Thursday, May 23, 2013

New Orleans...Finally.

Okay, forever ago we went to Mississippi to visit Greg and Laura. Amy blogged about it here. Well, I finally got around to producing the video. There are a lot of things I don't love about it, but it's done. So here it is.

Look out world!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Wedding Season

Before it gets too far distant, I should probably put together some thoughts about the wedding that I just attended for Annalee and Paul.

I went to California this past weekend and left my wife and child all by their lonesome. I felt bad that they couldn't come, but it just didn't work out. In any case, off I went. It was a 36 hour trip about 2000 miles across the country, but important for me to be there so I went.

I realized tonight that this was probably the last sealing that would take me out to California for the foreseeable future. All of the people that are in California that I feel close enough to to travel for are now married. There's nothing really important about that, but just kind of interesting to me. Annalee is the last of the Reid kids to get married. The sealer made note of that, and I have to think as a parent, that really does bear some significance. From now on, the only things that really matter to Greg and Joyce as far as their kids are concerned are that they remain true and faithful to their covenants and that they get (more) grandkids who grow up in the gospel.

It's really a neat thing for every child in a family to be married in the temple, and there are six of them no less. It's also a neat thing for me to be so close to that family that I actually attended every one of those sealings. I don't know that many people have that kind of closeness and opportunity with people that they feel close to, and I feel really privileged that that is the case for me. I love the Reids so much, and of all of the girls I know, Annalee is probably the closest thing I have to a sister, so that's kind of neat.

The wedding was great. One of my favorite things about sealings is the time in the waiting room when you enter in and you see who else is there in attendance and have conversations with old friends that you haven't seen in years. It's just neat how weddings bring people together like that. And probably the best part about weddings is that they are always so happy. It's such a joyous occasion.

At this point in my life it also causes me a lot of reflection about my own wedding day and the feelings I had that day.

I didn't get many pics, but I got at least I got this one.
As far as Tweeter's wedding, it seemed like everything really came off well. Putting these together is such a labor of love because it's so exhausting for everyone involved. So much work goes into picking out every little detail, and then of course, there is the part I dread most about these things - the clean-up.

These kinds of events always separate people into two categories. The low-lifes and the saints. Some people will just naturally pitch in and help out and close things up. They are the ones who put chairs away in church at the end of the meeting, clean up your kitchen when you've invited them over for dinner, and just make life run more smoothly.

Then there are the ones who just sit there and do absolutely nothing while everyone else is working to get home as quickly as they can. These are the low-lifes.

While I guess I'm a part of the group who helps, it's probably a strike against me that I can only look over at the low-lifes and resent them the whole time, wondering how they can watch other people do all of this work while they stand idly by. Honestly, does anyone really like cleaning these things up? But you just go ahead and do it because many hands make light work, right? Some people just never get that though. It's probably one of my biggest pet peeves in the whole world.

It was such a short trip, but just so much fun to be there with so many people that I love so much. And it's so great to feel the spirit of the temple and to feel the spirit testify to the sacredness of that particular ordinance. I just love it.

Nauvoo, Illinois

Sunday, May 5

It’s getting too far out for me to remember this in as much detail as I would like. Nauvoo was the centerpiece in this road trip and it lived up to every one of our expectations. 

While the weather was cold, windy, and rainy the two days before we arrived in Nauvoo, we arrived to perfect weather. We woke up and went to the Fort Madison branch in Iowa before going back to our hotel and heading into Nauvoo for the day. We got over to Nauvoo and the skies were just perfect. Hardly anyone was in town for the entire time that we were there. It was just perfect.

It’s amazing to me to think about the history of this place and how for anyone not associated with the church, Nauvoo, Illinois isn’t even a blip on their radars. They have no idea what it means to us as a people, and in the grand scheme of things, it is such a place of great importance in the history of the kingdom of God. I thought often about the blessings that the local people, not just the saints, lost in driving the Church from out of this area. Today it’s a totally insignificant little city that sits on the banks of the Mississippi. While some might debate about how important Salt Lake City is to the entire world, I can assure you that the blessings of urbanization, growth, and prosperity that are had in Utah are definitely not present to any degree in Nauvoo today.

We took pictures and walked around the temple. The edifice is just gorgeous. For the me, the only temples that really blow me away that I’ve seen in person are San Diego, Manti, and Salt Lake. Nauvoo probably supercedes all of those for me now. It would have been nice to go inside the building and actually perform ordinance work, but we came on a Sunday and left on a Monday, while also having an 8 month old baby so it just wasn’t going to happen this trip for us.

The highlight of the Sunday was visiting Carthage jail. As you can imagine, Carthage is just a tiny little town. It would bear no significance otherwise if it weren’t for its notorious connection in being the martyr site for the Prophet Joseph Smith.

The prison itself consists of only 3, maybe 4 rooms. It has been restored to resemble what it did in 1844. There is a distinct kind of spirit about the place that you can’t really sense anywhere else. Amy mentions in her post about this day thinking about this idea of whether the spirit is actually present, whether others can feel it, or if it holds significance and feels that way only because we’re members of the church. Obviously, I don’t know, but I tend to believe that the spirit can only attest to that kind of truth for someone open to its influence.

That evening we went out to eat at some bar and grill restaurant that turned out to be pretty good. Jane did much better that next day as we visited Nauvoo again. This time we stopped into the buildings and listened to the senior missionaries share with us the stories of those buildings and their part in contributing to the Nauvoo community. They were really all so sweet to talk to. You could just tell they had been starving for someone to visit with and tell their stories to.

The best part of the morning was walking down the Trail of Hope that has placards inscribed with journal entries of some of the pioneers who were forced to leave their homes and start new lives by trekking west. It was so sad to read. All of it makes me wonder about a lot of things. It’s kind of hard to put into words now.
Visiting Nauvoo was really powerful to me. This trip has been really neat for me just because I have never had the opportunity to go and visit any of these church history sites, besides what’s available in Utah. It’s incredible to walk in that city and think about how those trees were witness to all of those trials and difficulties that the saints faced. You can actually walk the ground and look across the river to the other side where these people looked and think about what a bleak future that must have been in their minds, even if they were looking with an eye of faith. There had to be many moments of doubt. There had to be so much fear about what lay ahead for them, particularly as they were being forced out in the dead of winter to a frontier part of the America that was wild and mostly unknown to anyone.

I just totally fell in love with Nauvoo. I would love to revisit it someday with my own family, anyone who is close to me. Being there made me excited to learn more about church history. Even though it’s not exactly my family that has passed through their, it was so exciting to me to think that my wife’s forbearers had a place in Nauvoo. It all becomes so real and that’s where I think the real value lies in being able to visit these kinds of places and stand in the places of such importance.

I am so grateful to be a member of The Church. I know it is the true church of Christ and our Father. I am grateful for the history of the saints and the sacrifices that they made so that I could benefit from their faithfulness 150 years later when I would be able to partake of the blessings of the gospel myself.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Jane @ 8 months

I know you'll never believe this, but Jane just keeps on getting more fun. She's getting more and more interactive. She just gets games more. She gets when you're being playful, and if you're kind of coming after her, she'll turn and bury herself into the arms of whoever is holding her. She's so darling.

Her second tooth started coming in and that has just started some sleeping issues recently, but otherwise she is just awesome. The traveling kind of messed her up too, but she's normalizing since we haven't stuck her in her car seat for hours at a time and not changing rooms and locations every night.

Tonight we gave her some Tylenol and she started kind of crying and moaning as soon as I put her down for bed, but calmed down when she realized that I was staying to hang out with her. It was the cutest thing. She'd just kind of roll over and change positions, reach her hand up to touch my face, and I just rubbed her back until she fell asleep a few minutes later.

Probably the sweetest thing ever, though, was on our road trip over to Michigan. There would be times when we didn't have too much left in our car ride, but she had woken up or was just plain getting tired of being in her car seat, and if one of us could reach back and hold her hand, she would calm down immediately, set her head off to one side, and just fall asleep, reaching up her one little hand to hold one of ours.

She constantly melts my heart. I was not a person who just filled with love the second she came into my life, but my heart is brimful and overflowing whenever I think about her now. She's just such a happy little baby. I love my sweet little Jane.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Omaha, Somewhere in middle America

Saturday, May 4

The highlight of this stop would be in the morning as were able to stop into Winter Quarters to see the visitor center there. I thought there would be more to the area. The visitor’s center was nice, and there is the cemetery adjacent that also includes the temple right there. It’s a nice little area, but we got saddled with a cold, windy, rainy day. I think I would have liked the visitor’s center more if we would have been able to look around by ourselves.

A sister missionary accompanied us, and while she was great, she was also just such an awkward person. Amy wanted me to take a picture of her pulling a handcart, and so I asked the sister (who had also just mentioned that of all things about home she misses, who she misses most are her nieces and nephews) to hold Jane while I took the picture. So I go to hand her Jane, the sister holds her hands outstretched and holds Jane away from her, just holding her up by her armpits, but then settles Jane on her knee while standing. I don’t know if that paints enough of a picture, but it was clear she had never held a baby before. The best part, though, was that she stayed in view of the picture and I just didn’t have the heart to tell her to get out. It was funny.

The best part of this stop for me was that there just happened to be a display of Liz Lemon Swindle’s artwork on display in the basement(No joke, it is actually Liz Lemon. Funny, huh?). I am one to appreciate art, but I’ve never really been touched emotionally the way I was when I saw her work. On display were about two dozen pieces of paintings from the bible about the Savior. The artist has an amazing ability to capture emotion and just seeing those pictures really made me reflect on the Lord and his mission. It was very impressive. What a talent to be able to be able to visualize so clearly the Savior and then translate that to a canvas. That kind of perfect communication of thoughts and feelings is very rare. (I'll sprinkle my favorite pieces throughout this post.)

Afterward, we dropped by a restaurant featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. It was pretty amazing.
We spent the rest of the day driving through Iowa to our next stop in Nauvoo. We have one friend who lived in Iowa for a time, and she just loved it, but outside of her, I had never really known much about Iowa. Iowa is a beautiful state. It has been pretty wet for us today, but we went and found a covered bridge, drove the countryside a bit, and stopped for dinner in Ottumwa. We had the funniest experience there.
We stopped at a place called the Canteen Lunch and we parked in a parking garage and walked around the back of the building to the front. As we walked in, the 6 or 7 people in the diner turned and looked at us. The lady who would eventually serve us just eyeballed us the whole time and asked us what we wanted. Another lady was scooping up what had to be the grossest ground beef I had ever seen. Amy asked for a burger. The lady asked what she would have on it, and as Amy started to say lettuce, tomato...she interrupts with, "Ketchup, Mustard, or Pickle." Amy paused before trying to politely decline their service and we just ended up walking away. I had never been in an establishment that was so unwelcoming. I couldn't stop laughing about it later. Our entrance reminds me of the scene in Pee Wee's Big Adventure when Pee Wee gets to the diner and says, "Large Marge sent me." So weird.

Otherwise Iowa has these beautiful stretches of green rolling hills with scattered barns that have been neglected for years, occasional car lots selling cars from all decades, and lonely solitary churches with a dozen or so headstones immediately adjacent to them. At one point Amy and I were both reminded of Sankt Steven's in Switzerland. This country really is so diverse thinking of the drive between California-Las Vegas-Arizona-Utah and now this. It's really captivating. If it weren't so wet and we weren't pressed to get our baby out of the car, there would have been many more photography stops.

We are staying at the cozy Knight's Inn just outside of Nauvoo tonight. It's exactly what you'd expect of a $55 a night kind of hotel. Jane is sleeping peacefully, but actually had a 102 temperature tonight. We gave her some Tylenol and it has done its job and she got back to her cute little excited-to-be-out-of-her-seat-self. Tomorrow is Nauvoo.

Onward to Cheyenne!

The next several posts will just be journal entries about our road trip. Proceed at your own risk!

Thursday, May 2
We ended up getting out a day later than we had originally planned because the weather was a little ugly leaving Utah and getting into Cheyenne, Wyoming. We left on a good day – nice temperatures, clear skies, and all of us were feeling good.

The few people we talked to that had been to Cheyenne didn’t have much good to say about it. What we had looked up about the city also seemed consistent with their judgments, but still, we were exciting for our cross country trek. The landscape was mostly pretty boring, but we still really enjoyed it because it was all new to us. I had never been out that direction and Amy hadn’t travelled that way either, so we took it all in. Snow was still very much present, and as we arrived in Cheyenne, the city was very much still in winter.
The first thing we wanted to see were the painted cowboy boot statues around town since that was all we had really heard about Cheyenne. That determination of ours ended up taking us over to downtown Cheyenne near the train museum. We took some pictures and video and then decided to pop into the Wrangler store just because the building looked kind of interesting and it was someplace warm.

The store turned out to be amazing and really turned us onto Cheyenne. It was filled with cowboy-ware; big expensive belt buckles, a huge display of cowboy/cowgirl boots and even little cowpolk boots, and other such things. The highlight of the store was talking to one of the workers. He was the perfect representation of a modern day cowboy stereotype. He had the cowboy drawl, showed us the residual damage of an injury he sustained while participating in a rodeo, and topped off with his ghost stories about the local area. We just loved him. He was the exact right person to talk to if you wanted a fledgling interest to grow into a full-blown one for Cheyenne. On his recommendation we ended up heading over to Pioneer Park and saw the stadium that served as the site where Lane Frost (of the movie 8 seconds) died in the arena and where a statue was dedicated to him. He also suggested we head over to try some bison meat and see the “Big Boy” locomotive that is on display.

The best obviously was his telling about the ghost of Tom Horn that haunts the Wrangler store because that building was formerly the holding area where condemned prisoners spent their last days and hours. Additionally, the bride ghost also walked those halls and our cowboy salesman shared with us that he had observed some of the paranormal activity he had seen. If we had any doubt, then his brother with the sixth sense had verified it with him one time when he wanted to see what kind of spirits resided in that building. I just loved that guy.

My favorite thing about Cheyenne is that it really is such frontier territory. Apparently with the execution of Tom Horn, that served as the end marker of the frontier days in the West and the United States, but the town still has such a great heritage of cowboy culture that it hangs onto, most obviously with the boots around town, but also in the annual rodeo that had made its annual appearance in July, since 1897. Cheyenne was great and I’d loved to pass through again someday. Definitely the last two weeks of July to hit up that rodeo.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Cruisin...the USA! (playlist)

Now that the semester is over, I'm going to try and be more regular with my blogposts on here. Hopefully that holds up. It also might turn more journal-ly, which has been kind of the direction it has gone anyway.

First order of business, road trip playlist. We ended up covering more than 1900 miles this first part of summer, meaning more than 29 hours in the car together. Wow, when you put it like that, I can't believe we weren't more tired of driving than we were.

I ended up assembling a pretty comprehensive playlist for the trip. If you're really interested, then you should jump on Spotify, find my profile, and then listen to the list there, but if you just want an idea of where to start, then take a gander below.

The playlist covers a wide range of songs, so it doesn't cater to everyone's taste, but it definitely skews classic rock. As it turns out a lot of music is about journeys, self-discovery, finding/reaching a destination, etc. Driving as a metaphor is a great vehicle (see!) for coming up with decent lyrics.

Without further ado, and in no particular order:
(Listed by Artist, Track, (Parenthetical remarks are mine))

  • Incubus - Drive, Wish you were here
  • Janis Joplin - Mercedez Benz
  • Coldplay - Speed of sound
  • Billy Ocean - Get out of my dreams/Get into my car
  • Rollings Stones - Start me up, Gimme shelter
  • Johnny Cash - I've been everywhere
  • Depeche Mode - Route 66 (or many other artists cover this one)
  • John Denver - Country roads (Me First and the Gimmie Gimmies do a punk cover of this that I grew up on and love), Rocky mountain high
  • Ram Jam - Black betty
  • Roy Orbison - I drove all night
  • Tom Cochrane - Life is a highway (or the more popular Rascall Flatts version)
  • Roxette - Joyride (Amy loves this one)
  • Golden Earring - Radar Love (I love this one. I think it's so cool, especially the intro.)
  • Eagles - Life in the fast lane, Hotel California, Take it easy, Peaceful easy feeling (definitely my fave road trip band.)
  • Canned Heat - On the road again
  • Wiz Khalifa - No Sleep
  • Middle Class Rut - Are you on your way
  • R Kelly - Ignition (because it's obviously about driving, right? And Hip Hop/R&B is short on this list)
  • Pantera - Walk (probably too hard for most people, but this was a favorite in 9th grade)
  • Willie Nelson - On the road again (different from above)
  • ELO - Mr. Blue Sky (Mayer Hawthorne has a great cover of this)
  • Don McClean - American Pie (just feels right for crossing the country)
  • U2 - Elevation, Still haven't found what I'm looking for, Where the streets have no name
  • Free - All right now
  • RHCP - Road trippin' (I love this one right now, cool, subtle jam)
  • Bruce Springsteen - Born to run
  • The Cars - Drive (one of my all time favorites), Let the good times roll
  • Stealers Wheel - Stuck in the middle (LOVE)
  • Beach boys - I get around, Good vibrations (I rediscovered how good these guys were as I put this together.)
  • Smokey Robinson - Cruisin' (Huey Lewis and Gwynneth Paltrow have a good cover.)
  • Tracy Chapman - Fast car (Boyce Avenue has a really cool cover too.)
  • The Allman Brothers - Ramblin Man
  • Gary Numan - Cars (gotta love quirky 80s tracks)
  • Chuck Berry - No particular place to go
  • Ray Charles - Hit the road Jack
  • Supertramp - Take the long way home
  • Elton John - Goodbye yellow brick road, Tiny Dancer (this one probably because of an awesome scene from Almost Famous, and it's my favorite Elton John song)
  • Jimi Hendrix - Crosstown Traffic
  • Arcade Fire - Keep the car running (great)
  • Kavinsky - Nightcall (from the Drive soundtrack, has a great 80s electric feel)
  • Dire Straits - Sultans of swing
  • Eve 6 - Open road song
  • Heart - These dreams (not sure why)
  • Bill Withers - Lovely day
  • Daft Punk - Around the world
  • Curtis Mayfield - Move on up
  • Dave Matthews' - Where are you going
  • Blues Traveler - Run around
  • Steve Miller - Jet airliner (I know, it's not driving, but it's still traveling), The Joker (because, yes)
  • Temper Trap - Sweet disposition (felt right)
  • Neil Young - Long may you run
  • Edward Sharpe and...- Home
  • Christopher Cross - Ride like the wind
  • Beastie Boys - Slow ride
  • Beatles - Ticket to ride, Long and winding road
  • James Taylor - Country road
  • Boyz II Men - End of the road
  • Mason Jennings - Lonely road
  • AC/DC - Highway to hell
  • Pennywise - Unknown road (favorite punk song in my teenage angst filled days)
  • Black Keys - Have love/will travel
Phew. There you go. I threw in some others, but that should be at least 5 hours of driving. Here's a taste of one.