Saturday, February 25, 2017

Parade of Homes

This week we took a trip to St George go attend the Parade of Homes. Three years ago we were passing through St George at the time of the Parade of Homes and tried to see them all in one day. this year we took more time. We traveled on Monday, saw the homes on Tuesday and Wednesday then returned home on Thursday.

We decided to stay at the Inn on the Cliff, which gave us a nice view of St George.
St George from the cliff
Our night view with the temple
 There were 28 homes to visit, nine of which cost more than $1,000,000. All but one were way out of our price range. We learned that to build a $1,000,000 home needs a lot of space which must be filled with a lot of excess features that are not very efficient. What you get, however, is a $1,000,000 view. Here are some of the views:

Actually you can get some good views for less money.
 And my favorite
We decided to pick features we especially liked from the various houses.
Best front porch
Diane really likes wrap around porches like this one.
Best courtyard feature
Best courtyard
Diane really liked this boxwood planter in the entrance of the house. I liked the private courtyard surrounded by walls of the house. Actually I would like a hacienda style of house where all of the rooms enter into a courtyard. We stayed in a B&B like that in Albuquerque one year.
Best music room
We kept looking for rooms to accommodate the piano and organ. In most of the houses they would need to fit in the Great Room. This house (the one with the nice porch) had a room that had an entrance from the porch and from the main house.
Best office
We are looking for a 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom house so one of the rooms can be used as an office/library. There were several possibilities, but we kind of like this room.
Best kitchen
Most of the houses had nice kitchens as part of the Great room. One feature we found interesting was the pantries. Many were very large and some were hidden.
Pantry hidden behind a secret door
There were not a lot of houses with food storage areas.
Best Great Room
Diane likes the fireplace with room on each side for books. Of course the piano may have to go there if there is no separate music room.
How can you beat a great Room like this?
I like a lot of light in each of the rooms.
Best dining room
There is a lot of light and an entrance onto the patio.
Best master bedroom
There is a lot of light and an entrance onto the patio.
Best master bathroom
The interesting feature is a tub in front of windows which gives a nice view (as long as there is privacy from neighbors).

Many of the extra bedrooms had their own bathrooms (or a Jack & Jill bathroom shared by two bedrooms). Some of the houses included a "Casita" which not only had its own bathroom, but included a refrigerator and a microwave. 
One of the Casitas didn't have a closet. The explanation was to prevent the guests from staying too long.
Best Laundry/Crafts room
Diane wants a nice laundry room as well as a crafts room. Some of the laundry rooms can serve for both functions. Otherwise they can be separate rooms.

Best crafts room
Best laundry
The out of door features are also nice. Of course the high-priced houses had extravagant outdoor spaces. For our tastes, simplicity is best. 
Best patio
This was a simple covered patio.
Best pool
There were a lot of fancy pools, but this one with a simple hot tub and a small pool looked inviting.

As mentioned, a lot of the big homes have to have special-function rooms to fill in the space. Here are some of them:
Children's bedroom
This room has four beds on one side of the room and four more like them on the opposite side - space for 9 children (yes, there was a crib in the room).
Control room 
The houses were well automated.
Man's cave
This room was adjacent to the "toy garage" for all the "man's things". As one woman was about to enter the "man's cave" I said, "You can't go in there, it's for men only." She laughed.
They didn't have a list of show times.

Children's playhouse
This is a two-story home with a slide between floors.
There were several rooms full of trophies from the owner's hunting expeditions.

We found a house for sale (not on the Parade of Homes) close to our hotel which had a fantastic view of St George and a very open feeling with lots of windows - tempting, except it is on two levels.
A house for sale
Kitchen with a view
View from the balcony 
We enjoyed the Parade of Homes, but we especially enjoyed our visit with Nathan and Stephanie. We went out to eat at Costa Vida then went to see their new home.
Nathan, Stephanie, Amelia, and Phoebe at the Costa Vida
Phoebe taking pictures with Stephanie's iPhone
We were going to take our time returning to Logan, but just before we left for St George the ECE Department asked me to attend the Engineering Week award ceremony on Friday afternoon. It's a good thing we returned when we did. It snowed all through Utah on Wednesday night (roads were clear during our travel, but there was snow all along the way). Friday was even worse so we would have had problems with the weather.

At the ceremony I received the Distinguished Service Award for the department. It was an honor, but I thought they said Extinguished Service Award, which may fit better. 
My award

Friday, February 24, 2017


February has been a lot more mild than January; It is still cold, however.

We decided to attend RootsTech in Salt Lake City - the largest Genealogical Conference ever. We have had family history on our list of post-mission activities and decided this would get us started again, if not overwhelmed.

Feb 8 (Wed)

We left Logan just after noon and checked in to the Little America about 2 pm. We took the Trax two stops to City Creek Center then walked down to the Salt Palace for the conference. The registration line was so long they said we could go to our classes first and register later.
RootdTech 2017
My first session was "How will DNA continue to disrupt our industry", a panel discussion on the effect of DNA testing on genealogical research. I then went to "Family History on the Go - Family Search Mobile Applications" where I learned more about the apps "Family Tree" and "Memories". Diane went to the session "Records Created at Death" (morbid, I know), but she learned about many different records created at death. She then attended "Mothers, Daughters, Wives: Tracing Female Lines" to learn about finding women in the records. We finally registered, ate at the City Creek food court, then returned to our hotel for the night. It's almost like spring here in Salt Lake - daffodils are out.

Feb 9 (Thu)

We got up early, took the Trax to City Creek Center and ate breakfast at the food court. We got to the Salt Palace in time to get good seats for the General Session. The MC for the session was comedian Jason Hewlett. He actually made me laugh (with clean humor).
Jason Hewlett
 Steve Rockwood, CEO of Family Search talked to us about memories of food passed to us over generations. One of theirs was Rocky Road (unless you were allergic to the nuts, then it was smooth road).
Lockwood family recipe
 We then heard from Drew and Jonathan Scott - The Property Brothers who told us about their family and growing up. They traded off talking a mile-a-minute with no break in between. We really enjoyed it.
Property brothers first job - making coat hangers 
We really enjoyed their attitude about family
We had four sessions today. I went to sessions about different companies doing DNA testing, fixing relationship problems in Family Search, finding ancestors in Church History records, and tips of searching for records online. Two of the sessions we attended together. We finally got our DNA test kits so we can find out which group of monkeys we come from. Actually the tests are only valid for about 5-6 generations. In the evening we attended a performance of the Tabernacle Choir in the Conference Center. Oscar Hammerstein III (grandson of the lyricist) was the guest so all of the music was from Oscar & Hammerstein musicals. We couldn't take pictures during the concert, but I was able to get one of them rehearsing.

Tabernacle Choir in the Conference Center
 Feb 10 (Fri)

The General Session today was on African American Heritage. We heard from Kenyatta Berry, who focuses on African American slave ancestral research and DNA. We saw a film about a man that was able to trace his linage to Ghana through DNA testing and traveled there to meet his relatives. Our featured speaker was LeVar Burton, known for his role as Geordi La Forge in Star Trek: Next Generation and before that as Kunta Kinte in Roots.
LeVar Burton
The music was performed by a choir from the Calvary Baptist Church in Salt Lake.
Calvary Baptist Church choir
We had four more sessions today. I attended sessions about Scandinavian research, photos and stories in documents, how DNA works, and more on Mormon Pioneer research. Meanwhile, Diane attended sessions on Oscar Hammerstein II, keeping your information safe, the Big 4 on-line genealogy companies, and records for the Mormon Pioneers (with me).
Can you find Diane in this session?
Tonight they had a cultural program in the exposition hall. We were able to find something to eat and watched the performance while we ate. They had groups from Africa, Ireland, and South America. (They were actually from here, but descendants from those other cultures).
African drummers and dancers
Irish high-steppers
Dancers from the Andes
 They even had a small jazz combo in the exposition hall.
Jazz anyone?
 During the show we got a FaceTime call from Hanna - It was her 19th birthday. We were able to use technology to watch her open her presents in Indiana. We live in a marvelous age.
Grandma FaceTiming with Hanna on her birthday
 We then went to visit Ken and Kate in their new home. It looks like they have a lot of room and live in a nice neighborhood (at least it looked that way in the dark).
Ken and Kate in their new home
 Feb 11 (Sat)

Last day of the conference. We have been using the Trax to travel to and from our hotel and the Salt Palace. It is very convenient, besides, it's free (being in the center of Salt Lake).
Here comes our ride
 The General Session was more about food. We heard from Buddy Valastro, the Cake Boss. Again it was very family oriented as he told us about his start in the baking business. He now owns several bakeries and has several television programs.
Buddy Valastro - Thee Cake Boss
 We only went to two sessions today. I had one on the art of storytelling and another on finding recent relatives where the records are not yet available. Diane attended a session on copyrights then attended with me on recent records. Between the sessions each day we would walk through the exhibition hall where there were displays from many companies working in genealogy (as well as free candy).
Exhibition hall
 While walking down the main hallway I heard my name. It was Mike Hunsaker, who lived right behind us when we were growing up. I really enjoyed catching up on his family. Mike was actually Doug's age.
Paul with Mike Hunsaker
 Since the Cake Boss was visiting RootsTech they had a cake decorating contest. There were cakes in four categories, birthday cakes, wedding cakes, holiday cakes, and graduation cakes. The winner of the "People's Choice" award received a professional oven and dishwasher.
No, Diane didn't even enter the contest
 My favorite was a cake that reminded me of spring.
Too good to eat
 The winner of the stove was a Halloween Haunted House. The Cake Boss said it came down to the taste of the cake for choosing the winner. This was the judges choice and the peoples choice.
The winner
We were able to go across the street to City Creek Center. We did a lot of our eating there (it was cheaper), but we also found some gluten-free food in the Salt Palice.

Let's go to Deseret Book
In the evening we had the Closing Event with the results of the cake decorating contest. It was presented between performances of  two a cappella groups from BYU, Vocal Point (male group) and Noteworthy (female group). We really enjoyed the performance.
Vocal Point
We returned to Logan, getting there about 9 pm. We really enjoyed the experience of RootTech 2017. There was a good feeling about the whole conference and it was very well managed. We'll see if we go again next year.