Trip Out West
(August 23, 2007 – August 31, 2007)
August 23, 2007
We went to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir practice tonight. It is usually held in the tabernacle, but unfortunately tonight it was in the conference center. I was really looking forward to seeing the tabernacle. It is certainly impressive from the outside. Anyway, the signing was truly magnificent. We had the pleasure of being there with the 69th regiment from World War II and the choir dedicated The Battle Hymn of the Republic to them. This is one of their most requested songs and I was very glad we got to hear it. I hope to get some of their music when we return home.
Other than that, today we went to the Great Salt Lake, but we definitely did not get in. It was very smelly and there was stuff that looked just like cow manure all along the beach. The man there said it was brine shrimp (dead, decaying shrimp and baby flies, etc.). He seemed very excited that their whole life cycle takes place there and normally I am also thrilled about things like that, but I just could not bring myself to allow the children to get in the water or even wade in something that smelled like the farms back home. So, we came back to the hotel and I let them swim for a couple of hours in the pool. This satisfied their need for water.
Oh yeah, also today we went to the Planetarium downtown. We can get in on one of our science museum passes. That was fun. We were able to see some exhibits and also go to one dome movie. This was neat since the movie played all above your head like being under the stars outside. The kids enjoyed it a lot, too.
Tomorrow we’re going to check out of the hotel and we’ll be staying with a family here in Salt Lake for one night. They told me that the state used book sale is taking place THIS Saturday, while I’m here!!! Isn’t that just God’s great providence?! I think I am beginning to have book withdrawal. I haven’t been to any bookstores since I left except to buy Sarah the second book in the Eragon series. She has read the first one four or five times and was very anxious for the second book. She is devouring it now. Daniel was so impressed that he wants to read the first one. Sarah was greatly offended that I told her to let him read it because he is only 6 and she said he isn’t “ready for it,” but I told her if he wasn’t, he’d figure that out soon enough himself.
Tonight we actually went out to eat because I didn’t want to get in trouble for setting up our little borrowed propane stove in the hotel room. The girl asked for our name because we had to wait a few minutes and I said, “Haskins” (of course). I watched as she wrote it down and she wrote “Hasbeans.” I just about laughed out loud. I didn’t say anything.
Then, I asked the waiter if they had sweet tea and he said yes. I was very excited. He brought out the drinks and he brought me a glass of tea and a glass of ice. This was fine so I just poured the tea in the ice and tasted it. It was definitely NOT sweet tea. I said, you don’t have sweet tea, do you? He said, “Well, isn’t that sweet? I brought you ice.” I looked very confused at this and said, “You know sweet tea should have sugar in it, right?” He said, “No, we don’t ever have sugar in the tea so when you said ‘sweet,’ I thought you meant with ice.” Very strange… I don’t know how you can jump from sweet (sugar) to cold (with ice), but a similar thing happened a week or so ago and I may have mentioned it. It’s obviously a location thing.
It’s not just them misunderstanding, either. The other day we got one of those KFC deals with 10 pieces of meat and then an extra four pieces with the meal food – all for under $20 (which is our daily food budget). Anyway, after I ordered, the girl said, “Is this to stay or not?” I had no idea what she meant and I said, “What?” She said, “Is it to stay?” I said, “Stay where?” She said, “Well, here, I guess.” I said, “I think you’re asking me if I’m going to eat it here and if so, the answer is yes.” I told her that where I come from, people ask, “Is this for here or to go?” and I just didn’t understand the “stay” part although it makes perfect sense when you think about it. I only mention all this because most of you who know me well know how much language interests me and it is really fascinating to hear the different meanings of words and also the different phrases in use in different parts of the U.S. where they are speaking the same language, but still there are different “translations.”
Speaking of language, I don’t know what the immigrant ratio is here in Salt Lake City, but I’ve never seen so many immigrants – not even in large cities I’ve visited. It’s very interesting. There are signs in Spanish, Japanese, and Chinese – there are many ethic restaurants – and I’ve honestly seen more people of some other ethnicity than Caucasian that it’s truly astonishing.
I met two young men this morning in the breakfast room who were traveling down from Vancouver, Canada all the way down to Texas and back. I used to love to do that sort of thing (and obviously still do) so we hit it off. I’m not sure which one of us or why we started the conversation, but we had a very nice chat over breakfast. They seemed like nice young men who were just out exploring the world. I hope they have a great time and make it home safely. I suggested that they try to swing by the Badlands on their way home and they said they would definitely consider it until Sarah said that they should watch out for the rattlesnakes (they want to hike a bunch). Then they said the would definitely go there. 🙂 That so reminds me of myself when I was 20. Now I am obviously more careful because of the children, but I think there is nothing wrong with having a sense of adventure. I think God just instills more of that in some people and I don’t think that’s a bad thing. It’s nice to have differences in people.
Well, I need to get the children to bed. I promised them that if we get up early enough, I’d take them for breakfast and then to play in the pool before we have to check out. If we’re going to do that, I’d better put them to bed now. It’s already late.
Please e-mail if you want me to mail your child a postcard from out west and I haven’t already talked with you about it. My e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org . I know it’s exciting to get mail and I’m happy to do it!
August 29, 2007
We have seen the Grand Canyon! I haven’t written in a few days because we’ve just simply been busy going from one place to another. Saturday was my birthday (37). My aunt called me at 8 a.m. (10:00 her time) to wish me a happy birthday, which was so very sweet. I think she and my mom try to see who can reach me first on my birthday each year.
Anyway, I believe it was last Friday that the children and I drove out to the great Salt Lake. I was not very impressed with this. The ranger there was quite excited about the little flies all over the place and said that they grow up right there in the lake. They are brine flies, he explained to the children. After stepping in about 3 inches of decaying brine shrimp, though, and covering our noses from the smell, I just decided that we absolutely were not getting in it. I think it’s great to let nature take it’s course and I’m so glad that they have allowed it to remain in it’s natural state, but that doesn’t mean I want to swim in it. J
Friday night a very nice family from Salt Lake hosted the children and me and allowed us to stay in their home for the night. This was so nice of them. They are just beginning their homeschooling journey this year and their boys are around 6 and 10. I believe they will do absolutely fine because they already have the primary ingredients of what I believe to be a successful homeschool family – a desire to learn, a devotion to the Lord, and a family dedicated to one another. The mom (I’m not using names here to protect their privacy) was so sweet and truly has a heart to teach those children about our Lord Jesus. I believe she will do a great job.
Saturday I managed to go to a book sale near Salt Lake City. The family I stayed with told me about it and asked if I wanted to go. Ha!! I don’t think they understood my devotion to books until we arrived at the sale and I began my “hunt.” I found a few great buys, but honestly I got some really good deals off the free table. I really do believe the Lord provides me with these opportunities so that I can share the blessing with others so I’ll offer some of these goodies to my friends in the Tri-Cities area moms when I return.
Sunday we traveled most of the day and arrived near Bryce Canyon Sunday evening. Monday we visited Bryce and it was beautiful. I actually enjoyed Red Canyon as much as I did Bryce. I believe this is the name of the area you have to travel through to get to Bryce. It was so pretty with the vibrant red rocks.
Monday evening we went on to Zion National Park, but we didn’t enter because it was too late. We slept that night in a teepee. This is a camping area and sort of informational tourist attraction with Native American guides / educators. The educator who did the program the evening we were there is a native Sioux and his wife is Navajo. We truly enjoyed the program and Hannah and I had the opportunity dance with him on stage. I’m not sure what sort of dance we did, but I’m sure he tricked me into doing a rain dance because it certainly brought more rain. That night we got very wet again (partly because we didn’t know that we could actually close the top of the teepee so it rained in on us quite a bit. The next morning the place was drenched and we drove through several inches of water to get to the main building. There we found out that there were flash floods throughout the valley. (Oh, I also want to mention here that there were the most amazing little hummingbirds flying all around the Native American lodge there. It was soooo cool. The children and I have never been so close to hummingbirds, nor have we seen so many. I know without a doubt that I’ve seen more hummingbirds since I’ve been out west than I’ve seen in my entire life back home. They seem so much more plentiful here and they just fascinate me. I even got to see several of the little birds perching!)
Here are two of my favorite pictures of native flowers and a waterfall in Zion National Park. Though we have experienced much unwanted rain at night, one of the advantages is getting to see sights like this waterfall, which workers say is completely dried up when they haven’t had a heavy rain, which is most of the year. So on that note I was thankful for the rain – that day at least! 🙂
Also, before I forget, here is a rundown on the weather phenomenon we’ve experienced while traveling:
- St. Louis, Missouri – record heat wave (Our van must have been close to 150 degrees inside after sitting all day with the windows closed.)
- Minnesota – severe thunderstorm warnings, torrential rain and approx. 70 mile per hour winds that knocked down tons of trees all over the area
- South Dakota – While I was with my brother (in a house!) the weather was beautiful.
- Black Hills, South Dakota – They said they never get tornado warnings, but sure enough one came while we were there, along with torrential rains, wind, hail, etc. We were in a tent – getting VERY wet!
- Traveling to Yellowstone – We began to get nervous because the clouds were very funnel shaped, seemed connected from sky to earth, and we ended up driving right into more hail and lots of rain.
- At Yellowstone – There was a cold wave and we about froze! It was around 35 at night.
- Salt Lake City – Once again, while I was staying in someone’s home, the weather was beautiful.
- Zion National Park – Rain, rain, rain. We watched a film that said they only get about 12 inches per year and they were really behind this year (someone said that), but sure enough while we were there, it rained. I didn’t really care about this so much except that I had promised Hannah this would be the one place we could play in the creeks (upon the recommendation of my good friend Cindy) and of course they were absolutely black with silt and high and running fast and there was no way we could get in any of them. I got a little sad at that, but we’re still looking for a creek to play in.
After Zion, we were on our way to the Grand Canyon and stopped at a little town… I can’t remember the name at the moment, but it might have been Freedonia. The people there were so nice and it was just a friendly little town. We stayed there a while and ate, bought our groceries for the canyon, and also I looked for a pair of shoes for Daniel. (We had lost one of his shoes! Don’t do this out west. A lady told me here that they have to order everything via Internet. We decided that he would just have to wear his water shoes, but finally today we found his other shoe – after I took a bunch of stuff out of the van.) J
After leaving there, we were on our way to the Grand Canyon, but we needed to sleep and I saw a sign for Coral Pink Sand Dunes. Now I loooove sand dunes. This was one of my favorite parts of living in North Carolina when I was about 12. My brother and I just loved to go over to the dunes near Morehead City and play. So I was very excited about the dunes and we pulled in there for the night. The next day we had the best time and it was the most fun as far as the whole family just having a GREAT time together doing the same time that we’ve had the entire trip. One of my few regrets on the trip is that we didn’t stay longer. We spent several hours that morning enjoying the dunes and hiking them, but we were supposed to be checked out by 2:00 and we did. I wish we had stayed another day.
So, on to the Grand Canyon yesterday and we slept in the van last night. Actually, we were going to sleep in the Kaibab National Forest and we considered the campground, but it was $16 just to tent camp and they didn’t have any showers and the toilets were broken (actually the water line was broken so no water). The people there were very nice, though, and told us that if we would drive a mile up the road that we could pull off in one of the “wild” camping areas and sleep there if we wanted. We did this, but it was incredibly dark. There were literally no lights around for miles (except for the few lights at the campground that we couldn’t see anyway due to trees). We were parked there for about 15 minutes getting the kids ready for bed when a white van pulled in. It made us kind of nervous and they pulled beside our van, but I couldn’t get my window down and they drove on to the camping place behind us. I got out and walked over to the van to tell them that if they wanted to park right behind us (in the same “lot,” but this area was very big – big enough for four vehicles – that this might be a little safer. It turned out to be two guys and they were slowly walking toward me saying how this sounded like a good idea when the moonlight shined just the right way and I noticed that one of the guys (the larger one) had something long and wide in his right hand. I quickly said, “Well, have a great night” and ran back to my van. I jumped in and locked the doors. I was telling Chris about it and about then the van pulled in behind ours. I decided that there was no way on earth I was sleeping near those guys until I felt a measure of comfort that they were safe to be near so I asked Chris to go introduce himself to them and he really didn’t want to do that so I got out (again) and walked back there to where they were walking around the campfire pit. One of the guys said, “I guess we scared you a minute ago, huh?” I said, “Yes, you did.” He said, “Well, we had only gotten the machete out of the van to chop up some fire wood.” !!!!!!!!! I’m not one to easily scare, but I’m telling you that I was having visions of way too many scary movies that my brother and I watched together when we were younger. They invited us to join them at their campfire and share some whiskey (!!!), but I told them that we were probably going to go to bed and I hope they had a good night. After I got back into the van (and kind of yelled at my husband a little bit for being willing to let me be the one killed), I prayed that the Lord would not let me go to sleep if there was any harm I needed to fear and I asked Him to just lay it on my heart to leave immediately if we needed to leave. (I’ve done this before and I can’t tell you the times we’ve fled from unseen danger and found out something later just because we have such an awesome God.) Anyway, it was obviously fine because I must have fallen asleep within minutes. I don’t think I could have done this without God just touching my heart with peace and putting me to sleep. (And again, I thank you all for your prayers on this trip.)
Today we spent the day hiking along the Grand Canyon rim and just enjoying the view. Actually, this wasn’t the most fun part of our trip simply because at some of the other places (like Zion), we were at the bottom of the canyons (well, at Zion we drove from top to bottom and back), but at the Grand Canyon, you’re literally at the edge of the top of the canyon and this just isn’t the safest place for little kids. I didn’t see that we would be able to do a lot more tomorrow so we decided to use these few days that would have been spent at the Grand Canyon going to see some other things we really weren’t going to have time to do (like Mesa Verde, of which I’ve heard GREAT things!). Oh yes, and the other disappointing part of the Grand Canyon is that the children really have been working diligently on their junior ranger badges the entire trip and we have to attend a ranger program for them to get a signature. We went to the one on geology and it was soooo extremely about the timeline of the Earth’s history. I didn’t mind all the information on geology itself. That is very informative and obviously accurate – things they can prove – but I have a big problem with them making statements about things they can’t prove. Of course I asked lots of questions and I was the “bad guy” and there were two men (together…, I think) in the audience who just got irate at every one of my questions (only about four and they asked many more than that). Finally, one of the guys got so mad and basically asked me to keep my “opinion to myself” and I told him that I believe it is imperative to share two viewpoints when the one hasn’t been proven as absolute fact and the fact that he was presenting it as 100% fact when it isn’t is bothersome to me, especially when I have five small impressionable children there listening to and learning from every word. I asked the ranger if he had considered the possibility that if rocks were heated to a higher temperature, could it possibly have the same effect as time – the time he was talking about as a slow change over 400 BILLION years. He said that this was impossible, but that yes, rocks are changed due to higher temperature and I said isn’t science about making a hypothesis, testing it and trying to prove that. He said yes, but then he said, no, actually, science is about accepting that things change… (So now the very definition of what makes science pure is being changed to meet their needs.) Anyway, I asked if this were possible, could he prove with 100 percent certainty that his hypothesis is accurate and he said no, that it is not 100%. I very politely said that this is all I wanted him to say for the benefit of myself, my children, and others who did not believe the same thing. The guy with the other guy at this point about went ballistic and asked me if I thought it would be appropriate to teach about evolution in church and if not, then why did I feel it was appropriate to teach “church” in a science setting – this geology talk. The funny thing is that I wasn’t trying to preach or anything – I was simply asking the ranger to admit that he couldn’t prove his hypothesis with 100% certainty. These people are so threatened by the least little bit of disagreement that I think they’ve brainwashed themselves and so many other people around them to think that anyone who doesn’t agree must be crazy….
Well, anyway, that was very difficult because there were probably 40 or 50 people at this talk and one lady came up to me (out of all those) and said that she absolutely agreed with what I had said and that it bothered her (and her husband there with her) that they present what they are saying as FACT with no further discussion. (Oh yeah, that also reminds me … when someone asked him about some rocks that were “out of place” based on his theories, he said he chose to leave that out because it was too difficult to explain. AND, he also spent a good five minutes telling us how we evolved from the little bacteria that lived on the earth so many millions of years ago…. Now how is that essential to a talk on geology???) Anyway, and after the talk a lady whose husband obviously agreed with the ranger and these men came up to me and whispered “you are very smart.” I got the impression just from that and something else she said that she was going to think about all this, but sadly she didn’t feel comfortable saying this aloud. I had talked with her earlier about something and both she and her husband were very nice during all this.
So, by the end of the day, I was just ready to leave the Grand Canyon. We have been driving for a few hours and we’re in a little town called Tuba, I think. We’re just staying here for the night for a place to rest and then in the morning we’re going to go through the painted desert, then on down to the Petrified Forest and another Painted Desert. I can’t wait! I really love the desert areas most, though I also love playing in water when we can. I’ve been able to take pictures of several more absolutely beautiful flowers. It’s amazing to me that among the sand (in the deserts) or on the cliffs (like at the canyons) how it can seem to barren and desolate, yet if you just take the time to look closely, there is so much beauty and life. There are little critters everywhere and there is life coming from every crevice. It’s wonderful. It’s amazing.
Well, it’s about 3 a.m. and I’m feeling very tired. I’m going to try to post this in the morning.
August 31, 2007
Today we were going to go on to the Petrified Forest and the Painted Desert, but we ended up getting side tracked. I had a lot of work I needed to catch up on for my homeschool group so we got a hotel last night and I spent the evening working on our group website while Chris and the children swam. This was good because it’s good for him to have some time alone with them and I enjoy working on the website. This morning I dropped by a bunch more promotional postcards at the Barnes & Noble in Flagstaff, Arizona so hopefully we’ll see some increase in sales there. The Lord has really put me in contact with the right people as I’ve made the trip because I have met so many homeschoolers or people who are good friends with someone who homeschools, etc. I’m hoping many of these people will contact me later with requests for more postcards to give out at their local and regional homeschool events.
After I worked on the computer some more this morning and we did our “errands,” we made a stop at the Lowell Observatory, where they discovered Pluto – the planet that is no longer a planet. Actually it’s considered a dwarf planet now. We got in free because of our reciprocal agreement since we have membership at the Hands On Museum. This is a great deal! You pay less than $100 for a membership to Hands On and you can go there all year, but then you can also go to about 250 other science / hands on type museums across the U.S. for free (or reduced). Anyway, we had a great tour, got to look through a solar telescope at the sun, and then went through the exhibits. The tour was great and the guide was very knowledgeable. I was greatly impressed by the fact that he knew most of the answers to the questions and I was incredibly impressed by the questions my kids asked!! They are such voracious little readers and I have been amazed on this trip by the things they know that I haven’t taught them, which honestly seems to be way too much. … I’m glad they are developing their own interests and learning without my guidance. They were asking mathematical questions (how many miles per hour is the probe traveling to Pluto), scientific questions (what is in a meteorite rock), social questions (how do you feel about Pluto no longer being a planet), and so on. We learned a lot. It was especially neat to visit the exhibits telling about the founder of the observatory, the guys who discovered Pluto, the 11-year old girl who suggested the name Pluto and more.
After that we went to the Meteor Crator. This is a crater almost 1 mile across that was formed by a meteor when God created the world. (Of course their version was a little different… 🙂 ) Despite the time differences, there were some really neat exhibits and we learned some there as well. I feel like we will have done six months worth of school in this six week trip. We have even been playing Brain Quest in the van so that’s covering math and English! We’re also listening to Your Story Hour, which are terrific history tapes if you’re not familiar with them. I would most highly recommend them.
Hannah is trying to look at the meteor crater through this telescope at Meteor Crater, but she’s not tall enough so she’s actually looking at the sky. I just thought the picture was cute.
Now we’re on the way to the Petrified Forest and Painted Desert for tomorrow. We stopped at a McDonald’s to use the Internet real quick and eat (which I really really really don’t like, but I figured since we were using their services, we should be respectful and eat). We’re going to sleep somewhere in the van tonight because it’s supposed to rain – again. We’ll get up early in the morning and perhaps we’ll even try to get up early enough to see the sun rise over the desert. I bet that would be pretty. We’ll see, though…
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