Thursday, April 29, 2010

It's Time: My Stay in Arizona

I promised I'd post more about the trip home. School happens and promises get pushed back. If I had a teacher around telling me I had to publish my blog entry by Monday or I'd be docked points, it would get done. I promise.

Pre-script: This one's a long one. Take it in chunks if you have to.

Now, where were we? Arizona. Ah, yeah. Beautiful, lovely state.
This account may or may not play out chronologically. I'm just gonna spill the highlights and let you all just bask in it.

I slept in what my Mom calls "outer darkness". This may sound terribly wrong, but I'm quite comfortable in outer darkness. It's a small comfy bed, tucked out of the way, far enough away from the electronic hourly chime of the living room clock that would normally wake me up every hour throughout the night. That clock reminds me of irrigation turn -wake up! It's time to check water ---again!
I grew up in the basement, and I feel at home there.

It was easy to turn in early and wake up early since my body was used to daylight savings. So 11 pm felt like midnight, 7 am felt like 8.

Day 1, I began painting the inside of one of my Grandma's rental trailers. It always feels more like home when I've got projects to do. I really do love it. Nothing gets you reacquainted with home like getting your hands dirty. Joseph City is one of those timeless little places that you can come back to and feel like you never left and, at the same time, feeling like you never want to leave it again.

The next day, I missed out on branding calves. But I was over painting. Had I known about branding, I would've gone. But they had a good crew anyway, especially since my sister was home for the weekend and helping. Who knew a girl could be such a darn good ranch hand? Come to think of it, she's such a darn good, well ...anything that she tries.

I got to see and hold my new little niece and play with the other nieces and Trent. And Sparky. I also got to see my newest little cousin Karlee and stand in on her blessing. This was the highlight of my highlights. Not that the rest of y'all are second rate -if you know these kids, you understand perfectly. They keep me laughing/amazed/smiling. They're so dang fun. And smarter than you'd ever guess.

Fossil hunting. I'm such a nerd sometimes. The painted desert / badlands / petrified forest that surrounds my hometown is known as the Chinle Formation. It's full of older fossils (Mississippian/Pennsylvanian chert clasts included in the fluvial deposits) of shells, sponges, and crinoid stem fragments. The Triassic fossils include some beautiful petrified wood (the stuff is everywhere you look) and bone fragments (mostly the crocodile-like Phytosaur). Each time I'm home, I get all excited about exploring in the Chinle. This time, I went out fossil collecting about four times. Twice on my own, once with Jim, and once with Jim plus Julie, Justin, Derron, Cat, Nick, Annelie, and Sparky. The wind that Monday was brutal enough to close down the Interstate. But the fossil-lovers were undaunted in their quest. Nick is really developing a keen eye when it comes to fossils. His dad isn't too shabby either. We had a lot of fun, got sand blown into our eyes/ears/hair/everything.

It felt good to be back inside the cab of Justin's Jeep, safe from the wind. On the ride home, the promise of gummy bears compelled us to really step on it ...and to play the Gummy Bear song on Justin's system. I agree with Sparky: "That's a silly song".

Saturday night, I went to see the High School's production of My Fair Lady. That is such a dang-clever play, and the casting was spot-on for this play. I am slightly biased, as my cousins were in the cast. Jason was cast as 'enry 'iggins. I was ..."dashed". Jason was phenomenal. Justin and Annelie were so fun to watch too.
It was so fun to watch. Though the crowd was sparse, I couldn't help but let the boisterous laughs roll. Being at the play brought back some great memories of my high school days. Times to cherish, for sure.

I happened to catch a ride down to Mesa with my Aunt Cheryl. I got to see some friends: Spenser, Stormy, and Perla.We grabbed dinner at Red Robin off of Stapley and watched Date Night. It was fun. I stayed at Mike and Brittany's place in Queen Creek. That was fun. I love their place and it's situated on the edge of the undeveloped desert-mountain region, full of neat geology and beautiful desert life. I haven't been able to see them much since we both left Flagstaff. So staying with them was great.

Confession: I am not really a dog person. I'm just not. Over the years, I've formed the opinion that some dogs are fun to play with, but not to own. But my Brother and his wife have two dogs (Rarri and Kaci) that really won me over. They're Italian greyhounds. They're small, energetic, don't bark, and are super smart.
Rarri is a little too energetic for his own good, but he's still fun. Kaci is my favorite. She's such a good dog. She really warmed up to me, and just before I left to come back up to Idaho, she got to where she would follow me around the house, wait til I sat down, and jump up on my lap. I felt so loved.

On the ride back to Joseph City with Mike and Brittany, we decided to make a random stop at Tonto Natural Bridge. They felt like it was a shame that the Geologist had never been there. It was incredible. Such a good idea to stop.

Kimmy's reception. This really was the perfect weekend to be home. I mean, all the events seemed to line up perfectly. Family came to be there for Kimmy's reception. I got to be there for it and see everyone. Thanks again to those who contributed generously to the "Bring Him Home" fund. :) Grandma's "reception center" backyard was dressed up in lights and trinkets. It was fun to see all the adults mingle while the little ones got to run free in sunday best, (the flower-girl and ring-bearer in their very best) care-free and full of sugar from the candy carousel.

I've left out lots of little fun details, but this isn't a novel (though it's almost as long). I'll wrap it up.

I love Arizona. I love my hometown. I love it because it's the soil I was raised in. The spirit of my ancestors lingers there and lives on in the hearts of the people. It's where I'm from, it's where I want to be. It's where I belong. It's home.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Trip Down

First, thanks to those who made the trip possible for me. You know who you are. It was a great week to be home. I'll post two more posts later: one about the stay in Arizona, one about the trip back.

I left Rexburg after the check-out inspection in the afternoon. A few hours later, I was at my Dad's cousin's place in Brigham City. Stacy and Cory let me sleep at their place. They fixed french-toast for dinner, with fresh-sliced strawberries. I love breakfast for dinner. It was a perfect break to make the trip that much shorter the next day.

I had a quick breakfast, got loaded with cookies from Stacy (with another bag to deliver to Uncle Floyd), and headed out. My next stop -The Museum of Ancient Life at Thanksgiving Point. The director of the museum, Cliff Miles, took a look at the Phytosaur (ancient croc, basically) bone fragments I had collected. This was a fantastic time. For an hour and a half, we sat at a table and poured over bone fragments with the enthusiasm of kids on Christmas morning. Dead stuff is gross. Ancient fossilized dead stuff is fascinating.

After my longer-than-intended stop, I pressed on. Down to Panguitch. Through Kanab. On toward Page. Once I neared the Lake Powell area, I couldn't help but grin. I felt the excitement of being back in the beautiful state. From then on, I was home. These were the roads I'd traveled so many times before. Trips to Fredonia for sports, Lake Powell trips in the summer, any drive to Utah, all so familiar to me and the dull reddish glow of the sandstone beckoned me onward.

I took the short-cut and cut Flagstaff completely out of the trip. I went towards the Winona exit, but realized that a road connects to the Cosnino road / I-40 junction. I took it. I've never been more excited to get to the I-40. It's the road that leads home. Just a few exits down the way was my hometown and my family waiting.
I rolled into Joseph City and stopped at my sister's place. Mom and Jim were just leaving, but I got to see them first. Then came Little Lace. She was in the process of changing clothes (probably for the 10th time that day) in her room. I tapped on the window. She seemed confused. Why was her uncle from far away Idaho suddenly peering through that window? It registered quick enough, and full-blown excitement set it. "STEVE!!! Go to the Door!" She motioned toward the living room entry. I met her there opening the front door. She announced to the world, "He's HERE!!!" Did I feel special? Oh yes.

After hugs, laughs, visiting, and a few bowls of my sisters tasty chicken noodle soup, I headed for Porter Ave. I saw Grandma and Aunt Julie and got to visit with them for a bit. Grandma always has projects waiting for when I come to visit. I love it because she gets them done and I get a bit of mula to help finance the trip. Speaking of projects, her kitchen renovation was more incredible than I had imagined. Once she gets an idea, she gets things going. That's something I admire about her.

And then, it was on to home up on Baird Ave. It was so good to see all of my family again. To climb the steep stairs leading from the basement. To hear the annoying/endearing electronic chime of the clock in the family room. To feel the coolness of a beautiful Arizona night. To be home.

Give Me a Sec

I'll be posting the whole run-down of my trip down to Arizona and all the adventures I had, including pictures. But for right now, you'll just have to wait. So ...just, go catch a chicken.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Another Wonderful Weekend

I talked to my Mom on Easter Sunday. She bragged about the big tasty lunch they were having. While I missed out big time on her Mandarin Orange Salad, I took some consolation in some other pleasantries.

1 -that I was on a road trip seeing some really fun people
2 -that I got to be inside the conference center for the Saturday morning session
3 -that while my family ate the fatted ...pig? (they had ham), I was enjoying the delights of Panda Express
4 -that I'd be driving home to Joseph City soon enough, where I might be able to talk my Mom into making some more of that tasty salad ...although, the cottage cheese will make me itchy, still totally worth it.

I thought that was enough, but when I got back into Rexburg last night, this was what I had waiting:
Just when I was about to stop believing in the dopey rabbit, he somehow found a way (with the help of my Sister's fam) to visit my house! No wonder I didn't get a dang basket in Utah! He brought my goodies here! (complete with notes from Danny, Eash, Lacy, and the little Trent boy)

Some other highlights of the weekend:
My mission reunion! I have been to Pres. Gardner's reunion several times, this time I went to Pres. Garrett's. The chapel we met at was the most ornate and unique LDS chapel I've ever visited (inside the chapel, there are open rafters that have scriptural phrases printed on them in large letters):
It was a small gathering, but that meant that we could spend more time chatting with the people we knew. I was lucky enough to have several companions and friends among the group, including Elder Plaizier, whom I hadn't seen since the mission. Here's a picture of Pres. and Sister Garrett (with Tod Robbins's head in the foreground):
Here's the mission banner we signed when we entered the mission:

The reunion was great. I'm so glad I went, and glad that everyone else who came was there too.

I got to stay with my friend Devin and meet some of the awesome people from his mission. Not so awesome was the way this dude took our picture. I asked him to back up, but he insisted on a close-up. I could've slapped him, and I should've. We're not tryin' to sell make up, man. We're wanting to capture a good memory. Gosh! He took three shots, and this one is the least awful:
I think he was trying to be funny. He didn't succeed.

And lastly, but not least:
How do you get Mexican vanilla in Idaho? You just have to know the right Mexican. (Thanks, Steph!)
Later this week, I'll be heading down to Joseph City for about 10 days. That, in itself, should be a great adventure. Stay tuned.

Friday, April 2, 2010

On the Road. Again.

Last week, I spent 3 days in Utah. Here we go again. I'm headed down for my mission reunion and to spend general conference weekend "where the action is".
It's nice to be so close to Salt Lake.
As for the picture with this post, I took it with my phone at the grocery store. Does your local grocery store sell realwhite bunnies and baby chicks? Mine does. It's funny to watch girls stop by the tank and hear all the "Awww"s. There's a sign that says "Please do not touch the bunnies or the chicks". You're asking the impossible there.