June 26, 2007

Random Thoughts about Vacation

We left at noon on Friday to head to Salt Lake City, where I have family. We stayed overnight, and had a little get-together the next day with my mom, two brothers, and sister at the pool and clubhouse at my mom's apartment complex. It was great fun. The kids swam, and we had pizza and talked and wondered about how my kids look so much like my sister and brother. My kids look more like my siblings than they look like me.

We had gone earlier in the day to visit my paternal grandma, who is in her eighties. We called my dad and invited him to come to her house and see us at the same time, since we had arrived so late that we slept in, and only had a couple hours before the party my mom had scheduled, but he declined, saying he'd been at Grandma's house the day before. Besides, "it IS fifty miles away, after all." Okay, Dad. Happy Father's Day, I guess. I was reminded of the time there was a family reunion (my grandpa was adopted as a child into his aunt's family, and this reunion was for the original family) in Cody, Wyoming, only an hour or so away from where I was at the time, and I never heard of it until afterward.

On Sunday we got up too early and headed for Las Vegas. It was nostalgic driving past Provo. Something about seeing that "Y" painted on the mountainside brought back fleeting memories of people and places I knew when I was there for my one year of college. We stopped there for breakfast, and moved on. I couldn't help thinking during my time in Utah that the person in the next car on the interstate, or that guy taking my order at the restaurant, could be someone who reads my blog. A very surreal feeling.

I don't recall ever traveling south of Provo (maybe I did as a child), but it was interesting to me how the landscape changed as we moved south. Something is killing the pine trees, I noticed. You can see fields and fields of tree skeletons, stark and white against the brown dirt of the hillsides. Strange. I really have a love for trees. Soon the dirt turned red and we were in St. George. Beautiful country, but no way could I live there. We stopped to visit my mom's boyfriend's mom who lives there, and it was great meeting her. She's very sweet. We asked her what the super tall, narrow shrubs (or trees) are that are grown in straight rows, looking like green toothpicks against the red that surrounds them, but she had no idea what we were talking about. They were everywhere. Probably so common she doesn't even notice them anymore.

The drive to Las Vegas was through a desolate area, and at one point, we passed through a rock canyon that was fascinating in its difference to anything I've seen before. We were driving fast, and the road was winding sharply. . .besides, the camera was in the trunk, so I'm sad to have no pictures of that awesome rock to show you. Then suddenly the rock abruptly ended, and we were in open country again, dry, hot desert. An occasional cactus, which we decided resembled something straight out of Dr. Seuss. They grew in tall arms covered in hairy bark-like stuff, and the tops of each arm had a green tuft of pointy leaves that looked like fur from a distance. I'm not sure if they are really cactus, or a form of palm tree/shrub thingies, but they are COOL. After searching the web now for 20 minutes and coming up with nothing, I'm really kicking myself for not having my camera out during this vacation. We took no pictures at all. Sigh. Just gives me a good excuse to go back, eh? EDITED TO ADD: Thanks, Chris, for letting me know these are called JOSHUA TREES! Yesss. I knew someone cool would enlighten me, and I was right!!!

We arrived in Las Vegas, and the buildings of the strip were straight out of CSI: Las Vegas. It was way cool. We found our hotel, about four miles down the strip from Mandalay Bay, and we checked in. The temperature was about 100 degrees Farenheit or so. Not bad.

I'll write about Vegas next.


Sofi said...

SML - I can't believe you found a restaurant in Provo that was actually open on Sunday. I'm pretty dang impressed.

Hope you're enjoying your vacation.

Sister Mary Lisa said...

Hi Sofi!

Well, I'm technically back to work, and I'm also not sure if you can technically call McDonald's a restaurant!

Ha. I did enjoy vacation. Just didn't have time or energy while ON vacation to write about it, but now I can.

chris said...

SML- they're Joshua Trees.

I'm on FLAK and in SLC, I *so* wanted to meet you for lunch, but it was the same weekend as a big family reunion. Sounds like you had a great time.

Not to gush or anything, but finding your site was a huge breath of air a few months ago - I was in the primary presidency when we left in January.

Under.Construction said...

SML, I am glad you enjoyed your trip. I really hate parts of the drive from Provo to LV, but the canyon is very impressive. If you are carsick prone, it is best to drive! I love Vegas. It is like a bunch of little countries all put together. So much to see and do. Someday...

Sideon said...

90's here, yesterday. The pool was at 84-85. On Sunday, I discovered that vodka and lemonade with some lime from our tree... makes a really nice drink.

The last time I was in Vegas (not counting the drive-through trips) the Stratosphere was new and the Belagio hadn't been dreamed up, yet.

How did you son do in the soccer tournament??

Cele said...

Chris beat me to it.

I haven't been to Utah in decades, to Vegas in decades (although maybe this year we will Ducky has never been there.) I remember being so impressed with the rock formations, Bryce and Zion Canyons - I would love to go back again.

I have never been to a family reunion - well not since I was two - so it doesn't count.

Eric said...

Your kids could have worse uncles and aunts to look like. Trust me, I know from experience. Uhg.

Mom said that Vegas was a blast! Your message to me on my machine was PRICELESS. I let everyone listen to it. Keith laughed and said "oh no". I can't wait to see Joe's video.

Anyway, sorry I couldn't go with you, but I LOVED seeing you and the family.

dartman113 said...

The best part was when the kids were text messaging each other from one car to the other. Also when S got so excited to see Vegas she had to tell him right away!

CV Rick said...

As I was reading your post I could just see it . . . from SLC to Provo to that drive South where everything becomes desert to the explosion of the artificial that is Vegas . . .

Maybe I've been down that road too many times.

Bishop Rick said...

Well if you drove from Provo to Vegas on 15, you drove past my house...Ok, you drove past my exit.

I'll be making that drive on July 15 myself. Doing a conference at the Mandalay Bay the following week.

Sister Mary Lisa said...

Chris, that is very sweet that you enjoy my blog like a breath of fresh air! I left while in the primary presidency too, so we must have been feeling similar things at that time, huh? It's tough seeing those lessons and hearing those songs through the eyes and ears of disbelief.

Under.Construction, I think you SHOULD go to Vegas. Be sure to go to a Cirque du Soleil show. They rock!!

Hi Sid! My son played fairly well, they lost the first game 1-0 (they got a PK in the final minutes of the game, which really sucked for my son), and lost the second game 6-0 to the Cali team that ended up winning the entire tourney, and the last game they tied 0-0. So he ended on a positive note, no goals given up, with many attempts. Whew.

Cele, I'd like to hear more about this strange phenomenon that you've never been to a family reunion. How is that POSSIBLE??

Eric, I loved seeing you too! Even if you DO look like Uncle Greg. He he he.

Dartman, that was hilarious when the kids called each other to talk about the sights in Vegas when we first arrived...I had forgotten that.

CV Rick, that drive is interesting, I'll give it that. How many times have you driven it??

BR, you must live in a very beautiful setting, then. I wanted to paint that area as we drove through it. I also didn't get to see inside Mandalay Bay this trip, but next time I swear I will. The casinos are gorgeous!

JulieAnn said...

What? You're not going to write about Friday night? :P
he he he
or are you having trouble remembering it?


Sister Mary Lisa said...

Hi JulieAnn! You KNOW I'm gonna write about Friday night! I'm just doing this chronologically so I don't forget what I want to say. First Vegas, then the exmo parties.

:) Patience.

Jonathan Blake said...

The canyon you drove through was the Virgin River Gorge, one of the most expensive stretches of interstate ever constructed.

It tickles me that you've never seen a Joshua tree before. I remember seeing them around me almost as long I've been alive.

The name Joshua tree was given by a band of Mormons who crossed the Mojave Desert in the mid-19th century. The tree's unique shape reminded them of a Biblical story in which Joshua reaches his hands up to the sky. (Wikipedia)


JulieAnn said...

But I wanna hear about it noooooww!
(your word verification has 'sex' in it...he hehe he hehe)

Sideon said...

**patiently awaiting a post about the Exmo gathering that I missed**

**mostly patiently**

**not really patient, but faking it pretty well**

**it's very hard for guys to fake it**


Janet M Kincaid said...

And to follow up on Jonathan's comment, I believe the Virgin River Gorge is in the northern tip of the Grand Canyon system, so technically, you can say you've been to the Grand Canyon now. (It isn't a part of the designated park itself, but it blends into all of that landscape between Lake Mead and the Grand Canyon.)

I was in St George a few years ago to cheer on a friend who was running in their marathon (which falls on conference weekend in October, by the way. How ironic is that?) and was stunned by how beautiful I found the area. I'd forgotten how lovely the desert can be.

Vegas, on the other hand, is just Adult Disneyland. Not my cuppa, in other words. I'd rather go to Disneyland Disneyland than Vegas. But that's just me. Other's have a ball and that makes me happy. Vegas where people live (as opposed to Vegas the tourist destination) is like being in L.A., but it's always fun to visit the family I have down there.

Glad you enjoyed your vacay! Sounds like you had a fabulous time. Can't wait to read about the ex-mo get-together.

CV Rick said...

I'm with Sideon on waiting for that post . . .

except I'm not even pretending to be patient . . .

and I'm a guy also, so I can't fake it.

paranoidfr33k said...


I grew up in St. George and I must tell you that I can't stand it there anymore. Its nice to visit once in a while, but I don't ever want to live there again.

Everyone, the Virgin River Gorge is beautiful, but DO NOT SPEED unless you are in a huge pack of other cars. Cop's sit there and pull people over all the time.

The tree's from Provo south are dead because of fire. Most of them have been dead for a few years and they haven't grown back.

I'm enjoying your blog and can't wait for the next few posts to see what else happened on your trip.

Keep up the entertainment.


Sister Mary Lisa said...


I'm glad you're enjoying my blog! You know what I love to hear!

I'm not sure how any cop car could hide in that curvy road in the rock. I'm glad we didn't see any...of course, we were so busy looking UP, that we may have just missed seeing any cops...

Sister Mary Lisa said...

Sideon, Janet, and Rick,

Next post describes my exmo get-togethers. Stay tuned! I'm drafting my next post right now!

:) Nothing like a little friendly pressure to keep me motivated...

Bishop Rick said...

Well, its been nearly an hour since you said you were gonna post.
Those are fingernails tapping on my desk.

Bishop Rick said...

Scratch that.
I count.
Been nearly 2 hours.

Sister Mary Lisa said...

Oh ye of little patience. I posted. You happy now?? :)

paranoidfr33k said...


The cops sit right next to the exits for the rest area. There are a few other sections where cars can pull off the road, but they usually stick around the rest area.

Also, the next time you go through, try to find the natural arch. I'll give you a hint, its on the north side of the freeway.