Friday, October 25, 2013

Searle's Cove

We went to Vernal last weekend. It was kind of funny how it happened actually. I was looking for places to go for fall break that would be fun and cheap. When I looked for ideas online, I stumbled across a website detailing the awesome stuff you could do in "Dinoland". This area included Dinosaur National Monument, Flaming Gorge and other areas of natural and historic interest. I was intrigued. And then I remembered that my cousin Brenda (well, my dad's cousin that's my age) lived there. It was a decent jaunt, and so I thought a night at her house would make the journey less exhausting.
When I reached out to her, she had a great offer to throw on the table. Her husband Carl's family had a modern cabin up in the mountains.She asked Carl's dad, and he said it would be fine for us to use it. We had one weekend open... October 18th. It sounded like a lot of fun, so we took the offer and made plans to head east the next weekend...Brenda's sister Susan in tow.

Getting there was definitely an adventure. Conner threw up all over my new car. My brand new car. Chocolate doughnut vomit. It made me less than happy. Sigh. The dangers of having children. And it made our arrival late. The trip took 2 hours longer than it would have because of clean up stops near Strawberry Reservoir and again in Duschesne. But we made it.

The road in was interesting. 22 miles of 2 lane highway leading deeper and deeper into the mountains. It veered off next to a corral and went another 8 miles on a very bumpy dirt road. As Ashlyn said "Its massaging my butt cheeks!" And then we were there. Searle's Cove.

It was after dark when we got to the cabin.So we didn't really get to see what we were missing until the morning when we drove down to go sight seeing.
Here's more of the area surrounding the cabin.
The cabin is kind of tucked back into that mountain
You can see the destination from the road here
Coming down out of the mountains...

Sunset in the middle of nowhere
The Pond

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Circus Time

So Marcus had a great idea! 
Take the kids to see Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus in Salt Lake.
We actually didn't know we had tickets for sure until 4 o'clock that day because we were on a waiting list. But it was awesome.We enjoyed it immensely.
The favorites of the group were the elephants. And the cotton candy. 
Which was $14. So they SHOULD love it.

Arial dancers
Spectacular opening 
The elephants were one of our favorites
And the Tigers :)
My family


I woke up early in the morning, well before the sun rising timidly over the mountains turned the deep black of the mountain woods into gray outlines and shadows. I couldn't see beyond the windows next to where I was sleeping. But I could feel what was on the other side of the glass.

The cold that had been kept at bay by the slowly burning fire in the stove had found its way into the cabin.

I pulled the blankets tighter around me. It wasn't freezing quite yet. I could still sense the residual warmth left behind by the fire. But the edges of the air dripped with a frostiness I knew from experience would spread.

I was worried that the chill might eventually reach my kids in the beds where they slept if I didn't remedy the situation. So I untangled myself from the covers and braved the few feet of frigid floor between me and the fireplace.

As I opened the heavy glass door, I quickly saw what I had suspected was true.

Just before we went to bed, my cousin's husband had thrown a few extra logs onto the steady blaze, assuring us it would last until morning.
But it had burned out.
All of it.
There wasn't even a smoldering ember I could use to rekindle anything that would generate the warmth I knew we would need.

I had confidence in my ability to start a fire. I had done in dozens and dozens of times. I grew up camping in the Utah mountains. I had attended and completed 4 years of wilderness camp as a teen. I had started many a bonfire when we lived in rural Ohio and wanted s'mores in the summer. Certainly I could do it again.

I arranged a few larger logs in the bottom of the stove, sprinkled with a few smaller pieces of wood. Then I grabbed a few newspapers. I needed something that would burn fast and easy...and hopefully long enough to allow the other smaller pieces to become hot enough to ignite.

The theory was that each of the smaller, faster burning pieces would eventually cause the larger pieces to burn and create the warm sustainable flame I desired.

I believed my logic was sound.
But somehow, the plan simply did not work.

I tried for an hour to get the fire to light. I even resorted to a few tactics I actually knew wouldn't work but hoped the fire gods would make an exception in my case; I held the lighter to the big log, hoping by some chance it would catch if I held it there long enough, I scurried outside in the frozen dawn to gather smaller pieces of kindling that could burn longer and hotter than the newspapers I had quickly run out of...thinking that the frosted twigs I dug out of the piles of pine needles and cottonwood leaves would miraculously burn and ignite the fire we needed.

The cold was creeping more and more into the heart of the cabin.
I gently nursed each ember produced by my efforts, prodding it with every ounce of knowledge I possessed to become a mighty blaze.
I knew it could.
If it would just try a little harder.
I hovered.
I pleaded.
And I was frustrated.

My efforts went on despite my failure. Somehow, in the midst of those moments, the spirit took an opportunity to point something out to me. Something that had escaped me before.

Like so many things in our lives that we desire longevity from (like knowledge we seek of God or other worthy concepts..or the love that generates real relationships), the creation of a flame is a process. The sustaining of it takes mindfulness. It would have been so much easier if I would have thought of it and taken just a moment to add to the fuel. But I let it burn out.

And so I had to start over.

That was harder. And took way more time. And there are rules. Rules to create a real flame. And they coincide nicely with rules to create other lasting things we need to have warmth in our lives.

Adding little tiny pieces a few at a time allows the flame to build and makes it possible ultimately for the longer burning pieces to catch. Just like gaining knowledge a piece at a time or letting love grow bit by bit will help it burn brighter, stronger and longer.

Starting with something that burns with ease is good, but it won't last long and certainly won't create long lasting warmth on its own. Taking the easy road in a learning quest will get you quick but meaningless results. Relationships that ignite quickly but have no other substance (except more quick burning fuel), may feel great at first, but will burn out fast.

You have to feed it. And not all at once.Throwing a big log on a tiny ember will kill it. Too much too soon will quickly extinguish growing thoughts or loving feelings.

Trying to catch something so big on fire on its own with a pre-generated flame will just burn out the lighter before it ever catches the log. Don't go for the big stuff first. You will burn out. Build up to the deep knowledge or the deep intimacy. So much better when it happens all on its own instead of forcibly.

The flame you feed is the flame that will burn. You could have a great flame going, but if you don't add the right kind of fuel to it (whatever is next in the process), it will burn out, no matter how strong it was at some point. If you add fuel to the fire of your testimony a little will thrive. The same with your loved ones. If you feed that fire, it will burn. If you feed other fires...they will burn. And the flame of love for someone else will wane and die.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Why all relationships end badly

This is a happy post actually, despite the deceiving title

This post is about relationships, and something I've learned.

And that is that all relationships end badly. Why? Because they all...end. half of the relationship, at some point will leave. Whether they leave of their own free will and choice or whether they are taken from us because their time on this earth is done; we must at some point be prepared to wallow in sorrow at the parting.

So since by nature, we humans do all we can to avoid pain, it should stand to reason that pursuing relationships would be something we would avoid entirely. Because it would be safe. Safer and easier. Easier than hurting when someone that has added so much to who you are leaves you.

But we don't do that, do we? We seek out interpersonal interactions. We crave them. And despite the inevitable pain...we actually need them. We need them because they create us. Our interactions with others change us and mold us. They make us who we are. They make us become better and open our hearts to new feelings and our mind to new thoughts. We become who we are because of who we know and have known. It is all about relationships.

Its about my friend Erin, who has been working as a member of my team since May. She left a few weeks ago so her husband and her could move to Washington state for school. And really, honestly, by all accounts...we should never have been friends. But somehow we were. And we became close over the past few months, and enjoyed working together. We supported one another in our individual life trials, that although different, had some similar feelings behind them. We learned from each other...and even though the friendship began when I knew it would end in a few short months...I am so grateful those moments became part of my collective experience. As we embraced as she left and I tried not to cry, Erin whispered... "Don't stop being my friend." Never Erin. Because the part of my life you claimed with your friendship will always be part of who I am becoming.

It's about my friend Marcus. Someone who, when I first met him, I had been determined to dislike. This relationship was a passing one in my eyes; he was an intern. I would have to put up with him for 10 weeks and then life would move forward and he would be a shadow of someone that I kind of remembered on the outskirts of my mind. But somehow, something changed. And I'm not even sure I can tell you exactly when it crossed over from "that annoying kid" to "one of my best friends ever". Or how it went from "I'm sorry, what was your name again?" to "It's been 5 hours since we talked, we should probably catch up before its too much for us to remember..." What was supposed to be a passing interaction has become something that I really don't see ending anytime soon.

It's about my friends Brenda and Melody. Who have been my friends for 24 and 20 years respectively. We have been divided by distance for much of that time, and yet whenever I see them or talk to them, its like time never passed. Well, except we're older and out bodies don't do the same things they used to do in high school. These are relationships that have weathered the tests of time of space (literally...states and states of space), and have been some of the most solid and reliable relationships of my life. They have loved. They have laughed. They have made me who I am and I know they will continue to influence me until the day one of us leaves this earth.

That's not even tapping into my family, who have obviously taught me more about myself than other group on this planet. My parents, my siblings, my children... all create me on a daily basis. They deserve their own entire blog post..each of them.

And despite the impending end to each those relationships, I do not regret them. And I think I will move forward with my life never regretting any choice to make a friend....knowing it will somehow become a significant part of who I am and who I will become. It is ALL about relationships. And those special bonds, despite their ending on this earth, is one thing we can take with us. I look forward to reuniting with all of those I love when we enter a life that has no ending. How sweet that will be indeed.

Nebo Loop Color

So in Brazil, there is no such thing as fall. Or Autumn. Whatever.
And so we thought the best thing to do would be to take our boy on a day adventure where we would see all of the color in the context of the beauty of the mountains.

Our first stop was a little stream heading into the canyon where the loop starts in the Payson area. We got out of the car and hiked down the incline and played a little.
Yes. Conner got in the water. It was super cold!

Love this picture of my girls :)

Working out the crossing of the log.

Maryn, Ashlyn, Kayque and Conner. 

We made some sandwiches quick and ate before continuing our drive.
The colors and the scenery were gorgeous!
You know you're high up when you're looking down on the mountains. It just goes on forever! So peaceful...and a little chilly.
This one looks like it should be a painting! So beautiful.
Bald Mountain. 10,000+ feet!
On the last little bit there's an area of geological interest, Devil's kitchen. Kind of cool, and a very easy mini hike.
"The Devils Kitchen is a scenic red rock "break" off the Nebo Scenic Loop. It offers pillars and other interesting rock formations. It somewhat resembles a miniature Bryce Canyon."
So we finished the loop and ended up in Nephi...where we discovered a DQ! Blizzards were the perfect ending to the day. We had a great time.