We have a great well. The water from our well is so sweet that the bottled water at work tastes bad to me. On a normal day I barely give it a thought. Just flip on the tap and enjoy the cool sweet water. Our garden grows on the water from our well. In this hot weather we are having, I take at least one nice cool shower a day, without even giving it a thought.
Last night that all came to a startling halt. I was filling some pots with water for dinner and the water began to wane. At first it was just "Hu that's not much pressure" but by the end of the second pot it was clear that the pressure I was getting was coming from the hose that runs up the hill to our garden not our great well. I had spent the day working out in the heat of a 105-degree day and I had not had a shower yet. I have lost track of how many times I have flipped that faucet handle expecting to have water flow, only to remember that it is off. I got off the phone with a guy about getting the water fixed and immediately walked over and flipped the faucet to wash my hands. It's like my mind just can't understand. At this point I am assuming that we just lost a pump and that we will again be enjoying our well by the end of today. Obviously it is extremely inconvenient not to have the water that I have grown so accustom to. On the other hand I am starting to see it is an opportunity to recognize how blessed I am to have cool, clean water at my command at any time. It really is a miracle the level of luxury that we enjoy in our relatively humble home.
Every three years for as long as I can remember my mom's side of the family has had big reunion. They are always really well attended and well organized and they are always a really good week of fun. This year it was held in Park City Utah. We had one big Cabin and two very big condos rented for the group. Wonderful dinners were provided every night, and my mom made pancakes for everyone who showed up a 7:30 to get them every morning. We were well fed, well housed and surrounded by great family friends every day as we did all kinds of fun activities. The only problems we had were trying to decide which group to join for what activity. Most of the time there were several fun things going on and it was hard to pick which one to do.
We drove to my sister Angela's house. We got stuck in one of the worst traffic jams I have ever been in. After spending two and a half hours sitting we finally got diverted off the freeway onto a one-lane dirt road for about five miles before being put back on the freeway. We later learned that someone had run from the cops and ended up getting shot dead. Nice one!
We went to church with Angela and most of my immediate family who had assembled.
After helping Angela move a piano in the morning we set out for some one on one time to commemorate our anniversary. We had lunch at TGI Fridays before spending several hours enjoying the Red Butte Gardens on the eastern edge of Salt Lake. If you are into gardens this is not to be missed. Kelly and I both really liked the children's garden the best. The garden was very nice but we were fairly pooped after all that time in the sun. We headed on up the canyon toward Park City to unload some of our stuff at the reunion condos so we didn't have to take it all with us camping. Several years ago I went camping out east of Heber Utah and I figured it would be a good spot to spend some alone time with Kelly. We found a side road that dead-ended at a huge meadow full of wild flowers and spend a very nice night enjoying the nature and each other to celebrate two great years together.
In the morning we packed up camp and rejoined the already underway reunion festivities. Traditionally there has been a T shirt for each reunion with special art work on it. Last time I organized it and had shirts made for everyone. I can attest that it is no small job. This time around someone decided that the thing to do would be to let everyone tie-dye their own shirt. All of them turned out really fun but I think Kelly and I's were among the best if I do say so. In the evening we all went to the Oakley Rodeo. Now I'm here to tell ya, that it was a good time. I'm not real sure what is about a bunch a fellers of questionable intellect doin' crazy stuff to crazy animals that is so fun but watching it with a nice big group of your favorite family is just about as good as it gets. The rodeo was wrapped up by a nice fire works show.
This day was scheduled to check off two more great traditions associated with our family reunions: group pictures and the lamb roast. As you can imagine getting a group that big and with that many squirming kids to all look good at the same instant is right up there with Moses parting the Red Sea in the miracle department but Jessica did a great job of doing it fast and efficiently and I think that is one of the keys to success for large groups. Before and after pictures I spent the day helping Uncle Bill prepare and cook "The Lamb". My Grandfather who is the patriarch of this reunion was born in Croatia and immigrated to Chicago with his mother as a small child. They lived in an ethnic neighborhood in Chicago and on holidays the neighborhood would get together and roast dozens of lambs in the park. Uncle bill learned how to do it from grandpa Benac who learned it for his father who no doubt learned how as a youngster growing up in Croatia. The cleaned and gutted lamb is wired to the 5 foot long spit poll. Holes are poked all over him with and paring knife and then a clove of garlic is shoved into each one. As the lamb is slowly turned over the coals it is regularly basted with an olive oil, basil mixture. Six hour of watching and drooling later and after a few adjustments to keep the lamb on the spit, we started carving. Uncle Bill, cousin Spencer and myself cut every scrap of meet off the lamb as fast and we could and kept our mouths busy (in keeping with tradition) with some of the best bits. Uncle Bill said it was the biggest lamb he has done at sixty some pounds and we ate every juice, tender scrap. I am planning to make a spit of my own and carrying on the tradition for my generation.
The Candy launcher (See 6/27/06) was a hit with both kids and adults.
While Kelly went on an outing into Park City with "the girls", us fellers when for a sweet mountain bike ride. I have not done any biking in far to long so I was worried that I wouldn't have "the flow" that makes a good ride great. My fears were short live. While my lungs lagged behind my ambitions, my skills were still on. Most of the ride was down hill and on the descents I was riding very well. For those of you who don't mountain bike it hard to describe but there is a feeling you get when you are one with the bike and you seem to flow over the trail, when you hit the corners just right and your tires just find the prefect line over and through the rock. It's what makes you look forward to the next ride.
After lunch the whole reunion went to a big indoor water park in the tiny town of Kamas. They had slides and play structures, a lazy river and a hot tub. I went down the slide with my niece Winter a bunch of times and down the river with Kelly a bunch and had a good soak in the hot tub to sooth my mountain bikin' bones. The kids loved it and I didn't hear any of the adults complaining either. We all got out in time to make it home to a catered dinner back at the main cabin.
This day was kinda set aside for Ashurst family activities; a mini reunion within a reunion if you will. We started off with a photo shoot. We stole Cousin Annie and she and Jessica took the photos. Jessica did a great job again but the kids were a bit less cooperative. When we looked at the pictures though it was mom with her closed eyes that put the most pictures on the scrap heap. Then it was off to the Utah Olympic Park, the venue of many events of the 2002 winter Olympics. Several other groups from the reunion had done this earlier in the week and had come back with glowing reports. Indeed it turned out to be one of the best parts of the trip. First we browsed thought the museum. It had exhibits of the special clothing and equipment that the Olympians used as well as artifacts from the opening and closing ceremonies and some of the metals that the best in each event won. Next we took a bus tour of the facility. We stopped at the top of the bobsled run and at the top of the tallest ski jump run where the guide explained some of the intricacy of each sport. For sixty five bucks they will put you in a special bobsled equipped with seat belts and a roll cage and piloted by a pro and give you a shove down the hill for a 70 miles per hour, 4G ride that drops you over 40-storys in just over a minute. In the summer they do it dry on the concrete with rollers on the sled but in the winter they do in of ice and the speeds are even a bit faster. $65 is a lot of clams but I would like to do it someday preferably in the winter. After the bus tour we rode the ultra zip-line and the quicksilver alpine slide. The zip-line lets you slide along the biggest ski jump in the park at 50 mph. They say it gives the same sensation as the ski jump but I think that is best left to the York peppermint pattie. It seemed like the sensation of a really big fast zip-line to me. Then the coolest part of the day was the quicksilver alpine slide. I have done alpine slides before but they were not quite like this. Apparently this is the only one like it in the US. Rather than the concreate that most slide are made of this one is stainless steal. The sleds are set up so that if you don't hold the brake off it comes on. This prevents you from giving yourself a push at the top but I figured out how to use my leg to hold the brake off so I could get a bit more speed at the top. Then I managed to make the rest of the run without having to use the brake. At times the sled felt quit unstable and felt like it wanted to dump me out. They definitely could have been lower to the trak. My brother in law Richard was right behind me in line at the top but after a long while my cousin Annie came down instead. What happened was that Richard had seen my leg trick and used it at the top too, but then I can only assume he lacked my amazing sledding skills and he rolled his sled half way down. He came down shortly after Ruth with some minor friction burns and laughing about the whole thing. After dinner we took Annie to the airport and then drove around Salt Lake a bit and walked around the closed Trolley Square shopping center.
At the very first Benac reunion I was just a little kid. One thing I remember was riding the Heber Creeper. It a steam train that winds down the Provo canyon from Heber and back. It was high on my list of things to do. Kelly and I took one of my cousin Allison's sons Will with us. He was a delight to have along. The ride starts out thought the farmland of the Heber Valley and the follows along the side of Deer Creek Reservoir before dropping down along the Provo River. I think it's at Vivian Park where they disconnect the engine and move it to the other end of the train for the return trip. The 618 engine that pulled us is a 1907 Baldwin steam locomotive. It really is an impressive piece of machinery.
My brother in law Mark led an expedition to the top Tri-County peak it was a little over 10,000 feet and it still had a big patch of snow on one side of it. Mark had been up there earlier in the week so he had come prepared with a bunch of Hefty bags for sliding down the snow on our butts. My nephew Sterling was kinda freakin' out so I put him on my lap and then my niece Winter wanted to come too so I put her on behind me. We had a great run but a bad landing. At the bottom of the snow one of sterling's legs got caught under me and I was trying to get it out as we slid off the end of the snow and on to the rocks. Sterling ended up with a sore leg and I hit a sharp rock that cut through my favorite pants and into my butt. Having a gaping bloody hole in my pants made the rest of the trip home a bit of a drag. I shoved what was left of my Hefty bag down the back of my pants to keep from mooning anyone and just walked back down the trail by my self.
We had to be out of the condos by 10:00am, so we got up, packed up and cleaned up. We said our final goodbyes to those who had stayed to the end and then we went over to Kelly's neglected Aunt's house. I say neglected because she lives literally within sight of the reunion cabin but we had been so busy with all the activities of the reunion that we had not been over to visit her. Once we got there and visited a bit we decided to go walk through the shop on Main Street in Park City. We had lunch at the Wasatch Brew Pub. I had a buffalo ranch burger. Kelly had the fish and chips, and Aunt Sissy had some really yummy (I tried one) coconut shrimp. After a bit more shopping we headed back to Sissy's house where we got to drive Uncle Kirk's freshly pained, red yard tractor before dinner. Kirk barbequed some of the best T-bone stakes I have ever had. They had tons of flavor and were as tender as anything. What a treat! After dinner we chatted on the porch as the sun fell behind the mountains and then we retired early to prepare for the long drive home.
One last thing on the to do list. Kelly likes to visit local yarn shops where ever we go to feed her knitting hobby. She knits all kind of stuff and it's fun to say this is made from the yarn we got on our trip to wherever. Kelly had found a couple of yarn shops in Salt lake on the internet but they didn't open till 10:00 I wanted to get an earlier start driving but in the end we took the opportunity to sleep in a bit and arrived at the first yarn shop at about quarter to 10. By 10:15 nobody had arrived to open the store so we gave up in frustration. We never located the second shop so we had to go home empty handed, at least in the yarn department. The rest of the trip was uneventful. We stopped again in Elko to have lunch at Wingers and then made the rest of the trip with only one stop for gas in Winnemucca. Mucca mucca mucca...