The Watchman

The Watchman

Friday, July 22, 2011

Today I Traversed the Backbone of the World

It was a dark and stormy day and our intrepid travelers were set to travel the Going to the Sun Road, but the Thunder God was abroad in the land and so plans were revised and an alternate route was chosen.

The Blackfeet Indians refer to the mountains of Glacier International Peace Park as the Backbone of the World. The Park is full of lakes, rivers and waterfalls. Because the peaks were completely obscured by cloud cover, we chose to travel around the south side of the park from the east to the west. There were so many amazing sites on this route, that we were glad we had taken it. We were even more grateful when we got to the west entrance and were notified that there were 40 minute delays due to road construction on what is normally a treacherous road.

The morning started where it ended last night in Great Falls. Hunter's list of things to do before leaving Montana included a visit to Ryan Dam and the Great Falls of Montana. These were some of the most impressive falls I have ever seen. The very air vibrated with the sound of the crashing water.

The Falls are best viewed from an island in the middle of the river reached by crossing a rickety bridge that will sway with least provocation.

This sign is at the start of the bridge:

This sign greets visitors on the island:

We've seen other sites on our trip that made us laugh and made us think. We are so blessed to live in a country where you can have a bumper sticker reading, "Friends don't let friends vote Republican" without fear.

Arch over the entrance to park in Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Cutbank, Montana

It is good to have a fallback option......

Along Highway 2 Montana

Tomorrow is the final day of our Road Trip before we head home. We have seen so many beautiful and inspiring sites, met the most incredible people and made lasting memories for our family.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Today My Heart Is Overflowing

As a parent, a little piece of your heart breaks every time your child leaves. That part of your heart remains empty until you are once again reunited with the child you love. Even the knowledge that what they are doing is important and is the right thing for them to do does not completely fill that empty hole.

My oldest son, Hunter, has spent the last two years in Montana and Wyoming fulfilling a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons). It was something he had wanted to do all his life and it is also something that as his parents, Rick and I knew he needed to do. Still it has not been easy to have him so far away, with only once a week emails and twice a year phone calls to touch base and use to judge how things are going.

Our family has been blessed that Hunter's mission was selected to participate in a pilot program for the LDS church using social media such as Facebook and Blogging to answer questions about the LDS faith and its beliefs. Although, we were not allowed to use this as a means for daily communication, by reading what was shared on FB and in Blog posts, we could more fully participate in Hunter's life during the last year.

Still the inability to physically touch and see him was always there. Sunday in our worship service, as we sang the opening song, I started to cry. Rick asked me what was wrong and I told him that I had just realized that this would be the last Sunday that I would have to spend without Hunter. He told me he thought I would be happy. I responded that they were happy tears.

Today was the day we picked him up from the Mission Home and started on our road home with him. Not only was my heart filled to see my son and be able to hug him again, but it overflowed as I was able to meet some of the people he has served and served with.

While the first two days of our trip have been awe-inspiring, today was I day that I felt truly humbled when I realized what a fine young man my son has become. The Lord has truly blessed us.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Today I Went to the Top of the World and Saw a Few Things on the Way

Today we drove over the top of the world - literally - or at least that's what the sign said. The map referred to it as Beartooth Pass or Route 212 from Yellowstone to Billings Montana. Judge for yourself from the pictures below if it lived up to its name. I know that the only plants growing were about an inch tall and there was still 5 feet of snow in some places. Even though it added 2 hours to our drive, the view was breathtaking (after I got over hyperventilating from the height).

We also spent time in Grand Teton National Park.......

Jenny Lake

The Tetons

and Yellowstone National Park......

Old Faithful

Upper and Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River


Yes that is a bear!!!!

In addition to this bison, we also had one so close to the car, Jon could have rolled down his window and touched it. We also saw a wolf, deer and elk. Wil said he saw more animals this trip than he had on all his other trips to Yellowstone combined.

It was an awe-inspiring day!!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Today I Visited an Alien Land

We are experiencing Road Trip 2011. Today's travels took us to a place so alien to anything surrounding it that we felt like we had traveled to a different world. Even the name inspires the imagination: Craters of the Moon.

You round the corner from a field of prairie grass to see this.....

The dwarf buckwheat plants grown naturally in this regular pattern to maximize water usage......

If you look closely behind the girls, you can see a couple who are only about a third of the way up this cinder knoll.....

This tree looks like an alien frozen in stasis......

Just as alien for me was our visit to was Rexburg, Idaho. I spent a year of my life there attending Ricks College (now BYU-Idaho), so you would think that I could find my way around. I was excited to finally find the apartment complex that was my abode for that year and the football stadium, but after a quarter of a century, the campus and city have changed to such an extent that I felt like a stranger in a strange land.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Good People

Today I saw my former landlords at a local fast food restaurant. It was nice, because it gave us a chance to talk while we ate. They are the most amazing people. I have always been in awe of their positive attitude when faced with adversity. Bob is a walking miracle and I have never known Kathy to have anything but a smile and willingness to help.
(Moving Day July 2004)
While we talked, Bob told me how our experience with the insurance company had blessed his life. They have recently had a disaster at their home and when the insurance company stated that they would send someone to evaluate the cost of repair, Bob remembered how our experience with someone not familiar with dealing with the total loss of a home caused us a lot of unnecessary heartache and time wasted. With that thought in mind, he requested that whomever the insurance sent to evaluate their claim be certified to deal with their specific issue. He said that a few days went by without word from the company. When they called, he was told to find a contractor that specialized in the repairs he needed and submit the estimate for payment within the policy limits. He felt that learning from our experience helped save him a lot of aggravation.

He said he wondered how many others have been helped by our experience. I know that after meeting with us and our local insurance agent, the company is looking at better ways to handle claims similar to ours. It is nice to imagine that our experience might help others in the same situation not feel victimized a second time as they work to rebuild.

As always, Bob had a kind word for our children. He reminded them that it was because he and Kathy had been so impressed with their behavior that they had agreed to rent to us originally. At the time they had only been interested in selling the home, but after meeting with us, they decided to risk renting one more time. Thank goodness it was a good day. That was seven years ago and I am so grateful for the friendship that we have developed.

(Our children in 2004)
All this made me think how often a casual comment from someone has changed the way I
look at life or the way I do things.

An inside family joke springs most readily to mind - Rick was dared to ask me out. (Since this is my blog, I can tell the story my way. If he wants to recant, he can write his own blog.) Rick and I were both working at Valley Nursery in Ogden (Uintah). I guess I had developed a reputation that I would only date young men who would be able to marry in the LDS Temple. Rick was just finished with his freshman year at BYU and was preparing to serve a two-year mission for the LDS church. This led some of the other employees to dare him to ask me out to see if I would go with him since I hadn't dated anyone else. He told me later that he had been trying to decide if he should ask me out or my friend who was also a cashier. Always up to a challenge, the dare was enough to tip the scales in my favor. Good thing, because if he had asked Amy out first, I would have never gone out with him.
Another example is our decision to live in La Verkin. I can honestly say this was 90% my choice. My whole life, I had known that Doris Poll Gubler had married and moved to La Verkin. Every summer when my family would come to Southern Utah for vacation, my parents would comment on this fact. I just knew that if someone as glamorous as Doris had moved here, then it must be an incredibly special place. And now after living here for seven years, I can say unequivocally that La Verkin IS an incredibly special place with the some of the most wonderful people I have ever met.

I am sure there are many other things that have been said to me either deliberately or in casual conversation that have influenced my choices. To all those good people who have had an impact on my life, I say thank you.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Not a Soccer Mom

Yesterday I woke up and felt lost. I didn't know what to do with myself. Why do you ask? It took awhile, but I finally realized that my disoriented feeling was caused by the lack of a swim meet. There was no packing of towels, goggles and swimcaps. There was no tattooing my children's bodies with Sharpie markers in order to talk Smack with the other teams. There was no need to be to warm-ups by 7 AM. In fact our house was quiet until almost 8:30.
It is amazing how this summertime routine has been so ingrained into our life. So much so, that Rick's mom had gone to the pool to watch the meet, not even considering that a holiday weekend would preclude the normal course of activities.
Lela competing in her first IM (Individual Medley) 6/2011

Swimming with the Hurricane Tiger Sharks is not the first organized sport my children have enjoyed. They have played soccer, volleyball and basketball, were members in a youth bowling league, and ran cross-country. But I have decided of all these sports, I like swimming the best. Like running, it is an activity that can be done with a team or on your own, but with less stress on joints. Swimming is also an activity where you can compete with yourself - improving with faster times and greater endurance. Swimming teaches discipline, good health habits, consideration of others and personal safety.
Swimming has also provided job opportunities for my boys, both past and future. Hunter enjoyed working the front desk at the pool and Wil is in his second year as a life guard and has also taught swim lessons. He will continue this career at least through his college years, increasing his certifications and responsibilities. Lela already looks forward to the day that she can be a lifeguard as well.

There is nothing better than a day at the pool with family, friends and beautiful scenery. But don't forget the sunscreen.