Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Veterans Day Visit

Once again, we missed the girls and I knew that we needed to see them. I originally asked for Halloween off to drive down and surprise the girls, but long story short, we couldn’t go. So we decided that the next time we could, we would.

When we knew that we now had time to travel down to visit the girls, it was originally going to be a limited time with the girls. After talking to the girls mom, she suggested that we keep the girls out of school on Thursday, and drop them off that night. That way they could spend most of the day with us instead of partial.

November 8
The day we headed down, I originally had to work a shift at Home Depot in the morning, and then headed home to pick up Amanda and Destiny. We made our way down to Southern Utah and picked the girls up at their house to bring them with us to Mesquite. Since we arrived to St. George late, we picked up dinner from Hungry Howie’s, and didn’t do much that night.

November 9
The next day, we took the girls and Destiny to Mesquite’s local park to have a picnic on the table benches, and to have fun throwing the frisbee or ball for Destiny.

Once we had enough, we went back to the hotel and hopped in the hot tub. We tried to go swimming, but it was freezing cold this time of year. Why they don’t get warmers in one or both pools, I’ll never know. The best part was when Amanda got her revenge from March when the girls tricked her into jumping in the cold pool. It was the girls time to feel that blast of frigid ice cold water.
 I showed the girls how to get in the pool without the room key years ago... They still do it today.

After swimming, we cleaned up and went bowling. All worn out, we drove over to Walmart to get a few snacks. When we were driving back, we spotted multiple U.S. flags standing up near the Mesquite Rec Center in honor of Veterans Day. We got off our exit, but went the other way to go look at the flags up close, then went back to the hotel to go eat dinner in the restaurant.

Since the girls had school the next day, we all drove them home so they could be up in time for school. We sat there chit chatting with the girls mom and stepdad before heading out and back to Mesquite for the night. Before we left, the girls asked if we could come to their 5th Grade singing performance to celebrate Veterans Day.  Amanda and I arranged it so we could do that in the morning on the way home. We played the slots a bit before going to bed.

November 10
We woke up and had the breakfast buffet, then packed up the car with our belongings and Destiny, then headed to St. George to park near their school. Luckily, it was still early to where we could leave the windows down on my car for Destiny, while we went inside to watch the 5th grade classes sing.

Once they we were finished, we walked up front to tell the girls they did a great job, give them hugs and kisses goodbye, then Amanda and I walked to the car so we could head home.

On the way home, we stopped at Honolulu Grill in Cedar City, then for food at Cluff’s Car Hop in Fillmore.

Heard a lot about this place, but I wasn’t impressed... maybe because the pass few day we had been eating out on the go. I’ll give it another shot one day on our way down so I don’t have the same “I’m getting tired of fast food” feeling. After sitting outside to eat, headed back on the road and made it home.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Lava Hot Springs

I tried to write a quick post, but I guess there was a lot to write about here that you can see for yourself based on how much I wrote.

Lately, Amanda and I have been watching episodes of Ghost Adventures on Hulu, and we watched an episode that was filmed up in Lava Hot Springs, Idaho in 2015, which featured the Lava Hot Springs Inn. If you want to watch the episode, the link is at the bottom of this entry.

So after seeing that episode, we decided that we would like to travel up there to spend the night and check out the town. However, since we were bringing Destiny, LHSI doesn’t allow pets. So I found another little place to stay at that did. The place is called Bristol Cabins. There are 4 little cabins that they rent out each night all year long, or you can sleep out under the stars if you want to during warmer weather. We decided to head up for a couple days in October, when it was very chilly where it starts to frost and crystallize your windows at nights.

We packed up the car with our suitcase, Destiny’s dog dishes and food, and Destiny. A quick stop in Malad to grab lunch at Burger King, then continued up to LHS and stopped to look at the supposedly haunted inn.

We didn’t visit the inside, we just quickly walked around the grounds, then walked back to grocery store across the street where we parked. We went in the store and grabbed a few groceries for the night (including items needed to make s’mores). Since we were still early to go check in, we walked across the street to a candy store. Finally, enough time had passed while walking and driving around, we headed over to check in. We walked into the KOA that is in front of our place, mistaking it for our cabin check in, where they told us to just continue driving back towards the mountain and over the bridge to where we actually check in. The girl running the place, was just about to head out, but gladly checked us in. We found our cabin, and made ourselves comfy (especially for Destiny).

We decided to explore the grounds by walking all around. While we were walking around, the owners German Shepherd politely joined us, and he and Destiny got along great together. Plus, there was a squirrel that lives around the main area, which we found out he lets you get really close to him (not as close as Donut Falls)

Once we started to head over to walk over the bridge, he stopped and just laid there (where we found out he was trained not to go any further— good boy). We walked over the bridge, then over to the KOA to walk down to the river.

After Amanda had enough, we headed back to our cabin. We returned to get in our swim suits so we could head over to the local hot springs (Destiny stayed behind while we did that).

The hot springs in town are really something that everyone has to experience in their lifetime. We started in the lower temperature pool and worked our way up to hotter temperature pools. Even though I say lower temperature, it was stated at being 102°, and the highest is 112°. Never being in a lava hot springs, I of course started at the low end and tried to work my way up. By the time I tried to get in the 3rd pool (of 4), the heat was just too much for me to handle, and hopped back in the 2nd again. Others calmly sat in the 4th pool just fine. After an 45 minutes, I had to move back from the 2nd pool into the 1st pool because it was starting to get to me. Seeing how we had been in the springs long enough, and it really relaxed us, we hopped out to dry off and drove back to our cabin to then take a nap.

We woke up an hour later, just about the time it was dinnertime. We headed over to a restaurant next to the grocery store in town, only to find the doors locked and spotted no one inside. So we continued to look on our phones to where we could now eat, and decided on a bar right around the corner (actually, everything is right around the corner being a very small town). Drove the car around and parked next to the bar, then walked inside and sat at the bar where there were no people were there drinking, and we ordered our food. To be honest, not knowing what type of food they had, but that is the best chicken sandwich I have ever had. I would love to let the girls try this sandwich, but it’s a bar and you have to be over 21 to even eat there. Maybe a to go order if we visit there again with them.

After dinner, we drove back over to the store to grab a couple of drinks, then back to the cabin. We arrived when the sun was setting and started up the fire in the fire pit that they have there so we could make s’mores.

The girl who runs and takes care of the place, the came over and talked to us for a bit while we were out enjoying the night. She told us the reason the cabins are there is because around the 1900’s, people tried mining up near the hill. There were a few more cabins, but I can’t remember why there is only 4 remaining. Long story short, the mines collapsed, the owners widow sold the place... and here they are today. She did say that one of them has had “activity”. A person staying in that particular cabin, said she saw a coin fall from the ceiling. I hope I’m telling the story right, but while in our cabin, we didn’t experience anything as exciting. Yeah, just a demons head reflecting in the mirror— I kid. Nothing strange ever happened.

After we consumed as many s’mores as we could while enjoying out time of peace and quiet, we put out the fire and went to lie in bed to go to bed. I stayed up looking at a Life Magazine of Memorable Photos in the 20th Century, then went to bed. Every time I had to get up to... go, in the shared outhouse (it was like a shared bathroom units that had showers in them too— really clean), I brought Destiny with me so she too could go.

For some reason, we both woke up really early. We got dressed and ready to go, but we went to the main check in cabin to go make our complimentary breakfast (she said we could make it if she wasn’t up, which is fine). For some reason, I didn’t feel like making a mess, so we decided to get Destiny and our stuff out of the room, leave the key on the desk, and headed out.

Watch the episode of Ghost Adventures at Lava Hot Springs Inn by clicking here.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

My Memories of My Dad

When I first wrote this post, I wanted to tell you stories and memories about my dad, especially my earliest memory. Then I had my mother and sister cross check everything since it involves them too. Turns out, my supposed "very first memory that I ever remember" that I wrote about may be a combination of two memories, making it an incorrect memory. So I started from scratch to rewrite my earliest memory that involved my dad, but everything else written has stayed the same.

You probably remember that when you were young, you may remember your grandparents babysitting you while your parents were at work. Well, one day in November or December when I was 3 or 4 (1983-84), my dad called to check up on me and to also tell me that he had a surprise for me. Oh boy! When he arrived later that evening, he told me that my surprise was in the truck. We loaded up and I saw that he bought me A Chipmunk Christmas soundtrack LP (aka, a record).

I remember driving home with it snowing outside, thinking that drive was going to take forever before I could ever get the chance to listen to it. Even though we lived 2 miles away at the time, it still felt like it would take forever to a kid.

As a dad myself now, I understand why it’s fun to give your kids something that maybe entertaining. I listened to that record multiple times, as all kids do with anything they enjoy (why is that?)

I believe it was in 1991 or 1992, my mom received a trip package from her work for two to go river rafting here in Utah. So, of course, my sister and I had to stay with the grandparents while they went on this adventure. I wasn’t there of course, but I knew my parents had a blast doing something dangerous and thrilling.

Another story I have about my parents, and I was there at this one, was the time my mom received two front row tickets to a Utah Jazz game that took place on February 1, 1995. Those of you who are REALLY into basketball history may know this date, those who don’t, well here you go. It just so happened that this date was the day John Stockton tied and then passed Magic Johnson’s all time assist record. Thing was, my mom was given these tickets a few weeks prior, not knowing that this would be the night he would break the record. 

How was I there? I knew the record breaking event was going to happen the game prior, and tickets were completely sold out... but luckily my mom or dad knew someone who was willing to sell one of their nose bleed section seats to me. So that is how I was there. After the game, they had a celebration for this milestone, and so I walked down to their section. Luckily, the ushers let me sit by them since the game was over, and to quickly enjoy the ceremony. Plus, they were my ride home.

Quick story to brag about here since I mentioned the Utah Jazz. My dad and I went to see the Jazz play the Bulls back when they were big in the early ‘90s. This game that we just happened to be at was the infamous triple overtime game.

One story involving my sister told at the celebration of life about my dad (I swear you did Annie) is about what funny thing she caught him doing while we were in Zion’s National Park. I think I was between the ages of 11-13, and we as a family (along with both sets of grandparents) went down to Mesquite to stay at the Virgin River (yes, the one we stay at now with my girls. After staying in Mesquite, as we were heading home, we took a side adventure into Zion’s. I remember us driving through the tunnels and visiting the Visitor Center. My sister Annie was given permission to use my Grandpa John’s video camera to record some of the mountain scenery. While filming and panning, she recorded my dad in a deep wide opened yawn. At the time, she probably didn’t realize that she recorded him doing that, until later when we were watching the vacation footage from home on VHS and saw that. Being kids, we couldn’t help laugh at something our parents did. We took a lot of fun trips and big vacations, and made a lot of great memories. That’s why I carry on the traditional with my girls, to show them it’s a great big fun world out there.

Sorry, but I don’t have a screenshot of the scene. It would take me quite a while to first find and then hook up a VCR, then search/fast forward through multiple VHS tapes that has this scene, just to get a screen shot.

Another story Annie and I can tell you is the day our brother TJ was born. The morning he was to be born (scheduled C-section), my dad drove us to the hospital, where we meet up with my grandparents. Well, it was early morning (around sunrise), and we would get bored watching cartoons or the morning news on the TV, so we would peak out of the visitors waiting room (for family members who were waiting for a family member to be born so they wouldn’t be in the way). Well, every time we would peak out and down the hallway to see if my dad was hopefully bringing my new born brother down to show us, we saw a nurse standing in a doorway of one of the rooms, facing towards us, and she would wave every time. We’d wave and go back to watching TV and waiting some more. I thought that this nurse knew that we belonged to my mom and dad, and was just being polite. Well, my brother was born and my dad wheeled or carried him out to the waiting room to show us our new family member. That was a cool day.

Well, years went by and one day the story came up about the day TJ was born. One of us (Annie or I) said that “we remembered seeing a nurse wave to us every time we peaked our heads out”. My dad then told us that that was him waving to us. We were like, “What?!”. He told us that that he would wave to us every time we looked down the hallway. Well, turns out that when you cover up the top of ones head with a blue hospital cap and face with a blue hospital mask, while wearing a hospital gown... and all you can see is just the eye area— yeah, anyone can look like anyone who works there. Good times.

For those of you who don’t know, I had a half-sister named Jessica. Sadly, she passed away in 1999. I’m so grateful that we were able to meet her, have her stay over every other weekend, and to hang out when we could as we got older... even if it was in such a small time frame.

But the story that involves my dad and Jessica, was the day he took Jessica, Annie and I over to Sugar House Park to go sledding down the hill on the west side of the park (where Amanda and I took the girls ice blocking this past summer). With TJ still being young, he was being watched by the grandparents at their place.

We all went down a few times (because it was busy with other sledders that day) and was having fun... that was, until my sisters eventually triple dog dared him to go down on one of the sleds. So he eventually took the dare. He climbed the hill, propped his sled, and went down the hill... only to hit a bump or groove at the bottom of the hill, that caused something to go out in his back. He only went down once, and was the only one to get hurt. So with him hurt, we left and he later went to see what he did to his back. I’ll spare you the medical details, just know he was out of work for a while so it could heal. It wasn’t anything requiring surgery to fix, just taking it easy. Well, a few days later while he was trying to take it easy at home, he went to kneel down, and tore something in one of his knees. Talk about bad luck. So that issue with his knee did require him to have surgery to remove tissue so it could heal. Yeah, he was out of work for a while.

Car Shows
Anyone who knew my dad knew he loved cars, especially the two he owned. In 1972, my grandpa bought a '72 Ford Ranchero (my dad would eventually become the owner of this vehicle years later). Then in 1973, my dad was a senior in high school and bought his first car, a 1973 Ford Mustang. (Side note: After my 37+ years, it finally dawned on me a few months after his celebration of life as to why he chose a dark emerald green car, then and added silver decals— those were the school colors to Olympus High, the school he graduated from) Over the years, he would add something here or modify something there, until he finally felt confident to put in car shows. In the late '90s to the early 2000's, my dad started to take apart the Ranchero because it was in a fender bender in the mid '90s. He started it, and let it sit, until my mom made him finish it.

Being an proud owner of a muscle car, it was a given to put it in any car show he could. He would put them both or solo in the original Salt Palace, University of Utah, Park City, Nephi, Brigham City, Bountiful, Heber, Logan, and little drive-ins once in a great while. If we happened to be somewhere where a car show was being held, he’d have to check it out.

While I was growing up, my favorite car show to go to was the one in Park City. Not only did that vacation/car show state that there were only a couple weeks left of summer before school started up again, but I’ve always loved being up in Park City. Well, back in 1992, I remember my dad put in both of the cars in the car show being held in the north parking lot of Park City Resort (5th Park City Mustang Roundup). I also remember helping him many-a-times before any car show would start, using white tire chalk to color the letters on the tires of the Mustang causing cramped hands. That day, when it came time for the award ceremony in the afternoon, I believe he won his class [defenition] for the Mustang (which he did a lot, except at Peach Days because there are numerous vehicles in each class), but he also won Best of Show that year.

What that meant was that not only did he receive the Best of Show trophy, but at the next years car show (6th Park City Mustang Roundup) his car would be pictured (with 2 other cars) on the t-shirts sold that year, as well as the plaques placed on the awards for that year. I wish I still had one of those shirts.

As for his Mustang, I only got to drive it once. My parents used to store it in a rental storage unit years ago. Well, one time they were at the unit, I was in the drivers seat and I accidentally knocked it into neutral causing it start rolling back. My dad jumped in and stopped it from hitting anything. That’s why you shouldn’t let a 1-2 year old sit in a nice cars drivers seat. (This is a story I was told.)

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading some of my memories about my dad. I know there are a lot more memories I could tell you (as well as those who knew him), but I don’t want to over do it in a blog post that would make you lose interest or get tired hearing about my dad.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

A Quick Visit to See the Girls

So, I know it was before the holidays when I last posted something here, but seeing how I have time to kill at work as we pull tags off the shelves... here we go. I’ll get to the story of my store closing in a future post, but I’m trying to continue writing in chronological order.

After life slowly started getting back on track after my dads funeral and the twins went home, Amanda and I decided we missed the twins and wanted to spend some more time with them before the school year started up.

I noticed I had some time off at Home Depot, so I requested the time off at Dan’s so we could go down and have fun with the girls. I was granted the time off, but the only problem was that we wouldn’t be able to drive down until after my shift ended on August 2nd at Home Depot. The shift came and went, and I headed home and picked up Amanda and Destiny. Destiny wouldn’t be coming all the way down with us, she would be staying with my friend Jessica and her kids again. They are so great with her. Yes, I know there are pet rooms at Virgin River, but it wouldn’t be until any future trips when we would bring her with us.

After dropping her off, we continued on our way down and made it to Mesquite. Later in the evening, we went down to the casino and played a little bit. Later in the evening, early morning, we walked over to Smith's and walked by the new hotel they remodeled. before calling it a night.

The next morning, we headed back up to where the girls live and picked them up. We needed stuff to make lunches, so we headed over to Lin’s to grab lunch meats and other foods. Drove back down to Mesquite and made lunches in our hotel room. Then it was time to swim!

After swimming a bit, we were getting hungry again. Amanda took us out for an early dinner at Jack in the Box, and then grabbed a few groceries at the Smith’s in that same shopping complex.

Came back to the hotel and let the girls decide between bowling or the arcade. They chose the arcade. So we played many of the games we do each time, then let the girls redeem the tickets we earned right then.

After the arcade, we were going to go swimming again, but walked out of the bowling alley doors to feel the wind blowing and the dark clouds forming fast. So we decided against swimming due to our safety (plus they would have kicked us out anyways due to the storm) and walked back to our room. If you remember the night we arrived in Mesquite after dropped the twins off after our California trip the summer before, it just started pouring to the point of it being a flash flood. The same thing happened that evening on this trip. I know my boundaries when it comes to putting myself and kids in danger, so that’s why we stayed on our level near our room and let them watch the weather do its thing. As you see in the pictures below, we were on the right side of the building to avoid the wind. We watched the water just pour in and cause a river in the parking lot.

The girls eventually lost interest in watching the weather and ended up watching TV (go figure) in the room, but Amanda and I were mesmerized with trying to capture images of lightning off in the distance (as we stood outside our room door). So much, that we would try filming the lightning regularly, but it blurs the lightning bolts. I switched to SLO-mo and it captures the lightning dancing across the sky, but in a crystal clear image.

Originally taken by normal speed video, then you can see it blurs the lightning bolt.

Screenshot of video recorded in slo-mo to capture the lightning bolt.

After the storm danced away in to the distance, we called it a night later on.

The next day, sky were bright and sunny again, which meant that we were going to go swimming one more time before we headed home.

We dropped the girls off at home and continued on our way home because we had a dog to pick up. We stopped in Scipio to use the restrooms at the Chevron, but pulled into the parking lot only to hit a big pothole that ended up doing damage to my tire sensor. It caused my tire to slowly leak air out of it, and I didn’t realize it did that type of damage until we arrived in the town where Jessica lives when the light came on stating low air. So we quickly filled it up with air, and brought Jessica and her kids a big dinner for taking the time to watch Destiny. I can’t thank her and the kids enough for watching her. Well, we picked up Destiny and headed home. Made it back, filled up the air in my tire (because that is how fast it leaked for traveling for a while) and took it easy before having to work the next day.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Summer 2017 - Week 6 Part II (Funeral)

July 15
Our neighbor Annie came over and did the twins hair, and we got ready for the celebration of life... except Amanda.

Today was her daughters birthday, and the party for her had been planned out weeks in advance. As much as I would have loved to have Amanda with us, I totally understood why she needed to be there at her daughters party. So we dropped Amanda off at the church next to her moms house where the party was taking place, and the 3 of us headed to my moms.

When we arrived, packed up in my moms car and drove over to the funeral parlor. I’ve been there twice before for other family members for their viewing, but I would always park on the street on the south side. Well, little did I know they have valet parking on the north side. So we pulled in and they parked the car. Then we walked inside and I handed the director, from the night before, the new DVD. He started playing it. Normally the church or building will have a program of the events that will take place during the viewing, but we had a little card with my dads picture instead with a poem on the back. I grabbed a couple of those, and we started the celebration of life.

It was packed! Normally, during a viewing, people come for a few minutes and leave. At my dads celebration of life, we had it so there would be food and drinks so everyone could enjoy it. This way, the guest could talk and not feel that if they were hungry, they would have to leave and miss anything since it was an hour and a half of visiting.

I checked on the twins every once in a while, but thankfully their Aunt Aubrey came and was keeping them entertained.

I know my family was busy visiting with guest, as I was busy myself. I felt bad that I didn’t get to say Hi or talk with everyone. Also, I’m not great at funerals. I never know what to properly say.

During the celebration, they had a person playing live classic rock music (songs from the ‘50s through the ‘80s) that we know my dad would have enjoyed. The reason why live over recorded, was that if the crowd talking was loud, he could sing a little louder. Same with if it was quiet, he could sing softer. It would be better to have someone trying to control the volume of a radio/speakers each time it changed volume of the crowd.

Around 1:30’ish, we asked my cousin Charley to close the celebration by introducing himself and did great job trying to get everyone to feel happy by having us laugh with his humor, then he would introduce everyone who was part of the closing program. My sister played “Amazing Grace” on her violin, I read the obituary that was posted on the funeral parlors website, and my two aunts told quick stories of my them that had involved them and my dad from a few years ago to when they were young. Tears were shed, but it was cool to hear these stories I’ve never heard about my dad.

The immediate family then walked into the room where my dad was, and a few officers from the Department of Corrections took a folded American flag and placed it over his coffin. Those who don’t know, even though he worked at the Utah State Prison before retiring, he had completed police academy in 1999 (that was the picture of him on graduation day, on his funeral program). He had to go through certification each year (I was told) to be able to stay an officer.

We wheeled the casket out out and through the visiting area where everyone had been, then the pallbearers (including my brother and myself) loaded the casket into the hearse. We all dispersed from the parlor, and everyone loaded up in their vehicles to meet at the cemetery a few miles away. We pulled around front to wait behind the hearse, along with two other family members vehicles, waiting for the funeral parlor to do something to the hearse (you’ll see later) and then we all drove to the cemetery.

We pulled up near the burial plot, and parked behind the hearse.

They placed the license plate from his Mustang on the hearse.

We then waited for everyone to show up by standing near the hearse. The 6 other pallbearers arrived and we all unloaded his casket and walked it over to his final resting place. I don’t remember the order of the following events, but my Uncle Gerald gave a final prayer, they gave a 9 gun salute (3 x 3), and they folded up the flag (that was placed over his casket again for the drive over) and presented it to my mom. We then said our final goodbyes by placing any flower on his casket.

The woman who conducted the fire arm salute and presenting of the flag, gave the girls each a memento of an empty bullet shell. Luckily, they were actual bullets casing with the bullet portion removed, it just had the gun powder still in it.

So after the funeral we headed back over to the funeral parlor to collect all of my dads items. After loading up our vehicles of items, we headed over to my moms house to get in casual or play clothes, and to eat a little something while I tried to remove the gun powder from the empty casing. Since I could not open the end of one them, I decided it wasn’t worth it since I started to scratch the one.

The girls mom and stepdad (Rachel and Jason) were back in town again, they came over to my moms house and picked up the twins. We all said our goodbyes, gave lots of hugs and kisses, and they headed out to head home. Summer with the twins was now over.

After the twins left, I headed back to pick up Amanda at the church. We then went back over to my grandmas house so we could meet up there and eat a meal with the entire family since it was almost evening. After we all finished eating, we all headed back over to the cemetery to see how the plot looked since they placed him in the ground. We sat/stood around chatting for a little while until it was time to call it a day with everyone.

After this....... I don’t recall the rest of the day. Now, normally, I can recall details very well. I find it funny that I could remember up until when we left the cemetery... but as Amanda pointed out to me while I’ve been constantly writing and re-writing this post, it was a very busy and sad day. Plus, as of this being posted today, it’s been 5 months since my dad passed away.

I still miss him. He was my dad. He was my teacher. He was my friend. He taught me A LOT... more than I’ll ever know he did when he was teaching me at the time. Enough to help me be a man, a husband, and a father.

Love and miss you dad.

“Listen, there is no way any true man is going to let children live around him in his home and not discipline and teach, fight and mold them until they know all he knows. His goal is to make them better than he is. Being their friend is a distant second to this.”

Victor Devlin