Tuesday, July 14, 2009

I "heart" anniversaries

Author's Note: This is mostly a journal entry for me to remember this past weekend. But I am inviting you along for the ride.

My sweetheart and I have been married for 13 years.

Definitely a lucky number.

In our marriage we have experienced much that has been difficult, joyous, life altering, challenging, and blessings beyond number.

But through everything we have kept a deep abiding love and respect for eachother.

We have made our marriage the priority in our lives so that we and our children will be happy and secure.

Part of that effort has been date nights, and anniversaries spent away.

And oh, how i highly recommend the anniversaries spent away.

For this anniversary, we wanted to get away for an entire weekend, but alas, with little money, we had to exercise the creative parts of our brains.

We came up with camping.

And let me tell you, it was the best time we have ever had.

We have had weekends at the Westin, the Fairmont Copley in Boston, a resort in Massachussetts, Leavenworth Wa. Great places that pampered us and made us feel like royalty.

But nothing compares with camping with your sweetheart.

We chose a remote location by a little lake in the mountains.

We dug our own latrine, cooked everything over an open fire, and heard nothing but the sounds of birds, crickets and mosquitos buzzing in our ears.

We talked and talked and talked. We laughed and held hands and kissed without worrying which of our precious children would catch us smooching.

Of course, the downside to the whole weekend was that Jeff grabbed the camera not knowing I had taken the battery out to charge it. So, alas, no pictures.

So I'm snaking some from the internet of the places we were just so you can see how beautiful it was.

We arrived on Stampede Pass around 5 on Friday. Set up camp, had a look around. The lake right outside our tent flap was Lake Lizzard. I saw no lizzards, so I'm not sure if the name was relevant or if the explorers just got tired of trying to come up with names for all the lakes they found. And lizzard is so outdoorsy and woodsy, I mean really, you couldn't name it Lake-there's-a-foot-of mud-at the bottom-, or Lake-mosquitos breed here. Both of which are true.

But I digress.

After setting up camp we went for a swim in the lake. Well, Jeff swam and I gingerly walked in up to my waist before becoming panic stricken that the mud would suck me in like quicksand and I would drown. (Did I mention I'm occasionally paranoid?)

After I managed to get the mud out of, well, everywhere, we got our campfire going and ate steaks and sauteed mushrooms followed by Jiffy Popcorn and Toasted Marshmallows.

Camping is all about the food, you see.

Then the magic happened, and don't worry, it's not a post about THAT although there was plenty of THAT. Hee Hee.

No, the magic was that we sat and talked. And talked. And talked.

No one interrupted us, no one came and snuggled next to one of us and listened to everything we said.

Don't get me wrong, I love the snuggling and interrupting of my children, but it was nice to be just grownups, talking about whatever.

And Jeff whittled. He got a knife at REI as a anniversary present (we've been married long enough that we just pick our own anniversary presents usually) and he wanted to try his hand at whittling.

I did not get a knife, so therefore I didn't whittle, but I wanted to feel productive and outdoorsy so I took the string off the bag of briquettes I opened and I made this:

Impressed? I know, me neither. But it was fun.

Jeff, however, proved once again that he is multi talented, and that he loves me deeply.

He whittled me this:

Yes, I hold his heart in my hand. And my pocket, which ever is easier.

We talked until the stars came out, honest, open, good conversation mingled with toasty marshmallows and toasty toes next to an open fire.

I read to him the Story of our Love. For our 9th anniversary I wrote down how we met, and had it made into a book with pictures of our courtship. It was fun to relive those memories together.

The next morning we felt adventurous. We looked at our trusty map and saw another nice little lake that we thought would be fun to hike to along the Pacific Crest trail.

The Pacific Crest Trail, for a little background, is a trail that runs from Canada to Mexico, 2600 miles. Through rugged terrain, woods and mountain lakes. We picked it up across the road from our campsite.

And let me just tell you, an inch or two on the map, combined with the switchbacks of a trail, turned into 6 miles in and then 6 miles back out.

But it was totally worth it. We hiked to Stirrup Lake, which was truly one of the most beautiful things I have seen. By the time we arrived there, we were so hot and sweaty that we immediately changed into our swim suits (there was not another soul around for miles) and went for a swim. Well, Jeff did, I got up to my waist before the aforementioned paranoia set in. But the water felt soo good, the sun shone down upon us, and there was not another sound but the wind through the trees.

After hiking for 3 hours, this is what we came upon.

Photo by by Dorota Heidel

It was such a welcome sight.

After swimming, and discovering that it was a great place for mosquitos (I have the bites on my behind to prove it) we ate some lunch and got ready to head back.

The hike back, needless to say, was harder then the hike in. We were tired, foot sore, and a little dehydrated. But the worst part? Well, swimming in the lake washed off all of our insect repellant, and we forgot to bring more, so the entire 6 miles back went something like this-*slap* smack*scratch* ARGHHH!*

Jeff finally abandoned his walking stick after he smacked himself with it one too many times while attempting to squash yet another mosquito.

And when all was said and done, the damage amounted to 49, yes 49, mosquito bites on my left arm alone!

I will spare you the pictures, I look like I have a disease. Jeff faired a little better. But we learned our lesson about camping, hiking, what have you. Alway, I repeat, ALWAYS, carry more bug spray.

When we got back to camp, we pretty much collapsed in our chairs. Then hunger kicked in and we ate calzones that Jeff made and a pineapple upside down cake that I cooked in a dutch oven. We ate like kings I'll tell you. Didn't I say camping is all about the food?

As the sun began to set, we stoked up the fire and began to ask each other questions.

What's your favorite meal?

Who are your best friends?

What are your unfulfilled dreams?

Favorite movie?

Favorite book?

And so forth and so on.

I came home feeling that I truly know Jeff better. That two days alone in the woods with no distractions helped me see into his soul once again. Every wonderful reason I fell in love with him and continue to fall deeper in love with him was made bright and shine-ily apparent.

It was like taking a deep, cleansing, clarifying breath.

But now we are home. Real life is back in full swing.

Occasionally I will get a whiff of campfire, or the blister on my pinky toe will throb for a moment and I will be transported back to the best anniversary to date.

But the connection I feel with my one and only (I know gag, barf, too sappy, but true)is stronger than ever.

And that is truly the best anniversary gift anyone could receive.


Thank you to my parents and to Jeff's sister Denise and her husband Jim for watching our kids for the weekend. Good, reliable, kind people taking care of your children sure helps with being able to relax. We love you guys!


  1. Truly Awesome. Bug bites and all! Congratulations on your Anniversary, and for celebrating what's important!

  2. Happy anniversary! What a great trip minus the bug bites!

  3. You are making my heart ache because I just can't wait to get away alone with Ben. Clingy and/or nursing children have prevented it thus far. That's right, we have not spent a night alone since Russel was born. I guess it's only been a little over 2 years, buy my how long that feels. To get away sounds like a heavenly dream. I need it, I crave it, and you have helped me remember how essential it is when it finally becomes possible.

    I'm so glad you had such a wonderful trip! You guys are great!


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