This is very journaly and sans pictures, so brace yourself.
I had my last long run before the Deseret News Marathon on Friday. It just about destroyed me, and maybe I'll write about that somewhere else, but not here. Because of that run, I thought beforehand that I wouldn't want to drive the full-length of I-15 between Utah and California so I suggested to Amy that maybe we should stay with her aunt and uncle in Las Vegas, stay the night, then drive the rest of the way in the morning. That plan would have been fine, but it ended up making the drive feel much longer than normal, and it made Saturday feel pretty darn short, even though we got in around lunch time.
We arrived to have lunch with the Dave and Caitlin and company, then parted to do some shopping and take care of a few things. That left us with just enough time in the afternoon to drop by the pool before we would go to the Angel game that night. Living in not-California means that I only have a couple of opportunities each baseball season to catch an MLB game at Anaheim stadium. We had terrible seats, but at least they were inexpensive, and the Angels did us the favor of actually putting some runs on the board. They've been pretty hot as of late with their veteran players finally stepping up to lead the team. Jered Weaver pitched the game against Clayton Kershaw, which should have actually been a premier match-up, except that Kershaw was overmatched and Weaver was in his All-Star form. There's nobody's pitching motion that I like more than Weaver's. He has long limbs that really just whip that ball out over the plate. It's a really cool thing to see.
Sunday turned out to be a really busy day between making sure that we saw both of my parents, managing schedules, while still trying to make sure that we made a full block of church meetings. Normally we would just go with the Reids, but we needed a more accommodating time for our appointments, which meant that we would go to church in a random ward. I thought the Irvine stake would work out well for us since I would know people in just about any of the wards and it would be fun to see old faces. We weren't able to attend my old family ward, but I thought it would be a good idea to see if we could make one of the wards on the other side of Irvine where the Redfords go to church. Turns out that we picked the right ward, just the wrong Sunday, as they happened to be away on one of their Shasta trips for the summer. It mattered little, however, because I was able to run into a guy that I had signed up with for last year's St. George marathon. I got to catch up with him, and a few other people that I just happened to know, people who I forgot would also be apart of that ward. One guy who bore his testimony in sacrament meeting had some familiarity to me as well, but I couldn't place it until we were in Elders Quorum. When I heard his voice again, saw his face up close, and heard his name, I put together that we had both served in Chile together as part of the same group of missionaries that arrived and left together. That was a fun little reunion for me.
But the best part of the meetings was how Amy and I felt while there. We have appreciated our family ward here in Utah, but in some ways people have been slow to acknowledge our presence. It was a couple of months before anyone from the bishopric met with us, before we got home and visiting teaching assignments. Even now, three months later, we still don't have callings. When we dropped into this Irvine ward we had all manner of people come up to us and ask our names, our lives, if we were visiting or staying. I even had a few different soft pitches from people saying that I should move there and be a part of the ward. The classes were all so engaging. The quorum and relief societies felt united and interested in each other. There was a great sense of familiarity with everyone. It was exactly how anyone would hope to feel attending a new ward. It was a really great experience. Amy and I are hoping that we can be the kind of people who would lead the way in making our own ward as welcoming as it was in the Irvine Westpark ward.
Every evening in California ended with games. Always games. Glorious games.
The day of the 4th started quickly. We left at eight to pick up some items for a salad, some last minute essentials, and then were ready to leave just a little after nine. We celebrated the day with about five other couples and three sets of kids. Although the parking is very limited at Newport, that also naturally limits the number of people who are actually on the beach, leaving us with plenty of free space for whiffleball games, catch, and whatever else we can think of. The day was hot, but with the water cold it was a perfect situation to be in. It was just so nice to hang out in the ocean water. There were even these little fishes that would swim up the shore, lots of shells buried in the sand, and just a clear, clear blue-green water. It was just spectacular. Freedom dawgs graced our festivities, along with a couple of other salads, a number of red fruits, and plenty of desserts to snack from.
That night we watched a fireworks show right over by Tustin High School. They were fun.
It's just fun to be at home, around people that I love so much. I love how familiar Mason is with Amy and I. He seems to have a pretty good crush on her too. I love being around Ryan and Tyler, especially how much Ryan is growing up and wanting to be a part of everything. I love being at the beach all day long. I love napping on the warm sand with the rolling waves drowning out the sounds of everyone who is at the beach. I love free and plentiful snacks to munch on the whole day long. I love playing games with people that just really love playing games, even if I only seemed to lose the whole weekend long. And I just love being around people that are so close to my heart. You know what else I love?
America! God bless the U-S-A!