Monday, May 12, 2008

Utah Vacation - Part III - Monday

Monday, May 5th: I was so proud of us on this vacation. On all but one or two days, we set an alarm instead of sleeping in. There was so much we wanted to see and do and we knew we'd have to get an early start to fit it all in. So we got up early on Monday and got dressed and headed down to breakfast. The breakfast was okay. We got to cook waffles and then there was fruit, yogurt, cereals, and pastries. Notice I said WE got to cook the waffles. No one did that for us. We ate and then headed out for the day. We went to Lynne and Rudy's house to pick up my mom and a few other things. Rudy had picked up a bunch of donuts which was nice. We got my mom's cooler and filled it with water and other things. Our plan was to have a picnic at the park where Mike used to play at as a kid. We decided to head north on Monday to go to Ogden and see the places Mike used to live.

On our way up north and out of town, I caught my very first glimpse of the Salt Lake Temple and it brought tears to my eyes. I was surprised at how small the temple looked in and amongst all the downtown buildings. But its beauty was breathtaking nonetheless.

We stopped in Bountiful to see the Bountiful temple and take pictures. What a beautiful hillside location! The weather was so nice. I noticed many, many people going for walks along the road parallel to the temple. We parked in a little parking lot across the street where there were trail heads and other natural things to see. I got many pictures of this gorgeous place! It was amazing to see not only the temple itself, but also the view overlooking the valley. There is such a spirit up there on that hillside. I can't really put words to it enough to do it justice. But when I stepped out of the car and saw it with my own two eyes, I could just feel that I was in the presence of reverence and beauty and there was a quiet in my heart that was so peaceful. Indeed, the temple is the house of the Lord.

One of the highlights of this stop was a little hike that Mike and Ethan took. There is a trail across the street that leads up to the top of the hill where the view of the temple is spectacular. I didn't want to brave the hike and neither did Evan. So we stayed with my mom while Mike and Ethan headed up there together. Perhaps Mike can elaborate more on that little journey... it was a private time for the two of them. It was special and they found some rocks that are so beautiful. We brought them back with us. When they got to the top, Mike took an amazing picture of the temple!! In the picture at left, it's a little hard to see, but Mike and Ethan are there in the middle, walking up the trail to the top.

Next, we headed up to Ogden. Mike had a lot of fun reminiscing about different things as we drove up the highway. It was fun seeing things through his reflective eyes. We stopped by the first house he lived in on Ben Lomond street. He had some interesting stories to tell about the neighborhood and the home itself. I took a picture of the house from across the street in the car.

Then we headed over to Sunset to the house they lived in for a longer time. We got out of the car and knocked on the door. To our delight, a young woman answered the door. Mike explained to her that he had lived in the home when he was a young boy and asked if it would be okay to take a picture of the outside of the house. Her English is not perfect and she sort of gave us a weird look and said, "Okay, you can come in." We said, "No, no, no. It's okay. We just want a picture of the outside." And she said, "Yeah, okay, but you can come in!" So she allowed us into her home and gave us a tour of the place. Again, it was so much fun to see this home through Mike's reflective eyes. As we entered each room, he was able to tell us exactly how it looked and shared some memories of each place. He went upstairs and showed me all around. Then we went into the basement, which is still unfinished. To Mike's shock, there was a painting on the wall that his mother painted some 25 years ago. It's a picture of an eagle and it's STILL there. Nobody has ever painted over it. It was so amazing. There is another painting on the opposite wall that is also still there. Mike showed me where his room was and where the water bed exploded. It was so fun. I got a picture of the eagle and then I got a picture of Mike sitting in the bay window in the staircase. Plus, I got a photo of Mike standing with Nery, who is the new owner of the home. She is from Venezuela and is so sweet. She is a member of the ward there in the neighborhood and her home had such a beautiful and peaceful spirit about it. Once we were outside, I got a picture of Mike in front of the house, next to a tree that he planted in the front yard when it was just a tiny thing. The tree is huge now!

Next we drove down the street to see the chapel and the park they played at, which was right across the street from the chapel. I got lots of pictures of both. The chapel parking lot was full, which surprised us for a Monday afternoon. But then we realized when we saw the limousines and the hearse outside that a funeral was going on. The boys jumped out and headed for the park and play equipment. We had taken food to have a picnic and it was the perfect day for a picnic. As we sat and made peanut butter sandwiches and ate cheese, pepperoni, and crackers, Mike shared more stories with us.

All of a sudden, people started exiting the chapel and we realized that the funeral service had ended. I looked over and saw the pall bearers carrying out a casket and just started to cry. I didn't even know these people, but I understood the pain they were likely feeling and it was so somber. At the same time, I felt gratitude for the plan of salvation and the understanding we have of the gospel. It is comforting to know that although we lose our loved ones in this life, we will be reunited someday because of the temple ordinances.

Then we headed into the northern part of Ogden and got to see the temple. Again, it was so amazing to see a gorgeous temple in the middle of a busy town. No matter what is going on around the city, the reverence is unchanged on the temple grounds. I got some beautiful pictures of the temple and the fountains!

Next we headed back towards Salt Lake City. We had once again been invited to dinner with Rudy and Lynne. On the way back, I asked Mike to take a detour through the downtown area so that I could see the temple. We had time and decided to go for it. Seeing the downtown area just whetted my appetite for the following day, when we would spend the day on Temple Square.

We also went up the hill and saw the newly renovated capitol building. It really is beautiful. Across the street from the capitol are a couple of old, historical buildings. One of them is the Council Hall, which now houses offices as well as tourist information. We went in and learned more about the building. Walking in the door was like stepping back in time. The architecture was amazing. I found out that the building had once been located down in the valley. At some point, it was decided that it would be demolished to build another building. But one brother stepped up (I believe his name was Brother Morgan) and fought to keep the building together. Eventually, it was decided to keep the building and it was carried, piece by piece, up the hill to its present-day location. She also mentioned that Brigham Young once had an office in the upstairs part of the dwelling. I love history!

Across the grass is another building that is a replica of one of the original 19 wards in the Salt Lake area. It was neat to see the building and imagine the saints of the time entering in their then-fashionable attire to attend Sunday services. Although it's a replica, several parts of the original chapel were salvaged for the new one.

We stopped by Costco again and picked up some ice cream and a chocolate cake to take to dinner. We had tacos that night for dinner along with Spanish rice and beans... very good stuff! And of course dessert was equally nice. That night, we got to meet Adrieana for the first time. Adrieana is the bride! She is so beautiful and such a sweet girl. We also met her mom and brother. Plus, Lynne's brother and his wife came to dinner as well. Everyone helped set up a cabana for Wednesday night's barbecue. It was fun talking with everyone and getting to know everyone. After dinner, Mike left me there to socialize while he took the boys back to the hotel to swim.

When he got back, he decided that we needed to find a new place to stay. Enough was enough of that hotel. I guess some seedy looking people came into the pool area while they were swimming. I had had a creepy feeling about the place from the start. When Rudy heard us talking about this, he turned to me and said, "Christina, that's not a bad feeling. That's the still, small voice telling you what to do." He was right. We were locked into the place that night... but as we drove back and walked up to our room, I said a silent prayer. I still had a weird feeling about the place, but once we were inside and the door was locked, I felt fine. Mike and I stayed up until nearly 1am looking online for a new hotel (thank goodness he brought the laptop!) We FINALLY found a place that met all our needs... it was priced right, it was actually closer to Lynne and Rudy, and it had an indoor pool, which was really important to the boys. We called and made reservations and then we were able to sleep in peace. It had been a full day and we were BEAT!

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