Monthly Archives: March 2014


28 Mar

Born to Moab

Posted by on March 28, 2014 at 10:35 pm

Moab, a little town in the middle of a huge arid wonderland and one of our favorite places to visit, is the subject of today’s wordy offering. The last day of February, a bit earlier than normal, Jason and I made our spring pilgrimage to that splendid treat of a landscape. The deserts surrounding Moab were even more deserted than we’ve seen them in November and the weather was, for the most part, very pleasant. The cusp of spring seems a pretty ideal time for a southeast retreat.

There's nothing like a little trail confusion to make a hike memorable.

There’s nothing like a little trail confusion to make a hike memorable.

These formations, with their layers of large smooth rocks cemented together, were strange even by hoodoo standards.

These formations, with their layers of large smooth rocks cemented together, were strange even by hoodoo standards.

The Amphitheater Loop wasn't as pretty as other trails we've hiked in Moab but it did have some nice viewpoints.

The Amphitheater Loop wasn’t as pretty as other trails we’ve hiked in Moab but it did have some nice viewpoints.

Usually, we sandwich a day of hiking in between two days of mountain biking when we’re in Moab but we had to do a little juggling this time. Due to the possibility of rain our first day, we hiked instead of biked that afternoon. The Amphitheater Loop, just off Highway 128, was our chosen trail. We had never done this 3-mile path, which winds through a pleasant little valley known as Richardson Amphitheater. The route was a bit difficult to follow at times and we lost it on occasion. However, Jason saw that disorientation as an adventure advantage; it was his favorite thing about this loop. Although this trail wasn’t as stunning as others we’ve done in the area, like nearby Fisher Towers, it was relatively undemanding yet still on the exploratory side. On a side note, it would be an easy option for those with kids.

We had a little time after our Amphitheater hike to hit Arches National Park.

We had a little time after our Amphitheater hike to hit Arches National Park.

I prefer Arches' Park Avenue to New York's.

I prefer Arches’ Park Avenue to New York’s.

The turbulent clouds and sporadic rain made getting good pictures difficult in Arches but those unsavory conditions did make this shot possible.

Turbulent clouds and sporadic rain made getting good pictures difficult in Arches but those unsavory conditions did make this shot possible.

Our second day, the skies were clear and our bikes were ready to roll. We decided to ride to an overlook above Day Canyon. This was supposed to be a 15-mile journey but, after reaching our planned endpoint on the extreme precipices atop Day Canyon, we decided to take an extra 7-mile excursion down Dry Fork Canyon just because we were in the neighborhood. We knew this add-on would make getting back before it got dark a little tricky but we were confident that we could pedal faster as needed. Dry Fork Canyon, a Wingate-sandstone-lined gully into an old mining area, was beautiful but the trail was too untraveled and sandy to make quick riding possible. Those 7 miles sucked up much more time than we’d estimated and we found the sun sinking far too quickly as our laboring legs tried to keep up. After nearly 23 miles of biking through rough desert terrain, we made it back to our car just as darkness was transforming our path into nothingness. We were beat from our panicky return and our rumps were incredibly sore.

Day Canyon, a spectacular rift of cliffs, was a worthy endpoint...even if it didn't actually end up being ours.

Day Canyon, a spectacular rift of cliffs, was a worthy endpoint…even if it didn’t actually end up being ours.

This spring in Dry Fork Canyon was not flowing. I guess they don't call it "dry" for nothing.

This spring in Dry Fork Canyon was not flowing. I guess they don’t call it “dry” for nothing.

Our last day, we decided to go easy on our butts and only do a short ride from the Copper Ridge Dinosaur Trackway to an abandoned copper mine. The trail was merely 3.5 miles long but our sorry cabooses objected anyway and we eagerly used any excuse to get off our bikes. Those excuses were easy to find on this unmaintained path, which water and rockslides had altered significantly. The mineshaft and discarded mining equipment scattered at our destination were pretty interesting. An ore crusher, drills, tanks and other bits of machinery were strewn around the hillsides of that vacated operation. So, although we had to do some significant hike-a-bike and tolerate severe rear-discomfort, we both enjoyed this ride.

The Copper Ridge Dinosaur Trackway was fun and interesting.

The Copper Ridge Dinosaur Trackway was fun and interesting.

This abandoned copper mine made an enthralling destination.

This abandoned copper mine made an enthralling destination.

Moab never fails us. We go there for the warmth when winter’s frigid tantrums can still be felt at home. We go there for the peace that only nature’s unaltered magnificence can provide. We go there for the exhaustion that a fun ride makes appealing. We go there for all of the above and always come home gratified.

17 Mar

Save Me, San Francisco!

Posted by on March 17, 2014 at 5:17 pm

Jason has tagged along with me to many work-related conferences. A couple of weeks ago, for the first time in years, I went with him as his tagalong. My hubby had to go to San Francisco for a convention of the nerdy variety and his offer to take me with him was graciously accepted.

Although our sightseeing time together in the City by the Bay was limited since Jason had to be at his conference for a large portion of our stay, our first couple of days were spent jointly exploring some of San Francisco’s famous landmarks and unique beauties.

Fog hung on the Golden Gate Bridge as if it were wearing a billowing scarf.

Fog hung on the Golden Gate Bridge as if it were wearing a billowing scarf.

Jason and I began our first afternoon in San Francisco by walking to the midpoint of the Golden Gate Bridge. It was a lovely sunny day until we neared the bridge and then the conditions changed almost instantaneously. Dense fog seemed to materialize out of nowhere to dampen our view and freeze our faces. Still, even with a misty breeze carrying away our heat in its hazy fingers, the Golden Gate was something to behold and a fun stroll.

The Marin Headlands were extremely foggy and blustery but they were also stunning.

The Marin Headlands were extremely foggy and blustery but they were also stunning.

We went straight from the bridge to the Marin Headlands near Sausalito. With fragrant evergreens and windswept grasses edging sheer craggy drops into the ocean, the Marin Headlands were blustery, foggy, cold and beautiful. Sadly, we barely missed the small period of time that the Point Bonita Lighthouse is open each week but the scenery was worth our trip with or without the novelty of tunneling to a lighthouse.

Countless photographers have probably taken this exact shot of Lombard Street but that didn't stop me from capturing it myself.

Countless photographers have probably taken this exact shot of Lombard Street but that didn’t stop me from capturing it myself.

On our way back into town we hit the famously twisted curves of Lombard Street. Jason loved navigating its bends so much that he had to loop back around and ride them a few more times.

Alcatraz has a rich and varied history, there's a whole lot more to it than just inmates and escapes.

Alcatraz has a rich and varied history, there’s a whole lot more to it than just inmates and escapes.

The following day, we took the short clipper voyage to the infamous island of rock known as Alcatraz. Both Jason and I expected Alcatraz to be fascinating but we were surprised by just how much history, before and after its penitentiary days, was etched into its carved hillside and isolated buildings. It was striking, interesting and haunting.

Jason attended a black-tie awards dinner as part of his conference.

Jason attended a black-tie awards dinner as part of his conference.

Our last outing before Jason’s conference began was to Coit Tower. Unfortunately, the tower itself was closed for renovations but the stairs leading up to its commanding position atop Telegraph Hill were a neighborhood tale in of themselves and the views from Telegraph’s pinnacle were pretty spectacular. For the record, we took the stairs up Greenwich and down Filbert. If you find yourself headed up that enormous mound, I’d recommend taking one relentless set up and the other steep set down.

I visited the San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park while Jason was at his conference.

I visited the San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park while Jason was at his conference.

While Jason was stuck in his conference, I didn’t let his absence deter me from exploring the city. I spent a day solo at the San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park run by the National Park Service. There, on the Hyde Street Pier, I boarded bygone boats from different eras of maritime domination. From the little but tough tug Hercules to the majestic three-masted Balclutha, these ships were remarkable. Although a look inside a few of their crew quarters permanently dispelled any romantic notions about a sailor’s life I might have had, my awe for the solitary existence of seafarers couldn’t be dislodged. The park’s museum also proved captivating. Did you know that there are many ships buried under buildings and in subway tunnels in San Francisco? It’s true, look it up yourself.

We rode streetcars frequently in San Francisco, which was fitting since it's the world capital of historic transit.

We rode streetcars frequently in San Francisco, which was fitting since it’s the world capital of historic transit.

Along with my nautical exploits, I also went to the Exploratorium on my own while Jason was busy geeking it. The Exploratorium is more of a laboratory than a museum really. All of the exhibits are hands on and encourage tinkering and creativity. I spent the greater part of a day there and found myself fascinated many times over.

Jason had a couple of free nights once his conference began and on one of those we went to see Beach Blanket Babylon, the longest-running musical revue in theater history, with a couple of Jason’s work buddies. This show has been a standard in San Francisco for forty years. It was highly entertaining and the ridiculous hats just kept getting bigger and bigger.

Did I mention that we ate most heartily in San Francisco? From sourdough bread at Boudin Bakery to succulent seafood at Sotto Mare, we kept the yummy food coming. We sampled delicious wood-fired pie at Tony’s Pizza Napoletana and enticing Indian cuisine at Amber. Many of these meals were consumed in the fine company of friends and coworkers that were also in town for the conference. You can’t beat chowing excellent food with an excellent crowd.

Jason and I had a great time in San Francisco. I hadn’t been there in decades and Jason had never had that privilege. We saw some of the main attractions, gobbled as much delicious fare as we could fit down our gullets and I got a chance to do a little independent exploration. Being a tagalong ain’t too shabby.

11 Mar

Foxy!

Posted by on March 11, 2014 at 12:31 pm

Four Februaries have we frozen. The frigid waters of Utah Lake, sheathed in their cocoon of unyielding ice, have made their frosty siren call every year and we, like the foolish sailors of old, have willingly lunged to our soggy doom. A few weeks ago we performed that annual sacrificial plummet once more.

This gang of animals probably said too much.

This gang of animals probably said too much.

I made my silly fox outfit without any sort of pattern.

I made my silly fox outfit without any sort of pattern.

This year I, yet again, created a team to participate in the Polar Plunge at Pelican Bay on Utah Lake, a benefit for the Special Olympics. As in years past, friends with more bravery than brains joined me; some for glory, some for charity, some for stupidity. Whatever the reasons, that siren song did not fall deafly on their ears but happily transported their attached feet to the water’s glacial brink.

Our digits got their moment in the spotlight.

Our digits got their moment in the spotlight.

Our team selected the theme of “What Does the Fox Say?” for our costumes this time. Because of my unfailing lack of dignity and unwavering dependability, I consented to be the fox, the focal point of our beastly band. Though not quite as popular as Super Mario Brothers were last year, our creature crew attracted quite a bit of attention, including some from a local paper that featured three pictures of us in their online article.

It takes more than a little courage to plop into a frigid lake.

It takes more than a little courage to plop into a frigid lake.

Spenser Heaps of the Daily Herald captured this moment of laughter in the hot tub after our icy dip.

Spenser Heaps of the Daily Herald captured this moment of laughter in the hot tub after our icy dip.

Yes, alongside about three hundred and fifty other lost souls, we hurtled ourselves into the icy abyss with smiles on our painted faces and no feeling in our fingers. Plunging into a frozen lake may sound like an awful annual tradition but you haven’t heard how sweetly those Sirens sing.

5 Mar

Ice Ice Baby

Posted by on March 5, 2014 at 2:05 pm

I am not a sportsman. I don’t hunt and I don’t fish and I don’t regret that decision. Regardless, I decided to join my family for a morning of ice fishing at Scofield Reservoir a few weekends ago for the sake of curiosity and company. Jason’s irrational desire to stand on a frozen lake intrigued him into also coming along on this outing. Sadly, despite our many holes and numerous enthusiastic young fishermen, no fish were hooked that day but at least the banter and snowballs were as plentiful as the ineffective worms.

Haidyn was a patient fisherman but her persistence did not pay off.

Haidyn was a patient fisherman but her persistence did not pay off.

Why wouldn't a fish or two want to join this party?

Why wouldn’t a fish or two want to join this party?

Scofield is located high in the Manti-La Sal Mountains and can be reached via a little jaunt up Spanish Fork Canyon. It’s a favorite with anglers because of its abundance of trout. The ice was about two-feet thick when we congregated on its surface, which is plenty deep enough for all safety standards except those put forth by worrying mothers. It was both a bit discomforting and exciting to run along that frozen expanse with snow crunching under your boots and remember that you were not loping around on solid ground but solid water.

Isabelle found her lack of instant fish unacceptable and had to be walked around until napping set in.

Isabelle found her lack of instant fish unacceptable and had to be walked around until napping set in.

In the absence of fish, the snowballs did fly and there was no mercy for the the adolescent.

In the absence of fish, the snowballs did fly and there was no mercy for the the adolescent.

We all had a terrific time gabbing while the fish weren’t biting. So, although a few of the kids went home disappointed that they didn’t have any scaly trophies to show for their efforts, the rest of us considered the outing a fish-less success.