Trip to Europe with the ALL the Girls
The Martin Door trip this year wasn't the wonderful and typical Hawaii
or Caribbean Cruise, this year Martin paid for a trip to London, England.
This was a first for all of us for Europe and decided to extend the trip
and hit other spots as well. For three weeks, all five of us trekked through
the continent. Karen says we ended up taking well over 1000 pictures.
The following, believe it or not, is a condensed photo-log of our trip.
Starting in LAX, we set off on a long, non-stop
flight. The seats provided for us were in coach. Until we win the Lottery,
that is how it will be. Alas, I've discovered it is impossible to win
the Lottery when you never play. I sat next to Karen and had the aisle
seat. In front of us were three middle-eastern women. Their husbands sat
together a couple rows forward. These women never shut up for all 12 hours
of this evening flight. Admittedly, a thought went through my mind when
we first saw them about the possibility of them blowing up the plane.
I know, that isn't appropriate, but who ever accused me of being appropriate?
About eight hours into this flight- all three of their lights on, all
three mouths moving at the same time; I wished that they would blow up
the plane. We landed in Heathrow and took the "Tube" into London. Lou
Ann, Madison, & Mindy landed with us and we found our way to the hotel.
Let me say that being Americans in London is not what I expected it to
be. Everyone was so nice to us. I spoke with and met a few dozen Brits
here and there and found them to be absolutely delightful.
Stratford Upon Avon
This quaint little village is the birthplace of William Shakespeare and
the hub of the Royal Shakespearian Theater. We went with our friends Dave
and Shauna Moffit and spent a wonderful day there. Karen had literally
planned out every day for this trip and did a great job. Only a few things
didn't work out as we wanted. The first non-working thing was the "Teddy
Bear Museum." It was as stupid as it sounds and I wanted no part of it.
I can't believe we fell for that. The rest of Stratford was terrific.
It was such a nice village. Our kids enjoyed the sights as much as we
did. Dave and Shauna were also very much into the whole Shakespeare experience.
Among the highlights was a park bench donated by "The
Men of the Trees." Dave and I posed appropriately. That evening we
had tickets to Romeo & Juliet. I personally prefer musicals, but this
was outstanding. I never realized how good theater could be. The train
ride back to London was fun. The cool part is looking down the train's
toilet when you flush and you can see the train track! I took a picture
but Karen refused to include it- party pooper! The subway or Tube was
great, but not intuitive when it comes to understanding the schedule.
Only the English could post such memorable signs and messages: "Mind the
Gap", "No Fouling", "To Let"(not toilet missing an 'i' but a way of saying
"For Lease"). We enjoyed the many gardens. The kids looked like three
monkeys. The artwork in the Gardens was nice, except we made a point to
cover the penis of one guy. The red phone booths are disappearing, but
we still found one and had fun with it.
Windsor Castle & Hampton
Very nice, very big, very windy, very cold. Her highness, the Queen wasn't
there. Too bad, I had a few good jokes for her. Hampton Court was built
by a Cleric and it was nicer than any of the king's palaces. When Henry
asked what a man of the cloth was doing with such an extravagant place,
the guy mistakenly bluffed and said that he did it to honor the king.
To which he answered thank you for my new house; now get out. They had
beautiful tapestries (looks like they didn't make it in the book), and
many actors in character doing what they do. Penelope got invited to dance
with them, and Karstin wanted in too. The grounds of Hampton Court were
In her advance planning, Karen arranged tickets to the theater to see
"Chitty Chitty, Bang Bang" in Manchester. I was excited because I love
the music and rumor says that the play is great. In London we realized
Manchester was not a London suburb and in fact wasn't realistic for us
to travel to. So with great sorrow we let those tickets crumble. Others
in the Martin Group planned to see "Mama Mia". I didn't have a great desire
to see it; and besides, it can be seen various places at home. Well "Mary
Poppins" was playing in London. The concierge at the hotel sought tickets
for us and we thought he was kidding when he apologetically said that
the only tickets left were in the front row. I guess Londoners don't like
the front row. We're not Londoners and thought the seats were the greatest.
We were able to chat with the musicians in the pit and they were so nice
(as was everybody in England). The only thing I didn't like was the food
service at halftime. I bought a Diet Coke. It was small, room temperature,
and six bucks. I asked for ice in a glass and the bartender looked at
me like I was a crack-head; I got a small glass with one piece of ice.
The show was outstanding!
Imperial War Museum
A very cool place indeed! They have on display the armaments and weapons
the Brits have used for the last 200 years. They allow and encourage touching
the stuff and they even have actors in period-costume talking about their
time in the foxholes of WWI and so forth. A lady talked about what they
did as children during the Battle of Britain and how they were shipped
to the countryside to get away from the bombing of London. We all went
to lunch together at a pub and there was a black guy who was pickling
his liver and never shut up. We had Dave Haslam pose with him in hopes
that would get the guy to stop talking for a moment. He stopped for a
moment and resumed course.
Tower of London
We went with our friends the Moffits and the Haslams to London Tower.
The jewels and weapons were there. Very cool! What is most amazing is
the deep, long, and rich history that is everywhere. A tour guide pointed
to the guards at their post and told us how they will keep their composure
at all times no matter what we do or say. "Don't bother trying, you won't
be able to make them laugh," is what he said. I responded, "You wanna
Well, another tourist tried to make the guard laugh and wasn't successful.
He made some stupid comment about guarding Wal-Mart. I promptly followed
that by telling him how Michael Jackson was going to be the new spokesman
for Wal-Mart. The guard's face showed a hint of curiosity; then I knew
I had him. I said that he volunteered when he heard that they have boys'
pants half-off. The guard doubled-over laughing. Unfortunately, we can't
find the picture of him laughing. We're not sure who took it. But rest
assured- there are many who will vouch for me.
Stonehenge was amazing and freezing. Martin
Door provided a tour guide who did a great job. Man, what a talker! He
went on and on and on. It was good though.
Bath was a Roman settlement. I always knew Rome's empire stretched as
far as the Isles, but man, I had no idea of the depth and richness of
Bath. When the ruins were discovered in the late 17th century, a very
forward thinking Brit got permission to raze the medieval village around
it and rebuild a fine city in anticipation of the interest in the ruin.
They rebuilt the whole village, which was a simple, disorganized medieval
town and made a gorgeous and organized city using a local honey-colored
limestone. It was probably the prettiest town I've ever seen- truly breathtaking.
The Roman ruin was absolutely incredible. They give you a personal speaker
player (like they do at every site, palace, castle, and museum). With
it, you can see everything at your own pace and get a professionally planned
recorded description of everything you're interested in. The bath pool
itself still has warm water running through it and the lead seal at the
bottom still works. The tour guide told us of a place to eat in Bath called
"Sally Lunn Buns". I guess in the 15th century Sally Lunn had a special
bun which gained widespread notoriety. She died in the 16th century and
with her death, the recipe died too. In the 18th century, while doing
some work on the building that was hers, an old tin was found containing
the recipe. We thought the bun was mediocre, but the experience was one
of my favorites of the whole trip. Our waitress was a student in her twenties
from Bath. She was excited to see people from the States. I asked her
name and in the cutest accent, she replied, "Lily." She asked mine, and,
wanting to hear a certain thing said, I said, "My name is Governor." She
brightly replied, "Oh, -ello Guv'na!" Our group pointed out the day's
date, April 13th was my birthday. So the whole bloody restaurant sang
"Happy Birthday dear Guv'na…" Dave Moffit and I enjoyed the sign outside
that described the kind of oven used. (see Bath link above) No matter
how many birthdays I have, I will remain a child. The Abbey at Bath was
wonderful. They have for the kids a paper with a series of questions and
clues that get them to search all over the Abbey. The Prior was delightful
and posed for a photo. Again, these people were so nice and they love
Americans. He pointed out a beautiful Steinway Grand Piano. Some choir
from America came to sing on some occasion and brought the piano. When
they were done, they gifted the Steinway to the Abbey.
The Martin-sponsored portion of the trip drew to a close with a farewell
banquet. It's nice to travel with so many people you come to know over
so many years. Our friends Abdul Aziz and his wife are always so nice
to see, as are the many other Martin Dealers and employees. We were able
to express our gratitude to Dave Martin and his wife Virginia for the
trip. As the Martin trip ended, our own trip was to begin.
We took a train from London down to Kent. We were met and picked up by
life-long friends of Karen's parents. Pat & John Fletcher live in a small
village called (I will misspell this) Godmeshen. Their home is large and
beautiful and is situated on a few acres. Our time with them was definitely
the highlight of the trip. They took such good care of us. They had to
use both of their cars to get us around. As you can see from the photos,
it is a beautiful place. When walking their land I noticed an inordinate
number of rabbits. They were truly making a mess. I asked John why he
didn't get the gun to get rid of these things. In his proper English accent
he informed me that permits of ownership of such weapons were extremely
difficult and expensive to acquire. I told him of an air-pellet rifle
I use at home to shoot rabbits. He seemed to be keen on the idea so I
mailed him one when I got home. The latest news we hear is that he has
been successful at culling the rabbit herd. I guess he takes them into
the village market and sells them for two pounds a piece. I'm so glad
to hear that. That means if he shoots one rabbit per day and sells them,
they'll make up for all the food we ate at their house in about 15 years.
We went all over Kent (Southern England) and saw the Battle of Britain
Memorial, complete with replica Spitfires and Hurricanes and a list of
names of the fallen heroes. It was also fascinating to hear both Pat and
John recall their memories of the battle. They were children at the time.
We saw where the channel ferries come and go at Dover. The cliffs were
remarkable. For so many years I've read and heard of the Cliff of Dover.
Seeing them was a real treat. We saw and did so much with the Fletchers.
We hope they'll make their way to this side of the pond so that we may
try to return the favor of hospitality.
They took us to Canterbury Cathedral. Canterbury is a large and neat city.
What was even better was to have John & Pat show us around. Near their
home was the local Anglican Church, which was smaller and still very much
in use. Pat showed us the 12th Century Saxon portion of its construction
(very cool). Also near their home was the estate where Jane Austen lived
and wrote some of her novels. I bought a tie at Canterbury Cathedral that
copies one of the stained glass windows. Every time I wear that tie, it
brings a smile to my face and very fond memories.
To Paris We Go
The Fletchers took us to the train station and we crossed under the channel
via the Chunnel. The kids were disappointed that when under the channel,
we couldn't see the water and fish. We arrived in Paris literally days
after the Muslim-riots in April. The place was still a mess. But it seems
France takes whatever conflict in stride. Karen arranged the rest of this
trip to be economical. We stayed in youth hostels. The buildings were
old and the rooms were small. But they were clean and we felt safe. We
walked around Paris near our Hotel, which was by the Sacred Heart Cathedral.
Because it was Easter season, the crowds were big and busy at the Cathedral.
Some youth minstrels were playing music on the street. We stopped to watch
and noticed that the performers would smoke in the middle of their song
when their instrument had a break. In fact, all of France smoked everywhere
and at all times. I think I saw one baby-stroller occupant that didn't
Being in Paris, there is no excuse not to go see the tower. I was less
than interested for some reason, but played along. It was amazing just
how big that thing was! There are stairs to go to the top and an elevator.
The elevator is pricey and the line for it was long, so we walked it.
They print on the stairs the number of steps taken to get to the top.
It was a good distraction for all involved except Karen. She thought going
up one-third of the way would have been fine. Brace
is just jealous because I wasn't tired. I am the one in the family that
exercises every day.
We trekked to the Louvre with the Haslams and Moffits. We carefully planned
in advance where we'd go and what we'd see. We spent all day there and
it was still too quick, although Dave Haslam thought we lingered too long
in every hall. We knew we would enjoy the paintings, which we did. Karen
and I had no idea how awesome the sculptures were. That place went on
and on in greatness. It is truly the greatest museum in the world. Notre
Dame was beautiful. I pointed out many people who could pass for Quasi
Modo. Outside the cathedral we watched two ladies sing opera numbers.
Our camera blew chunks that day, so you'll have to take our word for how
nice it was.
Another gem of a museum in Paris. The sculptures were amazing, and they
had even more of the impressionists (our favorite). To stand in direct
presence of these works was an experience of a lifetime. They included
Van Gogh, Monet, Degas, Renoir, Rembrandt, Manet, etc. These two museums
make any other collections of art seem trite. Because of the riots in
Paris, we tried to reschedule our reservations away from France. It couldn't
have worked without major expense. We are so glad cancelling was not an
Euro passes allow transit throughout the continent via train. In some
ways it seemed a bit slow as we weaved up the Alps. But the train's windows
are large and the view looked like postcards because they were so picturesque.
Zurich was to be a one-day stop only. Karen purposely didn't plan much
because she figured we'd be tired from the train ride. Lake Geneva was
beautiful. The people of Zurich were multi-lingual and their English was
easier to understand than in some parts of London. The youth hostel we
stayed in was newer and very austere. We strolled through Zurich without
a plan or a mission. We saw a poster advertising our family's favorite
opera, "Turandot" by Puccini. It was playing that night at the Zurich
Opera House. It was basically sold out. They lady in the box-office said
they only had very undesirable seats left. We hoped undesirable in Zurich
was like undesirable in London (remember, front row at Mary Poppins).
No such luck. If you were to say these seats sucked, you'd be understating
things. But, the music was beautiful and what we could see was amazing.
The theatre itself was breathtaking. It was very nice and in pristine
condition because it wasn't bombed out in WWII. The Swiss haven't switched
to the Euro currency. The Swiss Franc exchange rate was tantamount to
rape. Karstin needed toothbrush, toothpaste, and one other sundry item.
It cost over twenty dollars! We loved Zurich but are glad it was but one
To Austria We Go!
Euro passes were good for one more trip, so we went to Austria. I fondly
remember the Austrian military/customs official checking passports as
we crossed the border. He went from passenger to passenger speaking each
of their languages perfectly. I counted at least four. His English was
prim and proper. I asked if we could have our passports stamped. He apologetically
said they don't do that any more and went on his way. He returned some
minutes later with a stamp and stamped all of our passports. He was the
typical model of a person in Austria. Except for a couple taxi drivers,
everyone in Austria was as courteous and friendly as that official. Europe
is expensive. The US dollar exchange rate sucks. With the exception of
being with our friends the Fletchers, I was never really filled at any
meal. Portions of food in England, France, and Switzerland were small
and costly. Soft drinks were served at room temperature and never refillable
without substantial cost. Then, we arrived in Vienna! The hostel was in
an older part of Vienna. We arrived and asked the desk in the lobby where
we could go to eat. A nice man in the lobby gave us some suggestions.
He asked us to be careful because "This is a working-class neighborhood
and there are many non-Austrians immigrants here." That friendly caution
left Karen a little freaked out. We passed by a neon-lit sex shoppe before
we found a place to eat. This restaurant was the only place that was run
by an Austrian who couldn't speak English (I think he may have been from
Hungary or Poland). With our German translation books, we got through
the menu. It was very reasonable. The portions were large. The service
was friendly. I figured this place would be our main place for meals for
the balance of the trip. I coaxed the kids into trying Schnitzel (breaded
veal). I didn't explain what veal was, or actually just lied and said
it was chicken. They loved it. Penelope still talks about going back to
Vienna for the Schnitzel.
That night, back in our Hostel, Karen was online doing her thing. The
next morning she announced that this area was too scary for her. She made
reservations at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. Two taxis were called (we don't
fit in one), and off we went. The driver was a black African from Nigeria.
I told him how my parents served a mission in Nigeria for our church.
He asked which church. When I told him, he excitedly held up a copy of
the Ensign (a Mormon magazine) and said that we were brothers. He gave
me the address of the meetinghouse for the International Ward (English
speaking) and meeting times.
House of Music Museum and
This museum was interactive and fun. They have a virtual-reality feature
where you lead the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. When you blow it (which
is inevitable) different musicians in the orchestra complain and berate
you. These were the only rude Austrians we encountered. I guess they weren't
rude, just programmed to be so. The center of Vienna is called Stephenplatz
(everything in Austria is something-platz). The streets in this city-center
are permanently closed to automobile traffic. It is a wonderful place
to stroll and look at the sights. We purchased tickets to a special concert
at the Auesperg Palace. Music, singing, waltz, ballet, and so forth. It
was very nice, but solely attended by tourists. Vienna subway system was
hands-down the best we have ever seen. The trains were clean… spotless.
They were fast and very easy to understand. We could make our way in any
direction with great ease. When buying a bottled beverage, you had the
choice of "Gas" or "No Gas". I'll refrain from the obvious joke right
now; but I wore that joke out in Austria.
Vienna State Opera House
Tours are given throughout the day and are well worth the time and money.
I didn't think it would be as interesting as it is. Operas are performed
364 days per year (closed Christmas day). Each opera is different every
day. Yes… you read that correctly, a different opera every day. Trucks
come and go every day transporting different sets for different operas.
It is mind-boggling. The opera's tickets are sold out nearly every time.
That evening's opera was going to be "La elegir d'amour", or "The Elixir
of Love." To allow the younger generation to attend the opera and afford
it, they have standing room available for two Euros ($4). You have to
wait in a line for an hour or so and you run the risk of not getting in.
Karen, Karstin, & Penelope were too tired that day to give it a try. Savannah
and I were game. We met lots of nice people in line and got what were
literally the best standing-room seats in the house. They have a velvet
covered and padded bar onto which you can lean and a fold-up translator
screen with a choice of five languages. It was a great, great experience.
We absolutely loved the show.
One of the royal palaces was just outside of Vienna. It was a nice visit.
We finished the tour rather hungry as usual. What looked like an expensive
restaurant on the palace grounds was very reasonable (if you think I'm
being too verbose about food and food-cost, you try feeding five people
three times per day in a foreign country). The waiter was tuxed and named
Wolfgang. It was here that I introduced the family to the legendary German
Bratwurst. The hot dog is a foodstuff my wife and children tend to shun.
They saw this big weenie on my plate and wrinkled their upper lips. I
let them have a taste with the sauerkraut and they were hooked. Between
and new love of schnitzel and now, bratwurst, my family has been changed
forever. One night, as we finished our long day walking through Stephenplatz,
our hungry family noticed all of our eating spots were closed. Vienna
is not a 24-hour town. They begin to shut down after 8pm, and they're
closed Sundays. The only thing we could find was something that was labeled
as a Hot Dog stand. My desperate family had to accept this as our only
dinner choice. I knew we were in for another treat. The bratwurst was
served in a yummy roll. It was huge, tasty, and cheap. To this day I make
a point to go to a local meat market where I buy German Sausage and rolls.
My family loves them and the smells and tastes take us right back to Stephenplatz.
You can see in the photos the enormous grounds at Schonbrunn with so much
to see and do. The countless fountains and bronze statues were fun to
see and pose by. We would try to imitate the poses. My wife and kids were
unwilling to pose naked like the naked statues… party poopers! When going
through the palace, they showed the area where, "An American bomb dropped
through." I quickly retorted, "You're darn right it did!" The guide said
that it didn't explode; it just put a hole in the ceiling. I said, "It
must've been French-made."
We took a train to this cool place and spent the day. We booked a tour
of all the Sound of Music spots where it was filmed. I was willing to
do it, although it sounded kind of gay to me. Sure enough, the bus was
filled with gay tourists. The two guys in front of us were a cute couple.
One of them had "wandering eyes". He liked to check out the young boys
walking around. Karen tapped him on the shoulder and said, "Oh come now!
That one is too young for you." His boyfriend agreed. We all had a good
laugh together. I wish I thought of saying that. And you think I'm the
one who says inappropriate things?! Salzburg is Mozart's birthplace, and
2006 was his 250th birthday. We went to the relevant spots of his life.
It was a very nice place. The picture of Savannah in the tree is one of
the trees that the Von Trapp kids were in during an early scene of the
movie. The girls are posing by the pond behind the home used in the movie.
I guess it is owned by Harvard these days. I guess Harvard felt the need
to buy it when they heard Yale bought Colonel Clink's quarters in Stalag
13. The gazebo that whatzerface dances in the movie was moved to a public
park. They keep it locked though because some fat American lady tried
to do the same dance in it and fell and broke some bones. They took us
up to a remote Alpine village (Mozart's mother's birthplace) that had
a beautiful lake. Our stop was only for 20 minutes. The water was very
cold and crystal clear. You could see the bottom 30-50 feet down. I wished
we had more time; I would d a swim. At this village I bought
my way cool Austrian hat. I tell Karen that, "Everyone wears these in
Austria." She'll point out that the only person she saw wearing one was
me. Right after I started wearing it, different people would ask me directions.
I'd answer with a German accent, "Jist go ova' zhere." The chapel in this
town was very nice. The wood carving that Karstin and I are standing next
to is 800 years old. I never got tired of that kind of thing, and there
was a lot of it.
Savannah's Personal Progress
Not to be outdone by her sister, Savannah decided to complete her Young
Women's Personal Progress by her 13th birthday. If you don't know what
it is, I'm not really sure either so I don't know what to tell you. I
guess it's as big a deal as Eagle Scout is for the boys. You have to do
all sorts of projects and many hours of service and so forth. The Stake
makes a big woopteedoo for it, so it was a nice evening. Karen made me
wear a suit and tie.
Life Drawing Class
This stuff isn't in perfect order, but who cares? Karen and the girls
thought it'd be a great idea to take some college art classes so the girls
would have a better appreciation and understanding for all the art we'd
see in Europe. Their teacher, Julie Kirk, had orange hair and was lots
Our good friends Will and Kali Agazarm had a great April. Will, who is
in my Elders' Quorum, has a wife named Kali. Kali is a manager at the
Santa Margarita Border's Bookstore. Even before she decided to become
a member of the church, she made a point not to stock books in her store
that were anti-Mormon in nature. The last name, Agazarm is her name. I
guess she's the last in her family to have the proud Armenian name. Her
super-cool husband decided to change his name to Agazarm so that it might
continue. I love telling that story. How cool is that? And it's not like
he had a lame name; it was Huston. It'd be an easy decision to change
if your name were Dorque, Hemmroyde, or Phaggot ( I wonder if Karen will
notice this and try to edit it out?).
For the June Mancation, we went to our friends the Frazier's in St. George.
In attendance: Jim Hope, Mark Wells, Jeff Frazier, Jack McDonald, Kenny
Cowles, Mike Hope (Las Vegas cop who pulled out a shot-up and mostly dead
Tupac Shakur from a BMW), Jerry Hall (his bike is a four-wheeled Miata),
Bob Schiller, Dana, and I. Some Navajo jewelry peddlers were shocked when
Jerry spoke Navajo to them. One of the stops, I think it was near the
Grand Canyon and called "Ferry's Landing" or something like that, had
a body of water that was too good to resist. I put on some shorts and
jumped in. The water was very cold- just like I like it. When riding back
from St. George to Las Vegas on Saturday, we rode through the hottest
weather I've ever ridden through. We'd stop regularly for another cold
soda and also to soak our shirts in water. Kenny Cowles coined what became
my favorite expression, "I am so hot I think I'm going to explode!"
Ms. P turned eight and Karen arranged to take the party to a play in Laguna
Beach. We saw "Stuart Little." I saw the movie and didn't care for it.
The play was 50 times worse! I can't believe I sat through that piece
of crap. Everyone (but me) enjoyed it. Penelope got the mother-load of
presents. Penelope's Grandpa, Albert Paulus, took
her out to Mimi's for her
birthday. He was smart and avoided the children's party.
Mother's Day at Riverside
In honor of our dearly departed Jerry (Karen's mother), Karen, the girls,
Albert and most of the Perkins went to the cemetery. Karen snapped a shot
of the marker for her grandparents (Albert's parents).
Karen is giving voice lessons and she had a recital in May. She has 18
students now if you count the three girls.
Birthday at the Perkins
In order to celebrate the birthdays of Dominique, Valerie, and David,
we get together to do them all at once. If you were to combine the ages
of Dominique and Valerie, and multiply it by two, you'd still be short
of reaching Karen's brother David's age. And he isn't nearly as pretty
as they are; that's why we didn't have him jump out of the cake.
2nd Grade Open House
Penelope is really coming along in her growth. She is driven, competitive,
braggy, and confident. My hope is she'll be able to work and support me
in a few more years.
Family Shots in May
Savannah Has Braces
The directors of the play Savannah and I were in, "Annie", invited us
to the "Abbey Awards". I guess they do this every year to celebrate the
theater's previous season and to give awards. Savannah and I each won
awards for our acting. So now when you see us, you may refer to us as
"Award-Winning Actors". It was nice to see those whom we befriended during
One of the vendors from work, Adams Steel, gave us some luxury box tickets
to the Angel game. I called Jon Love and he brought Cody. I took Penelope.
Cody and Penelope played the whole time. Those boxes are nice. The meal
service, private restroom, couches, etc. make for a pleasant game experience.
We drove up to the Bay Area for Jason Ross' wedding. While on the freeway,
I noticed we were going through Dublin. I remembered bike-building legend
Arlen Ness has his place of business in Dublin. I don't know if you've
ever watched "Biker Build-Off" on the Discovery Channel. Arlen and his
son Corey have been on it a couple of times. I scanned off the freeway
and saw a sign on a big building and I made a b-line for the exit. His
facility was great. The bikes were beautiful. Karen bought me a cool shirt
with a flaming skull on it. Then they called Arlen himself to come down
and sign it. Very cool!
These are not Kennedy-style headshots.
Karen's cousin, Lori Knoefler, has three daughters. Daughter #2 is Desiree
and she married a guy named Ryan Hardy. It was at an LDS chapel in Victorville.
The cultural hall was decorated nicely. It was nice to get together with
the extended family. The DJ-guy was something of a smart aleck. As the
different Bride's maids and Groom's Maids (or whatever they're called)
came in, he'd play some particular pop song. Some milked for the attention,
some didn't. When the Bishop came in last, just before the couple, the
song the DJ played was that stupid song from the 90's, "I'm too Sexy…"
The Bishop was rather embarrassed. I laughed rather hard.
Savannah and Karstin went to Stake
Girls' Camp. I forget where they went and no one is home right now
to tell me, but I'm sure it was extraordinarily special for them. Karstin
included photos of the bathroom in the photo journal. It looks like the
kids took lots of photos in there. It's nice to know I've got some influence
Karen's sister Linda and her husband Tom have two boys and two girls.
The last of those Mohicans just got married in June. It was nice to make
a trek up north to be with them. We forgot our camera, so all the shots
we have were done with my phone. Isn't it nice how we have that option
these days? But I'll tell you, the fact that everyone has these things
is proof-positive that there is no such thing as space-aliens. If one
were to come, there'd be phone-video and phone-pictures of them everywhere.
You can see a picture of the happy couple coming out of the Oakland Temple.
Jason is the one in the green dress, his new wife Erin is in the white
While we were up in the Bay Area for this wedding, we went to Frisco one
night with the Perkins. We drove down that crooked street and went to
fisherman's wharf. The next day we went to church at Lynda and Tom's ward
and then headed home.
Pajama Day at School
Beautiful picture of Penelope with curls all done
Jim Hope's New Bike
One of the charter-members of the Mancation group, Jim Hope, just upgraded
his bike. His cool 750 Honda Shadow was sold and an 1800 Honda VTX was
purchased. Bob Schiller and I went with Jim to pick it up. The guy he
bought it from was as queer as a three-dollar bill and proudly showed
a leather jacket with red flames on it. It looked very… uh… happy (Karen
doesn't like me to say gay). So Bob and I bought it for Jim and tried
to establish a rule that he had to wear it. We followed Jim in Bob's truck
and managed to keep up with him for 2 blocks…. Zoom! You have to realize
why I've had to soup-up my motorcycle. Someone's got to keep up with Jim
and Mark… and it's getting harder. Jim went back to the guy the next day
and traded the jacket for a taillight assembly. I can imagine how happy
the guy must've been to see Jim again as he asked to trade the jacket
for some tail…… assembly.
At the end of the school year our stake has a big scripture-chase competition.
Our stake youth program is huge and they make a big to-do over the whole
thing. Our high counselor friend Pete Sanford asked me to emcee the event.
I planned some nice, appropriate jokes and did my best to keep the group
entertained. I'll tell you, I have never worked a tougher crowd. They
are so hyper to be there with all their friends and in the spirit of competition,
that it took all I had to get their attention. I made lots of jokes at
expense of the "Old Man table". The old men included the stake presidency
and a few brave high counselors. I went beyond the Geritol jokes and delved
into depends diapers and Efferdent. There were about twelve classes and
about 150-200 kids in attendance. The end-result was two classes tied
for first. So we had one kid from each class do a showdown. A girl whose
name escapes me represented her 12th grade class. Another girl, named
Karstin, represented her 9th grade class. They did about five more rounds,
tying each time. Finally the other girl edged out Karstin. It couldn't
have helped Karstin to have the emcee say that if she loses, she'd have
to change her name. She did a great job.
Karstin is taking a sewing class and is becoming quite the little maker
of stuff. Seamstress is the word, Brace. She doesn't
make stuff. She makes beautifully clothing. Look at that costume and you
will see it is anything but stuff. She
made her Halloween costume and the other things shown.
Savannah's pet gecko "Amici" is shown here in better days. Not too long
after this photo was taken, he gorged himself on crickets and exploded.
Now he is in Gecko-heaven.
For Karstin Summertime is a time for "Especially for Youth" at some distant
place, usually BYU Provo. Because of a lack of planning (hard to believe
with Karen involved), Provo was over-booked. So she went to BYU Idaho.
She enjoyed herself, but made it clear she has no plans ever to return
to Idaho. I guess when you build in the frozen tundra, you don't install
air conditioning. EFY is a summer gig, so… well, you get the idea.
Karsen's Utah Trip
The Moffits come to California
Our friends from Utah, the Moffits, with whom we travel the world on the
Martin Door trips, came to our neck of the woods. It was nice to have
them in town. It reminds us of how much fun we have with them abroad.
Karen thought it'd be a great idea for us to audition for a Tustin-area
production of Oklahoma! These plays are old-hat for me these days… I've
been in two. I figured I'd do it if I got a lead role. Well, the auditions
were quite a bit different than the community-theater things we've seen.
The place was full of pros. It is a LimonCarr Production, which is the
company of the director and musical director, Ray Limon and Josh Carr.
Well, I figured I was a little out of my league for this one. The director
called and offered me the part of Ali Hakim, you know, the Persian Peddler-charlatan-womanizer-dude.
Well, technically, it isn't a leading role. I thanked him and told him
I'd get back to him after speaking to my wife. I told Karen that I probably
wouldn't be interested. She said, "Uh… this isn't community theater, this
isn't a church play where everybody who applies gets to play. This is
the real deal." So, I took it.
From the first practice, we could see this was a different thing. The
whole play was ready with just one month of practices. This production
has a budget of $80,000. The performances take place in a public park
in Tustin. They close it off and set up a huge stage. There was a twenty-something
piece orchestra. The dancers were amazing. The lead-actors were incredible.
I played alongside Ann Myers who
played the role of Ado Annie. She was a gifted actress, singer, dancer,
and overall presence. In true sacrifice, I had to take one for the team
and kiss her 300 times. They told me not to cut my hair (an order I keep
to this day) and to grow a beard. As I glance at the pictures, I am reminded
of what a delightful group of people they were. The guy who played "Judd"
was Walker Clark. His acting turned the role of a lovesick dummy to a
genuine sociopath. Every practice was a treat to watch and see how he
would further develop his character. He has since appeared on television
in shows like "ER" and "Justice". He is so good. But more than a great
talent, he was a delightful man. Other people in the show including Carlos
Martin (Will Parker), Tom Short (Pa Carnes), Clark, John, and Joan Neubauer
(Aunt Eller) are people that we will always remember with great fondness.
The production team was amazing. Josh, Ray, Roberta, and Barbara were
terrific. What a great experience! My wife says I should mention more
people by name. They were wonderful and they know who they are, so don't
feel bad if you're not mentioned.