What happens when 4 people get into a 3 person canoe?

What a weekend! A holiday weekend is always more exciting than a normal weekend, it is really nice getting that extra day off. Actually, we've really been looking forward to this weekend! It started out blazing hot with temperatures close to 100 degrees on Thursday and Friday.

We were invited by some of our friends to go camping at a reservoir just north of town. With all that heat, we were really hoping they would call and decide not to go. We like camping, but it was hot, there are no trees out here, and who wants to roast marshmallows over a campfire on a really hot day? We figured we could walk out the front door with a marshmallow on a stick and it would roast right there on the spot. But, they didn't change their mind, so we toughened up and headed out in the early evening, just as the temperatures started to drop. Actually, when we got there, the wind picked up and it was a lot cooler there than it was at our place.

One other thing that made this trip exciting was that it was the first time we'd be loading the 15 foot canoe on top of our 17 foot car and actually driving with it on top. We were even driving on a highway with speeds around 50 MPH, and the canoe didn't fly off the top or even budge! Whenever you are securing something valuable to the top of your car, you always have nightmares of it flying off and smashing on the road or hitting another car; but we were pleasantly reassured that it was firmly attached to the car!

Andrew here, I got the canoe for Christmas and this was our first time using it since then. I've been talking about loading it up on the car, driving some place and canoeing around for a long time, and it has probably been driving Brianna crazy!  So it felt nice to actually be doing it! Even driving around with the canoe on top was really fun for me. Well we got to the reservoir and got our tent set up, then got to paddle around for awhile and it was sure great to be in a canoe again.  I just love it!  It can be so relaxing to be gliding around on the water in a canoe...

So the first trip out in the canoe wasn't with Brianna, it was with our friends who invited us on the outing. They (our friends and their 2 year old daughter) climbed in the front and I was in the back. It was a fully loaded canoe once we all got in. It was funny to see their daughter smashed between the two of them and clinging to her mom's leg. She wasn't the only one who was scared...we had some really close calls out there with it rocking back and forth and it almost began with disaster. Luckily we didn't capsize. Come to find out, as we were paddling away from the shore two nearby fisherman noticing how low the canoe was riding said, "this ought to be interesting!" Brianna was on the shore and heard this remark and was laughing with them. I'll tell you, it can be kind of spooky, once the canoe starts to wobble it seems to start a chain reaction as everyone tries to lean to the other side to balance it. But these good intentions usually result in brief bursts of chaos as everyone reacts at the same time. I really thought we would flip over a couple times!  Fortunately, we made it back without too much trouble.

When they got out Brianna got in and we paddled around for awhile. It was great. Come to think of it, this was the first time that we have canoed together since we were married. Canoeing with Brianna brought back some good memories. One of our first dates was actually canoeing...and Brianna wasn't really my date. So here's the quick version of the story. Me and my roommate both took dates canoeing. My roommate Jordan took Brianna and I took some other girl. Anyways it was on that date that I realized I had the wrong girl in my canoe! Shortly after that, I asked Brianna out and we started dating.

So back to the camping trip- It was fun and we were really glad we went. We also got to use the new (used) tent that I got from Philmont Scout Ranch for $40...what a deal! Anyways it is a good little 1 man 1 woman tent and held up to the wind really well. In fact it was really hot that night so we unzipped the back window and front door (so all we had was the mesh up there) and the wind would just blow through cooling us off. Sounds nice doesn't it...but we really didn't get much sleep. The moon was full and it was really bright. I remember looking out of the tent door in the middle of the night and was shocked to see the shadow of the tent in the light of the moon! It was so weird because it was suppose to be dark at night, but the moon was so bright I could really see shadow of our tent on the ground! Anyways it was still fun...it was a good adventure!

This is Brianna now, and another reason why we couldn't get any sleep was because there were so many insects and animals making noises. At around 3 in the morning I told Andrew that I don't know why anybody buys nature cds; they are not relaxing! Anyway, the insects weren't bad and I don't mind them, but there were birds making a ton of noises talking to each other. I've heard the phrase, "the early bird gets the worm" plenty of times before, but I think 2 am should be way too early for any bird! Maybe they were getting confused because the moon was so bright because once the sun came out later in the morning, they were quiet...probably trying to sleep. Anyway, add lots of noises, flimsy sleeping pads, and a bright moon, and it all equals a very bad night sleep. Oh well, we still love camping, so I guess it is worth a bad night's sleep. Besides, last night, we slept great to make up for it!

Overall, we had a great camping trip and have had a great weekend so far!


Spring Cleaning and a Second Wind

Sometimes it is good to get a change, and lately, we've needed one. We have currently been living in our home for almost 19 months. That may not seem like a long time, but it is the longest we have ever been in one place. When we first moved to Colorado, we were in Greeley, and we lived there for just over two years...but, we lived in two different apartments. When you live in a small place (or maybe any place), one way to make it feel like you are in a new place is to rearrange the furniture. It is kind of fun too.

This past week we have been doing some spring cleaning and clearing out clutter that accumulated all winter. We have noticed that when we try to do this deep cleaning and rearranging, we make a bigger mess than what we ever had before. Saturday night, we had a mess...and then, Andrew got a second wind!

Andrew here, I typically get a second wind at night and I can stay up late and watch a movie, play a game, or just do something. This doesn't work out too well because Brianna usually falls asleep. But this particular night, when my second wind came, I decided to watch the abridged version of a movie (Real quick, every now and again, I feel like watching a movie, one that we've had for awhile. And since we've had it for awhile, I don't feel like watching the whole thing because I know what is gonna happen next and it just isn't as exciting anymore. So, the way I fix this is I watch the movie with the remote in my hand and just skip to the good parts. Sometimes, I can watch a two hour movie in about 30 to 40 minutes.).

The only problem with wanting to watch a movie was that our TV was on the floor because we had moved the shelf it was originally on to another room. The TV was going to go on the dresser, but the dresser was on the wrong side of the room! So, with some last minute inspiration, I realized it was either no movie or rearrange the rest of the room, and put the TV on the dresser so we could watch the movie. We did it...in record time! And the movie was great too!

Actually, we are really liking the new set-up of our room. It feels like it is brand new again! Now, we are that much closer to being completely done with our spring cleaning and de-cluttering.


Who needs Stonehenge...

Who needs Stonehenge when you've got Carhenge? Yep, you read that right...Carhenge. Basically, it is a replica of Stonehenge, made from old painted cars. So, I guess you do need Stonehenge, or there would be no Carhenge, but oh well.

Last week, Andrew had a meeting in Chadron, Nebraska, and on the way to Chadron, you pass a small town called Alliance. Alliance is the home of Carhenge. Once, we passed a billboard that said "Carhenge," but we had no idea how to find it and we didn't want to be late, so we kept driving. We did some research and knew we had to stop and see it. Andrew had gone once before, but he didn't have the camera, so this time, we were prepared.

It was really cold and windy, so we didn't spend much time there, but we did get plenty of pictures for you to enjoy. Commentary on the pictures is courtesy of Andrew.

This is some of the best art to come out of Nebraska!

Did we mention it was windy?

It is strange to think of the ancient druids of Nebraska building this structure...there are some theories of what this structure was for, but for the most part it is a mystery. You wouldn't expect to find a place in Nebraska with a bunch of old cars stacked on top of each other in a farmer's field...it is just kind of odd.

I'm not sure what this is supposed to be...but it is kind of strange.

Now that you have seen the pictures, you are probably dying to come visit...but, we don't recommend it if you are going to have to drive eight or more hours to get there. Alliance is about two hours away from us and it isn't very exciting, except for Carhenge; and that excitement only lasts for five minutes until you are ready to leave! But, if you are driving through, or headed to Chadron, like we were, it is worth the stop. For the rest of you, well, just look at the pictures again and try not to be too jealous that we are so close to some amazing artwork!


Our Weekend was on Fire...Literally!

This is Brianna, and I am here to let you know that although I love cooking, I don't like barbecues. I love eating things cooked on the barbecue: burgers, chicken, corn, kabobs, anything! But, I don't like hooking up the propane and turning it on. I'm always a little worried I will do something wrong and it will blow up. Well, after this weekend, I don't like barbecues even more!

We have a small barbecue which we received for our birthdays five years ago from Andrew's family. It was a great gift and we have gotten a lot of use out of our wonderful little barbecue. It doesn't have a lot of cooking space, but for us it is perfect.

Our well loved barbcue grill...in all its glory!

On Friday, we decided to have hot dogs for dinner. Andrew was a little busy getting things ready for a Bowling for Boy Scouts fundraiser for work which was taking place the next day. Being the wonderful wife that I am, I decided that I should set up the barbecue for him. I did. I pulled the barbecue and propane tank out of the garage. I hooked up the propane tank and turned it on, and I didn't even worry too much that it was going to blow up. I've been getting a lot more practice lately so I have been a lot less worried.

He was still getting things ready, so I even decided to grill the hot dogs. I cooked them to perfection! And then, when they were done, I turned off the grill. Right after I moved my hand away from the knob, it started on fire! There were flames coming up from the barbecue knob! I panicked, left the hot dogs on the barbecue and ran in the house to get Andrew as I repeated, "Get off the phone; the barbecue is on fire!" He came outside, very calmly (too calmly), and was still talking on the phone. (He told me later that he thought it was a grease fire...which we have had before. I don't like them either.)Then, he saw the flames and where they were coming from, and said, "I'll call you back."

At this point, I realized what the problem was: I had forgotten to turn off the propane first. We always turn the propane off and leave the barbecue running so all the gas can come out of the hose and then we turn off the barbecue and unhook the propane. I messed up the order! So, Andrew turned off the propane while I was apologizing to him over and over and praying that the propane tank would not blow up! But, even after he had turned it off, the knob was still burning. The fire wasn't getting bigger...but it wasn't getting any smaller either. Finally, after waiting and watching it for awhile, Andrew blew on it and it went out. But the knob was no longer nice and shiny and it is missing half of the settings.

We think that actually there may have been a leak near or under the knob where the propane somehow leaked out to feed the flame. Even though I messed up the order, Andrew says it wasn't my fault and that the barbecue was just getting old. My mom even said that she turns off the barbecue first almost all the time and hers has never done this.

We were just commenting the other day how great our grill was and how it has lasted such a long time. Fortunately Andrew's birthday is coming up, and although he already bought himself a tent, I think I am going to be buying him a new barbecue. Another little one of course; we still like them. Although I don't plan on setting it up and cooking on it anymore. I am leaving it to him.


Families Supporting Adoption Conference

This last week was a little crazy for us, but on Saturday, there was a Families Supporting Adoption (FSA) Conference planned that we wanted to attend…no matter what. It was a regional one, for Colorado and Wyoming, and it was the first one this area has had. We decided we didn’t want to leave at 6 am on Saturday morning, so we got a hotel Friday night and stayed in Denver. It was a long day, especially for Andrew, because he just got back from Philmont (which was a 7 hour drive)...but the conference was amazing so we were so glad we made it! Everyone we met there was wonderful and we were so grateful to be there and learn more about adoption.

FSA is a group that basically wants to tell everyone how amazing adoption is. It includes birthmothers and their families, families who have adopted or who are hoping to adopt, and anyone else who loves adoption. We are involved with our local FSA (find more about that one here) and we’ve loved our experiences with it! But overall, this conference was the best.

The whole day we had some great speakers, and it started out with Mrs. R. who is a great adoption advocate. If you haven’t read her blog, you are really missing out. After she spoke, there were four different class times, and because we wanted to learn all we could, Andrew and I split up for each of the three break-off times. The other class, we got to attend together, and it was wonderful! It was actually taught by two amazing birthmoms; one who placed her daughter with her family 8 months ago and the other who placed her son almost 3 years ago. Their stories were touching and I loved hearing about their experiences and testimonies of adoption. They truly are amazing women and I hope everyone can understand that!

Overall, it was really a wonderful day! Here are some of the things we learned. Actually, this is hardly anything that we learned, but I didn’t want to type up page after page for the blog post. I am typing up more for a friend, so if you want to know more about the classes, email me at andrewbrianna21@gmail.com and I will send it to you. In the meantime…here’s the very short version:

- Having a hard time with life? Serve others. President Gordon B. Hinckley said, “Work will cure your grief. Serve others.”

- When you receive inspiration and revelation in your life, write it down in your journal. During the hard times, that revelation will sustain you.

- “We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” –Joseph Campbell

- Maybe you have heard a lot of “bad” things or statistics about adoption. Well, guess what? There are a lot of great things and statistics about it too. The teacher explained it like this: thousands of airplanes leave and land in airports every single day…and everything goes perfectly. You only hear about the accidents and problems, and then, you get a little scared about flying.

- Open adoptions are amazing and bless everyone involved!

P.S. I did get my haircut, but sorry; I haven't had a picture taken of it yet. I only have the before shot...so you will have to wait a little longer!


Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico

This is Andrew here:

So just this last week (Monday to Friday) I got to go to Philmont Scout Ranch in Cimarron, New Mexico for some professional training on management. It is such a pretty place and it was some great training! It had been about six years since I had been there last and it was neat for me to go back and look around. In the summer of 2004 I was a staff Group Leader at the Philmont Training Center and it was a great experience. Each week I would get a different group of youth or kids and take them on day hikes, overnight camping or play group games as their parents attended Scouting training. In fact my first week there they put me in charge of a group of 26 six year olds and that was pretty wild. After that crazy week I requested to be with kids at least eight years old and up…the two dozen plus six year olds about did me in! Kind of an interesting story and probably the craziest thing I have ever done is the tale of how I made it to Philmont.

The day I caught my flight to Albuquerque it was Sunday and I believe even Father’s Day. I was set to get to the airport around 10 AM and then wait there till 7 PM for a bus bound for Raton. Since it was Sunday I packed some granola bars to chomp on while I was waiting, so I wouldn’t have to buy anything on the Sabbath. I figured I could just sit there eating snacks and reading the whole day…well that only lasted for about an hour before I realized that was a terrible plan…it was getting really boring! So I called the local LDS Church and told them I was at the airport and would like to attend Sacrament meeting. They were really nice and said that someone would be by to pick me up. So sure enough someone came and got me and took me to church. After church I noticed that I still had quite a bit of time before the bus was going to come so I decided I would just read at the church rather than sit in a small airport…the church was a much nicer place to be. To make a long story longer, a family invited me to eat dinner with them and I agreed. I then went on a walk with their family after dinner before they dropped me off at the airport so I could catch my bus. What a nice family… I had never even met them before! I had planned on handing out a Book of Mormon while I was on the four hour bus ride, but to my surprise I was just about the only person on the bus that spoke English, so my hope of striking up a great conversation on the way up there was foiled. Anywho, it was a long bus ride. Around midnight the bus made a stop at a gas station in the middle of nowhere. I got off the bus and decided since it was after midnight and officially Monday that I would buy something at the gas station.

As I was waiting in line to pay for my stuff something awful happened…I saw the headlights of the bus flash across the windows as it pulled away from the deserted gas station. I was flabbergasted! I didn’t know what to think or to say… Finally I said to the cashier, “I think the bus just left me here!” She said something like, “oh, that’s too bad.” Really sympathetic! Anyways, I said (out loud to myself), “I’ve got to make it to Raton somehow!” There where three guys behind me in line and one of them who spoke a little English said, “Raton!”

I turned around and repeated, “I need to get to Raton to get to the bus.” The same man pointed to a small pickup truck near the pumps and said, “Come!” Not really thinking I followed them out there and stood next to the truck. Since there were three men, there was not room in the cab of the small truck so one of them tossed me a sleeping bag. As I hopped in the back I told them, “I’ve got to make it to Raton fast!”

With that the truck jerkily sped away from the gas station and onto the dark and desolate highway. The truck quickly picked up speed as I tried to get inside the sleeping bag to take some of the chill off. I quickly found out that the bag was made for a person the size of Bilbo Baggins, so I had to wrap the bag around me instead. As I sat there in the back of the pickup, sleeping bag flapping in the wind listening to the high whining of the motor it hit me…“what the heck am I doing?!?!” My thoughts started going wild. “What if they don’t know where their going?! What if they take me some place and sell me into slavery?! What if they crash or we get pulled over or something?!” It was at this moment of panic that I remembered to pray. I said two prayers; first that I would be safe and that we would find the bus and second that I would be able to feel the calming influence of the Holy Ghost. Well, prayers are answered. I felt a peaceful feeling come over me and I looked up at the beautiful stars and thought of what a beautiful world we have to live in. Then I started singing my favorite church hymns which also helped calm me. Then we passed up the bus with a roar and whirl of wind. We really must have been making some good travel time on the road!

I tried to sleep, but it was impossible. After a while the truck began slowing down and I saw street lights whooshing above my head. The truck slowed down even more and came to a stop at a dark and vacant gas station. I jumped out of the back of the truck and looked around. Nothing! There were no lights on and it was all quiet. The driver got out and I said, “where are we?” Pointing to the ground we stood on he said, “Raton, Raton!” I looked around then said, “where’s the bus?” Motioning for me to get back in the truck he then looked at me and said, “Come!” I hopped into the back and the truck sped off in another direction. I leaned my head over the edge of the truck and saw another gas station in the near distance and a glorious sight…the bus!!! The little truck whipped up next to the bus and I hopped out. I was so happy to see the bus! I tried to offer the three guys money, but they refused! What a selfless act of kindness they performed! I was able to get my bags off the bus and then catch my final ride to Philmont Scout Ranch! What a crazy, but memorable trip. I will never forget it and I will never do it again! That has to be one of the craziest things I have ever done.

Here is a slideshow of Philmont Scout Ranch. The house in the pictures is called The Villa Philmonte and was built in 1926 by Waite Phillips, who later donated the home and over 100,000 acres of his property to the Boy Scouts.