Coming Home From My South Dakota Mission

I served as a Mormon missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  I served in North and South Dakota, Wyoming, Minnesota and Iowa. It was a huge mission but has blessed my life tremendously. After serving in such areas as Devils Lake, ND, Bemidji, Minnesota (where I met my grandpa for the first time) and even Wagner, Sd where the wind blows and I Missionarytracked in 66 below zero I was able to start thinking about going home. I had served in that mission (South Dakota Rapid City Mission) for 2 years and was ready to see my family.

So I got on the plane in Rapid City and flew home to meet my family at the Las Vegas airport. Boy, was I ever nervous! I had not seen my family in over 2 years and was about to be plunged back into normal life.

So here I was, as nervous as a dog staring at an oncoming train, going down the escalators to meet my mom, dad and siblings who were waiting at the bottom in the baggage claim. I saw them in the corner of my eye and tried not to stare because my heart started pounding so fast I could scarcely concentrate on what I was going to do or say…

After the hugs and the kisses we got into the old family car (a sweet limo pick up would have been amazing! If I did it again I might have called a company for that! Let me give a shout out to my buddy who owns such a company…his website is: As much as I loved my old family car, riding home in a luxury limo would have been awesome and maybe I will do that for my kid someday…

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It’s gonna get cold South Dakota!

I used to live in North Dakota and found it quite refreshing to actually experience a real winter. You see, when I was growing up in Arizona our winters had very little to no snow and never got much colder than 25 degrees. It was still cold but nothing like the Dakotas!

For example, one day I was in Wagner, South Dakota tracking with my missionary companion and we noticed that the thermostat was showing -66 degrees. Well with only slacks on and a coat you’d think this Arizona boy would get cold but no… blood had thickened up enough to keep me warm during the very cold winters. The only thing I needed was a coat and good overshoes to keep my toes from freezing off! Anyways it was good enough weather to sword fight with large ice cycles.

Another winter, I was living in Douglas, Wyoming and it kind of crept up on us…literally. It was October and the leaves were changing colors and we were enjoying the full autumn colors and temperatures. one night, we had a silent snow storm that blanketed the valley and town so much that the only thing you could hear in the deafening silence was tree limbs breaking from the weight of the snow. It was awesome! It was a dark and cold night but the sounds of breaking limbs in the distance echoed throughout the town and was a new experience for me.

The cold winters in the Dakotas are fun to experience and filled with lots of fun and adventure! It was the first place that I was able to build my own snow cave. The most snow we received in Arizona was about 2 inches of snow in which I was able to build a snowman and keep it in the freezer for a few years…just to remind me of what it was like to have snow!  That all changed once I experienced my first winter in South Dakota.

Just thinking

Okay it’s 9:33am September 28, 2015 and I am thinking about memories long past back in the Midwest.

One such memory was when I lived in Devils Lake, North Dakota and I was with Elder Ellsworth tracting houses and we got on a country road where I saw a nearby field that looked good enough to frolic in.

Grass field

Oh it looked so inviting to a boy who grew up in the parched, hot desert of Arizona! So I took off running and screaming and flailing my arms crazily as I ran through the grass and let it go all over my body. I could see myself in a movie where I was Tom Sawyer in the woods and the meadows exploring everything. Yes, I may be 34 years old right now but if I was in a 12 year old body you wouldn’t know I was older.

Funny thing… I waltzed back from my little adventure I noticed some black specks on me……I examined myself closer and realized that I had hundreds of little ticks all over me anxious to feast on my blood!!! Well, I was in horror at the sight (Arizona never gave me any ticks) and started going crazy again …this time ripping my clothes off to my underwear and trying to claw off all of the ticks that seemed to be eating me alive!

After about 10-minutes of making sure that I was clean of ticks, I then proceeded to pick them off one by one off of my clothes before putting them back on. Needless to say I was a bit unnerved at that point and cautious in a field after that.

When I got home later that day and got undressed for my shower, I noticed that I had some more ticks!!!  Only this time they had burrowed into my skin and had been enjoying my blood for some time now. I was not happy and started scraping them off carefully so as to not leave any remnants of their bodies inside my skin to cause an infection. The interesting thing is that my companion’s mother died from Lime Disease…from a tick and I was afraid of ending up like her.

Anyways…just thinking…

Nebraska Cornhuskers

Okay so this is the coolest name for a Midwest football team. Where else can you watch football and think about farming? I have never been to Nebraska but have only looked at it from across a frozen river in South Dakota.

I assume that the land is full of corn just like the Dakotas are but I hear some good things about the Nebraska Cornhuskers and I want to go so see them play. Part of the reason is that they have some pretty good winning streaks. For example, did you know that they are the only football program that has the most victories against the ‘Power Five’? They also have some of the highest winning percentages over the past 50 years!

All I say is there must be something to all the clean air they breath and all of the corn they husk and eat….I’m hungry.

Hunting in Wyoming

CoyoteIn the latter end of 2000 I was transferred to a place called Douglas, Wyoming where I fell in love with Wyoming, it’s people and country-side…even with the wind. That place is refreshing and part of the old west! For a time I resided in Casper, Wyoming and I knew a guy who liked to hunt coyote for a living. He actually would hang out of a helicopter while hunting these predators!

We got to accompany him one time when he was out hunting. It was in the later afternoon in the fall and he had been hired by a rancher to get rid of the coyotes who were terrorizing his cattle and killing some of them. We found ourselves at the top of a ridge watching as the hunter took out his gun and binoculars to search for the coyotes. The thing that truly set him apart from other hunters however was the fact that he had a very large and loud instrument hooked to his truck that would ‘call’ the coyotes. When he did this it would make the sound of a bunch of yelping dogs and supposedly the coyotes would come running.

Well, he did it and we got onto the top of the ridge, crouched and waited. Nothing. He did it again and we waited some more. The 3rd time he let it go for awhile to see if he could get any luck. After having a long call he would then get down on the ground with his gun and look through the gunsight to see if he could see anything. Still nothing! We nonetheless had fun going out with him and I would do it again.

If you want to try your hand at catching these predators in Wyoming then there is no license required. You can basically show up and start hunting.

Night hunting is also legal…as long as it is done on someone’s private land and of course if you have permission to do so. Wyoming is also the least populous state in the Union and thereby the hunters are fewer making the hunting opportunities spectacular!  The state has less coyotes than Arizona or Texas but with the low number of hunters it is a great place to learn this sport and become successful at it.

I Visited Jesse James’ Gulch

There is a place called Devils Gulch where the famed bank robber Jesse James allegedly made an 18 foot leap with his horse to escape a posse hot on his trail. It is legend of course but many believe he did make the leap and escape to safety.  What do you think?

I visited this place around 2001 and was able to walk along the bridge that over comes the gorge and as I looked across the long bridge and then looked down….it looked almost impossible! Many locals would agree that it could be impossible…but just maybe.

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Why is the Midwest so dang Awesome??

Dairy farmHome On the Range. Yes, that is what I think about when I think about the Midwest. I would love to have a home on the range. I live in the city now but often dream of having my own little farm somewhere in South Dakota or even moving my family to Wyoming. People are simple and grain grows as far as the eye can see. The winters are harsh and the summers are short but it is home…and home is where the heart is.

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