Saturday, May 31, 2008

Memorial Day Week Recap

Still no letter with the call. Called Salt Lake City yesterday and was told to look for it next week. Needless to say, we're getting anxious to know where we will be going on our mission.

Before we left for Australia, there were 2 baby hummingbirds in the nest that were growing fast. Checked the nest the day after we got back, last Monday, Memorial Day, and they were gone. The rest of our friends are still around - the mourning doves in back and Arnold Swartzalizard is still doing his thing on the back wall and apparently has taken a liking to the vines that cover a lot of it now.

I've been out on the bike a couple of times this week with one long ride, for me anyway, out to Snow Canyon State Park, through Ivins and Santa Clara and back. The weather has been outstanding if I could get to bed earlier and up earlier to enjoy the morning.

Last night, Vance and Angie and their girls arrived for a weekend stay with us and to attend the wedding of a friend this morning. They got in around 1:30 AM and we were still up and wide awake when they arrived.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Our Visit in Perth

I've been a little slow getting the Australia visit post completed, but here it is at last along with the Northern Utah and Mother's Day trip which is on the blog now also, with pictures. As opposed to the trip over, described on a separate post, the return trip was very smooth. We made all of our flights as planned and enjoyed business class on the long one from Sydney to LA. But once home, the trial sets in trying to adjust our body clock back to our time zone. Going over it is never a problem and I haven't figured that out yet.



Liz & Logan


Breanne, Emma, Lauren. Yes, that is the doll house in the background that I made and that Nannie, Liz, and Nannie great decorated on our trip over last year before Logan was born.

Pete and his new "buggy", Aussie for golf cart

We got up Friday morning bright eyed, refreshed, and ready to go. Pete had put in a sport court in the past year and since the girls had stayed home from school, Grandpa, Emma, and Lauren went out to shoot some hoops. The court and backboard are really nice and fun to play on. By the time I return, I expect Emma will be able to take me one on one. Pete and I tried a one on one and the only thing I can say about it was I survived. He was really nice to his father-in-law, but I still felt ancient. The Achilles held up just fine which is a good thing. That night Pete and Liz took the family to the Vines Resort for dinner. That is a very upscale place that serves an outstanding buffet and dinner was great.

Saturday their ward had a pot luck dinner and activity night that we went to and had a chance to talk with a lot of the members that we are getting to know fairly well after so many visits. After church Sunday, Carl and Valerie Winters invited all of us over for crepes along with Russ and Joy Hembrough and their son, another family in the ward. It is so enjoyable to be with a group like that and the conversation is wonderful if for nothing else than the it.

The rest of the visit seemed like a succesion of projects that Cindy and Liz had embarked on, the primary ones centered around Logan's room that they completely repainted and purchased furniture for from Ikea. Pete told me Ikea was the largest store in the southern hemisphere and after accompanying Liz and Cindy on the first trip, I'm a believer. Of course, the stuff they purchased had to be put together, which gave me something to do and I really enjoyed it. It wasn't the usual pressboard type stuff, but made with real pine boards and very well engineered. Then came a minor challenge on Friday when Cindy approached me and said they needed a valance made for the room's window, oh, and Carl Winter is off work today and willing to let you use his wood shop to do it. I really enjoy working with Carl, he is the one I worked with in putting the doll house together. Great guy and a very skilled wood worker and you'd love the stand-alone shop he has behind his house. After a trip to Bunnings (Aussie Home Depot) for materials, it was over to Carl's house and an enjoyable couple of hours putting a valance together. It came out pretty good and Cindy and Liz then covered it with material they had purchased while it was being made and I hung it Saturday morning. It really looked good.

Got ahead of myself a little. Pete and I played golf at the Vines on Wednesday, an absolutely beautiful day, temp in the low 70's and sunny. I even managed to play well on a couple of holes, but you could not have ordered a better day for golf. They had some type of tournament going and Pete and a couple of older gentlemen from Japan competed in it and I just played along for the fun of it. If I'd had an established handicap and played a little better, I'd have been right with them though.

Along with several trips to the mall and seeing the latest Indiana Jones movie in the afternoon on the day it was released, we managed to stay pretty busy and have time to relax and read while the girls were in school. It rained after Wednesday until we left, off and on, and got a little cooler, so I didn't get back to the basketball court with Emma and Lauren, something I was a little disappointed in missing. But Nannie got the girls involved in making banana and zucchini bread and we all enjoyed the results of that project.

Before we went to the airport Saturday night to catch the red-eye to Sydney, we treated the girls to a stop at McDonald's in Ellenbrook. The kids loved the play area and the treat. Our flight left at 15 minutes after midnight and when Liz dropped us off around 10 PM, she and her mother had a hard time with the parting. They had been so close and involved the time we were there, it had been a wonderful visit which made it all the harder to say goodbye.

We arrived in Sydney around 6:15 AM and had to wait for the LA flight that left at 1:45 PM. We arrived in LA 30 minutes early, cleared customs and went back through security in the domestic terminal 7 and were waiting for our flight to St George by 10:30 AM. At 2:30 PM, we were on board and headed on the last leg home. We got into the house at 5:30 PM, exhausted, but very thankful for the opportunity we had to visit all of our children and grandchildren during the month.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Getting Down Under

The plan was to take a 4:30 PM flight from St George to LA on Tuesday, May 13th, then go from LA to San Francisco on a 6:15 PM flight to get us there 3 hours before the flight to Sydney left. The Sydney flight was wide open for first and business class and only had 8 standbys. That was the plan, here is what happened.

The 4:30 PM flight out of St George left an hour late and we got to the gate in LA for our flight to San Francisco just after it left. Actually, that turned out to be a blessing, but more on that later. We went over to the Customer Service desk to see if we could get on the next flight to San Francisco and actually had our seat requests for that flight and the Sydney flight in hand, but kept talking with the UA agent about the LA to Sydney flight. The agent was a great guy who checked on the LA flight to Sydney again and even though I had passed on trying the LA flight to Sydney because of cargo concerns and 22 standbys listed I figured were all ahead of us and past experience getting bumped there, we eventually decided to stay in LA and try the flight from LA to Sydney. The UA agent printed our seat requests and off we went to get some dinner and wait for the 10:26 PM departure.

This was a great learning experience in more ways than one. The first was the flight was delayed 20 minutes due to "weather", but it was great outside. Finally learned that there were good tailwinds on part of the Pacific route over and since no international flights can land in Sydney earlier than 6 AM, the flight had to be delayed to avoid getting there too early. Boarding was getting close to being completed and we were still patiently checking the display panel to see if our names had cleared, but nothing was happening until an announcement was made for any remaining standbys to come to the desk. We went up along with another couple from Chicago traveling on their nephew's buddy passes and were surprised to be asked if we wanted first class even if we couldn't sit together. No problem, Cindy and I both got first class. The gentleman across from Cindy was a UA mechanic from Sydney on his way home after some stateside training and he told her he had been scheduled on the San Francisco flight, but had flown down to LA to catch the flight we were on because the San Francisco flight had been cancelled. UA came up a 747 short and since the San Francisco - Sydney flight had a low load, it became the sacrificial lamb. If we had gotten out of St George on time, we would have wound up in San Francisco with a cancelled flight to Sydney and may not have been able to get back to LA in time to catch the flight we were on.

But that was the end of the good news. Less than an hour out of Sydney, our flight was diverted to Brisbane, an hour+ north of Sydney, because Sydney was fogged in and nothing was going in or out. We landed in Brisbane around 6:30 AM and sat on the ground while the plane was refueled and waited for the fog to lift in Sydney and clearance to fly back. No one was allowed off of the plane in Brisbane. Regulations limit how long pilots and flight attendants can work in a 24 hour period without mandatory rest and it appeared we would have to wait for a relief crew to come to Brisbane to fly the plane once Sydney cleared up. Around 9:30 AM, word came we were cleared to leave for Sydney, the fog had lifted enough to allow landings and we got a break because the crew was given permission to fly the plane back to Sydney even though they were past their duty limit. Being in first class was great because we had room to walk around, got sandwiches and drinks, and were close to the purser and knew what was going on.

We finally got into Sydney and parked in a cargo area, no gates were available at the terminal. We rode a bus over to the terminal and being in first class we were the first ones off the plane, yeah! We got through customs with no problem and then hustled to the Domestic Transfer section and found the longest line I've ever seen there. It took us an hour and 15 minutes to get to an agent. Needless to say, we missed the last morning flight to Perth and the next one at 5:50 PM was sold out. We made the 7:20 PM flight and finally got to Perth, retrieved our luggage, and met Elizabeth around 11 PM, and that included a 3 hour time change from Sydney. For the trip, we spent 2 hours in the St George airport, an hour and 15 mintues flying to LA, almost 5 hours in the LA airport, about 20 hours on the plane we boarded in LA before finally getting off in Sydney, 8 hours in the Sydney airport, and 5 hours on another 747 going to Perth. Our 45 hour journey to Perth turned out to be an endurance test, but we made it and a bed never felt so good as the one we slept in last night, Thursday, May 15th.

More will be coming later on our visit, but I wanted to post the trip over while I still had the detail in mind.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Northern Utah and Mother's Day

Continuing our May travels, we headed north to Tremonton to visit Jared and Kristi and the girls, Ashlee, Katelyn, and Mackenzie, on Wednesday the 7th after returning from Arizona on Monday. Jared and Kristi have a new dog, Ozzie, a miniature toy poddle, if you can picture that combo. Ozzie is a little high energy black ball with a tongue and no face...unless you really look close.

Jared had Thursday off and we headed to Logan and the Harley Davidson dealer to get a new rim and tire mounted on his new Harley. Nice to have the truck to put everyone inside and the hardware in the bed. We followed Jared, wearing his WWI German helmet look alike, over to Logan. After dropping his Harley off at the dealer, we went for lunch at a restaurant in the old train station at the end of Center street. We stopped and looked at my grandparents' house and Cindy's grandparents' house which was just around the corner from my grandparents. It still amazes me everytime we go to Logan how close the families lived to each other and the time we both spent in the same neighborhood as children. There are pictures below of Cindy's grandparents' house and the building my grandfather had his printing business in along with pictures of the families we visited on this trip. Off course we could not leave without dinner at Maddox's with the whole gang and the chicken is still the best I have ever eaten anywhere. Some things, fortunately, do not change!

We stayed Friday night in Layton with Emily and Brock. Saturday, Brock and I took care of our Mother's Day assignments - weeding and prepping the flower bed and got a sheet cake and chicken ordered for Sunday's extended family gathering. Emily and her mom, with Taylee's help, added a landscaping touch to the front of the house by planting flowers.


Cindy's grandparents' Logan home

JP Smith & Sons Printing building - Duane's grandfather

Saturday afternoon we drove down to Utah county and visited Jared and Dixie and the children Dylan, Emma, Isabel (Belle), and Abigail (Abby) in Mapleton. We had a good visit with the family and really enjoyed a fun dinner at the Model A restaurant in Mapleton. Jared is working in Livingston, Montana, now and is coming home on the weekends - driving - I just shake my head at that scarry thought, but he's a husband and father who misses his family and is willing to do what it takes to be with them until they can come north and join him.


We stayed Saturday night in Saratoga Springs with Nannie and Grandpa great and JB and then headed up to Layton for church with Brock and Emily. Ryan and his troops were in the Basin for Mother's Day, but made it back for a Mother's Day dinner in a Layton park later in the afternoon with the extended family. Unfortunately, the camera battery did not get recharged before the trip and it died Sunday after getting the one important picture of the 4 generations. I'll try and get pictures from a family member who took them of us with Ryan and his family and add them to this post later.

Emily,Taylee,Cindy,Nannie great

We drove home Monday morning, May 12th, and had that afternoon and Tuesday morning to get packed and ready for our trip to Australia.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

On the Road Again

No pictures for this post, but I had to mention that I got a good ride in today, 21+ miles, and it was beautiful outside. I went up through Snow Canyon State Park and made the circuit back down Hwy 18 and home. That is the first time I've gone up the canyon in over 2 years so I was pretty satisfied with myself for accomplishing that.

We're off to Tremonton, Utah, tomorrow for the next stop on the tour and we will leave for Australia on May 13th and should be back on the 25th if all goes well.

Arizona Trip

We drove to Gilbert, Arizona, on Thursday and spent an extended weekend with Nan and Julie and Mark and the boys. It was a fun and somewhat relaxing visit, as relaxing as can be with 4 grandsons. Friday we attended a patriotic themed school program that Bryce and Spencer participated in and I was impressed with the whole show. Very well done by all involved. Then it was off to a basketball game to watch Justin and Isaac play. Both are very good young players and we were impressed. It was great to finally be able to attend some of the grand children's activities.

We ate breakfast/brunch Saturday at a converted farm with restaurants. Good food and a fun time because we met a guy with an English bulldog that did tricks and Nannie fell in love with the dog.

Julie prepared baked halibut and mahi mahi for dinner with a crust that included parmesan cheese and boy was it good. That is a recipe we need to get.

We managed to stop and see Nan's digs where she works in downtown Phoenix on the way out Monday. Very impressive and she had done a great job with the interior decorating. Our renaissance daughter, a paralegal/interior designer.

Cindy, Nan, Dad

Nannie, Mark, Isaac, Bryce (front), Spencer, Julie, Justin, Grandpa