Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Hello, Goodbye

2 days after the last post, the baby hummingbirds left the nest for good. This time around we were able to observe the process and it was amazingly fast. Monday, they were doing 5-10 second wing warmups where they moved them in the typical hummingbird high speed fashion. Tuesday they were flying around the tree in short spurts from branch to branch and Wednesday morning they were gone. I had hoped they might still be here when Mark and Julie and the boys arrived on Friday, but no such luck.

Mark and I, and 4 of our grandsons, and Isaac's friend Alex divided up into a 3-some and a 4-some and played 9 holes at Sunbrook on the Point course Friday afternoon. We had a really good time and I probably hit the best drive and fairway wood of my life back to back on the par 5 number 7 leaving me just 10 yards short of the green. Unfortunately, the chip shot did not match up with the first 2 shots and it took 2 puts to get down for par. The boys had been talking about going 18 holes, but 9 did me in. We finished a fun afternoon and evening with Hungry Howie's philly cheese steak pizza - yum!!

Saturday morning I had my opportunity to be host cook since Cindy had gone north on Thursday to attend a memorial service for the sister of her dear friend Debbie. Grandpa made his homemade syrup while Mark cooked bacon. I then cooked up 2 bread loaves worth of french toast. I just could not fill Julie up, ha! Get a group of teen and pre-teen boys and the stomachs can hold amazing amounts of food. But it was so much fun feeding the troops.

Before Mark and Julie and the boys left for Arizona, we went over to a new park along the Santa Clara river and tried out some fun new playground equipment. Justin even mastered the helicopter and got it flying at least 15-20' up with some control of the direction. I was impressed with the soft landings, well, most of them. By the time Spencer got a shot at it though, the battery was gone since I'd only charged it for an hour during breakfast.

Who is that big kid?

Cindy returned Sunday night and brought Emily and Taylee with her to stay with us for a week. Little miss energy is certainly keeping her Nannie and everyone else very busy. The following picture of Taylee I've dubbed the bubble queen.

Cindy and I got our last shots yesterday, at least until the MTC where we'll get several more. And today, I got out early, for me, and rode Snow Canyon to the top and down the trail along Hwy 18. A nice 22+ mile loop that took it out of me, at least enough to get me sitting and doing a blog post. I'm going to miss my bike rides while we're in India.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Ready for Flight

July has been a busy month. We went up on the ridge to watch the fireworks on the 4th and it was a minor miracle. Got there about 9:30 PM and found a great parking spot, took our lawn chairs over to an open lot, set up, and talked about 15 minutes before the show began. It was a perfect spot with the launches from SkyLine Drive on our left and looking directly at the launch site down by the Sun Bowl or whatever it's called. The fireworks were outstanding and when they were over, we tossed our stuff in the back of the truck and were on our way in less than 5 minutes following the traffic back to Valley View. Perfect!

Sunday night Ryan came to St George for some business and brought Jordan with him so we had fun with our grandson while Ryan did his thing on Monday. I finally got the helicopter charged, so I thought, and Jordan took a shot at flying it before they left to go back north. Kind of anti-climatic, but it did get off the ground - barely.

Julie, Spencer, and Bryce arrived the next evening, Tuesday, and stayed until Thursday when they had to go north to Provo to catch Isaac's last game at his soccer camp. The boys and I went on a hike up Cottonwood Canyon on Wednesday while the girls went shopping. But given a late start and the heat, we soon wound up in the shade in the bottom of the wash. It was fun though and I intend to go back and complete the hike at least to the point where the early pioneers had cut some tunnels through the sandstone in an attempt to bring water to the St George side for their crops. We did not quite make it that far this time out. No pictures, Grandpa forgot the camera. It was fun having the family here and we hope to see them again this Friday when Mark, Justin, and Isaac will be with them on their way back to Arizona. Golf this Saturday for sure.

For years I've told Cindy about Topaz Mountain and trips out there with the scouts, etc. Last Friday we took off on our own adventure and drove to Delta. We had time to explore the area a little and went out to Fort Deseret to see the remains of the adobe walls built in 1865 during the Black Hawk War. Amazing thing is 98 men put up the walls, 10' high, 3' at the base, and 1.5' at the top, in a 550' square in only 18 days. We also went to see the Great Stone Face rock formation that many claim has Joseph Smith's profile. You decide which profile is the great stone face ...

We were up early Saturday morning and on our way to Topaz Mountain passing by the Intermountain Power Project on our way. I could still remember a lot of the area, but a map and directions in a rock hounding book came in useful. A guy in a rock shop in Delta said the road in would be quite different if it had been 15+ years since I'd been there which was not the case, but once in the Topaz "Valley" area, it was very different, even disappointing to see so many new trails made by the 4 wheel drive generation. I found some topaz using the screening boxes I'd made many years ago while Cindy pounded on rocks with a small sledge I brought along looking for "holes" and topaz. Before we left, we did find some "holes" that had the unique Utah brown topaz. If I thought the area had been hammered 15 years ago, I was amazed at what has happened since. People with sledge hammers can sure change a landscape.

After we had our fill of hunting for topaz, we took a drive up the road to the end of the pavement where I remembered we could find obsidian. We continued on the unpaved road heading towards Wild Horse Springs, I thought, but I could not locate the turnoff and we were having fun just sight seeing anyway. The picture below is associated with one of the many mines in the area, some abandoned and a few still active. I walked up on top and there were some small piles of ore remnants. It appeared this site was for beryllium given the purple color in the rock.

Faced with a long drive back to St George, we ended our sight-seeing and headed back, dirty and tired, but we had our topaz. We managed to find the Topaz Internment location on the way back, but did not see the monument or restored rec hall that had been put up. Found out about that on the web after we got home. This was a historical location I had long wanted to visit and did not know exactly where it was until this trip. I hope nothing like that ever happens to American citizens again and I'll leave my commentary at that.

JB came down with his team for the St George Heat Stroker softball tournament Friday and Saturday nights. He and 4 team members slept at our place. First games began at 7 PM and then they played into the AM to complete the tournament. They won their 3 games Friday night, but did not fare as well Saturday night. I was out like a light when they came back after midnight. Their second loss ended their tournament play and they decided to head home rather than sleep. They got something to eat, gathered up their stuff, and headed north, getting home around 5:30 AM. Cindy was a trooper who went to the late Saturday games and stayed up to feed and see them off.

We'll close this post with a picture of the second brood in the hummingbird nest this year. They are so close to flight now and both baby birds cannot sit down in the nest together anymore. Cindy has seen them several times today fanning their wings for brief periods, getting the muscles ready for flight. They are very active preening themselves, stretching, doing the wing warm-ups, sticking their tongue out, etc., but they freeze if they discover us watching or I go out the front door. Nannie noticed something amazing today. Their tongue looks like a piece of thread that comes out and extends past the end of their beak for at least the length of the beak itself. When I finally saw it and recognized what I was seeing, it was wow!! I can understand now how they get nectar from the flowers. The beak is just a part of it and that tongue can go quite a ways into the flower.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

It's a Small World

We've been in contact with the couple, Val and Laura Dunn, that we will replace in New Delhi. They returned in May this year and are in Cedar City this week for a few days to attend the Shakespeare Festival. We drove up today to meet with them and spent 4 hours talking about their mission. They talked about a Brother Katuka and his family. Brother Katuka became the #1 guy on the water projects when they left. In the conversation, they mentioned that he was the first missionary called from India and that got the wheels turning for Cindy.

Cindy's parents had run a mini-MTC when they served in Madras, India, back in the 80's and she called them on the way home to find out if they knew an Elder Katuka and sure enough, he was in the first group of 4 missionaries that they taught. What a connection over 20 years later. It will be so great to meet him and his family when we get to New Delhi.