Monday, November 24, 2008

My talented big sister Tina

Nov. 25th is my sister Tina's birthday. She is on the right in the first picture and the left on the next one. This is not too long after she became a "big sister" and she has always been a good one. She reportedly taught me how to play dolls, and I know she liked to play school with me and be the teacher during a lot of summer days. She has been a friend throughout the years and has helped me in more ways than she probably realizes.

This is Tina and one of my Grandmas. This is the grandma that we were fortunate enough to get to see a little more often and she was a talented woman. At the last family gathering we were talking about how much Tina is like her. They both are good at cooking / baking, they both sew very well, and maybe it's because Tina is so much like this Grandma that I think she would have managed to be a good pioneer, unlike me, I think I would have cried myself all the way across the country. Hmm, maybe some good pioneers cried themselves across the country though -- who knows?

During our growing up years we moved a number of times. The picture above isn't terrific but it was taken right before we moved away from Missouri and to Colorado and showed us leaning on one another. Here we went again and I think the only thing that made moving tolerable was to have such a good family. My brothers and sisters -- including Tina -- were my friends so we didn't have to start from scratch every time.

I tried to find a picture of Tina with a camera to her face but I didn't have enough time. I think I have several. We both had cameras and used to have camera wars -- trying to catch the other person on film. I look back now and think it was an interesting use of expensive film -- but we did have a good time and I guess that counts.

Christmas was always a season to look forward to and a day to be planned for with excitement at our house. I think Tina was a good part of this as she organized us younger children to plan programs and she snuck around on Christmas Eve with us. She was a bit of a tyrant about the presents under the tree. Only she could arrange them artistically enough to suit her!

Tina got married while I was in college and I didn't get to go out for the wedding though I did go to her second reception in CO. I remember waking up and thinking -- "wow, my sister is getting married today". She married Christopher who she had dated since she was 16 -- with a break while he served a mission to Japan. They are now the parents of 8 wonderful children. In the picture above she only had 3 children and her husband is the hairy one. This is Tia's blessing picture and I remember that when Tia was in the hospital my kind hearted sisters came up to see her and cried to find her hooked up to an i.v.. Tina has always been helpful to me. She helped me learn to can peaches, she talks to me when I need a friend, and she and Chris have always been very welcoming. We used to go to their house every weekend to watch Star Trek when they lived closer. I think she has cooked for me more than anyone else -- well except her own family! I know she rescued me in college from eating noodles and salt when the food supply and the money supply were both low.

Our last babies were born the same day. Dan was first and Caleb later. Tina has the oldest and the youngest grandchild on my side of the family and does an excellent job homeschooling her children, teaching them, and loving them. There are so many things I could say and so many pictures, including some pretty funny morning ones that I could post but I guess I'll save some for another year. I love Tina. I could not have asked for a better big sister.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The World Care Cruise Line

Have you ever heard of it? It has three ships -- Faith, Hope, and Charity. Like a regular cruise your food is included in the cost of the trip. Your ship has a swimming pool or two and an exercise room and a theater for your use. There are shows too, but they are cultural shows with dances and singing from the places that you are going to visit. While you are sailing there are classes available to help inform you about the customs, beliefs and culture of the places you will visit. You will be taught how to say hello, goodbye, thank you and your welcome in the language of the country you are visiting.

Like a regular cruise, there are tours that you can pay to go on, but these are different kinds of tours. These are service / humanitarian tours. You might have a chance to go work in orphanages or soup kitchens. You might paint, repair, or clean buildings, or areas. You might simply have a chance to take needed items in and distribute them to the people who need them.

Never fear, if you are a shopper there will be shopping tours. But instead of buying for yourself, you will be looking for items on a list you have been given of things needed by some of the local people. Buying from the local people will help the economy of the place you visit.

When you come home from your cruise you will feel that you have learned something, and been helpful to the people whose country you visited. Perhaps you will have helped clean up polluted areas or you will have alleviated hunger or sorrow. You will have made a difference!

Who owns this cruise line? Unfortunately, this is just a product of my imagination. I came up with the idea after I had been cruising for a few days and was getting a little tired of the semi-idle life style. If anyone can figure out how to get such a cruiseline up and running, I will buy a ticket for sure.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Thankful Turkey

One Thanksgiving tradition that we have managed to carry on for quite a few years is that of making a "Thankful Turkey". We make a turkey body for the family, or during some years we make as many turkeys as there are people. Then we add feathers with something we are thankful for written on each one. Sometimes, like this year, we make the whole turkey at once. Other years we have left feathers out to add whenever there was something in a day we were particularly thankful for. Still other years, we have tried to fill out a feather each at dinner time. This tradition is one that we all enjoy.

The turkey above was made last night. Probably 40 percent of those feathers were filled out by Connor. He did a good job of being specific. He wasn't just thankful for school but for math and science, etc. He was thankful for sports teams and various books -- including specific scriptures. He was even thankful for brooms. Some of the things on our lists are more serious than others. Derek was thankful that "Utah isn't a nudist state" and he was also thankful for his "good kids" and for "microwaves".

I was predictably thankful for "a good story" and "good friends" though the kids were disappointed that I hadn't listed the telephone as usual. It seems I don't get many phone calls anymore -- but on the days I get to talk to family and friends I am very thankful for it so perhaps I'd better go add a feather!

It is fun to stop and read what everyone is feeling thankful for. That is our fun tradition (the idea came from my sister Tina). Do any of you have a good Thanksgiving tradition to share?

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Quest Begins -- Day 1 and 2

Megz, the tour guide is the one with his hand on his glasses. I don't have any better picture of his eyes and they were what I thought was kind of scary about him.I couldn't resist taking a picture of this sign....and now....

In a backward fashion, we have now reached the beginning of my trip. The first two days were really just one super long day. We got on the plane on Friday before noon and got off on Saturday after noon. I didn't ever sleep on the way there. My book was good.

Once in Athens we were directed to our luggage, and a bus. We went directly to the ship and got on fairly quickly. Our luggage was quick as well and we were mostly unpacked when it was time to put on our lovely orange life jackets for a drill. It was announced that we should tie our life jackets before leaving the room so that nobody would step on the ties and trip us up. Derek was headed out the door before ours were tied and I was right behind him getting ready to say "We were supposed to tie these before leaving our rooms" when the door closed on my strap and I was stuck. Of course, we were in a hallway that also housed the rest of the staff, so they were there to witness me almost falling down and having to open the door to get unstuck. Fortunately I wasn't so tired that I had lost my sense of humor and I thought it was quite funny. It was a good thing it was just a drill.

We ate and slept after that. We deserved it after having survived having a seat by "Garlic Man" on one flight and the "teeth sucking man" on another. My seat was by Garlic Man but the one across the aisle by Derek was free so I moved. Unfortunately, we could smell him just fine from across the aisle. Derek was a bit nauseous from the smells floating around the cabin on that flight. The next flight Derek was by "teeth sucking man". I was unaware of his delimma. Fortunately my ipod came in handy for drowning out the noise that was quickly getting on Derek's nerves. The flights were a success. We got where we were going safely and at no time did we get up and run down the aisle screaming "I can't take it anymore!" Hooray for us. Our adventure had begun.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Quest Day 3, Ephesus

Three weeks ago today Derek and I were in Ephesus. The picture above is a wall below "The Virgin Mary's Home". The home is a Catholic shrine -- built on a foundation that is believed (by some) to be the home Mary lived in from some time after the crucifixtion of Jesus until her death. It was good to go through this home with a couple of Catholics from Derek's work who were obviously filled with awe at the chance to be there. The wall above is one where people leave notes -- I think prayer notes. I'm thinking it is something they want St. Mary to help them with.
This is us standing by the spring of healing water. Our guide told us that we should not drink the water because we would get sick -- but some people we saw did it anyway since they believed in its healing properties. Other people just rubbed the water on themselves. We just took a picture by it.

These are some of the ruins in the ancient city of Ephesus. There were a lot of things to see and my main complaint was that we had to follow our tour guide around and didn't get to see everything we could have if we were on our own. Our tour guide did tell interesting stories -- but I wanted to know his sources for them. He seemed like a nice enough man but his eyes were kind of creepy looking and I thought he looked scary. Still, this was a great place to visit and Derek's favorite of the week and a half we were gone.

The building behind Derek is the Library. They put it back together from the pieces they found. The original library had three stories but they haven't found enough pieces to put all three stories together. Our guide said "next time you are in Ephesus you might find that there is a third story on the library."
In the background of this picture is the theater. When we went in to see it one of the tour groups were seated in it and someone was singing to show how good the acoustics were. They actually held concerts here fairly recently to raise money to help in the restoration of ancient Ephesus. The problem was that the loud music and the stomping people did damage to this ancient theater. The damage will take much more money to fix than the money the concerts raised. Oops.
Before visiting Ephesus we read quite a bit from Paul's letter to the Ephesians and once we got back to the ship we read more about Paul in Ephesus from the Book of Acts. This is a part of the reason that we enjoyed going here. It is fun to go places that are linked with Christian history.
After visiting Ephesus we were taken to a store and shown how Persian rugs are made. Our tour guide has a school where they teach people how to make rugs so that they can make money and preserve the art. They are made by hand and it takes a lot of time. It takes about a year for the big rugs I think. The rugs are beautiful and very expensive. They really wanted us to buy one. The Turkish government will ship it right to your door for free -- once you've bought it! The larger rugs were running around 20,000 Euros I think. This was yet another thing we didn't buy but they were very impressive.

It was a little chilly that day, but with jackets on it wasn't too uncomfortable. The sun was shining and, generally speaking, it was a good day.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Day 4 -- At Sea

This is a picture of us heading out to see on day 3. For today you get a direct quote from my journal. "Monday we were at sea and I know I slept through the afternoon again and morning was a long meeting."

A couple of random facts from the trip:
*We had a few nights of stormy weather that made for lots of rocking, moaning, creaking, and banging to keep us awake. Fortunately we never got sea sick.
*We were always impressed with the buildings that somehow were built without the machinery that is used today. One of our friends commented "Yes, it is amazing what you can do with a bunch of slaves". He did not sound approving.
*Sometimes, maybe to help with homesickness, we would think of various family members and what they might be doing if they got to go on the trip. For example: We figured Erin would love going in all of those little shops and not just walking by them, and we figured that, as far as we walked, Tanya would have managed to walk further. Of course, she might have just taken the subway.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Quest Day 5 -- Messina, Sicily, Italy

Oops, I did the pictures out of order again. The church above is the last thing we went to before heading to lunch on the ship. At noon there is an interesting kind of show here. If you will look closely you will see several golden statue things. They all move. There is a little skeleton that you can't see whose staff moves up and down. At the top, the lion raises his head and then roars really loudly. The speakers are great. When he's done roaring, the rooster raises it's head, opens it's beak, and crows really loudly. Then "Ave Maria" is played really loudly while some monks (also golden) go around moving their arms (I think blessing the crowd). It was the oddest thing ever and I'm afraid we all thought it was a bit amusing. We wonder what the locals think of it. It is a big tourist attraction though and there were lots of us there to listen and watch.
I might be remembering wrong but I thought this was one of the churches we went into first. It was really big and had statues of the saints on either side -- bigger than life. I can't think why I didn't take any pictures of any of them -- probably because I thought it was weird to take pictures in a church. The statues were mostly the original 12 apostles.
This is a confessional. We actually walked in a church where one was being used in Spain -- right there where we were walking by. It didn't seem like the kind of place I'd want to confess any sins!

The picture above shows where we sailed to get in the harbor. I was trying to figure out what the words under the statue were.
One building we went to seemed to be a school, a church, and a -- what do you call an indoor burial chamber? We believe this one was full of World War II soldiers. It seemed to be so from the dates.
This was the day that Derek got his cold. We walked into Messina with a large group from work -- which kept Derek from overdoing it because large groups don't usually move fast and deciding where to go by committee isn't quick either. It is a nice group though and it was a fine day.
Even though Derek didn't feel well I'm the one who slept the afternoon away and we had dinner and a movie and time to read in our room.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Day 6 -- Our Morning in Rome

To understand why I loved the day in Rome so much, you might need to understand how bad the night before was. I think this was one of the stormy nights. The ship rocking back and forth was okay -- even when a bit extreme -- but the noises that went with it were frustrating. The room sounded like it was pulling apart. The mattress creaked (creak, creak, creak -- pause -- creak, creak, creak), the walls clicked and groaned, the hangers and anything loose banged or rolled. It made sleep hard. Derek had gotten hit hard with a cold and while I was not sleeping I was worried that I would have to find a friend to go to Rome with since Derek might not be well enough. Then, morning came, and Derek had miraculously slept better than the night before and felt he could handle the day. Hooray! To top it off, when we got to Rome, we found friends who welcomed us into their group and who were fun, and kind. Derek was happy, and our friends helped us have an adventure and helped us to laugh.

The picture above is the Spanish Steps. I'm afraid I don't know the significance of the Spanish Steps but they were our first stop since they were close to the Piazza Barberini where the bus dropped us off. (The ship docked in Civitavecchia, Italy and Rome is an hour and a half to two hours away).
Our next stop (and by stop I mean we would pause in our walking long enough to admire and take pictures)was the Trevi Fountain (above). It is the biggest fountain in the world and was still filling up when we got there. It was crowded like the rest of Rome -- and this was the off season!

These are some ruins at the edge of The Forum. We were informed by someone with a tour guide that this particular spot was Caesar's Palace.

The Coliseum and the Forum are next to each other. The Forum is huge and used to be free to walk around in -- but now it costs money and is, I believe, the same line that you get in to see the inside of the Coliseum. We just did our best at peeking from outside. We didn't have a spare two hours. It was lunch time and we were hungry and we still wanted to see the Vatican. We decided to take the subway to the Vatican (which is on the other side of Rome).

These are some of the friends we were with. There were two couples from home and one couple from the Dominican Republic. They all speak Spanish and the couple from the DR speak almost no English. Derek and I ended up sitting with the couple from the DR at lunch. Not much conversation could take place -- but occasionally one of our other friends would turn around and translate for us. The subway ride to get to where we were going to eat was a real adventure. The car (train?)we were getting in was very full. The other three couples got on and there was really no more room -- but seeing that we were about to be left behind the man in the yellow shirt shoved everyone and we barely squished in. I've never seen such a packed car but I was impressed at everyones patience with being squished like sardines. Fortunately that leg of our journey wasn't long and the next subway car thing was not as full. (You can tell I'm not a subway expert!)
Our morning included a bus ride, walking, site seeing, picture taking, talking, laughing, and a squishy subway ride with the promise of lunch and more things to see still ahead.

Lunch, the Vatican, and the trip to the ship.

Lunch was pizza -- but there are too many pictures of Rome to add that to the blog. The pizza looked good -- and wasn't bad -- but Derek prefers Dominoes. I prefer regular pepperoni and a crust that is a little less like a flour tortilla with too much flour on it. I was really thankful that the pizza tasted pretty normal and it was much better than the ships pizza. The above picture is Derek by the columns that are around part of St. Peter's Square. I took a picture of him by the columns so you could get an idea of how big those columns are.
Our friend was rather proud of his creative picture. This is St. Peter's Square. The Pope spoke in this square in the morning. He speaks on Wednesdays. We hadn't gone earlier because our bus driver said the Vatican would be closed until 1 because of the Pope's speach. We didn't realize how open the square is and those that went earlier actually got to see the Pope. The lines were very long to get in to the Sistine Chapel and whatever else was inside and one couple in our group found some friends to cut in line with and managed to get in. It was interesting to see the place that we have seen on television occasionally. We could even see where the smoke comes out when they are choosing a new Pope and the window he sometimes waves from. The actual Vatican is behind the square and we didn't have time to wait in line and pay to get in. If you ever get to go to Rome try to arrange to stay there for at least two days!
Derek and I left our exhausted group after that and walked back to the Plazza Barberini.

On the way back we saw the "Castel S. Angelo". Somehow the headless statue guarding the door struck my funny bone -- especially since it was so near Halloween. We walked around the castle and then across the river that we had crossed before on the bus and on the subway.
This is "Fiume Tevere" -- can you tell that I'm looking at an Italian map?

In trying to follow the map back to the Plazza Barberini we went a little off course and accidentally ended up at the Pantheon (above). It was a nice kind of accident. We did go in but didn't have time to do more than snap a couple of pictures and walk back out. We found the Trevi fountain again after that and it was running this time. We made it to the Barberini Plaza in enough time that we stopped to get a drink.
Back on the bus we listened to the ladies behind us giggle uncontrollably for the entire hour and a half ride back to the ship while another group talked about their gambling exploits and another couple talked about herbal tinctures. It was dark by then and so there was nothing to see out the window except that rain had started. It seemed like a long ride. Once off the bus and in line to get back on the ship the clouds really let loose of their water and the wind turned people's umbrellas inside out. Security wasn't fast and we were drenched to the skin before we got in -- but at least the rain was not cold. We were happy to get dry and to sit down for a while. It was an exhausting day but visiting Rome was probably the day I enjoyed the most.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Principality of Monaco -- Quest day 7

The ship pulled in to Monaco around 9 a.m. on the day before Halloween. We had walked a lot the day before but, even with Derek not quite recovered from his cold and a cold wind blowing outside, we headed out for a walk at around 10. The closest thing to the ship that looked interesting was this castle / fort thing that Derek is standing in front of so we headed up.
This is a view from the top of that fort. I really enjoyed that part of our walk. There were fun sitting areas and overlooks and it was well kept. I wasn't too afraid of the cannons going off since the cannon balls were all welded together.

This is just an example of one of the little nooks in the fort that I liked. At the top of the fort we quickly came upon the driveway to the palace. I joked that we didn't need to walk further because Derek would enjoy watching all of the fancy cars going in and out of the drive. This is the palace where Princess Grace (Grace Kelly) and Prince Ranier III lived and their son Albert II is the ruler now. We were told that we might see some of the royalty out walking their children -- but they wisely stayed indoors where it was warm -- or we think they did. We really wouldn't have recognized them as royalty unless they were labelled.

This is just a fancy building that was unique so I took a picture. Monaco was really interesting. It is built kind of like a layered tower. All of the buildings appear to be in some way resting on the bottom buildings. If you look up high in Monaco you could think you were seeing the Utah mountains -- but you wouldn't make that mistake looking down where you can see palm trees and giant cactus plants. After walking past the palace and through the quaint shopping area we went down the big hill and back up following signs for "Le Jardin Exotique". It took us quite high up in the city and it was interesting to see that if you found yourself having a heart attack after having climbed all of those stairs you could take an elevator directly down to the hospital from the sidewalk. Very convenient.

We made it to the "Jardin Exotique" but ended up looking at it through the fence since we were too cheap to pay the "exotique" entrance fee. Eventually we took an elevator down, down, down, to the harbor level again. It ended in a big underground terminal that we hadn't known was there. What an adventure! We walked to the area with the big casinos after that. The picture above was taken on the way there. I have a picture of the casinos too but I liked this one better. I was trying to show some of the layers of buildings -- but mostly you can just see a little church tucked in -- looking a little inadequate to fend off the evils of gambling!
We could see a park on a buildings roof and Derek asked if we should walk to it. I said no. It was after lunch time and I thought he should not overdo it two days in a row. When we had walked half way around the bay on the way back to the ship he was thankful that I had, for once, said what I wanted. He was tired. In my journal I write that the rest of the day we rested, visited, and had plans to dine with friends. Monaco was the calm before the Halloween storm!

*Just a note -- Monaco is an independent province and a member of the UN but is protected by the French military. They likely speak French but I really didn't talk to anyone but Derek -- who is terrific at speaking English.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Quest Day 8 -- Barcelona, Spain

It poured in Barcelona the day that we were there -- and I was about as watery as the weather. I slept really well until 5:30 a.m. but then wasn't able to go back to sleep. I got hungry and finally got up to read to distract myself. Finally I got ready and went to breakfast by myself -- it was 9 a.m. Derek was still recovering from an awful cold and I hadn't wanted to wake him -- but I hadn't wanted to eat by myself again either. Sigh. I was thankful for the man who handed out the trays and bowls. He was very nice. I don't know his name -- I just called him "the man who is always fine". He is from Bahli and has a wife and an 18 month old son who he doesn't get to see for months at a time. Cruise ship workers usually work 7 months and stay home 5. He always seemed happy to see me and so it was like having a friend in the dining room.

Unfortunately the water works started after breakfast (mine -- Barcelona already was experiencing rain). Derek was very patient and we ended up walking into Barcelona after lunch. And I don't know what that crab creature in the picture above is all about. It was just interesting because someone took the time to make it.
With my usual amount of knowledge I'll tell you that this was an old castle like building that I took a picture of because it was an old castle like building and it wasn't raining so hard at that moment that I was having to try to keep the camera dry.

While seeing if our stamina would hold out long enough for us to find a famous cathedral, we found the "Arc de Triumf" or the Arch of Triumph for those of us who only speak English. It was built as a welcome post or door to the Universal Exposition of 1888. I just learned that from the internet and didn't really know it at the time. It was just another big gate (whose name we did know from the map) that was cool so we took a picture.

This is what we spent a lot of time doing -- looking at maps. I don't think it really ever helped. In this picture what you cannot tell is how soggy that map was. We had one umbrella with us and so my right side and Derek's left were soaked. The building behind Derek had signs about a zoo but I don't remember what the building itself is.
We never made it to the magnificent church that we had heard about. That's what we get for not braving the subway. The longer we walked the more my neck and feet hurt and we headed back. This statue that you can't see as clearly as I wish you could is of Columbus. Our bus dropped us off by it and picked us up there. The bus was a courtesy to get us from the dock to the "shopping area of Barcelona". We did see one church that was under renovation. It was pouring at the time so I didn't take a picture. We still managed to walk a few miles I think. It's easy to get a little off course in the not so straight streets.
I did hear some people say that Barcelona was their favorite. I would undoubtably have liked it better had I been feeling more relaxed and happy. On this day I believe I said "I just want to go home". I am a bit of a home body and I missed my kids.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

On the 9th day of the quest -- we were at sea.

This might have been the day that we filled out the room service form and forgot to put it on the door so we had to hurry to breakfast before the meeting -- which was set for 8:30 a.m. We needed to be there there by around 8. Of course, it could also have been the day that we did get room service and ... Derek had added hot chocolate to the order without me knowing -- as a surprise. When we got back to the room later we discovered that they had given us the hot chocolate packet and a container of hot ... tea. It's just as well I didn't see it when it was hot. I should mention that I enjoyed breakfast on the ship every day. Mostly I had scrambled eggs and bacon and french toast -- but the bread part varied and I did have cereal a couple of times. I think the cook gave me more bacon every day -- I started laughing one day and told him to stop since the pile was so high.

I liked this day. I like handing out things at meetings and being a greeter. The other people who were handing out things with me were fun and, in general, the people are friendly and happy to smile back at you. This is the meeting where the managers got to play bingo. It was funny to find that some people didn't know what constituted a "bingo" -- even after they had been told. They had never played before and didn't seem to understand that you had to have five in a row -- not just five anywhere.

Derek's boss sang "O Solo Mio" at this meeting. He has a beautiful voice and did a terrific job. I liked that part of the meeting even better than greeting people.

The rest of the day was good. We visited with other people and with each other and enjoyed a dinner with friends. I've had a lot of waiters on these trips chuckle at how much I don't eat. I try -- really I do -- but I can't eat THAT much food!

After days of walking until I was really tired it was nice to have a day to rest my feet.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

On the 10th day of the quest ...

we were in Great Britain at the Rock of Gibralter. I think this is a picture of it as we were leaving. This was our second Sunday being gone. I had tried to find a branch of our church in Gibralter but could only find one in Cadiz -- which did us no good. Fortunately, I didn't find this Sunday as hard to deal with as the last one. I really don't handle not being able to go to church very well. On this day we did what we had done on many other days. We walked. In fact, I kept thinking of the pioneer song "Pioneer children sang as they walked, and walked, and walked" and I thought that they must have done their singing walking downhill -- or on a flat surface and not hiking up a mountain. I could barely talk, let alone sing.
Our original vaguely formed plan was to take the tram to the top of the mountain. As we were walking to the tram, we passed a graveyard for soldiers. Their grave stones had mini stories on them. If you could read it, you would find that this stone is for two soldiers who were killed with the same bullet in a battle on Nov. 10, 1810. It was a very nice tribute.
Right next to the tram was a beautiful garden which we decided to look at before riding the tram. Derek said we should make our next yard like that and I laughed since the weather is all wrong and we don't have enough water to make those plants live where we are. The garden was on a hill and by the time we got to the edge of the garden we were so far up that we thought we would just keep walking instead of hiking back down to the tram. Sigh. I don't think that was our wisest decision ever but we did see things that nobody else did -- and we got a reputation as "hikers" who "probably walked more than anyone else on the cruise". I think the person who said that was probably right. The picture at the beginning of my blog is from this garden.

I think that this is the path that we took that nobody else got to see. It was made during the war -- but my knowledge is a little lacking as to what war so if any of you go through the trouble to figure it out -- let me know. There were places for cannons along the trail and we felt sorry for whoever had to get those cannons in place. There were chimneys built in to the rock with big ovens too but I'm not sure what they were for. We were supposed to get to enjoy seeing the apes in their natural habitat as we walked the trail -- but the apes prefer the more populated trails so that they can beg for food. You are NOT supposed to feed the apes but we found several people who risked being fined to feed them.
At the end of our side trail we met up with the road and the "apes" which we called monkeys for obvious reasons. They would hop on cars and busses and the bus driver had to chase one away from the bus door. They obviously had no fear of people and Derek could have moved closer to this one but probably was a bit wary since it had just used that railing as its potty. Ewww!
After that we walked down the other side of the Rock -- closer to the ship. We found a great short cut (a little rocky trail with steps at the end right into downtown). I wish we would have found that on the way up! It was much shorter. It was after noon when we got back to the ship and I was kind of tired and grouchy -- but lunch helped.
The rest of our Sunday was spent on deck chairs. Derek read and I did too. I read for my primary lesson which is tomorrow and some other church related things so that I felt better about the day. Later we got out the house plan book that we had hauled across the world and sorted out our favorite look for the outside of our next house (okay so our top 20 or so). People came over to offer opinions and it was nice to visit with people.
I think this was the day that ended with a jazz concert. It wasn't our favorite music, but the man who played the clarinet, saxaphone and a mini banjo thing was very talented. There was a lady down below by the stage that provided us with entertainment as she swayed and rolled her head around. It was also interesting to watch the people around her stare at her -- half appalled and half amused.
I was generally pleased with this day. Derek was feeling more energetic and I only whined a little bit about us not taking the tram -- which was my own fault since Derek gave me a choice. I just usually do what I think he wants to. Maybe sometimes I should do what I think I want to do. Hmmm. Did I come any closer to finding my brain? I guess you can say yes if you count the fact that I was reminded of the importance of the Sabbath day and what a blessing it is to be able to attend church every week. At home I find the Sabbath day long and sometimes difficult right now -- but I still missed the things I love about it. I missed taking the Sacrament, singing the hymns, and having the chance to worship our Savior with other people who love Him too. Maybe I'll be like the scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz and find that I had a brain all along. Maybe mine is just a little tired right now.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Day 11 of the Quest -- Cadiz, Spain

Well, the computer added my pictures backwards so I guess I'll tell the story backwards ...
The last day of sightseeing is over and we "sail" off into the sunset.
On our second time out of the ship in Cadiz, we are trying to find the ship before it can leave without us and we find a garden / park so we take a picture. We are tourists after all, and snapping pictures is what we do.
This is also on our second trip out (after lunch). Instead of walking in to "shop" we walked over by the sea. The weather is nice for a change and there were cats lounging below Derek where you can't see them enjoying the sunshine. We walked kind of far by the sea and then went into the town to try to find our way back to the ship. We wandered farther than we thought (it's hard to tell where you're going with narrow winding streets and tall buildings!). Fortunately, us ending up far away from the entrance to the dock enabled us to help a nice older lady who had piles of shopping bags and had been led in the wrong direction by a taxi driver. Our walk was considerably slower after that but I think we got back to the ship with ten minutes to spare.

This was the only church we walked into in Cadiz. It had nets up high to catch falling pieces of rock from the ceiling. It was beautifully done and was being used. Someone was actually confessing to a priest as we quietly walked by. What a weird thing to have your church be a tourist attraction!
This church was made out of two kinds of stone -- they ran out of the first kind. The church was over 300 years old.

This was at the beginning of the day on our first trip out. We had not bought anything the entire rest of the trip and we know from experience that the customs officials in the USA look on people who don't buy things with suspicion so we agreed to go shopping with some friends to buy something. We figured Derek's parents deserved something for all of their hard work. Unfortunately, we are not great shoppers, especially when we are together and in a foreign country. One of our friends called it the longest short walk he had ever taken and we all split up at lunch time. I found the whole experience so frustrating that it took me a few hours to get over it. I will definately have to remember what we've learned on previous trips and I temporarily forgot -- that I need to find someone else to shop with and let Derek happily walk for miles while I shop.
We liked the flower tree Derek is standing in front of and he thought maybe we could create one -- so we took a picture so we could remember.
Other notes on the day: By this day I am really desperately tired of trying to be excited about odd food. I try the pizza on the ship which is yucky. I love breakfast on the ship but am not really fond of much else. Sigh.
Back on the ship after touring we packed our suitcases, ate dinner, and watched a movie at the theater -- the only movie we watched at the theater the whole trip. It was almost time to go home and we were feeling happy about that!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

On day 12 of "The Quest" ....

The wake up call was set for 6 a.m. Lisbon, Portugal time. Unfortunately, room service showed up five minutes earlier than it was supposed to and so Derek staggered to the door and breakfast was there. We were out of bed, and knew that the next time we would get a chance to lie down in a bed again would be more than 24 hours from then. We went to the Lisbon airport by bus and I found it disconcerting to find that they didn't put any of their signs in English. What were they thinking? We still managed to get on the plane where we were trapped for 8 hours with the window seat and the middle seat with a nice older man on the edge making it impossible to escape. We fought our natural instinct to panic when stuck in a small space, and popped up immediately the one time our older man aisle guard decided to get up. I was seriously wishing he'd accept more drinks from the flight attendants so that I could. I was very thirsty but didn't dare drink a lot since I didn't feel the path the the WC was really clear for me. (That would be Water Closet which is what we really don't call our bathrooms in America).

When we got to Newark we were not allowed to land for an extra forty minutes due to an emergency at the airport. I enjoyed being over the USA and seeing the beautiful fall colors going by as we flew around and around in circles. Surprisingly (or not) there were no old European churches below, or cities packed full of people and mysterious statues -- except I could see NYC as we were landing. Of course, Derek and I managed to look suspicious enough to be the only ones in our crew sent through the agricultural inspection line where the nice workers told me (in a surprised tone even though I'd already told them) that my beef jerkey was made in the USA. Sigh. We had enough time in this airport to eat since we'd only had three meals on the plane. We were with four other people from Derek's work and I think four of us took pain killers during our meal.

Next we were off to Houston. By then I had started a book which I finished on that flight. I slept on the next one even though that last flight was cold. Surprisingly, all of the other flights had actually been warm. We then waited for our luggage, dragged it onto a bus, got off at the proper stop and wheeled our suitcases through the falling slush and out to the car. The weather went from atrocious to okay to slightly bad and we finally arrived home after 1 a.m.

The quest was over. Was it a success? I'll have to answer that question when I'm not falling over with fatigue and taking pain killers to help with awful headaches. Was it a good trip? It was like being at home in one way. Some moments are great, some are good, and some are pathetic. Overall it was a good experience and something we were thankful to get to do. After this last day of "the quest" we were very thankful for a comfortable bed that didn't rock, or make weird noises due to rocking. We were thankful to be home and we were thankful for Derek's parents who had stayed here to take care of our children. I think they were probably thankful to get to go to their own house for the night. Finally, after the longest November 4th ever the quest was at an end.