Washington State: A Day in Seattle

Flying to Seattle
Flying to Seattle

After a long day of travel to Washington via Delta Airlines, first to Salt Lake City and then into Seattle-Tacoma Airport, and then a good nights rest, we had the opportunity to spend a day in Seattle with the family.

Getting on the Foot Ferry in Port Orchard
Getting on the Foot Ferry in Port Orchard
Kitsap Foot Ferry in Port Orchard
Kitsap Foot Ferry in Port Orchard

Bremerton Ferry

Riding the Hyak from Bremerton Terminal
Riding the Hyak from Bremerton Terminal

Since my daughter Amaree and her family live in Port Orchard, we had to take ferries across the Puget Sound to get to Seattle. We started with the Port Orchard Foot Ferry Service that took us from Port Orchard into Bremerton. Then we got on the Bremerton Ferry which is a much larger ferry that also carries automobile traffic and enjoyed the one hour boat ride to Seattle.  We rode on the M/V Hyak, which can carry up to 2000 passengers and as many as 144 cars.

The family gets ready to board the Hyak Ferry in Bremerton. We were all decked out in our matching shirts.
The family gets ready to board the Hyak Ferry in Bremerton. We were all decked out in our matching shirts.
The grandkidz join "Grammy" on the Ferry Ride across Puget Sound
The grandkidz join “Grammy” on the Ferry Ride across Puget Sound

It was a beautiful day, probably in the 80s and sunny as can be. Prior to our trip Julianne and I had created T-shirts for all of the family so that we would be color coordinated and easy to find. These “safety green” T-shirts were very easy to see and it was fun throughout the day to get the comments from people.

A flock of seagulls on the deck of the Hyak
A flock of seagulls on the deck of the Hyak
Feeding the seagulls on the ferry
Feeding the seagulls on the ferry

I enjoyed sitting on the outside deck as we travel to cross the sound and loved watching the waves, the birds and other things.  We got to a point where a couple of people and brought food to feed to the seagulls,  who would swoop down and grab the food right out of these people’s hands. It was fun to see all of the seagulls up so close. I was able to grab some amazing photographs, some of which are posted below.

A seagull glides gracefully alongside the ferry.
A seagull glides gracefully alongside the ferry.
There were about a dozen seagulls soaring alongside the ferry. Here are a couple of them.
There were about a dozen seagulls soaring alongside the ferry. Here are a couple of them.
One seagull had his eye on some goodies
One seagull had his eye on some goodies
This was a luck shot...literally a couple of feet away
This was a luck shot…literally a couple of feet away
Seattle in the distance
Seattle in the distance

 

From the ferry deck we could not only see Seattle, but off in the distance we could see the beautiful cone shape of Mt. Rainier.  Even in the heat of July it was covered with snow and glaciers.

A panorama view of Seattle from the Ferry
Seattle as seen from the Ferry
Seattle as seen from the Ferry

As we approached Seattle, I could see the full expanse of the city and over to the south I could see the Space Needle clearly.  The Seattle city scape is certainly a beautiful one.

Seattle's famed "Great Wheel"
Seattle’s famed “Great Wheel”

Finally, we all arrived safely at the port and disembarked from the ferry into the crowded waterfront area of Seattle. This section of Seattle is certainly built to accommodate tourism. There is a giant Ferris wheel, called the “Seattle Great Wheel“, a couple of fun shops/museums, plenty of fun eateries, lemonade stands and much much more.

 

 

Birds glide by on the Seattle waterfront
Birds glide by on the Seattle waterfront
Amaree gets lemonade at a real lemon stand
Amaree gets lemonade at a real lemon stand
A unique view of the Seattle Waterfront
A unique view of the Seattle Waterfront

Ye Olde Curiosity Shop

Visiting Ye Olde Curiosity Shop on the waterfront in Seattle
Visiting Ye Olde Curiosity Shop on the waterfront in Seattle

Our first stop once we hit the sidewalk was Ye Olde Curiosity Shop. Julianne and I had the opportunity to visit this place a few years ago when we were in Seattle prior to taking a cruise to Alaska. But, honestly, it was much more fun with all the grandkids being able to see all of the odd things in this museum/store.

Ye Olde Curiosity Shop in Seattle
Ye Olde Curiosity Shop in Seattle
This guy greets you as you walk into Ye Olde Curiosity Shop
This guy greets you as you walk into Ye Olde Curiosity Shop
A two headed sheep in Ye Olde Curiosity Shop
A two headed sheep in Ye Olde Curiosity Shop

Always the sucker for oddities, the store for that craving with some of the strange creatures that they have on display along with many of the unique items that were for sale in the store.

A stare down in Ye Olde Curiosity Shop
A stare down in Ye Olde Curiosity Shop

CuriositytShop2Ye Olde Curiosity Shop got its start when Joseph Edward Standley set up his curio and souvenir shop on the waterfront in 1899.  Back then Seattle was a rough ‘n’ tumble town. Even at that time, Standley’s shop presented a jumbled mix of curiosities and significant art objects. He collected and sold what came his way, but also had local Native American artists make objects to his specifications. CuriosityShop2He sold genuine Tlingit totem poles, but also replicas by carvers descended from the Vancouver Island-based Nuu-chah-nulth tribe, who were living in Seattle, and even inexpensive souvenir totem poles made in Japan. A flair for the bizarre and grotesque led him to include items such as shrunken heads from the Amazon (some of them definitely genuine, others probably not). It is certainly a must visit location if you are in this part of Seattle!

Seattle Waterfront

Miner's Landing on the Seattle Waterfront
Miner’s Landing on the Seattle Waterfront
The Crab Pot...one of many eating establishments on the Seattle Waterfront
The Crab Pot…one of many eating establishments on the Seattle Waterfront

We then continued to walk towards the area where the Pike Place Market is located. Along the way we passed eateries, shops and the Great Wheel. We skipped by most of these places but did take stops for a quick break. All down the path there are cornhole games and other things that are set up for people to just stop and play and we did so.

Another place of interest that we did not stop at but probably would’ve enjoyed was the Seattle aquarium. That will have to be on our agenda for the next trip. We had planned to visit the aquarium in Tacoma later in the week, so we skipped this particular venue.

Welcome to the Seattle Waterfront
Welcome to the Seattle Waterfront
The Seattle Aquarium
The Seattle Aquarium
Unique sign for the Seattle Aquarium
Unique sign for the Seattle Aquarium
A nice Orca Sculpture across the street from the Seattle Aquarium
A nice Orca Sculpture across the street from the Seattle Aquarium
Orca Wall Art in Seattle
Orca Wall Art in Seattle

The “Parking Squid”

Hanging with the grandkidz on the "Parking Squid" in Seattle
Hanging with the grandkidz on the “Parking Squid” in Seattle

At that point you can cross the street towards Pike Place Market, and visit the rather unique parking squid. This squid sculpture was made specifically for parking in attaching your bikes which makes it a rather unique item. As always, I am always looking for unique sculptures and so we stopped for a photo opportunity with the kids and I got another photo of this.

The "Parking Squid" by Seattle artist Susan Robb
The “Parking Squid” by Seattle artist Susan Robb

This unique utilitarian sculpture by Seattle artist Susan Robb, was commissioned by the Seattle Department of Transportation in 2009 and installed in 2012.  It was originally installed on the north side of the EMP building in Seattle Center, but was eventually moved just outside of the Pike Place Market parking garage (the Pike Street Hill Climb) across the street from the Seattle Aquarium.  The structure is made from galvanized steel and is a fun addition to a walking tour.

World Spice Market

World Spice Market in Seattle
World Spice Market in Seattle

On our way up to Pike Place Market (we took the elevator instead of the Pike Street Hill Climb), we just happened upon the World Spice Market. What a fabulous little shop! If you like spices this is the place to go because they have everything.

Spices line the wall at the Word Spice Market
Spices line the wall at the World Spice Market

The shop is set up more like an apothecary with jars of spices along the walls and in bottles and jars throughout the store. You can open each one and take a whiff of the spice and then you request what spices you want and in some cases they actually grind them up for you fresh.

Relaxing at the Spice Shop while they prepare our order
Relaxing at the Spice Shop while they prepare our order
One of the World Spice Market staff prepares spice mix
One of the World Spice Market staff prepares spice mix
Spices on the Wall at the World Spice Market
Spices on the Wall at the World Spice Market
Rules of the Game at World Spice Market
Rules of the Game at World Spice Market
Some Great fragrances emanate from the World Spice Market
Some Great fragrances emanate from the World Spice Market

Pike Place Market

Pike Place Market in Seattle
Pike Place Market in Seattle
The Golden Pig (on the right!!!) and Sumoflam at Pike Place Market in Seattle
Rachel the Golden Pig (on the right!!!) and Sumoflam at Pike Place Market in Seattle

We finally made our way to the entrance of Pike Place market and took a quick stop with Rachel the Golden Pig, which is one of the famous pieces of artwork associated with this world renowned farmers market.

Naturally, since it was the end of July and everyone is on vacation and touring Seattle, the Pike Place market was packed to the gills! To go anywhere it was bump and grind all the way.

 

Pike Place Market was packed
Pike Place Market was packed
One of the famed fishmongers of Pike Place Market
One of the famed fishmongers of Pike Place Market

Despite the crowds, we were able to still enjoy some of the fun things of the market including the well-known fishmongers to throw the fish across the way yell out the customers name etc.

My grandkids, especially little Charlie, being smaller, were able to weasel their way up to the front and I soon saw Charlie playing with the crawfish, which were still alive. Fortunately, I was able to squeeze in and get close enough to grab a couple of good photos!

Charlie and the Crawfish at Pike Place Market
Charlie and the Crawfish at Pike Place Market
Another great shot of Charlie with a crawfish
Another great shot of Charlie with a crawfish
Wild Fish caught by Wild Fishermen
Wild Fish caught by Wild Fishermen

Here are a few more random photos I got at Pike Place Market.  Such a unique and fun place (other than the crowds).

Famous for its fish, Pike Place Market has a number of fish shops and plenty of fish
Famous for its fish, Pike Place Market has a number of fish shops and plenty of fish
Squid at Pike Place Market
Squid at Pike Place Market
The family hangs with the famed Rachel the Golden Pig at Pike Place Market
The family hangs with the famed Rachel the Golden Pig at Pike Place Market
Fresh Fish Neon at Pike Place Market
Fresh Fish Neon at Pike Place Market
A Balloon Man at Pike Place Market
A Balloon Man at Pike Place Market
King Salmon at Pike Place Market
King Salmon at Pike Place Market
We've got fish at Pike Place Market
We’ve got fish at Pike Place Market
Spicy Noodles at Pike Place Market
Extreme Habanero Spicy Noodles at Pike Place Market
Yes, there is Volcanic Ash Art at Pike Place Market
Yes, there is Volcanic Ash Art at Pike Place Market
Unique Pillars
Unique Pillars

DSC_4851The Pike Place Market seems to go on forever and there is not a place to sit down anywhere along the way and so it got to be very tiring. We finally did get out of the market and walked down to a large park it did have plenty of seating.

Seattle Scenes

Pike Place Market entrance at Virginia and Western
Pike Place Market entrance at Virginia and Western
An artist relaxes by his booth along the waterfront in Seattle
An artist relaxes by his booth along the waterfront in Seattle

After a brief rest, we decided that we would venture to the point where we can catch the large duck boats and Ride the Duck. even this was about a mile away and a good part of it was uphill, towards the terminus of the monorail station.

Grabbed a shot in front of the original Starbucks in Seattle. Line was a mile long
Grabbed a shot in front of the original Starbucks in Seattle. Line was a mile long

Along the way we walked by numerous shops including the origina Starbucks. Starbucks is now all over the place, but this was the first one and I have a picture showing I’ve been there!  Here are a few more random scenes from our walk.

A unique Hot Dog Eatery along the waterfront
A unique Hot Dog Eatery along the waterfront
There were street musicians everywhere. Seattle is known for its music. This man was playing old Benny Goodman classics.
There were street musicians everywhere. Seattle is known for its music. This man was playing old Benny Goodman classics.
On a building side...reminiscent of the 1940s and 1950s
On a building side…a cornerstone from 1981
Another street musician trying to make a buck by the original Starbucks
Another street musician trying to make a buck by the original Starbucks
Buildings old and new in downtown Seattle
Buildings old and new in downtown Seattle
Always love my Pink Elephants...this time in the form of a Car Wash!
Always love my Pink Elephants…this time in the form of a Car Wash!
Met the Seattle Smile Guy along the way. Didn't want money... just wanted smiles
Met the Seattle Smile Guy along the way. Didn’t want money… just wanted smiles
An Old Clock on a building
An Old Clock on a building
The Hammering Man by Jonathan Borofsky
The Hammering Man by Jonathan Borofsky

I should note that the Hammering Man, by artist Jonathan Borofsky, is one of many artworks around Seattle.  Borofsky has installed the Hammering Man in other places around the world as well. This one is 48 feet tall and is directly in front of the Seattle Art Museum.  I have visited other works by Borofsky in Council Bluffs, Iowa (Molecule Man), in Pittsburgh at Carnegie Mellon (“Walking to the Sky“) and the “Man With Briefcase” in Fort Worth, Texas.  I love the simple grandeur of his art and hope to see more in the future.

Kress Building in Seattle
Kress Building in Seattle

Ride the Duck in Seattle

Ride the Ducks in Seattle
Ride the Ducks in Seattle

After the rather grueling walk up to the monorail station area, it was really nice to have a seat and relax for nearly an hour before our ride was to take place.

All of us waiting for to Ride the Duck. This guy loved our shirts and wanted a photo with us...yes, we were photobombed in Seattle!
All of us waiting for to Ride the Duck. This guy loved our shirts and wanted a photo with us…yes, we were photobombed in Seattle!

DSC_4885Throughout my travels, I have seen the “Ride the Ducks” boats in a few places over the years. I specifically recall seeing one Ketchikan, Alaska, but I’ve also seen them in San Francisco, Stone Mountain (Georgia) and Branson (Missouri). I had never ridden one, so I didn’t know what to expect.

After the wait, we finally were able to board our “Duck” adventure.  We were in for a load of fun!!

Super_DUKWFirst off, a little history about the “Ducks.”  The DUKW (D-built in 1942, U-amphibious 2-ton truck, K-front wheel drive, W-rear wheel drive) was an amphibious landing craft developed by the United States Army during World War II. It was designed to deliver cargo from ships at sea directly to the shore. DUKWS are street legal to drive on the roads and are also legal to drive on water as recreational boats. (See more history here)

The Kravetz and Matthews family all decked out in our matching shirts Riding the Duck around Seattle.
The Kravetz and Matthews family all decked out in our matching shirts Riding the Duck around Seattle.

DSC_4891Our ride on the Duck was fun.  We had a great driver – Captain Mandy Lifeboats.  She was full of energy and pulled a few tricks out of her hat…or was it she pulled a few hats out of her tricks?  She was both wacky (and even quacky!!)

Mandy in a Unique head dress
Mandy in a Unique head dress
Mandy the Pirate....ARGH
Mandy the Pirate….ARGH
Duck coming up out of Lake Union
Duck coming up out of Lake Union

Our Duck Tour took us from the Seattle Center, where the Monorail begins.  We drove up along Lake Union and had some nice views from the Aurora Bridge.  We then made our way INTO the lake and cruised around the lake.  We saw the floating home from Sleepless in Seattle, and a few other ritzy lakeside homes, not to mention multi-million dollar yachts. We also had a great view of the skyline.

The Space Needle as seen from the Duck
The Space Needle as seen from the Duck

From the lake we drove back towards downtown past the Space Needle, the EMP Museum and then towards the downtown shopping area and along the waterfront. Overall the ride lasted about 90 minutes and we had a frolicking good time.  There were times we all “quacked” at passersby, sang songs, had fun Disco Music and more.

What I enjoyed about this ride was the opportunity to see Seattle without all of the walking!  And it gave a flavor of some of the places we can see on our next trip out there to see the family.

Houseboats on Lake Union
Houseboats on Lake Union
A Mural under a bridge. It was created as a Paint By Number and then many Seattle residents added the paint
A Mural under a bridge. It was created as a Paint By Number and then many Seattle residents added the paint
Paddle Boarders in Lake Union....as seen from the Duck
Paddle Boarders in Lake Union….as seen from the Duck
The view of Seattle as seen from Lake Union from the comfort of a Duck Ride.
The view of Seattle as seen from Lake Union from the comfort of a Duck Ride.

After the Duck Ride was over, we walked the mile or so back to the Ferry Dock to catch the ferry back to Port Orchard.  We were all quite exhausted, but made it in time and enjoyed the ride back.  And we were blessed with a wonderful sunset leaving its mark on Mt. Rainier. It was a splendid, though tiring, day.

Mt. Rainier as seen from the Bremerton Ferry on our return to Port Orchard
Mt. Rainier as seen from the Bremerton Ferry on our return to Port Orchard

 

 

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Flying High To Utah: Home Sweet Home

Rob Roy's Navy SEAL Art of War has been an inspiring book for me
Rob Roy’s Navy SEAL Art of War has been an inspiring book for me

In mid-July I had an unexpected opportunity to go to Utah for a website-related photo job with former Navy SEAL and author Rob Roy, who recently published the Navy SEAL Art of War (see my review).

Rob is also the owner of SOT-G (which stands for Special Operations Training Group) where he does Leadership Training sessions called “LUF Redux.”  My trip was to both experience and photograph one of these training sessions that SOT-G was carrying out for a client of theirs.

In the mountains of Utah
In the mountains of Utah

For me this was going to be a unique experience as I watched former Navy SEALS and other former military staff members work a group of business leaders through a rigorous and grueling leadership and team building experience.  At the same time, I was “going home” from where I had joined the LDS (Mormon) Church and graduated high school.  Though I lived in a number of places, I consider Utah to be my “home”.

AmericanAirI didn’t have a great deal of time to prep for the trip, but I was excited to go.  Those that know me also know that I prefer to drive the back roads of America cross country rather than fly.  But, there are times that flying is required and so, I did my usual photo retrospect of the trip.  To the adventurous kid in me, every trip is a new journey and this would be fun to look down form the skies over this great country and then get to the mountains.

Leaving on a jet plane from Louisville for Dallas.  Bulkhead seat!
Leaving on a jet plane from Louisville for Dallas. Bulkhead seat!

I left early Tuesday morning.  The early morning skies over Lexington were bright with an amazing and long lasting lightening storm.  In fact, my flight was originally supposed to leave very early from Cincinnati, but it was cancelled.  I had to leave instead from Louisville on a later flight, which through my entire schedule off.  But, we made it in plenty of time.  Before long, I was on my American Airlines flight heading for DFW Airport in Dallas and then on to Salt Lake City.

Best seat and best leg room...loved it.
Best seat and best leg room…loved it.

I was lucky to get a bulkhead seat…extra leg room, as can be seen in the photo on the left.  A few months ago I would have had to really SQUEEZE into this seat.  The bulkhead seats have those solid arms with the tables in the arms.  Very little flexibility.  This was still a tad tight, but I was not uncomfortable.  I had THE BEST legroom on the flight!!  It was great to stretch out and ENJOY THE RIDE, even though I didn’t have very good exposure to the windows.  But still got some views in.

The worst thing about flying is the TSA Security at the airports.  Seems like you have to practically undress…off with the shoes and the belts and the hats.  Laptops out, etc.  I really get tired of it…but, oh well.  I got my morning massage…..

Flying the friendly skies
Flying the friendly skies

The flight to DFW was uneventful. I got to see a few sights on the way.

The clouds always look different from above.  To me it is peaceful and relaxing to see the clouds floating by below us.  A few weeks ago I flew to San Francisco and saw the Rocky Mountains peaking above the clouds.  But, on this trip to DFW there were no mountains.  Just plenty of plains and farmland and some big winding river halfway there.

Riding the Skylink Monorail at DFW Airport
Riding the Skylink Monorail at DFW Airport

Dallas has a huge airport.  I had set my goals to WALK all of the terminal transfers, but, in Dallas you must take the Skylink monorail from Terminal A to Terminal B.  So, I took advantage of the “view.”

Honestly, there is not much to see, but it is always fun to see the planes taking off and landing.  I have always been amazed that this huge machines can push enough thrust to take off into the air and fly. We are truly blessed with wonderful technology all around us.

Flying over Dallas
Flying over Dallas

A few hours of nap and songs got me through the first leg into DFW Airport.  I had to use the restroom once and oh was THAT an experience.  These are made for 95 pound kids to use and NOT 400 pound adults.  Glad I slept most of the way.

DFW International Airport American Airlines Terminal
DFW International Airport American Airlines Terminal

I had a two hour layover in Dallas so there was no hurry.  I took my time, charged my phone and just chilled at my gate and watched people.  Always fun to watch people at airports and malls.

Soon we were

Welcome to Salt Lake City!
Welcome to Salt Lake City!

heading off for Salt Lake City.  I didn’t have the seat to stretch out on the second leg, but I was still fine with the flight.  Before long I was back in Salt Lake City…first time since 2007.  Fortunately, my schedule with SOT-G allowed me to coordinate things such that my best friend from high school, Jonathan Jensen (see more about him in this post), was able to pick me up at the airport and we could hang together…the same friend that picked me in April 1978 at the same airport on my return from my LDS Mission to Japan.

Draper Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Draper Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

It was nice to see Jonathan.  We headed south and stopped for a nice dinner (actually was more like breakfast, lunch and dinner for me…I typically don’t eat much when I fly…there are reasons….).  After we ate, Jonathan was kind enough to take me up to Sundance.  He first took me up to see the LDS Temple in Draper.  This beautiful building sits up on a hill and looks north to the Salt Lake Valley. It offered a lovely view of the city.  The temple itself is a lovely structure as well.

A scene from the Alpine Loop
A scene from the Alpine Loop

We then took a back road around the back side of the mountain that took us into Alpine, Utah, where my dear wife’s father Maurice Bateman grew up.  I didn’t even know there was a back road.  In any case, it was a lovely drive into the mountains. I really felt like I was home. We took the Alpine Loop which is a narrow winding road into the Uinta National Forest.  It begins at the mouth of American Fork Canyon on SR-92 at 5,000 feet and follows the canyon to its crest at 8,000 feet. From the summit, the road winds down toward Provo Canyon and US-189.

Mount Timpanogos
Mount Timpanogos as seen from the Alpine Loop

Soon the mountains of Provo Canyon, including the massive Mount Timpanogos, became visible.  Sundance Resort is nestled in the midst of all of this.  A spectacular view of the mountains…with some breathtaking vistas.  I was in heaven…at least it was almost heaven.

Mountains through the aspens.
Mountains through the aspens.
Another view of Mount Timpanogos
Another view of Mount Timpanogos
A vista from Sundance Resort
A vista from Sundance Resort
Spending time with friend Jonathan Jensen at Sundance Resort in Provo Canyon
Spending time with friend Jonathan Jensen at Sundance Resort in Provo Canyon

Once we got to Sundance, Jonathan and I hung out for a while in the midst of the beautiful mountains.  It was nice to spend time with this great friend who has meant so much to me and was really the guide at the crossroads of life for me back in high school in 1974.

Wooden hallway in Sundance Resort
Wooden hallway in Sundance Resort

Sundance Resort was built by Robert Redford.  In 1969, Redford bought the land and envisioned the careful growth of a community committed to the balance of art, nature and community. The buildings are rustic and fit the natural landscape perfectly.

The mountains tower above the cozy resort and offer splendor amidst the smell of fir trees, the rustling of aspen leaves in the wind and the gurgling of the small stream that flows alongside the buildings.  A perfect place to chill.

Chilling on the porch at Sundance
Chilling on the porch at Sundance

After Jonathan left me off, I had to wait a couple of hours while Rob and the SOT-G Cadre were doing some orientation for their clients.  I sat outside on the wooden porch and looked at out the mountains.  No music…I just sat and meditated and took it all in.  It was a short, but pleasant respite from the world that I rarely take in.  And after a long day of travel from Kentucky, it was nice to just sit back and enjoy nature in the beautiful mountains of Utah.

The SOT-G Base Camp in a meadow near Sundance resort
We were working in a meadow near Sundance resort
Groves of aspen surrounded the SOT-G base camp
Groves of aspen surrounded the SOT-G base camp

That evening, Rob Roy’s SOT-G Cadre walked their clients through a night hike.  I enjoyed the Base Camp, which was located a couple of miles into the mountains from Sundance. I watched as the skies darkened, the stars came out and the air cooled down into the 50s.  The air was filled with the freshness of the pine and fir trees and the wind rustled the leaves of the expansive aspen groves of the area. Though very tired from the day, I was still refreshed and energized by the mountain air.

Morning clouds over the mountains near Orem, Utah
Morning clouds over the mountains near Orem, Utah

We finally headed to our hotel in Orem and arrived about 1 AM.  I had been going for nearly 22 hours and was exhausted.  However, my sleep would be short-lived as we were to be up and at the base camp by 6:30 AM.  I was grateful for the 4 hours rest knowing that Wednesday (which was also my 36th anniversary) would be another long day.  I was welcomed by a beautiful sunrise and the glow of orange clouds above the mountains.

My role for Wednesday was to be the official photographer.  It would be a beautiful, but hot, mountain day in and around the meadow base camp.  Though tired, I was excited to get rolling and shooting.  I figured it would be interesting as I wasn’t sure what to expect.  I watched as the clients finished breakfast and were treated to morning calisthenics led by former Navy SEAL John MacLaren, whom I had met back in June when he came to Lexington for the Great American Fitness Challenge, along with Rob Roy. Turned out that he, like me, is originally from Utah and went to one of my high school’s rival schools.

Former Navy SEAL and Training Gurui John MacLaren leads morning exercises
Former Navy SEAL and Training Guru John MacLaren leads morning exercises

In 2011 John was listed as one of the Top 100 Most Influential People in Health and Fitness and in 2012 was named one of the Top 100 Most Influential Trainers of All Time.   He has over 15 years as a certified fitness specialist. He holds certifications in CrossFit, sports and endurance training, resistance training, post-natal health and fitness, and physical therapy for special populations.     It was great to watch him in action and learn from him, even just through photographing.

Rob Roy briefs his clients on their activities for the day
Rob Roy briefs his clients on their activities for the day

Once they were done, Rob Roy briefed all of the group on the activities of the day.  They were ready to start their day.

Most of the 25-30 people in his client group were from all over the world and many were not in ultra-fit shape.  This would be a difficult and challenging day for many of them.

I was amazed to watch how Rob’s skilled Cadre of trainers was able to take this group and literally mold them into confident team players by the end of the day.  Many were pushed beyond their limits, yet Rob’s Cadre of specialists used the perfect mix of discipline and flexibility to help these people get beyond the mark and succeed.

The Motivation Log
The Motivation Log

One of the more interesting team building exercises was carrying the motivation log…a 200 pound log that would need to be carefully carried by all over a long distance.  They would do various other activities with it as well.  This too was led by John MacLaren.

Ultimately, the SOT-G Cadre carried out a number of other activities including some self-defense, reconnaissance and even some fun competitions.  Many of these folks had never done any of these kinds of activities but seemed to grab on with gusto despite the challenges.

After all of the activities were completed, I had logged over 5 miles of walking and taken nearly 1000 photos for SOT-G.  I did take the opportunity to also grab a few shots of the scenery along the way.  Here are a few of the shots.

Russian Thistle in the fields
Russian Thistle in the fields
Aspen groves and thistles
Aspen groves and thistles in the meadow
Morning sunrise in the aspens
Morning sunrise in the aspens
Mount Timpanogos as seen from Sundance Resort
Mount Timpanogos as seen from Sundance Resort
The mountains as seen from Base Camp in the morning sun
Mount Timpanogos as seen from Base Camp in the morning sun

Once all of the activities were completed, he group got to do one more fun event.  They returned to the Sundance Resort and were given helmets, they took the ski lift up and came back down via the zip line.  They all seemed to have a great time.  Once it was dark, they gathered around a fire pit and were given dog tags and challenge coins. One of the former Navy SEALS told the story of the history of the Challenge Coin. The Great American Rivalry Series, which I work with (part of BrainBox Intelligent Marketing) has been giving these out annually as well as part of their sponsorship with the Marines and the Army.  Its a great story and a great tradition.

The pleasant stream flowing by Sundance
The pleasant stream flowing by Sundance

While they were doing this, I was able to sit in the dark and listen to the sound of the gurgling creek.  Once again, it was a pleasant opportunity for my tired body to sit back and relax and enjoy.

It made for a nice finish to a wonderful and enriching day.  By about midnight we were on our way back to the hotel.

Hanging with high school friend Russ Graves
Hanging with high school friend Russ Graves

The next morning I was again afforded the opportunity to travel back to Salt Lake with a friend. I was picked up by another great high school friend, Russ Graves, who, like my friend Jonathan, had a great influence in my life. It was great to see him.  He picked me up early and we went to breakfast and then eventually to the Salt Lake Airport where he dropped me off.

Time for the long trip home to Kentucky.  Though I was dead tired after three grueling days of travel and photo work, I felt pleasantly refreshed.  Something about the mountain air, friends and a visit to my old stomping grounds.

Sleeping on the plane to Dallas
Sleeping on the plane to Dallas

I flew out of Salt Lake into Dallas and then on to Cincinnati.  My flight to Dallas was truly uneventful.  I fell asleep almost immediately with my music on and was only awakened when the plane hit the ground in Dallas.  Must’ve been tired!

Was actually nice to get a good rest.  But then, I was stuck in DFW airport for a long 3 1/2 hour layover.  Just hung around, charged my iPhone and watched people, checked email, etc.

OrangeCloudsFinally, I got on the last leg home to Cincinnati Airport.  I was lucky enough to get a double seat and have a nice window view of the ride home.  We flew into the sunset and my final view from daylight was of this massive cloud formation.  Notice the shadows behind it….indeed, shadows in the sky.  What a way to finish off a quick, but fabulous trip!

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