Sunday, August 31, 2008

It's Okay To Be Mad But It Isn't Okay To Be Mean!

Somebody burned down my friend's barn and I'm mad! Much like my dad's barn, my dear friend Noelle's dad built his barn from the foundation up, one nail at a time...on one of the loveliest pieces of property in Heber City, Utah. As Noelle stated, "he built the trusses himself and pounded every nail with a hammer, not a nail gun...putting a lot of heart, soul and sweat into it". It has been a 6 year building project for the Platt family and one which has provided a lot of happy memories.
One of the best was holding their first annual Platt Family Camp Out last weekend. They had a great time as a family.... which someone obviously didn't like because the barn got burned down by an arsonist the evening after their departure.
I asked Noelle who would do such a thing and while we have our suspicions (chalk it up for those Nancy Drew books we used to read)...the moral of the story is this: MEAN PEOPLE SUCK!
The longer I think about it, I bet it was the same person who cut down my friend Katie Jo's beautiful trumpet vine from the west side of her house earlier this summer. That was an intentional act and a mean person did it! Or... that guy wearing the BYU shirt who tried to skinny dip where I was fishing at Trial Lake last month. He was really mean!
To phrase it like my kid brother Tigger did when he was barely old enough to walk..."it's okay to be mad but it isn't okay to be mean!". Mean people suck!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Spice It Up!

Whew....I just read my blog for last week and I was sure long winded! I really needed a vacation so I guess I had a lot to tell. In the future, I'll try and keep them short...sweet....and more frequent.

Today, I want to tell you about a cool little game that my boss introduced me to during our 5 hour car ride to/from St. George, Utah this week. I love my boss and we never run out of things to talk about but for this trip we had two additional associates with us in the car, both of which we did not know every well. This could have been a bit awkward if my boss Jill wasn't such a fun person with a tremendous sense of humor (and foresight). So I wasn't very surprised when she informed us that for the duration of our drive we weren't going to talk about work but rather we were going to play an interesting game.

She was right - it was a very interesting game which I would like to recommend to all! It is called Table Top Conversations and if you ever have a long distance drive (among other things) ...this is a good one to play. Basically, it is an acrylic box full of interesting questions (of all sorts) that is stylish enough to live on your tabletop yet provides excellent conversation starters which make the most out of the moment with thought provoking topics and questions that are prefect for breaking the ice at parties, family dinners, or just spending time with that special someone. You name it, this game asks it and through can discover something new about your family, friends and even yourself.
One of my favorite questions was "What is a redeeming quality in someone that you really dislike?". I'll admit....we all got stuck on that one (again with some really good conversation...) and three days later...I'm still trying to find a good quality in Aaron's ex-wife. Funny thing was, Jill popped in my office this morning and said, "I've got it! I finally thought of a good quality about (the person she chose). Madam X (the person she chose) is a really good note-taker!". I guess she's been stuck on that one for a few days too!

Anyway, go pick up Table Top Conversations and spice up your conversations within your family, circle of friends, or co-workers. They also have a couples edition, teen edition, girls night out edition and spirit edition - which I think are cool ideas. Google it online and you can snag it cheaper ($20). You won't be disappointed.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Beware of the Wildlife!

The Thompson Trio hit the road last week on a long-awaited summer vacation. We packed our bags, piled in the car and hit the road. Destination: Yellowstone! But first, we have to return to "Nat-Soo-Crappy" (aka: Nat-Soo-Pah) for a weekend Wilson Clan reunion.

Day 1 - 3: Nat-Soo-Crappy
It wasn't as good as Craig's reunion in Scotland last year but how can you top that? Angie did her best which was pretty darn good...and meant another "Nat-Soo-Crappy" weekend for Aaron, Mia and me. Aside from the things we experience during our trip there last month, the biggest highlight of this weekend was being able to attend the Twin Falls, Idaho Temple Open House as a family. Aaron's favorite part was the chandelier in the Celestial Room while my favorite part was the glimpse into what will soon be as we toured the Sealing Room. Our traditional evening "hoot-i-nanny" was its usual kick (in a hillbilly sort of way) and we're still laughing over Becky's Sound of Music skit which rivaled anything the VonTrappe's produced. As a bonus we found a new doggie-sitter in my 5 year old niece Natalie...who overcame her fear of dogs and kept Mia occupied (and cared for) all weekend. After a great weekend with family, Aaron and I hit the road in continuation of our National Lampoon's Summer Vacation....

Day 4 : Colter Bay, Grand Teton National Forest
After a long day traveling, we finally arrived at the Grand Teton National Forest which is spectacular! Upon checking into our tent cabin at Colter Bay (a few miles south of the Yellowstone South Entrance) we took Mia for a hike and ended our evening at the Chuck Wagon for dinner with the UN. Our waiter was from Turkey, the bus boy from Malaysia, the hostess from Austria, and fellow diners were from Arizona (the elderly), Japan and Germany. It proved to be a very interesting dinner indeed and not at all your traditional "chuck wagon"! That's okay - I loved it (and our Turkish waiter who would literally run to get anything we asked for! I don't think I saw him walk once during our entire meal...but it earned him a big tip on pure entertainment value!). Little did I know that the next 9 hours would be some of the longest of my life.....

Our tent cabin (basically a canvas tent with one wall which is made out of logs) was primitive indeed and not exactly what I imagined when I booked it for the week. However, traditional tents are not allowed in the park (because of the bears...which makes little sense now that I think of it...since a tent cabin is still a tent!) so we made it work. I do remember asking Aaron if it was safe as we tucked ourselves into our bunks for the night (his bed being next to the log wall...mine being next to the canvas... so you can use your imagination into what I was thinking all night...)

All was well until the pack of coyotes started howling in the middle of the night somewhere on the other side of the canvas....and the heavy footsteps started happening on the trail beside our tent near my head....and the dog got so scared she jumped into bed with Aaron and shook like a little leaf and whimpered all night long because she was so scared. You should have seen the wife! I have no idea what time I woke up to all of this commotion but it felt like forever for dawn to finally arrive.

Day 5: Jackson Hole, WY
Woke up with ideas about checking out of the tent cabin and relocating to the Hilton in Jackson Hole. That was until I saw two beautiful deer on my trip to the bathroom, one of which was a majestic 6 point Buck. Since they were grazing near out tent cabin...I'm hoping that is what woke me up in the night. Maybe the grass is better near the cabin along the trail... and deer really are I'm not so scared now. (Psychology 101: what the mind believes is real, becomes real!)

After a long night, the Thompson Trio decided to go to Jackson Hole for the day. This is where I break out into Johnny and June Carter Cash's song "we're going to Jackson....." (which Aaron is really tired of me singing!). We spent a really fun and relaxing day touring the town, hiking at Teton Village and checking out Jackson Ski Resort. We'll definitely be back when the snow flies, with Cody in tow!

On the way back to Colter Bay we took the really beautiful scenic route through the Grand Teton National Forest....where I got to see my first moose! Aaron stayed in the car and when he saw the pictures I proudly displayed, he educated me on the proper distance between man and beast. Beware of the wildlife!

Upon our return to Colter Bay we went to the Ranger Talk in the amphitheater and heard a presentation on owls. After that we took Mia to the marina where she learned to swim. Yep, my dog is definitely a Labrador and all the elderly from Arizona, the Germans and Japanese....kept taking her photo like she was one of the bison!

For this second night in the tent cabin, I convinced Aaron into trading me bunks so he could protect our family as the first line of defense near the canvas wall. Consequently, I slept like a baby. He however, did not!

Day 6: Yellowstone National Park
Bar of small soap from a Cambodian cashier: $1.50
Shower stall at the Colter Bay Laundromat: $3.50
Feeling fresh and clean after 5 days of camping: Priceless!

After showers we hit the road bound for Yellowstone. Along the way Aaron saw a group of people stopped so he pulled over (that is the surest sign that there is wildlife!). Something in the distance was crossing the river. I took that opportunity to call into work where I made the comment to my boss upon being asked how the vacation was going...that Aaron was watching a moose cross a river. All the sudden everyone scrambled, Aaron jumped in and flipped the car around putting the pedal to the metal. The tourists were on the move and watch out because down the road the cars flew and the chase was one! Down the road the tourist jumped out and binoculars, cameras and camcorders were flying. As they scoured the hillside, I cut my conversation short and had more fun taking pictures of the people...looking for whatever it was that they were looking for. Seems the moose that was crossing the river wasn't a moose at all...but rather a grizzly bear. I missed it all and didn't even get to see his butt as he ran away from the tourists.

Finally we made it to Old Faithful where I realized too late that we should have charged people to pet and take photos of Mia. We couldn't go anywhere without people making a spectacle out of her. She loved the attention and it helped pass time as we waited for Old Faithful to erupt. The geysers were really cool and the Park Rangers were really nice and informative. They were spot on with their eruption prediction! (I guess that is why it is called Old Faithful...) Good thing I don't have morning sickness anymore because the whole area stunk like rotten eggs but I really liked watching them blow. And oh how they can blow! Isn't Mother Nature amazing?!

From there we traveled around the park and saw some elk, bald eagles, and a pack of coyotes. I made the comment that I felt bad for not being able to see the bear and no sooner did we turn a bend in the road and there was a baby bear walking along side it. And...out came the tourists! I was taking a picture of the baby bear out of one window...when I heard a noise from the other. Oops.....momma bear and another baby bear were on the other side of the road and we were in between. What is that about not getting between mother and baby bears?! Beware of the wildlife!

Not liking the sleeping arrangements the night before, Aaron proposed that we set up our air mattress. That's all I needed. I quickly got it set up but Aaron didn't think our heads should go next to the canvas wall. I agreed...and strategically placed myself closest to the log wall. That was good until the air went out of the mattress. Aaron took it as long as he could and then crawled into the bunk. Unfortunately, it was the one closest to the log wall. Another long night for JaLae.

Day 7: Yellowstone National Park
Woke up and paid another $3.50 for a shower...God Bless America! Took off for Mammoth Falls and the long loop around Yellowstone Lake. Wow it was beautiful!

I saw another big pack of elk, more moose, waves along the lake which rivaled the ocean, more stink pots (including one called Dragon's Mouth which sounded exactly like it's name!), some of the most beautiful country in America and a beautiful prairie with a lot of bison roaming in the distance. I told Aaron I was going to take a hike over the rise to get a better photo. I walked as far as I thought I should, snapped my picture and then backtracked to Aaron. Not long after turning around a cloud of dust grew along the trail near where I had stopped to take my photo. I guess a bison was laying in the grass and got up upon my departure...which I honestly didn't see. Beware of the wildlife!

After a long day touring the park from the South Entrance to the North Entrance...we exited in Montana at the West Entrance. On this final day we drove about 500 miles and saw some of the most beautiful country in America! We also saw tourists from all over the world (mostly German and Japanese) and all over the US (mostly Arizona- the elderly- and Minnesota). As soon as I had cell phone coverage I called my mom to ask why we never went to Yellowstone as a family. Her reply, "because that is where all the tourists go!"

And what you may ask did I learn from this experience? Take more vacations and beware of the wildlife!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

My Heart's in the Highlands...

My heart's in the Highlands, my heart is not here,
My heart's in the Highlands, a-chasing the deer;
A-chasing the wild deer, and following the roe,
My heart's in the Highlands, wherever I go.
Robert Burns
My Heart's in the Highlands.

I was telling Aaron the other day how badly I need a vacation. Then he looked at me and said, "Do you realize that on this date last year we were in Scotland?". That put salt into an open wound! I guess Aaron is feeling it too because he then proceeded to tell me how much flights are and what our next itinerary will be. He's certainly done his homework! (If you want the whole truth, he's been looking for a job there too....)

In looking forward to a 2009 dream, here is a reflective look at an amazing 2007 reality....

One of my favorite pictures my sister took.

Our cottage in the Highlands.

The Wilson Clan at the Campbell Castle (minus Craig, Jacqueline and the boys).

Cody and his woolly "coo" (or cow as we pronounce it).

At the top of the William Wallace Monument in Stirling.
The Reserve Tug-O-War Champs at the Highland Games (the Wilson girls kicked a lot of butts...except the local ones which kicked ours!) I'm in the blue.
My funny father (I'm sure glad he is bald)!
Nightime at the famous Eileen Donan Castle.
Further proof that I really am a princess.
Our favorite part of the whole trip - Edinburgh Castle.
A little Wilson Clan fun during a visit from one of our Gunn relatives (the infamous Grabiyer' Gunn)