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Trip to Salt lake City and Grand Canyon.

First of all, I went to Save-a-lot last week and bought 2 grocery carts full of canned goods. I hadn’t bought canned goods for more than six months and was out of just about everything. In that time, too, I had seen the prices drifting upwards and was worried that to replenish my stock it would be too expensive.


The first cart was vegetables and cost me $149. That was an excellent price for so much food. The second cart had more expensive items such as Cream of Mushroom soup, pineapple, fruits, etc. -- it ran about $300.

I was very pleased to have my pantry full again and as always, Save-a-lot has the best prices (in the OKC area) on canned goods. Aldi’s does okay, but usually Save-a-lot beats them on canned goods. Plus I actually like their brands.


Also, on the 23 of March, I was at home in the evening when some friends came by. I was in the kitchen making a HUGE batch of Goulash. The husband came to the door and I saw him first through the kitchen window.


He was in a suit and I thought they were stopping by on their way to the temple as he does tile work and we wanted a bid on some work. Then I went to the door and saw her sitting in their van.  She was wearing a white dress and had a veil on her head.


I then suddenly remembered that their 25 wedding anniversary was that night and we were supposed to attend.  Fito wasn’t even home and I was in slacks just cooking away.


They had come to our house to take pictures outside, using the gazebo, the gardens, and so forth.  Anyway, thank goodness another lady was taking the pictures and I did not have to be with them the whole time.


I worked frantically to finish the Goulash.  I ended up with 5 large pans and 2 small pans. I buy the disposable aluminum pans from Sam’s. That way I do not have to remember to get a pan back from a family…and they do not have to wash a pan or worry about returning something.


I then cleaned the kitchen and went to dress for the anniversary party. I also had forgotten that I had told another friend that her daughter could spend the night so when I came out of the room all dressed—there she was with her daughter.


Elizabeth and Rebeca were still in Dallas. They came home the next day. So this little girl had to go to a Spanish party with two older people (although, I think it was a neat cultural experience for her).


We came home early and did not stay to dance. I slept upstairs in the Elizabeth’s and Rebeca’s room with her so she would not be alone. Then Saturday was the day we had David’s party.


This past week was an exciting week. On Thursday, March 29 we left for Salt Lake City, Utah. Over a 1000 miles of driving-one way. Our friend Kathy and two of her daughters: Rachael and Abby went with Rebeca, Elizabeth, and I. Girls Night Out Extreme!


We drove through the night and got to Albuquerque, New Mexico about 2 am. We then decided to do the extra driving and drove on into Arizona and went to see the Grand Canyon. We arrived in the park just after sunrise, about 6:30 am on Friday morning.


I did all of the driving except when Kathy drove for two hours in the night. I really like to drive and do well (as long as I am eating something chewy…and then get so tired of candy…yuk…but it keeps me awake).


What can you say about the Grand Canyon? We have all seen the incredible pictures. We know the depth, the length, the variation of color, and the features of one of the wonders of the world. But just as pictures, movies, or videos cannot do just to Niagara Falls, or the ocean, they do not come close to seeing the Canyon in person.


They simply cannot catch the depth, the majesty, the magnificence. It is worth the trip for sure.


We stopped at the main center at the south rim and got out of the car and walked to various points, took pictures, and marveled in the beauty for about an hour and a half. We then went back to the car and proceeded to drive through the park, stopping countless times as we came to new vistas, saw new dimensions. It is simply amazing.


We then entered the Navajo reservation as we headed north on our way to Utah. We also drove through other reservations during the trip. The Native Americans live in such poor conditions. Most live in broken down trailer homes with tires on the roof to keep the wind from blowing it away. Dirty conditions. Trash and junk lying around. One town even had public showers as many of the homes do not have indoor plumbing. Some still have dirt floors. There were very few clean, well-maintained properties.


It always amazes me that the poorest counties in the US are all on Indian reservations. Most tribes have free health care, free college education, free services of many kinds. They have the Casinos that rake in millions of dollars every year, yet their individual members struggle with illiteracy, marginal literacy, diabetes, alcoholism, and poverty.


As my dissertation was on marginal literacy, this is a topic dear to my heart. When you take away a person’s desire to become self-reliant you rob them of achievement which then robs them of everything else: their self-esteem, their sense of accomplishment, their sense of being in control of their destiny, and so on.


We did stop at one of the many places that the Indians have to purchase home-made items. We bought some jewelry and pottery. Rebeca insisted on buying her father something…using her own money to do so…and buying less for herself in the process…as I had only given her so much money to buy something. I was so proud of her for doing so and think it is really important to teach and encourage children to be generous.


We stopped by one place that was by a deep gorge with a fascinating view. This scenery was different than the Grand Canyon, but still spectacular. We also drove through Zion National Park which was extraordinary.


Through the drive there and then the drive home…in Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, and Colorado: the four corners region. Where the four states meet, there is a site where you can stand in all four states at once (we stopped on our return trip).


This whole region is full of rock formations. It is really dry, a desert with sage brush, cedar trees in the higher elevations, etc. but the rock formations are varied and all are spectacular. Sometimes they rise straight up like they are reaching for heaven. Other times, they are twisted and turned like the swirl of an ice cream cone.


Then as we reached Oklahoma on the way home—there is a reason it is called Green Country. It is green! And after all the recent rain, which has been a real blessing, it was soooo green. Seeing the fields of green wheat, green grasses, wild flowers, full ponds with the water reflecting the sky, the trees greening with new leaves. It was a completely different type of beauty.


I have been in 32 states and 3 countries and each has its own unique beauty and each has people that are ordinary, good people trying to do the best they can and serve those around them.


Well we finally reached Salt Lake City on Friday night around 9:30 pm. We went to the room and all took turns taking showers. What a wonderful blessing after being in the car for two straight days.


Saturday and Sunday, we took turns going to Conference (the reason for our trip, see, our church has a bi-annual conference when members of the church, world-wide, do not have regular church, but listen to the prophet and apostles for two days of special meetings).


The weather was incredible Saturday, being in the 80’s, which broke a record high for Salt Lake City. Sunday, it turned cold and rained and even snowed a tiny bit. Monday, we arose early and packed and left.

We had so much fun while at conference and being in Salt Lake City. It is a beautiful city with many things to see and do. They just built a new mall that has an actual creek that runs the length of the mall. Beautiful. We played tourist and saw many sights. Temple Square was beautiful with Tulips, Pansies, Hyacinths, and other spring flowers.


There was a special exhibit on Temple Square of how the Salt Lake Temple was built and even had a miniature replica of the Temple where you could look inside and see the various rooms (like a doll house, but even better).


Conference was like a soothing shower after working in the yard on a hot, dusty, August day. It calmed my soul, gave me hope, consoled me, lifted me up, encouraged me, and admonished me.


The music is my favorite. I had tickets for Saturday afternoon when the choir was comprised of missionaries. They were a great choir and I cried as I remembered my days as a missionary in the Missionary Training Center and being in the choir there.


I also had two tickets for Sunday morning, and Kathy braved the cold and rain with me. The Mormon tabernacle Choir sang and there is no other choir to compare with them. And to hear them in the Conference center is too incredible to describe.


Also, there is no way to describe the feelings of fellowship, to meet with saints from all over the world in that great center, sing together, worship together, pray together. No matter your religion, if you ever have an opportunity to travel to a regional, national, or world-wide event: do it! It is inspirational.


We planned to be home by Tuesday morning as I had to be at work at 9 am. However, it started snowing toward evening and after driving 2 hours in thick blowing snow (poor Kathy was driving). We stopped at the first town we found, found a motel, and stayed there for the night. I texted, emailed, and called my three bosses (as I had three different events that day). We lost the electricity for a while, but it came back on after a couple of hours.


When I woke up at 5 am Tuesday morning, there was about 5 inches of snow on the ground and it was still snowing heavily. I insisted that everyone hurry up and get ready (and we did not bring all the luggage in as we had stopped in new Mexico and picked up a pile of smooth round river stones, packed them in the back of the Suburban, and then put the luggage back on top…I was afraid if we opened the back, the stone or luggage would all fall out) so we just got part of our stuff and made do with what we could get to.


We left by 6:30 am. I had checked the roads on the Internet (just as I had the day before and this large snow storm was not forecast). We followed a snow plow for a while, then as he was going too fast, we were then on our own. But the Suburban has four-wheel drive and I just drove slowly until we finally were out of the worst of it. (We heard later on the radio, that that pass was closed later in the morning because of the snow. As we were headed down one mountain, the other side of traffic was stopped as they could not make it up the mountain...we did see a snowplow later that was headed that way).


We were snowed in at Cuba, New Mexico. Even when we reached Albuquerque, it was still snowing and they even had school closings. It snowed on and off all morning. Then in the afternoon, it was rain, hail, and crosswinds all day. Many times there were thunderous, massive black clouds that looked as though they could form a tornado any moment.


This was such a crazy day for weather. It was the day that the Dallas area was hit by all the tornados. Kathy was on the phone many hours, calling family and friends and checking on things.


On the way out to Arizona, we had stopped at a Stuckey’s travel center in Adrian, Texas. Right off the I-40 near the New Mexico border. For the past 8 years they have taped butcher- paper to the walls of the stalls in their bathrooms. At the top of each sheet, it says: Tell us about your trip.


The comments on the paper are heart-warming, happy, sad, exciting, human, and more. They are funny, inspirational, and some bring a tear. Thousands travel All Over America on their way to vacations, to pick up loved ones, to bury loved ones, moving to a new job, going off to college, etc.


They are a kaleidoscope of the life we live and endure. I asked the owners if I could bring some sheets home and put them on my Website. They so graciously allowed me to do so. I hope to have the comments up soon, and then as they send me more, I will add those, too.


Hopefully, as people become aware of the site, they will send photos of themselves, let us know how their trip turned out, and share their travels with us.


We had a great trip and a great adventure. What an exciting time to be alive. To travel with a smart phone that allows you to look up things, find maps, restaurants, a Wal-Mart, whatever you need. I still remember the trips of finding a pay phone and using a calling card in order to call home.


Yes, I love technology, I love the many magnificent creations we saw, the inspirational meetings, but most of all, enjoying family on the trip and then coming home to family and friends.


As Kathy said at the Grand Canyon, “The only thing sad is that not all of our family is here to share this with.”


May all of our family and friends be blessed, and I pray for the day when we will indeed share all.


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