Sept. 28- Oct. 4: A Pearl of Great Price

 

Last letter, I forgot to write about one other party. I threw a “1L Law School Party,” the week before school started, and invited all of my classmates in the entering class. It was outside in my backyard and we had plenty of food and sat around in camp chairs. So much pulled pork. One of the students, Erin C., brought a delicious lemon poppyseed cake, and it was wonderful to meet each other and talk about our hopes and fears for the upcoming school year. Normally the school puts on some functions, but there were no in-person activities sponsored by the school, and those who did come to the party, were so grateful for the chance to meet one another, and most of my closest law school friendships originated from this night.

I have always loved general conference week. I do miss attending in person and seeing the great congregation of saints meet at the conference center in Salt Lake City. However, we are still blessed to hear from God’s living prophet, and that is what counts. I fondly remember playing legos and tinker toys in the church lobby during Saturday’s sessions as a kid – much has changed since then.

Towards the very end of this conference, Elder Holland referenced 1 Nephi 1:2. It’s right at the start of the Book of Mormon, literally on the first page, and I’ve read it countless times, yet he shared a new insight. Part of the verse reads,

I Nephi,…having seen many afflictions in the course of my days, nevertheless, having been highly favored of the Lord in all my days…make a record of my proceedings in my days.

As Elder Holland pointed out, we will have MANY afflictions, but we shall be blessed in ALL our days, as we follow the covenanted path. I know that is true.

This week has been one filled with no afflictions, and an exceedingly many blessings.

I’m now some 6 weeks into law school. The time has flown by. I love studying the material and learning how the law works. We had our first test, and while much remains to improve, I appreciated the feedback, and am excited to keep learning.

So far, two things seem clear. First, I need to be in a courtroom setting. I can’t imagine handling contracts and doing research without much interaction or opportunities to speak. Tanner is doing transactional law and will be focused on researching, drafting, negotiating and advising. It’s an important work and I admire those who do it. Going in, and seeing Tanner’s enthusiasm for the work led me to think it might be a good fit for me as well. 6 weeks in, I cannot imagine ever, ever doing this type of work. It holds no interest for me, and I am fascinated by courtroom arguments and litigation exploits.

Second, I have been amazed by my classmates. Given that much of our extracurricular activities that are normally so prominent in law school are non-existent, I didn’t anticipate getting so close to my fellow students. Instead, I count them among my best friends, and their ambitions and talents are truly inspiring.

Last Sunday, I delivered the poem I had written to Jules. Since then, it’s been an absolute whirlwind. Monday, she got off work at 11 pm, called, picked me up spontaneously, and we went to pick something up from someone off of KSL. It was really fun. Sometimes the best times aren’t planned. Tuesday, the plan was to play spikeball with Tyler and Eliza. Jules had a commitment though, and asked if instead, she could take me to dinner at 5 pm. Of course I agreed, and at 5 pm, sat waiting, amused at the fact that I was now on the opposite side of how it normally is, i.e. getting picked up instead of doing the picking up. 5:10 came and went, as did 5:20. Finally, she called, apologizing and letting me know that she was in Payson, had just left the temple with her family (her nephew received his endowments to leave on his mission that day) and was on her way back to Provo. And then asked if I wanted to have dinner with her family. And so it was, that at 6 pm, instead of eating at Cupbob Korean BBQ, I was at her brother’s house, meeting four of her siblings, her mom and dad, and like 10 nieces and nephews. And, it was really fun. Her family is amazing. They are obviously very close-knit, and when her dad just wanted to talk about the federal reserve, I was in my element. Of course, the trains being played with and the track being built, made me feel at home.

Wednesday September 30, I hung out and had ice cream with Jules and her sister Rachel. Then we walked Rachel home and made thank-you cards together. And, we may or may not have kissed. There are no witnesses. But someone did want to run all the way home, ecstatic at how everything has been progressing.

Thursday, Jules worked from 6:30 am – 11 pm so I called an emergency meeting of the Knights of the Hot Tub and we reunited at the Isles to catch-up after I finished up all my law school classes and homework.

Friday, she worked another extra long day, but my luck held out, as she came by at 11 pm again, and we went together for a walk around the neighborhood.

Here’s the pictures from our first date. She painted my picture, and i painted hers. Obviously, she’s much more talented in this regard.

 

Saturday, we had dinner at Tanmarie’s after the afternoon conference session, and then snuggled on the couch and talked from 10 to midnight after she got back from the women’s session.

And Sunday, was in Jules’ words, the best date yet. I had dinner with Porter, then met her for a walk, followed by some swinging at a park, and then we did facials, putting clay masks on, and listening to some hymns. It was sooooo relaxing and fun. In the picture, I had already started taking mine off, before she took a picture.

So, it’s been a good week.

In other news, I received an email saying that Ancestry.com had updated my genetic dna profile. When I saw the changes, I felt ripped off, as its dramatically changed, and shows that their estimates aren’t close to being accurate. I could have given a better estimate just off of my family tree. So if you’re thinking about paying for a test, my strong recommendation would be to not waste your money on one. Here are the updated results:

52% england/northwestern europe

32% scotland

6% norway

5% sweden

5% ireland

For FHE, we played cabbage ultimate. Everyone loves this game! It’s like ultimate frisbee, but instead of a frisbee, you throw around a cabbage. Last week, we did an egg drop, from Blueridge’s balcony. In this picture, some of the eggs are being dropped. Remarkably, not a single egg cracked.

This week for book club, we started Doestevsky’s “Demons.” One of the members, John, has been having a hard time and just had a birthday so Dr. Scott and his wife had the group over for a steak dinner. I whipped up some chocolate pies for dessert, and loved the dinner. I think we all enjoyed simply conversing over the meal, instead of focusing solely on the book.

One more conference quote from Pres. Nelson:

“I am not saying that the days ahead will be easy, but I promise you that the future will be  glorious for those who are prepared, and who continue to prepare to be instruments in the Lord’s hands.”

Texas part 2: July 16-27

And so my idyll continued in the land of sagebrush and bluebonnets.

Breyer took me to her gymnastic class and I saw her pass off an impressive gymnastic move (I think its called the backward handspring). 

A truly incredible candid. Breyer, hand on her hip, and leather glove on for protection, nonchalantly holds a banana as Miller hurls a playing card in an effort to cut it in half.

__________________________________________________________________________________

My time in the Lonestar State was limited however. Saturday July 18th, while driving back from South Dakota, I received a phone call from Dean Stewart, dean of admissions at BYU Law. She called offering a 1/2 tuition scholarship to BYU, which I happily accepted. I had been holding out hope for a full-ride, but felt grateful for the chance to attend BYU, and see that dream of mine come true. Additionally, the phone call itself was something of a miracle. My phone had no service through all of Nebraska, and parts of South Dakota, and we were quickly approaching the Nebraska border where my service would end. In fact, the service quit out right at the conclusion of our 7+ minute call.

To back up a few days…

One of my summer goals was to visit the last 4 continental states I have never set foot in, namely Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota and South Dakota. Due to my change of plans and heading to Texas, it didn’t look likely.

I mentioned the idea on Sunday July 12th, as we looked at some old photos as a family. I was using the projector to show the pictures to everyone, and after showing my Boise trip, I pulled up an online map to show my audacious route that I had planned. And thus, we were talking about the great North.

I threw the idea out of making a trip, and it was bounced around intermittently like a pinball, while we laughed and laughed at all the old memories.

Monday saw a comment or two offered in support. Tuesday, was a, “Let’s do this!” 24 hours, and by the afternoon support was consolidated and the crew was packing for a 4-day adventure of a lifetime. It took some convincing to get us going on Wednesday, but Dad has long wanted to go to Mount Rushmore and that was the key. Cooper opted to stay home, and Mom wasn’t jumping at the bit over a 40 hour roundtrip car-ride (plus she had to work,) so the Prius passengers were Dad, me, Sawyer, Miller, and Breyer.

We finished packing late Tuesday and left early Wednesday morning for Oklahoma. One important detail is that it was agreed upon (partly by necessity), that this trip would be travelled “Hunter-style,” aka no plans/reservations made in advance.

We cruised through north Texas, Oklahoma, and made our way into Kansas (one of my longtime favorite states) around lunch. We hauled until Salina, and then stopped at the legendary Hickory Hut BBQ. I ate here once years ago (maybe 2012??) and it was love at first bite. In 2014, I tried stopping by on my way to college, only to reach it when it was already closed. This time, lady luck was on our side, and I again cherished each bite of the world’s best sandwich, The Texas Slammer. My oh my so delicious.

I had been curious as to whether the males or females would talk more during the trip. That question was answered by 2 pm, as my rough word count after the first 8 hours looked like this:

-Dad: 1,356

-Hunter: 450

-Sawyer: 1,532

-Miller: 7

-Breyer: 18,641

Yet, they were 18,641 happy words, and often quite amusing.

Our travels kept us going north and I loved seeing the heart of America. Small towns and lots of farms. One fun stop was at the Midget AutoRacing Hall of Fame. Alas, to the chagrin of the younger kids, this was not for midget race car drivers, but for the type of car. That night, we made it until Chadron, Nebraska, population 5,800. I had looked up hotels along the route, so we knew they had a Holiday Inn there. Holiday Inn is my favorite hotel chain, and I lobbied that it was a good place to spend the night. It was about 10 pm when we pulled in, and we were just under 2 hours from Mount Rushmore (where the hotels were substantially more expensive).

Dad got us a room, we unloaded and made it to room 209, given that the first floor was sold out. We had travelled 993 miles, and were all in high spirits, anticipating the wonders and adventure that the next day would bring.

Thing is, the next day started off a lot earlier than anybody had expected.

I woke up suddenly to screams. And as I type this, the chills I felt come back. These were blood curdling screams and I did what came first into my mind – I started screaming too. Not in a “help me, something is wrong” type of way, but in a “the world is ending right now and I don’t know where I am” manner. Its amazing what the voice is capable of.

It took me a second to realize what was going on. The mind-numbing white strobe light didn’t help at all. Figuring it out, I switched tactics from screaming to shouting, “CALM DOWN!!! CALM DOWN!!!” I don’t know if that helped at all, we were all so confused, (Dad shouting “Where is a light?!?!” and screams still being heard), but a few seconds later we all came to the realization that it was the fire alarm going off, and I flipped a light switch on, and we shuffled out. Correction, we shuffled out, Dad calmly went to use the bathroom, while the rest of us were waiting to get the heck out of Dodge. Nevertheless, we made it out of our door, saw all of our neighbors sticking their heads out asking if anyone knew what was going on, and continued down the stairs to the front lobby. Our bewildered neighbors followed our lead. Apparently our action moved them out of their daze, and they followed us down, many of them shoeless, dentureless, and epitomizing the ‘deer in the headlights’ stare.

It was a long 30 minutes, as the volunteer fire chief in the town woke up and came down to check the situation out, the hotel general manager woke up and came down, and then they both shrugged their shoulders, said they’d keep trying to figure out what set it off and told us all we could return to our rooms.

On our way back to our room, I freaked out and started feeling really bad, fearful of what could happen. In my mind, it was the classic “cry wolf” scenario in which the fire hadn’t been discovered and now that the alarms had been manually turned off and our guards put down, we would all burn later in the night. That kept me and Sawyer both up for nearly three additional hours, until around 5 a.m. I finally dozed off….

Too much to say, I must sum up.

We visited Mount Rushmore the next morning. It exceeded expectations and we spent a few hours there. One highlight was meeting Daryl Redcloud, the great (x4?) grandson of Chief Redcloud. He provided an interesting perspective. Next, we traveled to see the Crazy horse monument. A quick peek was sufficient and we headed to downtown Keystone. Meandering, we loved the old-time styled shops and ate at a local pizzeria. The crowds were amazing. A few people had masks, but for the most part, you never would have guessed we were visiting in the midst of a pandemic.

After stopping by a Norwegian Chapel, that evening, we took a drive through Custer State Park. I think this was my favorite place that we visited. I LOVED the scenery. Truly breathtaking. The rock formations were otherworldly. We ended up getting a little lost, and I may or may not have been acting as co-pilot at the time. Yet, we saw lots of wildlife including two buffalo, and after some scary moments, worrying about long-dead indians and miners, and stopping for a rattlesnake on the road, we made it out of the park.

That night was much less eventful, and we enjoyed a good sleep in another Holiday Inn, this one located in Rapid City.

Friday morning we went to Deadwood, famous as the place where Wild Bill Hickok was shot dead while playing cards. We visited his and Calamity Jane’s gravestones and wandered around the town, now filled with casino’s before making a stop at Sturgis. Sturgis is a small-town of about 6,000 people, but every summer holds the world’s largest motorcycle rally, with between 400,000-800,000 attendees. We were 3 weeks too early, but the town was already in full-on preparation mode. After a quick stop at the Motorcycle Hall of Fame, we stopped at a national cemetery where some of Custer’s 7th calvary members were buried, and started our way home.

Lunch was late, but we were trying to make it to Wall Drug and succeeded. I first heard about it years ago, from reading a Richard Paul Evans book, “the Walk” and have wanted to visit since. As has my father, so we eagerly watched each billboard go by, and made it to the tiny town which has nothing except for this gigantic drugstore/mall. It has everything imaginable, and then some. I bought a belt buckle for one of the belts I made with Sawyer, then we hightailed it from there, and hit the highway again.

We were on our way to the Badlands, when I received the call from Dean Stewart. I had told her a few weeks earlier that my minimum to attend BYU was a 1/2 ride, and sure enough, that’s what they offered. Since then, I’ve gone over and over our conversations, wondering if I should have asked for a full-ride. I think they would have given it to me. But, who knows, and I consider myself very blessed to even be accepted and now attending school at BYU.

We cruised through the badlands, and while it was extraordinary, I don’t think it measured up to the heights that Custer State Park set. To be fair, everyone says that at sunrise and sunset the reflecting light illuminates the park and is spectacular, and we were only going through in the afternoon.

We tried one small hike, but with our limited supply of water, we ran out, and called the attempt off due to the 100+ degree heat. That was our last stop in South Dakota, and we went all the way  to North Platte before stopping for a night. It took us 15 tries to get a hotel, but we were eventually able to spend the night at a new motel 6.

The next day saw our return to Kansas. My oh my, I just love Kansas. We again stopped at the Hickory Hut, and my stomach is growling just thinking about eating there again. It is the BEST BBQ. We made additional stops at the midpoint of the continental USA, and then at the cabin where “Home on the Range,” was written. I loved that quick detour, and could feel the peace that exists living off of the land, on the prairie, scraping out a living, and communing daily with nature.

3 days. 6 states. 2,000 miles. We were back home again.

Before I left to go to Utah again, a member of the Granbury Ward, Bro. Cranford, got Sawyer, Miller and I, out to play golf at one of the nicest public courses in Texas. That was a blast, and a perfect ending. Sawyer had one of the best approach shots I’ve ever seen, birdieing the first hole. My best shot came on the 7th, a dogleg left over a lake. I drove the green, 340 yards away, then sunk the 20 foot downhill eagle putt. Sawyer and Miller are thus some of the few people who have ever seen my screaming eagle dance. Not that they wanted to or will ever be able to forget it now. And Miller. The kid knows how to do a Happy Gilmore, and he beat his front nine score by 10 shots, by doing the routine on every tee shot on the back. Unbelievable.

I planned to leave Monday July 27th, but last minute decided to stay one more day. Twas as wonderful as the rest, and we were able to get in some chinese checkers and other games. We also went and saw the german shepherds at the rescue. Given that I was going to BYU, I know that it wasn’t a good time to get a pet. But Mom wanted to go and I was sure it would be fun. Hilariously, it took about 5 minutes before Mom and Miller concluded that they needed to get one of the dogs. I guess they were just going to miss me too much 🙂 And sure enough, within 10 hours of me leaving, they went back and picked up the dog, now named Dodger. I also said goodbye to Cooper, unsure if I’d see him again before his mission, and headed out dark and early Tuesday morning for the long, lonely drive back to Provo.

The next missionary: Going to SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA!!!!

Texas Part 1: July 1-15

When I last left off, I had all but assured my admittance into BYU, and had ramped up my travel plans to leave the next day, July 1st, for Texas.

So, on Wednesday July 1st, after an evening of ribs and hot tubbing, I headed at 6:23 am for another long drive. It passed uneventfully. Aunt Jenny sent me an early birthday present and instructed me to buy some snacks for the journey. Those helped and the miles flew by. All 1,184 of them. As part of my last-minute preparations the day before, I stopped by Discount Tire to fix a tire that was flat. I had been using my spare in the interim, and thought that it would be wise to have the extra on-hand just in case. They advertise free flat repair, and I foolishly dropped it off (due to a long wait time,) and went golfing with Mike until it was done. I returned, picked the car up, thanked them, and headed out. Little did I know. They didn’t hand me a receipt or comment on anything. Instead it was my dad who called later, wondering if everything was alright. Turns out while I was golfing, they called him (even though I left my phone number and asked them to call me,) and had him authorize and pay for 2 tires. I was fuming by the shady business technique, realizing it was the last day of the month, and probably done by some some employee trying to their monthly quota. They told my dad that I needed four new tires, and the only reason he didn’t purchase all of them was his remembrance that I had relatively new tires – he just didn’t remember how many. I found out after they were closed and couldn’t delay the trip, but needless to say, as soon as they opened in the morning, I called Discount Tire to rant. And rant I did. The manager refunded $75, and I vowed never to go back again. I suppose in the scheme of things its an extremely unimportant episode, yet it served to show me how many people are taken advantage of, and how the “righteous indignation,” (which I use liberally here,) which I felt, should be used to help those in need and to advocate for the voiceless. Its a lesson I hope to take with me throughout law school and in the workplace.

I made it safely home to Granbury near 2 a.m., and was thankful to have arrived without incident. At noon, I had my interview with Dean Stewart. I did dreadful, and my over exuberance vanished. A good friend at the law school, Nicol, helped cheer me back up, and I was left to wait for official news.

The first trip we took was to Tyler, on Friday July 3rd. As usual, there were lots of games and swimming. Different this time, were wins against Aunt Janel and Evan in ping-pong. I woke up on the 4th feeling great. Only a week earlier, I had fully expected to experience a 1/4 life crisis. Turning 25 felt monumental. Not only does it mark the halfway point of my 20’s, and the halfway point to 50, it also is the age someone can be elected to the House of Representatives. As always, I had to take a deep look at where I was. It’s crazy how much doing well on the LSAT helped. And of course, being with family helped immeasurably. The day was topped off with some delicious carrot cake and trivia questions.

We left Sunday morning and made it back to Granbury. Here are some pictures of fun activities:

Miller playing disc golf. The matches usually were a toss-up between him and Sawyer.

But I still had fun with them. I’m getting used to losing to my younger siblings in events that I once viewed as guaranteed wins.

Cooper launching his shot.

Porter rounded out the top-3.

Sawyer helped teach me leatherworking skills. Here, I finally finished cutting and stamping my design (Dad remarked how our house sounded like a telegraph office, with tap-tap-tapping for hours at a time,) and am staining it black.

Cooper received the Melchizedek Priesthood was ordained an Elder in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. July 12, 2020.

Breyer was inseparable from Waggie. Here they are, with me too, in one of her forts. Waggie was dragged into her bed and spent hours an end in confinement but was a good sport the whole time. It didn’t help that she kept an endless supply of treats on hand to help him stay still.

My goal of having an Amazing Race came to fruition. Luke and Aunt Janel visited from Tyler, and on Friday the 11th we had a 4 team race. Here, Luke and Cooper, aka Stone Spooner and Squirts MacIntosh are introducing themselves for the hype video. The other teams were Aunt Janel and Sawyer; Dad and Miller; and Porter and Breyer. For a couple of hours, the teams danced and sang, completed tough puzzles, ran to spots around the neighborhood, and worked together through-out. Dad and Miller dropped out, unable to do some of the tasks, and in the end it was a nail-biter finish, with Sawyer and Aunt Janel just edging out Porter and Breyer. For their efforts, the winning team won $50. We took lots of footage and I hope to edit it into a video.

This is right when the teams are about to sprint off and find their first clue.

Sawyer and Aunt Janel – the ultimate winners – completed one clue by learning and showing the 8 mandatory bodybuilding poses used in competitions.

Dad dancing and singing his solo “Dancing Queen.” Blackmarket copies of this video are being sold for $10,000’s….or will be. Watch 20 seconds and guarantee your day will be happier. Here you can see part of his famous dancing style.

Here’s team Proletariats, opting to do a puzzle instead of a tough trivia challenge.

And doing their hype video.

Finally, here is Luke struggling to finish off the raw beet to get their next clue.

The race was truly epic, and due to popular request, we had an encore the next day, so Mom could participate in it. Friday she had been at work. There were new teams, new challenges, and new winners. My favorite challenge for this one, was where the contestants had to learn and dance a traditional Indian dance, the Bhangra.

To close part one of my trip to Texas, here is a scripture I love, Hosea 10:12.

Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the Lord, till he come and rain righteousness upon you.

I testify that as we seek the Lord, he will fulfill his promises and rain down blessings upon us, even that we might have a fulness of joy. This trip home has been perhaps my all-time favorite trip to see the family. I think it is because we tried to follow the admonitions above.

We sang. We played. We laughed. We ate. We bonded. We loved. And we sought after righteousness.

Reaching the Summit: June 22-30

Mt. Nebo is the highest peak in the Wasatch Range. The snow finally melted to allow an ascent, and I decided to give it a shot. Doing so turned out to be much more difficult than I imagined – compounded of course by human error. Thursday June 25, I left at 7:30 am with my ward friends Maddie and Sandra. The mountain is about 15 miles south of Provo. That’s as the crow flies, but I didn’t think it would be too much farther following the roads. I had approx. 70 miles left in the tank, and figured if I needed to, I would stop on the way back or at a gas station closer to the mountain as the farther south you go, the cheaper gas is.

Turns out, after a few miles, we turned off onto a rural road, and there was no gas station. But instead of turning around, we pressed on thinking we would be fine. Then we made it to the mountain, and the road up wound around and around the mountain, taking a full 18 miles to get to the trail head. Except we were also going up, and our gas mileage was awful. At the trail head, and our gas reading had gone from 70 miles to 11…..in other words, we weren’t going to make it back. Yet, in stubborn denial, I parked and we started the hike.

It clocks in at just under 9 miles round trip. Reviews stated the “first four miles in are easy.” Whoever wrote that must have lived a difficult life, because it was not easy. We huffed and puffed through the thin air, with our breaks becoming more frequent. One lovely aspect of this hike is that it is far less popular than Mt. Timpanagos and we only saw a few hikers and one group during our climb.

We made it 3.5 miles and then encountered the steep uphill part. Each step became labored, and picking out intermediate goals helped. Our crew of three,a turned to two, as Sandra bowed out, some 600 vertical feet lower than the peak. Which means she had made it up the first 11,300 feet but the last bit involves some climbing and her fear of heights made it impossible for her to continue. It’s rated as a class-3 scramble,  and there is no marked trail. It’s rather simple – however you can make it up, you go for it.

This is a photo of Maddie and I on one of the false summits – there is a ridge to cross and then another bit to go up. We left Sandra below and she snapped a picture of our climb.

Maddie and I both made it all the way to the top, and it was amazing. Yes, the views, but mostly the feeling of accomplishment having done something hard and not given up.

The way down was less demanding but still arduous and our knees took the brunt of the pain. Of course, there was never any thought of quitting on the way down. We enjoyed much more enlightening conversation returning, aided by our ability to breathe easy. The clouds came in covering us, and the relief was accentuated as cool rain pitter-pattered our hot necks and freshened up the meadow to where it smelled like a dream.

We are standing here on one of the few snow spots left.

We made it back to the van, and the idyllic wilderness bared its teeth as we had to face the truth that we needed gas desperately. Our original intention to coast down the mountain and seek help at the bottom quickly failed as the our meter continued to sink. With 5 miles left in our tank and with 12 miles left of the mountain, I started pulling over and talking to RV campers. The first had no gas left, but with the second I struck paydirt, interrupting a family and their BB gun shooting to plead for petrol. They had plenty for their generator, and were kind enough to share, even refusing any payment. When Maddie and Sandra (still in the car) saw me get the gas can, they started cheering loudly for the benefactor. I confess that like Uncle Zach, I too, have secretly wanted to run out of gas at some point, just not like this – after an exhausting hike and with two ladies, so it was a relief to find that Good Samaritan and make it down safely.

I returned to one of the best messages one can receive – a dinner invite with Aunt Becky! She was in town to see Kayla, Ryan, and Scout, and I quickly showered and made it back to Springville to see them. A delightful evening followed, and although I didn’t want to intrude too much on their time together, when a return invite for the next day was offered, there was no way I could refuse. Porter joined me for round two. It was wonderful remembering some of our New Hampshire memories from years past, and the food Kayla made exceeded all expectations – but let’s be real, Scout was the star. Talk about a well-behaved baby! She’s a cutie, and my time holding her passed without a mishap.

It was during these days that my thoughts of going to UCONN solidified and I began listing some belongings for sale. I had reached an agreement for the bookcase and some other items, (including the last month of my house contract) when I got cold feet and asked for a few more days before I officially sold everything. And I am very glad I did. On Tuesday June 30th, I would find out my LSAT score and if UCONN would have in-person or online classes this fall. Then, I figured on Thursday I would bid Utah adieu and head to Texas by way of Mt. Rushmore –> Fargo –> Minneapolis –> Menoumonie, WI –> Lincoln, Missouri then Granbury. And from Texas to Connecticut. I didn’t think my score would improve much and regardless if UCONN had all online classes, a move was required to get in-state tuition next year.

Tuesday morning, the UCONN news implied some in-person classes. I was up at 7, and had an email regarding my LSAT score by 7:05. I refused to look at it yet though, and continued my daily routine. At 9:30, at the gym with Jacob and David, I finally decided to open it up. (I wanted the adrenaline to increase the weights.) Lo and behold, my eyes didn’t believe the result. My score improved 5 points to 169!! 5 points might seem small, but provides a huge boost.

Turns out, I still couldn’t set a new weight record, and I didn’t care a bit. All of a sudden, so many new possibilities opened up, illustrated by my call to Tanner. The first thing he asked was if I was joking. Assured I was not, he asked if I’d be applying to other schools.

I apologized to the people in line to buy my belongings, and let them know everything was off the table. Before I could reach out to BYU, they messaged me, offering congratulations and an interview was set up for Thursday.

Thursday was to be my travel day, and so I decided to leave the next day, Wednesday, but go straight to Texas and without moving. Before I could get ready to leave, I had a very important commitment. Dillon, Reigen, and I had planned one more “Boys Night.” We have had good times in the past, and yet this Tuesday night surpassed them all. Dillon smoked a couple racks of ribs, and we all chipped in for those and brought some sides and dessert. That gluttonous fest was followed by to the Isles Apt. Complex hot tub and pool where we stayed for a few hours. Simply put, if it had been my last night in Utah, I couldn’t imagine a better way to leave.

At home, I packed in 20 minutes, and then struggled to sleep, still amazed at how the day had turned out.

My first thought, and the recurring feelings I had throughout the day involved mostly gratitude. Truthfully, I’ve struggled mightily to study since quitting my job. While I’ve hinted at that, I’ve been ashamed to admit quite how little. I don’t think I put in the effort at this time to deserve the increase. While I have tried to help those in need and and serve those around me, I do know that many people, especially family, have prayed and even fasted for me. I credit all improvement to that. Thank you.

 

June 15-21: Atlas Shrugged

  1. Rapid-fire for this last week. And lots of pictures.

-The long-anticipated LSAT happened Monday morning. My roommate Tyler offered to let me use his laptop, and it went off without a hitch. I’d guess I did better, but because  the exam was moved online (with virtual proctors), it was shortened to 3 sections from 5, and I don’t know how that will affect the bell-curve based scoring.

-Tuesday was my first completely free day with nary a worry on the horizon as they say. As the sun and rose and set, it saw me go practice golf at the newly renovated East Bay, work out, and then try to write a little and work on some projects. Except I kept getting distracted by food blogs.

-amazing race….this idea has been fermenting around my brain for a while. I wrote out some tasks for a family contest, and then watched a few episodes to help facilitate further ideas. Coming to Texas July 2020.

I also conducted some experiments and came up with some new recipes:

–papaya salsa, seen here with nachos…verdict: the papaya detracts from the salsa as a whole.

a new shampoo…ingredients: beet juice, baking soda, coconut oil, aloe vera, and eucalyptus and peppermint essential oils.

Pouring the finished product. Turned out AMAZING! Hair felt and looked great. Downside is that fresh aloe vera goes bad after a few days, so it has to be used up quickly.

lots of vegetables were cooked and eaten this week.

flower arrangements were made.

New fruits taste tested include “rambutan,” very popular in southeast Asia. The first one I tried must have been rotten, as I couldn’t even finish the little guy. I would have stopped there, but had to at least attempt the others so as not to waste. They were much better, and validated google’s remark that it is known for its “delicious taste.”

Sunday we had the usual dinner with Porter a la brasileiro and scrabble game and then a Father’s Day themed Jeopardy game via zoom with the whole family.

Annemarie and Tanner did a great job putting on the show, and I hope it becomes a family tradition. Heaven knows it will be tough, nigh impossible, to top this year’s edition, but I’ll let them worry about that part.

I went on two dates this week. Recapped out of order:

Saturday I had planned to go hiking with Yazmin. We were going to do a short sunset hike near Salt Lake City, but our double partners cancelled so we made it a zoom date instead. This was my first time trying a virtual date and I’m not a fan. It felt awkward and impersonal. We talked from 8-8:45 and I asked her on a real date to which she agreed. Here’s the important part: As soon as it ended, I saw I had missed a few calls. This was perfect timing as someone was looking for a priesthood blessing at 9pm, and hadn’t reached anyone else. It was cool to be reminded once again how God is aware of all of our needs. If I had gone to SLC, I wouldn’t have been back before 10:30.

The other date was date #3 with Hannah. We ate mochi ice cream balls and walked on a mountain trail while conversing. Mochi is a japanese treat made of a outer rice dough covering (providing a weird texture), and filled with a coconut cream interior. “Eh…” followed with a shoulder shrug summarizes my reaction. While good and refreshing on such a hot day, I think normal ice cream tastes better. That “eh…” could also summarize my thoughts about the date. We apparently got the same vibes, because we haven’t talked since that night and both seemed content to go on our separate paths. Nevertheless, after 15 months of only first dates, I enjoyed going on a 2nd and a 3rd date.

And while I’m on the subject of love, here is one of the most pertinent scriptures in my opinion. It comes from Alma 38:15, and amazes me how relevant counsel given 2000 years ago still is. The world was utterly different at the time, yet applies fantastically to dating today.

“Use boldness, but not overbearance; and also see that ye bridle all your passions, that ye may be filled with love; see that ye refrain from idleness.”

The entire chapter was recommended to me by a professor as great advice for recently returned missionaries, and this verse in particular stood out as testifying how one must have control of emotions and passions in order to feel true love. If faith and doubt cannot coexist, then neither can lust and love. 

 

June 8-14: Bonds of Affection

Two dates happened this week, but I should clarify that this post’s title comes from Matt Holland’s book about Winthrop, Jefferson, Lincoln, and their idea of charity – nothing else.

Tuesday I had a date with Sarah, whom I met via Mutual. She is studying English at BYU, and served her mission in Singapore. For this date, we made acai bowls. Robert and Haylie came over as well, and we cut up a bunch of (mostly) tropical fruit and blended up some acai. My favorite is made by blending acai with a little of guarana and banana, but we made do with just the acai and banana. Adding a little condensed milk on top, they turned out delicious! We then played scattergories and bananagrams.

Friday was my second date with Hannah. It was PERFECT! A lot of that has to do with things I can’t control – weather, crowds, etc – so it was wonderful that allwas well. I picked her up at 7:30 and we drove half an hour up to Squaw Peak, talking the whole time and enjoyingour time together. We made it to the trailhead and headed up, through the wonderful meadow and to Buffalo Peak. This time, we made it at the right moment, and even though some clouds rolled in, saw a beautiful sunset. We found a small spot to sit, and then Hannah surprised me by pulling out homemade cranberry/blueberry muffins. I had mentioned that they are my favorite type, but I never imagined she’d make them for me. It was very kind. We stayed a little too long at the top talking, and by the time we made it back to the van, it was quite dark out.

 

Deseret Industries opened up this week, and on Wednesday I made a trip with Porter to check out all the new inventory they put up. I ended up buying  some new books and a pair of temple shoes. And a golf bag that I quickly resold for a nice profit. They always price bags super low, so I try and pick up one every visit, and it usually pays for anything else I buy.

Thursday I went golfing at the Ranches with Mike and Kimball.

Last Sunday, some ladies from the ward commented that they really wish that more social events would happen in the ward. At that time, official activities were a no-go, but we decided to do a little get-together at a park. We all brought some food and grilled burgers and hot dogs, and played some outdoor games. About 30 people showed up, beating my estimate, and it turned out well…even if I lost in spike ball. 

Saturday was also my final time studying for the LSAT, which felt amazing, and I made sure to give Porter all the books and study material. No mas for me.

It’s been a week of cleaning all-around. We had our carpets cleaned. My email inbox is under 20 for the first time in three months.

And, after a few weeks of temperatures in our house daily reaching 80 degrees, the repairman fixed the problem so our swamp cooler is now working again. Talking with the rental management company was frustrating as it took two weeks and preliminary visits for what was in the end a 10-minute fix. My sleep has improved since then as I no longer wake up due to the heat.

Sunday Porter was the beneficiary of leftover burgers and this little guy. Meant to be a pie, turned out more like a pile of strawberries with a crust underneath.

We played scrabble, and this time I lucked out with unbeatable letters – played ‘laxities’ for 80+ points – and cruised to the finish line.

We had a good time talking about dating and I learned a lot, getting his opinion on some very relevant issues that I was wondering about. And he gave me a priesthood blessing as I take the LSAT tomorrow morning.

This scripture from the Book of Mormon struck me today. It’s Alma 31:35. Referring to Alma and his struggles to preach the gospel, it says:

Behold, O Lord, their souls are precious, and many of them are our brethren…”

I know that we are all beloved daughters and sons of our Heavenly Parents. As we view others as our brothers and sisters, and people with divine potential, our enmity and rancor will disappear. All of it.

June 1-7: Pilgrims, Pulses, and Pistols

The week started off great, with a visit to the gym with David. Since it reopened a few weeks ago, we’ve been very deliberate with our exercises and worked towards maxing this week. First up was bench press and I was surprised (and proud) to get 275 lbs. That’s a new record for me! Other records continued to fall throughout this week and all I can say is – these numbers brought to you by lentils. Ok ok, while I have continued to eschew supplements or any whey protein, I am trying to increase the amount of protein I consume given that I’m still barely eating any meat. I have started mixing a few Tbsp of peanut butter + 2 tsp of flax seed + 1 banana + 1 cup of chocolate milk. It’s delicious, and rejuvenating! One serving is 21 g of protein.

Monday night our Come Follow Me was blessed to have Aunt Jenny join. This week’s focus was on testimony and she shared some inspiring stories, previously unknown to me.

The lentil experiment of the week involved making a hummus-like paste. It’s good with nachos, cucumbers, and rolls. I didn’t get the taste quite like I wanted, but thought I’d get some feedback from two non-biased testers aka my roommates. Here are their reviews:

“Ew!! this tastes like dirt!”

“Yep, dirt is about right. Although, after four or five bites it’s not as bad as the initial taste.”

Tuesday saw a return to sand volleyball. I was at home doing some studying, looking longingly at the beautiful weather when Reigen invited me to go play. We met up with Justice, Allison, Allie, and one of Allie’s friends. We played 3×3 for a while and then some newcomers challenged us to 6×6. After we just couldn’t go anymore, we went back to my apartment and had milkshakes. I’ve missed Reigen since he moved end of April and was glad to play some vb with him.

Thursday was the long anticipated date with Victoria. We hit a snafu a few hours before, when our doubles bailed. The plan was to hike Buffalo Peak and watch the sunset, and I didn’t want us to go alone. Porter came through big time by agreeing to go, and then I bumped into Emmalyn (Annemarie’s sister) at the library. We talked a few minutes and I headed home to get ready. I almost made it home, all the way down the 8 flights of stairs too, before feeling impressed to go back. Thankfully Emmalyn was still there, and I invited her to go with us. She was game to go along and I appreciated getting to know her a little better.

Long story short – my phone quit working out of nowhere, right as I left to go pick up Victoria. So I didn’t have her address. It’s crazy how reliant we can become on our devices! Despite being discombobulated by the sudden turn of events, I remembered the name of the (giant) apartment complex at least, and after knocking 3 doors and talking to those residents who pointed me a little closer each time,  the fourth door was the right one, and I met Victoria. Thankfully, I remembered Emmalyn’s address, and we zipped over before getting Porter to complete the gang and actually head to the hike. We were running 15 minutes later than I had planned, and missed making it to the peak for the sunset by a few minutes. nevertheless, it was a beautiful, beautiful hike; I think the Sound of Music opening scene could have been filmed there. We made it to the top and back before it got too dark, and I intend to go back and make a repeat hike.

Victoria is from Miami, served her mission in Phoenix, and is studying Math Education at BYU. We were set-up by her sister Cat (Catherine).

Friday night I went to see Kelson’s new living space. He was supposed to go to Phoenix for an internship, but when that was moved online, the company decided to put him in a Marriott in Provo for the entire summer. I’m jealous. I guess he was feeling kind of lonely though, after a week of no roommates, and had a small party to formally welcome his new accommodations. We ate and played a little Mario Kart before I called it a night and skedaddled.

Sunday, I had a dinner date with Hannah. I was acting kind of persnickety, but Hannah’s attitude helped change that quickly. It was a blast – she was really easy and fun to talk to. She brought a fresh pineapple (unexpectedly) which we turned into a fruit bowl for dessert, insisted on helping with dishes, and I was thoroughly impressed by the end of the date. She is from Iowa, served her mission in Nicaragua and is studying Exercise Science and Wellness.

Talking with my family, I report on any dates I went on and have begun to start the conversation by saying, “I had a fantastic time. _______ is a great kissener!” I think the younger siblings are catching on, but that sentence gets Dad’s attention in a hurry, and his “What?!!?!?” is followed by me saying, “I said she’s a great listener. What did you think I said?” Don’t worry, there’s no canoodling going on here.

Although, I talked to Aunt Shirley on Saturday and she shared the secret to golfing and getting a hole-in-one, so maybe there needs to be a kiss or two. I’ve been trying for years, so I was mightily impressed that shehshe succeeded in hitting a hole-in-one at a course in Wrentham, MA. Logan, my new roommate, discovered some mail that had fallen and gotten stuck and one of the letters he pulled up was an envelope filled with old photos Aunt Shirley had sent a month ago. I thoroughly enjoyed going through them and seeing faces of loved ones from a time now long gone. I had never seen these photos before, and wondered at 5-day old me, and thrilled to a photo of see Kayla and I from Christmas 1995.

Other notes:

-I’ve been playing the organ almost daily lately. Now that I’m home during the day, it won’t bother any one.

-I started my application to join the Mayflower Society. It’s much more rigorous than I anticipated, and will require some painstaking work to finish.

  1. -fasting has gone from being dreaded to truly a time to rejoice. I’m thankful for the opportunity to fast each month, and know that God recognizes our sacrifice of forgoing those two meals and donating the money. I’ve seen far too many miracles to think otherwise.

-the daily number of covid infections has tripled in Utah. I think its good to zig when others zag and zag when they zig. Now that everyone is going out, its not as safe, and my excursions will be getting cut down shortly.

-I’m thinking about getting a dog. Which would complicate living arrangements. Which would be a HUGE commitment. (Maybe I need that?) And which I am not regarding lightly. I’ve been checking this society’s facebook page daily though, so I don’t think the thought will go away quickly. I budgeted months ago for a firearm and have yet to get one. Perhaps a puppy could take that spot instead….

I mean, look at this guy!

Tanner and Annemarie even shared some possible puppy names: Warren, doc, Eisenhower. I personally like Duke, or Boston (boss for short). The run-away favorite so far though is Coolidge.

Reading 2 Timothy, it seems to be a very prescient book of prophecy – about persecution. This week, I picked up on the key to both appreciating and persevering through tribulation. It’s found in chapter 3 verses 14-15:

“But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them;

And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make there wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.”

I testify that it is through the scriptures we learn the wisdom of God and will have the strength and fortitude to stand strong and be not ashamed of our Lord.

 

May 25-31: It ain’t over lentil it’s over!

2020 is now more than 40% through. Blows me away how quick it has gone.

Monday was Memorial Day, and I did spend some time reflecting on those who gave the full measure of devotion. I had nothing planned, but my evening was rescued by Dillon. He came by in the afternoon to bring some of the first spinach harvest from our garden. It’s been wonderful to eat, and does taste different from the spinach bought at the store. The leaves are also much thicker.

We talked for a while, and then Dillon invited me to come over later that night for a Memorial Day party. His father was a veteran and died in 2018, so the holiday is special to the family. The family was doing it with one of their neighbors, who I’ve referenced before as we had an EQ activity at their guest house. That is where this was held also. Of course, there was lots of amazing food. We numbered 9, and had no shot at finishing it all, so we brought leftovers home.

The ribs were great – but the beans were unbelievable and took the top spot in my opinion.

We ate and talked. Then we talked and ate. The day slowly turned into night, and we put Jumanji 2: the Next Level on the outdoor tv and watched that. It turned out to be a very fun and enjoyable night.

Thursday was my roommate Tyler’s b-day. We also had a new roommate, Logan, move in. He is very good friends with Tyler and I’ve gotten to know him throughout this last year. Spencer moved out in march due to covid, so Logan (who will be taking my room in the fall), moved in to Spencer’s room. Thursday also began summer swimming, as Porter’s pool at Glenwood opened up.

The pool was so nice, and Friday found me there again. This time, I stayed too long and got sunburned. I quickly fell into an easy routine of swimming and chess these two days. Though I haven’t played hardly at all recently, when the Utah Federation reached out to me for an online tourney, I was ready to jump into it a little more.

With Dillon on Monday, we had hatched a plan to watch World War Z. It’s a nice apocalyptic, pandemic-causing-zombies thriller starring Brad Pitt. John H., David K., Jacob C., Aaron R., Logan, Dillon and Dave all came over for it. Aaron brought pizzas and we had some other snacks as well. And 2 hours of suspenseful action until a vaccine was created to save the world. It was a fun night. Admittedly I was spooked, and didn’t want to go outside at all after. We were supposed to start watching at 7 so it would finish while it was still light out; however the pizza was running late as were a few others so the movie ended at 10. And it was dark. Although I resisted the temptation to move the fridge and couch in front of our doors before going to bed, I think that is the only zombie movie I’ll be watching for a long time.

Saturday night, Kami C. came over for a dinner date. We made the food together and settled on a course of salmon, rice, and zucchini. Everything turned out surprisingly well, cooked quickly, and I had a fantastic time. Kami is from Idaho, served her mission in San Antonio, and is studying nursing at BYU.

Sunday Porter came over like always. He did not get the salmon this time. Instead, I have been experimenting with some lentil recipes and he was the lucky recipient. He was a very good sport about it, and the food turned out better than either of us were expecting. That food being whole-wheat pasta served with a lentil sauce. I cooked some lentils, threw them in the blender, and started adding ingredients until it tasted alright. The winning recipe:

-3 cups (cooked) lentils

-1 Tbsp powdered sugar

-1/2 cup golden raisins (just in case you were worried the lentils wouldn’t provide enough fiber).

-1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

-1/2 tsp white vinegar

-1/2 tsp garlic salt

-1/2 tsp salt

And now a joke:

How do legume wars end?

With a peas treaty.

Lentils have been disregarded for too long. They are a super food in my opinion. The world needs someone to do to lentils what George Washington Carver did to peanuts. And I’m going to give it a shot!

Of course, as much good as lentils can do to our bodies, the souls of the world really needs the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The last few days have been filled with riots and protests over the death of George Floyd. In my 24 years, I have become fully convinced, that until we can comprehend how we are all sons and daughters of a loving Heavenly Father, we will have cause to cry and reason to weep. No government can truly solve societal problems. We need the gospel. I love this quote from President Ezra Taft Benson:

“It is my conviction that the world needs, as it needs no other thing, the gospel of Jesus Christ, and the people of the world want what the gospel will give, but they do not realize it. They want the anchor which the gospel provides, which gives them the answers to the problems that face them; that brings them a feeling of security and a feeling of inner peace. The gospel is the only answer to the problems of the world…Only the gospel will save the world from the calamity of its own self-destruction. Only the gospel will unite [people] of all races and nationalities in peace. Only the gospel will bring joy, happiness, and salvation to the human family.”

may 18th-24th: I fell into a burning ring of fire

Yep, still reading the Inferno. And while the mutual dates have continued, I haven’t fallen in love yet.

There were three dates this week. The first was with Lauren on Thursday night. She’s from Arizona, served a mission in Montana/Wyoming, and wants to be a nurse. She came over to my house and we sat at the kitchen table and painted watercolors while conversing. It was a fun (and simple) date, and I then walked her home.

Saturday, I went out with Maddie. Quick background: Last week, Porter is good friends with her younger brother. They were all on a camp-out together and Porter thought he would get along well. All of this was happening unbeknownst to me though. I received a text from Maddie introducing herself and then a few minutes later one from Porter quite funny. I texted more with Maddie throughout the week than any one before, and I was quite excited to go out on this blind date. I called her and we marked a picnic for Saturday at Draper City Park. My friends Kimball and Aubrey met us there, and we played bocce ball and corn hole and ate some pasta and watermelon. Maddie is a student at UVU, studying business and currently works for the church in the Seminaries and Institute department. She served her mission in Atlanta.

And the third date was on Sunday. This one was with Fernanda, from Petropolis, RJ, Brazil. She is a student at BYU and LOVES to paint, so we also did watercolors. I picked up a couple of pointers from her and had another good time.

More than anything, I wanted to be more social this week and simply go on some dates. Mission accomplished. For those who may be wondering, I always like to note where people are from, what they are studying, and where (if applicable) they served their mission. I know that this doesn’t even begin to define who they are and the myriad assortment of talents and interests that they have. Yet, I am amazed at all the wonderful people I am constantly meeting and am blown away by how amazingly different people are, and that is in some very small way indicated by those three facts. The world is a lot bigger than I can imagine, and it’s filled with talented, hard-working kind souls who truly care about others and intend to leave the planet better than they encountered it.

Eating healthy, working out. The gym is open Monday-Friday, and then they close over the weekend for “deep cleans.” I’ve been going with David, and we made it all 5 days this week. My days have fallen in to an easy routine of waking up, having breakfast and free time until 8 am, then reading scriptures and studying until 10 am. At that point, I meet up with David in the gym and we work out for just over an hour, then I go running, and return home to shower. Lunch is at 12, and I try to be in the BYU Library at 1 to start studying.

The reality is, this is the most time I have put into working out and focusing on eating healthy, and I think I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been in.

Another benefit of quitting my job is that I’ve had time to ponder, meditate, and just think creatively. And yes, there are now 4 small-business ideas that I want to try. I’ve been working with my new friend Klaus, on golf tours in Brazil. He is from Vienna originally, but married a Brazilian, and has lived there for 18 years now. he leads tours, both for Brazilians wanting to go overseas to Europe, and for Germans to Brasil. I am partnering with him to try and get the american market. I think the key will be the corporate travelers who have a day or two free while they are there on business.

Porter came over Sunday and this is what we had for lunch. I kind of want to do a food blog, and so I’ve been working on presentation.

We played Scrabble again, and this time I barely emerged victorious after a furious comeback and lots of luck. The last letter I drew was the blank which allowed me to both take advantage of a triple word score and go out first.

The other notable event of the week was “The Re-Match.” I partnered up with Kimball and we faced off against c-i-l Mike and Bowen at Talon’s Cove Golf Course. We tried and we failed again. Bowen and Mike won the first two holes and we couldn’t ever catch up. When they won the 8th, it was officially over. These 2×2 matches have been a lot of fun, and I want one more shot at beating Bowen, so round 3 will be soon.

I’ve really been struggling this week to decide if I even want to go to BYU Law School, or if UConn is the right place for me. I’ve compiled a list of pros/cons to help me weigh the factors. It’s a tough call. In the midst of this, I am more  thankful than ever to know that God has a plan for each and every one of us. I know if we try and live worthy of the Spirit, He will guide our footsteps and all will be well. 2 Nephi 32:3

“Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore, they speak the words of Christ. Wherefore, I said unto you, feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do.”

What struck me reading this is that it is not enough to read good books. It is not enough to read the scriptures. We must be buried in the actual words of Christ.

May 11-17th: Potato Paradise

It’s been a great week! My inevitable 1/4 century crisis is still 45 days away, and I had an absolute blast these seven days.

Monday, I had planned to go to Salt Lake and have brunch with Emma, but she had work and cancelled last minute. I instead got some studying in, and then headed up to Boise. Yep, as in Idaho. I’ve been promising my friend Brian for almost 3 years that I would visit, and figured that now was the perfect time for a little golf trip.

The drive took 5.5 hours, was uneventful, rather peaceful, and I loved seeing the countryside. I haven’t been to Idaho since I was a baby, so everything was new. i arrived about 4:30pm, at Brian’s office, and we left from there for our 5:05 tee time at Banbury Golf Course nearby. The course was fantastic and in great shape (although the greens had been aerated, so they were a little slow). We played 18, enjoyed the great weather and I learned lots about Brian and his business.

This is the tenth hole, which was our first of the day. It runs through a residential neighborhood, but the houses are far enough away that you can barely even see them, and they *shouldn’t* come into play. Key word being shouldn’t. I’m unfairly blaming my bad shot on the long car ride. I stepped up to the tee above, and the easiest hole on the course, a straight 370 yard hole, and pushed my drive so far to to the right the houses did come into play, and for what felt like a long time, I was muttering, “don’t hit a window, don’t hit a window…” Then we heard the satisfying smack off the roof, and I could breathe again. No one came close to hitting a house after that.

This is on the 8th, our penultimate for the day, and a short little par-3 over a lake.

After the round, we went to Brian’s apt, had some snacks, and then joined his roommate Mike and some friends at the hot tub. After that, it was off to bed. I crashed on the couch and slept like a baby. Brian and his two roommates all left for work by 8, so I was alone and cranked out some studying in the morning. They subscribe to National Geographic, and I did take a break to check that out. Oops. Once you read, “Hundreds of Tiny Arachnids are Likely on Your Face Right Now,” there is no going back. Here is the link for those interested:

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2020/05/face-mites-the-tiny-tenants-that-likely-live-in-your-pores/

I had no idea all these mites were living on me, and don’t think I wanted to know either.

After studying, I headed to downtown Boise 15 minutes away for lunch and to sight see. I stopped at Westside Drive-In for a huge burger.

The size and deliciousness exceeded my expectations. They also have this on the menu:

Regrettably, I didn’t get this. It seemed a little expensive, the picture didn’t look appealing and 1/4 of the menu items were labelled world famous . I mentioned it to Brian later though and he said that the Ice Cream Potato is 1. huge 2. Beautiful looking 3. Delicious. So, if there are any Boise travelers out there, get the cold potato!

I continued my wanderings, and visited the Old Penitentiary compound, and walked around the capitol building and the surrounding area. Most everything was closed to visitors due to coronavirus, but I did check out a couple food stores and peeked at the state botanical garden as well.

The most interesting fact from the Idaho Capitol area relates to a statue of Frank Steunenberg that I stumbled across. Here is the inscription:

When in 1899 organized lawlessness challenged the power of Idaho, he upheld the dignity of the state, enforced its authority and restored LAW AND ORDER within its boundaries, for which he was assassinated in 1905.
“Rugged in body, resolute in mind, massive in the strength of his convictions, he was of the granite hewn.” In grateful memory of his courageous devotion to public duty, the people of Idaho have erected this monument.” 

The Western Federation of Miners (WFM) didn’t like Steunenberg to the extent that even though he had left office in 1901, the leadership under the direction of Big Bill Haywood called a hitman in, and had Steunenberg assassinated in 1905. It took a couple attempts, before Harry Orchard set a bomb and finished the job. Clarence Darrow represented Haywood at the trial and got him off the hook somehow, although Orchard, was sentenced to life in prison. He spent the next 46 years in prison, serving the most time ever in the Old Penitentiary, before dying at age 88. He never recanted his testimony, and and continued to admit that everything he had said (including the fact that he had killed 17 people for the WFM before Steunenberg) was true.

Talking about the penitentiary, here it is. Supposedly one of the better hikes in Boise, to Table Rock, is up a mountain nearby, and I went up a little bit before calling it a day.

This is the Bishop’s House, at the Penitentiary. Slightly more than 1/4 of the population of Idaho are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, so I thought that might be why this house is called the Bishop’s House, as perhaps there was a chaplain assigned to it, but it belongs to the Catholic Diocese.

After my short tour of Boise, I went to meet up with Brian at Shadow Valley Golf Club. They have an evening special of $9 for 9 holes, and the manager was kind to give us that deal, and then let us play a few holes for free on the back to warm-up before our 6:20 tee time.

We made it through 5 holes when the ominous looking clouds began to dump rain on us. We hid behind a brick restroom building, and thought about calling it a day. After 15 minutes, it blew past us, and the weather was perfect. The rain had also chased everyone off, so we had the course to ourselves just about. And, I made a slight adjustment in my stance, sliding my right foot back two inches, which led to me hitting bombs and really wanting to finish the round.

This is the fourth hole, a 558 yard par 5. The clouds are moving in, but we thought might slip by us. 25 minutes later, we would know we were wrong on that.

And, after the storm. It’s overcast, but not raining. This is the other par 5, hole number 7. Each hole had lots of undulation and variety. The architect did a great job providing different options and lots of risk/reward shots. This hole was my best drive of the day, a bomb that started right and drew back to finish on the right side of the fairway….345 yards away.

I was really playing good and looking at a great score before the last two holes tripped me up, and my greediness cost me some strokes. Still a great round and a great course.

We returned to the apartment, and went hot tubbing again. It was so relaxing and felt great. Mike had made us steaks, and they were unbelievably good. He gave me some pointers, which i will have to try. For these, he seared them, then slow-cooked them for 2 hours, and finally added a homemade honeybutter glaze on top. 5/5 stars.

Golf, hot tub, steak. It was a great day!

Wednesday morning, (after another deep sleep, maybe due to the hot tub?) I had the place to myself and studied some more.

Part of my reasoning for making this trip was because Oregon is only about 40 miles from Boise. I have never been, and it would make state number 44/50, (leaving Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Alaska, and Hawaii). The other 4 in the continental US are all adjacent – and I figured this would be my best near-term shot at visiting the Beaver State.

So, after doing my study time, I headed out and made it to Ontario, Oregon, where I figured I would play one more round of golf. This is farming country (the grocery store in Boise had like 10 apple varieties – Pink apple variety is a new favorite), and while I had looked up the place before, I was still surprised. When I called to get a tee time asking for something around “10 or 11 am,” the manager said, “well, Bill’s group tee’s off at 11 am. So don’t come then.” That was it though, which left me confused until I got there and understood that every other time was open. Bill plays with four friends every Wednesday at 11 am, but no one else was on the course. The course is called Country View, and when i got there, that made sense too. It is on the top of a small mountain and one can see for miles in every direction. It was beautiful!

 

Hole #8, a short par 4. Alas, I missed this short putt.

This is hole #3. It’s 165 yards, straight downhill, and has the smallest green I have EVER seen on a golf course.

I am a huge fan of Treasure Valley. I talked with the owner, Scott McKinney for a while, then went out to play. My step was light, and it just felt pure. It wasn’t overly manicured, but it was natural and followed the land. The first few holes were good, holes 5-9 were incredible! On 5, i lost my first ball in 24 holes, ending a good streak, and hooking one into a farmers field. 5 is a par 5, and you have to play over a huge gully to reach the green in two, or you can play way to the right. Hole 6 is a par 3, also over a huge gully, and I had my best shot of the day. I drew my 8-iron 190 yards into a slight breeze and finished 5 feet behind the pin. It was perfect.

Hole number 5.

I finished well this time too, and returned to the clubhouse to talk a little more with Scott, and hear some history of the area, before going on the road again. I was tempted to swing down to Jackpot, NV on my way home, but that was pushing it, and I figured I’d save that for another trip. I did make two stops though.

The first was in Bliss, ID, population 318. With a name like that, and no rush, I thought I’d briefly visit and am glad I did. It has amazing views of the snake river.

I continued further, and stopped in Twin Falls, ID. Evil Knievel tried jumping the Snake River Canyon here in 1974, but was unsuccessful.  I had no idea how beautiful the canyon is. Shoshone Falls, called the “Niagra of the West” is just outside the town, and after eating I went to visit.

Shoshone Falls. The dams control the flow, so it’s not as wide as it once was. It’s not as powerful as Niagara either. However, it is taller. I felt woozy even looking down. The falls are 200+ feet tall, and I was higher than that. The canyon is simply incredible.

Perrine Bridge, crossing the snake river Canyon. When it was built, it was the highest bridge in the world.

I’m at the Visitor’s Center here, looking out on the canyon. The picture simply does not do justice. This was one of those times my breath was taken away, and I could imagine living in a house nearby, in perpetual awe of the grandeur of God’s creations. This is a few miles upstream from the falls, and in my mind it is prettier.

I stayed longer than I anticipated, but less than I wanted, before finally getting back on the road again for the last few hours. The final leg was uneventful, and I arrived home about 9:30 pm. This was an unforgettable trip, and I am very, very grateful for how everything turned out, the opportunity I had to go, and the memories I’ll forever treasure.

Saturday, I had my first date in 3 months. I met Haylie via mutual, and for our date we went to Kiwani’s park and played tennis. She won, and I had a blast. Then we went and got some ice cream at “Founding Flavors,” a new ice cream shop. It’s very historically themed, with the employees dressed up as revolutionary war soldiers and each flavor named after a founding fathers/someone from that era. I tried the “Aaron Burr Murderous Shot,” which was Madagascar black vanilla. Either flavors include “Franklin’s Black Raspberry Republic if you can keep it,” “Thomas Paine’s Peppermint Common Sense Concoction,” and “Give me Chocolate or give me Death.” Haylie is from Colorado, served a mission in Alberta, Canada, is finishing up her accounting degree, and justtjust signed her offer to work for KPMG. It was a way fun date.

Sunday, we had sacrament at our house again, and Porter came over for lunch. Then he whipped me, absolutely thrashed me, in Scrabble.

I went over to Tanmarie’s that evening, as Tanner had kindly offered to take some photos. He did a great job, then I hopped on the roof to take Tanmarie’s annual photo. While I was snapping that, they snuck one last shot of me.

It’s been a great week. I’m truly grateful for how blessed I am. What I am most grateful for however, are the things of eternity. So much of what we expend effort on, ultimately doesn’t matter and will be forgotten shortly. We must treasure the eternal.

D&C 132:13 reads, “And everything that is in the world, whether it be ordained of men, by thrones, or principalities, or powers, or things of name, whatsoever they may be, that are not by me, or by my word, saith the Lord, shall be thrown down, and shall not remain….”

Let us all seek to See his face, Feel his presence, and Trust his love.