Monday, June 13, 2011

Utah Makes Thirty-eight

The first trip I remember was just after my fourth birthday. We road-tripped from Oklahoma all the way to upstate New York.  I remember coloring the leaves of a tree in a coloring book, drinking hot chocolate with scorched milk--it was an accident--and thinking someone'd put toilet paper in it (try it, you'll understand what I mean), and feeding a calf from a large bottle on the side of the road.

Although my most recent road-trip didn't involve TP-laced beverages, I did manage a few "firsts":
  • visited Utah
  • ran a half-marathon
  • experienced culture shock

I've lived in Arizona since mid-2004 and made it a goal to see UT before I departed from this region of the country.  I'm not an outdoors kind of gal.  I've had intense allergies since I was a teen so I tend to not get along with anything that floats in the air.  Based on this alone, (not to mention the fact that I scream every time I see a bug) UT doesn't seem like a good match for me right off the get-go.  Here's the catch: I'm fascinated with geology.  How in the world did two--or three--land masses collide to make that rock formation?!  What caused those smooth holes to form on the face of that plateau in symmetrical patterns?  It's beyond me but I spent much of the drive pondering questions like these.

Tiffany Christine Tiffany C Jennings
 There was still snow on the mountains in June

Tiffany Christine Tiffany C Jennings
The end of the Grand Canyon

I learned that, I can NOT train for a long race and make it out with my joints (pretty much) intact.  I started training when I initially signed up for the race back in February--pinky promise I did.  It lasted for a month and a half before my knee (the one I had surgery on in 2009) decided that it wasn't going to cooperate. I wasn't going to back out of the race so I made up my mind to walk the 13.1 miles.  Anyone who finished within 4 hours received a finishers medal.  This was my goal.  This meant that I needed an 18:19/mile pace--totally doable.  

Tiffany Christine Tiffany C Jennings

Within the first couple miles I noticed that I was hovering around 14-15 min/mile so I started to do the math.....  If I jogged the downhill sections I could improve my pace and make it to the finish line in under 3 hours.  New goal!  My final time was 02:55:12.  I'm not gonna lie though, right around mile marker 9 every joint in the lower half of my body was in pain.  Not the "I have a hemorrhoid that needs operating" kind of pain but the, "I've been pounding my limbs into the ground for 9 miles" kind of pain. And no, I've not had a hemorrhoid but I know someone you could ask if you have any concerns for yourself--or a "friend."

Tiffany Christine Tiffany C Jennings
FYI, lateral movement doesn't exist after 13.1 miles

The race was in Provo, UT which is an hour drive south of Salt Lake City.  I was well aware before the journey that Utah is Mormon territory and had a vague idea of what their beliefs are but I wasn't prepared for what I saw.  Foreword: I understand that Mormonism fervently fosters familial relationships and that this is a major focus in their relationship with God.  Additionally, I am not judging, only stating my observations and my own personal reactions.  That being said, I have never (EVER) seen so many children in all my life.  I saw girls between 20-23 with a toddler and another on the way, sometimes two toddlers and a bun in the oven. OMGeesus.

The point of this story is that I've never experienced culture shock before.  I'm accustomed to new environments and, for the most part, tend to fit in easily.  I attended seventeen (yes, 17) different schools K-12, moved to Va Beach, VA at age 19, joined the military a few years later (which in itself implies more moving/traveling and a large diversity of people), and am currently a non-traditional student at UA.  I've seen a fair share of lifestyles but have never been left speechless.

After the race I headed north to SLC and stayed downtown which was much more my pace.  The city has an awesome public transit system (huge kudos) although the street numbering system is convoluted.  U of U is on my list of graduate schools so I decided to scope out the campus.  My mind is so tainted from living in the desert for seven years that I can't tell if I would actually enjoy attending uni there or if I'm in desperate need of greenery.  Definitely not crossing it off of the list just yet.  Who knows, if I become a Ute maybe I'll convert to Mormonism and have a litter to call my very own.

Tiffany Christine Tiffany C Jennings
Number 38 on my list of visited states


  1. Regrettably, I am very behind in completing albums from the "Days" Amber and I spent in Northern AZ, Southern/Central Utah last April 10.

    Enjoy more geology. I think you may be missing the second and third parts of the equation. After the tectonic plates collide, there are the massively erosive forces of water and wind that do most of the shaping you're so fond of in the desert southwest.

    Enjoy, but you must be logged into FB, and a friend of mine to view the photos. :)

    Day 1: Lake Powell/Rainbow Bridge (AZ)

    Day 2: Slot Canyons (AZ)

    Day 5: Arches NP (UT)

  2. I have very recently discovered your blog! Niice! It is wonderful that you are able to travel and complete so many goals! I am very proud of you!
    I would love to be able to travel like you do. I used to travel alot with dad but ended up stuck in swanky hotels much of the trip.
    Having a kid at 23 prohibited me from being able to travel. The only places I've been since Austin was born 9yrs ago is Virginia Beach on my honeymoon (2005) and back to good ol' OK twice but only once was for vacation purposes. :-( oh! How could I have forgotten my Vegas trip in 2009! Eek! Lol
    My advice is continue all these journeys while you can. You still have several years left before you need to decide if/how you want to settle down in life! Although, I dread everyday that my baby gets older, I do guiltfully look forward to being able to travel and visit the world someday.
    The places on my bucket list include: Italy, Australia, Germany, and would LOVE to just travel all of Europe.

    Good luck in all your travels love! Keep us updated! I am looking forward to vicariously living through you!!

  3. I bet Nicholaus and I were in SLC the same time as you. We had to turn our Cracker Barrel audio's in there because there aren't any further west. It is a beautiful place. We really enjoyed running out on the salt flats, which at first he thought he would fall through, right at sundown....
    Happy for your success in the marathon. And thanks for calling before you left