Tuesday, August 1, 2017


The older I get, the more I wonder about how my life is connected to my ancestors and future generations. When we are young the focus of life is learning and building but as we age our desires seem to turn to those who have preceded us and the other group that is coming up behind.

For instance, one of my worries is that my grandchildren won’t remember who I am – especially the younger ones. Teresa and I spend a lot of time with all of them but I am afraid many may not remember how grandpa and grandma liked to play with them when they were little. By the time their memories can hold onto our experiences together we will be too feeble and loopy (OK, that last part is for me, not Teresa) to do anything that is exciting enough to pack away as a pleasant recollection. We will have become those “old folks who smell funny and can’t do much.”

That’s one of the reasons I try to keep some semblance of a journal – so my posterity can understand a little bit about who I really was. And these blog entries are meant to give them a view into the things that were important – to me! I figure if I write enough (even if it is boring) they will have some foundation for knowing who we were when we are gone. At least that is the idea!

So, here’s some thoughts I had as Teresa and I went on a little vacation a few weeks ago. It was partly personal and partly work related – but all of it was interesting and uplifting.

In the summer hiatus from classwork my employer offers guided workshops, for teachers and spouses, to historic sites that are important to LDS Church history. A few years ago we went on the Northeast version and had a wonderful time visiting sites in New York, Ohio, Vermont, and other church-related locations. We developed some good friendships and really enjoyed the experience – in fact, I hope we can go back to many of the sites at some future time.

A couple of summers later we were offered a chance to experience (sort of) what it would be like to make the trek to Utah from the other side of the Rocky Mountains. For a week, our group followed the Pioneer Trail that was used by the Saints as they left, what was then, the borders of the United States and moved to the frontiers of the Utah Basin. The big difference in our pioneer adventure was we made the trek in six days and had four-wheel-drive vehicles instead of wagons and oxen. Again, it was an amazing workshop and helped us understand (just a little) what it must have been like.

Well, this summer we were blessed to finally participate in the final workshop available to teachers and spouses. This adventure included visits to many of the Church History sites relating to the Missouri and Illinois experiences of the early Saints. And, as a bonus, Teresa and I went out a few days early to visit Rex and Lisa, my younger brother and his wife, in Indiana. We decided that may be the closest we get to them anytime soon so we better take advantage of the proximity of our workshop.

[For those of you who are geographically inclined, Indiana is NOT very close to Missouri, but it IS much closer than when we are in Utah.]

Having lived most of my life in the Western United States, I am very used to having mountains and deserts as the main landscape. So, when we arrived in Indiana (and the rest of the Midwest) there were some adjustments to make.

You see, everything is green.

Not just some things.

Everything was really green.

And most of the green consisted of soybeans and corn.

Lots of soybeans and corn.

Sometimes too much soybean and corn.

Image result for soybean field pictures
Soybean field -- very green
Add to that, there were no mountains anywhere!

How do you know which way to go if you don’t have mountains as a point of reference?

Even our GPS had trouble with the flatlands. (Google Fail and Garmin struggle)

Eventually, we sort of got used to the GREEN. At least Teresa did. In fact, she loved it and wished we could take some home with us. She really likes green. I guess I’m more of brown kinda guy. But that’s what makes us such a good team.

Anyway, we had a delightful visit with Rex and Lisa (and Nicholas). They are very gracious hosts and took good care of us while we were there. Here’s a few of the adventures they shared with us:

Pleasant company on the back deck
No pictures of this– sometimes I’m not really thinking clearly.

Gawking at their cool Harley.
Aren't they BAD!!?

Visiting the Indianapolis Speedway and Museum
Climbing this tower (which wasn't as hard as it might look -- or at least looked to old people).
It's called the Soldiers and Sailors Monument.

Catch and release a live turtle. Way to save the weak and suffering Nicholas!!

This is not the turtle but sort of like it.
Our little friend had been attacked and had scratches and cracks in his shell.

Real Indy Racing!! -- Almost.
Teresa learned she better watch out cause I'm coming through!

Lots of good food.

Plenty of welcome conversation.

And renewing/developing relationships that have suffered from lack of contact.

Our days with Rex and Lisa were so much fun. We are hoping they will come visit Utah soon and we can do this again (except we will host them). It does help that they have kids and family in the area so I suspect they will be out before long (or at least they hinted they would)! 😉

Saturday was spent driving from Indianapolis to Kansas City, MO. Again, the drive was extremely green but the company was so pleasant (my wife is a great traveler) that the long drive passed quickly. It’s a good thing the roads are well marked because we still had difficulties with the GPS as we ‘trekked’ across the plains of Indiana, Illinois, and Missouri.

After all that driving, we found our hotel and settled down for the night. A short walk in the humid weather was enough to get us motivated for a swim and an early bedtime so we would be ready for Church.

The ward we visited was about three blocks from the hotel so we opted to walk. After church, we decided to visit a ‘pioneer village’ type of place. It was free and not too far from the hotel. Reality is that it was further than we expected and all the buildings were locked up and inaccessible. Very disappointing!! So, we opted to visit the WWI Memorial in downtown Kansas City.

Cool (well actually hot and muggy) place and very interesting.

The museum was open but they wanted $16 each and would be closing in 45 minutes so we opted to walk around the outside and look at the displays. We learned a lot and enjoyed the view (despite the sweltering heat).

Now comes the exciting part of the day.

Since the GPS had worked a little better in the big city, we used it to get downtown to the memorial and we got right where we wanted to go. So, when it came time to leave, we plugged in the coordinates and started on our way to see the Kansas City Temple. The GPS got us right there and we had a pleasant visit. But then things got a little crazy (GPS and driver-wise).

There's my little sweetheart in front of the KC Temple

It should have been a simple journey back to the hotel but between the pilot thinking he knew the way without help and the GPS rerouting us a over variety of different roads, we got majorly lost! So lost that both the pilot AND co-pilot were confused and frustrated. We did eventually arrive at the hotel but nerves were frazzled and our confidence was completely shaken.
Monday morning, we decided to test our patience skills (and GPS) by going BACK to downtown KC to visit the Hallmark factory. It turned out to be one of the most interesting things we did. And Teresa found a new friend to hang with:

Such a contrast between these two.
Maybe that's why they can be friends.

The Hallmark people were very accommodating and even gave us a couple of small gifts for visiting. That’s another win for the travelling Whitmer’s.

That was also the end of our “self-guided” touring for this little adventure. I worry that this is already overly long for one posting so I will stop here and continue with the Workshop review at a later time.

The take-away, for me, from this part was that Teresa and I need to be more proactive in visiting with our extended family. Particularly MY siblings. The Grange kin live close by us and we see them all quite often.

But the extended Whitmer’s are all many hours away and it takes lots of time and effort to see them. YET, it is well worth the effort so we need to stop being lazy and get out on the road a little more.

And who knows, maybe if we do our part, some will return the favor and come see us in beautiful Utah. Dave and Karen came a year or so ago for a delightful few days.

We would love to have all others looking for a grand adventure come and visit. Our home is large and empty so there are plenty of places to sleep for free. Think about it and call for reservations before we get completely booked. 😊

I promise that I will finish the rest of our vacation in a short while. Just keep your eyes open for the next posting. Love you all. mw

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