A dog named Navel

Today I thought I would share a humorous story about the late-night escapades of a car loaded with Utah State University students venturing down to see the Mormon Miracle Pageant in Manti, Sanpete, Utah.  Brad Hales, Mark Morris, Emily Sarà, Seth Warburton, and I made the trip in my 1998 Toyota Camry in what I believe was the spring of 2004.

The story starts with the rather unexciting drive from Logan, Utah to Manti.  We took the normal route off I-15 at Nephi to drive to Manti.  We conveniently located a parking spot only blocks away because we were plenty early.  We met our friends who drove down separately and staked out our territory with quilts on the grassy green expanse you can see in the photo above.  It is on that very same hill that the Mormon Miracle Pageant takes place.  Here is a nice photo I stole from the Deseret News to give some idea of the stage and what is going on.

The pageant ended and the four of us found our way to my little Camry to head out.  We were told by myriad friends that if we truly wanted to get back to I-15 from Manti in a speedy fashion that we should take the old highway out of Manti to the south via Gunnison and Levan.  We started to wend our way through the darkness.

We had a great, great time leaving Manti.  I do not mean to knock the pageant in any way, but we were certainly making light of it.  We hold no ill feelings towards the doctrines or ideas presented, but maybe it was just that year, but the whole thing came off as pretty hokey.  We decided only the local drill team was allowed to be the angels on the hill with their coordinated flag signals that only someone trained in shipping would have understood.  We drove the darkness really making fun and laughing ourselves silly about how poorly some parts of the pageant were done.

The conversation turned as we continued through the dark roads.  We sang along with a song and the conversation turned to Levan, Juab, Utah.  I do not know how true this is, but lore goes that Levan was named Levan because that is “navel” in reverse.  The area was named Levan because it is the very center of the state, about where a navel would be.  I do not think this is really true since I am sure the town was founded before the final boundaries of Utah were defined, but it sure made great fodder for laughing and conversation that night.  (Apparently there is a Levan, Illinois too)

Well, we made our final approach into Levan with the lights of the municipality drawing closer and closer.  Some of the members of the car were preparing the cameras so we could make a very quick stop and everyone could disembark for a photo with the Levan city sign.  We were laughing about getting a picture with Utah’s navel and then it happened.

Do you know that feeling when you see something and suddenly you do not know quite what to do because it is coming upon you so quickly?  As I drove 70 miles an hour down this road and with the blinding of the lights just as you emerge.  I suddenly had a car behind me with his lights on and that was also partly blinding me.  I made out the faint outline of something laying in the middle of my lane.  Just as I could see that, I had a car also coming my direction so I knew I could not really just dodge whatever it was in my lane so I prepared to straddle it.  I could not slam on my breaks because of the car so close behind me, the shoulder on the right, and the car approaching on the left.  I could see it was too big to straddle just as I was too close and too fast to stop.  I clenched my teeth, gripped hard on the steering wheel, and yelled over the conversation for everyone to hold on.

That is when we heard it.  This massive animal went under the car and we heard and felt him rolling under the car and at one point a serious thump right under the feet of the people in the back seat.  The sickening smell of scalded hair filled the car.  Cries rang out, “What was that?”  I watched for the car behind to dodge whatever it was I hit but he didn’t even flinch.  The individuals in the back of my car were trying to see if they could tell what we hit.  I could see no sign of the roadkill in any of my mirrors (beyond the headlight glare from the car behind).  I continued to let the car coast and finally started to breath realizing that massive thing went under the car and did not appear to do any damage at all.  I continued to coast down the now four lane highway until I hit city limits cruising speed.  I think I should point out at this point that this creature was already laying in my lane.  Although because it was so large and lumped, I assume it was a fresh hit and I was just fortunate enough to be the next person to hit it.

Nobody seemed quite as chipper anymore.  Nobody wanted to stop at the Levan city sign.  It was just silence as we drove through town.  As we left town somebody asked if it was a body we hit.  I told them I did not know what we hit but that it looked like a really big dog.  I thought he was a fresh kill and fortunately he rolled right under the car without relatively little incident.  The way he was clumped up in the road though, I was sure the car would jump or he would be lodged there.  The rolling of the thing under the car was clear so no need to get out and take a look underneath.  The others in the car were sure that I killed the dog.  Then more silence; dead silence.

After another 10 or 15 minutes or so with just the faint strains of the radio in the background, conversation started to pick up again.  We named the poor beast “Navel” after Levan.  I did not know what he was, but we were laughing again and having fun conversation again.

We climbed on I-15 and started heading north at full freeway speeds.  I seem to remember that Seth was sitting behind me and he commented on the fact that cars driving by us were looking at us.  Sure enough, we could not figure out why in the world everybody was looking at us.  It surely could not be some coordinated effort to stare us down.  It became a game of sorts to make faces back at the people as they drove by.  This elicited some hilarious expressions back at us.  One lady looked at us in complete and total disgust.  I was the one driving and could see expressions of the individuals.

Finally after probably 20 minutes of this, a car pulled beside us on the freeway and rolled down his window and motioned for me to do the same.  He then yelled, “Hey, you’re dragging a coyote!”  In that split second to conjure and give a response, I yelled back, “It’s okay, we picked him up in Levan!”  The total disgust in his face was quickly manifest and they sped off.  All the occupants of my car erupted into laughter at my complete nonsense reply.  Even now I realize how disconnected it must have sounded motoring down the freeway at 80 miles per hour.  It took me a minute or two to realize what I just said and even I was laughing so hard I was in tears.

Then the thought came, “Now what?”  I am not going to just pull to the side of the freeway in the middle of the dark.  We all decided we would get off at the next exit and see what damage was done.  We had just passed the Nephi exit, so we had at least another 10-20 miles to go before the next exit.  In that meantime driving down the freeway, let me assure you we thoroughly enjoyed those who passed us by.  I deliberately slowed down a little bit to maybe not cause as much damage to Navel.

Here is the question; how do you via some form of charades inform those in other cars that you know you have a coyote dragging behind you?  A thumb up and a big smile just never gets the impression across the 3-4 feet to the passenger in the other vehicle.  They would insist on pointing to the rear portion of the car.  We just smiled bigger and give them two thumbs up.  Of course, we were laughing so hard I don’t know how we stayed on the road.  Every person trying to convey the message must have thought we were a group of sick, psycho individuals who could only laugh.  They must have assumed we did not know, which means they tried all the harder.  As we attempted to confirm we knew, we would all break down in heavier laughter.  I cannot tell you how hilarious this was!

The Santaquin exit fortunately arrived and we left the interstate.  Navel was probably pretty excited about the ending of his trip.  We pulled to the end of the off-ramp and into the gravel of the road.  We all piled out to see our first view of Navel.  This is what we saw!

I know this will be a bit gruesome for some of the viewers out there.  I need to describe this a bit more to you though.  This dog is half worn away by this point!  I think you can tell that half of his head is also ground away.  If you click on the picture and get closer, you can see tiny chunks of hamburger all over the back of my car (Which we did not discover until the next morning because it was so dark.  The picture is only lit from the camera flash).  I cannot tell you the smell that was present, but my expression and covering my nose should give you some hint.  It was flat-out disgusting.  Also, I point out to you that Navel’s leg was jammed between the body of the car and part of my undercarriage right in the middle of the car near the axle.  That means Navel is at this point stretched out probably 5 feet in length from the axle to the end of his leg you can see in the picture.  He was mangled, stretched, and partly disintegrated.

Now the issue became, how to get him out from under the car?  We tried backing up hoping he would become unattached.  We tried poking at him with a tire iron.  Brad even had the idea to stand on him when I drove off, but we then became afraid of Navel coming apart.  You know how you should avoid injured dogs?  None of us really wanted to lay down next this stinky dog, slide under the car in the dark, and try to get him unattached.  What options are left?  We decided to drive to a gas station for assistance.

We hopped back on I-15 and began another episode of being stared down by every car passing us.  It was not quite as funny anymore.  Levity did finally arrive as we would deliberately not look at the cars trying to get our attention and then we would break down laughing to the horror of those trying to inform of us our dire situation.  The 10 miles or so to the next exit with a gas station went exceedingly slow.

Now we were parked on the sanitary and clean concrete of the Payson Maverik.  We all stood around the car again trying to figure out what we were going to do.  At least now we had sufficient lighting to really tell what was going on.  We stood around talking and figuring a plan of attack.  Emily and Seth figured out they would not have to do the dirty deed so they went in the store and returned passing out donuts!  Emily remembers that I made some comment like, “What do you think this is, some sort of Relief Society meeting?”  The comments from individuals as they came up to our circle and realized what we were all standing around looking at, WHILE eating donuts.  I remember one lady was very disgusted.

I tried climbing under the car but it was so low to the ground that I could not reach the spot where Navel had his leg lodged.  Nobody wanted to have to get out a jack so we could climb under the car.  I walked into the Maverik and asked for ideas or thoughts.  The attendant suggested I go grab a rod for turning valves down in the ground (about 3 feet long with a “T” at the top) and try using it to get him dislodged.  We poked and prodded at him for a while.  The broken leg and all the tissue just wasn’t helping me pull out his leg.  I cannot emphasize how terribly disgusting of a sight that Navel was.  This is roadkill that we had to deal with in an intimate fashion.

Finally our hero arrived with a couple of rednecks in a red Dodge minivan.  The dad walked up and asked us what the problem was.  Upon seeing Navel and then looking at my Missouri license plate he asked, “You from Mississippi?”  I responded, “No, Missouri” and he walked back to his minivan and his son quickly appeared with a plastic bag in his hand.  That little 7 or 8 year old climbed under my car without any fear and with his plastic covered hand pulled Navel’s limb out of its wedged location.  (I warned him of the hot exhaust which he still hit with his little arm!)  The kid then and went and hopped back in the little van (and did not go inside to wash!).

I walked in and told the attendant I wanted to buy that red minivan’s fuel.  He let me do it.  The man was appreciative, and so was I!

Now, what to do with the remains of Navel?  The Maverik attendant suggested we just throw him in the dumpster at the side of the building.  No small task for a bag of bones that must have still weighed 50 pounds.  Nobody wanted to touch him so we used the valve rod to pick him up and walked him to the dumpster.  We could not get the rod up over the top of that dumpster without Navel sliding down the rod.  It clearly was not working.  I finally had to reach out and touch Navel to hold him in place and keep him from sliding down the rod while Seth and I put him in the dumpster.

We returned the bloody rod to its location and later, unfortunate user.  We both washed our hands multiple times in the bathroom before heading to the attendant to let him know we were leaving.  He gave us both a Mt. Dew for the road!  We thanked him and headed on our way.  We arrived in Logan, Utah about 1:00 or so in the morning and all collapsed into our beds.  But whenever I hear of Manti, Levan, or the Mormon Miracle Pageant; I now think of Navel the dog from Levan.  May he forgive me for dragging him over 40 miles!  May he forgive us for the endless laughs that night and many since then at his expense.  I feel bad about his owners who wondered where their dog ran off to, I guess at least they did not see his terrible state.

A duck story and the Gores

Here is a picture of our latest visitors here in Oklahoma City.  Kevin and Jean Gore from Walkden, Greater Manchester, England.  They visited and stayed with us for two evenings and about two days.

I first come to know the Gores in 1998 as I was preparing to leave for my mission to the UK.  The Bishop from the Hazelton Ward, Paul Tateoka, sent word through his brother in my ward, Ted Tateoka, that I needed to call this couple from the UK.

The Gores were staying with one of the missionaries who had brought them into the church, who lived 5 miles or so down the road from me.  I called the Meacham home and had a nice visit with Kevin for about 30 minutes or so.  I obviously had my mission call, but I do not recall knowing that they lived in my mission.  Kevin knew I was in the mission so he told me a few interesting things and we hung up the phone.

I admit I completely forgot about this conversation with Kevin Gore until my first Sunday serving in the Eccles Ward (now Swinton) of the Manchester England Stake.  I stood there shaking hands with members and introducing myself when a man asked if I was Elder Ross from Hazelton, Idaho.  I apparently looked dumbfounded so he informed me that I had spoken with him on the phone before my mission.  Granted, this was the first time I laid eyes on him.  Well, that started a relationship that has now come down through the years.  I served in the Eccles Ward for about 6 months, although since there were two sets of missionaries, me and my companion had the other half of the ward.

The Gores were probably one of the closest families I had in that ward, although there were a couple.  Before we left late in 1999, Kevin and Jean Gore treated all four of the missionaries to a very nice roasted duck dinner.

Time has a way of marching on, and so it has done with this friendship.  Brad Hales, Amy Hales, and I visited the Gores again in the summer of 2003 when we went to England for a convert baptism of a lady who Elder Hales and I had once taught (in Runcorn Ward).  I think we spent two evenings with them at that time, although our time was limited because they were working and we had other people in the area we also visited, but Jean made us a roasted duck dinner again!  We did not request it, but she made it, and it was fabulous.  We again enjoyed our time with them, although limited.

The Gores were kind enough to invite us to the wedding of their son, Ian, in Springville, Utah in 2004.  Brad Hales and I visited, partook of the food (no roasted duck!), and enjoyed a good evening with our British friends.  The Gores came to visit Utah in 2008 again, but we were only able to enjoy a light dinner at Olive Garden together (again, no duck, only in England!).

Amanda and I made the trek over the water again in 2008.  This time we again spent 2 nights with the Gores in their home on Trinity Crescent.  Both in 2003 and 2008 I knew the neighborhood well enough I could still drive to the home without much difficulty.  Jean once again made her now famous roasted duck dinner!  I honestly think this is the only times I have ever eaten duck in the past decade, if ever in my life (other than what they call duck at the Chinese buffet).  The Gores were more than kind in allowing us to stay with them, use their computers, talk family history, and even hosted a little get together of other members of the Swinton Ward I still knew and asked about.

Here we are in 2011, 13 years later after the phone conversation, and the Gores have come to visit us!  Sorry, we did not treat them to a roasted duck dinner.  It would have been an insult to Jean’s cooking.  Their son, Ian, had moved from Springville, Utah to Bentonville, Arkansas.  Kevin and Jean wanted to come down to visit the Oklahoma City Temple and, we feign to believe, us.  We drove out to Pops Soda Shop in Arcadia.  We also ate out at our favorite little Mexican joint and then we treated them to capers and artichoke pasta the night we made them dinner.  We played a couple of games of Ticket to Ride and just enjoyed our time together.  Thanks for being such great friends and keeping in contact through the years!

When is the next time we will see the Gores?  And, the question you all want to know, will there by duck involved?

Favorite Script

It is a common thing.  We are supposed to have our favorites.  I am not sure why.  With such a large body of material, why do we have to pick out a few favorites, or even a ‘most favorite’?  In some senses, it doesn’t seem quite right.  Do we have a favorite child?  Do we have a favorite cousin?  Do we have a favorite anything?  I guess the question is more, ‘should we’?

Perhaps it is the world or a weakness tendency in the human race.  Another one of those great weaknesses like pride.  Really, I guess it just is a manifestation of pride.  Usually favorites seem to indicate those things that are most kin to us.  They are those things which somehow seem to reflect or speak of us.

When in the whole, aren’t we supposed to take the whole?  Take into consideration all?  Preferences seem okay, but they are the easy route.  Is this another reason we don’t like missionary work?  We are forced to work with those people who are not our favorites?  Or we are afraid we won’t be a favorite anymore?  Who knows.

Through the years, I have had one scripture which seems to reflect my feelings and passion of life.

One night as I spent the evening in the home of Terry McCombs, he gave me a scripture to think about before I retired for the evening.

“Ye endeavored to believe that ye should receive the blessings which was offered unto you; but behold, verily I say unto you there were fears in your hearts, and verily this is the reason that ye did not receive.”  (D&C 67:3)

As I laid there in the old comfortable bed, I read this scripture.  There happened to be a set of scriptures on the bedside and I did not have my own.  I could read it and think about it.  It really hit me pretty hard.  A whole host of blessings which I wanted to receive, but due to fears I was not receiving.  Terry had given this scripture to me for a particular reason and fear with which I was faced.  I just could not seem to let go of it.

Somehow I felt there must be an answer to this scripture.  I did not know how to overcome fear.  I did not know how to receive.  I did not know a whole lot of things.  I still don’t.

Then somewhere around 2 or 3 AM I stumbled upon this scripture.  Somehow in nearly all instances, it still speaks to me.  When asked my favorite scripture, I almost just as quickly give the reference.  In the mission field, the scripture took a whole new meaning.  It applied to others and the work with which I was employed.  Just a couple of weeks ago Brad Hales asked me my favorite scripture.  I gave it to him just as quickly.  While I am sure he must have heard it dozens of times, it meant nothing to him, no recollection whatsoever.  Yet it has somehow always been a bedrock for me.  It is somewhat out of context, but still very applicable.

“Yea, they shall not be beaten down by the storm at the last day; yea, neither shall they be harrowed up by the whirlwinds; but when the storm cometh they shall be gathered together in their place, that the storm cannot penetrate to them; yea, neither shall they be driven with fierce winds whithersoever the enemy listeth to carry them.  But behold, they are in the hands of the Lord of the harvest, and they are his; and he will raise them up at the last day.  Blessed be the name of our God; let us sing to his praise, yea, let us give thanks to his holy name, for he doth work righteousness forever.”  (Alma 26:6-8)

In the mission it was not to get baptisms or converts, but to put them in connection with and into the hands of the Lord of the harvest.  All people.  Member or not.  To help them make that connection.

In my personal life, despite all the storms and whirlwinds that may come, God will uphold and protect those who are faithful.  I thought of this scripture numerous times with the episode with Mom.  I thought of it with adversaries in all things.  Those who are truly converted will not be beaten or harrowed.  They are gathered to their place and singing to God.  Reminds me of “Guide us, O Thou Great Jehovah.”

“When the earth begins to tremble, bid our fearful hearts be still.  When thy judgments spread destruction, keep us safe on Zion’s hill.  Singing praises, singing praises, songs of glory unto thee, unto thee.  Songs of glory unto thee.”

May we all be more like this.  Less worrying, less fearful, more buoyant and pressing forward despite all odds.

Laundry list of escapades and visits

Amanda and I just returned from a 4 day visit to Utah/Idaho.  It was like a breath of fresh air into my life.  It was just what I needed.  Sorry it has taken so long, but here is some of what we did.

We arrived at Norfolk, Virginia airport at 6:00 in the morning to fly out for Salt Lake.  I am seriously considering if it was worth the $150 we saved to have two layovers.  I thought I would die from the trip.  We flew from Norfolk to Detroit, Michigan, then to Minneapolis, Minnesota on to Salt Lake City, Utah.  I think on each flight I became motion sick.  The layover would cause the sickness to subside and then we took off again.  It was a form of torture.  By the time I arrived in SLC I felt sick, weak, and irritable.  We went to bed pretty early to combat jet lag and my feeling sick.

Friday dawned bright and early.  I was up well before everyone else and was ready for the day before 7 AM even thought of rolling around.  We had crepes for breakfast.  The Hemsley family had a new crepe maker and it turned out to be a great purchase.  They were good.  I always liked the feeling of biting into a warm crepe with cold ice cream oozing between your teeth.  We found our way to Salt Lake again to pick up Bryan and attend the Salt Lake Temple.  I was really not feeling well and I ended up with a pair of pants that were far too tight.  I am glad I switched them out.  I am sure I would have passed out if I had kept them and not switched them for a larger waist size.  The session went well and Sherise, Amanda’s cousin, was beautiful.

After the endowment session Amanda and I split up.  Brad picked me up and we headed north for an evening of visiting and fellowship.  I changed at the Hemsley house and went on our way.  Our first stop was Lillian Talbot.  Lillian is my mother’s father’s sister.  I returned the three journals I typed up from 1961, 1962, and 1963.  I was glad to return them.  We visited for a few moments and went on our way.  The next stop was to Lona Jonas.  She is the sister in law to Lillian who we had just left.  We had a good visit with her.  She told us about her operation on her forehead and eye which came from a piece of glass working its way to the surface after 55 years!  Our next step took us closer to the Wasatch Mountains with a visit to Jennie Britzman.  She is my father’s mother’s mother’s daughter’s daughter (1st cousin to my Grandma Ross).  We had an interesting visit.  I discovered she had another husband I never knew about!  Brad turned out to be very interested in learning about Jennie.  He asked all the right questions and so I learned some family history things I hope I have not missed often in other family members.  How in the world did I ever not ask or find out she had another husband?  Brad really found her story fascinating and we enjoyed ourselves with a good laugh.  It doesn’t seem that she is 90 years old.  Her son Richard came home while we were there and we had a good visit with him as well.

We wound up the conversation and made our way to downtown Ogden to visit Mary Coley.  Her relationship to me is two fold.  She was married to my mother’s father’s brother, Irwin Jonas.  He was killed in WWII and she went on to marry Arthur Coley, Irwin’s Uncle.  It was an interesting story.  I knew that I did not have her parents in my family history so I had some questions to pose.  She answered them all with amazing clearness despite her being 89 years old.  She grew up in Minnesota and met Irwin while he was in training for the military there.  They were married and he went off to the war effort.  He wanted her home in Richmond, Utah when he came back so she moved out there.  She lived with Great Grandma Lillian Jonas (Lillian’s mother, Lona’s mother in law, Irwin’s mother).  It was there she lived when Irwin was killed.  At dinner with my Great Great Grandmother, Martha Coley, Art (Arthur) walked in one evening and asked where they had dragged up Mary.  They were married shortly after.  Anyhow, she does not remember her parents but was able to tell me their names.  Her mother died when she was very young and she was raised by a foster family.  She also gave me the names of her foster parents.  So I have some research to do but have Mary’s lineage.  She also told us of her conversion story to the church.  That was very interesting as well.

We made our way to the home of Dave and Betty Donaldson after Aunt Mary.  Dave is my Grandma Ross’ brother.  We originally were going to stop at Grandpa’s but there was a man in a ten gallon hat sitting in his living room that we could see from the road.  So we decided to come back.  It wasn’t far since Dave and Betty live next door.  We had a good little visit with Dave and Betty.  Dave just had his knee replaced in the past few months.  He feels more confident and strong in his new knee than he does his other.  Plans are to replace the other probably this fall.  After all, we would not want to miss a perfectly good summer or fishing laid up in bed at home.  Next we found Abe and Caroline Gallegos home.  Caroline, my Dad’s sister, had just stepped out of the shower.  We visited with Abe for a while and Caroline emerged.  We talked about her new found love of family history, viewed photos.  Meanwhile Brad visited with Abe.

The night was running out and we had to be in our best shape for the long haul Saturday.  After the Gallegos home Brad dropped me off at the Hemsley residence and went to stay with our old roommate, Mark Morris, in Salt Lake.

Friday turned out to be a long night.  I had not recovered from whatever it was I had.  I wanted to blame it on the flight, but the usual suspect of a cold sore (which I always get after flying) showed up before I left Richmond.  I felt sick enough Friday evening Bryan made a run to the store for some Pepto Dismal (the correct spelling).  It is the first time I remember in my life having PB and it sure seems to have done the trick.  I awoke up at 1 AM in emergency situations.  I went on to vacate my entire system of any remnants of food.  I panicked after tossing the perfectly good hamburger in the toilet when it came up  all red and pink.  My brain kicked in to tell me it was only the evidence of PB.  Before the night was finished, it felt I had puked every thought of food I had entertained for the past week.  The rest of the system went on to winterize itself.  By the time I went back to bed at 3 after a shower and a cleaning of the throne I was feeling much better about life.  That constant sickness from the flight was gone.

Saturday dawned bright and early.  We were headed off to Salt Lake City for the sealing ceremony.  We were parked found our way through the temple maze for the sealing party and visited with friends and family for a while.  Before long we were ushered up to a sealing room and we waited for the happy couple and sealer to appear.  Travis and Sherise made their way in followed by Elder Bednar.  It was your typical sealing except Elder Bednar gave some very direct advice before the sealing.  Usually it tends to be a rather superfluous group of niceties which are showered on the couple.  He gave the couple, and for those listening in the party, a direct sermon on several topics I don’t think this is the place to disclose.  I do remember coming out of the ceremony thinking, “I wish they would teach that in General Conference.”

We waited outside in the beautiful spring weather for the couple to appear for photos.  I made a few quick expeditions around temple square and even looking at deconstruction and construction sites bordering temple square.  The flowers and grass didn’t look real.  (They were as testing went on to prove)  The couple made their appearance, we spent the next 45 minutes under the loose commands of a photographer and I made my escape.

Brad appeared and we made a quick venture to the Church Museum to see the exhibit on the Tabernacle.  We trekked northward changing clothes at the Hemsley’s and pressing on to Cache Valley.

Our first stop upon arriving at in that blessed valley was in the city of Nibley.  We stopped to visit Larry and Margo Anhder but they decided not to be home.  We visited with Cynthia Farnsworth around the corner who Brad worked with at the city of Nibley.  It was a good visit.

We left Nibley and headed into Logan to visit Sunshine Terrace.  During school Brad and I used to go down and visit all the old luvs who were there.  Brad only had one of hers still living, Thelma Freeman who is now over the 104 mark.  She remembered Brad very well and even asked if he was off to spray lawns in Malad.  It was a good visit with her.  Even thought she is pretty well death and blind, she remembered quite a bit.  She began to give Brad a rundown on all her grandchildren and I excused myself to go see if anyone I used to regularly visit was still alive.  Nope, they were all gone.  Even Eula Waldron who I thought would live for a good while longer had passed away last fall.  Harriet Elison had passed away last summer.  Apparently right after my last visit she passed.  I felt kinda bad knowing every single person I used to visit while at USU was now dead.  Good for them I suppose.  I decided not to start up any new friendships with an old luv as I didn’t know the next time I would be around to visit.  I went back to listen to Brad and Thelma talk about how she wasn’t going to die until Brad was married.  She openly admitted she wants to die but the Lord just doesn’t seem to want her yet, or perhaps it was because Brad wasn’t married yet….

We left and wandered our way around Utah State University.  Fascinating how quickly things can change.  The new library is completed and we wandered its corridors.  Don’t know if I think it was designed very well, but it was certainly interesting.  The Merrill Library was gone with only the stark increase in the size of the Quad to mark its passing.  We paid a visit to Dentist Office #6 to visit with Matt Geddes and Lucas Garcia for a good while.  Justin Siebenhaar also showed up and we were able to visit with him too.  We did not remain long before we headed out.

Ellis and Geri Jonas we found in their van.  Brad and I did not figure out if they were coming and going.  They said they were waiting for someone (who did not appear while we were there) and yet talked about dinner (so were they coming or going?).  It was good to visit with them for a while.  They gave us the scoop on Ron in Afghanistan, BJ in the hospital, Amie a new house, Jennie a nice guy who she might marry, Ryan and his wife, Julie with her leg, Dan and his job, and the whole story that went with the family.  Geri is just so funny in how she tells it.  Brad and I got a good kick out of it.  Ellis seemed to be more with it than I remember him for the past 5 years.  He has thinned down quite a bit which the Dr.’s wanted him to do anyway.

Allen, Marie, Kade, and Kallie Lundgreen were where we spent our next hour.  Richmond, Utah seems like time is treating it well.  Marie told us the entire latest saga for the city.  The city is publishing a new history but nobody seems to like the author except a few who like to stir up trouble in town.  There is a story unfolding about public records from the old North Cache High School that was torn down which now want to be taken back probably only to be destroyed or lost.  We talked about some history and the story inevitably moved towards Mom.  The best part, I offered Marie a Eureka vacuum cleaner from the 1950’s that I have been lugging around for over a year.  I finally remembered to take it, had it where I could take it, and remembered to give it.  All in all, we enjoyed the reunion and laughs.  It was if I had never left.  Brad sure got a kick out of it.  He thinks we are all crazy.

Next we enjoyed the new highway in Southern Idaho from the Utah border to Preston.  How nice.  So totally cruisable now.  We stopped at the home of Larry and Barbara Andra to visit.  They were not home.  Brad and I took a good look and tour of the new facilities Larry has set up and his new ride in delivering lawn spraying services.  Those new guys have it good!  He has a brand new truck with a new trailer and two 500 gallon tanks.  He appears serious about this whole lawn spraying business!

It was as we climbed into the car we realized we really needed to get moving in order to make it to Blackfoot in time to even catch the last 30 minutes of the reception.  We did a little speeding up the old highway past Winder, Banida, Red Rock, Downey, and Virginia.  We had some good conversation.  We decided we both really like Inkom and could live there some day.  We rounded through Pocatello and made our way to Blackfoot in good time.  We arrived 15 minutes before the reception was scheduled to end.  We went through the line, did our hugs, ate some cake, and enjoyed the family meal in the kitchen.  It was the close of a good day.  We started with Travis and Sherise and ended with them too (not to mention frog eye salad!!!).

After the reception, we watched the fireworks and the send off.  I have to admit, I can’t stand some of the cheesy traditions that accompany marriages and receptions.  I am glad Amanda and I left most of them out.  We loaded up some food for the road and made the way across Southern Idaho to Kasota.  On the way Brad read some really good articles from the latest Summit Magazine from Brigham Young University – Idaho.  We both decided that if we were going to school this fall out of high school, we would both choose YofI.

Sunday morning dawned far too early for us.  We arose, had some wonderful country biscuits and gravy and headed to church.  Church was quite enjoyable.  I really enjoyed the completely humble tone in which the meetings took place.  Elder’s Quorum’s lesson was on Testimony by President Kimball.  Every single person shared some thought and all, except one, did it in a completely humble tone and perspective.  I was not only impressed by the tone of those who participated but the fact that all participated.  It was not even encouraged by the teacher.  I don’t ever remember becoming emotional in Elder’s Quorum as it is usually the least spiritual of all the church meetings.  Sunday school was by Sister Crane and she did well.  Ted was totally shocked when he sat with his family to find us sitting with them.  Sacrament was Fast & Testimony Meeting.  I really quite enjoyed it.  President Merrill bore his testimony and I very much enjoyed it.  President King also bore his testimony which was powerful.  I followed President King which was a bit intimidating.

After church we made a quick trip home before making our rounds for the day.  The first stop of the day was at Sergene Jensen’s in Heyburn.  This was Brad’s first meeting of Sergene and he commented that he could definitely tell she was an Andra.  It was the first time I have seen her in probably 5 years.  We had a good visit while there.  Brad talked golf with Neil from Filer while I fixed Sergene’s computer, her cell phone, and chatted about her son Andy.  She had a pacemaker put in last December which was a surprise to me.  But she thinks it was a worthwhile investment as it has drastically improved her golf swing.  Neil says he wants one now.  It was a good visit.

We went to visit my Aunt Jackie afterwards.  We found Willie, Jackie, and Jesse all home for the day.  Willie was just leaving for work but it was a good visit.  I visited with Jackie for a good while.  Brad wasn’t feeling well so he went and took a nap in the car.  We discussed a variety of things, none of which are worth mentioning here.  Pretty much it boils down to she seems like a lost soul who isn’t willing to make the changes necessary to get her life back in order.

We went to visit a friend of Brad’s, Eli Hansen but he was not home.  We did visit with Eli’s mother, Teri for a few minutes.  We then attempted to pay a visit to Scott and Chris Horsley, but they too were not home.  We stopped to visit Brad’s great Aunt Ora Barlow.  We had a good little visit with her.  I guess before she married Woodrow (Woody) she was married to a Jones.  Her son Lenny popped in and visited with us while we were there too.  It was interesting to hear some of the dynamics of another family.

We attempted another visit to the Horsley home without success and we headed to visit the Orton family.  Kevin, Megan, Ryan, and Kegan were all there.  I wanted to visit with them but had to so I could get a picture with Ryan and Flat Stanley.  As you are aware, I helped with his Flat Stanley project (FS has his own album!).  So chatted about Tran-Systems, Circle A, Ag Express, Washington DC, life in general, the positioning of the stars in the cosmos, and other various lowly conversations.  The actual camera for the photo was at Kevin’s parents so we made the trip to Paul for that.  Brad and I did a quick driving tour of Paul to see what changes have been made.  It is still there, I can verify that.  They are also getting a new city park across from the Stake Center and Harpers are finally subdividing the property next to the Stake Center.  Paul, Idaho is on the boom!

Brad wanted to nap some more so I left him in the car to snooze.  I went in and had even more interesting conversations.  We discussed the lifestyle of the polygamist fundamentalists in Utah.  Wow, I never knew all the ways you could cheat the United States Government!  But the polygamists have it worked out to a ‘T”.  Kevin’s mother became a polygamist and they are sure she is dead but will not report it so they can continue to collect the Social Security Checks.  They mooch the system from the crib to death.  If I didn’t believe in honesty I might be tempted to do the same.  The conversation with Dennis and Derith Orton turned to other subjects until I received a phone call from my Dad wanted to know if I was still planning on dinner.  Yep, the time had arrived and I did not even notice it.  I had to end the conversations rather abruptly and made my way home.

Dad usually is very relaxed about food and eating times but I found out Andra was the instigator.  She was all in an uproar for some reason and wanted to get out of there.  She gave us some reason with Brian needing her somewhere but we could tell it was a lie.  She left in a huff without saying anything for a good bye or even hello.  In addition, she left the present that was intended for her.  I am amazed at how easily people can treat their own family badly and think it is okay.  Perhaps those who are closest to us we can just expect they will understand and we can be as selfish as we want.  That was the extent of any real time with my sister.

Dinner turned out to be very good.  Dad made the t-bone steaks in his usual fashion with the barbeque grill and sugar cure.  It was very good.  Made me wish we could afford a bit more meat to eat on the grill in Virginia.  We had baked potatoes, steaks, salad and plenty more.  It was good to sit down and eat a meal with Dad, Andra who ate only a little bit very quickly, Brad, and Jan.  We talked health, Idaho, family, and a variety of issues.  It was good quality time with the family.  Brad finally decided it was time for him to crash.  He asked for a blessing which we gave him and he crashed despite the fact it was only 8:30 p.m.  I visited with Dad and Jan a little longer before I borrowed Dad’s truck and went to pay a visit to the Tateoka Family.

I roamed up to the top of the hill at Kasota and visited with Ted and Becca.  We lounged around for a while as I told them about the events so far during the weekend.  Ted was quite fascinated with the advice given by Elder Bednar and took the opportunity to pat himself on the back some.  We had a good laugh.  He went with me for a drive to AgExpress (I want to call it Circle A) and we filled up Dad’s pickup for him.  We talked about life in general.  He told me about his struggles in the Bishopric and some of the cases that are before him.  I can sympathize and honestly hope I never serve in that type of capacity.  It sounds like a nightmare in many ways.  I know there are many blessings that come, and Ted openly admits those.  We talked about marriage, women, work, and several other topics.  In the end, he had to be home at a descent hour.  I dropped him off and went home.

Monday again dawned far too bright and early.  Brad arose and was feeling much better after about 11 hours of sleep.  We got ready, loaded the car, said our good byes, and headed out.  Ted wanted us to stop by for breakfast.  We found him at his parent’s place and we had a great breakfast of ham, eggs, toast, and plenty more.  We were stuffed.  We spent some time talking before Ted had to go back to work on the farm.

We went to visit Dustin McClellan at his home.  We found him in the work shop and we took a good look at the Old Dodge.  She was covered in dust and bird droppings but still looked good.  Dustin says he is going to clean her up and get her going again now that spring is here.  Plus he has just finished doing his spring field work and had a week before his next phase.  We visited for a while in his house and we looked around to see what he has done differently.  Next, we stopped by AgExpress and visited with Dad and he introduced me to most of the people in the office.  I knew Michelle and remember Sean.  We said our good bye’s and headed off to Paul and Kathy Duncan’s.

Kathy had forgotten we were coming and we found her in her pajamas still cleaning up after the weekend.  She quickly changed and we visited for a good hour.  She insisted we eat lunch with her and started making food.  Brad and I thought we would both pop if we ate more after a big breakfast.  It turned out to be really good barbeque chicken, salad, and cheesy potatoes.  Brad really liked the desert.  Paul came home and ate with us and we had a good visit about farming, the dairy, and life in general.  Their whole family is doing well and things are good.

We had to get moving once again and we took the old highway 30 out to the Raft River exit.  We took the freeway and got off to head out towards Rockland.  It was a beautiful drive with the stormy clouds, the scenic valley, and the crepuscular drama.  We paid a visit to Leo and Rhea Udy a few miles of Rockland approaching Roy.  It was a really good visit.  I quite enjoyed our conversation.  They have served several church missions.  Two or three of them in helping with engineering projects in the building of temples.  One was with Nauvoo and I think there was one or two more.  They also served in Adam-Ondi-Ahman.  They have known Jack and Janet Duncan since their days in Oregon.  It was also interesting to learn about the Udy history.  This was even more true in light of the Udy Lawn Spraying business my Uncle Larry has.  Rhea is Brad’s great aunt.  We spent our time there and needed to head out in order to be able to pay a visit to Grandpa and make it to Kaysville in time for a party there.

We left the Udy home and took the drive to Malad, Idaho.  We took some time to stop at Twin Springs and a quick drive through Holbrook.  It seemed strange to us to be able to drive through a town literally in the middle of nowhere and know many of the people who live in the homes and much history of the area.  We crossed the pass into Pleasantview and talked about our crazy day recording cemetery tombstone names in Samaria.  We finally arrived in Malad and took a look at all the lots that I am thinking of buying there.  We took some pictures with the phone and left just as the rain was starting to come down again.

We caught I-15 south and got off to drop back into Plain City.  We stopped by Uncle Dave’s again to drop the picture off we neglected to do the first time.  That is another long story, but I have been trying to get that photo back to its owner for a good two years now.  One person takes it, can’t deliver it, and it keeps coming back to me.  At one point, so I would not forget it, I placed it on a desk in Provo so I would always see it.  The weekend I went to take it back I forgot it because Brad, of all people, hid it because he didn’t like it sitting out.  Anyhow, I hope it is the final step to finding its way back to Ed Telford.

We stopped and had a good visit with Grandpa.  He seemed a bit down from the latest waves of death in his circle of friends.  It was still fun to see him and spend some time with him.  In the end he didn’t seem like he wanted to talk much so we said our good byes and headed out.  We made our last stop at the Olive Garden in Layton in order to meet the Hemsley family.  Brad and I discussed our weekend and figured out we really quite enjoyed ourselves.  To top it off, we figured out we had reconnected, visited with, and spent time with at least 43 people since Friday morning together.  That seemed like quite the group of people.  We felt content in our activities.  I came back with 4 pages of family history notes.  Brad was able to see family he had not seen in about 2-8 years.  Best of all, we just enjoyed the company and the sites of Idaho/Utah.

It was Scott Hemsley’s birthday and we ate out at Olive Garden to celebrate the event.  Derek did not join us but it was a good dinner and we had some good laughs.  They are a good family.  I am happy to claim them as family and to have ties with them.  We went back to their home (Brad left for Provo and did not eat with us) and watched The Terminal with Tom Hanks.  It seemed highly fitting since we would again be spending a whole day in traveling by plane.  Amanda’s grandparents came over and we visited with them some.  Finally we crashed since we had to leave at 5 a.m. and felt we needed the rest.

The flights went okay.  I don’t like riding in the very back because sometimes you feel every bit of turbulence.  I think I regained my motion sickness every time we were on descent to the airport.  The winds and tossing just doesn’t do much for my stomach.  The last flight put me under and heater vent or something that blew warm air on me the entire flight.  So I turned on my cold air nozzle to high and suffered with the torments of hot and cold air blowing on me.

We arrived at Norfolk, kissed the ground and went to the Odom home in Newport News.  They fed us some Chinese (which was very nice of them!) and we went home.

There is the end of the narrative of the trip to Utah and Idaho.  I know it became a bit of a laundry list of things we did.  But I did not want to write it by hand in my journal and I type so quickly.  Plus I know some of you would be interested.  So viola, there you go!

Snowballs

This was just so funny I had to share. This is the narrative given of Brad Hales about an experience Amanda and I had even before I took a liking to her. So it is exaggerated in that sense. But still pretty darn funny.”Sorry for the long delay in emails! For some reason my life got really busy last week, but I think things are slowly slowing down, so I thought I would respond to your email. I was going to respond on Sunday morning, but it snowed a few inches and as I was walking into the house from our 7 a.m. priesthood meeting, I noticed the walks were not scraped, so at first I thought ahh, somebody else will do it, but then I remembered a little story about a girl named Amanda and a boy named Paul! Here let me tell you how I remember it “Well I do believe it was a snowy Sunday morning and a strong, strappling, busy, yet thoughtful Stake Sunday School President, named Paul decided to scrape a walkway to church for everyone in the little cul-de-sac where they lived. Well, as he was busy serving his fellow ward members, I do believe he was hit on the back with a snowball, which at first he thought “how rude” until of course he saw the assailant, which then his thoughts turned a more of a “oh baby!” Of course the snowball was thrown by a “saucy” somewhat innocent, yet guilty enough, beautiful red headed 18 year old named Amanda! Well, folks not much else need to be said, as far as the record goes, the two are happily married and living in the east somewhere, where she’s still saucy and he’s still serving his fellow ward members and of course whenever he see Amanda, he still says “oh baby!”

Ides of July

There is not loads to report for this week.  I have applied for probably nearly 50 jobs online.  I have an interview tomorrow for a position with Combined Insurance.  Who would have thought?  What are the chances? Grandma worked for Combined for 30 years.  I have in essence sold Combined Insurance for 6 months of my life.  That is probably the equivalent that I spent with Grandma out on the road selling insurance.  I sure loved it.  Funny what we remember isn’t it. 
There was a couple of times we went to Soda Springs to sell.  I remember the Caribou Lodge.  It was my first time going over, I must have been about 4-6 years old.  We were in the old 1974 two door Mercury Cougar.  What a car.  As we came down the pass from Lava Hot Springs we hit a pheasant.  The old car took it in the headlight cover.  So when we needed the light, we were Popeye into Soda.  Grandma liked the Red Baron pizza and she promised that she would treat me.  Accordingly, we went and bought one and took it back to the Caribou Lodge.  It was only then we realized that we did not have an oven.  Grandma went down, and knowing the owners well, asked if they would cook it.  They agreed and we ate Red Baron Pizza.  It sure was good.
This was my first time on the road selling with Grandma.  She had taken me several times to other places close like Kimberly, Twin Falls, Wendell, and American Falls. I always felt so loved.  She would buy me clothes and completely dress me for the week.  This week, she bought this little red suit that had zippers over the pockets.  It was a short sleeved shirt with shorts.  She gave me the permission to carry the money if I promised not to lose it.  So I would zip it up in my little pockets and keep it safe all the time.  Made me feel like a million bucks. 
Every morning we would get up and she would make oatmeal out of the packets.  She had a little warmer that you put in the coffee cup and it would boil the water in the cup.  She would pour the water in with the oatmeal and we had the little feast every morning.  She would comb and part my hair with a duck’s tail in the back.  I felt like a little prized doll the way she took care of me.
It was this same week that we stopped at this home to visit some people.  That is one thing I remember, we always had leads.  Grandma never knocked not knowing who lived there.  This house was on a corner or curve in the highway.  I could probably take you there today, even though I was only about 5.  We were sitting in the front room of the home and the people kept commenting on how adorable I was.  Being a little bashful I asked to go in the backyard.  I went out and stood at the back fence watching a baseball game.  Never had seen a baseball game.  I was thrilled, it was warm, slight breeze, and the shining metal baseball bat.  Our visit came to a close and they were begging Grandma in front of me if they could keep me.  She asked me if they could keep me and I remember breaking out in tears. They thought I was so much more adorable.  It would be funny to know who lived there and see if they even remember this.  I very much doubt it.
One of the best parts about being with Grandma and doing this insurance business was that when we set out to drive there, she would give me all the lead cards.  Sometimes there would be up to 200 of them.  It was my job to take a look at the map and figure out where things were.  Then I would go through and organize the lead cards according to street, and then line the streets up to area.  This was a big job coming to towns like Idaho Falls/Rexburg.  I remembered I became quite the pro.  The entire week we came back to the car, I could tell her the house number of the next house, and then would direct her how to get there.  I became a master at map reading and directions.  Even to this day, I can look at a map, get a good feel for where anything is, and I can know how to get where I need to go.  Coming to Richmond, I think Amanda is constantly amazed that I already know where everything is.  I already know the main streets, where they are, and where they go.  Even in church today, changing our ward boundaries, I knew all the roads they talked about.  This has been a great blessing to me.  All thanks to my beloved Grandmother, and Combined Insurance.
It is funny how much we remember.  At least me.  I have noticed that others are not so fortunate.  I remember that same week going to the sulfur mines and Grandma showing me where the Circle A trucks were.  She took me and showed me where my Uncle Doug lived at the time.  (Uncle Doug moved from there about 1987, which means I was definitely younger than 8.  I remember going to Grace, Idaho and Grandma showing me where Evan was raised.  I cannot take you there now, even though I have tried to find it.  Evan and Grandma divorced in 1987 as well.  I remember her taking me to the Minne Tonka caves, Bennington, Georgetown, and even little Niter.  Oddly, driving through Chesterfield a few years ago, it seemed too hauntingly familiar.  I still don’t know if it was from an expedition with Grandma or if it was for family history purposes.  (I did later find family history links)
This weekend we went to Northern Virginia.  Amanda and I have made a commitment to keep President Kimball’s challenge to the Saints that if circumstances permit, members should attend the temple at least once a month.  I have done this ever since I came home from my mission.  I have done it pretty well since I was endowed, except for several months in the mission when missionaries were not allowed to attend the temple.  Accordingly, Amanda and I needed to attend for the month of July and thought now was as good time as any.  We went up Friday night, stayed with Dennis and Gwen Thompson, who I lived with when I worked in Washington, D.C..  We spent the evening, caught up, and planned out Saturday.  Saturday, we went to the temple, dropped Miss Mandy Lundstrom off at the Baltimore Washington International Airport, drove to Annapolis, Maryland; and then crashed back at the Thompson home.  I did 15 initiatory at the temple and Amanda/Mandy both did a session.  We got lost getting there as we talked and passed every single junction for a free way.  Mandy was staying with the Thompson’s.  Oddly, she was the old girlfriend of Brad Hales, my good friend and old roommate.  She was going to ride the train from Springfield clear to BWI with all her luggage. Knowing how horrible that is, how much I hate traveling with luggage, I offered our services.  Plus she got to go to the temple one last time.  Amanda and I then ran to Annapolis to see the historic downtown.  Sadly, we got there 5 minutes after they closed the statehouse.  But we drove around a little longer.  The Maryland Capitol is the longest used Capitol in the U.S..  It has also served at the United States Capitol while the current one was being built.  It was in this very building that General George Washington resigned his commission of the Continental Army.  Wonderful history.  The College of St. John is right by as is the United States Naval Academy.  The town reminds me so much of Britain.  I love it.  I recommend all pay a visit there.  Go to the Capitol when it is open. I did last year and enjoyed it.
Anyhow, we came back to Richmond this morning and got ready and went to church.  They reorganized our ward, but as we did not know anyone, it did not make much difference to us.  At least we don’t have to attend another ward.  It was a good day.  At least we got a new lesson, no more of that adultery lesson we had for the last 3 weeks. 

Pirates

Just got an e-mail from Brad Hales in Ghana.  He seems to be doing well, glad to be alive, especially since he just finished a bout of Malaria.  What a gruesome sickness.  I hope he continues to improve and do well.
Stopped to visit a long lost cousin on Wednesday.  Lori Kaye is her name.  She was not raised knowing of the family, and for family history at least, I paid her a visit.  We have been corresponding for a little over a year through e-mail.  Well, it has been her husband who has been doing the corresponding.  I stopped by their home a few months back but she was ill and I only met Larry.  He was a nice man and they have a nice home.  I left them a book on the Andra family for their perusal, and I needed to pick it up again.  So I e-mailed, and they agreed to meet.  They invited me over, and we ended up visiting about family for a couple of hours.  It was really good.  They are very cautious as none of their extended family know the circumstances.  Plus to save turmoil, feelings, and any other problems that could be raised, there is not going to be any interaction any time to come.  Perhaps someday when the applicable parties are gone, I will explain the details of the story for family history purposes.  But for now, it will remain vouchsafed with those who are participants and knowledgeable of events.  The ‘skeleton’ in the closet will have to be told for later generations.  I am happy to report I do know the names of the two children.  It was great to visit with a long lost cousin, one who is content with her current family makeup and not willing to rock the boat. Hopefully someday all parties involved can overcome their concerns and some reconciliation will occur.
The next night, Amanda and I, upon invitation of her parents went to the Desert Star for a play, Pirates 2.  Quite honestly it was not worth the time.  I enjoyed visiting and seeing the family, the meal (which Bryan graciously paid for), and some time to visit with Amanda.  However, I think I much rather would have just met at an exit off the freeway.  Some of the singing was even painful it was that bad.  Such is life.  The Potter Spoof was far better.
Anyhow, things are going well.  We are headed to Idaho this weekend for Father’s Day. Could be a few years before we make it back.  Who knows what will be in Idaho or happening next time we venture back.  We will remember to turn the light out when we leave.