Thursday, November 17, 2016

How did I have time to have a job?!

That was a quote from my father after he retired, and describes how I feel at the moment.  When we arrived home, we first had to unpack all the boxes,
and figure out where everything had been stored.  "Yee hah!  I found some sheets! Now where are those towels?"
When we arrived, we thought we smelled some natural gas, and continued to do so occasionally.  We finally called the gas company, and within 15 minutes, the guy was here. After his evaluation, he said, "This is probably the biggest gas leak at a house that I have ever seen!  You people are lucky you didn't blow up your house and half the neighborhood." About $575 to the plumber later, all was set right.  Stuff just doesn't last like it used to; those pipes were only 53 years old!
The beloved microwave had become petulant during our absence, but with flattering words, and sending its control board to the Bronx with some $$, we were back in business.
During the five years, the trees grew a little.  Make that a lot.  So we called our buddy Bobby Anderson and he came out with the crew and took care of things.
I was impressed by their courage and technique,
and they took everything down that we indicated without damaging anything.
OK, almost anything.  In grinding a stump, they also ground up a drain pipe I had installed years ago, and it had to be excavated and repaired.  The smile is fake, only for the camera.
When they took out some big trees, a corner of the lot looked, well, naked.  I extended the fence with a new section, and didn't swear once during the process. Thought about it, didn't do it.
And, naturally, you can't just leave a bare spot like that, correct?  Certainly not if your name is Paula Henderson, so off we went to the North Carolina Arboretum to scout out possible things to plant there.
Stuff just doesn't last like it used to, you know? and we realized that the roof needed replaced after only 26 years. I guess the time in South America has finally proven useful, as I could communicate with the foreman on the job.
However, it was the usual big mess for a while.
Sheesh!  I think I may need to get a job to get some rest.
We hope that your retirement is as busy.  No, really!
Dave & Paula

Friday, November 4, 2016

More from the Great Western Migration

So, we had a great time in Utah visiting friends and family, after I got warmed up from the Nebo bike ride.
The initial purpose of the trip had been to hold a reunion with "our" returned missionaries, and it was marvelous.  Over one hundred of them showed up to a chapel in Orem, Utah, and we were reminded how much we had come to love them.  A sizable number had married, a few had babies, and it was great to see all of them.  There were several that couldn't make it to the venue, with whom we visited at other times.
We were able to attend a couple of the sessions of the General Conference of the Church, and visit with folks who had been presidents of other missions while we were in South America.
While in Bogotá on our first assignment in 2011 and 2012, we became friends with some folks who now live in St. George, Utah, who foolishly offered to put us up, never thinking for a moment we'd actually take them up on the offer.
St. George is in the desert at the south end of Utah, at the intersection of two rivers, and has spectacular scenery.  Bike ride?  Duh!  Only this time it didn't rain and I stayed warm.  By the way, that other lady in the back of the picture cheated and arrived by tour bus.  Or maybe she was smarter, I dunno.
Zion National Park has become overly popular, and the day we went with our friends was no exception, but we still had fun.
I noted that some of our friends had aged a bit, and then I remembered, Oh, that's right, I'm a retired guy, with a floppy sun hat, a camera on my shoulder, wearing white socks and tennis shoes. Have I, too, descended that far?!
The Mormon temple in St. George was built soon after some 200 families were assigned by Brigham Young to colonize the area in 1861, and was remarkable for having been constructed when they barely had their feet on the ground.
From southern Utah, we took a hard right turn and headed east.  The first night, we stayed at the Holiday Motel in Julesburg, Colorado on the edge of Nebraska.  It was very clean, the proprietor was friendly, and luckily, the bar next door was open.  
Unfortunately, the locally-famous tacos made on Friday nights by the lady who ran the bar were all gone by the time we arrived, but she had a frozen pepperoni pizza which was soon warmed up and served on the box.  Paula appreciated the cranberry juice, served in a Bud Light glass.  
Walking over from the motel to the establishment, I could have sworn I heard bowling pins being knocked down.  My intuitive sense of the obvious proved to be spot on, as most of the town's population was in the attached alley (see long, bowling alley-like structure attached to bar, below) cheerfully kicking back some brewskis and mocking each others' efforts at the game.
The next morning, we stopped just inside Nebraska at a pump outside a garage where a guy in greasy coveralls was prying a tire off a rim with a big crowbar.  While he pumped the gas, Paula cheerfully noted that she had never been to Nebraska before. He thoughtfully looked around and remarked, "Well, you ain't missin' much," and returned to filling the tank.
The next stop was Nauvoo, Illinois, which by 1844 had become a thriving town of 11,000 Mormons on the banks of the Mississippi, second in size in that state only to Chicago. The group had been expelled from elsewhere, and were soon to be driven from Nauvoo also, though not before building the second temple of the Church. Some time after it was abandoned in the exodus, the structure burned, and its destruction was later completed by a tornado.  However, the land was eventually purchased by the Church, and a new temple in the form of the old one was completed in 2002.  Hard to permanently get rid of those Mormons.
While staying in Nauvoo, we visited Carthage, Illinois, where Joseph and Hyrum Smith were murdered by a mob in 1844 while being held in a jail in that town.  Naturally, we also scouted a possible bike ride.
The next day, we set out, despite predictions of some wind along the way.  Yeah, OK, we later learned that the 'breeze' was 35mph, gusting to 45mph, blocked by nothing as it roared across the recently harvested flat fields.  Going in to the wind was quite the struggle; downwind meant 25mph without pedaling, and in the crosswind, one had to lean in to the wind to stay upright and moving in a more-or-less straight line.  Our temporal salvation was the Dairy Queen in Carthage.  This is not a dairy queen, rather Paula, exhausted at the end of the 45+ mile ride.
Visiting Church sites in reverse order, we next stopped in Kirtland, Ohio, the site of the first temple built by the Mormons, and from which area they were expelled by the non-friendly neighbors in 1837.
We finally rolled in to Raleigh, finishing our last audio book as we crossed in to North Carolina. Although neither of us have been fans of long car excursions, this was a surprisingly pleasant exception, mostly made so by seeing so many good friends along the way.
We hope your road trips are as enjoyable.  However, take care in casually inviting the Hendersons to drop in some time, as they may take you up on it.
Dave & Paula