In which I feel sympathetic for the fish



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We took the kids to Cold Springs Trout Farm in North Ogden today and they got to catch two fish each. They had a blast. 
I had to unhook a couple of the fish and I felt kinda sorry for them, flopping around on the ground with poky things stuck in them. 
Flashback to the last time I was here: a 1994 preschool field trip with my cousin Brad. We were the same age that Levi and Lydia are now.
This place was beautiful and had several large ponds with different sizes of fish in each one. I think the kids especially loved that they could run wild and free.
And then they all disappeared and I found them in the bushes trying to coax a kitten to come out and play.
We fried the fish up for dinner and had s'mores for dessert. An excellent day if you ask me.
Pro tip: you will jump higher if you stick your tongue out. :)

utah summer



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Every time I go to Utah I end up in full time aunt mode, only this time I got a head start when Ammon came to visit last week. Naturally we had to visit the minions, get soaked on the Jurassic Park ride and load up on cotton candy at Universal Studios. 
On Thursday I drove to Utah with Michelle and the kids and it took a lot longer than when I normally drive haha. This was my view for most of the trip, awkwardly stretched backwards from the front seat to pass out snacks, toys, read books, keep them generally entertained, etc. I felt like a pretzel at the end of the drive. Not pictured: 6 month old Sage in a carseat facing the other direction on the left. 
Just out side of Victorville a truck was towing this car and it came loose, barreled across 3 lanes of traffic, hit the median, and ricocheted right at us. Michelle slammed on the breaks so hard you could smell the rubber burning and in my mind I saw it happen in complete slow motion and I just thought "stop stop stop STOP" and miraculously, it did. The picture was from after we had backed up a bit, but when it came to a stop it was literally just a few inches from us. This is the third time I've had near misses with car wrecks where they other cars got smashed and I walked away without a scratch. The kids in the backseat had wide eyes for the next hour or so. And somehow Sage slept through the whole thing.
Sunday I drove in to Ogden and had a nice visit with my grandma. She has been around the world and we looked through her photo albums of her travels to Scandinavia. I am heading to Norway, Latvia, Estonia, Sweden and Denmark for 16 days in November. She found these notes my grandpa wrote from one of their tours in 1989. The notes read:
"Visited quaint town 'Mariefred'. Toured Gripsholm Castle (excellent), quint Swedish little town, stopped at 'Orebro' Loraine's grandparents lived here. Took pictures from unique mushroom water tower, beautiful clean town. Loraine might have been a 'resident here'. She was thrilled 'ecstatically'. Drove thru beautiful forests 'like Yellowstone' all thru Sweden. Staying at 'Karlstad' - excellent hotel, smaller Swedish town. Swell 'salmon dinner', walked around town.
Changed money at Norway border. From pink trees (like Yellowstone Park) to tall mtns. Passed many lakes, stopped at Lillehammer (1994 Olympic site). Rain. Walked to cemetery & church. Quaint 'European' town."
Today the cars needed washed, so naturally I practiced the art of delegation and supervised while Tyler and Lydia had fun soaking each other just as much as the car. :)
These last two pictures are everything summer should be. Bugs, bare feet, water fights... but if it wasn't approaching 100 degrees I would totally be ok with that too!
I head back to LA in a week and I have great plans to tackle before then: take the boys fishing and to visit the bison on Antelope Island, hike in the Albion Basin and maybe Adam's Canyon, and of course light a firework or two.


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I think it is good to have moments that are not pre-meditated. A little bit spontaneous, maybe even reckless, that's what keeps us human as opposed to machine.

I love L.A.



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[click to enlarge]
Never a dull moment. 4 squad cars and a police helicopter later, all is quiet in our quaint alleyway once again.

bucket list



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Everyone has a bucket list. These are specific things I want to do at some point in my life.

  • Go to Skagen where the Baltic and North Sea meet in the middle but never lose themselves in each other
  • See the northern lights
  • Visit Chichen Itza 
  • Pet a bison
  • Visit Tahrir Square and go inside the Great Pyramid of Giza
  • Help the stubborn homeless man on the corner
  • Have a house with a vegetable garden
  • Speak French conversationally
  • Skydive and live to tell the tale
  • Have an excuse to be in the Oval Office - the real one. A set doesn't count!
  • Go to an NBA game. Jazz or Lakers, court side seats preferred :)
  • Have a key role in making a feature or series with a story that I feel strongly about
  • Go to all 50 states and 7 territories under U.S. jurisdiction
    • So far I have 24 states and 1 territory
  • Learn to make really amazing Indian curry dishes
  • Create music as a side project
  • Walk on the black sand beaches of Iceland
  • Make my future kids mow the lawn (the ultimate karma)
  • Take direction from Drake Doremus and Mark Raso
  • Read all of the books on my never ending Read List
  • Learn to surf
  • See a show at the Magic Castle
  • Earn a million dollar paycheck
  • Live in Hawaii
  • Be involved with adoption in some capacity
  • Drive from the Pacific to the Atlantic
    • I just need to connect Ozark, Illinois to Raleigh, North Carolina
  • Create a grant for BYU cinematography students
  • Go on tour with a band
  • Walk on the Great Wall of China
  • Run a full marathon
  • Take tennis lessons
  • Visit the Holy Land and put a face to the name for Biblical stories
  • Live in a very small town where everyone knows everyone
  • Buy back both family properties in Ogden
  • Learn what it means to be proficient with my hands

my friend the bull



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I've been working on a lot of commercials this year and right after I got back from Puerto Rico I was called to stand in on this ad for the girl in the hot tub. A stand in is someone who has a similar hair color and is usually the same height and physical build as the principal actor they are doubling for. The stand in is typically used before the first shot of the day and in between takes to literally stand in where the actor would and run through the motions (and dialogue if there is any) so the crew can set the lighting and figure out the camera blocking. Meanwhile the actor is usually off set changing wardrobe or working on lines or something.
We filmed at this gorgeous mansion and the spot was supposed to spoof 'The Bachelor' reality show, which is funny to me because one of my roommates is a huge fan and is watching 'The Bachelorette' as I type this. :) Whoever owned this house had three pet ducks running around playing fetch with a tennis ball on the lawn. Who knew ducks could play fetch??
Typically I get very little information about a shoot before I arrive to set. So here I am, a totally unsuspecting person just doing my job and getting paid to hang out in a very nice hot tub when I look up and see this GIGANTIC bull hovering over my shoulder, inches from my face. I was not expecting that ha! This bull had it's own entourage, too. There were four or five people wrangling it, feeding it, and one person who's sole job was to stand nearby with a shovel (just in case). The director decided to change the blocking so the bull was on the other side of the hot tub, but for the short while it was standing right over me I was a little on the nervous side!
Ah, this is the life. Oh wait, it's actually 3am and freezing cold. The perks of shooting sun down to sun up. :)

for goodness sake, let us be young.



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Back in February Hayley called me and wanted to get away from Salt Lake City's winter weather for a bit. On a whim we booked red eye tickets for the end of the month and I flew from LA and met her at JFK at dawn. I've never been to New York City but it was really cool landing when it was still dark outside and clearly seeing Central Park and Times Square illuminated so brightly. A few hours and a terrifying turbulent plane ride later, we landed in San Juan. We were totally exhausted but headed to Old San Juan anyway and spent a few hours poking around a really old fort and getting lost in streets full of colorful houses. 
Anyone who knows me knows that I instantly love pretty much any furry creature that comes my way. San Juan was FULL of cats. They were really friendly and not exactly strays?? Maybe, I don't know. There were bowls of food and beds tucked away in nooks and crevices for them all over the city. Strangely enough, it was only San Juan that had cats. Everywhere else on the island had dogs running around. 
That canon has been there for 500+ years. Crazy to think about!
Most of the towers were used as pirate lookouts and some (slightly) more sophisticated concrete additions were added during World War II. I love history. 
Our second day we decided to go back and explore the second fort before we hit the road. This one was deceptively large. It looked pretty small at first but we found this section behind the main building that the other tourists failed to notice. It felt like being in another world in an ancient time with Hayley and I having this outdoor area completely to ourselves. This is Hayley crossing the moat. 
I like that some of the towers look like chess pieces. Somewhere in here we found a few wild iguanas. Growing up my brother had a pet iguana named Draco and I remembered learning that if they had black tails, they had been pulled off at some point in their life and grown back. I am happy to report that Puerto Rican Spanish-Fort-Iguanas had their original striped tails. :)
For the week we spent on the island we rented a car and drove the 500 mile loop staying in a new town almost every night. We did the AirBnB thing and I'm totally converted to that system now! I loved staying with locals and getting to hear their stories and suggestions for places to eat and beaches to explore. My favorite was a beach house in Playa Jobos on the northwestern part of the island.
Ominous storm clouds... every day like clockwork it alternated from downpours to blue skies and sunny. I love the rain (and it rarely rains in LA) so this just added to the tropical vibe of the whole experience.
Probably less than 30 minutes after that last picture was taken... aaaand there's the blue skies.
When we were deciding on where to go, Hayley wanted somewhere with warm weather and I wanted somewhere with clear turquoise water. We both got our wishes. 
Our days consisted of swimming, climbing rocks and saying "hey what's around that bend? I dunno, let's go check it out!"
At this shop you can buy custom painted surf boards on the left, and smoothies & omelettes on the right.
Later on we decided to go back in the direction of Arecibo and headed inland to Cueva Ventana. So. Cool. We saw bats and a boa snake and had to climb tree roots to get out of the cave. 
This was the view for a lot of the trip. I'm big on road trips and this definitely goes to the top of my list as far as favorites go.
Crashboat beach. There's a sunken ship below the surface. 
Another downpour. You know in movies how at dramatic moments all of a sudden huge rainstorms come out of nowhere and it's obvious that weather never actually behaves like that? Well it does here. I was SOAKED to the bone within a couple of minutes, it was like stepping into a warm shower fully clothed.
No matter though because of course the sun came out later and dried us off. The couple we were staying with in Playa Jobos tipped us off about this location. We went as far as the road would take us then went a few more miles on a desert dirt road and then all of a sudden this lush bay came out of nowhere. This is the most southwestern point in Puerto Rico called Playuela at Baja Sucia in Cabo Rojo. This has got to be the most perfect beach I have ever seen. I totally understand why pirates would fight over this place. 
This section of Cabo Rojo was obviously a locals spot, nobody spoke English and it was mostly families with kids digging in the sand, teenagers playing frisbee, and an old man with a tiny cart selling ice cream packed in dry ice.
I could get very used to living island life on a more permanent basis someday. 
Cabo Rojo lighthouse in the distance.
On the side of the streets in Puerto Rico are all these ramshackle stands with people selling their goods: fresh fruit, crafts, hammocks, etc. I knew going into the trip I wanted to get a hammock and I chose a turquoise one to remind me of the color of the sea. At this point in the trip my meager Spanish was not too shabby and I am pretty proud of myself that I was able to barter for my hammock to get a good price. Um, it is also worth mentioning that driving in Puerto Rico is an... experience. Thankfully I am used to crazy Los Angeles drivers, but in this part of the world, there are sort of no rules when it comes to the road. Fair warning to anyone who plans to drive there. :) 
We continued the loop around the island and stopped in Ponce for dinner. I don't have pictures because I'm not sure I could have put in a photograph what it was like there. It was so strange, a complete ghost town void of any people but the streets are crammed with brightly colored historical buildings at every turn. Maybe because it was a Sunday evening and people were at home with their families, I'm not sure, but it was eerie. We continued on our way to El Yunque National Forest, the only rainforest in US territory. Near the top it was trees in every direction, as far as you could see. 
We found three waterfalls from a couple different hikes we did and I sent this picture of a lookout tower to my 4 year old niece and said it was Rapunzel's tower. She totally bought it.
The last night isn't pictured because it was after dark and we were kayaking on the ocean so no cameras. We took our boats down this canal a few miles then ended up in this lagoon and saw the the most incredible thing. When we put our hands in the water and swished it around a little it glowed and sparkled. It really looked like gold glitter in the otherwise pitch dark. It's apparently some phenomenon that only happens in a handful of places in the world. It's called a biobay and the plankton glow when found in an environment where water flows into the lagoon but it can't get out. So the water evaporates like normal, but the sea salt is very concentrated. It made me wonder if there are parts of the Great Salt Lake that this phenomenon occurs because of the rivers that flow in but do not flow out... I need to look into that.

Of course it was fitting that when our trip came literally full circle, the last AirBnB we stayed at had two lively cats for us to play with, just like the cats in San Juan on our first day.

I didn't really know what to expect going into this trip. A week driving around Puerto Rico was way better than I could have ever imagined. I definitely want to go back, I think I could spend several months there doing something new or exploring a different place every day and never once get bored.  


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