July 13: We slept in today and lounged around the hotel for a while. I needed to get our upcoming plans solidified and Rachael just wanted to watch TV. She said she wanted to try to get home as soon as possible because she misses home. I put together a schedule that would get us home by July 26th, one week earlier than originally planned. We decided that we would do the same thing next summer and see more of the many places there are to see in the United States. I have to say how amazed I am about how large and diverse our country is ! It really is very different out west. I will say that thus far I like North Carolina the best. I will probably make my permanent, "home base" there.
We finally got ourselves together and headed to the park to hike Angel's Landing. We were told that it was very steep and difficult with many "drop offs". It scared Rachael but I told her that we could just go look at it and see how it is. We started hiking and I have to say that even though it was steep, it was a very easy hike compared with what we've done thus far. The whole trail is paved ! It started raining when we got to the last 1/2 mile from the top which is really the only difficult part in my opinion. At that point you have to actually climb a cliff wall holding on to metal chains that are attached to the rock face. Since it was raining, I decided to head back as it really could be dangerous climbing that in the rain. When we go to the bottom we were soaked and ready for a hot meal. We said "goodbye" to the park and headed for the hotel. We watched some "star trek" and went to sleep.
We packed up and headed to American Fork, UT where our friends Russ and Becka live. They will be our couch surfing hosts while we explore that area. Our car ride was uneventful and we rolled in to American Fork at around 5pm. Russ was there to greet us along with his two daughters "becka" and Aubry. Russ's wife Tammy is away nursing a sick friend who is dying of cancer. This family is Mormon and at first I was worried that we would have disagreements. After talking indepth to Russ about his faith we agreed to focus on what we have in common rather than on our differences. Like ALL religions and all DENOMINATIONS of Christianity, Mormons believe their way is the "right" way, but they also believe that all other sects of Christianity are valid. They just think that their way is best. Which is what we all tend to believe. I have come to see Mormonism as just another denomination of Christianity. I am NOT converting, but I don't have the negative view of them that I have had in the past. Mormons have something that "mainstream" Christianity lacks, a commitment to family cohesion. It is one of their requirements that families have one night a week as "family night" where they do something together as a family without outsiders. While there is some divorce, their divorce rate is low. Because they live in homogeneous communities, they have a very tight commitment to those around them. While we talk about these things in our churches, they make them part of their requirements for heaven. While I find many of the details of Mormonism very unusual or 'strange', I have a respect for the values these people hold.
Russ made us a delicious meal - Gourmet, as he is the cook in the family and loves trying new recipies. Russ's parents live down the street and they came over to chat with us and I envied the easy relationship he has with his mother and father. In a park behind their house, the community was sponsoring an antique car show so we went over to check it out. I took a lot of pictures for Joel as he really loves cars. Rachael and I went to see where we would sleep, and we had our own room and slept very, very, comfortably.