The number 40 has always symbolized endurance, struggle, and adversity.
Take Noah and the animals: they endured 40 days and nights of rain.
Or the Jews: they had to wander in the wilderness for 40 years.
Or Jesus: he fasted 40 days before kicking into mission mode.
There must be something about the number...
Take me in high school: ever trying to gulp down (and hold down) "the 40"
Or the 40 mile hike in the Smokies we do every couple years or so.
And now there's a new one: Two weeks ago, I ran in the Triple Lakes Race - a 40 mile endurance race around three lakes (believe it or not) in Greensboro.
Speaking of believing it or not - somehow I got fourth place! A total surprise to me. My watch had malfunctioned and had added a solid hour to my time. Plus, the last fifteen miles I didn't see a soul. I spent a good chunk of it wondering if I made a wrong turn (which would have been the end of me, because I had no clue where I was and I didn't have any gas left in the tank!). Needless to say, it was quite the adventure.
Which leaves me with this question: what 40 challenge will be next?
Here are some shots from our recent vacation to Utah. Utah paid me nothing to tell you this: but y'all need to check this part of the country out for yourselves.
Pioneer Park: St George, Utah, after eating Olive Garden to go while watching the sunset.
Left to right: Lia, wearing a monarch butterfly necklace made by A-Ro; Ned, wearing my new cool green shirt; Paul, sporting one of his fifty triathlon shirts; and Stef, who is simply, purely, all around sporty.
The next morning on the trail. Zion Park: sixteen miles down river. Here we go!
Either the walls got higher, or we got smaller.
This is one of the many obstacles we had to navigate. Fortunately, this one required some off river scrambling instead of a waterfall plunge! Although we did experience one casualty here: Paul's dry suit (aka Star Trek Costume) disappeared.
Ned and Lia and our poop bags, post coffee and oatmeal...guess who had to carry them...
Miraculously, a hiker found Paul's Star Trek Costume! Have you ever seen a happier Spock?
Taken at Big Springs. Did I say this already? The trail IS the river. I think I may have forgotten to share this minor detail to Paul and Stef as well!
That little ant right there is Lia! By the way, this picture only gets half the wall!
We journeyed east to Page, AZ the next day to explore the Antelope Canyons. Here's Stef. For a second, we thought we lost her!
It's even more spectacular in person.
We only took 1,000 photos.
Paul and Stef jumped in our photo! Just kidding.
I saw this high point and took off. I looked over my shoulder to discover no one following me.
Can anyone say, Christmas Card 2011?
This photo was taken at Houston's Family Restaurant. Hands down, our best meal of the week.
It was raining everywhere in Southern Utah except in Bryce Canyon, where it was snowing. Guess where we decided to go?
Photographers would tell you that the first snow of the year at Bryce is one of the best photo ops there is. From this amateur's point of you, I'd have to say I agree.
We were on the Queens Garden Loop when this man coming from the other directions says: "There's a must stop ahead. You can't not do it."
He was right.
Around the bend there were hundreds of tiny rock piles. Whoever started this, thanks! What fun! Let me say: If it's been awhile since you played with rocks, do so soon. It's more fun than it sounds.
I told the team that the guidebook called this place Kissers Arch. Lia fell for it!
We bought the hats at the lodge.
Cliffside, Paul and Stef didn't trust me with the camera.
Our last day of hiking took us back to Zion where we journeyed up to Observation Point. Quite a view, I must say.
Paul only had to take 10 pictures to get one of me actually in the air! Ha!
Same day, different world: Las Vegas, the Venetian, Tao restaurant, a floating fifty foot Buddha behind us. Our waiter said that last week a couple got in a fight and the lady threw her wedding ring into the fountain underneath the Buddha. The next day she came back looking for it. According to the waiter, the ring was never found. All this to say, even after all the adventure, our marriages (and our friendship) managed to evade a similar fate.