Monthly Archives: May 2011

31 May

U2 in Utah

Posted by on May 31, 2011 at 7:48 pm

I have been a passionate supporter of Bono and the boys since I was a teenager. I’ve seen them perform live a few times but when I heard that they were touring again I was still just as eager as always to go to their show.

U2’s concert in Salt Lake City was originally scheduled for last summer but it got delayed a year due to Bono’s emergency back surgery. The new show date, which seemed infinitely far away, finally came last week and Rice Eccles Stadium was packed with nearly 50,000 expectant fans. It was wonderfully chaotic.

Jason isn't wild about U2 but, being an electronics geek, he was wowed by their stage gadgetry.

Although I was patient with the crowds, even when they blocked the traffic on the concourse by packing excessively around a t-shirt booth, one attendee pushed my tolerance for social gracelessness. After Jason and I found our seats he left for a few minutes to get us a bottle of water. Literally 30 seconds later a random guy sat down next to me, put his arm around me, and asked if I was there by myself. Awkward. Surprisingly, after I told him that I was with my husband he didn’t hang his head and quickly depart with what was left of his dignity. It was as though he thought that by lingering he could somehow change my marital status or his appeal. Even more awkward. Fortunately, an apparently desperate woman sitting nearby caught our conversation and started talking to this weirdo so his focus was redirected away from me. Thank goodness! He’s all yours lady!

U2's stage had a huge circular screen. It was monstrous but the bigger the Bono the better!

Except for those few uncomfortable moments the concert was incredible. Bono, as always, was a terrific performer and the band played flawlessly but it was the unique stage setup that escalated this concert from fantastic to unbelievable. The 360 stage was specifically designed to provide an excellent view of the band from anywhere in a stadium; it definitely did that. We got plenty of close-ups of Bono’s beautiful face. The stage’s enormous screen wasn’t just for Bono ogling though; it descended and extended like a net at times creating a sophisticated electronic funnel. The four legs that supported this screen were about 150 feet high and formed a huge crabbish arch. The top of the arch was covered in all sorts of lighting including enormous searchlights that blasted the sky during “City of Blinding Lights.”

When the screen lowered it formed a masterful electronic webbing. Very cool!

The Dublin fellows rocked and their stage was super awesome! They played for about 2 hours with song selection heavy on the favorites. Great concert!

And just for the record, while I didn’t appreciate the advances of that creepy guy, Bono, I welcome your arms around me anytime.

25 May

Maui Wowie

Posted by on May 25, 2011 at 10:06 pm

Jason and I just hit our tenth anniversary. What a fantastic decade! We traveled to Oahu to commemorate our 5th anniversary so we thought it was only fitting that we should travel to another Hawaiian island, Maui, to celebrate our tenth. Okay, okay, so we were just looking for an excuse to go to Hawaii again but who isn’t looking for an excuse to go to Hawaii?
Our week on the island was packed! Maui is a bigger less-navigable island than Oahu so fitting in all that we wanted to do required a few too many early morning rises for my vacation tastes but we had some truly memorable experiences so I can’t complain too much.

The first day we were on Maui I eagerly gorged myself on delicious sunshine and fresh ocean air. What an oinker I am!

This spot in Ka'anapali, called Black Rock, is where the ancient Hawaiians believed souls of the departed jumped off of Maui to meet their ancestors. Everyday at sunset a diver ceremoniously leaps from these cliffs and we got a great shot of it.

Compacting the details of an adventurous week into a little post won’t be easy but here’s my best attempt:
1. We snorkeled in the Molokini crater in the clearest water I have seen this side of a swimming pool. Visibility was well over 100 feet and the fish weren’t even slightly shy. It was like swimming in a monstrous aquarium. Amazing! We saw at least a dozen types of fish including triggerfish, yellow tangs, and raccoon butterflyfish. Jason is pretty sure a reef shark also cruised by him.

These triggerfish are just one of the many species we saw in the crater. To see our You Tube clip of this school click on the link provided in the comment section.

The very essence of hotness: a foggy snorkeling mask, lumps of messy wet hair, and an awkwardly placed breathing tube. Oh baby!

2. We watched the sunrise over the Haleakala Crater. This is a very popular tourist activity but it lived up to much of the hype. In order to make it to the crater by 5:50 AM though, an ungodly time in of itself, we had to get up at about 2:30 AM and travel a winding road that gains 10,023 feet in 37 miles, one of the greatest elevation changes in that distance in the world. Although the hour was painful and the ride was slow, witnessing the day dawning in these heavens was sublime. The thick layer of turbulent clouds driving up the sides of Haleakala gilded by the rising sun gave the setting an ethereal characteristic. I felt like a god of Olympus watching the beauty of the world unfold beneath me. Lovely! After the sun was up we hiked down the Sliding Sands trail into the crater itself. Talk about otherworldly! The endless veins of eroding green, red, brown, black, blue, and yellow volcanic gravel creeping across the desolate landscape toward the crater’s floor in complete silence made me question the reality of my surroundings more than a few times.

A striking sunrise: painted clouds blanketing austere peaks.

The Haleakala crater was punctured by cinder cones, etched with the jagged remains of ancient lava flows, and streaked with vivid but barren sands. Its utter silence seemed completely at odds with its violent past. No picture could adequately portray its bizarreness.

3. We boogie boarded on Polo Beach near our hotel, the Fairmont Kea Lani. It was a blast! Neither of us had boogied before but I rode a wave all the way to the shore on my first attempt, which got me some envious “How’d she do that?” looks from a group of tourists that had been trying unsuccessfully to do that very thing for over an hour. It was all beginner’s luck-not every wave was that easy-but I did inspire confidence in a number of other beach goers. My easy ride convinced a bunch of cowardly observers that it really couldn’t be that hard so the assemblage of boarders in the water almost instantly doubled. I got some pretty painful burns on my stomach and elbows from being dragged along the shore by wave after wave and, a week later, I am still picking sand out of my hair but it was all worth it! I loved boogieing! By the way, boogie boarding is much easier and less tiring than surfing so if surfing intimidates you, you might want to give boogie boarding a try.

Those legs smack in the middle of that tidal upheaval belong to me. This was just one of the many times I got gobbled by a wave while I was boogie boarding.

That is the smile of a woman who just caught a fantastic wave and now has enough sand in her hair to create her own personal head beach.

Jason must be a lard because he broke that wave's back. 🙂

4. We drove through the lush waterfall-filled tropics on Maui’s east side, commonly referred to as the highway to Hana, with our Mustang convertible’s top down. Absolutely gorgeous! We made a lot of waterfall stops along the way and found plenty of other diversions like the Seven Sacred Pools, a couple of black sand beaches, and an enormous ancient Hawaiian temple called the Pi’olanihale Heiau. Fantastic!

This beautiful black sand beach is near Hana in Wai'anapanapa State Park. Do beaches get any prettier than this?

Just one of the many amazing falls on Maui's east side.

This is only part of the massive temple known as Pi'ilanihale Heiau. Its giant structure was built in stages between 1200 and 1570 AD and spans 3 acres.

Signs at the Kahanu Garden instructed patrons not to walk under the coconut trees because of falling coconuts. So naturally Jason had to simulate a coconut conking.

This view of the Seven Sacred Pools, more correctly called the 'Ohe'o Gulch, was taken from the bridge above. It doesn't show the idyllic waterfalls that cascade from pool to pool as this stream journeys to the ocean but you get the pretty picture.

This flowing trio called Waikani Falls, or the Three Bears, was my favorite of the the many gorgeous falls we encountered on the way to Hana. This baby was the stuff that tropical paradise legends are made of.

5. We ziplined 2,800 feet across a gulch near Makawao with 700 feet of air between our dangling bodies and the ground. Awesome!

This zipline company had twin lines at each zip so Jason and I got to scream in sync.

Heights are not my friend but I actually wasn't nervous zipping across this forest.

700 feet up and 2800 feet across: one cherry of a ride.

6. We rode horses through the eucalyptus forests and windy pastures of the Pi’iholo Ranch. It was quite relaxing and gave Jason a chance to improve his shabby riding skills.

Jason was given the gentlest horse on the ranch, Boomer, due to his poor ponying capabilities. I, on the other hand, rode Cheese, a steed that occasionally bit the butt of the horse in front of him or the legs of the riders at his side.

We spent the rest of our time, which honestly wasn’t much, wandering along the coastline, shopping in Lahaina, eating some truly fantastic fish, making little hiking excursions to the ‘Iao Needle and Dragon’s Teeth, being wowed by the magic of Warren and Annabelle’s, and dipping our feet in Maui’s impossibly blue waters.

We walked along Polo Beach one night and heard whale song coming from migrating humpbacks. I was almost as excited as Captain Kirk.

Sun? Check. Sand? Double check. Smile? Absolutely.

This was the view from our private lanai. Go ahead and be jealous.

Jason was practically begging for a salt soaking by hanging out at those rocks...and boy did he get it.

These strange protrusions, known as the Dragon's Teeth, formed as this lava rock was eaten away by saltwater from the churning spitting sea below.

This stream runs through the lush 'Iao Valley. The ancient Hawaiians believed this valley was sacred so many of their chiefs are buried within its walls.

What a lovely vacation! Good thing our 15th anniversary isn’t too far away or we might have to think of some other excuse to return to the charming islands of Hawaii.

12 May

Chuck Norris Thinks I’m Incredible

Posted by on May 12, 2011 at 8:51 pm

Last May I participated in Goldilocks, a women’s only bike ride. It was so fantastic that I really wanted a repeat this year. I wasn’t too hip on biking it solo though so I recruited a couple friends, Liz and Kandis, to join me in riding the 21 mile version of the course.

We look tough right? Tough-ish maybe? At least not completely wimpy I hope?

This was only the second annual Goldilocks ride but registration still filled up remarkably fast. Even raising the participant cap from 600 to 1100 didn’t make room for all the ladies dying to ride their butts raw. Hence, Liz, Kandis, and I only made it in because we checked the Goldilocks blog regularly for spots given up by those that decided belatedly that they would actually prefer for their rear ends to stay in an untenderized state. Getting into Goldilocks was tricky but it was definitely worth the effort.

We were moving so fast as we set out it's a miracle that we aren't just speedy blurs in this photo.

biker's brunch

I was starving by the time we finished so I wasted no time helping myself to the adorably laid out lunch.

Jason got up shortly after 6 AM just so he could cheer us on as we departed. He met up with us at the halfway point to provide more applause and as we crossed the finish line he was waiting, along with Kandis's husband Kenny, cowbell in hand. What a fantastic hubby!

This event was marvelous again. The route was as well marked and the lunch as cute and girly as previously. Unlike last year though, the weather was absolutely perfect! I couldn’t have created a better day for a bike ride if I were the almighty himself.

When 1000 tough women invade your neighborhood brandishing bikes it's best to just go with it or you might end up with tread marks traversing your backside.

Liz and Kandis kept up a good pace so we were able to complete our ride in a little over 2 hours. Nice job ladies!

Next year I’m doing 40 miles. Who’s with me?

9 May

My Seasonal Lament

Posted by on May 9, 2011 at 11:22 pm

Another season of boarding just ended. Sigh. I love spring but I still always lament the end of the boarding season.

Jason and I both got new boards this year. They are awesome!

Jason and I went boarding a lot this winter. We weren’t on the slopes every single weekend, which seemed to practically be the case last year, but we regularly woke up, checked the snow report, and dumped everything to hit the resorts. We skipped out on life and battled blinding winds and frostbite merely for a bit of fluffy powder. But oh how that delicious snow was well worth any associated misery!

Jason is a fantastic boarder; the proof is in the picture.

Box rails were a little intimidating but they were super fun too. I only did one face plant while trying to figure them out, which I gather is better than most.

May the pow pow forever reign!

This was taken on a beautiful sunny day shortly before Jason's brother Jeremy whacked himself on a tree trunk while trying to do a wall hit. He was hurting for weeks after his woody blow.

I'm actually a decent boarder now. Took me long enough.

Thanks to the frequency of our outings I made some significant boarding progress this year. I conquered box rails and progressed to longer trickier tree runs; I am very satisfied with myself.

It was a great season…and it might not exactly be quite over. Snowbird Resort is still open and, due to the record-breaking amount of snow we have gotten this year, it could possibly be open into the indefinite future. So don’t be surprised if some Sunday Jason and I just disappear and turn up unexpectedly on the slopes. Stranger things have happened.

Jason is somewhere in the middle of this powder cloud. If there could be such a thing as too much powder then we encountered it that day at Snowbird.

This huge bank of snow only hints at the depths that lie beneath. We got an unprecedented amount of precipitation this winter. It was sweet!

We were surprised to find ice sculptures all over Brighton one Sunday. Jason tried to blend in with these ice penguins but I think I'd still pick him out in a lineup.

6 May

Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing

Posted by on May 6, 2011 at 9:53 pm

Salt Lake City is famous for its obnoxious religious uniformity and its fantastic snow. Not exactly the type of place you’d expect to find one of the best soccer teams in the world. But I can safely say, with a self-assured cocky grin on my face, that it is.

The Real Salt Lake became a MLS team back in 2004 and in just 5 short years they succeeded in winning the MLS Cup championship. I know it’s impressive but prepare yourself for further wowing. The Real, due to their MLS win, was invited to participate in the CONCACAF champions league, an international competition between the world’s best ranked teams. They miraculously beat out other contenders and made it to the finals for the champions league title, something an American team had never managed. A couple games versus Monterrey, a Mexican challenger, was all that stood between them and total supremacy. They tied the first of their two finals matches against Monterrey 2-2, which left them in excellent shape for claiming the title. Although they had already made history by progressing to the finals, we, along with other soccer fans in Utah and around the nation, were eager to see them crush the Mexicans and continue onto the club world cup. Their last finals game was at Rio Tinto stadium in Salt Lake City so Utahans had a rare opportunity to be a part of something spectacular.

Jason and I painted our faces in honor of the Real and convinced most of our friends to do the same. We are instigators of the awesome.

Jason and I were itching  to be in the stands cheering our team on at this second, and last, finals game but we didn’t know if that would be possible since Rio Tinto stadium only seats about 20,000 people, not nearly enough for an event of this magnitude. Luckily, Jason’s brother Jeremy is a Real season ticket holder and with that comes certain perks like getting a dozen of your friends seats to a hot game before the general public can buy them. Good thing because the public ended up not even having the chance to purchase tickets; they were sold out long before it came to that.

Jason's brother Jeremy is Real crazy...obviously.

Jason and I are so glad we didn’t miss out on this most awesome of matches. I have been to quite a few Real games over the years, and I have enjoyed every single one of them, but this was something else. The stadium was electrified! Energy seemed to bound and echo off the stands of passionate supporters becoming an ever intensifying wave. The attendees were a mix of hardcore Real fans and first time game goers yet everyone seemed to understand the significance of this match and they were all intent on making their presence count. The stadium was a sea of red and no one even seemed aware of the chair behind them; there wasn’t a butt in a seat to be found.

When the Real players took the field the crowd erupted into deafening cheers and confetti rained down in all directions like the deluge of fluttering ash from a paper volcano. It was beautiful and it was only the beginning. Onlookers kept up their focus and fervor throughout the game. At one point I glanced around at the crowd and noticed that so many of the spectators were hopping or jumping about that the stands looked like a massive ant hill swarming with busy insects.

Jeremy brought his kid Milo to the game. Milo seemed to really enjoy it. He gorged himself on cotton candy and dumped confetti on everyone; I'm sure that increased fun levels.

Despite their screaming fanatics, the Real couldn’t quite pull off a victory and they ended up losing 0 to 1. Monterrey scored right before the end of the first half and sadly the Real was never able to catch up, although they made an incredible number of attempts on goal. The Real played great even if they didn’t win and I think I echo the sentiments of most of their fans when I say that I am still very proud of what they accomplished. After all, they reminded the world that Utah is home to more than just crazy polygamists…it’s also home to hordes of red-faced screaming soccer loonies.