Category Archives: History of Us

It was Bad Luck




One weekend, the summer after our freshman year of college, I was invited to go camping with Andi and her family. I grew up going camping with the Kierst’s. Chris, a geologist for the state of Utah, knew all the best back country camp spots. The place we determined to go that particular weekend was a place we had been to before. It was about halfway between Moab and Green River, a good twenty miles off the paved road, to a place where sand dunes were bordered by the red sandstone canyons that are Southern Utah.

As we drove in to camp, something punctured a tire. Chris replaced it with the spare, drove us to a nearby camp spot in a wash below some rocks, and then turned around to head back to town to have the tire fixed.

The rest of us set up camp. But Chris never returned.

Finally at about midnight he drove back into our camp with his tale. On his way back out something punctured another tire. He then had to hike back out almost twenty miles to the road, where he thumbed a ride, got some new tires, then convinced someone to take him out to the desert to fix his car.

But with the car in good working order, we decided to go into Moab the next morning for a hike to a local waterfall. It was a short hike of only a mile or so to a fifteen foot waterfall that spilled over the rocks into a pool below. We weren’t the only visitors that morning, and most of the kids were cliff jumping off the falls into the water below. Andi, Lexi and I were no exception, jumping from a lower rock of only ten feet into the shallow waters.

But then I got brave and decided to jump from the higher cliff – like many others were doing there that morning. It took me half a moment to gather my courage, then I leapt into space and plunged into the too-shallow pool below. As soon as I landed I knew: I had broken my foot.

I swam to the surface, to where the water was only a foot or so deep, where Cheryl was standing on the sidelines watching the fun. Without trying to cause too much of a scene, I sheepishly told her that I was pretty sure I had broken my foot.

She didn’t believe me. But when I couldn’t stand or walk on it she started thinking maybe I was hurt.

So she began asking all the (college) kids at the waterfall who would carry me down.

Luckily (unluckily) for me, there was a college football player there that day. His strong, brawny body had no problem piggy-backing me down the canyon to the car. What could have been the ultimate romantic gesture turned horrifying as I willed my body to resist my strong need to – um, well, relieve myself.

Finally off the bouncy football players back and into the safety of the car, we set off for the Moab hospital where broken bones were confirmed. But they wouldn’t cast me there, rather told me to go see a doctor in Salt Lake on Monday after the swelling had gone down.

Wrapped and iced and given a wheel chair, Andi had the great idea of pushing my chair full speed out to the car. Only, she didn’t see the cracked sidewalk sticking up as she ran down the handicap ramp. When the chair hit the bump, I went flying.

But I was already broken, so what were a few more bruises?

Well, it was late so we decided to spend the night in a hotel in Green River. As we drove to the town we picked up a hitch hiker who had her own tale of vehicular woe. We ran her to the service station before heading to the local motel to find a room for the night. Chris and Cheryl would return to camp in the morning to pack up and take us home.

When they arrived into camp the next morning the campground was a disaster. A flash flood had torn through the canyon in the night, sweeping everything down the wash. The tent Chris and Cheryl had their entire married life was destroyed. Air matresses were punctured. Camp supplies were strewn across the desert. They gathered what they could and we all headed home.

When we got home the worst luck of all: Chris and Cheryl had put in a brand new hardwood floor the week before. They returned to find that the toilet had overflowed and the water had sat on their new floor all weekend!





I’m going to try and write down memories I have – for my little lovelies who always ask “Tell me a story of when you were a kid . . .”

I’m going to call them “Tales for Tuesdays” – and will try to write one a week . . . unless of course something else happens. In which case I won’t.

First Kiss




When I was five my grandpa Brock died.

And since my parents were hauling us all to southern Callifornia for a funeral anyway, I guess they decided to make big deal out of it. Disneyland, Knotts Berry Farm, and Sea World.

And it was at Sea World that an employee at the Shamu show came and asked if I would like to participate in the show. At the appropriate time I walked onto the stage and stood, in five year old terror in front of the entire crowd.

There was a walrus, big and fat, right next to me. The lady informed the audience of his biological importance and he did some tricks. I stood frozen like a statue, waiting and wondering what I was supposed to be doing. And then the walrus, taller than me with bristly whiskers and fish breath, leaned over and kissed me.

And I burst into tears and walked off the stage to my waiting parents.

That’s all I remember about that trip to Sea World. Maybe we’ll go this summer and see if we can get Olivia in on the Shamu show.




I’m going to try and write down memories I have – for my little lovelies who always ask “Tell me a story of when you were a kid . . .”

I’m going to call them “Tales for Tuesdays” – and will try to write one a week . . . unless of course something else happens. In which case I won’t.





The spring of fifth grade we decided to ride our bikes to Oklahoma. I don’t remember how this decision came about, but it was as real, and we were as determined, as could be!

Andi had a map of the United States on her wall – one of those Disneyland-esque maps with cartoons of each states’ main attractions. A key of the distances was located in the corner. Using some blue yarn we measured the approximate distance – ahem, as the crow flies, from Salt Lake to Oklahoma city.

We were excellent bike riders, this we already knew. We could ride any hill in the neighborhood without the need to stand to pedal ourselves up. We could both ride no-handed, even down the same mentioned hills. Each morning we rode our bikes to school, leaving an hour early just so we could explore.

So a bike ride to Oklahoma didn’t actually seem that unreasonable. We determined we’d have to convince my mom first – and then she could convince Andi’s mom. I remember going in to her room. She was reading. I told her of our plans – our determination – to ride a third of the way across the county, if we only had permission. She looked up, thoroughly unrattled, and said it was fine with her.

And so we began practicing. We planned to sell home-made rag dolls and salt dough Christmas ornaments to raise funds for the adventure. We would pack water and snacks in our retro-fitted saddle bags. We would ride each day, stopping for meals. We’d have someone drive alongside of course. By our calculations it would take about three weeks to make the journey.

As summer approached we determined we’d better start having practice rides. And so one day we decided to go for it – to ride as far and as long as possible – just to see how it would be.

Up the hill of Cottonwood Lane – up and around to the elementary school. That part was easy. We did that every day. Then on, on, on down Holladay Boulevard. It was a hot day. We didn’t have water with us, and we were long past the familiar homes with the familiar families we could stop and ask for water from. No matter. We pushed on in the heat.

Eventually Holladay Boulevard empties out onto 6400 South, the location of the old, dilapidated (even then) Cotton Bottom – bar. We knocked on the door. I remember the surprise on the waitresses face when we asked “for a drink.”

She gave us a firm “no.” Even as we pleaded for water in the heat, she told us we couldn’t even come inside to the air conditioning. But she did tell us if we followed 6400 South down we would eventually come to a “Wendy’s” – and they surely would give us some water.

So, we continued on our way, parched and sweating, down around to Wendy’s. We parked our bikes outside, too tired to concern ourselves with bike locks. Inside the air conditioning helped, but was far from completely relieving us. I remember standing in line, worried that they would want a quarter for a cup of water. I didn’t have any money on me, and I was so thirsty!

But they gave us each a drink. We sat in that Wendy’s for a good long while as we recovered from the shock of heat and distance.

Eventually we climbed back onto our bikes and rode home – down Highland Drive, and back up into the neighborhood the back way. The entire ride may have been only five miles.

After that a bike ride to Oklahoma was never talked about again.


And now, on busy days when we’re out and about, I often run down to the very same Wendy’s for chicken nuggets and Frosty’s for my posse. They don’t know the history of the place.


I’m going to try and write down memories I have – for my little lovelies who always ask “Tell me a story of when you were a kid . . .”

I’m going to call them “Tales for Tuesdays” – and will try to write one a week . . . unless of course something else happens. In which case I won’t.

You can read all “Tales for Tuesdays” here.

Uncle Terry




This special edition of “Tales for Tuesday” is printed on Sunday, especially for Uncle Terry.

Where do you even start when you’re talking about Uncle Terry? In my family he was known as “Terry 1” because we had a plethora of Uncles by that name, but he was always first.

Uncle Terry could never talk without smiling. I think his smile muscles are extra short, for his mouth was always drawn up in a grin, and I never could decide if he was teasing me for being so serious all the time or adoring me because, well, he seemed to adore everyone.

Especially his kids. I never knew a dad in my entire scope of friends and family who spent more time with his kids – usually on the mountain tops. I remember the mixture of envy and terror I felt as he told me of the 25 mile hikes he would drag his kids on for a Saturday. Week long camp trips deep into the back country was how he vacationed. And no kid was too small or to weak for his excursions. Even my cousin, Zach, his son, who was born without abdominal muscles, was taken along, and had to keep up. Now on Facebook I see pictures of cousin Jeremy and his kids  – little toddlers out in the wilderness, and I laugh inwardly and feel the same mixture of delight and horror as he is doing the same thing.

It was the day after Christmas in 1996 – and my parents waved goodbye to Danny (18), me (17), Larry (15) and the little people in our family as we drove over five hundred miles in the old blue suburban to see Aunt Jill and Uncle Terry, who had invited us for a visit.

And it became a little nerve wracking as we drove over the Sierra Nevada mountains in a snow storm, and the Burb kept overheating. Danny would drive for a while ’til the thermostat was too much to ignore. Then we’d pull over, open the hood, and do the only thing we could think of to cool the car down – throw the accumulating snow from the side of the road onto the steaming engine.

Finally we couldn’t go any further, so, while Danny and the kids waited, I thumbed a ride into the next town to call Uncle Terry to come get us.

And when he came he had his typical grin, which made the stressful situation turn instantly into a silly and great adventure to tell my kids – someday.

This week we had the tragic news of Uncle Terry’s diagnosis of a terminal cancer. His time is limited, but his life seemed to be lived so fully, how can there be tragedy in that? The greatest sadness will only be for those of us who still need his grin to remind us not to take everything so serious, and to keep looking for the adventure in it all.

I’m going to try and write down memories I have – for my little lovelies who always ask “Tell me a story of when you were a kid . . .”

I’m going to call them “Tales for Tuesdays” – and will try to write one a week . . . unless of course something else happens. In which case I won’t.