Monday, July 21, 2014

Redfish Lake

Redfish Lake, Redfish Lake Lodge in Stanley, Idaho

A few weeks ago, Daniel and I headed up to the Sawtooth Mountains with his family to enjoy a couple days at the lake—and what a relaxing paradise it was! We vacationed at Redfish Lake Lodge in Stanley, Idaho and it was the perfectly rustic, secluded, dream-worthy place we had heard all about. The 18-room lodge sits on Redfish Lake, and is completely surrounded by the rocky, jagged peaks of the Sawtooth Mountains. We were there in late June during the work week, so it was right before the big 4th of July holiday, and hardly anyone was there—it felt like we had the place all to ourselves.

We were up at the crack of dawn (well, I was anyways) each morning hiking, running, and exploring the hills. One morning, Daniel and I beat the sun and trekked 10-miles over a beautiful hiking trail that ended at a beaver dam. That trail began just off Redfish Lake Lodge, and I'd recommend it to anyone who's looking for an easy-going, forest hike. While we were there, we also boated, fished, lounged on the beach, and ate our fair share of ice cream—consisting of at least one soft serve cone (if not two) per day.

For meals, we enjoyed breakfast at the lodge's restaurant, dined at the lodge's outdoor gazebo for most lunches, and drove into Stanley each night for dinner. We ate burgers at the Bridge Street Grill, pizza at Papa Brunee's, and a very nice steak dinner at the Stanley Kasino Club. If you visit the Kasino Club, you must try their mud pie. It's out of this world—I get mud pie everywhere I go... I just love it—and this slice was top notch. It was big enough to feed four, but as you can imagine, I ate the entire thing by myself—and savored each bite.

See more photos from our weekend surrounded by the Sawtooths below.

Redfish Lake in Stanley, Idaho
Sawtooth Mountains in Stanley, Idaho
The beautiful Sawtooths in Stanley, Idaho.
Fishing at Redfish Lake in Stanley, Idaho
Fishing off our pontoon boat. I was the unlucky one who didn't catch anything but some good sun rays that day.
Redfish Lake Lodge in Stanley, Idaho
The guys, enjoying soft serve under the shade of the lodge's patio.
Redfish Lake in Stanley, Idaho
Redfish Lake, Redfish Lake Lodge in Stanley, Idaho
Redfish Lake in Stanley, Idaho
Redfish Lake Lodge General Store in Stanley, Idaho
Redfish Lake Lodge's General Store. There were many, many treats to be found inside.
Redfish Lake Lodge in Stanley, Idaho
Redfish Lake hiking trails in Stanley, Idaho, Fishhook Creek Interpretive Trail
This is Fishhook Creek, which runs right alongside most of the trails surrounding the lodge.
Fishhook Creek Beaver in Stanley, Idaho
We spotted a beaver!
Sawtooth Mountains in Stanley, Idaho
Fishhook Creek Interpretive Trail in Stanley, Idaho

If you're in the Idaho area and looking for a getaway spot that's rustic, romantic, and boasts some of Idaho's most beautiful scenery, be sure to check out Redfish Lake. I can't wait for our next trip back.

Monday, July 7, 2014

The 4th in McCall

Payette Lake in McCall Idaho

Since returning from BMT, I feel like we've been on one vacation after another—and I'm not complaining! This past week, we turned the 4th of July holiday into a four-day weekend and snuck off to McCall, Idaho to join my dad and his wife for the Independence Day celebration.

We fished—Daniel caught a monster!—we people watched at the Mile High Marina, ate delicious food (and plenty of ice cream), played cards, and best of all—we relaxed. For this trip, we decided to bring our bikes along—and boy, we're glad we did. We arrived in McCall and parked our car on Wednesday night and didn't touch it again until we returned home on Sunday morning. We biked everywhere we went, which was easy, considering that my dad's wife's cabin is a mile from the lake.

It was just an awesome and fun-filled vacation. Oh, and the firework show was amazing. If you're in the Idaho area for the 4th and are looking for a good firework show, Payette Lake brings only the best.

Fishing Payette Lake in McCall Idaho
Daniel did catch a much bigger fish as well, promise!
4th of July at Payette Lake in McCall Idaho
The mayhem on Payette Lake during the 4th.
4th of July at Payette Lake in McCall Idaho
Relaxing on the party barge before the big firework show.
4th of July at Payette Lake in McCall Idaho
Ready for the fireworks!
4th of July at Payette Lake in McCall Idaho
Our friends Casey and Erica joined us for the firework celebration.

What an awesome 4th it was. It felt a little different now—you know, since joining the military. It feels good. I am very, very proud to be an American, that's for sure. God bless the U.S.A.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

BMT: Graduation Weekend in San Antonio

BMT Graduation, Town Pass in San Antonio, Mi Tierra at El Mercado
Visiting Mi Tierra in El Mercado.

After graduating Air Force Basic Military Training, you are offered the opportunity to explore Lackland Air Force Base and the San Antonio area with your family for a few days before you head off to Tech School—or in my case—home. Luckily for me, I was able to go off base Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and I enjoyed every moment (some people aren't able to leave the base Sunday—it's an earned privilege).

Thursday after Retreat, I got to see all of Lackland Air Force Base, visited each BX to do a little shopping, and enjoyed one amazing—and giant—ice cream cone. There was even time to sneak in a much overdue nap... what a luxury that was!

Friday after Parade, we were released to venture out to San Antonio. After visiting El Mercado and dining on the most delicious Mexican food at Mi Tierra (their bakery is insane—you must give it a shot!), we headed over to the River Walk for a few hours to take in the sights, visit the Alamo, and grab some more grub. The River Walk was unlike anything I have ever seen before, and I absolutely loved it!

Saturday, we did a little more shopping at the BX's, drove around the city, ate even more ice cream, and eventually found ourselves at Sea World. I've been to Sea World a couple times before, but riding the roller coasters in my blues was something I won't forget anytime soon.

Sunday was a treat—I got to take my family to church! The trainee church service at Lackland is something that I will always cherish. Each Sunday brought with it happiness—and occasionally tears—and my last Sunday was something I wasn't going to miss. After church, we once again drove around San Antonio, only to find that things didn't get going in Texas quite as early as we had expected. The mall and most stores were closed until noon, so I treated myself to a manicure (it was heavenly!) and a nap. Talk about a treat!

BMT Graduation, Town Pass in San Antonio
I'd been waiting 8.5 weeks for a treat like this... it was so worth it!
BMT Graduation, Town Pass in San Antonio, River Walk San Antonio
Overlooking the River Walk.
BMT Graduation, Town Pass in San Antonio, The Alamo in San Antonio
The Alamo.
BMT Graduation, Town Pass in San Antonio
Relaxing on the River Walk.
BMT Graduation, Town Pass in San Antonio
Enjoying Lackland with my mom.

San Antonio—such a beautiful city. I was very grateful for the chance to explore it over the course of my last few days at BMT!

Sunday evening, I bid my family farewell and returned to the dorms to pack my things. Unlike almost everyone else in my flight, I was headed home for a several month break before Tech School, so it wasn't a bittersweet goodbye for me... I knew I would be seeing my family again in about 12-hours. While packing and sharing stories, I was able to look back over the last 8.5 weeks with not a single regret and a huge smile on my face. Oh BMT, what an experience!

See my other Basic Military Training experiences here: I am an American Airman │ BMT: Retreat, Parade & Graduation │ BMT: Graduation Weekend in San Antonio │ BMT: PT & Top PT Award │ BMT: Highlights & Final Thoughts

Friday, June 20, 2014

BMT: Retreat, Parade & Graduation

Air Force BMT Graduation Parade

After 8.5 long—and honestly enjoyable—weeks at Air Force Basic Military Training, I had finally made it to graduation day. What an honor—and what a relief. It was finally here.

Graduation weekend is divided into two parts, Retreat (which takes place on Thursday after the Airman's Run) and Parade (which is on Friday). Retreat began with the Honor Graduate Ceremony, which I was grateful to participate in. Out of 586 airman in our week's graduating class, I was chosen as part of the top 10% as an honor graduate. Honor graduate selection is based on several different factors, including final EOC (end of course) test score, PT (physical training) points, leadership points, and a personal rating and recommendation from your MTI. All points are added and compared and the top 10% are the ones that make the cut. I was very fortunate to be included in that group—and I took home a very neat coin, certificate, and uniform ribbon for my achievement.

After the Honor Graduate Ceremony, all of the flights march onto the retreat pad for the Airman's Coin Ceremony. After a few songs from the band flight (which I was in!), the MTI's give each new airman a coin in commemoration of their BMT achievements. Immediately after the Coin Ceremony, the new airmen are released to their families for base liberty for the day.

Air Force BMT Honor Graduate Ceremony
During the Honor Graduate Ceremony—I am in the middle (directly to the right of the MTI).
Air Force BMT Coin Ceremony
All of the flights assembled for the Airman's Coin Ceremony.
Air Force BMT Retreat Ceremony
With my husband and his brother, who joined my mom in traveling to Texas for my graduation.

Friday morning brings with it the Parade Ceremony. Parade is the last group activity for the flights, and is a formal ceremony to pay respect to the commanders and to signify our completion of BMT. We lucked out, we had a beautiful and not-too-hot day and the ceremony was amazing. After Parade, each flight returns to their dorms for an open house to show the families our living quarters before being released to explore San Antonio. 

Air Force BMT Graduation Parade
The playing of the National Anthem during Parade.
Air Force BMT Graduation Parade Band Flight
The band flight walking down the Bomb Run during Parade. I'm the last cymbal player next to the snare drummer.
Air Force BMT Graduation Parade
After Parade... no longer a "trainee," now I'm Airman Rowe!
Air Force BMT Graduation Parade
With my biggest supporter & best friend, my mom.
Air Force BMT Graduation Parade
One very proud Technical Sergeant husband with his new wife & Airman.

The last couple days at BMT were absolutely unforgettable. The time spent with my family, the last moments with my flight members, and the memories made really topped off my BMT sundae with a nice, juicy cherry. I have a couple more BMT posts to come—don't worry, I won't share every detail (I need to leave some element of surprise for future trainees!)—and I can't wait to share them. Stay tuned.

See my other Basic Military Training experiences here: I am an American Airman │ BMT: Retreat, Parade & Graduation │ BMT: Graduation Weekend in San Antonio │ BMT: PT & Top PT Award │ BMT: Highlights & Final Thoughts

Monday, June 16, 2014

I Am An American Airman

Air Force Basic Military Training Graduation Parade
Air Force Basic Military Training Top PT Award
Air Force Basic Military Training Retreat Ceremony
Air Force Basic Military Training Graduation Parade
Air Force Basic Military Training Airman's Run
Air Force Basic Military Training Guideon Bearer

I am an American Airman.
I am a warrior.
I have answered my nation's call.

I am an American Airman.
My mission is to fly, fight and win.
I am faithful to a proud heritage, 
a tradition of honor, 
and a legacy of valor.

I am an American Airman.
Guardian of freedom and justice,
my nation's sword and shield,
its sentry and avenger.
I defend my country with my life.

I am an American Airman.
Wingman, leader, warrior.
I will never leave an airman behind,
I will never falter, and I will not fail.

The Airman's Creed

... Standby for more to come! Thanks for all your long-distance support over the last two months while I was at BMT training to become an Airman in the World's Greatest Air Force. What an honor it has been!

See my other Basic Military Training experiences here: I am an American Airman │ BMT: Retreat, Parade & Graduation │ BMT: Graduation Weekend in San Antonio │ BMT: PT & Top PT Award │ BMT: Highlights & Final Thoughts

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Congratulations to the Driflots!

Dad & Karen—

          CONGRATULATIONS! It's your wedding day and I—despite the incredibly sad fact that I can't attend your wedding because I'm away at Basic Training—wanted to let you know how EXCITED I am for the both of you. This is a new beginning, and something I've been looking forward to for a long time!

          Dad, I love you so much. I couldn't be more proud to be your daughter or love you more. It's neat to have such an amazing dad who would do anything for me at the drop of a hat, and who has literally given me more than I have ever deserved or could ever have asked for. You have helped make me the woman I am today—that woman who is off doing push-up after push-up, wearing a camouflage uniform with her shoulders held high, learning what it takes to serve our country with honor... and wishing I was there more than ever while you join hands with your beautiful new bride.

          Karen, welcome to the family. I bet you look so beautiful today... I wish I could see you in your dress as you walk down the aisle. I'm honored to have you as a new part of our family and so blessed to have gotten to know you over the last several years. Thank you for everything you've done for me—there are so many things... too many to count!—and thank you for being there for Dad. I can't tell you how much that means to me. It's so good to see him happy, and it's all because of happiness that YOU bring him!

               I love you both... from your daughter who desperately wishes she could be standing by your side and toasting to you both on this beautiful, amazing and love-filled day,

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Ward Hooper Art

Ward Hooper Art, Ward Hooper Boise Idaho

My favorite artist in Boise—without a doubt—is Ward Hooper. Daniel & I own several of his Boise State prints, and for Christmas, my mom worked with Ward to design the beautiful custom print above—inspired by a photo from our wedding day. This new piece hangs right in our front hallway and is the first thing you see when you walk in the front door. It's a print that we'll treasure forever and is truly so special to us.

Check it out—below is the original photo and the print commissioned from it.

Ward Hooper Custom Print Art, Ward Hooper Boise Idaho

Isn't Ward amazing? My mom worked very closely with him to get the colors and little details right. Ward can turn any photo into a custom print. Look at this one that he did of my brother Stew and his Quidditch photo!

Ward Hooper Custom Print Art, Ward Hooper Boise Idaho
Ward Hooper Custom Print Art, Ward Hooper Boise Idaho

My sister received a commissioned print from their wedding, too, but hers has such a different feel than ours... it's so romantic & vintage!

Ward Hooper Custom Print Art, Ward Hooper Boise Idaho

Needless to say, my mom totally surprised us all with some neat, neat art.

If you're local to Boise, be sure to stop in Ward's shop in downtown Boise. You can visit his website here and connect with him on Facebook & Twitter, and here's his gallery information:

Ward Hooper Gallery of Art
745 West Idaho Street
Boise, Idaho

And that is why Ward Hooper is my favorite artist. Boise is lucky to have such a talented man!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Gingerbread Houses

Gingerbread Houses

Saturday evening, we got together with my family for our annual gingerbread house decorating contest. If you've been reading for a while, you know that we like contests... we are just so competitive (we went all-out with our pumpkin carving this year!). After the hours of decorating, houses falling over, projects failing, some pretty neat design ideas, and making our houses out of every edible thing we could find, we published the results on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook and asked for you to vote. The clear stand-out from the bunch this year was the house on the top left, with its intricate details and stained glass windows. Second place was awarded to the church on the bottom left, third place went to the candy-coated house on the top right, and fourth place went to the classic cottage on the bottom right.

Want to know who did each one? Stephen, mom's boyfriend, had the top left intricate house, Mom had the top right candy-coated house, I had the bottom left church, and Daniel had the bottom right classic Christmas cottage. You can see a little more of the detail of each house below.

Gingerbread House, Gingerbread House with Stained Glass Windows

Stephen's house, the intricate cottage, had so much attention to detail. From the pinto beans lining the walkway and arches, to the stained glass windows made of Fruit Roll-Ups. His house was very cute and looked like a little North End (if you're from Boise) home.

Gingerbread House, Gingerbread House Christmas Tree and Firepit

Mom's candy-coated house had so much detail! She began with the licorice and candy cane balcony, and added the fun ice cream cone Christmas tree. Do you see her neat fire pit? It was made from melted Jolly Ranchers!

Gingerbread Train

This gingerbread train was the creation of Stephen's sister and her son. They opted not to do a house but instead put this adorable choo-choo train together, complete with a marshmallow conductor and all!

Gingerbread House, Classic Gingerbread House

Daniel's classic Christmas cottage was my favorite of the bunch. It was simple and I loved the snow-lined roof. His wreath over the front door was adorable, and I love the front entryway. It's simple and he did a great job with it.

Gingerbread House, Gingerbread Church House

My "house" this year ended up being a church (of sorts) instead. I just knew I wanted a steeple and icicles. Next time, I'm borrowing Stephen's Fruit Roll-Up stained glass idea. That would have been the perfect touch!

And in case you're curious, here's a photos of the house I did two years ago...

Gingerbread House, Classic Gingerbread House with Santa and Reindeer, Gumdrop Tree

I think I hit my creative peak that year with the Charleston Chew reindeer and gumdrop tree. Needless to say, you can imagine who won the contest that year!

Thanks again to everyone who voted for our houses. We always have the most fun sitting around the kitchen table for hours—literally, hours—creating these little cookie and candy masterpieces. While we were decorating, I made the mistake of mentioning that I "didn't enjoy this contest," and simply I think I said it because it takes so much time, but in reality, it is so fun to get together and watch each other's minds work. It's still one of my favorite holiday traditions, and Mom—yes, Mom!—I do hope we do it again next year. Thanks for all your hard work in getting everything together for this!