Sunday, June 30, 2013

Hammons Take Up Bicycling or We're Really Tired of Walking All the Time

Hammons Take Up Bicycling or We're Really Tired of Walking All the Time
Darrel L. Hammon

Darrel and Joanne in their cool helmets
  Well, we did it! We bought bicycles. Both are Schwinns: Joanne’s is sky blue, and mine is dark navy blue. Both have 21 speeds although we doubt we will ever use all of them. My first and only bike was a red Schwinn my dad bought me when I was eight-years-old, and I remember the ton of fun I had, driving all over Menan, down to Spring Creek to fish, then down to the Snake River, and down all of the back roads. 

Joanne and her beautiful sky blue Schwinn
These two Schwinns are classified as “hybrids,” which basically means they are a cross between a road bike and a mountain bike. We guess that means we can ride them in the mountains and on the road—perfect for Pleasant Grove, since we live on a hill and have to ride downhill to get to the bike path. So, I guess we are using the “hybrids” the way they were meant to be.
We don’t ride them every day. Joanne has us on two exercise regimes: a bike routine on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays; and a walking routine Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. Sundays continue to be our day of rest in so many ways.

Darrel with his Schwinn
So, on Monday mornings, we don our helmets, cool sun glasses, and head for the bike path. That means we speed downhill to the bike path. Compared to walking, I am amazed how fast we can go downhill. Of course, we know—and sometimes cringe at the thought—that we will have to come back up. But no matter which way we start out, we still have to climb back up a hill. For some reason, the zooming down the hill temporarily erases the thoughts of climbing back up.

A barn along the way
We have gone both ways on the bike path, one way goes toward Provo and the other way goes toward Lehi and Highland. I think the bike path is about 17 miles long. It used to be a canal that weaved its way through the small communities along the mountainside. A couple of years back, they laid tube so the canal could still be used, paved it, developed a bike path on top, and named it the Murdock Canal Trail. It is a wonderful addition to the community. Many communities are moving this direction, which I applaud. All communities, if they truly want their community members to be fit and create an atmosphere of progress, should put in a greenbelt that accommodates runners, walkers, and bikers. 

Some of the scenery along the way
Our longest ride has been about nine miles. Of course, we are just beginners. The bike path is pretty easy. The people are extremely friendly. Whether people are walking, jogging, or biking, they always say hello. Many people bike to work; families walk or jog; others walk their dogs; and then bikers race up and down the path. We don’t race; rather, we are more like bike saunterers.

Grain elevators down by the little pond
One day, we rode to a little man-made lake and took a breather. People were fishing on one end of it. A family in our Church ward told us they had gone there for a picnic and to fish. Their children loved it.

The Pond
Now, the challenging thing about a bike ride in Pleasant Grove is that you have to ride up a hill to get back home. It doesn’t matter which way you return home. There is always a hill, and the hill varies in the steepness. But, alas, they are still steep hills.

One of the hills and a pretty long shadow
The first couple of times, we didn’t ride all the way up the hill. It was too steep and difficult. The last couple of times, I have ridden all the way without stopping. Of course, I was in first gear. By the time I arrived home, I was tired, my legs were tight and aching, and breathing came hard. I guess the hill climb pushes the heart to pumping speeds to get the most out of an exercise. 

Am I still alive?
Overall, we are having fun riding our bikes. We enjoy the camaraderie, zooming down the hill, and then the arduous task of pedaling back up hill. We are still getting used to the helmets though, but Emiline, our granddaughter, thinks we look “cool” in them.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Mutual Dell Beckons former senior missionaries who had served in the Dominican Republic

Mutual Dell Beckons former senior missionaries who had served in the Dominican Republic

A drive up American Fork Canyon into the Uinta National Forest creates an instantaneous “awe” as one cannot help but gasp at the majesty of the craggy canyon walls, the American Fork River gurgling its way out of the canyon, and the acres and acres of forested hillsides.

Los Crismon, Kilgore, Glazier, Jensen--good food and even better company
 Around 4:30 p.m., we began our wanderings up the canyon with Elder and Sister Crismon who had taken our place as Welfare Specialists in the Caribbean Area Welfare Office. Just eight weeks into their missions, Hermana Crismon fell and broke her hip, which required a quick exit from the DR via a private plane to Florida where she had her hip replaced and within a week she was back home recuperating.

President Glazier and Elder Kilgore with Sister Glazier looking on
 We passed by the guard gate and headed up the canyon, driving slowly and enjoying the incredible views. Soon, we turned into the Mutual Dell, a sprawling congolorament of well-cared for lodges, campsites, and open fields for recreation. Our campsite was a group of picnic tables beneath a solid wooden canopy structure just across the river. 

Elder Atkinson introducing the campfire activity amid the smoke
We pulled our car into a parking spot when we spotted Elder and Sister Atkinson chatting with another couple. The other couple turned out to be los Roberts who had arrived before we did to stake the claim to our site and ready it for the rest of us. Los Roberts won the prize for coming the farthest—Idaho Falls, Idaho.
Los Atkinson and Sister Hammon--"Food looks good!"
 Soon, the former missionaries began to arrive—los Atkinson, Brown, Berkeley, Bowcut, Crismon, Eickbush, Ford, Glazier, Hammon, Kilgore, and Roberts. Along with the missionaries the food began appearing on one of the tables—cakes, cookies, salads, fruit salads piled deep with watermelon and cantaloupe, chips, and salsa.
Elder Atkinson and los Ford
 Elder Atkinson clicked on the new gas grill that had replaced the charcoal one. Apparently, Mutual Dell has done away with the old-fashioned charcoal grills in each campsite with these new, electric start mega-grills. Had everyone brought a piece of meat, it would have all fit on. Thankfully, Elder Eickbush, ever the Boy Scout, brought a host of BBQ utensils.

Elder Jay E. and Lona Jensen
 The highlight of the evening was listening to Elder Jay E. Jensen, an Emeritus member of the Quorum of Seventy and former member of the Presidency of the Seventy. He and his lovely wife Lona joined us for a night of questions/answers/commentary.

Elder Jay E. Jensen addressing the group
 Since he had spent a good portion of his professional life working in the Church Educational System, teaching seminary, writing curriculum, and training prospective seminary teachers, he brought a wealth of information about learning and teaching. He spoke about the new teaching and learning curriculum for the youth and urged us all to go to, seek out, and watch the 23 teaching videos found under Come, Follow Me Learning Resources for Youth.” 

Los Jensen and Elder Eickbush having a deep conversation
 He also introduced the concept of “divine rendezvous,” something we have all experienced. He told a story of a Chinese woman who was told to look up a missionary when she went to Toronto, Canada. Now, Toronto is a big place. She saw two young missionaries at an apartment next to the one where she was staying. She stopped them and asked if they were missionaries. They said yes. She then asked them if they knew Elder So and So. One of the elders pulled back his jacket to reveal his name—the same name of the missionary the woman was told to search out when she went to Toronto.

los Brown y los Eickbush enjoying the campfire and the discussion
 He has known the Brethren for a long time. He told a few President Packer stories. One important saying many of us say is this: “We need to get the water to the end of the row. President Packer doesn’t necessarily like this particular saying. Instead of just getting the water to the end of the row, we need to make it rain so that the entire field is covered. Thus, he believes it needs to rain revelation to help us all.
Aren't these two of the cutest hermanas you have ever seen? Ford and Hammon

Overall we enjoyed (disfrutamos) a wonderful evening of BBQ, excellent food, even choicer conversations with our fellow missionaries, Dominican Republic updates and reminiscings, picture taking, saludos y abrazos, a glowing campfire, questions and answers from Elder Jensen, and knowing we were basking in the midst of one of God’s greatest creations.

los Berkeley, Roberts, Eickbush, Bowcut--more good food and company

Gracias a todos por haber venido y participado!
los Brown

Los Ford

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Essentials of Fatherhood: What My Father Taught Me

I published this recently at, and I wanted to reprint it here to shout out a Happy Father's Day to all fathers and those aspiring fathers. You are amazing people who deserve huge accolades. But I also know that fathers can do even more.

Essentials of fatherhood: What my father taught me 
Darrel L. Hammon

My father: the Dean Hammon and eight children

Becoming and being a father can be both a scary and wonderful thing. Unfortunately, there is no undergraduate or graduate program in fatherhood. Fatherhood is a learned art — often on the job after the children come. Some of us have had exceptional fathers. Others do not care to talk about theirs. Still others say their fathers taught them a few things, not necessarily through what they said but by their actions.

My father was one of those whose grounding emerged from being the youngest of 12 siblings. When my father was 11-years-old, his father passed away. Thankfully, he had plenty of grown-up brothers and sisters to help him toe the line although the line sometimes blurred. He entered the military at an early age and learned hard things on ships and being stationed in Japan.

My father was not the type for sit-down conversations and flowery dissertations. Rather, he taught us through a variety of methods, probably gleaned from several sources, including his older brothers and my mother. But taught he did.

Here are five fatherhood essentials my father taught me through his example:

Fatherhood is being a leader through example. My father spent time in the Army as a drill sergeant and often we felt we were part of his platoon. He liked to see things accomplished and done correctly. Consequently, he often showed us once how something was supposed to be done and expected us to learn quickly and carry on after he was gone. Granted, he did check up on us periodically to make sure we had completed the task. Often, he had to re-show us how it was to be done, but he did not hover over us.

Fatherhood is helping others and teaching your children to do the same. Some time ago, my wife and I were reminiscing about our fathers. Both of our fathers have passed away. What impressed us both about each of our fathers was the fact that they would help anyone with anything.

Joanne's father would be the first one out on a snowy day and shovel all the walks and driveways down the street. Although he had to drive almost 40 miles to work each morning, he always took time to get up early and do what the neighbors needed done.

My dad and my sisters
My father taught me the same thing. I remember getting up early and going with him to shovel the walks of the widows and older people in our neighborhood or working in their yards and pulling weeds. On his days off, my father would go and help others with their roofs and fences. He did not ever expect to be paid, and he taught us that helping others was just part of the service we performed as good neighbors.

Fatherhood means spending time with your children. What a revelation this is! Whatever event that happened in my life, my father tried to attend even though he worked shift work most of his life. I suspect there were times when he did not have much sleep before he left to go to work. The former drill sergeant who I thought was the tough guy was really a marshmallow underneath. He teared easily when he talked about the achievements of his family. I remember when I received my doctorate from the University of Idaho, my mother and father journeyed almost 600 miles so they could be with me and share in my success.

Fatherhood means teaching children how to work. One of the challenges I have heard numerous leaders lament is the lack of work ethic in recent college graduates and young people. My father would probably cringe if he heard that. He believed in a strong work ethic — true hard work.

One thing I learned early was never complain because my dad would always find more work for us to do. He specifically built a home in the country so we could have animals — cows, chickens, horses, pigs and sometimes lambs. Plus, we had a big garden, which became one of my responsibilities in the summer. From these many projects and chores, I learned to rise early, work hard and be responsible. I still rise early, even though I do not have outside chores to do. I still have a garden and I love rising early and working in it.

Fatherhood is being happy. My father loved to tell jokes, and his laugh was contagious. I remember going to one of the Call Me Trinity movies with him and some of my friends, and I thought my friends and I were going to die laughing not at the funny scenes in the movie, but at my dad laughing at the funny scenes.

One of things my dad loved to do was yodel. He said he learned to yodel while tending sheep in the high mountain meadows. One of the treasures we have as a family is a short recording of Dad yodeling. My siblings and I have compiled “Deanisms,” and our children now often pan when we use one, “Sounds like he is turning into Grandpa Hammon.” So be it!

Fathers are natural leaders and examples. Mine was no different. Often, though, his teachings never came from a direct conversation. Rather, they came through working with him and watching him help others as if it were just part of his normal, everyday life. I can only hope I can continue teaching my children and grandchildren by being a good example.

My father with my two daughters in 2004 in Quartzsite, Arizona.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Kneeling first behind sage brush is the best way to catch fish

Kneeling first behind sage brush is the best way to catch fish
Darrel L. Hammon

Summers in the west are incredible and ever-changing. One day it is beautiful—the trees sway in the wind while the sun gently beats down on the tender shoots of wheat in the fields. But the next minute, the huge gray purplish clouds gather in the east and soon send pounding rain and hail to the ground, and, yes, sometimes snow in the mountains. Water gushes down the gutters to the tiny drains at the end of each road. When I was younger, summer pretty much meant one thing: fishing season.
One of my most favorite places to go was Birch Creek, mainly because the Fish and Game stocked it with fish just like one of the Mart stores stocks its shelves—full. We used to ramble up there in one of our station wagons packed to the gills with stuff. Initially, we set up tents, but it wasn’t too long before my mother talked my dad into buying a small camp trailer. It made life more pleasant, especially during those late snows that often came around July 4th in the mountains.
One particular family reunion/camping trip to Birch Creek, I was determined to catch my own fish. I was probably five or six at the time and had caught fish with my dad. Up until that time, catching fish meant I reeled in the fish after dad hooked them. I don’t remember when I finally figured it out, but I knew that wasn’t real fishing. I’m sure for the first five or six years of my life that was all right, but I wanted to become a real fisherman which meant I had to catch a fish all by myself with my own pole and me baiting my own hook.
So, one day I decided it was my time, and I trotted downstream to a huge hole in the bend of the creek, not too far from camp and within sight. Becoming a fisherman didn’t necessarily mean I had to cut all ties. I still wanted to hear the laughing and the faint voices of my parents. Of course, I can attempt that now. But not then. I think I thought I was far enough away to be independent.
When I arrived at the hole, I climbed down the bank and stood just away from the water. My dad had taught me to sneak up, real quiet like, so as not to spook the fish. I stood behind a small sage brush and baited my hook.
According to my dad, baiting a hook was the key to catching fish, and it had to be done just right. If you didn’t thread the worm just so on the hook, then the fish would look at it and say to the rest, “Look at this shoddy job. This kid can’t even bait a hook.”  Then they would all laugh, steal the worm, and swim away, leaving the fisherman with an empty hook and shattered hopes.
I was determined to have one of them pay the price for laughing at a young boy’s feeble attempt at baiting a hook so I was extremely careful about threading the worm. When I finished, it looked pretty good to me. Only a few bits of flesh hung off the hook.
Just like my dad had shown me, I tossed in the line at the top of the hole and let it float in. It sat for awhile then swirled downstream. Nothing. I tried the drill again. This time, it sat for a longer period of time. Then the tugging started. My heart pounded, I hesitated once, and then I yanked too hard because the line came flying out of the water and onto the bank behind me. I scrambled to see what had happened.
My worm was gone. I figured I hadn’t thread the worm just right because the fish that struck my line pulled it off like some worm bandit. It dawned on me this was one smart fish. It knew the drill better than I did. But I was determined to catch this fish.
I reached into my bait can, really nothing more than an old Band Aid box, and pulled out a juicy worm. I carefully threaded it on, making sure every bit of it fit on my number six hook. Then I cast it upstream and let it float into the hole.
Sure enough. That worm bandit was waiting for me. But I wasn’t quite fast enough for it. When I reeled in the line, the worm was gone again. I pulled another worm, a bigger one this time, from my box, and threaded it better than the other two.
This time I did something different. I knelt behind a sage brush and said a little prayer. I figured if God could help Peter catch a huge net full of fish, He could surely make one little fish jump on my hook.
After I finished, I sneaked back to the bank and confidently tossed in my hook. When the line got to the place where my last bite had been, I was ready. I didn’t have the same tug as before. It was bigger and stronger. It must have been the bandit’s bigger brother or sister. When he tugged, I pulled, in fact pulled so hard I yanked the fish clear out of the water, and it went sailing off into the sage brush somewhere behind me.
I was so excited. I dropped my pole and started looking for my fish. I could hear it flopping. I knew I had to find it because fish have this uncanny sense of flopping about until they can find water. And I surely didn’t want that to happen.
Within seconds, I found it. I grabbed it between both hands, scrambled up the bank, and headed for camp, yelling all the way, holding my fish high above my head. The whole camp must have thought something was definitely wrong because when I arrived, everyone had gather to see what the commotion was.
By the time I had run that short distance, the fish was dead. I had squeezed the life out of him. Everyone congratulated me, and my dad lined it up with the rest of the fish caught so we could measure the size. Mine was the biggest one of the bunch.
I guess this catch made me a true fisherman. Since then, I have caught a lot of fish on my own, many of them much bigger than that first fish. Somehow, though, one’s first catch is always the biggest and the best.
Some say fishing is an art, and it is all in the way you hold your mouth. I always thought it was how long you kneeled behind a sagebrush.