Thursday, September 22, 2016

The Great Salt Lake Roadtrip

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Look at these happy, unsuspecting faces. Oblivious to the discomfort lurking beyond...

If they had known what it would be like after their swim in the lake, I'm pretty sure they would have opted for the pool. But I still would have gone. I love adventures like this. Why? The IQ demands it. 

My friend Elizabeth, and her kids, were such troopers to trek out with us to the northern end of the Great Salt Lake. Elizabeth and I went to High School together. I've had more laughs with her than almost anyone. And as we get older, I become more and more grateful for her friendship.

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For years I've been wanting to visit the Spiral Jetty. An unbelievable work of earth-art, crafted on the north shore of the lake. It is made mostly of mud, salt crystals, and basalt rock and appears when the water is low. 

It was created in 1970 by Robert Smithson, who was drawn to the area for the blood-red water (see below) and its connection with the primordial sea. Smithson died in a plane crash only three years after completing the jetty (at age 35), while surveying a location for his next project in Amarillo, TX. 

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Elizabeth and I tried to get everyone appropriately clothed and geared up, but they were scrambling down the rocks before we could get out of the car.

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The jetty was amazing. Incredible that for so many years this earthscape has resisted time and the elements.

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After walking around the jetty we decided to journey out to the lake, which was probably half a mile west of us. For a swim.
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Cute Mae, center spiral.

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This place was unlike any I had seen before. Mysterious and unearthly. Like treading across the surface of a new moon. 

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Salt crystals everywhere.

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And while it looked like a sandy beach stretching out before us, the sight was deceiving. Definitely not a place for bare feet. These pockets of crusty salt water looked like ice. They even crunched like ice. But they were so hot, I yelped when my toes cracked the surface.

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Elizabeth and Mason.

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The kids got to the water way before we did and couldn't hear us yelling to keep their shoes on.

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By the time we caught up with them, everyone was limping and wailing. 

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They had gone in barefoot and the salt crystals were like walking on cut glass.

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But check out this beach of salt. Stretching and curving for miles to the south. I love this photo of Ali.

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The kids put their runners on and headed back out.

Isn't that red water stunning? It turns this color because of microscopic algae that only grows at a salinity of 21% or more. 

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Similar to the water in the Dead Sea, it feels oily and smooth. And it was as warm as a bathtub.

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Beautiful Elizabeth. I'm so glad we were together. She has the best sense of humor. I don't think I would have survived it, all the whining and complaining, without her ability to laugh.

Our one request of the kids was that they try floating.

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It's a sensation you have to experience! As soon as we took our feet off the ground, they popped out in front of us. It was crazy to bob in the water with absolutely zero effort. Like sitting in an invisible inner tube!

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Ali floating.

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Word to the wise though: Don't put your head under or get your lips near the water. You'll be spitting salt for a while.

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See Spencer holding his breath?

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It was about now that Elizabeth's boys decided they were done. My kids were quick to follow. 

Bare feet on the crusty lake floor did them in. Everyone had tiny cuts that were now stinging and burning because of the salty water. 

"This is the stupidest place ever!"

"We drove all the way out here for this??"

(Granted, it was a solid two hour drive from home to this forsaken wilderness. The last thirty minutes on a dirt road.)

"This is the worst!"

"Ouch! My legs! My feet! Everything hurts!"

"Mom! Why did we come here!!!?"

Just a few of the lovely sentiments we heard. 

Oh, the joy.

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Ali and Elizabeth stuck around so I could take a quick float.

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All by my lonesome, but it was so relaxing.

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Salt foam.

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After my float, we gathered up our things and followed the kids back to the car. Legs, arms, torsos, covered in a visible layer of salt crystals that chafed when you walked. 

Sami was mad as a hornet over the whole experience, saying she never would have come if she'd known it was going to be this miserable. So right there she threw down her clothes on the cracked, desolate surface and refused to go any further. I wish you could have seen her rankled face.

After I pointed out that setting up camp for the night in the middle of nowhere might not be the best idea, she picked up her clothes and stomped onward. 

Needless to say, we were the last two to the car.

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All of our clothes were starched with salt - so stiff the boys' trunks stood up on their own.

Ghost trunks.

I brought jugs of water so we could rinse the salt off, and a change of clothes for all the kids, which helped, but not entirely.

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I hustled up the hill to get a better shot of the jetty before we drove off. Look at the lake beyond. Other-worldly.

Then five minutes into our washboard road exit, my thighs were burning so bad from the salt, we had to pull over so I could rinse my legs again. 

Misery. Grumbling. And wo is me... for another 15 minutes.

Then it got better. And we finished the trip with dinner at Maddox' Drive-In. Where we compared salt crystals and ordered chocolate shakes.

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Spencer's ear gives you an idea of how our legs and arms looked.

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Smiles once again. Mostly.

French fries and a good burger will quell most gripes.

Ask the kids about it and they'll tell you it was a once in a lifetime experience. Meaning, they never need to do it again. 

But I'm so glad we went. They'll never forget floating in the Great Salt Lake. And neither will I. A must-do, I think, if you live in Utah.

Our tips? If you want to do a spiral jetty adventure:

1. make sure you have a tank full of gas.
2. take snacks.
3. listen to an audio book on the way (we devoured the penderwicks series this summer.)
5. bring jugs of water to rinse off with.
6. bring a change of clothes and two pairs of shoes.
7. wear shoes at all times.
8. google maps will get you there without a hiccup.
9. stop at golden spike national historic site if you have time (it closes early).
10. grab dinner at maddox.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Posting the Positive

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If you have teens navigating the space of social media, take a minute to read this post and watch the video about these two darling girls I interviewed from Gilbert, AZ. 

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Betsy and Kenzie recently launched a campaign to combat cyber-bullying and negativity online. They are making a difference. One positive post at a time. 


All the details at Ruby Girl.

#heart #postingthepositivewildnprecious

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Message in the Sky

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I'm at Multiply Goodness today. Talking about forgiveness. And skywriters. And Disney World.  

Believe it or not, they do come together. 

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I'm so pleased to still be part of Multiply Goodness. We relaunched the site in August, with a new vision for hospitality. (Read Emily's wonderful post about The Hospitality Code.) 

I love this joint effort with writers from other faiths to tell stories that inspire. Multiply Goodness is a place where we delve into shared truths, anchor ourselves in scripture, welcome all kinds of believers, and do our best to give where there is need locally and globally.

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It's been a morning. Oldest didn't make it out the door in time for carpool because she wouldn't get up. This effort of trying to be the parent she needs me to be - say less, do less, but be more - it is hard. I forgot that it's family lunch day at school and packed five lunches that didn't need to be packed. And I cannot stop thinking about a family so dear to us who lost their oldest daughter, my age, on Saturday. She was a brilliant mind gone to soon. And I am aching to throw my arms around her Mom and Dad, who were like parents to us when we lived in DC.

This life. It seems to get harder, the longer we live it. The hurts run deeper, the losses greater, the mistakes bigger. I don't know how else to weather it but keep praying, keep reading words that live, and keep loving.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Keddington Reunion 2016

I refuse to move past Summer without documenting a few more things. Like our Keddington Reunion. Please indulge me the next couple posts, as I wrap up summer. 

We gathered on the 4th of July weekend. Seems so long ago now!

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This photo makes me laugh for all the wandering eyes. It's a bird... it's a plane.. nope, it's... a drone. We were trying to take an aerial shot and no one was quite sure where to look for the photo.

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Liza, laughing in the light.

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Sarah, posing for a pregnancy picture. I made her do it. And she couldn't take me seriously...

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But darling Hana was happy to pose for the camera.

With baby brother on the way, I think her shirt says all.

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My beautiful parents. 

Laughter keeps them going. 

In July, an MRI showed two new spots on my Mom's brain, possibly new tumor. This was discouraging since she is no longer a candidate for treatment, surgical or oncological, and new cancer will mean palliative care. But a perfusion MRI in August showed the spots were most likely necrosis (dead tissue) from radiation.

Talk about relief. I could hardly think of anything else that day as I waited for them to return from seeing the neurosurgeon. That afternoon, while driving carpool, I was talking with my Dad on the phone, and sank back into the front seat to say a silent prayer of gratitude. 

I just wasn't ready to go down that road again.

So, we are feeling blessed. Despite the challenges of caregiving.

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My sister Bec, and her husband Neil, were in charge of the reunion this summer. They did a great job planning everything and staying central to my parents' home so my Mom could participate. First day together, we hiked up Adam's canyon. (Mom and Dad sat this one out.) 

Above photo was taken right before I fell backwards over a rock and pulled both Bec and baby Ada down with me. Luckily, we were all okay. But not a pretty landing! 

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Cousin Trekkers. In their Keddington T-shirts that Shirlee made. Thank you Shir!

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Waterfall at the top of Adam's Canyon. Gorgeous spot!

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Shirlee made the boys these awesome Ghostbuster backpacks. Kept them busy for a good afternoon!

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And one the best parts of the weekend was zorbing. Have you tried this? It's hysterical! And so much fun!

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Ali, ready to roll!

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For action shots, watch this short video I spliced together. Confession: this is my first time editing a video. Crazy but true. I only had snippets of footage to piece together because my good camera was on the fritz. And I can't get those lame subtitles to turn off. But I'm calling it good. You'll get the idea.

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The kids decorated pillow cases. Love this pic of Lizzie.

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We had a pull-up contest. This is Gordy going after it. Note the dollar bills sticking out of his pocket. This was his second attempt at breaking his record. One crisp dollar for every pull-up. It was hilarious. And the bandaids on both elbows are classic. I've said this before but we burn through waterproof bandaids like loaves of bread around here. And these tough strips are the only kind I buy.  

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And we had a great time cheering everyone on. Adults included.

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We love it when my brother Dave and his family are in town. On Sunday, we went to church, all of us together, to the chapel we grew up attending, and sat on that same second row. 

We listened as both my parents shared their feelings about Jesus, about our church community and their kindness, about family. In the Mormon faith, we call it "bearing testimony." It's an opportunity the first Sunday of every month to stand, or in Mom's case, sit, and tell what you believe, and why.

Dave stood to represent our siblings, mentioning that he's probably gone to church in that chapel, with those people, more than anywhere else in the world. He said thank you to all the good, good friends there, who continue to love and serve our parents. It was a tender hour to be together.

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Sunday afternoon Dad and Mom told stories about their parents and grandparents.

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It's so important to tell these kind of stories. 

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So they can live on in younger hearts. Forge a connection between generations.

Oakley Rodeo was on the schedule. Always a favorite.

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The red, white, and blue. Gallantly streaming.

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Toothless cowboys.

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Sunday night, I slept out with all the kids on a tarp in the backyard. 

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It's simply unfun to realize you are in your forties instead of fourteen. I woke every hour trying to get comfortable, rolling from side to side. And my back! Took me all morning to get it moving again!

As kids we would sleep out there lots of summer nights, with just a sleeping bag, until sunlight spread over the mountain or we woke to the sound of the sprinklers.

On this morning, I woke at 6AM (rather opened my eyes) to the boys playing Candyland. Neil and his boys woke to the sound of sprinklers and made a mad, sleepy dash for dry ground. We had a good laugh.

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On Monday the 4th, my Dad gathered the kids for a flag raising ceremony.

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We said the pledge of allegiance, hands over hearts.

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Dave taught the boys how to shoot a bb gun.

Bless his big Texan heart. He was so patient. And taught them all about gun safety.

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They were so into this.

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Then we finished the day with a piƱata. And fireworks.

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So grateful for this land of the free. Where families can worship according to their heart and conscience. Where we can gather in safety. Where our tables are full and we have beds to sleep in (especially after sleeping outside on a tarp). Where we can honestly say, life is beautiful. Life is good.

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