Happy Birthday to Me!

Monday, July 20, 2009

So Friday was my birthday. It was one of the best birthday's I've had in awhile. I woke up in the morning and a friend had come by before I woke up and dropped off some balloons and a dozen doughnuts from Tim Horton's (a Canadian Doughnut shop that just opened in New York). Then on the way to work, I received a phone call from my parents. They woke up at 5:30 in the morning to wish me a happy birthday. It was so good to talk to them. Throughout the day, I received so many birthday wishes. It is always so fun to feel everyone's love for you.

After lunch with a friend, my team at work bought me cupcakes from Crumbs bakery. So tasty! Then they even let me leave work early. I couldn't have asked for a better day, but there was still so more to come.

A bunch of friends met up for dinner that night at one of my favorite restaurants, The Eatery. After a great meal, the fun began.

My friend Adrienne planned "The Amazing Birthday Race" based off of the reality show The Amazing Race that I love so much. So we were given an envelope with a clue in it. That clue led us to somewhere in the city. Once we got to that place, we were supposed to call for our mission. Once we completed the mission, we were given the clue to the next spot.

So the first clue led us to Time Square. While here we had to take a picture with a member of the NYPD flexing his muscles. The Cops are really friendly in Times Square, but this cop was embarrassed because he said he didn't have any muscles.

The next stop was the Late Show with David Letterman studies. While there we had to find 3 strangers to sing me happy birthday. It was actually one of the harder tasks to complete, but we found some great people to do it. They even sang to me in French.

Next stop on the race: Columbus Circle. While here, I was told I had to get in the fountains and hold a stranger. When I first heard this, I thought no way is anyone going to do this. In the end it didn't take us too long to find someone to let me hold them. She thought it was the coolest thing.

The Race then took us to Cold Stone. At this stop, I had to find a stranger who would be willing to feed me a bite of their ice cream! Once again, once I heard this I was shocked. But I did it.

Then we were off to the Apple store where I had to don headphones and dance while everyone stared at me. Not bad compared to the last two tasks. What a relief.

Then we were off to the finish line. Along the way, you could get bonus points for other things. For example, we got an extra point for finding someone to kiss me on the cheek.

Our most proud bonus point came from finding a street vendor who let us cook a kabob on their grill and serve the next customer. I thought we would never be able to find someone to let us do this because of food handling issues, but we did. It was the funniest thing.

My competitive side came out and we finished first after running to every stop. It was such a blast. (And someone thought I would be embarrassed to do stuff like this. Boy were they wrong.)

Once we got back to Adrienne's house we watched the other team's videos and enjoyed good food and good friends. Thanks Adrienne for the most creative birthday activity I've ever had. You're amazing!
Then came the after party. Another group of friends wanted to celebrate with me as well. So, I headed over to their place and we had some yummy cake and ice cream. It was the perfect way to end my birthday. Except for the fact they put the candles that don't blow out on my birthday cake. I had to take them off and put them in water to get them to go out.

So if all of that celebrating wasn't enough, several of my closest friends share my birthday week with me. Just like last year, we had a combined birthday party. So we decorated one of my friend's roofs and had about 200 people over to party. Granted I didn't know all of them, but it was good to see so many of my friends in the city. I truly have some of the most amazing friends anyone could ever ask for! Here's to 27. May it be my best year yet.

Niagara Falls and Palmyra

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Something I’ve wanted to do since I moved out here was attend the Hill Cumorah Pageant. This last weekend, I checked that one off my list. Several friends and I rented a minivan and headed up to Rochester, NY on Friday night. Since we were already so close, we also decided to head up to Niagara Falls.

Once we got to the falls, it started pouring rain. We had rain coats, but we still got soaked. None of us really minded though. We took lots of pictures and just had fun in the rain. We headed down to the observation deck for a few more pics before we headed down to the Maid of the Mist. My parents took me on this boat ride about 18 years ago, so it was fun to go on it again. It is really cool to get so close to the falls and since we were already wet, we didn’t care about getting more wet.

One of our friends is actually from Canada so we decided to cross the border so he could show us some Canadian classics like Tim Horton’s and some great Canadian candy.

On the way back from Canada, we had to stop at Texas Roadhouse. This is one of my friend’s favorite restaurants, so anytime we go on a road trip he looks up the nearest one.

After a great dinner we headed down to the Hill Cumorah. The stage is quite impressive. All the characters come out before the show to meet and great. Our Stake President was with his family performing in the pageant, so we had to get a picture with him in costume.

The pageant was really neat and had good effects for a pageant. Unfortunately, halfway through the pageant, there was a crazy lightning storm, so they had to cancel the rest of it. I was really disappointed, but there was nothing I could do about it.

On Sunday after church, we headed down to all of the church sites. We saw the Martin Harris farm, the Grandin Press shop where the Book of Mormon was printed, Joseph Smith’s log home and frame home.

Then we spent a good amount of time in the Sacred Grove. The spirit was really strong in the grove. It truly is sacred ground. I was glad I had time to sit and reflect there. I would love to go back.

Then our last stop included hiking to the top of the Hill Cumorah. It was a packed weekend and a great trip (except for the fact we sat in 3 hours of traffic on the way back).

Lake Tahoe

Man, I meant to post Lake Tahoe pictures within a few hours after the last post. As you can see, that didn’t happen. So here’s the brief recap (a month late).

Once I finally made it to Lake Tahoe, our family had a great time. There was a lot of hot tubbing and swimming with the nieces and nephews, good food, and just enjoying family. On Monday, we went out to Emerald Bay where we hiked to a few waterfalls and an old vacation home on the beach called Vikingsholm. It was a really nice hike and gorgeous scenery.

On day two, we took everyone on a biking trip. Lake Tahoe has a biking trail around practically the whole lake, so we took the kids on about a 20 mile stretch of it. The older ones actually rode bikes, while the younger ones rode in bike trailers. They were troopers and it was actually kind of fun to pull a bike trailer.

The morning of day three was filled with golfing with my brothers. It was a great time, but let’s just say the course was really narrow with pine trees and a ball or two ricocheted off a couple of those pine trees. It’s been almost two years since I have golfed because there’s not really anywhere in NYC that’s convenient. I need to get back on my game.

On Thursday, we went on an adults-only biking adventure. We drove our SUVs up the mountain with bikes in tow and then rode the bikes down the mountain (thus, averting having to ride up the steep mountainside). The trail was great. It had rocks, logs, and switchbacks, everything a mountain biker could ever ask for. My brother-in-law even ran into a tree trying to land a jump. It was quite the adventure. We rode the trail a few different times before we had to head back for the evening.

On Friday, our trip to Tahoe came to an end, but my parents suggested we stop in Yosemite on the way home. At first, I wasn’t too keen on the idea of sitting in the car for 10 hours that day, but at the end of the day I was glad I went. Yosemite is one of the most beautiful yet rustic places that I have been to. Just see the accompanying pictures. It is breathtaking when you first drive into Yosemite Valley. While we were there, we stopped several times, saw a bear, hiked up to Bridal Veil Falls and Yosemite Falls, and just enjoyed our time in nature.
I couldn’t have had a more relaxing vacation.

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