Friday, December 15, 2017

Your Endowment

Your EndowmentYour Endowment by Mark A. Shields

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book, though relatively small, took a long time to read. It is one you want to ponder and think about. It is a book I will want to read many times, I think. The author uses scripture and quotes from prophets to help the reader better understand the symbolism of the temple. I loved reading, studying and pondering and gained a much greater appreciation for the temple.

View all my reviews

The Racketeer

The RacketeerThe Racketeer by John Grisham

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

My husband and I listened to this book on a recent road trip. It kept us engrossed and entertained through boring desert terrain. We loved the twists and turns of the plot and the triumph of the little guy. I didn’t love the main character- Malcolm. I wanted him to be a better person. But he was smart, clever, and triumphed and outsmarted a system that had wronged him. It was a good read . . . or listen. Love me a good Grisham.

View all my reviews

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Hattie Ever After

Hattie Ever After (Hattie, #2)Hattie Ever After by Kirby Larson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A sequel (much needed sequel!) to Hattie Big Sky, Hattie Ever After was another well-written, exciting book. Hattie goes to San Francisco to become a reporter and to uncover her uncle’s past. Though all resolves in the end, I was frustrated with many of Hattie’s decisions, vulnerability, and naivety. This book is another great young adult fiction that I think all would enjoy. I did!

View all my reviews

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

My Favorite Things- The Great British Baking Show

We really don't watch television anymore.  We got out of the habit when we were on our mission.  But we enjoy watching movies and series on Netflix.  As you can see, Ken has been on lots of adventures in the last few months.  While he was gone, I enjoyed watching this wonderful series.  I absolutely love this show!  It is one of my favorite things.
To see others of my favorite things, click here.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Ken and Camerons Hike the Grand Canyon

In mid-September, the Cameron family (Blake [Shonna's husband], his dad and his brothers) hiked the Grand Canyon- down and back up in one day.  They graciously invited Ken to join them for their father/son adventure. They drove to the South Rim on Thursday, hiked on Friday, and came home on Saturday.  I will let Ken tell you about their adventure:

A picture of my kind, awesome Cameron Family hiking buddies (they are all hiking "animals"!), as we have boarded the early morning shuttle bus (I think it was about 5:00 AM) to Yaki Point and our trailhead, South Kaibab Trail. They are, from left to right, Blake (Shonna's husband), Mark (the father of the boys, but you'd hardly be able to tell that from this photo, right?), Brian, Bryce, and Brandon.

This is actually a picture of a "Utah's Dixie" sunrise, taken from the bridge over the Santa Clara Creek, near where it empties into the Virgin River in St. George. I try to keep myself in some kind of physical conditioning by taking an early-morning walk along the trails parallel to the Virgin River near our home. I normally try to get 4 to 4.5 miles in each morning, about 4 or 5 times per week. This activity, along with my regular bike riding activity, allowed me to be in good enough physical condition to keep up with the amazing hikers in the Cameron Family.

My hiking buddies, the Cameron men, silhouetted against the beginning of a sunrise at Ooh Aah Point on the South Kaibab Trail in the Grand Canyon. We hiked down the South Kaibab Trail to the Colorado River and then hiked up the Bright Angel Trail for a total of 16+ miles for the day.

Hiking down Cedar Ridge after leaving Ooh Aah Point.

Hiking down Cedar Ridge, trying to keep us with these fast-moving hikers.

The sun's first direct rays of the day in the upper canyon.

Looking northwest across the upper part of the Grand Canyon as we near Skeleton Point.

Photo stop at Skeleton Point so we can try to capture the impressive grandeur of the sunrise in the Grand Canyon's upper section.

One last photo at Skeleton Point before we drop down the switchbacks onto the Tonto Plateau.

A view of the switchbacks we must traverse in order to reach the Tonto Plateau, which is the mid-point in our descent to the bottom of the Grand Canyon.

A northwest facing picture of the Tonto Plateau and a peek of our Colorado River destination at the bottom of the canyon.

The sun is now up! The temperature will now become a little warmer and more enjoyable for a few hours.

Looking northeast across the canyon as we begin our descent below the Tonto Plateau, into the lower reaches of the canyon.

Our first view of our bottom destination, the beach on the Colorado River near Phantom's Ranch & Bright Angel Creek's confluence with the Colorado River. Note the visible shadow of the Kaibab Suspension Bridge on the greenish waters of the Colorado River near the beach.

A closer look at the same beach as we get nearer the bottom.

Traversing the cave at the south side of the Kaibab Suspension Bridge.

Exiting the cave onto the south side of the Kaibab Suspension Bridge over the Colorado River.

Looking back at the bridge we just crossed and at the rim we just finished descending from. 

After hiking downriver a half-mile or so on the north side of the Colorado River, we now take a photo op as we begin crossing the Bright Angel Trail's suspension bridge. This marks the beginning of our ascent back to the top of the South Rim.

Bright Angel Trail's suspension bridge, looking from the north to the south across the Colorado River.

A final look back along the ascending Bright Angel Trail's route from near the top of the trail at the South Rim. The green area in the valley is Indian Garden, a lush, welcome oasis and water source halfway up the trail from the bottom. The hike out of the canyon was clearly MUCH harder than the hike into the canyon, as evidenced by the lack of pictures taken during the climb out. There were just as many beautiful sights and vistas on the way up as there were on the way down, but I must not have had the energy or focus to capture the beauty around me during my climb. In order to stay up with my physically fit hiking companions, I had to stay focused on the task of ascending instead of capturing the incredible scenery. What a memorable adventure. I don't know whether I will get such an opportunity again in my life. I am deeply grateful to Mark Cameron and each of his impressive sons, Brandon, Blake, Bryce and Brian, who each welcomed me into their family and treated me as one of their own. I am a blessed man.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Ken and Tom Hike the Sawtooths

Over Labor Day weekend, Ken drove to Idaho to hike in the central Idaho mountains (Sawtooths and Frank Church River-of-no-return Wilderness Area) with our brother-in-law, Tom.  I was too tired after our long travels to go, so he took the trip alone. He has looked forward to this trip for the last couple of years since we were away.  He loves hiking in Idaho with Tom.  I'll let him tell you all about it:

Fresh and full of energy as we begin our trek. We rode a shuttle speed-boat from Redfish Lodge to the west end of Redfish Lake, where we donned our daypacks and began our hike into the Sawtooth Mountains west of the lake.

The peak in the Sawtooth Mountains known as Grand Mogul, the other side of which contains several high-mountain lakes (Saddleback Lakes) that we are hiking into with the hopes of witnessing some eye-popping scenery and catching a few fish there.

Redfish Lake Creek, along which we hiked, and over which we crossed in order to reach our destination lakes.

Tom and I as we reached the first lake. The rock formation behind us is called "Elephant's Perch" and is a world-renowned rock-climbing destination. While hiking the trail we saw climbers on the cliff's face and we met and talked with a number of others who were hiking the trail for that purpose.

Arrived at our destination! The next four pictures are of the largest of the Saddleback Lakes. Each picture is taken from a different place around the lake to give a better feel as to the beauty surrounding this spectacular lake.

Elephant's Perch in the background and Ken standing on a rock outcropping on the western edge of the largest of the Saddleback Lakes.

A north-facing picture of the lake, with Elephant's Perch looming above it and Braxon Peak and its neighbor peaks lurking in the background.

One of the nice Brook Trout that I caught. This one was not as brightly colored as some of the Brookies I caught and I wondered if it might have been a cross between a Brook Trout and a Rainbow Trout, both of which I caught in this lake. I always released each fish I caught. Most of the time I fished by dragging a fly behind a bubble, but sometimes I tried using a "Super Duper Lure", which gave me periodic success. 

On our second day of hiking, we Hiked into some lakes in the Frank Church River-of-no-return Wilderness Area. Tom had taken me to these lakes many years before. A wildfire had ravaged that area since our first hike into them, and there was another wildfire raging nearby on the day of this hike, as evidenced by the smoke which shielded us from the sun's full strength while we hiked through the burned-out forest. I look forward each Summer to the Idaho back-country adventures that Tom Morris exposes me to. He is always so kind and willing to take me along. I have many fond memories of hiking in the awe-inspiring Idaho mountains, camping alongside and fishing in the gorgeous Idaho high-mountain lakes, and soaking in the seemingly endless Idaho hot springs. Many times in those hot springs, we have soaked for an hour or two, well into the night; and watched the stars come out, the beautiful moon make its appearance, and the planes and satellites trek across the minefield of stars contained in the dark, lonely-feeling night sky of the Idaho wilderness. What a treasure of memories Tom has given me over the years. Have I ever mentioned that I am a blessed man?

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Another Few Days with the Princes

We flew back into Las Vegas and stayed with Michelle and Brian for a couple of days before going back home.  We finally had some time with that precious, new baby and hopefully helped out a bit.
William Gary

Reading Harry Potter

Eskimo kiss

William gets his first real bath

Fun Times With Grandkids

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Wisconsin in August

Early on August 10th, we flew to Wisconsin to visit the Mackrorys for a couple of weeks.  We stayed with them that night, then all went up to Door County the next day to stay in a condo we had reserved up there. The Mackrorys stayed for the weekend, then left on Sunday evening, and Ken and I stayed until Friday and celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary.  We then drove back to Mackrorys house.  We tended the kids overnight so Kristen and Jared could go away overnight(Friday) to celebrate their anniversary...  They came home Saturday night.  Then we stayed with them until Thursday when we flew back to Las Vegas.  So there's the iternerary.  Now let's see the fun!

Corn shucking party!

Kristen and Jared, knowing Ken LOVES corn on the cob, often provide that for us when we visit.  Wisconsin does corn!
On Friday mornings, twice a month, Kristen has organized a little pre-school at a local nursing home.  Mothers and children come to the nursing home and Kristen presents an hour-long class for the kids.  Old and young and in between LOVE it.  It is much like a library story hour.  She chooses a theme and reads a story book and then they do activities around the theme of the book. We were fortunate to be there for this Friday's class.

I took this picture early on- many more people came later, both old and young.

The book she chose for this day was "Chrysanthemum"- a book about names.  

She had the children present flowers from her garden to each of the residents.  The lady next to me (on my other side) asked several times, "This is for me?  For me?  Can I keep it?"  It brought tears to my eyes.  These children and this program bring so much joy to these people.

That afternoon, we headed up to Door County and then went to the outdoor theater.  It was really fun.

Saturday-  On Saturday morning, we went to a petting farm.  The kids (and adults) had so much fun petting and feeding the farm animals.

I love this picture.

This baby goat latched onto Ken's earlobe and sucked for all he was worth.  Ken ended up with a big blood blister!

I'm glad this chick survived the love.  Don't you love this picture?

And this one!

The popsicles they make there were yummy!

That afternoon, Kristen, Brielle, and I went shopping while the others swam at the resort.

That evening, we went to the restaurant with the goats on the roof- Johnsons.  It is a Swedish restaurant, so we can try foods from our roots. Each year when we go to Door County, we always eat there.  The Swedish meatballs and Swedish pancakes were delicious!

After dinner, we walked over to the lake shore.  It was beautiful and a perfect setting for pictures.

Sunday-  We got up and ready for church, then drove about 1/2 hour to the next town to the church building, only to find it closed.  We hadn't know it was stake conference. The conference was in Green Bay (about an hour away) and had already started.  So we drove back to the condo and Kristen put together a wonderful, spontaneous Primary.  She assigned out parts and everyone did great.

We concluded the meeting with a rousing game of "Pinchy, fisty, flatty, cutty, cow."  The kids love to make grandpa laugh down there because his whole head turns red.
Ken and Nathan barbecued chicken for dinner.  We had a nice feast. That evening, the Mackrorys packed up and headed home.  Ken and I stayed until Friday.
We shopped.  And ate at some good restaurants.  We swam.  We read.  Ken went on walks.

We love the pizza at this restaurant - Wild Tomatoes.
We always have to go the White Gull Inn for breakfast and have the cherry-stuffed French toast.  It was voted the best breakfast in America a few years ago- and we agree!

We enjoyed a beautiful day walking along the lake and celebrating our 40th anniversary.

We celebrated our anniversary by eating at Chives Restaurant.  It was a little pricey, but the food was delicious.

I guess this is the official 40th anniversary shot!  I love this guy!

Ken ordered their specialty hamburger.

I ordered a delicious chicken/ mushroom dish.  

And, of course, crème brulee for dessert- Ken's all-time favorite dessert.

The flowers in Wisconsin in the summer are GORGEOUS!

I PROMISE that eating was not all we did, but you could never tell by the pictures we took!

Friday.  We got up Friday morning and packed up, checked out, and drove the two hours back to Kristen's house.  They had hired a babysitter to cover until we got home.  We took the babysitter home and then spent the day with the Mackrorys.
I love this picture.  I went in the kitchen to find Sammy "feeding" his horsey.

Pizza party and games

We made and decorated cupcakes for Audrey's upcoming birthday celebration.  The kids had so much fun putting whatever and how ever much they wanted on their cupcakes.

The kitchen was a disaster when we got done, but everyone had fun.

Let's just say those cupcakes didn't lack for candy!

Nathan's BYU creation.

The kids are never far away when Grandpa gets out his Ipad
Sunday- Thursday  Kristen and Jared got home on Saturday evening.  We then spent the next few days with the family
Jared likes to do creative things with the kids.  He made bread dough and gave each of them some of it to form whatever they like.  This was his creation.

A woodchuck took up residence in the Mackrory garage under the ride-on lawn mower.

All attempts to get him to leave were futile.

The poor little guy met his demise because he was stubborn.  Let this be a lesson to you!

View off the front porch

Did I mention the flowers in Wisconsin are beautiful?

A family exercise party.


Solar eclipse party at the local library

A fun bike ride/walk around the neighborhood.  They live in such a beautiful neighborhood and the weather was perfect.

Love Hunter Jared's shirt:  Vegetarian: Old Indian Word for Bad Hunter

On Tuesday, I think it was, we drove a couple of hours away to Sheboygan, Wisconsin to visit Bookworm Gardens.  This place was amazing!  It was a beautiful garden with themed toys to play on and things to do based on children's storybooks.  There were books to read, and then the kids could act out the stories.  It was a beautiful, amazing place.

This was a Little House on the Prairie cabin where the children could pretend to cook and do laundry

And wagon

Watch out for the bear!

From Winnie-the-Pooh

Sammy had had it with the stroller

These beautiful mosaics were at the crossroads on the path.

And statuary everywhere.  I loved this one.

The flowers in Wisconsin are beautiful!

Finally Sammy is freed!

The well from Helen Keller

I got a good shot of a bunny who came right up to us and nibbled on leaves.

This cottage playhouse was so fun.

Digging for fossils

The Magic Schoolbus

We topped off the perfect day with ice cream cones

A painting project

Making Audrey's birthday cake

She opened her first present early so her mom could put the Peppa Pig figurines on her cake. Audrey loves to watch the Peppa Pig show.  

A dress from Grandpa and Grandma

Make your own magic wand from us

And a book about the magic wand

A really fun cupcake party game (I highly recommend this game.  The whole family loved it)

Precious Audrey

How we love our precious Luli.  It was wonderful to spend time with her and her family.