Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Memorial Day Jaunt

This past weekend, I traveled with my mother and youngest sister on our annual Memorial Day Jaunt. We were the only three who could make the loop this year. Despite that, we still enjoyed ourselves immensely. On Saturday, we traveled to Idaho Falls, Idaho stopping for lunch at the famed Smitty's Pancake House where we enjoyed delicious breakfast items for lunch. (Breakfast is served all day at this fine establishment) We met up with an aunt and uncle at this location and enjoyed wonderful food and a good visit.

Next, we drove to nearby Lewisville, Idaho to the cemetery where my father is buried. Most of his immediate family members are also buried in this location. It's a beautiful cemetery, filled with pine trees and flowering crab trees. Most weren't in bloom this year because it has been a cold spring, but other years, the vivid pink blossoms have been stunning.

After decorating several graves, we drove up to Rexburg, Idaho where we visited with one of my sons and his wife. Then it was on to Swan Valley, Idaho and the famed Rainey Creek Country Store where they serve square ice-cream cones. This year, we sampled the Bear Claw (chocolate fudge) flavor and enjoyed this treat immensely.

We drove around Palisades Lake and entered Wyoming and our target destination for that night, Thayne. My mother grew up in Thayne (we tease her a bit about that item---pun intended) and it has been like a second home to my entire family. Since no one from my mother's family lives in Thayne these days, we stayed at the Cabin Creek Inn. We love staying there---the owners, Kirk and Dannette Dana, know my mother's family quite well and it is always a pleasure to see them each year. The cabins are cozy and fun, with jacuzzi tubs in most of the bathrooms. There is also an outdoor pool and hot tub, but since the weather was still rather wintry, they weren't uncovered yet. One of the highlights of staying at the Cabin Creek Inn would be the complimentary breakfast that is served each morning. Items like biscuits and gravy, fresh fruit, waffles with strawberry sauce, etc. are commonplace and delicious. If you are ever in this area and you're looking for a place to stay, I heartily recommend the Cabin Creek Inn.

While in Thayne, we decorated the graves of ancestors who are buried in that beautiful location---you can see a ring of mountains from the lofty hill. Another landmark is a large pine tree that was hit by lightening a few years ago. The base was carved into a bench seat as seen below. Years ago, this pine tree was planted by my great-grandfather, Benjamin Broadbent. It was planted between the graves of two babies who died shortly after their arrival into mortal mode. Heartbroken, my great-grandparents wanted to plant something that would represent their eternal love for these two precious infants. The evergreen tree was extremely fitting, although it grew to astounding dimensions, eventually disrupting the two graves. New headstones have recently been purchased to remedy the situation. (A suggestion: don't plant trees near headstones.)

During one of our days in Thayne, we decided to drive to nearby Jackson, Wyoming. It's only an hour away from Thayne, up Snake River Canyon. While in Jackson, we wandered in art and photo galleries, a fun bookstore, listened to live bands as they performed in Jackson Square, and ate huge (emphasis on huge) hamburgers at the Cadillac Restaurant.

All good things must come to an end, including our time in Thayne. Before we left, we met up with some of our relatives who were also visiting in the area. We ate lunch at the famed Star Valley Cheese Factory. Although the cheese factory is no longer in operation, the restaurant is still doing a brisk business, and the gift shop still sells cheese.

Our final stop on the way home was to visit relatives in Grays Lake, Idaho. Some of our ancestors are also buried in this location. The tiny cemetery is filled with those who first settled this gorgeous area. At the base of nearby Caribou Mountain, the site of a gold-mining frenzy in the late 1800's, lives a beloved great-aunt who loves to feed the multi-colored birds who are native to this area.

We were exhausted upon our return home, but as always, it was worth the effort to make the "loop" as we call it. Not only does it give us a chance to pay homage to the ancestors who courageously paved the way for us, but it also reminds us of the importance of family ties. Sometimes it's a needful thing to get together with loved ones and savor a road trip. Those adventures are the stuff of which fond memories are made.

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Friday, May 23, 2008

Going to the Seashore

When I was younger, I dreamed of going to see the ocean. I pictured in my mind beaches loaded with beautiful seashells that were just waiting for me to gather. I faithfully watched every episode that recorded Jacques Cousteau's adventures at sea. I loved watching the beautiful fish he often filmed, wishing with all of my heart that I could grow up and experience similar adventures.

I first saw the ocean on my honeymoon. My husband and I traveled to the Oregon Coast. I was fascinated and wanted to become one with the ocean. However, it was the first week of May and I quickly learned after wading in said water that it was too cold to plunge into the depths. Instead, I looked for seashells . . . and learned a painful lesson. While I did find a bunch of broken clam and oyster shells, the beautiful shells I had always envisioned had already been gathered and were for sale in local tourist shops. My husband, sensing my disappointment, encouraged me to buy a few for souvenirs. They're still sitting in a box at home.

The next time I saw the ocean, we were on a family trip to San Diego. Again, I was excited to view the vast deep of the mighty Pacific. Unfortunately, I shredded an ankle two nights before our trip, tearing up the ligaments on both sides of that lovely ankle. It happened during an intense city league volleyball game. The end result: I got to wear a walking cast during our entire trip and for the first 2-3 days, I had to stay in a wheelchair. It was the only way my doctor would allow me to travel. Good times. ;)

Undaunted, I endured seeing Sea World while sitting in my seat of honor. I quickly learned that some people show little respect for those who endure challenges like wheelchairs. I was wheeled to a special window box. At first I rejoiced---I had a great front row seat to Shamu's performance. Then a ton of little kids crowded their way in front of me until my husband chased them away.

When we decided to grab a bite of lunch that day, my children pushed me to the top of a small hill located in San Diego's Sea World, and then they ran to help their father pick out something edible for lunch at a burger joint. Son # 2 forgot to lock the wheels on my wheelchair. I soon found myself re-enacting a scene from a comedy, rolling backward out of control down the hill. Luckily, son # 2 can run fast and he caught me before I tipped over. =) We still laugh about that adventure.

Later that same day, I couldn't frolic in the ocean as I've always wanted to, for obvious reasons. Instead, I watched as my sons enjoyed themselves and I took lots of pictures that I will share at a later time.

The third time I saw the ocean happened while my husband and I were in the New Orleans area. Late one afternoon, after my husband had finished with his business meetings of the day, we drove to the nearest beach. Neither of us took into account the fact that it grows dark much earlier than we are used to in the famed state of Idaho. By the time we arrived at the beach, it was too dark to see the ocean. I still tried to take pictures, but none of them turned out. Somewhat disgruntled, I picked up a white rock and kept it as a souvenir.

I still have high hopes for future ocean adventures. Someday, I plan to snorkel off the coast of Hawaii. I will walk along a private beach somewhere along the California coast and find an elusive sea shell. I will frolic with penguins and pat a nice sea lion on the head. The point is, I'm keeping those dreams alive, despite the unfortunate adventures I've already endured.

My mother has several favorite sayings. One such item is "and then they'll all go to the seashore." To her it refers to eventually enjoying a happy ending. I think this is a good way to view life. To realize that sometimes things don't turn out the way we first envision. Sometimes life takes a difficult turn and we find ourselves rolling backwards down the hill, depending on others to save us from a nasty crash. ;) Eventually, lives and hearts heal, storms end, and the sun will pop back into our lives. Someday, we'll all go the seashore where we will experience that longed for happy ending if we'll but endure the challenges along the way.

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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Beauty Abounds

These days there is a lot of talk about the high price of gasoline. Because of the increase in cost, most people are cutting back to save money. It is estimated that fewer people will be taking vacations this summer.

Here's a thought---no matter where you live, there are numerous places to go and see, almost in your backyard. It might take some imagination and a bit of creativity, but this world is filled with beautiful places to visit that are closer than you think. Try "Googling" your hometown---you might be surprised by the amount of information you can find regarding museums, parks, picnic areas, hiking trails, campgrounds, etc.

This past Monday night, my husband and I drove up nearby Montpelier Canyon for the first hot dog roast of the season. It was a beautiful calm evening and we chose to build a tiny fire next to a favorite fishing hole in Montpelier Reservoir. We didn't catch any fish, but we did enjoy spending time in the outdoors after being cooped up most of the winter. The picture below shows the scenic view we enjoyed that night. And it only took us about 15 minutes to drive back home when it grew dark.

Yesterday, as we traveled from our home in Bear Lake, Idaho to Utah for a doctor's appointment, we spent an extra ten minutes driving up to the mouth of Ogden Canyon. (This canyon is located northwest of Ogden, Utah.) A waterfall exists in that location that is breathtaking this time of year, as you can see below.

On Saturday, I will be traveling with my mother and sister to decorate graves for Memorial Day. We'll be driving through a portion of Idaho and we'll end up in Star Valley, Wyoming. My camera and I plan to be very busy as we savor the natural beauty available in those locations.

Moral of the story: in keeping with the tendency to see the glass half full, I heartily recommend that you take advantage of the scenic wonders that exist in your location. It has been my experience that you don't have to travel far to find places of beauty. Remember, our Father in heaven designed this world for our viewing pleasure. Enjoy!

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Monday, May 19, 2008

Enjoy the Journey

Last week, as my husband and I explored Zion National Park, I "people watched." It must be a writer thing. ;) Or I'm snoopy. I prefer to think that it's a writer thing. =D Anyway
. . . I observed the people and places around me as I snapped numerous pictures. I was intrigued by the way a set of caring grandparents supervised\entertained three young granddaughters. I was touched by the talent of the artist from Japan as he busily sketched and painted the beauty that abounds in that national park. I laughed quietly when a woman screamed after I warned her to not step on the cute little snake before I took its picture. ;) I watched, amazed, as adventurous types used ropes to scale the vertical walls of Zion Canyon.

On the other end of the spectrum, I sadly tried not to listen as a husband angrily berated his poor wife in a public fashion as we rode the shuttle bus to the next stop. I turned away when I overheard horrid language streaming from the mouths of three young men. I silently cried when I watched an overweight child being shunned by his peers as the field trip for jr. high age kids took place in our midst that day.

In my last blog, I shared the experience my husband and I endured as we took the wrong trail. We had both decided to take the easier path to see the Lower Emerald Pool. Since the weather was warmer than what I'm used to, I had been fighting my blood sugar level, trying to keep it from dropping too low. Figuring I could handle a short hike, we bravely headed forward. Instead of a simple path, we marched up a hillside that kicked our trash before we realized we had gone the wrong way. Turning around, we carefully descended the steep path. Then we took the road much traveled (as opposed to that other road Robert Frost described) and joined the hordes of young families and older types who had opted for the easier path.

It still seemed to take quite a while to reach the promised waterfalls and pool of water. I didn't mind, I was busy taking lots of pictures. Along the way, I snapped the afore-mentioned snake, a lizard, and a wild turkey. I also took a picture of the beautiful path we were walking along. Then finally, there it was, our destination. And it was beautiful. I snapped picture after picture (as my husband can attest) of the tiny waterfalls, the water as it hit the rocks below, the water as it fell from above, and the famed Emerald Pool. After our lengthy hiking adventure, the coolness of the area was a welcome relief. I could have remained in there for a long, long time. However, I was saddened by comments I overheard as I relaxed, enjoying this natural treasure.

"This is it?"
"We hiked all this way for this?"
"What a joke!"
"You have got to be kidding me?!"
"Let's go, I've seen all I want to see."

Were we looking at the same things? Couldn't they see the way the orange cliffs contrasted with the brilliant green foliage? Or the way the water plummeted from above to splash down where we were? Everywhere I looked, I was overwhelmed by beauty. But everywhere I turned I overheard negative remarks.

I was told once years ago in high school that I was the silly type of person who sees the glass half full. The person who shared this wisdom intended it to be an insult. I beg to differ---it's a compliment. I think life is a lot more enjoyable when we see the glass half full. Where is the fun of always seeing it half empty?

A few years ago I wrote a song about this subject. The YW I worked with at the time had the grand pleasure of singing it for a couple of programs. The lyrics are as follows:

Enjoy The Journey

Enjoy the journey---enjoy life’s ride
Your attitude determines who you are inside
Happiness can often prove to be the key
That shapes your eternal destiny.

Are you searching for a path
Free of thorns that hold you fast
Are you running from a test
That might lead to happiness?

Are you weary of life’s load
Smiling makes an easier road
Enjoy life as it unfolds
And . . . (repeat all).

End: Happiness can often prove to be the key
That shapes your eternal destiny.

Cheri J. Crane 1995

That is the challenge I offer today. Enjoy life's journey. Look for the good, for the positive, in this time of negativity. Dare to see the glass half-full, be courageous enough to treat everyone around you as you would like to be treated. Dare to take the road less traveled.

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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Zion National Park

Hi all,

I'm typing this almost live from St. George, Utah. ;) We spent most of the day hiking around Zion National Park so tonight I'm a little bit tired. But it was very much worth it. On our way down to St. George yesterday, we swung by the north end of the park to a place called Kolob Canyons.

Here's a great tip for anyone pondering a trip through Zion Canyon. There are about 3 different ways to enter this national park. You pay $25.00 at any of the entrances and you can re-enter the park as many times as you want, at any of the other entrances for up to a week with this same receipt. (So don't lose it. This is important. And don't tuck it inside your camera case folded upbecause it might tear, I'm just sayin' . . . okay, it happened to me today. Sigh . . . in way of good news, they still accepted it.) ;)

We started by watching a breath-taking movie at the special IMAX Theater entitled:
"Zion Canyon, Treasure of the Gods," a film by Kieth Merrill. Aside from closing my eyes a time or two since I'm a little sensitive to heights (and no, I didn't hide under my seat contrary to what my husband may tell people) this movie totally rocks. It shares the history of the region as well as beautiful scenery from the viewpoint of a falcon, a hanglider, and the astronauts. Well, maybe not the astronauts, but it was filmed from way up high, dropping you over cliffs that catch your breath, especially if heights are not your friend. This particular theater is boasts a screen that is the equivalent of 6 stories high. WOW!!! And they show other movies here too, like "Ironman." That would be something to see on the very big screen.

This was our first time seeing Zion Canyon and it was gorgeous. The colors, the views, the plethora of languages (this is a world-wide attraction). You would all be proud, I even hiked up a steep incline this afternoon.

True, I bailed half-way up, but that was self-defense. We took the wrong path (we meant to take the one that the senior citizens were using) and we felt a certain kinship to the mountain goats before we were through. When I finally noted that others who were further along the trail looked to be scaling vertical walls, I bowed out. I was only too happy to take a meandering trail with a slight incline to see the pretty waterfall near the Lower Emerald Pool.

We rode the free shuttle bus all the way up to Temple Sinawava, exiting the bus at most of the stops along the way for a look around. Incidentally, these buses are fueled with propane which is more environmentally friendly than say, gasoline, a lovely substance that is costing everyone an arm and a leg these days, but I digress. :)

A cool highlight: watching a gentleman from Japan paint a watercolor of the brilliant red cliffs that tower above the Virgin River near the Temple of SinaWava area. Another highlight: wading in the Virgin River with my husband. I had happy feet after that adventure. ;)

Is this an area I would encourage people to see, you bet. Just don't forget the suntan lotion. Yep, I'll pay big time for that neglected item for a few days. ;) Story of my life. Until next time, au revoir, or as we say out west, Happy Trails.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Culture, Tradition, Travel

This could prove to be interesting. I just learned that I will be blogging about 3 items, those mentioned in the title above. I'm thinking I will have a lot of fun with this. Hopefully, you, the avid reader, will too. ;) And no worries, I will still be posting at least one poem a week in between everything else. (This is for my 3 fans out there who faithfully read my poetry).

I've also learned that my posts will show up in the New Neighbors section of LDSneighborhood. It is sounding like they'll have everything up and running by Monday. My blogs will be available on this site on Mondays and Thursdays.

That said, I've decided that I will touch briefly on the importance of traditions, since a huge family tradition is rapidly approaching. According to my good friend, Webster the dictionary, a tradition is "the handing down of opinions, doctrines, practices, rites, and customs . . ."

According to my family, a tradition is anything fun we do each year as we gather together. ;) We have several Christmas traditions that I will share closer to that glorious season, some things we do each summer, and toward the end of this month, we will embark on our annual Memorial Day Jaunt, something we actually enjoy. Let me share why.

My mother was taught by her mother the importance of decorating the graves of family members on Memorial Day. It was a way to show respect, and to honor the memory of those who left mortal mode ahead of us. When my grandmother died, the weighty responsibility of decorating graves fell to my mother and her siblings, something they have faithfully adhered to each year.

As a youngster, I loved the opportunity to gather with my cousins on Memorial Day and to run amuck around the cemetery. We found all kinds of treasures, interesting names on weathered headstones, bugs that some of my cousins captured to scare me out of my wits (I won't mention any names, you know who you are, and to this day when I see a spider, I scream, but I digress . . .); and a ditch we could access if we climbed over the fence around the cemetery. When our parents caught on to the fact that we were playing in forbidden water, they dragged us across the cemetery to look at the tiny headstone of a young boy. He had fallen in said ditch and drowned one Memorial Day. That's all it took for me. A chicken at heart, I faithfully stayed away from the forbidden zone from that point on.

Memorial Day took on a different meaning in 1984. That was the year my mother, siblings, and I gathered to decorate my father's grave for the first time. There we were, standing around Dad's headstone, all of us struggling with difficult emotions. Our father, who had been suffering from a rare liver disease, had taken his own life eight months earlier. Tears were threatening to make an appearance. Then it happened. Our mother said something outrageous, directed toward our father, a colorful phrase I won’t share. Suffice it to say, her comment worked. At first, we were shocked, glancing at our feisty mother who was making her way back to the car with her head held high. Then we dissolved into laughter that inspired tears. We laughed loud and long, ignoring the perplexed looks we received from other people who happened to be at the cemetery that day.

We then drove on to our mother's childhood home in Wyoming, making our first annual Memorial Day loop. It was there that we would be decorating the graves on Mom’s side of the family tree. When we arrived in Afton, we found that most of my mother’s family had already gathered at the same motel where we were staying that night.

There was strength in numbers as our mother’s siblings and their spouses and families did their best to keep our spirits light. They knew that weekend would be difficult for us, and they helped us through. We visited, we played games, and we frolicked in the motel pool playing an intense game of keep-away with a koosh ball. Through it all there was sense of camaraderie, and plenty of laughs to go around. We ate more food than is healthy, but as we sat, too full to move, we realized we had survived a holiday weekend that could have been depressing. It wasn’t, and it never has been. We have stubbornly held to the formula we discovered when a difficult holiday season appears on the horizon. Mix family members with a large dose of laughter and good food and the results will usually be the same—survival with peace of heart and mind intact.

As this year's Memorial Day season approaches, hearts will be tender as we face decorating my brother-in-law's grave, someone who passed away last month. Once again we will strive to combine reverence for those who have gone on before with a healthy dose of laughter, memories, and family fun.

It is my hope that many moons from now, when I've passed from this mortal sphere, not only will my children and grandchildren come to place flowers on my grave, they will also remember the importance of strengthening family ties during traditional gatherings like Memorial Day.

Cheri J. Crane

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

1st Post for Travel Section of

Hi all. So in way of exciting news, I will be blogging a couple of times a week for the hip-happening website: " I'll be sharing some of my traveling adventures. Today will be the first in what I hope will be a series of warm fuzzy\humorous episodes. [It's an introduction to what I'm attempting to do. And here's a hint: be sure to check out the website above. ;)]

When I was quite young, I practically devoured books. One afternoon when I was about nine, I entered the school library to return the stack of books I had checked out a couple of days before. The librarian scowled at me. She insisted that I couldn’t check out any more books that week. She reasoned that there was no way I could possibly be reading the amount of books I tended to check out on a weekly basis. In her opinion, I was causing her extra work that she didn’t have time for as the very busy elementary school librarian. When the woman paused for a gasp of air, I meekly stated that I was sorry it was causing her extra work, but that I was indeed reading every book I checked out. By nature quite shy, I was amazed by my boldness. It was the first time I had ever stood up for myself.

My courageous moment was rewarded with another lecture. I was in big time trouble and the librarian was going to call my mother to report my cheeky behavior. She asked for my home phone number. Crying, I wrote it down for her. After my mother finished humbling the librarian (I was later told that my mother had let her know in no uncertain terms that I read every book I brought home. She had added that if said librarian didn’t want to endure the wrath of a fiery Scottish temper, she would allow me to check out as many books as I wanted) I was given free rein to check out books to my heart’s content. I was in heaven, and the busy librarian never bothered me again.

I read and loved all kinds of books. The books I enjoyed the most contained vivid details about places around the world, cities and oceans I hadn’t yet seen at that young age. I savored the descriptions and imagined what it would be like to travel to those locations in person.

Time passed. We won’t say how much. =) But eventually I grew up and married a wonderful man. He works for a company that owns plants all over the United States and across the world. And as fate would have it, I became a writer along the way. Between the two of us, we have been given opportunities to travel to wonderful places. Traveling has become a favorite pastime for both of us. Now that we’re empty nesters, those opportunities will increase.

I plan to share numerous adventures as an avid traveler. Because of who I am, most of these blogs will contain a bit of humor. Hopefully a few will reveal an insight or two into human nature, glimpses of courageous determination, and vivid descriptions of the places I have grown to love. It is my hope that this will be a journey we'll enjoy together.

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Thursday, May 1, 2008

Spring has Sprung

This past week, we enjoyed a couple of beautiful spring like days. Most of our snow melted and the grass started looking an almost green color. Tiring of winter storms, it was a nice change. It reminded me of a little poem my mother used to recite when I was young. It went something like this:

Spring has sprung
The grass has ris' (pronounced: riz)
I wonder where
The flowers is.

I'm not sure who wrote those words of wisdom, but I composed something similar during yesterday's retreat into winter:

Spring sprung
For one whole day
Then winter returned
And got in the way.
Cheri Crane winter\spring 2008

I added to it this morning:

Eventually spring will arrive to stay
Even though it's snowing today
Soon the storms will pass on by
The sun will remain in a cloudless sky

Until it arrives
Ponder spring flowers
That refuse to bloom
Without numerous showers.
Cheri J. Crane
May 1, s008

You may wonder how the picture above ties into this blog. Two valid reasons: it shows a combination of spring and winter. Also, today happens to be the 26th wedding anniversary for my husband and I. We were married in the Logan Temple on May 1st, 1982. I took this shot earlier this past week during a jaunt to Logan. As we came around the corner from Logan Canyon, I was impressed by what I saw. Later that same day, I had to drive back up that little winding road by Utah State to snap this picture, risking life and limb, but I digress. =)

Happy Anniversary, love of my life. ;)

Je t'aime,