Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Blog Hiatus

We're not shutting down. We're just taking an indefinite break. My life bounces from obsession to obsession and right now it's family history reflected in the new blog, John & Elinor Vaughan Descendants. While obsessions get me going, its great when they're on the positive, rather than the negative side of life. And don't get me wrong, I'm not obsessive to a fault - or illness. I still do my job, love my wife, go to church, etc.

And right now after the little diatribe coming up, I need a break from political commentary because it's just the same, old, inane garbage going on. Our Munchkin Senator is still trying to destroy Obamacare or at least the whole government. Pay freezes, continuing resolutions, and sequester still going. And all because we have a good President that a significant minority of the country just can't stand. Most of the stuff they complain about is absolutely and totally false, stupid, or ridiculous.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

One More Clue

Cross-posted from the NEW Family History Blog at johnelinorvaughan.blogspot.com! That doesn't mean I'm abandoning this one!

In the continuing search to find Elinor's grave (and at least we're on the right continent now), we find one more tantalizing clue in the Springfield City Cemetery, Utah County, Utah:

This is the grave marker for another of the plural wives of Charles Hulet in the Springville Cemetery that you can see here. So what is there of interest in this one above?

Saturday, August 24, 2013


Went to a great concert the other night with some very good friends. It was Christopher Cross, Orleans, Firefall, Player, Robbie Dupree, and the Dream Weaver himself - Gary Wright. It was a late 70s into 80s nostalgia overdose. And loads of fun!

Just before it began there were still two empty seats to my right. As on an airplane, there was some sense of relief that an obnoxious walrus wasn't going to sit beside me. Then, this tall, blonde girl comes down the row and it was one of my favorite Cousins!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Great Expectations?

With so much family history and Scouting activities recently, I haven't had time to get too political. Well, how 'bout if we pine for the good old days in Britain before Labour governments destroyed the free enterprise system? Having stumbled into Dickensian coincidence with my own ancestors, I discover that I'm not a Thatcherite.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Last Day on the Trail

Leaving Philmont, we went north up I-25 and across Wyoming on I-80. It's longer, but at mostly freeway speeds it at least seems faster. We did take the Ft. Collins to Laramie cut-off, so that was some help. I was compelled to travel Wyoming again. I still can't get over the discovery of our Eleanor (Elinor) Vaughan walking across the plains with a handcart at 68 years of age!

With our grandson with us, it wasn't the day to go up to Ft. Laramie and Casper and follow the whole trail across Wyoming. But I was glad to see Granger after Little America where the Mormon Trail comes up from the Green then skirts Church Butte crossing I-80 into the Bridger Valley.

Attempting to liken the pioneer experience unto us, I offer the following:

Friday, August 16, 2013

Progressive Scouting

Feminism lives at Philmont Scout Ranch, Cimarron, New Mexico
No one would ever say "Liberal" Scouting. The Boy Scouts of America is a solidly conservative organization based on middle-class values transported from Victorian England (Lord Baden Powell, ¿no?) I'm not saying there's anything wrong with that. In fact, most of it is quite good. My purpose here is to point out some important, if sometimes glacially slow, movement that Scouting has made in a good, progressive direction, IMHO.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Villa Philmonte - Photographic Tour

The original drive up to Villa Philmonte, Cimarron, New Mexico

So I'm not the best photographer, or architectural or interior-design expert. One hardly needs to be to photograph or comment on the marvelous Villa Philmonte, Waite and Genevieve Phillips's "summer home" outside of Cimarron, New Mexico. Owned by the Boy Scouts thanks to the Phillips's generosity, anyone can visit by signing up for a free tour at the nearby Seton Museum.

The Phillips family was very practical in their generosity. They reserved only the right for family members to come back to visit whenever they wanted. And they provided endowments for less-advantaged youth to come to Philmont and for the upkeep of the Villa so that the BSA would not be stuck with an expensive relic they could not maintain.

Let's start on the outside walkways. There are custom-designed tiles representing the family interspersed throughout the otherwise red tiles - livestock, game animals, Cowboys, Indian, New Mexicans, even the architect got one in for himself. Waite wanted a "W" for his personal brand, but the brand inspector informed that it had already been taken. Being the practical guy he was, he simply chose a "double U" with a bar.

Seton Museum & Seton's Utah

Seton Library, Philmont, Cimarron, New Mexico
Ernest Thompson Seton (1860-1946)
Perhaps my second favorite place at Philmont, after Rayado, is the Seton Museum. I've certainly spent a lot of hours there. It's a great museum of Philmont and Scouting History, along with Southwestern Art, wonderful books, posters, art, and Southwestern Indian jewelry and pots, etc. Seton was one of the founders of Scouting in America.

The great and somewhat eccentric Seton was most renowned as a Naturalist. In those days, conservation was a little bit different than today as he was an avid hunter and dissector. But Michelangelo couldn't have created his masterpieces without cutting up a few cadavers. Getting the other criticism out of the way, Seton's most famous book "Wild Animals I have Known," was trashed by one reviewer who entitled it "Wild Animals Nobody Knows" because Seton anthropomorphized his subjects ascribing human thought and sentiments. But his actual drawings and studies were incomparable - and the stories are highly entertaining.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Valhalla of Scouting

The Tooth of Time - an old landmark on the Santa Fe Trail.
The vertical, white rock center is Grizzly Tooth up Urraca Canyon. Trail Peak is to the left,
Black Mountain, and Mt. Phillips just left and past the Tooth of Time. (All places I've hiked)
"The Valhalla of Scouting," That's what one friend called it under some odd circumstances a few years back. And it seems appropriate this year, the 75th Anniversary of Philmont.

Our friend was the Director of the Albuquerque Youth Symphony in which our son participated. He was an Israeli Citizen and far from any family. The Scout Troop in the neighboring LDS Ward had invited him to go on a river rafting trip. The Musician had injured his shin on a rock and his foot then became infected. The Youth Symphony Member in the other Troop had a dad along who was a doctor. Our Symphony Director was treated well, but ended up in the hospital. When released, the doctor's family was leaving out of town and the Scout's mom called my wife to nurse the injured Musician back to health. He spent nights at his own place, but was propped up on pillows on our couch during the day while my wife fed him cookies.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

"¡Muerte a los Tejanos!"

My favorite thing about Kit Carson. That was the battle cry of the New Mexican Volunteer Regiment he organized in the Civil War. Let us remember there were Spanish-speaking people in the American Southwest long before there were any African-American or European "Texans." Like 200 years or so. The Tejano guys came by invitation of a new Mexican Republic and then they proceeded to break all the rules, most egregiously, slavery. One of the first things the Republic of Mexico did was free the slaves. The Texans were a bit more difficult to convince.

Monday, August 12, 2013

My Multi-Religious Scout Sunday

Sunday, we went to the LDS services at Philmont with the nice, little, roofed chapel. A large trek group from Illinois was there along with the few from the Training Center (PTC) and the usual smattering of staff members who were not otherwise assigned Sunday morning.

The meeting is always interesting with heavy emphasis on the Scouts going out or coming in from the backcountry mountain treks. I did that myself as a 14-year-old and again as an adult leader. The most fascinating is to watch the Aaronic Priesthood boys called up out of the miscellaneous attendees and instinctively know what to do to administer the emblems of the Sacrament to the body of the Lord’s Church. And looking over the Scouts above the stand is the blue-tinged window with the flor-de-lis and rather muscular Savior. He did have His mountain treks after all.

The Enchanted Walmart

I'm not usually a big fan of Walmart. This not a post for the negatives. This is about the most magical Walmart on the face of the earth! Trinidad, Colorado. Just the name of the otherwise odd, little, red-bricked town is magic - or spiritual. TRIN-uh-dad is how we say it in English. I can't help but go to the Portuguese, much more poetic than Spanish - Treen-ee-DAH-djee. In any language it bounces off the tongue.

Trinidad, Colorado. Where the Rockies break to the Great Plains.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Zion Bound on the Enoch Train

You can't make this stuff up! The name of the ship was the Enoch Train!

The Enoch Train, Boston
And I can't remember the date I was baptized. Sometimes I have to think real hard to remember how old I am.

OK. Sure. I can walk over to my file cabinet and pull out my baptism certificate. And with a split second of cogitation I can remember that I'm 56 years old. But if I was about 70(!!), walking across the plains with a handcart, a long way from home - not to mention a long way from the strange, new home I was walking to, I think I might have a harder time remembering dates with exactness. Besides, my wife just quizzed me on the date of my youngest son's baptism and I hadn't a clue even if I could eventually approximate it.

And it doesn't help that so many people were named Elinor on the Welsh border country. Jenkins and Vaughan are pretty common too. But how can it be possible that my ancestress Elinor Jenkins Vaughan, baptized on 17 December 1841 according to Elder Needham's Missionary Journal, is not the same person as the Eleanor Jenkins Vaughan who went across the ocean in 1856 and was a member of the very first handcart company to cross the plains?

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Gone to Zion

Winter Quarters just got a bit more real for me.

Winter Quarters, Nebraska Territory. Winter of 1846-47.
The LDS Branch established by Elder John Needham in Llanfoist, Monmouthshire, just couldn't have ended in failure! Well, my ancestors joined the church forty years later up in Durham after the example of their grandmother, Elinor Jenkins Vaughan, baptized in Llanfoist in 1841.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Something in the "Code Blue" Muse

Layton-Kaysville's "Code Blue" performing for our Ward Party last night at Trump's Field. Anon-D on right.
Brother Love was good enough to paint his trailer bed with that great non-skid surface after we asked to use it for a stage at the ward party last night. It worked perfectly!

So did the band. I promised them a good blog review for all of you two dozen or so readers out there. They really are really good for a suburban, old-guys, garage band. Well, there is one young guy - the son of the lead singer - who had all the teen (and pre-teen) girls enthralled with his cajon drum (electronic drum box with various sounds). Or maybe it was his "dangerous" RM-rock persona.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Back When the Future Was Orange!

Call me old-fashioned, but I really liked the LDS Provo Temple when it had an orange spire.

In 1976 from my room in the LTM (MTC), the whole Temple seemed to glow orange at night. Yes, some had their architectural-critiquing  fun with the flaming candle in the center of the birthday cake. But it was cool! The reason I liked it was because of the architectural style known as Googie. Yes, Googie. Which is pretty odd especially since I only just discovered the term "Googling" around for "Orange Provo Temple" and, of course, "Space Needle." Googie style came out of (where else?) a drive-in restaurant in Southern California.