Saturday, March 28, 2009

My trip to Riyadh...the capital of Saudi Arabia

There are three posts dedicated to this trip. Nobody can complain about me not updating for awhile now! haha Here are some random shots from our trip to Riyahd..... A view of the city from the Kingdom bridge. It's a sky-view thing at the top of a huge building.

Our group visiting with some others on the bridge.

A shop-keeper in one of the old souqs. He wanted us to take his picture. We asked permission to take pictures in his shop because many do not allow photography at all. He was more than willing and asked us to take his picture with an old musical instrument he wanted to sell us.

Debbie and I outside on the the forts at the first museum.

Another shot on the kingdom bridge

A shot on the "small bus" that we took around Riyadh. This is only a small part of our group. Debbie and I were amused by the sign as we entered the "ladies only" floor of the mall. There were actually women working in all the stores which is very rare here. In fact the women were asked to "uncover" their faces for security reasons. (to make sure no guy pulls a "Michael Jackson" and enters the floor dressed in an abyaya as a women, I'm sure)

Some beautiful cloth and pashminas in a souq

Some ladies from church organized a little ladies trip to Riyadh this past week-end (Wed. night- Friday night). I really, really had a great time. The Alexanders and Debbie picked me up and we drove to Khobar to a hotel where we got on the bus. It was a nice bus with a restroom, etc. I was nice because there was plenty of leg room. We drove the four hours to Riyadh basically in the dark so we didn't see anything. Got to the hotel, got our rooms and went to bed. I roomed with Lauren and Ameema. Got up the next morning and met for breakfast about 7:45. It was a breakfast buffet. I think there were 24 of us. We had a great day! Lots of shopping at the old Riyadh souqs, more modern mall shopping, museums, food courts, Turkish restaurant, more souq shopping, etc. I wish I were better at picture placement on the blog but I'll just put all the pics at the end with captions. Got back to the room about 11:00 exhausted and ready for bed. The next morning was Friday (the Sabbath day). We all packed our bags and met in the lobby. I opted out of breakfast today in exchange for another half hour of sleep. There was a sweet couple that live in Riyadh who are members of the church who are good friends of several ladies on the trip. They had been with us all day Thursday and had helped us all day getting around from place to place. They were meeting us at the hotel to lead us to church. We were all gathered in the lobby when we heard a crash. We look out and realize that it was that couple who's car had been smashed. At first we thought it was worse than it turned out to be. The man was fine but the wife was pinned in the car, in shock but not seriously hurt. The ambulence came and took her to the hospital. Several of her friends on our trip were nurses and ran to her aid. We got on the bus and went on to church where we later learned that she had been treated and released. Church was wonderful. The building wasn't marked at all. It is a villa in a residential area. You have to go down an alley and go in a gate, then into the building. But inside, the meetings were wonderful and the Spirit was strong. After church we got on the bus and headed home. It stuck me while being in this huge city of over five million people how unfamiler with the planet I really am. I have always been caught up in my "own little world" and not too interested in the rest of it. I am learning that there are kind, wonderful people all over. Our ways of life, religious beleifs, and customs are different but we are all brothers and sisters.

A game of stick-ball.....

This is a random post but something so interesting to see. These were taken out my hotel window. Around eight in the morning cars started gathering in the parking lot down the road. Dozens of young men gathered for a game of stick ball. They laughed and played all morning. Although the attire and the game were different, it was not unlike a group of BYU students gathering for a game of ultimate frisbee! We are more alike than we think.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

My day......

Sometimes I think I need to have had a huge thing happen to post something on my blog. Since it's been awhile and I'm getting complaints, I'll just tell you about my day! Woke up at 4:45 when the alarm rang the first time. Yelled at Whitney from my bed to start waking up. (her biggest pet peeve about me, but then again, she could set her own alarm, right??) Her ride to seminary didn't come so I get up and bring her. Come back and wake up Evan, put on some laundry, then go back and pick up Whit. Get them both out the door at around 7:00. Evan's school is very close so he walks and Whitney gets picked up on the bus. (don't make the mistake of picturing a yellow school bus.....oh, no! It's the big charter Aramco bus that brings her to Dhahran Acadamy every day- so funny and random). I consider going to get my walking done but then reconsider and decide to shop. There is a bus that goes by Ikea every morning at 9:00 so I go get on it. (same type of Aramco bus that Whitney rides to school). Ikea doesn't open until 9:30 so I walk over to Jarrir's (the Saudi version of Books-a-Million) and browse around. I think about how lucky I was last week to find tons of nearly new books at the Women's Exchange for almost nothing. The Women's Exchange is just a shop that sells what people don't want anymore. I don't buy anything and head over to Ikea next door. Realize that the doors open at 9:30 but the store isn't open until 10:00 so I go in the cafe and get an omelette and juice. I had wanted to come to Ikea because I have a little guest bathroom in the front of the house that has just been plain and empty, and I needed to get it "guest-worthy". I found the cutest stuff. I bought a big picture of like an orange gerber daisy. It's on a teal background. So I bought a glass frame with the silver clips (frameless) to put it in and an teal rug. Then I bought an orange towel and a teal hand towel. It is SO cute in there. Maybe I'll put up a picture. Now if only a guest would need to use the bathroom!! I'll keep my fingers crossed.... I browse around looking for a little something for the counter but didn't find the right thing. Got back on the bus about 11:30 and came back. Evan was home for lunch. He was at the computer writing yet another song. Who knew that Evan is now a song-writer??? He is writing one after another and some are quite good. After he went back to school I set out to run some errands. First the gas station. I mean "the" gas station- the only one on the compound. But here's the great thing. I was on dead empty and I filled up the huge Ford Expedition and the guy says that will be 45. Ok, not dollars (because even that would be great), but Saudi riyals. The rate is 3.74 so I filled up for the equivalent of just about $12!! Then it was onto the dry cleaners. You're gonna be envious of this, too. I brought one dress to be dry-cleaned and four of Brad's shirts to be pressed and starched. The bill was 11 sr, or about $2.94! Some people complain that some groceries are more expensive but please! It's so overboard in our favor that I'll never complain about paying for American cereal! (sometimes the Kellogg's is almost $9 a box, but sometimes some kinds are cheaper, you just never can tell) That reminds me that I should do a post of the cost of things in comparison. Sometimes I even forget how much stuff was at home. Went to the atm, to check the mail and to the commisary (grocery store). The stew meat looked delicious so I decided to make beef-tip type stuff with rice and gravy. It's smelling good now. The kids both trickled in from school. I think Whitney fell asleep and Evan is watching some tv. Brad just got home, too. (he also rides the twice- before- mentioned infamous Aramco bus home from RT everyday). Need to put the rice on, get the family fed then on to homework. Hopefully Whitney will have time to go to the walking trail with me this evening. I feel like this is really a post about nothing, but hey, sometimes that's just my life!

Saturday, March 14, 2009


OK, quite possibly my coolest post yet...... Note: these camel pictures are NOT from Google Images!!! They are from my own eyes and own camara!! The youth at church had a "sandboarding" trip Thursday so we went along. As we were there, this little group strolled by!! I was freaking out but everybody else was like, "What??'s some camels- big deal...." Nobody could believe we'd been here since December and hadn't seen one, let alone a whole herd, but this was our first camel sighting. It was awesome! Not sure why one of them sat down. They were being herded by a Bedouin man- not sure where to or from but it was amazing to see. Look at the little baby one!!

The sandboarding was a whole new experience for us- participants and spectators alike!

There were these huge dunes that they climbed up, got on sandboards (looked like snowboards but are different somehow) and slid down. There were ones that you stood on like normal then sled things that you sat on. You can see the fresh sand in the picture below. As they climbed up the first time it sort of avalanched cool!

Evan on his way up again!

Whitney with a dune in the background.

Evan at the top with our cars down below. They would slide down the hill and about halfway on the flat ground to the cars. It looked scary to me.....but then, I'm a big chicken. Whitney did have one bad ride where she busted it pretty bad. She was pretty sore the next day. Somebody commented that they hadn't seen her fall but just caught the "last four or five rolls"! Both the kids are up for it again and I'm sure this is only the first of many, many sandboarding trips. It's about a half hour drive from our community. I wouldn't ever want to be the only car to drive out there. It's really in the middle of the desert and wouldn't be the best place for your battery to go dead. We grilled hamburgers and hung out all afternoon and evening. It was a blast!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Just stuff.....

Good news! We bought a vehicle and were able to return the Longstaff family's car to them. We will be forever grateful to them for loaning us their car for the first few months. It made life so much easier! We bought a 1999 Ford Expedition. I know that sounds really, really old to you but you have to remember, we don't drive very far here! An occasional trip to Bahrain, go to Khobar once or twice a week and the couple miles around our compound community doesn't add up to many miles. This car has the equivalent of about 70,000 miles. It's been taken really good care of and it's working out great!We have gotten some new stuff, too! There are two families that we have gotten to know that are retiring and moving back to the States. They were selling lots of stuff so we took advantage. Also the coolest old antique cart used by the Bedouins (nomadic camel-riding Arabs) to carry food in the desert. Since they sat on the ground to eat, it is low. I love it and it looks great with a plant in it in the living room. You all know how I love old stuff? Also an antique bowl and canteen thing. From another family, we bought a rug for our entry way, a slow-cooker, some pictures and an night stand for Whitney's room. It's always fun to get new stuff, even if it's old to others.
My antique canteen! Can't you just imagine it tied hanging off the back of a camel??

My old antique cart I bought. I love it!!! I also bought from the same friend these big blue flower pots. They really add some color to the porch!

The Zachary's get the award for making us the happiest this week (well, I don't know, Evan was pretty thrilled with his letter from Remi...) by sending us Tony's!!! I am thrilled that the package got here with no problems. I could tell it had been opened, gone through, and retaped but I guess there were no "offensive" items because they let everything in! Tony's is by far the item that we have missed the most. The food is good here but all it needs is a sprinkle of Tony's and now we have it. We have heard you can get it occasionally at a certain store but haven't ever seen it there. We bought the Tobasco right here on the compound. It's also on all the tables at restaurants just like in Louisiana! Who would have thought....

So, thank you Zacharys!!!!!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Whitney's blog.....

OK, I know I haven't posted in forever and I'll repent soon! But Whitny requested that I tell you all about her blog at And by all means, please leave her a comment so she'll stop whining!!!!