DIRT ROADS

I used to love to listen to Paul Harvey give his messages.  Lots of wisdom in them.  I can hear his voice as I read this one about DIRT ROADS.  Enjoy!

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One of the main things wrong with our world today is that too many DIRT ROADS have been paved.  There’s not a problem these days – crime, drugs, education, divorce, delinquency, and so on – which wouldn’t be remedied if we just had more DIRT ROADS.  Here are some reasons (and you may be able to come up with some of your own). People that live at the end of Dirt Roads learn early on that life is a bumpy ride – that it can jar you right down to your teeth sometimes, but it’s worth it, if at the end is HOME …a loving spouse, happy kids and a dog. We wouldn’t have near the trouble with our educational system if our kids got their exercise walking a Dirt Road with other kids, from whom they learn how to get along.

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There was less crime in our streets before they were paved. Criminals didn’t walk two dusty miles to rob or rape, if they knew they’d be welcomed by 5 barking dogs and an attack cat.  And there were no drive-by shootings. Our values were better when our roads were worse!  People did not worship their cars more than their kids, and motorists were more courteous (like they didn’t “tailgate” by riding the bumper – the guy in front would choke you with dust and bust your windshield with rocks). Dirt Roads taught patience.  They were environmentally friendly: You didn’t hop in your car for a quart of milk … you walked to the barn. For your mail, you walked to the mail box. What if it rained and the Dirt Road got washed out? That was the best part – you stayed home and had some family time, roasted marshmallows and popped popcorn and rode on Daddy’s shoulders and learned how to make prettier quilts than anybody. At the end of Dirt Roads, you soon learned that bad words tasted like soap. Many paved roads lead to trouble.  Dirt Roads more likely lead to a fishing creek or a swimming hole. At the end of a Dirt Road, the only time we even locked our car was in August, because if we didn’t some neighbor would fill it with too much zucchini. At the end of a Dirt Road, there was always extra springtime income from when city dudes would get stuck. You’d have to hitch up a team and pull them out.  Usually you got a dollar… always you got a new friend… at the end of a Dirt Road!

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(It brings back the memory of getting STUCK in the mud in Montana)

Oh, it’s refreshing to me just to read that again. When I was a little girl we’d go from Cedar City to New Harmony to visit Grandpa Middleton. It was a wonderful place to be. It was west off Hwy 91 (now I-15), just south of Kanarraville, close to Bumblebee Canyon. I loved going there! Grandpa built a swing using two old wood utility poles, and he told us if we’d swing high enough we could see the curve of the earth!  I’d pump as hard as I could, and I’d shout to Grandpa that I COULD see the curve of the earth!  We’d go across the street to a little stream and play in it.  At some point, Mom and Dad would always tell us it was time to start down the dirt road and see how far we could get before they caught up with us in the car. Off we’d go, ready to get a long, long ways so Mom and Dad would be excited when they picked us up. It didn’t “hit me” until years later that they just wanted some peaceful time with Grandpa before they headed home.

This picture kind of reminds me of the dirt road that took us to New Harmony, Grandpa, and fun adventures.

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Later we’d spend time with others in New Harmony. I loved it that there was only one phone, and it was in the store (yes, on a dirt road… that’s all they had back then). When a call came for someone, a volunteer would hop on a horse or in a car or truck and go let someone know “there’s a call for you.”  Sometimes we’d get a ride on Jesse Prisbrey’s wonderful old white horse – I think we got up to 5 of us on it at once. Still later we traveled to New Harmony (and Kanarraville) to put on our ward Road Show. That was a big deal!

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Did you ever put pennies or nickels or dimes on a railroad track and let the train smash it, and then search all over ‘til you found it?  Did you pound a hole in it (using a nail) and then put string on it for a necklace or a bracelet?  That might have been dangerous, but I don’t remember ever being told not to do it.

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I loved the time when we were going to visit Wales, Utah, where Dad was born. He took us on a “short-cut,” a dirt road, and it took about three times longer to get there but was pretty exciting.

I think Paul Harvey had it about right on many of the things he shared about DIRT ROADS!

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ATLANTA explained

This is for anyone who lives in Atlanta , Georgia, has ever lived in Atlanta, has ever visited Atlanta, ever plans to visit Atlanta, knows anyone who already lives in Atlanta, or knows anyone who has ever heard of Atlanta. And it’s for everyone who has a good sense of humor (especially those who live in Atlanta).  I have family in that part of the country, and I’m thinking they’ll smile at this. And I hope the rest of you do too. Thanks for the fun! (And be sure to catch the last picture, which shows my favorite spot in Atlanta).

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Atlanta is composed mostly of one-way streets. The only way to get out of downtown Atlanta is to turnaround and start over when you reach Greenville, South Carolina. All directions start with, “Go down Peachtree” and include the phrase, “When you see the Waffle House.” except that in Cobb County, where all directions begin with, “Go to the Big Chicken.”  Peachtree Street has no beginning and no end and is not to be confused with: Peachtree Circle – Peachtree Place –  Peachtree Lane –  Peachtree Road –   Peachtree Parkway –  Peachtree Run –  Peachtree Terrace –  Peachtree Avenue –  Peachtree Commons –  Peachtree Battle  – Peachtree Corners –  New Peachtree –  Old Peachtree –  West Peachtree –  Peachtree-Dunwoody –  Peachtree-Chamblee –   Peachtree

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Industrial Boulevard. Atlantans only know their way to work and their way home. If you ask anyone for directions, they will always send you down Peachtree.  Atlanta is the home of Coca-Cola. Coke’s all they drink there so don’t ask for any other soft drink unless it’s made by Coca-Cola. Even if you want something other than a Coca-Cola, it’s still called Coke. The gates at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport are about 32 miles away from the Main Concourse, so wear sneakers and pack a lunch.

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The 8 a.m. rush hour is from 6:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. The 5 p.m. rush hour is from 3:00 p.m. to 7:30 pm. (Don’t forget the lunch time rush hour!)  Friday’s rush hour starts Thursday afternoon and lasts through 2 a.m. Saturday. Only a native can pronounce Ponce De Leon Avenue, so do not attempt the Spanish pronunciation. People will simply tilt their heads to the right and stare at you. The Atlanta pronunciation is ” pawntz duh LEE-awn.”  And yes, they have a street named simply, “Boulevard.” The falling of one raindrop causes all drivers to immediately forget all traffic rules. If a single snowflake falls, the city is paralyzed for three days and it’s on all the channels as a news flash every 15 minutes for a week. Overnight, all grocery stores will be sold out of milk, bread, bottled water, and toilet paper.

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I-285, the loop that encircles Atlanta which has a posted speed limit of 55 mph but you have to maintain 80 mph just to keep from getting run over and it is known to truckers as “The Watermelon 500.”  Don’t believe the directional markers on highways: I-285 is marked “East” and “West” but you may be going North or South. The locals identify the direction by referring to the “Inner Loop” and the “Outer Loop.”  If you travel on Hwy 92 North, you will actually be going southeast. Never buy a ladder or mattress in Atlanta. Just go to one of the interstates and you will soon find one in the middle of the road.

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Possums sleep in the middle of the road with their feet in the air.  There are 5,000 types of snakes and 4,998 live in Georgia. There are 10,000 types of spiders. All 10,000 live in Georgia, plus a couple no one has seen before. If it grows, it sticks. If it crawls, it bites. If you notice a vine trying to wrap itself around your leg, you have about 20 seconds to escape, before you are completely captured and covered with Kudzu.

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It’s not a shopping cart, it’s a buggy. “Fixinto” is one word (I’m fixinto go to the store) – also can be pronounced “Fixinta”. Sweet Tea is appropriate for all meals and you start drinking it when you’re 2 years old. “Jeet?” is actually a phrase meaning “Did you eat?” “How’s Momma-nem” means: “How’s Mother and all of the other children and other members of the family doing?” If you understand these jokes, forward them to your friends from Atlanta, Georgia, and those who just wish they were.  I have to say that I LOVE GEORGIA! And my license plate for 9 years was UGA 555. Yes!  Bulldogs arise!  AND NOW FOR MY FAVORITE SPOT/PLACE IN ATLANTA

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The Conference Center

This evening there will a broadcast of the first session of General Conference. A prelude to another historic Conference – The word is out that there will be 3 new Apostles sustained in a week.  So there is the anticipation of a “full house” in the Conference Center and heightened interest from members (and others) around the world. I thought it might be fun and interesting to review a few facts about the CONFERENCE CENTER. It is such an impressive and beautiful building. President Hinckley announced the project during the April 1996 General Conference. Ground was broken on 24 July, 1997 – the 150th anniversary of the arrival of the first Mormon Pioneers in the Salt Lake Valley.  I remember the HUGE HOLE which was dug on the corner of Main Street and North Temple – I think the earth removed from that incredibly deep and wide hole helped build extra lanes on I-15 or something! (Some of us called it “holy dirt”). Roughly 750,000 cubic yards of dirt were removed prior to construction!

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I remember where I was when the Conference Center was dedicated (Sunday 08 October 2000). I was returning from a speaking assignment and was listening to the radio. As President Hinckley got ready for the dedicatory prayer, I pulled over (right across from the Stouffers food production place on 1000 North Springville). The only thing I had to “wave” during the “Hosanna Shout” was Kleenex, but wave it I did!  (And yes, I saved it).  There was a cornerstone ceremony conducted by President Hinckley on the SE corner about an hour before the morning session of Conference. Those waiting outside the new building’s southeast doors at 8:45 a.m. were surprised when members of the First Presidency, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, the Senior President of the Quorums of the Seventy, the Presiding Bishop, and the Relief Society, Young Women, and Primary general presidents walked out of the doors to participate in the ceremony.  President Hinckley explained that the cornerstone is symbolic of the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the cornerstone of the Church.  A stainless steel time capsule previously placed within the cornerstone box contains numerous items, including a triple combination signed by the First Presidency, a small beehive replica made from the same walnut tree (President Hinckley’s) as the Conference Center podium, information about and pictures of the building’s king truss, a hard hat used in the building’s construction, April and October 2000 issues of the Church magazines, and photos of the first ticket holder to enter the Conference Center for general conference.

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So what are some of the other things which make this building so magnificent? 1.5 million square feet of floor space is an impressive place to start.  There are seats for 21,200 in the main auditorium, plus seating for 158 General Authorities and Officers and the 360-voice Tabernacle Choir. This main auditorium is large enough to hold TWO B-747s side-by-side!! (I remember when they did a demonstration of that on a news broadcast before the Conference Center was finished. And NO, they didn’t actually put two 747s in there, but they did demonstrate how one 747 would fit, wing tip to wing tip and nose to tail).  There are no interior pillars in the main auditorium, so all who attend have an unobstructed view of the speakers and choir. (I remember having “obstructed” seats a few times in the Tabernacle). Underground parking can hold 1,400 cars (450,000 square feet).  There’s a 67-foot stepped waterfall descending from the 92-foot spire. The water comes from a natural spring which was found underneath the building during construction.  About 3 acres of grass and hundreds of trees are planted on the roof. There is a complete irrigation system on the roof.  Attached to the main building on the NW corner is an 905-seat theatre.  Over 300,000 square feet of granite was used for the façade of the building, which is 2 inches thick. Granite was brought in from the mid-west and used for flooring.

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The tornado of August 11 1999 in Salt Lake (exceptionally rare!) hindered construction briefly (construction cranes toppled at the work site, and a few workers were injured), but otherwise construction proceeded smoothly and rapidly.

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The building was close enough to completion that General Conference sessions in April of 2000 were held there.  President Hinckley remarked that over 370,000 people had inquired about tickets. He also told about the pulpit being made from wood provided from a black walnut tree which he had planted in his backyard decades earlier. It was reported that he first saw the pulpit and asked “Where are the beehives?” The beehives were added soon after. The dedication was held during General Conference on 08 October, 2000.

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On the third floor there are busts of current and past Church presidents and photographs of Church leaders. Photographs of female Church leaders were added in 2014. The Schoenstein Organ was highlighted in the book Magnum Opus: The Building of the Schoenstein Organ at the Conference Center by John Longhurst, retired Senior Tabernacle Organist.  The organ was completed in 2003. There are 160 speaking stops spread over five manuals and pedals. Brother Longhurst described it as “a project of immense proportion.” When he heard President Hinckley announce the Conference Center, he immediately began considering what the instrument might be.

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If you want more information on the Conference Center, keep reading:  The building has 15,000 tons of concrete reinforcing steel and 10,000 tons of structural steel. #18 rebar (the largest size of readily manufactured steel) was used throughout.  This rebar weighs 14 pounds per linear foot. The main (king) truss is 152 feet long and weighs 621 tons (about 4 tons per linear foot). The side (radial) trusses are 280 feet long and weigh 550 tons each (2 tons per linear foot).  The building has extensive broad cast studio capabilities and language translation facilities.  The building has one of the most complete theatrical (lighting and sound) systems in the world.  The building has 50,000 miles of electrical wire (the circumference of the earth is about 25,000 miles).  It also has 780 miles of electrical conduit.  There are 330 panels for power circuits and 300 panels for lighting. The building has an emergency diesel generator (output 2000 kilowatts) and an uninterruptable power supply for critical systems.  There are 28 drinking fountains, 1 fountain for every 750 seats.  There are 340 toilets and 84 urinals which use 1.6 gallons of water per flush.  The total peak domestic water usage for the building is 678 gallons of water per minute. Every minute 5,930 gallons of water will be pumped through the water features and fountains. And every minute 1,035,000 cubic feet of air will be moved through 14 miles of duct work. The building has 2,966 tons of air conditioning equipment, equal to about 600 residential homes. There are 11 passenger elevators, 12 escalators, and 3 service/stage elevators.

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And that’s it. A magnificent, beautiful building where we worship and where the messages of those whom God has called as prophets, seers, and revelators, go to all the world, testifying of Jesus Christ as our Savior and Redeemer.

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(I got information from my personal notes, from the internet, from LDS.org, and from a bulletin from my Mapleton 9th Ward years ago – They put this at the bottom of what they shared: “This information was supplied by Legacy Constructors, a joint venture between Okland Construction, Jacobsen Construction, and Layton Construction Companies.” These three companies joined together in what they called “Legacy Constructors” so that they could compete in the bidding with national firms and they won the contract in late 1996).

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A Flight Attendant’s Story

I’ve read this account several times and am grateful to Ann Lewis for sharing this version this morning.  Many of you have probably already read it. I got emotional reading it again on this anniversary. Yes… I’m crying….

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On the morning of Tuesday, September 11, we were about 5 hours out of Frankfurt, flying over the North Atlantic. All of a sudden the curtains parted and I was told to go to the cockpit, immediately, to see the captain. As soon as I got there I noticed that the crew had that “All Business” look on their faces. The captain handed me a printed message. It was from Delta’s main office in Atlanta and simply read, “All airways over the Continental United States are closed to commercial air traffic. Land ASAP at the nearest airport. Advise your destination.” No one said a word about what this could mean. We knew it was a serious situation and we needed to find terra firma quickly. The captain determined that the nearest airport was 400 miles behind us in Gander, Newfoundland. He requested approval for a route change from the Canadian traffic controller and approval was granted immediately — no questions asked. We found out later, of course, why there was no hesitation in approving our request. While the flight crew prepared the airplane for landing, another message arrived from Atlanta telling us about some terrorist activity in the New York area. A few minutes later word came in about the hijackings. We decided to LIE to the passengers while we were still in the air. We told them the plane had a simple instrument problem and that we needed to land at the nearest airport in Gander, Newfoundland, to have it checked out. We promised to give more information after landing in Gander. There was much grumbling among the passengers, but that’s nothing new! Forty minutes later, we landed in Gander. Local time at Gander was 12:30 PM …. that’s 11:00 AM EST. There were already about 20 other airplanes on the ground from all over the world that had taken this detour on their way to the US. After we parked on the ramp, the captain made the following announcement: “Ladies and gentlemen, you must be wondering if all these airplanes around us have the same instrument problem as we have. The reality is that we are here for another reason.” Then he went on to explain the little bit we knew about the situation in the US. There were loud gasps and stares of disbelief. The captain informed passengers that Ground control in Gander told us to stay put. The Canadian Government was in charge of our situation and no one was allowed to get off the aircraft. No one on the ground was allowed to come near any of the air crafts. Only airport police would come around periodically, look us over and go on to the next airplane.  In the next hour or so more planes landed and Gander ended up with 53 airplanes from all over the world, 27 of which were US commercial jets.

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Meanwhile, bits of news started to come in over the aircraft radio and for the first time we learned that airplanes were flown into the World Trade Center in New York and into the Pentagon in DC. People were trying to use their cell phones, but were unable to connect due to a different cell system in Canada . Some did get through, but were only able to get to the Canadian operator who would tell them that the lines to the U.S. were either blocked or jammed. Sometime in the evening the news filtered to us that the World Trade Center buildings had collapsed and that a fourth hijacking had resulted in a crash. By now the passengers were emotionally and physically exhausted, not to mention frightened, but everyone stayed amazingly calm. We had only to look out the window at the 52 other stranded aircraft to realize that we were not the only ones in this predicament. We had been told earlier that they would be allowing people off the planes one plane at a time.  At 6 PM, Gander airport told us that our turn to deplane would be 11 am the next morning. Passengers were not happy, but they simply resigned themselves to this news without much noise and started to prepare themselves to spend the night on the airplane. Gander had promised us medical attention, if needed, water, and lavatory servicing. And they were true to their word. Fortunately, we had no medical situations to worry about. We did have a young lady who was 33 weeks into her pregnancy. We took REALLY good care of her. The night passed without incident despite the uncomfortable sleeping arrangements.

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About 10:30 on the morning of the 12th a convoy of school buses showed up. We got off the plane and were taken to the terminal where we went through Immigration and Customs and then had to register with the Red Cross. After that we (the crew) were separated from the passengers and were taken in vans to a small hotel. We had no idea where our passengers were going. We learned from the Red Cross that the town of Gander has a population of 10,400 people and they had about 10,500 passengers to take care of from all the airplanes that were forced into Gander! We were told to just relax at the hotel and we would be contacted when the US airports opened again, but not to expect that call for a while. We found out the total scope of the terror back home only after getting to our hotel and turning on the TV, 24 hours after it all started.

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Meanwhile, we had lots of time on our hands and found that the people of Gander were extremely friendly. They started calling us the “plane people.” We enjoyed their hospitality, explored the town of Gander and ended up having a pretty good time. Two days later, we got that call and were taken back to the Gander airport. Back on the plane, we were reunited with the passengers and found out what they had been doing for the past two days. What we found out was incredible…..  Gander and all the surrounding communities (within about a 75 Kilometer radius) had closed all high schools, meeting halls, lodges, and any other large gathering places. They converted all these facilities to mass lodging areas for all the stranded travelers. Some had cots set up, some had mats with sleeping bags and pillows set up. ALL the high school students were required to volunteer their time to take care of the “guests.” Our 218 passengers ended up in a town called Lewisporte, about 45 kilometers from Gander where they were put up in a high school. If any women wanted to be in a women-only facility, that was arranged. Families were kept together. All the elderly passengers were taken to private homes. Remember that young pregnant lady? She was put up in a private home right across the street from a 24-hour Urgent Care facility. There was a dentist on call and both male and female nurses remained with the crowd for the duration. Phone calls and e-mails to the U.S. and around the world were available to everyone once a day. During the day, passengers were offered “Excursion” trips. Some people went on boat cruises of the lakes and harbors. Some went for hikes in the local forests. Local bakeries stayed open to make fresh bread for the guests. Food was prepared by all the residents and brought to the schools. People were driven to restaurants of their choice and offered wonderful meals. Everyone was given tokens for local laundry mats to wash their clothes, since luggage was still on the aircraft. In other words, every single need was met for those stranded travelers. Passengers were crying while telling us these stories. Finally, when they were told that U.S. airports had reopened, they were delivered to the airport right on time and without a single passenger missing or late. The local Red Cross had all the information about the whereabouts of each and every passenger and knew which plane they needed to be on and when all the planes were leaving. They coordinated everything beautifully. It was absolutely incredible.

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When passengers came on board, it was like they had been on a cruise. Everyone knew each other by name. They were swapping stories of their stay, impressing each other with who had the better time. Our flight back to Atlanta looked like a chartered party flight. The crew just stayed out of their way. It was mind-boggling. Passengers had totally bonded and were calling each other by their first names, exchanging phone numbers, addresses, and email addresses. And then a very unusual thing happened. One of our passengers approached me and asked if he could make an announcement over the PA system. We never, ever allow that. But this time was different. I said “of course” and handed him the mike. He picked up the PA and reminded everyone about what they had just gone through in the last few days. He reminded them of the hospitality they had received at the hands of total strangers. He continued by saying that he would like to do something in return for the good folks of Lewisporte. He said he was going to set up a Trust Fund under the name of DELTA 15 (our flight number). The purpose of the trust fund is to provide college scholarships for the high school students of Lewisporte. He asked for donations of any amount from his fellow travelers. When the paper with donations got back to us with the amounts, names, phone numbers and addresses, the total was for more than $14,000! The gentleman, a MD from Virginia, promised to match the donations and to start the administrative work on the scholarship. He also said that he would forward this proposal to Delta Corporate and ask them to donate as well. As I write this account, the trust fund is at more than $1.5 million and has assisted 134 students in college education. Pretty cool story, huh. It reminds us of how many helpful people there are in the world. The ones who aren’t helpful just get a lot more press.

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San Marcos, Texas

Our TOFW a couple of years ago was listed as being held in Austin, Texas.  It was actually going to be held in San Marcos, which is kind of between Austin and San Antonio.  I’d never been there, so I decided to “Google” it and find out more about it.

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I haven’t laughed so hard in a long time.  I was on the phone with one of my brothers (Frank), reading it to him, and haven’t you had the experience of sharing something that’s not “too” funny, but when you both start laughing, you just can’t stop…. We realized it was all done “tongue in cheek,” and that whoever wrote this was having a bunch of fun and was SO CLEVER!  See if you agree… and I hope it makes you smile out loud!  Love, MEE  (And by the way, it was a terrific TOFW, and my only disappointment was that I couldn’t find postcards with Ralph the swimming pig on them.

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Our event was held in the Embassy Suites and Conference Center, in the Veramendi Ballroom. And this place is ranked #1 of 26 hotels in San Marcos, ahead of Best Budget Inn, Days Inn, Econo Lodge, Howard Johnson, Best Wester, and Motel 6! Whether you’re planning that family summer vacation, your next romantic getaway, a girls’ shopping marathon, or A professional conference with all the bells and whistles (such as TOFW!), San Marcos always has something to celebrate.  Conveniently located in Central Texas between Austin and San Antonio, San Marcos truly is in the center of everything.  So… no matter where you are, you won’t have far to go! San Marcos has been a favorite destination for more than 12,000 years!

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This is reportedly the longest continuously inhabited site in North America, according to an underwater archeologist.  With a population of more than 45,000, San Marcos boasts a unique multicultural heritage and history where Hispanic, African-American, German, Anglo and other cultural influences are a part of everyday life!  Texas State University-San Marcos is Texas’ fifth largest university with more than 34,000 students.  Celebrate our Bobcat pride. Every day is a great day to be a Bobcat!  A mini attraction in its own right is the San Marcos Tourist Information Center!  [A small renovated home]. It offers a full-time, local staff to assist visitors by answering questions, giving directions, and passing out brochures, maps and discount coupons!  We welcome visitors, allowing them to catch up on special events, get directions, and learn about the city’s history, arts, restaurants, attractions, neighborhoods, shopping and nightlife.  Just another day in paradise – the sun shines 300 days a year!  Our hometown heroes include Lyndon B. Johnson: The 36th President of the United States, George Strait: County music superstar, and Heloise: Nationally syndicated newspaper columnist. AND!  RALPH the swimming PIG debuted DEBUTED at Aquarena Springs in 1969 and continued his show business career as an international tourism sensation until his retirement in 1994!

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With so many things to attract you to San Marcos, it can be hard to choose what to do first. Why not take to the skies? Skydiving will give you the thrill of a lifetime with a tandem skydive experience. Or you can always enjoy a hot air balloon or helicopter ride to see the sights. More interested in what’s happening beneath the surface?  Marvel at underwater marine life and watch hundreds of springs bubble up to form the headwaters of the San Marcos river from a glass bottom boat at Aquarena center (where Ralph the swimming pig made his debut!) Want a more personal experience? Glass bottom kayak tours are available on Spring Lake. Stop in at Dick’s classic garage car museum:  Americans fell in love with the car industry, and Dick’s classic garage car museum salutes that love affair right here in San Marcos.  Lions club tube rental:  what a perfect way to float your cares away… bring the family, gather the old college pals, or plan a romantic tube trip for just the two of you!  Cheatham street warehouse: music aficionados of all ages are welcome to step into the old warehouse. Live music most nights.  Listen to the stars of tomorrow.  You will be able to say you heard them here first!  Texas music theater:  the Texas music theater is a world-class listening room with state of the art acoustics, two levels, three full bars, box and premium seating, standing room for up to 1,000 music fans, and . . .  smoke-free for most events!

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It’s a great place in a great state, and I’d love to meet the one who wrote the description (I’ve only included about half of it… aren’t you glad?). I hope to go back to San Marcos some day and visit the Tourist Information Center and a few other places.  GO BOBCATS!!  (The 1-cent stamp was introduced in San Marcos! – the one with the Bobcat)

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A NEW TEMPLE

They broke ground this past Saturday for a Temple in my home town of Cedar City (Utah)! This gives me JOY and GOOSEBUMPS!  It’s amazing to me that this is Temple # 17 for Utah. I just hope there will be more and more Temples in more and more places so that many more who wish to attend can do so. I’m feeling so HAPPY about this particular Temple!!  HOORAY!  HOORAY!

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AN ARTIST’S RENDERING OF THE TEMPLE IN CEDAR CITY, UTAH 

 

ANTARCTICA!

As some of you know, I went on the TRIP OF A LIFETIME in January (and early February) 2014.  The trip lasted a whole MONTH, and OH… This is an experience I wish cherish FOREVER! We visited places in CHILE, URUGUAY, and ARGENTINA (saw all 3 Temples). Our TEACHER was MICHAEL WILCOX, and those of you who have ever attended a class he’s taught can imagine what a BLESSING it was to have him teach us!  We learned about Shackleton, Magellan, Drake, Darwin, Amundson, Scott, and so much, much more!  We were on the cruise ship for 21 DAYS.  I took 1,023 pictures (now you know where the picture of mee and Leanne in our life jackets came from; if you haven’t seen it, you’ve missed a fun “shot” —  it’s in a shout out about friendship), and I kept thinking of days when I had a little “Brownie” camera and a roll of film which could take only 12 pictures….

I want to focus on ANTARCTICA for this post. It was INCREDIBLE. There are not pictures to do it justice (but you might “Google” it just to have a look around at some of the magnificent scenery). Mike called it “God’s Holy of Holies.” It was so spectacular, so quiet, pristine, unspoiled, and beyond beautiful beyond description. And the vast majority of it is untouched… as if it’s just like it was when it was first created. WOW!!

This was my last continent – I’ve now been to all 7. This is the southernmost and the 5th largest (twice the size of Australia!!). The South Pole is there (and no, we didn’t go there, but we learned MUCH about those who did).  98% of Antarctica is covered by ICE, which averages at least 1.2 miles in thickness! It is the coldest, driest, and windiest continent, and it has the highest average elevation of any continent. It’s considered a desert! Really! It has an annual precipitation of only 8 inches along the coast, and far less inland. The low recorded temperature was minus 129F. . It wasn’t freezing cold when we were there (it was summer in the southern hemisphere) and even if we got quite cold, we could just go back on the ship.  There are no permanent human residents, but up to 5,000 might be there through the year conducting experiments at research stations (and we saw one from the ship).

This was a spiritual experience in way that I can’t quite explain (but I’m feeling emotional just writing these things down for the Blog). I got up very early one morning, put on my 7 layers, and went out to explore. I decided to climb as high on the ship as I could get. It was bitterly cold at that particular time, mostly because the wind was blowing so hard. I climbed and looked and prayed and thought and felt . . . . Honestly, I wish I could go back some day (but that is NOT in the budget….)

I want to share excerpts from what Mike Wilcox has written about Antarctica: I always knew it was there, the last continent, the end of the earth, the final destination for the exploring soul of man, and I wanted to see it, but I was not prepared for the experience.  For me, visiting Antarctica was the opportunity of putting another pin on the map, of finally reaching every continent on the planet, hitting that magic number seven. But a hidden jewel awaited me. This is the most spectacular place I have ever visited in the world!…. The unexpected wonder is often the most memorable and the beauty that spread before me that first sunlit morning may have been the best day I have spent on any tour, certainly it topped my list of spectacular and untainted majesty…. Here was the whitest white nature brings forth.  Here shone the purest light, one which magnifies the distance and gives everything within the range of the eyes a translucent clarity.  Here the most pristine waters rose and fell in the gentle ocean swell. The light played upon the surface of the icebergs displaying blues that put the sky to shame and inviting a dozen new shades into the wheel of color…. Perhaps the Lord placed this beauty, this unchanging change, in the frozen grip of ice and frost because its perfection could not be improved…. I suppose the Creator may have made it for Himself, a place He would fill with wonder that none of His children would see until thousands of years after the morning of creation. Yet He would see it and joy in His own handiwork. And the day would come when the vital curiosity of His children would prove the last place on earth and know one of His brightest jewels….This is a land which brings the very best out of those who come to know her and to love her, a challenging landscape which in spite of the hardships compelled men to venture. For three days I stood on the deck of the ship taking it all in . . . and I could feel God’s smile in my enjoyment. So I will adjust once again my list of favorite places in the world, vistas I want my children and friends to see for the sheer joy of sharing the sense of wonder that settles over us, and in that sharing coming nearer to the soul of God. 

I can’t put into words what it meant to be there, to see and feel this “beyond-words” place. I just feel so thankful I was able to be there once. I’ll remember it forever.

ANTARCTICA-Map

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