Life of a Real Mom

Unedited Mothering

Category: Uncategorized (page 1 of 14)

From Saddleback Mountain

From the top of Saddleback Mountain, Maine

August 6, 2018

J.D. finally had cell coverage! We haven’t been able to talk much the last week. He called me this morning and told me some interesting stories:

I just summitted Saddleback Mountain, a beautiful place. One of three Saddleback peaks. The Horn, the tallest, and Saddleback Junior. There are two more mountain systems that I have to cross before the hundred mile wilderness.

Mom, I want to tell you about a miracle that happened couple days ago.

I was crossing a waist high river in southern Maine. I saw a woman on the opposite side of the river. I quickly crossed and we greeted each other. She asked,

“Are you Vermont?”


“Are you Play Boy?”


“Are you Sam Wise?”


“Oh! I am meeting them here. What is your name?”

Giant. (I learned that she was Vermont’s grandma, Rosemary from Massachusetts).

The three hikers showed up not 10 minutes after I started talking to her.

They greeted each other with hugs and a kiss on the cheek, a reunion of sorts, because she had seen the three of them in MA a few weeks ago.

Rosemary said, “Let’s get to the hostel.”

I had known there was a famous new hostel close, but we were in rural Maine and there was no way to hitch a ride on such a remote dirt road.

Two other hikers that were also a part of Vermont’s trail family, but they didn’t show up with the three of them. And Rosemary was planning on taking all 5 of them, so she said,

“You can come with us Giant.”

Oh, great! (And I spent the evening and morning with their group).

We got to the hostel at 8:00 p.m. kind of late.

It is brand new (since June) so it just opened. It is a wooden dome!

That sleeps 20 people.

It has a kitchen, studio style, with a basement with a giant screen, Netflix.

The owner has 20 acres of land. He got a lot of money from doing one of those Survivor shows that he won.

“Yucon” is his trail name. He hiked the whole AT once.

When he got the money he said, “I am going to buy some land in Maine and build a hostel.”

Imagine this dome has lots of windows, different wood paneling, really dark, decorations including AT memorabilia. It would have cost $35 to stay there, but Rosemary took care of us all. We were all blown away at how beautiful it was. We put on loaner clothes. 9 p.m., late, but she wanted to take us out to eat. Who can say “No” to that? We went to a sports bar that had amazing hamburgers. I ordered a 1/2 pound and fries, but it didn’t fill me up, not one bit. I was amazed at my ability to throw it down. I could have eaten two more of those, but I didn’t complain. They also served green bean fries, which reminded me of Clark, who served them at the Habit.

We got back at 10, to bed at 11, that is SO LATE for trail sleep standards.

In the morning we had All-you-can-eat pancakes breakfast. plate sized, stamped with the AT symbol and topped with homemade blueberry syrup from Maine blueberries. and real Maine maple syrup. I actually had passed a syrup collecting operation. All the trees were connected to each other flowing into another tube. In Hannover, New Hampshire.

So when we woke up, everyone was up, music was playing and everyone was chill.

I asked Yukon what was the record. 5. I got only to 3 and 7/8! I slathered butter on them, covered them in blueberry syrup and LOVED them so much. I call them Yukon Cakes.

There was a Shuttle for those that want to get to the trail early. Helped me get more miles in yesterday.

So it was a miracle that I got to accompany this group led by Rosemary. I got lots of great food and a wonderful memory. I am so blessed!

I haven’t told you about The Whites! (These are the large mountain range in New Hampshire!)

Eddie and J Beebes and I hiked together in the Whites. There is a system of 7 or 8 old old huts, intended for tourists who are mountaineering dating back to the 20s or 30s. $70 to $100 a bunk. you’ll see them filled. They are off grid (solar power, propane gas stoves, wind turbines and emergency gasoline generators). Each hut has a crew of 8-10 employees. They are college age kids, YOUNG. Some as young as 18 years old! They cook meals and entertain the guests that stay at the huts.

All they have is the dining area, the kitchen, the crew space and some of them have a library. and then there are bunk rooms. The huts are luxurious. Renovated over and over again. People who stay in them are day-hikers or people that are only hiking The Whites. So they are generally families that are on vacation.

Thru-hikers were an after thought when it came to the huts, because they don’t have the money to spend like that. So they made it so that a hiker cannot be denied entrance into a hut and can have a bed if the weather is bed outside. But the huts have a system of “work for stay” if you show up at the right time. You get left over food and can set up your bed in the dining area after lights out. Eddie and J Beebes and I did it twice! The leftovers were abundance! Only once we stayed to help with the morning meal, which means we had to stay until 9 a.m., which is unfortunate because that is a late start.

Also, the workers have to carry out all their trash out, so they will save their the leftovers for anyone who will ask for them. They are HAPPY to give away ANY leftovers they can because that means that they don’t have to carry them out on their backs. Because of this, even when we didn’t do a “work to stay,” we could ask for food at the huts and they usually had lots to give us.

I am eating a pop tart, right now. I am still not tired of them!

Bye! I have to keep hiking. It is hard to hike and talk at the same time. So I better go so I can speed up. (J.D. resupplied today – which with all the hitch hiking, takes a lot of time. He still hopes to hike 22 miles today.)

I love you Mom!

J.D. Shaeffer Finishes the Appalachian Trail in 3 Months and 11 Days!

Sorry. THIS is NOT the ordinary:

At Maine’s state border

Tempe resident J.D. Shaeffer, will complete the Appalachian National Scenic Trail this summer in only 3 months and 11 days. The A.T. is the longest hiking-only footpath in the world, nearly 2,200 miles in length. The trail travels through fourteen states along the crests and valleys of the Appalachian Mountain Range, including the highest points in many of these states. J.D. began at the A.T.’s southern terminus at Springer Mountain, Georgia on May 4, 2018 and will finish the through-hike at its northern end at the peak of Mount Katahdin, Maine on August 14, 2018.

Fitting the 2,200 miles in between semesters was no easy task. J.D. flew out of Phoenix less than a day after his last spring final exam on May 3rd. He landed at Atlanta’s Hartsfield airport around 6 a.m. on May 4th and that same day arrived at the approach trail at Amicaloa Falls State Park. After 8 miles of hiking, he officially began the Appalachian Trail at Springer Mountain, Georgia, and then hiked his first 2 miles of the A.T. before retiring for the first of 103 nights spent on the trail. Over the course of his difficult journey, J.D. averaged hiking a marathon a day, his mileage record being 41 miles hiked in one day. He will finish just in time to catch a flight home on August 16th, the first day of fall classes at ASU. According to the Appalachian Mountain Club, “An Appalachian Trail thru-hike takes between five and seven months to complete the entire trail. About 20 percent of hikers who begin the trail will complete it.” J.D. will complete it in 3 months and 11 days.

J.D.’s determined character, smart planning, and 6’10” height gave him major advantages to finishing the A.T. quickly. First, J.D. exercised strong mental stamina throughout the hike, which is necessary to overcome normal expectations, loneliness, and illness. The hardest physical demands include hiking up Mount Killington, Vermont in freezing wind while thoroughly wet for days due to one-of-the-many multi-day rainstorms he endured. Long distance hikes like the A.T. take extensive planning, and one evidence of this is that J.D. carried as little weight as possible, food being the priority. Decisions like wearing the same shirt and shorts the entire journey with no coat (or bringing any cooking gear) gave J.D. a needed advantage to keep a fast pace. These advantages and his physical strength helped J.D. hike and climb almost 2,200 miles in 103 days.

J.D. Shaeffer, one of five children, was raised in Tempe, Arizona. He is a graduate of Marcos de Niza High School, Fees Middle School, and Rover Elementary. He is now a Computer Science major at Arizona State University. He is an Eagle Scout from troop 576 (having done work on the Arizona Trail for his Eagle Project) and spent two years as a missionary in Paraguay for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Curt’s Dream

Curt had a cool dream while we were camping at the Harold Parker State Park Campground in MASSACHUSETTS.
I wonder what it means?!

“In the beginning there was a meeting of religions in a auditorium lecture hall. Me and Tori (the new blonde girl from Studio C) were on the top row of the auditorium. She saw the Cheerio Bee and called over to the him. When he got up there, she asked if she could have more honey on her cheerios. She really was holding a bowl of Cheerios. He took his honeycomb wand and poured honey with the honeycomb wand on her Cheerios and it made a delicious looking pumpkin pie with whipped cream inside her bowl.

“The seats in the auditorium were super steep and the whole thing was full of colors, like fancy lights. The curtain was full of colorful lights too. Then the music started jamming, like electric guitar: super cool music! People started liking Mormons more because they knew it was music from Mormons. “Mormons make sweet music and they play their sweet jams and tunes.” Now the Mormons appealed to the others at this meeting of religions. Everyone liked Mormons.

“Nobody was converted, right then, but they knew we were cool. The Mormons were seated at the top of the Auditorium. The Muslims were in the middle with the Hindus, and the other Christians were down low.

“Then it was like how it happens in a movie sometimes when you miss a part and you catch the end and you don’t know what is going on. I felt like I was still part of the movie and there at the most important spot. Somehow Tori had become bad and my Mom punched her and she fell into a black hole and there were psychedelic lights all over. Oh, ya! The lady that punched Tori from studio C was my mom!

“… And I had massive thighs. I was ripped.

“Dad came in and said, ‘What just happened?’”

hahhahahaha! What do you think that all means? I PUNCHED a Studio C star? Mormon music IS cool.

That same night Adam had a dream that he had a wispy mustache. Now, THAT IS amazing!

A Kid Can Make a Billy Cart

Curt finished his billy cart (gravity racer) yesterday. He wanted to make the whole cart out of stuff we had laying around the house, instead of spending any money. He managed to accomplish that except one speed nut ($1.00 at ACE Hardware).

Here are the youtube videos he liked the best as he was making it:
DIY Billy Cart
How to make a Billy Cart at Bunnings
Curt learned about:
– drills,
– different types of screws,
– speed nuts,
– the diameter of rods,
– screws and bits,
– axels,
– how wheels stay on,
– structure and strength,
– table saw safety,
– trial and error,
– following directions while adding your own twist,
– making do or doing without,
– working toward a goal,
– patience,
– cleaning up a construction mess, and
– how to keep tools organized.

Parent tips:
– I supervised the process, which required my time and patience.
– I let him make mistakes and decisions.
– I guided him when I thought it was important.
– I pointed out aspects to consider, but let him problem solve.
– I know he was satisfied with the result.
– The time I spent to do this project beside him was worth it.

After a couple tries, he succeeded in a few awesome runs at our neighborhood park. CURT’s GRAVITY RACER WORKS!
Of course, there are adjustments he wants to make on the cart now. He says, “I think making the cart was more fun than riding it.”

Fantastic Random Appalachian Trail Details at Mile 2,144

This is Big Lou, Hudson’s wife, who is owner of the Bearded Woods Hostel. It is amazing how understanding and generous people are in trail towns. Many fit into the category of “trail angels,” who have done any of the following for J.D. and countless other hikers:
– giving rides into town and back to the trail,
– dropping off gallons of water on the trail,
– frying up burgers at trail heads for hikers passing by – even bringing camping chairs (a luxury) for hikers to sit in while they eat,
– offering their homes, lawns or barns for hundreds of hikers to stay in over the season,
– paying for hikers’ groceries, and taking hikers’ out to eat.
Big Lou, whose name is an oxymoron, is laughing because J.D. is so tall. They have opened their home, a hostel or hikers’ version of a bed and breakfast (with a surprise dinner now-and-then), for 6-7 years. Unfortunately, a few days after J.D. left the famous Bearded Woods Hostel, a hiker stayed there and got super drunk. He messed the place up a little. Hudson sent him on his way, and they decided to close for the season. J.D. continued: “I was there last week and they gave us a chicken dinner. Here is the group I hung out with at the hostel for two days. We slack packed the second day together.” Slack packing is when a trail angel offers to keep your pack for you while you hike with a day pack (BLESSED RARITY) and then picks you up at the end of the day to return your pack to you. In J.D.’s case, Hudson offered to do it for this group of hikers if they would stay at their hostel one more night. The second morning, Hudson drove them to where they left off on the trail the day before!

Their names are: Echo from Scottsdale (the third person I’ve met from Arizona), Hiking Lady from Provo, Nightingale, and Crush.

Another of the many trail angels J.D. has been served by are John and Linda, who paid for his groceries in Lee, MA.

There are many ponds in Vermont. Here is one. “Can you see the beaver damns?”

This next picture is when J.D. was coming off Mt. Greg Lock, the highest peak in Massachusetts near the end of a storm. On top was a really tall war monument that said something like, “This memorial has been laid in gratitude to the veteran sons and daughters of MASSACHUSETTS who were faithful even unto death.” It was very moving. He wanted a better picture of the memorial, but it was really rainy and he didn’t want to get his phone wet. CLICK HERE FOR A GOOD ONE.

The next picture is of Upper Goose Pond in Massachusetts. “I spent the night in a nice cabin there. I am so glad I stayed there. I met Wanderer from Germany and Jack from NY.”

“I feel totally healthy. I’ve had two 27 milers.” J.D. had to spend some time in a town just waiting for my stuff to charge. It was stressful, not at all relaxing. While waiting at a fast food restaurant for his phone to charge he said “Hi” to a guy hanging out there that looked like he might be a hiker.
J.D.: “Hey man! Are you hiking he trail?”
Ya, well, I was.. my dead line was Aug 13th.
J.D.: “That is mine as well.”
I gave up. I don’t think I can do 20 mile days from here on out.
J.D.: “I am going to do it!” He didn’t say anything encouraging at all. I have heard so much negativity. Blatant, like: You can’t do it! Your crazy! Why are you doing that to yourself! It isn’t helpful at all. I can do this! I am going to do this!”
J.D. has had a huge hole in his shoe since Vermont! (Second pair) He had hoped his last pair of shoes would be waiting for him in Hannover, NH, but when he got to Hannover the shoes still weren’t there. He took a zero day at a hostel owned by a lady named Karen. The relaxation is good, but he felt impatient knowing that every minute off the trail was pushing back his arrival to Katahdin (the end of the Appalachian Trail is at the top of a mountain).
“It is so annoying, I find myself distancing myself from other people because I don’t want to be pulled down by them. No one is saying “Sick! Your amazing! So I don’t want to visit with people right now. I can’t afford it. All I can hear right now is encouragement.” The task ahead of him is too big to listen to anything less than absolute positivity. “Joseph, Shortlegs, and Daniel, the mandolin guy, were all so encouraging. I am 24 days away. Am I going too fast to not enjoy these parts of the trail? So, I find I am spending more money so I don’t miss out on things because I hike twenty miles or more every day. When I am done, I will KNOW I have seen the top of all the mountains, seen all the trees, the whole trial. This Appalachian Trail was created in the 1920s for those seeking fellowship with the wilderness. I will see Katahdin. I’m aiming for one big thing. The journey is the reward, so I don’t want to be in too big of a hurry that I don’t enjoy it.”

While on the phone one day with J.D. he said, “Where am I? What is this?! Mom! I am on top of a ski run and I have found a cabin, which must have been used for a shelter or something. By the way, I have decided my new favorite wall cover is wood paneling like this. I’ll break out a snack… I bought a bag of broccoli florets in town this morning and I want to eat them before they go bad. There is totally space to stay the night, but I will keep going, of course. WOW! Here is an old crusty water worn copy of Old Man and the Sea. There is “Hemingway” here?! Some classy person was up here. It is impossible to feel upset in a place like this. How can you feel pity for yourself when you just found a cabin on top of a mountain with Hemingway in it?”

He is pushing forward! Go J.D.! On to Mount Katahdin in Maine!

An Inviting Home

5 Ways to Create an Inviting Home
by Linsey Jensen

See Dakota sneaking out the front door?

– Invite people over
– Be generous
– Show interest in others
– Be interesting
– Don’t stress and ENJOY

I LOVE these points made by my cousin Linsey in her blog post. SEE THE WONDERFUL TEXT HERE. Check out their WHOLE site, which is full of great games for the family.

My Uncle Elwin is an excellent example of this, to be sure. I have many memories of staying there as a child and teenager. Even MY kids LOVE going to his house where they play freely and often get a multi scoop ice cream cone.

I am going to be more like this! Come on over 😉 I may not serve you steaks, but I can make a mean lasagna and great pancakes.

Road Trip to New England States (driving and camping, driving and camping…)


Eating Lobster in Maine

– 26 states (Focus on New England States) I have been in 49 of the United States. Just missing North Dakota!
– camped 10 nights in a row, 13 total
– drove 6, 920 miles

We have our routine. Setting up, cooking and taking down camp is like our “farm.” Our kids learn a lot by camping together. Result? Gratitude among other things.


Sun. June 10, 2018
We left Sunday evening for Heber, had sandwiches with Grammy and Grandpa and slept comfortably there at the cabin.

Mon. June 11, 2018
After an early goodbye and exit we drove to Colorado Springs to meet with the Zulanas family. We enjoyed a bounteous dinner of ribs and nice visiting. BC and Laura beat us all at corn hole.

The top of Colorado, Springs’ Incline!

Tues. June 12, 2018
On Tuesday morning we went to the incline walking up 1 mile of steep stairs to a beautiful view of Colorado Springs. Laura and Kay laid out a delicious breakfast picnic lunch at a picnic at a park near Manitou Springs public pool. We left that afternoon for Greeley, Colorado. Cindy was fighting the flu but we had a fun pizza dinner with Mike Mitchell followed by enjoying the fancy game and sport viewing room. The three adults reminisced and predicted future conditions until late. Mike’s house was spacious and comfortable.

Wed. June 13, 2018
Wednesday morning Cindy was feeling better and made us breakfast burritos. We drove through beautiful rolling hills of Nebraska corn and then Iowa. We found a cool spot to set up camp: Sleepy Hollow Campground, near Oxford, Iowa. The Charcoal worked great and we enjoyed dutch oven enchiladas. Then Curt, Adam, and I enjoyed a swim in their pool. Adam and Curt caught many fireflies. After taking a shower we bedded down in a comfy spot near some juniper Pines and little cabins.

Thurs. June 14, 2018
We awoke to sprinkles and quickly took down camp. Now we’re off through Illinois, Indiana, touching into Michigan and Ohio. Illinois was beautiful green of lots of corn and soybean fields. Fields and fields. In Indiana we were surprised by DUNCAN to arrive at Indiana Dunes State Park. We parked at the beach and played, swam, dug (Adam and Curt), hiked (DUNCAN) and read.

Digging a VERY deep hole at Lake Michigan beach

Afterward we drove to redeem a gift card given us by Richard for referring his company to move Marty’s office. Logan’s Roadhouse went out of business in Phx, but Dunc found one in South Bend, Indiana! We had fish and steak and chicken with potatoes and rolls. I am still amazed at how much shoreline Michigan has! We drove along the southern border and STILL saw many lakes and lakefront property in MI and OH. The whole upper peninsula is full of more and more lake front property! I hope we see a little of Lake Winnipisakee, in New Hampshire, since so many movies have depicted the shores there and the Romney’s lake house is there. Many similar properties line these great Great Lakes. Thursday night we camped in the Waterloo Recreational Park near Portage Lake near Jackson, Michigan. There were tons of mosquitoes, wood that wouldn’t burn, so we roasted marshmallows over the Coleman stove, and nice showers.

Friday June 15, 2018
After Curt (the chef for this trip so he can get the cooking and camping merit badge) made oatmeal and we got everything in the car, we drove around Ohio. Toledo, walking in Lake Erie where a dog named Trixie would fetch big sticks fling fat into the surf and the boys skipped a few rocks, then on to Vermilion, Ohio, where we hung out at the library so Dunc could do some work on his on-line classes. It was a really nice current and clean library. It was hard for me to pass by the Kirtland exit without turning. I told the boys the story of the Kirtland temple and the Nauvoo temple. Oh How I love Joseph Smith! I am finishing up Rough Stone Rolling on this trip.We had tuna sandwiches, chips, baby carrots, and pop tarts in the car as we entered Pennsylvania. We’ll be in NY before you know it.

Podcast referred by J.D. “The model health show.” Milk? HMmmmm…We see J.D. in a week. He is doing great! 34 miles Wednesday, 27 miles yesterday, and going gang busters today.

Lovely rolling wooded hills with occasional open spaces of fields or towns. DUNCAN mentioned what a privilege it was for us to be driving the southern highway through lower NY state, known for its beauty. Technically, we are IN the Appalachians!We enjoyed the drive while Adam and Curt napped and found a camping sign again on the side of the highway. We followed the directions and found ourselves at Demmon Lake Recreational Area. We took the one tent site and set up camp while Curt and I made Dutch oven enchiladas. The loud voices of residents carried through the area late into the night, but we did get some sleep. The bathroom key that fit into the padlocks of the bathrooms of the snack bar only worked for the boys.

Sat. June 16, 2018
We had soft fruit dump cake in the morning baked in the dutch oven. We enjoyed the rest of the southern views of the NY highway. We exited to turn toward Vermont then drive around Rensselaer Poly Technic in Troy, NY out of interest. First town in Vermont: Bennington with white colonial houses and lots of churches! After which we crossed the A.T. where there was a crowded trail head! Then Green Mountain Natl Forest for bacon and egg breakfast. We found a view and some shade as we are on the the ground on the mountain Little Pond road itself. Nobody was around except some hungry deer flies and a defensive sounding squirrel. It ends up that we accidentally left our great handy bacon pan on a rock there at our picnic spot. Whittingham, VT is where Brigham Young was born. The marker looks like a grave stone, but it says born… The three state view at Hogback Mountain was beautiful. We bought ice cream cones and a couple postcards. Stayed in Mosiah cabin in Camp Joseph, what a pleasant surprise.

Sun. June 17, 2018
Church with lots of missionaries and tourists in Vermont (South Royalton) and we were blessed with a long personal tour of the Joseph Smith Memorial after a ramen and chicken lunch. Camped in New Hampshire.

Dutch oven pizza

Mon. June 18, 2018
Dunc got up early and went on a hike to the Franconia Ridge and back. The boys and I took down camp while he showered. I can’t get over how consistent the New England colonial type house architecture is. Every house has wood siding and white window frames. Drove to Maine and found our campsite at Camden Hills state park. We walked around Camden, Maine coast and port looking for a place to eat Lobster, but they were all too fancy. Saw many cute shops. Acting on the referral from the ranger we went backwards into LincolnVille and found the perfect Lobster shack, “McLughlin’s” where we are ate lobster that they boiled to our order 1.15 pounds each and lobster roll and fries and corn on the cob and corn bread muffins. We ate outside, near the shore in the sea breeze, but eventually took our lobster bibs off because it got quite windy, which was an early indication of the storm we tried to sleep through and thx to our tent, stayed dry through.

Tues. June 19, 2018

Looking over Penobscot Bay in Maine

In the morning we dried everything in the sun and having cold cereal with almond milk and Maine strawberries. After packing up we explored Camden Hills State Park (tidal pools), which is where we camped. First we went to the tower that over looked the biggest bay in Maine: Penobscot Bay. It was beautiful! The typical rocky coastal port town you would dream to see in Maine. Islands, boat docks, light houses, church steeples, New England homes hidden by thick woods and more. Another cool thing about the view is that we had been walking along those exact streets. Also in Maine, We loved walking the Rockland break water to the light house. It was .78 miles of granite blocks puzzled together. We drove through the big city of Portland, Maine.

Tide pools in Maine, where clams and crabs live in their own little world

Now we are in MASSACHUSETTS!! We had a beautiful time in the Boston Temple where they called workers together and then miraculously 2 other families showed up at the same time to make the whole effort seem meant to be. It was so cool to see Adam baptize his brother and father and myself, which had done in the Gilbert temple 2 weeks before (so this was Adam’s second time baptizing). Adam navigated with Google’s help through squiggles of beautiful residential roads to get past the traffic to Harold Parker State Park. Sloppy joe time!

Wed. June 20, 2018
The next morning was Wednesday morning. After yummy oatmeal we drove downtown Boston where we parked under the Boston Common and followed the Freedom Trail together with the help of narrations from a $3 pamphlet. DUNCAN was so thoughtful to make sure we did everything I wanted including Faneuill Hall and Market place, the Paul Revere statue and street hit dogs. The peanut butter restaurant isn’t there anymore, but it was fun recreating the time I visited Boston with my sisters and Janice Law and Debbie Gardner when we were here when I was 16. MIT was a highlight after that.

From MIT TOUR: Go to college Where you are going to feel at home. To flourish, to grow. Choose Residence hall according to interests. Conservative, Christians? Write Essays to reflect who you are in your own words. Learning about you about YOU, not your mom. What do you love doing in your free time in your own words. 2 or 3 activities that are motivating fun and then tell us about them. A college should offer what you value. Religion, institute. Recommendations: ask teachers who can tell us who you are outside of class.

MASSACHUSETTS Harold Parker State Park for 2 nights in the Lorraine Campground with imagined criminals camping/living across the way.

Thur. June 21, 2018

Curt had a cool dream last night at the Harold Parker State Park Campground in MASSACHUSETTS. In the beginning There was a meeting of religions in a auditorium lecture hall. Me and Tori (the new blonde girl from Studio C) were on the top row of the auditorium and she saw the Cheerio Bee and called over to the him. When he got up there, she asked if she could have more honey on her cheerios. And she really did have a bowl of Cheerios. He took his honeycomb wand and poured honey with the honeycomb wand on her cherrios and it made a delicious looking pumpkin pie with whipped cream inside her bowl. The seats were super steep and the whole thing was full of colors, like fancy lights. And the curtain was full of colorful lights too. Then the music started jamming, like electric guitar: super cool music! And people started liking Mormons more because they knew it was music from Mormons, because Mormons make sweet music and they play their sweet jams and tunes. he Mormons appealed to others. And everything liked Mormons. Nobody was converted, right them. But they knew we were cool. The Mormons were seated at the top of the Auditorium. The Muslims were in the middle with the Hindus, and the other Christians were down low. Then it was like how it happens in a movie sometimes when you miss a part and you catch the end and you don’t know what is going on. I felt like I was still part of the movie and there at the most important spot. Somehow Tori had become bad and my Mom punched her and she fell into a black hole and there were psychedelic lights all over. Oh, ya! The lady that punched was Tori for on studio C, the blinds one. And I had massive thighs. I was ripped. Dad came in and said, “What just happened?”

Adam had a dream that he had a whispy mustache.

Picking strawberries

Fri. June 22, 2018
Here we are in rural RI. Interestingly, there are some thick woods here and some border-line hill billy properties. What a switch from the Newport mansions that we walked and drove past and swam near. The Atlantic Ocean water was nice. All four of us had fun in the mild waves and even caught a couple in body surfing at Easton’s bay in Newport on the Rhode Island off the shore of Rhode Island. Earlier today we toured Plymouth Rock, which wasn’t as busy as we thought. We had an interesting conversation with a masters anthropology student at an excavation site in a colonial burial ground. We also picked strawberries in view of the ocean! Drive through Yale, found the LDS Institute building, which was locked. Drove past Princeton, which was much cleaner and prettier than Yale, which seemed taken over by the inner city.
Camped at Hammonasset Beach State Park in CT. It felt very familiar – large, open, flat campground. We chose a site on the forested side. SKUNK.

Sat. June 23, 2018
Walked along the beach and looked at shells while visiting with a local. Delaware : red brick homes for the first time, homemade gelato in a Latino district. Harvest Market was super expensive and targeted the elite. Then into the beautiful Pennsylvania with its rolling farms and beautiful villages. We decided to keep driving to the trail head, since JD. Had to keep hiking into the night (no camping for a 14 mile stretch). Really DUNCAN and J.D. were so excited to see each other, I knew they would go to crazy lengths to get together ASAP. Duncannon is in bad shape. We ended up pitching the tent in the trialhead parking lot shared with a recycling center, worried that someone would be mad about it, but moved forwarded to taking care of our family. I made hot dogs and potatoes au graten on the Coleman stove, balanced on some junk concrete. We ate it with corn bread pancakes in the tent until we were so full. We have to eat it all gone or throw it away since keeping left overs is unsanitary. Some cars came and went including the pickup truck we were pitched close to, but we prayed and stuck together and survived. The kids didn’t complain. Duncan and I talked about how amazing it is that they trust us so much. It is true, plus I am amazed that DUNCAN and I know so much about camping and have the courage to camp so primitively. It rained all night. DUNCAN woke before dawn, unable to sleep anymore, and took off down the trail to meet J.D.

Sat. June 23, 2018
I slept some more until the parking lot got busy. After my morning prayers and getting dressed, I organized the van while Adam and Curt blew off some steam playing light sabers with sticks, Then we had a morning prayer, meeting and got to work packing up camp. The tent had to be rolled up wet and the van is a bit muddy inside, but we are so so blessed. We drove down the street until I found a place to buy water and ice and then called DUNCAN. He was still hiking, and would soon meet up with J.D.! So with the estimated 3 hours we had before they came out of the trail, we found a library in Newport, Pennsylvania. This little town has a few computers that are quite popular. I let Adam and Curt goof off on those for an hour and then had them get off the computers to explore the little library. Before I knew it they were building Lincoln log masterpieces happily. This is the fourth library we have enjoyed on this trip, where we can check email and get a break from the car. It was so cool to see J.D. and Duncan hiking across the bridge toward where we parked the car to meet them! The boys ran and I followed to hug a tall skinny wet smelly hairy smiley man. J.D.’s legs and arms and shoulders are thin and lean. His veins are sticking out. He has mostly a neck beard, his hair has grown some, remember he started growing the mullet before he left. I wish I had taken a picture of DUNCAN and he, both wet from rain and sweat, wearing big packs and using their trekking poles. J.D. and the boys hiked into town to The Doyle, a famous historical bar and grill amongst hikers and we all ate tons of burgers, fresh French fries and wings. We visited with the talkative owners (the woman with two long grey braids talked a mile a minute about the AT and life as an old waitress and her husband walking slow but talking big about the menu items). Afterward we all drove a few miles out of the way to finally find a hotel, Days Inn, and settled in, went grocery shopping, did coin operated laundry, ate at an Italian Restaurant, De Vinci ‘s, and crashed for the night.

Sun. June 24, 2018
Up to a free waffle etc, hot pockets warmed in the church kitchen while visiting with the cute Chase family and enjoying all three mtgs with the Hersey Ward in Harrisburg, PA. Many Utahans, kids, and eccentricities. We loved it and the people. J.D. especially, who had not been to church on six weeks. After church we drove to BassPro Shop where we changed in the van/parking lot and picked up a new water filter that J.D. really needed. We found a camp ground in Duncannon, this time, called “River Front Campground” with mildew infested bathrooms but a flat green spot, table and fire ring with view of the river…and terrible train and road noise, but it was better than a parking lot. A couple talkative older me with drinks came over and visited for an hour while J.D. napped in the tent and I made sour cream enchiladas, that barely warmed through, a humbling attempt to treat J.D. with the best of Dutch oven food failed. But we visited and walked some more of the AT trail in Duncannon and DUNCAN gave him a blessing at he picnic table. In the morning J.D. slept in.

Waving “Goodbye” to us as he resumed his hike on the Appalachian Trail.

Mon. June 25, 2018
It seemed he was not in a hurry to leave us, but he is determined to finish and we were cheering him on. After oatmeal and watermelon (I slipped him $60) we all walked from where we left off last night and crossed the Julianna and Susquehanna Rivers with him into the woods and said goodbye. We walked back the campground and van, seeing sandals and ninja snail on the way, and are now headed down the freeway, our first mega day driving home. We have 3 days to make it? No problem. Curt and Adam are reading like crazy right now, Dunc has been talking hiking (remembering every bit of the time we were with J.D. and his upcoming PCT weeks on he trail that begin 4 days after we get back). We just crossed the line into Maryland. We were in PA for 3 nights!
Maryland, West Virginia, Kentucky, and Indiana. Now we are following signs to a campground. It is fun to follow these signs. To see what we find and will stay. Lynnville Park? This is easyier than finding a hotel!

Tues. June 26, 2018 –
This campsite was “primitive” but no neighbors, very humid. We drove out of Indiana, through Missouri and Kansas. We just crossed into Oklahoma! We drove through terrible weather today. The sky was so low and black when in Indiana, we kept our eyes out for a funnel cloud for a while. After which we had rain like crazy! We even could feel the van hydroplane a little. After the worst of it, we saw there was a car on the otherwise of the freeway that had accidentally drive into a deep ditch like shoulder during the storm! But we were blessed and got through. We had fun seeing a beautiful old library (our fifth on this trip) in Kansas for Dad to check his summer classes emails. Other then that, it has been driving onward with p,b, and j.

We made it past Oklahoma City and fell into a KOA right next to a truck fueling station and the freeway. It was tight, urban, and ugly but it was time to be done. We fought clouds of June bugs while eating noodles and melted cheese and salad. The bathrooms were really nice the sound of the insects were nearly deafening but that almost drowned out the highway noise. We camped our last of 13 nights.
Wed. June 26, 2018
DROVE ALL THE WAY HOME from Oklahoma. What a trip!

J.D. is surviving on the Appalachian Trail

J.D. is not only surviving, but flourishing.

J.D. at the Susquehannah River in PA.

– Giardia off and on for 2 weeks – THE PITS! Eating every healthy thing he can get his hands on, and rebuilding everyday. Lots of electrolytes and protein. (and sugar 🙂
– Seeing some amazing sights
– Record is 41 miles hiked in one day. Taking it easy now – about 22 miles a day – to stay healthy for the rest of the adventure.

Waving “Goodbye” to us as he resumed his hike on the Appalachian Trail.

A good camera shot of a bear on the trail

Fourth of July fireworks over a lake in Branchville, New Jersey at Gyp’s Tavern

Now he is fully recovered and feeling strong! Go J.D.! You have only 5 more states to go: Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine!

To Elder Shaeffer From Home

Dear Clark (Elder Shaeffer),

Hi! How are you doing?

So! I am FINALLY done with the scrap and photo books! I had lots of extra photos that I have divided among the 5 of you and yours are set aside in a nice photo box in your room. You will enjoy going through the photo albums. There are MANY photos of you that you have never seen. I hope that you and your kids enjoy hours of laughter as you browse them from time to time.

We did a bunch of deep cleaning yesterday, including having that old piano hauled off. Remember that piano, which came from an abandoned house in our neighborhood, was garbage and that Natalia, Olivia and Curt and I pushed it down two streets to get it in our garage, THEN Adam and Curt have had fun taking it apart. We threw away every single piece that we could get off, many parts, but still it was so heavy and junky. I had to PAY a junk company to come get it. Still, while they were in our carport the owner, John, tried to get $50 more dollars from me, but I stood my ground and only paid him $100. STILL, to pay someone to get rid of someone else’s junk. Oh well, we learned a lot about pianos in the process. I have also thrown away other things from the closets, etc. WHY? I am not sure, except that I know that this fall will be busy and I want to declutter.

When you read this, we will be on the road in Colorado beginning our summer road trip. Remember the wonderful Florida trip we had a couple summers ago? We have had so many good ones! Well, now is Adam and Curt’s turn. We are going to Maine, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts and such. We will send you some postcards! By the end of this trip Dad will have been to all 50 states, Adam and I to 49, and Curt to 47. You have been to around 40, so don’t worry, you will catch up.

We love you! and will be missing you. J.D. and Kay are not coming either – OH, the pains of being grown up.

For school kids outing Adam and Curt went to Big Surf and then the 4 of us went to Portillo’s for some Big Beef ;).

Uncle Spencer is doing SO WELL. His Candlelight Sports has grown and grown. Now he is creating a franchise and has asked me to start a branch of it in Tempe. I am so excited! Don’t you think that will be amazing at Rover and Fuller? If you think about it, kids want to play. They LOVE and NEED to play. Unfortunately, as you know, the opportunities to play freely outside are diminishing because of our culture of parenting and increased crime. To have sports programs, is not unusual, but they are in the evenings and weekends, require driving distances, and cost a ton of money. The experience can be lacking if the coach isn’t good and the playing time is often compromised by lack of organization and a prideful desire on the part of adults to win. Candlelight Sports fixes all these equations by training their coaches on proven drills and philosophy, by downplaying the competition, by having practices after school AT the child’s neighborhood school and being affordable. I am so glad to be bringing it to our area. I just wish it had been in time for you guys to benefit from it, but that is okay. CLICK HERE for more about Candlelight Sports. CLICK HERE for more about the need for a youth sports revolution.

I have 3 things that are important and I am doing to improve society around me now:

– Candlelight Sports

– Highlands Latin Cottage School – 2nd grade teacher on Mondays, did I tell you about this? I am going to be a 2nd grade teacher! at a school that is only on Mondays for homeschooled kids. At Highlands (Scottsdale) they teach a Classic Education (includes Greek and Roman history early on, LOTS of literature and math, and LATIN!) So, Curt and I are going to be learning Latin together. This will be helpful for him if he gets into Tempe Prep.

– Piano teaching (I went to the AZ Music Teacher’s Association Conference in Scottsdale three days last week! It was really cool. Very nice talented people!) I have 2 new students (in addition to Curt, Adam, Natalia, and Olivia)! Who would have guessed?!

– and Refugee resettlement, Oh, I guess that is 4 things. (Plus, I am still hoping the grant that I wrote is awarded to instal more shade at our neighborhood park. AND I am food storage specialist still and loving being Sunbeam Teacher!)

We have been paired up with a Congolese refugee family! We will be their friends, family to family. Here is a little about them:

The (keeping confidencial) family are arriving later this month They are originally from The Democratic Republic of Congo. The family consists of the father, Fidele, Aimee, Pacifique (15), Audrey (12), Nyasezerano (6), Ange (1). Cool names, huh? The father speaks some English and is literate in French. He works as a teacher. The mother speaks Swahili, finished primary school and has worked as a housekeeper. The older boys also speak some English as well as French and Swahili.

Isn’t that cool?! See? This fall is going to be super busy.
I’ve started the Book of Mormon for, what I figured out, the 23rd time. Every time I read it I understand my Savior better. This time, while I read I am going to underline aspects of the enemy, Satan, and His opposite: Light, Goodness, Love, and Truth. I have seen Lehi’s Dream in a whole new light under these themes. As you say, The Book of Mormon is the most precious book on the face of the planet! I love it! for one, because I learn who to follow and what pit falls to avoid so that I can be happy. Jacob 3:2 fills me with love and light!

I love you!




The Book of Mormon is the Best Book on the Planet

The Book of Mormon, ladies and gentlemen, is the best book on the planet.

A week full of service, study, and an investigator with a satanist boyfriend.

Yup, Janeth (awesome 19-year old investigator with a lip ring and a wacko but awesome 50-year-old mom) has a boyfriend who’s, from what we’ve heard, absolutely satanist. Satanism in Mexico is popular, more or less – it’s nothing cultish that would make you puke, just emo teenagers all over Mexico. Kinda weird. Makes a 6 foot 2 “Güero” (white boy) look even crazier or out of place.

Aside from teaching the investigators we already have, we had a blast serving our bums off setting up chairs for, playing with and taking care of kids for, and serving food for the sister members in our stake for the women’s stake conference, which lasted friday afternoon to saturday night. We served food for three meals, my pants got super dirty.
And then to top it all off, saturday night was a talent show, and Elder Zarate got to show his excellent guitar skills to accompany some hermanas to sing “Sabor a Mi,” a bossa nova-ish Bolero song, basically a classic handsome love guitar song from Mexico. Dreamy. I got to hold the microphone, like a champ.
My singing skills are known but not really asked for, that’s fine by me. I get to practice hymns on piano often, I’m at about 7 or so. I’m working on having 10 hymns down. I love to play hymns, just to let you know. I learn them fast, the Spirit helps a lot.
I mention it a lot, but I feel the Holy Ghost in so many things I do. I felt it a ton today, when we toured the Mine “El Edén” again for me, my first time on my third week or so. I didn’t understand anything from the tour guide my first time, but today I understood a huge amount! At least half of a quickly-speaking tour guide.
Understanding Spanish makes living in Mexico even better. I felt a surety of the progress I’ve made in Spanish all today specifically, realizing that I’m speaking Spanish without thinking about each word, and realizing the impact I can continue to make with a better understanding.
I feel it as I read the Book of Mormon every day. I date-mark my scriptures (I read almost entirely in Spanish) and mark in four different colors for these four different things, mentioned in Preach My Gospel:
-Mentions of Christ (His titles or names)
-When Christ Speaks (or His servants, when they say “thus saith the Lord”)
-Attributes of Christ (outlined excellently in Preach my Gospel)
-Doctrines and Principles (Gospel Truth, or stuff from which I learn)
I started on the 6th of May, and I’m already on 1 Nefi 13. I have learned so much about Christ and his nature, his servants, how revelation works, and how much He loves me.
I feel a pure peace when I open those paperback pages. I feel my Spanish strengthening in all that I do through the book that proves that Joseph Smith was and is a prophet, and that the Church is true.

But don’t send a letter to space just yet, I haven’t had THE DREAM or the “snap” moment of “Oh, I know Spanish.” They’re on the way, I feel them coming.
I replied to JD and Kay in Spanish in our little emails, I can do that now!
Speaking of, KAY’S PREGNANT! She’s going to be the best mom for Charlie V. At least, that’s what we’re hoping, a boy. He’s gotta be cool for him to be counted as my first nephew. I won’t meet him until he’s at least 1, though.

Thanks for all the love! I find that I have too many things to pray for, sometimes I need to pause because my knees hurt and pray sitting up.

Con abrazos (Especially to the Soon-to-be mom Kay, the Zulancito is probs bigger than a tasty, tasty mango),

Elder Shaeffer

Mmmm… Mangos.

Photos (Camera’s still under repair, using the photos from Elder Zarate)

1-2. The mine today! Yes, my pants are huge.

3-4. Eggs we made and Salsa-beans from a member. We don’t hardly ever use forks, just tortillas with this kind of food. Reminds me of the chopstick buds I have out on missions.

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