Sunday, October 24, 2010

Fall in the Rockies Part Deux

We have just returned from Church, and outside the wind is howling, driving sheets of rain sideways. When I look up tomorrow, Fall will be gone.  And what a Fall it has been.  Gorgeous, pleasant days, cool, perfect nights, and magnificent sunsets through most of September and October.  Makes it hard to watch winter come.  So I thought I would revisit a couple of our fall activities, starting with a personal day I took a few weekends ago to see fall colors.

I know, you are thinking, 'hey, didn't he just post about that?' Yes, I did, but I just can't help myself.

Color gives me faith in God. There may be some perfectly logical, scientific/darwinian reason for leaves to turn molten gold and fire red as they face the ice of winter.  But to me, the brilliant colors in each of those perfectly structured leaves is God's way of saying he will not forget us, that he will be there when the dark days come. Who sees fall leaves and does not feel joy? What purpose can this explosion of color possibly serve, really, other than to testify of God's love?

Because of that, Fall is an event for me.  Ask my wife.  I get incredibly antsy as that time of year approaches, and the back of my mind is constantly thinking about how to get out in it.  Such was my state of mind a few weekends ago, when I abandoned all sense of responsibility and drove over Alpine Loop behind Mount Timpanogos, then up through Wasatch Mountain State Park, and over Guardsman pass into Big Cottonwood Canyon.   Hope you enjoy the photos as much as I did the trip.

As I took the photo above, a bull elk was bugling and thrashing about in the forest out there somewhere. It echoed off the rock walls and seemed to travel for miles.

For me, Wasatch Mountain Park (the panorama above and the three photos below), near Midway, was an undiscovered gem.  I drove around it for hours before heading up to Guardsman's Pass.

There is something magical about wandering into an aspen forest in the fall.  Everyone should have the experience of just soaking it in for a few unregimented hours. 

Lucky boy that I am, I had that chance one morning this Fall. I wandered for hours.  And I will remember that for a long time -- at least until the spring flowers come.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Bountiful or Arizona?

We have some very good friends, the Drews, whose only flaw, as near as I can tell, is that they keep trying to tell us that Mesa Arizona is the place to be.  Well, to each his own, but after a short drive this evening, above Bountiful in all its fall glory, I beg to differ. Candice, this one is for you :-).  The photo above is from  our back deck, looking out over our little town.

This evening's moon rise, taken about five minutes' ride from my garage. The photo below was two minutes further up the road.

In all, I drove no more than thirty minutes from my house, up Skyline Drive. The colors were fantastic, the moon was a lot bigger than these photos portray, and my day went from dragging and energy-less with a killer cold to a really spectacular experience.  It was amazing up there.

I realize that this signals the approach of snow, and that certain Arizona types simply recoil in horror at the thought.  But you have to admit, there is a lot of appeal to changing seasons, and nowhere is that appeal more evident than fall in the Rockies.

Did I mention that this was less than 30 minutes from my house? 

So what say you Candice?  Are you and Chris ready to move?  Or do you have some photos taken thirty minutes from Mesa you care to pass along?  The gauntlet has been thrown . . . !

Friday, October 15, 2010

Conference Weekend

We took advantage of General Conference weekend to listen on the radio as we took a late season drive to the Uinta mountains. What can be more inspiring than seeing the beauty of God's world in fall, and hearing the words of his prophets, all at once?  

We went up the Mirror Lake highway and along the Upper Provo River.  It was overcast and late in the year for leaves, but we were still rewarded with stunning patches of yellow amidst the pines. The kids loved the river, the falls and Mirror lake, weather notwithstanding.

The only sad part of the trip for me concerned health -- of both forests and children.  First, I have never seen the forests look so sick. It has been a dry year, true, but there is something deeper about the stress they show.  Just look at all the dead pine trees in the photo below.  They didn't look like that when I was a kid. They were always lush and verdant, brimming with life.  I don't know about global warming one way or another, and it certainly is a big question, in my view, whether it is man made or not (there have, after all, been much warmer periods on the earth before man existed, if you believe what the archeologists say, and I understand it may only take one really big volcano to knock us back to the ice age in any event).  That said, something sure is happening, and I wish it weren't. Pines are too beautiful to be this distressed.  I tremble at the thought of what one ill-placed match could do.

There were more pressing matters this trip, though -- Alden was recovering from a wicked croup virus that Kate had brought home earlier in the week. Both he and Kate managed to over come it after about three very intense days, but on this trip, Alden was still hurting, and Keegan was about to begin a seven day ordeal.

This beautiful, lively little boy would soon be spending days and nights in our bedroom, fighting a fever that medicine could barely control and coughing the deepest, most raspy cough you have ever heard. While those things were bad, they were not the worst. Every wheezing breath sounded like it was being sucked through a coffee straw. He grew exhausted just from trying to breathe.  And the rattling in his throat and chest, particularly at night, caused me to lay awake for hours, listening to make sure the next one came.

It really weighed on me. This was different from Alden's and Kate's illness. They each had maybe two bad nights, then seemed to improve. Keegan never really improved. Medicine sometimes worked, but sometimes it didn't.  There were a series of midnight trips to Walgreens, 2:00 A.M. steam baths, and much casting about for help.  Finally, the following Saturday, we went to the doctor, who was concerned about pneumonia.   She wanted an X-ray, but we couldn't get it done on Saturday.  Thinking Sunday was not an option, we planned to go first thing Monday morning.

Saturday night began badly, however.  He was very feverish, and struggling to breathe when we returned from a cousin's baptism.  He fought the nebulizer we tried to put over his face, crying a broken-hearted, raspy cry and ripping it off time after time. By Sunday after church, he had a fever of 102.5 degrees, which an advil/tylenol cocktail failed to lower.  He was exhausted and lifeless, breathing only shallow breaths.

I decided to take him to the hospital for the X-ray.  Just as we went to get in the car, my mom and dad arrived. My dad is the best man I know, and a thought hit me forcefully -- we need to give him a Priesthood blessing.  We did so in the back seat of the car, with Keegan slumped over in his car seat.  It was short, but we felt an urgent inspiration to bless him with health.

By the time we reached the hospital (five minutes away), his fever was gone.  He ran to the fish tank, smiling that trademark face-splitting grin that is the most wonderful thing in the world.  He himself answered the intake nurse's questions about his symptoms, emphatically insisting that he did not have a rash. The x-ray was negative.  His fever never returned.  That night he breathed well, and the next night we felt comfortable enough to put him in Alden's room.

There are some, perhaps many, who would chalk this up to coincidence, and truly, I don't understand why God chooses to bless some but not others with health.  But you should have seen him before we gave him the blessing. He was so sick. The turnaround was unbelievably immediate. I just feel so strongly that this was something special.  I have no idea why of all people and at this time we were so blessed.  But I do know how grateful I am for the Priesthood, and a Father that exemplifies Christ each and every day.

We are all back to normal now, but my faith is a little stronger, my heart a little more hopeful about the world, than it was in the midst of a distressed forest just the week before. May God bless us all.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Mountains All Around Us That We Can't Seem to Climb

When I was about Alden's age, we lived in a very small, coal-fire heated home, high in the foothills of the mountains known as the Wasatch Front. Our home could only be reached by dirt road--no small task in the snows that descend in winter.  A creek ran nearby, and my summer days were filled meandering up and down the trails that ran along side it.

My one-time home is now surrounded by an avalanche of foothills developments, but the mountains and streams remain.  I love them.  From those early mountain wanders comes the part of me that wants to go just a little bit further, up one more hill, or around one last bend, just to see what is there; the part that actually sees the beauty surrounding us every day; the part that steps out of the routine, and explores new things.  More deeply, the wonders I found, flowers and fishes, trees and colors, animals and warm sun, first gave me the conviction that there must be a God, who took chaos and survival of the fittest and turned it into all of these beautiful, ordered, miraculous things.

When we moved back here from San Francisco 3 years ago, I was excited in part because I wanted so badly to share those early experiences with my children.  But something always seems to get in the way. Soccer, shopping, primary programs, garden, yard work, aging knees, too-small shoes, or any of a hundred other things -- most needed, some even important -- all  seem to keep me from really sharing with my kids one of the most formative parts of my youth. 

I also worry that my experience may just be totally irrelevant for them -- they don't have that much desire to be outside half the time, and hot, sunny summer days are made for computers in air conditioned homes, not traipsing through cool mountain streams for hours on end.  

Yet I persist in believing that one afternoon building a dam together on a mountain stream would be worth two years of soccer games.  So we continue to try, and even managed to hike a few times this summer -- Milcreek Canyon, Holbrook Canyon, Tony Grove Lake, and as always, Soapstone Basin for the wildflowers.

I don't know if it will ever be the same for them as it was for me, with a creek two-minutes-walk away and nothing else to do.  But I hope these small efforts some how help them find the things I did in the cradle of a mountain home.

 If nothing else, it has given Keegan the opportunity to play "I am King of The World -- In my Underwear!"  Now where else can you have a fine experience like that?  (Don't ask -- lets just say it comes under the ubiquitous category of "lessons in potty--training".)


By the way, if you haven't been to Franklin Basin or Tony Grove Lake at the height of wildflower season, you are missing a real treat.  The pictures do not do it justice. But if you are lucky enough to go, you may just catch a badger playing around the beaver dams in Logan Canyon on your drive home, and that alone should make it a great trip!

Here is hoping that next summer will bring more hiking, and less to-doing.