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The Jinx ... by Cindy Beck

© Cindy Beck, 2008
(Keywords: Cindy Beck, Big Bird jammies, bunny slippers, jinx, turtleneck, humor, Latter-day Saints, LDS, Your LDS Radio, yourLDSNeighborhood.com)

I recently discovered a personal truth. I have my own jinx. In this age of catastrophes—hurricanes, earthquakes, and poor cell phone reception—there’s this pixie that has nothing better to do than follow me around, causing wacko things to happen.

Take this morning, for instance. Thinking it was about time to wear something other than Big Bird jammies and bunny slippers all day, I pulled out khakis and a turtleneck. For those who don’t know, a turtleneck is a shirt designed to push the flab on your neck up to your jawbone, giving you four chins instead of the traditional two. The turtleneck gets its name from the ancient Hebrew word, “turtle,” meaning “shirt that only looks good on a twenty-year-old,” and “neck,” meaning … well … “neck.”

Since the turtleneck looked wrinkled—either I didn’t get it out of the dryer in time, or Corky Porky Pie, the dog, had used it as a pillow—I carried it to the ironing board. Just then, Russ walked in and stared at the ironing board as if he’d never seen one before, which tells you how often he irons his own clothes. He knew better than to ask what it was, however, because then he’d get a lesson on clothing care. Finally, after a long minute, he said, “What ‘cha doing?”

“Standing here, waiting for a bus.” The sarcasm being lost on him, I shook the iron. “Darn, it needs water.”

“I’ll get it for you.” Russ headed to the bathroom tap, and I wondered if it was safe to leave him loose in the house in the morning—or any time of day, for that matter. But, surely, nothing could happen while filling an iron. I walked out to apply my deodorant—a ritual that I do at least once a week—and when I came back in, I found Russ standing by the iron with a chagrined look on his face.

“Oops,” he said.

“Oops? Oops what?”

He motioned toward the iron. “You said it needed water, so I added some. Okay, not some—a lot. It overflowed all over the ironing board.”

Never one to be deterred by minor circumstances, I mopped the water up with Russ’s old shirt— which conveniently had his body still in it—and sent him on his way. Then, I started ironing.

Hot, rusty water spurted from the iron onto the turtleneck. The kind of rusty that makes a beautiful, cream-colored shirt look like it has the measles. The kind of rusty that only comes out of a knit turtleneck when you dump undiluted bleach onto it. And not that I’d know from personal experience, but dumping bleach straight onto a shirt not only takes out the stains, it takes out the shirt, too.

After throwing it into the laundry basket, I stepped to the closet and got another turtleneck. One that was pristine, and as white as Donny Osmond’s teeth. I swung it over my head, pulled it down past my shoulders and—just as Russ walked in the room—grazed my chin with my thumbnail.

A drop of blood dripped onto the shirt, looking like a neon beacon against the whiteness. Russ pointed to the injury on my face. “What’d you do, cut yourself shaving?”

“Very funny.”

Russ handed me a tissue, I dabbed at the wound, and looked down at the stain. “I wonder if I can get the blood out of this shirt without having to wash the whole thing. Maybe if I take it off and splash a little cold water on the spot …”

Russ grabbed my arm. “Wait. I have a better idea. I’ve heard that if you spit on the blood, that’ll remove it. There’s an enzyme in your saliva that breaks down your own blood.”

Really? Maybe it was worth a try. I pulled the shirt up to my mouth, spit, and then looked at it in the mirror. The reflection showed a slobbery shirt with two bloodstains. Somehow, in the process of spitting—a skill that apparently does not come natural to women— I’d slid the fabric across the cut on my chin. I gave up, took off the turtleneck, went to the closet, and for the third time in fifteen minutes, pulled out another shirt.

Although I appreciated Russ’s suggestions, it seemed like I was farther ahead before he entered the scene. And that’s when it dawned on me; I had a jinx. And as much as I loved Russ, I was a lot better off without my own personal jinx following me around.


What's playing in my head: Happy Together by The Turtles

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Stuffing the Turkey ... by Cindy Beck

(Or … Lessons Learned from Last Thanksgiving)

© Cindy Beck 2008
(Keywords: Cindy Beck, Thanksgiving, lesson, yams, rolls, pie, Thanksgiving feast, humor, Latter-day Saints, LDS, Your LDS Radio, yourLDSNeighborhood.com)



I ate and ate until I thought
My buttons all would pop.
I gobbled up the turkey
Not considering when to stop.

I scarfed down mashed potatoes,
With gravy, yams, and rolls,
And wondered why, when I looked down,
I couldn’t see my toes.

I polished off the stuffing
And a cranberry or two,
Then noticed that my stomach felt
Like it had caught the flu.

It seemed like maybe time to quit
Before I up and died—
But that was just before someone
Brought out the pumpkin pie.

Happy Thanksgiving to all my friends. May your turkey be juicy, your mashed potatoes creamy, and may your pants have an elastic waistband!

What's playing in my head: Come, Ye Thankful People by Henry Alford.

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The Men at My Thanksgiving Table ... by Cindy Beck

© Cindy Beck, 2008
(Keywords: Cindy Beck, Thanksgiving, famous men, Thanksgiving feast, humor, Latter-day Saints, LDS, Your LDS Radio, yourLDSNeighborhood.com)


I hate to confuse you by actually thinking a semi-deep thought, but every once in a while a serious reflection pops into my brain. And what kind of writer would I be if I didn’t document such a momentous occasion? (Meaning the occasion of a semi-deep thought, not the occasion of confusing you.)

Last year, a writer friend of mine, Connie Hall, posted a blog about who she’d like to have as guests at her Thanksgiving table. My interest was piqued by what she said, and I tucked the topic into the back of my mind as a subject for a blog of my own. Since, as I said, serious thoughts vacate my brain quickly, I try to snatch—no, I did not say “steal”—good ideas when they’re presented by my deep-thinking friends.

At first I thought I'd list ... oh ... twenty or thirty men. But I have a small table, and they'd have to sit five to a chair. I finally settled on the nice round number of six. So, for your serious reading pleasure, (really, honest, this is going to be serious) listed below are six men that I admire, and with whom I’d like to share Thanksgiving.

George Washington: I’d take the opportunity to thank him for being a man of courage, one who stood by his beliefs and founded a fledgling country that, in my opinion, is the best on the face of the earth.

Abraham Lincoln: I’d express gratitude to him for his honesty, loyalty to the Union, and kindness and compassion. I’d like to have the chance to tell him how much I appreciated him keeping our nation intact.

Joseph Smith: Few people have endured the abuse, torment and torture that he did and maintained their integrity. I’d like the chance to—in typical LDS fashion—shake his hand and thank him for being an instrument in the Lord’s hands and in restoring the fullness of the gospel to the earth.

C.S. Lewis: I’d like to chat with the man whose books inspired me long before they became popular movies. I’d like to thank him for a land called Narnia, a lion named Aslan and for the way in which they touched my heart.

Jimmy Stewart: There are few actors that I admire, but he’s one. I should have sent him a note while he was alive to express my appreciation for his talent and the wonderful ways in which he used it. But, I didn’t and I would love one last opportunity to thank him for making me laugh in, Harvey, making me cheer in, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, and making me cry in, Mr. Krueger’s Christmas.

Corky Porky Pie: What, did you really expect I could keep it serious to the end? Naturally, my dog would sit at the table—well, not at the table, but beneath it—because someone has to eat the scraps when the feast is over.


What's playing in my head: For Health and Strength (and daily food, we praise thy name, oh Lord) by Unknown

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Up in the Night ... by Cindy Beck

© Cindy Beck, 2008
(Keywords: Cindy Beck, sound, burglar, noises, birds, humor, Latter-day Saints, LDS, Your LDS Radio, yourLDSNeighborhood.com)


The other night, after the usual tossing, turning, and fluffing of pillows, I nodded off into that dream where you’re rich, intelligent and able to fly. I’d just gathered riches when a loud, “Wham! Thump, thump!” echoed through the house.

My husband, Russ, and I bolted upright. “What was that?” I whispered.

“I don’t know,” he whispered back.

I’m not sure why we whispered. Whatever was downstairs made enough racket to cover the roar of a jet engine.

We sat there, our ears pricked like barn cats listening for mice. Finally I said, “Why don’t you go see what made that noise?”

“Why don’t you?” Russ pulled the covers up to his chin.

“Because that’s your job. There’s an unwritten law dating back to the Garden of Eden; husbands must warm their wives’ cold feet and they are responsible for checking out things that go bump in the night.” I pulled the blankets to my side.

Russ reluctantly slid out of bed, mumbling his opinion of unwritten laws, and headed toward the bedroom door. “Wait. Aren’t you going to take a weapon?” I asked.

“What would you suggest?” he said, looking around a room filled with books and knickknacks.

Remembering the not-so-recent news of the shooting death of a professional football player who kept a machete for self-defense, I didn’t bother to drag out the sword from under the bed. “How about that book on body language?” I pointed at a book on the shelf.

“Oh, that’ll be a big help.”

“At least you’ll know—by his subtle signals—when he plans to whap you over the head,” I replied.

Opening the bedroom door, Russ started downstairs. I intended to follow, in case he needed help, but the moonlight reflecting on the snow distracted me.

Russ called from the T.V. room, “Come and look at this.”

I figured he’d conked a burglar over the head and wanted praise, so it was safe to go down. As I walked into the room, Russ cracked open the curtains. On the outside windowsill sat a stunned, befuddled dove.

“She must have flown into the window by accident. That’s what made all the noise,” Russ said.

We stood there, hesitant, wondering what we should do to help the poor bird. “You could catch her and bring her in to warm up,” I said.

Russ pulled on a sweatshirt and stepped out into the frigid night. The person driving by craned his neck at the sight of a hooded figure wearing pajama bottoms and slippers with no socks, carrying a shoebox and creeping along the sidewalk. I fully expected the guy to steer into a telephone pole. At any rate, I’m certain the sight of Russ was enough to scare the bird into consciousness, because she took off like a shot.

With the dilemma solved, we traipsed back to bed. Just as the cold in my feet transferred over to Russ’s, the noise happened again.

“It’s that bird,” Russ explained in a sleep-filled voice.

I relaxed in the blanket’s fluffy warmth and while slipping into dreamland mumbled, “But birds don’t fly at night.”

Wham! Thump, thump.

We trudged back downstairs and Russ looked out the window at the frost-covered sill. “I don’t see anything,” he said. “It must be so cold that the birds are falling out of the trees. I’m going out to see if they’re lying on the sidewalk. Maybe I can rescue them.”

It was after midnight. The same man who didn’t want to go downstairs in the cold and dark to check for burglars now wanted to step out into frosty temperatures in his pajamas—again—and rescue birds?

Wanting to do my part, I stayed inside where it was warm and watched from the window. Russ stepped to the edge of the sidewalk, looking perplexed—no birds. His eyes scanned the pine tree, searching for frozen doves falling from the sky when ….

A large, dark shape dived from the boughs, buzzed Russ, and hooted as it flew over to an elm. Giving Russ a cranky look, it sat there, waiting for its chance to return to the pine.

Mystery solved, Russ stepped back inside to give an explanation. “The doves weren’t falling out of the trees in a frozen stupor. A predator was chasing them.”

“Well, owl be,” I said.


What's playing in my head: In the Middle of the Night by Billy Joel

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The Name’s Beck ... Cindy Beck

© Cindy Beck, 2008
(Keywords: Cindy Beck, interview, Cheese Doodles, SeaWorld, humor, Latter-day Saints, LDS, Your LDS Radio, yourLDSNeighborhood.com)

Last spring, Candace Salima interviewed me for yourLDSNeighbhorhood.com. The point was to give my readers—all one of them—the opportunity to know me better. It's too bad my mom was off line that day and missed her chance.

Just in case I've picked up any new fans lately—besides that stalker that keeps calling me—I'm posting the interview again. Here, for your reading pleasure, are the questions and answers that give a glimpse into the mind of Cindy Beck ... what little mind there is.


Q: What brought you to the Blogging World and what is your favorite thing about blogging?

A: I arrived at the Blogging World quite by accident. I was trying to find SeaWorld, but I've never been very good with maps. Apparently the Internet is nowhere near Orlando, FL.

I love blogging because it gives me the chance to write whatever comes to mind. Alas, that's also what encourages me to write answers like the one I gave to "What brought you to the Blogging World?" Plus, blogging gives me a perfectly acceptable excuse for staring at my computer screen for hours on end, while eating Cheese Doodles and humming aimless tunes. "Sorry, Sweetie," I'll say to my husband as I wipe Doodle dust off my fingers. "I can't possibly fix supper right now ... I'm blogging."

Q: What intrigues you the most about blogging for yourLDSneighborhood?

A: First of all, it seems like such a nice neighborhood. So much nicer than my own— no kids throwing rotten tomatoes at my dog, or leaving a sharpened hack saw blade at my front door as a present. Or as a warning. I'm not sure which it was supposed to be.

Second, I can use words like, "Oh my heck" in a blog, and all the visitors will completely understand what that means. Not to mention the fact that if I were to blog about baptisms for the dead, no one would wonder if I was talking about putting sprinklers in the cemetery.

Q: What is your favorite thing about yourLDSneighborhood?

A: Oh, you mean outside of the fact that no one has left a sharpened hack saw blade as a present?

Okay, I suppose I'll be serious for just one second. I love the bright colors and the way the home page is set up like a neighborhood. The images and graphics are very inviting. I feel like I've stepped into an LDS Mayberry. All it lacks is Aunt Bee, Opie and a cold glass of lemonade on the front porch.

I think it's great to go to a site that's geared toward Latter-day Saints, where you don't have to worry about content that you might find insulting or offensive. I love the fact that I can read blogs and not have to worry about what wording they'll contain. Oh my heck, yes!

The stores contain items I'd be interested in buying; the blogs are writings I'd be interested in reading. They also have a great radio station called Your LDS Radio.

I think that pretty well sums it up, don't you? So, okay then, back to the Cheese Doodles.

Q: Tell us a little about yourself: What are your likes, dislikes, hobbies, hopes, dreams, etc . . .

A: Likes: Cheese Doodles, donuts, chocolate cake.

Dislikes: Liver, and Brussels sprouts. Either together or separately. Come to think of it, they have the same affect on me as syrup of Ipecac, and I’m not too fond of that, either.

Hobbies: Readin', writin' and NOT 'rithmetic.

Hopes: The only Hopes I know are Bob Hope and the Hope diamond. One has passed away and the other is beyond my budget.

Dreams: Last night, I had the strangest dream. I sailed away to China, in a little row boat to find ya, and you said you had to get your laundry cleaned …*

No wait. That wasn't a dream. It was a song that was playing just before I went to bed.

Q: Tell us something unique about yourself.

A: Not to get technical, but that’s not a question. Anyway, I’m getting tired of typing. Let's just skip this one.

Q: What has been your greatest challenge to date?

A: Coming up with the answer to question number five, above, which is why I skipped it.

Wait. Did you mean my biggest challenge in life? That would be how to get the Cheese Doodle bag open without dumping cheesy puffs in my lap.

Q: What books/projects/ songs are you working on right now?

A: As far as books go, I'm working on a book of LDS Humor with my friend and co-author, Nichole Giles, who also blogs for yourLDSNeighborhood.com. Cedar Fort is interested in publishing the book, which contains humorous anecdotes for and about Latter-day Saints. Some of the stories are funny enough that you might need to do that little dance and run off to the bathroom.

As for projects, I'm trying to figure out why my dryer keeps overheating. There's nothing like charred and blackened socks to give you a clue that something is amiss with the dryer.

When it comes to songs, I'm working on an opus. Or maybe it's a jingle. I've never been clear on the difference between the two. At any rate, I have the music written. It has eighth, quarter, and half notes. Once in a while, for variety, I've thrown in a full note.

The lyrics are simple, so that it appeals to the common man. They go, "Dee,dee, dee. Dee, dee, dee."

Q: What obstacles have you run into?

A: Whether "dee" is spelled with one "e" or two.

Q: If you had three minutes to give advice to someone headed into danger, what would it be?

A: Unplug the dryer before trying to figure out why the socks are burned.

What's playing in my head: *Break My Stride (written by Matthew Wilder)

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The Germ Theory ... by Cindy Beck

© Cindy Beck, 2008
(Keywords: Cindy Beck, germs, germ theory, cold, scientist, humor, Latter-day Saints, LDS, Your LDS Radio, yourLDSNeighborhood.com)


Germs—bad, bad germs. I once knew a doctor who told his patients he didn’t believe in the germ theory. It was a joke and if I didn’t have an awful cold right now, I’m sure I’d find it funny.

Have you ever thought about germs? It’s never been proven, but I believe they’re part of an insidious plot. Nowadays everything is thought to be a conspiracy, so why not the common cold?

Can’t you just see it? A scientist with wavy hair, a polka-dotted bow tie and black glasses is sitting on the stool in his lab. Chemicals bubble in beakers, heat rises from his Bunsen burner, the scent of formaldehyde and sulfuric acid mixed with the smell of a bologna sandwich wafts through the air. He ignores it all in his effort to train a germ to do its duty.

The scientist lovingly pats the germ on the head. “Now go on out there, find every Latter-day Saint that you can, and give them a cold right before they’re scheduled to speak in church.”

“Yes, my master,” the germ replies.

“And don’t forget parties. Lay them low as they sit at the ward dinner, chatting with each other and counting it as home and visiting teaching.”

“Yes, my master.” Apparently this germ has learned how to divide and multiply, but he doesn’t have very good language skills.

“Cloud their minds so they forget to use a handkerchief when they cough,” the scientist continues.

“Yes, my master.”

Hold on a minute. This cold germ is starting to sound like Darth Vader talking to the Emperor. Maybe we’d better beef his character up a little the next time he speaks.

The scientist’s eyes gleam with insane pleasure behind lenses thicker than the Hubble telescope. “When they go to meetings, impress them to shake hands.”

The germ blinks in confusion. “My master, I don’t need to do that. We’re in Utah, which is an ancient, Native American word for ‘people who can’t meet without shaking hands.’”

“Oh, I always thought it meant ‘people who can’t meet without refreshments.’” The scientist slicks back the germ’s hair, straightens its little polka dot tie and sends it off into the big, wide world.

You might think I’m making this up in my illness-fogged mind, but I’m living proof that germs do exist. That very same bug showed up and managed to infiltrate its way into my life, giving me the wretched cold I have today.

I’m on to the germ, though. Knowing that I’m contagious, I didn’t go to church on Sunday. I refuse to cooperate in spreading the monster around. I’m not sending it by computer to my writer friends, either. Before starting this blog entry, I sprayed my keyboard with Lysol.

Although ... now that I think about it, maybe that explains the zzzzzt, zzzt, zzzt sound and sparks flying as I type.

Despite my burning fever, hacking cough, and legs that feel Pinocchio’s, I wanted to warn you about it. Germs—they’re more than a theory. They’re out to get you. Pass it on!

What's playing in my head: Germs, Germs, Germs by Jennifer Fixman

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Crater Lake, Part 2 ... by Cindy Beck

© Cindy Beck, 2008
(Keywords: Cindy Beck, Wyoming, Crater Lake, Snowy Range, Laramie, fishing, humor, Latter-day Saints, LDS, Your LDS Radio, yourLDSNeighborhood.com)


As you remember (or not!) from my blog on Nov. 3, 2008, my family and I had decided to go fishing at Crater Lake. Call us adventurous—although I have to say that Cindy Adventurous doesn’t sound quite as good as Cindy Beck does—but we wanted to find the place just by using a map.

Okay, I’ll tell the truth. We also wanted to use a global positioning satellite receiver, but they weren’t invented back then. Instead, we used the next best thing when we got lost—a desk clerk at a lodge who couldn’t have directed you to water if it sat in a bottle in front of him.

He sounded convincing when he gave us directions—to the lake, not the water bottle—and so, rather than admit defeat, we sallied forth.

It didn’t take long for us to realize our journey had gone awry.

My husband, Russ, stopped the car after five minutes of travel on a dirt road—the one that supposedly led to the lake. He looked at the muffler-crumpling rock in the way. “Houston, we have a problem,” Russ said, holding his hand to his mouth and making the crackly sounds of a microphone.

Our son, Davey, looked out the window. “Roger, that,” he said, giving his own version of crackly noises. Only it came out more like, “Coger cat,” because Flopsey, the dog, had stuck her head in his face, trying to discover why it sounded like popcorn popping in his throat.

I pondered the problem in the road and ignored them all. Then, the complicated solution came to me—just move the rock. I leaped out of the car and moved the boulder.

Russ watched, and even with the shadows from the trees making weird shapes on his face, I could see a mischevious glint in his eye. “Why don’t you sit on the hood and tell me where the big rocks are?” he asked.

“Because when I sit on the hood, I have to hold onto the windshield wipers so I don’t slide off when you stomp the brakes.”

“And the problem is?” Russ wiped dust from the interior of the windshield, which was good. That way the gleam in his eye was easier to see.

I inclined my head toward the front bumper. “ I can’t see past the end of the hood.”

Davey stuck his head out the side window. “I can see, and I’ll tell you when rocks are in the way.”

We drove 5 miles an hour, with Davey pointing out rocks, and me jumping off the hood to move them. It kept us all occupied and made the time pass, which was good, because the dirt road that was only supposed to go one mile went three, and it took us an hour to get to the end of it.

By now, we were positive the lake was close. According to the guy at the lodge—the one with as much sense of direction as a yo-yo—all we had to do was hike in ½ mile and we were there. I could smell fish frying already. We started hiking … ½ mile, ¾ mile, 1 mile. Surely the lake was right around the next bend. And then it started raining. Finally, after 2 miles, wet shoes, and clothes, we saw a sign that said, “Crater Lake.”

“Wahoo, “ shouted Russ and Davey.

“Oops,” I said. The two guys and the dog stopped their victory jig in mid-fling.

“Oops?” Russ walked to where I was standing, just beyond the sign. Davey and Flopsey followed, their tails wagging behind them. Well, maybe Davey’s tail wasn’t wagging, but Flopsey’s was.

Just past the sign … and 800 feet, straight down … sat Crater Lake. We were standing on a rocky ledge above it.

The sun broke through the clouds overhead. “The lake looks beautiful with its azure waters and its shining shores,” I said, in a melancholy voice.

The trail wended its way down to the lake, and Russ kicked a pebble down it. “Yup, and by the time that little stone hits bottom, it’ll be a full grown boulder.”

I looked at the sky. Pinks and oranges tinted the clouds as the sun dropped lower in the horizon. “It doesn’t look like we’ll be catching any fish at Crater Lake today.”

“Maybe not,” Russ said, “but it was a fun ride.”

I stared at him, wondering for a second if the cold drizzle had hypothermia-ed his brain. Then I turned and sprinted in the direction of the car. “Yup, it was so much fun that I call “driver” and the three of you can sit on the hood and move the boulders!”


What's playing in my head (and on my computer): Drive This Road by Peter Breinholt & Big Parade (on Your LDS Radio)


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"Cup of Comfort for Breast Cancer Survivors" book winner!

As promised in my blog on October 23, 2008, I gathered the names of those who entered the contest for the drawing for a "Cup of Comfort for Breast Cancer Survivors." Then, I wrote the names on slips of paper, scattered them on the floor, and let my dog, Corky Porky Pie, sniff out the winner.

In typical dog fashion, he pushed the papers this way and that, hoping one of them held a treat. When nothing yummy turned up, he totally ignored his vital role in the contest and looked at me to see if I had any dog cookies in my pockets.

I encouraged him to pick a winner with the command, "Take it!" He paid no attention to me.

Then, my husband, Russ said, "Bring it!" And the little four-legged darling (Corky Porky Pie, not Russ) grabbed two entry slips and brought them to me!

Therefore, someone is extra lucky tonight ... and the TWO winners are Lori Conger and Nichole Giles. Since I know how to reach both of you, I'll be contacting you so you can give me your mailing address.

Congratulations to you, and thanks to everyone who commented and entered the contest!

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Crater Lake

© Cindy Beck, 2008
(Keywords: Cindy Beck, Wyoming, Crater Lake, Snowy Range, Laramie, fishing, humor, Latter-day Saints, LDS, Your LDS Radio, yourLDSNeighborhood.com)


Many years ago we lived in Laramie, Wyoming. I love the state of Wyoming … the antelope, the sagebrush, the rattlesnakes. Okay, maybe not the rattlesnakes.

I could wax poetic about the town of Laramie, as well. The kind of poetic that resembles Edgar Allen Poe’s darker works. On a scale of one to ten, I’d give Laramie a minus fifty-two. The town has two seasons—“Almost Summer,” which lasts from June 1st to June 2nd, and “Definitely Winter,” which runs the rest of the year. In addition, no matter which of the two seasons you’re not enjoying, the wind blows every day. Every single, solitary day.

Lest you think I’m just being negative, I’ll tell you that Laramie does have an up side. During the winter, it only snows once. After that, the wind just blows ice crystals back and forth across the town in a perpetual blizzard.

All kidding aside, Laramie does have some nice features. All right, I’ll tell the truth; Laramie has one nice feature.









It’s a set of mountains called the Snowy Range*, which contains a beautiful azure lake named Crater Lake.

Back then my family liked to fish, and all the old-timers said Crater Lake was the place to go. The fish there grew ten feet long, weighed two-hundred pounds, and were all starving to death. I could never quite figure out how a fish could weigh two-hundred pounds and starve at the same time, but that’s what people told us.

At any rate, we decided Crater Lake was the place where we most wanted to fish, so one day, we packed up all our fishing gear, got a lunch together and threw the dog in the car. By then there was no room for our seven-year-old son, Davey.

“Should we tie him to the windshield?” Russ grinned in jest.

“Naw, then we’ll just have to pick bugs out of his teeth,” I said. So, Davey squeezed in the back seat with the dog, and off we went, like a herd of turtles.

Now let me ask you a question. Have you ever wanted to do something all by yourself, with no help from anyone else? That’s how we felt that day.

Wait, let me rephrase that. We didn’t want help from any people. Cows, deer or elk could offer suggestions. A GPS receiver was allowed, too, but since it hadn’t been invented yet—to be truthful, this was so long ago that fire had barely been discovered—we pulled out an old, tattered map. After finding the little blue speck on it that was the lake, we headed on our way. According to our calculations, it was about a seventy-mile drive on the highway, a five-mile drive on a dirt road and then we’d be on the shining shores of Crater Lake.

The drive on the highway was fine; it was the dirt road that turned into a problem. Apparently, no one had bothered to tell the mapmaker that there were three different dirt roads every time the map showed one.

We drove around for five hours on bumpity roads. Finally, Russ stopped the car and pointed to the right of the car. “Look. We’ve finally found it!”

Davey, the dog, and I all leaned out the window. “Where?” I asked, cocking my head and wondering if Russ has been sniffing gas fumes lately.

“Daddy, all I see is a mud puddle.” Davey patted the dog’s head before pushing her out of the way so he could point at the puddle.

“Yup. That’s probably the closest we’re going to get to anything even resembling a lake,” Russ said with a laugh.

I tossed the map on the floor. “That is so not funny.”

We drove on … and on. Finally, we spotted a lodge. Real men don’t ask for directions, but real women do, so we stopped and walked inside.

“Are we anywhere near Crater Lake?” I asked. “Like maybe on the same planet?”

The guy at the front desk said, “Oh it’s real close by. You just go down the road about a quarter mile, and turn onto the first dirt road. Drive down that for another mile and you’ll see the trail that leads to the lake.”

Raising my eyebrows, I looked at Russ. If there was one thing we’d learned in life, it was that when something sounded easy, it usually wasn’t.

“Do we need a truck?” Russ asked. His voice held a note of suspicion—we’d seen plenty of muffler-crumpling boulders already in the trek.

“Oh, no, I drive it all the time, and I don’t have a truck.” His voice cracked causing me to look more closely at him. His peach-fuzz face indicated he didn’t know how to shave. Did he even own a driver’s license?

Ignoring the mental warning flags that waved at us like a matador taunting a bull, we climbed in the car, full of optimism at continuing the journey. When we got to the first dirt road, things went a little haywire. Russ took one look and said, “The guy said he drove this road without a truck? It must be because he had a Sherman tank.”

Despite the fact we were tootling along in a Chevette—a car that resembled a roller skate on steroids—and that the vehicle sat a mere six inches off the ground, do you think we’d let a little thing like that stop us? Of course not …

(To be continued.)

*Photos from Snowy Range Views, photographer unknown.

What's playing in my head (and on my computer): Long Lost Child by Mindy Gledhill (on Your LDS Radio)


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