Category Archives: Tales for Tuesdays

One of the times I completely and utterly failed at life

Feb

23

2016
IMG_8927

Sunrise light on the Nauvoo temple. I took this picture when I was back there in 2010


We went to the Provo temple open house and there were beautiful murals on the walls in the rooms. And it reminded me of this story.

When I was at BYU I worked at the Mechanical shop. Lest you’re like me and think the mechanical shop means I worked on cars, let me correct you. The mechanical shop was the term for the HVAC department. I fixed, installed, and worked on the heating and cooling units in the buildings on campus.

Because of that I was in the most random parts of the most random buildings. Nothing was off limits – from the most gaurded chemistry labs to the highest administrators offices – I saw it all.

One building I went to was this random ware house. We had to fix some duct work in the ceiling. I don’t even remember where this building was – it wasn’t part of the main campus. And it was a top secret building – you had to have permission – like high level permission – and a temple recommend – to even enter it.

After we were done with our work, my boss (not a student, but a career-level middle-older gentleman whose name I can’t even remember now), told me he’d show me what was going on in the building below the rafters.

So we went downstairs to the floor of the warehouse – where panel after panel was set up. The most esteemed BYU professors/artists were working on the murals for the Nauvoo temple that was being built at the time.

My boss introduced me as “artsy” and one of the artist’s stopped and took me on a tour, showing me the beautiful paintings that would soon paper the walls of the historically significant Nauvoo temple.

“You know, if you want, you could come and help us with these paintings. You can work on them with us” the artist invited.

 

Um, I don’t have a car, and I’m really busy,
and um . . . I don’t think it would really work.

And so I never returned to that secret warehouse. I never saw those murals again until they were installed and Wyatt drove across the country to attend the dedication of that temple.

I told Wyatt that story last week after the Provo open house.

“What?!” he almost yelled at me. He was absolutely incredulous that I passed up the opportunity to have my brush strokes on a painting in the Nauvoo temple. “You may not have done much, but you could have at least painted a leaf. And then you could say – see that leaf? That leaf, right there. I painted that!”

Instead, all I have is this LAME tale-for-tuesday to share with you.

I was telling this story to my real-artist-friend, Brittany Scott and she told me she had the exact same experience – she was invited as a student by one of the professors to work on the murals for the Sacramento temple. But she felt so intimidated and overwhelmed by the prospect that she too, passed it up. And now she feels that regret as well. See, I’m not the only one. And if she, who actually took art classes, and grew up to be this amazing artist, felt overwhelmed by it, then maybe I’m not so far off center after all. ;)

My Own Miracle of Healing

Sep

3

2013
Big Trip Estonia Group on the ocean copy

On the coast of the Baltic Sea in Estonia, the semester I lived in Russia

I went to see “Ephraim’s Rescue” at the theaters tonight with Wyatt.

In the movie there is a touching scene where a young man in the Martin Handcart Company was given a blessing of healing by Ephraim Hanks. Despite his severely frost bitten feet, he was blessed that his limbs would be saved. That same night he got up and danced for the company to lift their spirits. He continued to walk to the Salt Lake valley another 350 miles in severe weather with only rags to cover his feet, still, he never had trouble with them again.

It made me remember an experience of my own healing through the priesthood of my feet (or foot, I should say). When I was nineteen I spent a semester living abroad in Moscow, Russia. As a student determined to explore all that the country had to offer, I certainly did a lot of walking.

But the summer before I came to Russia I broke my foot. I only got my cast off a few weeks before I got on the plane.

And so the constant walking and adventuring made my still-healing foot incredibly sore most of the time. I remember hobbling along, trying to keep up with the group in spite of constant pain.

Finally after about six weeks I decided to ask for a blessing. My foot was sore, and I was discouraged.

But after the blessing my foot no longer hurt. And it has never hurt in the fourteen years since. I walked all around Russia and Eastern Europe. I have since walked around China and a plethora of other countries. My foot has never bothered me in the least.

It was miraculous to me that one day my foot could be so sore, and the very next it was just fine, and never ached again.

But I remember as I was thinking about asking for a blessing, I decided that I needed to believe that the Lord could heal me. I considered it for some time before concluding that I did have that faith, and it wasn’t just lip service. The decision I made to believe, and the miracle that followed was a testimony to me of Heavenly Father’s care for me.

It is certainly not as dramatic a tale as in Ephraim’s Rescue, but it was no less needed, and no less an evidence of God’s power to me.

This post was written on August 29th, but is only being published now (on Tuesday) as a Tale for Tuesday.

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.

 

I Love to See the Temple

Feb

19

2013

If I back-date it to Tuesday, then it count’s as a Tale for Tuesday, right?

 

tamie

Tamie Shakespeare

kami

Kamie White, who later married my cousin from California, Zack Beitler.

 

 

When I was sixteen I spent one wild adventurous semester living with my aunt in St. George. Activities included Saturdays spent branding cattle at the Esplin family ranch, working on my ever-popular cousin’s student body election (win), going on some of the most disastrous dates, and this little story . . . this week’s Tale for Tuesday.

Tamie lived on the left, and Kami on the right. And the three of us were the exact same age. So naturally, our friendship was fast.

And what do sixteen year old girls like to do best of all? Daydream about super-romantic-super-hero-husband-to-be’s that would someday come into our lives . . . someday.

And go on walks.

Well, I’m not actually sure if Tamie or Kami enjoyed the walking so much. I tell myself that all the blessed souls I’ve met in my life all happened to enjoy walking as a legitimate pass-time as much as me.

But it could be they just humored me.

But anyway, take the two aforementioned activities, throw in a Temple as the closest public location, and what do you have? An adventure waiting to happen of course.

We would walk – all around St. George actually. Up the road, past the boulevard and further on to the post office (to mail letters to Andi of course), or sometimes down the way, around to the high school for a baseball game. Every once in a while we’d even bypass the Temple and keep going on to the park. But usually our rounds took us to the grounds of the St. George temple.

There we would sit in desert gardens alive with color like a Monet. We’d lounge on the bench beneath the lilac trellis, along the rose walk, and bear our souls to each other in the way that only young girls do.

And of course, there was laughter.

A lot of laughter.

I wouldn’t say I’m prone to “loud laughter,” but one more serious than I (yes, I’ve met some. Can you believe it?) might disagree. For more than intellectualizing the gospel, or projecting theoretical politics, or even crafting the afternoon away, I love to laugh.

And so we often would find ourselves embracing the silliness that was the birthright of our age. And sometimes we just wouldn’t pay attention.

Now, it must be said, on this particular evening, as we sat on the bench in the far corner of the Temple grounds, I do not remember if we were laughing, or if we were being serious. I don’t remember what we were talking about. I do remember a lot of laughter with those two. And I remember our fair share of serious discussion. But on this evening nothing comes to memory until the moment we all looked up, and saw the lights that lit up the glow of the alabaster temple turn off.

That’s odd, we all thought. They usually kicked us out long before the temple lights went off – the grounds closed before then . . .

We got up to leave. Only to find that the green iron gate – 8 feet tall at it’s shortest point, was firmly locked shut. We made our way around each plane of the fence, checking each gate, finding each locked.

We looked for someone to let us out, peered, faces pressed against the glass of the visitor’s center. No one was coming to help us.

Finally we back around to the gate at first, the one closest to home, the one that bordered the back side of the temple.

(And now, it must be said, there was a great deal of laughing going on as we contemplated our predicament).

And there by the dumpster, behind the temple, we found a wooden palette, surely used for some food supplies or something delivered.

We dragged it over to the gate, leaned it up, and used it like a ladder, it hoisting us just high enough that we could use our own body strength to climb the rest and throw ourselves over.

We ran . . . ran, all the way home, giggling all the way, mortified of the trouble we’d be in if we were caught.

I remember I did tell Aunt Draza this story when I found the courage a few days later. She gave me her famous “you are a total idiot, but you don’t need me to tell you that” look that I always loved her for.

A Christmas Tale for Tuesday

Dec

25

2012

Since Christmas is falling on a Tuesday this year, I thought it befitting to have a “Tale for Tuesday” be a Christmas story . . .

 

When I was in eleventh grade I wrote a short story for my Lit Mag class. I remember reading it to my mom from the back seat of our suburban as we drove home in the snow one evening. She cried.

Later, when I turned it in, Mr. Rosett’s praise was effusive. A great surprise since Mr. Rosett was never effusive, and certainly never praised anything I ever did.

And so, taking cue from my greatest fan and my greatest critic, I decided to submit the story (secretly) for publishing to Deseret Book. Not knowing the protocol for such things, I put it in a manilla envelope and simply labeled it “Publisher” – addressing it to the Deseret Book headquarters in downtown Salt Lake.

Now all I had to do was wait.

But why wait when you only live, seriously, like ten minutes away?

So one Thursday afternoon a few weeks after I mailed my package I “stopped in” just to check on my work. I remember a publisher (at least, I assume so) sat me down at his desk, fumbled around for a few minutes as if trying to find the status on my piece, and finally told me they couldn’t use my story.

 

I left, deflated, embarrassed, and determined that that was the end of my (presumably brilliant) career as a writer.

 

I’ve never ever told that story to anyone before. At first because I was embarrassed, and later because it fell into the forgotten memories of growing up.

But then I stumbled across the original story while flipping through my old notebook.

Ah, giggle.

 

And so an even bigger treat – I’m going to share it with you.

Let me warn you – this is unedited. As I type this, I haven’t even read it from fifteen years ago. I assume it is full of syrupy sentimentality and cliche writing (you know, much like you get on a regular basis here on this blog). Do your best to stomach it for me :D

 

Strobes of Christmas lights illuminated store windows, advertising the last of the Christmas sales. Shoppers rushed madly from store to store, clutching their precious packages to be wrapped and put beneath the tree that very eve. Carolers stood on the corner, singing in untrained voices of the good tidings of the season. And high above them all a large orange street lamp cast a hazy glow on the dark winters eve.

As night wore on, the shoppers thinned out until only one unusually late one would pass on the street, hailing a cab or running to his car. The carolers had all gone now, going to someone’s house for some hot cider and muffins. The shopkeepers began to close their stores, turning out the lights and taking down the sale signs, replacing them with new “After Christmas Sale” signs.

Snow began to fall, thick and wet on the abandoned street below. In a dark alley, where the light from the street post couldn’t reach, a man huddled, crumpled against the wall.

You wouldn’t even know it was a man unless you looked closely. His figure seemed broken and drowned in the old ratty coat which he wore. He leaned between the cold brick of the alley and an old shipping crate. Between the two he managed to escape the brunt of the whistling wind, yet still he could not escape the harsh coldness that cut into him. Futilely he pulled the torn coat tighter and tighter about him, rocking himself back and forward in a vain attempt to stay warm.

The man listened – an attempt to occupy his mind – as the town became more and more quiet. Finally there was complete silence. Even the wind had died down to a careless whisper, and the snow seemed to make everything stand still. For a moment the man looked out from the alley and wondered if he wasn’t the only one left on the earth.

And then he heard something. Quiet at first, muffled by the snow. He had to strain to hear it. And then it came louder – the crunch of shoes on the side walk, coming towards the alley. The man looked out to see who it could be. He saw a thing woman, well-dressed, struggling with her packages. He hesitated, but then called out.

“Ma’am”

The woman stopped, confused by his call.

“Ma’am”

She turned so she could look over her packages and down to where the voice was coming from.

“Ma’am,” the man continued, “I was just wondering if you could help me, you see, it’s awful cold out, and I don’t have anywhere to stay so I . . . “

The woman cut him off. “I’m sorry,” she said, “but I really can’t help you.” She looked across the street to where a taxi cab was approaching, and then back at the man. “I really wish I could, but I just can’t.”

With that the woman stepped towards the cab to hail it. The man looked after her, his face giving no evidence of disappointment or sorrow as he watched her climb into the car and drive away.

The wind picked up and the man wrapped his coat tighter around him, leaning against the brick. He closed his eyes and tried to fall asleep.

A while later he heard footsteps again. This time it was two people walking on the sidewalk toward the alley. He peered out to see two men, in tuxedos and overcoeats, coming toward him. They were talking and didn’t even notice the man until he called out them.

“Sir?” He was uncertain which one to address.

The taller of the two men looked down, seemingly annoyed that he had been interrupted.

Making eye contact, the man continued on, “Sir, I’m sorry to bother you, but you see, it’s cold, and I was wondering if you might have a place I could stay.”

The tall man looked the alley man over, and then turned to his friend. His friend shrugged, offering no advice. And the tall man looked back to the man sitting in the alley. “What would the neighbors think if I brought you home! No, I’ve paid my taxes, go to the shelter, they’ll help you there.” And with that the man turned back to his friend and the two continued on down the street. The man in the alley watched them go.

‘At least it’s stopped snowing’ he thought as he moved back into the alley against the crate and wall. He curled up again to try to sleep.

He didn’t know how long he had been asleep when he felt someone shaking him. At first he thought it was a dream, and he turned and moaned in an effort to dispel it. But the shaking persisted, and finally he opened his eyes to see a young woman standing above him. It took him a moment to orient himself, to remember the alley and the crate.

“Sir,” the woman was talking to him. He looked up at her and saw the she was carrying a large bundle, balancing it on her hip as she leaned over him.

“Sir,” she continued, “do you need a place to stay?”

“Huh?” he asked, still a little dazed.

“Do you need a place to stay?” she repeated, “I don’t have much, just an old worn couch and a blanket, but the apartment is warm, and you’re welcome to come if you would like.”

The man looked around, and then up at her. “Sure . . . yes, I would appreciate it.”

The woman helped the man to his feet. Together they walked on down the street in silence. The man noticed that the bundle he had previously thought to be Christmas presents was actually a basket of what appeared to be laundry. The woman herself was neat and clean, her hair was pulled up neatly away from her face, and her clothes, though a bit worn, were clean and pressed.

They walked on in silence for almost a mile before turning down another alley way, not too different from the one they had just left. But the woman pulled a key from around her neck, and stepped up to a door.

The two stepped inside the small apartment, and almost instantly two children nearly attacked the young woman.

“Mommy, mommy!” the two raced towards their mother and jumped on her, sending her sprawling into the orange vinyl sofa. The woman laughed and hugged each child in turn as they rambled off about everything that she simply must know.

“And then Kissy took us to the park and there was a puppy there,” a small girl of about five told her mom.

“And I held it,” the boy, a bit older than the girl, offered.

“I’m telling the story,” the girl whined before continuing. “And the puppy had a tail this big!” The girl stretched out her arms to make her point.

Another girl, this one about 16, entered the room. The woman looked up at her and smiled. “Hi Krissy, thanks for staying so late, especially on Christmas eve.”

“No problem.” The girl shrugged.

“Do you want me to walk you home?”

The girl smiled and shook her head. “No, that’s okay.”

And with that the girl let herself out of the apartment, and went home.

The man cleared his throat to try and remind the woman of his presence.

The woman looked up at him and smiled. “These are my kids” she explained. “That’s Jimmy” she pointed, “and that’s Melanie.”

Both children clung to their mother, shy at the stranger’s presence.

“Come on you two,” the mother urged, “time for bed. Go put on your pajamas and brush your teeth.”

“But mommy, we have to wait for Santa Claus” Melanie exclaimed.

The woman frowned at her daughter’s reference to Santa. “Honey, I’ve already explained that Santa won’t be able to find us this year, not after we moved.”

“Yes he will!” Melanie confirmed. “I sent two letters to him last week, one to tell him what I want, and the other in case he loses the first one.”

The woman hugged her daughter, at a loss for what to do.

Finally she managed to send the two to bed, and returned to the small room where the man remained. “Do you want something to drink? Some hot chocolate?”

He followed her to the kitchen. A dim 40 watt bulb hung from a cord on the ceiling, illuminating an avocado refrigerator, and an old stained sink surrounded by cabinetry that badly needed some paint. In the middle of the room an old round card table served as a dinner table, with orange crates turned over to use as stools.

The woman opened a cupboard to reveal nothing more than half a loaf of bread, a box of Cheerios, a sticky jar of peanut butter, and an old can of hot chocolate.

Taking the can down, she put some water on the stove, and sat down across from the man to wait for the water to boil.

After a few moments of hesitation the man finally asked, “Why isn’t Santa coming this year?”

The woman got a pained look on her face and was silent for a moment in an effort to control her emotions.

Finally, in a quiet voice she explained, “Their dad died a year ago this January. He never was one to plan for the future. He left us with so many debts, and not enough money to cover them. So after the house was sold, and the debts were all paid off, we had just enough to pay the rent here. I’ve been doing laundry for some neighbors for the past months, but there just isn’t enough money for Santa to come.”

The woman paused, staring curiously at her hand. After a brief moment of silence she continued on. “Jimmy seems to understand. He’s grown up a lot these past months . . . more than he should have to. But Melanie . . .” the woman’s voice trailed off.

The whistle on the kettle blew, and the woman stood and mixed the hot chocolate. She placed his cup carefully on the table, and then without a word, went into the other room.

The man sipped his hot chocolate ab it uncomfortably for a few minutes before the woman returned. In her arms she carried a heavy  wool and leather overcoat. “Here she said, “I want you to have this.”

She handed him the coat. “It was James’. My husband.”

The man was about to refuse, but then he saw in the woman’s eyes what it meant to her that he take it. And so he took the heavy coat from her, and said in a quiet voice, “Thank you.”

The woman simply smiled. “I’m going to bed” she announced. “I’ve put some blankets and a pillow on the couch for you, and if you need more, they’re in the closet in there.”

And then the woman left. Disappearing behind a door, leaving the man alone in the dark kitchen with his cup of hot chocolate and a coat on his lap.

 

 

The next morning Melanie came bounding in, jumping right on top of her mother. “Mommy, Mommy, come see! Come see what Santa brought!”

The woman rolled over and moaned. “Mel, I’m sorry Santa couldn’t come this year . . .”

The little girl interrupted her. “No mommy, come see! Come see what he brought!”

Just them Jimmy jumped on her too. “He came mom! He came!” he exclaimed as he bounced on the bed.

The woman looked at her children. “All right” she sighed, and she let them pull her out of bed. She wrapped a bathrobe around her and stepped out into the hall, her children dragging her to what she was certain would be an empty living room.

But the room wasn’t empty. Christmas lights hung from the ceiling, casting red and green shadows everywhere. They seemed to melt off the wall and on to  the large green Christmas tree standing in the corner of the room. The tree was  wide and green, and was strung with tinsel and candy canes, and at the very top shone a bright yellow star.

Beneath the tree were piles of brightly wrapped packages. Yellow and white ribbons curled out as the children ran to open them. The woman looked around, seeming a bit confused. She went into the kitchen. The light bulb had been changed to new bright light, shining on the packages of food that overflowed from the cupboards and onto the counter and table. And there, in one corner of the counter, was enough money to last the woman and her children a very long time.

But where was the man? She remembered the night before, and the man who had come to stay. She went back into the front room, where her children were nearly drowned among the wrapping paper and toys. But the man wasn’t there.

She opened the door and looked down the alley way. She saw a familiar coat walking down toward the street. “Sir!” she called after him.

The man turned. “Sir . . . won’t you come back in?”

The man shook his head and turned back to the street.

“Sir,” she called again, “thank you.”

The man looked back to the woman in the doorway. “My dear woman, I have not nearly done for you what you have done for me.”

And then he walked out onto the street, and became lost in the morning traffic.

And the woman turned back into her house to enjoy the Christmas morning with her children.

 

 

 

Okay – so now that I’ve just typed that up, I see why it was rejected – the grammatical errors alone are enough to drive one crazy. Clearly proof reading has never been my strong suit. But the story is simplistic and idealistic, kinda Frank Capra-esque. It is kinda fun. Ah, me.

It was Bad Luck

Aug

14

2012

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

Jun

19

2012

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.

Oklahoma!

May

15

2012

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.