Monday, April 28, 2014

Ups & Downs of Missionary Life

Life as missionaries at the Sixth Crossing of the Sweetwater River is never dull.  We have been here 2.5 weeks now.  The experiences range from the ridiculous to the sublime!  Starting with the ridiculous – we have had some issues with our trailer which we never expected as we are experienced living in it for extended periods of time.  When we first arrived we were having trouble with getting the propane to work for heating and cooking.  With temperatures ranging from -2 degrees to about 30 degrees heat in the trailer is a good thing.  Elder Guymon (Dad) figured out the way they had instructed us to have the propane hose hooked up sent the propane through two regulators so there was not enough pressure.  We hooked back up to our own propane tanks with our regular connection and that worked better but we were going to run out of propane in our own tanks.  The first Monday night we were here after Family Home Evening we just threw some things in a bag and went to Riverton to stay the night in a motel.  That turned into a less than exciting evening as we heard everything going on in rooms all around us most of the night.  The next day was a four hour goose chase from place to place trying to get the hose corrected because the guy who could do it was out delivering propane on the reservation because people had run out in the freezing weather!! Late in the day Dad finally tried another place and with less than $10 and about 3 minutes that guy had it finished.  Can I just say Riverton is not my favorite place in the world!  The people at the cellular phone place were nice though so we did come back with a rented phone that will work from our trailer for the summer. 

A few days later we found our black water tank would not drain and it was FULL! How embarrassing – I will spare you a picture of that! We used the bathroom in the Trek Center for a few days while Dad was contemplating what to do.  One of the other Elders had a tool that you could back flush a tank but it seemed like the gate valve was not working to even open it up.  Dad had figured out a plan that we would take it to town and work on changing the gate at the car wash where he could wash away anything that spilled.  The morning when we were getting ready to do that he checked the toilet and it looked like it had drained so we went to town happy as clams.  Alas when we returned it no longer looked so good.  Dad decided we would have to hook up the trailer and pull it out on a deserted gravel road somewhere and replace the gate there because it was too far to go back to town so late in the afternoon.  We packed up everything to get ready to move the trailer, pulled in the slide-outs and went to lift the front end with the built-in electric jack to hook up the hitch in the bed of the pick-up.  It started out just fine and then ground to a halt.  After trying to use the hand crank to lift it and some words not usually used by missionaries Dad could see we were not going to be moving the trailer.  The Elder who is our District Leader is an electrician and he had some testing equipment.  It turns out the motor was working but some gears had broken and would need to be replaced. 

The black water problem would have to be fixed right here in front of all of our neighbors.  I was just praying it would not spill all over the ground!!  With several of the Elders helping (what kind souls) and several more standing around offering moral support Dad was able to use a hack saw to saw through the gate he thought was stuck - which actually wasn’t – and with flushing water up from the bottom and buckets of water down from the toilet whatever was stuck broke loose and the toilet was working again and nothing scarry had spilled out on the ground! Hooray!! Dad replaced the gate and so far so good things have kept flowing in the correct direction.

I was so nervous I had left the area so did not get to see how they manually dropped the front end of the trailer back to level so we could be back to normal life and not roll out of bed every night.  When the guy from Riverton RV came out to check on other missionaries’ refrigerators and heaters that were not working he checked our gears and ordered the parts.  Unbelievably they were plastic and he said he has replaced lots of them.  He ordered some metal ones and will replace them next time he comes out here.  We will not be going anyplace until fall so he has plenty of time to get that done!

Moving on to the sublime parts – We got to hike the 6 mile loop out into the Willie Meadow and practice telling the Willie story and have lunch. 
 We were looking right up to the west where the rescue wagons with the food and clothing from Salt Lake came over the hill (eminence it is called in the journals) two days after they had issued the last of their crackers to the freezing pioneers. They were camping in the shelter of the willows here in the meadow.  Just imagine how excited they were to see help coming.
 I was proud of myself on the first hike not to be the last one back and not to have to get picked up in the truck like some did!

Elder Guymon has updated two of the training DVD’s for the trek leaders who come to learn how to run their treks next summer.  One is showing the different camps and activities of the Sixth Crossing Area.  The other more difficult one is to explain the BLM rules for those who get to hike over the National Historic Trail over Rocky Ridge.  After hours and hours of work and lots of Tums they were both successfully premiered last weekend for the first group of Trek Leaders.

Sister Guymon (Karen) has working at all the cleaning and organizing projects with all of the sisters.  There is a lot to get done before the summer rush of visitors begins.  One of our best projects was the creation of a little wool quilt a pioneer girl would have to hang in the room where they tell the story of Bodil Mortensen a ten year old girl who was coming from Denmark with friends to meet her sister in Utah.  The rest of her family would not come until the next year.  She was helping and watching the six year old son of the family she was travelling with as the mother puller the father over Rocky Ridge in a handcart because his feet were frozen.  After the difficult climb both of the children died that night and were buried as part of the common grave.  It is a very sad story. 
Interestingly we have discovered since studying the stories when we came over here – Bodil’s sister, Ane Margrethe Mortensen, she was to meet in Salt Lake, moved to Parowan with her family when they came in 1857 and later married Lafayette Guymon in 1861.

We are loving it here and appreciate all of the cards and packages and support we feel from our family. Stay tuned next week for more details on our activities rather than our difficulties.  




Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Sixth Crossing Handcart Historic Site

Sunday March 30, 2014 evening we were set apart for our mission with our children & grandchildren who could make it.
When we got to the MTC and got our black missionary badge and then I signed my name beneath the signature of Thomas S. Monson, the Prophet on my very own ordained minister card I really feel like a missionary now.  We have training with about 50 other senior missionary couples and eat at the cafeteria with hundreds of young sisters and elders of all sizes and colors. 
 This is quite a place – full of service and the Spirit of God.
They taught us “warming” is part of a missionary’s calling as much as warning.  To me this meant being kind and happy and thoughtful as I go about my assignments whatever they may be. I think I can be good at “warming”. That sounds easier to me than warning.

We loved the three couples in our district. It was amazing how fast we formed a bond with them as we studied the principles in Preach My Gospel. 

Elder & Sister Payne from Eagle, Idaho will be serving for six months at the Handcart Sites with us but at Martin’s Cove not the Sixth Crossing where we will be stationed.  We will go to Church together on Sunday.
Elder & Sister Klinker from a ranch near Great Falls, Montana going to North Carolina to work in a small Branch doing member leadership support for 18 months.

Elder & Sister Anderson from American Fork, Utah going to Rome Italy Mission to work with Young Single Adults in Palermo on the island of Sicily for 24 months.    

Our returned missionary teachers were so prepared and full of the Spirit as they taught us ways to be effective teachers as we serve the Lord.

Elder Taylor Keddington in the morning from West Jordan, Utah served in England.

Elder Ryan Defigueiredo from Santa Clarita California served in El Salvador.

We made it to the Sixth Crossing just fine and set up the trailer in our little missionary trailer village.  The weather was warm in the 60’s and we even hiked out to the campgrounds and back Saturday.  We have been doing lots of cleaning and getting ready.  Not quite enough to do and too many people telling me how to do it for my liking but I am practicing patience.

Sunday morning we got our first snow storm – Dad was happy because it made for some authentic pictures of the Willie Meadow site where the rescue wagons were first seen by the starving and frozen handcart pioneers. 
Monday morning it was even colder around zero and the water was frozen in all the trailers.  As the day went on our propane also no longer worked because we needed to come to town for a different fitting.  We ended up coming to Riverton Monday night and stayed in a motel and will pick up what we need Tuesday morning to be up and running.  Even with the trailer for protection we were not quite up for that real of a pioneer experience – sleeping in freezing temperatures.
Ice chunks floating in the Sweetwater River.
Dad has an important assignment revising the training materials to be shown before trekkers can go on the National Historic Trail over Rocky Ridge.  It is a BLM requirement to make sure they follow the rules – some of them ridiculous – while they are hiking on the actual NHT. That has to be done by the end of the month when the first trek leaders will be here for training.  He holes up with his computer and works away.  I am working with the other sisters cleaning and getting things ready for when the visitors come this summer. 

We are thrilled to be here even with the adjustments needed both in attitude (mostly mine) and trailer living.  It has been an amazing and wonderful experience already.  Can’t wait for the rest of the summer!   
Our little "red handcart" makes getting around and exploring lots of fun!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Train Ride in the Mountains

Thursday we finally decided to risk the bad weather and ride the narrow gauge antique train from Durango through the Animas River Canyon to an old mining town of Silverton Colorado.  After reading the brochure and seeing the top speed of the train was 19 to 20 miles an hour we made the decision to take a “modern coach” up the mountain and the train down. 

This turned out to be a smart choice because the road the bus took up gave a totally different view of magnificent mountain vistas and fabulous homes up in the forests even with snow and clouds threatening. 
We saw a herd of cow elk grazing along the edge of the meadow and the trees which we pointed out to the greatly excited “tourons” on the bus with us.  Too far away for pictures but fun for people who don’t see that sort of sight regularly.

We got up to Silverton which would have been a ghost town except for the people the train drops off for a few hours to lunch and shop now that the silver mine is closed. 
The streets were dirt and the stores were a fascinating mix of junque and fancy jewelry.  We ate at a saloon type place with lots of mounted stuffed animals and funny signs on the walls and a huge fireplace which we smartly sat right up next to because it started snowing while we were eating.

We enjoyed the train ride back down the canyon.  Even though it was FREEZING Dad of course rode part of the way out in the open air car with side facing seats to get better pictures.
I was the one who forced this trip onto our schedule because my Grandpa Herron was a railroad engineer so the train was fascinating to me. 
A view along the Animas River.
Bending around a corner.
In this one you can see the kayakers if you look carefully down in the bottom pool.  The train actually stops along the way and picks up rafters and they deflate the rafts and put them on a "gear car" on the train.  They do the same for hikers and campers as the season warms up.
 We were glad we took the ride – the scenery was beautiful and the weather just got better as the day went on. We also enjoyed a bit of nostalgia at the railroad museum while we were waiting to leave. 

Mesa Verde National Park

After a rainy drive from Hovenweep, the evening we arrived we visited the brand new visitor’s center and bought our tickets for the Ranger guided tours for the next morning to the cliff dwellings of the Ancestral Puebloans at Mesa Verde National Park.  Mesa Verde Park is about 15 miles east of Cortez Colorado.  Dad & I both chose the Cliff House but I passed on the Balcony House when I saw a little box that represented the size of the tunnel 12 feet long you had to crawl through and the ladders up the FACE of the cliff with nothing but air on either side!!! A little too much bravery required for me on that one.  A view from one of the overlooks across the canyon into a dwelling

Dad of course had to drive the 23 miles of WINDING ROAD up to the overlooks of the cliff dwellings that night.  It turned out to be good to know our way around up there.  The interesting history of the place according to archeologists is the people only occupied these homes they worked so hard to build for about 75 to 100 years from 1200 – 1300 AD and then moved on.  Prior to that they had lived in similar  buildings but built on the tops of the mesas not in the overhangs of the cliffs.  They are not sure of the reasons they left – they have no written language only the oral traditions of the descendent Indian tribes in the area.  They think either crop failure from drought or over use of the land or attacks from other tribes.

After a rainy, cold night in the trailer we were up early for Dad’s trip to Balcony House.  After he was done we hiked out to the observation point where we could see back into where he had just climbed down.

If you look along the right side by the black mark you can see the ladder Dad had to climb up to get into this one and then in the center is where this tunnel is that you see Dad climbing out of in the picture below.  And then over on the left is the ladder up the big rock to the top where you can see the people standing!! I am glad I did not try this one!

Next we visited the museum and interpretive center and then hiked down the nice easy but STEEP path to visit Spruce Tree House.  The Rangers just wait down there and answer questions about it.   Funny thing about this one - - when we were down there with all the tourists who had traveled miles and miles to get there - - here came  hordes of 5th graders with their teachers out visiting for a field trip climbing all over everything!  Not like any field trip to the tide pools at the beach I took when I was a 5th grader!

At this site there is a KIVA which you can actually climb down a ladder into it.  A Kiva is a ceremonial dwelling that is built part way underground which symbolizes the Ancient’s belief of coming out of the inner earth into life in this world.  (Surpisingly similar to the Maya we saw last year in Central America) Here is Steve climbing back out into Earth Life.

We took the last tour of the day to Cliff Palace and it was awesome.  Lots of steep uneven rock steps going down and ladders climbing back out but your back was always protected so not too scary for me. The scariest part for me was seeing this on the walkway as we were going down to meet the Ranger - -

 Cliff House was the largest one we saw in the park.  The detail and work on the structures was just amazing and then to have to leave them and move on made me feel sad for them.

Can you imagine being the rancher back in the late 1800's just riding along looking for some stray cows and ride up a canyon and look up and see this up on the cliff??

Here I am bravely climbing back out!!

We enjoyed this visit back in time very much as well as the CLEANEST trailer park laundry and shower I have ever seen!  I even took a shower there to enjoy water actually falling on my head for a while instead of the spray-suds-rinse method of showering in the trailer.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Hovenweep National Monument

We began our journey on the “Trail of the Ancients” (no - that is not what we call ourselves yet!) with a stop at Hovenweep National Monument in the far southeastern part of Utah.  Along the drive there we came to this rather spectacular arch just off the highway so had to stop for a picture of Wilson Arch.

We parked the trailer in a small little campground with no electricity and the temperature was back to freezing at night so back to sleeping with the hooded sweatshirt on! At least we were not staying in a tent like the folks we met from England who are touring America for 5 months on motorbikes!  We are keeping up with our reputation of bringing bad weather with us as it has rained every day we have been down in this desert so far!  Everyone here so far has asked us to stay because they have been having drought and need the water!

Hovenweep is a site of similar time frame and architecture to Mesa Verde but the masonry buildings are on top of the ground more than in the cliff walls.  This was the way the Ancestral Puebloans (the current politically correct name for the people who used to be called Anasazi) built them all over this area for a thousand years or so before they started building them in the cliffs for more protection. 

We hiked out and saw the ones situated around the head of this small draw where there had been a spring.   It was a fairly easy hike along the rocks and sand until you had to hike all the way down to the bottom and back up out of the canyon after you had walked about a mile and a half along the rim.  But I am happy to say Steve’s funny looking hiking companion made it just fine!


This one was called Hovenweep Castle.  It is quite amazing to see the intricately cut stones and the masonry when you consider these were built sometime between 200 AD to 1230 AD.
This one is kind of interesting because the one on the right is built under the over hang of a large boulder.

Of course Steve also found this cool picture of the Claret Cup Cactus out among the boulders.
I saw a coyote chasing a mouse under a bush but he was on the other side of the ravine and so well camouflaged you could only see him when he moved so we have no picture worthy of sharing of him.  It was just neat to see him in the wild.  A large raven was harassing the coyote but he would have none of that and chased him off the ledge until the raven had to fly away. 
It rained most of the night on the roof of the trailer and was still raining hard the next morning when we headed on toward Mesa Verde.  We stopped at the Anasazi Cultural Center (they must not have got the memo on the name change) near Delores, Colorado because it was too wet to do anything outside.  It was very interesting with a video with modern day Hopi and Zuni and other Pueblo Indians stating why they revere these ancient sites and how they believe because of their oral history and traditions they are the descendants of the Indians who built these dwellings in these areas. 

The reason most of the folks call the people who lived in this area Ancestral Puebloans is because they have been determined to be the ancestors of the various modern Pueblo tribes.  The name Anasazi was a name given the ancients by the Navajo and they have a different language than the Puebloans so are not thought to actually be descendants of the Indians who lived here.  Interestingly the Navajo language is most closely related to the Eskimo and Athabascan languages than any of the southwest Indian languages.  Well enough (or maybe too much) history for one blog.  I just find it all so interesting.


Saturday we got up and headed to Moab to start our journey through the great American Southwest.  The last time we were in Moab it was about 10 years ago and we could not believe the changes.  There were people everywhere and tons more tours and rental shops and galleries and restaurants and hotels.  It seems like a “hippy” Jackson Hole.  There were bicyclists and boaters and tons of those razor 4 wheeler things that are like mini-jeeps and the streets just full of people. 

We parked at a nice RV park south of town Steve had reserved which was lucky as most of them were full.  We drove out along the road to the Potash plant and watched some guys rock climbing - a sport I do not think I will take up!!
This shows how tall the cliff he was climbing was when you see the truck parked underneath it!
We had stopped in Green River at the John Wesley Powell Museum and watched a movie of the exploration of the Green and Colorado Rivers in 1869.  That was some crazy adventure – and Powell only had one arm to row with- the other was amputated above the elbow during the civil war! 

The Colorado River was very calm and peaceful along the stretch we saw and Steve got some beautiful pictures of the amazing rock features. 

And the wild flowers are starting to bloom – even the cactuses.  We found out later these kind of close up when the sun starts to go down so they would be even more opened out and beautiful in the full daytime sunlight.

Along the river there was a campground where they were having some kind of hippy celebration with flags and singing and chanting and a couple of hundred people camping.  When we drove by with the windows rolled down the air smelled kind of sweet???? Hm!!!  We just kept right on driving :}

This spot was called jug handle arch.  Driving by one direction we totally missed it and then saw it when we came back. 

We are loving being in the trailer when we do not have to turn the heat on to keep it above 50 degrees and no sleeping with our hooded sweatshirts on.  It is awesome!  We never cease to be amazed at the beauties of God’s creations on this Earth and the vastness and variety of the scenery to be enjoyed and photographed.  We are also getting kind of addicted to museums as we learn about and marvel at the bravery and pure love of adventure of the people that explored this country as they settled the west.

Time Marches On

We are back on the road again! We had planned to leave on a 10 day trip through Southern Utah and Colorado on Saturday May 4th on our way to being in St George on May 16th to watch the 3A state high school softball tournament. 

 Jeff called on Wednesday to say it was the final home softball game on Friday and they were honoring the five graduating seniors.  We hustled up and got ready and left a day early and were thrilled to watch Lindsay and her team beat rival Grantsville 11-0 in 5 innings.  Lindsay got up in the bottom of the 5th inning and there were two runners on base with the score 9-0.  She smacked the first pitch for a walk-off triple to make the score 11-0 and the 10 run rule makes that a WIN!!!  Very exciting!!  We were glad to be there to see that.

After the game they had a nice tribute to the 5 seniors with their parents on the field
and a funny dance they all choreographed together. 

 We have watched these girls play together since they were just little and now they are all going on to play softball on scholarship at one college or another  and all graduating with honors from high school.  That is pretty impressive!  Lindsay was honored this week on the 3A all-state academic softball team.  The plaque will be presented at the state tournament final game.  The letter said to plan on wearing a dress to receive your award but Lindsay said “heck no I will be wearing my uniform – we will still be playing!”  Hopefully this is TRUE!
Steve took some senior pictures of Lindsay and some of her friends a few weeks ago and this one is so cute Grandma just had to add it also.

Lindsay will be playing next fall at Northwestern Nebraska Community College in Scottsbluff Nebraska.  This is 8 hours east of Stansbury Park on I-80 just over the eastern border of Wyoming.  It seems impossible she could be that old already – I remember taking Jeff to Snow College to play baseball and it  wasn’t  that long ago (really!)

 Alyssa is a freshman and she starts on the JV team so we got to watch her play after the ceremonies for the seniors were over.  Her first at bat she hit a solid single past the shortstop so she is doing great also.  Both girls get to play one year of high school softball on the same team.
Then we headed into SLC and parked our 5th wheeler at the KOA on No Temple and went to see my Dadd and Kym.  My Dadd will have his 87th birthday toward the end of the month but he will be in California so we took him out for some ice cream and chocolates at the little shop around the corner from his house to celebrate a little early.  Sorry I neglected to have Steve take a picture of him during our little visit so I do not have one to add here.  He is doing well and we are lucky to have him living where we can see him at least semi regularly.

NEWS UPDATE: Stansbury Softball won their Region outright because they allowed less runs than Bear River who they were tied with for 1st place.  They had both lost to each other by 3 runs but won all their other region games.  The first place position allows Stansbury to play at home this Saturday morning against the 4th place team from the Southern region (Hurricane) for seeding for the tournament in St. George!  Everybody keep your fingers crossed for a WIN Saturday!
A final couple of pictures of Stansbury Softball's BIGGEST FANS!