(I wanted to post some pictures but that will have to be later.)
Yesterday, the campaign trail was loaded with stops. Many had three stops to make. It started with a nice breakfast at the Wasatch County Lincoln Day breakfast. Aaron Gabrielson did a great job putting on a fabulous event. I did not attend this event, because I wanted some shuteye, and it is not in the 1st District.
Then it was off to Vernal for the Uintah County Lincoln Day Dinner and VIP reception. We were all following each other around the state. Sean Reyes and I have been together for the last 4 days in a row. You really get to know the other candidates when you are running for office. Joni Crane put on a fabulous event. The décor was beautiful, and you really could tell a woman’s touch was involved. It was well organized and very well attended. There were just too many people to meet. I had been in heels all day, and I was wishing I could just put on my cowboy boots by that time. Nevertheless, it was fun.
We were able to here from Senator Mike Lee, Governor Gary Herbert, Senator Orrin Hatch, and Representative Rob Bishop. Then all of the candidates had an opportunity for a short 3-minute speech. I had not prepared one before today, so this was a new adventure. Everyone articulated their ideas and thoughts well. It is amazing how much you can get out in 3 minutes, and how much is left untouched. Hard to make a lasting first impression in 3 minutes, but it was a generous thing to do since there were so many candidates.
After the dinner, they had a great auction and Mike Lee did a little dance while holding up on the items for auction. It was a fun time.
We mingled for a while after dinner, and then decided it was getting late. We all had long drives home. There were nine of us that decided to head over to a legendary spot in Uintah County known as “Skinwalker Ranch.” It is one of those mythical places were people say paranormal activity occurs, and many are frightened by the stories surrounding the area. We talked to a few locals, and they were fully convinced it was not a place they wanted to be.
So three cars, full of tired campaign staff and candidates headed to Skinwalker Ranch. We loaded up on some caffeine and snacks at a gas station, and I felt like I was in high school on a dare. It was fun. Morgan Philpot, Toby Emory, and Keith Kudor were in one car. Kara Harrison and Cindie Quintana were in another. Cleve Smith (my husband), Kim Weis, and her daughter Cheyanne and I were in another car.
We stopped at the overlook to Skinwalker Ranch. It was peaceful and absolutely beautiful. The stars filled the sky with the blackness that surrounded this rural area of Utah. It was breathtaking.
One of the rumors is that if you are caught on or near the ranch you will be chased off by dogs, or cars, or police will show up. Sure enough, Officer Luecerno (I hope I remembered his name right.) came by. We took him off guard because three cars in the middle of nowhere had stopped, and the people he pulls up to see are men and women in suits. The officer mistook my husband for an FBI agent that works in the area. He was great. Talked to us about the rumors, and showed us where the boundaries to the ranch were.
It was a fairly uneventful trek, but we were so close we wanted to experience this part of the Uintah basin. On the way home we did a three-way call so we could all chat for the hours we would spend driving. Each of us shared different experiences we had in our lives, and we all grew closer as a group, laughing and talking. We told them the tires were pretty bald on our vehicle, and since the snow was getting heavier, we were planning on going pretty slow. No one said we were going to stick together, but we did, and I believe that was providential.
Then the calls began to drop frequently as our reception weakened about 20 miles before Daniels Summit. Cleve and I talked about how so many of us believe we have been given a call to proclaim and protect liberty.
Then the unthinkable happened. The car in front of us, holding Morgan Philpot, Keith Kudor and Toby Emory lost control and was gone from the side of the road. Cleve said, “They just wrecked. They’ve gone over the edge.”
We pulled our car off the side of the road where we thought they had gone off. Cleve said that his first thought was, “I just lost three friends.” We could not see their lights anywhere. I saw the cliff off to my left, and I immediately began praying aloud for God’s protection of these men. I did not know how they could have survived the drop off. Cleve and I were running as fast as we could. We must have run about 100 yards before we got to where their vehicle was on its side down a 70-100 foot very steep decline. Kara Harrison mentioned she had never seen a woman run so fast in the snow in a skirt. We shouted to them. They shouted back that they were all okay. It was an absolute miracle. Divine Providence had definitely intervened. They climbed the side with help of straps from someone who had stopped. Another woman stopped and gave us a sleeping bag out of her car to wrap the guys in. We were on the side of the road for hours waiting for police and an ambulence. Keith seemed like he was in shock. A few cuts. Toby had a small cut on his head, and Morgan had bumped his shin and there was a huge knot on it. But they walked away. It was amazing.
I had silently thanked the Lord when Morgan Philpot gathered everyone together and we formally thanked God for our protection.
Today I remembered a blog post I had done years ago. Boyd K. Packer was speaking in Provo, and I remembered the words he spoke after receiving the Lifetime Freedom Award. Here is an excerpt from this blog post…
…After receiving the award, President Packer spoke of the freedoms the nation enjoys today — freedoms that came at a price.
He reflected upon James Madison’s record of the Constitutional Convention, referencing the weeks of time and effort that had been exhausted creating the U.S. Constitution allowing the freedoms enjoyed today.
He then told a story about the day that the men were individually signing the Constitution. During the convention, President George Washington was sitting in a high-back chair that had a picture of a rising sun on the back. Benjamin Franklin said that he had been looking at the sun all during the convention. He said he was never sure if it was a rising sun or a setting sun. But, as the men came forward one by one to sign the document, Franklin said that day he had the confidence to know it was a rising sun.
“Now 12 wars later and all that has gone on, that sun is now obscured,” President Packer said. “We know that war can’t destroy it, but if it is destroyed it will be from within. And now we face a danger greater than any of the wars we have faced. To honor the Constitution and to honor freedom is a sacred duty for all of us.
“I invoke the blessing on you who are doing this sacred work that you will keep it up, and that in due time the challenges that we face now from within can be conquered so that this nation may remain free.”
Last night I experienced that blessing, and I believe this is a sacred work. I believe this is much more than a political position for either Morgan Philpot or myself. We were witnesses to yet another miracle of God in our lives.