Monday, September 27, 2010

a very big band-aid

I went to surgery this morning with a growth this size: And came out with a bandage this size:
Overkill you think?

Sunday, September 26, 2010


I went on a road trip up to Utah last week. I was going up to see my nephew and help my sister. But along the way, I planned a few little side trips. It would drive Dave crazy to leave Phoenix and already be stopping by the time we got to Flagstaff. When he gets in the car he wants to go go go as far as he can before he stops. Since I was on my own, I stopped all along the way. I hiked for about 1 1/2 hours on Sandy's Canyon Trail near Flagstaff.
I spent the next morning in Bryce Canyon. Suzanne gave me some info to hike into the park from the back roads -- no Park Entrance fees, no buses, crowds or tourists to battle, yay! So I hiked in from the town of Tropic and then toured around the Navajo Trail Loop and back out. It was gorgeous. I was a little nervous being alone, but once I got on the trail and found my way, I realized it was easy to navigate and there were no worries.
Friday morning was the "Y" on the mountain above BYU. Everyone said it was a short but steep trail. I wasn't so sure it was short. It looks like it is WAY up on the mountain, but when I got to the trail head parking lot, I realized it starts quite a long ways up the mountain already:
The actual "Y" was not so impressive, but the views of the valley were.
Friday evening was a pleasant walk along the Provo River Walk Trail. A very pleasant shady walk.
Saturday morning was a couple of hours on the Rock Canyon Trail in Provo.
For the drive back home to Phoenix, I stopped at the Coral Pink Sand Dunes Arch near Kanab. It wasn't actually in the State Park, but just outside of it. There was a whole write-up on the internet about a nice place to stop and see "a natural wonder" on the way to the park. Um . . no, a bit disappointing. I hope the actual state park is a little more impressive.
Then a stop at the horseshoe bend overlook near Page. This is an absolutely gorgeous site. It is worth the walk (about 3/4 mile from the parking lot). There is a small sign on the highway, but it is easily overlooked. The parking lot is between mile markers 544 and 545 just south of Page. One warning though. It is a death defying cliff overlook with no guardrails or safety features. (This is good to know just in case you let your kids walk ahead of you which we did once years ago. When Dave and I got out there, our young grade school kids were WAY to close to the edge and I had nightmares about it for days. )
From Page to Phoenix, I made several other stops, but no cameras were necessary on these stops. I got a wee bit of food poisoning from lunch earlier in the day and I stopped every 40 minutes or so all the way home to litter the Arizona highways with my lunch. Then I had a massive headache for the next 24 hours. I've never had anything like that happen before. A sad ending to a very nice road trip.
Besides all the wonderful hiking in the cool Utah weather, I also met up with a college room-mate that I had lost touch with, had lunch with a good high school friend that I recently caught up with on facebook, stayed with a cousin and their kids who were so adorable I could hardly stand it,and I went out to dinner and out to listen to a couple of bands with my cousin. Actually, it was like two Relief Society ladies trying very hard to fit in at a nightclub type atmosphere and just laughing and having fun at the fact that we SO did not fit in.
Mostly, it was nice to be with my sister, my nephew and his fiance who are dealing with some tough issues. They are my heroes and I was glad to get to spend some time with all three of them.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

spits and spots

As we were going through customs, an agent was being very business like - checking our passports, no chit chat whatsoever. Then without looking up from his papers - "How did you find London?" That question stumped me. I basically found it because I happen to know where it is on the map. And then I bought a plane ticket and the airplane brought me right to it. What do you mean - how did I find it??
Anyway, it took me a few seconds to realize he was making conversation and was asking "How did you like London?" (Well then, why didn't you say that . . . )
There were many words, phrases and signs that made me wonder or sometimes laugh.
"Did it rain here yesterday?" "Oh, just spits and spots."
I love one word in particular and I am trying to phase it into my everyday speech. Whildst. As in : "If you should become ill whildst traveling . . . "
Traffic signs were full of wonder and misunderstanding for us.
steile taluds ! (I don't know what that means, but there is an exclamation point included on the sign, so I suppose it was important. We obviously did not obey this traffic sign.)

Good fart . . . . (giggle, giggle) I'm not sure why tanks have a different speed limit than trucks . . .
I couldn't wrap my head around the fact the the speedometer needle was pointing to 135!
We enjoyed the labels in the grocery stores too.Potato chip flavors:Pork Scratchings, Worcester Sauce, American Cheeseburger, Prawn Cocktail

Sandwiches: Cheese Crunch, Chicken Sweetcorn

If this was available in America, it would become my favorite soda flavor simply because it is fun to pronounce:

And Dave loved the little baby milk jugs.
We only had one disasterous food issue ordering off a menu. And poor Kasia got the bad lunch. Bologna Salad. It had the possibilities of being a regular salad. You would expect in Germany that Bologna would be a different variety than the standard Oscar Meyer rounds in the American grocery store. But poor Kasia got a full plate piled high with what looked like sliced grocery story bologna with a couple chunks of cheese whatnot mixed in and a dressing poured over the top. It was very unsettling. I wish we had snapped a picture because it surprised all 3 of us when it was put on the table.
The English translations on sign were sometimes humorous.
"Discretion Please - Stay Behind the Yellow Line" I wasn't sure why discretion was required because it was just a line to buy tour tickets to a castle. But we complied and tried to be discretionary whildst waiting in line. A sign with random information on the sign, then: "Thank you for giving attention to this point"
Dave waited in the tractor zone to no avail. No tractors to be seen.
In Strausburg, we were searching all over town for an internet cafe or something where Kasia could get some service for her laptop. We saw some prominent signs that said WiFi Garage. It even had an internet looking symbol on it too. Although that seemed odd to have WiFi in a parking garage, we thought maybe it was a clever idea for commuters. We followed the signs quite a distance and drove into the garage only to be disappointed that WiFi is the name of a school (pronounced WeeFee) and we were parked in the school's parking garage.
Imagine my surprise when I realized that this wasn't a regular port-a-john, and it wasn't set up for the ladies' use. Gross!
We became well versed on the names of the restrooms in each country. First of all, no one calls them restrooms. Apparently in Europe, they are not for resting. They are simply called toilets. One sign was prominently posted on the bathroom wall. It read "No Eating or Drinking in the Toilets". Now I get that the purpose of the sign is that there should be no eating or drinking in the bathroom, not the actual porcelain toilet, but either way . . . does there need to be a rule about that? Really?
It is possible that during our trip one or the other of us may or may not have used the wrong gender bathroom once on accident, but so as not to cause embarassment I will not point out who it might have been, except to say that it was not me.

i see london, i see france

Dave woke up on the last full day of our stay in Paris and announced "this is the day of the French Pastry". I liked that idea. It's not like we had been limiting our intake up to that point, but apparently we hadn't been focusing on the pastry concept quite enough. The previous day we enjoyed macaroons from Laduree's . We searched the town for this bakery/restaurant. (Thank you for the info, Hailey ) We couldn't afford to eat a meal there, but we enjoyed a little box of macaroons. I got scolded by the management for taking this picture. Hailey also told us we had to get some hot chocolate from Angelina's. Hailey and Craig visited Paris in the winter. We were there in the hot muggy summer. We weren't sure Hot Chocolate was the ticket. However, the chocolate gods were looking down on us and when we got caught in an unexpected downpour, caught without umbrellas, got soaking wet, standing under the covering of a little street vendor, we spotted Angelina's. Shivering cold and soaking wet, we went in and drank the absolutely most divine cup of hot chocolate on earth. I seriously think they melted chocolate bars right into the cup. And if that wasn't enough sugar, we also ordered a dessert to go with the chocolate. That's a complete meal, right?
Speaking of food, our favorite meal of our whole trip was sitting on the steps of Notre Dame eating crepes from a street vendor. Dave had his with ham and cheese, but I am not ashamed to admit I had Nutella and bananas on mine. It was divine.
Our worst food related purchase was this big mug of soda. We were thirsty for the whole 3 weeks we were traveling. We asked for water and got either A) a teeny tiny expensive bottle of water or B) a small cup of lukewarm water - even if we asked for ice or C) carbonated water - yuck. We finally gave in and Dave ordered "the biggest soda you have!" Although soda isn't quite as thirst quenching as water, it sort of did the trick, but Dave laughed and said "This will probably cost me $8 - haha!" Then we got the bill - 15 euros (about $19.00!!!)
However, on this announced "Day of the French Pastry", we actually forgot to look for pastries until near the end of the day. We saw a little bakery at about 4:30 in the afternoon and went in an we each picked out the most delectable treat. As we were making our selection, they were filling up another bag with several other pastries and treats. There were no other customers in the shop so we tried to tell them we only wanted one each. We don't speak French, and they spoke very little English, and I was worried that we were telling them something that we weren't really telling them. They charged us the $ for 2 pastries and handed us the extra bag for free. They were closing up shop and getting rid of the extras. So it truly was "the Day of the French Pastry". We were near Notre Dame and were contemplating walking or riding the bus back to the Louvre. While eating a bag of pastries, we thought it best to walk. Lest anyone think we don't understand the calorie in/calorie out concept, we do realize that walking a mile and a half on city streets does not equal a bag of baked goods, I will let you know that we did some additional walking in Paris.
These are the stairs up the Arc de Triumph. There are a lot of them. 284 of them to be exact. There are spectacular views from the top. This round-about is around the Arc de Triumph. I think I've seen it in a lot of movies. There is a crazy traffic pattern. There seem to be multiple lanes, but not any lane lines. I would guess there is a driving pattern, but as I watched it for a while, I couldn't quite figure it out. All I know is that I would never drive in it. Luckily there was an underground tunnel for pedestrians to cross under rather than cross through the traffic.
Then we walked up the 674 steps of the Eiffel Tower, which by the way only takes you to the second platform which is not even half way up, but that is as far as the public can take the stairs. You have to buy a lift ticket for the rest of the way. We saved 4 euros each by taking the 674 steps and then getting on the lift instead of taking the lift from the ground. That $4 savings really seemed to motivate us. It was a fun evening though. We stayed up at the top and watched the sun go down.
We also walked up the 225 steps to the Basilica of Sacre-Coeur, we walked about 2 or 3 miles from the Louve to the Eiffel Tower and walked the 3 miles from the Eiffel tower to our bed and breakfast. It was really only about 2 miles, but the batteries on the GPS ran out half way there and we immediately got lost and wandered for a bit. We were walking at midnight to our host's home without a GPS, without a phone, and without any good common sense apparently.
One of our favorite stops was the Paris Opera House. Rachel was anxious for us to go there and tell her all about it. It was fun to hear all the myths and stories about the Phantom of the Opera. This is lobby where you could go to buy popcorn during intermission, I guess. It's a little fancier than the AMC movie theater we usually frequent on a Friday night.
We were there on July 14th which is Bastille Day. We hoped to get to the center of downtown and watch the parade, however the bus system was altered because of the parade and they dumped us off the bus at an unfamiliar part of town and we had to hike the rest of the way. We came to the river and all pedestrian crossings across the river to the parade route were closed. And when I say closed, I mean closed! They were guarded by armed military. And they didn't want to chit chat with Americans about how to get to the parade, they just told us to back off the bridge. (well, alrighty then!) We tried walking down a half mile and trying the next bridge, then the next. We missed most of the parade until we found a place to cross the river. There seemed to be a whole section of town that was secured for dignitaries and a place secured for parachuters to land at one point in the parade. So this is mostly what we enjoyed of the parade, just the overhead show. Which was kind of cool - about 20 minutes of different airplane formations.

Then we tried to go see the Louvre. It was raining. RAINING!!!! We had to buy umbrellas, but the rain was coming down hard and at an angle. We couldn't stay dry. We got in line in the rain, but then calculated how slow the line was moving and how far back in line we were and finally when we were totally soaked and after waiting probably too long in the rain, we gave up and never saw the inside of the Louvre Museum.
It was sad to see our vacation come to an end. I hope we will see Europe again someday. There are lots of places we would like to go back and visit, but many other new countries and places we would like to visit. On the other hand, I'd like to see more of the U.S. Will there ever be enough time or money to see everything we want to see or go where we want to go? I suppose not.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Happy Birthday Elder Brady!

We're missing you today, but we're
having a birthday cake in your
honor to help us feel better!

Monday, September 6, 2010

happy anniversary

When Tom was living in Arizona at age 17, his mom and brother were coming from Holland to visit him. He planned the most awesome trip for them - attentive to every detail on their schedule. I forgot how good he was at trip planning until he told us what he had in store for us while we were visiting this summer. He gave us a run down of many things to do and also said he had a surprise planned for us. He made arrangements for us to stay in a beautiful farm converted to a bed and breakfast. It was an anniversary gift for us. Not only did we stay in a gorgeous historical farmhouse, but he arranged for us to have dinner at a wonderful nearby restaurant and made sure there was someone on staff who spoke English and could help us with the menu. He arranged for the hosts at the farmhouse to loan us some bikes and who gave us a quick little tour of the area and then we enjoyed riding around the countryside for a couple hours. Then we spent over 2 hours at the restaurant enjoying course after course of deliciousness. We had the best dessert I have probably ever had in my life. While we were riding around, Dave spotted some 'striped' cows and I don't know what these animals are, they look like a cross between a llama and a teddy bear.

Thank you Tom and Karen for a wonderful Anniversary gift. It was a fun surprise and it was the perfect getaway for us.

Happy Anniversary Dave - it has been an amazing journey with you for the past 25 years. I LOVE YOU!!