I Need More Places Like the Temple in My Life

For those of you not familiar with Mormons, we generally have two types of buildings where we go to worship.  We have our meetinghouses where we go on Sundays to worship and even during the week for other activities and events.  They range from large beautiful buildings to rooms rented over marijuana shops (yes it really was).

These buildings are open to anyone and everyone who would like to worship with us, and they are important to our worship and happiness.  They are where the vast majority of our services take place and there are thousands all over the world.

The other buildings that we utilize for worshiping are temples.  These buildings are much less common (only 157 currently operating in the world), and hold a more sacred place in our worship.  They are the place where we go to be sealed together for eternity as well as perform ordinances for those who have already passed away.

If you would like to learn more about the differences please let me know and I would love to explain more.  For the purposes of this post, those descriptions should suffice.

I had the opportunity to go to the temple here in Reno with my wife today and it was such a nice experience.  It was a bit rushed getting there, and we almost didn’t make it, as is often the case when you try and do something you know to be right, but we did, and it was wonderful.

There is such an overwhelming peace that comes with going to the temple and being surrounded by the spirit.  The busier my life gets the more important it is for me to take time for these spiritually rejuvenating events.  It only took a couple of hours, but it gave me time to refocus myself on what is most important in life and where I need to be putting my effort.

While temples are special, it is vitally important for us to find other places where we can also find peace and comfort and to commune with God.  Many prophets in the past would go into the mountains to find such places.  While we don’t need to have the types of experiences like Moses did, it is important for us to find places where we can clear our mind and refresh ourselves spiritually, whether we are religious or not.

For most of my life the mountains were always that place for me.  I could just sit up in the trees or around a fire and do nothing for hours.  It was always an amazing way to clear my mind and refocus whatever was going on in my life.

Once I stopped living in the mountains, the beach became that place for me, and unfortunately as time went on I kind of stopped looking for those places.  Thankfully, God has brought me back to the mountains where I can again go to find peace, like I did earlier this week when I went fishing.

Life is full of important stressful things that we need to do, but few things will reap more benefits than taking the time to be still, relax, and reset.  We all need that on occasion, but it is often the first thing we give up when life gets busy.


A Day Spent Fishing is Never Wasted

With my transition to a new job I have had a little time off work.  It has been great because I have gotten to spend a lot of time with my family and help get settled in to the house.  

I go back to work next week, so I decided today I would take a little time for myself and go fishing.  Fortunately, there is a river that is only a few miles from our house.

It was so nice to just relax away the day on the river enjoying the beauty all around me.  The fishing itself was not very fruitful but that’s okay.  

It is Always important to take a little time for yourself when you have the chance.  I’m glad I was able to usr that time for some fishing.

Caves are Always Cool

I am not just talking about the fact that many caves stay at one temperature all of the time, which is generally quite cool.  See what I did there?

Many people who come to this part of California think about the Gold Rush, and there is certainly plenty of that stuff in this area, but there are also a few pretty cool caves.  I wasn’t exactly sure how Ty would do and was afraid we would get kicked out of the cave as we were warned we would be if our kids were too loud, but he turned out to be quite the trooper.

This was one of the smaller caves we have been to, but it was still really cool.  It is always amazing to me how these caves grow and develop and how beautiful they always are.  My kids always seem to enjoy them as well, though they were disappointed to hear that there were no bats in the caves.

There is just so much beauty in this world to be seen both above and below the ground.

Yosemite Valley May be the Most Beautiful Place I Have Ever Been

Have you ever had one of those days where you are just left almost speechless for an entire day.  When you go somewhere that is just so beautiful that there almost are no words to describe what you are seeing.

As you likely can tell by the title I am referring to the Yosemite Valley in Yosemite National Park.  I will do my best to describe the beauty of this area, but if you want an even better description from someone who immersed himself in it you should check out SaftyThird’s blog.  Even more than his love of this area, his writing is also just phenomenal.

To be honest, as we drove through the gate I was not overly impressed, but the gate is like 20 miles from the valley so it was not fair to judge.  We stopped at a little grove of sequoias on our way into the valley and it was amazing to see how huge those trees get.  It is really something you must see.  We are planning to visit the actual national park in the near future.

I should mention that we were entering the park from the North through the Big Oak Flat Entrance.  You actually climb up quite high through the mountains outside of the Valley, and then descend down into it.  As you wind your way down into the valley you get one quick glimpse of the valley and it immediately left me speechless.

You can actually see Cathedral and the famous Half Dome, but only for about one second.  Having seen some pictures before, namely on the aforementioned blog, I knew what I was looking for, but no picture could ever really do it justice.  I am actually kind of glad I don’t have a phone right now because then I didn’t focus on taking pictures and posting them, I just was able to just be in awe of its grandeur.

As we came through the Western end of the valley we were completely surrounded by trees so you can’t actually see a ton, but it is still beautiful.  Then a couple of miles up the valley you start to get some big openings on the trees, and it took everything I had to not just slam on my brakes and cause a major traffic jam so I could look instead of drive.

Fortunately, there was a pull out right there so we swung to the side of the road and got out to enjoy a stunning waterfall coming off the top of the south side of the valley.  There was no sign there so I am not sure what it was called, but it was across the valley from El Capitan which I didn’t even notice out in front of us at first, but once I saw it I couldn’t take my eyes off of it.

We continued up the valley enjoying these incredible cliffs on both sides of the valley and got our first great view of the Yosemite Falls dropping off the top of the North side of the valley.  We were actually about to turn over towards the visitors center, but courtesy of some construction we had to drive up to the end of the valley, and I am so glad we did.

When you get to the end of the valley the trees part like the Red Sea and Half Dome pops out in all of its glory before you.  There was once again another pull out and we quickly stopped and my Queenie snapped a few pictures.  All I could do was just stand there and stare at what may be the most stunning natural wonder I have ever seen.

I really have no words to accurately describe how it struck me.  Amazing, awe-inspiring, majestic, grand, beautiful, stunning; none of them do it justice.

I found myself longing to just stand there and look for a few hours, but that did not sound as appealing to my four kids.  So after one last peak we started moving back down the valley to get a more up close look of Lower Yosemite Falls and El Capitan from the North side of the valley.

I feel like I am just getting repetitive so I will leave you with one last wonderful event that happened on our way out of the valley.  My oldest daughter who is nine yelled from the backseat to give her a phone so she could take a picture because it was just so beautiful.  She was absolutely right, but it was not the view that I was happy about at that point.

We have spent a lot of time with our kids outdoors, all over the world in fact, and I am never sure if they are gaining a love and appreciation for the beauty of the world like I have.  But, when she yelled that out all by herself I knew that we have done the right thing and that they are gaining an appreciation for the truly beautiful things of the world.

I have been to some incredible places in the world but I honestly don’t know if I have ever been somewhere as incredible as the Yosemite Valley.  If you have never been there, then get there as quick as you can.

The Mountains is Where My Soul Belongs

I am so happy to be living in the mountains again.  I get to wake up everyday to these majestic mountains rising above my house and it is so wonderful.

Yesterday we left on a trip into California, and for the first hour and a half of the drive we were just winding through the mountains and it was amazing.  If you have ever departed Reno on I-80 heading West then you have seen what I am referring to.

The whole time I was driving I kept saying how beautiful everything was and how amazing it all looked.  It has been 14 years since I lived in the mountains and it wasn’t until now that I realized how much my heart needs it.

In that time I lived in Vista, CA, Santee, CA, Austin, TX, Montgomery, AL, Pensacola, FL, Little Rock, AR, and Tokyo, Japan.  All of those places have great attributes and amazing people, but none of them speaks to my soul like the mountains do.  We all just have special places that we really connect with, and the mountains are that place for me.

It is nice to go on a little trip with my family, but I really can’t wait to just be home and get to exploring my new mountains.

A Beautiful Sunset

This is something that I think most people enjoy, at least at some point in their lives.  Watching a beautiful sunset, even if only for a minute, can go a long ways towards making it a good day.

Some of my fondest memories from high school are sitting on a park bench overlooking the Salt Lake Valley and watching the sunset with my girlfriend.  It didn’t need to be anything other than that to be a great evening.While I lived in San Diego, I spent many an evening riding my motorcycle along the coast, or pulling off the road to sit on the beach and watch the sunset.  It is just such a peaceful time to relax and rejuvenate.  
Now that I get to fly regularly I get to see some of the most beautiful sunsets ever, from the air.  Being in the front of the plane provides for some incredible views in many  of the different places I have visited.

I think one of the best things about sunsets is that everyone gets to enjoy them.  It doesn’t matter if you are rich or poor, what country you live in, if you are healthy or sick.  The beauty of a sunset is something that can literally be enjoyed by anyone, if they only care enough to look.I will forever enjoy the peace that can come at the end of a long day, which is why I am grateful for beautiful sunsets.
What are you grateful for?

Climbing Mt Fuji

I know I have already expressed gratitude for this majestic mountain of Japan, but it is a whole different type of gratitude to have summitted her.  As one might imagine, this is no small feat and was the reason I was so exhausted yesterday.

The Japanese say that a wise man climbs Mt. Fuji once, and only a foolish man does it twice.

I guess that makes me a foolish man.

I was able to climb Mt. Fuji last year but was unfortunate enough to have terrible weather at the top and really was not able to enjoy the experience.  I was still proud of myself for accomplishing the feat, but it left me with a desire to do it again.  So when the opportunity arose to go with some friends, I had to take it.
It was not looking promising in the days leading up to our climb with a typhoon coming through and rain forecast for the entire week.  With the way schedules aligned, yesterday was the only chance we had so we decided to just go for it.

When climbing Mt. Fuji almost everyone starts at the fifth station, which is around 7,000 feet in elevation.  As we started up the mountain we were essentially at the same level as the clouds, but they were also climbing the mountain.  

It is actually a pretty cool sight to see as the wind pushes the clouds up the mountain and you go from blue sky to overcast in a manner of minutes.
Fortunately, as we proceeded up the mountain, we were able to outpace the clouds and broke out into blue skies for most of the way up the mountain.  It was actually fascinating watching the clouds climb up after us wondering if we would make it to the top before they did.  Which we did.

The climb itself is only about 4.1 miles to the summit, but as it is also about 5,000 feet of vertical elevation, it is not a quick jaunt up the hill.  It took me just over six hours to reach the summit but I am glad we took a little bit of a slower pace because we got to enjoy the beauty of the mountain more, and we were not dying when we got to the top.

Beauty is an interesting word to describe the terrain you climb through because it is mostly volcanic rock everywhere with no vegetation or life of any kind once you get above about 8,000 feet.  And yet, it is truly beautiful.  

The sheer magnitude of its size, the dramatic pitch of the climb to the summit, and the feeling of comeplete remoteness of the mountain provide an incredibly peaceful feeling as you climb.
It is no wonder that this incredible mountain has such spiritual and religious meaning to the Japanese people.  

As I summitted the mountain for the second time, I was able to really take in the magnitude of the sight I have admired these last two years from down below.  With bluebird skies overhead, and only a light breeze.  I was able to walk to the edge and admire the crater of what is still an active volcano.

It is another one of those things that you truly must witness for yourself to fully appreciate it.  I was with great people witnessing a great sight, and there is not much else I could have done to better enjoy the day.

The one thing that would have made the day truly perfect would have been having my Queenie there with me.  She wasn’t able to climb the mountain while she was here due to a bum knee and then leaving before climbing season started, and it just breaks my heart because I know she would have loved it as much as I did.

As I sit here on the eve of my Japanniversary I can’t help but be grateful for the experiences this amazing country has given me.  I have met people that have changed my outlook on life, I have been to some of the most historically significant sites in the world, and I have witnessed some of the most beautiful and majestic sites one could ask for.

After climbing the mountain last year I was certainly left wanting, and having now witnessed her, in all of her glory, I better understand what I was missing.  Having now been witness to it, I feel fulfilled and enriched.

Life is full of incredible opportunities that change us in ways we don’t fully appreciate until later, and after waiting a full year to get the complete Fuji experience, I can honestly say with all my heart that I am grateful for climbing Mt. Fuji.

What are you thankful for?