Monday, April 28, 2014


Friday, April 5th - Wednesday, April 30th

We arrived in Helena on Friday.  Saturday Carter and I went skiing at Great Divide, which is about a half hour north of Helena.  Carter drove and we had a great time, even if he did have to wait for his poky old Grandma quite a bit.  Unfortunately, I somehow managed to delete my pictures from our first few days, so I have no proof of actually skiing.  I can hardly believe he's old enough to drive already.  When did that happen?  The next Friday we all drove down to Fairmont Springs near Butte for a nice warm afternoon of swimming, except for Grandpa.  He stayed home to hold down the couch and keep Digger company.  We had a great time and so did Grandpa, I guess.

Saturday we took the girls down the street to an Easter Egg hunt at a nearby church.  They had fun and Hilary had a challenge keeping them from eating their whole basket of candy all at once.  That afternoon the girls helped out the Easter Bunny by dying some eggs.

Tally was quite impressed with the job she and Tierney did.

Sunday morning Grandpa helped out the Easter Bunny by hiding the eggs all over the house and yard and the girls had fun finding them again, even if there was no candy hidden in them.  They had Easter baskets with lots of goodies waiting in their bedroom to surprise them (Carter,too) and later in the afternoon the girls and I baked some Easter cookies, little chicks and bunnies.  What fun! 

We were getting all geared up for Tally's adoption day, when the kids got a call to take in a two month little boy for foster care on Saturday just three days before her adoption.  Of course, we were all very excited and couldn't wait to meet him.  Perfect timing!

Mom!!  Is this really necessary?  It's only my Adoption Day.  You know how I hate having my hair done!

How do I look?  Do you like my new shoes?  They have ruffles.

Tierney and her BFF getting in on the action.  The adoption day is on the 5th anniversary of Tierney's, so it's a party for both of them.

On the courthouse steps.  This castle is pretty cool, but when does the party start?

I think I'll just go in here and chat with the judge for a bit, until you guys get organized.

Carter used to borrow Grandpa's smart phone.  Now he just wants to borrow the car!

BFFs waiting for the judge to get the show on the road.

Little tif, temporarily not BFFs, lasted about two minutes max.

Five minute presentation by the lawyer, a couple questions from the judge and done, with the judge ruling that we were all to go to the Carousel for ice cream.  Yeah!  

Unfortunately, when we arrived at the Carousel they were closed.  Turns out Tuesday is the only day of the week they are closed.

Oh well, we just went home and had ice cream cones with sprinkles on the deck.  The kids didn't seem to mind at all.  How can you go wrong with ice cream?

But Mom, I thought you said there would be presents.  And Digger is just waiting his chance when one of the kids drops their ice cream, but it never happened.  Poor Digger.

Presents, finally!   Now that's what I'm talking about!

Coconut purses from Jamaica and books.  Thanks Grandma and Grandpa!   Lots of other good stuff, too.

We took off for Sioux Falls right after the party on Tuesday to beat some nasty weather that was moving in.  We arrived at Dawn's Thursday afternoon and we will fly out on Wednesday for six weeks in Great Britain.  I won't be blogging while we are there, but will blog about our trip when we get back in mid June.

Have a great spring,

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Utah, St. George and Salt Lake City

Saturday, March 29th - Friday, April 5th

Going through the Virgin River Gorge south of St. George, Utah, the elevation was over 6,000 feet and we saw the first of that white stuff we were hoping to avoid.  But the roads were dry and clear, so no problem.

We spent Saturday and Sunday nights in St. George, Utah.  This is the Mormon Temple there.

Saturday evening we just drove around town a bit and spent two nights at the Walmart because the campgrounds were full.

A few views of the country side around St. George.

Amazing scenery.

On our way to Zion National Park on Sunday afternoon.

April 1st the park closes to car traffic for the summer season and you have to ride a bus if you want to see the sights, due to overcrowding.

So even though it was a very cold, damp, windy day there were lots of cars and lots of people staying in the campgrounds.

The scenery was just incredible!  Over 900 films and television movies have made in Utah starting in 1925 up to and including part of the 2007 Pirates of the Caribbean movie. 

In 1863 a Mormon settler said these were the Temples of God and named the canyon Little Zion.

I so wished we had more time to stay and camp awhile and do some hiking and exploring.  

Maybe next time.

The colors were so amazing!  Massive canyon walls, towering overhangs, narrow canyons and sandstone cliffs.

But it was cold and it actually started snowing and sleeting for a while.

I'm just gawking out the window taking pictures, and through the windshield.

Traffic backed up waiting to get through a tunnel.

Here we could see a couple of the switchback roads below us.

It was overcast and rainy/snowy.  But then the sun would come out with beautiful blue skies.

We spent four nights in a campground in Salt Lake City.  Tuesday we went through the State Capitol.  It is on a hill overlooking downtown.  The hill was originally called Arsenal Hill, named for its use as munitions and gun powder storage, until 1888 when it was set aside to build the capitol, which was started in 1912.  It took four years to complete at a cost of $2.7 million.  The restoration project from 2004 to 2008, including a new seismic base isolation system installed underneath to protect against earthquake damage, cost $227 million.

The grounds are completely surrounded by a walking path that is lined on both sides with Yoshino Cherry trees (like those in Washington, DC) and the cherry blossoms were in full bloom.  Really beautiful.

This is the law enforcement and fire fighters memorial.

"To live in hearts we leave behind, is not to die."

This is the Vietnam Memorial.  They always seem to capture my attention the most, maybe because I lived through it and actually knew some of the guys that served there.  The explanation of the statue is very moving.  A plaque nearby said, "Woe to the statesman whose reasons for entering a war do not appear so plausible at its end as at its beginning."  Somehow seems quite recently applicable, also.

We walked the path around the grounds and up the steps to the capitol building.

View from the top of the steps out toward the Wasatch Mountains.  Lions of Italian marble guard both the east and west entrances.

We took one of the guided tours they give on the hour all day Monday through Friday.  It was very interesting and informative.

Our guide said they hold all kinds of public, private and government events here in the rotunda... banquets, concerts, proms, etc.  She said her prom was held here many years ago and the couples entered down the main staircase for the grand march.  The walls and columns are made of marble from the sate of Georgia. 

Just slightly more impressive than the old school gym where my prom was held.

View of the dome.  The chandelier is on a 95 foot chain and I think they said it weighs 5,000 pounds.  It is lowered once a year to clean it and replace the bulbs.

The Pony Express Campground was very nice with a blooming pear tree at each campsite.

In the Utah Olympic Park in Park City, a ski resort just 20 minutes east of the city.  Bobsled, skeleton and luge.  They claim to have the "Greatest Snow on Earth" in Utah.  Their low humidity makes it light and fluffy, great powder skiing.  They have 14 ski resorts less than an hours drive from Salt Lake in all directions.  I tried three of them on a trip here with friends many years ago and had a great time. 

Part of the bobsled run with the avenue of flags.

Close-up of one of the curves on the bobsled run.  You can see where the ice is starting to melt away from the top edge.  You can normally take the bobsled ride, but it was closed for the season, not that I was wanting to go anyway, but maybe John wanted to.

They also have zip-lining and this rope climbing stuff.

This one's for my sister-in-law who collects pins.  There were 3,000 different designs of commemorative pins made just for the 2002 Salt Lake Olympics!

And just for my favorite grandson who is waiting for us to get there, so I can go skiing with him.  Lookout, Carter, here comes Grandma!  If only I actually looked like this when I'm skiing.  

This is the Mormon Temple in Temple Square in downtown Salt Lake City.  

Side view.  Built between 1853 and 1893.  Brigham Young was the elected Governor of the proposed state of Deseret (original name of Utah).  In 1851 (until 1858) President Millard Fillmore appointed him Utah Territorial Governor (which included parts of California, Nevada, Colorado, etc. --a huge area) and he established the county of Millard and the city of Fillmore, which was to be the Capitol, but in the end turned out to be not central enough or big enough.  At the same time he was also Superintendent of Indian Affairs reporting to the Secretary of War and President of the Church of Latter-day Saints.  He was one powerful and busy man.  That doesn't even take into consideration all the wives and 50 plus children he had.  

Kind of weird.  The 10 acre grounds are completely walled in with beautiful.gardens, fountains, statues, etc. and completely surrounded by skyscrapers.

Assembly Hall. 1882 Meeting Hall.

Inside the Tabernacle. 

Inside the Tabernacle.  They normally have the Tabernacle Choir practicing on Thursday evenings and it is open to the public, so we came to listen.  30 minute organ recitals are held at noon Monday through Friday.

Outside the domed Tabernacle.  This day they happened to be practicing at the conference center which is just across the street from Temple Square and nine stories high with a roof-top garden with trees and everything.

Their choir has 360 members and then all the hierarchy of the church (there are lots of them) sit in the seats in front of them, also facing the congregation.

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir began with a small choir singing at a church conference in 1847, just 29 days after the first pioneers entered the Salt Lake Valley.  The first radio broadcast was in 1929 and is now the longest running, continual network broadcast in the world.  It is heard weekly over 2,000 radio, television and cable stations worldwide in over 94 languages.  

There are three tiers of seats, with 7,000 seats in each tier.  They had James Taylor in concert here last September.  Beyond the ten acres of the Temple Square grounds, there is this conference center to the north, a 26 story office building to the east (top floor observation deck has a great view of the Salt Lake Valley), the church history museum and family  history library to the west, the church history library, the Relief Society building, the church administration building, a couple of Brigham Young homes and a park and who knows what else.  All the buildings and gardens have guided tours and all tours and concerts are free.  Concert tickets are just done by a sort of lottery system or something on the internet.  They do four performances of the Christmas program every year.  That's 84,000 tickets and it's never enough. 

Night view of the Temple as we walked back to our car.  Friday we headed for Helena for a couple weeks, so (according to John) I can get my grandkid fix, but I think that's just a cover for how much he likes to be there with them.  Anyway, that's where we're headed next.

Over and out,