We’re Back

April and May are definitely our most busy months of the year. During that time, Lauren is still playing soccer and both Leah and Abby start their softball season. Leah asked me to coach her 10-under softball team (why, I don’t know … it’s not like she takes coaching from me …), so I’ve been neck deep in that while trying to watch and teach Abby some of the nuances of the sport. Plus, the kids are all in school with about a million things going on during this last month, such as assemblies, field days, French spelling bees, etc. Then I get to wrangle 6 Boy Scouts in weekly activities and monthly camp outs. We’re glad summer is nearly here so we can relax a bit.

This has been such an odd year. We had a balmy winter with very little (!) snow in the valley and many warm days. Then we have had a soaking month. In fact, a weather spotter in Ogden reported 6.5 inches of rain in the last 4 weeks. On a bell curve of normal, that would totally be on the right tail. I haven’t artificially watered my lawn yet this year and actually have to find dry days in between wet ones to mow and landscape. I’m not complaining about this at all — I love this weather pattern.

Now, on to the pictures and their context.

Reflections Newsletter Map

While I was temporarily working for the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache NF in South Jordan, I got a call from the Pleasant Grove Ranger District asking for an update and replication of a recreation map. This was the last task I did before returning to my normal job, so it was a treat to head back to the Forest office a few weeks ago to see the newsletter with my map inside. I’m no cartographer (the one who makes maps look decent), so this thing isn’t going to win any awards, but it will certainly serve its purpose for the visitors of American Fork Canyon.

Family at Temple

Lauren, my 8 year old daughter, has now been to 5 LDS temple open houses prior to their dedication: Draper, Payson, Brigham City, Ogden, and Oquirrh Mountain. She’ll hit her 6th this summer when Provo City Center is complete. Needless to say, there’s been a bumper crop of temples along the Wasatch Front, which is an indicator of need.

Conference Center Rooftop

We got our first official tour of the LDS Conference Center last Sunday. The youth in our ward participated in the Oquirrh Mountain Cultural Celebration back in 2008 so I’ve been all through the building, back stage, upstairs, downstairs, etc. However, I’d never had an official tour, and my kids had never been inside. The pic of them in front of that of the water is actually on the roof. What you can’t see well is the urban garden off to the right. Lots of trees, wildflowers, shrubs, and other plants that cut down on the amount of impervious surface a building of this size creates.

Welcome back, Hunter Pence

Finally, due to the World Series victory for our Giants last Fall, our kids have been totally into baseball. Jen made that shirt Austin’s wearing for our Spring Training trip to Phoenix. Unfortunately, Hunter Pence was injured and didn’t play while we were down there. Right after our trip, we purchased the MLB.TV premium app and have been able to watch all “out of market” games the Giants play, which is every game except for those against the Rockies and Diamondbacks. We load the live HD game on our phones and then use the Chromecast dongle to broadcast the game to our TV. Needless to say, it’s been fun to watch as many games as we have. My girls sit in Sacrament Meeting in church and make lists of all the players and their positions. Perhaps not the best use of sacred time, but not as bad as every other kid playing shoot-em-up games on their iPads.


Scouting Missionaries

Today was a day of missionaries. We heard 4 speakers in two different wards speak about their recently-lived and upcoming experiences. In our ward, a retired couple is heading to Germany in a few weeks for the next 18-24 months to help oversee the remodeling of the Germany Freiberg LDS Temple. The guy spent his career in construction and event management, grew up a native German in East Germany, and escaped to freedom with his mother and siblings during WWII. His wife will be the project historian. They are an electric couple and absolutely on fire. It was inspiring listening to them speak today.

We then went to our previous ward in West Jordan where we heard one young woman speak about her mission call to Jacksonville, FL. This was a young woman who lived a few houses away from us and one we used to babysit our kids a few times. She leaves in a few weeks. The other speaker was a young man who just returned from a 2-year mission in Paris, France. This young man was one of the Boy Scouts I led for a brief time and he also lived just a few houses away from us. I hired him to mow our lawn for a few summers and got to know his family well. His father is not an active member of the LDS faith, and his mother struggles to keep it all together. It was very nice hearing him report on his two honorable years served in France.

In other news, we had another Scout campout this weekend. The days right now are gorgeous (mid-upper 60’s), but, being in the desert environment we are, the nights still get cold. It dropped well below freezing Friday night — enough to freeze my water bottle. My sleeping bag, while once up to the challenge of keeping me warm, should now be put to pasture. I shivered all night.

As I reflect on my time served in the Young Men’s organization of the LDS church, I am grateful for the opportunity to have an impact on their lives. My goal while serving in these capacities is to simply help them become good men. Some earn their Eagle Scout awards, some go on missions, some marry in an LDS temple, while some choose their own path. Everyone has their agency and can choose to do whatever they want to in life. I hope I can offer them a perspective shaped by my own experiences, good and bad. I hope that makes them strive to be good citizens who respect others and work hard to live according to their ethics and values, whatever that turns out to be. My latest opportunity to do good is reflected in the picture below. These are great young men who are entering a critical decade of decisions. I’m glad to help usher them through part of this decade.

Pausing for a picture on a hike

Pausing for a picture on a hike – three of my five Scouts

Seeing Family

My younger brother Dave made a quick stop in SLC this week. He lives in Fairfax, VA, and was in town for a wedding Friday night, then on to LA for business Saturday afternoon. We were lucky enough to be able to house him for a night. I have siblings in Virginia, Iowa (x 2), Tennessee, Kansas, and California, so when we get to see any of them, it’s a real treat.

See the photo bomber?

See the photo bomber?

We’re mired in an inversion along the Wasatch Front so we took Dave up near Snowbasin Ski Resort Saturday morning for a leisurely snow hike / walk. The air was clear, the snow was packed, and soon our jackets came off. It’s always nice to get away from the city and people and into the woods for views like this.

Mt. Ogden and Others

The family

The family

Jen’s grandma from Florence, OR / Mesa, AZ is here for a few days, so we’ve still got family around. The kids are loving this!

Life isn’t slowing down

First of all, I have to say “I called it.” Jen and I went to Lagoon without any kids for the first time all year. While we were at Lagoon, both of us were glued to the MLB gamecast of the Giants – Nationals game 2 of the NLDS. We watched the gamecast as we waited in line between rides. Just before we got on the White Roller Coaster at Lagoon, the game was in the top of the 18th inning. We climbed into the roller coaster, I put my phone in my pocket, and said to Jen, “Brandon Belt is going to hit a home run while we’re on this ride.”

We had a fun ride and as soon as we got off, Jen pulled her phone out to read a text message she got from her sister, Katie, that said, “BELT HOMERED!” I couldn’t believe it. I yelped like a little girl I was so excited. The Giants squeaked through the bottom of the 18th and the game was over. It was totally my fault the Giants won that game. I willed Brandon Belt into that home run.

I love this time of year. We’ve had such a great August, September, and now October. We’ve had plenty of rain, some warm weather, and only a few dips into the 40s at night to remind us that winter is coming. Our tomatoes have done crazy good this year and we’ve bottled around 2 dozen jars of tomatoes. We went to Snowbasin Ski Resort yesterday and went on a hike in the trees … the Aspens have already peaked, the Maples are done, and the Oaks just seem to turn brown and drop, so I’m not sure we’re going to really partake of any foliage beauty.

On the Wheeler Peak trail at Snowbasin Ski Resort

On the Wheeler Peak trail at Snowbasin Ski Resort

Today is also my brother, Ammon, celebrates his birthday. He was born 19 years ago and we’ve enjoyed having him as part of our family for as long as we have.

I replace the brakes on my Honda this week. I’ve known for a while they were on their last legs, but I’ve allowed other things to get in the way of logic. I got a quote from Les Schwab for a replacement job ($359) but wasn’t keen on dishing that out. That price included a caliper rebuild, and I didn’t think I needed that. I went to O’Reilly Auto Parts on Thursday night, spent $100 on rotors and pads, and spent an hour and fifteen minutes doing the job myself.

Old on left, new on right.

Old on left, new on right.

Finally, I was asked to relinquish my duties as a Sunday School teacher and take on the duties of Scoutmaster for our local troop. Here’s to round 2 for me!


A few years ago, my sister-in-law sustained an ankle injury while running. She runs a lot, especially when compared to me. I remember hearing about her injury woes and the damper it put on what she wanted to do, which was be physically active and exercise. I can now officially empathize with her — kinda.

Two weeks ago I was exactly one mile into a run when my left calf immediately seized up. Sure, the muscles in my legs were tight before the injury, but I attributed that to the fact I had just climbed a hundred feet or so on my run. It was on the way down that my calf decided my run was over. It was an immediate and sharp pain and I could barely stand. I tried to stretch it out a bit but to no avail. I hobbled home (while listening to John H. Groberg talk about his mission in a random conference talk from 2004) and applied the R.I.C.E. first aid idea. Continue reading

Introverted Hiking

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is a tool commonly used to evaluate people, their personalities, and preferences. One of the metrics it measures is extrovert vs. introvert. Most of us equate extrovert as the loud, center of attention, obnoxious person in a group (which could also be defined as the dominant Clark gene). Most of us equate introvert as the reclusive, socially awkward, bookworm person who hates groups. While parts of those perceptions are supported, the better way to understand it is “where you get your energy.” Extroverts love groups and interactions with people; in fact, they need it to recharge their batteries. Introverts, however, feel drained by large groups and need time to themselves (or small, intimate groups of close friends) to recharge.

I took the Myers-Briggs last summer and tested fairly extroverted. However, the more I think about it, I think that I act extroverted at times because I have to. From church callings, professional situations, and family dynamics, I have to use a lot of extroverted skills just to survive. But I certainly have a lot of introverted leanings. Extroversion does wear me out.

Clear air, pretty skies, warm breeze ... good day!

Clear air, pretty skies, warm breeze … good day!

I’m recognizing this more and seeking the solitude necessary to recharge my batteries on occasion. I find real satisfaction in being out on a hike, run, bike ride, drive, etc., by myself to think or just let my mind and social butterfly tendencies take some time off. The interesting dilemma I face is that because I have some good extroverted leanings as well, after a while, I wish I had friends or loved ones with me to enjoy what I’m doing. I guess I’m just one big dilemma.

Overlooking Farmington and Kaysville

Overlooking Farmington and Kaysville

Regardless, I took the opportunity to step away from people for an hour yesterday and went on a hike on the snowy mountains above the house. As much as I loved our last home and neighborhood, access to opportunities like this were not easily available. I really appreciate the ability to be out my door and five minutes (or less) later be at a trail access point where I can get away from humans.

Silky water coming down Shepard Creek

Silky water coming down Shepard Creek

Random Dump

I am heading to Belem, Brazil, next weekend. Belem is up north near where the Amazon River dumps out into the Atlantic Ocean.  I will be helping put on a lidar workshop for experts in the remote sensing and forestry industries in Brazil. Shots, Visa, travel authorizations, official passport, job codes, etc. All a bunch of fun. I got the Yellow Fever immunization on Tuesday and by Wednesday night I could tell my body was trying very hard to fight off some intruder in the body. I had a fever, chills, muscle aches, and a giant headache. Luckily, some Tylenol, Ibuprofen, and a night’s rest did the trick. I woke up on Thursday feeling totally fine and went in to work.

Jen’s 34th birthday is today. We spent the night Friday in Park City. I snagged an off-season hotel deal at the Silver King Hotel and we got a great room. The resort is immediately adjacent to Park City Mountain Resort and not too far from lots of food and fun. We had a pretty relaxing trip up there and were grateful for my sister Kaitlin and her husband Chad who came up here and spent the night to watch our kids.

Today we got home from church to find Jen’s parents, uncle, and brother (Ryan) at our house with lunch prepared. It was possibly the best way to come home from church.

I signed up to run a 5K on Thanksgiving morning. That’s a bit of a gamble along the Wasatch Front because it could be miserably cold, it could be snowing, it could be kinda chilly, or it could be perfect. I’m usually on a football field on Thanksgiving morning playing a game of flag football, but I have a goal of running in 3 timed 5K races this year and I’m still short one. I ran a 5K yesterday, and I timed it, but it was on my own. There’s a loop above my house that is about 3 miles and climbs quite a bit. I ran it in 36 minutes — the first 8 minutes were walking/hiking up to elevation and then I ran the rest of the way.

I made a video compilation from our hike in Coyote Gulch last week. It was a fun way to relive the hike. If view it, do it full screen and 1080p resolution. I couldn’t upload it to Vimeo (and therefore embed it in this blog) because I can’t upload files bigger than 500mb to Vimeo. Dang free subscriptions.