Months before our family's December hike to Phantom Ranch in the Grand Canyon we didn't expect road closures and blizzard like conditions on the trail, but plans and eventualities don't always coincide. Over years of camping on the South Rim during Memorial Day Weekends with young children the Grand Canyon became a special place for our family.

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Since neither I nor any member of my family was capable of riding the 100 miles of the White Rim Trail on his or her bike in a single day we decided to spread the fun over four days of riding.  To make things even better our adventuring neighbors agreed to come along for the fun. I had been to Canyonlands National Park before and was impressed by Mesa Arch, but I hadn’t yet learned the charms of Canyonlands National Park.

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Decades ago, in my youth, I read an article which intrigued me about the waterfalls in the southwest corner of Yellowstone.  So when I found myself in eastern Idaho late one summer I decided to drive to the Bechler Meadows Ranger Station in Yellowstone to see what the region had to offer.  After visiting with rangers I asked if the campsite at Dunanda Falls had any openings over the next couple of months.  

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Throughout my life I have returned to Teton National Park to enjoy the wildlife, spectacular scenery and time with family and friends.  When my children were small a favorite outing was to ride the boat across Jenny Lake and then hike past the waterfalls up into Cascade Canyon where we would usually see Moose.  For our return trip in the summer of 2015 our primary objective was higher, the summit of the Middle Teton.

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Our family adventures are often long in the planning and our trip to the Anasazi ruins of Grand Gulch in Southern Utah was no exception.  I had wanted to visit Grand Gulch since reading accounts of recent day explorers who had found artifacts and adventure in the narrow desert canyons.  Long before the trip we bought new backpacks for our boys and new sleeping pads for Lucy and me.  

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Ever since I ran the Green River from south of Green River to Potato Bottom outside Moab with some friends and my young children I was looking for another river adventure that I could do with family and friends that would be a bigger challenge with bigger rewards.

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I was called as a primary teacher for a couple of years and I had a great time with the children I taught over those years.  One Sunday I was teaching the lesson on Alma 32 with a neighbor who was standing in for my regular partner.  I had decided that as part of the lesson we would try to write our own song about the teachings in the chapter. 

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Music has always played an important role in my life so when I learned that the youth of our stake would be going on trek I imagined thousands of our children walking across a stretch of Wyoming singing “Come, Come Ye Saints” interspersed with some who accompany on the harmonica.  

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October 8, 2018

As time moves on more and more things in the Book of Mormon seem to have parallels to our times that did not seem to be as relevant a decade or two ago.  Even when I read the Book of Mormon in my youth I had the impression that the events leading to the coming of Christ in the Americas was a pattern for events leading to His second coming.  

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Last year students at Peperdine University protested to have a statue of Columbus removed.  The “Waves Against Columbus” protesters claimed the statue represents “a celebration of genocide and racial oppression.”  This surely isn’t the way Columbus was represented in school when I was growing up and I’m saddened by the outlook of those who choose to focus on flaws rather than celebrate greatness.  

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Towards the end of President Nelson's conference talk “Joy and Spiritual Survival” he states, “If we look to the world and follow its formulas for happiness, we will never know joy. The unrighteous may experience any number of emotions and sensations, but they will never experience joy! Joy is a gift for the faithful. It is the gift that comes from intentionally trying to live a righteous life, as taught by Jesus Christ.”

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My most recent reading of the the story of Alma and Amulek in the Book of Mormon was interesting because the parallels to our time are so strong.  Like many of the people I talk to I am concerned for our country and our liberties.  For me these concerns are reinforced when I hear conference talks or read church sponsored articles encouraging members to foster a culture of religious freedom. 

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