Sunday, August 24, 2008

Howdy Partner, it the Magical Mystery Tour Part IV

Another weekend and another exotic travel destination to meet up with family. This week it’s Western themed Hyrum, Utah and the Little Bear Resort and the Hogan family reunion. But first I conducted some business in the Orem area and Tiana was able to fuss over our hair so we would be presentable in public. We had a great time talking with her about her future educational plans and recent personnel change with a boyfriend. It is so hard to adjust to real life on your own when returning from a mission. The challenge of holding dearly to all those wonderful spiritual highs from the mission, the sometimes unrealistic expectations of post missionary life, the unrelenting tick of life’s clock, the pressure to make monumental decisions, and the bitter winds of real life tend to clog up the smooth transition from missionary extraordinaire to a solid, active, educated, and temple married young adult. I don’t know of many that have crossed that stream without a few bumps or bruises. Tiana, just to let you know, I think you’re doing great.
Grandma and Grandpa Hogan and Rick picked out a beautiful resort for us to gather to eat, talk, and play. Cindy did an exceptional job on table decorations and Rick even planned for opening night entertainment.
The next morning we downed a great breakfast and the ladies went horse back riding and a few guys went mountain biking. It was more uphill than my 56 year old untrained legs could handle comfortably but the reservoir was beautiful.
We followed that up with a truly manly event of shotgun shooting. It is hard to look cool with bright orange puff balls in your ears and hard to fake cool when the slow moving clay pigeon keeps evading my shotgun blasts.
This doesn’t happen in the movies. Well I didn’t get skunked and I have the sore shoulder to prove I went shooting.
More eats and some family Olympics to top off the afternoon and the best was a wild water fight where mom ended up on the wrong side of several energetic nieces and nephews.
It proved to be a very relaxing, competitive, feasting weekend with a long drive home. I look forward to next year.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Ye Olde Magical Mystery Tour Part III

From the West Coast last week to the East Coast this week. We went to visit Celeste, Brad, and Brooklyn in Boston this weekend. We got in late Thurs night and Celeste didn’t waste a second of time to yell out in the arrival area of the airport that she is pregnant. YEAH!!! We’re thrilled to see the family grow.

We then enjoyed two wonderful days exploring the history and the roads around Boston. It was had for this Rockies fan to see all of those Red Sox hats, T-shirts, and shorts around after the 4 game sweep in the World Series last year but I got a sense of how important baseball and all their sports teams are to this city. Celeste played masterful tour guide and we rolled back the years until 1775 and relived Paul Revere’s Midnight Ride through Lexington and Concord. It was a beautiful day to stand at the very spot where we, as a country, took our first steps towards creating a government based on the principals of rights, the rule of law, and basic inalienable freedoms. I loved being able to focus the start of a government by, for, and of the people to a specific spot where liberty loving citizens stood against their tyrannical king and fired “the shot heard around the world.” You could actually breathe the sense of monumentous history that hangs in the air at the North Bridge.

Fortunately time didn’t allow us to spend more that a few seconds at the “famous author’s home.” Whewww!!! Dodged that bullet – onto battle sites.

Celeste and Brad reminded me of why we occasionally miss the east coast. It is the Pizza that is to die for and Friday night’s dinner was fantastic.

Saturday was the best as the weather was perfect and mom and I got to tour around the Freedom Trail in downtown Boston. Faneuil Hall, Quincy Market, the Boston Massacre, and lots of lesser know sites made the morning so fun. We met up with the kids and lunched on Lobster Bisque at Quincy Market, watched Brooklyn play in the water fountain, visited outside the aquarium, and napped before tackling the Old North End for the afternoon tour.

I wasn’t prepared for the shuffled slices of history and ethnic flavors in the Old North End. There were pre-Revolutionary war graveyards and Revolutionary War buildings like the Paul Revere house and the Old North Church
(One if by Land and Two if by Sea). Then the wild mix of religions and nationalities – Irish Catholic, Eastern European Jews, and Italian pastry makers. We wanted to spend a few more days here just to eat our way out of the city. On the menu would be Fish & Chips at an Irish Pub, Seafood at the dock, Italian pasta, gelato and vanilla cream cannoli for dessert. We did purchase some of the best fresh fruit at the Haymarket. With all this food I don’t know why Boston isn’t heavier.

Celeste BBQ’d us some great Shish-K-Bobs that night and we celebrated the new baby and our short visit with cannoli dessert while watching Phelps secure his eight gold medal. I remember how sweet it was when Mark Spitz swam to 7 golds in Munich, but what Phelps just blows me away. There is so way he should have been able to do what he did.
Given all of his physical blessings, 90% of success is mental and he is out of this world impressive. It is great to see a sincerely good guy do what he has done.

We got up at 4 am to catch our return flight home and had a funny experience. We were schedule to fly to Chicago then Omaha and then Denver on the return leg, but the gate lady got us a connection in Washington DC instead with a couple of free tickets thrown in for good luck and we needed the luck. The flight out of Boston was delayed because the pilots slept in and we were 50 minutes late and had only a 60 minute layover in Wash. DC. We got off our plane with just 10 minutes to get on the Denver flight and it was departing from another terminal. Mom had on sandals and couldn’t run very fast, but I took off running and got to the gate as they were sending two standby passengers down the gateway and shutting the door on us. I explained the situation to the lady and she held the door open for mom shooed the standby passengers away and let us board. It was nice to make the flight.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Magical Mystery Tour - Chapter 2

We’re on our way home from the second leg of a whirlwind travelin’ August. But before the travel log, I have to tell you of my favorite night so far at the temple. I was an “Own Endowment Guide” which means I got to direct the first time visitor and his escort through the temple. It was an interesting story. There were two getting their endowments. There was a missionary going to North New York and then his uncle who was getting married on Sat. It was the whole idea of family that was so fun. The missionary was easy to pick out – he was 6’11” and his uncle had bright red hair and both had that “deer in the headlights” look and a smile that crossed their entire face. His home teacher was his escort and he is the one that really was faithful and got him baptized.

The uncle had been a life time member of the Reorganized church but married a member and just a little over a year ago humbled himself and felt the spirit and was baptized. They have five kids and their sealing was scheduled for the upcoming Saturday. As an OE guide I get to explain a little bit about the clothing and first ordinances and perform the washings. The words are so powerful and with a new person they seem to have a greater impact.

I followed on the session and enjoyed watching the reactions of a first time attendee. At the end it was a little challenging to reach up and grab the shoulder of the missionary. The entire family scene in the Celestial room was touching and the joy on the wife’s face was priceless.

We left the next day to travel to San Diego, and the Barrand travel luck followed because mom’s ticket had been cancelled by mistake and they couldn’t get her on the flight. She drove home a very unhappy and disappointed spouse. While I was going through the security check out line, I got a hold of someone that would rebook mom’s ticket and not charge us the extra $300 the airline wanted. She didn’t arrive until 10:30 that night, but she got there.

After meetings the next morning, mom and I took Don’s car (he was kind enough to arrange for us to have his car for the weekend) to the beach. We grabbed the boogie boards and hit the beach. The weather was perfect and the waves fantastic. Mom and I rode those waves for the whole afternoon and loved every minute. video I did wish for the rest of the family to be there to share in all the sun and fun. We got back in time to meet up with Don and enjoy the formal awards dinner and catch the opening ceremonies of the Olympics.

Saturday morning Don and a marine buddy and I headed out to sea on the Lois Ann for some scuba diving on the reefs and kelp beds around San Diego. The boat was crowed, the waves a bit choppy, and the water a touch cold (54 degrees), but the diving was great. I couldn’t seem to get enough weight to go down at first. I started with 24 pounds, which is way more than usual, but it took 34 pounds to get me down. At 15 feet down all that changed and now I had too much weight and dropped really fast to the bottom. To keep off the rocks I inflated the BC and it was fine for swimming around the kelp forest and viewing the fish and rock formations.

I ran into trouble coming back up. We had been down to 80 ft and we needed a slow 10 - 15 mins ascent to avoid the bends. Well when I got to 55 feet all the air in my BC started to expand and I shot to the surface in about 30 seconds. I was desperately trying to release air and swim down but couldn’t do it fast enough. Both Don and his friend Kyle were trying to grab my fins as I popped to the surface. It wasn’t a good thing to do and I release some air and went back down to ascend correctly. When we did come up we were a long way from the boat and had to fight some large swells and lots of seaweed to reach the boat. Swimming with tanks in a rising and falling ocean through a huge patch of seaweed, just wasn’t fun. Kyle really didn’t like the cold (hangover) and decided not to do the second dive. But Don and I toughed it out and had a great dive: multi striped fish, a forest of kelp, wild colored starfish, and Dr. Seuss rock formations.

For lunch we all wanted to taste the atmosphere of Mexico being in So. California and so Kyle took us to his favorite real Mexican restaurant – only 20 mins away. Well after one nasty traffic jam slow down, lost directions, and a 90 minute drive we finally arrived at this little hole in the wall Mexican place. We did see a lot of freeway. I went crazy that night as the Olympics truly started and I wasn’t in front of my home home theater. It is the every 4 years, mom’s a widow time. Go USA!!!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

August's Magical Mystery Tour Chapter 1

We have started our August 2008 “Magical Mystery Tour”. Which means every weekend we will be travelling and visiting the most important people in our lives. We inaugurated our tour with a childless day at Water World with Dave and Danica. We got there at the opening and were able to go on a few rides before the crowds became oppressive. The weather was perfect, it was the 19th day in a row where the temperature was over 90 which has set a new record. It was so fun to be there with D & D I wasn’t even insulted when the lifeguard lady asked me if I could swim. With mom’s help the hills didn’t even seem as steep as they had in the past. The laugh of the day came when all 4 of us squeezed into a tube build for 3 adults. Some were bruised from the banging knees, hips, and elbows and it was a huge effort to climb out of the tube at the bottom without looking like total buffoons. The helper guy suggested that we should use two tubes next time.

Here is evidence that strange creatures inhabit the shores at Water World.