Thursday, May 29, 2008


I got this close to the president:

I should've been even closer. But like a wise 80s band once said, blame it on the rain. President George W. Bush was supposed to get out of his fancy armored limosine and shake hands with those airmen you see in the picture above you. As luck would have it, big drops of rain started pouring from the sky, and Bush didn't want to get his hair wet. (OK I don't really know that, but several Air Force brass told me the president generally doesn't like to greet folks in the rain). So instead of coming within feet of moi, he bolted the other way and went directly up the stairs into Air Force One.

Yep, that's all the big man in charge gave me.

Rewind. So President Bush came to town on Wednesday to raise some money for Sen. McCain. In addition to a $10,000 per person luncheon, Bush hung out at Mitt Romney's Park City vacation home and invited others to join if they could afford it. And I definitely don't have the money to go to an event like that: $30,000 per person or $70,000 per couple.

The newspaper assigned me to hang out at the Utah Air National Guard base to welcome the commander in chief to the Beehive State. Wednesday was a beautiful, sunny day. It's funny how I had to spend hours going through secret service security checks just to see President Bush get off a plane and wave. But it was fun.

It's funny. The first thing that came to my mind when I saw the president step out of the plane was to criticize his wave. No, he didn't have the beauty queen "elbow, elbow, wrist, wrist, wrist" thing going on. I thought it looked like he wanted to give me a high five.

The president didn't stay long. He shook hands, gave an award to this 24-year-old guy who's logged a ton of volunteer hours and then headed out to take people's money for McCain.

After he left, I was able to interview Julie Beck, president of the General Relief Society. The White House invited her to be part of the greeting committee when President Bush got off the plane. She had a comical exchange with the president. When he shook her hand, he asked who she was. After she told him she served in the Relief Society, the president asked, "Who do you relieve?" (ba dum bum). "Just about everyone," she answered. After the president left, Sister Beck joined President Monson and President Uchtdorf for a personal tour of Air Force One.

A few hours later (and after writing another controversial story on a completely different topic) I rushed up to Park City for the Bush Bash Barbecue. About 130 folks hung out a park near Romney's home for the "bash." Organizers insisted it was a "celebration" that the president was in town, not a bash Bush fest (despite the name of the event). One organizer reminded me that bash means party. But I didn't buy it.

The following is from one of my stories in today's paper:

But the majority of the folks on the lawn at Park City Park were anti-Bush, with some of them carrying signs protesting his presidency.

One attendee even went so far to say she wished somebody would "knock (Bush) off already."

Carol Silverman said she had a fantasy that Bush was assassinated, then Vice President Dick Cheney died of a heart attack, then former House Speaker Dennis Hastert died, clearing the path for Colin Powell to become president.

"With all the crazy people with guns, I can't believe nobody got to him," said Silverman, who lives in Scarsdale, N.Y., but owns a condo in Park City. "It's just too bad he's still president.

I logged 12 hours of work on Wednesday, and then had to get up at the crack of dawn to be at the airport for the president's departure. It was a lot of sitting around and waiting, but it was cool to be that close to the president and Air Force One. It's amazing the preparation done for every detail of his trip.

Here's my favorite guy, who used a feather duster to wipe down the president's limo minutes before he arrived:

Here's some pics of the president's entourage. The first is Marine One, Bush's official helicopter. The other pic is of these ginormous choppers that carried his staff and the national press pool.

Here's his motorcade pulling up Thursday morning, just before Bush got on Air Force One.

And finally, here is me, cheesing it up in front of that mammoth of an airplane.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


Alas, this is a week late, but I'm finally blogging about my trip to D.C.

One word: amazing. As a total patriotic history nerd, I relished every story and asked lots of questions. The only problem with going in mid-May is that Congressman Rob Bishop had a new intern, and he wasn't the greatest tour guide. He couldn't answer any of my questions really. But even still, I loved my tour of the U.S. Capitol.

The architecture is amazing, and it was fun to see the similarities with the Utah Capitol building. I took several snapshots (which you can find in the slide show). I was sad that when we were sitting in the House gallery, Nancy Pelosi wasn't there. She made someone else serve as speaker in her stead. Oh well, her loss for not getting to see me up in the gallery.

Friday night we visited most of the monuments. They were gorgeous. I love how you can stand at the Lincoln Memorial and look across the National Mall and see the World War II Veterans Memorial, the Washington Monument, and the U.S. Capitol all lit up in the night sky. I took my time at several monuments to reflect, and was brought to tears at the many veterans memorials, thinking about all the servicemen who have died. It made me think of the many families I have interviewed the day they found out their son was killed in action, and it made me grateful that these servicemen are willing to put their lives on the line for our freedom.

We had an amazing tour guide for the trip. Sarahanne seemed to know all the little details about every place she took us, and I grilled her if she didn't. While she was at work, Caprene and I went out on the town and visited places she recommended. I was a fan of the Spy Museum. I don't think it was worth $18, but when you don't pay to go into any other museums, you feel like it's OK to spend a bit for a sweet museum about spies.

Saturday we visited Arlington National Cemetery. I was in awe of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and reverence the servicemen there have while on duty. I was also lucky enough to watch the Changing of the Guard. The rose garden there was gorgeous, and the views of the city were amazing from Arlington House. I also enjoyed the eternal flame on JFK's grave.

That night, I went to my first Major League Baseball game. We drove up to Baltimore to see the Orioles take on the Nationals. Camden Yards was a gorgeous park, and the game was great (I was worried it would be a blowout, but luckily it was a close one). We had dinner, and munched on peanuts and cotton candy.

We picked a good time of year to visit. It wasn't too hot, and there weren't TOO many tourists. We did have to dodge packs of eighth graders though. They were everywhere. Our visit to the Aerospace Museum was, honestly, annoying because of all the loud kids. However, I insisted on going because I'm fascinated with airplanes.

I got a kick out of the White House. We just walked by real quick before meeting Sarahanne for lunch. A small group of protesters was outside pleading to free Palestine or something. Kind of funny. I think random tourists were jumping in and grabbing signs, and they even had a little girl yell into the mic and lead the cheers.

My favorite part of the trip, however, was just hanging out at the National Press Club. My friend, Sarahanne, works there and showed me around. They have quite the collection of historic front pages. I loved that, and would have paid money to see them. I was able to meet some reporters who work out there, and it made me imagine what it would be like to work out there and be a member of the club. They are in the middle of it all. The club is just a block or so from the White House, and minutes from the National Mall. Everything politically important happens there. I can't imagine working out there.

We ended our trip with a tour of the Washington Monument. The views from the top were amazing.

Now, I was supposed to fly out Monday night, but missed my flight. I don't get it. I was checking carrying on a bag, and tried to check it 45 minutes before the flight. Well I get to the counter, and the lady says, "Uh oh." Apparently I was there 43 minutes before the flight, and they don't let people check in any later than 45 minutes before the flight. What a croc! I was so angry.

In the end it all worked out. I had another fun night hanging out with Sarahanne (Caprene made her flight). We went to a softball game and watched TV. I even managed to write a story for the paper because I felt bad I missed my flight. I ended up flying standby the next day and made all my connections and made it back in time for County Council meeting.

I really want to go back again. There are several things I wanted to see that I didn't get to. I just don't think you can fit everything in in that amount of time. I've put Sarahanne on notice that I'm planning on returning. Luckily she's offered her place again if I ever come back.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


This is me. Yes, all you could ever know in a tiny little blog post. Enjoy.

20 years ago I...
1. was just a few months shy of baptism
2. lived in Portland and spent every day shooting hoops on the street
3. just started playing sports -- YMCA volleyball and basketball and Reynolds softball

10 Years ago I...
1. was driving around in my new, old Volkswagen GTI, Felipe (where have you taken us to, Felipe)
2. was about to finish my junior year of high school
3. was dead set on going to BYU (but unfortunately didn't get in a year later, so I went to UVSC instead)

5 Years ago I...
1. graduated from BYU.
2. started working for the Deseret News
3. was still living in Provo

3 Years ago I...
1. lived in Salt Lake in a cute house in Sugarhouse
2. went to the Middle East and embedded with the troops on an assignment for the paper.
3. started covering politics for the newspaper

1 year ago I...
1. was still living in the same house, in an awesome ward
2. traveled a lot (like other years) including an awesome trip to New York
3. sold my beloved Jeep Grand Cherokee and bought a Nissan Altima

So far this year I have...
1. gone to both Disney World and Disneyland in a two-week span
2. started a new state politics assignment at the paper
3. then stopped covering the state because of staffing shortages

Yesterday I...
1. painted all nights at my friend's townhouse
2. cheered for David Archuleta
3. spent the morning at the golf course, on assignment! Can't beat that.

Today I...
1. overslept.
2. ate a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerio's
3. plan on packing for my trip to D.C. tomorrow.

Tomorrow I will...
1. sleep in
2. take the day off
3. fly to Washington D.C.

In the next year, I plan on...
1. traveling
2. enjoying work
3. meeting my personal goals


I have changed my driving habits in an effort to catch a glimpse of Zac Efron and the rest of the High School Musical cast. Sadly, my efforts have not paid off yet. I did, however, see the casts' costumes in the football field parking lot this morning.

disney part deux

Part two of my three-vacation extravaganza ended last weekend. Destination: Disney World, with my friends Clint and Kelly.

First off, I haven't been to Disney World since I was a kid and I didn't remember it much. So I really was in a whole new world (cue in cheesy Aladdin music). Disney World is HUGE. Now there are four theme parks and two water parks. We didn't make it to the water parks, but managed to cover every single theme park. Needless to say, my feet were pretty tired by the end of the trip.

As always, I loved Magic Kingdom (although I really think Disneyland is better). Next on my list was Animal Kingdom. I loved the decorations, and they had some sweet rides in addition to the wildlife safari. My favorite ride was Everest. You trek up the mountain, and even travel backward for a time, all while the Yeti chases you and rips up the tracks en route. Sadly, my friends didn't understand my YETI, YETI-YETI-YETI YETI cheer from the Backyardigans.

Each park has a huge display in it: the castle at Magic Kingdom; a huge Mickey sorcerer hat at Hollywood Studios; the giant golf ball at EPCOT; and the tree of life at Animal Kingdom. The tree was amazing. The carvings were so intricate. I added a few pics of the carvings on the slide show below (in addition to LOTS of other pictures from our whole trip).

We ended the trip by driving down to Cocoa Beach. Kelly and I LOVED laying in the sand and getting a tan. And you can't beat swimming in the warm water. I've forgotten how fun it is to swim in the ocean.

The highlight of the trip actually came on the flight home. Two words: PERM MULLET.

Here's a big shout-out to Clint for inviting us to come along. He got a free trip for two for a sales recognition event at Wells Fargo. Then we all split the costs to add a third person, and it was amazingly cheap considering we all had flights, park hoppers and stayed in a resort at Walt Disney World.

Just remember, ABRACA WOW, and you have the magic within you, Clint.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

happy mother's day

Bring the feathers back, Mom. HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

elections with the stars

I'm back, and slogging through a long day of work at the Utah Republican Convention at UVSC today. I arrived back in the Beehive State last night after an amazing trip to Florida this past week (I'll post more on that when I get some time).

I'm loving wandering around my old stomping grounds (UVSC) and seeing how much it's changed. The Hall of Flags is still the same. Lots of flags, and lots of chairs to sit and people watch.

The cafeteria is totally different. It's fancy. Nothing like when I was there (1999-2001). There are a ton of new buildings either completed or under construction. It's like a whole new school.

But perhaps the most exciting part of the day is the many "stars" I've encountered at today's convention. Carmen Rasmussen, of American Idol fame, sang the national anthem, and I met Bruce Hough, papa of Julianne and Derek of "Dancing With the Stars" fame. Love it. Gotta love Utah reality stars. Here is Hough giving his speech for national committeeman.

UPDATE: I can't believe I forgot the biggest star of the day. LAVELL. He only needs one name, but for those of you who don't know who he is, go check out a BYU football game at LaVell Edwards Stadium. The former Cougar coach is a life-long Republican, and he was here today supporting his daughter-in-law, Becky Edwards. She had a pretty good day, pushing incumbent Rep. Paul Neuenschwander, R-Bountiful, to a primary election in June.

Oh, and make sure to check out Joe Pyrah's blog at the Daily Herald, where he gave me a shout-out for naming Chris Cannon's election booth.

Sunday, May 4, 2008


I'll be absent from the blogging world for the week, but promise to return. Now it's off to spring vacation no. 2 -- Disneyworld with my roommate Kelly and buddy Clint. Make sure to thank your Wells Fargo teller for the trip.

we're all in this together ...

Today I came as close as I'll likely ever get to Zac Efron.

Yes, Troy Bolton and I shared the front page of the Deseret News. We really are all in this together.

Zaqueisha (AKA Zac and his girlfriend, Vanessa) will be in Utah for the next little while filming High School Musical 3 down the street at East High. Maybe I should go into stalker mode to catch a glimpse of Zac. I was hoping he could do that nice hip move he did in Hairspray.