New Numbers: Seven Going On Eleven

Packing and Re-Packing
Packing and Re-Packing
That’s not in any way a reference to the game of Craps, by the way. It’s just how many days are left (seven) here in Cowboy RV Park and how many days are left (eleven) before we go into the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah. Today was another busy day getting ready to leave as was yesterday. Nina packed up a couple of boxes of crafty stuff to send to our daughter Jaelene. Then we couldn’t find the TV remote. We had stuff scattered everywhere in this small motor home, and one would think it would be impossible to lose something like the TV remote in this small area, but lost it was. Even after undoing and going through the boxes, no remote appeared. On the other hand, repacking the boxes made a little more space for some extra goodies. Nina finally went through trash. As usual, the remote was found in the least likely place.

It’s always the case that things are found in the last place you look … because then you stop looking.

Two boxes were shipped parcel post to Hawaii this afternoon. A small flat screen TV, a couple of monitors, and a bunch of other computer stuff went. It’ll take three to four weeks to arrive. So, it’s possible that we’ll get there before this stuff does. We’ll have two more boxes to send early next week and that task can be checked off. Tomorrow morning we’ll drive over to Boise and back tomorrow afternoon for a last visit to Nina’s cousin-in-law. Unfortunately, it’ll likely be a last visit as the odds are that she won’t still be living when we return from Hawaii. She’ll be missed.

I’m sure I’m missing something important that needs to be be done that will become a crisis. Meanwhile, ignorance is bliss!

Counting Down the Days … Twelve (or Is It Eight?)

Idaho Falls Temple
Idaho Falls Temple
We go into the Mission Training Center (MTC) on March 9th. We’ve been instructed to arrive between 10:40 am and 11:00 am that morning. That’s twelve days from now.

On the other hand, we will put our motor home and Nina’s Toyota Avalon into storage on Thursday morning, March 5th (my Toyota Rav4 is already in storage). We’ve been able to secure inside storage at the old naval gun plant in Pocatello. We’re very pleased with that. Not only does this provide inside, out of the weather storage, it is also incredibly inexpensive. A car costs $30 a month and the motor home $40 a month. So, on March 5th we become completely homeless! That’s eight days from now.

So, how do we count? The most critical date is March 5th because everything has to be completed by then. After putting the motor home and car into storage, we’ll drive away from Pocatello down to North Salt Lake where we’ll spend the weekend with our grandchildren. They brought grandson Michael’s car up and left it with us as transportation down to North Salt Lake (Michael is visiting his mother and our daughter Heather in India at present and doesn’t need the car). So, the eight days remaining are pretty important and somewhat crowded. We’ll need to go over to Soda Springs to see my mother a couple of times as well as make a trip up to Boise. We originally thought we could go up to Boise on one day, spend the night and do a session at the Boise Temple, and return the next day. There just isn’t time for that, so we’ll be going up and back the same day.

We went to the Idaho Falls Temple twice in the past week. The Temple closes in mid-March for about eighteen months for significant upgrades inside the Temple. The remodeling will be completed about six months before we return from Hawaii. It’s a beautiful temple and I’m really looking forward to seeing the results of the remodel. Meanwhile, today the Church announced the ground breaking for the Afton, Wyoming on Saturday, April 25th. It’s possible that temple will be close to completion when we return. That’ll be fun to meet my favorite brother to do a session in that new temple!

We’ve received our travel arrangements to fly to Hawaii. We finish our training at the MTC about noon on Wednesday, March 18th (Nina’s birthday). We’ll fly out of the Salt Lake airport on Thursday, March 19th (my birthday) at noon on Delta flight 1105 arriving in Honolulu at 2:52 pm the same day after a 6:52 hour flight. This afternoon I talked with the missionary we’ll be replacing. They’ve been there for a year and are “counting the days” for our arrival and their departure. I’m pretty sure that they’ll be leaving the day or so before we get there. Meanwhile, we’ll be sending some things over to be there when we arrive. Important stuff, like craft supplies, ham radios, and some computer stuff!

Eight going on twelve days! Life is great!

Returned to Snow … Farewell Sunday

What's This White Stuff?
What’s This White Stuff?
We parked our motorhome in the Cowboy RV Park on Wednesday evening and spent the day on Thursday running some needed errands. Friday we went up to the Idaho Falls Temple in the morning and then over to Soda Springs in the afternoon to visit with Mother. The temple endowment session was very nice and Nina was able to see a number of her temple friends. The visit with Mother was also very nice. We haven’t seen her for almost four months.

She is doing OK, however she is much more frail. She’s quite a trooper and hanging in there. She was bound and determined to live long enough to see us off on a mission!

Saturday morning we woke up to SNOW! Not only was this our first snow in almost four months, it was the first snow here in Pocatello is almost two months! It was cold, the wind was blowing, and we decided to hunker down in the motor home. I did go out for some errands in the afternoon and then we were invited to dinner at our Bishop’s home Saturday evening. We had a nice dinner and a great visit with the Ravsten’s. They are really wonderful people.


Farewell Sunday
Farewell Sunday
We really don’t do “farewells” in the Church anymore. Departing missionaries may be invited to speak in a regular Sacrament Meeting. We were invited to speak in today’s meeting. Nina gave a ten-minute talk on “tender mercies” and I talked for ten minutes on “keeping even the hard commandments”. I think they both went over very well.


My Siblings and My Mother
My Siblings and My Mother
My favorite brother Perry and his wife Chris drove over from Green River, Wyoming, picked up my mother, and came to the Sacrament Meeting. Both my sisters came over (with their spouses) came up. My sister Terry lives near Preston, Idaho and my sister Eileen lives in Sandy, Utah. We don’t get together very often, so pictures were definitely in order.


My Mother
My Mother
Of course, a picture with my mother is also a necessity. She’s very happy that we’re going on a mission. Mother and dad served three missions, the first was a proselytizing mission to Maui, Hawaii, followed by a Temple mission to the London Temple in England, and finally a temple mission to the Manila Temple in the Philippines. She’s very happy to have that legacy carried on into another generation.


Open House
Open House
In addition to my siblings and their spouses, several other relatives came as well. My niece Erin, my cousin Kathy and her husband Jeff, my cousin Cheryl along with her spouse Sean and children, my aunt Nelma and her son Kenny, and, of course, our grandchildren from North Salt Lake (Danielle, Christopher, Stephanie and husband Randy). Several others, including friends Sandi, Joni, and Glen, came over as well. I was delighted to see them all and didn’t have enough time to visit as much as I’d like.

We’re one more step along the way to leaving for our LDS Mission at the Laie Temple Visitor’s Center. Life is great!

Wrapping Up the Great American Road Trip!

Suguaro Cactii
Suguaro Cactii
Monday, February 16, 2014 bright and early (or in other words, 7:05 am) we drove away from the Mesa Spirit RV Resort, turned in the rental car, filled up with gasoline, and headed out of Phoenix. The route took us up through northwestern Arizona through the some beautiful territory and more than a gazillion cactii. We had to stop and take some pictures!


One Big Suguaro Cactus
One Big Suguaro Cactus
This one was close enough to the road that we could stop and get both Nina and me (via my shadow) in the picture. It was quite tall … I’d estimate around fifty feet tall. That probably also means it’s fairly old.


Joshua Trees
Joshua Trees
Almost as soon as we drove out of the area where the big suguaro cactus were growing we entered into the area where the Joshua trees are plentiful. These two trees were also right beside the road, meaning an easy picture for me to take.


My Niece Jayme
My Niece Jayme
One of the daughters of my favorite brother lives and works in Las Vegas. She was working on Monday as we drove through town, so we stopped by her place of employment to say a brief hello and see how things are going. We had a nice half-hour visit and met her boss (who was a delightful woman to meet as well. She had great things to say about Jayme!). Then it was back on the road again.

We had reservations at the Temple View RV Park in St. George, Utah for the evening. When we left Las Vegas the GPS suggested we would be there around 4pm. That was before we went through the Virgin River Gorge. Because some of the bridges are being renovated, northbound I-15 traffic was literally moving between 5 and 8 mph. What should have been a 20 minute drive took well over an hour. But, the office at the RV park was still open. We checked in and then drove the motor home over to a nearby Applebee’s and had dinner.


St. George Temple
St. George Temple
The object of stopping in St. George was to attend a session in the St. George Temple. We got up Tuesday morning, packed up the motor home, and attended the 8:40 am session. The temple is absolutely beautiful outside and inside. The craftsmanship from the 1870’s is amazing.


Selfie at the St. George Temple
Selfie at the St. George Temple
After the temple session we visited with a dear friend from Chardon, Ohio. Cheryl and Zane (who passed away a few years ago) were two of the most important people in our lives when we lived in Chardon. Zane was our Bishop and then our Stake President. He was our home teacher (and a very faithful home teacher) for many years. Nina and Cheryl taught Seminary together and served together in other callings as well. Cheryl put together a delicious light lunch as we caught up on all the doings since the last time we had seen each other. Friends like Cheryl and Zane are precious.


Welcome to Idaho
Welcome to Idaho
On Tuesday afternoon we drove to North Salt Lake and parked the motor home in our daughter Heather’s driveway (who isn’t there … she’s busy doing things in Mumbai, India) to spend a little time visiting with our grandchildren there. An added bonus was that Jaelene along with Casey’s daughter Mandy, flew up from Chandler to go to a concert in Salt Lake and also spent Tuesday night at Heather’s place. So we got to say goodbye’s all over again.

Then we drove the final piece back to Pocatello and parked the motor home once again in the Cowboy RV Park. We’ll be here until we leave for the MTC. We’ve got a few things to wrap up while we’re here, but mostly we’ll be unwinding from our more-than 9,000 mile road trip.

We had a great trip.

Life is very good!

It’s Time to Leave Once Again

Lady M Rules the Roost in This Place
Lady M Rules the Roost in This Place

We’ve been here in Arizona for a bit over two weeks. Tomorrow morning we’ll pack up and head north to arrive in Pocatello on February 18th with an intermediate stop in St. George. We’ve had a very nice visit here with Jaelene and her family.

We were here a year ago December when Madeline was born and it’s been delightful to get to know her again a year later. She has a very independent personality and pretty much has everyone here “wrapped around her finger”. (I had to look up the “wrapped around the little finger” idiom. It comes from the idea that the ‘wrapper’ and the ‘wrappee’ have a loving, doting relationship and that the little finger, being the weakest finger, shows the relationship is not threatening, menacing, or subservient in any way.)

Lady M loves to eat. She can put away significant amounts of food, particularly fruit, and specifically blueberries. In the picture to the left, Madeline is busy consuming the strawberries that Nina is chopping up for her almost as fast as Nina can deliver them to her high chair tray.

Phoenix Temple
Phoenix Temple

There are three temples in the greater Phoenix area: the Mesa Temple, the Phoenix Temple, and the Gilbert Temple. We’ve done a session at the Mesa temple in a past visit. So, we decided it would be nice to do a session in the other two temples.

The Phoenix Temple is on the far north side of Phoenix, about an hour away from where our motor home was parked in Mesa, Arizona. It has a few sessions in the morning and a few sessions in the evening, so we decided to go there first for the 9am session. It was a beautiful, bluebird day (as most of them are here) and the temple itself was just beautiful itself. I was expecting it to be more along the size of the smaller temples because it was next to a Stake Center. It is, in fact, somewhere in between with a lovely light-green toned interior and an oval Celestial Room. It was one of the few temples we’ve been in with no central chandelier in the Celestial Room, but with four smaller chandeliers. The session was well attended and we enjoyed our time there.

Gilbert Arizona Temple
Gilbert Arizona Temple

We drove from the Phoenix Temple directly to the Gilbert Temple which is located on the west side of the valley. It took about an hour and a half to drive there in the middle of the day with light traffic on the expressways.

This is a larger temple with four endowment rooms. It is also a very beautiful temple. In fact, I’ve not seen an LDS  temple that isn’t beautiful! We arrived at 12:30, changed clothes, and went right into the 12:45pm session. This was not as well attended as the session in the Phoenix Temple earlier that day. However, It was very enlightening to attend two different temples, with two different endowment presentations on the same day. Definitely a learning and pondering experience! The chandelier in the Celestial Room is definitely breathtaking. We left our motor home at 7:15 am and arrived at Jaelene’s after the Gilbert Temple session at 3:45 pm. Eight hours devoted to the temple. I’d say that was eight hours well spent!

Selfies at Both Temples
Selfies at Both Temples

Of course, we had to also take a selfie at each temple and post them to Facebook. Jaelene commented that I needed a “selfie stick” because my arms aren’t long enough. That my arms aren’t long enough is definitely true, but I don’t want to carry something else with me! So, these arms are just going to have to do.

I’ve also been to two movies in the big-screen movie theaters in the two weeks we’ve been here. Both of them movies that I wasn’t sure they’d be still in first-run theaters when we got back from India and arrived in Arizona. The first was the last of the Hobbit movies. Casey hadn’t seen it either, so we went last Saturday. The other was The Imitation Game, the movie about Alan Turing and the Enigma Machine. Austin and Jackson went with me to see that movie. I thoroughly enjoyed both movies … it would be difficult to find two movies more different, however!  Alan Turing’s suicide, or actually the British culture and environment that lead up to his suicide, certainly robbed us of a brilliant man and what he might have accomplished.

A Fondu Dinner
A Fondu Dinner

We’ve had a great visit with Jaelene, Casey, and family. We’ve also had some very fun meals. Last night’s fondu dinner was definitely a highlight, however! It was Casey’s first time with fondu and he’s definitely a convert. When we lived in Chardon, Ohio (several lifetimes ago) we fondu’d fairly often, probably because we had lots of young people around the house who were eager to chop things up to get ready for fondu. It is definitely a preparation-labor-intensive dinner but makes for a great conversation time around the table. The chocolate fondu at the end was a hit with everyone, including Lady M (who rules the roost around here).

 

iPad Repaired! MacBook Being Repaired

Saturday morning the iPad was not finished. Casey had not seen the third and last Hobbit movie (The Battle of the Five Armies) and I hadn’t seen it either, so we went to the 3:05 pm movie. It is clearly coming to the end of its first run as the movie was in one of the small theaters that seats maybe 65 people. The movie was two-thirds full, so people are still going.

I thought the movie was just OK. Some of the “tension” between the elves and dwarves as a bit contrived and the battle scenes themselves a bit anti-climatic, particularly thinking back to “The Two Towers” and “The Return of the King” and those epic battles. However, I enjoyed the movie and am very happy I was able to see it on the Big Screen.

On the way back to Jaelene’s, I called the fixit store and the iPad was finished. I picked it up, the price was as quoted, and dropped off my MacBook. It is supposed to be done not later than Wednesday. It’ll be very nice to have both machines back in good working order.

Meanwhile, Casey has figured out what was the matter with Nina’s iPhone. She had no room left, even after deleting just about everything. In the storage management area the iPhone reported that she had about 12gb of photos. The Photo app reported no photos. Something was wrong. One of Casey’s friends suggested downloading an app to look into the iPhone’s file system (which Apple hides and makes very difficult to access). After trying a couple of apps, Casey found one that worked and located a folder with several hundred photos and videos that accounted for most of the unavailable space. He’s now downloading those items to her desktop where we’ll probably find these are photos that were already imported into iPhoto, where iPhoto thinks they’ve been deleted, but weren’t. I’m pretty sure the Apple Genius person would not have checked it out and just told her to wipe the phone and start completely over.

So, good Apple things are happening around here. Nina gets her iPhone back in good working order. My iPad now has a clear, uncracked screen, and my MacBook is being fixed as well.

Life is very good!

Among the Oranges

Casey and Lady M
Casey and Lady M

Saturday mornings the Farm at Agritopia has a u-pick event where one can buy a seven-pound seven dollar bag or a five-pound five dollar bag, pick the fruit from the trees in the orchard, and fill it with whatever is in season. Currently oranges, lemons, and grapefruit are available to be picked right from the tree.

We arrived at 9 am and the place was pretty busy. I learned upon arrival that they also had breakfast available! Maybe next time….

Both Nina and Jaelene got five-pound five-dollar bags and it didn’t take very long to fill them. It was a beautiful, sunny, cool morning. Madeline really enjoyed being out among the oranges.

The farm is part of a larger “Agritopia” planned community that includes places for residents to have garden plots, plenty of outdoor venus and events, and cozy housing. The project is being built on a former large farm.

Jaelene, Casey, and Lady M
Jaelene, Casey, and Lady M

Yesterday was the day I was supposed to be able to pick up my repaired iPad. The glass  was broken and needed to be replaced. I could either have the glass (which is called the “digitizer”) replaced at a store that does that kind of thing for $149 or I could go to the Apple Store and get a refurbished iPad for $249. I chose to have the glass replaced. However, it isn’t done. Sometime today, said the rather unhelpful guy who answered the phone. The implication was that by talking to him on the phone I was delaying the completion of the repair.

The problem is, my Macbook also has cracked glass. I didn’t want to turn them both in for repair at the same time and be completely without a computer. But, we’re leaving in a week and I don’t want to put our departure at risk of waiting for the Macbook to be completed. We also have an issue with the passenger side front tire on the motor home. It is significantly worn on the inside edge. It needs an alignment at minimum. This is the same tire that needed a new bushing, discovered when we had the flat tire in Peoria, Illinois.

Selfie
Selfie

I’m concerned that there may be more going on than just the need for an alignment. They did an alignment in Peoria, we had it checked again while we were in Connecticut where they said all was well. There needs to be a reason that it now has an alignment problem.

So, I’ll take it in someplace on Thursday and have it checked out. That way there’s a little room in case they have to wait for parts to come in. We’d really like to be on our way on Monday, February 16th!

Nina and Jaelene put together last night a kind of a schedule for the rest of the visit. We’ll be pretty busy next week! Meanwhile, a few more pictures:


Trees in Blossom
Trees in Blossom
I’ve no idea what kind of trees these are, except they probably aren’t citrus and most likely aren’t cherry trees. I’m guessing some kind of apple tree. The blossoms are pretty, though.


Counting the Loot
Counting the Loot
This is what fits into a five-pound five-dollar bag. Definitely could not get this much fruit for this price and at this freshness at the store.


Donut Line Out the Door
Donut Line Out the Door
A new donut shop opened up near Jaelene’s house and Friday was the first day of their grand opening. They’re looking for employees as well. So I suggested to Colten that he take me over there, I’d buy some donuts, and he could fill out an application. I bought a half-dozen very tasty donuts for $4.21.


Filling Out an Application
Filling Out an Application
Colten diligently filled out and turned in the application. Meanwhile, he does have an interview at an IHop nearby. Where would I rather work … IHop or a Donut Shop?