GRADUATION!! (Grad School)

Sunday, July 30

Rafting again....

It is twenty after ten pm and we are just leaving Lexington, Virginia. I have a little time as I sit in the backseat, all by myself. So why not write how the trip went.

Friday was a difficult work day. Concentration was not a possibility. I just wanted to be on the river. Erin picked me up at 5 pm on the dot. We threw my gear in the back and were off to get Joy. We took a short detour to drive by the house we will be moving into at the end of Aug. (Yes you read that right. I am moving again. It was inevitable. But that is a topic for a whole blog of its own. I have a theory there.) Once Joy was in the car we were on our way to the Wild West Virginia. It is a 6 hour drive and we talked most of the way. Kenny Chesney was playing Nissan Pavilion which caused a horrible traffic jam. All the fans apparently have to take one road to get to the Nissan Pavilion. SO they filled our road. It took an extra hour to get past them. Once past we were flying. It was really nice to be on the open road. Unfortunately both Joy and I had a problem as the roads got more and more curvy. We survived. It was after midnight when we arrived and we crashed.

This morning our Rafting trip started at 9 am. I was mistaken; we rafted the Lower New River, not the Gauley. My mistake; it was still way fun. It was on the river. There were some great rapids. The water was warm. The day was nice, there was a touch of rain but that just added to the experience. Yes, I ended up in the water, but never involuntarily. I swam 2 rapids, they were little baby ones, but the current was strong and so much fun. I did the rock jump (I never miss a chance). I finally felt that I am starting to know what I am doing. I think I finally am getting the basics. There were pictures but none that I felt were worth $20 and the DVD was definitely not worth 50 bucks. So posterity will just have to believe me when I say I rafted it twice this summer. I am starting to realize these things are fun. Who knew? Who knew that these are somethings that I can do? But I can. Maybe not well, but I just need practice and a little more training. Today for the first time I got back in the boat with out help. 4 separate times. (There was a 5th time but I needed help for that one. Lol!)

Erin mentioned that we were going to pass Buena Vista, Virginia on our way home. I called Tiana and asked if she wanted to go to dinner. It was very last minute but we met at the main campus of Southern Virginia University. It is as beautiful as everyone says. The rest of the town is pretty ghetto but the school building is beautiful. We then went to Don Tequila for dinner. It was a Mexican joint, in an old Pizza Hut Building. Funny? Yes. Good food? Yes. It was nice to see Tiana. We decided that this covers our visit for Aug. (yeah, yeah we know. It is still July. But it is close enough.) I got to meet Tiana’s co-worker, Margaret. It was fun. We now plan for her to come to visit me in the district for September. Then I am planning a trip back down here in October. Now all we have to decide is where we will go in November. That is Thanksgiving after all.

Joy needed to hit a Wal-Mart to get a few things for her coming trip to Mexico. Of course you can’t go into Wal-Mart and come out empty handed. So I got 2 pair of earrings and 3 new shirts. J

I am excited for Oct. We are coming back for Bridge Day. The New River Gorge Bridge is the second longest steel arch bridge in the world. (This year China had to go and finish theirs that is about a hundred feet longer) I was also told that this is the second highest bridge in the United States, I haven’t verified it, but it is 876 feet high. Once a year people are allowed to base jump off of it. You have to be certified, and have 50 previous jumps under your belt before you are allowed to try this one. But people can go watch. It is the only day that pedestrians are allowed on the bridge. Joy and I want to come down and watch and maybe go rock climbing or bouldering. I already know I enjoy bouldering I just need a little training and I think I will like climbing just as much. Though I am definitely have to work on my upper body strength. Lol!

Well now I am going to have to close because this is making me carsick. Not a good thing. I will end with this thought: I made a discovery. I have found something that I can do, maybe not well yet but that doesn’t detract from the enjoyment I find in it. I will enjoy it while I can.

Friday, July 28

When did it change....

There was a time when I could create a whole meal for the family and not worry about how bad it was going to be. Somehow in the last year and a half I have lost everything I had learned. Granted it was not much to begin with, but I could at least make the signature meals. I could handle, Tacos, enchiladas, chicken and rice, and even a whole meal of chicken, egg rolls, rice, and pot stickers. Now I cannot make any of it.

Tonight the elders came again. I choose an easy dish, anyone can make it. My younger brothers and sisters have successfully made it. Who knew that it could be screwed up. Apparently it can. The chicken didn't finish cooking (note to the world: putting together casseroles before you are completely awake in the morning is not the best idea) and the rice didn't either. On an ironic notethe exact same dish assembled by my roommate and cooked in the exact same oven came out perfect.

It wasn't as horrible as the enchilada debacle of March. But still wasn't as good as I want. Is the outcome of our various efforts ever as good we want them? Uh-Oh...I am starting to think. Not something I want to do at 3:20 am. Dryer is almost done.

Thursday, July 27


It is almost 1 am here. Both the washer and dryer are running. I have yet to pack. But I have been thinking of what I want to pack. It is only 1 night so it shouldn't be too hard.

Mall Rats is on TV. Jay and Silent Bob are beating up the Easter Bunny.

2:30.....last load is in the dryer.

"What you do not smell is Iocane powder........" It is a classic. Packing is almost done.

Tuesday, July 25

Too much excitement to sit still.....

So I have not had a weekend to myself for awhile. I thought it was going to be this weekend........BUT NO! I got invited to raft the Upper Gauley River this weekend. So it is back out to West Virginia to hit the Grand Canyon of the East again. This river is the one I rafted last year. I am so excited I can barely type. To tide you over till I get the rest of the New River pics blogged...Here is my favorite:

Monday, July 24

The proof .......

A couple of weeks ago my sister came for a visit. Tiana is my big sister. She is 18 months older then me (or is it 16 months? Who knows? Who really cares?) Any way, she now lives about 3 hours south of me in a college town called Buena Vista, which she shortens to BV. Now this is exciting for a couple of reasons. First, Tiana is going back to school, my long term goal is to get off my duff and follow in her footsteps. Second, this makes 2 out of 19 people (not including spouses or extended family) who live on the East Coast. I am excited to have at least one member of my family so close.
So she came to visit, she drove up after work one Friday night, arriving almost in time. ;) We then went to see Pirates 2 with Boo, Steph, Hugh, and Perry. It was fun. Unfortunately, she sat by Boo who doesn’t like talking in movies. My family is big on the running commentaries; I have had to train myself to not talk when I am at the movies with people. I really enjoyed being able to talk to my sister, even though Boo and Steph weren’t so happy. Lol! Afterwards there was a night of talking and bonding which was really nice. Saturday morning we were off early to the Eastern Market and brunch with some of her friends who have moved here. I found a fabulous hat, and some earrings. Tiana found a great necklace and Earring set.

After that we headed to the National Mall for some Touristy stuff.

We got to see the Sunstone in the American History Museum(got to see the Mormon stuff of course).

Tiana found the love of her life, unfortunately he lived to long ago for her to date today.

Then we moved on to walking outside. It was hot and muggy. But it was fun.
The Washington Monument weighs a ton:

Lincoln’s Monument was just so stubborn, for some reason I couldn’t squish it!

We got up close and personal with FDR

And his dog:

Tiana, trying to prove to the family back home just how broke she really is, stands in the bread line:
Tiana'a favorite Monument was the WWII:

My favorite Picture:

Here is why you don't let tourists take your picture. You get the Wahington Monument coming out of your head:

At the end of the walking we had to sit for a while to get the strength to walk back to the metro.

We ended the day perfectly with Appleby’s Carside To Go and Gilmore Girls. It was almost like the old days...... Tiana was on her way early the next morning so that she could make her Sacrament Meeting.
It was nice to have her come for a visit. I am looking forward to the time we can do it again.

I received my pictures from the rafting trip last weekend. I will post them another time. And then I will tell you all about the beach. Wahoo!! There was a lot of sand and fun.

Tuesday, July 18

1000 and counting

Well what a moment. I have had 1000 visitors to my blog. This is an odd feeling. Especially since this blog was created to vent my feelings to no one. As a matter of fact only 2 people knew it ever existed at the very beginning. So congrats to me for continuing to write here even after other people started to read it.

Today’s blog has to be devoted to the last weekend though. I have yet to blog about last weekend with my sister Tiana. I promise to do that but I have promised many that I would write of the festival and rafting. So here goes. Friday was the festival and Saturday was rafting…..

Friday afternoon I drove to a small town in West Virginia. Every year Elkins, West Virginia is host to a Summer Program devoted to American Heritage. Each week is dedicated to a type of music. They have concerts on Tuesdays and Thursday and outdoor dances every Friday. There are classes during the week to teach you various things from that heritage. Everything from singing, to dancing, to blacksmithing, to learning to play the guitar, you name it and people are brought in to teach it. The dance on Friday is a culmination of all the students have learned.

Last week was Cajun/Creole Week. Zydeco is a combination of cajun, blues and rock music that hails from Louisiana. The sound is a little faster then country. There is a different rhythm. The band includes and Accordion, a guitar, a fiddle, the drums, and I am told true Zydeco has a washboard (though there was not one at the festival on Friday)

A girl from one of the single adult wards invited those of us involved in our rafting trip to take a detour to this festival. It is in her home town. It is about a 5 hour drive from DC and we arrived about 7:30. We were welcomed like long lost children into the MacArthur home. Here we were fed and given a chance to get ready to go dancing. I, of course, dressed completely inappropriately in a t-shirt, jeans and flip flops. But no one mentioned anything to make me feel uncomfortable and I had not planned on actually dancing anyway. We also got a chance to meet Chester; Zydeco dancer extraordinaire. Chester hails from Beaumont, Texas. He travels to West Virginia for the festival every year. He is amazing to watch. So smooth, graceful and controlled. It is extremely cool. The steps to Zydeco dancing seemed simple enough when they were demonstrated, just a 4 count. Anyone should be able to do that right. Sort of a 2-step; instead of quick, quick, slow, slow; it is quick, quick, quick, quick. It should be easy right. I watched for the first couple of dances and was finally coaxed on to the floor. I proved yet again that I am a klutz. But that is okay. No one pointed or teased. I laughed and we went back to counting. After a few hours I could get the basic steps, and sometimes I was even able to do turns. I know I am pretty proud of myself too. It was so much fun. Even when I didn’t have a partner we would go to the middle of the floor and just enjoy the music. I soon learned the reasoning behind skirts on a crowded and hot dance floor. It was hot and muggy even this late at night. But no one let that slow them down. Even with everyone sweating profusely the dancing went on till midnight. Some where around my second dance I gave up on the flip flops, I went barefoot the rest of the evening. People were extremely kind. Mama MacArthur calls dances like these the great equalizer. Her favorites are Zydeco and Contra (another form of dance that I have only heard about, sort of like square dancing but different, it involves everyone on the floor dancing with each other though) She explained that you see everyone dancing with everyone. Old with Young. Rich with Poor. All Races dancing together. Gender didn’t really even matter when you needed a partner and there weren’t enough men. As long as you got to dance. The dancing was extremely pleasant.

Afterwards we all filed back to the MacArthur home and were treated to homemade Strawberry shakes. They were delicious and the discussions were lively, but by 1 am, with the realization that we would have to be up for rafting in a few hours, we started to turn in for the night. Mama and Papa MacArthur were up to see the first crowd off at 5:30 to make their 8:00 departure for rafting. The second crowd woke to the mellow tones of a dulcimer being played by Mama MacArthur. We then left by 7:00 to make our 9:30 departure time. The Macarthur’s were very good to us, they provided directions and breakfast. Mama MacArthurs was praying for us by name when we left, she didn’t want anyone hurt. She is a sweet lady.

Rafting was also fun. There are pictures. I just do not have them yet. We rafted the Lower New River. Apparently it is the second oldest river in the world, who knew? It is also called “The Grand Canyon of the East”. The rapids ranged between Class I thru Class V. With 3 sets of Class V rapids. It was not as difficult or intense as the Gauley last year, but still it was highly enjoyable. I got to swim through a couple of rapids, completely voluntary. I actually never fell out of the boat. As a matter of fact while trying to surf a specific set of rapids, me and Kyle were the only 2 that stayed in the boat with the guide. Everyone else ended up in the water. I also got a chance to go cliff jumping. Again the cliff wasn’t as high as the one that I jumped at the Gualey, but the falling sensation was the same. There is that feeling in your stomach; that tingle and jump that comes. Wahoo!!! There was also a waterfall that I got to climb up. I have decided I like bouldering much better then regular hiking. Bouldering is hiking big boulders; it is more of a scramble to get up and down. It is lots of fun. I took a camera, who knows how well the pictures turned out. But I also bought a bunch of pictures from the rafting company. They took them as we were rafting the rapids. They are fun. I will post them once I have them down loaded. By the time I got home I was exhausted. I showered, fell into bed, and slept through Sunday. I am glad I went but I think I need to pace myself. That way I don’t crash and sleep thru church anymore.

This weekend I go to camping to the Assateague Island in Maryland. I know nothing about this trip other then there is a beach and possibly wild ponies. It should be fun. I’ll let you know.

Wednesday, July 12

A family Con Call...

For the first time in our family history we had a conference call. Every member of my family dialed in (except Ralph in Egypt) to hear the great news. It was loud and chaotic as only the Hinkson/Gifford Clan can be. But the waiting is at an end. The letter came today......

Hugh has received his Mission Call. He will serve as a missionary in the Chile, Vina Del Mar mission for 2 years. He reports to the training center in Provo, Utah on August 30, 2006.

Hugh, Congratulations and Good Luck!
Ralph, if you read this before talking to Hugh or Julie...Oops. Sorry.

For those that are not LDS here is a link to explain a little more about missionary work and why we think it is so important:,8672,1022-1,00.html

Tuesday, July 4

Happy Independence Day!!

Let Freedom Ring!

I hope every one got to enjoy some Fireworks.

Congrats to my big brother Kent and his wife Cynthia, the newest addition to the Hinkson Clan will arrive in December! Yeah.