20 Jul

The Tour de Cure

Posted by on July 20, 2017 at 8:30 pm

Jason and I decided to bike the Tour de Cure in Brigham City this June, a fundraiser for the American Diabetes Association, with Jason’s brother and dad. Although this event had special meaning for us, heart-twisting meaning, even without that it was a beautiful and worthwhile ride.

Four members of Jason's family participated in the Tour de Cure.

Four members of Jason’s family participated in the Tour de Cure.

The American Diabetes Association organizes Tour de Cure rides in the country’s most picturesque places to raise research money and awareness for a disease that kills 3.4 million people, 70,000 of which are Americans, every year.

The Bear River is the most significant tributary of the Great Salt Lake.

The Bear River is the most significant tributary of the Great Salt Lake.

The Tour de Cure caters to every type of participant from the infrequent rider to the extreme cyclist. Different routes were available for us that ranged from 12 to 100 miles in length. We wisely decided to do the 33.7-mile course. Our route went through the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge all the way to the Great Salt Lake and back. We were surrounded by vocal wetland birds and unusually-saline scenery almost the entire time. The temperatures were absolutely perfect, in the mid-sixties. We couldn’t have asked for a better day to ride.

Jason took lots of pictures while biking. I'm not sure how he didn't eat asphalt.

Jason took lots of pictures while biking. I’m not sure how he didn’t eat asphalt.

Our course started around 8:40 AM and we finished at 11:49 AM, putting us in at about 3H:10M total. Frankly, that was a better time than I expected. After all, this was a ride not a race; no gleaming trophies awaited those that ignored the fine distractions of the setting and pushed themselves to the finish line. So, I braked to smell the salt bogs. Our average speed was right around 12 MPH but we hit rates up to nearly 20 MPH. That tempo would be super impressive if we were no-legged donuts but, since we are people, it’s not so much.

Slow and steady may not win the race but it will get you to the finish line.

Slow and steady may not win the race but it will get you to the finish line.

Although this ride was its own reward, the cause was the chief reason for our participation. Our team raised $2,215 for the American Diabetes Association, an amount we were pleased with. I want to thank all those that supported us. Your generosity meant a lot to a family that will forever be feeling the aftershocks of diabetes’ fury.

5 Jul

Running on Steam

Posted by on July 5, 2017 at 11:08 pm

Months ago, my sister asked if I wanted to run a half marathon with her in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Being me, a planner of incurable magnitude, I not only said yes to this race but organized much more than just a 13.2-mile jaunt down a stunning canyon. I soon had a large group of family, runners and rather-not-runners, onboard for a Steamboat weekend.

The five-story townhouse we rented was roomy and comfy.

The five-story townhouse we rented was roomy and comfy.

Our prodding was the friendly sort.

Our prodding was the friendly sort.

Thanks to Jason, our gang found a five-story townhouse to rent for a good price. It had plenty of bedrooms and bathrooms for the group, two patios, and a private hot tub. It was perfect for hanging together but not too snugly.

See those purple lips? Yeah, I was cold.

See those purple lips? Yeah, I was cold.

I don't get to see my sister too often but I always enjoy her company when I get a chance.

I don’t get to see my sister too often but I always enjoy her company when I get a chance.

We couldn’t go to Steamboat without visiting Strawberry Park Hot Springs, one of our favorite spots from last year’s excursion. This time, the water channeled in from the stream to cool the spring flow was particularly frigid because it had recently been snow. So, of course, daring ensued. Who could endure that chilled water the longest or plunge beyond its numbing surface the deepest became the subjects of much persuasion and taunting. John was the winner; he didn’t even need goading to dive in. But, with a few exceptions, most of our swimmers eventually gave in to at least a short dunk in the icy sections.

Everyone enjoyed Strawberry Park's warm pools but some of us appreciated its cold currents as well.

Everyone enjoyed Strawberry Park’s warm pools but some of us appreciated its cold currents as well.

The half marathon itself was beautiful. The route went along the Yampa River for mile after gorgeous mile. The downside? The downhills. The steep slopes made my right knee and Jason’s everything rather sore. Whole information on this half will be given in a later race post, not to fret.

The race's scenery was peaceful yet energizing.

The race’s scenery was peaceful yet energizing.

Hiking isn't usually on the agenda after a half marathon but my family is a little crazy.

Hiking isn’t usually on the agenda after a half marathon but my family is a little crazy.

After the half marathon, we still had enough energy to do the short hike to Fish Creek Falls. We walked to Fish Creek Falls during our last visit to Steamboat so we were surprised to find the river much changed. Spring runoff had transformed the creek into a noisy gush of churning whitewater. It was the kind of river that only provides one-way dips.

Fish Creek was a dangerous mass of rushing whitewater.

Fish Creek was a dangerous mass of rushing whitewater.

Kissing frogs can be fun.

Kissing frogs can be fun.

It was a fantastic trip. I have to say, I kind of love my family. They’re the type of people you can spend a long weekend amid without wanting to throttle someone. We played poker around the kitchen table, chatted at restaurants over dinner, and wandered the streets of Steamboat’s downtown. I will fondly recall this voyage in the boat.

25 Jun

My Man, Some Fields, and a Park

Posted by on June 25, 2017 at 11:09 pm

What could be better than spreading blankets near a chattering brook and genteelly consuming refined fare with distinguished friends? Why yes, wearing fashionable waistcoats and taking pony rides through tree-lined lanes would make such an occasion even finer.

The company was most agreeable at our moveable feast.

The company was most agreeable at our moveable feast.

Pedestrianism, or competitive walking, was a sport in Regency times. We held a manly walking contest at the picnic. Jason's snobby strides won.

Pedestrianism, or competitive walking, was a sport in Regency times. We held a manly walking contest at the picnic. Jason’s snobby strides won.

Last month, we attended Visions of History’s Regency Picnic at Memory Grove in Salt Lake City. This affair gave us a chance to daintily partake of charcuterie, cheese, and fruit with some of our historic companions while the hum of harp and stream gently aided our digestion. It also afforded opportunities to amuse ourselves with the prettiest equipage.

This pony deserves his nickname, "The Red Rocket." He never seemed to tire no matter how many of us he lugged around.

This pony deserves his nickname, “The Red Rocket.” He never seemed to tire no matter how many of us he lugged around.

The distant skyscrapers belied the historical fiction fashioned by our frocks and cravats.

The distant skyscrapers belied the historical fiction fashioned by our frocks and cravats.

A miniature carriage and steed lend great distinction to an occasion.

A miniature carriage and steed lend great distinction to an occasion.

It was an elegant and pleasing event. Thank you, Visions of History, for planning such a pleasant outing.

18 Jun

Escalante Escapades

Posted by on June 18, 2017 at 9:44 am

It was my turn to plan our anniversary outings this year. Finals week and anniversary fun don’t play well together but after the presentations and term papers were all done, Jason and I skipped town for some celebratory recreation.

Our yurt was unexpectedly spacious and swanky!

Our yurt was unexpectedly spacious and swanky!

Jason has been wistfully contemplating the merits of glamping for years. So, I decided to organize our anniversary trip around those whims. I found the perfect glamping spot and planned our excursion accordingly. We stayed at Escalante Yurts and absolutely loved it! Experiencing the best parts of camping with the ease of modern comforts was delightful. It poured the first night we were in Escalante and falling asleep to the rain hitting the canvas was as relaxing as waking the next morning to a chorus of birds. I guess Jason’s glamping fancies were not entirely groundless.

Graceful cascades aren't exactly common in the desert. That makes Lower Calf Creek Falls all the lovelier.

Graceful cascades aren’t exactly common in the desert. That makes Lower Calf Creek Falls all the lovelier.

We spent the majority of our first day in Escalante hiking to Lower Calf Creek Falls. Lower Calf Creek Falls is probably the most popular destination in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. It’s a 124-foot desert waterfall that gracefully spills across colorful slickrock into a cool (cold, really) emerald pool. The six-mile out-and-back journey was easy but it still took most of our afternoon. Luckily, since we went on a weekday, this trail and its spectacular endpoint weren’t too crowded.

If only every desert had such an oasis.

If only every desert had such an oasis.

Grand Staircase-Escalante Monument hosts not just nature's creations but ancient man's as well.

Grand Staircase-Escalante Monument hosts not just nature’s creations but ancient man’s as well.

We ended the day with a stroll through the Devil’s Garden. Sandstone hoodoos and permission to climb anywhere make this the perfect playground for the curious and snap happy. We didn’t stay nearly long enough thanks to our bellyaching stomachs.

At the Devil's Garden, you can climb and explore freely.

At the Devil’s Garden, you can climb and explore freely.

The next day we passed on slotting it due to flashing dangers. The area around Escalante contains many famous slot canyons but, thanks to forecasted rain and flashflood dangers, we opted for less-flashy expeditions. Consequently, we spent the morning wandering among sleeping rainbows in Escalante Petrified Forest State Park. We hiked the Petrified Forest Trail and Trail of Sleeping Rainbows, about two miles in total. The Trail of Sleeping Rainbows is littered with petrified trees roughly 135 to 155 million years old. The motley colors of that frozen timber were unexpectedly bright and capricious.

The Devil's Garden is a rock and shot wonderland.

The Devil’s Garden is a rock and shot wonderland.

The Devil's Garden is wicked awesome!

The Devil’s Garden is wicked awesome!

After treading through stony trunks, we gambled on the weather staying good as long as it was predicted to and set out for Upper Calf Creek Falls. Calf Creek’s higher but stubbier falls don’t get the same attention or traffic as its lower cascades. The trail to its 88-foot plummet is much shorter but a lot trickier. It descends 600 feet on exposed slickrock before wandering through rocky washes. In essence, it’s not the kind of terrain a non-Neanderthal would attempt when a thunderstorm was imminent (i.e.- flashfloods, lightning) but we did. Yes, trusting the weathermen’s timing clearly does not bode well for our IQ scores. Although the path to Upper Calf Creek Falls is only about one mile each way, due to the rough topography it takes most hikers 1.5 to 2 hours to complete. We did it in one hour and 15 minutes, 45 minutes downwards and 30 minutes back up. How was our uphill faster than our downhill? Incoming lightning and showers, that’s how. The storm arrived two hours earlier than expected. As soon as we saw the first flash in the distance, we picked up our pace to an enervating scramble. Well, I set a hasty tempo and Jason had no choice but to keep up. The meteorological racket followed us as we drove home; it was 31 degrees and snowy at the top of Boulder Mountain.

The Petrified Forest is an astonishing rainbow of rock.

The Petrified Forest is an astonishing rainbow of rock.

Who knew that hundreds of millions of years could turn dead wood into a kaleidoscope of brilliant colors?

Who knew that hundreds of millions of years could turn dead wood into a kaleidoscope of brilliant colors?

We made one last stop on our return journey at Anasazi State Park Museum. There, we checked out the 900-year-old artifacts of the Coombs Site. Excavations at the Coombs Site have uncovered 97 rooms, 10 pits, and thousands of items. We enjoyed the unearthed bits and the dwelling replica visitors can walk in. That model made us feel all prehistoric and ginormous.

Upper Calf Creek Falls doesn't get the love Lower does, probably because its path requires more exertion.

Upper Calf Creek Falls doesn’t get the love Lower does, probably because its path requires more exertion.

It was a superb trip filled with all the elements of awesomeness: elegant water, scrambling stones, vivid wood, and heavenly fire. Plus, as all anniversary outings should, it came with a large helping of extraordinary husband. Camping doesn’t get any more glamorous than that.

15 May

The Hunt

Posted by on May 15, 2017 at 4:29 pm

Jason and I organize an epic Easter hunt every year with my family. Virtually all our nieces and nephews on my side participate in this quest regardless of their age; no teenagers decline on the grounds of childishness for the plunder is rather ludicrous.

Jadon was the lucky locator of one of the golden eggs.

Jadon was the lucky locator of one of the golden eggs.

Between goodies supplied by aunts, uncles, and grandparents, the kids got way more booty than necessary but they didn't seem to mind.

Between goodies supplied by aunts, uncles, and grandparents, the kids got way more booty than necessary but they didn’t seem to mind.

Porter, our oldest nephew, was still digging and climbing for his hoard long after the little kiddies had found theirs.

Porter, our oldest nephew, was still digging and climbing for his hoard long after the little kiddies had found theirs.

We make the hunt interesting by adding some competitive elements, golden eggs with substantial cash in them for instance, but all the kids take home a disturbingly large pile of goodies regardless of their seeking skills.

Benson discovered this gilded shell and its monetary contents.

Benson discovered this gilded shell and its monetary contents.

Jason insisted on buying two outlandishly-sized bunnies for the finders of some tiny eggs.

Jason insisted on buying two outlandishly-sized bunnies for the finders of some tiny eggs.

As the “cool” aunt and uncle, we take creating memories and hyperactivity very seriously. We would never dream of letting an Easter pass without providing an opportunity for our young relatives to acquire one-pound peanut butter bunnies and cash-filled eggs. The Easter Bunny wishes he could be all that and a bag of Peeps.