Friday, August 28, 2009


It's about a quarter of ten in the evening, and I'm sitting in my hotel room, listening to the rain fall from the Dutch sky. It's one of those surreal moments at the end of a trip where I wonder if I've done everything I needed and wanted to do, and also wonder when I'll be back. As I listen to the thunder roll, and hear the occasional tram bell, I can't help but think that this trip has been much better than I anticipated.

The rain's coming down harder now.

Amsterdam offers quite a juxtaposition. The old-world buildings and charm, stand right beside new-world modernity and vices. A small city by most measures, yet rich in history and experiences. I expected to find a place where I'd feel uncomfortable, yet by exercising caution, I was able to stay away from the ill, and enjoy the better parts of the city. I've already thought a few times about what I want to do the next time I come, and what I want to see more.

My visit to Holland has been largely successful, and I'm grateful for the opportunity I've had to come. So tomorrow, as I climb aboard a plane and soar across deep blue Atlantic, there won't be any regrets, just an excitement to go home to wife and children, and a certain understanding that I haven't seen the last of this part of Europe.

The storm is letting up.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Pioneer Day Classic

It sounds kind of like the name of a race, huh? Well it is and I ran it. For some of you may be checking your eyes to be sure you read correctly but I assure you that your eyesight is fine.

About 6 months ago some friends and I started walking in the morning for exercise and it has morphed into running. I never thought I would ever be a "runner" and for some definitions I still am not but, I go jogging almost six days a week for about 3.5 miles. Reianna and I decided to run a 5k and while in Utah I decided I would just try it before we ran ours and I was pretty happy with my results.

I hate to run by myself because I'm not very good at keeping a good pace so my sister-in-law and brother were going to run it with me but they both backed out at the last minute. I was kind of disappointed but my parents said they would come and watch.

I ran and had a good time and my family had a great time too. Hannah jumped in a bounce house thing and Jonathan enjoyed the company of his grandpa and aunt, Kallie. It felt really good to know they were at the end cheering me on especially when I finally did reach the end. My time was 32:40 which I was pretty proud of. My goal is to run a 5k in 30 minutes so I still have my work cut out for me.

After the race I enjoyed some complimentary sorbet with fruit and granola and a massage. It was fun and I am excited to do it again in about a month.

Summer Roadtrip 2009--Utah, the Hogle Zoo

On Tuesday of the second week my parents took us all--my brother and his family, me and my children and my brother and sister--to the Hogle Zoo. Of all the time I spent in Utah through my life I had never been there. We got lost and turned around while getting there but we did finally make it. I found it to be quite a nice zoo though I don't have much experience to go from.

Most of the animals were up and walking around which made it nice for all of us but especially the little girls. They had a ball. The best part was the mountain lion that wanted to eat my sister. He prowled around following her as we walked by. Kallie would move and he would move. He sat there for a little while hissing at her too. It was pretty funny but I'm sure we were all glad there was a cage between them. The cougar would have won in a fight especially due to the fact that Kallie just had knee surgery.

I had the girls go on a carousel ride with Grandma H. At first they weren't quite sure what to think but by the end they were begging for more. It was a good day. We were sorry that Nathan and his family had to leave early but, what can you do. It wasn't even too hot and Hannah finally got to see a live bear.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Summer Roadtrip 2009--Utah, the Part of 2nd Week

Our week started with a hot Sunday at my brother's house. We had a great time though hanging out in the basement playing games with the little girls. Andrew came over and it was nice to see him. I hadn't seen him since October of 2006 when he left on his mission. We had a good time.

Monday was Girls' Day with Hyrum's sisters. We like hang out at least once while we're together and we were just able to squeeze one in this trip before Margaret and her family left. Then that afternoon my parents and sister Kallie flew in from New York. It was great to see them. We enjoyed an evening at Grandma and Grandpa J's house.

The kids all enjoyed being outside and so did I. Grandma and Grandpa have grass you could swim in. I love it. There aren't any little critters waiting to get you either.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Summer Roadtrip 2009--Utah, the 1st Week

Well Rachel, the kids and I made it to Provo before we melted, barely. I was so happy we made it. I hate driving and a 7-ish hour drive is really pushing it for me. Thank goodness Rachel was with us. Hyrum was off climbing mountains with his brother. I'll let him write about that.

Tuesday I met up with an old college friend. I hadn't seen her in years and it was great to catch up and hear about her little family. We also got the car fixed and it was only a minor problem. Yay for that.

Wednesday evening Konni was good enough to put our kids to bed while Hyrum and I went to see "Singing in the Rain" at the Hale Center Theater. It was really fun. We had front row seats and boy were we glad for the ponchos they gave us at the beginning. We would have been soaked. It was cute and a fun date.

Another highlight was a great visit with Grandma and Grandpa Wright on our way up to airport. The kids liked playing downstairs and it was nice to sit and talk with Grandma and Grandpa. It's always nice to have family one on one.

Saturday we made our rounds up north to some friends in south Salt Lake and a family reunion in Layton. It was quite the day. I loved seeing my old room mates and friends we miss from Texas. It's so nice to see that though you don't get to see people everyday there are some people that will be with you always and will always be a part of your life even though miles may separate you.

Summer Roadtrip 2009--Yellowstone

On July 8th we set off for Yellowstone National Park. The car was packed to the gills but we were glad that we didn't have to use the luggage rack--better gas mileage that way. The kids were happy, probably because Hannah knew where we were headed and neither one of them realized just how long we would be in the car. We hit the road and drove north towards Dallas and just kept trucking. That day we made it to Wichita, Kansas. My family slept for about 7 hours while I observed the storm and wished the cool breeze would come into the car. I didn't sleep much because Jonathan was on my lap and Hyrum had my pillow. The storm was cool but I got a little nervous at around 4 am when the garbage truck came to get the garbage out of the dumpster we were parked near.

We survived the night and made it to our first major stop by lunch time. No, it wasn't Yellowstone, it was Mount Sunflower, the highest point in Kansas. We picnicked here among the cow pies and at one point I thought a cow was going to come join us for lunch. We were shortly on our again though.

That evening we spent the night in Casper, Wyoming. I know some people love Wyoming but this trip has once again convinced me that I do not want to live in Wyoming. The next morning we started on our way out and happened upon the National Historic Trails Interpretive Center we only spent a few minutes there because we wanted to get on with our trip but Hannah enjoyed a stage coach ride and we spent a few minutes remembering the pioneers involved in Martin's Cove. It was a nice stop.

We drove pretty steadily through to Cody, Wyoming, just 116 miles outside Old Faithful in Yellowstone. We stopped there for gas and a little stretching and some lunch for Jonathan at a nice park. The picture is Hannah driving a stage coach at the park. Then back in the car and to Yellowstone. We got to our cabin and unpacked by about 4 pm and we waited and waited. We were meeting Hyrum's mom's family for a reunion. We were so excited when Grandma and Grandpa Allred finally showed up. The rest of the family arrived shortly.

Friday evening we just hung out and finally got to bed after a late dinner and a sighting of Old Faithful. (Hannah thinks Old Faithful is Yellowstone.) Saturday, the sun woke me up bright and early for a quick jog (I'll explain later) that was more of a walk. It was wonderfully cold and beautiful at 6 am. I got back and showered before my family had woken up. We then enjoyed breakfast outside on our porch only to be interupted by a family of buffalo walking through the woods and then right behind our cabin. Hannah was so excited to see buffalo.

That morning was the Great Family Picture '09. Of Grandma and Grandpa's 53 family members (including them) we had 52 there for this reunion. It was really cool. Each family had a colored shirt--we were navy blue--and each person had a number to wear corresponding with their entrance in the family. We met at Old Faithful and waiting forever for it to blow to clear off the crowds. Poor Jonathan was so tired. He finally fell asleep in my arms about 15 minutes before we took the picture. The only way you know he's there is because I have this mysterious pair of legs coming out of the stomach because his navy blue hat and shirt covered him and blended into me. The rest of the day was spent walking around the geyser basis there around Old Faithful. Apparently we didn't put enough sunscreen on the kids because Hannah's ears and head blistered and Jonathan's legs were a little darker after our walk. It was a nice day. We went to dinner with Hyrum's family and after getting the kids to bed spent a little time talking with his aunts and uncles. They are great and I'm always grateful for the experience of others when it comes to children. It helps me feel like maybe my experience isn't so strange.

Sunday we got up and ready for a little Sunday school lesson. Hyrum, Nate, Margaret and I were in charge of the nursery. It consisted of Hannah, Josh and Caleb. Jonathan was asleep. We sang some songs, had a quick lesson about how the world is Heavenly Father's creation for us because he loves us, a nature walk and of course, snacks. At about 11 we started up to the Lower Falls for the Wright's traditional photo by "the tree." It was at this point that we got in our car and realized our air conditioning wasn't working. I started to panic but hey we were in Yellowstone and there wasn't a whole lot we could do about it so, on with our trip.

The Falls were great. Hannah had a great time. She was pretty upset when I wouldn't let her hike down to the bottom with her dad but they were making a quick trip and Hannah walking is anything but quick. Instead she watched the huge ants (her word, not mine) do their thing and a raven hop on the rocks. We took the long way back and enjoyed some more buffalo and a drive up Dunraven Pass. This is my second favorite scenery in Yellowstone. My favorite views are along the road through the Golden Gate. That is fabulous but these views were pretty good too.

We hurried back just in time for a quick dinner and then off to Sacrament meeting. There are four Sacrament meetings held every Sunday in the park and ours was at 7 pm. The kids did pretty good considering they are usually getting ready for bed about that time. After church we decided to give Hannah one last look at "Yellowstone" and waited for Old Faithful to blow. It was a littel chilly but it was worth it. She was so happy.

Monday morning Hyrum and I went for an early morning walk and enjoyed the cool brisk air one more time. We got back and got ready to leave. The kids and I along with Hyrum's sister Rachel left for Utah at 8:30 am. It was a good weekend. It's always nice to be with family and Hannah will tell you that was her favorite part of our trip because Hyrum, Jonathan and I were there.