Thursday, June 21, 2007

The Wasatch Back That Wasn't

My race story will be a bit different than most. You see, this year, I did not even make it to the start of the race. I signed my team up in January, and had been training hard. I even shaved about 1 minute per mile off of my average pace. When I saw the course changes, I was beside myself. This year, the course would pass on the other side of Morgan valley, right by the house where I grew up, past my grandparents’ old house and right through the middle of countless childhood memories. I immediately made sure I had the assigned legs so that I would run that part of the course. I spent a lot of time thinking about how it would feel. Would the farmers be cutting the first crop of alfalfa? I still remember the smell to this day. How would the old Milton Park look? My eagle project as a youth had been to build benches for it. Would the old rodeo grounds still be there? I won my first belt buckle riding a "bull" there. I imagined how it would be to share so many memories with my close running friends. It would be a weekend never to forget.....

The next part of my tale takes us 34 years into the past. My wife's parents were expecting twins. The labor was long, and way too early. One twin, Ryan, died within 24 hours. The other, Bryan, was not expected to make it much longer. The doctors told the family to hold off burying Ryan, as they were sure Bryan would soon be joining him. Despite these odds, Bryan survived. He did not escape without problems, though. He suffered from Cerebral Palsy, and was never able to do anything for himself. He could not walk or talk. He depended on others to do everything for him. Sally, his mother, dedicated her life to caring for Bryan. They were inseparable.

On the Monday before the race this year, I received a call that Bryan had aspirated, stopped breathing and had been rushed to the hospital. Sally, a registered nurse, did everything she could to save him. The ambulance arrived quickly, and the hospital was reached within minutes. Sadly, even with all the efforts, we lost Bryan.

You might think that someone who could not talk might not have much of a personality, or even have much of an impact on others. Nothing could be further from the truth with Bryan. He had a way of sharing his love with everyone. I don't know that I have ever met a kinder, more loving person. The only time he ever became angry was if someone in the family was getting into trouble, or if someone was foolish enough to stand between him and a Utah Jazz game on the television. Other than that, he was the perfect example of unconditional love.

Sally will forever be one of the greatest examples of service I have had the privilege of seeing in action. She gave up 34 years of her life to attend to Bryan's every need. Bryan rarely slept through the night, and she was always there to be with him. She often had to stay behind if the family was going somewhere not accessible for Bryan. If we were on the road for vacation, and hit a restaurant where Bryan could not easily get in, then she ate in the car with him. She did so many selfless acts on her part, for over 34 years. What an amazing lesson she provided for us.

As my team embarks on this year’s race, I am at home to participate in the services for Bryan. As I think of them running, I am left with a feeling of gratitude. How thankful should each of us be for the ability to just walk? Bryan had a sharp mind, yet for 34 years he was left in a prison, unable to do anything for himself. As I think of the things my team will see, I wonder about how many things Bryan would have enjoyed to see, but did not have the capabilities to get to them? As I reflect on the powerful friendships my team members have for each other, I am left to ponder about how many friends Bryan had? How many lives did he influence, and not even know about it? Even as I share these thoughts with you, I am so thankful just for the ability to type, to communicate and to share.

What of Sally? How many hobbies did she give up to take care of her sweet son? She had no time to exercise. The idea of taking off two days to run a relay with 11 of her friends would have been out of the question. We should all be thankful for supportive families and understanding employers who put up with our odd running hours, our tendency to talk about running way too much, our planning of family vacations around races and every other sacrifice we take for granted.

So to each of my Wasatch Back comrades, I would say to be thankful as you run. Take a moment to reflect upon the majestic beauties you will pass through. How blessed you each are to run and to be on a team, to be surrounded by others who share your passion for running.

To my team, I say race on! I would be remiss if I didn't thank my co-captains, Ryan and Gary, for stepping up and making sure the last minute details were taken care of and the team was able to keep racing. I also send a big thanks to my good friend Scott, for not only taking my spot in the relay but for also stepping up and providing the wheels for van number one of our team.


Sunday, June 17, 2007

Fishing trip to the Uintahs

You might question why I chose this picture to use for this posting. The simple truth is I was stressed out of my mind about backing the trailer into a campsite! It was such a huge relief to arrive at camp and back in with no problems. I had Lori, Jason and Braden on two-way radios so they could watch both sides of the back plus the trailer at the hitch! The best idea I had was to take off the sway bars for backing! That made it a lot easier than what I had done in the past - the sway bars don't give much for turning!
We left on Wednesday for a trip camping at Soapstone campground. I was amazed at the time it took to get ready for this adventure. I was tired before we even left. We had to plan the meals, buy the food, load the trailer with clothes, fishing gear, camp chairs, etc. I had to load it up with water. It took some time to get the gas working - turned out the problem was being caused by a spider web in the regulator! Also, I had to get all the antifreeze out and get the hot water hooked back up.
I was also concerned about how the Suburban would do pulling that much weight. It ended up doing fine - it sure ate up the gas, and the transmission got fairly hot climbing up by Jordanelle reservoir. But all in all, the trip went smooth.
We arrived and set up camp. We then enjoyed an evening around the campfire. I had made tin foil dinners before hand to cook up there, and it turned out to taste great. We had smores (of course), then turned in for the evening. The hot water heater worked like a charm, and the furnace kept us nice and toasty.
Thursday morning, I made some sausage and french toast. Next time, I need to cook the sausage outdoors! Kaylee had stayed back home for drivers ed, but Braden, Jason, Alyssa and I drove up to Trial Lake to fish. Lori slept back in the trailer!
The kids and I spent about two hours fishing, and hauled in a BUNCH of fish! It was so much fun. I helped Alyssa, and we caught 10 just as our "team". We let them all go, including the biggest one that I ally let swim off with my rope fish holder!
We had some sandwiches back at camp, then drove down to Kamas to get some supplies. We then went to see the Provo River falls, Bald Mountain overlook and Mirror Lake. We fished some more at Mirror Lake, and caught a BUNCH more fish. I was really in the zone this time, calling my catch time after time. Man, I love fishing!
I made some burgers for dinner, and was smart enough to cook them outdoors this time. We did note we were almost out of water at this point, which seemed odd since I thought I had topped it off at home. However, I finally came up with a way to use my 6 gallon jug to put water in, and managed to get 24 more gallons in. I did have to let some gray water out, but no harm there. We watched a movie, then played some games. Another great day!
Friday morning was pancakes for breakfast. I had bought a grill before this trip, and this was the 3rd time I used it. It was a good investment. Also, the horseshoes game I picked up was a big hit.
The kids and I hit Trial Lake again, and this time kept 8 fish to take back to Showgrens. We then went back for lunch, where I made some awesome tacos and burritos. We drove up to the Crystal Lake trailhead, and hiked into Wall Lake. It was a short, but rocky climb. It was a lot of fun, though! We then went to Kamas to fill up the Suburban with gas, and had Braden ask where the closest waste station was. It turns out there is one about a mile from Soapstone campground. The park service just doesn't bother publishing anything about it or even putting up signs to say where it is!
We roasted hot dogs around the campfire, then decided to head back late Friday rather than early Saturday. This was a good decision, as it took me about 4 hours to clean up the trailer and Suburban Saturday morning.
All in all, it was a great camping trip. I was exhausted, as I really don't let anyone else do anything while camping! I like to do it all - cook, clean, entertain, etc. I think I need to involve others more next time so I can relax more!
The batteries were at 2/3 when we were done, so I think we can stay longer next time. Also, I'll just fill up the water at the station next time - no sense hauling all that weight when they have fresh water right there at the waste station. I think the only concern then would be dumping the gray water, but I think it's fine to let a bit out when needed.
Oh, the fish were really taking a bit of night crawler topped off with a salmon egg. I think we ended up catching around 60 fish! We ran out of night crawlers and split shot, so I need to bring more fishing supplies next time.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Moving the Showgrens from Houston to Mapleton

I just returned from a grand adventure. I helped Lori's brother and his family move back to Utah from Texas. It has been awesome, full of unexpected twists and turns. They are an awesome family, and it has been nice to spend all this time with them.

I flew down on Wednesday. It took me all of about 30 seconds to clear airport security, the flight left on time and we arrived early. That is what you call a good start to a trip! Glenn and Annie (3 year old daughter) picked me up at the airport. We stopped at a Waffle House for dinner. We arrived at their home, and I was immediately struck by the magnitude of the task at hand. Thursday was going to be a long day!

After a breakfast of Shipley doughnuts, we started packing. Glenn had done a bit on Wednesday, but it took us most of the day to load the truck. It was so humid, and by the time we were done I was soaked from head to foot. We cleaned up and went to The Grand Buffet for dinner.

At dinner, Eric (7 year old son) was sitting by me. All of the sudden, he began waving his arms in the air, and crying out that his mouth was on fire. He took a drink, but it did not help. He jumped up and began running around. He took off for the bathroom, and his Mom (Allison) was right on his heels. When the finally came out, we figured out the the Pepper Shrimp had full jalapenos in it, complete with the seeds, and he had chomped down on one of those. It was pretty funny, once we knew he was ok. And I have to say the mountain of crawfish the Showgrens put down was incredible!

Friday we started the drive. I drove the 26 foot U-haul, and Eric, Elijah (Eric's twin) and Annie took turns riding in the truck with me. One of the highlights of this day was watching a grown man go into the womens bathroom at McDonalds. He failed to notice he was surrounded by women, and went ahead and did his business. He received a lot of angry looks and a few comments, but still didn't figure out what he had done. Finally, as he walked out, he turned back to look at the signs, left, came back again a little closer to look at the signs, then finally figured out what he had done. He left bright red and in a hurry after that.

We were on the road for 14 hours on Friday. I have never driven that long before. It was very tiring, and I seem to have injured my right foot somehow in the process. It has a sharp pain in it now, if I hit the right angle on it. I think I held it in one position for too long. We stayed in Clovis, New Mexico that night.

Just outside of Lubbock, Texas, I was listening to the radio. They announced a severe thunderstorm warning and tornado watch for the Lubbock area. We were driving right into the heart of the beast! This was a terrifying experience for me. It does not storm like that in Utah! The truck sounded like it was going to fall apart. The wind was absolutely howling, the lightning was non-stop, and the rain was incredible. I didn't dare drive much over 40 mph for most of it. I felt like I was in the movie Twister. The flashes of lightning were creating a strobe light affect in the cab of the truck. The forces of nature can be very incredible. I'm glad I lived through that experience, and didn't put the truck on its side.

I also wanted to mention that Texas is not what I expected. It was green and full of trees all the way across the state. It was not the barren desert I had thought it was. That is New Mexico! From what I've seen of it, it is miles and miles of nothing. A lot like central Utah, but without the mountains. It got somewhat better towards the end of the trip last night, as we climbed to over 7000 feet in elevation.

Saturday we didn't push as hard. We stopped to see Billy the Kid's grave. There actually was not too much to see. We also stopped to see Allison's friend Sonya. She is married to a Navajo indian, and is living on a reservation right now. It just so happened that there was a pow-wow going on that night, so we went to a bit of that. My goodness, they have some elaborate outfits they wear. It was actually pretty neat to see all the work they go to in order to preserve their ancestry. I can't remember the last time I dressed up in my Swedish or Norwegian outfit!

I should mention the other two members of our caravan. Caleb (9 months) has been a very good baby on this trip. He is very sweet and has a good personality. He is very spoiled, but there's nothing wrong with that. We also have the Showgren's pet rabbit Shark Bait with us. He has been a very good bunny, and seems to be enjoying the trip.

Sunday was pretty tame, compared to the other days. We had planned on going to the 4 corners monument, but by the 3rd day we were ready to just push on home. Of course, once we hit Utah we were immediately in road construction, and the roads sucked, but after we hit I-70 it was pretty much smoot sailing the rest of the way in.