Monday, November 29, 2010

Him? Oh that's Lyle

So my buddy and I are getting ready to head home to Utah after three wonderful weeks in Texas. We pulled into Oklahoma City around midnight and checked into our hotel. Both of us being hungry, we decided to cross the parking lot to the local IHOP.

While we were there, my buddy Eric noticed a guy in a cowboy hat across the room that looked really familiar. I looked over, and both of us at the same time realized who it was. We tried to get a good picture...but this was the best we could do.

So as we were leaving, we grabbed the waiter who had been serving Mr. Cowboy Hat and asked if that was Lyle Lovett over there. The waiter had no idea who we were talking about. I wanted to slap the kid across the face. He then said, "I'll go ask if you want me to."

And he did.

And it was!

I felt bad for interrupting his meal, so I went over and apologized for sending the waiter. Lyle (as I call him now), was very cordial, asked my name and was a very, very kind man. I figured we had already bothered him enough, so I didn't ask for a picture or anything...but was truly impressed at how nice he was.

And that was the night I met Lyle Lovett.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Whoa...That's Hot

One of the rig crew came by with some homemade jerky that he was sharing with all willing to "dare" take a piece. Never being reluctant when it comes to trying food, I of course took sample.

My mouth still burns.

This jerky was made with the infamous Ghost Pepper. It is THE hottest pepper in the world.

It is pretty hot.

Maybe the old adage of not taking food from strangers is good advice...

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The DQ Nazi

I take my ice cream very seriously. VERY seriously. So when it comes to partaking in the pleasure of this sub-zero calf nourishment, I have a tendency to be pretty picky.

Now rewind several years to a brief time that I lived in the greater St. George area. While down there, I had the great pleasure to work with a young man, whose parents happened to own the local Dairy Queen. Because of this connection, any time that I frequented the DQ, I was given the employee discount of 50% off. I ate a lot of ice cream there.

During that time, I learned to fine-tune the infamous Blizzard Treat to the exact specifications that made my palette dance. Specifically, I typically order a Chocolate Hawaiian Blizzard. The Hawaiian has pineapple, coconut and banana, but unlike the Island version, it doesn't have nuts in it. Also, it is typically served with Vanilla, but I found that Chocolate takes it to a whole new level of awesomeness.

So, back to Texas, where I am currently biding my time. We have found that Dairy Queen happens to be quite the common landmark in Texas. In fact, it is one of only 4 major chain restaurants in town.

We have been going there almost every other day, typically it is for a Blizzard.

However, we learned quickly that this particular Dairy Queen is the home of the DQ Nazi!

I have met a lot of people in this world. I have met a lot of people in the Customer Service industry. However, in all this time, I have never met a person with poorer customer service skills than this Gem of an Employee.

She is an older lady, with what sounds like a high-pitched smoker's coughing voice. She has a gift for rolling her eyes at you and making you feel about 2 inches tall. She seems to get along wonderfully well with her fellow coworkers...but if you are a customer...expect no respect.

Here is just a sampling of some of the events we have seen since meeting the DQ Nazi, (by the way...all of her responses were yelled unless otherwise noted):

To one of my coworkers when he asked for a Root Beer Freeze: "I don't know how to do that!"

To someone in the drive-thru: "Shut up! I told you to wait! I'll be with you in a minute!"

To another coworker: "We don't have any ice cream!"

One other coworker: "Don't pay now, I'll get all your orders!"

To me, (when I asked for a Chocolate Hawaiian Blizzard): "We don't have any chocolate!"

When I asked her if she could put chocolate syrup in it, she responded with a "grumph" and a roll of her eyes: "Well...yes."

That chocolate syrup conversation has actually happened twice. The same way both times.

And she has started adding nuts to my Blizzards too.

I don't know why it is...but I think that she is one of the biggest reasons we keep going back there!

Friday, November 12, 2010

The 72 Oz. Challenge

Well I told you that we, (my buddies and I), were going to attempt the Big Texan 72 oz. Steak Challenge. Basically you have to eat a 72 oz. steak, a baked potato, a roll, salad and 3 pieces of breaded shrimp. If you complete it in 60 minutes, the meal is free, plus you get a t-shirt proclaiming that you succeeded in the challenge. If you don't complete it, you still get a shirt that says you tried...and you have to pay $72.

So four of us went for it. None of us completed it. Eric put in the best performance, eating almost 3/4ths of the steak, plus most of the sides. The rest of us, Jason, Jason, and I, finished half of our steaks, plus our sides.

The biggest thing that killed me was the chewing, (my jaws hurt so bad!), and the texture of the meat after 36 oz of steak passing through my mouth. At the end of the hour, I could still fit some more food in my stomach...I just couldn't chew it.

But I am glad that I tried. How often do you get to make the attempt?

And here, for your viewing pleasure, are some pictures courtesy of our friend Jay:

Outside the Big Texan

Signing the release forms

The steaks cooking

Hearing the Rules

The Challenge!

The end of the line

Our shirts

Leaving with our heads held high

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Burger From He**

Several years ago a television show called, "Man vs. Food" premiered. It is basically a show where the host, Adam, goes around to various restaurants to take on their local food challenges. Some of them are spicy and hot, and some of them are just large and voluminous.

The very first episode that I saw was filmed in Amarillo, TX, (which happens to be about 80 miles from where I am right now). In the episode, Adam took on two challenges that have stuck out in my mind ever since.
The first was the Burger From Hell. At the Coyote Bluff Cafe, they take a half pound beef patty, put on a full cup of fresh jalapeƱos, a Habanero pepper sauce, and Tabasco Sauce. Then a large amount of cheese is melted over the whole thing to trap all the heat in. Add a little lettuce and tomato, and you have the Burger From Hell.
Ever since I saw that episode, I have wanted to eat that burger.
My first attempt to eat it happened back in October. We came out to Amarillo with the specific intent to eat this burger. We arrived at the opening time, sat down, and without hesitation, I told the waitress that I wanted a Burger From Hell. She told me they were missing one of the ingredients and that it wouldn't taste the same, (specifically the Habanaro pepper sauce). I consoled myself with a Green Chile Burger, saddened by the fact that I wasn't going to fulfill my goal that day.
But lament not! My chance at redemption came yesterday, November 9, 2010.
We drove in to Amarillo, once again with the goal of going to the Coyote Bluff Cafe. We arrived on time, sat down, and once again, ordered the burger. This time we had success!

The burger was fantastic. I won't was very, very hot. But it also was very, very good. It seems that whenever something goes to one extreme, such as heat, something else is sacrificed, such as taste. But that was not the case here. This burger, despite kicking my heat sensors off the charts, was delicious!

If you are ever in the Amarillo, TX area, I highly recommend that you try this burger.

Tomorrow, I and my buddies will be attempting the OTHER challenge that was featured on "Man vs. Food". At the Big Texan Restaurant, they offer a 72 Oz. Steak Dinner Challenge. You have to eat the steak (72 oz.), a baked potato, salad, roll and three pieces of shrimp. If you eat it all in an hour, it is free. If costs $72.

Either way you get a t-shirt. One that says you succeeded...and one that says you tried.

If you want to watch, they have a live Internet feed. Go to and watch us around 5:30 PM MST. We are going to be there around 5:00, but it takes about a half hour to cook the steak.

Wish me luck!

The 3 A's

This is just an interesting little tidbit into my social life...specifically what happened last week in said social life.
As many of you know, back in Sept., I had just started seeing a girl in my ward. We went out several times, she had amazing kids, and for the most part...(at least as far as I could tell), things were going swimmingly.
Apparently, I was mistaken.
I went on a trip to Texas, and while out punching holes deep into the ground, I never heard one word from this girl. Despite two phone calls, (one voicemail), one e-mail and one text message spread over a two week period, (any more and I would have been crossing the line into Stalker); I never received any sort of response.
Now, I knew that she was busy with school, so I gave her the benefit of the doubt and assumed that upon my return, things would pick up again and life in the dating world would be bliss.
Almost a full week back in Utah...and I hadn't heard or seen her. I had hopes that when I turned up at church that Sunday...things would all make sense. And they did...but not in the way I expected.
While sitting in the chapel waiting for the services to begin, she came walking in, big smile on her face, laughing and holding on to...another guy.

Have you ever had a 5-6 year old child run at you full bore and nail you in the stomach/groin with his or her head...because that is at just the right height?
That's what I felt like when I saw her walk in. If I hadn't had the responsibility to teach Elder's Quorum that day, I would have walked out right then and attended a different ward.
But I didn't. And the lesson went well. It was on patience. It was appropriate. Especially considering my dating life and attempts to work towards marriage.

I went home after church and declared for all the Facebook world to see that I had given up. I was done. I had given everything that I had to my efforts at following the Lord's will (and His commandments), to get married...but obviously, nothing has panned out. So I decided that I was done. I would continue to do what is right, stay active in Church and put forth my best efforts towards work, family and friends. But efforts to date were completely shut off. In a very personal moment with the Lord, I promised Him that I would keep my eyes open, but hoped that He would guide me to the right the right time...according to His will.

After that, I felt at peace that everything was going to be ok. Life is still good, and that girl didn't know what she had passed by. Despite my serious lack of follicle supply on my noggin...I still have a lot to offer.

So I pressed forward. I found many things to enjoy and partake in. But I also saw that the Lord wasn't going to let me rest on my laurels for long.

I have a very close friend, whom I very much enjoy spending time with. We met through unusual circumstances as she was dating my cousin for quite some time. During their relationship, she and I built a very solid friendship ourselves. Her name is Ashli. I've mentioned her before when I gave a shout out to her blog.

Ashli is one of my best friends...and at a time when I was avoiding the whole dating scene, she was there to keep me from holing myself into my Man Cave and shunning all social interaction. She got me out on the town, and I hope she knows how much I appreciate that.

So the Friday following that Sunday when I gave up...she and I went out to dinner and a movie and I was able to not dwell on anything of ill will, but rather enjoy the night. Thanks Ashli.

A few days later I was on my way home from Indiana and got a text from another friend, who wanted to set me up on a blind date. I will be honest, (and she, my friend doesn't know this...but), I almost said no. However, because of the respect I have for my friend...I agreed to a lunch date. She helped make the arrangements, and on that Wednesday I took out her co-worker...a girl named Ashley.

I actually had a very good time with Ashley. We went to lunch at a new restaurant in Provo called Molly's. I am glad that I didn't decline. Thank you Hayley my friend...and Ashley.

Finally, on Thursday evening, (the next day), I normally go to Institute because a great man named Thomas Monson, said that I should make it a priority. However, before getting to that, my cousin got married, so I attended the reception. It is always a grand time to see and visit family...especially those that give me a hard time about still being single. (Love you Uncle Joe) The reception was a lot of fun. It did however, put me behind schedule for making it to Institute on time. As I was rushing over to the Church building, another friend, Jon, called me up to chat. I can never say no to we talked for about 45 minutes. Yes...I was REALLY late at this point.

While he and I were talking though, a young woman pulled into the parking lot, and jumping from her car, wearing her running clothes, she rushed passed me into the church. Two things went through my head at this point: 1) This girl must have the wrong Institute class, as it is for people 30 and older...and this girl looked MUCH younger than that, and 2) She had a really nice smile...because she smile directly at me. So I noticed it.

Anyway, 10 minutes or so later, I finished my phone call and went into the building. As I walked up to the classroom, I saw that the young woman who had passed me earlier was standing outside the room, listening through the door. I went to a second door and gestured to wards it, implying the question of whether she would join me or not. She politely waved a decline, and I entered into the classroom alone. There was only one chair in the back available, and I made myself comfortable with the last 15 minutes of class.

About 2 minutes later, the young woman from the hall came through the same door I had offered her earlier...(she must be independently minded)...and as there were no chairs available, (other than the front row...which NOBODY ever wants), I quickly stood up, offering her my chair and grabbed another one from the stack in the corner.

Guess what! She accepted my offer!

Class continued on for the last few minutes left, and it was a very good lesson. At the conclusion of class I turned to this girl sitting next to me and teased her about finally coming in, rather than hovering outside the door. In her defense, she said that she could hear the lesson just fine until some kids started causing a ruckus in the hallway, and that was why she came in. However, I like to think that she really came in hoping that a seat would be available near that handsome bald guy that just went in.

Anyway, we talked for quite a while, mostly about food and England, before I finally asked her for her name.


I had to stop myself from saying, "Of course it is."

And that is the story of the three A's, Ashli, Ashley and Ashlee.

Monday, November 08, 2010


Considering how often I travel, it was inevitable that things such as this were bound to happen to me. However, one would expect that these things would probably be spread out over a larger time frame than, "all in the same trip".
First of all, let me do my childish lament about losing my Platinum Status in January. Because of the way certain trips have fallen, not all of them have been of the sort to give me more Frequent Flyer Miles. Sadly...come January, I will be reverted back to a more "common" status. I know I should NOT complain, as I have been very, very blessed in my life, especially when it comes to being able to see the world. However, when you get pampered for a long is hard to let go.
Ok...lamenting aside. Let's get to the adventure.

So I am back in Texas, and happy to be here. But let's back track a bit to Saturday, as I was getting ready for this trip. Because it was such an early morning flight, the shuttle was scheduled to pick me up between 4:30 AM and 5:00 AM. They have been known to show up earlier, so I figured, rather than chance missing them, (especially with Day Light Savings starting up), I would just stay awake all night. It is a common practice that I have started doing, just so I can sleep on the plane.
So I stay up...finish on an expense report...and finally, just sit and stare at the wall until 4:31. At this point I get a phone call from the shuttle company. They cheerily inform me that the shuttle driver has locked his keys in his car and is unable to pick me up. However, the 5:30 AM shuttle should be able to get me to the airport on time.
That will be fine.
So I wait around another hour and 15 minutes until the shuttle finally arrives. Hooray!
Fortunately, this driver had a lead foot and we got to the airport with 51 minutes before my flight is supposed to take off. The airline does not allow anyone to check in after 45 before the flight. I checked in with 47 minutes to go. Now to security!
Being a seasoned traveler, I have security line processes down to an art form. I can have everything ready and get through the check points without slowing down the line.
However, as I walked through the metal detector and saw my fellow traveler just beyond the barriers, one of the TSA agents stepped forward and informed me that I had been selected for a random screening and pat down.
So they pick up my backpack, shoes and coat and escort me to the side of security and begin to wipe down my belongings with their super-special explosive checking cloths. These cloths are then ran through a machine that tells if any chemicals that MAY be explosive are found.
They also get to do a pretty intrusive pat-down to yours truly.
Things were running along swimmingly...I consented to the search as I had nothing to hide, and I could see my buddy a few yards away just laughing it up. The TSA agents were very friendly, and I honestly think they were more uncomfortable than I was.
So we start finishing up, my belongings checked out clean, and the pat down had just completed. The final step was swabbing the gloves that were used for the pat down, and seeing if any chemicals were found there.
The security guys were thanking me for my cooperation and willingness to work with them...and then the alarms went off.
Everyone froze and a supervisor was motioned to come over. I was told that SOMETHING from my pat down had set off the explosive chemical alarm. There was going to be another pat down...this time, even more intrusive. And it would be conducted in a private screening room, (instead of the public setting in which I found myself).
So once again I was escorted aside and taken into The Room. Now this search was not the horrific, "Welcome To Prison" type search you may be imagining. But regardless, the security agents were very, very nervous. A new set of gloves was pulled out and the pat down began. I think in some of the bad parts of Vegas, you would have to pay for the services that I got for free.
Finally, the tests were ran again on the gloves...and this time they came back clean. I have no idea how I would have explained myself to my bosses if I ended up on a No-Fly list. Fortunately, I had nothing to worry about.
It was at this point that I was allowed to put my shoes back on, grab my bag and run as quickly as I could to our gate that was already boarding. My buddy laughed and pointed at me the entire run. But we made our flight.
Of course I didn't sleep the entire time, and when we arrived in Denver...I tried to nap during our layover.
Once we got to Oklahoma we were able to get our rental car and drive into Shamrock, TX...which is where I am now.

Yahoo! And Thank You TSA...for all your hard, and uncomfortable work!

And here we go again...

I will just warn you up front that this is going to be a long post. Life really is worth living and I am trying to pack the most of it into the time that I have.
Let's backtrack a few weeks to when I first got home from Texas. As you know from my last post, I was out helping with a new well in the Panhandle area of northern Texas. I can happily say that everything on that went far more smoothly than any of us ever could have hoped for.
The best part of getting home was getting to meet for the first time, my new niece, Phoebe. She was born to Bridgett and Rory while I was away...and this was my first chance to hold her. She is beautiful. And has far more hair than I do.
When I got home to Utah, I took the first few days to catch up on bills and whatnot. I always enjoy fossicking around the untouched piles of unattended items and seeing how my life still continues to plod forward, even when I am not around for it.
That Wednesday, feeling some pains in my neck and lower back, I sought out a massage therapist and had my first, official massage. My cousin Laura recommended her friend that lived locally, and let me tell was amazing! I felt so much better afterwards. I think this is going to become a regular occurrence.
It's a good thing I was relaxed because that evening the Lifferths all gathered together in Provo to celebrate Grandma Lifferth's 90th birthday party. As has become tradition, the grandkids (and mostly great-grandkids), put together a talent show for all the residents of the home. Due to traffic, our usual MC for such events, (Uncle Bob), was delayed in his arrival. And as it was almost time for most of our geriatric crowd to go to bed, (you know...6:00 PM), I was asked to step in as the new MC. If you know me at all, you know I quite enjoy being the center of attention...especially with a microphone. I jumped at the opportunity. We had a wonderful show with many musical numbers, poems, and football tossing skills. The highlight though, was the only act that was done by anyone over the age of 13. It was the magic show done by Craig and Daren. It was fantastic!
After we all wished her a happy birthday and wished Grandma a good night, it still being Wednesday, meant only one thing:

Trafalga Night!!

Quite a few of us who hang out all the time, all bought season passes. So it was a long night of go-karts, batting cages, mini-golf and the XD-Virtual Roller Coaster! It was fantastic.
On Friday I drove out to Colorado and back. A local community college was naming their new engineering building after my Granddad Striegel. We were invited to attend the grand ribbon cutting, (and had the honor of standing in the picture of said cutting). It was so wonderful to visit with family and see all of them. I love those guys.

The next morning, (having gotten back from Colorado for a date the night before), we awoke to Saturday Morning Football! Now that cousin Scott and his family are back in town, football has started up again. And once again, we all realized how much out of shape (and older) we are. But much fun.
Sunday was great as usual. I made it down to Payson to visit the family. I really do enjoy Sunday Dinners.
The next few days were filled with a variety of visits with family and friends. That is until Wednesday when I got to fly out to Indiana and visit my brother Noah and his family.
Obviously the first thing I had to do was re-establish my position as "Favorite Uncle". So I pulled out the big big you ask? The biggest. I found on Amazon (dot com), the World's Largest Gummy Bear. It is 5 pounds of pure awesomeness. I brought three of them. One for Gabby, one for Alex and one for Oliver. I am sure Kaila was quite happy that her children now had a year's supply of Gummy.

Thursday I got to go into Noah's work and get a tour of the facility where he works. Cummins Diesel Engines have a very, very impressive set up in Columbus Indiana. I was grateful for the opportunity to see how they operate and everything they have donated and contributed to the Columbus Community.

On Friday we went to Louisville, KY. There we first toured the Louisville Slugger museum/factory. If you are a baseball fan, you must make a trip to this place at least once in your life. Besides the souvenir bat that you receive at the end of the tour, you can also try the batting cages, hold one of Mickey Mantle's bats, and see what a 90 mph fastball really looks like. I think the best part was as we were going through the factory, they were actually in the process of making bats for the World Series that had just started. A piece of wood from one of the bats came off the lathe and landed near me, and is now at home on my dresser.

We then went to visit my cousin Austin and his wonderful family. After being so hospitable with feeding us and entertaining us, they also invited us to their Ward's Trunk-Or-Treat. What a great time we had with the members of the church there in the backwoods of Kentucky! They were very kind and welcoming.
Saturday we had the chance to drive up to Indianapolis and see the big city. We toured around downtown, and then went to the Indy 500 Racecar track. We actually got a chance to ride ON the track. That was SO COOL!

But not quite as cool as what happened on Monday.
Sunday we had a great time visiting and seeing their neighbors. I also had the chance to go spend some time with Uncle Ernie and Aunt Judy. Ernie took me out to some property they had where they have campouts and picnics. What beautiful countryside out there! I am very grateful for the opportunity I had to spend time with Ernie. Much like all of my uncles, he is a great man.
On Monday we (Noah and his family, and I), went into Cincinnati before I flew home. We first found the ONLY ventriloquist museum in the world. Sadly, it was there was no fodder fed to the creepy nightmare supplies. However, it was cool to be there. We then walked across a bridge, (across the Ohio River) that was used to model the Brooklyn Bridge. On the way back across, there was a large barge passing under us. So we stopped to watch it. Kaila wondered aloud if the barge captain would honk his horn if we pumped our fist (much like you do when a semi-truck is coming towards you). I answered her that there was only one way to find out. And guess what...the Captain didn't disappoint.
I am pretty sure that the horn blare was heard throughout most of the city of Cincinnati. It was so incredibly loud. However, despite the volume, while the kids were holding their hands over their ears, they were still exclaiming, "THIS IS SO COOL!!"
And it was.

Sadly, the time came that I had to fly home. As we were pulling into the terminal, Alex started to get emotional in the backseat. Kaila asked him what the matter was. Between sobs, he replied, "I don't want Uncle Zach to leave...he helped me get to level 5 in Paper Mario."

I almost cried myself.

I really had such an amazing time with Noah, Kaila and the kids. They were so nice to have me and really showed me a great time. Thanks guys!

When I got home, it was once again CRAZY time. I knew I was flying out again on Sunday, so I still had much to do.
Wednesday I got another massage.
Wednesday was also a monumental day in that I went to the dentist. I won't lie...this is a huge deal as I hadn't been to the dentist in over 9 years. You can imagine, that with my regular intake of Dr. Pepper, I was expecting some bad news. I was waiting for the lecture on my Swiss Cheese teeth when the doctor returned and congratulated me for having zero cavities. I asked him if he was sure and then told him how long it had been since I had visited one of his profession. He assured me that he knew what he was doing, then proceeded to lecture me about the importance of regular dentist visits. I promised him I would do better.
Wednesday night was, of course, Trafalga Night. This time we went to the one in Lehi and quite enjoyed the bumper boats and Laser Tag.
Thursday my cousin Adam married a wonderful young lady named Jamie, and I was very glad to attend their reception and see a lot of family.
Friday I went to lunch with two of my best friends, (Jon and Todd). We found a great new BBQ place down on Geneva Road in Orem. You simply MUST try it...unless you are a which case you should slam your head against a wall until you realize that meat is delicious, then go try it.
Saturday was football again....and then bright and early Sunday Morning, I was off to Texas.
Now the observant reader may have noted a significant lack of dating stories. That's because I am throwing that into a separate post. Read on on.