Sunday, June 29, 2008

Welcome baby Lily Beth!

On Saturday, June 28, Suzy and Rick welcomed their third precious baby girl, Lily Beth Dooley. I'll let the Dooley's give you more of the details, but just wanted to post a few photos. Suzy looked great and has been recovering well. She was even wearing her regular clothes, and had been able to walk to the nursery.

Here's a photo of Rick and the girls. The morning before Suzy delivered, I dropped a gift off at their house. I stooped down to give Debbie and Anna a hug, and Debbie whispered in my ear that she and Anna would like a gift too. That warmed my heart and I was so glad she had suggested that, since the idea hadn't crossed my mind. So, this is a shot of the girls opening some lip gloss and toy jewelry of their very own.

Here's a video that Tracy made for Mallory and Parker, since they are still in Nashville for a few weeks. One funny story...Tracy was talking to Parker on a cell phone, telling him that the baby's name would be Lily Beth. He seemed a little concerned and asked if they would be calling her the full name or just "Lily". Tracy went to great lengths to explain that they would call her by both names, and how people like to use two names because it sounds nice, and how it makes her name unique from all the other Lily's and so forth, and Parker finally said...."I just can't understand why they named her after a cow!" He'd been thinking they were naming her Lily BeSS! He was very pleased to learn that it was B-e-t-h instead! That just goes to show can't always believe everything you hear on a cell phone!

I loved holding her sweet little hand:

Joe and Phyllisa's family came for a short visit, and it was great to see them. The cousins were all excited to see each other, and made a little happy noise there in the hospital. I thought this shot of Nathan, Debbie, and Hanna was cute:

Lily Beth brings a beautiful spirit into the room. What a thrill it is to have a sweet new baby, trailing clouds of glory, in the family! Congratulations to Suzy and Rick!

Visiting the Spiral Jetty

So I've been reading this book called "1000 Places to See Before You Die" (both that and the version limited to the U.S. & Canada), and was surprised to learn about cool places, close to home, that I'd never heard of before. One of these places is the Spiral Jetty, and I was excited to visit it along the way home from the Conlin Reunion.

As you can see, it's a big piece of stonework "art" that is along the shore of the Great Salt Lake. It was built by Robert Smithson in 1970. At the time he built it, there had been an extended drought, but within a few years the water level rose and the jetty was covered by water for the next 30 years! The extended drought of the last several years has made it visible again, but with the addition of lots of caked-on salt acquired while it was under water, which makes it even more cool. Here's a photo showing some of the salt encrusted rocks that make up the jetty:
To get there, you first drive to the Golden Spike National Historic Site, where the eastern and western railroads met back in 1869. While we were there, we received a phone call from our sister Suzy that she had just had her third baby! Hooray for Suzy and Rick and their girls! (I'll write more about that in the next post). Here's a shot of the trains meeting:

I must confess, when I was at the Golden Spike park, I felt that we were truly in the middle of nowhere. But that wasn't really true...we needed to drive for another hour, on roads that got progressively worse until we finally ended up needing to walk the last 1/3 of a mile so my Honda Accord wouldn't get high-centered, until we were *really* in the middle of nowhere. The road was so bumpy and rough that I said "I'm never doing this again!". But, that was before experiencing the's such a cool place that I'm not sure that's true! Next time, I'll just plan to get there in a big pickup truck!!!

Here's a video I took as we were approaching the Jetty on foot:

Here's a video I took while walking on and around the Jetty itself:

Here's me trying to wade and saying "ouch! ouch!" because the salt crystals were too hard and uncomfortable to step on with my bare feet. I tasted the water, and it was *way* salty....just like you'd expect in a place like that. By the way, if you ever plan to go and want to wade, I'd highly recommend bringing flip flops to wear in the water, and a towel to clean off your feet. I wasn't successful at balancing on one leg while I put my shoes back on without getting them wet or covered in rock-salt, but I was successful at entertaining Tracy as I tried to do that! After taking several photos of my balancing act, she took pity on me and helped steady me so I could get my shoes on again.

Here's one more video, showing the pink waves lapping against the jetty. The water is pink because of the brine shrimp (they are small enough that you can't see them).

Finally, here's my yoga pose in the center of the spiral, with the jetty and the "salt bergs" visible in the background:

It's a cool place...definitely worth visiting at least once in your life!

Extended Conlin Reunion at Downata

June 28 was the Extended Conlin Reunion at Downata Hot Springs.

My sister Tracy and I made a point to attend, since we wanted to support Shane Schvandeveldt who hosted it this year. (I especially wanted to support him, since I had recruited him as the reunion organizer last year! He was a willing and able recruit!) Shane did a great job! Tracy and I were the only ones there from Bill's branch of the family, probably because Drew Bee was getting married that day, my sister Suzy was having a baby right at the moment, and the rest of you all live so far away or had other commitments. Here's a photo of Tracy with Shane.

I knew that Mom and Dad would be disappointed that they couldn't attend while they are on their mission in New York, and so I took a few photos of the family to share with you. Hope the rest of the family that couldn't make it enjoys them also.

Here are Shawn and Celeste Conlin, who we got to know better when they lived in Soda Springs about 10 years ago. Shawn told me a fun story about my brother Mark. When they were teenagers, they attended Scout Camp together. At the beginning of the week, Mark started talking in an Australian accent, and they decided that Shawn would introduce him as his cousin from Australia, which was nonsense (Mark had grown up in Soda Springs, Idaho for most his life). It sounds like they got away with the fun joke for several days. What a fun surprise Shawn enjoyed when he learned that Mark had married an *real* Australian, and that he's visited Australia several times now!

Ross Conlin is to the far left in the photo below. He and his wife Angie made some beautiful front-porch decorations with solar lights, which you see in the background of this photo, for a silent auction. Tracy bought one which had a little garden shack and two flower pots on it, and we're excited to use it to beautify our porch.

Next to Ross is Mick and Vickie Atkinson. Mick will be retiring from serving as a County Commissioner at the end of the year. He's served faithfully and well for a long time. Vickie just recently had surgery on her hand, and expects to need about three weeks to recover completely.

Here's a photo of Mick's brother and sister-in-law, Larry and Jackie Atkinson. Jackie had also injured her thumb and was wearing a brace.

Lila Hull and her daughter Jerica were also there, but I didn't manage to get a photo of them.

Next is a photo of Geneal and Dwayne Conlin, who will soon be celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary. Since I know their son Scott from my work, they told me about all the fun travels and adventures Scott has been having sounds like a great life!

Here's a photo of Leona and Jeff Wilson. Leona wanted me to especially send a greeting to my parents in New York.

Here's a photo of Doug and Melody Conlin's family.

Here's a shot of Ed and Vicki Davie's family:

We had a lively discussion about who would host the reunion next year. The people who are currently serving missions and weren't there to defend themselves (Bart and Ruby Conlin, Reed and Kathy Conlin) got nominated a few times, but none of us thought we really wanted to do that to them! I offered to host it if no one else stepped forward, and Shane Schvandeveldt said that he will either host it again or will see that the assignment is accepted by someone else in the family. So, it's in good hands.

Mom and Dad (and the rest of my Conlin relatives), wish you could have been there! Hope this gives you a flavor of it!

Remembering the Alamo (but not my hat) in San Antonio

Last weekend, Tracy and I took a short trip to San Antonio, which made me want to shout "Yeeeeeeeeee Haw! What a fabulous town!".

We spent our first day at SeaWorld, which has lots of fun things to do, including feeding dolphins (you could pet them) and alligators (didn't really feel like petting them). A team of cleidsdale horses were there, as well as a fun climing gym for the kids (which I climbed too while Tracy took pictures...I'll spare you photos of my rear-end, though!).

The best part were the awesome and entertaining shows. Each show had a funny pre-show (which usually involved getting people wet), and then had amazing divers, synchronized swimmers, and leaping whales and dolphins. It was a kick to see killer whales do full flips out of the water, as well as slap the water with their tails in order to splash people clear up to row 16! Here's a little video that shows some of the leaping dolphins.

We also loved their Water Skiing show, especially this part where a guy skips across the water on his rear end, just like a rock might.

The next day, which was a Sunday, we enjoyed touring the 5 missions that are still there. The missions still have operating churches within them, and we were able to attend a "Mariachi Mass", at one of them! Since I haven't been to very many Mass services in my life, I wasn't sure what part was standard and what part was specific to that church, but it was probably the first and the last time I'll ever hear hymns sung to the accompanyment of a Mariachi band. After Church, the father greeted each of us as we exited, and then the Mariachi band stood in the courtyard and played a few more songs.

Speaking of Mariachi's, we enjoyed listening to some as we ate our dinner along the beautiful riverwalk. Here's a little video of the experience.

Another fun thing along the riverwalk was attending a song and dance program at an outdoor theatre they have there. The stage was on one side of the river and the audience was on the other, and so every five minutes or so, a boat full of tourists would come floating by.

Our last day, we visited the Alamo and enjoyed learning about that piece of Texas history...realizing that Texas had been an independent country for about 10 years helped me understand why Texans have so much pride. I hadn't realized that both Davie Crockett and Jim Bowie died defending the Alamo. As is my tradition, I purchased a magnet as a souvenier, and selected one which had a Davie Crockett quote. He had been a congressman in Tennesee for three terms, and when he was up for re-election he said to the people "If you re-elect me, I will continue to serve you as faithfully as I have in the past. If I'm not re-elected, though, then you can go to hell, and I'll go to Texas". Which is exactly what happened. I really enjoyed learning the history there...I was so engaged in remembering it that I was too busy to remember my hat that I left the ladies restroom!

Finally, we ended up at the Buckhorn Saloon and Museum, which had been established long ago when San Antonio was still the very wild west. When hunters and trappers came in wanting some whiskey, the owner would trade them a shot for their kills or rattlesnake rattles and such. So, the place was full of amazing things (some of which I though were really gross, like real shrunken human heads...yuck!). Here's a shot of Tracy at the bar, the "My Motto" sign behind her was written with rattlesnake rattles.

The trip was a rip-roaring good time! If you get a chance to visit San Antonio, I highly recommend it!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Timpanogas Cave

Today I took a hike up to Timpanogas Cave, and loved it! This definitely qualifies as one of the best hikes in my life! I went with a group from the Single's Ward, and shared a car with Solange and Ana (two Brazilian women I love) and also Teddy (my new friend originally from Peru).

We took a steep, but beautiful hike up the rocky sides of American Fork Canyon. Here you can see Ana, Solange, and Teddy ahead of me, and the steep cliff to the side of the trail:

At the top, we took a tour that actually goes through three caves, connected by man-made tunnels. After our steep hike, we were happy to be in the refrigerator like temperatures! Here's some of my favorite places in the cave.

They call these "cave curtains" or "cave bacon", which grow as the water drips down the side and the minerals stick.

Some of the formations seem like they belong on another planet!

There was even a little pool inside the cave.

With hands so cold we could hardly sign the guest book, we were still thrilled to have been there. What a great day!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Hidden Falls Outing

In honor of Phyllisa's birthday (2 weeks late...sorry about that!), the Utah Conlins took an outing to do the Hidden Falls Hike in Big Cottonwood canyon. We were sorry that Mallory and Parker couldn't make it...they were on an airplane headed to Nashville just then.

Here are some of my favorite photos from the day.
Joe and Phyllisa's kids on the rock in front of my house:

Joe and Phyllisa's whole family:

The Dooley Family (Isn't Suzy brave to be out hiking at 8 months pregnant!?):

Tracy, Joe, and the kids sitting on a big rock:

Nathan and me (oh yeah, and I highlighted my hair..thanks Tracy!)

The kids at the trailhead. I had to smile at Debbie's pose and easter hat...she's a cutie (along with the rest of the kids!):

The hike and waterfall was great, but the best part was being with family!