09/ 12/ 2016
Earlier this year Cory and I talked about celebrating our anniversaries with experiences instead of gifts. When he asked what I wanted, I told him I wanted to “go somewhere” for our anniversary. That’s it. I’m so fun to work with. He asked me if I wanted something fancy or fun. I picked fun and he told me we were going camping. It was completely unexpected and absolutely perfect for us. He’d been planning this trip for months and last month we finally got to go.
I dropped the kids off at my parents and Cory picked me up. We headed to his office to switch out trucks and load up the trailer. Before heading out he surprised me with a mixed tape (can I call it a tape even though it’s a CD? Whatever, I’m going to) titled “Campy Annivers4ry”. The tape was a clear violation of our “no gift” rule but it was so sweet I didn’t even care. Also, who’s crazy enough to complain about a thoughtful, surprise gift?! When Cory and I were dating, he made me one and it was one of the sweetest things. All I ever want are mixed tapes. I might be getting a little cheesy here, but I love them so much because I consider them declarations of love. They always make me cry and I feel so special and loved every time I listen to them.
We loaded up the truck and the trailer and headed up to Evanston for the night. We stopped at Taggart’s for some dinner on the way. Taggart’s is a must-eat in my opinion. Their fries are battered and fried to crispy perfection. Their ham & apple wrap on a homemade pita is Cory’s favorite. I got a wrap this time but kept eyeing the burgers a table over. The buns looked like buttery pillows and have haunted my dreams ever since. I need to make another Taggart’s trip before winter just to get my hands on that bread.
When I say we went camping I mean, we went camping. The kind of camping Ron Swanson would be proud of. We didn’t have a trailer or any BIFFY’s nearby. We slept in a tent (on a queen-size cot with an inflatable mattress. We may be outdoorsy, but we’re not crazy!), cooked on a camp chef and dutch oven and peed in the open. I became a self-proclaimed forest potty expert over the weekend. I learned it’s best to full-on crouch/squat instead of attempting a wall-sit position. Squatting allows a more direct flow and honestly helps cure any stage fright you might have when peeing in a forest. And trust me, there is going to be some stage fright when peeing in a forest. I’m not going to apologize for being TMI because one day you’re going to have to pee in a forest and you’re going to remember I told you to squat not sit and you’re going to be *so* grateful.
We found a great spot tucked behind the main road and close enough to hear the river. We set up camp, made a fire and roasted hot dogs for lunch. Then we loaded Babe the Bronco up with our fishing gear to go catch us some supper. (I feel like you have to say supper instead of dinner when you’re camping or doing anything pioneer related. Saying supper when referring to a regular dinner at home comes off pretentious and not pioneer-y. So if you’re not camping or catching your own dinner, don’t call it supper. Ever.) I caught the first fish but Cory caught the most. I’d never fished a day in my life before I met Cory and was honestly surprised I loved it as much as I did. Even though we’ve been married for four years, I still refuse to touch the fish but that doesn’t stop me from trying catch as many as I can. And by “can” I mean the proper amount I am allotted each day by the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.
Fishing isn’t as quick or glamorous as the movies make it seem. There’s a lot of waiting and hoping and reeling and casting and waiting and hoping. Waiting for a bite gives you so much time to think and Lilly Lake is one of the prettiest places to think. I thought of the first time Cory took me fishing. It was my first birthday after we were married and at the same lake. Lilly Lake and the Uinta’s will always have a special place in my heart because of that trip. It’s where I really felt myself starting to become a Christensen. Where I saw what summers would look like with our new family. Where I learned to cast and caught my first fish and fell more in love with my patient husband as he taught me how to fish and continually pulled moss off my line.
My favorite part of every day was taking the Bronco out for a drive. We zipped past the quakies and bounced with each rock. On Friday we loaded her up with soda, snacks and shooting supplies. We found this great area overgrown with grass and surrounded by trees. We propped our soda cans on a felled tree and practiced our aim. Again, I shot the first can but Cory shot the most. I almost wish we’d camped in that area because it was so lush and calm and green. I guess that’s just a good excuse for us to go back. On our way back to camp, we hunted for firewood on the side of the road. Anytime we saw a promising pile, we’d stop the car, jump out and load it up.
Camping breakfasts are the best breakfasts. There’s something about pancakes, eggs and bacon cooked in the outdoors that make them so much better. Actually, I should rephrase my statement: camping food is the best food. Anything cooked over an open flame is dynamite in my book. This was our first time cooking dutch oven and, not to brag, but we totally killed it. We made chicken cordon bleu and it was out of this world. We figured out how to cook crescent rolls over the fire and felt so fancy.
I’m so grateful Cory planned this trip for us. It was exactly what we needed. A quiet few days with no distractions, no kids and no schedule. It gave us a chance to connect and relax and enjoy this beautiful world. Cory and I have never been camping together and I think he was surprised to see how well I took to it. I know he was impressed when he saw me hiking down the mountain with a giant log in each arm and kicking another ahead of me for firewood. I may not look it, but I’m a pretty woodsy woman.
I know I’m a month and three days late getting to this, but, Happy Anniversary, Cory. I love you forever and ever. Thank you for always making me laugh and keeping me sane. Thank you for holding me together when I’m falling apart. These last few months have thrown me for a loop and your endless patience and love have helped me find my footing again. There is no one else I would pee in the woods for and there is no one else I would rather build a life with.
I love you, Zin. Always, always, always.