Overnight Camping

August 5, 2010

Over the weekend we were able to spend a little time together.  Starting with Sunday we were able to wake up together and attend church together.  After church we had the home teacher come over and visit with us for a few moments.  It was nice just to be home with each other, doing things together, and have more than just a few moments of conversation. 

About a month ago we wanted to spend more time together and planned an overnight camping trip for Monday night.  Monday morning we arose from bed and took the day at a leisurely rate of pace.  We cooked breakfast together and had pancakes, bacon and scrambled eggs.  After breakfast we rounded up all of the camping gear we would need and threw it in back of the truck.  It was about 1:00 PM before we left the house and headed to Springville, where we would pick up a box of firewood from Mom and Dad Larkin’s house.  Then it was time to head up Hobble Creek Canyon.

There was a possibility that the right fork of Hobble Creek Canyon might be closed above Cherry Campground but we were willing to take the chance.  There was a road crew working on the road laying down tar and new gravel on the road but we were able to make it to the top and make camp at Balsam Campground.  We had to carry our stuff in a little ways but we thought it was worth it since we felt we had the best campsite in the campground.  Later in the afternoon we found out that we were the only ones in the campground besides the camp host.

It was blistering hot and right after setting up camp we went to the creek, found some shade, and parked ourselves on rocks where we could get our feet wet in the cold water.  Just sitting there cooling off and having a good long conversation is the most fun we’ve had in a while together.  After a while Cordell wanted to start and attempt on getting our Dutch oven seasoned since it’s never been used.  While the Dutch oven was been baked over the coals we played a game of Phase 10 where Cordell has now won twice in a row.  After our game we started cooking the tinfoil dinners we brought with us, consisting of hamburger, potatoes and carrots.  It wasn’t until twilight before we started eating and afterwards Cordell built a fire for us to sit by and make some smores.

It was a little scary for Sara being in the dark all alone in a campground.  We had to lock all of our food in the truck in case of bears being in the area.  We went to bed but it was hard to fall asleep because it was extremely hot in the tent.  Cordell spent most of the night on top of the sleeping bag just to keep cool.  Both of realized the next morning that you can have very interesting dreams while camping.  There must be something in campfire smoke that makes you hallucinate during the night.

After sleeping in to about 9:00 AM we finally opened the door to the tent and took a peak outside.  We got up and realized we forgot to bring milk for our breakfast cereal so we built another fire and had smores again.  We spent most of the morning sitting around camp reading books and slowly packing stuff away.  The campground host said there was no hurry for us to leave on Tuesday and that we could stay until 6:00 PM if we so wished.  We were packed up and headed out around 1:00 PM mostly because we were losing shade and it was very hot.  We headed home and hung around the house near air conditioning.  It was a fun overnight trip and we enjoyed being able to spend some quality time together.  Good thing we went when we did because the weather hasn’t been friendly since we returned.

What a magnificent road trip it’s been for the both of us thus far. We’ve reached the milestone of mile marker one, our one year anniversary, and we’re excited for the journey that awaits us on the horizon. During the last year we’ve had panoramic scenic views, many unforeseen potholes, some happy moments and some struggles. Now it’s time to reflect back on the first mile of the road behind us so that we can focus on the journey ahead.  

We’ll start with a short history of how this whole road trip began, back in 2006, and if you have any questions regarding details . . . well, that’s for another time. You may always ask us and get two completely different stories. Our journey began somewhere with a guy in a blue shirt, traveling to Mexico, a Mayan shaman, a Russian, a dream about ballroom dancing . . . okay, you can ask about all of these details later. Let’s get to how we, Cordell and Sara, came together and what we’ve been doing during the last year. Pictures included.  

Our first date together was on December 12, 2006, setting up a Christmas tree at Cordell’s bachelor pad apartment in Logan, Utah. We then dated for two years, two months, and six days, and were engaged on February 18, 2009, in front of the Logan, Utah Temple. We took out our endowments together on June 6, 2009, at the Salt Lake City, Utah Temple. We were then married for time and all eternity by Brother Keith R. Allred at Noon, on June 12, 2009, in the Logan, Utah Temple.

Okay, so that’s the really simple version of what led up to our big day that would jumpstart this eternal journey. Now that we have the prologue out of the way we can really tell the story of our first year of marriage. During this year, because of our love for the temple, adventure and traveling, we have visited 8 states and 17 temples. Many of our little excursions have been related to visiting the temple or making it a point to visit one if it’s nearby our destination. Every temple is unique in beauty but not in purpose and we have enjoyed visiting every one of them. 

Our wedding day was a long, busy, and special day with friends and family. The weather turned out great for us and we had our reception in a barn behind the Lowery homestead in Avon, Utah. We didn’t leave until late but finally managed to slip away and begin our adventure together. We arrived late at the Anniversary Inn in Logan, Utah where rose petals greeted our feet in the Grand Bridal Suite. The room was very elegant and amazing suited for newlyweds. It had a fireplace, large hot tub and a cute little breakfast nook off of the main room.  

The next morning we had a lactose rich breakfast delivered to our door, not much of which Sara could eat because of her intolerance of milk products. Not to complain because it was delicious but was an oversight that Cordell failed to mention when reserving the room. We were a little forgetful and giddy, we were getting married. Mistakes were bound to happen. What would you expect?  

We headed out later that morning with a light drizzle of rain and began our road trip towards the beautiful San Juan Mountains of Southwest Colorado where we would spend the rest of our honeymoon in Durango and Silverton. Along the way we had to stop in Provo, Utah to drop off Cordell’s tuxedo and stop by our new apartment to drop off Sara’s dress so that it didn’t travel with us everywhere. We arrived in Durango that evening and checked into our room at the historic downtown Strater Hotel where we would spend the next two nights.  

The Strater Hotel was built in 1887 and has a large collection of antique Victorian-era walnut furniture throughout and the walls have hand-printed Bradbury wallpaper. The western author, Louis L’Amour, stayed in Room 222 often and wrote many of his Sackett’s novels there. Although the hotel was extremely gorgeous it hasn’t been our favorite hotel we’ve stayed at thus far.  

Sunday morning we found the only LDS church in town and attended sacrament meeting. On our way back we were distracted and stopped at an outdoor flea market before returning to the hotel and changing so that we could walk and see some of the sights around town. The historic Durango & Silverton narrow gauge railroad ran directly next to our hotel and the main station was about a block from us. Each morning and afternoon the whistle would blow as the three trains would depart and arrive back usually waking us up in the morning. Staying at a hotel with a train so close to us would be an ongoing joke for the next little while as you’ll find out later in our journey.  

Monday morning we woke up so that we could pack for our next little overnight excursion. We checked out of the hotel and headed to the train station where we would take the nearly four hour ride (top speed: 18mph) through the mountains to the little historic mining town of Silverton, CO. It was very enjoyable riding on a 100% coal and steam powered train that has been running continually for 128 years. It’s definitely a must do activity if traveling to Durango. The scenery along the way is amazing.

In the early afternoon we arrived in Silverton. As we stepped off the train there was a vintage trolley waiting to drive us a couple of blocks to our hotel. The trolley is operated and owned by the owners and operators of the Wyman Hotel & Inn, Rodger and Tana Wrublik. At the time we didn’t know that the owner was the one driving the trolley until we arrived at the front door of the hotel and he let us in. Rodger made our stay at the Wyman very pleasant and we can’t wait to go back again sometime.  

There is an amazing history behind The Wyman Hotel & Inn that if interested you should read on their website: The Wyman Hotel & Inn. The building is beautiful and amazing, inside and out and is decorated with Victorian décor. Each room is uniquely themed, similar to the Anniversary Inn, but much more authentic to the time period of the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. We chose to stay in the Wildflower Suite (Room #1, upstairs) which included a sitting room with a loveseat, 2-person whirlpool tub and amazing views of the San Juan Mountains surrounding Silverton. Including our room key we were given a key to the front door of the hotel in case we were staying out past 8:00 PM.  They lock the place up early.  

As we were checking in Rodger told us that there was some champagne on ice waiting for us in our room. We looked at each other and smiled and told him we weren’t champagne drinkers with which he replied that it was a good vice not to have. We asked him if it would be possible to have Sparkling Cider in place of champagne and surprisingly enough they had some stowed away and it was swapped out for the champagne.  

We walked around town a little and had lunch at Handlebars Restaurant. Being the small town that Silverton is, everything closes really early and before we knew it the restaurants were closed for dinner so we walked down the street to the local grocery store that was ready to close up as well. We grabbed a few supplies and headed back to the hotel. On the way back we were surprised to see a very small building that was actually an LDS church meetinghouse. We got back to the hotel, ate some snacks, watched an episode of the X-Files while soaking in the hot tub, and then went to bed for the night.  

We awoke the next morning to an amazing breakfast in bed after which we went for another short walk through town to browse the little shops of candy and gifts and experience stepping back in time. We had to come back to the hotel to pack and check out even though our train didn’t leave until afternoon. Rodger was nice enough to let us leave our luggage in a side room on the main floor until it was time for our train to depart at which time he would drive us in the trolley to the boarding area for the train. We can’t say enough about Rodger and his hospitality towards us at the Wyman. It was a pleasant and memorable experience. While we were waiting for the train to arrive we decided to have lunch at a place called The Pride of the West. This establishment boasts the fact that Wyatt Earp once worked there while he was young and before he became famous.  

The Durango and Silverton train took us back to Durango where we spent two more nights at the Best Western Mountain Shadows. It was another nice place to stay. We stayed in the only Suite they had before our journey would soon take us to the conclusion of our honeymoon. We stopped in Moab for a little while before continuing in the direction of our new home we would make together in Provo, Utah. It was inevitable that the honeymoon would eventually end and reality would soon take over our lives as a newly married couple. We were officially Mr. and Mrs. Larkin for the first time.  

We were enjoying being together and being happily married when a few weeks later we had a scare with Cordell’s father. Towards the end of July dad went into the doctor and shortly after had to immediately report to the hospital. They found a large growth on his colon and determined it was cancerous. He went in for emergency surgery to have it removed and one complication after another took place over the following few weeks and it was very difficult for all of us emotionally, especially mom. They even spent mom’s birthday and their 36th anniversary in the hospital together. Mom went and stayed with dad every day showing her deepest love for him. We prayed, fasted, gave dad many priesthood blessings and went to the temple. Through our diligent faith and God’s will dad was finally released from the hospital towards the end of August. He still didn’t have a lot of strength and still had some recuperating to do. Dad was finally able to get back to normal daily functions sometime towards the end of September. The really awesome news, even the doctor couldn’t believe it with this type of cancer, was that all 28 lymph nodes in dad’s colon were benign. Dad didn’t have to go through chemo.  

In September we traveled to Vernal, Utah and spent a couple of days there so that we could visit the temple. We drove out to Flaming Gorge to see the dam and take in beauty of the great outdoors. We also visited one of Cordell’s friends from high school and took a tour of the Utah Field House of Natural History State Park Museum where we encountered large replicas of prehistoric dinosaurs.  


October was the month that the big road trip was planned to Arizona and New Mexico. There were three reasons why we were going: to visit the Mesa, AZ & Snowflake, AZ temples, the U2 360 concert in Glendale, AZ, and to visit Elder and Sister Lowery (aka. mom and dad) in Silver City, NM.  

Our journey began by traveling from Provo, Utah to Kanab, Utah and staying at Aikens Lodge the first night. We awoke early to get a head start on the asphalt since we had a little ways to travel that day. Our featured destination that day was Mesa, Arizona but we had plenty of scenic stops along the way. Our first big stop was at Navajo Bridge, a long steel arch bridge that spans across a section of Marble Canyon in Arizona. This sandstone canyon was carved out by the mighty Colorado River and is north of the Grand Canyon. We spent some time walking across the old Navajo Bridge, taking pictures, and spotting some California Condors, which are the largest land bird in North America with an average wingspan between 8 and 10 feet. They were quite impressive and enjoyable to see in the wild.

We continued on our journey and stopped at a city park in the beautiful historic town of Flagstaff, Arizona for a picnic lunch. After our small feast we continued on down the road which would wind us down a bunch of switchbacks and a narrow canyon into the red rock surrounded town of Sedona, Arizona. We would end up spending a few hours in Sedona walking the city streets, checking out the sights, and visiting the Chapel of the Holy Cross Church, which is a very interesting architectural building design. We were in Sedona late enough to catch dinner and decided to try the Red Rock BBQ, where we would find our favorite chicken sandwich of all time, so far, the pulled chicken sandwich. It was definitely delicious and we’ve almost been tempted to drive all the way there again to eat it.  

The sun began falling behind the red rock mountains so we filled up with gas and began chasing the last stretch of pavement that would eventually lead us to Mesa. Who would have imagined that there would be a traffic jam of rush hour proportion on the freeway leading into Mesa late on a Sunday evening? We were stopped dead in our tracks because of construction and there didn’t seem to be a way off the freeway in the middle of the desert but when we did find an exit, we took it and decided to take a detour hoping not to get lost. Somehow, after a while, we found ourselves back on a freeway headed towards our destination again, only to miss the interchange and not realizing it until the city lights slowly faded in the distance of the rear view mirror. Once you get too far out of town on the freeway, in the middle of the desert, there aren’t many places to turn around but we did manage to get back on course and finally reach the motel we would be staying at the next three nights. It was amazing to see the Mesa Temple all lit up at night and find out our motel was right next door, along with an antique Dairy Queen that opened in the mid 1940’s. As soon as we got checked in we decided to crash.  

The next day we got up early, ate breakfast, and went exploring around the Phoenix area. The first thing we did after breakfast was walked over to the temple grounds and took some pictures. Most of the rest of the day was sightseeing and some shopping. Sara ate at In-N-Out Burger for the first time, Cordell bought an early birthday gift for her at REI, and there was the drive out to Scottsdale to see Taliesin West. When we got there we found out that it would be cheaper to see it on Tuesday so we decided to leave it for the next day. We drove the downtown Phoenix scenic tour where we made a wrong turn onto a “buses only” street and got yelled at while waiting for the light to change. They were going to give us a citation if we didn’t move immediately. We were just following the tour map that was printed by the Phoenix chamber. Guess they better get that changed or they’ll have a lot of stupefied tourists doing the same thing we did.  

We arrived back at our motel, went swimming, and bought some ice cream at the Dairy Queen, eating it on a bench with a view of the temple. It was a wonderful evening and later we would be visiting Cordell’s cousin Todd Petersen and his family. Of course we had to find their place in the dark. It was great to take some time and see them. We found out that Heather, Todd’s wife, was actually going to be working the next day in the temple cafeteria and maybe we’d bump into each other.  

Tuesday would be a busy day for us. We woke up, had breakfast and went over to the temple to go through a session. Afterwards we took some more pictures and toured the visitor’s center. We also noticed they were already hanging the Christmas lights on the palm trees around the temple grounds. The Mesa, Arizona temple was dedicated in 1927 and the fifth temple we had visited together since June 2009. Surprisingly we found out that Mormon pioneers had settled many places in Arizona.  

After visiting the temple we went back to the motel to change clothes. We were then headed to Scottsdale again to tour Taliesin West, a personal home designed and built by one of America’s great architects: Frank Lloyd Wright. It was a very beautiful property to visit but it was time for the big U2 360 show later that evening and we wanted to arrive early. We even met some people while at Taliesin West that would be going to the show as well.  

We had to drive across the valley from Scottsdale to Glendale to arrive at the University of Phoenix Stadium, home of the Arizona Cardinals NFL team. It’s quite a large complex in the middle of the desert. It’s almost like a little city with shops and restaurants. We found a place to eat dinner and then walked around the large stadium before being admitted in. We bought some U2 360 tour t-shirts and then settled in our seats to wait for a very long time before the opening act, The Black Eyed Peas, would start performing. It was loud, it was awesome, but the sound quality in that venue was not the best. We were hoping the sound quality would change, maybe, when U2 started performing but that wasn’t the case. Anyways it was still an amazing show, the stage was enormous, the light show was spectacular, and we were deaf at the end of the show. We have tickets to see them again in Salt Lake City, even though the show has been postponed to 2011 because of an injury Bono sustained while preparing for the next leg of the North American tour.  

The next morning we had another long drive ahead of us with some stops in between Mesa, Arizona and Silver City, New Mexico. We wanted to stop in Tucson for a little bit but decided it was not a very clean town and very run down. We did drive out to the Pima Air & Space Museum and checked out all of the planes they had on display. We even saw a stealth cactus there. After looking at planes for a little while we wanted to see the Mission San Xavier del Bac that was also near the outskirts of Tucson. This mission was built and has been used for over 300 years. It was a very beautiful work of architecture. It was then getting late and we needed to get going or we’d be really late arriving at Mom and Dad Lowery’s home. They were happy to see us when we got there and we decided we needed to crash soon thereafter.  

We spent the next two days chilling out with mom and dad. We strolled through the streets of historic downtown Silver City where we encountered an interesting crazy woman, cigarette smoke filled used bookstores (nasty), unique art galleries, an antique store, a very large ditch formed by a historic flood, and a grand tour of the historic Palace Hotel. Even Billy the Kid has history in this town. We visited the seminary/church building that mom and dad spent a lot of their time at during their mission. Mom and dad were great tour guides of the area and drove us everywhere. They took us on a picnic and hike at the Catwalk National Recreation Trail, which we thoroughly enjoyed. We also explored the outskirts of Silver City where we saw a large open pit mine and wandered through a Catholic graveyard.  


We had a lot of fun together those two days. Dad showed off his fearlessness of carving cactus into walking sticks. One night we ate out at a Chinese buffet restaurant where mom and Cordell tried baby octopus and Sara threatened she wouldn’t kiss her husband for 24 hours after the experience. We tried an avocado chicken recipe we found in a cookbook purchased at the antique store we visited. Sitting around the kitchen table in mom and dad’s home talking, playing card games, and laughing so hard we were shedding tears were the real highlights of our visit. We had a great time.  

Saturday morning left us with a little bit of a tearful goodbye as we would now begin our two day journey towards home. We gave mom and dad hugs and headed towards the beautiful little town of Snowflake, Arizona. We took a tour of the historic Smith Memorial Home and then did a session at the temple. The temple was very amazing and sits perched atop a hill overlooking the valley. After we left the temple the sun was going down and we had to be in Flagstaff that night for our motel reservation. We had to make a stop in Holbrook to fill up with gas where we witnessed a guy drive off with the gas pump hose still stuck in his car. The hose snapped off and was dragging behind him and Cordell had to flag him down to stop.  

After waking up in the morning we grabbed breakfast and spent a little time exploring Flagstaff before hitting the pavement again. Our last big stop before getting home was Page, Arizona. We grabbed some lunch and then took a short tour of Glen Canyon Dam. We then drove off into the sunset, well, sort of. We got home and rested the tires until next time.  

The next few months would be a little busy with work and not a lot of time to spend with each other. Sometimes it’s really hard and we suffer through it. In November we celebrated Sara’s birthday with a surprise visit at our apartment from several members of her family. We spent Thanksgiving at the home of Sherri and Bryan Adams, Cordell’s cousins. We celebrated our first Christmas morning, alone, with each other, and then spent the afternoon with Cordell’s parents at their home. To bring in the New Year we invited Gavin and Lesa over for dinner and to play Settlers of Catan. We toasted each other at midnight with some Martinelli’s Sparkling Cider. We welcomed home Joshua Lowery in January and met him at the airport and had lunch with some family and friends.  

In February it was off to Las Vegas, Nevada and St. George, Utah with Gavin and Lesa. We stayed a couple of nights at the Tropicana, walked the strip, and visited the Las Vegas Temple. We had a lot of fun together seeing the sights of Las Vegas including the M&M store and the Coca-Cola store where a polar bear tried to eat Gavin. After Vegas we traveled back to St. George to visit the temple. We also stopped at Sara’s cousin Nathaniel’s home to have Lesa take photos of little baby Alex.  

Sara’s grandmother Dickey passed away at the end of February. There was a little confusion on which grandmother passed away when we received the phone call. At first we thought it was Grandma Lowery but after a little communication with other family members we concluded that it was Grandma Dickey. What a night that was for both of us.  

Towards the middle of April Cordell left Sara home all alone, for the first time and for a few days, so that he could go backpacking in Canyonlands National Park with his friend Wes Aston. They hiked themselves into Chesler Park, a section of the Needles District, carrying a lot of water and hiked back out with almost nothing. Cordell said he had fun and wants to find time to do more backpacking and drag his beautiful wife along. We’ll have to see if any of that is every possible. A few days later would be Cordell’s birthday but most of his birthday consisted of Sara buying him a few new camping things for his backpacking trip.  

The month of May brought us another short trip to the Manti, Utah temple with Gavin and Lesa. We again had a lot of fun together. We played Settlers of Catan in our small shared motel room where Cordell seems to keep on winning that game. We took some pictures of all of us and the temple. Cordell was able to meet the temple president, Ed Pinegar, who was his missionary preparation teacher at UVU many years ago. We look forward to many other outings with Gavin and Lesa in the future. Little Natalie Rae was also born this month, our newest little niece.  

June was nearing rapidly and Cordell was stressing about having our one year anniversary vacation planned. We had all of our reservations made but really no itinerary. Sometimes Cordell likes to just be spontaneous while traveling and also tries to fit in more things to see than time would allow. Either way, we were excited to spend some time together and celebrate our one year of marriage.  

Our longest road trip would begin at about 4 PM the Wednesday preceding our one year anniversary. Both of us would be getting off of work at about that time, head home, change clothes, pack the rest of the car and head out on the highway towards Twin Falls, Idaho. We arrived at our motel late in the evening and crashed. We had to get up early the next morning and it would be a very long day with what we had planned and the distance we had to travel.  

Thursday morning arrived quickly. We got out of bed early, got breakfast and headed to the Twin Falls Temple. Afterwards we drove to Boise, Idaho and had a picnic lunch in the car in the parking lot of the church next to the Boise Temple. We went to the temple and then had to drive to Pendleton, Oregon, where we would spend the night at the Rodeway Inn. After arriving, we realized that Pendleton would be a fun place to visit again but it wasn’t in our plans for this trip, nor did we know much about it while planning this vacation.  

The next morning we would begin our journey into the Columbia River Gorge. Along the way we saw tree farms, wind farms and views of majestic Mt. Hood. We stopped in The Dalles and visited the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center where we had a picnic lunch. This was also where we would get off of the freeway and begin our travel of the Historic Columbia River Highway which began construction in 1913. We stopped in Hood River to do a little exploring around town.  

We then continued on towards Cascade Locks, Oregon, where we would spend the next two nights, including our one year anniversary, at the Best Western Columbia River Inn. The room we stayed in was amazing. It had a hot tub and a balcony overlooking the Columbia River and a view of the toll bridge that crossed the river into the state of Washington. The railroad ran right below our window just like in Durango, Colorado, for our honeymoon. We chuckled at that and vowed to check in the future if there would be a train next to our room wherever we stay. After we got settled in we went down to the indoor pool for a short swim and then returned to our room to dry out on the balcony. It was dinnertime after that, so we went next door to eat in a cafeteria style restaurant where Cordell didn’t know that when he ordered rotisserie chicken that he would get the whole chicken on his plate. It was huge.  

Cordell didn’t sleep very well that night and not because of the chicken. He ended up out on the balcony at about 4:30 AM and a few minutes later came back into the room to wake up Sara. He brought her outside so that she could witness a large barge floating upriver. It was a pretty awesome sight and then we went back to bed and were able to sleep a few more hours.  

We awoke the morning of our one year anniversary and had breakfast before we started off on our little day adventure through the Columbia River Gorge. There would be a lot of waterfalls along our journey and the first one we stopped at along the road was Horsetail Falls. It was splashing and causing a mist that got us a little wet while we were trying to photograph it. Multnomah Falls was the next waterfall we stopped at was the most beautiful of the one’s we saw that day and is the fourth tallest in the nation at 620 feet. In 1995 there was a wedding party going on at the falls and a boulder, the size of a bus, dropped from up above and splashed in the pool below injuring several people. There is a beautiful lodge at the base of the falls with a gift shop that was built in 1925. Along the falls trail we saw our first giant Oregon slug. They’re big, green, and ugly. We continued on down the road and stopped at Wahkeena, Bridal Veil, Shepperd’s Dell, and Latourell Falls. We got pretty wet at Latourell Falls because you can almost walk underneath of it along the trail. We also had our picnic lunch here before we continued on down the road.  

 The Historic Columbia River Highway winds upward towards Crown Point. Vista House at Crown Point offers amazing views of the gorge in both directions. We stopped there for a little while before we headed towards the town of Troutdale, which would be our turning around point before heading back to Cascade Locks. In Troutdale we explored an antique shop and bought some ice-cream we enjoyed together on some shaded steps. After that we went to the outlet mall to do a little shopping for both of us.  

We headed back to the motel the same way we came, choosing to return following the Historic Columbia River Highway instead of the freeway. We stopped again at Latourell Falls and Multnomah Falls to get a few more pictures. When we got back to the motel we decided where to eat for dinner and instead of going next door again we took the bridge across the river to the town of Stevenson, Washington and had dinner there. When we got back it was time to soak in the hot tub and sit on the balcony for a little while before going to bed.  

The next morning would take us towards the coast but not before passing through Portland. We didn’t stop until we got to Seaside, Oregon where the rain was coming down a little but that didn’t stop us from walking around and exploring the shops. Eventually we made it to the beach but it was too windy and cold to really want to stick our feet in the ocean so we decided to head down the road a ways and stop at the beautiful Ecola State Park. A picnic lunch was on the schedule again and we couldn’t have found a more beautiful place with an amazing view of the ocean. After lunch we hiked around a little and spotted the Tillamook Head Lighthouse perched on a rock about a mile and half from shore. We continued on down the road and took a brief moment stopping in Cannon Beach, Oregon. We walked out onto the beach towards Haystack Rock and if you’ve seen the movie Goonies you would recognize this rock formation. We had to continue down the road so we would have some time to set up camp when there was still daylight. We camped at Nehalem Bay State Park, found a place to eat dinner, and returned to camp so that we could race out to the beach and watch the sunset together.  

Camping on the beach was fun but the only drawback is that the sun starts rising around 5:30 AM and the birds start making noise. Maybe it’s that way no matter where you camp but Sara wasn’t too keen on being up that early in the morning. Anyway we got up early, ate breakfast and took down camp so that we could get on the road again.  

Monday morning we traveled to Tillamook and took a tour of the world famous cheese factory there. We bought some squeaky cheese and some ice-cream before heading to the air museum. The museum is housed in a WWII hanger for blimps and is the largest wood structure in the world. It was quite impressive. We drove the Three Capes Loop Road and stopped at the Cape Meares Lighthouse to take a tour. Unfortunately some vandals decided to shoot out the windows and damage the expensive lighthouse lens so we weren’t able to take a tour. More sightseeing took place that day until we arrived in Pacific City, Oregon where we would spend the night. After getting settled in we walked down the street to a local tavern, sat down at the bar, and had dinner. We ordered some pan fried oysters to start with, which Sara wouldn’t normally be so adventurous in eating, but she was hungry and she tried some anyway. After dinner we went back into town so that we could go to the beach. We finally were able to put our feet in the Pacific Ocean and so very cold it was.  

Tuesday was another day of being on the road and doing some sightseeing. We traveled to Lincoln City, home of the world’s shortest river of only 120 feet long, where we did some laundry and grocery shopping while the weather was being uncooperative. The weather cleared up as we were finishing up our laundry and we headed for the beach again. We stopped at a kite shop, bought a kite, and attempted to take to the air. It only lasted for a few moments before the wind died down so we left and went outlet mall shopping again. We had lunch at Mo’s Restaurant before heading down the road. We stopped in Depoe Bay, home of the world’s smallest harbor. We met a friendly squirrel who wasn’t afraid of people and wanted to be fed. Across the street we bought some fresh saltwater taffy and watched how it’s made. It was getting a little late in the afternoon and we had to set up camp again at Beverly Beach State Park. After getting camp set up we headed towards the town of Newport, Oregon but not before stopping at Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area. This is a very scenic place to visit. It is home to some amazing tide pools and the Yaquina Head Lighthouse. We did a little exploring around the lighthouse and descended down to the tide pools where we saw many forms of marine life including harbor seals and starfish. We decided we needed to come back in the morning and do some more exploring when the tide was at its lowest. We went into town and had dinner before heading back to camp. It rained on us a little bit that night.  

Once again we were up at 5:30 AM and took a shower before having breakfast and taking down camp. All day we would pretty much spend our time in Newport and the surrounding area. First, we went back to see the tide pools at Yaquina Head before heading to Newport’s Historic Bayfront. Along the bayfront we saw large fishing boats, sea lions, and numerous little shops. After walking our feet off we went to see the Yaquina Bay Lighthouse and take a tour of it but not before having another picnic lunch. Afterwards we went back to the Yaquina Head Lighthouse to have a tour and climb the 114 stairs to the top. After standing in line a little longer than we anticipated we were able to tour the lighthouse and then head to the Oregon Coast Aquarium. We had a lot of fun there seeing sea lions, harbor seals, sea otters, an octopus, giant spider crabs, snakes, sea birds, and different species of jelly fish. We thought we had time to see the Hatfield Marine Science Center but we arrived there right as they were closing. Maybe we’ll see that next time we go. We thought it was time to head on down to our next two-night stay in Yachats, Oregon.  

We had a room booked at the Fireside Motel. It had a fireplace and balcony with the most amazing view of the Pacific Ocean with the waves crashing up against the lava rock outcroppings. Cordell never wanted to leave that place. We had to get settled and go find a place to eat dinner in such a small town. Leroy’s Blue Whale was the restaurant that would be visited by us a few times in the next couple of days for dinner and breakfast.  

The next morning we explored our surroundings right outside our motel. There were plenty of tide pools to take a peek at before we headed to the Haceta Head Lighthouse. At Haceta Head we had a little scare because Sara lost one of the room keys along the trail up to the lighthouse. We searched frantically for a little bit. Luckily someone found it and had turned it in at the gift shop. After our tour of the lighthouse we headed down the road towards Florence, Oregon where we would visit part of the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area and have some ice cream. We walked along an almost deserted section of beach, did some beachcombing and were able to see a large navy vessel we thought was following us because it turned around when we did. It finally turned out towards sea after a while. As we headed back for the motel we stopped to see the Spouting Horn which was like a geyser caused by the ocean and a hole in some lava rock along the shoreline. We thought that was pretty cool. When we got back to the motel we watched the sunset from our balcony. It was very romantic.  

We arose the next morning to begin our three day journey home. We traveled south to Reedsport, Oregon and stopped to see the Umpqua Lighthouse, the sixth and final lighthouse we would see on this trip. Following the Umpqua River we turned our journey inland and away from the beautiful Oregon Coast, heading northeast towards Eugene, Oregon. When we arrived in Salem, Oregon we headed into downtown to stop and see the unusually modern design of the Oregon State capitol building. We continued on since we had to be in Lake Oswego, Oregon later that evening. We were deciding on whether to do a temple session at the Portland, Oregon Temple that evening or first thing Saturday morning. We arrived at the motel early enough we decided to go and do a temple session. The temple sealer that we had for that session was from Moroni, Utah and had quite a sense of humor as he was joking around with two single people who had come to the temple together but they didn’t consider it a date.  

We had a hard time sleeping that night as there was a lot of noise and commotion out in the hallway for most of the night. Anyway, we woke up and had breakfast and went back to the temple to get a few photos before we headed into downtown Portland, Oregon. Portland would be a destination we would like to come back to another day as we didn’t spend a large amount of time there on Saturday. We did go see the beautiful Rose Garden and the amazing Japanese Garden before heading out. Taking the bridge across the Columbia River into Vancouver, Washington, we decided to travel through the Columbia River Gorge from the Washington side. From what we saw, we would have to say that the Oregon side of the river was the better and more scenic route. We did pass through seven tunnels along the stretch of highway we traveled. Stopping at a rest stop we had a picnic lunch before heading to Maryhill, Washington. In Maryhill we saw the Maryhill Museum of Art but didn’t go inside and a little further down the road we visited the Stonehenge Memorial. The Stonehenge Memorial is an exact replica of the one in England and is dedicated to those who lost their lives during WWI.  

We crossed another bridge and were in Oregon again and had a long way to go before our planned destination of Ontario, Oregon. In Baker City we stopped at a pizza place for dinner. Baker City would be another fun place for us to visit again someday. We didn’t spend any time there to see the surrounding attractions. There was quite the lightning show as we were nearing the town of Ontario and about the time we were to get off the freeway the rain came pouring down, really pouring down. We thought we were going to wash away into the Snake River.  

The next morning we took a small detour into Fruitland, Idaho to see the house that Dad Larkin grew up in. Cordell had to call dad and get a few directions so that we could find the house. Our next stop was in Twin Falls, Idaho where we went to see Shoshone Falls. We stopped at a rest stop near Snowville, Utah to eat another picnic lunch before traveling the remainder of the way home to Provo, Utah.  

We were home and getting settled back into everyday life finally. Mom and Dad Lowery returned home from their mission towards the end of June. During the July 4th weekend we traveled to Hyrum, Utah to attend the baby blessing for the newest niece in the family, little Natalie Rae Lowery. On July 16 Cordell gave his two week notice to his employer and will be out of work at the end of the month. We traveled to Avon, Utah the next day to spend time with family, camp out in mom and dad’s front yard, and attend their mission homecoming on Sunday.  

Looking behind us we are now excited to look forward and see what the road ahead of us has in store. It’s not an easy road to navigate but that is what makes life together adventurous and exciting. The horizon awaits us in the upcoming weeks, months, and years. We are a little fearful of the unknown but all we have is hope, faith, each other, and eternity.

A Sunday Together

May 31, 2009

Sara and I spent the day together today.  We went to church and it’s kind of sad that it will probably be the last time we will attend the ward together as ward members.  Today was also my last time teaching primary in the ward and I will miss the kids and especially teaching alongside Bishop Skinner.  He is a very spiritual and humble man and I am grateful for his kindness and friendship.  Sara and I were also able to attend a fireside this evening where he was the guest speaker.  We learned that the two most important things in a healthy relationship are trust and self-worth.  If both of us live by gospel principles we will also have a very healthy and successful marriage.  We are both striving to do the best that we can.  Sara and I also went to the Evergreen Cemetery in Springville, UT to visit the gravesite of Grandpa Lowery.  Today was a very spiritual and enjoyable day.

The Next Two Weeks

May 30, 2009

One week from today will be the first time Sara and I will have ever been to the temple.  We are planning on taking out our endowments together that Saturday evening at the Salt Lake City Temple.  Sara’s parents are currently serving a mission for the LDS Church in Silver City, New Mexico and will be flying in early that afternoon so that they can be here for this very special occasion and will be spending a week here including the wedding on Friday June 12.  They will be leaving again the next day.

Sara and I are very excited to be taking out our endowments together and then being sealed in the temple for time and all eternity.  It’s been a long hard road, for both of us, to get to this destination.  We are very grateful for all of those family and friends helping and have helped in planning and preparing for our special day.  We thank you, from the bottom of our hearts.  We look forward to seeing all of you at the wedding, open house, or in the years to come.

Our story began somewhere during the summer of 2005 surrounded by the beautiful mountains and lush agriculture of Cache Valley, Utah.  Technically, the story could possibly begin earlier if we want to really dive into an interesting and longer story.  Sara had just recently graduated from Mountain Crest High School and through a neighbor she discovered an employment opportunity at a large office supply company in Logan, Utah.  This neighbor just happened to be the wife of the store manager and in a short time she was hired and that’s about the time we first met.

At first, Sara thought that I was 25 years older than her and maybe it’s because of my thinning hair or the faint traces of grey hair on the sides of my head.  Later she would learn that our age difference was only 9 ½ years and we still tease each other about it.  The most vivid recollection I have of Sara, and she hates it when I bring it up, is the way she use to make an announcement over the store intercom.  She would begin by saying: “Attention, attention!”  Only later would I realize, ironically, that she was trying to capture my attention. 

Sara continues to remind me of the fact that she was smitten by me a year before I even got around to noticing her.  For her, as she claims, it began on the day after Thanksgiving 2005 when I was wearing a blue shirt, looking delicious, according to her, and rescuing her numerous times at the cash register during the most hectic shopping day of the year.  She was stationed at the most temperamental and faulty computer in the store and I had to constantly help her out.  I think she just wanted to be near me since she realized that she did have a crush on me beginning that morning.

I was at a point in life where I was having fun traveling, being very adventurous, and enjoying the life of a bachelor.  It wasn’t until returning home from a trip to Akumal, Mexico in November 2006 that I realized numerous things were missing from my life and companionship was one of them.  Even though Sara and I weren’t dating at the time we had been flirting a little before my vacation and she wasn’t happy with me for missing her birthday.  I was ready for a change and began the stressful task of getting back into the dating scene.  It wasn’t until a couple of weeks later and pursuing the wrong girl that I was figuratively kicked in the butt and a feeling came over me that I needed to pursue Sara.  A few people even added to the pressure and kept telling me to ask her out.

One day Sara and I were teasing each other in the break room about not having each others cell phone numbers and how we were going to acquire them from each other since she was a little reluctant giving hers up.  Fortunately for her mine was posted in the office but in our flirting that day she decided to call my phone so that I would have her number.  Sara wasn’t feeling well on one of the following Sundays and to my surprise sent me a text.  We sent texts back and forth for a little while that day and somehow the discussion of me putting up my Christmas tree and lights in my apartment in the next few days came up.  This text conversation would eventually lead me to asking Sara out on our first date.

I asked her if she wanted to go with me to see the Christmas lights at Temple Square only to have her decline my invitation.  After saying no to me she was criticized by a friend of ours that she should stop being so stubborn and say yes to me.  On December 12, 2006 Sara came over to my apartment to help me set up my Christmas tree and lights and we ended up talking for a little while as well.  This was our official first date.

In June 2007 I moved down to Springville for new employment which made things difficult in our relationship but somehow we managed to keep it alive despite the distance.  We finally agreed that we needed to be closer to each other and Sara reluctantly became adventurous and moved to Provo in the spring of 2008 leaving her parents and home of 21 years behind.  We continued dating and on February 18, 2009 I proposed to her, on bended knee, in front of the Logan, Utah LDS Temple and I’m grateful she never hesitated to say yes.  I almost didn’t even have all of the words out of my mouth before she voiced the answer.

We will be married on June 12, 2009 for time and all eternity in the Logan, Utah LDS Temple.  And so, a new journey begins.

Engagement Day

May 29, 2009

The following post was initially posted February 19, 2009 on Cordell’s personal blog but we thought it would be appropriate to include it here on our blog as well since it’s part of our story:

Wow! I’m officially engaged to the love of my life and my sweetheart, Sara Roxanne Lowery. It’s been in the works since November of 2006 and finally the day came to put a ring on her finger.

Yesterday started out quite early when the alarm went off at around 6:00 A.M. but I didn’t roll out of bed until around 30 minutes later. I had to get up and ready for the day as it was going to be a big day for me. I took an inventory of everything that I needed to bring for the big day and left the house around 8:45 A.M. I was headed over to Sara’s apartment to pick her up for our big adventurous day.

Sara looked gorgeous when she opened the door to let me in. She had sent me a text earlier that morning asking me if I could help her with doing her hair. I thought, “no big problem, she just wants me to brush it.” Nope, she wanted me to help her braid it. As you know, I’m a guy and didn’t grow up with any sisters, so you can imagine that braiding hair is not in my bag of knowledge. Just because I’m an Eagle Scout and had to learn how to tie knots doesn’t mean I can braid hair. After the failed hair-braiding attempt Sara decided just to leave it the way it was after we brushed it again.

We left Sara’s apartment and headed up towards Draper for the Draper LDS Temple open house. We had tickets for 11:00 A.M. and halfway there realized we were going to be about and hour early so we decided to see which parking lot we were meeting at to get on the shuttle bus and then were going to go get Sara something to snack on. As we were driving towards the parking lot we noticed a police vehicle with its lights flashing in front of a car wash. As we drove past we witnessed a Toyota truck that had somehow managed to smash its front end into the change machine and through the brick wall. Crazy!

We found the chapel parking lot and drove to a nearby convenience store and got Sara a blueberry muffin. She made quite the mess in the front seat of my truck but I didn’t mind because I love her and proceeded to tease her about it. We drove back to the parking lot where a parking attendant directed us where to park probably noticing the mess of crumbs on Sara’s dress as he was talking to us.

Tickets were scheduled in 20 minute increments and we were able to sneak in at the 10:20 A.M. timeslot as there were not many people at that particular time. After watching a 12 minute video about temples, introduced to us by 3 Sister Missionaries, we then boarded a bus that would take us on the short 6 minute drive up the hillside to where the temple was located. Sara likes to sit at the back of the bus and I don’t know why but that’s okay because I love her and I would have wanted to sit back there for a long trip anyway.

We got to the temple and took the short tour and it was amazing and very beautiful. The last room we visited was one of the sealing rooms where we and the group were able to sit down and listen to a missionary couple talk to us. I started to tear up because I knew that in a few months I would be kneeling across an alter, just like the one in front of us, and being sealed to Sara for time and eternity only if she would say “yes” of course.

After we left the Draper Temple we drove to Logan to spend the rest of the day together. At that time I think that Sara knew that something was going on and she was getting a little restless. She even admitted to me later that she thought that I was going to propose to her at the Draper Temple. I had some other plans, though, that would be more meaningful.

We arrived in Logan just before 2:00 P.M. and we went directly to the Logan LDS Temple. We walked around the temple grounds for a little while as I was trying to get the strength up to ask the big question. I kept fumbling with the ring in my pocket until finally, on the east side of the temple, near the water fountains, it all happened. After freezing ourselves outside for about 30 minutes I finally got down on one knee, looking into her eyes, and asked the question: “Sara Roxanne Lowery, will you marry me in this temple, for time and all eternity?” Before I could even finish the question or get the single solitaire diamond ring on her finger she said, YES!

I got back up and gave her a kiss as I held her in my arms. We stood there for a few minutes in the embrace of each others arms as tears were filling both of our eyes. At that moment we were the happiest couple in the universe and I was the luckiest man on the face of the planet having the most beautiful fiancé I could ever imagine.

We stopped a younger couple coming out of the temple and politely asked them to take our picture as we were just recently engaged. They asked us when we got engaged and we told them that it was only moments ago. That’s when they told us that they were engaged in almost the same location just shy of a year ago. Both couples thought that it was kind of funny.

The rest of the day consisted of calling family members and showing off the ring to family and friends in the Cache Valley area. We also went to the jewelers and decided on a men’s band as well. It was a glorious day and we are extremely happy to be engaged. I am very happy to be a part of Sara’s life and I love her family very much.

We met for the first time while employed together at an office supply company in Logan, UT. We started dating in December of 2006 and after over two years of dating and falling in love with each other we were engaged on February 18, 2009. We will be married for time and all eternity on June 12, 2009 in the Logan, UT LDS Temple. A longer, more drawn out descriptive story will be forthcoming when we find the time to write it and will be posted here. We will be making our first home in Provo, UT.