Camping at Diamond Fork




Last weekend, we went camping up Spanish Fork Canyon. At the end of last summer we made a resolution to take more weekend camping adventures this year. Greg's high school friends used to do a lot of backpacking trips together but these days it's harder for them to get together. So we packed up some cars and did an overnight camp trip. Michael and Sarah did all of the cooking and it was incredible! Dutch oven BBQ chicken and cheesy potatoes with a caesar salad and corn on the cob. For dessert they made a fresh blackberry cobbler that was so legit. For breakfast they had blueberry pancakes, sausage and orange juice. Yum! Such a fun little weekend away!

I had never been to this campground but my mom has spent a lot of time at Diamond Fork. Her parents had an RV when she was growing up in Spanish Fork. So they would drive up the canyon and leave the RV there all week. I've heard about lots of fun memories and stories of their time up there. 
I never got to meet my grandma and my grandpa died shortly after I was born so I don't have any memories of either of them. But when I see an RV at a campground, I always think of them. 

On one of my visits to the restroom this weekend, I was taking the long walk back to our camp site by myself. I walked past at an elderly couple working to put together a big meal in a roasting pan outside of their RV. It sounded like they were preparing for a large family gathering later in the evening. I got a little teary as I thought about how much my grandparents would have enjoyed doing that same thing with their grandkids up Diamond Fork this weekend. And how challenging it is for my mom and our family that they had to leave this earth as soon as they did. 

I'm grateful to enjoy this beautiful state that I love and be able to have a little break from cellphone service and to-do lists, and just spend time chatting and enjoying the view. Happy weekend!


The State of the Union

This morning I woke up very sad. It's been a hard week.

On Sunday, I watched a few episodes of the O.J. Simpson documentary. Monday was the 4th of July, my favorite holiday. I celebrated and felt grateful for my freedoms. Then I read about the shootings of Alton Sterling. I read a lot of comments on Facebook about Black Lives Matter and tried to put myself in the shoes of someone with a different skin color in my country. Then I shared a post on Facebook after the Ramadan attack in Baghdad about how ISIS is not just targeting Westerners, they are attacking other Muslims. And we can't just assume that all Muslims are the same.

Then I learned about the shooting of Philando Castile. Then I grappled with my thoughts about my church and LGBT policies. Then I read up about being a Libertarian and the danger of having such a rigid two-party system in the U.S. I thought a lot about Edward Snowden and Hilary Clinton and how punishments are given. Then I spent some time learning more about gun control and other countries that don't have as many shootings as we do in America. Then last night I get a text from my sister about a protest in Dallas and 11 police officers being shot.

Greg and I woke up at our normal time, 6 am. We were about to get ready for our morning walk that brings us so much joy and peace. But instead I just cried in bed. It's just a lot. And I love America but right now I feel like too many people are so caught up in pride and "I have the best solution" or "my ideas are best" that it blinds us to compromise and change.

I took the "I Side With" test about a year ago. And then I came back to it when my husband took it again and we wanted to compare our answers and see where we have different opinions. I was shocked by how many questions and solutions we differed on. Someone who is my life partner, best friend, and greatest confidant - someone who shares my values and my life; I was shocked that we could have such varied opinions on fundamental issues. 

After I took it, I reviewed my answers and tried to think about them some more. After going to dinner with a few friends who work in public education, I had new thoughts about the common core. As someone contemplating motherhood, I had new opinions about maternity leave that I might not have had a few years ago. After talking to my engineer husband about the manufacturing of hybrid cars, my opinion changed about how to tackle pollution problems.

Luckily for me, I can just change my opinion and it’s not a big deal. But in my mind, that is part of the journey and the reason we're here: learning new things and being OK to change your opinion as you acquire more information. So, I literally went back to my saved test and changed my answers in a multiple choice box. It was that simple. 

I worry about a party system or getting behind a specific candidate with such strong vigor that it becomes part of your identity. I think it's easy to get so pulled into the group think mentality. It might be difficult to step back and say "Is this really what I think? Has my opinion changed? Or do I just go along with my group or my party or my candidate because I'm a member of it?"

I feel sad for politicians because everyone gets so upset when they change their opinion. Some people say that it's a sign of weakness or that it's a manifestation of them just trying to sway a certain group of voters. But what if they truly become familiar with new information that they didn't have in the past and consider a new idea that they hadn’t thought of before. Maybe one experience with a friend who happened to be an illegal immigrant changed their mind about how they want to handle immigration. That's part of the learning process, but we don't allow politicians to have that luxury.

There's a few things that I've kind of settled on as the root problems, and really they all boil down to pride. But I think there's a few different manifestations of pride.

1. Everything is complicated.  

Life used to be a lot more simple. I woke up, went to school, played outside with my friends, ate dinner with my family and did it all again the next day. But as an adult, I have to see and experience a lot more. There's a lot more worry and there are so many more gray areas than I even thought was possible. Every issue I exam, every thing that I think is super straightforward ALWAYS ends up being complex when you actually dig into the content. When I first learned about the Israeli and Palestinian conflict, I came up with quick fixes in my head. Then I went on a study abroad and lived in Jerusalem for 4 months. I learned a lot of the backstories and I met people on both sides affected by the conflict. As you can assume, my quick fixes didn't take any of that into account. And now 8 years later, I still have no idea how they are going to work it out.

I think it's tempting, especially for those of us that are religious, to view a lot of the world as good vs. evil mentality. Those are the good guys, these are the bad guys. But that sort of thinking and simplifying and stereotyping and racial profiling and sexism and judging is so detrimental. We truly have no idea how the other half lives until we've walked a mile in their shoes. Because it's not really possible to walk a mile in everyone's shoes, all we can do is listen and really hear and actually care about the experience of someone else, even when it's different than our own. Which can be hard and humbling, but worth it.

2. Compromise.

America was built upon a great compromise, series and series of compromises of the small states with the large states. But no one wants to do that anymore, it’s so extreme and there’s no moderates. None of our congressman are willing to bend on their policies, so instead nothing gets done. How can we all really think that differently on so many topics and why are too few willing to compromise? There's no one willing to meet in the middle, because that's not how you get elected. You get elected by making promises and representing a constituency. And it's not worth sacrificing your political career to meet halfway on an issue. The loud voices in the community are expecting a certain behavior and when they're not satisfied, they can ruin your life.  From a country that started on compromise, I don't understand how we got so far away from that and more importantly, how we'll ever get back to a government that can meet in the middle and get stuff done.

3. Being OK to change our minds.

It takes a lot of humility to change your mind or to put yourself low enough to reach over enemy lines and accept an alternative to the one you’ve built up in your head. I’d like to find a candidate more like that, but in our election process, that person will never win because each party will find something wrong with them- they’re too this or they’re too that. And we drill them about their past votes without considering that they were doing something part of the greater good even though it may not totally make sense to everyone else.

I guess my goal for myself and anyone within my sphere of influence... is that we try harder. That we gain a little more compassion and a little less "I'm right, you're wrong" mentality. I'd like to try harder to think less about a general issue and more about individual people with lives and experiences and goals. 


Mother's Day

A quick recap of Mother's Day this year! At church we got some chocolates! Well technically I did, but I figured since I'm not a mom, Greg is just as entitled to the chocolates. 

That afternoon we headed to Alpine and made dinner for my mom, grandma, and Uncle Jerry. I made floral arrangements for all the ladies in our life, but this one for my mom turned out the best! My sister Emily bought the flowers and I arranged them for her. Then we gave our grandma some ranunculus flowers and snap dragons for Lillian! I love making floral arrangements!

The next night, we had Greg's parents over for dinner to celebrate Mother's Day. I was hoping to make dinner but I got stuck at work. I came home to Greg baking up a storm! And it was so sweet, I had to document it. With Ray's kidney trouble, he can't have salt or dairy so Greg came up with an excellent plan to have a lemon layer cake. Then he made a raspberry sauce for between the layers. Finally he rounded it all out with a dairy free lemon frosting. He finished it off by dyeing the extra frosting a lovely shade of purple (his mom's favorite) and then piping "Happy Mother's Day" on the top. 

I was so impressed! I mean, I've always known he can cook but every time he bakes, I'm always in awe. Especially when he does all the shopping too. This guy is the real deal. 

Moab: Long Canyon & Canyonlands National Park

Our last adventure in Moab was driving through Long Canyon. We missed the turn off because it was such a tiny little road right off the train tracks in the middle of nowhere. We started driving around and came across a sign that said this area is a preservation for desert long-horn sheep. So I was searching for sheep the next few hours. This was probably the most nerve-wracking of the trails we went on because we hardly saw anyone. Every trail was steep, the curves were sharp, and I was a little bit of a stress case. We ended up turning around right near the end because there was a really steep part that had huge boulders and I was too worried we would get stuck and no one would know where we were! But Greg was a good sport, listened to his wife and turned around. :)

On our way home, we drove through Canyonlands National Park. It was stunning, as expected. It was really windy so we just did a quick walk around the look out point. Greg will come back someday and take on the White Rim trail.


Moab: Devil's Garden Campground

The campground on our second night was quite possibly the most beautiful campground I have ever been to. It's called Devil's Garden and it's at the very back of Arches. We set up our tent earlier in the day because we worried it was going to rain, but instead it was just really windy. We tried to take a nap but it was far too warm. We cooked our tinfoil dinners that had been packed in dry ice so they were still slightly frozen, but they cooked up great. After some s'mores, we went on another hike. We had planned to just relax around the campground, but we were next door to a group of 3 young families. They had at least 6 kids under the age of 4, which meant that someone was crying at all times. I'd like to think I have a pretty high tolerance for crying children because I've spent so much time babysitting and with my nieces and nephews, but we didn't think the parents were handling the situation very well. One kid would start crying and the parent would snap back and yell at them even louder than the tears and the sound just kept amplifying against the big rocks. It was kind of unfortunate for us, so we just tried to make the best of the situation and take more hikes!

In the evening, we went to the campground amphitheater for a ranger talk. The park ranger was a super cute gal who used to be an art museum curator in Chicago and then she discovered the outdoors, moved to Utah, and is now a park ranger. She taught us about the sounds we'll hear at night in this area and which animals they are. She went around and asked everyone where they were from and we felt REALLY cool to be locals.

It rained pretty much all night while we were in the tent but Greg's Marmot tent kept us completely dry! Woot woot.