Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Martin's Cove--Trek 2015

We went on Trek to Martin's Cove and Rock Creek Hollow end of June and first part of July.  I've been before.  4 years ago we went on a youth trek through Kiabab forest ending overlooking the Grand Canyon.  When Michael was a baby our Ward went, so 14 years ago or so.  Every time I have not been able to write about the experience to a level equal with the intensity of the week.  I expect this time to be similar, and I have no idea how to even proceed, but I go back to work tomorrow so I'm trying to get something down for now.

The History

This is where I will fail miserably.  Click here for another account.  Fire and the Covenant is a historical fiction novel written about the handcart companies, and Follow Me to Zion is a collection of journal entries and stories.  A quick search on amazon has several books listed.

In 1856 Brigham Young authorized LDS saints to travel to Utah by handcart.  They had started the perpetual emigration fund to help gather the saints in Zion and using handcarts could gather 10 saints for every 1 by wagon train.  The first 4 handcart companies (about 500 people each) had made the long trip successfully.  Traveled by ship to either Boston or New York and then by train to Florence, Nebraska.  In Florence they built handcarts and sewed tents for the journey.  These saints were not frontiersmen nor had they been trained for the journey ahead of them.  They did have the faith to do whatever was required of them.  They started late in the season and had several set backs to getting started.  They were allowed 17 pounds of belongings.  

As they came through Wyoming they were hit with a harsh winter storm and they had been on reduced rations already.  The Martin Company along with Hunt and Hodgett Wagon companies (about 1100 people) took shelter in Martin's Cove and the Willie Company took shelter at Rock Creek Hollow being 100 miles ahead of the Martin Company.  When Brigham Young heard that there were saints out in the storm he said "go and bring them in" sending out rescue parties and supplies.  

The Stories

The stories are endless, and I could talk forever about the ones I know, what they taught me and what I hope to never forget.

Francis Webster (He settled in Cedar)

In a Sunday School class the teacher was being harsh and critical of the handcart companies coming so late in the season and Francis Webster was sitting in the class and said 
 ‘I ask you to stop this criticism. You are discussing a matter you know nothing about. Cold historic facts mean nothing here, for they give no proper interpretation of the questions involved. Mistake to send the Handcart Company out so late in the season? Yes. But I was in that company and my wife was in it and Sister Nellie Unthank whom you have cited was there, too. We suffered beyond anything you can imagine and many died of exposure and starvation, but did you ever hear a survivor of that company utter a word of criticism? …“‘I have pulled my handcart when I was so weak and weary from illness and lack of food that I could hardly put one foot ahead of the other. I have looked ahead and seen a patch of sand or a hill slope and I have said, I can go only that far and there I must give up, for I cannot pull the load through it.’”He continues: “‘I have gone on to that sand and when I reached it, the cart began pushing me. I have looked back many times to see who was pushing my cart, but my eyes saw no one. I knew then that the angels of God were there.“‘Was I sorry that I chose to come by handcart? No. Neither then nor any minute of my life since. The price we paid to become acquainted with God was a privilege to pay, and I am thankful that I was privileged to come in the Martin Handcart Company.’” 
After my hardest of Hard Things I've often thought this Hard Thing is my price, and I have become better acquainted with God.  The second part I am eternally grateful for.

Ann Jewel Rowley

She's my ancestor, was part of the Willie Handcart company and best known for the sea biscuits in the Dutch Oven as portrayed in 17 Miracles.  She's one of my favorites because she came across a a single Mom bringing 7 kids.  "If Ann Jewel can do that, I can manage kids schedules, work, school, and the house" got me through days I didn't think I could go on any farther.

Samuel Rowley

I learned this time that after being part of the Willie company he was later called on a mission to settle San Juan.  He was in the first group that went through Hole In the Rock.  Not only can we do Hard Thing, but can do multiple Hard Things.  I can't think of anyone who would say that was 'fair' but he was called and he went.  He never complained.

Trek 2015

Pre-trek: Sewing, sewing, and more sewing. Packed in 5 gallon buckets and gathered epi-pens, inhalers, first aid supplies, portable nebulizers, last minute tent crew stuff. 

Day 1:  We left the Stake Center at 5 am (well, we were suppose to) and most people loaded onto tour buses, significantly different than the train ride in crowded train cars being threatened as they passed through towns.  Neil and I were fortunate enough to be able to ride with Benson's.  We drove, what seemed like forever through empty Wyoming plains to arrive at Martin's Cove.  Neil at the last minute was put on tent crew (the second tent set up didn't go so well, due to some lack of miscommunication/knowledge/information) and in minutes it went from raining and blowing while setting up tents to heat, sticky humidity, and mosquitoes.  

Bishop Heap spoke at a fireside, everyone was clean and fresh.  We were well fed (the entire Trek we had plenty of good food) and then the adults worked on getting the kids to go to sleep.  Michael and Dallin caught rabbits and went looking for rattlesnakes.  'oy.

Fitbit has me at about 12,000 steps.  Most of it from tent set up I'm certain.

Day 2:  Breakfast at 7 am to load the buses at 8.  Breakfast was great -- biscuits and gravy with delicious sausage patties and we were on time, much to my surprise.  They broke the stake up into two main groups (orange flag and a red, white, and blue flag loaded onto the front carts)  We also divided medical staff so that 3 of us were the 9 families and 4 of us were with 10 families.  All of the kids except Kaede were in my group.  Later I wished I'd been there to watch her closer.  Reminders to start drinking.

They told us stories of Dan Jones and trying to eat hide glue then took us to the chapel where they played this video.

That video was my moment (along with the fireside the night before)  I wasn't worried about people being dehydrated yet, I wasn't dehydrated, only 1 minor injury and no sore feet.  

From the visitors center we walked towards the Sweetwater River crossing.  Lots of reminding people to drink and then drink some more.  I want to go back in the winter.  When the pioneers crossed there were chunks of ice floating down the river and we looked forward to the relief from the heat.  Later in the day when we crossed on the bridge I paused for a second and tried to imagine the green banks covered in ice and snow and the wind blowing bitter cold instead of like a furnace blower and my mind can't make that connection.  Crossing the Sweetwater is Holy ground.  There was reverence, tears, and beautiful violin music.  Shortly after the Sweetwater we stopped at some statues.  I can't tell you much about them because I was busy doing medical stuff, inhalers, sick kids, and reminding people to drink some more.  From the statues it was a short walk to lunch.  Shade, cool water, and food. 

At this point all is going well, most people are drinking well and the rest from the scorching sun was appreciated.  Just above the cart parking/pavilion is Martin's Cove.  There are no handcarts and no water in the cove.  Along the path to the cove is Dan Jones amphitheater where we stopped again.  Both groups are together at this point and Kaede finds me to walk with me.  She's red and not sweating and "can't find" her water bottle so she has a little 16 oz bottle that she's not drinking.  I ask her to drink and she keeps talking.  I asked if she has been drinking and she said no, I've been too busy pushing (and most likely talking) so I hand her my full water bottle and have her drink it and she perks up a little and starts sweating again.  I'd forgotten how long it is around Martin's Cove and have never been in the middle of the day.  Kaede drinks all of our water and rests at the top of the cove in the shade.  I pause for a moment and try to imagine 1100 people laying underneath canvas from their tents and wish just for a moment that I could feel -10.  At the top I realize Neil still has water and try to ration it between the 3 of us the rest of the way down.  

Once I get back to cart parking I drink water like crazy, alternating water and gatorade.  By crazy I mean 2 L.  I keep drinking and feeling increasingly tired and hot.  I don't know if my feet hurt because I don't care.  The Women's Pull left me in tears, and I didn't even pull or push -- I promised myself  I'd be kind to my back.  We had 2 girl in rickshaws in our group and we got all 9 handcarts, 2 rickshaws up with "women can do hard things" pushing.  At the top the guys were silent, hats removed out of respect with tears on many faces.  Bishop Heap once again did an amazing job talking to our boys.

From the women's pull you can see camp in the distance.  In camp is my bucket, shade from a tent, and food.  Once we got to camp I sat down in the shade of the Bishop's tent.  Dude continues to comment on how wonderful I don't look and has my every need taken care of by others.  As the night goes on and I keep drinking and feeling worse I actually ended up with an IV laying in front of our tent--the point I started to get nauseated I knew that all the water I'd been drinking was not enough.  

In a heartbeat I'd do the same thing again, give my water up for my children--any of us would.  I knew it wouldn't be a long term problem.  I can't imagine what it was like seeing kids going hungry knowing that you had to eat too, or you wouldn't survive.  At one point rations were cut to 4 oz of flour for the day.  There wasn't endless food just ahead like I had water, they had no idea where their next food would come from.

Fitbit: 23,000+ steps

Day 3: I spent in the visitors center at Rock Creek with a couple of youth not well enough to trek.  Long day, lots of water, reading, and a flushing toilet.  Tents were not set up because Dude and I thought we'd be hanging out with the non-trekkers at our camp site so we sent Neil on trek.  The missionaries were confused about where we were camping and so there was nothing to do but hustle to get the tents up when everyone got to Rock Creek Hollow.  

That night we camped at Rock Creek Hollow, had the most beautiful testimony meeting I've ever witnessed followed by strawberry shortcake.

Day 4: I refer to day 4 as "gratitude for Benson's day"  The young beehives sang, clapped, laughed the entire way home.  There was no rest, no sleeping, no quiet.  The bus seats were comfortable for about 40 minutes until my back started to complain.  We were all home, showered, and in bed by midnight.

Post-Trek:  My backyard has been tent city since trek.  The day we broke camp the tents were all very wet so we set them back up to dry them out and just as they'd get almost dry a thunderstorm would roll through.  Tents are all down now, one still draped across to dry and we are back to "live as normal"  I wish I knew how to keep the lessons learned during these glimpses into our past to help us re prioritize, strengthen our resolve but I don't.

Getting to the Salt Lake Valley was important to the pioneers so they could be sealed as a family in the Endowment House.  Getting those temple blessings were so important to them that they gave all they had to have the opportunity and they were grateful for the experience.  I hope my resolve and priorities can be as set as theirs.


p.s. A few more pictures to come, but not many as we were electronics free and I didn't bring my camera. 

Friday, April 10, 2015

Spring update

The forsythia blossoms are mostly spent, same with the Crabapple tree. 

While I was walking this evening you could smell spring in the air, it was heavenly--the only thing that would have been better is if Neil had been with me. 

Two of the three transplant hollyhocks are doing ok, and the hollyhock patch is thriving weeds and all. 

Tulips are in various stages, under the pine trees they are still buds and the parking strip they are just past prime but still beautiful. 

Alums are budding. 

Dandelions are gangbusters 

The bush by the forsythia is blooming well. 

Creeping phlox is starting to show off colors. 

The columbine hiding under the daffodils has a blossom too!

Lilacs are just starting to release their fragrance 

Wallflower is even blooming 

While watering I could see the hues in the East change giving promise of a beautiful sunset behind me so I went for a walk. 

Happy spring 2015

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Thoughts on General Conference

I again missed much of Conference Saturday and Sunday, so I'm reading, pondering and studying bit by bit. The talks I did hear on Sunday I didn't make any notes during, so far from my standard. While reading Boyd K Packard's talk on fasting I realized how much work and progress I need to make in fasting. For years I had reasons not to fast. Pregnant, nursing, too hard when you have kids to feed and so reasons turned into excuses.  

Then I had my big epiphany that wasn't about fasting at all. For decades I've sat through General Conference feeling inspired, uplifted, and spiritually fed but not once have I thought to set formal goals based on the inspiration received. This time I am going to write them down in the notes section of my Gospel library. Easy to link to the talk that prompted the goal and gather other references.

The first talk I read was President Thomas S Monson on Sunday morning. I loved this quote about temples. "Inside this sacred sanctuary, we find beauty and order. There is rest for our souls and a respite from the cares of our lives."  On our quick trip to St George and back Neil and I took a few minutes to walk around the temple grounds.  I truly do love to see the temple.  I snapped this picture and have been test running apps for photos so I tinkered and came up with this--it's going in my note for goals too, if I can add pictures that is. 


Thursday, March 26, 2015

Atonement Appreciation Day

***This was suppose to be posted March 26, but as usual life got in the way***

I love spring, the flowers, my birthday, the hope of longer days after the short days of winter, Easter, picnics, yard work and sunshine.  There is so much that is very renewing about Spring, it seems as if each day comes with it's own dose of hope.  Some of my hardest things have start dates in Spring, some bitter to help me appreciate the sweet.  Today I was sitting in the car thinking for a moment about not just Hard Things, but my very hardest of all the hard things and I realized how overwhelmingly grateful I am for the atonement.  The rest of this post may seem vague, but it's intentionally vague.  This isn't about how I dealt with my very specific Hard Things, it's about Hard Things in general.  We all have them, they all look different, and what is hard to one person may be easy to their neighbor.  This isn't about comparing my life to yours, or your neighbors, or your uncle's dog's breeder's neighbor who had something sort of similar (but not really) happen.

The opportunity the atonement gives to repent of  sins and poor choices is invaluable and completely necessary for everyone.  It's taught through various denominations of Christianity starting at very young ages.  It's outlined in steps during Primary Sharing Times and Family Home Evenings and follows an easy format (easy in listing the steps, more difficult in applying the principle into your life)

Today I'm most grateful for the "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" from Matthew 11:30.  It's less concrete to me, I've not found a list of steps to take to get that rest.  In fact there have been times in my life when I've been doing everything I'm suppose to very well scriptures, prayer, pondering (lots and lots of pondering), attending Sunday meetings and carrying the Spirit with me throughout the week but the Savior didn't come and take my burdens away from me because I held onto them with all of my Erickson stubbornness.  I benefited greatly from those habits and often felt at peace but things were still hard. I didn't see how to let go of my burdens and I was only dealing with Hard Things, not the smothering very hardest of all the hard things.

I don't know that there is a set format to turn over a heavy load to the Savior, but it is possible.  It took time, patience, following some very specific advice, and lots of faith.  I still had to do all the same things but the overwhelming weight of everything was gone, almost as if I'd grown stronger but I hadn't.  I had learned to rely on the Savior and trust that everything was going to be okay -- whatever okay meant.

For that extra strength I am deeply grateful.  That when my world was shattered I could still find up, I knew that somehow I could get through even if it took my entire life I could do it, for the ability to repent of all my mistakes and the knowledge that there is so much more to the atonement than I can understand at this point in my life.

Spring Blossoms on my crab apple tree

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Power of Words

Edward Bulwer-Lytton coined the phrase "the pen is mightier than the sword" I don't know anyone who hasn't at some point been hurt by harsh words.    Words said in anger, while in a painful place, or even words that left unsaid in painful silence.  Perhaps the worst is when words and actions don't match up.  The internet is full of memes trying to inspire the world to T (is it true?) H (is it honest?)  (is it inspiring?) N (is it necessary?) K (is it kind?) before you speak, be kinder than necessary and so many others and those who are unkind need kindness the most -- combining the power of words with actions.  Just as words have the power of bringing pain and hurt they can uplift, bring hope and heal.

At times emotions run so intense that they spill out in a fury of words, easy to justify because they deserve it, the situation called for it, or it just couldn't be helped--unfortunately these situations only hurt everyone involved even when they can be justified.  As I think about role models in my life and the attributes they possess that I want to emulate the one constant is that they are always kind, in words and in actions.

I dream of a world where being kind, not just to our friends but to everyone especially when they don't deserve it, and wonder what that would look like.  If mean behaviors were countered with kind words and understanding.  I keep trying and having to start over on bad days when my patience runs short and the list of demands on me runs high and my sarcasm changes from humor to a coping mechanism.  I justify it and in the morning promise to start over again.

I look at the problems our youth are facing with bullying that extends past the school day and creeps into their home over the internet.  Words, nothing more than words that sap our youth of their confidence, self worth and inner strength.

Please, please be kind.  Always.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Blog updates

When I find a recipe I like on a blog I like it to have a link to make it printable.  I want to do that, and I'm trying to figure it out.  In five minute chunks here and there while I am trying to avoid going out and shoveling more snow.  It's taking time, lots of dust, and several kinks.  So, excuse the dust and kinks but things will be better and more improved!

Happy Winter.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Welcome Winter

Spring snowstorms are my very favorite.  They are heavy, wet and give us necessary moisture for summer all without bitter near zero (if not below) temperatures and bitter winds.  This winter has felt like not winter at all, almost no snow and a few rain storms in there (yes, rain) but not nearly the moisture we need stored in the mountains.  This is the second weekend we've had soft, heavy snow storms that make the roads a slick mess but coat the rest of the world in a beautiful white coat.  It's not very cold and it looks like a winter play land in my backyard.

Isn't it beautiful?

Fortunately for my play land, these storms are also huge light boxes capable of being as effective as a green screen.

Ms Pria, playing in the snow
I have a bunch today and outside is pulling at me, so I took a break with my camera while letting Pria out and came up with these.  I'm back inside now, making sweet pork, cilantro lime rice, and black beans for Michael's birthday dinner.  I have a post for him mulling around in my head but need less distraction around me to write it -- watch for it later.

Friday, February 27, 2015

No Knead Crusty Bread

I'm sitting here on the couch wishing I had a laptop, waiting for my cast iron saucepan I scored at DI or a yard sale a while back to finishing seasoning and remembered I promised I'd blog about my bread. If you want the recipe scroll now, if you enjoy my rambling keep reading.

Forever ago my Internet friends were all making no knead bread. I had zero free time and didn't realize that was all I needed {kneaded?} I ignore the thread and pushed the thoughts of homemade bread out of my mind. Occasionally I'd make some in the bread maker or pick up some Rhodes dough so it smelled like I'd made bread. Very occasionally, almost beyond rarely. 

Then came my great master plan of having a few friends up to the cabin for dinner, which has to include Dutch oven potatoes {right?} so as I'm wondering if I can live up to Russell's potatoes and start browsing Pinterest for recipes I discover a pin for Dutch Oven crusty bread and then realize its no knead bread and my research shows most no knead breads are almost exactly the same. Flour, water, salt, yeast and sitting overnight in something covered then baked in a covered Dutch oven that has been preheated in a 450* oven for 30 minutes then 10 to 15 minutes without the lid. You can embellish, bedazzle, and sparkle it up but the result is a crusty bread that is perfectly soft and chewy on the inside. Mmmm.  Heaven.

So I mix all the goods up and put them in Mom's old Corning ware bowl with some plastic wrap and let it sit overnight and through a good chunk of today. After I dumped it out I realized I should be documenting this, good bad or ugly so I take a picture of my dough ball resting while the Dutch oven is heating up.

And there it sat for 30 minutes until it was  gently placed into the HOT Dutch oven. 

Now, this is where life and a low volume timer come into play. I missed the timer going off and when I realized my bread looked like this with a hollow thump sound so I pulled it out then. I don't know how much better it would have been but I've been craving soft cheese, fondue, and potato soup to go with this. 

Doesn't it look heavenly?  It tasted great too.

Super Easy Crazy Yummy Crusty Bread

3 Cups bread flour {or whatever flour was in my flour jar}
1 1/2 Cups water {not hot, you don't want to kill the yeast}
1 teaspoon yeast {different recipes talked about different kinds of yeast in different amounts etc. I have a Tupperware jar marked "yeast" in my freezer and that's what I used}
1 teaspoon salt

Mix dry ingredients together then add water and stir until combined well. Place in at least a 4 quart bowl with lid or cover with plastic wrap. Let sit at room temperature somewhere between 12-24 hours. 

When ready to bake heat oven to 450 and preheat Dutch oven and lid for 30 minutes. While Dutch oven is heating scrape dough onto well floured surface and form into a ball.  You don't need to work the dough, just form it into a nice ball. Let rest while Dutch oven finishes heating. Gently place dough ball into Dutch oven {really you should be careful that sucker is HOT}

Bake with lid in place 45 minutes. Remove from Dutch oven and allow to cool before cutting. 



Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Writer's Hurricane?

With the exception of school, I've written for me and not anyone else.  It helps me process my thoughts and feelings and come out with an improved perspective or action plan.  I've never had to worry about my 'audience' because I don't really have one.  I've never cared about "how to get people to read your blog" type information since this blog is entirely self centered around what I need.  I simply publish it because I want to (see, self centered again)  I've never worried when I've had writers block because I don't have deadlines or publishers and my family being able to eat isn't dependent on my words being marketable.  If I have writer's block I just don't write, I will go for a walk or sit in the sunshine.  The past few weeks has been the opposite of writer's block -- it's like I'm in a storm of words, thoughts and things I want to share with you.

I'm taking on a self assigned task of writing about Hard Things.  I started with Freshman English guidelines.  Why am I doing this? Who is my audience? What is my purpose? How do I want to get there.  I've never objected to writing papers for a grade but the writing I do for me is this blog and my journal and much less organized than Hard Things (not my end title, just my current reference) In writing I'm feeling emotions from the last two years resurfacing with great force, without the numbing effect of shock.  It leaves me wanting to blog about things, but oh so many things all at the same time.  How amazing my life is, the power of having good friends, the strengthening ability of the sunshine on my face, praying that this non-winter we are having has a minimal impact this summer and that my flowers coming up don't die, how my back is doing, plans for the yard and oh so much more.  My brain seems like Kaede after a busy day at school and 10,000 thoughts coming out all at once.  Maybe I need an assignment so I can focus my thoughts a little?  It could be that I've been neglecting my blog and I'm trying to catch up like a short visit with a friend you haven't seen in years.

I looked back over my last few posts and realized how far apart they are and that there really isn't any update after the wedding I will share a few pictures with you.  These are from Mom's camera and I'm leaving out the shots of her skirt, thumb and the ceiling at the church.  The day was absolutely perfect and I wouldn't change anything about it if I could.  Life as a new family afterwards has been even better and I acknowledge the impact my friends have had in my life and that I would never have been in the place I needed to be to have the blessings in my life I enjoy every day if it wasn't for their kindness and strength on the very worst of days.  As I think back to my wedding day and on my joy and the peace in my life I always take a moment to thank my Heavenly Father for my friends and family.  They've been miracle workers in my life and answers to many prayers.

Going from getting married to blending families, budgets, homework, Christmas concerts all in a whisper of time is different than I ever imagined.  It makes sense, all the time that newlywed couples get together and alone is different for us.  Most nights we have kids, homework, broken arms, etc and it would be so easy to neglect one another.  So easy it seems natural.  I am very fortunate that we have made a promise to each other to make time for us, not just date nights (although I love them) but using each moment we have.  I love you Neil.

Pictures from Mom, SOOC.

Summer (pre-wedding) trip to the cabin.  This is what happens when the ropes to the swing need to be replaced.

Swinging, Tarzan style

Yes, it's very fuzzy.  I don't care.

Michael's turn.

Neil.  I love him.

Aren't they the greatest?

Less fuzzy, still swinging.
Wedding wonderfulness :-)

Gary and Holden (Tasha in the background, probably making sure Uncle Gary doesn't teach him any undesirable tricks) 


Ryker and Aunalee

half of Grandma (I wonder who is holding the camera?) Grandpa and two of his boys and Terry

I wish I knew what he was thinking

Terry and Holden

Kaede, Ryker, and Charlet

Me and Dad.  A few seconds before this I realized I left bouquet elsewhere

floor perspective of the ceremony

Neil, Ryker's arm, and Michael

My boys

more ceremony

First Kiss

I love him

I have no idea what I'm doing, obviously not paying attention to the camera...


Kaylee's beautiful lettering.  I'm jealous of her talent.

Food! Family! Friends!

Ryker and Charlet playing "A Thousand Years"

Four generations

Feeding Grant, because feeding babies is awesome!

Jaron, Mina, and Grant