Thursday, 6 November 2014

St George Utah

I had mixed feelings leaving Salt Lake City as we had so much fun there and it was really time for us to start our big trek across the country as we could only afford 2 or 3 days stop in the rest of the places we planned to visit.

Travelling south in Utah was absolutely stunning and viewing such beautiful scenery was amazing.  I couldnt believe how high up we travelled before descending down to St George.  The weather was sooooo much warmer there. In the afternoon we were able to visit a few church sites including Brigham Young's summer house.  There was a lot of green paint throughout this home so there is a folk tale that some members believe it was left over paint from used inside the St George temple!  The temple was beautiful and because it was such a warm sunny day, with full on white paint on the outside - the temple looked so bright! There was also 2 different wedding parties walking around as well so that makes it all very special.  The visitors centre there was also great.  We had probably already visited 4 centres and all had something different to offer and sometimes different movies to view containing more history or giving different perspectives about church life.  After walking the grounds we even bumped into someone who served his mission with Luke Howes from Adelaide (who we sort of know).  This man heard us talking and recognised our accents and just introduced himself and couldn't believe it when we said we were from Adelaide!!! Small world.

We spent the first night in St George with Janeal and Richard Monsen who were a senior missionary couple that served in our ward that we got along with so well!  They were in a fabulous housing area with its own pool so we had sooooooo much fun cooling off together and just relaxing!  The Monsens were such generous hosts and wanted us all to fit into their 3 bedroom home and they also had three other family members staying so we were very grateful.  Next day we all went quad biking. Rich had just bought a new 4wd vechile so it was actually heaps of fun as only 20 minutes away there was an excellent track for us to use.  It was very dusty but the scenery was outstounding with mountains and ranges all around.  - The children were even allowed to drive the vehicle  They were in absolute heaven.  It was an absoluetly wonderful day.  We also went to an area where they believe dinosaurs roamed and even left traks???  A little bit of a croc for me really but most of the kids seemed to believe so I went along with it.

Even though we were only with the Monsens for a short time we felt like we could have stayed there forever and the kids certainly would have loved the pool area to use whenever....but we had loads more exploring to do...Saturday the 20th April we visited Zions National Park!  Some places were off the beating track and therefore not many tourists there so it was great to have some short walks with the children and discover Gods beautiful world all by ourselves.  At some places we just stopped and soaked in the sun and chilled with each other.  These are the priceless moments in a busy life that I cherish and adore!  For the most part of the day we visited the more popular areas and took buses around here and there to visit where we need to be.  Loads more tourists but one can see why when all around. Nearly everywhere we looked there were majestic rock landscapes, mountains and canyons all around. I loved how most of the landmarks had religious names as obviously some of the first people in the modern world to see them were Mormons. We visited an area named Three Patriachs named after Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  Three huge peaks that looked very similar.  During the day we also had a few walks to view waterfalls and landmarks such as Angels Landing.  Travelling with different aged children we had to be mindful of how far we went but I know Jason would have loved to hike all day...maybe he and I can get back there one day to do just that! 


Having a break from hiking - drinking our decaffeinated Mountain Dew...Boy do we miss that stuff!!!

That night we had to have dinner at a places called Blondies!  Just fast food but fabulous quality like most Blondes!!! Then we had the privilege of staying with Darin and Deletha Heaton in an area near St George called Toquerville  where we stayed with their family.  Darin was Jason's mission trainer and I know Jason respects him highly.  It was so lovely seeing them catching up and talking about their lives and families.  Didn't really seem like over 20 years had passed.  It was quite eery that both of these guys were serving as Bishops of the ward.  - Although we didnt really have much time before bed the boys got out their motor bikes. normal bikes AND their quad bikes! Does everyone in St George have quad bikes?  My kids were in heaven and once again the Heatons let everyone drive themselves around SO by the time we all got to sleep it was very very late and sufficeth to say we were a little late for church the next day.  Throughout the whole trip I was amazed at how well the children were happy to attend different primaries and youth classes each week - they did really well. 

Then for the rest of the afternoon we had loads of fun eating and playing games with the Heaton family. Because everyone got along soooo well it was really difficult knowing we needed to go to bed that night and wake up and leave straight away!  Heatons off to school and work ...Ellis's off onto Arizona in our big RV.  We had bonded with another fabulous family and they had been so generous to all of us especially considering we had all never met before...Friends for life who may never see each other again.

                                          It is safe to say that we all loved St George Utah!!!

Other Highlights of Salt Lake City

During the last week of our main stay in Salt Lake we were lucky enough to catch up with Deb and Matt Pope who grew up in Adelaide and mainly knew Jason when he was in the youth program however Debbie is my brother in law's (Andrew Sturt) sister, so really we are related.  They were residing in Provo at the time but have moved now.  During  our visit we met with their 6 gorgeous children and Debbie was pregnant with their as of now she has arrived into the world.  As usual Daniel was a little shy at first but by the end of the night didn't want to leave! It was a fun night reminiscing and catching up with fellow Australians (I am glad they hadn't lost their accents too much)

We also had a chance to catch up with Rolf and Paula Lawrenz and their family who had moved to America about 3 months earlier.  The kids all had a blast catching up and playing AFL ...and Paula and I also got a little bit of shopping in which is always FUN. Plus we had the biggest cake for dessert that we have ever seen!!!

During the last week we also tried to get to most of the church history buildings and offices around Salt Lake City. Jason was in his element.  We really enjoyed the church museum and also the Daughters of Zion museum as they gave the children a fun worksheet to fill in and find special items that were placed any where over the three storey museum.  The children decided to make a little race of it - boys verses girls so they had loads of fun skirting around all over.  I am glad not many people were there as we went a little crazy!  There were so many artefacts from early saints who made the trek west from New York State and Nauvoo  all the way to Salt Lake.  Some families even carried their piano all that way!

We had an amazing experience touring the Brigham Young - This is the Place memorial and also his main home he lived in whilst in Salt Lake City - Lion House.  For me I struggle at times with some of the history revolving around Brigham Young and his family but during this week I felt more understanding and felt the immense faith this man had to do whatever the Lord required of him.  Such a great example to me.

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Bon Jovi does SLC

So one of my top 5 things we did on our holiday was go to a Bon Jovi concert in salt Lake City of all places!  After the Utah Jazz game we could use our ticket for $10 tickets to the concert...I couldn't really believe it but it was true!  So on our last night in Salt Lake we went to the concert!  Michael and Jordyn accompanied me.... Jordyn got a little bored but overall it was absolutely fantastic.  It was soooooo great seeing him perform 'Living on a Prayer'!!! Our seats were a little ways up but we got a great view for every song except one.  For me the concert was absolutely fabulous!!!

Later in our holiday I tried to contact one of my pen pals that I have been writing to for over 30 years but unfortunately we didn't have a chance to catch up due to work and time tables BUT in the end she asked me if I was at the Bon Jovi  Concert on the same night in the $10 ticket section and she described what I was wearing, with two children and when I was like yes that was totally me she was bummed because she was there as well and thought it was me but way to shy to come up and say hello.  I sooooo wished she did but unfortunately great opportunity lost...always lessons to be learnt in life, even at a Bon Jovi concert!

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

The Hulls

After a teary farewell with the Garrett family we moved onto the Hull family from Downtown Utah!!!  Back home in Onkaparinga Ward Cynthia Hull from Victor Harbor who had recently been baptised kept insisting that we contact her family and stay with them!  She became very forceful one week that I thought I better do it.  I feel apprehensive about asking people if 8 people can stay with them for awhile....but most people are soooooo excited to do it especially when they find out we are Australians.

So through a couple of emails with Cynthia's cousin Dan Hull we arranged to stay with them from April 14th for a couple of nights.  It was just very special to meet these lovely people - Dan and Linda Hull!  They have 6 grown children and live very close to the city in a beautiful older home loaded with lots of history which was great to hear about!  Although it was very cold out we took lots of walks and the children had a great time playing outside and creating games with different toys for awhile....its such a joy to watch them create games and ideas at different times but of course the best game to play in their home was hide and seek!  They had soooooo many hiding spots and nooks and crannies and that's even without using the basement.  One time I was hiding for over 10 minutes before I got bored and laughed and Matty heard me!  I thoroughly enjoyed learning from Dan and Linda.  It is a great experience for our children to meet loads of different people.

Fun Outside Play at the Hull's
Dan and Linda Hull

Whilst we were there we took day trip into the city to explore all the church buildings and especially the museums.  There was a great kid hunt at the Daughters of Zion museum where they had to find heaps of things so that was a lot of fun and we also enjoyed the Church history building.  Its hard to get everything in because the children did get a little bored at times...actually lets face it ...I got a little bored sometimes as well.  I knew that I was in such an amazing place but at some places when the presenters repeated information it was a little hard to stay awake! - It was surreal visiting Brigham Young 'this is the place' monument.  Very special to read about how people felt being there.

We also had a chance to visit the Bishop Central Warehouse where the church has employed many people to distribute food and other essentials to people all over the world. There are also many volunteers such as missionaries there to help continue the work.  One of the volunteers was Jonny Ellis's mission president!  Small world.  It was amazing to go through this building and see how well it works and learn more about where our tithing goes. I was so impressed when were able to ask questions Matthew asked our guide if all the help goes to anyone or just members....and of course the answer was to people all over the world, members and non was great to know Matthew was thinking about things like that!

Inside the huge Bishop Storehouse