Traveling Fools

Since the wedding, Zach and I have been traveling so much!

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We had our honeymoon, which was a wonderful eight day excursion to the Canadian and Montana wilderness. Once we got home from the honeymoon, we hit the road again right away, off to Colorado for a family reunion/trip with my dad’s very large, Hispanic family.

We spend most of the time drinking, boating and eating large quantities of delicious food, especially my grandma’s homemade tortillas. Whenever I try to describe my family to people, I always tell them to picture My Big Fat Greek Wedding. We’re loud, a little bit unorthodox, extremely loving … and of course, there’s a million of us.

Zach was a trouper! Though it is not a hard family to fit into, they’ll welcome you with open arms, no matter where you come from. While it took him awhile to remember everybody’s name (and he probably still doesn’t have it down), he jumped right in! Everyone loved him, and my Uncle Dan was pretty set on getting him drunk, doing shots of whiskey together.

The best part though, was our non-wedding, wedding celebration. Since so many of my aunts, uncles and cousins could not make it to the wedding, they staged a mini-wedding celebration at the campsite.

My Aunt Shirley got a sheet cake that said, “Congratulations, Zach and Whitney!” Rather than just serving the cake, she had us reenact our wedding day by cutting the cake and serving it to each other. I got Zach back for shoving the cake in my face on our wedding day, though it was significantly harder to get cleaned up at the campsite. After the silly, but fun cake cutting we did the La Marcha, led by my Uncle Lenny and Aunt Shirley.

The link is one similar to what we did, though not exact. You march in a line, with women on the left and men on the right, then you make a tunnel that everyone goes through. Eventually, the newly wed couple ends up dancing together in the center of a large ring while everyone dances and claps around them. It was so fun, though I can only imagine what everyone else in the campground was thinking as we paraded through the parking lot, blasting loud Spanish music from a truck.

I’m so grateful to have a loving family to welcome Zach into and I look forward to so many more fun and eventful family excursions together.

Stevens

The first time seeing it written somewhere else.

After Colorado we went to Baltimore for the weekend for Zach’s college buddy’s wedding. Now that we’re back it seems the only thing left to do is pack and get ready for our next adventure in Seattle. I’m nervous and maybe not quite ready, but according to Zach I may never be ready to go … he’s probably right.

Honeymoon in Canada, ‘eh?

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Awe.

Our time in Canada went by so quickly! Now we are on our way to Montana.

Waterton Lakes National Park is one of the most beautiful places I have been in my entire life. The lakes are pristine and clear, and the mountains rise above them to sheer peaks. At just over four hundred feet, Waterton Lake is the deepest natural lake in the Rocky Mountains, carved out over four glacial periods, the last being roughly 10,000 years ago.

Though I grew up next to the Rocky Mountains and consider them home, they take on a more rugged life up here. The glaciers that moved through Alberta and Montana thousands of years ago, carved the mountains into severe cliffs with uncovered rock faces, giving them a ragged and wild look.

Thursday, Zach and I took a boat cruise across Waterton Lake, through the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, to Goat Haunt, Montana. We learned that the National Parks here have four very prestigious designations; the National Park Designation, a UNESCO world heritage designation, biosphere designation and the honor of being the world’s first international peace park. Though originally formed as two separate parks, Glacier National Park and Waterton National Park were later combined into one park, symbolizing the goodwill between the U.S. and Canada and acknowledging that nature/ecosystems know no bounds.

We only bought a one-way ticket at the dock in Canada, intending to hike back across the international border from U.S. back into Canada. The nine-mile journey took us through thick vegetation where we could barely see our feet to the edge of the lake, where Zach tried to get a stone to skip five times. I think he managed to once. I never managed to get more than two skips, because I’m a terrible throw.

One of my favorite parts of our hike, was crossing the border back into Canada. We reached the international border, marked by some clear cutting and two obelisks, at the same time as the next cruise ship. As they all looked toward the shore and tried to get pictures of the border, we stood there waving excitedly at them, a few waved back, a few were probably not amused. We’ll be in at least fifty tourist pictures of the border.

At one point of our hike, I was walking along without really paying attention to where I was going. My main intention for the hike, to Zach’s delight, was to talk as much as possible to make noise to keep bears away. Though the hike back to Waterton is considered prime bear country, I told Zach I was perfectly fine if we never saw one on the trail.

I was a few paces ahead when I heard Zach yell, “Holy shit!” It took me a minute to orient myself and figure out where he was staring, but then I saw a massive black bear clambering over the rocks, not fifteen yards away. Zach later told me that when he first saw it, it was much closer to where I was walking. Luckily, the noise I had been making was effective and the bear was already heading away from us before we saw it.

The point of making noise and having bear bells, which we do, is to let the animals know you are coming. They do not want to interact with you as much as you don’t want to interact with them, so the reasoning is that as long as you do not sneak up on them and disturb their peace, you should be OK.

We stopped to talk about seeing the bear and how quickly Zach pulled out his bear spray when we saw another bear on the rocks, this one was a tiny little baby, running up to the top of the hill. He kept stopping, looking back at us and then running again. The baby was cute, but made me nervous, so we left right away. We saw a lot of bear droppings on the trail after that, but no more actual bears, which I’m OK with.


When we got back to Waterton I took a shower and immediately fell asleep. We had a fancy dinner at the Prince of Wales hotel planned and I needed to be well rested. Plus, I really love naps.

Before dinner, we got dressed up. Zach looked smashing in his button up and slacks. I’m sure we were going to be the fanciest people there, but it didn’t bother me. It’s our honeymoon, we’ll do what we want.

As we walked into the hotel, we saw a sign that said due to a gas leak they were not serving any warm food in the hotel. We were so disappointed! We had gotten dressed up for nothing and were pretty hungry after our long day hiking. We went back to our own room to change and decided that we would go to main street for some authentic Canadian pizza.

Turns out the gas leak was village wide. Every single restaurant was closed that evening, except, of course, Subway. I’m sure they had the longest line they’ve ever had there. We decided to make our own dinner in the hotel room that night, so we grabbed some chips, cheese and salsa to make a Whitney classic; nachos. After dinner we took a drive through Red Rock Canyon, where we saw two more black bears and our first and only Canadian Grizzly of the trip.

Our whole Canada trip was eventful, but seeing the bears, hiking back across the border and having to scavenge for food all in one day definitely took the maple syrup…hehe.

Click here, to learn more about bear safety  or the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park.

A Wedding and the Things

“I give you my hand. I give my love, more precious than money. I give you myself before preaching or law. Will you give me yourself? Will you come travel with me? Shall we stick by each other as long as we live?”

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WE’RE MARRIED, GUYS! And, it’s pretty awesome.

At our brunch the morning after our wedding, my friend Christina asked me if being married felt any different. And, honestly, it does. Even though we’ve been living together for a year and a half, dating for two and a half, and known each other for five – this is a whole new stage.

The first and more superficial part of our “feeling different” is the enormous fact that the wedding is over. Leading up to the wedding we were both demons, mostly Zach! Which is significant. Usually, he is the most laid back person I know, but during wedding planning he cracked a little. We fought about the worst/dumbest things 1) which car to put the beer in 2) me Snapchatting and him saying he was going to delete the app 3) how long should the strands of cranes on our arbor be … Pretty ridiculous.

Now that it is over we can relax and enjoy each other – for the rest of our lives.

The second part is probably more complicated. I think it comes back to what Zach said in his wedding toast about the advice he got from my mom, marriage is committing to each other every day, not just on our wedding day. Our wedding day is just the beginning. Yes, we committed to each other publicly and celebrated with all of our family and friends, but more importantly are those days where we probably don’t like each other that much, but we commit to those days too. Marriage is all the days.

With the wedding out of the way, we’re enjoying our honeymoon in Waterton and Glacier National Parks. So far, Waterton is the most beautiful place I’ve been in my entire life. If you have the chance to come here, DO IT.

So far we’ve seen two black bears and a coyote. We also went to the Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump in Alberta, one of the oldest, best-preserved and largest Buffalo Jumps discovered to date, the rest were destroyed during railroad expansion when the bones were dug up and shipped off for their phosphorous.

Tomorrow we are going to go on a hike from Goat Haunt back to Waterton and then have dinner at the Prince of Wales hotel. We might not have any more updates until we get back, but who knows how long I can go without writing.