Friday, September 17, 2010

Another Tender Mercy

With only a couple more days left in Utah, Randy and I still needed to get some shopping accomplished. So on Friday we headed out to explore the Provo/Orem area with the goal of shopping at Deseret Book. We went to the new big one in Provo and I had my basket on my arm to place all my wanted items in. As I was walking from aisle to aisle, I noticed a lady painting a picture of sunflowers in the art corner. I just casually thought in my head, “Be Humble, Be Smart, Be Grateful, etc” for each of the big sunflowers. Then continued shopping and dreaming. Then, at one point, a lady came up from behind me and said, “Weren’t you in Salt Lake yesterday?” I said yes with a bit of skeptism. She said, I am the one which told you President Monson was in the store. Yeah, I had the opportunity to explain my crazy response of “Really???”. I explained that I stated it because I couldn’t believe she was letting us go over and be in the same area as him instead of telling us to stay on that side of the store. She laughed and said she wasn’t offended. She then wanted to introduce me to the artist in the store. She must be one of their marketing specialists…silly me I never really introduced myself or got to know her name. Note to self…do better next time. So, we went over to the artist, Sarah Rast. After saying “hi and all, I mentioned to her what thought came to my mind while I was watching her paint. We talked a bit more and then I excused myself to continue shopping after all I had only made it through ½ the store by this time and my basket was only 1/3 full plus I wanted to tell Randy about both ladies. At the point, where Randy and I were going through the basket of items to make the final “yes or no to buy” decision, the artist came over and told me she had added six bees to her painting because of my thought. I was floored at such an honor. I am definitely going to watch for that painting in future Deseret Book catalogs. Oh, I did go back to the area and look at the painting again. What wonderful memories to keep!

Tender Mercy

Something happened for the Smiths that happen to very few people – we were able to be in the company of President Monson and his beautiful wife, Francis for almost an hour. We were exploring parts of Temple Square with Jake, Emily and Ryan Wells and Emily asked if we had seen the big Deseret Book Store right across the street. We had not and so we decided to go explore the store. Now, I must share I did have a list of items I wanted to look at and purchase but didn’t want to take away from the valuable time to spend with the Wells. We maneuvered the stroller into the store and started to look around for just a few seconds when a lady approached us and said, “I just want to let you know that President Monson is in the store. He is on the other side. Just go down here, around and then back up and he is sitting right there watching the movie about his life.” We each had our own reaction to this information. Randy thought we would be asked to keep quiet and stay on this side of the store. I was a bit more vocal but had the same thought and said “Really???” She calmly said “yes, now hurry as he has been here for almost an hour now.” We were like a bunch of teenagers as we hustled our way to the area she described. Wow…right there within a few feet away was President Monson with Francis sitting next to him in her wheelchair. I really wanted Jake and Emily to soak in the moment, so I took Ryan and walked around the shelves of books close by so I could hear what was going on. Actually, I needed something to calm me down. Emily and Randy were able to get several pictures and even video of President Monson talking to us after the movie had stopped. As the movie was playing, President Monson would make comments regarding the story being shared. He would look over at Francis and say, “Remember that sweetheart?” Once the movie ended, he stood and said “Is that all, well, we best be going.” Then he made a comment about all of us young people not having anything better to do than share this time with him. As if we would rather be doing anything else…what was he thinking!!! He then proceeded to start talking to us and sharing more stories about his life and adding in quite a bit of humor to keep us laughing. What a blessing to have someone with such a busy schedule and of such great importance be so humble and willing to spend time with us and not just rush away. When he did depart, he took the time to shake everyones hand and greet them. There were about 25 of us or so. Ryan was with Jake at this time and President Monson touched Ryan’s head and said “hey there young fellow”. What a wonderful, wonderful treat for each of us. Needless to say, we left the store forgetting to continue shopping as we were all relishing in what just occurred. Oh, and Sheri Dew, an LDS author/inspirational speaker, was also there in the store at the same time.


From Yellowstone, we traveled to Highland, Utah to enjoy the hospitality of some great friends as a base station while exploring the Salt lake region. It was a very long hard day in the truck for me, so I had to use the first few days there to recuperate and establish firm ground again. Well, even though we envisioned spending every day going and doing various activities while there for a couple weeks, little did we know Heavenly Father had something even greater and more special planned for us. We arrived at our friends, the Converses, at a time where we were able to offer our extra hands to help them at a very busy time with their business. I don’t know which one of us was more excited with the opportunity to help. Randy was able to do something to use his hands (something he missed most once he was in management with the Air Force) and built crates to ship special items like plasma TVs, artwork, glass, stuffed animal heads, etc along with spend special time with Curtis just visiting. I was able to help in the office with filing, scheduling jobs, and best of all build a user friendly parts list spreadsheet for the staff. It was a great project and hopefully will be a useful product for them. Their children are homeschooled so I was able to experience how home schooling is done. I was even asked to do Sarah’s (2nd grade) lesson plans for the first week and then was able to help teach while we were there. I think I enjoyed Jordan’s reading lesson and art stuff and Sarah’s language the best. I even got to color with her. Whoo hoo!! Our days were long but oh so fulfilling. I left without finishing all I wanted to help with so maybe they will let us come back…then again maybe not.

While in Utah, we were able to see some of our friends from our wanderings with the Air Force. Time ran out prior to getting to visit with them all but we are mobile and these wheels will be making a return trip to Utah probably as soon as next spring!!! We were able to spend a great day at the Salt Lake Temple and Temple Square with Jason and Dixie Thompson, another great day at Temple Square with Jake, Emily, and Ryan Wells (more to follow), an afternoon with Jason, Dixie, Sadie, Lillie, and Janie Thompson at Swiss Days in Midway, a couple hours with John, Roberta, little John (not so little anymore), Mary, Katie, Brittnay, Shaylee, and Spencer Brassell visiting and catching up, and a day with Ben and Adrienne Pugmire and their three boys at This is the Place Heritage Park. Practically the first thing out of all their mouths was that they each wanted to see Karl. It is a blessing to have such a cool son that touched so many hearts. We were able to get together with our newest friends, the Haydens and Corbins, whom we met while they were trekking. It was a little odd to see them dressed normally and doing normal household chores. They are such cool friends it is gratifying to know we could continue to be friends not matter what circumstance we find ourselves. A testimony of true friendship. We shared an afternoon of visiting and reminiscing while enjoying delicious watermelon, popcorn and peanut butter cookies. I know our paths will cross again in the future.


First off, sorry about the format on the last post. I couldn't figure out how to correct the wrapping once the pictures were added.

In 1998, Randy and I traveled through Yellowstone on our way to Moab, Utah to retrieve our spoiled (by their grandparents) sons. I must say we barely (and I mean just barely) touched the surface of seeing the park but were quite impressed then. It was so exciting to have two days to really explore the park. I am still unable to do much physical activity so was concerned about how much we could really do but the park is very “limited ability” accessible that we did more than I probably should have. During our travels we saw buffalo a courting (don’t get in their way), deer, elk, fox with dinner in her mouth, and a young grizzly. Then we also saw lots of beautiful landscapes which kept the cameras clicking. I really enjoyed offering to take pictures of families at the various picturesque sites. The smiles of gratitude on their faces were well worth the couple moments of my time. After really exploring Yellowstone, I think we are going to add all the National Parks (okay the big ones) to our list of things to do while RVing….that should add a couple more years to this adventure.

Leaving Casper

We departed Casper on August 16 and headed out for a little Randy and Colleen time. Now, I must say we don’t work on traveling very far in one day; after all we are retired. So, the first day we made it 150 miles to Sheridan, WY. What a beautiful place to be. Both Randy and I commented on how we were really impressed with the area and could settle down there. When we checked into the campground, the owner shared lots of ideas about what to do and see while there. Well, we chose a couple of the items and headed out once camp was set up. The historic area of Sheridan was fun to explore.

The next morning we hooked back up and headed over the Bighorn Mountains to Cody, WY another 150 miles. The drive was beautiful to the top of the mountain with a slow gradual climb but once we reached the top we discovered an entirely different story. We were at over 8,000 ft in altitude and going to descend to the bottom at a 10% grade within just 13 miles. Now remember we are towing over 15,000 lbs behind us. A challenge conquered with ease and grace by my highly skilled husband. We pulled over a couple times to let the brakes cool down which gave me great picture opportunities. Once at the bottom, we checked the camper out and the only thing we discovered was a pretty strong stench of brakes inside but all was safe and sound. We then continued on towards Cody. Again, upon arrival, Randy and I commented on how we could settle down there. In fact, Cody was so intriguing that we decided to spend an extra day there exploring. The Buffalo Bill Museum itself could take two full days to see it all – we barely touched the surface of all it had to share.

The Bighorn in the Bighorn Mountains

The warning sign!

First stop to rest brakes. See how far we have come?

More to go!

Can you see why we fell in love with this area?

We even found a house we really liked, but I guess you can’t buy one without selling the one you already own, uh? Since we can’t have the house, we found a couple choices for upgrading our home on wheels in a couple years…which way should we go?

(Written while traveling I-80 from Salt Lake City to Laramie—not the most scenic stretch of America)
After Cody, we spent two days in Yellowstone National Park. The drive between Cody and Yellowstone was very, very scenic. We stopped at the Buffalo Bill Dam which was the prototype for the Hoover Dam. It was absolutely amazing as all of it was built by hand with very limited equipment while the Hoover Dam was built with more mechanical equipment available. The endurance and strength of our ancestors is impressive and should always be remembered and appreciated as I doubt very few of us would want to take on these type of undertakings today. During our travels, we have been given information on several job opportunities while full time RVing by either fellow RVers, reservation clerks, or just passer-bys. Well, such an occasion happened while making a lunch break stop in Shoshone Canyon right before Yellowstone. A gentlemen noticed we were from Texas (I know big laugh as we really aren’t from anywhere right now) and started visiting. He is a National Park Service volunteer that has free camping all summer while caretaking this viewing area in the canyon. He also gets a stipend for monthly expenses. After visiting for awhile, I put this one down in our book of possibilities as it was absolutely gorgeous and sounded so interesting. When making the reservations for Yellowstone, we were also told how to get a job working at Yellowstone for the summer. Sometimes I ponder on the thought that there is more work for retired people than for career hunters.

Trip to Newcastle

I wasn’t going to leave Casper without spending an entire day with my cousin, Carey. We had a great day traveling to Newcastle to do family history research. Her father and my grandfather were cousins and they both spent the majority of their lives in the Newcastle vicinity. So, our day began with lots of visiting as we drove for three hours. Once we arrived at Newcastle, we made a business stop for Carey and then made our way to city hall to start gathering burial information. Then we went to lunch at the infamous Old Mill restaurant. After lunch, we went to the Senior Center as they have all the past class pictures of the senior classes. It was fun to search for our family members in the various classes and then we would take the big picture off the wall, lay it on the floor and then take a snapshot of it for our records. Several older residents of the home were quite curious about our doings. Then we headed for the city museum and were able to get some stories that had been written by various family members about our ancestors from the Bits and Pieces magazine. What a great amount of information we were able to gather in such a short amount of time. Our last stop in Newcastle was the cemetery to take pictures of headstones – which I will place on Find A Grave for others possibly researching our family line. Thanks to Carey, we were able to find them all and I was able to honor several relatives I barely knew. On our way home, we stopped by Upton cemetery to find my Great Aunt and Uncle’s graves. She was my favorite great aunt and I wasn’t able to go to her funeral so it did my heart good to go visit her burial site. I tried to serve her by cleaning the area up a little. Anyway, after gathering records of close to 30 relatives and over 55 pictures, I felt we had a very successful day. What a great way to spend time with family members whom share the same interest.

Weekend Fun

After attending the graduation in Laramie, Patty and Grace followed us back to Casper to spend the weekend with us. It was filled with memory making times. We had several get-togethers (of course, with food) with Cousin Carey and family at the picnic grounds near the campground. It was so fun reminiscing about the past and thinking about where our lives have taken us. We also attended the Bear Mountain Blue Grass Festival during a very hot day. They had a great kid’s section to keep the younger ones busy and then a few vendors for us adults to do our best at spending money.

Cousin Carey and I enjoying the Bluegrass Festival.

Yummmm....another good food, good time for all.

Addy chasing bubbles in the air.

Sylvia's Graduation

Sylvia was blessed to have several family members attend her graduation -- my sister, Patty; our niece, Grace; Sylvia’s great grandma; Randy and I; and then her family. We were so proud to see her walk forward and receive her diploma and know that all her hard work has paid off. She even has a job at the hospital where she did most of her clinical once she has passed the boards. Another happy mom and dad moment!!

Sylvia showing off her diploma!

Sylvia's support group to help her earn her diploma.

My granddaughter, Addy, me and my grandmother, Dorothy. Not enough opportunities to get such a great picture.

Much Too Long

Written in Highland, Utah while sitting at the kitchen table watching the children do their school work.

Wow, there is so much to share! This will either end up a very large post or several posts to keep it controllable. We kept busy the last month at Casper by attending museums in the area, going to Laramie for a couple visits (one very special one to attend Sylvia’s graduation from nursing school), taking a trip to Newcastle to do family research, and spending lots of precious moments with Sylvia and family. We hope our grandchildren miss us as much as we miss them. Each one of them had a little thing they would do or some special phrase to say which just captured our hearts.

Addy and Papa doing dishes. This glass was rinsed at least 20 times. Much more fun to rinse then dry, I guess.

Patrick and Papa having a bubble war. I guess hot air pays off!

Real cool trick by Kathryn and Patrick.