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American Road Trip Adventure: Days 9 & 10

October 8th, 2013 (09:24 am)

I took a long road trip in August and early September. I was traveling to a conference in Salt Lake City, Utah, and we made it a family vacation, to show our son more of this big, amazing country. I didn't want to advertise to every burglar on the internet that our house was empty, so I waited until I returned home to start posting blog entries.
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Thursday, Aug. 22 and Friday, Aug. 23
Salt Lake City, Utah

The original reason for the road trip was the NFPW conference I was attending in Salt Lake City. The National Federation of Press Women started in 1937 as a professional group for women in the newspaper business, and has expanded to include women and men from all areas of communications. (We keep the old name for tradition's sake -- and because nobody can ever agree on what it would be changed to!) I'm on the national board and attend the annual conference most years, wherever it is held around the country. It's always great to see my old NFPW friends, make new professional contacts, and learn about trends in the industry.

Thursday was mostly meetings. 'Nuff said. Later, a group of us (including Bob and Jon Morgan) did have an awesome dinner, with margaritas, at Blue Iguana. No, Jon Morgan did not have a margarita, too. (For the record, Utah is not a completely dry state. In fact, it has modernized its liquor laws dramatically since I lived there in the 1980s.) NOTE TO RELATIVES WHO ARE READING THIS ALOUD TO MY MOTHER-IN-LAW: YOU'LL WANT TO LEAVE OUT THAT LAST SENTENCE AND THE MARGARITA REFERENCES.
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Friday morning I met an Osmond. Yes, I met a member of Utah's famous musical family. Justin Osmond, nephew of Donny and Marie, is the son of Merrill Osmond of the original quartet of singing brothers. Did you know that the four brothers began singing as a barbershop quartet in order to raise enough money to buy hearing aids for their two oldest brothers, who were deaf? This was before Donny was old enough to join the group.

Hearing loss runs in the Osmond family, and Justin was born with a profound one. Being an Osmond, he was always musical, despite not being able to hear the music with his ears. He learned to play the violin but had trouble keeping time with his two brothers when they played together, until he realized he could stay in time with them by watching the movements of his brother's bow.
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Now all grown up, Justin came to our conference to be our Friday breakfast speaker. He looks exactly like you expect an Osmond to look: clean cut, with dark hair and a dazzling smile. He related some facts about growing up as an Osmond and about growing up deaf. He introduced us to his fiancee. And he told us about his foundation, the Olive Osmond Hearing Fund, with which he travels around the world, bringing hearing aids to children who cannot hear. He has also written a book, Hearing With My Heart.

This guy was so inspiring. I was in tears, watching the video he showed us and seeing the look on these kids' faces when they heard their parents' voices for the first time. He signed books for us afterward. And when someone told him I used to write Sweet Valley High books, he and his fiancee got excited and asked if they could have their picture taken with ME!

Friday afternoon -- while Bob and Jon Morgan swam in the hotel pool and then visited with buffalo and antelopes at Antelope Island State Park, in the Great Salt Lake -- I gave a conference workshop on writing a book. My co-presenter, Mike Bullard of Idaho, has written a biography of the late Louise Shadduck, who was the first woman to hold a cabinet-level position, Director of Commerce, in the state of Idaho. Louise, who died in 2008, was also a journalist and an NFPW member. Mike talked about the journey he made in writing and self-publishing his book, The Lioness of Idaho: Louise Shadduck and the Power of Polite, and what he learned from the experience. I talked about my more traditional publishing route with major publishers, and the process of writing a book for an established series.

That evening, when I was finished with my presentation and Jon Morgan and Bob returned from wading in the Great Salt Lake, we found time to explore Temple Square, two blocks from our hotel. Jon Morgan lounged on the base of a pioneer statue while Bob and I read the historic markers, and then we all toured the sumptuously decorated Joseph Smith Building and rode to the top floor to enjoy wonderful views of the city, the Wasatch mountains surrounding the city, the Temple, and the gardens below.

That evening, I attended the NFPW Communicator of Achievement banquet while the guys ate room-service pizza. (I'm not going to include photos from conference banquets and other activities here. I may do another blog entry later with just NFPW conference photos; for this one, I think I'll stick to the sightseeing pictures.)

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Comments

Posted by: ResQgeek (resqgeek)
Posted at: October 9th, 2013 10:38 am (UTC)
Antelope Island

You should have had Jon Morgan do the Junior Ranger program at Antelope Island State Park...my girls did and it certainly expanded our appreciation for the location.

Posted by: petrini1 (petrini1)
Posted at: October 9th, 2013 03:34 pm (UTC)
Re: Antelope Island

I wasn't with them that day; I had to be at the conference. So I don't know why Bob didn't point it out to him. He loved the Junior Ranger program at all the other places!

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