2014 Dinosaur National Monument Spring Opening & Camp Schedule

dnm raftWarmer weather and longer days invite visitors to enjoy the monument’s diverse resources

COLORADO/UTAH – “With the arrival of spring, Dinosaur National Monument will offer expanded services for visitors. We are seeing more people enjoying the monument everyday with the warmer weather and we are looking forward to a busy season ahead,” announced acting monument superintendent, Mark Foust.

On the Utah side of the monument, the Quarry Visitor Center is open daily from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. The visitor center features exhibits, a film, sales outlet for the Intermountain Natural History Association, and also serves as the departure point for car caravans to the Quarry Exhibit Hall with the wall of dinosaur fossils and exhibits about dinosaurs. Caravans leave from the visitor center at scheduled times throughout the day. Starting May 3, a shuttle will transport visitors between the visitor center and exhibit hall on Saturdays and Sundays. Beginning May 17, the shuttle will run daily through September 7. For more information on seeing the dinosaur fossils, please visit the monument website or call (435) 781-7700.

The Split Mountain Group and Green River campgrounds will begin offering water starting Friday, April 4, 2014 and camping fees will be charged. For the Green River Campground, the fee is $12.00 per night, per site. The Split Mountain Group Campground has four group sites that can each accommodate up to 25 people and six vehicles. The fee for Split Mountain is $25.00 per site, per night. Reservations are accepted for sites at Split Mountain and Green River Campgrounds through the online system managed by Recreation.gov or by calling 1 (877) 444-6777 (10:00 AM – Midnight, EST). Split Mountain and Green River Campgrounds are located approximately four miles east of the Quarry Visitor Center on the Cub Creek road. More information on camping in the monument can be found athttp://www.nps.gov/dino/planyourvisit/camping.htm

On the Colorado side of the monument, the Harpers Corner Road will open on Friday, April 4 for the season. The Harpers Corner Road is a scenic 32-mile one way drive that leaves U.S. Highway 40 two miles east of Dinosaur, Colorado. The Canyon Visitor Center which is located at the start of the Harpers Corner Road will open on weekends starting April 12 and daily beginning on May 10.

The Gates of Lodore Campground, located 106 miles north of the Canyon Visitor Center on the Green River, and the Deerlodge Park Campground, located 53 miles east of the Canyon Visitor Center on the Yampa River, will have water available starting May 3, 2014. On May 16, 2014, water will be available at the Echo Park Campground, located 38 miles north of the Canyon Visitor Center. Once the water is turned on, camping fees at all three campgrounds will be $8.00 per site, per night.

Summary of Campground Information
Campground Location Dates Nightly Fee Sites Reservations / Other Information
Green River 4 miles east of Quarry Visitor Center Open April 4 – October 5, 2014 $12 80 B loop sites are available on Recreation.gov. for peak season;All other sites are first come, first served
Split Mountain Group 4 miles east of Quarry Visitor Center Open all year, water available April 4 – Oct. 5, 2014; group campground in summer, open to everyone in off season $25 4 Available on Recreation.gov for peak season
Rainbow Park 28 miles from the Quarry Visitor Center Open all year, road may be impassable in winter or after rain Free 4 First-come, first-served; tent camping only; no water
Echo Park 38 miles north of the Canyon Visitor Center Open when road to Echo Park is passable, water available May 16 – Sept. 21, 2014 $8.00 for regular & walk-in sites;$15.00 for group site 22 including 1 group site First-come, first-served
Deerlodge Park 53 miles east of the Canyon Visitor Center Open all year, road may be impassable in winter, water available May 3 – July 27, 2014 $8.00 7 First-come, first-served; tent camping only
Gates of Lodore north end of monument,106 miles north of the Canyon Visitor Center Open all year, road may be impassable in winter, water available May 3 – Oct. 13, 2014 $8.00 17 first-come, first-served

Scheduled opening dates are subject to change dependent on weather.

Entrance fees for Dinosaur National Monument are as follows: $10 per vehicle, valid for up to seven days; $5 per person for someone on a motorcycle or bicycle. Frequent visitors to the monument may want to purchase a Dinosaur Annual Pass for $20.00, which is great value for those who come often or bring family and friends when visiting the area. For more information, visit the fees and reservation section of the park website (www.nps.gov/dino/planyourvisit/feesandreservations.htm) which also includes rates for commercial and non-commercial groups and how school groups can request an academic fee waiver.

Remember that Dinosaur’s weather is unpredictable and can change rapidly. Visitors should always be prepared for a range of conditions. Wildlife, like deer, elk and bighorn sheep, may be seen along the rivers. Please be alert for animals crossing the roads, particularly at dawn and dusk. For more information on Dinosaur National Monument, call us at (435) 781-7700. You can also find us on facebook or follow DinosaurNPS on twitter.

Cold Water Dangers Deserve Respect

fishingIt’s been 5 years since I read what I wrote immediately after our river trauma. Many people have asked if I would reprint our experience. Looking back on what could be categorized as a nightmare, it seems to me surviving this event has taught me foundational lessons in humanity and a gratitude for life I might have otherwise never felt. I am grateful for hard things, they refine us.

Lori Burchinal, Kat Shoemaker, and Joni Crane decided late Friday, June 26th, 2009 to go fishing.  They got a late start on what appeared to be a calm evening, put a dory into the Green River at around 5 p.m. at the base of the Flaming Gorge Dam and here’s what happened:

At the Flaming Gorge Lodge, we ran into some people Kat and Lori knew, who wanted to shuttle with us (Chris and Bobby from California). We loaded their 2-man pontoon boat onto our fiberglass dory and shuttled ourselves down to the river.

Fishing that day was fantastic until around 8 p.m. when we were approaching Mother in Law Rapids. A storm came through the canyon without any warning. Thunder roared, lightening flashed, and rain pelted us hard. We all lost our fishing hats that were strapped under our chins when the wind came from behind and swept us sideways in the river.  Kat tried to keep control of the dory in the storm. It was like the ocean, and in only seconds the wind and waves blew the dory head-on into the “Can Opener”, a rock that did just that to our boat. Our fiberglass dory is still wrapped around it three days later.

The force of the current shoved us straight up the rock until almost the entire boat was vertical and out of the water and then we tipped sideways to the right. Lori, who had been riding in the front of the boat, was putting a fly on her line when it happened. She grabbed the high side of the dory, but finally had to let go and struggled swimming in the river until she made her way to the remote side of the river. Kat and I were pinned under the boat against the rock with the force of the river keeping us underwater and drowning. It took everything I had to roll to the right, off the edge of the rock to free myself.

I knew I would drown if I fought the current. I could see Lori making her way to the remote side of the river. The water was around 43 degrees according to Daggett County Rescuers. It was so cold that immediately the wind is knocked out of you, and you begin to stiffen up and loose use of your limbs. I remembered learning not to fight the current and to preserve my energy, so I just started to float in the fast current and tried to catch my breath.

That is when I started looking for Kat.  About 200 yards away I saw Kat roll around the rock just like I had, but noticed she was not swimming or looking at me while I was yelling for her. She was just floating down the river in a daze. I knew something was wrong with her when I saw she wasn’t trying to help herself.  She was in shock, not coherent, her face was white and her lips were blue. I wanted to swim for my life but realized she needed help and I decided to swim to her, but was afraid at first the she was going to pull me under.

I swam to her and turned her around and grabbed the back of her life vest. I told her to float on her back and I would pull her to shore. Then I saw how far away the shore was and was sure I was going to miss it at the rate the current was pulling us downstream. My heart sunk when I realized I could not make the beach fast enough if I was pulling Kat and felt that we would be in the river a long time until we made it to another beach.

At that point I made a decision not to look at the shore while I swam or I felt I would lose hope, I backstroked hard with my right arm and held Kat’s life vest with my left. I prayed out loud that God would move the shore closer to me. Immediately I was overcome by a warm comforting feeling and heard a voice repeat a scripture verse I had learned in my youth, “I the Lord am bound when ye do what I say, but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise.” I knew immediately that I was in God’s hands and he would help me. As I swam I had the most bizarre thought… “If God’s going to move the shore closer to me, it would be impolite of me to watch,” so I swam as hard as I could without looking toward the shore. I know it’s weird; I just swam as hard as humanly possible for an old lady of forty-six.

I have no idea how long it took, but I suddenly felt rocks under my feet. I pulled Kat halfway out of the water and then just sat there stunned. Lori and I met up and decided I should stay with Kat and she would run along the bank looking for the guys behind us. I stayed with Kat and made more attempts to pull her out of the water entirely. She couldn’t move and we knew she had hypothermia and was in shock.

Lori couldn’t find the other boat so she came back to help me move Kat to dry ground under a tree, it was raining. When I looked down at Lori’s hand she had a huge fishing hook through her middle finger. We knew Kat was in bad shape and Lori couldn’t help move Kat with a huge hook in her finger, so like the Bering Sea Crab Fisherwoman she is, Lori took her forceps that were still attached to her fishing vest, and after four attempts, was able to yank it out of her own finger. We slowly pulled Kat up rocky slope and completely out of the water.

We were exhausted, wet, hypothermic and trying to think clearly and it was hard to focus. We began peeling off our wet life-jackets and coats, that’s when we saw the pontoon boat. Chris and Bobby floated past the rock, taking in the fact that our dory was smashed around it and we were not in it. We could see them pale and desperately scanning the shorelines looking for us. We began yelling but they couldn’t hear us, we were hoarse. Finally out of desperation Lori did her ear piercing whistle. They heard that and rowed hard against the current to reach our shoreline.

Both of them jumped off and ran over to assess the situation with us. They stayed calm and helped immediately offering us a fleece and a jacket when they saw that Kat was so bad off.  Lori and I were adamant that they not take Kat onto the pontoon and float her to Little Hole in a rainstorm. It was still an hour long float and she was already hypothermic. The guys had a lighter, 2 ½ bottles of Gatorade, a cooler with a few pieces of bread and peanut butter, and a first aid kit with an emergency foil blanket.

They collected wood while Lori built a life saving fire. Chris suggested we heat up the Gatorade and then drink it to warm ourselves. They reluctantly left us when we refused to put Kat on the pontoon. We assured them she would be better off if we could warm her while they went for help. The other option was to put her on the pontoon in a storm and have her freeze even more for the hour float to Little Hole and then wait for help.

I could tell they felt terrible leaving us but Lori and I were sure it was the best plan. As soon as they left, we gathered more wood. It was so close to dark that we worried we would not be able to find more in the dark. I told Lori we needed to get our wet clothes off but she didn’t really like that idea. It only took a few minutes of thinking about it before she and I realized we couldn’t help Kat if we both remained hypothermic too.

I took off my soaked Capri’s and immediately started to warm up. This was enough to convince Lori that it wasn’t that terrible of an idea.  The second we started to warm up we started thinking better. Kat was in shock, shaking uncontrollably and not able to breathe or get in a comfortable position.  Kat had aspirated, (had water in her lungs), we did not know this until we were in the hospital. Lori and I both remembered our Red Cross First Aid Training and turned Kat so her head was on a downhill slope.

We took off her wet shirt and jacket and put on the fleece and hooded rain jacket that the guys had left. We tightened the hood around her face to keep in her body heat. Then we broke out THE FOIL BLANKET, yes that is in bold, because who would have thought that tiny little blanket would save us? But it did.  We laid Kat by the fire and rolled her into Recovery Position on her side (I remembered that from CERT training). We tucked in the blanket along her backside and then stood up on either side of her holding up the foil blanket to reflect the fire’s heat onto all three of us. I am totally amazed at how much heat that provided all of us.

For about four hours we prayed together, sang together, and huddled under the foil blanket when it began to rain again. We put our clothes on branches and held them over the fire and would dress in warm clothes as we dried each item. We took shifts keeping Kat’s breathing pattern calm and lied to her. We told her that it was a proven fact that a person couldn’t go into shock if they laughed. Of course this was a lie, but every time she laughed she would exhale and her shaking would subside. So we lied. It worked.

By midnight we had all our clothes dry and Kat was feeling well enough to sit up on the cooler, she had color in her lips finally and was able to drink warmed Gatorade. We made plans on what we would do if we saw a bear and prayed and prayed and prayed. We said Mormon prayers and Catholic prayers for Kat. I think Kat was surprised that Mormon girls knew the Lord’s Prayer. I know that God was with us the whole time. We knew he had sent Chris and Bobby with exactly the things we needed to stay alive. Kat’s dog was with us the whole time too, which was comforting after the sun went down. Occasionally we would hear deep loud noises coming from the boat that was still stuck out on the rock, it was eerie. From time to time it rained and we built the fire bigger so the rain wouldn’t put it out and we all huddled under the foil blanket until the rain stopped.

I think it was about 12:30 when we saw the Gorge walls start lighting up and Daggett County Search and Rescue found us. We heard the water on the river begin to lower at around midnight, so being on the river wasn’t as hazardous. They took care of Kat,  put her on oxygen, and it took a while to assess her condition and to get her into the first rescue dory. It had a heater in the floor for Kat. They left and a few minutes later Lori and I left with two other rescuers in a second dory. As we began the hour long ride down the river, the flashlight batteries our rescuers were using to spot the rocks dimmed and it was scary. The other boat was so far ahead they couldn’t give us any light. As Ben Somsen rowed in the black moonless night the guide had to turn off the flashlight to preserve the batteries. They knew the Green so well that they navigated rocks, turns and rapids from sound and memory and I also believe some divine intervention.

I don’t believe many people have ever maneuvered the Green in total blackness with just the stars guiding them. As the flashlights shined on the banks we saw deer and a cougar and many other eyes that we couldn’t identify. The outline of the Gorge with a million stars was one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen. However, in the middle of all this beauty, I had a sudden moment of clarity when I thought, “What kind of idiot survives a boat crash in broad daylight on a raging river and then gets back into the same kind of boat, on the same river, in the dark? This time we are doing the river by Braille method.”

I was really brave all day until that thought came into my head. That’s when I just started bawling my head off like a big baby. Every time we bumped a little rock, or could hear more rapids, I just wanted to die. It was like being in a nightmare and then realizing it wasn’t a dream, it was all real.

We had warmed up by the fire but when we got to Little Hole an hour later the ambulance had left with Kat. Responders realized Lori & I were both hypothermic and I was in a daze, they summoned the ambulance back and loaded Lori and I in with Kat. Lori is a rock. She is a strong woman and fun to have around in a traumatic situation. Kat had water in her lungs and they said at the point that we started warming her up that her core temperature was probably about 86 or 87 degrees. I can’t remember ever feeling cold out there.

On the way down the mountain the EMT’s placed heat packs under our feet, behind our knees and in our armpits and then wrapped us like mummies. Kat was being cared for on a gurney by an EMT while another held Lori and I in an upright mummified position as we took curve after curve and couldn’t use our hands for balance. Halfway down the mountain our EMT climbed into the cab through the window and traded duties with her husband. We could hear her vomiting at which point we were told that during the hour long drive they had cranked temp in the vehicle somewhere between 90 and 100 degrees. Of course they were car sick. It wasn’t until we got into Vernal that I could feel the heat on my cheek for a nanosecond. I never even noticed the warmth.

We got released at 5 a.m. Saturday morning, after getting shots in the bottom for pain they said we should be expecting soon. I am so glad to be alive! Being all doped up and all and still in shock, Lori, Kat, and I went back up to the Lodge Saturday afternoon for those pork medallions we had been craving all day Friday. We found Zach, Kat’s dog, who had been so protective of us. Bruno from Dutch John Conoco had taken care of him while we were in the hospital. He was sure glad to see Kat! It looked like the whole thing traumatized him too. He fell asleep in the back of my convertible while we ate dinner. During dinner, all of our pain and muscle relaxing shots wore off, and Kat noticed a huge egg on her head which might have explained more of her trauma. We sat with friends and didn’t talk too much, I think we all just needed to hang out, and we still felt like it was a bad dream.

After getting back home that night we received calls asking us to come back in for airway treatments, it seems that all that time by the fire on the mountain also gave us a good dose of smoke inhalation which they wanted to treat quickly.

As for myself, I wasn’t able to really get any sleep until after church on Sunday. Each time I doze off, I feel rain drops hitting my hands. When I talked to Lori about it Monday, she said that she remembers getting under the foil tarp while it was raining and realizing how cold I was. She said I am remembering the rain because it was hitting my hand during the hardest part of the night when all was quiet and we listened to the boat groaning on the rock. I guess your mind remembers what your body wants to forget.

It’s Monday now and Kat and Lori are reliving the whole thing at night and not sleeping well either. I think today it has finally hit us that this was a lot bigger deal than we thought.

For those of you, who think the Green is a mild warm raft ride like it normally is this time of year, consider this: the volume of water they are letting out daily now is higher, the water then has less time to warm. The water they are letting in is from the bottom of the dam and it was 43 degrees on a sunny warm day. Even without a storm and a crash, just falling in the water on a bright sunny day and swimming to shore, you can be hypothermic by the time you hit the beach. Also the water was so cold that the second you hit the water your muscles tighten up and make it hard to swim, and the cold knocks the wind out of you. Take that leisure trip later this summer please, when the water is warmer.

Our advice to all: NEVER go on the Green without a life vest, and ALWAYS have A LIGHTER, A PHONE, AND A FOIL BLANKET in a Ziploc bag attached to you somehow! Be nice to your friends too, you never know how much you may need to rely on them someday.

My most sincere thanks go out to:

Bruno Niccoli, Daggett County Search and Rescue; David Jones EMT, Daggett County Search and Rescue; Ben Somson, Daggett County Search and Rescue; Chris Harvey, Daggett County Search and Rescue; Bill and Patty Schwartz, Ambulance; Phil Lopez, Ambulance; Christy Jones, Ambulance; Rick Ellsworth, Sherriff; Gerad Hayes, State Parks; Jack Lytle, DNR; Travis Hawkins, LEO Forest Service; all the volunteers in Dutch John who showed up to help out of the goodness of their hearts; and staff at Ashley Valley Regional Medical Center.

Former UHS Coach Loses Home in North Dakota

Williston, ND – Former Uintah High School Teacher and Coach Eric Pye and Kathleen Warnberg were jolted awake Wednesday when their fifty foot fifth wheel exploded and left them staring into a sizzling hole in the upper bedroom that quickly engulfed their entire Williston, North Dakota residence, their personal belongings and sadly even their two precious cats.

An explosion in Williston, ND left a former Uintah High School Coach and a Vernal Dental Assistant homeless when their 50 foot 5th-wheel and home of five years exploded.

An explosion in Williston, ND left a former Uintah High School Coach and a Vernal Dental Assistant homeless when their 50 foot 5th-wheel and home of five years exploded.

At about 1:30 am we were sound asleep; there was a huge explosion,” Kathy shudders, “It’s been so cold here, down to -30 degrees at night, so we’ve been putting a propane heater under the front of the 5th wheel.” She takes a deep breathe, “We ran out the door in our pajamas, the dogs ran out behind us but we had no time, we couldn’t find the cats.

Pye & Warnberg are former residents of Vernal and still have family and friends in the Uintah Basin. Eric Pye taught Health and American History at Uintah High School. He also coached tennis, football, girl’s volleyball and boy’s basketball. Kathy Warnberg worked as a Dental Assistant for Dr. Jason Monfredi in Vernal, Utah.

According to Warnberg, “It took 25 minutes for the Volunteer Fire Department to arrive; we are renting three acres in a rural area. It’s been so cold, and the roads were treacherous, so it took some time for responders to get to us. By the time they arrived the fifth wheel was gone.” Warnberg elaborated that they were extremely fortunate that earlier evening high winds had died down. Fire fighters broke down side-walls on outbuildings hoping to save the structures and it worked. “The fire melted the side of our Dodge Ram pickup but the truck is still usable.”

About five years ago, like so many in Utah’s Uintah Basin, they decided to take a chance on the booming economy in North Dakota. Their growing business was the sale of manufactured homes for oil field man camps and private owners.

As we speak Kathy chokes up, “With wind-chill it’s -28 degrees today and Eric is outside sifting through the ashes looking for memorabilia and personal belongings that may have survived, you don’t realize what you have lost until it’s gone.

I ask Kathy what the hardest part of this has been and what her greatest needs are, her response is humbling: “It’s hard to accept things from people; we have always been the givers. We can get through this. We have our work, we do our part and never expect anything back, but our kids are telling us we need to accept help if it’s offered.”

If you would like to help, Kathy says the easiest thing would be gift cards. In Williston they have access to Wal-Mart, Maurice’s, Penny’s, Sinclair Gas, Albertson’s Grocery and True Value. If you would like to send gift cards or make a donation to help them out, you can mail small items to:

Eric Pye & Kathleen Warnberg
P.O. Box 2573
Williston, ND 58801

A physical address for larger shipments is:
Eric Pye
5792 128th Dr. NW
Epping, ND 58843

Eric Pye has two sons living in the Vernal area, one drives for UPS and the other works for Anadarko. Kathy’s daughter, Bree Pye posted this note on her Facebook page, “It would be much appreciated if anybody could help them out with warm jackets, beanies, insulated coveralls, socks, boots or anything at all. It has been nearly thirty below zero in Williston for the past week and they are in dire need of warm clothing.”

Missionary Mom 101

They send the missionaries a handbook, I think they ought to send one to parents too!

Missionary Mom 101

First things first! Even before shopping… The best way to keep up-to-speed on what is going on in your missionary’s specific mission area is to join their email group at http://emailgroups.ourldsfamily.com/policy/

Join the Missionary Moms group for your Missionary’s area and keep surmised of events and occurrences in their region. I recently was able to hear about an earthquake, a mission conference, what to buy in the U.S. and what is better to purchase after arrival, shipping advice and transfer plans before I ever got the email from my daughter. The friendships and advice can begin as early as their mission call. The group has been a life saver for me.

Set up an account at dearelder.com and read up on different ways to correspond and send care packages for the area you missionary is heading. Also know they offer free letter delivery daily at the Provo MTC.

I also wished to tell the Moms whose children just entered the MTC that Post Mart in Provo will deliver to the MTC Mon-Sat – same day service if the package is to them by 10:30 am and it only costs $3. Mine was larger than a boot box. I live in Vernal and the packages I had previously sent had cost upwards of $20 until I heard this. Someone is always going to Provo, so have them drop off your box and save a little.

ADDRESS: 2250 N. University Pkwy , #48
Provo, UT 84604
PHONE: (801) 373-5900
FAX: (801) 373-5999

I am feeling tons of empathy for those of you who just sent your kids into the MTC. It has taken me 8 weeks to stop feeling so blue. Here is a blog post that I wrote a few days before my daughter left for the MTC. I hope it helps some of you. Many of you have already learned this lesson, but I had not.

One way to prepare for what your children are going to experience and to anticipate their needs, is to follow blogs of other missionaries serving in their mission. This is becoming a routine practice. Sister Snow was kind enough to help me form a list of all the missionaries who are keeping blogs and currently serving in the Tokyo Mission. Reading them can ease your worries, lift your spirits and built your testimonies. Here is a link to my list of Tokyo Blogs.

Next, know they are in great hands medically… a week before my daughter left we received a hospital bill, when I called Missionary Medical they detailed the reason, the plans, the diagnosis, the follow up plans and then those who saw my daughter called me personally later in the week. They gave her the best counseling, advice and care and she was able to continue on to Tokyo. She is adjusting fine and all is well.

(This may vary depending on the mission, check first)  Phone cards are unreliable and with the large number of missionaries descending on airports a phone isn’t always available. I am sorry but I can’t recall which sister told me to get a disposable phone and add minutes to it, but thank you. It was a lifesaver! Oct 28 all the Tokyo bound missionaries arrived at the bus outside the MTC at 5 am only to find they were supposed to have left at 4 am. Therefore had no time before departing. I was distraught all day thinking I would not hear from her. At noon as they arrived in Los Angeles I was able to spend over an hour with her on her prepaid phone. It was wonderful, we took a break and she loaned the phone to others whose phone cards did not work or couldn’t access a phone in the airport. Her MTC branch president had told her there is currently No Policy so he was okay with it. There was also no stated policy on which family members she could call so she also took a moment to call her sister as well. The advice was greatly appreciated and such a blessing.

Hope this is of help to many of you  – Joni Crane, Vernal, Utah


Everything’s Just Perfect …

Sister Kendall Crane of Vernal, Utah with her mother Joni Crane

Sister Kendall Crane of Vernal, Utah with her mother Joni Crane

Perfection def.- A feeling of pure joy & bliss; a “pain-free” environment (or so I thought, I was dead wrong)

I guess now that I am walking a mile in my own shoes, I am thinking a little harder on this subject. The conclusion that I was wrong makes sense now, but for some ridiculous reason, I never prepared to be whapped up-side the head with a brick of depression as my daughter walked out the door to serve a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It was supposed to be HER sacrifice, or so I thought.

As Mormon mothers we focus so intently on nurturing and teaching our children with their long term happiness as our goal, that we sometimes have not prepared ourselves for the realities of their plans to serve the Lord. Guess what? It’s not about us, it’s about the work, the field, white and ready for the harvest… but OUCH! It’s a hard pill to swallow, a pill we are unprepared for.

I think with this historic wave of Sister Missionaries we may also need a wave of Celestial Support Groups. No, I am NOT joking.

For the last few years, I have attended exactly zero Relief Society events that have happened on any day other than Sunday. My main excuses are: I am exhausted from my elected positions in the community, my callings, my 2 jobs and my service in multiple community groups. I figured that my time served in a Relief Society Presidency somehow exempted me from participation for the remainder of my life.

Since 1991 I have served in some constant capacity in the Boy Scouts of America, even before I had a son. I was determined to help rear the kind of young men I hoped to someday have as sons-in-law, and as such, I have always been prepared.

As a trainer on the county Community Emergency Response Team I have taught others to be vigilant and to be prepared for every scenario life could bring.

I did not prepare for this. Tomorrow we take our daughter to the Missionary Training Center, her ultimate destination: Tokyo, Japan. I walked past her room and her sheets were removed, her bags packed and her ultimate teenage offering of her IPOD, cell phone and laptop sat on her bedside alter to be put away for the next one and a half years – and I burst into tears, I bawled like a selfish, ungrateful mother, moping around whining to anyone who would listen.

But you know what? People have listened, women have shared stories, given me hope, solace, peace and lifted my spirits. Which women? Oh those would be my Sisters In Zion, yes my own Relief Society friends and acquaintances. You know, the ones that I haven’t paid attention to, interacted with or built any meaningful friendships with? Yep, those ladies.

We always hear how much families are blessed when their children serve missions, but the Lord doesn’t just bless them for the sake of their parental status, I am learning that we are truly blessed when we make hard sacrifices. That thought brings me so much more empathy for my perfect Heavenly Father, you know the one I always thought had the perfect, pain-free zone around Him?

Yep, the Heavenly Father who sent his Only Begotten Son to Earth as a sacrifice for our sins, that we may return to Him? Funny how a simple life experience can teach you so much… gotta run now… headed to Relief Society with my daughter before she gets set apart tonight.

BREAKING NEWS – Explosion and Fire in Jensen, Utah

Jensen, UT – An explosion in the Ashley Valley Industrial Park has destroyed 1 industrial building and severely damaged 8 eight others. Two homes in the area also received moderate damage.

The explosion occurred in a facility operated by Adler Hot Oil Service. At this time there are no reports of fatalities or injuries. The explosion was felt in all parts of the Vernal, Naples, Jensen area (and as far away as Lapoint) with many calls being received by central dispatch.

First reports of the explosion were received at approximately 00:13. Fire crews arrived on scene and immediately began to search the area surrounding the explosion. An evacuation order was issued by incident commander Jeremy Raymond, Director Uintah Fire District at approximately 00:30 for all persons within ½ mile radius of the explosion.

Red Cross (& the Uintah CERT team) opened a temporary shelter for any displaced persons at Vernal Middle School. Those individuals who may need assistance during this evacuation may contact the local Red Cross representative at 435-828-8563.

At this time crews have brought the fire that occurred following the explosion under control. The evacuation order is expected to remain in place until at least 12:00 noon on March 2. Crews are continuing to deal with a 1000 gal propane tank that is leaking as a result of the explosion. (At 3:30 am CERT & Red Cross Responders had no displaced evacuees and closed the temporary shelter at Vernal Middle School. However if evacuees need assistance in the morning they should call the above Red Cross representative hotline for help.)

Fire crews from Jensen Fire Department, Vernal Fire and Naples Fire responded. The Uintah County Sheriffs office was assisted by Utah Highway Patrol, Naples City, Vernal City in effecting the evacuation. Gold Cross ambulance provided medical stand by for crews on scene.

The Utah Sate Fire Marshal has dispatched investigators to assist with the investigation of the explosion.

Uintah County Office of Emergency Management would like to extend a thank you to the Uintah School District, the Uintah Basin CERT Team and the Red Cross for their assistance with this event.

Press note: A press conference is scheduled to take place at 09:00 this morning. Further updates will be made available as soon as they are available.

Tal Ehlers Emergency Manager tehlers@uintah.utah.gov 435-828-5088 cell

Chief Todd Wallis jensenfire@easilink.com 435-790-1977 cell

Information in () added by Joni Crane of the CERT team who assisted at the shelter and provided personal information from friends in Lapoint.

Basin Propane Fire Causes Evacuations

About 10:32 am Tuesday morning a fire broke out at the Basin Propane facility, technically in Naples, UT. This it the view from Jack’s General Tire whose employees received a phone call telling them that everyone within a half mile radius was to evacuate as soon as possible.

With in only minutes firefighters were on the scene and Uintah County’s new Code Red system was put to the test.  Reverse phone calls went out to all who had signed up for the free notification service and neighborhoods adjacent were quickly evacuated.

No injuries have been reported and Sheriff Jeff Merrell confirmed that there was no need to evacuate the prisoners from the nearby Uintah County Public Safety Complex. KVEL’s Lincoln Brown quickly provided updates to the crew at Fox 13 News.

Hwy. 40 is open again and we are about to receive a final update.

Wake Up! – A Slap & Some Cold Water to Your Face

Ever since Election Day I have been bombarded with calls, emails, texts and letters asking me why we lost the election, is there any hope and where do we go from here.

Although I wish I were gifted with some great ability to come up with a few words with which to console my fellow patriots, I have no such gift. Like all of you I feel down trodden, depressed, exhausted, angry and puzzled.

Have I bled? Am I broke? Have I lost loved ones to the cause of Constitutional and National Preservation? Has my trial been so burdensome that I would just walk away? No, I have been no more than an ardent volunteer with some time devoted to a worthy cause.

But I will be damned (meant in the biblical sense of course) if I will abandon the nation which nine of my ancestors gave their fortunes and lives to preserve. How immensely ungrateful I would be.  Let us not all pretend to be equal to our forefathers in devotion when we have not given even a pittance in comparison.

All is not lost, the road will be tough, there is work to be done to preserve our freedoms but we are up to the task and we are so blessed with the freedoms that have not eroded. One need only to look around at the nations of the world to survey the great freedoms and blessings that abide our home country.

I thank God for America, we are free, more so than any other nation. How free can be debated in the halls of government, how blessed can be debated as well but let us not be so ungrateful for that which our Creator has provided us by the hands of patriots lost and brave countrymen who led in burdensome times.

During this Thanksgiving season I reflect on the example of my own 12th Great Grandfather Massasoit. He was, I am sure, not happy about his nation’s plight when Pilgrim immigrants showed up on the doorstep of his “free nation.”

As the Sachem of the Wampanoag Nation, he welcomed them to this New World and then commenced teaching them how to survive. Massasoit prevented the failure of Plymouth Colony and the almost certain starvation that the Pilgrims faced during the earliest years of the colony’s establishment by teaching them how to splice and create a corn that would grow faster considering the climate and shorter growing season.

Instead of whining, Massasoit forged critical political and personal ties with the colonial leaders John Carver, Stephen Hopkins, Edward Winslow, William Bradford, and Miles Standish.

Times were not easy, only one year after the arrival of the pilgrims, half of his Wampanoag Nation died from disease introduced by the newcomers and we know the rest of that sad story.  He was a great Sachem and throughout his whole life was known as a peace maker and friend to the Pilgrims.  The Pilgrims had a lot to offer, Massasoit had a lot to offer, they willingly sat together and came to terms.

Please just stop, think, pray and then recommit to join the cause, it will be long, it will not be easy, you may have to make huge sacrifices, but please show your gratitude by improving our nation and not just throwing it away. Our nation is still new and in many ways is a diamond in the rough. What absolute fools we would be to toss it out because it does not glimmer as boldly as we think it ought to. Let’s get to the work of polishing and perfecting our nation for the future.

Happy Thanksgiving

In Pursuit of the American Dream

By:  Penelope Wardell Batty, Guest Blogger

My sixteen-year-old daughter and I spent a weekend in mid-October with fifty strangers. We didn’t make the fourteen-hour-round-trip bus ride for entertainment, or because someone paid us for our time and effort. We voluntarily traveled to Lakewood, Colorado, a city in a neighboring state, to campaign for the presidential candidate we believe is the best choice for the United States at this time. While there we canvased neighborhoods door-to-door and over the phone, and in return for our civic efforts we were leered at, jeered at, smirked at, cursed at, stalked, and, in one case, even targeted with a hammer. Sounds like fun, right? Actually, it was, but as I’ve already stated, we didn’t do it for fun. Why did we do it? Because we were seeking out what “Americans” have sought after from the beginning.

While it’s true that a few of us are political junkies, for most of us, it was the first time we ever made such a journey, and though we are all passionate about our cause, most of us were way outside our comfort zones. As we traveled home, each of us was given the opportunity to share our stories about who we are and why we would do something so difficult and uncomfortable, and the stories that were shared were both touching and surprising.

We had eight people on our bus who were between the ages of thirteen and sixteen, and they were not there at the request of their parents. They were there because they are concerned about their future, and since they do not have the privilege to vote, they wanted to do something to help restore their faith in the promise of tomorrow.

Several more of our fellow travelers are twenty-something, some in college, and some struggling to raise small children. They, too, are concerned about the future. They do not like the path our country is on, they want something better than what they see up ahead, and they are working to make the changes they deem necessary.

Some of us were there as much for the present as for the future. Our community is in the heart of the oilfield, so it is not surprising that many of us desire energy independence for our country and the jobs and economic security that would naturally follow for our community. Some of us were there because we dislike the political apathy we see in our country and ourselves, and we are ready to free ourselves from that ailment.

Some of us were there because we believe in the freedom that once was, but is slipping away. We believe in the veracity of our founding documents, and we want to preserve what was purchased for all of us at great cost to our forebears and given to us as a heritage we are bound by honor to protect and preserve.

One lady in our group views that same responsibility through a different lens. She was raised in the Philippines and began her path of political activism in front of a tank, protesting the violently oppressive regime of Ferdinand Marcos. She told us that the first time she voted after becoming a United States citizen, she went home afterward and wept, because, for the first time in her life, she was free to vote as she chose without the fear of military retaliation. She was there to help preserve for her children the right to vote freely and the right to pursue the same American Dream she has enjoyed pursuing.

In reality, all of us were there seeking after our idea of the American Dream. Pragmatists might claim that the modern American Dream is about nothing more that prosperity and upward mobility. Pessimists believe that if the American Dream is not dead, it is gasping for it’s last breath. But fifty-five modern American patriots climbed on board a bus bound for Colorado in mid-October 2012 because we believe there is only one presidential candidate who still believes in the same American Dream we do: an all-encompassing American Dream that is more noble than equal distribution of financial stability or social standing. We believe in a Creator who has endowed us with “certain unalienable rights” and that if we work hard enough, in spite of personal sacrifice and seemingly insurmountable odds, we can attain the original American Dream: the dream of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Freedom Is Not Free – Earn It

Carrollton, Near New Orleans, LA – September 26, 1863

Friend Charlotte,

Your favor of August 2nd which came to hand during my absence has been handed to me and I shall proceed to answer your questions with pleasure.

The “Confederate Script” of which you spoke is worth nothing here – is not passable.

The letter you referred to has either fallen into the hands of someone or been lost. Captain Patterson of the Pioneer Corps says the letter never came to his office.You spoke about William having twenty- two dollars standing out among the boys, I have endeavored to ascertain who was owing him but as yet have not found a single one.

There are any number of men in the army who, for a paltry sum, are ever ready to deny their indebtedness provided they can do so without being detected. Transactions among soldiers, as a general thing, are simply verbal and unless the men who owe your husband are honest enough to forward you the money – you can set it down as lost.

In answer to the interrogatory whether William ever complained of being neglected or mistreated by you, I am happy to say that I never heard him speak of his wife except in terms of endearment. Have often heard him regret his inability to make you more comfortable pecuniarily as well as sorrow at the deprivation or loss of your society and that of his children.

Absence, you know, serves to strengthen our affection. It also makes us appreciate better, the blessings of home. Speaking of home reminds me of having just returned from its fond endearments. Was on a brief visit to see my family (who by the way live five miles East of Wooster) I had intended to give you a call but my furlough being so very brief I was unable to do so.

While in Wooster, I had the pleasure of seeing Mr. McCormick, (William’s father) to whom I related the circumstances connected with William’s death.  I have nothing more of special note to add everything being quiet in our department, I therefore beg leave to close,

Yours respectfully, 
C. B. Anderson

P.S. Andrew Sprowl from your vicinity is well, the 16th Regiment is now at Brashin (Brashear) City – I will rejoin it tomorrow.

You see, we are the products of those who have gone before us.  It is up to us to decide if we will be the sum of their positive attributes or of their negative attributes. It is up to us to honor and preserve their memories by doing as William stated in his last letter, “If God spares me to get home, I shall try to live to his Honor & Glory and lead a consistent life.”

When I reflect and empathize with these people I want to honor his words and shout out, in this era, “Give my best wishes to all the friends and let them know that I am for God and my Country, for Truth, Justice and Right, in all things pertaining to this glorious Union!”

And when my time comes and I leave this life, how honored I would be to have said of me, “As a person, Joni was always punctual and faithful in the discharge of her duties. As an associate, she was respected and beloved by all who knew her. In her death her comrades loose a cheerful, kind-hearted messmate – her Country, a brave and true Patriot – her comrade, a noble wife – and her children, a fond and indulgent mother.”

This is why patriotic buntings surround Joni’s Front Porch and why I love all things fair and just.  You may think I’m crazy but I get that from some of my other ancestors I haven’t told you about…

Thank you to all of you who have followed my tribute, I hope it has touched your heart and lit a fire for liberty in your soul.

(In honor of those who shaped me, and in conjunction with the 2012 Republican National Convention which I am fortunate enough to be able to attend, each evening I will post a blog about my convention experiences, and each morning I will post a personal family document or historical story which will help you understand what makes me tick.  If you read all the historical posts, the last day, I promise you, you will feel the gratitude I do for our patriots who sacrificed their lives and fortunes for our freedoms.)