Archive for the Category ◊ Adventures ◊

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• Monday, July 19th, 2010

On July 15-17 we had our 2nd annual family campout at Soapstone campground with Curtis and Matthew’s families. It’s along Utah’s Mirror Lake Highway in the tall pine trees and has the Provo River running through the campground. There were ten of us–Steve and I, Curtis and Kelly with their children Katelyn (4 yrs) and Cody (5 months), and Matthew and Natalie with their children Aubrey (4 yrs) and Mackenzie (3 yrs).

Steve and I loaded up our little motor home with food, chairs, firewood, my bike, kids’ activities, and even a few movies on to play in case the kids (or their parents) needed a rest, or if the weather turned bad. (Camping wasn’t like this when I was a kid.) But we were lucky to have perfect weather–and there were hardly any bugs at all.

I had reserved two camp sites beside each other and near the bathrooms. They worked very well for us. Curt set up his tent trailer on one site and Matthew put his tent up on that site also. We set the RV on the other site. It was nice to have the RV so the ladies and children didn’t have to use the public bathrooms as much. The first night we cooked hot dogs over the campfire and played games and visited with Curtis, Kelly, Katelyn and Cody. It was a bit cold the first night but was quite nice the second night. Curtis made pancakes for breakfast on Friday and we had a nice leisurely morning. I rode my bike around camp and even went with Katelyn for a bike ride. It was fun. Steve relaxed in his camp chair and read a book. He brought his fishing gear but forgot to pack his flies. But he found two flies in his rod case, so he went down to the river a couple of times to threaten the fish.

Mat and Nat arrived Friday afternoon and set up their fancy 2-room tent with a screened porch. Aubrey, Mackenzie and Katelyn all played together.  It was interesting to watch the little girls play. They collected nearly every rock they could find, saying that each was a “really nice one” and had to go in their bucket. And they spent nearly a whole afternoon together sitting in the dirt under the pine tree and scraping piles of pine needles into their buckets. They don’t know and probably don’t care that they were filthy dirty. Then a little while later they were playing Sleeping Beauty make believe as though they were little clean princesses. I guess it’s good they couldn’t see what they looked like. At one point Natalie walked over near where they were playing to get something and Aubrey scolded her and said, “Mommy, don’t watch us.” Imagination is a wonderful thing. Or is it escapism? Or is it both?

We had a big dinner together Friday evening. We cooked BBQ chicken and biscuits in the Dutch oven, Rice-a-Roni, green beans, and salad. We had watermelon, and for dessert we made Dutch oven cherry chocolate cake. What a fun dinner. After dinner the guys shot their little rubber-band-loaded whirly-gig helicopters high up in the air and let the little girls catch them as they floated down. That lasted quite a while until one of the helicopters eventually got stuck up in a very tall tree.

Saturday morning we slept in a bit and had a great breakfast. Matthew made the bacon, of course. And Curtis made great pancakes. And I made the hash browns and scrambled eggs. We put it all out on the table and had a great feast. Cooking and eating are part of the fun of camping. And it has always been my belief that bacon was a necessary part of the camping experience. And I believe my sons are carrying on this tradition nicely. Bacon is not only good, but if you can be the first one in the campground cooking it in the morning, it makes the neighbors jealous as well.

We had some time to take a few little hikes, visit a while, and play with the kids. Then about noon we packed up the camp and headed for home. We were tired but grateful for a wonderful family camping trip!

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• Sunday, December 27th, 2009

Another Christmas in the rear view mirror. It’s a long and careful preparation for the best celebration of the year, and it’s all worth it. We drove up to Layton early Christmas morning and visited Stephanie, Sydney, and Mary at their home in Layton for a while. They a Skype connection to Brian on the internet and we felt like he was in the room with us, too. That was really neat. Then we drove down to visit Jenny and Ryan and the kids. The house was full of happy children, fun toys, and good food. How blessed we are to have so much. We then drove over to Jason and Libby’s home and visited for a while. The kids all seemed excited about the gifts they had gotten and their home was also full of the feeling of Christmas. We are so grateful for the goodness of our family.

We got back home about 1:30 and had some lunch. Steve took a nap and I worked in the office a while. About 4:30 Curtis, Kelly and Katelyn, and Matthew, Natalie, Aubrey and Mackenzie came by for a visit. We had ham and cheese rolls with side dishes set out and everyone had a bite to eat. Then we exchanged gifts and visited for a while. I especially like the part about opening gifts. When you give a gift to one of the girls (Katelyn, Aubrey, and Mackenzie) to open, they tear it open, smile and get excited about it, and then hand it to their mom and turn back and say, “Can I have another one to open?” I’m not sure if it is more exciting for them to receive the gift or just to tear open the gift.

After the presents were all opened, the girls all wanted to watch Katelyn’s new Strawberry Shortcake video. So while they watched the video the rest of us played hand and foot and snacked on pumpkin rolls, pies, bread and spinach dip, toffee popcorn, and crackers and dip. This was a good Christmas for Steve and me.

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• Thursday, December 17th, 2009

We had family come to town the week of December 6th through 9th. What a great time we had. Mike and Phyllis drove up from Sonoma, California. Monty and Sammy drove up from Las Vegas. And Terry flew in from Southern California.

Mike and his sons and Terry and his son Greg all went snow boarding Monday and we had a big family dinner that evening. The weather was unusually cold–in the single digits.

On Tuesday evening I had wanted to go to Temple Square to see the lights, but it was way too cold to be outdoors. So Mike, Phyllis, Monty, Sam, Steve and I all went to dinner at Spaghetti Mama’s and to a movie. Monty had suggested we see the new movie, Blind Side, and it was really a feel-good movie. Real good.

Terry left for home Tuesday morning and the boys left Wednesday morning. Monty had some car trouble on the way home, but made it home ok. Mike and Phyllis left Thursday morning and had a good trip home. It was sad to say goodbye to everyone. The real life is when we are family together. I have a really neat family.

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• Friday, November 20th, 2009

What a wonderful experience Steve and I had on our two-week road trip to visit Steve and Carolyn in Champaign, Illinois. We left very early the morning of Thursday, Oct 8th, and followed I-15 through Utah, Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa and Illinois. We were so lucky to have good weather all the way. It seems we were following a pretty bad storm heading east, but we never caught up to it. We saw slushy, dirty snow half way up the sides of the vehicles passing us going west, though. We stayed that night in Lincoln, Nebraska, and arrived at their home in time for dinner Friday evening.

Steve had arranged for us to visit a few really great places. And Carolyn got off work a couple of the days so she could come, too. We drove out to see some of the covered bridges in the area. Beautiful countryside.

We all went to the Amish town of Arthur. It was really fun to just wander through the shops and Antique stores and find little treasures. I really enjoyed having time to play with dear Carolyn and Steve. There was a barbeque cook-off in town and we sampled some of it. Yummy…

The Midwest is amazing. They have 360 degrees of horizon. And corn as far as you can see in all directions. Steve and Carolyn have a friend, Randy Weber, who owns a huge farm–mostly in corn but with some soybeans. With 11,000 acres under cultivation, Randy is the largest producer of corn for snack foods in the country. He sells a lot of his crop to Frito-Lay. His farm toys are huge–tractors, trailers, grain hoppers, combines, tillers. Most of his equipment is made by the John Deere Corporation and they bring some of their newer models to his farm for testing. I got to sit up (way up) in the cab of one of his tractors. It’s like an airplane cockpit in there. Randy said that when they plant the fields they use a GPS attached to a computer which records precisely where the seed goes in the ground. Then, when they harvest, they hook the same GPS coordinates to the harvester computer and let the harvester guide itself down the rows. He doesn’t even have to hold the steering wheel. He said he expects in the near future they will be able to do the harvesting driverless–using remote guidance equipment. Wow…

We also got to tour the Fair Oaks Dairy in northwest Indiana. They milk 30,000 cows three times a day. They have ten locations with 3,000 cows at each location. About 80 calves are born a day. They have a round “cow merry-go-round” that holds about 70 cows at a time and as they have the cows walk over from their very long, clean housing into the large barn, they are filed in line to get on the slowly turning merry-go-round. The milkers are attached to the udders, and by the time the cows make one time around, they milkers are unattached and the cows walk off and back to their “stable”. It was so amazing. And I got to watch a baby calf being born. They actually have a “Birthing Barn” with the lights down low and a small set of bleachers for public to witness the births. The cows are behind a very high Plexiglas wall and have a staff assisting them if needed. That little guy came out looking just like a real cow–only much smaller. His head and front hoofs came out first and as Mom was working him out, his little head was just looking this way and that checking out the new digs. Amazing…

We also got to take a tour of the Duke Energy power plant in Newport, Indiana. Steve has good connections. His friend, Gordon Delp, works there and we met with the plant manager who gave us permission to take pictures. Again, everything was so huge. The plant generates electricity by burning coal which heats water into steam, which drives two large turbines that each turn a large generator. Everything is big. Every day they burn enough coal to fill over eighty railroad hopper cars. The steam pressure going into the turbine is about 1500 pounds per square inch and the temperature is about 1,000 degrees Farenheit. At this temperature and pressure, it would cook an elephant like a hot dog, in about two seconds. Safety is a big concern at the plant.

Another great day trip we took was to Springville, Illinois, to the National Lincoln Museum. This year is the 200 anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth and the museum was a wonderful learning experience for Steve and me. We learned of Lincoln’s family, his home environment and upbringing, and of his political views and strong passion against slavery. We learned of the Civil War and how it progressed and the many lives lost. And how Lincoln held fast to his belief that this nation must not be divided, even through the great suffering he had to witness. This was a wonderful experience to learn of this great man. And one thing I learned was that his family didn’t have any power or prestige. He wasn’t reared in any type of favorable circumstance. But he had integrity. He held firmly to his beliefs. This is the kind of man the Lord can work with. I want to be this kind of a person.

After spending a very enjoyable week with Steve and Carolyn, we headed for home and stopped on the way to visit several LDS Church History sites and to visit Aaron and Kimberly and Eleanor. We stopped first at the Carthage Jail, where the Prophet Joseph Smith was martyred. A beautiful place, but so full of sadness.

We also stopped at Adam-ondi-Ahman where The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a small parking lot and overlook to see the valley below. This is a historic site along the east bluffs above the Grand River in Daviess County, Missouri. It is the site where Adam and Eve lived after being expelled from the Garden of Eden and will be a gathering spot for a meeting of the Prophets of all ages and many other righteous people prior to the Second Coming of the Savior. Most of the land is currently least out for farming.

We drove on to Nauvoo and were able to go through the Nauvoo Temple and do proxy ordinance work for one of our ancestors. We stayed the night in Nauvoo and the next day drove on to Kansas City, where we got to have dinner with Aaron’s family. I got to play with CE–Cute Eleanor. We enjoyed our time there very much, but headed on down the road to see how far we could get before stopping for the night. We actually made it to Salina, Kansas. Nearly all the way to Colorado. After a good night’s rest, we finished the trip home going from Salina through Denver, Colorado, and up to Laramie, Wyoming, then down into Salt Lake City. It was a wonderful adventure and it was good to be home.

There is so much to see and learn in this beautiful world. I hope I live long enough to enjoy much more of it, and to share it with my family…

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• Friday, November 20th, 2009

Just thinking about my sweet Mom–Goldie Adelade Heath Newman. She would have been 92 years old on the 16th of this month (Nov 2009) if she were still living. Hope you had a Happy Birthday, Mom. (You do read my blogs, don’t you Mom???)

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• Saturday, September 19th, 2009

Wow! Life is such a precious, fragile miracle. Kelly invited her mother and me to be at the doctor’s office today when she and Curtis had the ultrasound. We learned right away that it’s a boy. The outdoor plumbing was quite evident. I am overjoyed. Everyone was all smiles. Katelyn wanted a baby sister, but she’ll enjoy being the big sister to a little brother…until she’s a teenager.

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• Wednesday, September 16th, 2009

The score was tied and he knew he could win. A fast ball off the front wall was coming high and, without thinking, he swung high and hard. And that was the last swing he would do for a long time. Steve tore the tendon in his right shoulder and couldn’t raise his arm. And Jason had no mercy. Steve lost the game.

Steve was hoping he could just get a cortisone shot and all would be well. But when he went to see the orthopedic surgeon, he was told he had a classic rotator cuff tear. His surgery was August 20th. He will be in an arm sling for three months. After four weeks he begins passive therapy. That is where the therapist at The Orthopedic Specialty Hospital just stretches his tendon for about thirty minutes twice a week. Ouch! Not fun! After six weeks, he starts active therapy where he has to do the lifting and stretching. Still not fun! He’s at four weeks now and he can get around quite well and do most normal things as long as he doesn’t even try to lift his right arm, or lift anything more than ten pounds with his left arm. I’ve had the same surgery in both of my shoulders and can understand somewhat of the frustration and constant aching he has to go through. But he’s toughing it out quite well. Poor dear…

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• Monday, August 24th, 2009

Steve and Carolyn Family minus Mike's family and NateElle, Makayla, Eleanor, MichelleeSteve and Carolyn’s family came to town for a reunion the end of July. They rented a LARGE monster home in Heber and enjoyed a few days together with nearly all of their children and grandchildren. They had twenty-five people there–13 adults and 12 children. Mike and Kristi and their new son Emmet weren’t able to come. And Nathan was doing a major concert and also couldn’t come.

Steve and I were invited to come up for an evening to have dinner and visit. It was wonderful to see the family again. We had a wonderful time–all too short, though. On Saturday afternoon, after the reunion was over and most of the families had gone home, Steve and Aaron, Kimberlee and Eleanor came to our house to stay Saturday and Sunday night. Carolyn stayed at Dan and Jeni’s. After Church on Sunday, they all drove up to Hill AFB to visit Dan’s family. Later they ALL came back for dinner at our house that evening. We got to enjoy the family again–Steve and Carolyn, Dan and Jeni and girls, Aaron and Kimberlee and Eleanor, and Curt and Matt’s families came as well. A full house and a wonderful visit late into the evening. We had traditional taco salad and strawberry shortcake. Stever and Lacey stopped in, also. We sat out in the yard and talked and the kids played. We got out our little yard cooker and made s’mores. It was such a sweet time to be with the family I love.

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• Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

Boy was it HOT! I went to the zoo with Lisa, Vernon, Gayle and families. Most of the children hadn’t been to a zoo before (that they could remember) and were so excited to see the animals. And I was happy to be with my family that I don’t get to see nearly enough.

The zoo was giving a price cut if you brought a coupon or a can of Dr. Pepper. So we took three cans of Dr. Pepper and, since nobody in our group drinks it, we gave them to the ticket girl–still full. She was happy. We got our tickets and headed first for the train ride. I could barely get my legs into the grain. It was definitely made for shorter people. The engineer described some of the animals as we rode past. But the speaker system wasn’t very good and I could hardly understand a thing she said. Then we started the hike through the different areas of the zoo, starting with the monkeys.

The monkeys used to always be my favorite at the zoo. They used to have lots of monkeys playing in their monkey cages but it’s not that way now. There are a few monkeys and sometimes they swing around but it’s not as good as it used to be many years ago.

We got to the zoo about 1:00, just about the time the sun really begins to get hot. So we took every opportunity to walk in the shade or stand under the misters or go in the buildings to see the displays. It was fun watching the children get excited about the different animals and birds–penguins, aligators, snakes, elephants, bears, zebras, and even bison. But the heat was almost unbearable. We saw some people walking around with umbrellas and I wished I had brought mine. We enjoyed the zoo, but were glad to finally get back to the air conditioned cars to come home.

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• Monday, July 20th, 2009

We thought we were going camping on the south shore of Bear Lake where we could wake up in the morning and walk out to the water. But what really happened was that the lake decided to shrink. So we camped in a campground with very few trees and lots of weeds where we could see the lake about a hundred yards away. But between us and the water was tall, thick grass. There was no beach. The grass went right into the water. To get to a real beach, we had to pack all our lake stuff into the back of a truck (and we had a lot!) and drive nearly a mile to the day-use area to enjoy the sandy beach on the south shore of Bear Lake.

Even though it wasn’t exactly what I was expecting, we still had two wonderful days on the beach with our family–Curtis, Kelly and Katelyn, and Matthew, Natalie, Aubrey and Mackenzie. When we first arrived, we set up our camps and put sandwiches and goodies in the cooler and drove down to the lake. We had a really great time that afternoon and then headed back to camp. We had tacos for dinner that night, and root beer floats, too. Then we enjoyed a great campfire and had s’mores. The stars were out in all their glory. It was a beautiful night. The next morning, Matthew and Natalie made breakfast of eggs, two kinds of bacon, and pancakes. Life is good.

Then we all packed up and drove down to the beach, again. We unloaded all our beach stuff and enjoyed the day. The water was warm enough to really enjoy. The kids played with all the paraphernalia we took and had lots of fun. The weather was hot days and cool nights–perfect. And although there had been some scary reports of clouds of mosquitoes, we only saw one or two mosquitoes and got no bites at all. (whew!)

The water was shallow out a long way from the shore, and it was fun to watch the kids play in the water. Katelyn (3-1/2 yrs old) was out on her little float tube padding and kicking and really enjoying the water most of the time. Aubrey (3-1/2 yrs old) had been a little timid about the water, but it didn’t take long before she was letting her mom walk her out a little further to bounce over the waves. By the end of the day she was riding on the float toys and enjoying the water with Katelyn. Mackenzie (2 yrs old) seemed to have no fear at all. She would just walk right into the water and keep on going. When the kids started to show signs of being cold, I’d take them back to shore and wrap them up tightly in a big, warm beach towel. They liked that.

Matthew and Natalie packed up that evening and headed for home. Curtis and Kelly, and Steve and I, stayed that night and left the next morning after breakfast. More great memories…