Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Temple Tulips

After school today I went to the temple. I went to the Mount Timpanogos Utah Temple in American Fork, Utah. I remember attending the groundbreaking ceremony of this temple. I remember translating for Japanese visitors at the temple openhouse. I sang in the Celestial Room in the final dedicatory session where President Gordon B. Hinckley spoke. And of course, this is where I married my Sweetheart. I LOVE this place and I LOVE the way I feel when I'm there. When I left the temple, I grabbed my camera and shot a few pics. K truly created a monster when he bought me that camera. I was so wishing he was with me this afternoon because (he's gonna kill me for writing this) today is the anniversary of our very first kiss! Alas, the boy is ninety miles away!!! So while I was sitting in the Celestial Room this afternoon, I sat on the same sofa and in the exact spot where a temple worker parked us right before our marriage ceremony. She took us to that room, sat us down, and told us to wait until she came back for us. We just quietly held hands and then we went to our sealing room and got married, for time and all eternity. I couldn't be happier about that decision. Love you, K!

Storm moving in on Timp (and just for the record, I have hiked to the summit of that mountain--11,750? feet).

Looks a little warmer than the day we got married, but I wouldn't trade our Wedding Day for anything!

The House of the Lord!

Left: Mount Timpanogos Utah Temple
Right: Mount Timpanogos in Utah County, Utah

The temple grounds are always so beautiful, but tulips and pansies are especially lovely in Spring.

Saturday, April 24, 2010


Maintenance has a little work to do to get the trail ready for Opening Day. Thanks to these big boulders, some of the trees didn't make it.

Rangers, chomping at the bit to hike. Boss said, "You WILL wear hard hats all day today. Did everyone use the restroom? Does everyone have water? Did everyone bring a LUNCH?"

This is the amazing Jay, hiking up for the first time for Season #42! Love you, Jay! Incredible supervisor.

Actually, this was nothing compared to some years, but the black ice slowed me down and we all noticed that nifty log sticking out (there's a rock wall behind that snow somewhere). This wasn't the first time I've been told this on the job, "When we get to the slide at the gate, you will walk through it one ranger at a time. If that slide goes, I only want to lose one of you." Words like that from the boss make you consider a few things.

We have a thermometer hidden in a rock wall on the trail. It lives there all year round. I dug it out this morning and it read thirty-nine degrees. The one hanging on the tree said thirty-eight.

Cell phone reception "up top."

From the arch...Welcome to Timpanogos Cave!

Step carefully!

Shoveling snow, ho, ho!

Cave entrance.

Looking from the grotto out--big snow and Barbara.

It was warmer IN the cave...

Today was our first day to hike up to the cave for training. They wouldn't let us hike last week because of trail conditions. I snapped a few photos of trail conditions today. I used my ski poles and they helped a lot. There were at least five other rangers who hiked with "sticks" as Nance likes to call them. It was black ice in several places on the way up, but by afternoon, the sun had helped (me personally) by melting most of the ice (but not the snow...). All the rangers helped each other by watching over each other and lending a hand through the tough spots. Several rangers really got an extra workout by shoveling steps into the snow to make it easier to go over, and then later shoveling snow to get down to the actual trail level. I just love Timp Cave rangers (married one, didn't I?).

Also, I felt so happy to be back inside those caves. Spring is my favorite time there because just like everything else being busy in nature and waking up on the outside, the cave is very busy on the inside. This is when it is the most wet, the most active. This is when you see and hear and feel those drippy drips. I love the way Mother Nature bathes the cave and freshens it up for a new season. The cave is "waking up" after a long winter too! I was on Andy's Geology tour and felt like interjecting at the Lake Room, "Would you just LOOK at all the ripples on the water!!! So many drops!!!" But I held back. I tapped Kory instead and he acknowledged my comment by pointing to something else amazing that had caught his eye. It's a wonderful thing that the cave rangers are all so in love with our cave.

I enjoyed having Rachael all to myself on the way down. We started the same year and had a little beginning-of-the-season catching up to do. I tried to listen to her and ask questions, but I kept gabbing about my own life too much. Sorry Rachael. She understands.

As much as I love that place, the thing that was on my mind the most was meeting my husband for dinner. Our time together is so short these days, but he always thinks up fun and interesting things to do. I forgot how five miles of hiking and being cold all day revs up the appetite and so I must admit that I ate everything on my plate. Then, K surprised me with dessert later. He's a sweetie and I miss working with him at the cave. Another great thing was coming home and taking a bath. Ah...Spring is here.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Ranger School

It's the most wonderful time of year!

Can a ranger like this accomplish that? You betcha!

Ranger Royce finally found that pearl necklace he's been talking about all these years.

Name badge PROPERLY worn.

Ranger Kory, missed a few memos about proper uniform wearing. Can you count them all?

Ranger Deb with a FLAT hat looking a little too Huck Finn, if you can get past the loud jewelry.

Ranger Andrea...what NOT to wear...

Ranger Josh, showcasing the outerwear line.

Ranger Rachael, the perfect example of what real rangers wear.

A Uniform Fashion Show was a great way to end our evening of training.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Day 10-Spring Break

Alas, all good trips must end. We found ourselves packing the luggage one last time and returning the rental car. We took off our shoes once again for security. We boarded the jet and held hands on take off and landing and other times in between. We counted our blessings of safety: none of our flights has ever crashed, our rental car served us well during a severe winter weather advisory, and we drove over 1600 miles through four states and past three Great Lakes without mishap. Our car was still waiting for us at the hotel in Salt Lake City and the shuttle driver picked us up and dropped us off without a problem. We had the luxury of eating out (Sweet Tomatoes) on the way home since we knew there would be no fresh food there for us). We entered our receipts into our computer and balanced our accounts. We reflected verbally about the trip and looked over the maps and postcards we picked up along the way. We unpacked.

Thank you, Sweetheart, for getting me back to my roots and showing me another fabulous time. You're the best travel buddy any girl could ask for, but more than that, you're the best eternal companion for me!

Day 9-Spring Break

On Friday, we woke up and found that the snow had stopped and the plows had plowed. We still couldn't make it to Miner's Castle though we did challenge the road for a few miles and finally gave in to the wisdom of turning around. We went on a walk through a marsh but the beaver weren't making any appearances just for us. We said goodbye to Lake Superior after K touched it with his hand and worked our way south. We dined at Culver's for lunch just across the Wisconsin border and drove past the Lanbeau Stadium in Green Bay. We whizzed past Milwaukee and worked our way toward Chicago. We had a reservation at one of our greatest hotel finds ever! We love the Holiday Inn Express in Arlington Heights, Illinois. We stayed there for Spring Break four years ago. It's a great location and the service is top notch. Plus...they serve a Japanese breakfast! I know! Where else could I possibly get rice with furikake and miso for breakfast (and Japanese television)? I confess, this morning I slid a thin little package of dried seaweed into my purse to eat later on the plane. Ah...Japanese breakfast...oishikatta! Here's the other thing we LOVE about Arlington Heights. Across the road is a wonderful Greek restaurant called Yanni's. We didn't dare hope the food could really be as good as it was last time, but it WAS! We shared four different dishes, all Greek, all wonderful. I can't possibly spell them so I won't even try. We got the baklava (sp?) to go because the hotel arranged free dessert. So, in one day we had breakfast in Michigan, lunch in Wisconsin, and dinner in Illinois.

Day 8-Spring Break

So, we woke up on Thursday morning to three inches of snow and howling winds. We did not stick our hands into Lake Huron. We scraped the ice off the rental car and drove across the Mackinac Bridge which happens to be 28 feet short of five miles in length. We were determined to make it to Pictured Rocks, another NPS site on the shores of Lake Superior near Munising, Michigan. So, we made it. Slowly, carefully, and with lots of prayer. We found a restaurant that was open called The Navigator. We blew through the front door and order a pasty. Pasties are all the rage in the Upper Peninsula (the U.P.). They are mostly made of seasoned beef and potato and encased in a little dough (much like a pot pie, but there are differences). After lunch, we blew back to the car and managed to make it a few blocks more to the Visitor Center for Pictured Rocks. The ranger there explained that she was planning to go out for lunch but didn't dare leave the building (and she was born and raised in the U.P.) due to the storm. She did tell us about one waterfall that she thought we could get to in spite of the weather. So, of course, we headed to Munising Falls. The rain poncho in the picture was mostly used as an extra layer of warmth to block the wind, not so much for the precipitation. After the waterfall, we decided to cancel our reservation in Green Bay, Wisconsin and hole up for the rest of the afternoon and evening, so we checked into a hotel and had the pool to ourselves for as long as we wanted it (we left after 1.5 hours). We found dinner at an establishment long on character but short on salad bar offerings called the Dogpatch. I ordered whitefish this time and K had the Earthquake Burger (you'll have to ask him more about it).

Day 7-Spring Break

We left our lovely hotel in GR for the North. We made our way up to Sleeping Bear Dunes, an NPS site. We walked along an interpretive trail and then climbed up the Dune Climb. K thinks he's so funny when he gets an "action shot" of me, but let the record show that I climbed this thing. We touched Lake Michigan with our hands and ended up in Mackinaw City for the night with a view of Lake Huron about 100 yards away. I had fresh perch at the Dixie Saloon (one of my favorite fishes to catch with a worm and a bobber) and K had chicken roasted on the spit. In his words, "Sometimes a well-roasted chicken just beats out any steak."