Saturday, December 30, 2006

525,600 seconds

I spent some time reading through my past posts. I do tend to be obnoxiously self-reflective, don't I? I'm afraid that's not going to change. It seems I only make time to write when I'm in a reflective mood. Studying design forces me to live in a world of abstractions. I have a million ideas but none of them will become reality. It's very frustrating. Sometimes it's hard to find concrete things in my life to guage my progress by. So I'm stealing this idea from Karen as a chronicle of my past year, to prove that it wasn't all in my head.

January: For good or ill school has defined my life the past three years and January was a month of transition. A new semester began with one professor leaving Utah State for an international position, and I began studying under another one. I also began my search for an internship.

February: Event producer Scott Corridan came as a visiting designer. I made him cry. I spent the rest of the month preparing for our next visiting designer. The lack of sleep made me cry.

March: Jamie Drake came as our second visiting designer. He said I was daring. I found out I won honorable mention in the International Design Guild/ASID rug design competition. I applied to GSBS for an internship, and went to Las Vegas and Los Angeles on a design trip. At NeoCon West I met Karim Rashid.

April: I had an interview and got my internship. The semester wound down, leaving me in utter exhaustion. My nephew Aiden was born. I began blogging.

May: I found out I won honorable mention in the IIDA Sustainable Design competition. I saw Sigor Ros in concert and moved to Salt Lake to begin my internship.

June: I worked at GSBS and loved every minute of it. The month ended with the Theresa Bradly Spirit Award at Design Awareness.

July: I sadly left my internship, but not before applying for another one at G. I flew to London and spent most of the month there. It was hot. Very, very hot.

August: I moved on to Paris before flying home to crash for two weeks after a summer as a nomad. I was offered the G internship and school began again.

September: I'm finally a senior and won 1st place commercial and 2nd place residential in an ASID competition. I begin working as an undergraduate teaching fellow. I also started an IIDA Campus Center at school and was put on the IDSA board.

October: I worked. I worked on projects, on my job, and on my honors thesis.

November: I organized an IIDA campaign to donate stockings to children with cancer. I started working part time at GSBS and volunteered at Greenbuild in Denver, flying home in time to see my brother get married. On the 28th my grandmother died.

December: I went to my grandmother's funeral and two days later my sister-in-law's father died. After two funerals in a week I finished three projects and travelled to Salt Lake seven times. Thankfully the last week has been very quiet.

The year is ending and a new one beginning. I hope 2007 will be a little more peaceful, but no less eventful.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

What a Difference a Year Makes

It's amazing the perspective a little rest can give you. The past month has been hard. It's been intense and exhausting, but it's been no harder than any other month. Life has a way of evening itself out. For every trial there is a blessing.

This last year I've lost people who were important to me, but I've met incredible new people. I've travelled and had the chance to learn in ways I could never anticipate. I've learned to relax, to let go, and to trust that everything that is meant to happen will - in the right way and right time. I know what is important to me and what doesn't matter at all.

We've lost two members of the family this year, but we've gained two as well. I have a new nephew and a new sister-in-law. I got two internships - one at GSBS and a second next summer at G. I also got a job.

I've travelled, and made up for lost time doing it. In 2006 I spent time in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Denver, London and Paris. I moved to Salt Lake City for two months, and drive back there every week to work. I've gained confidence while I wasn't looking. I've won a few competitions that have opened doors. I've filled sketchbooks. I've written and blogged and taken thousands of pictures. I've done more than I could have planned for, or hoped for, or conceived of. It's amazing what a year brings. I wonder what will happen in the next one.

I was recently told by an architect that the definition of luck is proper preparation combined with an attitude of openness to the possibilities. The work is hard and taking risks is frightening, but the rewards are rich and worth the effort. There are a lot of things I wish for, even more I hope for. All I can do now is be open and trust. That is the definition of faith.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Breathe Out

In less than three weeks I've had a wedding and two funerals take place in my family. Throw into that mix finals week with multiple projects due, the latest in a succession of crappy birthdays (yea for December, everyone is too busy to notice), and weekly trips to Salt Lake to work, and I am exhausted. Overwhelmed and utterly exhausted. All I have to do is make it to graduation, but that doesn't feel like it will ever happen. It's the middle of the night and I'm even too tired to sleep.

So for you, and mostly for me, I present a bit of visual bliss. Next semester my senior thesis will involve research on the work of Santiago Calatrava. Just looking at these images helps me relax. They feel like modern cathedrals.

Friday, December 08, 2006

When it rains . . .

Today I went to my second funeral in less than a week. This time it was for my sister-in-law's father. I feel so bad for her and her family. And I'm sad for my little nephews who will never know their grandfather. The past few weeks have been overwhelming.


Myron Dee Bigler

August 21st, 1948 - December 4th, 2006

HYRUM, UTAH: Myron Dee Bigler of Hyrum Utah, died suddenly on Monday, December 4, 2006. Myron was born in Basin, Wyoming on August 21, 1948 to Orville Bigler and Elvira Dobson Bigler. Myron married Georgia Fay Thomas in the Salt Lake Temple on June 1, 1972. They are the parents of two sons and two daughters: Jason (Mindy) Bigler of St. Helens, Oregon; Rachell (Bron) Murdock of Hyde Park; Amber (Todd) Smith of Nibley, and Dedrick Bigler of Hyrum.

Myron was raised on a small farm in Basin, the ninth child in a large family of eleven children. He attended Basin High School where he played on the basketball team. Later, he attended Ricks College where he received an associate degree. He was an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and throughout his life served in various capacities and callings. In 1967-69, he served a mission in the Colombia/Venezuela Mission. He had a strong love and unwavering faith in his Savior. Myron had a deep love for people and his friendly and open manner drew people to him He was strong and steadfast and accomplished things without fanfare or self adulation. He was loved by all who knew him. He was a man generous with his time and talents and always put others before himself. For many years Myron was a technician for Thiokol, working on the Minute Man missile and Space Shuttle rocket booster projects. He also worked for Logan City and did various part time jobs. Myron was a hard worker and did all he could to provide a comfortable living for his family.

For twenty years he served his country in the U.S. Naval Reserve, retiring in June of 2006 with the rank of E-6. He is survived by his wife Georgia of 34 years, 4 children and 7 grandchildren. He is also survived by four brothers: Edwin (Clara) of Layton, UT; Dale (Joan) of Elkridge, UT, Perie (Floie) of Clean Creek, AZ, Bill (Julie) of Vernal, UT and four sisters: Charmayne (Tom) Kasperian of Taylorsville, UT; Edith (Bill) Johnson of Nacogdoches, TX; Donna (Dawan) Cecil of Cypress, CA; and Roseann (Randy) Bishop of Westchester, PA. Myron was preceded in death by his mother and father, Ruth Bigler a step-mother, infant sister Alice and a brother Dean (Wendy) Bigler. The funeral will be held at 12:00 PM on Friday, December 8, 2006 at the Hyrum Stake Center, 595 S. 200 E., Hyrum. Funeral arrangements are under the direction of Allen-Hall Mortuary, located at 34 E. Center in Logan. Friends and family may call at the mortuary from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. on Thursday, and at the church on Friday from 10:30 - 11:45 am. Interment will be at the Hyrum City Cemetery with a military gravesite tribute.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Breathe In

I went to school yesterday and was told to go home and not come back until I was ready. I appreciate that. I need a little time to catch my breath.

Just as I was leaving the sun lit up the sky. The air was bitter cold after Tuesday's snow and the silhouettes of the trees were lovely. I'm glad I had my camera with me.


Old Main

The scene fit my mood on many levels.

I recently came across a website with an image that I also think is lovely. The Night and Day World Map shows you what part of the world is currently in darkness, and what part is light. In spite of my stand against light pollution I think images of the earth at night are gorgeous.


My family and I are doing fine. We're in that strange post-passing, pre-funeral limbo when no one's sure what to do. That will be over soon and then I'll have to get back to work.


Thelma Brierley Murdock of Kaysville, died Tuesday, November 28, 2006 in Logan, Utah following an extended illness. Thelma was born in Park City, Utah on February 6, 1923 to James W. “Bob” Brierley and Christy Clegg. She was the oldest daughter in a family of three boys and four girls. Thelma married John H Murdock on Feb. 5, 1945 in Alliance, Nebraska. Their marriage was later solemnized in the Salt Lake Temple. They are the parents of three sons and one daughter; Steven John (Cheri) of Logan, Kristine Murdock of Layton, Brent Heber (Mary) of Jackson, Wyo., and Alan James (Helen) of Black River, N.Y.

Thelma grew up as a young girl in Park City and later moved with her family to Heber City, Utah. She graduated from Wasatch High School, where she was active in many functions including serving as one of her junior class officers. During World War II she was a telephone operator and was awarded a War Service Certificate for working at the Heber Telephone Company. Following their marriage, Thelma and John moved to the town of Kaysville. This was to be their home for the next fifty-five years.

Thelma was a master of all the domestic arts and was an exemplary wife and mother. She especially enjoyed crocheting, knitting and cooking. She crocheted dozens of afghans and tied quilts that were given to people with special needs. She was an excellent cook and made sure that anyone who visited her home never left hungry. Her holiday meals were legendary. At Christmas time, her Santa Claus cookies were of such fine craftsmanship that no one dared eat them. Her home-made fudge was divine. Thelma was a very kind and considerate person who loved all her family and friends and was greatly loved in return. Her life was one of loving service to others. She met the needs of those around her before her own. She provided a secure and comfortable home for her family and a place where everyone was welcome. She will be greatly missed by all who loved her.

Thelma was an active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and throughout her life and served in various capacities in the Kaysville First Ward. For several years she sang in the ward choir, was a counselor in the Young Women’s MIA and held special positions in the Relief Society. She had a strong testimony and unwavering faith in her Savior and His Church. She now joins with her beloved mother and father and a sister and three brothers who proceeded her in death. For several years, she was employed as a cook at Kaysville Junior High for the Davis School District where she made friends among fellow workers, students and teachers. She used her earnings to help her children in their schooling and helped pay for one son’s mission. She was generous with her time, talents and money. She was very resourceful and her home was always neat, clean and organized. She is survived by her husband John of over 60 years, four children, thirteen grandchildren and eight great- grandchildren. Also surviving are two sisters: Bertha (Clark) Woodbury of St. George, Norita (Sharron) Winterton of Charleston and two brothers: Wayne (Leva) Brierley of Roy and Howard (Connie) Brierley of Layton. The funeral will be held on Saturday, December 2, 2006 at the Kaysville First Ward Chapel.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006



My grandma, Thelma Murdock, passed away about 12 hours ago. She was the perfect grandma. Her cooking was amazing. She always had a jar full of cookies and a purse full of Necco wafers. Thanksgiving and Christmas were events to remember. She crocheted beautiful afghans and made me a little kewpie doll in a pink dress when my mom gave birth to brother number three. I got my curly hair from her.

This is the first grandparent that I've lost, and while she is finally at peace it's a difficult time for the rest of us. It's comforting to know that she is with her parents and siblings and others she loved so much. The funeral will be on Saturday and I have family flying in from out of state. It will be good to be together, especially now.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Walking and Sketching

Inspite of an overwhelming amount of work to do before the end of the semester I took a break and went for a walk around campus. A storm is moving in and the ground is covered with a beautiful dusting of snow. I stopped by the bookstore and bought a new sketching pencil in terracotta to break out of my usual black and white mode.

I stopped outside the Merrill-Cazier Library and made a quick sketch to try out the pencil. It has a waxy feel, but the color lays down nicely and doesn't smear. It was truly a quick sketch - I was sitting on cold concrete.

library sketch

I was gone almost an hour and it felt good to get some fresh air. I think I may be able to get some work done now.

When I got back to my desk an envelope was waiting for me. It contained our IIDA (International Interior Design Association) Campus Center certificate. We're official! This is the first year our school has been a Campus Center and it's exciting to have proof of all the hard work.

iida cert

Saturday, November 25, 2006

If I were a state . . .

Oddly, this is my result!

You're Utah!

You are extremely busy, one might even say as a bee. With a fondness for salt and colorful rocks, you believe in marrying early and, if possible, often. You're not above going on television or door to door for what you believe in, no matter how many people think you're a little bit strange. Despite rumors to the contrary, you actually have nothing whatsoever to do with jazz.

Take the State Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

If I were a country . . .

Even more accurate . . .

You're the United Nations!

Most people think you're ineffective, but you are trying to completely save the world from itself, so there's always going to be a long way to go. You're always the one trying to get friends to talk to each other, enemies to talk to each other, anyone who can to just talk instead of beating each other about the head and torso. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't, and you get very schizophrenic as a result. But your heart is in the right place, and sometimes also in New York.

Take the Country Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid

If I were a book . . .

I've always felt like I belonged in a Jane Austin novel, but I'm open to the possibilities. My tree is calling . . .

You're Siddhartha!

by Hermann Hesse

You simply don't know what to believe, but you're willing to try anything once. Western values, Eastern values, hedonism and minimalism, you've spent some time in every camp. But you still don't have any idea what camp you belong in. This makes you an individualist of the highest order, but also really lonely. It's time to chill out under a tree. And realize that at least you believe in ferries.

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Design Crisis

I found this quote on a forum at Design Community.
"In many ways, the environmental crisis is a design crisis. It is a consequence of how things are made, buildings are constructed, and landscapes are used. Design manifests culture, and culture rests firmly on the foundation of what we believe to be true about the world."
— Sim Van der Ryn, quoted in The Philosophy of Sustainable Design, by Jason McLennan

This reminds me of one of my favorite quotes by Bruce Mau.
"What if we could do anything? What if the questions surrounding design turned out to be the big questions? What if life itself became a design project? What if - as Arnold Toynbee once suggested - we were committed to an audacious, altruistic global project that imagined 'the welfare of the entire human race as a practical objective'? What if design turned out to be that project? What if we succeeded?"
The thought of "the welfare of the entire human race" as a practical design objective is intriguing. If it were true, then there is a corollary. Most of society's problems have been caused by bad design. If the problem is bad design, then the solution lies in good design. What if saving the world is easier than anyone realises?

Of course the next question is, "What is design?"

Sunday, October 29, 2006

The Design of the World


My passion is my frustration.

I have accepted the curse of the designer. I will forever be able to see what is wrong, know how it could be better, and not have the power (the time, the ability, the money, the cooperation) to make a change. Even if I could, it is too much. There is too much that needs to be done, to many things that need to change. It is overwhelming to think about, to imagine. Yet I see it everywhere. It's not about the environment we live in. Though our environment influences every aspect of our lives. It's not about making things "look pretty", and never should. It's about making a difference. About making things better.

I have been blessed. I have been given more than I will ever deserve. It's humbling, and staggering, to think of all that I have. Now I feel a responsibility to give back. With everything that I know, and everything that I've experienced, it feels immoral for me not to do everything in my power to help others. I'm not trying to make people happy. It's not possible, and it's not right. Sometimes the thing you need is the thing you don't want, or the thing you fear. Change is hard. Change is agony and exhilaration. And change is a constant. You either move forward or you move back. Nothing stays the same.

Life is a choice and I have decisions to make. I pray that they will be wise ones. I will use this blog to raise questions as I continue to explore the world of design and my place in it.

Saturday, October 14, 2006


I've been a big Sting fan for as long as I can remember. I still think the early Police songs are some of the best pop songs ever written. What I love most about Sting is that he has consistently pushed the boundaries of what pop music is, and should be. He blurs boundaries between genres and the results are always beautiful.

The current bandwagon for aging rock stars is to release an album of standards. Sting isn't immune to this trend. He's been playing with the classics for the past 10 years. His cover of "My One and Only Love" is one of my favorites. But his new album has taken this concept to extremes. Songs From the Labyrinth is a selection of Elizabethan songs accompanied by lute. It's an intriguing concept and the results are surprisingly poignant. "Come Again" doesn't sound that different than a few of the songs on his 1987 release ". . . Nothing Like the Sun."

Four of the "new" songs are available to listen to online. Whether you like it or not, you'll be surprised.


I was notified today that two of my photographs have been chosen for the Schmap Guide to London. They are pictures I took this summer while on study abroad. These weren't my best pictures, but here's a sneak peek.


This is the South Kensington Tube Station that was home for the three weeks I spent there.

Here are the beautiful gardens of Hampton Court. The day we were there was hot and the ongoing drought left everything yellow and wilting, but it was still stunning.

These pictures join the two pictures from my trip to South Carolina that were inculded in Schmap Myrtle Beach.

Bike Week 2005

This is a mall parking lot during Bike Week.


And this is Ripley's Aquarium on the same day.

Does this mean I'm a published photographer? I need to keep traveling so they can use more of my pictures! I have trips to Denver and Chicago planned already . . .

Week in Review (a little late)

To hold myself accountable I will give you a report of the progress I made on the goals I set for myself last week. No organizing or cleaning got done, correspondence was partially written and I only averaged seven hours of sleep every two days, but I accomplished more than I expected. I said no twice, I saw the premiere of Lost, I relaxed for one entire night on Friday, I read the first chapter if Bruce Mau's Massive Change, and my plans for saving the world are firmly in place. Not bad results for such a crazy week. I should set short-term goals more often.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


I am so proud of myself. I am well on my way to accomplishing my goals for the week. In spite of a deadline in the morning and a general proclivity towards being a workaholic, I took some time off this evening and watched the premier of Lost. And it was worth it! I've never seen a show as well written or executed as this.

I have also said no twice this week to things I was asked to help with but really don't have the time for. I'm still not doing well on getting enough sleep and have done no cleaning or organizing, but I'm making progress. I even have some plans for saving the world. I may not be able to do it by Monday, but I will do it.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

My 10 Things

When I check in on three of the blogs I read regularly, and they all have the following lists, I guess that means I should do it too.

10 Things I Did This Week:
  1. Received the LEED-NC 2.2 Reference Guide and began studying for the LEED AP exam.
  2. Worked ridiculously hard on a class project and completed a mock up of the finished brochure.
  3. Began work on another class project, which will be even harder.
  4. Solved the mystery of the History of Architecture test scores.
  5. Faxed in all the paperwork to organize USU's first Campus Center of the International Interior Design Association (IIDA).
  6. Put together my Honors Thesis Committee, composed of two architects and a commercial designer.
  7. Found a bunch of design competitions, compiled a list, and passed it out to the junior and senior studios.
  8. Watched "The Lake House", the THIRD movie I've seen this year! It was about architects. Even when I try to take a break I can't!
  9. Watched General Conference.
  10. Drove to Clinton to visit my brother and his family, and to get some help on #2.
10 Things I Wanted to do This Week, But Didn't:
  1. Send out thank you notes.
  2. Get enough sleep.
  3. Relax.
  4. Clean my house.
  5. Watch just a little bit of TV to know what's going on in the world.
  6. Read.
  7. Email a few people I need to keep in touch with.
  8. Finish #2 on the first list, so I can get on to #3 on the first list without distraction.
  9. Help with a wedding.
  10. Back up my computer files.
10 Things That Made Me Smile:
  1. My six year old niece who sounds out my name and spells it H-O-L-E.
  2. My five month old nephew who just learned to roll over.
  3. My four year old nephew who is obsessed with chocolate and Star Wars.
  4. My four year old nephew (they're twins) who named his fish Murdock.
  5. Winning the IDSA weekly photo contest and getting a candy bar.
  6. International hits on my little blog.
  7. Knowing that I'm making a contribution.
  8. Fall leaves in the canyon.
  9. Fresh salmon.
  10. Getting a lot accomplished.
10 Things I WILL Accomplish Next Week:
  1. Get my studio space organized.
  2. Get IIDA records organized.
  3. Say No to something.
  4. Write all outstanding thank you notes and emails.
  5. Take one evening to relax.
  6. Get the equivalent of seven hours of sleep each night.
  7. Read something I enjoy (whether it's design realted or not).
  8. Clean my bedroom.
  9. Watch the premier of Lost (harder to do with my schedule than you might think).
  10. Save the world.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Let's Dance

Another one for Karen. I couldn't resist.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Depeche Mode's "Precious" [Early Version]

Precious [Early Version of video]

I love this song. It is, in fact, my cell phone ringtone. The video is very cool, but I prefer this one. It's fascinating from a creative viewpoint to see the process and the storyboarding. It makes me want to direct a video!


One of my ongoing goals is to improve my drawing abilities. I've spent the evening on two tutorial websites. Drawspace has an impressive library of printable drawing lessons from beginning to advanced levels.

Even more helpful for my current project has been Manga University. It feels a little silly drawing anime all day, but it's been a lot of fun.

Here are the preliminary results of my presentation.


More to come.

Friday, September 22, 2006


I'm in the honors program and in order to graduate next spring I need to complete an Honors Thesis. It's meant to be a scaled down version of a master thesis and will be combined with the senior project I will do next spring. By the end of October I need to complete a thesis proposal and choose a thesis advisor and commitee. I have a good idea of the direction I'm going and the people I want to ask. The project will be commercial, sustainable and significant. I also want to look into publishing the research paper that I will write to accompany the design. It's a little overwhelming to think of now, but I'm excited to get started.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

For Karen

In Senior Studio we are designing a retail boutique for Target. In an attempt to be fun and funky I'm studying fashion illustration and rendering. I love the work of Yoko Ikeno, and one of her illustrations reminds me of a friend. Karen, this is for you.


Wednesday, September 13, 2006

I Want That

My favorite game from childhood has been recreated in some of my favorite fabrics! If anyone wants to give me a present I want the Maharam Memory Game. Does it get any cooler?!



Monday, September 11, 2006

Palais Royal

Palais Royal, originally uploaded by zenroxie.

I filled my sketchbook while I was in Europe this summer. This is one of my favorites of the art nouveau details on the Paris Metro.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Watter Bottle


My water bottle is inspired by the shape of fan vaults and the handles of tea pots. Not much can be done to improve the functionality of water bottles, so I designed it to be stylish instead.



This little boy abandoned his parents and found his own space to fall asleep on the train. He wanted to prove his independence, but only moved a few rows away. The perfect sofa is a comfortable leather sofa that looks like an adult piece, but is sized just for him.

Wayfinding Pamphlet


Each exhibit space is unique. I arranged each group so that visitors could wind their way through each space. They can see each exhibit in turn, but still have the opportunity to explore.

Building Materials

Building Materials Poster

I analyzed the cost effectiveness of sustainable building materials. I found that the materials themselves don't have a huge effect on the cost. It is the consultant fees required to design and test the building that add to the price. But the additional expense pays for itself within 3 to 5 years and after 20 years a building can save $50 a square foot each year.

Rug Pattern


This rug pattern is inspired by the architecture of the eatchquake exhibit design at the Natural History Museum in London. I wanted a dynamic pattern with a sense of movement.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Making History

I just found that Wikipedia has an entry for 2006 European Heat Wave.

The 2006 European heat wave was a period of exceptionally hot weather that arrived at the end of June 2006 in certain European countries. The UK, France, Benelux, Italy, Poland, the Czech Republic and Germany are most affected. Several records were broken. In The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Ireland and the UK, July 2006 is the warmest month since official measurements began.

It wasn't fun, but I lived through history!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Happily Ever After

I'm so happy to be home, especially because I made it back in time to see two friends from the studio at their wedding receptions. They were two of the most beautiful brides, and most beautiful receptions I've been to. And I'm not just saying it.

Karamie and Neil

First was Karamie Moore and Neil Maynes. Their reception was in a beautiful yard in Kaysville. I didn't know views like this still existed in Davis County.

Karamie's Reception

Karamie's Recption

Karamie's Reception

Karamie's Reception

Karamie's Reception

The timing of each reception was perfect for me to make it to South Jordan in time to see Hayley Joy Brady and her new husband John Neil.

Hayley's Reception

Hayley's Reception

Hayley's Reception

Hayley's Reception

It was a beautiful evening and you both did an exquisite job. I wish you both joy and happiness!

Friday, August 11, 2006

There's No Place Like Home

I don’t know if I was more excited to fly home, or to fly to London. This trip has been wonderful, but I’m exhausted. We’re all ready to get back to our family and friends. The day started out uneventful. I shared a taxi with Tim and Susan. We left Hotel Arley at 8:30 and were dropped off at Terminal 1 of Charles De Gaulle Airport a little after 9:00 a.m. Security was light, just a few questions about when I packed my bags and a metal detector at the gate. I joked that this was the airport the shoe bomber left from and it was the only airport that let us keep our shoes on.

The rest of our group came about an hour later on the metro and our flight left on time. Besides Tim and Susan, Wendy, Megan P., Natalie, Barbara, Russell, Adam, Gabe, Kelly, Melissa and Una were on the flight with me. It’s only an hour shorter flying from Paris to Chicago than it was flying San Francisco to London, but it felt a lot longer. I think that’s how all trips are. It always feels longer on the way home. It didn’t help that the audio on my seat didn’t work. I missed out on all the movies and had nothing to watch but the map the whole way. Boy is the Atlantic big!

United Flight 943_003

United Flight 943_002

United Flight 943_006

I amused myself by sketching. I know everyone in the group is sick of my sketches at this point, but I find relaxing. It’s also a great way to kill time. I sketched several pictures in the in flight magazine and was surprised to find that a picture of Jackson Hole’s antler arch made me homesick. I’ve never liked anything western, but this was the first familiar thing I’ve seen in a month.

At Tim’s suggestion I also sketched the inside of the plane. This was my view for 8 and half hours.


The tedium also made me feel guilty. How spoiled are we? For $500 we can fly half way around the world in a day. Travel couldn’t get much easier. It took my great great great grandparents their entire life’s savings, and months on ships, trains, and covered wagons to make this same trip.

About 30 minutes before we landed an announcement was made. Due to new Homeland Security measures we needed to take all liquids of gels we had with us and put them in our checked baggage before we could get on our next flight. That included water, lotions, shampoo and anything else of that consistency. I thought it was odd, but I was a little more concerned with filling out the customs and immigration form.

We landed about 20 minutes late which made me nervous after the flight we missed on the way to London. We still had two hours before the next flight but that isn’t a long layover for an international flight.

This is my first time in Chicago and I didn’t see much of it. I didn’t even see much of the airport. I did notice that the designers did some cool things with the carpet pattern to enhance wayfinding. A pattern of stripes led the way down the hallway to customs, and started to break up and then run perpendicular to the walls when it was time to stop. No one asked, “Where are we supposed to go?” The carpet pattern was clearer than the signs. I also thought, “How lame is it that after all this time away, I finally make it back to the US and all I notice is the airport design!” I can’t help it. I’ve never pretended to be cool!

Immigration was a piece of cake. Two or three questions and I was through. Then things got complicated. We had to collect all our luggage, go through customs, and recheck everything before finding the connecting flight. All would have gone well if it hadn’t taken FOREVER for our luggage to arrive. One of the most stressful parts of the entire trip was waiting at baggage claim knowing how little time we had.

During the wait I found out what was going on. We heard a few more announcements about no liquids or gels, so I finished my water and looked through my bags. All I had in that category was hand sanitizer and sun tan lotion. I pulled them out, ready to put them in my luggage. I stood next to an airport employee who was helping an elderly man with his luggage. Another man nearby asked him why we needed to get rid of anything liquid. He responded, “You haven’t heard yet?” When he was assured that, no, we had no idea why, he continued. “You were in the air while it was happening, but a terrorist ring was busted this morning in England. They were trying to smuggle explosives on to planes in small shampoo bottles. They arrested 24 and think there may be more. The security level has been raised to Orange.” We had absolutely no idea! I found the rest of the group and told them what was going on. It explains why it was taking forever to get our luggage. They must be rescreening everything that came in on an international flight.

The luggage finally came, but mine was in the last batch to arrive. I gathered everything up, put my liquids in the luggage I needed to recheck, and headed for Customs. There was a bottleneck of people trying to get through, but they quickly checked our forms and sent us through. Our souvenirs were the least of their worries. United let us leave our luggage in a pile and with an assurance that I could make the flight I ran to the train. I made it up the stairs just as it was about to leave for Terminal 1. I tried to step on the train and I was half way in as the doors started to shut. This happened all the time on the Tube, and everyone would step back an make more room. It was amazing how many more people could fit into a car that you were sure was packed. But here no one budged! Everyone just stood there staring at me and I barely had time to jump back before the doors shut. I heard Barbara yell my name and looked up to see her and Russell in the corner, and PLENTY of room in the rest of the car. Welcome back to the US! No one here knows the proper way to use mass transit!

It was several minutes before the next train came and as the first one on I went all the way to the back so there would be plenty of room for the next group of travelers. I was joined by a pilot and a few people I recognized from our Paris flight. As the train slowly made it’s way around the terminals there was a long line of news vans outside. Some one asked the pilot if that was because of the terrorist arrests and he said yes. “Heathrow has been shut down” he added. Things must be worse than I thought. I’m very glad that we didn’t fly out from England in the midst of this! My sister went on study abroad last summer and flew to London the morning of the Tube bombings. Now I’m flying back amidst terrorist arrests. My parents may never let their children leave the country again.

Of course my flight left from the furthest terminal and I ran to security. This is where I realized I might not make my flight. The line was long and slow, and they were in no hurry to get us through. Barbara and Russell were a few people ahead of me. If we were going to miss the flight we would miss it together.

As I entered the line a man was going over the security restrictions again. He said to no one in particular, “Do you have any liquids or gels? Any water . . . shampoo . . hair gel . . . booze . . .?” I laughed, which made him laugh to. Under the circumstances there was nothing else to do. I looked through my carry on again and discovered that I had missed my lip gloss. It took it out and looked at it. It was a gel and I had to abandon it on the counter. I loved that lip gloss, and it was a new container. It became my sacrifice to our national security.

I can’t believe how long it took to get through Chicago security. Salt Lake was quite fast, and San Francisco was a model of efficiency. Here they were understaffed and didn’t seem to care about anything. They didn’t screen people based on how soon their flights left. There was no ushering through the multiple lines to make sure they moved at the same rate. There were no instructions on what they wanted done or how to put your belongings through the scanner. This caused delay after delay as they had to rescreen bags that weren’t put through properly. I don’t mind waiting, even when I’m late, but I can’t stand inefficiency.

When I finally made it through I ran with my laptop, camera and bag to gate C16, expecting to miss my flight. I also expected C16 to be the last gate but was relieved to find it way only half way down the hallway. I turned the corner to see they were still boarding the plane. I made it!

Once on board I found that everyone else was there except for Una. She was behind me in baggage claim and must still be in security. An announcement was made over the intercom. Our pilot hadn’t made it in from Seattle yet and they were still waiting for passengers to arrive. It was another half an hour before we were ready to take off which gave Una time to make it. It was a very stressful two hours and there was still another layover in Denver ahead of us.

The flight went by surprisingly fast, but once again I had audio problems. The sound actually worked, but the in flight entertainment from NBC didn’t. The sound cut in and out and was then gone completely. I tried to turn to a music channel, but the woman next to me had her tray table down and her lap top out. Her tray completely covered the controls to my headset. I was stuck again with no sound but I was too tired to care. The flight attendants finally changed the tape and played an episode of The Office. I have only seen one episode of the show before and yes, that is the episode they played.

We finally landed in Denver and for the first time there was plenty of time before the next flight. Tim and Susan were scheduled to leave an hour before the rest of us but they found that their flight had been cancelled due to security reasons and they went to get on stand by. We found our next gate and collapsed on the floor. I pulled out my sketchbook. Sorry everyone, but it helps me de-stress.


Before long the sun started to set. We had been traveling for almost 20 hours, but we flew with the sun and the end of the day was just catching up with us. It was our first rocky mountain sunset in ages. I never really noticed a sunset in London or Paris. You need mountains to make them dramatic. Even behind an airport it was beautiful.

Denver Airport_001

It actually felt good to sit still for a little while. A few of us split an overpriced pizza and Kaylee fell asleep on the floor. She looked like we all felt.

Denver Airport_014

There were concerns that our flight would be cancelled too, but when it was only delayed an hour we considered ourselves lucky. On the plane I shut my eyes for a minute and woke up over the Rockies. I don’t remember take off at all. I looked out the window (this way my first window seat the entire trip) and saw Logan below. The temple was lit and I could see where my house was.

We landed safely and our luggage soon followed. But Tim and Susan were back in Denver and on the carousel were Kelly and Wendy’s luggage going around and around. Their flight went directly from Chicago to Salt Lake, but apparently their luggage didn’t. My parents were there to pick me up and we took Una back to Logan as well. When I got home it was after 1:00 a.m. which was 9:00 a.m. Paris time – over 24 hours after leaving the hotel. I can’t believe I actually made it.

This is a long post, but it was a LONG day to end a LONG trip.