I rang in 2009 with Tagg and red hair.
Very shortly thereafter I went to study abroad in Spain for three months. I lived with these wonderful Spanish parents (Irene and Paco) and my roommate Emmaleigh in Alcala de Henares, a town outside of Madrid.
I accomplished my lifelong dream of seeing the windmills! On the way there on the bus I read a passage from Don Quixote to the whole group and started laughing after saying the word "ass" (as in donkey) and then snorted into the microphone. Luckily it was worth it and we got some incredible pictures.
I experienced some truly Spanish things. This is Emmaleigh with the paella pan, the most delicious Spanish dish I ever ate. It's huge.
We also saw flamenco in Sevilla, which is an insane form of Spanish dancing that changed my life. Everyone was in love with this man.
I discovered my favorite city, Barcelona, and saw an architectural masterpiece: La Sagrada Familia. On a scale of one to ten, I like it about a fifty. And no, Mark does not like it more than I like it and Lara does not like it more than she likes me.
I went to Mallorca, an island in the Mediterranean Sea and had a wonderful day riding bikes.
I also went to Valencia and had an incredible festival experiences. Massive statues made of papier-mache and wood, the biggest fireworks show in the world, a bullfight, and my Spain besties.
Our last trip was to Santiago de Compostela, where I found my favorite-ever cathedral and we went on a pilgrimage. We lived in this cathedral. The bomb.
Other highlights from Spain: my best friend, Elder Kevin Nemelka, is serving his mission in Hungary and while I was in Spain our letters went back and forth so fast, we wrote all the time! That was great.
I got straight A's, including a 100% on one of my finals, while living in a beautiful country and mostly playing all the time. And I made incredible friends.
At the end of our program, Chase flew to Madrid and we went on a whirlwind tour of Europe. After some serious setbacks, we finally made it to Florence and watched the sunset on the River Arno.
We went to Rome and met up with my friends from our Spain program, Ben and Kimball! We had an awesome day and saw most of Rome in record time.
We stopped in Venice for a few hours, thent took an overnight train to Budapest to see the current country of residence of Elder Nemelka. He was far away but we saw lots of things that he loves. This is the Parliament, the quintessential monument to take a picture by.
We went to Prague and didn't see anything really picture-worthy. Same in Berlin. We missed our train to Amsterdam but we made it work via three separate train rides and a bus. When we got there we went to the van Gogh museum! It was sooooooo incredibly beautiful.
We went to Paris and it was so great! We are best friends in front of the Eiffel Tower. Also, we took the stairs up to the first level, totaling somewhere around 668. It was quite a hike. I think that's the day I decided I could run a marathon.
London was ultra beautiful! We went on the London Eye and that was the only thing we paid for the whole time we were there. Did you know Big Ben is the biggest four-faced chiming clock in the world?
Our last stop before going back to Madrid was Edinburgh and we went for a hike. It was FREEZING, even though most of our trip was blazing hot. Chase had to wear socks on his hands. I wore pretty much all of my clothes.
Eventually I made it back to the States and moved back in with these lovely girls. We love BANK.
I got a job in the Library Administrative Office and worked with these lovely girls.
I also started training for a marathon with my friend from Spain, Courtney. In this picture we had just finished the race to conclude our pre-season training, a ten-mile run. A few minutes later I passed out. I got a little tougher.
All the roommates went to Lake Powell with Amy's family and we went tubing, wakeboarding and jet skiing for a glorious weekend.
A couple weeks later my older brother McKay married an old friend, Annie. It was POURING rain and the reception was supposed to be outside so we just hung out under the tent but she still looked beautiful. More than I can say for myself.
After spring term I stopped taking classes and just worked part-time. I ran a lot and hung out with my friends a lot. The boy holding the picnic basket, Jeff Swindle, lived down the street from me and we did a lot of fun things. Picnics were just one.
I celebrated Independence Day excellently with my best friends Ashley and Aaron. Ashley and I made matching flag t-shirts and [some of us] camped out on University Avenue to watch the parade in the morning. We also spent a lot of time driving up and down University Avenue in my topless Jeep blasting "Born in the USA." It was fairly epic. Also, this picture was taken right after the bounce house started collapsing while we were inside. Scary.
We love love love Harry Potter, so we dressed up fairly realistically to go see the sixth movie at midnight when it came out. This was after a rousing game of Quidditch. Can you guess who everyone is?
I spent a good chunk of Thursday nights this summer in Salt Lake at the Gallivan Center seeing awesome bands for free! The people behind us are pretty representative of people we frequently encountered.
This amazing sparkler handcart was made on Pioneer Day and is the only picture that exists of me and my best friend from the summer, Derek. There are no pictures of us running together, or drinking big glasses of water, or sitting on the sidewalk like children, or sitting together at church, or eating Beto's at midnight, but we did a lot of that.
In August my family went on a road trip to Oregon and northern California. This is Tagg and I in Crescent City, California, which I found incredibly beautiful. We got to experience a lot of nature, which I was a huge fan of.
In the middle of August the first of our roommates, Amy, got married in Denver. This was the end of BANK, but it was a good end. I toasted at the reception and felt pretty good about it.
The last Friday night of the summer (for me), Brian and I hiked to the top of Mt. Timpanogos. We started in the middle of the night so we could see the sunrise. Obviously we succeeded. The hike up was exciting and scary and enjoyable. The hike down was looooooong and tiring and freezing cold at the beginning and freaking hot at the end. But I would definitely recommend it for anyone (once).
This is the first day of school. Dillon (one of my best friends from freshman year who returned from his mission this summer) and I had lunch on the lookout at the JFSB, an occurrence we thought might be regular but which never happened again. Well, we had lunch together a lot, just not outside. Our first day of school outfits are pretty good.
Steve came home from his mission and we had a reunion of high school besties at an outdoor Yaks show. Sunglasses = so hot.
Scott and Jameson, other friends from freshman year, also came home from their missions and came to my house for Sunday dinner. It was just like old times. The gang's all here!
On October 3, I completed the goal I'd been actively working on since April 28: I ran the St. George marathon. Tim and my dad ran it too and we all finished at the same time, which was cool. So worth it. So not doing it again anytime soon.
One fall afternoon Jameson and I drove up the Alpine Loop to see the changing leaves before they changed too much and fell off. We are best friends obviously, because we do the same poses for pictures!
The weekend before the boy on the right, Joey, left on his mission, his band, The Yaks, played their last show at Velour. I've been their biggest fan since they formed a few years ago and never missed a show except while I was in Spain. This was a big blow to my social life and my heart. Elder Brown is now in Nashville, Tennessee and I miss him with all my heart.
Speaking of missions, I turned in my papers and people guessed where I would get called and two people guessed correctly. I'm going to Antofagasta, Chile and I enter the MTC on February 10.
For the day before Halloween, Chase and I dressed up as identical twins and went to school. It was weird.
A couple weeks later my family had a dinner where each family member was required to bring a significant other (easier for some people than others) and also required to match them. There was a good showing. You'll also notice that we have an addition to our family here, a dog named Milo. We're not really pet people, but he's pretty cute.
The next of the roommates from BANK, also my best friend of several years, Nikki, got married on November 27. I am with the happy couple outside of the Boston temple, which is beautiful and very significant. They moved to Arizona a few weeks ago and I'm still trying to be okay with it, I miss them so so so much.
Along with the wedding, during my trip to Boston I got to see a bunch of old friends that I haven't seen in a long time, so we decided to all cram in a photobooth together. Good decision.
In early December, I threw a huge golden birthday party for myself (turning 21 on December 21), Dillon (not pictured, turning 22 on December 22) and Hunter (turning 23 on December 23). It was a really good, really gold party.
This is Brian and me at that party. By the way, sometime in between us hiking Timp and our Matching Sunday photo, we started dating. The last post on this blog (that I'm sure you won't get to because this is too freaking long) mentions that and has another quality picture of us.
Somehow the end of the semester came and obviously along with that, finals and library extended hours. Us three best friends spent a lot of time studying in the library, and a lot of time being really close to each other.
Eventually I made it through finals, had a wonderful Christmas, and rang in another new year, this time with Brian and not with Tagg.
This year was the happiest, most exciting, and probably best-documented year of my life. Here's to a great 2010.