Monday, December 21, 2015

Life Long Friends

Another long time friend we got to visit with in the Verde Valley was Geneva St. Amour and her husband, Mike.   I've known Geneva since she was just a little girl and remember when her sister, Jessica was born.  I was just enough older than her to think of her as a child and myself as "big".  Back then she was really more my sister's friend.  But as the years tumbled by, the distinction of a few years difference in our ages didn't much matter anymore.

Geneva's dad, Bruce Brimhall, died a few years ago after a long battle with diabetes and hepatitis.  Her mother, Peggy, died just a short time ago.  This was my first visit since with Geneva since she lost her mom, someone I considered a friend.  It was obvious her heart was still heavy with mourning.  Still, the smile on her face when we hugged hello was priceless.  It was great to spend time with her and also to see her sister who dropped by while we were with Mike and Gen at her parents' place in Clarkdale.

Larry and I with Geneva & Mike St. Amour

The Brimhall Sisters - Jessica and Geneva

pThe Brimhall family - Bruce & Peggy with Geneva & Jessica back in the day
when they were our neighbors in Cottonwood
As we were getting ready to leave Geneva handed me a couple apples for the road - with a grin she told me these were Pendley apples that had been grown at Slide Rock State Park, my grandfather's old homestead.  It was another reminder that sharing time with people I've known for many, many years in a place where I have deep roots is a very special blessing indeed.

I will always have a deep connection with Arizona.  Boise is home for now (or will be when we are done with our mission).  But at some point down the road I could very much see us moving back to the southwest.  Only time will tell.

All too soon our visit in Arizona had to come to a close, as it was time to continue on to our next stop on our USA journey.    We went up through Flagstaff, where we got into a bit of snow - a BIG switch from our beach life in New Zealand!

view of the San Francisco peaks from just outside of Flagstaff 
 We drove past Hoover Dam which was interesting to see.  We didn't have time to stop, but if I ever go back again I'd like to take the tour that is available there.
Hoover Dam on the Arizona / Nevada border
Lake Mead which is created by Hoover Dam.
The water going through the turbines generates electricity
According to Wikipedia:  Lake Mead is the largest reservoir in the United States, measured by water capacity. It is on the Colorado River about 24 mi (39 km) from the Las Vegas Strip southeast of the city of Las Vegas, Nevada, in the states of Nevada and Arizona. Formed by the Hoover Dam, Lake Mead is 112 miles (180 km) long when the lake is full, has 759 miles (1,221 km) of shoreline, is 532 feet (162 m) at greatest depth, with a surface elevation of 1,221.4 feet (372.3 m) above sea level, and has 247 square miles (640 km2) of surface, and when filled to available capacity, 26.12 million acre feet (32.22 km3) of water. The lake has not reached full capacity, however, since 1983 due to a combination of drought and increased water demand.[1][2][3] Owing to current low water level, Lake Sakakawea holds claim over Lake Mead in terms of the United State's largest reservoir by total area and water in reserve.
The reservoir serves water to the states of Arizona, Nevada and California, providing sustenance to nearly 20 million people and large areas of farmland.[4]

There was so much stark, desolate land as we crossed into Nevada, serving to remind us how precious water is to these desert states.  It is clearly very different indeed from our emerald green Aoteara (Maori for New Zealand) where cattle are raised on grass pastures kept lush and thriving by frequent rains.

However, we did not stop at the dam or the lake because we had a schedule to keep.  Our whole purpose of going that way was to reach Las Vegas, NV so Larry could visit with his life-long friend, Fred Turner.  They have been best pals since they were just kids.

Larry Bennett & Fred Turner

They used to fish together every chance they got.   They are shown here from about 1960 when Larry was 14 and Fred 15 with fish they caught in Pioneer Creek.

Fred has had a rough go of things in recent months, struggling with throat cancer and ultimately having to have his larynx removed.  It was very difficult for him to communicate.  Still, it was great for he and Larry to connect again and reminisce over old times.  I also very much enjoyed visiting with his dear wife, Lonnie and the grandkids that were there.  I spent some time showing them some tips on FamilySearch and helped them find family names they could take to the temple.  (Even though we are on "vacation" from our assignment,  we LOVE showing people how to do family history!)

We went out together for a wonderful meal at a local restaurant (more Mexican food...YUM!  We don't get much of it in New Zealand so we are savoring chances to eat it here).  We spent the night enjoying good company.   Then early the next morning we were back on the road again!

We are doing a lot of driving but it is very much worth it to get times like thing with good friends.

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