The Living Room Hike

We hiked to "The Living Room" on Saturday June 18th. This hike starts near the entrance of the Red Butte Gardens in Salt Lake City and climbs to an impressive outlook over the valley. They call it the Living Room Hike because at the peak people have created "chairs and coffee tables" out of stone slabs. 

This is a pretty popular destination, so if you want to avoid crowds go on a weekday or early in the morning. This trail is rated as moderate because you climb around 1000 feet in 1.5 miles. The whole hike, there and back, took us about an hour - that was with plenty of water breaks. We started our hike around 7:00am and at that time of day the the trail was mostly shaded and the temperature stayed cool. I would not want to do this hike in the afternoon because the sun would get way to hot. 

The trail head is not clearly marked. So follow these directions: Drive to the gate of the Red Butte Gardens and turn right onto a road named Colorow. Drive about a quarter of a mile and the trail head will be on the east side of the road.

You'll start out walking through a small grove of trees and over a very small stream. Then you'll come to a clearing, just keep walking east until you reach the Bonneville Shoreline Trail. Turn south on the Shoreline for about 50 feet. There is a single post marker here, but there are no signs. The trail is obvious for about a mile. It can be very steep at times and almost looks like you're walking up a dried ravine. When you come to an obvious fork in the trail, head north. The trail isn't quite as steep at the top and you'll know you're headed in the right direction when you can see the remains of an old rock slide. Next thing you know - you've made it to the Living Room.  

Honestly, this wasn't my favorite hike but I would recommend it to anyone looking for a quick outing. There are tons of wild flowers growing next to the trail and the view of the valley is spectacular


What's one of your favorite hikes?

Cliff Belliston

Cliff indirectly taught me one of life's biggest truths, which is the fact that our hearts don't forget or replace those we've loved with other people. Instead they expand and grow, allowing us to share and experience even more love than before. 

The first time Cliff came over to our house for dinner, I thought of him as a heartbroken lonely man. His wife, Judy, had recently died of cancer and I knew he was going through a hard time. Cliff always spoke of Judy in a reverent sacred way. He carried a picture of her in his wallet and I'm sure he always held a piece of her in his heart. 

Cliff seemed to enjoy the activity and environment of our home. I thought it probably distracted him from the heartache he was experiencing. He started coming over more often, and even helped repaint one of the rooms. I didn't realize that my mom and him were in a relationship until she told us they were getting married. I was upset with her. He was the grandfather of one of my friends and old enough to be her dad. I was so confused. My mom is an intelligent, beautiful, independent women. Why would she chose to marry Cliff? 

Although I have to admit, as a sixteen year old, I would have been angry with any man she chose to marry. My parents had been divorced for eight years and my mom, two sisters, and I had finally made it out on our own. In my opinion, our family was compete. We didn't need anyone else to be a part of our family. 

But I was wrong. 

We needed Cliff in our lives as much as he needed us in his.     

My heart was softened for Cliff by the way he cared for and loved my mom. He was always anxious when my mom was away from the house, often calling her just to make sure she was alright. He expressed concern about her physical well-being and encouraged her to seek the best medical help when it was necessary.  

As I watched my mom and Cliff interact with each other, I noticed how happy they both were. I hadn't seen my mom so excited about life in a long time. I realized that if they were happy, then I could be happy for them.  

Eventually, I grew to love Cliff for the person he was. What I admired most about him was his love for his family, friends, and life. He was just as quick to tell a joke as he was to lend a helping hand. I often thought of him as having a young man's spirit trapped inside an aging man's body. He reminded me of a quote from a movie: 
"A man's body may grow old, but inside his spirit can still be as young and as restless as ever. And him - in his day, he had more spirit than twenty men." 

I will always remember the spunky and determined way Cliff lived his life. He believed in himself enough to make his dreams a reality. Who would have thought that a scrawny poor kid from Nephi would go on to cinch his rodeo dreams, own his own ranch and business, and reach financial stability? Cliff promised himself that he would be a better man than his father and that he would give his kids a better life than the one he had - and he kept that promise. 

A step-parent's love is special. Cliff didn't have to love us like his own children, but he did. He became a second dad to my sisters and me. The love I have for Cliff didn't diminish the love I have for my own dad. Instead, my heart expanded, and grew to love them both. (How lucky and I?) 

It was an honor to have been a part of Cliff's life, and a privilege to call him my step-dad. 

Thank you to everyone who has shown love, kindness, and support to my mom and my family during this time. Everyone who said a kind word, shared a hug, cooked a meal, sent a card, gave flowers, spent time preparing for the services, or said a prayer for us - we appreciate you. You helped carry us through this difficult time, and your love and kindness will always be remembered. 


Please click here if you want to read Cliff's obituary.  

To the Guy with the Gun

I was sitting a few rows behind you at the university commencement when your shirt accidentally lifted up, revealing your holstered hand gun.

Moments earlier I had just been complaining to my husband about how unorganized and chaotic the crowd was. We struggled to make our way through the packed shoulder-to-shoulder hallway as people crisscrossed in front of each other trying to find their family members. I tried my best to keep my social anxiety at bay while we weaved through the chaos. Eventually, we worked our way down the stadium steps to the lower level. Squeezing past the knees of strangers we found our seats. My anxiety about the crowd started to taper off as I removed my jacket and sat in the chair.

That's when I saw it. Your gun. My heart skipped a beat. There had been no metal detectors. No one searching bags or purses at the door. No security presence at all. The only crowd management was a handful of overwhelmed collage students, trying to give directions.

I realized if you started firing your gun into the crowd there would be a very slim change of escape. Even if there was a security guard somewhere, they wouldn't have enough time to stop you. The crowd was too large, the stadium seating too full.

We had literally squeezed into this auditorium with thousands of strangers to celebrate the hard work and commitment of people we loved, and in doing so we had essentially put ourselves in danger. I watched you closely as I realized the precariousness of the situation.

You were a young white male, wearing blue jeans and a t-shirt. I noticed your wedding ring when you put your arm around the the women sitting next to you. She was holding a baby in one arm and sitting next to her were two little girls.Your gazed moved slowly around the crowd. You seemed relaxed, but aware. The youngest girl jumped off her chair, squeezed between the seats and her mom's feet, until she reached you. With one hand you picked her up and sat her on your lap.

I knew then why you had your gun.

You didn't want to risk leaving the safety of your family to luck or chance. If there was going to be a mass shooter then you would use your gun to try and protect your family, and in doing so you would also protect mine.

Music started playing as the first graduates made their way onto the floor. Your little girls waved excitedly when their aunt walked by in her cap and gown, I hope you told them that could be them one day. I hope you told them to dream big, and not to let fear stop them.

It's easy to be afraid right now. It would have been heartbreaking for any of us to miss this special moment because of the fear of an attack.

As the ceremony continued my heart swelled with gratitude because we have the opportunity to build a life of our choosing. Everyone in this country, including little girls, have the ability to chase after a life of their dreams. We also have the right to protect those lives ourselves. We can literally take the responsibility for our protection and safety into our own hands, we can protect our families and their hopes for the future.

To the good guy with the gun - thank you.