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our curse: Our family decided to take a last minute trip to Vernal, UT to visit Dinosaur National Park. Vernal is about a 3-hour drive from SLC, with the first half of the trip providing beautiful scenery, and the last half of the trip providing scenery that could give Nevada competition for its ugliest scenic highway and byway distinction.

Upon arriving at our hotel, we were showered with the only baby crib in the joint. Unfortunately, it is missing a wheel. We pulled out the other 3 to make it balance; what else could we do? The one time we travel without our crib, and this is what we get. Lesson learned.

Saturday night we went hiking in a place about 10 miles north of Vernal to see some petroglyphs. We ate dinner there, which consisted of things we could eat that we found at the grocery store. Maggie ate an apple, Dalton ate baby food, Susie and I shared a salad, and I ate a nectarine. Incidentally, I would suggest this activity for anyone seeking a fun, cheap date. Give yourself ten minutes at the grocery store to make dinner you can eat at the park. Most deli sections provide free plasticware; however, if you pick anything juicy, like a nectarine, best also pick up some baby wipes.

The petroglyphs were pretty neat looking. Maggie hiked the entire trail, 1 mile, with many steep parts, and seemed to enjoy looking at the drawings.

Today was THE day. We started with continental breakfast, which was basically code for one waffle iron to be shared among the 50 guests at our hotel. Then we went to Dinosaur National Monument, the UT side, and saw some dino bones still buried deep in the rock. Maggie really enjoyed this! Then we hiked into a box canyon where a lady lived by herself in a log cabin from 1870-1950 something.

Next we drove into Dinosaur National Monument in CO, where, oddly enough, there are no dinosaur fossils! We enjoyed the 31-mile drive to see some pretty spectacular scenery, but alas, as always happens, we ran into a huge rain storm that dropped the temperature from the 80's down to a balmy 45 degrees. So no more hiking for us at this point. Every time we venture out, it rains. I guess that's why Bangalore won't have us; what do they need with more rain? At any rate, I've now been to CO! Maggie was deputized as a paleontologist and Dalton was deputized as a jr ranger. Maggie was given a Boy Scout iron-on badge and Dalton got a pin-on badge that, though pinned to his shirt, still somehow made its way into his mouth.

For dinner we chanced upon a chinese buffet where, for only $20, we ate every American Chinese dish known to man, also ate mac and cheese, jello shots for the kids, ice cream, Mongolian BBQ, and pudding!

The best part of this trip came during mile 89 of our trip today. I heard nothing but laughing and giggling from the backseat of the car. Maggie and Dalton were playing together and it was awesome. They'll be great playmates soon, if we can get them to share.

Tomorrow we will hit the actual dinosaur museum, and stop to pose with the 50+ kitschy statuettes of dinosaurs that adorn the town. The largest one, a T-Rex, has taken Sam Eagle's place. He is spouting Uncle Sam clothing and has two large USA banners adorning his left and right flanks. I'd love to see how they dress him up for the other holidays!

I would love to escape life one day and live in a small town like this. But not this one. My allergies have been unkind to me since we got here.

early or late?: Dalton has sprouted his first tooth! I guess I consider him early, since Maggie didn't sprout a tooth until she was 13 1/2 months old. But technically the 7-month mark is average tooth sprouting, so I guess he's late.

It's good Maggie was a late developer, because I don't worry about the Dalton milestones so much.

customer servant: I called Amex today to get a new credit card. Credit cards have a tendency to break easily in my wallet; they always get a crease down the magnetic strip that wears out over time. I've found that putting them in my wallet upside down helps, but I digress.

At the end of the call, the customer service representative thanked me for being a customer who consistently pays my bills on time. I didn't know what to say, other than "I don't know why you would thank me for that; doesn't paying my bills on time mean your company doesn't make money off me?" She laughed, I think because I am a customer, and I then caught myself and thanked her for appreciating my ability to be a responsible adult. But the comment really caught me off guard at first.

[Comments] (1) on the train: Today the lady next to me was putting her makeup on while on the train. I don't know if it was the jostling of the train, or a personal preference, but I think she looked better without the makeup. She put on way to much eye shadow, and her powder puff ball went everywhere.

I'm heading to Chicago again this week. I guess the firm feels bad at their lack of efficiency in procuring my visa. So instead of training the Indian new hires, now I will train the US new hires instead. They get younger every year.

[Comments] (7) many are called, but few are chosen: I spent last week in St Charles again, a quaint little town on the Fox River a stone's throw (45 miles) from Chicago. This time, instead of being trained, I did the training. I finally broke away from the facility this round, and perused the local city. I waited 45 minutes for my deep dish pizza, only to be extremely disappointed. It really was a pie! Problem is, I don't like pie. I prefer NY style pizza, though I've had the experience now at least.

My coworker and I walked home from the pizzaria. It was dusk, we walked through a cemetary, with fireflies to light the way. And we see a deer hiding behind a masoleum. It was a nice walk.

I also rented a bike and perused the river trail. Man, what they call rivers back East equates to a lake in these parts! It was huge, with motor boats and steamboats sailing up and down. It was nice to get away and forget my woes.

I found out, while in Chicago, that my visa is, well, not approved, but not rejected. Apparently I'm not a known terrorist to the Indian government, but simply a byproduct of the beuracratic system. My paperwork took a standard extra 4 weeks, no one cares, and there you have it. But they promised to issue my visa within the next two weeks. India will come, in it's own time.

I'm depressed to turn 30 in the states, but such is life.

We spent the weekend in Park City at Justin's condo. Having not visited Park City in the summertime, we didn't realize the condo has no A/C. We won't make that mistake again. But we went swimming at the clubhouse pool, and the kids had a ball.

We also went to the Canyon's and rode the gondola and the ski lift to the top of the mountain for a nice jaunt. We ended up hiking 3.5 miles, not by choice. After being thoroughly exhausted from our hike, we were informed that the ski lift only goes up! We were forced to walk all the way back down to the gondola. But it was a nice escape from the 100+ degree weather here in the valley.

I'm really not looking forward to turning 30.

[Comments] (2) fit for accountants: Our newest campus hire started this week. He also just bought a house...in my neighborhood. His backyard is catty corner to my backyard. That makes 3 current Ernst & Young tax accountants on 3 consecutive streets. What is it about our neighborhood being so appealing to overworked, underpaid CPAs?


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