The paradox of Mormonism

Two funny Utah beer pics.  The first is a prudish supermarket sign and the second is a microbrew named Polygamy Porter (tongue firmly lodged in cheek). Normally prudishness isn’t a natural bedfellow to polygamy but hey, this is Utah!

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Toboggans, goosenecks and the beauty of bad habits.

IMG_20170915_174037Oh Utah! You make me feel so philosophical. Your canyons, arches and other-worldly landscapes remind me of the human brain and how it rarely constructs itself in the most efficient manner. Thoughts, memories and ideas meander through complex neural pathways until a neurochemical reaction signals that the journey from A to B has been completed. The next time the same trip needs to be made it usually takes the same path. Whatever works.
The first sled ride down a pristine snow-covered hill is special in that you know you will end up at the bottom but the exact path, which way the toboggan will drift, is unknown. As the trip is repeated ruts from previous runs grow deeper and icier. The route becomes more solidified, less spontaneous but faster. Our brains are like this too and thatís why we find it so hard to unlearn things and what keeps us making the same mistakes over and over.

pano_20170915_161732.jpgEons ago, after a Rocky Mountain snow melt, a stream travelling over a relatively flat plain took a sinuous route through what is modern day Utah. Over the millennia it cut through the highly erodible earth but maintained its curious path as the flow increased. Grains of riverbank sand in the form of silt made their way downstream to the Colorado River and onto the Gulf of California. The San Juan river travelled from A to B but continued to use this curious, almost comical, circuitous route. Geologists call this an ‘entrenched meander’ and the Goosenecks State Park has one of the best examples of it in the world.

Addiction and compulsion is the negative manifestation of human entrenched meanders but there is also a beauty in the early-formed, and later maintained, habits of the individuals of our species. I’ve continued to feel an inner peace when I start paddling a canoe ever since my first outing. But I see these quirks in all of you. The fascination of boat profiles, the need to care for a pet, the solace found in spinning records, the strange pronunciation of the word milk, the inability to shake a Depeche Mode obsession or that unbreakable bond we all feel from the cultural building blocks of our youth.

IMG_20170915_162924Our hope with this trip is to entrench just the right amount of meandering in Camille and Lyla.

 

Slice

IMG_20170912_191552.jpgCrack! You know that feeling when everything comes together and you hit the proverbial golf ball perfectly. The delicious sound of hitting the sweet spot super hard and dead straight…and then you notice something impossible – the ball starts to curve every so gently. But that gentle curve grows, slowly at first but exponentially.  Perfection, as it often is, is fleeting and what was once a hard shot down the fairway becomes a hard and undeniable slice towards the large windowed houses lining the course.  Despite being a useless strategy we turn to hope as our first defense against the inevitable. We’ll lean our bodies away from the gutter but the bowling ball doesn’t change course. When we are at an acquaintance’s house and the post-flush toilet water is rises too high and ignores our protestations of an ever accelerating “no….no…no..NO, NO!”. And so it was last night.

After driving through a State of relentless cornfields we trusted our GPS and to our surprise and delight we came to the top of what seemed like Nebraska’s only hill and looked down upon a very improbable Lake McConaughy.  We put our $18 camping fee in an envelope and into an unmanned steel box and took residence for the night on one of it’s many deserted beaches. We could see a lightning storm in the distance as the sun went down but the weather forecast and radar confirmed they would pass by 100 miles north of us. And so we pitched our tent (nicknamed Wonksworth based on it’s less than perfect shape) on the beach and dined on sardines, yoghurt, ham slices and cherry tomatoes.

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Julie woke me up a couple hours later as the lightning seemed closer instead of further. We checked the radar again. Instead of maintaining it’s small shape and consistent course the storm seemed to be elongating and veering ever so gently in our direction. It would come close but it probably wouldn’t touch us. We looked out of our little tent (the only thing higher than a grain of sand for hundreds of yards) and watched the lightning get brighter and louder until the wind started doing that thing it does before all hell breaks lose. I meekly checked the radar again but only to confirm what we already knew.

tent locationWe ran the bleary eyes kids in the darkness towards the van parked up the beach where it was safe from being stuck in deep sand and dragged our tent filled with sleeping gear up the beach. Somewhere in the distance a train was rolling closer and blowing it’s horn in panicked repetition. We piled in just as it started pouring. And then the pouring tripled in volume as we realized it was ice that was pelting us from the sky.  Julie read Booky to the kids as I watched the weather forecast update from clear skies to thunderstorms. Beyond our steel pod the outside darkness was being repeatedly punctuated by brilliant flashes of migrating enraged electrons from above.

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It wasn’t what we expected but I guess that is why we are here in the first place. Eventually the storm passed, we dried out and we got back to sleep again. When we awoke the next time all was glorious again. We soaked up the morning sun a little more sandy and a little less cocksure.

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Stan’s Donuts!

This morning we went to Stan’s Donuts and Coffee in Wicker Park in Chicago. We got 3 donuts, toasted pretzel bagels and coffee.

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I got a Dreamsicle Bar. My sister got a lemon curd donut. My dad got a pistachio lemon old fashioned.

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It took a while for us to decide which donuts to have but we did it! Travelling is hard like that sometimes.

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Stan’s Donuts is fun and yummy. And I still have some of my Dreamsicle left for later.

The bacon jam is running out…

It was such a long, gorgeous summer of preparations and goodbyes. Leaving always makes home look so rosy-wonderful. Usually I can’t wait to start a trip, but this one was so far and so big.  I started to second guess our silly plans, faced with leaving all we have. I kept making excuses to linger for one more dinner, one more hug. I listened to and sang this song a lot. But in the end, I didn’t really know how to leave. I couldn’t help thinking: if we live this ridiculously lucky life, why mess with it? Especially in what seems like such a strange, uncertain time. 
I guess because our luck allows it. We have the absolute luxury of an adventure. So I say yes.

So far it’s not so messy out here. After six hours on the road, a brief encounter with some spicy Mexican food and hundreds of Spartans fans in East Lansing, we settled in a Michigan campground for the night. 

Waking up with my family in a tent is a bleary, cuddly joy. There has been fire leaping and morning oatmeal. Today we are going to climb dunes and see Chicago. We are slowly finding our travel groove.

But the bacon jam is running out, which tells me we are further away from the people who made it for us, and all the rest of our community. Man, I love all those people. 

Can’t wait to return to y’all. Here we go!

Leaving Home

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What seemed like an abstract concept for so long has finally materialized into reality. Like a pregnancy and other time-based deadlines stalling isn’t an option. Once the plane tickets have been purchased the roller coaster begins it’s slow climb and no amount of ostriching will keep D-day at bay.  As we drove down the QEW in our packed van last night there was a heavy silence as we all contemplated the feeling that we were leaving the comfort of our hometown for a year. First stop: London, Ontario!

School on the go!

Doing school on the go is fun but also weird. My mom teaches me and I’m learning at the same time as my little sister! We get all the subjects in with just three books. We only do school for 1 hour a day but sometimes it feels like I’m actually learning more then I would in a whole day of real school! Over all I think school on the go can be odd but it’s still really fun!