Junior Prom

Back (l-r) Jessica Aldridge, Tom Kunzler, Ryan Parker, Mike Armstrong, Paul Ross, Nicole Whitesides.  Front: Janet Halverson, Kristi Barfuss.

Back (l-r) Jessica Aldridge, Tom Kunzler, Ryan Parker, Mike Armstrong, Paul Ross, Nicole Whitesides. Front: Janet Halverson, Kristi Barfuss.

As I mentally prepare myself to dig out the 1956 Dodge Coronet from its layers of dust, bird deposits, and more, I stumbled on this picture while looking for another picture.  I thought I would share because these were/are some great friends.  I hope I do not embarrass anybody too much.

I just have the photo named Junior Prom.  I do not seem to have any of the dance pictures so I cannot verify.  Sorry Nicole, I cannot remember which dance(s) we went to in school.  I remember this day at the Armstrong home northwest of Paul.  I remember driving the Dodge out to pick up and drop off Nicole, but very little of the dance itself.  I even remember that all six of us rode in the Old Dodge to the dance and back.  Fun date, fun times, great friends.

Friends Graduation Portrait

Going through some more old photos, I stumbled upon this graduation portrait.  I cannot remember who orchestrated this, but I am glad we did it.  Thank goodness for great friends.  I loved high school and am happy to report this seems to capture some of that feeling.  I graduated in 1997 as did a number of these friends, but not all of us in the photo.

LLLL

Standing (l-r): Altan Hardcastle, Grant Patterson, Bryan Jensen, Jessica Aldridge, Paul Ross, Dustin McClellan.  Middle: Brenna Barnes, Kassey Harrison, Eva Schroeder, Kristi Barfuss (front), Aimee Jackson (back), Mandy Hunter, Jennie Lee Larson.  Front: Vanessa Holbrook, Aimee Aston, Ivan Hardcastle, Jodie Larson, Nicole Whitesides.

I could go through on where all these individuals have ended up but it would likely be outdated within a few months.  Plus, some might want to keep some of their information more private.  So I won’t write more.

Welcome to June. It is already all planned out!

Boy, am I glad June is here!  My wife has joined me after our long separation from job and school.  What a relief.  I don’t have to worry about her stressing herself out or being picked up by a much more dashing, intelligent, catch of a man.

We leave this week for what may be the trip of a lifetime.  How many times in a lifetime, if ever, does one get to go to Europe for 6 weeks?  We will be starting with friends in Belgium, working our way to Luxembourg, France, Switzerland, Italy, Slovakia, Germany, The Netherlands, England, Wales, Scotland, and who knows where else we may stumble.  We really cannot afford it, but why not live with some reckless abandon for a little while?  There are so many friends who do so every day of their life and seem to make it through their whole lives.  Granted, their quality may be diminished some.  But what is lost by worry seems it might be made up by the large home and toys that the self-proclaimed responsible typically don’t get to enjoy.  We leave on the 4th to return on the 16th of July.

We signed a purchase contract for a home this month.  Somewhere around the 22nd of June we will be closing on a humble home in Oklahoma City.  Who would ever have thought my first home purchase would be in Oklahoma City?  Did I ever think I would move or live in Oklahoma City.  Most certainly not.

Amanda and I just hit all three of the Idaho temples this past week.  Amanda had never been to any of them.  We have now hit all three Idaho and 11 Utah temples.  Before year end, we will have three more in that geography alone to hit to make it complete once again.  I am very sad I will be in Oklahoma City when the dedication of the Twin Falls Temple takes place.  Being so close to home, and wanting a temple closer for so long, now we get one and I cannot attend.  Amanda and I will be helping with the open house in July.  I guess that is some solace for missing the dedication.  I believe Idaho Falls and Manti are still my favorite temples.  The Rexburg Temple has so many gorgeous rooms.  However, for some reason I still prefer the sessions that are split up into all their sections.  Manti and Idaho Falls Temples both have you moving between all the rooms.  Manti has the pioneer value and beauty with a live session, but the simplicity of Idaho Falls with its rooms and movement make it a favorite.  Salt Lake certainly has the beauty but the place seems more like a zoo than a temple, especially in the summer with all the sealings.

This past week Amanda spent a day with me at work doing bench testing.  It was a beautiful day and we spent nearly all of it in Minidoka.  The Minidoka Longhorn Cafe and Whitesides Dairy was enjoyable for me.  The wastewater we play with is less than beautiful but it is part of life.  Whether we like it or not, we all have waste and somebody has to deal with it.  I thought Amanda was going to throw up at one point when we were doing some filteration.  She kept it down, luckily.  The day turned out well.  Except for the fact Amanda picked up a tick somewhere.  Not only did she pick him up, the tick dug in and started to sup near the middle of her calf.  She was not a happy camper when she discovered him.  A little polish remover and she backed right out.  Hope she got plenty to eat for the long stay in the septic tank.

For the first time in what must be at least 8 years since Grandma Ross passed away, all my siblings were back together.  Becky was coming through Southern Idaho so Scott organized a BBQ.  All five of us where there.  It was really quite a bit of fun and I enjoyed myself.  Even though we were never really close, I am glad we are still cordial and can enjoy ourselves when we get together.  Vicki, Dad’s first wife, was even there.  Dad and Jan were there as well.  Andra brought Brian and Daniel and little Daniel was certainly a favorite.

I know I have not been writing as much.  Despite more people reading the blog than ever before, I just don’t feel like I have much to write.  A couple of people want me to write more relevant things that would pertain to them, but how does one write interesting things for everyone?  Then, how does anyone write for someone else and keep their voice and soul into it?

Moving to Virginia Day #1

The first day has been completed.  We have driven from Provo, Utah to Parker, Colorado. Your typical day of driving but I thought I would offer a few comments.
Driving between Provo and Price going down through the canyon right before you head into Price, I saw a hub cap go flying from the driver side of the car and go behind me off the passenger side of the road.  I saw little chunks of it flying off which indicated it probably was not worth the savage.  To add to it, I had this idiot driver following very closely behind me, so I did not dare slam on the brakes to pull over.  Not to mention Amanda trying to tempt me with some smoked almonds. 
Driving over the continental divide I thought my poor car was going to die.  In the past when I have driven the divide I just set the cruise and once and a while the car would shift down to take it back up to normal speed.  Wow, what loading the trunk and back seat of your car can do!  It kicked my cruise off every time and just to maintain the speed of the loading trucks I had to push the pedal to the floor and drop it to lowest gear.  We sped along nearing red line and still being passed by Walmart trucks (which to me is simply embarrassing).
We finally made the pass and in Frisco filled up the car.  We still averaged about 28 miles to the gallon to that point.  We only had one more real pass to climb. After going through the tunnel, there was an accident by Georgetown 12 miles ahead and we were stopped on the freeway.  I knew the truckers were not happy.  The stop and go traffic on a 5-7% grade made the whole freeway stink with the burning of brakes.  I think my poor brakes even suffered a bit with the load.  I just put it in 1st gear and tried to coast it as much as possible.  There was a vehicle somewhere ahead that was stinking something terrible. 
We drove our way pretty easily to Parker after that.  We were able to see the Denver Temple.  We had to drive on the toll road because we had no idea how to get to where we were going without the directions we had.  But we found the home of my old friend Nicole Whitesides.  She is now married to Nathan Wallace.  We had a great chat.  Nathan is a great guy, it was the first time I met him.  She even came to see me home at the airport when I got back from the mission.
They have a very nice home on the very outskirts of town.  Literally, there is nothing but desert beyond.  But it will be filled very quickly from what we understand.
We went out to eat at some Asian place where the food was very, very spicy hot.  I broke a good sweat and enjoyed it.  Amanda on the other hand ate quite a bit and went home sick.  She is still feeling stomach sick this morning.  I hope it will depart during the day.  We will just have to see.
We crashed and went to bed after Nicole and I went through the yearbook.  I updated her on everyone I am still in contact with, she updated me on who she knew, and we reminisced about the old days.  She was the girl who told me we could not date in high school because I was not planning on going on a mission.  I liked her enough I decided I better look into it.  I was not active yet in the church.  She is the one who really planted the seed in many respects.  I decided that I was not against it like I was before her. I decided to look into the church a bit more.
It was with her car that I ran straight into Kevin Orton and pinned him against a White Toyota pickup.  I wonder if feeling ever came back into the side of his leg. He has not said anything.  Perhaps he has just become used to it, or it returned.  That was the most I ever heard Kevin swear.  It is amazing I did not break both of his legs.  We were both very fortunate that no major hospital bills came from that event and he isn’t maimed for life.
I went on many dates with Nicole and she was such a wonderful friend all through high school. She was from a different middle school.  Her friends became my friends and mine became hers.  Dustin and Kevin became very good friends with her too.  Kevin and her even dated for a spell. 
Anyhow, enough of the past.  Today we make our trip to Kansas City, Missouri.  I pray for heavens protection, guidance, and blessings.  May all go well to Glen Allen.

Interesting Days

It is strange how coincidence seems to play into our lives. Even I, a low staffer, an Idahoan, who is of very little importance in the realm of all men who have walked upon the earth have the privilege of meeting such amazing men. There are giants around us and we very seldom realize it. Most of those will never be  recognized or accredited for what they do. However, today I wish to pay tribute to the common man (men and women, you know what I mean…man is not without the woman, and woman not without the man). There are souls around us who affect us so deeply that they forever change our course. Most of them are the every day run of the mill who humbly go about doing their duty. Many men do what they can to get by, others in service to others oblivious and often doing more damage, but then there are those who know what they need to do and do it well. Those who seek to do what they do well, live their lives to the best of their capability who influence the most.This week I met a man by the name of Mehmet Ali Talat. He paid a visit to Senator Smith. He is the president of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. It definitely is not every day that we meet the President of a small country. What is more, one that is a bit more questionable in the eyes of many nations. Besides that, he is a very powerful man. He came with his entourage and sat in the office for a while (the Senator was meeting with the President of Starbucks…how ironic) and then left to visit with the Senator in his office. I do not know the culture, I do not know the man, but he seemed very deliberate and almost unhappy. The whole group seemed almost dire in many ways. While I can boast that I met the man who leads another nation, he left little or no influence upon me.

The same day, I met a man named Bob Livingston. A representative from Louisiana that served in the house for over 20 years. If I remember right, he was even Speaker of the House of the United States for a short time. A powerful man in the United States who served for a third of most people’s lives. (While there are hundreds of people in the U.S. government and I have come to learn it is just another job, it still holds a mystique) He sat with me for a few moments and was so concerned about his blackberry he couldn’t even visit for a whole five minutes. Another man who influenced millions of lives, but in lasting tribute will have little more than name recognition to go with his face in my life. Do we recognize the influence we could have on people, but due to our own concerns and selfishness do not take the opportunity to reach out more often.

If you would not know it, I was giving a tour this week and while explaining the Capitol Ceiling (which is always accompanied with my looking around while explaining rather than peering up a dozen noses) and I recognized a man sitting on one of the benches on the outer parameter. I excused myself from my tour group for a moment to go say hello to the Governor of Idaho, my beloved home state. I walked over, shook the hand of Dirk Kempthorne, and introduced myself. He looked pensive and contemplative. I somewhat regret having visiting with him as he seemed almost melancholy, but I was thrilled with the opportunity. Here was a man who took a few moments to say hello and learn a little about me. He did not brush me off and seemed somewhat interested. This man, while definitely with his own thoughts, took a few moments out to focus on the one. He will have a much more lasting influence than the President of a small nation or Speaker of the House. Nevertheless, many don’t like the Governor, but he seemed much more willing to care about other people than the first two.

In that tour group that I excused myself from was a former Senator of the State of Oregon. Neil and Mary Bryant were a different breed though. They were engaging, willing to share of themselves and learn of others, and even reached out to meet others. They and their friends Neal and Linda Huston were fun to take on the tour as they were so willing to get along and be a part of society. They are good individuals who loved to learn. He tried to stump me on historical facts of the United States of the Pacific Northwest (which my knowledge is not very good, I just got lucky that I knew his answers). They were by far the best people I met that day. While not as impressive in stature of the world, they left an impression that will be much more lasting.

With all that said, I want to recognize some of those who have affected my life the most. Colleen Jonas. Father in Heaven. Jesus Christ. Milo Ross. Sandra Jonas. Amanda Hemsley. Brad Hales. Kathy Duncan. Ted Tateoka. Kevin Orton. Nicole Whitesides. Laurel Hepworth. Marie Lundgreen. Kathryn England. Anna Badger. Chris Horsley. Megan Duncan. Dustin McClellan. James Cazier. Tom Kunzler. Altan Hardcastle. Warren Crane. Gene Hansen. Lorn Duff. I am sure there are more, many more. Thank God for good souls who reach out and connect with people. Who care more for others than they do for themselves. May God forever bless those who have affected my life and may I return the favor to all I come in contact with.