Total Pageviews

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Full Circle

I have driven to work along Highway I-84 Eastbound every morning for the past year. I believe it must be the most beautiful stretch of road in the entire state of Utah. (It looks like every roadway we drove on in Maryland). Last April I watched in wonder each morning as the sun was rising through the boughs of all the trees which grow thick along the roadside and the median. Each tree seemed to have a different hue of green, pink, and yellow as new buds and leaves were emerging. All summer the leafy beauty framed the road and then came the glorious autumn when the leaves changed to so many colors and shifted and changed daily as they began to drop. I missed the color all winter. It was like driving through a black and white photo with the dark branches and snow-covered ground and so often a gray sky as a background. But here I am back to where I started last April with the sweet pastel colors growing and changing buds into leaves. I look forward to the full-out green explosion I will experience soon each morning with the radiant sun glimmering through the all those trees.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Jimmy the Traveling Frog

Our family has had a furry little secret for many years: a frog puppet named Jimmy likes to travel with us. This began when our children were very young. Bryan brought Jimmy on one of our driving trips (I believe it was to California). The road was long, the ride was boring, and the kids were becoming weary, when suddenly Jimmy was on Rob's hand and trying to drive the car. The kids all thought this was hilarious and roared with laughter at the antics of this outspoken, bossy frog trying to take us someplace Rob didn't want to drive, arguing back and forth and finally being flung dramatically into the backseat.

For several years after that trip, Jimmy would make an appearance on long journeys and usually he'd try driving again...his steering skills never seemed to improve. But then the kids started bringing more interesting things on trips: video games, music playing devices and the DVD player with stacks of movies and poor Jimmy was left behind.

When Bryan was packing up his room before entering the MTC, he piled all the stuffed animals into a garbage bag along with clothes he'd outgrown, high school memoriabilia and other knick knacks. This he designated as his "D I" stuff. The afternoon after we dropped him at the MTC, Rob, Cami and I in a unified, yet unspoken way made our way to Bryan's quiet bedroom. We looked at his things...those he'd left unpacked and the things he'd thrown in the junk bag. Later, we each left his room with a thing or two rescued from the bag. I noticed Jimmy was tucked under Rob's arm along with a baseball cap and a seminary medal.

Fast-forward a couple of weeks to March 26th. We had just landed at Baltimore Washington Airport and were about to disembark our plane. Rob retrieved our carry-on luggage and we were sitting in our seats patiently waiting when suddenly, there was Jimmy!! He had stowed away and was once again joining us on our travels.

Stow-Away Jimmy, bad frog!

I wonder what the TSA agent must have thought when he searched Rob's carry-on bag?

Look who is standing behind George Washington.

The Capitol Building, Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument and the White House were all on Jimmy's 'must see' list.

Being carried everywhere you'd think he wouldn't too tired to try driving home.

Jimmy became a fan of cannons...He found them at Gettysburg and Inner Harbor, Baltimore.

In Manhattan Jimmy didn't like the rain much...which seems strange for a frog,
but he claims he didn't want to get his fur wet.

Our Jimmy has a lot of miles on him now...I wonder where he'll travel next?

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Days 7 & 8 - Nashville, Tennessee

Friday, April 2, 2010

Today Kevin and Tanja took off work to spend the day with us. Cami had made plans with some of her old Tennessee friends so we left her at the house and headed to Nashville for some sightseeing. First, The Kev took us to O'Moore College where he teaches Fashion Design and Fashion Construction. O'Moore is a private arts college in the old part of town. The home and grounds were once owned by a wealthy Tennessee heiress who wanted art and beauty taught to the young people of her community. Her old home is now the administration building on campus.
O'Moore College where The Kev is an Associate Professor.

Our next stop was the Loveless Cafe. I had never heard of it before, but apparently I was the only one who had not. The place was PACKED and we waited for more than an hour to be seated for breakfast. Luckily the old motel next to the old road house cafe has been converted into shops so we browsed and I bought some postcards and wrote and addressed one to Bryan while we waited. Once we were seated and served we decided the wait was worth it because the food was great...especially the biscuits, yum!

Back on the road we drove on in to Nashville. Tanja and The Kev have both had opportunities in the music industry so they are very familiar with the many recording studios, artists residences, and music businesses so they drove us around 'Music Row'. We were able to see the Roy Orbison building where Tanja is headquartered along with the homes & studios of many other notable country music artists including Randy Travis (whom Tanja was an angent for some years back). We went to the Ryman (The original Grand Old Oprey House) in the old part of town. Nashville is a strange assortment of old and new sections sitting on different levels. I've never seen a city like it before.
The Roy Orbison Building in Nashville

Late that afternoon we returned to Franklin. Rob and Kevin went off on a 'redneck' hunt (don't ask) and Tanja and I stayed at the house and I showed her how to get registered and started indexing. She took to it like a fish to water and has already done over 700 names! We ate and talked late into the evening waiting for Cami to return from a date. We got into bed late after packing all our bags and preparing for our departure tomorrow.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Another really early morning, but this time we had someone get up and see us off. The Kev and Tanja helped us load our bags and get out the door by 5:00 a.m. to catch our 6:30 flight.

For some reason there was a long delay getting through security and we were some of the very last ones to board our flight before take off. It was a long, bumpy flight home and landing in cold and snowy Salt Lake City was kind of a shock to our systems after the warmth we had enjoyed the last few days.

Our Kevin was waiting for us in the Jeep as we collected our luggage. We drove to Bountiful and ate breakfast and then on home listening to General Conference. It is good to be home, but all this week I couldn't stop myself from thinking, "One week ago today we were doing...." and then dwelling on how much fun we had seeing our loved ones and some amazing parts of our country.
Jimmy the Frog looking out the window, sad to see the trip ending.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Days 5 & 6 - Franklin, Tennessee

Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Rob and Cami in Franklin, Tennessee on an 84 degree day. From coats and umbrellas to shorts and sunglasses--what a difference a day makes.

Guess what? We had to get up really early this morning! We had a 6:30 a.m. flight and we were told that the rental car had to be returned two hours prior to the flight, so morning came very early on Wednesday.

We flew into Memphis where we got to cool our heels for a couple hours. We had some juice and snack mix and tried to find a comfortable position to rest while we waited.

Fianlly we got on the plane and took the short hop over to Nashville. The 70 degree weather was fabulous in Tennessee--flowers were blooming, grass was green and leaves were growing on the trees!

We picked up another rental car and followed the excellent driving directions to Rob's brother, Kevin's home. Tanja had just returned from a trip to Milan, Italy the night before so she was home trying to recover from jetlag and Kevin had just finished up his classes at the college where he teaches. We sat and visited in their lovely home then we all took a little nap before dinner and Mutual.

Kevin created a masterpiece of a meal which we enjoyed immensely. Tanja is in the Young Women's Presidency so she took Cami and went off to their activity where Cami was able to reconnect with many the friends she made while she lived with Kev and Tanja in July 2007. While they were away, Kev took Rob and I on a tour of the area so we would have some ideas of what to do while were on our own tomorrow.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

This little Episcopol Church at the end of Franklin's Main Street made me think of Mitford. I expected to see Father Tim walk out of the rectory with his dog, Barnabas, any minute.
This church was on the Civil War Historical Tour

This morning we slept in! When we got up, Kevin and Tanja had already gone off to work and we took ourselves to downtown Franklin, which is a beautiful little town full of historical buildings and lovely shops. We parked the car and just walked from one end of downtown to the other. We stopped in many shops, ate an early lunch at Marydee's Bakery, and followed the Civil War map of sights around town including Fort Granger. We learned that Franklin, TN had been under Union occupation during the war. The Union soldiers set up this fort on the the highest point. To me it sounded like Nephite-style warfare. They dug an immense ditch around the fort, throwing the dirt into a 20 foot mound completely encircling the fort. Then they cut down every tree in all directions, sharpening the branches and setting them into the mound facing outward. They built lookout towers within the fort and the walls formed a triangle shape with the corners sticking out for rifle coverage of the walls. The only things remaining to this day are the mounds of dirt (completely covered with grass and wild flowers) and the ditch (also all grassy and green), but we could imagine what a muddy mess it must have been with all that fresh dirt and all those men living in tents.

Fort Granger had these markers around the sight showing the layout & history.
The old Factory was a hospital during the Civil War.
It's now an artist gallary and assortment of boutique stores.
That evening we met up with Kevin and Tanja at PF Changs for dinner and more visiting. It had been such a restful and relaxing day and the good food and company wrapped it up nicely.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Day 4 - Manhattan, New York

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Grand Central Station in the rain

As early as we'd been waking up every morning on this trip, you'd think we would have slept in a little today, but no, we wanted to be on the road heading to New York by 6:00 a.m. so the alarm went off at 5:00 a.m. (that is 3:00 a.m. Mountain Standard Time) and we rolled out of bed, got dressed and realized it was POURING outside. We hoped that it was only raining in Baltimore and that by the time we arrived in New York, the storm would be over and we could enjoy a sunny, spring day.

Well, that certainly was a good plan but it wasn't the way it turned out. We drove the three hours to New Jersey in a heavy downpour. We parked at the Newark Train Station in pounding rain. We rode the train across the Hudson River as it rained and rained. We came out of the World Trade Center Station and were instantly drenched as we walked the couple of blocks to the subway station to purchase our Metro passes.
Walking in Times Square in the rain.

We obtained our passes and rode the subway down to 42nd Street and Broadway. We were hoping we would be able to attend a matinee performance, but found out after checking at four different theaters that matinees are only shown on Wednesday and Saturdays and we were there on a Tuesday. We could have purchased tickets for all these shows (except Wicked which was sold out through May) for a 7:00 or 8:00 p.m. show, but that would put us back out of the theater around 11:00 p.m., then a train ride back to New Jersey and a three hour drive back to Baltimore AND since our flight was leaving at 6:30 a.m. the next morning; we opted not to attend a show.
Riding the subway allowed us to be dry for a few minutes at a time.

So we shopped instead!! We walked to 5th Avenue and ooohed and aaaahed at some of the window displays and the price tags on clothing and jewelery, then we found the H & M Store on 5th and had some fun there. Cami loves having clothes that no one else at her school is wearing. Well, we found her some very original things that won't be duplicated by anyone else at Weber High School.

We ducked into other shops and stores to warm up and dry off a little, drank hot chocolate as often as possible and made our way to Little Italy. Since our first visit to NYC back in 2003, we have loved Little Italy and the restaurant, De Nicos. So of course we had to go back there and have a delicious Italian dinner. We enjoyed the warmth (literally and figuratively) of this place and of sitting together and laughing about our extremely soggy day.

We rode the subway all the way down to Bowling Green so Kelly could have a look at the Statue of Liberty, which was barely visible through the fog and rain, but he was so excited to be in Manhattan and to see all these sights he had heard about from Dani over the years.
soggy tourists at Rockefeller Plaza.

From 5:00 to 6:00 p.m., there were so many people with umbrellas walking the sidewalks, it was almost impossible to walk without losing an eye or sustaining an injury. Cami needed a souvenir T Shirt for her friend, Emily, so we kept an eye out for tacky tourist shops wherever we went. It turned out that we didn't find the shirt until we were in the train station under the WTC getting our tickets back to New Jersey. Finally we had checked everything off our 'NYC to do' list (except the Broadway Show) so we decided we could head back to Baltimore.

We got back to Dani's and Kelly's apartment about 10:00 p.m., did a few loads of laundry and said our goodbyes. It was sad to see this part of our trip coming to an end. We had so much fun and enjoyed seeing our wonderful daughter and her husband. We also had such grand adventures in their new home area. We are so grateful to have their home and surroundings in our mind so we can imagine them working and playing and living there now.

We look forward to the next time we see Dani and Kelly...until then, these memories will keep us connected.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Day 4 - Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

Monday March 29, 2010

The View from a Confederate Cannon looking across the Battlefield

Today we got up early (is that becoming a common thread in recent blogposts?) so we could have as much daylight as possible at Gettysburg. We drove through some of the most beautiful countryside I've ever seen. Farms and pastures, woods and hills--all so fresh, green and picturesque in every way. Even the cows had pleasant, happy faces. We started our day at the Gettysburg Museum which is a grand affair with more displays than you can possibly imagine and then the great 'Cyclorama' which even though Dani and Kelly described it to us couldn't be adequately imagined. After several hours spent in this vast collection, we started off on the Auto Tour.

T0day was Rob's very favorite he's been looking forward to since he was a young boy. Years and years ago he read a story about the Twentieth Maine Regiment and how those brave men were commanded to swing the end of the line and hold Little Round Top. We tramped around in the hills looking for the monument to those brave men of the Twentieth Maine and it was a reverent feeling seeing that marker sitting quite a way back off the road and realizing the fight the ensued in those rocks and trees nearly a hundred and forty-seven years ago. These men had been told to hold the line at any cost and when they had used all their ammunition, they used their bayonets to continue to hold the hill.

The monument which memorializes the Twentieth Maine Regiment.
In all my years of US History lessons, I'm not sure if I was just dozing during the Civil War lessons or if the teachers didn't give adequate time and emphasis to the Battle of Gettysburg, but it was ever so much more than I ever knew. I had always imagined the field to be a few football fields in size. Oh, no! This place is a massive 23 miles wide and encompasses the town, farms, wheat fields, open land, mountains (Pennsylvania sized mountains), orchards, and woods. It is vast! Also, I'm not sure that it ever stuck in my brain that the battle lasted three days and involved nearly 200,000 men with upwards of 51,000 casualties!

The culmination of the Auto Tour (which took us several hours to drive and walk and look at) was the Gettysburg Cemetery and the location of President Abraham Lincoln's famous Gettysburg Address. I had read those lines a few days before at the Lincoln Memorial. I read and heard them several times more in the museum, but actually standing in the place where those immortal words were given gave me chills. The rows and rows of tiny grave markers and that impressive monument to all who fought and died in that place is absolutely awe inspiring.

The Gettysburg National Cemetery Monument marks where President Lincoln spoke those inspiring words of the Gettysburg Address 0n November 19, 1863.

We left the cemetery as the sky was darkening and drove into the quaint town of Gettysburg. The streets are lined with Civil War era buildings and we saw people wearing hoop skirts and soldier uniforms. We ate at a little diner before heading back to Baltimore in the dark. It was an amazing day...the day I finally learned what I should have learned back in elementary school history lessons.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Day 3 - Baltimore, Maryland

DAY 3, Sunday March 29, 2010
Today we woke up early (again) and went to church with Dani and Kelly in The Jones Falls Ward in Towson, Maryland. It was so fun to be in their ward and to worship with them on this beautiful spring day. Everyone was very welcoming and kind. The high point for me was attending primary. Dani and Kelly teach a Sunbeam class. It was obvious that their little three- and four-year-olds love them very much.

After church we went back to their apartment where Kelly made us Artichoke Chicken for lunch; it was yummy! We took a nap, visited, watched a movie and then in the late afternoon, we went for a drive to Inner Harbor, Baltimore.

It was trying to rain and the wind was blowing, but we had so much fun walking around Pier 5 and seeing the sights. The SS Constellation, a sailing ship from Civil War days, a World War II Submarine, a Coastguard Ship were all moored in the harbor. We looked at these and the offices, restaurants and other buildings surrounding the pier. Baltimore is really a beautiful city with a rich history. It is so amazing to realize that we were walking and driving past buildings that were 300 years old.

The SS Constellation Sailing Ship

Daffodils were blooming everywhere in Baltimore, even the medians of the freeways.

A Coastguard Ship

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Days 1 and 2 - Baltimore, Maryland

DAY 1 - Friday, March 26

We've been anticipating our trip to visit Dani and Kelly for some time; finally it arrived! We flew out on March 26, 2010, Rob's birthday. How fitting we would fly right over Cincinnati, Ohio exactly 53 years to the day he was born there.
Dani and Kelly met us at the car rental near the airport and we followed them to Dani's high school - -Baltimore Liberation Diploma Plus High School (what a mouthful!). We were able to see where Dani teaches US History, World History and Geography to her students.
Dani's School and Dani standing in front of her classroom door on Day #1
We then followed them to see some other sites including Johns Hopkins University where Dani attends her graduate courses, Camden Yards, Inner Harbor and Towson (where Dani and Kelly live). We got a nice tour of beautiful homes, lovely country lanes and some inner-city housing projects where some of Dani's students live before we checked into our hotel. Later we went out for Indian food at one of Dani's and Kelly's favorite restaurants, then walked around the Towson Mall across the street from the Sheraton and made our plans for our next day tour of Washington D.C.

DAY 2, Saturday March 27

We arrived early at the Ahern residence to pick them up and head down the freeway to D.C. It was a bright and sunny day, but cool and breezy. We were thrilled to see how many trees and bushes were in bloom as we headed out. It gave us great hope that the cherry trees of Washinton would be in full bloom too. We were not disappointed when we arrived to see that the Cherry Tree Blossom and the Kite Flying Festivals were both in progress. The sky was alive with bright colored kites of every size and design while nearly every tree was spectacularly loaded with beautiful blossoms; I don't think we could have picked a prettier day to spend in our nation's capitol.

shots of different sights we saw on day #2.
We nearly walked our feet off our legs today as we circled the Mall making stops at several of our planned Smithsonian Museums along with the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Monument, the National Arboretum, The Capitol Building, The Vietnam War Memorial and the White House (not necessarily in that order). What an honor to spend a beautiful day feeling inspired, reverent, taught, patriotic and blessed all at the same time!
The National Arboretum was celebrating the blooming of the orchids, they came in every conceivable shape, size and color. This is a small sampling.

The Lincoln Memorial was crowded, but inspiring

A respectful crowd walked past the Vietnam Memorial Wall
We snacked on nuts, fruit and candy on our way back to Baltimore where we made our way to another favorite Ahern eatery--a South American place where we enjoyed delicious empinadas. We laughed and joked and thoroughly enjoyed each others company. What a wonderful day!