Oct 8, 2014

Yosemite National Park- A Heritage Vacation- Day Three

Thursday we planned for a mule ride! I was very excited about this bit of reenactment! I've ridden a mule once before, at Mammoth Lakes in 1994 but apparently it was an atypical, cooperative mule! I love Grandad's description of mule riding...
"Every day we hiked to points of interest. The falls were nice and full in July and we explored them all as far as we could go. This [the trail to Glacier Point] is the trail over which the guides take their tourists by horse- or mule-back. We kept pace with them almost all the way up the trail; sometimes we would pass them and later they would pass us sitting down to rest. A mule is a very aggravating animal, especially on the trail. The guide would be up in front, mounted on a horse, and occasionally a mule would spy a nice green sprig off to one side of the trail, and the rider couldn’t stop him from getting it—which as very uncomfortable to the rider, who would have a hard time to keep from sliding backward out of the saddle. When this occurred in the middle of the line, it caused quite a jam and the guide would have to come back and get the mule to change his mind again. We saw one old fellow in this kind of a fix and he hollered bloody murder until the guide righted his mule again."
We were set for a 4-hour trail ride that started at 8 am. We needed to arrive early to watch their safety video and get our mandatory riding helmet. There were only 5 riders this day, plus the two guides. They had the mules all lined up on one side of the hitchin'-fence and told us to wait on the other side (the safe side) until we were matches up with our mule. Imagine my surprise and delight when they said, "Joanie, this is your mule, Elsie!" I won't lie... it brought tears to my eyes. What were the chances? Just a coincidence? I THINK NOT!!

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Rebekah got paired with Melvin. We were assured by our guides that none of the mules were suicidal and to trust them. I loved watching Melvin's little mincing steps as he maneuvered his way on the trail, keeping my acrophobic daughter safe... even in the face of sure death!

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But it was a close thing. About three-quarters of the way up the steep mountain trail the mule right in front of me stepped on the side of the trail as it maneuvered one of the many hairpin turns, knocking loose some rocks, which, naturally started a mini rock slide. Welp! Elsie decided to take exception with that! (And if you've ever been horse or mule back riding, you know what I'm talking about!) That 16-hand-tall mule turned on a dime that would make any good cuttin' horse jealous and started tearing off down the trail away from that evil mass of rock wedging her way between Melvin and Rebekah on the inside, uphill side of the trail pushing her puny friend and rider right up to the precipice of death!! Luckily I am an experienced horsewoman (oh, but mules are a different breed!) and was able to stop her in quick time.

Rebekah mentioned that her leg and knee hurt but it wasn't until later that we saw the extent of the damage... and this is before the bruising started to bloom.

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But Bek cowgirled-up and we had a lovely view from the top.

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We wanted our guide to capture our likeness, just like Bill and Elsie 102 years ago, but Elsie-the mule is a big girl...

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and we needed a better vantage point so we could even see Rebekah and Melvin.

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The stables are right at the base of Royal Arch, where Grandad and Grandma camped those many summers ago.
When we checked in at the Ranger’s Station, we were assigned to Camp 8 which is under the Royal Arch, which is within walking distance of Camp Curry, where they had an entertainment each evening, which was climaxed by the fire-fall from Glacier Point each night. Glacier Point is about 3,000 feet above the floor of the valley and each day they make a big pile of wood which is lighted in the evening and when it burns down, the embers are pushed over the precipice—thus the fire falls. Midway down the face of the cliff is a ledge upon which the embers fall and burn themselves out. A person at the top of the cliff cannot throw a stone or stick hard enough to fall on the valley floor, for the draft will suck it in so that it falls on the ledge every time.
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And it is where my mom, Elsie, was conceived.

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No trip to Yosemite would be complete without a photo of El Capitan!

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And Grandma Elsie thought so too.

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We saw several climbers scaling the face. We pulled out my 70-300mm zoom lens and could see them toiling bravely weighed down with way too much stuff! And, what, may I ask does one do when they have to go potty in the middle of a climb? It take two days and they sleep in a hammock set-up over night. Just one more reason I won't be doing any rock climbing!

And that's it... our wonderful heritage vacation. We had a lovely time. It was just the right amount of time.

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And it only took us 2-3 days to get over the soreness of hiking and mule riding!

If you'd like to read more of Grandad's history you can find it here. The story about their Yosemite vacation begins on page 17.

Oct 7, 2014

Yosemite National Park- Mirror Lake- Day Two

After our jaunt up to Glacier Point we wanted something where we could stretch our legs. One of the park employees suggested Mirror Lake and that was just right for us! I could hardly wait to see this beautiful sight 102 years later!

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We should have invested in a Yosemite map but thought we could get by with the map provided for free. Next time! We ended up on a mule trail that was quite rough and littered with evidence of recent mule activity!

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The scenery was wonderfully beautiful hiking along next to these rock-a-dons. I needed to add this photo for perspective!

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When we were almost to Mirror lake we saw these two rock cairns. Another park visitor informed us that there were about an hundred just around the corner.

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But all I could think of was getting to the lake and putting my feet into the nice cool water...

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Erm... do you think the park employee could have mentioned this tiny detail? This is all that is left of Mirror Lake. A sign informed us that there is always a cyclical pattern to Mirror Lake's size but this year it was ALL beach-front property... WITH NO WATER! (So sorry to my achin' little piggies!)

We noticed a middle-aged couple lying on the fine gravel of Mirror Lake's dry bed gazing up at Half Dome. We decided to follow suit and rest my piggies, at least!

John Muir stated that he felt like he was in a huge cathedral when he was in Yosemite. I have to agree with him. I felt such a sense of reverence in this wonderful specimen of God's handiwork.

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Our return trip was much easier as we took the bike trail but completely forgot to go looking for the hundreds of rock cairns! Silly girls.

Sep 27, 2014

Yosemite National Park- Glacier Point- Day Two

Tuesday night we didn't even eat dinner until 9 pm so we had a slower start this day. Our first stop was Glacier Point.

It is at Glacier Point that the is the famous Over hangin' Rock! (BTW the handwriting on these photos is my Grandma Elsie's hand.)

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The more I learn about my Grandad, the more I understand where my impulsive behavior comes from!

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And, you know, this IS a heritage-reenactment vacation...

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But, surprisingly, I've learned to be cautious in my 60s (I want to see my 70s and 80s). So this is my version of Bill Munce on over hangin' rock! (Taken the day before at Olmsted Flats) Also, the rock is fenced off and folks are not allowed to go out there any longer.

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One of Bill and Elsie's first stops was Inspiration Point. Aren't they so darling? Inspiration Point isn't too far from Glacier Point.

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I have to say that my favorite of all the places we visited was Glacier Point! The views from up there are wonderful!!
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Grandad says of their hike to Glacier Point-
Our longest hike was to Glacier Point by the long trail, which skirts Vernal and Nevada Falls. It is 13 miles and that was tough going in some places. But the climb was well worthwhile, for from Glacier Point you can look straight down onto the floor of the valley. The stages looked like toys as they rolled along the road and the people looked as big as dolls. We went into the restaurant up on the Point and had our meal out on the porch, which was glassed in and was nice and warm. From here we could look out all over one side of the valley and it was marvelous. Vernal Falls is only a short distance away, maybe a mile, and it is so clear and bright you almost felt as though you could touch it. Nevada Falls is further back, but it completed a beautiful picture.

We returned to the valley by the short trail, which was 3 miles long and all downhill. This was only a narrow foot trail and animals were not allowed on it. It was unimproved and in a great many places the going was tough, on account of the rocks and deep gullies, and if you think your feet won’t get sore getting jammed into the toes of your shoes every step, just try it. Our feet and ankles were sore for a week.
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Several years ago Rebekah and family took Camille to Yosemite on one of her summer visits. Rebekah, Camille, Tadhg and Caden ended up taking the hike down (and according to Grandad, straight down!) from Glacier Point to the Valley... IN FLIP-FLOPS! Bek says they got a lot of strange looks that day! Curtis and baby-Brock met them at the bottom. We decided we would forgo this reenactment since it cost $25 each for a bus ride to the top. Happy little Elio took us there for only a sip of gasoline!

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I will be back tomorrow, or the next, with more of our Yosemite adventures. I'm having such a good time remembering!

Sep 21, 2014

Yosemite National Park- A Heritage Vacation- Day One

Several months ago I gave a Primary sharing time about family history and shared a trip that my grandparents made to Yosemite in 1912. That started a hankering in my soul that needed to be satisfied. I knew that at 62 I would finally qualify for my Senior America the Beautiful pass. So with those two pieces of information I cooked up a Yosemite trip with Rebekah (who lives an hour away from Yosemite). I just wanted to go back needed to make a heritage vacation with Bill and Elsie in mind.

They traveled by horse and wagon and it took them 4 days to make the trip from Fresno to Yosemite. They camped near where their great-granddaughter would one day live on the second night.

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We traveled from Yosemite Lakes Park, where Bekah lives, in Elio and made the trip in about one hour. But that first glimpse of Yosemite Valley is still just as breathtakingly beautiful.

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Since there isn't an easy way from Bek's house to Utah (every route is 13 hours!) they frequently cut through the Park and then head out across Nevada and Utah on Hwy 6. They are always in a hurry to leave or get home when they pass through Tuolumne Meadows and don't take time to stop. We decided that would be would be our first destination. On our way we stopped at Olmsted Point for our first hike.

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My beautiful Bekah... she kindly hiked at my Grammie pace.

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Our next stop was Tuolumne Meadows. We hiked around the meadows, not across, and back to the Tuolumne River. The river was unusually low due to the severe drought affecting California.

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The temperature was much cooler here, for which we were grateful.

I'll be back in the next few days to post more about our adventures.

Sep 10, 2014

Birthday Beauty

Miss Bitty, aka Fiona, is 1-year old! Wow, it's been a fast year. She had the wonderful family birthday party in her lovely backyard (with perfect weather). She is such a dynamic little person! Her sweet personality just radiates.

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She totally enjoyed her cake. Especially the frosting! Eventually she grabbed a handful of cupcake after she'd eaten most of the frosting and was so frustrated that she had cake crumbs all over her frosting-y fingers. Grammie to the rescue! I wiped off her hand and she was good to go for another round.

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This little girl brings so much joy to all around her.

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And if you needed more proof... just look at this!

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Seriously... does it get any better than this? We are so blessed to be near to so many of our grandchildren!

Aug 24, 2014

Christian's Big Day

Today, Christian's 12th birthday, was a special day. His Dad conferred upon him the Aaronic Priesthood and ordained him to office of a Deacon. We are so pleased that he is a worthy (and handsome) young man.

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Since it was their Ward Conference today we all gathered at Doug and Jessica's home (which was quite nice and packed to the gills) for this happy occasion.

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Grampy Gordon, Papa Dell, Papa Warner, Christian, Doug, Uncle Stuart, Uncle Kevin (Camille's kind of Kevin), Uncle Kevin (Suzi's kind of Kevin), Uncle Beau and Uncle Matt.

We are so blessed to be here to participate in these wonderful milestones.

OK... Funny story-

Years ago I was sitting in Primary with the older boys when Josh says to me-

"Sister Lewis, when do I get to be a duncan?"

"A DUNCAN, Josh?"

Yeah, a duncan. You know, those boys who pass the sacrament!"

"Ahh! A DEACON?"

"Yeah, yeah... a deacon!"

Today our Christian is a Duncan!

Ashton's Debut Recital

This last month has been a busy one for Ashton. She's been preparing for her debut recital. You would think that one recital would be enough, but no, this was the 3rd one in 15 days!

Since we've been to each of her recitals I don't think I comprehended what a *debut recital* entailed. It was over an hour of her playing; mostly without music! When I looked at the sheet music for the last concerto (it was a duet and only her teacher had the music) it was mind boggling! I asked her how she could memorize all of that. Her answer, "I have a photographic memory."

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Ashton has a lovely touch and a gift for music. My personal favorite was an arrangement of If You Could Hie to Kolob (the music is taken from an Irish melody). It literally brought me to tears.

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Ashton and her piano teacher, Kristi
And here is the funny part about our Ashton... she is obsessed with these funny bracelets. At her first recital I asked if she needed to take them off. I took her quite a few minutes to get all 28 of them off.

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(But perhaps funnier still, that Grammie had to sort them.)

Aug 21, 2014

The Goodness of Light

On Tuesday last, Elder David A Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints challenged us to flood the internet with a wave of good, uplifting and positive. I love that challenge. I've seen many others accept that challenge as they post uplifting quotes, experiences and photos.

This week we've been blessed with our August monsoonal flow of moisture. We've badly needed every drop we have received. I love the quality of the light after thunderstorms. Each evening Harley and I take a little doggie-walk. As I was walking last evening, with a soft, cool breeze ruffling my hair, I was struck by how a walk on a pleasant rain-washed evening just feeds my soul. It fills me up.

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It takes me back to my carefree days of childhood when I lived in the ultimate safe haven of Indian Valley California. I was free (and safe) to roam the pastures, mountains, creeks and forests of that beautiful area. Perhaps because I am the baby-of-the-family by quite a gap, I learned early on to be happy with my own company even though I am basically a social person.

I marvel at the goodness of our Heavenly Father, who created such a beautiful world. And the wonderful godly light that shines through the clouds testifies to my spirit of his love for me, his daughter.

I'm grateful to know that God *is no respecter of persons*. He loves all of His children!

Aug 9, 2014

Alpine Loop- The Last Hurrah?

Last fall when DeLoris and I normally take our annual Alpine Loop trip she was not feeling well enough to go. Ever since then I've felt overwhelmed that we didn't get to do it and I MIGHT NOT EVER GET TO MAKE THAT TRIP AGAIN with my DeLoris!

Only a few weeks ago I got a call from Shari, DeLoris' daughter, telling me I'd want to go see *Mother* because they didn't expect her to last the week! I couldn't get down to Payson to see her until the next morning and when I came into her room there she was sitting up in bed drinking a carton of chocolate milk and looking very frail!

I've been down several times since then and she has always looking tired and in pain. Imagine my surprise when I went yesterday and this is the woman I saw!! I told her she was beautiful (and the Ever-ready bunny)! This is just a pix taken with my iPhone and edited in instagram! My wonderful, beautiful, glorious DeLor-EE-ous! She just turned 93!

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Welp, I wasn't going to let the opportunity slip by again. I made a date to come back this morning and we would get in our 9th Annual Alpine Loop Trip (only 10 months late!) And I realize that this truly may be our last hurrah trip. My DeLoris has shrunk so much that she joked she needs a booster seat to see out the window!

When we arrived at the park entrance I asked the girls working there if I could buy my America the Beautiful Senior Pass a week early. They kindly sold it to me with a promise that I won't use it until next Saturday! I am so excited to have this happy little pass. It allows me free entrance to all National Parks for the rest of my life! Yay little-Joanie!

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I made several stops for photo ops. We both commented that we've driven this route so often that we have favorite views and sights along the way. I always love how the aspen look. I almost feel like this should be a *find the hidden objects* puzzle.

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We always make our stop at the rest rooms on the American Fork Canyon side of the trip. I have a selfie from this exact place in 2008. Today's selfie doesn't merit publishing (especially since we both have a very cute photo included in this post!)

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And it wouldn't be a photo outing without a flower. I got this one with my olloclip macro lens on my iPhone.I love my MPC!

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After lunch at In 'n Out as we were motoring back to Payson DeLoris said she might live another 5 years. Oh, how I hope that is true if (big IF) she can remain healthy and without much pain. What a wonderful dear friend she is to me. I'm a lucky girl!

Aug 3, 2014

33 Years

Today's anniversary of Tony and Amanda's death coincided with Fast Sunday. I knew that I needed to share my testimony of my Saviour. I must testify that Jesus is my strength, my comfort, my rock. He has never left me alone in my grief. Has it been hard? Absolutely!

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"I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." 
Phillipians 4:13

And as in years past, an anonymous angel has sent me flowers. Chad Wright delivered these at 8:15 this morning.

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And they always bear this same message.

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The thought just occurred to me. I've been sad that I couldn't decorate my kid's grave each year since they are buried in Livermore, CA. But some earthly angel decorates my house instead. What a wonderful blessing.

Truly they have followed the Saviour's counsel to "... succor the weak, lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees." (D&C 81:5) and "... are willing to bear one another's burdens, that they may be light: and are willing to mourn with those that mourn: and comfort those that stand in need of comfort" (Mosiah 18:8-9)

But I learned a new fact today; I am not the only one to whom this marvelous Christ-like person ministers. There are others in my neighborhood who received like remembrances on their difficult day.

I also had a visit and sweet treat and lovely note from my Whitley. I taught Whitley's Sunday school class last year. She is an angel.

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I am so very blessed to live in an area where there are so many people who listen to the promptings of the Spirit and "comfort those which stand in need of comfort."