Sunday, September 29, 2013

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Women and the Priesthood

Love how the church called the bluff of the Ordain Women "movement" (hard to claim 150 women as a "movement" since they aren't really moving anyone or anything), and in the process forced them to make a statement about what they're actually doing. They sure look silly right now (and, actually, always did).

I have had lots of ideas about women and the priesthood--how unsatisfying it is to say "well, women have motherhood...." because men have fatherhood, how the women have an integral part in the plan to get God's children home (which has two essential jobs done by those of us on earth: giving bodies and administering ordinances--and men get to do one and women the other), how women historically have been allowed to administer ordinances in places where it would be inappropriate for men to go (like a childbirth room in the 1800s) and it's a mistake to claim that meant God intended all women everywhere to always have the priesthood, how much the Ordain Women "movement" sound like Laman and Lemuel ("they STOLE it from us! We deserve the power and government!"), how it's hard to join a movement that is so selfish in action and intent when we are charged with serving others and (if we take Relief Society seriously) relieving all suffering we possibly can everywhere in the world (that's a hefty charge, if you think about it!), how the women seeking the priesthood claim they have revelation and the Apostles obviously don't--and if they think about what they're saying, that means they're seeking a fallen priesthood and I don't see the point in why they would want to do that, and how the women's actions show a great lack of faith and a lack of understanding about many, many things, about how they obviously believe that men have the power to thwart God's intentions and how silly that really is.  And about how the only really satisfying answer, to me, about why men have the priesthood and women don't is "I don't know, but God set it up this way and I trust him."

But then someone posted a link to this article, and it covers everything that needs to be said and elaborated on about the subject. Leave it to Elder Ballard to nail it.

It's a little long but a LOT worth reading.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Running away from Floods, part 4: Monday (and coming back to floods)

More from my journal:

September 18, 2013 12:58 am

I finally did get to sleep, though, and I slept until 10:00 am. Tim said he and the kids started a new fire while I was sleeping and they had fun roasting all kinds of things. Roasted mini powdered donuts was a big hit, apparently. They said that was really really good. I guess the chocolate covered minis were also good toasted over the fire, but they got a little drippy. Roasted pear was pretty good, except pears are not complemented by pine smoke flavoring (although roasting them is yummy).

By the time I woke up, Benji and Nathanael were back asleep again, Nathanael in the van and Benji in Tim's sleeping bag.

The other kids and Tim went on a little hike and learned there was a fence around the campground to keep buffalo out. Buffalo! While they explored the nature trail, I heard an elk bugling! Tim had warned me that he'd heard them early in the morning. It was a cool sound. Appropriate, too, since we were camping on “Elk Mountain,” which was so “mountainous” that even Elijah climbed to the top in about 10 minutes. Elk sort-of-Hill was more like it. Cool campground, though. Except they had discovered when they woke up that the burrs Anda had pulled out of her sweater were actually little round cacti! And there were little cacti growing all over our campsite on the ground! How the kids managed to avoid that when they were running around in their stocking feet the night before in the dark is beyond me. I had managed to drop her sweater on them when I dropped it on the ground. Surprising nobody else got them.

Anyway, while the kids explored with Tim (who hadn't sleep almost at all), I cleaned up the camp and started packing things away. Got clean clothes on everyone and then Tim re-packed the van, we put the fire out, and ate the rest of the breakfast food, and we set out for Mount Rushmore, which was supposedly 30 miles away.

It took us longer to get there than we planned because as we left the campground, we found a whole herd of buffalo, including young ones and babies, standing right beside the road by the van. They were so close that Tim didn't dare get out of the van to get his camera from the back . So we drove up the road a ways, got his camera, and circled back. Buffalo are very very large animals, and very impressive. They were so very cool to look at up close.

After we'd had our fill of gazing on buffalo, we continued on toward Rushmore. That whole area is AMAZING. Gorgeous forests, neat rocks, wildlife galore. We saw flocks of wild turkeys, herds of deer, antelopes, and buffalo. At least one rabbit, at least one chipmunk, at least one raccoon. Lots of birds. It was so cool.

The road to Rushmore is winding and cool. Takes you through some very impressive forests and mountains, with some amazing views. My favorite part were the tunnels blasted through rock in the 1920s—square tunnels, with only one lane through them. Some of the roads were split, with the two lanes going through different parts of the woods, so we felt like we were driving on a path (one lane, no shoulders or anything). As you come out of the tunnels, often you can see Rushmore in the distance. It was cool to go through the drive—felt very retro, like something you might have done in the 1940s. Also, the pigtail bridge curves were cool. They twist like a little piggy's tail, so that you can do hairpin curves without having to turn so sharply—so you do one leaf of a clover as the turn instead, going over and then immediately under the same bridge. Tim said it accommodated busses in the old days.

We were disappointed to find that it costs $11 to park at Mount Rushmore. Good for a year pass, but who wants to look at that place for a year?! I would gladly camp in those woods and mountains for days, but not Rushmore itself. It's a one-time-and-you've-seen-it kind of place.

Mount Rushmore is a giant monument to the hubris of the 1920s. It is a huge unfinished sculpture that's kind of amazing and kind of disgusting. It reminded me of the time my family went to the Grand Canyon and Ben looked down into it and said, “Where is it?” We said, “Where is what?” He said, “The Grand Canyon.” That's kind of how we all felt. And that was kind of how Rushmore felt. Oh, so they carved some big faces in the cliffs and left a giant tailings heap below? Cool? I mean, it's a big rock sculpture. Cool, I guess, 10,000 years people are still going to see those faces there and...well, I just couldn't stop thinking about Ozymandias.

Oh, I forgot Hot Springs. On the way from Gordon, NE, to Mount Rushmore, you drive through Hot Springs, SD, and that was an awesome town! I want to go back there some day. It's nestled in mountains and was super cool. If we had known how cool it would be, we would have planned a day there all by itself. So much to see. Touristy town, for sure, but one with some class and a lot of quirkiness about it. It reminded me of Manitou Springs, CO.

Anyway, some of the kids tried to become Junior Rangers at Rushmore, but they all ended up having more fun running up and down in the giant amphitheater than working on the junior ranger badge requirements. They also loved the part of the museum exhibit about how Rushmore was made where you push a button to select a part of the statue, and then you push down the T-trigger to set off the dynamite, and it shows that part of the sculpture being blasted using historical footage on a screen. The boys thought that was a blast (hahaha...) getting a turn to explode the mountain themselves. Benji was disappointed, though, that dynamite looks a lot like a small toilet paper tube in real life. I was disappointed that we didn't have time to hike to the artists' cottage.

As we were leaving, a couple asked us to take their picture. We did, and they said, 'Thanks, where're you from?” and I said, “Colorado,” and they said, 'Which part?” and I said, “Boulder County” and they said, “Oh, we've been watching the news. Is your house okay?” Everywhere I went, people were really nice and supportive about that, sending happy wishes and prayers with us that our home would be okay and our community would be able to rebuild, and looking for news. I was touched by how often this conversation played out and how often people were kind and supportive and truly mourning with us.

Around dinnertime, we left Rushmore and drove a mile into Keystone, SD. It's also a touristy town. The best parts are around the bends out of sight through town, but it lacked the charm of Hot Springs.

Unfortunately, everything in Keystone was closed for the season. Finally we found a Subway that was open and had free wi-fi so we could get dinner and the directions home. No interstate freeways go anywhere near Rushmore in any way that would be useful to us (I think one leads east from Rapid City, which is half an hour north of Rushmore—both wrong directions for us).

So we wrote down the directions to get home, and Tim was too tired to drive, so I set out. Every 15 minutes or so I would wake him and have him read me the next set of instructions, and we started the 5 ½ hour drive home at about 8:00 pm.

It was a easy drive, although I noticed just in time that I had turned the wrong way once—would have taken us 40 miles in the wrong direction if I hadn't noticed the sign said “East” and woken Tim up to figure out where I went wrong (I skipped a step).

I drove 3 hours before we stopped to go potty. Then Tim drove an hour.

And at midnight, we gave up. We were 45 miles north of Cheyenne, Wyoming, on I-25 when he realized he was too tired to drive anymore, and so was I. So we pulled off at a dark exit, one exit before Chugwater, to have a little nap. It was a cool spot, parked at the foot of this amazing rock formation with a balanced boulder on top, black against a brilliant starry sky with a nearly full moon.

Unfortunately, the front seats in the van don't recline. So Tim grabbed his pillow and fell asleep sitting upright in the driver's seat. I shuffled things about for a bit, nursed the baby, and got all the kids settled into sort-of-sleeping positions.

To our surprise (and the kids' fascination), we hadn't been parked more than 10 minutes before a big dark gray pitbull appeared and circled the van, watching the kids. After a while, it ran off. But then I was afraid to let anyone out of the van, and only Anda got out once (to go potty) because strange pitbulls in the dark in the middle of nowhere don't seem like a good idea for kids.

I drifted in and out of sleep, watched the moon set behind the cool balanced rock. Watched the stars. I kept waking up and praying that we needed to drive safely home now, and then falling dead asleep again. I had Jack in my arms and his car seat was inaccessible from my spot in the front seat. I was very uncomfortable, and kept waking to be sure I didn't drop him. Finally, I stole a stuffed animal from Nathanael and used it to prop Jack up so we could both sleep. Even then, though, it was very uncomfortable.

We finally woke up and got going again at 5:30 am, just before dawn. We stopped in Cheyenne for information on road closures (freeway was open!), and to let me drive. Tim promptly fell asleep again, and I got us home okay. It was a little bit of a shock to drive into Longmont at 7:30 am and find it was a serious traffic jam from I-25 seven miles to Hover Street, and then down Hover St. to 119. We got off and went around a back way because the traffic was terrible going south, so we went around and came at our house going north and that was much better.

We got home around 8:00 am (many hours later than we planned) and unloaded the van. Kids and I went to bed. Tim showered and went to work (and didn't get to go to bed until 9:00 pm!)

It was an amazing trip--difficult in many ways, especially for Tim, and super fun in other ways.  I'm not sure we'll be touring with Tim any more. He needs to sleep on trips, and he can't with us being awake all night. We don't have to decide now, though, so I might be wrong about that.

But certainly we have more adventures and trips in our future because I like them. Even with 7 kids in the car.

Running Away from Floods part 3: Sunday Evening

More from my journal:

September 18, 2013 12:58 am

We were only 2 ½ hours from Mount Rushmore, so we had decided that we ought to go visit. So the plan was to camp that night—first time for the kids—and then drive up the extra hour and see Rushmore in the morning, then drive home.

Two hours of driving got us to Wind Cave National Park—the first state or national campground we found—just as the sun was setting. So we quickly found a campsite as far from everyone else as we could and set up camp. Why so far? We're noisy. We didn't want to bother anyone.

We made a fire (had to borrow matches from the next campsite down for that) and roasted marshmallows, and hot dogs, and frozen burritos (that worked well, actually), and potatoes, and a yam (that was super yummy). I experienced my first properly roasted marshmallow (oh! That's why people do that!). The kids were in heaven.

Truly, we are not properly equipped for camping. We have 9 people and we own 4 sleeping bags. Well, five if you count that cheap one that is colder than wrapping up in a quilt. We actually put that one under Caleb as ground insulation. Tim bought 3 tarps before we left on our trip. And we ended up with 4 marshmallow roasting sticks and whatever food and supplies we had left over from the hotel stay plus what Tim grabbed at WalMart while he was getting the atlas (and, to his credit, he did really really well at supplying us with the necessities). I did manage to remember to bring woobies for everyone, but only Tim had a coat, and nobody had hats or gloves. And we had half a dozen pairs of Tim's socks, but no others for the kids (so even Jack wore Tim's socks). I forgot any kind of warm clothing for the baby (but I did have blankets and extra large woobies, so he stayed warm enough). Tim got a handful of cheap flashlights at WalMart on our way out. But we had no tent, no mosquito repellant, no camp stove, no lantern, no padding for sleeping on...

But Tim and I have camped before, and we figured we could make it work. So we roasted dinner and dessert over the fire. Then, while the kids played, running around the campground stocking-footed, mostly, even though we asked them to keep their shoes on, Tim fed the kids, supervised potty trips, and held the baby and I laid out beds for the kids. I put Benji, Nathanael, Elijah, Jack, and me spots in the van, so I could sleep on a bench instead of on the ground, which I knew would never work. I put down two tarps on the ground outside, and layered a few blankets on the tarps and then lay the four sleeping bags out there, each with a blanket tucked inside to keep the big kids and Tim warm. Even just standing around outside had left everything wet from condensation, so I laid out their pillows and special stuffed animals and then put another tarp over everything to keep them dry. Poor Tim was left with the sleeping bag that doesn't zip at all. Anda's only zipped half way. We really were not equipped.

Then the kids all went to bed. They saw a deer wander through the campground as they were getting into bed, and were thrilled to hear owls hooting and screeching.

And Tim and I sat up talking until 1:00 am or so. The moon was nearly full, but dark clouds kept racing across it, making it look very Halloweenish and spooky. To make things even more eerie, there was an owl hooting in the woods (Dan cried when he realized that, with a congested head, his ears were too stuffy to let him hear it!). And then a different owl started shrieking in a different part of the woods. Sounded like a child screaming. It was really, really spooky and super cool. Really fun.

At around 1:30, I got tired and it got cold, so Tim braced the top tarp over everyone with clips and bungie cords (it was windy and kept blowing off), and then it was weird to have to say good night and good bye to him as he went to sleep on the ground and I went to sleep on the van bench--almost like we'd been on a date and he had to go home now.

Neither of us slept much, as you can imagine.

Running Away from Floods Part 2: Sunday Morning

More from my journal:

September 18, 2013 12:58 am

Sunday morning came too soon. Saturday night more kids went to bed closer to on time. Tim tried to sleep. I got all the kids in bed by midnight-ish. Then I check on Longmont—lots of heartbreaking flood videos. My own tears started to echo them, especially when I saw people posting on facebook that they hadn't heard from parents, that grandparents homes were gone, that every single road to the west side of Boulder County is gone (and the roadbed is gone, and the ledge the road was built on is where do you rebuild?!). I cried a lot and felt so helpless and awed and confused and just so sad.

But not sleepy. So I wrote in my journal, and had a shower, and at 3:00 am put myself to bed. And lay there wide awake until 5:00 am. Alas—sleep disorders don't care if you have to wake up in the morning.
But I had to wake up in the morning, so when the alarm rang at 9:00 am, I got up. I got myself and all the kids ready for church, packed everything in the hotel room up so we could check out, and was just starting to haul stuff out when Tim got back. He had had to sing at a worship service as part of his contract for the tour, so he finished that and rushed back to get us to church.

No time to pack the van if we wanted to get the sacrament, so we left our stuff in the room and loaded the kids into the van. The church, it turned out, was about a mile from the hotel, and easy enough to find. We made it, coughing and wheezing, just in time for sacrament meeting. Which we coughed through. I was mortified.

Half way through the first talk, Tim turned to me and whispered, “We have to be out of the hotel in half an hour.” So I stayed in sacrament meeting with the little kids, and Tim took the four big kids to get the stuff out of the hotel room and check out.

Pause in the narrative to describe this situation a little better. We arrived at the church building and were startled to find it was a mini. Tiny little building with a tiny little parking lot. We walked in and it was a tiny little branch of the church with about 30 members there. Two or three families with kids, some couples...I saw lots of pants on women, T-shirts on women. The man blessing the sacrament was dressed in his finest—long (ankle-length) black duster coat, fancy black brocade cowboy vest, custom-made silver-and-leather bolo tie, fancy striped black button-up shirt. No hat, of course. He later told us he lived up there in the panhandle of Nebraska because he found a house for sale there on an acre for $9000. Good house, too, and the seller traded them their mustang for her house. Classic car for a house on an acre with no house payments ever sounds like a good trade to me!

 It was a tiny branch of the church, but it was totally full of Saints. The Spirit in the sacrament meeting was so, so strong. The first speaker gave a talk on President Benson's talk on pride, and everyone listened (and I know this because all the subsequent lessons and talks referred back to the first talk). Then the high councilman spoke and he was plain-spoken, straightforward, gospel-centered. He talked to the people, and they understood, and there was no pretension, no Carefully-Crafted talk intended to make people laugh and impress them. No stories about Sports (all our Longmont High Councilmen seem to be pining for the good-ole-days when they were star high school's always disappointing when our High Councilmen come speak because their talks always seem short on gospel and long on peripheral stuff--this Nebraska talk was the opposite). He preached the gospel, exhorted the people to do righteously and live obedient to the commandments. The Spirit in that meeting was AMAZING. Something I've missed and been hungry for.

So, after sacrament meeting, Tim came back with the kids and said we were checked out of the hotel, and he had to get back to the Willow Tree Festival to perform. I said, “I need to stay with the Saints and be here. When is your show done?” He said he'd be done by one o'clock, so I had him send the kids back out of the van to join me, and we told him to come back for us after his show. We had to sit somewhere, and I'd rather sit in the church with the Saints than in a park festival, no matter how nice the festival was.

There were only a few kids in the primary, so they usually have two classes: junior primary and senior primary. The guy who blessed the sacrament teaches senior primary, and this awesome lady who wore a Mickey Mouse sweatshirt with her skirt to church taught the junior primary. They were both unassuming people, faithful and kind and generous and I was so impressed with them both, even as they tried to figure out how to double the size of their primary to accommodate all my kids. They joined the two classes and had them together (we in Longmont are so blessed that we have enough kids to have two primaries—junior and senior—to teach kids on their own levels. I cannot comprehend why my ward insists on doing it as one when we don't have to!).

 Benji refused to go to primary, and so did Elijah, so we sat in the hall. Caleb joined the 7 other teens in the youth program, and he had fun. And I was so thrilled when I checked on everyone that, unlike the children in town who had been so mean to the kids, the branch kids were having a great time and had accepted my children and made friends with them. It was cool. (I found out later that the kids who had made friends with my kids are also homeschoolers—I guess homeschoolers have their own culture, and they attract each other!)

So, sitting in the hall, we had the chance to talk to everyone in the branch. They were ALL amazing people. They were truly concerned about the situation with the flooding back home, and were kind and thoughtful and really sincerely interested in applying the gospel to their lives more fully, even though it seemed to me that they had completely embedded it in their lives already. I spent a lot of time talking to the high councilman's wife, Linda Wiseman (?) as she held another member's baby so she could run the primary. She knows bunches of members who work at the college in a nearby town, and thought she could get the college to bring Tim in to perform. I guess the rural areas are starving for entertainment because usually nobody will come out to them. Anyway, Linda told me success stories of homeschooling 2 of her 7 children, and how thrilled she has been that the homeschooled kids know how to learn and have curiosity and an ability to teach themselves, and the "college educated kids" really can't learn unless someone tells them both what and how. She's a big fan of homeschooling as a result.

After the meeting block, the members pulled out food. I guess they were having a potluck dinner, and they invited us to join them. I tried to decline—feeding 9 extra people who you hadn't planned on and who couldn't add anything to the feast is unfair—but they insisted and also insisted that we eat first. It was amazingly yummy food, and a huge blessing. So we stayed and hung out with the Saints there for as long as we could—until Tim had to get back to the festival for his final show.

It was balm to my soul to be with the Saints of God. My favorite part of touring is meeting the amazing people in the church all over the world. These Saints were especially wonderful with my kids. They were baffled as to why I would apologize for the kids' behavior, even when they got their feet on the table during dinner. "Kids! They're just kids. What's the problem?" They were so happy to have us there that nobody insisted Benji fit in or Nathie be quiet. They just accepted us and loved us as we are. Too bad that seems to be so hard in big wards. For all their advantages, they never seem hungry to have people there, and that's sad. I would have stayed all day.

But then we had to leave.

Back to the festival, we watched Tim's show. The final performance was MUCH better than the first I had watched. After the first, I had begun to wonder if we didn't need to kill the group (not the members, just the group as a performing entity) because it was so rough. But the last performance was fun and energetic and worthwhile. I enjoyed it and was relieved.

Then we wandered the festival while Tim was cleaning up. We found a booth where they were selling bracelets for a quarter—nice glass bead bracelets—so I bought one for each kid. The old cowboy running the booth sure thought it was peculiar that my boys each wanted a bracelet, too, after I bought one for Anda. I also bought them little hand-made wooden cars he was selling for 50 cents each. And, after Tim got all loaded out, we discovered we couldn't find the directions I had printed to get us to our next destination. (Of course we found them later—when we started unloading the van when we got home!).

So that necessitated us finding the WalMart in Chadron, the next town over, to buy an atlas. I was unhappy that we had to buy something on Sunday. Tim pointed out that we didn't have enough food for camping that night, either, so he took care of that while I got people out of their Sunday clothes.

I left Benji's Sunday pants on him. He found little snags in this pants and started pulling and actually pulled the threads out of the weave until there was a lovely, perfectly rectangular hole in the knee of his Sunday pants. He sure finds creative ways to ruin his clothes. I've never had a kid unmake clothes like that before, by unweaving the fabric!

Then we were off and driving through Nebraska, looking for South Dakota.

In Which we Run Away from Flooding and have an Adventure

The singers did make it out of Boulder, by the way. Both of their houses are intact.

We made it out of Longmont. Tour in Nebraska.

More from my journal:

September 15, 2013 1:59 am
Yesterday (my gosh was that just yesterday?) I hadn't slept much. I held Jack upright all night so I could be sure he was breathing, and he was having a rough enough go of it that I worried all night. Plus this sickness that everyone's had finally hit me full force. And I was worried about the whole city flooding and washing away—which is kind of what happened. Actually, the whole county.

So when it was time to get up and go, I had not slept much and I felt like crap. But Tim figured we could probably get to Nebraska, and if we didn't then we'd have no mortgage payment. So, dragging and unhappy, I helped load the van and the kids and we headed out. We forgot TONS of stuff—my whole kitchen kit I had prepared for hotels, Elijah's bottles (which would prove disastrous in the long run), and apparently my brain.

And I was so tired, I knew I couldn't drive. And Tim was so tired he could hardly drive.

But it was a 4 hour 45 minute drive—easy peasy, right?

So we set off at 4:30 pm, planning to be in Gordon, NE, by bedtime.

There was only one road out of Longmont that was intact. So we took Highway 66 out to I-25, and I-25 North toward Loveland. We noticed just in time to hit a turnaround that at Loveland, the traffic was backed up. Highway closed? Yup. Signs warning of that? Nope. We got off at the exit before the closure and took the frontage road until we came to a roadblock. MPs from the National Guard were stopping every car, one at a time, asking where they were going and telling them how to get around the flood. Nice of them, but thank goodness we got in the frontage road line instead of the freeway exit line. We had one car in front of us. The other line was many hours long.

So the nice man told us to head to Wilson Road, take Wilson up to 34, and 34 back to the freeway where we could get back on no problem.

So we headed out the direction he pointed. We don't know Loveland. We hit Lincoln—way out from the freeway—and it didn't look like the road we were on went through, so we turned. And we ran into road after road after road that were flooded over. We just kept following the traffic and eventually found Wilson. It's about 10 miles West of the Freeway. So we took Wilson to 34, followed the traffic there, and found ourselves on the only intact bridge across the Big Thompson River, which was in full flood.

That was an awesome and terrifying sight.

10 Miles back through Loveland and we got to the freeway, and it was closed in both directions, with a line of cars that had been let through from the exit we took but stopped at the next one. Glad we missed that! But the freeway was closed! So Tim headed east, knowing that about 40 miles from the freeway in the other direction was Highway 85. He got us to 85 and we headed north.

Normally, it takes about an hour to get to Cheyenne Wyoming from Longmont, Colorado. Yesterday, it took over 2 hours. Maybe over 3. It was well after dark when we got there, and we had left at 4:30 pm.

Feeling hugely relieved to have escaped the floods, we headed into a misty, abandoned landscape that felt like we had driven out of reality and onto the moors in Wuthering Heights. Misty and rolling and empty except for a farm that would appear out of nowhere suddenly and then disappear into the mist behind us. The mist grew thicker and thicker until it was rolling by the van, and then it was fog. Thick fog. Fog like you couldn't see 20 feet in front of you. Really amazing. It felt like riding through a fantasy novel—so the kids made one up that was quite entertaining.

Then we reached Cheyenne. We were glad to get there, and stopped at an Albertsons to go potty and buy some dinner. The kids were excited to actually touch fog as we walked from the van into the store. Everyone was happy to be free and finally having a grand adventure, away from the weather troubles that had beset us so far and were ravaging our county back home.

And then, just as we walked out of the Albertson's, the storm hit.

This was a STORM. Really, a STORM. Oh my gosh. A STORMSTORMSTORM. Within seconds, the downpour had drenched the parking lot and turned it into a lake. Tim ran and hopped into the van and pulled it up to the curb, and we still all got very wet climbing in. I had been about to take a turn driving, but Tim opted to drive instead.

I am grateful he did.

Cuz I'll be damned if that storm wasn't following us.

For the next hour we drove north in driving, sheeting rain. Huge raindrops pelted the van (and everything else)--more like buckets of water than drops. Freeway was slick. Roads were slick. So much rain the headlights caught the drops and made it hard to see the road through them. But so pitch black dark out there north of Cheyenne that without headlights you couldn't see your hand in front of your face. Except every 35 seconds or so when the place lit up like daylight because of bright, dramatic lightning. Such lightning as I have never before seen ever. Ever. It was amazing. Huge and dramatic and scary and lighting the whole storm around us so I felt like we were driving in an enormous upside down bowl with lightning in it.

Really scary. Then the fury of the storm would pause, like it was catching its breath, and then let loose again.

And then it was gone.

Just like that.

We drove right out of it.

There were a few pockets of rain after that, but nothing so amazing as That Storm.

Just about then, we hit the Nebraska border. It reminded me of a dramatic storm we drove through when I was a kid on vacation with my family--that one stopped right on the Kansas border, like it refused to set foot in Missouri. This one apparently was a Wyoming-only storm.

So, storm-free, we moved on. It was dark and cool and we were heading toward Alliance when we hit fog again. This time it wasn't misty-and-then-foggy. It was like driving into a wall of pea soup fog like you read about in novels. The kind of fog that makes me want to dress in Victorian clothes and walk through just so people wonder if they really saw that mysterious figure disappear into the fog. Now we couldn't see 10 feet ahead, and the headlights made it worse. But still black as pitch outside without them, so on we went.

By the time we reached Alliance, we were out of the fog. Tim had done a residency in Alliance, so he showed us his old haunts there. And then we headed out of town.

And then CARHENGE!

Oh, I was so delighted when we stopped there and looked at all the cars planted in the ground and standing on end and stacked on top of each other. A perfect replica of Stonehenge made with cars. Tim got pictures while we waited in the car because it had closed an hour before. But COOL. So cool.

Another hour of driving brought us to Gordon, NE, and a lovely big hotel room.

And then the fact that I had forgotten the bottles became a disaster. We couldn't get Nathanael or Elijah to go to sleep. Elijah coudln't sleep without his baba. Nathanael couldn't sleep because Elijah was up.
FINALLY we got to fall asleep. At 5:00 am. After that harrowing 8 hour drive (instead of just under 5. Sigh.). After not sleeping the night before and being sick and so so so tired and worried about everything.
Then today we slept until about 2:00 and then had to get up and go to the festival in town here to watch Wonder Voice perform. They were decent, but not stellar. Maybe because they were singing while three of their home cities washed away? Bass wasn't quite right--I'm guessing due to the sound system because the singer is pretty talented usually. Sound guy squashed the heck out of the treble so there wasn't any high end in the girl's voices. But Kate and Shaw are awfully fun to watch on stage, even when their home town is washing away in floods. And Tim's percussion is awesome.

But it was muggy and hot and when our kids tried to play the local kids shut them out and Nathanael got into a shoving match with a boy (oh my gosh you should have seen those little guys run when I yelled to Nathie, “Stop it right now! Don't you know fighting is against the law?!”). These kids up here in rural Nebraska have different expectations of play—lots of taking sides and making teams and nobody can come into my fort—and they wouldn't let our kids in, not onto any of their teams and not to make their own teams. So that made me angry. And Tim took Benji potty and they were gone a long time and that frustrated me. And Tim needed to eat desperately and was shaking and couldn't help make decisions.

Kids were grouchy. Dan and Nathie have had a really hard time. So we stopped at a grocery store and everything cost a fortune but I had to buy food so I did anyway. But it cost $4 a gallon for milk!

EVERYTHING was awfully expensive. So then I didn't buy enough for tomorrow because I forgot it was Sunday and we were going camping...ooops.

Got back to the hotel room and Benji was melting down and dehydrated and the room was hot and we couldn't cool it off and Tim had to go back to some dinner for performers (but he was late and didn't get any but dessert)....

Not fun. At all.

But then we took the kids to the park across the street after dark when it was cool, and they had fun. And we chased a beacon across the sky and found it was a lighthouse at the airport!

I'm so tired.

Also, silly little quotes and pictures of dinner on facebook seem awfully shallow when everyone in my entire county knows someone who is struggling with significant loss and our whole landscape is changing permanently.


Blogger has been down for a week or more, so I couldn't post all the posts I wrote mentally, and then I forgot some, so I'm going to cover the same information with quotes from my journals, now that Blogger is up again.

September 13, 2013 4:22 am (or so)
I got a call at 4:30 am that said the schools were all closed for today because of flooding. I had already been alerted via facebook by Chris Schenk that something was going on with flooding in Boulder, but I was surprised they closed the schools here today. And tomorrow. The kids were disappointed and angry (isn't that funny?!).

Then it continued to rain all day. It's been raining for days now, and I love it. But the FLOODING. Oh my gosh. Several smallish dams washed out up the canyons, many roads washed out completely. No bridges have gone that I've heard of, but all the dams, even the ones that didn't wash out ,have been overtopped by flooding waters, and many of the bridges have water flowing over them. Roads are buckling. Several have collapsed completely. And all this within Boulder County! I see this stuff on the news all the time, but this time it's MY town, my ward, my stake that is being covered in water. It was a mix of unusual monsoon activity blown up here from Mexico that just hasn't stopped dumping water combined with mountains that were scarred by fire, eliminating their ability to hold water (all the spongy undergrowth burned up) and sealing the ground somewhat up high, so the water all runs down and down some more toward us. The ground, after 3 days of heavy rain, was saturated down here, so the water couldn't soak in. Perfect storm of ingredients for massive flooding, and that's what we have.

The normally low and slow St. Vrain River, where I even let my 2 year old wade across unaided because it's so gentle and shallow (12 inches at the deepest spots where we go), is raging along, ten feet deep and spilling out of its banks all over, flooding businesses and homes and the fairgrounds and roads ...and this time they're all roads I drive on all the time! It's flooded—severely--and they don't think it's peaked yet—cutting Longmont in half, and neither side can reach the other. We, luckily, are on the uphill side of the flood, so we're safe, but thousands of people are evacuated, and I was worried all day that Tim was out in Denver, on the other side of the flood, but he made it home safely enough by staying on the freeway past the flood and coming around and back down to our house. He made it just in time. An hour later the water overtopped the freeway, too, and now I-25 is closed.

So I spent all day glued to the computer, reading stories of Sister Fritz taking her granddaughter (3 years old) down the street from the house to look at the flood and then turning around and finding the flood waters had risen behind them to almost impassable in 3 minutes, and of members taking blankets and socks down to the evac centers. Looking at video people had taken from all around town.

When the rain let up just a little, I dressed all the kids and we walked south to the crest of the hill, right where the road is closed, to see if we could spot the flooding from a safe distance. We could only see a tiny bit. If it had just been me and Benji, we would have walked down there and looked up close. He's always wanted to see a real flood. But I didn't want to walk everyone down there because it's uphill coming back, and it's about a mile from the house. So a long walk to come back uphill in the rain after.

... [Then] Tim reminded me when he finally got home—we're supposed to leave on tour to Nebraska tomorrow. I hadn't prepared at all. He stopped at WalMart on the way home for tarps and diapers for our trip, and said the cashier was so cheerful with him and then she said, 'We lost everything. The flood filled our basement. My husband finally cut a pipe, and now the water is flowing out instead of in, but our house is ruined.” And there she was, at work. Tim's heart broke for her. He said we'll likely be hearing that story a lot in the next few days. Waiting to hear if everyone I know is still alive. 3 deaths have been reported so far, but no doubt more will come.

We got called by both our home teachers and my visiting teacher this morning, everyone checking if we're okay. I guess they activated all the phone trees for everyone to check on everyone and see if all the members were safe. So far, some houses have been damaged by water, but nobody is homeless that we know of.

Oh, and the floods are so severe, they've cut off several towns from any aid. Lyons (in our stake, and only about 6 miles from here), is completely cut off, with all roads into and out of town covered with water, and one of the two bridges into town about to collapse. The sewer, water, electricity, and gas and the only grocery store for the whole town is shut off now or destroyed, and the people are stuck, most of them having scrambled to higher ground in town, but left with only what water and food they had on hand for the next 72 hours.

I immediately thought, “Oh, no! What do we have on hand?” Thank goodness for the prophets' advice—we don't have a full years' supply, but we do have enough food and water stored to get through 72 hours if it were us cut off from the rest. Jamestown, up the mountain, is also completely cut off and might be completely destroyed. Highway 7, which we came down from one of our Monday Adventures, has been washed away in multiple places in ways that will be difficult if not impossible to fix. Estes Park has 3 major roads into and out of town, and all three have washed away—not just been covered with water. The only way in and out now is Trail Ridge Road, which is a dirt road that is impassable in wet or snowy weather and is due to be closed any day because it shuts for the season when it snows, and it's way high up and snows early there. Might have snowed already. Roads in Loveland and in Lafayette have washed away completely, including major arterial roads like 287 and Highway 34. Highway 66 is shut multiple places.

So. Much. Water.

Yucky, brown, churning water full of debris.

Seems like every time a stake I'm in fasts for water, we get floods. Happened in 1983 in Provo, too. Except here, they ran out of sandbags!

So we're pretty sure we can leave town for Tim's tour (and might be good, just in case the drinking water in Longmont is compromised). Pretty sure the two singers in Boulder can't get out. Will be an interesting show!

This could be miserable. I hope our flat roof doesn't fail while we're gone. Or while we're here for that matter.