Monday, January 8, 2018

Christmas Break trip to LV and southern UT

With a little inspiration from Curtis who wanted a better way to celebrate his high school graduation than digging ditches around the house, we decided to "go south" during Christmas vacation.  We settled on flying round trip to Las Vegas and hiking around southern Utah.

We spent the first evening driving back and forth to Eugene, because after a six hour delay our flight was postponed until the next day.  After we arrived at the hotel in Las Vegas, we were happy about the delay.

Las Vegas is a very busy, buzzing place, maybe because half the world decided to visit for Christmas vacation, just like us.  The other half went to Paris, France (been there, done that, never again).

Sheryl did great finding hotels.  The Travelodge was right on "the strip", so we walked back and forth.  The buildings -- mega theme hotels, are almost as amazing as some of the "wildlife" we saw on the sidewalks.

Our favorite site is the Bellagio fountains.  Spectacular.

The next day we rode around on a tour bus, taking in the sites along the north and south ends of the strip.  Then we went to a chocolate factory and cactus garden.

That night was spent "downtown" at "The D", a small hotel by Vegas standards, 34 floors, 638 rooms, with a smoky casino at the bottom.  It smelled like cigarette smoke everywhere we went, both indoors and outdoors.  We walked to the Golden Nugget for a buffet dinner.  The nightlife on the street was not family friendly but the downtown container park was.

Friday morning we spent at the Mob Museum.  It is amazing what mobsters will do to avoid work!  Then we drove to Hurricane, UT where we rented an airbnb house.  Jason and Isa joined us after driving from SLC, yay!!  Trevor felt sick for a day so stayed on the couch while we drove to Zion's Park on Saturday.  It was crowded, so we saw part of if by car.  We returned in time to catch a movie, which Curtis made memorable by feeling sick just as it ended.  The teenagers working in the lobby earned their pay that night...

Sunday rolled around, so Sheryl and Jonathan made the long trek across the street to church.  After an hour or so of that, Jason and Isa wanted to go, so Sheryl went with them to a later ward's meeting -- a twofer for Sheryl.  After a haunted house game, we went to St. George to tour the Jacob Hamblin home.  There we sadly said goodbye to Jason and Isa and then went to the temple and visitor center.

Monday was the highlight sightseeing-wise.  We went early to Snow Canyon, and beside being almost empty of people, it was spectacular.  We went on numerous short trails, each one radically different.  The longest hike featured fossilized sand dunes, a short lava tube cave, and an easy-to-climb mini-mountain.

Monday night we checked in at the Hoover Dam Lodge, allowing us to hit it early in the morning so we could get in a dam tour.  We got to see inside the belly of the big dam beast.  Wow.  So much concrete and water.  After that we walked along the "bypass bridge", which is something to see of itself, and Jonathan had a chance to babble some German with a native who spent a semester in the States.

The journey ended after an uneventful drive to the Las Vegas airport and the flight back to Eugene.  The cats were alive and well and very happy to see us again, and vice versa.

Jonathan's favorite - touring Hoover Dam
Sheryl's favorite - hike in Snow Canyon State Park
Trevor's favorite - coming home
Curtis' favorite - seeing the big city of LV and Mob Museum

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Spring Break 2017 East Coast Trip

Bird in Hand


Rockefeller Center

Boat ride to Lady Liberty and Brooklyn Bridge

Central Park/ street vendor

Transportation to/from and in the big city

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Jason and Isa's wedding

We are having some snow days here so I'm finally getting around to journaling about Jason and Isa's wedding.  It's been fun to pick out pictures and reflect on the wonderful memories!

Jason and Isa met in June in Salt Lake and hit it off immediately.  (Jason moved there in April to work.)  Isa attends LDS Business College and works part time.  She is from Santo, Brazil and has been in the states for a few years.  Her English is great.  She is a very sweet girl and brings out the best in Jason.  We met her in August when Jason brought her to the family reunion in Oregon.  They got engaged shortly after.  They chose to get married in January because her mom is a school teacher and it is summer vacation in Brazil so her mom, Raquel, was already planning a visit to Utah then.  Isa's Aunt Thelma lives in South Jordan and was a great help to line up the details for the wedding and reception.  Another aunt, Felicia, also came from Brazil for the wedding with Isa's cousin Matt and his wife Natalie.  Isa's family is so nice but the language barrier made communicating with Raquel and Felicia a little tricky.  Jason wants to learn Portuguese so he can talk to his mother-in-law.

Isa and Jason - engagement photo

Jonathan, Trevor, Curtis and I flew out of Boston January 4th after taking the bus to Boston.  We were very fortunate coming and going that the snow fall was minimal and didn't affect our flights.  It snowed a lot in SLC the night we arrived. We arrived earlier than Jason expected and had to wait awhile for him to get to us (something about a bachelor party at an arcade...)  We stayed with him until the wedding so we could be close by and spend time with him.  We were able to help him finish moving into his apartment and get things set up.  I was very sick before our trip and Jonathan got sick on our trip (he laid down whenever he had the chance).  Jason and Isa were also both plagued with "the cold" the week of the wedding, but managed the get through it.

Thursday morning the Brewsters met Curtis and me at temple square to see the visitor center.  Quin loved the statue of Christ and Curtis and I watched some of the videos about the Book of Mormon. Jessica and I went to Isa's endowment in the Salt Lake temple. Isa's mom, aunts, and cousins were there.  It's a beautiful, historic building and was wonderful to share that special time with Jason and Isa.  Jonathan and Michael and the boys stayed at Jason's apartment and we all met up for dinner afterwards at Greek Souvlaki where Isa works.  It was great to meet Isa's family before the wedding and get better acquainted.  We had planned to go to Tucanos (where Jason works), but the Greek cafe worked out even better time-wise for everyone. The food was delicious. Michael was able to go to the SLC temple that evening while we played with Quin and Ammon at Jason's.

Meeting the family at Greek Souvlaki
Isa, Jason and Ammon

Friday morning we met Isa's aunts, my parents, Brewsters, and the Andrei at the LDS chapel by the temple to set up for the reception.  I had volunteered to do the flowers for the bridal party and my family was a great help (shout out to Aunt Gail for prepping them).  We had fun visiting while arranging and Jessica set out a lunch of sandwiches, chips and fruit for us.  Mike Andrus helped set up the arch and lights (now there's a guy who gets things done).  Thelma's friend arranged the centerpieces and we borrowed table cloths and runners from Esther, who had similar colors at her wedding in November.  It looked very nice.

Flower arranging party with Trevor's trivia questions

Bridal bouquet - bridesmaids had a smaller version

The sealing ceremony was in the Oquirrh Mountain temple in South Jordan at 3PM.  The sealer was great at putting everyone at ease.  He spoke to them about their marriage being the beginning of the family and things they can do to keep their marriage put by keeping influences of the world out.  It was truly wonderful to see Jason and Isa so happy together and be surrounded by family and friends.

Waiting for the bride

Jessica and Michael

Curtis and Trevor in waiting room

It was one of the happiest moments of my life to watch Jason looking at Isa during the sealing - pure love and joy. It was sunny and soooo cold (19 degrees) but Isa really wanted pictures outside the temple after the sealing ceremony.  Curtis and Trevor were waiting for us in the lobby; Quin and Ammon were at Velvet's for the afternoon.

Parents of the bride and groom


In no time people starting showing up for the reception.  My mom and Brenda helped me quickly fix the bouquets.  Some of the flowers didn't handle the cold well during the outdoor picture taking.  Luckily I had ordered plenty of flowers and they turned out well (if I say so myself).

Jason told me before hand that he wasn't going to have a boring reception (i.e. no receiving line).  Instead it was a huge party.  Isa's family served fruit, salads, cold cuts, Brazilian beef and lots of yummy, homemade Brazilian treats. They had a photo booth where guests could get pictures taken with the couple.  Instead of a guest book, they had people sign a large painted "D" to hang on their wall.  For a party favor they gave out individually packaged Brazilian cake. They had rules printed out at each table - the most important one - to HAVE FUN!

Best man, Cameron White, giving a speech at ring ceremony

Exchanging rings on swords

Raquel and Thelma reading poem by Isa's grandfather

They also had a ring ceremony after most of the guests had arrived.  The wedding party proceeded through the cultural hall.  Jason's best man (and best buddy from his mission) gave a speech and then they exchanged rings on the tips of swords in the Norse tradition.  Isa's mom read a poem in Portugese written by her grandfather and Aunt Thelma translated.

First Dance

Gma and Gpa Olsen with Keith in background

Isa with her mom

Jason, Cameron and his wife, Jessica

Most of the evening was spent dancing. Jonathan's non-member siblings said that was the funnest Mormon party they'd ever been to. My only complaint was that the DJ played the music very loud, but he did have a great mix of music.  Such a fun evening!!!  They also had the traditional cake cutting and bouquet toss later in the evening.  The guests formed a tunnel for them as they exited.

Dad and Jonathan - hall monitors (aka old farts)

Some good friends from Bend came, the Mattsons and the Jones.  They now live over an hour either direction from South Jordan and it was so good to see them again and get caught up.  I realized that women who serve in YW presidencies together are friends for life!!

Freda, Karen, me and Cheriene - good friends from our Bend days

It was also great to see so many family members on my side: my parents, my aunt Gail, cousin Grant and his wife and daughters, my cousin Alisa.  The Andrus' spent the whole day helping and celebrating with us (Mike and Brenda and Berkely and Megan).  Also two of my brother Neil's kids: Zachary and Esther and her husband Jacob.  It was great to see Velvet and her girls. We felt very supported and loved.

Provo cousins with Gma Olsen

Aunt Gail

Cousin Alisa and my sister Brenda

Kate, Velvet, Grace, Laura

Ruth and Grant Adamson
Cutest boys on the planet

Three generations (my two best friends)

Jonathan had three siblings there.  I hadn't seen them since we moved to NH, although Jonathan has been back three times without me.  His sister Heidi and Tom live nearby and we stayed with them that night (so great to have a lovely home to crash in). His brother Keith and Robyn with Bailee and Andy from Grantsville and Rusty made the trip from Eagle, Idaho.  It truly was a celebration!!!

Heidi, Rusty, Keith and Robyn (Andy in background)
Here's link to see Jessica, Jason, Curtis and Dodge cousins dancing

After a good nights sleep and a relaxing morning at Heidi and Tom's, we headed to Grantsville.

With Tom and Heidi and their beautiful home in South Jordan

Jonathan had such a great time visiting with his brothers, Keith and Rusty.  They were missing Nathan but were able to face time with him later that night.  Bailee took Curtis horse sledding and he had a blast in spite of the cold.  They are texting buddies now.  Jessica's family came to Grantsville for the day.  Quin loved visiting all the farm animals and got pulled in the sled behind the ATV.

Trevor got some video game time with Michael.  After tolerating all the excitement of the wedding festivities, Trevor enjoyed relaxing at Keith's. I got some more Grandma time. Jonathan's sister, Margaret (Liz) came with her husband and three of her grandkids for the afternoon from Ogden, so it really felt like a family reunion.  It was nice to finally meet Margaret's husband, John.  He's a kindred spirit.

Margaret, Keith, Gwen, Robyn, Rusty 

Trevor hanging out with some of the critters

After another good night's sleep and another leisurely morning (laundering table cloths), we heading back into Salt Lake.  I wasn't sure if we were going to see Jason and Isa after the wedding, but they invited us to their apartment and we had reception leftovers for lunch.  Curtis and I went to sacrament meeting with them in their new family ward (only 1/2 block from their apartment) while Jonathan hooked up their dryer.

Then we went to Velvet's for my birthday party.  All my family that was in the area had dinner and cake at Velvet's.  Jessica made my favorite crock pot BBQ chicken and Brenda bought a yummy chocolate cake from Costco.  It was the best birthday party I've ever had and so great to see everyone again one more time.

Birthday party at Velvet's - so many candles!!!

Andrei and Brewsters were on the same flight back to Portland and they left first.  We went to help Jason and Isa load up the remains from his bachelor pad before heading to the airport ourselves.  We talked to my parents for an hour at their gate until it was time to head to ours.  Trevor and I were able to sleep most of the red-eye flight.  We just barely made it to bus on time and after getting home at 8AM somehow we made it to school and work.  We're getting too old for red-eye flights and NH is too far away!!!