Thursday, December 17, 2009

Contest Winner

Hey, we have a winner. Rachelle was the winner of the Family Record Book. I really wish everyone could have won. I would truly like to give this book to all of you, but alas, I can't really afford to. But thank you all for visiting my blog and leaving nice comments. I really appreciate it. ( boy, I use the word "really" a lot.)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Win a Family Record Keeper!

If you'd like to win my new book, Family Record Keeper, keep reading here.
Several days ago, I announced a contest to win my new book but I failed to put a link to my website so everyone could go check it out. Well, I have stretched my learning curve to make a website, but alas, I couldn't figure out just how to put a link on my blog so please


The rules once again: 1. Go to and read about the book
2. Come back to this blog and tell me what you like or love) about the book and post a comment on this blog. On December 16, I will draw to see who the winner is and contact them by e-mail. I will need a quick reply so I can get the book in the mail for Christmas.

P.S.--Megan, Mary's daughter here. I hacked into her account and made it a link you can click on.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Family Record Keeper contest

My book finally arrived and I am so excited. It came on Friday, December 4, 2009 at 3:30 p.m. The UPS guy brought all sixteen boxes, 334 books into the front room, where they still reside. In the next few days, I will be trying to distribute them to different locations that have offered to sell them.
The book is in three-ring binder style and came with all of the divider pages at the very back. Moo and I have been busy putting the dividers where they belong in the book because we think it will sell better than it would if all 270 or so pages were all together.

I am really pleased with how the book turned out. I basically knew how it looked, but seeing it in person (really in book) made me happy. The binder itself is really high quality, which I knew because I paid extra for it.

To celebrate, I am giving away a free copy of Family Record Keeper. First, go to my website, and read the information. Then come to my blog and tell me why you would love to have a copy. Just leave me a comment on my blog. I will draw one winner right before Christmas. Good luck.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Family Record Keeper on its way

My new book cover. I don't really like the background color, but I like the rest. Changing the background cover would have taken more time and I'm through waiting. I want this thing so I can sell it before Christmas.

I have a new webpage, too. I'm not done with it yet, and I can't get some of it to work, but if you would like to see it as it is, go to

I'm so excited. I got the proofs for my new book on Thursday. The company sent them second-day mail on Monday. Obviously that would mean Tuesday. Or Wednesday, but the Fed Ex guy couldn't find the house. So it was actually at 4:30 p.m on Thursday, during piano lessons. The regular driver apologized a lot for not getting the package delivered.

Proofs is what you get to find your mistakes before the whole world (or who ever sees my book) gets to find them. The idea is to fix them before they get in print.

I did find a few mistakes but at $1 per page with a limit of 20 pages I can fix without major work, I was pretty forgiving about my own mistakes. In the end, I deemed 9 pages worth messing with, including the Table of Contents which had a lot of mistakes, I mean changes.

I rushed and got my corrected proofs, along with the second large payment, my signatures, etc. to USP the very next day in time to send it back second-day delivery. Once the publishing company gets the proofs it is supposed to be 20 business days before they send it back to me.

Now I am waiting and waiting and waiting.......very patiently.....kind of.....not.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Family Keeper book

Hello, again. It's about time.

At last blog, I reported that I was working with an artist on my book. Well, that didn't work out for many reasons. So I went to the trusty internet and pulled out photos of hummingbirds, the new stars of my book. Now I could move on.

I finally finished my "final" draft of my Family Keeper book. I sent it to the publisher, had many conversations, sent my credit card info and said YES when they asked if they should proceed. WAAHOO! I finally did it.

It's in Word Perfect, not the ideal choice for publishing this type of book, so I am worried about formatting problems. I have gone over it, word-by-word, line-by-line and dot-by-dot. Perfect. Until I find out differently.

Somewhere along the way, I went from a company with a cookbook division (because no one else handles the "cookbook" style 3-ring binders) to their press division to their self-publishing division.

Along with those moves, came a change in their requirements. I was ready to send everything in all done when I found that I needed the self publishing division which requirements for margins....a real biggie when you are working with uber formatting. I went through over 300 pages removing 2 dots on every line and 1 line on every page. That is called patience and persistence.

In about 2 weeks, I should have a copy of the proofs to correct at $1 or $2 a page or correction or something, plus $40 for the corrected proofs. I hope its already perfect.

As I am working on this blog, my daughter Alycia is working on a webpage for me as we each sit silently on our ends of the phone "conversation." When the page is up, very roughly at this point, I will add a link to this blog.

Below is a preview of the book.

Table of Contents

Emergency Section
Call 911
Emergency contacts
Location of utility shut-offs
Professional contacts
Family sections (One section for each family member, each numbered separately)
Personal Info and Identification
Where are my records kept
Financial Information
Medical conditions and illnesses
Eye and dental information
Family medical history
Medical Directory
Sacred (LDS ordinances and church callings and another section for non-LDS)
Marriage and family
Interests and activities
Significant events and travel
Resume of my life experiences
Things I’d like my family to know
Extra Pages
Special occasions
Year in review
School schedule
Extra note pages

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

ONe more step

Well, I finally did something about the book I am compiling. I wrote to an artist and sent some of her clipart so she could give me permission to use it....for a fee of course. It is the next step closer to getting my book finished. My goal is to get all the text in order tomorrow, then put it in regular format to sell as an e-book. Then I will PDF everything and see if it gets totally messed up. Formatting goes crazy electronically. It could wipe everything out and leave me clueless. Wish me luck.
If it works, I can get things off next week and have the books back

Sunday, August 23, 2009

squirrel spit

When I told Megan I had posted a blog, she asked if it was about squirrel spit. Nope. But now I feel obligated, even though I just blogged ten minutes ago.

Although my maiden name is Gardner, I'm not cut out to be a gardener. Things won't grow unless you water them, and frankly, I just forget. So mostly, they die. A perfect gift for me is flowers to plant because I love them and because I forget to water them they die and can be replaced by more gift flowers the next year.

Now for the title subject. Greg and Peter are better at growing things. (Great talent for farmers, but it doesn't always translate to smaller plots.) For a change, we got the tomatoes in on time this year and they are flourishing. It was so exciting to see all those fine, delicious looking tomatoes. The squirrels thought so, too. The little devils went around and took big bites out of most of the ripe tomatoes.

Greg thinks it is OK to cut off the eaten parts and eat the rest of the tomato. I contend that squirrel spit permeates the whole tomato and harbors some type of plague. Do any of my faithful followers know the true answer to this conundrum?

PLease reply before half the family gets the squirrel spit plague and the other half throws out perfectly good tomatoes.

Drive that wagon out of there!

Its only been two months or so since I last blogged. I know things have happened during that time, but I can't remember what. I guess blogs remember things for you if you bother to write them.

I have been involve in the local political process for many years. I've been a candidate, precinct chair, state and county delegate, county party secretary and served on the state central committee. Along with responsibilities, I have had some nice opportunities. My family and I attended a barbecue with Senator Bob Bennett at the Fillmore park on Thursday. About 30 other people attended. Before the dinner, Greg had the opportunity to speak with Senator Bennett one-on-one about some concerns he has about different issues. Afterward, there was a question and answer period where we could ask anything we wanted. It was pretty great to have such immediate access to Washington, DC.

Friday, Megan and I, and later Greg, attended a Rural Business Conference held in Delta. Originally I only attended to support them for coming to our neck of the woods. It is sad to have people go to special effort for you and not have many show up. That, however, is not what happened. The day was well attended and I learned far more than I ever hoped to. I attended two classes on Internet Marketing. I have a book I'm working on and the only feasible way to market it is through the internet. The classes were so helpful.

Senator Bennett was one of the sponsors and he attended the whole conference. Politicians sometimes forget us, with our small voting numbers and it was refreshing to be remembered.
The keynote speaker was Larry Gelwix, of "Forever Strong" fame. He gave us six principles of success. Great talk, most of which can be found on the "extras" section of the "Forever Strong" DVD

Now I have to get busy tying up loose ends on my book, the same lose ends I've had for several years. I need to quit obsessing over making it perfect and just get it done. In his talk, Larry Gelwix talked about how the pioneers sometimes had to drive their wagons over frozen rivers. Occasionally the ice would begin to crack under the wagons. Now, he said, was not the time to plan or pray. It was time to
drive the wagon out of there!

I've planned and prayed and but I think it is time for me to drive that wagon out of there.

Have a nice day.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


I've been critter-ated. Or Critter-hating or whatever you want to call it.

When you live in the country, all those cute little animals you see on TV become personal. I don't mean they talk to you.. I mean they invade your personal space. Like running across the counter, mouse-like, etc.

Yesterday, our own special critter, Oscar the dog, ate our supper. I had just set a cooked, no-effort-on-my part- rotisserie chicken on the table-that-humans-eat-on so I could cut it up when the phone rang. I heard a stirring behind me. Lo and behold! the chicken, no, I mean the chicken CARCASS was on the floor next to Oscar's mouth. He figured I'd set dinner on the table and it was time to eat.

Moo didn't know about his feast and fed him a little later. He ended up with a stomach ache. Served him right. We ended up with Taco Salad, again.

I have been trying to get a plant to take to a friend who lost her husband and a plant for her son who lives in town,too. The first ones I bought lost their petals before I could take them by. (lack of water does a lot of bad things to plants.)
So, I bought two more, one purple and one red salvia. Very pretty. They ended up in the garage for a night and a day and a night.

I made a quick trip to Fillmore this morning and when I got home, the flowers had all been eaten and most of one of the plants itself. Stupid squirrel got into the garage a day ago and made lunch for himself. And to think that I was so kind as to not run over his cousin when he ran out in the road this morning. Maybe not next time.....

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Cattle Drive

Well, today was the annual Wild West Cattle Drive. Yup, we were taking the cattle out to the desert for the summer. We take the mama cows and their calves. In a little bit we will truck a few bulls out to roam around.

The week before the drive, the men gathered up the calves and branded, ear tagged, "fixed" and vaccinated them. I think they got about 80 head done and another 6 or 7 more done today. The brand and ear mark identify the cattle as being ours. Our brand is a bar JG. The vaccinations keep away some cow diseases and gives them a vitamin boost. We don't give hormones or anything extra. The "fixing" part only pertains to the male calves and doesn't really fix anything, but later on, it helps because we don't have a lot of bulls running around breaking things that we have to fix. Hence the term "fix." Or not.

Our cattle drive is actually a cattle "drive". We don't even own horses. Our mounts are cars, trucks, four-wheelers and the ever-popular: human legs. One, two or three lucky "cowboys" run behind the cattle keeping them headed in the right direction, no easy feat. The cattle are bigger and faster than any of us and much more agile than you might guess. They could just outrun, run over, run away, run amok, etc. and we couldn't do much about it. Luckily, they usually respond to wild hand waving and yelling. I say "we" but it is the "queenly we" meaning someone else does the actual work.

We don't actually take the cattle very far, but it can still be tricky.
We run them down a highway for about a half mile. Then the cattle turn and cross an active Union Pacific train line. The trick is to get the cars stopped that pass our house at 90 miles an hour plus hit a time when the train won't be coming.

On the day of the cattle drive, the men round up the cattle and put them in a pen down in the pasture. Then they drive along the route and close gates and park vehicles in any holes that don't have a gate.

When all of that is ready, someone calls Union Pacific railroad dispatch in Omaha Nebraska to find out when the next train is scheduled to come by and work out a plan with UPRR to that we don't all meet up on the tracks at the same time. We tell them it will take us about 40 minutes to get the cattle down the road and across the tracks and they tell us that there is a train coming in 30 minutes but after that the tracks will be clear. We used to just guess and hope, but that was pretty scary. This method works much better for all of us.

Moo and I have the very important, but lowly physical, jobs of stopping the speeding cars before they hit the cattle herd. She parks her car at the south end of the staging area and I park mine at the north end, flashers flashing. We stand out in the highway waving old red table clothes, scarves and orange homemade signs that say, "Stop." I even had a commercial (I didn't make it myself) sign with a picture of a cow that I taped to the back of the car.

This is where I start praying in earnest. Before our house, there is a stretch of of road 35 miles long with no houses and much of that road is straight. It is not exaggerating to say that some cars pass our house at 90 mph. It is also not an exaggeration to say that a small minority of those passing are idiots. They don't think that
stop means them. Most slow down, but driving through a herd of cattle creates chaos.

Past years, the traffic has been light, but this year, I think we hit the finish of a dun buggy, motorcycle rally from the Little Sahara Sand Dunes. Mega traffic (in local language, that means that there were several cars in a row.)
Most of them stopped, but of course, there was the one who figured that he was smart enough to get through the herd. Idiot. It split the herd in two parts instead of one and made it harder for the running cowboys. However, the praying paid off and the cows decided to be well behaved anyway.

After running down the highway for a while, the cattle do an amazing thing. I should really say, "the COWS do an amazing thing" because there are no adult male animals in the bunch. These really savvy, smart female animals AUTOMATICALLY turn where they are supposed to turn. We don't usually have to even show them where to go. They just remember from an earlier trip and head the right direction. That's a female for you.

Once again, the prayers paid off. None of the calves turned and ran down the train tracks. None of the animals made more than a cursory run at the neighbors front yards or hay fields or any of that stuff they sometimes do. Peter, Earl and Russell each only carried one straggling calf into the cattle trailer to ride the distance. Those were all Majorly good things. Trust me.

Us cowboys and girls formed an entourage with our cars, truck, four-wheeler and feet and followed the moo-ing crowd in the direction of the sunset. (except it was only 5 p.m. and very light still) Another successful cattle drive done for the year. Sigh.

Side note:
Moo advertised they cattle drive to her Greathouse relatives and tried to make them a part of the experience. She billed the event as the "Second Occasional Greathouse Cattle Drive/1 K walk, giving everyone the chance to "participate" by doing a 1 K walk on the day of the drive. This year's local participants were Pa, Ma, Farmerboy, SQ, and Moo. We had a special guest, Alice, with us and a new hired man, Russell. For the event, Moo designed and distributed dish towels with a special logo and ironed special graphics on shorts for Annika and a onesie for Jacob. Lucky kids.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

no job, no time

I don't work. I don't have a job. And I have no time. This has been a really, really busy week. Last Sunday, Moo and I took off for sunny St. George. Not sunny enough to use the outdoor pool, but still warmer than the local scene.
Moo had workshops for two and a half days and I just hung out, shopping, and going to "spouse" workshops. (they don't differentiate for mothers.) I learned how to cook healthy (the big tip I got was to substitute most of the oil in baking recipes with ricotta.....use about 1 Tbsp. light olive oil for the rest of the fat.)
Jewelry making.....mostly jewelry buying. I bought a watch with a fancy green stone changeable band, then ran out and bought bead stuff which I will probably never use, but I got caught up in the moment. Then we learned to pack a suitcase. The lady folded men's shirts like you find them in stores, stacking them with collar 1 on one end, then collar two at the other end, alternating. She put them in large ziplocs then leaned on the bags to squish the air out.
The other tip was to send an empty water bottle through security and filling it from the drinking fountain on the other end. (not foreign water, I assume.)

We picked up beautiful planting flowers in St. George and took them home on Wednesday night to decorate tables for the RS party, an hour and a half after we got home. I had to help with the mystery part of the mystery dinner.
The next morning it was up bright and early to head off to a Dr. appointment in Provo. I spent the next day at Megan's work, helping find some errors caused by an expensive custom computer program..
Next week looks only a little better. Glad I'm still able to move under my own power and do all of this.

Friday, February 27, 2009

SA Cruise: Rio de Janiero: Running out of money

December 20 Rio de Janiero
We were picked up at the airport and taken to our bed-and -breakfast, the Castel Valentim, a beautiful castle- like five- story Victorian home in the hills of Santa Teresa area of Rio. As we pulled up to the curb, we heard the strains of “Happy Birthday to you” coming from the house. Turns out that our host, Luis, was throwing a big birthday party for his girl friend’s father. Luis tried to get the booking agency to change our reservation, but they just told him to invite us. So he did. We dropped in for a few minutes, then retired to our small room, right next to the party. (We were staying in a bedroom in our host’s apartment.) The music was very loud, but we were so tired that we just fell asleep. It was kind of fun to see how they, food, friends and drink.

Dec 21 We had a panoramic view of the city from our balcony. We could see for miles and miles, to the samba-drom, the beaches, soccer stadium, rain forests.

Our host, Luis, was great. He told us places to go, things to do, and sent us off with a paper listing his phone number, address, how to get where we were going etc. After catching the taxi across the street, I dropped the paper into my bag, never to be seen again. Luckily, I remembered just enough to get us around. We spent the morning at a hippy fair near the beach of Ipanema. Actually it started as a hippy fair 40 years ago and grew into a big handicraft and art fair. Very nice. I almost bought some stuff but I kept thinking we didn’t really need anything. That saved us later.

We headed to Sugar Loaf (a tall peak with a cable car up to a magnificent view) where we were “found” by an English speaking guide. He took us to an overlook of the city then to the “Christ Statue.” I found the statue very touching. I could tell that to most people, it was just a tourist attraction, but it touched me to see Christ holding out his arms as if to say, “Come to me. I’m watching over you.” It seemed sad that so few people seemed to care.

We were taken last to a special store high in a building, through looked doors and guards. When we finally got to our destination, we were treated to a personal tour of the gems of Brazil! Plus a sales pitch. Greg got me a small amethyst I can wear on a necklace.
We took the cable tram to the top of Sugar Loaf and were there at sunset to see the city and the harbors. We ended that day at a restaurant much like the Rodizios at home. We went through the salad bar then returned to the table to find bowls of rice, beans, bread, fried bananas, etc. So much food! Of course, they brought around skewer after skewer of meat and a really good bread I think called pao queso (cheese bread). A melty kind of cream cheese inside a fresh roll on a skewer.
By the end of the day we were about out of Brazilian money.

December 22
Here’s the problem. We were not able to get cash at the ATM’s with our credit card in Argentina. No problem to charge things, just to get cash. We called the kids who followed through and thought the problem was fixed. No problem on the ship. We got $300 US in cash on the ship. Found out we had the same problem in Brazil. No cash from the credit card. We had to make our cash last for the whole last part of the trip. We had to sign our lives away to get some of our dollars changed into local money..Brazilian reais (Hay-eyes). But we just about ran out.
We needed to find a Bank of Brazil to get more cash. We caught the bus (2.20 reais each. About $1.00 each) That left us with a total of $1.50 in Brazilian money. First we didn’t know how to get off the bus. So we rode it to the end where everyone got off. Then we didn’t know where we were or the bank was. No one spoke English. I would say “Banco de Brasil” and someone would point and say,” frente” (I think) meaning who knows what? (I thought it meant “straight”) so we just kept walking and asking every so often. Finally we reach a Banco de Brasil. No cash there. Someone on the third floor spoke English and drew us a map. So we walked a bunch more (no money for anything but walking).

Finally got to the money bank. They didn’t speak English, but by now I was good at point and grunt communication. I pointed to my credit card and wrote down 160. He pointed and grunted meaning “ give me your passport” (a standard request so I understood his point and grunt). He spent a long time on the phone and we finally got the money. This allowed us to get a taxi to Copacabana beach area where we could eat at McDonald’s again (their internet connection was down so we had to use real money.) and use their bathroom again.
Greg got to swim in the ocean there and I got to relax on the beach. We wandered onto a feshuada (?) (Buffet-type restaurant) near the beach where they weighed your food and charged by the kilo. (I wonder what the “retained” kilo weight is at the end of the meal?)

December 23 We didn’t have too much time to do anything in the morning, so after showers, we walked to the grocery store downhill about a half mile away. Looked through a gateway between large old buildings and saw a slum-type street with shantys going down the hill. All hidden behind a gate. We caught a bus going back up and had to a shower and wash all my underwear because it was so hot and humid (plus I sweat like a pig). Took less than an hour to dry it on the balcony...hidden. These were the clothes we would be wearing on the airplane for the next day and a half, so we wanted to start out fresh.

After the fiasco of getting on the plane from Sao Paulo to Rio and running out of local money, I was praying constantly by this time. I think it helped a lot. When we checked in to go back to Sao Paulo, the girl spoke English. No hassle with the luggage. Our boarding pass said we left from gate “?” so we asked someone along the way and of course, he gave us the wrong information. I found another passenger who spoke English and was on our flight and he watched to see that we did everything right. (I’m getting pretty good at looking helpless.)

December 24 So we really and finally got home. I was so relieved to be in America where everyone pretty much understood us and we could be helpless in our own language. We listened to Christmas carols from Las Vegas to Lynndyl and arrived at 7:30 p.m. Christmas eve. Three kids were home from college, plus one friend plus two more kids who live here, were all waiting for us. It was so good to be home.
We bounced from country to country and back again. US - Canada - Argentina - Uruguay - Chile - Argentina - Chile - Uruguay - Brazil - Canada - US.
We had traveled a total of approximately 18,500 miles, hitting 6 countries: USA, Canada, Argentina, Uruguay, Chile and Brazil.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

SA Cruise: Santos to Sao Paolo to Rio Brazil: Missing a flight?

December 20 Sunday. Santos, Brazil
We disembarked here and caught a ship’s bus to the Sao Paulo airport where we were taking a flight to Rio de Janeiro. It was a two hour drive, much further than we thought it would be, but the ride was beautiful, up mountain after wooded mountain, with views down through the green valleys. The last hour was spent driving through the city of Sao Paulo itself, a very large industrial city. Where they spoke Portuguese and we didn’t.

Which turned out to be an almost problem as we tried to check in at the airport. We left several of our large bags in storage at the airport, but as we tried to check in for our flight, we learned (by way of a friendly passenger at the next check in who spoke English and our check-in person didn’t) that our luggage was much too heavy. We were panicked because our carry-on had our computer in it. We ended up pulling out an extra, empty duffle bag we travel with and repacking everything. In the end, we figured out that the check in person thought all of the luggage was mine instead of Greg’s, too. We probably didn’t really need to hold up the line while we were repacking, but since we couldn’t communicate......

The really scary part came next. Our tickets said we departed at gate 1. The sign said our flight left from Gate 5. And no one could speak English. I did my point and grunt job and got the answer 3 times that it was gate 5. As we listened for our flight to be called (in Portuguese of course), I thought I heard them call it and say that it was leaving from GATE 3!! Of course, I was wrong, because even though I knew the numbers from one to ten, I didn’t know the words they used in between. I check with gate 3 and was told (in English) that the flight was boarding at that very minute at GATE 1. Almost missed that flight, but someone was watching over us.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

SA Cruise: Punta Del Este, Uruguay, Porto Belo, Brazil

December 17 Punta Del Este, Uruguay
We grabbed a local tour here. It took us about an hour to find one that was in English. We saw beautiful seascapes, beaches, tourist high rise apartments, etc. Our guide was quite worried that the beaches were so empty during this week before Christmas. People all over the world are feeling the economy crunch. We had our pictures taken with a famous giant hand sculpture and passed over a small bridge that went up- then- down- then- up- then- down, a very power design according to a German engineer on our tour. .
We proceeded to the coast line, then to a very unique structure called Casa Puebla. This structure was home, museum, etc. built by hand by the artist owner, Carlos Paez Vilaro. He is famous world wide for his colorful murals. the building was a stucco structure of over 30 rooms with a bit of mid-eastern flavor, white arches, and onion turrets. Inside was bright modern type art and unique metal salvage-type sculpture (pipes and findings, etc.) . On one wall was a picture of the artist with Pablo Picasso. You could see Picasso’s influence in this artists paintings. When we arrived back at the bus, we found out that the artist had been in the museum and our fellow bus-mates had gotten their pictures taken with him. (Where were we???)

December 18 Mostly at sea. We stopped for a short time at Imbituba, Brazil for government officials to board the ship and check credentials of the all crew etc. No one was allowed to leave the ship.

December 19 Saturday Porto Belo, Brazil

Our last real ship stop before the end of the cruise. We were finally back in the land of warm sunshine (Punta Del Este, was ok, too) Sunshine warm enough to spend the day at the beach. Greg and I went ashore and caught a boat-taxi to a small island. We walked to small eco museum then Greg changed into his swimsuit and spent a relaxing time swimming in the bay area. I relaxed on a café deck and watched him from there. I had my first opportunity to use my Portuguese to buy Cheetos. Generally I had to point and grunt, but it worked. I learned the numbers to ten and how to ask how much something cost so I could buy food. (Plus everyone seems to be able to take your money in any language.) Note: Many places and people, especially taxi drivers and marketplaces near the pier, will take US dollars, but we were usually able to get some of the local currency and it was a little cheaper to use since not everyone carried small bills and coins to give you change.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

SA Cruise: The end of the world: Ushuaia, Argentina, Cape Horn Chile:

December 13 Saturday Ushuaia, Argentina

Ushuaia, is a town of 60,000 on the island of Tierra del Fuego and looks out over the Beagle Channel, named after the HMS Beagle, the ship Charles Darwin sailed on in the 1800's.
Here we took the second and last ship run tour. (We can often get much, much cheaper tours by just stepping on shore. There are usually lots of independent guides waiting to pick up cruisers.)
We took a 4-wheel drive (jeep) tour on a very very primitive old logging trail, up a hillside. We dropped down to a ski resort, one of seven on the island....six, including this one, were for cross country skiing. At the resort, we walked among the pens and pens of sled dogs that are being trained to haul sleds in the wintertime. Because there is no snow in the summer, the dogs are trained by pulling 4-wheelers. The owners like the dogs to be around people to they can learn to socialize. We hopped back in the jeeps and headed into a wooded area where we hiked to an old logging hut. The snack we were promised looked like a small slice of sausage on a cracker plus a little Pepsi or wine. Then the real food came out....stewed beef, oranges, deserts, etc. The best snack I have ever had. We hiked through some really beautiful territory, woods, swampy areas, etc. at the southern end of the Andes. It was well worth the money.
December 14 Cape Horn, Chile
We are at the end of the world. The landscape is wild and beautiful. There are glaciers on the rugged mountains here and although it is the middle of the summer in the southern hemisphere, there is still snow on the mountain tops. These mountains are the souther end of the Andes range. From here, the mountain range goes down into the sea and re-emerges in Antarctica, not so very far from here. We are lucky to be able to sail around Cape Horn at the southern end of the world. The wind blows hard here 200 days of the year. Waves can be up to 100 meters high and the seas too rough to navigate. Two weeks ago this ship traversed the Cape in very bad weather...everyone was sea sick. Another large cruise ship, the Norwegian Sun following the same route at the same time was unable to make the passage. We were very blessed, though, because the weather was perfect and we had smooth sailing all the way. We don’t have a good horror story to tell, but that’s OK.

December 15, 16 Monday, Tuesday At Sea

Monday, February 23, 2009

SA Cruise: Punta Arenas, Chile Sailing with Magellan

December 12 Punta Arenas, Chile
Punta Arenas claims to be the southern most city of its size in the world. It is on the shores of the Straits of Magellan. This area has a very harsh and unforgiving climate. Before the Panama Canal was built, the Straits of Magellan were somewhat of a shortcut from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean. The other route was down around Cape Horn, a very dangerous route. At one time, the Dutch East Indies company claimed the area and forbade anyone else to use the route, forcing everyone else to go around Cape Horn.

(Below is one of the few entries written on the voyage)
Today is December 12, 2008. I don’t actually know what day of the week it is, but I can find out by getting on an elevator and looking at the floor. Everyday, the current day of the week is placed on the elevator floor in front of the door. I’m not the only one who loses track of time.

Last night, just after midnight, Greg and I went out on the deck and looked outside. We were just beginning to go through the Straits of Magellan, off the coast of Chile. We could see land off both sides of the ship. Several hundred years ago, when Magellan was looking for the Spice Islands, he found these straits which cut through the tip of South America from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean. It was a very valuable “short cut” for ships. It was pretty awesome to image ourselves in the same area as Magellan had been in hundreds of years ago.
(Magellan was asked by Spain’s king to find a westward passage to the Spice Island of Indonesia. They left Spain on September 20, 1519.)

We rose early this morning, ate breakfast, then went back to sleep. You can do that on vacation. After we rose again, we caught a tender (one of the lifeboats used to ferry passengers back and forth to the ship when cannot dock at the pier because the water is not deep enough, etc.) then headed out for the town of Punta Arenas on foot. Tour from the ship are very expensive on this cruise, so we don’t take them at each stop. We walked several blocks into the town square where the ever present market place was set up. I think they set up special when they know that cruise ships are coming in because the ships bring so much business. I bought a few trinkets then we walked about a block to a museum. It was the old home of a local somewhat wealthy family. We spent a pleasant hour there then tried to a get a taxi to take up to the nature reserve that was supposed to have a great view of the city. We ended up walking back to the ship and finding a driver who asked for $50 to take us but settled on $30 instead. He didn’t speak English and we didn’t speak Spanish, but we visited the whole 10 kilometers out and 10 kilometers back. His few words of English and my few words of Spanish along with a lot of hand gestures were enough to tell each other about our families, what they did, about the farm, about the nature reserve etc. It was pretty amazing.

The nature reserve was located at the top of a high hill and had a beautiful view of the harbor and the town of about 40,000 people. From the top we could also see the island of Tierra del Fuego and the end of the world. Tomorrow we will be almost there.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

SA Cruise: Puerto Madryn, Argentina and penguins

December 11 Puerto Madryn, Argentina
We had never heard of any of the ports we visited except the very, very large ones so we didn’t know what to expect.
Puerto Madryn (population 60,000) is on the Atlantic coast of Argentina’s famous region of Patagonia. This part of Patagonia looks almost exactly like the Lynndyl area. It is desolate and has a lot of sagebrush. It reminded me a lot of home.
I took a ship tour which visited a Welsh town of Trelew, I shouldn’t be mean, but Trelew was the ugliest town I have ever seen. The buildings were colorless and there was very little vegetation. We went on a tour of their Paleontology Museum which houses ancient dinosaur fossils that have been discovered throughout the region. No real skeletons were displayed here because they weigh too much. Instead they have cast lighter weight replicas.
Next we visited a Welsh town called Gaiman on the Chubut River. The town is a pretty spot of green down in a valley. None of the trees and vegetation are native to the area, but have all been planted and irrigated by man.....just like at home. We went to a Welsh tea house where we had tea and pastries, (I skipped the tea.) Then wandered about town for a was actually not as interesting as the brochure promised.
We ended the tour by traveling by bus to The Punta Loma reserve, home to a large colony of sea lions and sea birds. We traveled along dirt roads and I think our driver was so afraid of stirring up dust that he only drove about 10 miles an hour. We took so long getting there that we only stayed a short time and had to get back to the ship. The sea lions were fun to watch with their little ones. A few of the mothers took their youngsters out into the water to let them play.
Most of the rest just sunned themselves on the beach or enjoyed the shade of an overhanging cliff.
Greg took a 2 ½ hour bus trip to see a penguin colony. (I would have gone there except the ship brochure made the buses sound like they were going to be full of dust and hard to breath in. They were really nice and clean instead.) Punta Tombo, south of Puerto Madryn was home to one of the largest Magellan Penguin colonies in South America. Estimates of the number of penguins are upward of 2 million. (I am plagerising some of the ship’s descriptions.)
The penguins were quite small and hidden among the sage brush. They had little burrows under the bushes. Greg thought it was quite strange to see penguins out in an area that looked like the desert around Lynndyl, except by the sea.

December 11 At sea

Saturday, February 21, 2009

SA Cruise: Montevideo and at sea

December 8 Monday. (I am keeping much better track of the days here on paper looking back than I ever did on the ship. I was usually clueless about what day it was.)

We were allowed to leave the ship in Montevideo, Uruguay about 10 a.m. We hadn’t seen any ship tours that looked interesting so we decided to just go into town. One of the leather shops had shuttle buses at the dock to take people to their shop so we hopped on one and spent a few minutes browsing through their leather goods when we got to town. We spent a pleasant morning walking down the streets and browsing through their open market in the town square. One of the popular items being sold was a container and special spoon for a drink called “mate” (mah-tay), a local tea. The tradition was to fix the tea then pass the mug around for everyone to share. We didn’t try it but we bought a few of the spoon-straws which were shaped like hollow paddles with holes in the top of the bowl for straining out the leaves.

Gaucho dancers were performing in the town square so we found a bench and watched for a while then wandered down the street a ways. Montevideo (population 1.3 million ) reminded me a bit of Provo, not a very metropolitan big city. We found the McDonald’s across from the town square and got a hamburger and drink. (For those of you who think we wimped out by going to McDonalds, you must remember how hard it is to find a bathroom–bano-- in a foreign country, especially a bathroom you can trust.) We walked back to the ship. (We do a lot of walking on our trips and even with all the food we eat, I always end up losing weight. Of course, I gain it all back when I get back home.)

December 10 Tuesday At Sea
The ship has many activities to keep the passengers entertained at sea. We had three formal nights on this trip because of all the days at sea. Greg and I usually play at least one game of trivia each sea day. I also took a Spanish class (which I dropped after the first day) and a Portuguese class, which I attended all five days. That gave me the skills of a high schooler who has taken one week of Portuguese. Quite enough to get around Brazil on our own when we got there.....NOT REALLY!!
Portuguese looks a lot like Spanish. If you can read Spanish you can figure out a lot of Portuguese words (I know some French and can figure out some of the words.) But my phrase book describes Portuguese as Spanish spoken by a drunk Frenchman and I believe it. It sounds totally different than Spanish.

The entertainment on board is top rate. Our first big production show was an excellent tango show. Two professional tango dancers were brought on board from Argentina. They were totally amazing.

Most of the passengers were Spanish-speaking South Americans and Brazilians. They really knew how to have a good time on board. Mamba and other Spanish and Brazilian music was playing into the wee hours of the morning and people danced and danced. And we stayed up and watched them.

Friday, February 20, 2009

SA Cruise: Buenos Aires

Note: I wrote all of this a month ago and am just now noticing my casual shifting between tenses. I'm too lazy to change it, so just feel more relaxed about the grammar in anything that you send to me.

December 5. Friday. We slept in then took a city tour on a bus. It gave us a nice overview of the city, at least the nice part. We drove through Recoleta, Palermo and Boca, where the futboll (soccer) stadium was located. Boca was an early harbor area of Buenos Aires and many of the building are made from left parts and paint from ships. Many are corregated metal painted bright colors. We were dropped off at a big, beautiful shopping mall in a nice part of town, then we had to find our way home. We walked a bit, found a McDonald’s to get a bit to hold us over until supper (and a bathroom) then walked some more. One of the streets , Florida Street, was a pedestrian only street paved with colorful small tiles. Street performers tangoed, did mime, drew pictures, etc. It was an interesting walk. We finally found a taxi and arrived back at the Garden for a short time, then walked to the restaurant. It was located across from a merry-go-round in a public park. Afterwards we sat in the park and enjoyed the evening.

December 6 Saturday: This was a very, very big day. By now we were getting good...well at least proficient hailing a taxi. We rode to the Recoleta cemetery which was amazing. We were expecting some fancy headstones, but the whole place was full of walking avenues with ornate crypts lining each side. It was like a small city with fancy tall houses just large enough to house the remains of the rich and famous, including Evita Peron.

Next we ate at a large al fresco (outside) restaurant nearby. We headed out on foot for the National Museum of Fine Arts, but we ended up at the wrong museum (modern art...OK) and the bathrooms were not working. We continued to the next large building only to find that it was the law school so we got smart and asked someone, who luckily spoke English and told us what we were looking for was just across the street.

The National Museum of Fine Arts was very, very well worth the hunt. We saw original paintings and sculptures of Rodin (about 10 including “the Kiss”), Picasso, Monet, Renoir, Degas, Tolous LaTrec, Reubens, and more I can’t even remember. A large hand made tapestry was very impressive. At it was all free.

We ended the afternoon taking a taxi to the zoo and spent several hours wandering around before hurrying back to our room to get ready for a tango show....eating at nine and the show at 10:45. The restaurant was built specially for the show with a stage in the center and three tiers of tables on three sides. We were seated to the side of the small stage with our head just above the dancers' foot level and we sometimes felt the breeze as they kicked their feet between us. The dancers and musicians....violin, piano, concertina and bass fiddle...were very good and we really enjoyed the evening.

(At this point I have been home for two weeks and am looking back, trying to recollect everything we did. We like to write down our memories of our trips and put them in our picture albums.)

December 7. Sunday. We usually try to go to church (not LDS, but Christian) on board ship when we travel, but since we are on land, we don’t really know where we are let alone where the church is. Even if we had the address, we wouldn’t be able to understand anything that was said. So that is my excuse. We check out of our Bed and Breakfast today by noon because another couple is coming. We can’t board the ship until about 1 p.m. so we take a taxi to a famous antique flea market a couple of miles away and browse through the booths. Along with the booths, there are antique shops all along both sides of the street leading to the park. We bought a few trinkets, then head back to pick up our luggage and make our way to the ship. Our hostess arranged for the same private driver who picked us up to take us back. He gave me a hug when he dropped us off.

This ship is the Radiance of the Sea, a large Royal Carribean ship capable of holding 2500+ passengers but we learn that our voyage only has 1500 on. Later, we notice that many of our fellow passengers are Jewish (probably because all the Christians, but us, are home getting ready for Christmas) and about 2/3 of the passengers are non-English speaking. It makes for a very interesting voyage. It was always a pleasant surprise to step into an elevator and hear English spoken.
The cultural mixture was quite different than we find back home on a Utah farm. We really did enjoy the variety.

We learned after a few days aboard ship that about 35 people have been left behind by the ship in Buenos Aires, Argentina because they didn’t have Brazilian visas. On the last cruise, the ship had allowed the passengers to come aboard anyway, and had later been heavily fined by the Brazilian government. Somewhere in all the literature we received were the instructions to get the Visas or risk not being able to sail. Unfortunately, it wasn’t written in bold red letters and some people missed it.

We board the ship at Buenos Aires Argentina and overnight cruise to Montevideo, Uruguay, just across the bay a very, very short distance away.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

South America Cruise pt 1 Buenos Aires

South American Cruise December 2 - 24, 2008

This was a difficult time to cruise. Because we would be gone until Christmas Eve, I had to have all of my Christmas preparation done before I left. We were able to get most of the inside and outside decorations up on Thanksgiving weekend, so we were able to enjoy them before we went. That was important to me because I would miss all of the lights, music etc. that surrounds our Christmas celebrations. I was also able to get most of my shopping done and the kids finished the rest of the preparations , so I was able to relax on the cruise, knowing everything was taken care of.

It was also more challenging because Thanksgiving weekend was just before we left and we had company that made nine people for Thanksgiving weekend. Luckily we had almost all of our packing done in advance, so we were able to work things out. It just put a lot of preparations into a few small days.

December 2, 3,4 2008
We finished packing then headed to an evening meeting out of town. After it was over, we drove as far as Mesquite Nevada, arriving in the wee hours of the morning. In the morning we headed off for Las Vegas where we boarded the plane for Toronto, Canada.
I need to explain here: Although we flew into Buenos, Argentina, (south east of us) we took the “scenic” route” (which cost $600 each less than the fast route.): first we drove 5 hours west and south to Las Vegas, then flew north east 4.5 hours to Toronto, Canada and finally south for almost 12 hours to Buenos Aires, Argentina. We flew Canada Air which had great leg room and 24 hour on demand movies and TV. It made a very long trip much more pleasant. Our flight time was lengthened by almost an hour during the night when our plane was diverted by Venezula, then Brazil.

We were met at the Buenos Aires airport by Martine, a private driver arranged for through “the Garden” a bed-and breakfast we stayed at. Our hostess was gone when we
arrived but her secretary/assistant was so helpful, showing us around etc. telling us where to eat and how to get there. The next day she arranged a city tour and a tango show for us.
The B & B was great and so peaceful and relaxing. It had a common room and two guest rooms located along a tiled courtyard with trees. Each morning we woke to find our breakfast laid out on a cart outside our bedroom door: Fresh fruits, pastries, freshly squeezed juice, toast, yogurt, granola.
The other couple staying at the Garden were Andy and Carol, an English couple we got along with very well. Andy gave us a great tip for getting around: write down the place and address of where we want to go and show it to the taxi driver. That along with a business card Pamela, our hostess, gave us got us every where we wanted to go and back again.
We rested the day we got in then walked about 5 blocks to 1880 P.......A small Argentinian restaurant where they spoke no English and we spoke no Spanish. I think we frustrated our waiter that first night, but we all made it through. Greg ordered steak, which came rare, but was delicious....The Argentinians are famous for their beef. The next night he learned to say “medium well in Spanish, but it didn’t matter. They still brought it rare, but delicious again. That night we had a different waiter, a few more Spanish words from our phrase book and we got along a bit better.
Tomorrow pt. 2

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


I've been tagged twice this week. One was by a friend at Authors Incognito and the other was by my daughter, Panda bear. I was supposed to tell 25 random things about myself for one and seven true things for the other. I'm going to combine them. Just assume that the random things are true, and the the true things are random.
I'm not sure I can come up with seven things, let alone twenty-five.

1. I have a hard time reading religious books. For some reason, they don't seem to have a lot of action and I need the action to keep me awake.

2. I like things like the old adding machines that make noises like Ka chink. They are oddly soothing to me for a few minutes.

3. My favorite color is purple. Not lavender or other wimpy versions, but deep purple. I own almost none of it because then I would get tired of it. Now it is a pleasant surprise when I see it.

4. I don't like playing most games. I bear it sometimes because I like doing things with my family, but most games require sitting and waiting for you turn. You may be shocked to hear this, but I have very little patience when it comes to things like that.

5. This will really surprise you, but I have a difficult time staying focused. It's like I have two halves of a brain. Both of them need to be occupied. When I am talking with my kids on the phone they will ask if I am playing Solitaire on the computer. They will request that I do it while I talk because that helps me stay focused on our conversation. Otherwise, that other half of my brain will be out wandering somewhere else.

6. I can now do the dishes all the way through at on time. It took twenty or thirty years to say that, but I no longer wander off half way through ( most of the time.)

7. I no longer watch Dr. Phill most of the time. I got tired of hearing everyone's complaints. I don't know how psychiatrists, etc. do it.

8. I am addicted to sweets.

9. I can't wait to get outside and walk. When the weather is good, I will find an excuse not to.

10. I have big feet. And I don't care. They are good at holding me up after I stumbled because of them.

11. Tags are a good way to keep people writing on their blogs who haven't written there in months, but I don't like coming up with stuff to say.

12. I am a non-verbal person. So why do I have a blog?

13. I wish I had a fairy god mother to clean my house. If she took care of all the mail, bills and paper-type stuff, and kept it up forever, I might take a stab at some of the other mess. Well, if I actually had a fairy godmother, she might as well do all the work.

14. My hair is gray at the roots sometimes. Like right now. But it is easy and quick to get young again. Just expensive.

16. I think I have said enough already.

I am planning to post my last cruise experiences in installments. Those of you have already read them have already read them and won't want to read them again. The rest of you.....well, I don't think there is anyone else who reads my blog.