most (if not all) of our "loyal readers" now know, Zach & I are expecting an addition to the family in the Fall! My official due date is Sept. 11, 2011 - yes, the 10 year anniversary of 9/11. Fingers crossed that the big day doesn't actually end up being that, although apparently 9/11 is also National Grandparents Day in the US, which would be fitting!

So far everything has gone fairly smoothly - no nausea/vomiting (knock on wood), and no other symptoms that have caused much discomfort...yet! I'm definitely not looking forward to July & August, as hot as it gets in Idaho, but I'm trying not to think that far ahead :-) We had an ultrasound last week & everything looked good - the heartbeat was strong & the baby was bouncing up & down doing lunges & using me as a trampoline. That better not continue, kid! I will not be amused!! We'll keep you all posted as things progress.

Here's a shot of the wee little Vickery spawn...currently looking suspiciously like a bobble-headed alien. Hopefully that changes before the big day ;-)In addition to the exciting announcement, we've also been lucky enough to be spending the week in Florida with Jan & Ron. The weather has been insanely gorgeous - in the high 60's & low 70's (15-20 Celsius) since we got here on Saturday afternoon, and should be climbing even higher later this week...not too shabby! We could definitely get used to this kind of weather, especially considering it's March...I know our Manitoba readers are likely more than a little envious of the Florida readers/visitors, what with the recent blizzard. Sounds like it's time for Spring to make an appearance!

On Sunday night we went out for a celebration dinner to an excellent Italian restaurant in Jacksonville, Enza's, along with Jan's friend Susan. The food was delicious - Zach had Grouper (a white fish that we can't get in the Northwest) and I had a grilled chicken & veggie dish with a garlic sauce. Everyone's food looked wonderful, we'll definitely need to go back next time we're in town!
Here's a shot of the group at dinner:
We've also enjoyed a lovely lunch at Ted's Montana Grill (owned by Ted Turner), which is known for serving Bison in addition to Beef & Chicken. Zach & I are big fans of Bison, but Jan & Ron had never tried it before. They really enjoyed it, too! Bison is a healthier alternative to Beef - you get the meatiness of beef without any greasiness. It's much leaner, with lower calories, fat & cholesterol than beef, and is higher in iron & protein, so it's a great alternative.
Now that my apparent endorsement for the National Bison Council is over, back to your regularly scheduled blog...
Apart from these delicious meals, we've also checked out Whole Foods (Boise is getting a Whole Foods this year, so it was great to see Jacksonville's version in anticipation of Boise's), as well as Jacksonville's Costco, which is MUCH bigger than Boise's, and I found a whole bunch of interesting stuff we don't get. It's always nice to comparison shop!
Today we went to Latitude 30, a restaurant combined with a bowling alley, pool tables & an arcade. Zach & I bowled a game (he whooped my butt, but if it had been 5-pin - which doesn't exist in the US - I'm certain I would have been victorious), and then Ron & Jan joined us in the arcade & we played skee-ball, air-hockey & did some faux-NASCAR driving. All in all, it was a fun time, and would be a great option for a birthday party!
Tomorrow, we have plans to check out the St Augustine Alligator Farm & maybe Jacksonville Beach - we'll be sure to get some pictures for all to enjoy! On Thursday, we head down to Ft. Lauderdale/Miami for a few days, which should be awesome - I can't wait to see all the Art Deco architecture, the Cuban culture & what will likely be some amazing food!

We'll post more once we're back from the trip...we have to say goodbye to Ron & Jan on Sunday morning & fly out of Ft. Lauderdale back to Boise :-( but we're SO glad to be down here soaking up the family time & sharing the big news!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


On Monday I picked up my first ever pair of glasses. I was actually quite surprised to see how much of a difference they made in my distance vision - time had eroded my concept of clear visibility (especially at night) and it was stunning to suddenly get it back.

Anyway, here is the (eagerly awaited?) picture:

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Recent Happenings

On the 20th of February, I left Boise in the morning for a 5 day business trip to Raleigh, the location of my employer's headquarters. It was a very productive trip as we discussed various strategic topics regarding our future product development. On Tuesday a group of us attended a Carolina Hurricanes game, which was great entertainment. The Hurricanes tragically lost to the Rangers in an overtime shootout despite holding a lead late in the 3rd period.

Before leaving town, we took a quick tour of downtown and checked out the North Carolina capitol and environs. It dates from 1840 which makes it far older than the much more impressive looking Idaho State Capitol!

North Carolina Legislative Building

After getting home late Thursday night, I worked Friday and proceeded to attend the Boise Code Camp on Saturday. That was an all-day affair and was a good learning experience despite me not winning any of the raffle prizes.

On Monday we had a patio cover installed, which turned out pretty well. Of course now I have to stain it...

Finally, I went to the eye doctor today for the first time in roughly 15 years. I've noticed my distance vision getting worse and I nearly failed the eye test for my recent driver's license renewal. Needless to say, the prescription was glasses. They will arrive next week, thus ending my glasses free existence.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Gettin' Older...

Last Friday was my birthday, or more properly the anniversary of my birthday. Last year I decided working on this day was unacceptable so I took the day off from work. As I am wont to do, I slept in and planned the day in an impromptu manner. I knew the weather would be questionable but upon waking up I realized that a short hike in the foothills would be possible.

By 10:30am I left the house and headed up the Rocky Canyon Road into the eastern foothills hoping to get close enough to my goal, little known Aldape Peak. We haven't had much snow since New Years and I was astonished that I could drive the Escape all the way to Aldape Summit. I stopped a little bit short (not wanting to push my luck) but hiking the road proved it would have been no problem. Highly unusual conditions for mid-February!

I, perhaps foolishly, didn't even bring snowshoes but fortunately they weren't really needed. I hiked the main road to Aldape Summit and had intended to follow the Boise Ridge Road to the summit. However this road was gated as private property, which I didn't remember from my last hike in the area in 2003. I thus took a detour and hiked to the summit. From there I followed a jeep trail to the vicinity of the peak. Despite fairly deep snow, it held my weight pretty well in most places. It appeared this path had been snowmobiled awhile ago which is probably why it was sufficiently compacted for boot travel. With minimal struggle I made it to the summit in just over an hour, taking in partially obscured views of the surrounding area. What surprised me the most about this peak was that it had a great view of downtown Boise, something not possible in many parts of the foothills. I had a quick descent and got back to my car in just under two hours. On the way home, a passing storm dumped snow over east Boise and made for an interesting scene.

After getting home and cleaned up, around 5PM I headed to Cafe Ole to meet some coworkers for our usual "beer thirty". I stayed for about an hour and then met Katie at The Front Door in downtown Boise for a birthday dinner featuring quality beer and delicious pizza. The pizza was half pepperoni and half artichoke and impossible to stop eating! The beer list at The Front Door is extensive and unusual and provided me the rare of experience of not knowing what many of the beers were. Fortunately, I took advantage of the situation and expanded my beer vocabulary by trying the Kostritzer Black Lager, an IPA whose name escapes me, and the Bridgeport coffee porter.

In short, it was a great birthday and while I'm not excited about being older, I wouldn't mind every day being like this one!

Hike statistics: 4.17 miles, 1360' elevation gain, 2 hours

Aldape Peak Pictures!
GPS Track

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Craters of the Moon Snowshoe 2011

Last year, Matt and I went snowshoeing in the Craters of the Moon National Monument. That was a great trip however we only visited three of the numerous summits we initially planned to visit. Thus we put together a follow-up trip this winter to allow us to visit some of the other summits.

We headed out around 5:45am and were moving by 8:45am. We started up the highest peak on our itinerary, Sunset Cone, which sits just above the visitor center. Quickly we were atop this peak and began our slow march around the park, proceeding to climb Grassy Cone, Silent Cone, "Big Crater", Inferno Cone, Paisley Cone, and finishing on North Crater. In total, we visited 6 named summits plus another unnamed point.

The weather was much better than our last visit and we had great views of Blizzard Mountain, the Pioneer Foothills, the Lost River Range, and the Snake River Plain. Snowshoeing alongside the edge of the North Crater Aa Flow was pretty interesting as was observing the hollowed out snow caused by the warmth emanating from the volcanic vents underneath the ground. The Big Craters area was the most interesting area we visited and we spent some time checking out the impressive depressions all adjacent to each other.

We were surprised how few snowshoe tracks we found... only Paisley Cone had a trail established and North Crater had a few tracks. Despite my heavy use of sunblock (see the pictures), I still managed to get a little bit of sunburn. Oh well, it was still a great day!!

Trip statistics: 7.42 miles, 2276' elevation gain, 6:26h

Craters of the Moon 2011 Pictures!
GPS Track
Matt's Trip Report

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Peak 9220' Snowshoe

The weather during the week was looking great and Dan asked if I was interested in taking a day off of work to snowshoe up a peak. After a (brief) period of contemplation I agreed. The peak would be the unnamed Peak 9220' near Copper Mountain on the edge of the Sawtooths. We left Boise just after 5:30am on Thursday and began the drive to Banner Summit near Stanley. A little after 8am we were parked and getting ready. Despite few storms since New Years, there was plenty of snow in the area. Temperatures were somewhat cold (an estimated 10 degrees) but not unusual.

We got moving through the forest and after starting cold I started to warm up. The snow was softer that we expected but had a good base and wasn't too much work to move through. We were a little worried about crossing Bench Creek due to deep snow and the depth of water in the creek but we eventually encountered a good snow bridge that held our weight. From there we reached the base of the peak whose summit was surprisingly in clouds. Of course we could only continue on and hope things improved by the time we reached the top. The ridge was steep but pretty straightforward and we made good time up the over 2000' of elevation gain. We even had an old ski track for the part of the way which was a nice help.

Upon reaching the top, we were greeted with perfect weather (in the 20s), no wind, and an incredible view. From the top we took in the incredible panorama of Sawtooth, Boise, Salmon River, and White Cloud peaks. We really enjoyed our time on the peak and didn't head down until we started to get cold. Our descent down the ridge was pretty quick but crossing the flats was a slog due to fatigue. Upon reaching the vehicle we enjoyed a beer (although mine was partially frozen) and began the trip home.

This was a great winter peak and is highly recommended!

Trip statistics: 7.08 miles, 2527' elevation gain, 6:48h

Peak 9220' Pictures!
GPS Track
Dan's Trip Report

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Three Peak Winter Outing

Dan suggested snowshoeing to Johnson BM on a ridge overlooking the Camas Prairie. Having not hiked in this area it sounded pretty interesting so I was in. To add some elevation to the day, we also added a couple of other more minor objectives: Flat Top Butte and Don BM.

We left Boise a little after 6am and reached the trailhead for Johnson BM shortly after 8am. It was 13° which was actually considerably warmer than the nearby town of Fairfield! The snowshoe trip over the ridge was great as the sun rose and revealed the fog-shrouded Camas Prairie. Snow conditions were surprisingly good despite the snowpack being thinner than usual. After a couple of hours we reached the end of the ridge and Johnson BM. After taking some pictures (and Dan updating Facebook) we headed back to the vehicle.

After finishing the snowshoe trip of Johnson BM, we made a quick ascent of nearby Flat Top Butte just across the Gooding County line. This was a roughly 30 minute trip which was accelerated by the windy conditions that made us head back to the vehicle pretty quickly.

On the way back to Boise on US-20, we stopped to make a quick ascent of Don BM right by the highway. This was a surprisingly nice peak which a great view of the surrounding area. After quickly heading down we were able to finish the drive home - and arrive before 4pm. Not bad for visiting three peaks in winter!

Trip statistics (total): 8.26 miles, 1751' elevation gain, 5:09h

Johnson BM, Flat Top Butte, Don BM Pictures!
Johnson BM GPS Track
Flat Top Butte GPS Track
Don BM GPS Track
Dan's Trip Report

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Long Weekend in Southern California

Hi all...Katie here, reporting on a little weekend jaunt we took to LA/Long Beach last week! Get ready for an action-packed blog post! (ok, not really, but hopefully it will at least be slightly more entertaining than the Facebook status updates you may or may not have just been checking out!). Prepare yourself for a lengthy post (as usual when I'm playing the blogger!)

This trip to LA was actually a work-related one for me, as I flew down on Thursday, Jan 20 to spend a couple of days going on sales calls with my Sales Reps, and attending a Chinese New Year party that our NYK LA office hosted for some of it's Chinese clients. I left Boise at the butt-crack of dawn (6:30am), and landed a little after 9am. Keep in mind that it was 25F (-4C) when I left Boise, and it was 72F (22C) when I landed in LA!! Definitely much nicer January weather than I've ever experienced!
One of my Sales Reps (I work with 3 reps) picked me up at the airport & we headed out for our 1 (big) meeting of the day, with Dole (yes, the pineapple & banana people). Their world headquarters are located in Westlake Village, CA (north of LA), on an absolutely beautiful "campus" (their words)...I could definitely work at a place like this:
(yes, the weather was just as beautiful as that picture!)
The inside of Dole's main building was like a fancy spa, with marble floors & fountains & lots of greenery - very relaxing! We met with some of the people I work with, and then went out to lunch at The Landing Grill & Sushi (the building is on the left - we sat on the patio (IN JANUARY, PEOPLE!):
After that lovely meal & discussions about Dole's upcoming Contract Renewal (stressful times for yours truly!), my Sales Rep & I headed back down to Long Beach. She took me on a very scenic route, down part of the Pacific Coast Highway, which takes you right along the water in many sections. We stopped for a drink at a restaurant right on the water...again, it was so surreal to have to ask for seating "in the shade", since the sun was beating down pretty hard! We meandered through parts of Bel Air (no Fresh Prince sightings, unfortunately), and stopped in Hollywood, so that I could check out Graumann's Chinese Theater (with all the stars' footprints & handprints in the sidewalk), the Walk of Stars & the Kodak Theater (where the Oscars are held - I got to walk down the staircase on which they roll out the red carpet!)
Back in Long Beach, we stopped for dinner at Parker's Lighthouse where I had Chicken & Shrimp Jambalaya & we enjoyed an amazing view of the Queen Mary, and old passenger steamship that has been turned into a hotel.

On Friday I spent all day visiting clients with my 3 Sales Reps - these clients were smaller-scale than Dole, but it was still very nice to finally put faces to names for so many customers that I've been working with for the past 1.5 years. Friday evening was the main event - a traditional Chinese New Year banquet at NBC Seafood Restaurant in the Monterey Park section of LA! I got to meet even more customers, while enjoying (or at least trying!) lots of different Chinese dishes, many of which I had never tried or even heard of. It was quite an experience, but I'm happy to report that I tried everything (even the bamboo fungus, which was like tiny pieces of bubble wrap popping in my mouth), since I'm probably not going to have the chance in the near future!

Friday night signaled the end of my work duties, and also the start of a great weekend trip with Zach! He flew in Friday night & checked out the Yard House (just a few blocks from our hotel), while I was finishing up at the dinner party. He was in awe of (and in love with!) the beer selection at the Yard House!

On Saturday, we had an awesome breakfast at Egg Heaven in Long Beach, and then meandered around Long Beach - it is truly an awesome area, and we both agreed that we loved it! The beaches are gorgeous, and I would walk on the beach every single day if I lived there! We headed north on the Pacific Coast Highway...I have to mention that we stopped for a potty break at a Starbucks in Rancho Palos Verde - I'm only mentioning it because the patio of the Starbucks had a view similar to this:
Continuing up the PCH, we stopped in Venice Beach to check it out. It was an extremely busy & eclectic area, maybe not our style, but interesting nonetheless! We made it to Malibu (Beautiful beachfront houses & lots of fancy cars), and then headed back down to LA/Long Beach. We ate dinner at a great little Southern restaurant, Johnny Reb's, & called it a night.
Sunday was spent eating crepes, shopping at Trader Joe's (I brought a huge suitcase on purpose!), and checking out the Griffith Observatory, which has been in quite a few movies, including Charlie's Angels & Rebel Without a Cause - there's even a statue of James Dean at the site (although he doesn't have any eyeballs, which was creepy).
The parking lot was full, so we ended up having to walk about 20 minutes there & back...thank goodness for beautiful weather! You can see the Hollywood sign from the Observatory grounds, which was pretty cool!
Before heading to the airport, we drove around Hollywood/Beverly Hills (alas, no 90210-sightings, either.. you know I was looking for Brenda & Brandon Walsh's house!). Plenty of huge mansions were seen, though!
We flew back to Boise on Sunday night, arriving at 11:30pm, and were welcomed home by 30F (-1C) weather & frost. Ick. We definitely appreciated the weather in California, and were shocked at how many people we heard complaining about how hot it was while we were there! If only they knew what 30F felt like.
Overall, it was a great trip, both from a work perspective (for me) and a vacation perspective. We'd definitely love to go back, as there was lots more to do/see/eat, and would recommend the Long Beach area to anyone heading down that way!
Hope you enjoyed the VERY LONG blog post - this is why I don't blog more regularly - it always turns into a huge novel of a post.
If you made it this far, congratulations! We love you all, and miss you!
Katie & Zach

Here are some more pictures, taken on Zach's cell phone camera, since we forgot the real camera :-(