Thanksgiving this year wasn’t the nearly maddening experience it usually is for us. Jason’s family, due to scheduling conflicts, had their Thanksgiving dinner a few days after Thanksgiving. Hallelujah! For once we didn’t have to eat and dash and then force ourselves to eat again. Getting to spend time with both of our families, without the usual time constraints, seemed unnatural for a holiday but boy was it sublime. We ate slowly, talked much, and even got to play a couple of board games. If every year worked out like that I would not complain one bit…not even half a bit.
Monthly Archives: November 2010
Jason and I have vacationed in Moab many times but the pleasant weather, breathtaking scenery, and killer biking trails always call us back for more.
Although we just went to Moab in June, we weren’t quite ready to acquiesce to winter yet so we traveled down there again for one last hoorah. We typically go to Moab in the spring or fall when the temperatures are about perfect; we had never been this late in the season so we weren’t sure what to expect. The weather turned out to be quite pleasant. Jackets were needed but we stayed pretty warm with them, except when the sun went down. Burr!
Moab was pleasantly uncrowded, the most deserted we have ever seen it. We were even able to secure a cabin at the Red Cliffs Lodge, a popular hotel that we have found it impossible to get reservations at during the busy season. Now that I have stayed there I can see why it’s always packed. Our cabin was situated on the banks of the Colorado River; we had our own private patio from which to gawk at the majestic sandstone cliffs that broke the skyline. Our suite had an inviting fireplace and a Jacuzzi tub in the master bedroom. I would highly recommend this lodge to anyone fortunate to find a vacancy there.
We spent our time in Moab doing the usual: hiking and biking. While the day we spent hiking in Arches National Park was lovely, our real adventure was our bike trek. We went biking on a “trail” that we hadn’t tried before: the left side of Tusher Canyon. This was supposed to be only a moderately difficult path but I don’t think I’ve ever feared for my life while biking like I did as we traversed the narrow ledges of this canyon’s walls, ledges that slanted into a sandstone oblivion. The hundreds of feet between us and the ground were not broken by trees or bushes; nothing to soften a fall or hold onto meant that any slip-up could result in an abrupt encounter with the valley floor.
But potentially falling off cliffs wasn’t our only problem in Tusher, finding the cliffs that we would then try to avoid falling off was also a big dilemma. Like many of the lesser known Moab trails, the path up the side of Tusher Canyon was not marked and since it traveled over rock it wasn’t as if you could just follow the footprints of those that went before you. Our biking book said that after about 3.4 miles of riding to look for an obscure rock ramp on the right that leads up a passable portion of the slickrock. Earth to the author: how are you supposed to notice an indistinct bank of rocks that slope up when you are surrounded by upward slanting rocks? Needless to say that finding the “ramp” was tricky, frustrating, and involved a lot of backtracking.
Was it all worth it? Absolutely!!! The top of the plateau we risked our lives to reach was a slickrock paradise! It was all freestyle riding up there and gorgeous. And since it was off-season we didn’t see a single biker so all that slickrock goodness was ours to enjoy by ourselves. I would gladly get lost and face precipices to bike on top of the world like that again.
The bottom line? I would recommend Moab in November. You’ll need a jacket but you won’t have to fight throngs in the national parks or on the slickrock and you will have all the lodging options your heart could desire. Do it! Do it!
We’ve all passed one of those cars. You know, a car that’s making some ungodly noise that sounds like the harbinger of its imminent demise. I’ve always wondered when I cross such a vehicle why a piece of junk like that is even still on the road. Until…
For nearly a decade I have had a faithful auto companion. The Mazda Protégé Jason and I bought shortly after we got married now has over 180,000 miles on it and yet it still works well. It has required very few repairs over the years, which is quite impressive given the minuscule amount of money we paid for it and its current mileage. Unfortunately, that vehicle, which once made me proud, had become a bit of an embarrassment as of late.
I am not a car person; cars definitely don’t represent a status symbol to me. They aren’t a good investment so I’m of the opinion that spending a lot on one is a bit of a waste. As long as mine are comfortable and reliable I don’t care how old or stylish they are. Frankly, I’d rather spend my money on buckets of shoes and trips to Hawaii than a car payment. So, although I am not prone to vehicular snobbery, I must admit that I haven’t particularly enjoyed driving my Mazda the last year or so; in fact it’s made me hang my head in shame on many occasions.
Two or three years ago our Protégé started making a high-pitched squealing sound. It didn’t do it all the time, just now and then. Cold, hot, or wet weather seemed to aggravate it. We asked several mechanics about this issue but none of them could find anything wrong or had any ideas what the problem might be. As time went on the squealing became much more frequent and obnoxious, yet we still had no insights as to the cause.
Recently the shrieking had become so annoying and constant that Jas and I were starting to seriously consider buying a new car. After all, with the cause still a mystery we didn’t know if the vehicle was going to spontaneously combust at some point. Plus, I was getting pretty wary of driving the squeal mobile around.
Waking up all your neighbors with an ungodly screeching sound as you pull out of your driveway really adds to the awesomeness of any weekday morning. Yup, there’s no better way to turn your morning commute into a joyful affair than giving everyone within a mile radius the impression that horrible shrieking aliens have taken over the planet.
We thought we would give fixing our Protégé one more try before giving up. We kept note of what set off the racket and went into a mechanic with our full account. Unlike everyone else we had taken the car to, this guy thought he knew what might be the problem: belts that have stretched. Apparently it’s common for engine belts to stretch and become loose over time, which can cause them to slip and screech. He tightened the Protégé’s belts and tadah, no more noises. So all that time all she needed was a $30 belt tightening to be as good as new. Unbelievable! If there weren’t so many idiot mechanics out there I could have saved myself a lot of ridicule and hearing loss.
This post is all about bragging. That’s right, I’m writing this just so I can sing my own praises. And, since I am longwinded, my boasting is sure to be lengthy.
Last spring Jason and I planted a garden. We have just one 8×4 garden box in our yard but it’s big enough to provide more fresh deliciousness than two people could possibly consume: squash, cucumbers, onions, peppers, and, of course, tomatoes. Although all of our garden plants did well this year, our tomato vines were extraordinarily productive. From two tomato plants we harvest at least 429 tomatoes over the course of the summer. I tried to diligently keep track of how many we pulled off expressly for the purpose of rubbing it in everyone’s faces but I forgot to count my bounty now and then so 429 is a low estimate. And don’t you be thinking that that quantity was only possible because our pickings were pathetically small; no way, these were big juicy babies. Yum!
So what’s our secret? Did we spray our tomatoes nightly with mutant growth hormone? Make sacrifices to the great tomato gods? No and no. Though maybe we should have tried one of those proactive approaches so we could take credit for our tomatoes being awesome because, honestly, they pretty much did it on their own. We filled our entire garden box with a special soil blend from Olson’s Nursery specifically formulated to make garden box plants happy. It was well worth the $100 or so it cost us. We also, purposefully, built our garden box in the perfect sunny spot on the south side of our house. And that is pretty much the extent of our gardening labors. Sounds like a lot of work, right? Sunshine + nutritious soil = more tomatoes than we know what to do with.
So what has become of those nearly 500 tomatoes? Salsa, salsa, salsa, salsa, some pasta sauce, salsa, salsa, salsa. And, now that the weather has gotten cooler, tomato soup has become our new favorite way to use up lots of tomatoes. (I would highly recommend Tyler Florence’s recipe.)
That brings me to the sad part of this post; the part where I whine instead of brag. It is now time to pull up those hardy tomato plants that have provided their fruits so faithfully for months. Goodbye good fellows and thanks for all the fish…I mean veggies. I will morn your loss forever, or for about 7 months, whichever comes first. After said time I reserve the right to forget all about you and pursue my latest vegetable fling; I’m so fickle.
Although our Halloween party is practically an all-consuming affair, Jason and I love fall and Halloween too much to miss out on all the other seasonal activities just because we’ve got that whole party mess to work out.
Early in October we took our friend Arvinder, who is visiting the U.S. from India for the first time, to Nightmare on 13th in Salt Lake City, which is one of the top haunted houses in the country. We thought this might be a little too much cultural immersion for him but he loved his good American scare. Before he would go into each new area at the haunted house he’d guess where all the creeps would be hiding and anticipate their surprise; he’d jump and then laugh whenever something startled him and he made sure he told all the actors that they were awesome.
We also went to Cornbelly’s a few weeks ago with a group of our friends. Agriculture may seem anything but entertaining, however, if that is the case, then Cornbelly’s is at odds with the natural state of the universe. Corn mazes, haunted hayrides, rubber ducky races, straw mazes, crazy slides, corn cannons, tetherball, and pig races are just a few of the endless activities that will divert you at Cornbelly’s. We quite enjoyed running, climbing, sliding, and crawling around like kids. We raced our duckies, climbed on rope webs, mulled over straw mazes, and held fierce sliding competitions. We had a blast but I am sad to report that we failed to successfully navigate a corn maze; after wandering around in one for almost 2 hours we found ourselves back at the entrance, not the exit, so, with that demoralizing blow, we gave up.
After our party was over, and time didn’t seem so compressed, we had a chance to attend a couple gatherings that we didn’t have to do any of the prep work for. Hallelujah! In addition to dropping by an adults-only bash hosted by Jason’s brother we went to a pirate themed shindig with the Rowleys, which was also just for grownups. The buccaneer party was put on by Jeremy’s boss, who happens to be the owner of the company he works for. It was definitely an atypical affair. Apparently the host spent over $60,000 on the custom animatronics he had build solely for this get-together. However, his many obsessed employees, who were the source of this information, were definitely prone to extreme exaggeration and out-right bragging when it came to their esteemed chief so I would be surprised if that cost estimate wasn’t on the high side but, either way, it was obvious that quite a bit of mullah had been shelled out to make this event happen. We loved the swashbuckling atmosphere, the yummy grog and grub, and dancing the Macarena. More than anything though we enjoyed being guests at this gathering instead of hosts.
On the 30th we decided to participate in a 5k fundraiser for Hale Center Theater called the Highway to Hale. The main appeal of this particular race was that costumes were encouraged; Jason and I were all about that. We didn’t want to wear anything too annoying though while we were racing so I simply donned angel wings and a halo while Jason sported a clown wig and some rather bright spider web socks. A lot of the other runners put Halloween spirit over comfort and raced in all sorts of completely awkward gear: a cow suit, a giant Wheaties box, a frigid looking grass skirt and coconut shells combo (on a guy). We saw a group dressed as Mario Kart characters with cardboard boxes strapped around their necks serving as the karts. They looked great and were surprisingly graceful running with their bulky boxes…yeah, they passed me. Sad. Although I was outrun by the cardboard box people I still placed 17th out of the over 60 women in my age division. Jason, of course, put me to shame though. He finished 6th in his age group and, out of hundreds of race participants, he finished 23rd overall. What can I say? I’ve created a monster.
I decided that since we had over a week between our party and Halloween, enough time to sort of recuperate, that on Halloween I wanted to make a spooky dead man’s dinner for Jason. Jason was eager to help create this delicious yet disgusting feast so together we made shrunken head cider, bone calzones, trick-or-treat turnovers, and toe jam sundaes. Sounds scrumptious doesn’t it? It was actually quite tasty and a lot of fun to make. Preparing an unappetizing meal might just be a new Halloween tradition for us.