Las Vegas Ragnar. Being a part of something bigger than yourself.

Last weekend I participated in my first ever Ragnar relay race. This one happened to be the Las Vegas Ragnar and can I just say that I am completely hooked. It was honestly one of the best adventures I have ever had in my entire life and I truly don’t say that lightly. I’ve actually thought long and hard as to why this is so because if you know me very well or have read my post about how much I love the book The Alchemist you will know that my personal treasure involves searching for adventures. I love beyond anything to travel to new places, try new things, meet new people. Well, this experience had a little bit of everything.

I was on a team from my husband’s work and I was a little nervous to be around relative strangers in such close quarters and almost intimate circumstances for such an intense time. I was worried about people (and myself) getting ornery after hours upon hours of intense physical effort, not “real” food, and little sleep. I also just really wanted to do a good job for Todd so the people he works with wouldn’t think his wife was way lame. 🙂

We met at Todd’s work and caravaned down to Vegas. We did a brilliant thing in renting a house in Vegas. Not only were we all together which made things more fun but we had a place to crash while the other van was running their legs. In other words we were able to sleep, eat “real food”, and have a little time out of the van. There was absolutely no crossness and we all felt pretty darn good.

Here is our pre-race safety seminar. You can see how people have some really fun costumes. I was a little bummed that we didn’t have fun costumes but being the wife and a first timer I hadn’t wanted to push. My delightful van mate Nichole Hardy had felt the same so we are in cahoots for fun outfits for next time. The costumes, team names, decorating of the vehicles really creates a fun festival environment. The energy was simply intoxicating, I was loving every minute of it!

It was so fun to run the race with my husband Todd. I am a musical theatre and photography person, he is a brilliant CEO type, so as far as hobbies go we don’t have many that we do together, I loved the chance to share this with him. We had an absolute blast!

This is Jason Hardy, well the back of his head anyway. He definitely had the coolest Ragnar symbol use. People asked to take pictures of his head the entire time.

Isn’t this the most beautiful starting locale? We are at Lake Mead, early in the morning (9:30 am start) and it was breathtaking!

Christel was our leg one. She is a delightful person, I am so grateful for the chance to get to know her. I would run with my Van again without hesitating. Incredible, fun, awesome people!!

Pausing to give Christel van support and to paint Todd’s hair orange. At our safety meeting we learned that the night before Ragnar officials had been informed that there was to be no support on the first eleven exchanges, so while we could pull over we weren’t allowed to cross the street. We spent a lot of time hurling water bottles at each other across the road…lol, good times!

Todd very frequently (he says I shouldn’t use absolutes like ALWAYS, lol) gets injured when we go on trips of any sort, and it FREQUENTLY occurs at the beginning of said trip and he is hobbling for the remainder so I wasn’t surprised when he bashed his knee and was actually relieved that 1. He had gotten it over with so now we were good and 2. It wasn’t so bad so now that he had gotten it over with…we were good. Ironically after the entire race was over he realized he had twisted his ankle so he’s been hobbling a bit since then (I think he just wants sympathy, shhhh, don’t tell him I said that).

This was at the exchange after leg 25. Those who were there will recognize leg 25 as the brutal running through a dry rocky riverbed for six miles in the dark with no van support at all leg. Poor Christel! Everyone who came through the shoot looked like they had been through the ringer. Anyway, I knew my friend Todd was running Ragnar but I hadn’t found him. Then suddenly I found him out in the freezing cold at about 4:30 am. I had to get a picture.

It felt wonderful to check off my legs. It was difficult but not nearly as hard as I thought it would be. I do wish that I had pushed myself harder on my last leg. I wanted so badly to run the WHOLE thing that I was trying to reserve energy. Next time I’ll do what I did my second leg. Just tell myself to not hols anything back because I can walk if I have too. Sidenote…I did end up running the WHOLE DARN THING. Yay!!!

Here’s my team finishing. I’m crouched on the ground yelling “Just go around me, I want this shot.”

View from behind as my team finishes. I don’t know what our official time was but it was somewhere around 31 hours. There’s a great festive party at the end. I love a spectacle!

Team portrait!

and the toast!

I think what made this such a great experience for me was being a part of something bigger than yourself. Everyone was so nice. You didn’t just cheer for yourself, you cheered for everyone. We shared blood, sweat, tears, colored markers, water, and stories. It was beyond wonderful and I WILL be doing it again!!


Marcus and Jen’s Guest Book {Utah Wedding Photography}

I took Marcus and Jen’s engagement photos on September 24th but I wanted to get their guest album designed and ordered before I blogged about them mainly because I love how an album tells the story of the day better than loose photographs.

Above is the cover for their album. This will be printed as a lay flat press book. Basically this means that the pages are print paper rather than photographic paper. I choose this option for guest albums because it’s easier to write on. I also absolutely love lay flat books because they, well, lay flat. There is no “gutter” where the middle lands and the design extends across the entire page spread.

I also love how I can have a title on the spine of the album. If you look at the cover you will notice it has their names and the date of their wedding. I think it’s a lovely touch.

They brought several clothing changes, which I love. Jen wanted the different changes to be mixed throughout the book. So while I tried to have each page contain it’s own individual “story” I also wanted the pages to be different than the ones adjacent.

My biggest challenge when designing guest albums is remembering to include room for guests to actually sign. You’ll notice I failed to leave room on the page above but I try to have at least one full pano every album I design. I just really love them and the lay flat album design shows them off so beautifully.

Jen wanted a “rustic-chic” look so I designed a custom page background for this album. I wanted it to be pretty neutral so that it didn’t compete with the messages people wrote but to also have a very subtle texture to tie in the “rustic” aspect of their wedding without being too strong so that it still felt “chic”.

They are a really fun couple and BYU fans as you can see. 🙂

Marcus and Jen are getting married on 11/11/11, isn’t that fun? I’m so excited, I can’t wait. It is going to be a lovely day.

Craig and Mikenna’s Wedding Story {Album}…{Utah wedding Photography}

I love, love, love designing wedding albums. I love to take the hundreds upon hundreds of images from the day and put them together…I just love stories. So here is the story of the day that Mikenna Warnes married Craig Atkinson. It was a lovely day and they are a lovely couple…enjoy!

Katie’s Cake Creations

My sister Katie makes the most fun, creative, and delicious cakes! I know, I get to eat them sometimes. 🙂 Anyway, we’ve been bugging her for ages to promote herself more and she finally launched a separate blog just for her wonderful cakes. Here is the link

Check them out and contact her if you need a cake for anything!! Here are just a few of my favorites that she has done.

Katie made this one for my Dad. He is an avid gardener and our entire family went nuts when they saw this. Sadly I missed the party but lucky for me my wonderful family sent hubby home with leftovers, and did I ever enjoy them…oh, how I love cake!

I love how real this looks and the pizza box is an awesome touch! Katie, you are so creative!

I have no idea how on earth she did this!

…or this!!


The Rollo Fam’ {Utah Portrait Photography}

I love this family! These are my pseudo-Aunt, Uncle, and cousins. Uncle Rex grew up in Huntsville with my Dad and they have been life long friends, so we grew up with the Rollos and the Layton family. Ironically both the Rollos and Laytons are all boys which is probably why I turned out the way that I did!

Every summer we would head up to West Yellowstone to stay at the Rollo’s family cabin. Oh the crazy fun we had! Chasing squirrels, water-skiing on Hebgen (freezing, glacier fed) lake. Running around Yellowstone Park like lunatics…good times!

Now that we’ve all grown up I hardly ever get to see them anymore. It’s tragically sad. I was so thrilled when Aunt Nadine called me about taking their family pictures. I took my children with me and they think Aunt Nadine is super nice, they are right. She is the very, very best.

We used to get together every New Years Eve and hopefully it will work out that we can see them this year! You can NEVER have enough cousins!