Tuesday, July 29, 2008


What a fun weekend I had going to Idaho with my Mom, two of my sisters Denise and Marcene, one of my brothers Bryan, my Mom's two sisters Aunt Jean and Aunt Nancy, and my cousin Beth and her two daughters Breanna and McKell. The reunion was in Grant, Idaho. We had a great time visiting. My second cousin Susan is married to Elder Bednar, so we had the priveledge of meeting him for the first time (we took a picture, but as you can see, he is partially hidden behind his wife). We went to the homestead of my great-grandparents (Joseph Lake Taylor and Nancy Elizabeth McIntyre Taylor) where the owners of the house told us they hear "Taylor" ghosts talking and have moved chairs & stuff...they say they enjoy hearing them (that was kind of bizarre & creepy). We also visited the cemetary where my great-grandparents were buried. We went to see my Grandpa Dorothy's (Taylor McAlister Watson) house in Rexburg. That was a disappointment. It used to be beautiful with green lawns and a rose garden...but it's really run down now (it has college students staying there). Rexburg is a really pretty town. We were again disappointed that we couldn't find Grandma Dorothy's gravesite, we searched for the longest time. Other than that, it was a perfect trip. We also went to see the Rexburg Temple, as well as the Idaho Falls Temple, where my parents were married. We had a pajama party having lots of laughs trying to get some pictures, stayed up late talking, and saw an elk farm (I didn't know such a thing existed). What a blast we had! I feel very lucky that I was able to take this trip with some of my family...those of you who didn't make it were really missed!!

Saturday, July 19, 2008


Our nephew Ben LeCheminant returned home from his mission in Mexico...welcome home Ben! Our nephew David Hamblin received his mission call to the Philippians...we are so excited for you David! And our nephew John Hamblin married his high school sweetheart Heather Heinz...what a beautiful couple you make, congrat's!!

Sunday, July 13, 2008


This is the story of our recent eight day adventure to Costa Rica (4 of the days were not quite what we had envisioned). We were celebrating our 30th anniversary, and had been planning and anticipating this trip for months. The first 4 nights & the last night of our trip were spent in a beautiful home in the jungle a few miles from the amazing beaches of Tamarindo. The home belongs to one of Jim’s firefighter buddies, Brian. We arrived at the house, after a very long sleepless night & day of traveling, to a surprise! The “guard” who was suppose to be keeping a watch on the subdivision (only a few homes have been built there) had been living in the house…he had permission to sleep there when no one else was staying there, but not to be living there. It was a filthy mess! After getting the house somewhat clean (including Jim catching 10 scorpions inside the house)…we got settled in & started our vacation. We had so much fun snorkeling in the warm waters at Playa Conchal & taking walks on the soft sand & watching a beautiful sunset on Playa Grande. We were in awe of the beauty of this country. The 600 or so miles we drove during the week were one big mass of green jungle. The trees grew together making huge umbrellas over the roads. We loved the afternoon/evening rains, lightening, & thunderstorms. We loved seeing & hearing the howler monkeys in the trees, the variety of gorgeous birds & butterflies, the kinkajou, the funny looking cows, the bright purple & red crabs with yellow eyes crawling all over the roads at night, huge frogs, incredible numbers of iguanas…some that were free to roam even in a store & restaurant we visited (there were at least 250 iguanas living outside that one restaurant in the trees over a river). I was even brave enough to pet them. The few snakes we saw I didn’t like so much. Jim was happy rediscovering different varieties of fruits to eat which brought back memories of when he was on his mission in Guatemala & El Salvador. The second night was when our first “trouble” began…Jim had his credit card stolen. The person who stole it was going from gas station to gas station making charges. We found this out when we went to purchase groceries & my card was declined. Jim went to pull his credit card out of his pocket & it was gone. After 1 ½ days of trying to use phones, (very difficult to find phones…they are usually on the side of a dark road & many don’t work) and the phone card we purchased was not working either. We were finally able to contact someone at our bank. My card was declined because the bank saw the strange activity going on with Jim’s card & they froze our account. We were grateful for the fraud department of our bank catching that, but of course it left us without credit cards. The bank was supposed to have new ones sent to us in Costa Rica within a couple of days. We did have some cash but we had to be very frugal, just in case it took a little longer. The cards never arrived while we were in Costa Rica. This became a big problem for us as you will soon read. We were pretty anxious to say the least. It would have been much worse had we known what was coming our way on our last night. After the first 4 days near Tamarindo we drove to a town in the shadow of the active Arenal Volcano…our entire drive was green, green, green jungle, rivers, and beautiful Lake Arenal. I can’t even describe the beauty of this country adequately! We stayed at a hotel that was so awesome. Each room was like a little house with its own balcony (including a jacuzzi) hanging out into the jungle & with a close view of the volcano. From our balcony we couldn’t see any other rooms. It was breathtaking! During our 3 day stay we took so much in…driving to the volcano at night to see the lava rocks being thrown out of the volcano & rolling down the mountain. We went on a class III and IV river rafting trip…surprisingly I paddled like I was instructed to & even more surprising neither one of us fell out. It was a blast! I am ready for a 3 or 4 day river raft trip now (in the United States I might add)!! Another day we took a horse back ride fairly high into the jungle, hiked a little farther, & then came down through the jungle on 9 different zip-lines. I must admit, I was a bit frightened at first standing on the rickety platforms high (almost 160 ft.) up in the trees. It was so much fun though!! We then headed back to the house near Tamarindo for our last night of fun in Costa Rica (or so we thought). Here goes the wild part of our vacation!! When we got back to Brian’s house we left most of our things in the rental car & brought in some clean clothes & getting ready stuff to fly home the next day, our valuables (camera, cash, wallets, purse, passports etc.), house keys, & the rental car keys). We got our things organized & ready for the night. We counted our cash, having only enough to pay for our rental car, exit tax (you have to pay $25 per person to leave the country, which we didn’t know until we got down there), & food for the next day. I took my camera battery out placing the camera, its case, & all 3 memory cards (which had at least 150 pictures we took of our trip) by my purse. I plugged the battery in behind an end table, nowhere near the camera. Jim went to bed but I stayed up a little longer to read. About a half an hour after I went to sleep I woke up. I am not sure if I subconsciously heard something or if my bladder was full, like it usually is several times a night…but I noticed that the bedroom door was closed. I didn’t close it when I went to bed. I thought that was a bit odd. I opened the bedroom door before I was going to go back to bed & noticed that the front door & front gate were opened. I am thinking Jim was outside because there would be no other reason the door would be opened so I went out the front door and said “Jim, what are you doing out here”. No response. Since Jim is a little hard of hearing I stepped out a little further & asked what he was doing a couple more times. No response. Then from my peripheral vision I noticed my camera was missing, and then I looked where I plugged in the camera battery & it was missing. I was panicked by now & ran yelling for Jim, telling him that we had been robbed. Jim got up & grabbed 2 kitchen knives & shut the front door & gate, not realizing by shutting that metal gate we were locked in the house because it automatically locks & you need the keys to get out. The robber had the keys. You needed keys for all the windows & doors in that house. We were locked in with no cell phone service & no landline phone & the next closest house was down the hill in the jungle!! By now I am freaking out, having a difficult time breathing, crying, & getting nauseated as I realized they took the camera that captured all our memories of the fun times we had in Costa Rica. They took every penny we had with us, over $600.00 (keep in mind we don’t have our credit cards either). They also took the house keys & the keys to the rental car. Jim finally finds a way to open a window & started screaming at the top of his lungs & whistling (if you have ever heard Jim whistle, you know it’s very loud). Finally, Alberto the man who is developing this subdivision heard Jim’s frantic calls, called the police, and brought extra keys to open the door. It took the police an hour and a half to get there…they couldn’t find the house in this remote area of the jungle. After the police came with their big old Uzi machine guns, looked around, & made a report we were left in the middle of the night with the robbers having the keys to the house & the keys to our rental car (the rest of our luggage was in the car)…needless to say Jim & I nodded on & off all night long trying to stay awake, checking on the car every time we heard a sound. We put a mattress blocking the front door & laid there waiting, thinking they were coming back for us, the car & the rest of our other belongings. Jim laid there holding the machete that the robbers left when they ran out the front door. The next morning we were supposed to be returning our rental car & get to the airport. Alberto (the developer) let us use his phone to call the rental car company. They were sending someone out with a key to the rental car (so we thought). They sent this kid with a crow bar type thing who pried the door to open the car, damaging it in the process. We were told that they would be charging us for the “lost” keys, for the ride to the airport, & who knows how much for the damages done to the car…we didn’t care at this point. We wanted to get to the airport and get back to the US. I know horrible things happen here too, but there is something that makes you uneasy when you are in a foreign country, not having access to a phone or a bank, or a reasonable expectation that help is nearby. The fear and confusion is compounded by the inability to communicate. The car rental place wanted us to come in make a full report & pay them. After a lot of pleading and negotiating we explained to the manager that we didn’t have a dime to pay them and that our credit cards had been canceled. They would have to take our word that would take care of it the day we got home. We explained that we would surely miss our flight if we came to their location first. They finally agreed to let the driver take us directly to the airport. I might add…the driver knew the time restraint we were under. He had a friend that was in the car as well (we thought it was another employee). But during the drive to the airport he makes a turn onto a dirt road that we knew wasn’t heading towards the airport. Our hearts raced even more. We thought what now, are we going to be kidnapped? Come to find out his friend was really very sick & he had to drop him off at some medical clinic. We got to the airport 1/2 hour before the plane was to leave and the Delta gate said “CLOSED”. We were told that we were too late & could not get on the plane. I then fell apart and Jim had been holding things together pretty well up to this point. But he was cracking. He explained the whole scenario & at first they didn’t really care what happened but then one employee took pity on us and said, “Let me see what the supervisor can do for you”. I couldn’t pull it together…I am pretty hysterical. I couldn’t get out of that country soon enough. After we were told that we would be able to get onto the flight. They said “you paid your export tax, right”? Jim once again explained that we had been robbed of all our money and all our credit cards. They said, “we can’t even begin to process your papers until the exit fee has been paid”. They were not going to let us leave the country. I knew things were not going well because of Jim’s body language, but I couldn’t understand what was being said at the time because it was all in Spanish. It was probably a good thing! Just when we thought we were stuck in the country a young man, probably in his early twenties, a Costa Rican Delta employee pulled out his wallet & said to Jim “I will pay your tax”. Jim was in shock, just when he was starting to loose all hope. He asked the young man for his address so he could send him the money & he refused. I don’t think Jim will ever be able to tell that touching story without shedding tears. The young man said, “please don’t send me anything, I want to do this for you”. Our faith in humanity was partially restored by this incredible act of kindness. $50.00 is a lot of money for a young person to give to a stranger here, let alone in a third world country. After we went through security we hurried to the Delta Airlines gate, thinking that we were still close to missing the flight. Just as we reached the desk, the lady behind it grabbed the microphone and made the announcement “Ladies and Gentlemen Delta flight 356 to Atlanta has been delayed, we will be at least one hour behind schedule”. We were so relieved when the plane touched down in Atlanta. Because the flight was so late we had only 35 minutes to go through immigration, collect our luggage, go through customs, recheck our luggage, and take a train to other end of the airport. …we ran through the airport & made it on the plane to Phx just as they were closing the doors! Jim & I have talked about the feelings that ran through our minds during the worst part of our ordeal. There was no doubt in either of our minds that we were going to die that night. It’s ironic that we made a simple will on the internet the night before we started our trip. We even talked to our kids about it and told them where to find it. We tried to assure them that it wasn’t done because of some premonition or anything like that, but as the drama intensified, we both began to think “this is why we were prompted to do that”. A lot goes through your mind in a short period of time, when you truly think “this is it”. We knew by this time that whoever it was that robbed us had been hiding inside the house & watching every move we had made that night in order to know exactly what they were going after. This fear was confirmed by the police after they looked at all the evidence. The robbers knew where to find the battery to my camera. It was nowhere near the camera, and only someone who had seen me plug it into the wall behind the end table would know where to find it. They also had a machete with them that they left behind. It sickens me to think about what could have happened!! It upsets us to think that we have lost all the pictures from our memory cards, that wouldn’t mean a thing to anyone else. But more than anything else we are so thankful that we are alive, unharmed, and safe back in our home. It is difficult to talk about this experience right now but writing this has really helped. I know in time the emotional pain will heal. We feel so blessed & I have been thanking Heavenly Father many times each day for watching over and protecting us so we could get back safely to see our kids and our grandkids!!!