Wednesday, October 29, 2014

overheard on a cruise

"You drive across the country so much.  You're like a pinball."

"Jordan, that expression surprised me. I've never seen you without that smile on your face."
"I've never had a bug that big in my brassiere before."

"It's OK Dave. There's a white guy in every group."

Madeline: "This isn't like taking a trip with Suzanne. We are more of a PG-13 group."

"I'm not saying there is an issue with priorities, but the library is open an hour a day and the casino is open  24 hours."

To Dave, referring to an inexpensive watch he was wearing, and trying to get him to buy a new one: "Dave you're wearing a friendship bracelet."

Remembering when Roxanne visited the Wagner's years ago and was served Lamb Chops for dinner. 
Roxanne: "What is this?"  
Madeline: "Well, it's like Pork Chops"
Grant: "No it's not, Rox-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-n-e" (bleating her name like a sheep)

Eating a cheeseburger after 2 tacos. "Cruise calories don't count."

I opted out of a zip line activity and chose to take pictures of everyone from below. "Did you see all the Iguanas?" "No, what Iguanas?"  "From up on the towers, we could see them everywhere, all over the rocks"   "Wait, what rocks, like right where I was standing????"  "Yes, there were probably 40 or 50 of them!"   (So so glad I didn't somehow see them!)

Talking about chaperoning an upcoming high school group going on a cruise.
Cynthia: "You don't have to worry about your daughter though."
Madeline: "No. But I also reminded her she could be tried as an adult in many countries!"

Ebola scare around the country this month. A group in the cruise ship library was playing a board game called 'Pandemic'.

"If we ever get lost in the Sahara, we'll stay near Madeline.  We may not have water, but she can always find a cold coke."

"You're looking for a taxi? Where do you want to go?"
"To get TACOS!!"

"Where's Madeline? She's missing again. She's like a shopping Ninja."

From a complete stranger:  "Why didn't you tell us he was about to propose, so we could be ready?"

Board game question - "Name 5 astronauts"  "Does Buzz LIghtyear count? He's got a space suit."

Board game question - "Name 2 human bones."  "Femur and Tibia"   "I thought you would say something more humerus!"

Board game question - "Name five 2-word US state capitals."  "Los Angeles."  "No"  "Yes it is! LOS-ANGELES, two words!"   "Nope, one word. Sacramento!"

Jordan to Dave, rushing for an elevator: "Patience is a virtue - Be Virtuous!" 
Complete stranger:  "No virtue here, I don't have it in me."

"I try to work up my heart rate, but usually I just realize it's heartburn."

Story evolving in the coming years: "Remember that International Golf Tournament of 2014 that I narrowly won by one stroke?" (Mini golf on the cruise ship)

In elevator, 5 year old still singing from pool party and pushing all the elevator buttons. Older man, after the little boy gets out: "I'm so glad my kids are grown and gone!"

First day off the ship: "I don't know if I'm going to survive without a nap. And no ice cream bar in the afternoon either."

On the drive home from Galveston after the cruise:
Joe: "You should have looked, you missed the 4 deer on the side of the road"
Madeline: "More importantly, YOU missed the 4 deer on the side of the road!"

At home after the cruise, Madeline and Jordan are recovering from bad sunburns.  "I have a new theme song for the end portion of the cruise - I Can't Stop this Peeling Anymore."

"Joe says I'm molting like a snake"

After we got off the cruise ship at the port in Galveston, we had originally planned to stay there for a couple extra days. Six of us were sharing one vehicle, and 2 people needed to go back to Houston unexpectedly. I wanted to see a film in a local theater regarding the storm that wiped out Galveston 100 years ago (Isaac's Storm - a great book!).  Anyway, I thought it was a big IMAX movie in downtown Galveston and it only played until 5:00.  We decided to all drive to Houston to drop off 2 people, then come back. We ran into awful traffic, farther than we planned, the afternoon was running out, we needed to stop for lunch. We also realized the hotel we had for that evening wasn't even in Galveston, but 20 or so miles down the road. They were all really trying to accommodate me to see the film I wanted to see. We followed the GPS directions and finally ended up back in Galveston in front of the little movie theater. It was literally 50 yards from the cruise ship that we just got off that morning. Seriously, right next to the ship. AND it was a nothing little film - 20 minutes long!  We all felt so stupid. We could have got off the ship, humored me and my little movie I wanted to see, and 20 minutes later been on with our day!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

road trip to utah

Brady, Melanie and I took a quick road trip last week.  By quick, I don't mean a short drive. But quick as in we drove to Utah and were only there 2 days and then came home.
Here are the people we ran into:

Cynthia J, Melanie's friend from Phoenix. We didn't communicate well with her and we had a hard time meeting at the right time when we were traveling through and she was getting off work, but it was worth it. Cynthia has been a good friend for many years. (and she got engaged this past week!)
Brady dropped us off at the temple and drove a few miles down the road to the nearby college campus to find a place to study for a couple hours. The minute he stepped out of the car and onto the campus, he got a text "Are you in town?" "ummm, yes, I just got here" "What are you doing here? I just saw you out the window of the library! Come meet me up here"  It was a friend from the mission field. (Elder Christiansen, no picture)  What are the chances?

We stayed with our nephew and niece, Dave and Chelsea and their 4 adorable kids.
It's always fun when there are an abundance of Hales in one house. Thanks for your hospitality - you made our visit super easy.

As we were walking into the conference center, I realized Brady was talking to someone.  I know there are lots of people who attend conference, but of 36,000 people walking into 5 different sessions of conference, (that's 180,000 people?) what are the chance that someone you went to high school with would be walking in right beside you?  Rachel and Norman B.

This is Melanie's friend from college, Lisa.  She sat with us at conference.  Melanie ran into several friends from college (a college in Arizona).  Three of them she made plans to visit, or at least to cross paths with for a minute, but one she just ran into on the side walk in SLC, on our way to conference. Little Miss Popular!

We ran into the prophet and apostles. Well, from a distance anyway. 

None of us had ever been to the conference center before. I went to conference once with Lauri when she was in college, but we didn't actually get into the tabernacle, we attended in another building, so this was a first for all three of us. This was the 184th General Conference - I remember when I was Mel's age, I watched the 150th General Conference session. Time flies!

Although we don't know these women, they are pretty much celebrities - Mormon Tabernacle Choir. The choir is so exact when they stand - as they prepare to sing - when someone scratches their nose or something is so noticeable (of course no one scratches their nose during a song).  We attended a non-conference performance in Phoenix once. They snapped and swayed, it seemed so wrong. Their outfits and their height assignments along the rows are so precise. The lights caught the glitter of gold necklaces and they appeared to sparkle as they performed.

We didn't accidentally "run" into Rachel T, it was definitely a planned visit. what a great reunion for these to best friends, (along with a new best friend, Ryan). For many years, Rachel was at our house, or Melanie was at their house at any given moment of any given day.

One of the reasons Brady traveled with us is to attend a mission reunion. He had a great time meeting up with many people he served with in Iowa and Illinois. His Mission President is one of his favorite people.

We had a quick visit with Lesa W.  She lives down the street from a store were were going to be shopping at.  I called and asked her if she was home and could she come visit while Melanie tried on some clothes.  She did and we had a nice 15 minute visit.

Our last visit was quite early on the day we were driving home. We stopped by to see Michael. (he goes by Mike now, but he will always be Michael to me.)  We were going to take a picture with him, but we caught him in his pajamas, so I'm going to swipe this one from Lauri's facebook. It was taken the same weekend so that counts, right?

So that was a lot of visiting, right? AND we got most of the shopping done for Melanie's mission. Mission accomplished! (get it? "Mission" accomplished!).

Here are my travel partners.  I don't really like to drive long distances and they don't mind sharing the driving duties. Plus, they are a lot of fun!

What's with the crazy eye, Mel??

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

border crossings

On our vacation, Suzanne and I stayed right across the border in Canada, but many of our activities were in New York so we crossed the border back and forth several times during our trip.  We had our passports ready, but we found we weren't prepared for the verbal questioning about ourselves, our backgrounds, our plans and intentions. Suzanne and I are about the least suspicious people on earth, but somehow we felt suspicious or guilty each time we tried to enter another country. 
"Whose car is this?" It's a rental. 
"Where did you rent it?" Buffalo Airport.
 'Why is it registered in Ontario?" I don't know, it's a rental.  (see? we already seem guilty because Avis rented us a car of a suspicious foreign origin!)
"How long have you known each other?" ok, Suzanne and I have known each other since about 1983 so this should not be a hard question. We were friends in a young adult ward and have been best of friends since.  However, when asked to come up with that information on the spot, we both stumbled over the answer because I though we were taking about the car registration and why we were taking a foreign car over the border. Anyway, we finally gave a stupid answer along the lines of : "ummm, we met in Relief Society? back in the 80's?" (well, not quite that stupid, but we seemed to answer in a tone of voice like we were even questioning our own answer)
"Where are you going?"  well right at the moment, we were going to go find a convenience store, but generally for the day we were going to Rochester to visit the George Eastman House and Museum of Photography  and then to Palmyra to walk through the Sacred Grove. But that all sounded like a little much and really, was he the least bit interested in how we were going to entertain ourselves for the day? So how do you answer that? We are going to Rochester? We are going to a museum?  We are just driving around New York to see the sights? Suddenly a simple question becomes hard because he is looking at us like he doesn't believe us anyway. We felt like we needed to add  "but we will be back across the border before dark tonight. I promise we'll be back at our hotel before the street lights come on."
"What hotel are you staying in?"  My mind starts going blank. . . Super 8?, or Motel 6? I know it has a number in it, but I can't remember under pressure! 
Honestly, if they were looking for suspicious activity based on not being able to answer basic questions, we probably should have been hauled in and handcuffed.
I start wondering what/who they are looking for - terrorists? drug runners? what do they do with this information? verify it? are they going to call the restaurant we are heading to? to see if we are really going where we say we are going?
We realized at one approach to the crossing station, we had the song "American Woman" blasting on the radio. What are the odds?
"Who rented the car?" (Well, we both talked about it, I actually reserved it, we put Suzanne down as the primary driver, and I paid for it on my credit card. So that questions - under pressure - was a hard one to answer. . . who is actually listed on the paperwork if he wants proof? 
"How long are you staying?"  like overall? for our vacation? or how long are we staying until we cross back over the border in a few hours? See how these questions are so hard? 
"What do you have in your trunk?"  ummm . . . I think there is nothing in there, but maybe we left an extra pair of tennis shoes? and an umbrella in it?, but under this kind of pressure, I REALLY HAVE NO IDEA!! And I don't know if someone is going to actually check our answers for accuracy!
"Roll down your back window." After having just answered a question about the trunk and worrying if he was going to check to see if we really had the umbrella in the trunk that we said we had, we said, what? the very back window doesn't roll down.  He looked at us like we were pretty stupid - which we kind of were - and said "roll down your back seat window." Oh, well ok, we can do that. And yes, there is an umbrella there too. 
We struggled with the citizenship grilling so many times we decided we would be prepared toward the end of our stay. We anticipated any question they could ask, rehearsed simple answers, laughed about how ridiculous this all felt, got our passports out of our purses and ready, and stopped to cross the border.  The man we handed our passports to just laughed at us. He was the toll booth operator and he just wanted his $1.50. The border station booth was another 100 yards away. 
The last day, right before we were going to cross the border one last time and head to the airport, I wanted to walk out  to take a picture of the falls from the bridge. I had to cross a pedestrian border station to do so.  There was a coin operated turnstile to walk out onto the bridge.  It ate up my first 2 quarters and didn't let me through. I risked my last 2 coins on another turnstile and walked out.  Walking back I was hoping that I didn't need more coins because my pockets were empty and worrying if I had taken too long, because Suzanne was waiting for me at the car. So my thought process was somewhere else when I was then caught off guard my more guilt-ridden questions to get back off the bridge and into the fine country of Canada. "How much longer are you going to be here?" Oh my goodness, if you'd quit asking me all these questions, I'll be out of your country in about 10 minutes. I promise!
I realized that it had been 10 years since I had been to Niagara Falls on our infamous road trip with the Wagners (4 adults, 7 kids). We had been enjoying the American side of the falls, until we heard there were better views and more to do on the Canadian side. The adults had our drivers licences, but we had no IDs or passports for the kids. We asked if we could walk across the border, and if so, could we come back without identification for the kids. We received this answer: "I don't know." How could anyone who works at the border all day not know the answer to that question? We chose to risk our citizenship and walk across with our little group (rules have changed in the past 10 years, we would not be able to cross without passports now).
As it ended up, we were able to get back into the country after being grilled about how we knew each other, where we were from and where we were going. One of the teenage boys couldn't answer the question quickly "Who is your father?" He stumbled over that question because the question was asked so sternly, he wasn't sure if he should say that the man standing next to him was his father? or if he should further explain that he was adopted and that he had another birth father. His father, Joe, was standing there wondering and worrying if his teenage son would be detained in Canada while the rest of our families continued on our merry way. I can totally sympathize with Drew now. Those simple questions become hard to answer when you are at risk of being detained!

 2004 - the day we entered Canada with 7 kids and almost came back 
to the United States with 6 kids.

                        2014 - The water is still flowing 10 years later.  And we all successfully          crossed the border into our homeland!