Wednesday, December 30, 2009

targeted snowfall

This is one of the specific things we moved to Utah for: it's been snowing all day (and still going), and while the valley has only accumulated a scant 1+ inch, Alta and Snowbird are reporting 13 inches - with another 5-8" possible overnight.  Keep it coming!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

more snow please

It's been snowing for most of the day but only a scant inch or so has accumulated down here in the valley.  It's supposed to keep going through tomorrow at least though, and hopefully the mountains are getting (or will be getting) pounded.  H just got his skis back from the shop and is raring to go!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

dog; sledding

What's better than going to the gym on the day after Christmas to work off all those beer and eggnog calories?  Going winter hiking under blazing sun and bluebird skies. 

Another inversion has settled into the Salt Lake Valley so we headed up Big Cottonwood Canyon late morning on Saturday to find ourselves some clearer air.  A hike to Dog Lake (ironically named as there are no dogs allowed) was the plan, the trailhead 9.1 miles up the canyon road.  It's a popular trail, only 4.6 miles round trip, with a steady but not too steep (until the last .6 miles) climb on a level path with no switchbacks, and although we'd brought our snowshoes, we didn't end up using them as the trail was well-packed from all the traffic.

Although we hiked by ourselves, we passed a lot of other people - people in hiking boots, people in hiking boots with Yaktrax, people on snowshoes with ski poles, people on snowshoes without poles, backcountry skiers skinning up and backcountry skiers shussing down - so nice to see so many people out and enjoying the great weather.  The folks who seemed to be enjoying it the most, however, were taking advantage of the most genius ideas H and I have seen yet: they had snowshoed up to the lake but descended on plastic sleds that they'd taken with them.  They came flying past us, laughing, while we just stood there, wishing we'd thought of that.  I can promise you that plastic sleds are now on our list of gear we need to buy.

It took us an hour and fifteen minutes to go up, through stands of conifers and naked aspen trees, a little creek far below us on the canyon floor.  We started shedding layers immediately and by the time we reached the little lake, we were hatless, gloveless and sweaty.  It was warm enough in the bright sun to eat our quick lunch on the shore of the lake, observing the tracks from backcountry skiers on Reynolds Peak above us and generally grinning like goofs because it was so darn pretty.

The way down was fast (although not as fast as it would have been if we'd had sleds) since the snowpacked trail was smooth, even and not at all slippery footing, and gentle on the knees to boot.  It was cold, though: we ended up putting all our layers back on but our hands still got very, very cold since we weren't working nearly as hard on the descent.  At one point, H exclaimed that he'd "never hiked so fast in [his] life;" I had to trot to keep up with him - which helped keep me warm, so I didn't mind.

The parking area was packed when we got back to the car as there's a well-known sledding area across the canyon road, and it was swarming with families - again, so nice to see people enjoying the outdoors.  It just goes to prove that even when the valley is socked in with murk, fresh air and great days are just up the road a-piece in the mountains.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

"i can't believe the stuff you're skiing"

Just as we wanted, we were up and at'em Christmas morning and headed up Big Cottonwood Canyon, not quite in time for front row parking although we did manage second row and about twenty-three steps from the lift.  Again we put our boots on in the lodge lobby - running into Pat, whom we recognized from being an early morning Barker Lodge/Sunday River, Bethel, Maine, skier (as we used to be) whose son went to the U and whose favorite Utah ski mountain is Solitude - and ran our boot bags back out to the car, thus saving having to rent a locker for our gear.
Solitude is quite a bit bigger than Brighton with much more varied terrain, e.g. steeper and higher.  We skied all over the mountain, starting off skier's left on the blue groomers off the Eagle Express lift and working our way into the beautiful, cliff-lined canyon off the Summit lift.  Although we didn't attempt any traversing into Honeycomb Canyon (we need more snow, desperately), we did do a lot of black diamond bump runs, which prompted H to utter the quote that titles this post.  I can't believe the stuff I skied either (see above re: steeper and higher): some of these trails were far steeper than anything I've ever skied before and completely ungroomed, full of bumps (steeper and bumpier than Agony, for those of you who know Sunday River).  But, unlike Agony, there is NO ICE here.  Although the bumps weren't fluffy, they weren't bullet-proof and it was actually more comfortable skiing the bump runs than the groomers because the light was so flat.  In fact, once as we rode up the lift, I pointed to a black bump run and said to H, "We haven't done that one yet."  It's a new me, folks.

It was a cold day, both starting out and ending up in the teens especially since the sun never came out (see above re: flat light), but we didn't let that stop us from skiing from 9 a.m. 'til 2 p.m.  Whether it was because of the temperatures, the Christmas holiday, Utahns not getting an early start, or just that the resort is aptly named, the slopes were largely bare and we never waited in a lift line.  We really liked Solitude - and not just because the skiers outnumbered the snowboarders this time - and can't wait to go back after we get some decent snow*.

Notes for the day:  We ate lunch in the "Brownbag Lounge" because you're not allowed to bring your own food into the cafeteria area; even tho' it was in the basement, there were plenty of tables, a big screen T.V. and even a microwave so folks could have hot lunches.  We saw one dog (in Big Cottonwood Canyon where dog fines cost you around $300) and as it was a cocker spaniel it was clearly not an avalanche dog.  After we called it quits, we found the Thirsty Squirrel pub in Solitude Village for a post-piste pitcher (at twice the $$ as a Porcupine pitcher, we won't do that again) - they had the best Christmas tree skirt ever.

* We're so turning into Utahn snow snobs: if we'd had conditions like this back East, we would have been thrilled.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

alta, christmas eve 2009

Today, while I went into work to get a couple of projects done for my bosses, H took the day off and went skiing at Alta.  He'd been waiting a long, long time for this - and apparently it was worth it.  He left our apartment at 8:45 a.m. this morning and, having cleverly bought his ticket in advance, was on the fourth chair when the lifts opened at 9:15 a.m.  (Have I mentioned that we live SO close to the ski resorts?)  It was cold today, enough so that he wore his face mask in the morning -- +4 at the summit and 0 at the base, and warming up to 13 at the summit and 14 at the base by afternoon -- but clear blue skies and sunshine, which was welcome after the last couple of stormy days we've had. 



Almost everything is open, although more snow is definitely needed (H took a HUGE gouge out of the bottom of one of his skis - right down to the core - on a bump run off the Supreme lift and also managed to find some ice - horrors!) and he skied across most of the resort.  The terrain is much more dramatic than that at Brighton, some of it crazy-steep, but H promises that I'll have no trouble skiing there. 

Notes for the day: at Alta, none of the chairlifts have safety bars (!!!); unlike Brighton, snowboarders are absolutely, positively not allowed; there were a lot more folks wearing helmets; and three dogs were spotted up there in Little Cottonwood Canyon, where dogs are not even allowed in cars: two Labs scrounging for scraps in the lodge and one German Shepherd pooping by the chairlift.  Becky is quite offended.

Merry Christmas Eve, y'all!  We'll report back after skiing Solitude tomorrow!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

one step closer

to being a Real Utahn: H did me a huge favor today and registered my car at the DMV for me, so now I have Utah plates!  I got the colorful Arches "Life Elevated" plates; H of course has the "Greatest Snow on Earth" ones.  He was a little disapproving of my desert-y preference seeing how we live up here in the canyons and love to ski-ski-ski, but I explained that I felt this way we were embracing the state as a whole if we got one of each, rather than just being northeastern-centric.  Plus I really like the colors.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

holiday high spirits

At my new firm's Christmas party last week, we had: a long line at the open bar, which helped me identify Gentile* co-workers for possible future post-work imbibing; cowboy poetry recitations; a fairly saucy roasting** of two senior attorneys who are leaving the firm in 2010 for work for the LDS Church; "O Holy Night" sung by an honest-to-goodness member of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir; and an Elvis impersonator*** singing "Blue Christmas" to a portable karaoke machine.

Who amongst you can top that?


* Out here, if you're not a Saint, you're a Gentile - even if you're Jewish.

** It was really quite funny but back on the more PC East coast, there's no way Human Resources would have let some of that stuff get through. Of course, when it's one of the name partners doing the jokes, I guess there's not that much HR can say about it.

*** One of the attorneys, if you can picture it.

Monday, December 21, 2009

ouch

Um, yeah, we didn't go skiing on Sunday.  Mostly because we were both sore from Saturday's five hour excursion to Brighton - my shins had bruises from their first day back in ski boots; and H's calves were in knots - but also because there wasn't any new snow.  If we'd gotten snow overnight we totally would have battled through the pain (that's what Advil was made for!).  Good news, though: there's a storm a-comin' which should mean brand new white stuff for Christmas!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

first day on the hill

Or, rather, in the canyon: Big Cottonwood Canyon, to be precise; and skiing at Brighton today to be even more precise.  We picked Brighton out of the plethora of available ski mountains because (1) I've been slightly intimidated to ski out here and Brighton seemed the least intimidating of the bunch and (2) Brighton got the most snow in our last storm.  [Note: why is frickin' Virginia/Maryland/surrounds getting so much snow?  We want it here!] 

So up we got and off we went to ski, leaving our apartment at a little before 8:00 - the lifts open at 9:00 a.m. out here - and pulling into the front row of the parking lot at about 8:25 a.m.  Front row.  We bought our $58 day tickets and put our boots on in the locker room; then, to save $1 for the locker, H ran our boot bags back out to the car.  Because we'd gotten a spot in the front row, you see.  Practically ski-in/ski-out.

Right at 9:00 a.m. we hopped on the lift, pretty much getting the first chair.  It hasn't snowed since last weekend so everything blue (intermediate) and green (beginner) was groomed; the black trails (expert) were not and although most of the fluffy powder was skied out, since THERE IS NO ICE OUT HERE, the bumps, while solid, were not bullet-proof.  We tried to cover most of the mountain, riding all the lifts (except the baby beginner one) and sampling as many trails as we could. 

It's too bad there wasn't more snow because H was anxious to get off the groomers and into the trees.  One of the cool things about skiing out here is that you're not locked into the ski trails: pretty much anything within resort bounds is allowed and you can even go out of bounds as long as you read the "no ski patrol and no avalanche patrol" signs and realize you're skiing at your own risk.  H managed to ski in the bumps and off the trails enough that we were both a little sore by 2:00 p.m. when we called it a day.  I even did some bumps - on my first day out, thank you very much - not having to worry about any ice really does wonders for one's confidence.

Other interesting tidbits:  a Brighton employee read a guest the riot act for being rude to the parking attendants when they asked him to move his car; a lifty made a kid go to the back of the line when he tried to enter the lift via the ski school lane ... even though there was nobody in line; there are awesome views of the Heber valley (where Park City, etc., is) from the top of the lifts; we heard several avalanche guns going off; and I saw two dogs, one in the main lodge and an avalanche dog on top of the mountain, despite this being Big Cottonwood Canyon where dogs are not even allowed in cars (poor Becky).

We stopped in at the Porcupine (naturally) on our way out of the canyon and the bartender, rightly guessing we'd been skiing from our reddened faces and silly apres-ski hats, recommended that we give Solitude a try, saying that there are "no lift lines ever at Solitude."  Since we didn't think there were any lines to speak of at Brighton (or at least not compared to weekends back east), we thought this sounded good.  We're not sure we'll go tomorrow - we'd like to because skiing is better than not skiing, but there isn't any snow in tonight's forecast and it's tough to face paying for a lift ticket if the snow isn't going to be any better than it was today.  Please let me reiterate, however, that the snow was quite good, with NO ICE WHATSOEVER, and not even getting skied off by the afternoon.  But we're fully committed to being Utahns and that includes being snow-snobs.  So we'll see.  Of course, if we can't stand not skiing tomorrow, you'll read all about it here.

Friday, December 18, 2009

before sundance

The Sundance Film Festival in Park City is sort of dominating the arts and entertainment news out here right now, but some folks would like the world to remember that there was a time - and movies - Before Sundance.  Like, for instance, this fantastic, long-lost classic film, "The Giant Brine Shrimp" by Mike Cassidy (1976) in which a giant brine shrimp attacks Salt Lake City.  It's awesome.  At about 18 minutes long (posted in three parts), it combines stop-motion animation, stock footage and live action, and is a must-see for anyone who is a fan of old monster flicks and/or poking fun at Utah (especially part 3 which is just hilarious).  I also found it extremely interesting to see footage of Salt Lake City before the Olympics came: the landmarks are there in 1976, but the infrastructure hasn't been built yet.

Thanks to the Movie Cricket blog at the Trib for the link.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

looking forward

Once the ski season kicks into gear, H and I will pretty much put everything else on hold, skiing every weekend until the snow is gone. The converse of this is that when the snow is finally gone, we’ll have all this free time to fill.  In anticipation of this, I’ve started making lists* of as-yet unexplored things that we can dive into come springtime.  Here's some of what you'll see here in future posts:

*H is a spreadsheet addict while I am a notes and lists addict, with little scraps of paper all over everywhere, each inscribed with Very Important Things, of course.

Monday, December 14, 2009

just one thing so far

We've been out here in SLC since early October, learning our way around, finding things to do and places to go.  So far there's only been one thing that I've missed/preferred from back east: the grocery stores.  I've tried 'em all out here: Smith's, Dan's, Albertson's (now Fresh Market), even Ream's, which has got to be the worst name for a grocery store ever.

Food prices seem expensive out here - although with my Smith's customer card I tend to get $10-12 off each shopping session - variety seems a little limited for some products and the produce is in poorer shape than you would expect, seeing how we're closer to the growing centers (California, the Midwest) than Maine is.  Dan's has the best deli counter and garlic bread and Ream's has 2-L of Diet Coke for $0.67.  When pressed, I guess I like the Sandy Fresh Market (f/k/a Albertson's) the best, but I mostly think these stores are set up foolishly.

For example, at Smith's, you push your cart up to the check-out station but you don't unload the groceries.  The clerk has to unload the groceries and scan them, and it seems to take twice as long as it did back east.  Pluswhich, at Hannaford I unloaded my own cart, sorting the heavier items first so the bagger would pack them into the sturdiest canvas boat-n-tote bags. 

Also, recently I made lasagne (a very big deal since I pretty much never cook anything that messes up a pan very much).  You need ricotta for lasagne so off I went to Smith's where, on autopilot, I bypassed the fancy cheese section by the deli and went to the back of the store to the dairy department.  Milk, juice, eggs, sour cream, yogurt, sour cream, cottage cheese ... no ricotta.  I doublechecked: still no ricotta.  Totally annoyed, I paid for the rest of my groceries and then went to the nearby Fresh Market.  Dairy section:  milk, juice, eggs, sour cream (including a Mexican crema I'm intrigued by), yogurt, cottage cheese ... no ricotta.  You have got to be friggin' kidding me.  I went all the way across the store to the fancy cheese section by the deli.  No ricotta.  On my way back to the dairy department, I found yet another refrigerated section with prepackaged deli meats, that processed American "cheese," cream cheese ... and ricotta.  Now, while I was grateful to finally find the ricotta, I was flabbergasted that these supermarkets have THREE separate dairy-ish/cheese locations (I'm assuming that Smith's is set up the same way).  Back east there are only TWO: fancy cheeses by the deli, and then all the rest of the dairy products.  Much easier to find the ricotta there.

One of the paralegals at my new job gave me the names of a bunch of smaller, local markets to check out (Liberty Heights Fresh Market at 1290S 1100E, SLC; The Store at 2050E 6200S and 4695 So. Holladay Blvd., both in Holladay; and the Winter Farmer's Market on Saturdays at Caputo's Market and Deli, 312W 300S, SLC) but I haven't managed to get there yet.  I really don't have the inclination to shop at five different stores for the regular weekly shopping - for specialty items, sure, or if I didn't work Fridays and had a little more time.  I just want a good, sensible, easily-navigable supermarket, which is apparently a little too much to ask.  Hannaford, I apologize for not appreciating you more.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

let it keep snowing

Yesterday's weather:
  • 20 inches at Brighton and Solitude
  • 17 inches at Alta
  • 19 inches at Snowbird
  • rain in the valley
And now it's snowing a little down here this morning, just enough to whiten things up.  That is the best kind of winter weather - snow on the mountains and not on my driveway.  Plus, I think we'll get to ski next weekend.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

tour guides

Just two months into our new Utahn lives and we’ve already hosted our first houseguests from back east: H’s parents, L and P. They flew in last Friday, coasting down into sunshine and blue skies here in the Salt Lake Valley. Of course, those blue skies weren't to last:  although the weather has been clear and dry for the last several weeks, once our guests arrived so did the snow, which ended up curtailing some of our planned activities.  And by "planned" I mean "H created a spreadsheet itinerary complete with drop-down menus that can be customized for every visitor."  I know no one who knows him thinks I'm kidding.

Before the weather changed over on Saturday morning, we all jumped in the car for tours of Little and Big Cottonwood Canyons where, as expected, the dramatic canyon walls elicited many oohs and aahs from the out-of-towners. We also learned from a friendly parking attendant at Snowbird that “no dogs allowed” in these two canyons means “no dogs at all – even in your car” and he warned us that if the sheriff saw us with Becky – who was very much enjoying her car ride – we’d get a ticket. So for the ride down LCC and both the up and the down trip in BCC, we had to keep the poor dog shoved down and out of sight … and it’s a good thing we were warned, because we saw three separate sheriff-mobiles in BCC.

The next item on the itinerary was supposed to be a tour of downtown SLC but H thought we’d go off-book and drive west on I-80, out towards the Saltair (a seedy concert venue raised over the ruins of a gorgeous wooden Victorian spa/hotel on the shore of the lake), so L and P could see the Great Salt Lake. Of course, it started sleeting and snowing just as we reached the freeway, so not only could we not see the lake at all, but it was also terribly treacherous driving (see previous post).

Once we got safely back to town we drove through downtown, the U, the library and the Sugarhouse neighborhood, looping around to end at Trolley Square for a beer at the Desert Edge brewpub. The friendly young bartender, a Midwestern transplant, offered up his favorite ski areas when asked: Snowbird, Snowbasin and, for much back-country fun and no crowds, Powder Mountain. After that refreshment, we walked through a very crowded and cold Temple Square which was just spectacular with all the Christmas lights. 

Sunday morning we got to Ruth’s Diner by 8:00 a.m. in order to avoid the crowds; it was snowing a bit as we drove up there and the weather must have kept the folks in bed, because the diner wasn’t packed even as we left. (Ruth's was a big hit, of course.)  After breakfast we continued through Emigration Canyon, hoping to take a back road to Jeremy Ranch which traces a portion of the Mormon Trail but the back road was closed for the winter. So we took the highway to Park City and, by the time we got to the eastern side of the Wasatch Mountains, it had stopped snowing. We toured the Olympic Park and all three ski areas, and drove up and down Old Town in Park City. It was early enough that it wasn’t crowded with people at all, but it was too cold (5 degrees!) to comfortably walk. Next we toured Snowbasin, then continued down into Huntsville, hoping to stop in for a beer at the Shooting Star Saloon.  Note: the Shooting Star doesn’t open until 2:00 p.m. on Sundays. So on we went to Ogden and beers (rosemary porter - weird) and snacks at Rooster’s on Historic 25th Street.  After that we decided we'd logged enough hours in the car for one day and headed straight home for football, card games and H’s homemade chili.

I went back to work on Monday and H had some prior commitments in the morning, but the three of them (and Becky) made it out to Antelope Island in the afternoon.  The bison were there, by the hundreds, swarming the road and surrounding the truck.  This got B a little agitated, I am told.  After work, I met them all at the Hog Wallow - which P proclaimed as his favorite watering hole out of the many we visited.  On Tuesday, the three of them had breakfast at the Other Place, ran some errands and did some shopping so L could take home a memento.  They swung by Porcupine in the afternoon to take advantage of the $2.50 pints, then we dined at Hopper's (good beer, less than good food) to celebrate the last night.

Even with the storm raging its way across the country, L and P managed to snag an earlier flight out of SLC and an earlier flight out of Chicago for home.  When they called that evening, they told H that they talked about their trip the whole flight back.  I hope that means they had fun, because we're already planning to go to southern Utah the next time they come out.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

utah drivers

I'll have a post up soon about H's and my recent stint as SLC tour guides, but first a word about Utah drivers.  Now, I'm not going to go and make any huge sweeping generalizations here, but:  this past Saturday was the first major snowstorm of the year and by the end of that day alone, the Utah Highway Patrol reported
  • 150 car accidents in Salt Lake and Utah Counties
  • 90 car accidents in Davis County
  • 60+ car accidents in Weber County
  • and 15 car accidents in Box Elder County
We had another storm yesterday, just in time for the morning commute and it's my understanding that greater Salt Lake City racked up yet another 100+ accidents.  That's incredible to me.  Is it just because the population density is so high here that statistically so many people are going to smash up?  Here's the thing: it's not like this snow thing is new to Utah.  They get it every year, a lot of it.  I am amazed as to how people can completely forget their winter driving skills from one year to the next.  Just because you have four-wheel drive doesn't mean you'll stop any better on ice.

Since I take the surface roads, my commute on Tuesday morning was messy and extremely slow but not terrifying or life-threatening.  I plan to stick to my route, and stick to my slow and steady/easy on the brake routine.  It worked for me in Maine and I see no reason that it can't work for me here too.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

happy

According to a recent poll taken by researchers at the University of Cambridge in England, Utah ranks #1 as the happiest state in the nation.  The researchers "analyz[ed] data collected from more than 350,000 individuals who were interviewed between Jan. 2 and Dec. 30, 2008 as part of the Gallup Organization's Well-Being Index. The index includes six types of well-being: overall evaluation of their lives, emotional health, physical health, healthy behaviors (such as whether a person smokes or exercises), and job satisfaction."  Out of a possible 100 points, Utah scored 69.2.  My old state, Maine, scored 65.5 (ranked 29 out of 50).

I knew H and I had been smiling more than usual, but now it's been scientifically proven!

Friday, December 4, 2009

two month utahnniversary

Last night after work H and I went to the Porcupine to celebrate being in Utah for two months.  (B went too, and stayed in the car because the Porcupine is in Cottonwood Heights; she was happy about the car ride and, since she sat in my seat while I was in the bar, I was happy to come back to a warm seat.)  Two months!  On the one hand, it seems like we've been here forever since we're settling into a routine, both of us working, busy on the weekends.  But on the other hand, it's only been two months!  And we've got so much more to do and explore - we feel like we've hardly explored SLC itself, much less the everything around it.  We're so glad to be here.

Since H's parents arrive tomorrow for a visit, posting may be a little light here for the next few days.  Rest assured, however, that I will duly record and report back our adventures in tour guiding for our first visitors from back east.

Two months!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

it's a dog's life

Since H and I are thinking that where we'd like to live permanently is here along the east bench (where we live currently), I was poking around on various city web sites, just checking stuff out.  I went to animal ordinances pages specifically to find out about licensing B once we get a permanent address and was interested to see that most cities had specific "animals in vehicles" rules.  Here's a sampling:

SLC:  It is unlawful for any person to carry or confine any animal in or upon a vehicle in a cruel or inhumane manner including, but not limited to, carrying or confining such animal without adequate ventilation or for an unusual length of time.

Okay, that's all reasonable and understandable.

Cottonwood Heights:  [Exactly the same as SLC, plus] Persons transporting an animal in the open bed of a vehicle must physically restrain the animal in such a manner as to prevent the animal from jumping or falling out of the vehicle.  It is unlawful for any person to allow a vehicle to be used as a shelter or housing for pets.

Again, pretty reasonable although B would happily live in the car if we let her.  Last winter she spent pretty much every workday out in H's truck: she's got such a thick coat that the cold wasn't an issue, plus it meant she got to go somewhere instead of staying home.

Sandy:  NO, you may never leave an animal in your vehicle.  Even if the windows are rolled down a few inches, the interior temperature will continue to climb.  Dogs and cats do not sweat and quickly become distressed in a hot environment.  Every summer there are animals that were left unattended in vehicles that expire from the conditions during their owner's absence.  Our Animal Service Officers have been instructed to take a zero tolerance stance on this issue.  If you leave an animal unattended in a vehicle you will receive a citation.  In cases where our Officers are unable to locate the owner of the vehicle in a timely manner, they will force entry into the vehicle and impound the animal, placing it in protective custody.  You would not leave an infant in a vehicle unattended and you should use the same common sense with your pets.  Your dog will forgive you if you leave [her] at home while you run your errands.  [Emphasis mine.]

Wow.  "Zero tolerance" makes me read that as "not even in the winter time" which, as a former Maine resident with a former Maine dog who went everywhere with her in the car, strikes me as a little overzealous.  I get it - if that's the rule, then no one can argue with it - but B will totally NOT forgive me for leaving her at home while I run errands.  Guess I have to find a non-Sandy grocery store to patronize from here on out.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

different room, different view

I was totally wrong.  Not only did H not complain about the previous post, his feelings were a little hurt that I didn't include the photos of his office as sort of a compare-and-contrast.  My bad, H, my total bad.

So here is H's office (note that it has even less colorful decor than mine):


And here is his view:


Which is markedly better than the view from his old Maine office:

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

a room and a view

H will complain that this is another throwaway post but in an attempt at full disclosure, I thought I'd share photos of my new workspace.

So here is my little office (I'm working on getting the computer moved to the right so my back isn't to the door):



And here is the view out across the hall:


Monday, November 30, 2009

lemurs and tigers and fossa - oh my!

Sunday was another gorgeous day, clear, bright and blue from the get-go.  We had a brief morning meeting with our realtor and then, once that business was out of the way, decided to do something outside and new: we'd go to the Hogle Zoo.  After a stop in at Ruth's Diner - which is just up the road from the Zoo, so how could we not - for huevos rancheros (H) and corned beef hash (A - and it was excellent, not at all greasy, with potatoes both crispy and tender, and tons of corned beef),  we parked in the nearly empty zoo lot, paid our $9 each, and were off to see the animals.

I don't go to zoos very often but when I do, I like to go in the winter when there aren't so many people.  Many of the Hogle's animals are cold climate critters so they can be observed in their outdoor habitats year-round, particularly the Asian big cats (Amur tigers, snow leopards, Siberian lynxes and Pallas' cats) and the locals (wolves, bighorn sheep, cougars, black bear).  There are lots of babies there now - elephant, colobus monkey, giraffe, tiger cubs, Siamese crocodile, black-footed cat, snow leopard - which is fun; and they have an extensive smaller mammal house which includes funky porcupines, cacomistles, kinkajous, cavies (cavys?), hyraxes, agoutis and Channel Island foxes.

My favorite, baby elephant notwithstanding, was the fossa, in large part because I've never seen one before, not even in a photograph.  Native to Madagascar (and currently endangered), this young guy was gorgeous, looking like a cross between a cat and a weasel, but taking all the best characteristics from each.  Fossa are actually more closely related to mongooses and are strong, agile predators whose favorite food is a tasty lemur.  They weigh about 26 pounds and average six feet in length from whiskery nose to tail tip.  The Hogle's fossa is two year old male who demonstrated quite a bit of charisma for us, circling his enclosure and gracefully scaling the tree branches, and flirting with the zookeeper when she came in, having learned that a keeper's arrival means he's about to be fed.  Unfortunately, this fossa is a visitor to SLC, however, and will soon on his way to the Denver zoo.

We ended up wandering around for an enjoyable 2.5 hours, making our way to every exhibit, including the interactive prairie dog one.  I think I'll go back in the springtime when there may be even more babies and when the animals are shaking off their long winter.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

another hike with mike, the canyons-adjacent

The local weather forecasters totally got it wrong this weekend - calling for snowstorms both days and instead ending up with clear, dry blue skies and the exit of the inversion - so we were pleased when Captain Mike found time to take us hiking on Saturday.  We met him on the road below the Olympic Park in Park City and followed him up through a swanky housing development in the foothills to the east of The Canyons ski resort. 

We hopped onto the well-traveled Mid Mountain Trail system, climbing up a steady but gentle grade on great single track trails (Captain Mike confirmed that there was fantastic mountain biking to be had along here).  We took a short side trip to look over the base lodges at The Canyons, then continued in and out of the aspens around another ridge which looked over and up to Murdock Bowl.  This trail is along part of the Wasatch Front 100 Mile Endurance Run course during which crazy people run from Layton to Midway in early September.

Our hike (not one hundred miles) ended up being a three-hour out-and-back, with lunch looking out over the valley (Kimball Junction, Jeremy Ranch, Park City, etc.), and we ended up bushwhacking down a snow-covered gully back to the car- a shortcut that dropped us in the backyard of one of those mult-million dollar homes.  No wildlife sightings this time, but it was just glorious to be out in the sunshine and fresh air once again.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

thankful

After we got back from the Cold Turkey race and Maggie McGee's, we had absolutely no commitments for the rest of the day, just a shower (for me), some football and making dinner together.  During our time together on the east coast, Thanksgiving had mostly involved H's parents coming up to our house for the long weekend, and the four of us going up the coast to my parents' house for Thanksgiving dinner.  My folks like a big partay on T'giving, often including 20+ people (family, friends, random strays), 3+ dogs of varying sizes, two turkeys, over three dozen raw oysters, a minimum of eight pies and countless bottles of beer and wine.  This year, since it was just H and me (and Becky), things were much more low key.

However, there was some stress involved since we would be doing all of the cooking this year, instead of just being responsible for a green vegetable, cranberry-orange relish and half a case of beer.  H and I are not gourmet cooks by any stretch of the imagination, although I'm getting fairly proficient on the grill and he is quite good at breakfasts; since Thanksgiving recipes are never all that technical, we figured that the timing of everything - especially since we have very limited kitchenware here in the apartment - would be the challenge.

We did all right, I have to say!  We had a teeny turkey breast (that made it through Friday's lunch and dinner even), smashed red potatoes, my Grandma Bee's stuffing recipe (which I rendered nearly inedible by the application of WAY too much sage), acorn squash and broccoli, plus pumpkin pie that I had made earlier in the week.  With the exception of the overly pungent stuffing and, yes, a slight timing issue (dang turkey breast took longer than we planned for), we called it a succsss, toasting our first Utah Thanksgiving with full glasses and full hearts.

We're so thankful that we're here, trying new things and meeting (a few) new people, and we're thankful for all of our family and friends back East for supporting us and encouraging us.  And now that Thanksgiving is over, what we'd really be thankful for is some snow in the mountains!

P.S. - Almost forgot the most momentousness of the day: due to her enthralled attention to all the frenetic kitchen activity (not to mention random snacks of celery), Becky - for the first time in her life - forgot to remind us about her dinner!  We finally remembered a couple hours later, and she appreciated it when we did, but I think she would have gone all night without it if we hadn't remembered.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

"that was fun. i'd do that again."

Believe it or not, that quote is from me just a few minutes after finishing the City Creek Canyon Cold Turkey Run this morning.  A 6K run, starting at the State Capitol, going into/out of City Creek Canyon, and finishing down at Memory Grove in SLC, this was the first of my four Thanksgiving morning runs that I've actually enjoyed.

We left the apartment at 8:00 a.m., heading into downtown (and, unfortunately, the yucky inversion that has settled into the valley).  There was no traffic, as you might imagine, and we got to the Capitol with plenty of time to spare before the 9:00 a.m. start.  Up in the foothills the sun was shining out of a bright blue sky; runners and walkers were gathering, picking up their numbers, dropping off nonperishables for the food back, standing in line for the port-o-lets (this version was branded "Honey Buckets" - awesome).  Although the crowd seemed sparse at first, by the time we headed for the starting line there was probably the same number of runners as attend the Portland (ME) T'giving morning 4-miler (700-ish).

I made my way through the crowd to about the middle of the pack and right on time we took off.  It was definitely cold in the canyon - 30 in the sun is warmer than 30 in the shade - and it took a long time for my legs to warm up.  [Note: I wore shorts for you, Coach!]  The course went from the Capitol along a slight downhill to the gate to City Creek Canyon, then up to the turnaround (3K marker), then downhill another 3K all the way to the finish at Memory Grove.  I had been really nervous about the uphill portion and had focused my training on hills; luckily, the rolling hills where I trained in Cottonwood Heights were lots steeper than the City Creek slope up to the turnaround - I even passed a bunch of folks on the way up!

Sooner than I expected we turned and were heading down.  I didn't pass so many people on the return: my legs are short, regardless of how fast I try to make them go, and I got passed a lot, runners, runners with dogs, runners with strollers.  I didn't care: I felt good and I didn't have to walk on the up, which was really my only goal. 

Although H, Becky and I had taken a walk up through Memory Grove and City Creek Canyon when we first arrived in SLC, I wasn't sure how long the course would be, so I kept my pace conservative, not picking it up until I saw the finish line in the distance.  I saw H, standing in the road to take photos, and I managed to pass at least three people in my "sprint" for the finish.  It's always satisfying to pass someone right at the finish line.  The results aren't in yet (I'll post an update when they are) but I'm going to guess that my time was around 36/37 minutes.  Not blistering speed by any means, but good for me.

The event was really well run, with folks available to cut the timing chips off our shoes, lots of tents with food and water and Gatorade, a live band playing.  The sun was out, shining down into the park, and everyone was milling around, grinning like goofs from all the endorphins.  Good times for sure.

H and I hung around for a bit, people-watching, then went back to the truck.  I changed into dry clothes as we drove south, because it's no fun going for a post-run morning beer in damp, sweaty clothing.  For those of you who don't know the tradition: on Thanksgiving morning we run, then we go to a bar and have a beer or two, then we continue onto whatever festivities are on the schedule.  Out here in SLC, the only bar we found to be open on Thanksgiving morning (there are several that will be open late this afternoon, but I couldn't wait that long) was Maggie McGee's, the scruffy sports bar not too far from our apartment.  Sure enough, they were open when we got there at 10:30 a.m. - and we weren't the only patrons either.  We had a couple of draft Uinta Cutthroat Pale Ales and watched the start of the Packers/Lions game, before calling it a morning and heading home. 

Definitely good times.  And, like I said, fun enough to plan to do it again next year.

PS - Becky says that she much prefers this Thursday to the last few Thursdays she's had.  Waiting in the truck and going to sports bars before noon is way better than pouting in the kennel all day.

Update:  Official time 35:53.32, 13th out of 31 in my age group ("Very Nearly Old") and in the top half of finishers overall.  Yay for me!!!

Monday, November 23, 2009

o snow

First we were supposed to have a snowstorm during the day on Saturday, but it got waylaid west and south of us; then we were supposed to have a snowstorm during the day on Sunday, but it got held up and didn't start coming down until after the sun had set.  It didn't snow very long, just enough to barely cover everything down here in the valley; the mountains just got a few more inches, not nearly what we'd been hoping for. 

But this morning, on the commute to work, every branch of every tree was covered like they had been flocked, the snow just wet enough to stick.  The cool thing is that although it was damp-ish snow, it's still Utah, so it was light and fluffy and didn't weigh any of the branches down.  Just beautiful.  Didn't have the camera with me, of course, and mid-morning the clouds had cleared and it was bright blue sky and sunshine, so all the snow melted in down here.  Still, a glorious way to start the week.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

do you believe in miracles?

If you're a Real Salt Lake fan, you sure do!  Total underdogs with an under .500 regular season.  Just barely squeaking into the playoffs in last place.  Knocking off 1st place Columbus in round one of the playoffs.  Beating Chicago in penalty kicks to advance to the finals ... and then beating Landon Donovan and David Beckham (and the rest of the L.A. Galaxy) to take the MLS Cup with a final score 1-1 and a win 5-4 on penalty kicks.  Sure, it sucks to win on penalty kicks, but it's sure better than losing on penalty kicks - and the Salt Lake goalie, Nick Rimando, was just awesome.

Good job, RSL! Bring that trophy on home!

Friday, November 20, 2009

a day in the life

H remarked to me yesterday that the posts here had gotten awfully short of late, so first I explained to him that what with the recent getting a job and going to work I just don't have the time to leisurely compose lengthy posts.  Also, I pointed out that he could maybe help out with the post topics - if he's going to be the ideas guy, he might offer up some ideas.  So all I've got for you today is a snapshot of what my newly employed daily life is like.  Fascinating, I know.

H gets up a little before 6:00 a.m. (still dark) and takes the princess out for her morning constitutional.  I get up shortly after 6:00 a.m. so I am mostly done with the blow-drying and primping in the mirror by the time they get back (I am a low maintenance girl, despite what H may say).  Brew the to-go coffee, snarf down a bowl of Cheerios, grab my sack lunch and it's off to the rat race!

I try to leave the apartment around 7:15/7:20 and that is enough ahead of the commuter rush that I can be walking into my 11th floor office around 7:45.  I reconned two commute options before I started at my new job - Highland Drive/Van Winkle Hwy/700E (all the same road, really) or 215W/15N/downtown surface roads - and while the drive time was nearly identical, the fear factor was not.  The freeway is scary at rush hour!  700E is much saner, thank you very much.

I work 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., with an hour for lunch, and since I, as a paralegal, am expected to have 1600 billable hours/year, I try not to fritter my time too much.  It's a little challenging, however, since my office is on the 11th floor and my two bosses are on the 9th: not only are they not used to having their very own paralegal, I'm sort of out of sight/out of mind, so I am constantly emailing/calling/darkening their doors, asking for more work.  They're super-nice guys - I haven't yet met anyone at this firm who isn't nice - and I'll have them trained soon, I'm sure.  In the meantime, I like being up on the 11th floor because there are two other paralegals (litigation - eeeeeeeeesh) right next to me, and that's good for me for networking and learning the ropes.

It's only been two weeks so thus far I've been able to pop out of work right on time and miss the bulk of the 5:00 p.m. rush hour.  I get home around 5, take the princess out for a squirt, and then immediately change into my running clothes and rush to the apartment complex's little gym.  That frickin' 6K (probably most of it uphill - aigh!) Thanksgiving morning run is next week and I have a feeling that I'm going to get my butt handed to me.  I've been training and, wow, is 6K on a treadmill BORING. 

After that, feed the dog, a quick hose-off and change into jammies and figure out something fabulous for dinner.  And by "fabulous" I mean "quick and not entailing too many dishes."  H and I then do laundry, or put away clean laundry, watch a television show (prime time starts at 7:00 p.m. out here ... oh how I miss my DVR!) or surf the webnet for a bit.  Then it's off to bed, usually between 10-10:30 for me, because that darn shortly after 6:00 a.m. is going to come quickly.  Repeat, Monday through Friday.

There you have it: a looooooooong post about a day in my life when I'm not hiking or driving across country or skiing or doing fun, active, interesting stuff.  I told you it was fascinating.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

two birds posts with one stone book

Over at this blog's big sister blog, there's a review of a book that Captain Mike loaned meHeart of the Trail: The Stories of Eight Wagon Train Women by Mary Barmeyer O'Brien.  Go check it out!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

underdogs

How about that Real Salt Lake, huh?  Winning in penalty kicks over the Chicago Fire to advance to the MLS finals!  Craziness.  They play against the Los Angeles Galaxy (Landon Donovan, David Beckham) in Seattle on Sunday, Nov. 22.  Go RSL!!!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

how close is the skiing, really?

It really should be H who does this because he's the Map Guy and inevitably I will not have placed things as precisely as he would like.  So, by request but with the caveat that locations are approximate, we're really close to the skiing.  Like minutes away from Alta, Snowbird, Solitude and Brighton.  (And of the other resorts - Sundance, Park City, the Canyons, Deer Valley, Snowbasin, Powder Mountain, Wolf Creek, etc. - I believe that the furthest of them is under two hours away.  Still better than the drive to Sugarloaf.)  Now all we need is some snow.


View How close is the skiing? in a larger map

Monday, November 16, 2009

we like to hike with mike

Another sunny Sunday, another hike with Captain Mike.  We weren't sure we were going to get this one in, what with the snowstorm that had the SLC weathermen all wound up.  But the snowstorm didn't drop very much in the valley or on the Park City side of the Wasatch (altho' the canyons/mountains were rumored to have gotten ten inches), so after a confirmatory phone call from the captain, off to Park City we went.  The start temperature was around 21 but once we were in the sun, it was a much warmer 21 than we expected.

This time, because of the potential for deep canyon snow, we hiked right from Mike's backyard.  His house is in a subdivision on the other side of the valley from Park City, with a spectacular view of the three ski resorts, and his property backs up to these rolling foothills.  He routinely gets deer, moose and elk traipsing through his yard - and snacking on his shrubs - so it's still pretty undeveloped back in there, although some seasonal cabins are starting to crop up in the hills and once those get a foothold, it won't be long until the fulltime houses come in.  But a large chunk of the hills has been set aside as open land for the hikers, mountain bikers and horseback riders, and the hills are networked with wonderful single-track trails.

Mike's charming corgi, Dudley, came with us, keeping up remarkably well on those short little 8.5 year-old legs of his during the entire 4-hour trek.  We didn't gain a ton of elevation but we definitely covered some ground, first heading up the drainage behind Mike's house, the creek choked by numerous beaver dams.  Then we went up and around a couple of ridges, claiming great views of the valley.  We also spotted a small herd of about seven elk on the neighboring ridge.  They were extremely shy and didn't stick around long, but H did manage to squeeze off a couple of photos and in one, you can actually sort of tell it's an elk.

Mike knows these hills by heart and he and Dudley go out into them nearly every day.  They're great trails for mountain biking too - smooth and solid, not snarled with roots and slippery with loose rock - and I started jonesing for a bike right away.  We donated my 25 year old, hard-nose/hard-tail Gary Fisher mountain bike to charity before we left Maine and I am psyched to get something with suspension as I hear that it's a much more pleasant way to ride.

Our walk ended with a stroll along some backyard pastureland containing horses, donkeys and a herd of adorable, long-lashed llamas.  After that pleasant outing, there was nothing left to do but pull out some lawn chairs into the driveway and have a couple of beers in the chilly sunshine.  Very excellent indeed.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

note to selves

When driving around in a snowstorm, checking out potential houses to buy, be very cautious driving through intersections in housing developments because sometimes there are HUGE speed-dips (the opposite of speedbumps) that are completely filled in with snow and if you hit them too fast, you can slide out of control into the curb.  And if you're lucky, you won't crunch the hell out of the front end of your truck. 

We were lucky.  Whew.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

this is how you say that

Despite the fact that none of you left me comments with your thoughts on how to say these place names like real Utahns, I'm going to give you the phonetic pronunciations anyway. Because I'm a nice person. And I hate loose ends.

Hurricane ----- HUR-uh-kun
Duchesen ----- du-SHANE
Monticello ---- mon-tuh-SELL-o
Alta ----------- AL-tuh (not ALL-tuh)
Panguitch ---- PAN-gwich
Salina -------- suh-LINE-uh
Weber ------- WEE-ber
Tooele -------- too-WILL-uh
Uinta --------- you-IN-tuh
Oquirrh ------ OH-ker

Friday, November 13, 2009

week 1 - survived

I did it - made it through my first week of work at The New Job. Highlights: Day 1 consisted of being led around six floors and introduced to about 65 lawyers and 35 support staff, very few of whose names I actually retained. Day 2 - getting a crash course in the document management system and then saving approximately twenty documents in the completely wrong spot in said document management system. Day 3 was Free Doughnut and Bagel Day (doughnuts from Banbury Cross in SLC - mmmmmm). Day 4 brought lunch with four other paralegals at the Olive Bistro (my food was good enough - avocado, cheddar and roasted red pepper panino and a cup of tomato-basil soup - but my clothes smelled like the kitchen for the rest of the day). And today was Jeans Day.

Whew. Somebody beer me!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

feeling saucy

I try to do the "buy local" thing when I can - not eating at chain restaurants, patronizing independent coffee shops and bookstores, drinking local microbrews. I also try to "buy regional" when I get to a new place, unabashedly trying things that I've never tried before due to their not having been available to me before. In that vein, lately I've been exploring new condiments and, since H loooooooves condiments, this is a great way to get him to try new stuff too.

I like honey in my tea and on my Cheerios and last week I brought home a refillable plastic squeeze bottle of Miller's Honey. It is paler than the Maine honey I'm used to, with a lovely light flavor. Very nice.

I don't think I've seen many (if any) Herdez products back in Maine and so here I've picked up a couple: Bufalo Chipotle Mexican Hot Sauce, a thick, smoky sauce with flavorful heat; and the Herdez Salsa Verde that H used in his huevos H-os last month. Herdez also has a Dona Maria product line with several moles that I'm anxious to try.

We've also been using Valentina Salsa Picante which I really like a lot. It's a little bit thicker than Frank's Hot Sauce or Tabasco and it's got a wonderful, slightly smoky flavor with decent heat (not as hot as the red Tabasco but hotter than the green). I've been using it on everything lately - chicken, pork chops, rice, egg sandwiches - and it comes in a big bottle (for not much money) which is awesome.

Today's impulse buy: Some Dude's Fry Sauce, made right here in SLC. (They have a website, http://www.somedudesfrysauce.com/ , but it's down at the moment.) Some dude made some french fry dipping sauce and sold it at all sorts of burger stands, then decided to bottle it in squeeze bottles and sell it that way too. It's pretty much Thousand Island dressing without the pickle relish, nothing too original, but that dude's right: sure is good to dip your fries in it.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

house, hike and hops

Big day on Saturday, 11/7/09, my last unemployed Saturday. First we met with a real estate broker to help us buy our new SLC-area house. We’re focusing on the Cottonwood Heights/northeast Sandy/Holladay areas and not fifteen minutes after we met with Matt he had sent us an emailed report with 144 possibles. We then spent Sunday driving by many of these possibles and have winnowed that list down to, like, three that we’d want to see the inside of. Hmm. That’s okay – we’re just starting the process and I refuse to get discouraged at the outset.


After the meeting with the broker, we drove up Little Cottonwood Canyon to the White Pine/Red Pine trailhead, just before Snowbird resort. We hiked up to the Red Pine Lakes, Lower (elevation gain from trailhead of 1940 feet; actual elev. 9640 ft.) and Upper (actual elev. 10,000 ft.). We crossed streams several times, walking on a well-maintained tho' quite icy (in spots) trail, which went around the end of a ridge before entering the Red Pine Canyon drainage. Here we had great views down Little Cottonwood Canyon … and then it started gaining some serious up. High above us the rock walls were jagged and dramatic; we saw lots of moose sign –tracks and poops – but no actual moose; and we passed an old mine dump and missed having Captain Mike’s informative historical commentary … but were impressed with ourselves for recognizing it for what it was, at least.


We had water and snacks at the Lower Lake before pressing on to the Upper, about 400 vertical feet above us. It was really steep, with the snowy footpath having been packed into slick ice for most of the way, and for some reason I was really sucking wind, feeling like I was climbing Everest and having to stop every 25 feet or so to breathe. This was where the trail went from being "easy," per our book, to "intermediate." The spectacular scenery up at our goal made it worthwhile, however, and we made pretty good time on the decent, despite the treacherous footing. Couldn’t dillydally, you see, we had places to be.


The U of U football game vs. New Mexico (NM was 0-8 going into the U game) had a 4:00 p.m. start. We didn’t get tickets this time, instead setting our sights on Lumpy’s (formerly a “Social Club” but now just a sports bar at 3000 So. Highland Drive, SLC). Our fabulous guidebook told us that it is “an institution among sports fans. On big-game night hundreds of U of U boosters don their red clothes and head for Lumpy’s to root on the running Utes. They even run busses to and from games at the U.” Well, we missed the crowds, getting there around 5 p.m., but managed to score a couple of seats at the bar. There are two bars, actually, upstairs for the older crowd and their bottled Bud and downstairs for the young upstarts with their fancy draft microbrews. We sat upstairs and thus made the poor (giant and gruff) bartender go down to the other bar for our Full Suspension drafts - by the way, what sort of establishment only has taps in one of the two bars? that's weird, right? - but he warmed up to us when he read the back of H’s 420 IPA/Sunday River Brewing Company t-shirt and realized we were from Maine: his sister lives in Newcastle and he himself is a transplant from Massachusetts (“Came here for a year in 1992 …”).

We were starved after the hike and since our book recommended Lumpy’s food, H got a loaded pizza (11 inches with pepperoni, sausage, onion, olives and mushrooms for $8.00) and I got a chicken pot pie ($7.00: basically tasty chicken soup with a buttery puff pastry crust which, when broken up and pushed down into the pie/soup, was softly delectable, filling and soooooooo tasty). Now, I don’t want to endanger my Loyal Customer status but between the yummy and cheap food and the GIANT mugs of beer for only $4.00, Lumpy’s is in the running for new favorite place.

Oh: the Utes beat the Lobos 45-14. Next weekend: away game at #4 TCU … Lumpy’s is going to be a madhouse!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

competition for beer is cutthroat around here


As you can see, Becky likes Utah beer too. Do you think I could get Uinta to buy this photo for their marketing campaign? And heck no, that bottle was drained dry before we gave it to her ... you think I'm actually wasting good beer on a dog? Jeesh.

P.S. I've got a shot with her and an Emigration Amber (Wasatch/Squatters) bottle too, but the label showed better in this one.

P.P.S. For those of you back East, the title of this post is a pun as that's Uinta's Cutthroat Pale Ale she's after.

Monday, November 9, 2009

hiking the mayflower mine

In what seems to be becoming tradition, or at least habit, we joined Captain Mike for a hike a week ago Sunday (11/01/09 - @#$%^&* computer issues making me post late). He’d enlisted some additional recruits as well: Hope and Sanford, transplants from California who moved to Park City a year ago; Keith, a 76-year old (!) former superintendent for the Mayflower Mine (during the late 1960s); and Keith’s excellent dog, Stacy, a collie mix whom he adopted from the Atacama in Chile. (Stacy is a Chile-dog!) We picked up Captain Mike at his house and joined the rest of the group at the Mayflower Mine parking area outside of Park City, off Utah 40, at the entrance to Glencoe Canyon.


Before we could start hiking, however, we were thoroughly briefed on the area we were about to explore. Keith had brought handouts for everyone, spreadsheets showing the value of the ore extracted from the Mayflower (and other Park City area mines) updated for the closing of precious metal prices as of October 31, 2009. The handouts also detailed the various drain tunnels and vertical shafts for the Park City mines, including the elevation of the portals, the length and depth. H was in spreadsheet-geek heaven with all the data flying around; I confess that I gave up after a while and focused on scratching Stacy behind the ears.

We left the ruined Mayflower buildings behind and made our way up the canyon, pausing now and again for historical and anecdotal tidbits along the way (including at some impressive vertical shafts and a huge wooden baffle used to cool the water for the mine’s air compressors). Stacy moved up and down along the line of people, only stepping into the woods to rustle us up a decent sized young bull moose: she just flushed him onto the trail and didn’t chase or harass him at all, as though she just wanted us to see him. Of course we were too busy gawking to get our cameras out in time for a good photo.

Early lunch was up on top of the Star of Utah dump (a “dump” is an enormous pile of waste rock). We inspected the portal to the Star of Utah adit (now collapsed) and the Park Gelena ventilation shaft. Back in the day, Keith and a coworker used to inspect the shafts and tunnels, climbing under the ground from a lower adit up 800 feet or so and emerging at this Park Gelena ventilation shaft. I’m mildly claustrophobic and just thinking about that gives me shivers.


We kept hiking up (ultimately gaining around 1400 ft. from the point of beginning) under Deer Valley’s Mayflower chairlift, then bushwhacked down into a gulch in search of the Valero mines. We didn’t quite get to those mines – next time, promised Captain Mike – but got fantastic views of Heber City and the Jordanelle Reservoir, a huge man-made lake that resulted from the damming of the Provo River.


The last leg of the hike was an animal trail that started below the ridgeline and then broadened into a jeep trail back to the parking lot. On the way out we found a pile of big bones – probably a moose – that Captain Mike insisted was the remains of the last folks he’d brought out here. After that bushwhacking, such an idea wasn’t so far-fetched.

Ooh! I almost forgot: as we were hiking up through the Glencoe Canyon, through some shady bits, Captain Mike spotted an intriguing print in the snow. We know it wasn’t some big dog because we checked Becky’s paws when we got home – four toes and a pad – while this print clearly has five toes … we think it might have been a BEAR!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

loyal customers

On Tuesday (11/3) we went to the Porcupine to celebrate our One Month in Utah anniversary. Plus it was $2/pints. When we got the tab, we were surprised and pleased to discover a “Loyal Customer” discount of $0.75. Only took us a month to become regulars – awesome!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

gainfully employed

Holy moly, I can hardly believe it: I got a job and my first day is this coming Monday. It's with a large-ish law firm right in downtown SLC and I'm going to be the paralegal for the estate planning/probate group - so uber-thanks to my beloved and former boss Betsey for saying all the right things about me when they called her. The days of wine and roses (i.e., hanging around the apartment eating bonbons in my soft pants) are over.

catching up

Y'all, I'm soooooooooooo sorry for the long delay in posting. It's not that we don't have stuff to share with you, it's that the computer was in the spa enduring an intensive (and expensive) cleanse to rid itself of all the viruses and spyware and crap that COMCAST [stupid jerky @#$%^&* Comcast] exposed us to. But we're back. And lots of upcoming posts to bring you up to speed.

In the meantime, you all should really go check out this blog here. She's a Utah girl who loves the outdoors and who has parlayed that plus her love of writing into an actual career. Plus, she totally commented on two of my posts (!!!!!) so she deserves all the love you can give her. She's in the sidebar of links too.

Monday, November 2, 2009

bison and cowboys

We had a busy day Saturday (10/31/09) and none of it had anything to do with Halloween costumes. First we headed out to Antelope Island State Park for the first day of their annual Bison Round Up. The island is home to a herd of approximately 600 bison and every year volunteers drive them to the bison corrals at the north end of the island where they are inspected, ministered to and ear-tagged by a veterinarian. Some of the herd is culled and sold at auction so as to keep the herd at sustainable numbers for the size of the island; we were tempted to buy one but (1) don’t know if you’re allowed to drive your new bison straight to the butcher shop and (2) we didn’t want to have to pay our landlords extra for a second pet.


We got out there a little after 9:00 a.m. and, after a quick check of the bison corrals (empty), drove down towards the Fielding-Garr Ranch, stopping to admire pronghorn antelope, jackrabbits and a lone coyote on our way. The round up had started at 8:30 a.m. because we soon came across a sizable (although not nearly 600) herd of bison calmly walking north while a sizable number of volunteer cowboys ambled their horses alongside them. They weren’t driving the bison any faster than a walk and stopped occasionally to let the bison rest and graze; at the rate they were going it was truly going to take all day. Further south we found a smaller herd with just a few cowboys and these bison weren’t quite so biddable: one of them, I’m guessing a young male, decided that he wasn’t having any of this rounding up business and ran for the hills, gaining elevation quickly and soon disappearing from sight. One cowboy gave token chase but then returned to the rest of the herd; the escapee will only have gotten a short reprieve as the round up uses helicopters to spot stragglers and All Bison Will Be Rounded Up.


It wasn’t super-exciting but it was fun to see … which was also our experience at the Utah vs. Wyoming football game that evening. The Utes were playing the Cowboys at 6:00 p.m. so we tossed the dog in the car and drove up to the game, finding free parking at a lot halfway across the campus from the arena. Since it was a night game, we dressed the part: wool socks, long underwear, multiple layers, hats and gloves, and even stole a fleece blanket from B’s crate to sit on. Also, since it was Halloween, the game was a “Blackout” and so everyone wore black instead of red.

After a gyro (for me) and an Italian sausage (for H), and some sight-seeing at the base of the 2002 Olympic Torch, we took our seats and enjoyed the game. Although we’d hoped for big scoring and thrilling plays, it was really not to be until the fourth quarter when the Utes scored two touchdowns to win 22-10. The crowd was way into the game, however, which made it fun. It did take us a while to get out of the parking lot and back onto the beltway but even with the traffic jams, the roundtrip travel by car was shorter and cheaper than the trip on Trax last weekend.

Oh, and Real Salt Lake won their first playoff game 1-0. They play multiple games in this round with the aggregate goal leader moving on, so I wish they’d scored a few more.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

hog wallow

After a long day of [me not yet working and H having to be at] work, it was time for Date Night! We decided to try a new place, one that I’d read about in our trusty SLC guidebook and which had been recommended to us by some young Porcupine patrons: the Hog Wallow Pub (3200 E Big Cottonwood Canyon Rd.). Apparently it’s got a bit of history and used to be all notorious back in the day; perhaps it’s still notorious later in the evening – there’s live music Thursdays through Saturdays but Friday’s entertainment was still setting up his equipment when we left – but it was pretty mellow when we were there.

We sat at the bar and split a pitcher of Uinta Cutthroat Pale Ale and while our guidebook didn’t say anything about the food (“The staff is friendly, the atmosphere relaxed and the regulars are interesting.”), we figured we’d give it a shot. They have a small smoker and serve barbeque on the weekends, so I had a half-slab of pork spare ribs. The bartender warned me that it was a LOT of food, but as the ribs didn’t come with any sides, I was able to finish with no problem. The ribs were super-tender and moist, the meat falling off the bones, although I thought they could have been smokier and were served with thin, store-bought sauce. H had a 10-inch “house” pizza (pepperoni, olives, onions, no mushrooms and about a field’s worth of garlic ) which he demolished in short order. I quote: “They sure like their garlic here.”

The atmosphere was indeed mellow with several large-ish tables settling in for the evening and the bar full of locals. There was an NBA game on one of the bar’s televisions but upon request one of the waitresses switched over to the PBR Finals in Las Vegas. That’s got to be proof that we’re way out west – when the clientele prefers bull-riding to basketball.

Friday, October 30, 2009

it's tough being the princess

Poor little Becky has had a challenging time with this move. First, she was worried for an entire month as we packed all our belongings into hundreds of boxes. Then she was really worried when all the boxes and all the furniture disappeared, leaving the Maine house empty and echoing. Once we got into the truck she crashed and was practically unconscious for the whole road trip, which was good because I don't think she slept at all in the motel rooms what with the fretting at the new and different environments.

Then, when we first got to Utah, there was that terrifying thunder-, lightning- and hail storm which scared her so badly that I thought she'd shake out of her skin. Now that we're in the apartment she's settling down a bit, but she doesn't like all the new dog-smells when she's trying to, ahem, squirt, and she gets scolded a lot because she growls or woofs whenever she hears a car door slam or voices outside. Luckily this apartment complex is pretty quiet but still, there are many more noises than she's been used to in her life with us.

This all is why when we went to the self-storage units last time we picked up the over-stuffed armchair. Because despite having her dog bed, her crate, our bed and all of the remarkably cushy carpeted floor to sleep on, B prefers her throne.