Saturday, November 27, 2010

black diamond friday

Since there are all these awesome sales going on the day after T'giving, H and I decided to go shopping.  NOT.  We went skiing, of course, under bluebird skies and warmer-than-we-expected temperatures.  We took our timing getting going in the morning to allow things to warm up a little - H made us a hearty mountain breakfast of eggs, cheese, ham and leftover mashed potatoes - and were on the lift before 11:00 a.m.

Faceful of sunshine

Alta hasn't gotten any new snow in a couple of days and everything was tracked out, but we managed to find LOTS of soft, deep snow in the trees to the right of Wildcat lift. (We also found a cutie-pie porcupine over there, trundling across a ski trail from one pine tree to another. He went nicely with the moose we saw earlier, browsing in the scrub oak alongside the road up the canyon.) I'm slowly getting my ski legs back and regaining that muscle memory; H says I'm doing fine but I really feel like a spaz more often than not.

It's really steep here, with a lot of snow - yay!

We skied until a little before 3:00 p.m., never really having to wait in lift lines and stopping only briefly for a quick midday granola bar. My legs are a little stiff now but it's hard to complain after another gorgeous day on Alta's amazing terrain.

Friday, November 26, 2010


In my last post, I mentioned that H had done extensive research to determine which greater SLC area bar would play host to our post-turkey trot beer.  The man is nothing if not thorough: he called twenty-five bars (since 25 is a nice round number).  In full disclosure, we have not been to all of these places (which include brewpubs, dive bars, sports bars, regular bars, dueling piano bars and a strip club), but instead only present this as a sampling of what is available should you wish a beer outside your SLC home on Thanksgiving.  Here are the results:

Thursday, November 25, 2010

pi on thanksgiving

Because I had so much fun last year, I signed up again for the Thanksgiving morning Cold Turkey 6K run up City Creek Canyon.  Major difference this year: it was about 20 degrees colder.  But still fun!  Oh, before I forget to mention it - the reference in this post's title is to my race number: 314.

I would guess that about the same number of runners (700-800) were milling about at the Capitol, trying to stay warm in the thin 12F sunshine.  Like last year, there were folks in costume - a group wearing plush turkey hats, a guy dressed up as a [live] turkey, a barechested Indian brave (whom we think may have pinned his race number through his nipple rings ...!) - and folks with dogs, everybody happy and relaxed and glad to be up and out on this beautiful morning.  Right before we started, the race organizers announced that due to the recent snowstorm, the course had been changed to a true out-and-back, with a slight uphill finish so as to keep the finished racers nearer their cars.  This was as opposed to the lovely downhill finish through Memory Grove we had last year - I'm a big fan of downhill finishes and was immediately apprehensive about the change.

The gun went off a little after 9:00 a.m. and off we went, trying to get our cold legs moving.  I'd never run in such cold before and had struggled a little with what to wear; I ended up with thin wool socks, running tights, a tight polyester underlayer, thin zip-neck fleece, mittens and a thick knit hat.  This ended up being perfect (a little warm in the end, actually): we were in the sun for the initial slight downhill, in the shade for the uphill in the canyon, in the shade for the return downhill out of the canyon and then back in the sun for the slight uphill homestretch. 

At the finish

Although my goal had been to beat last year's time of 35:53:32, the footing was icy in spots and I ended up making slow but steady progress, not even getting passed by too many people. When we hit the turnaround, I felt really good, unzipping my fleece and stretching my legs out a little bit. I slowed back up on the last bit, flat-to-slightly-up, but managed to pass two people at the finish, including one right at the line.

The best way to stay warm in 12 F? Run 6K, with half of it up a hill. H was pretty chilled by the time we met up at the finish, and I knew I'd get cold quickly, so I grabbed a cup of hot cider (excellent!) and we jumped in the truck, ready to head back south for part 2 of our new Thanksgiving tradition.

Post-race PBR at Maggie McGee's

Part 2, of course, is the post-race beer drinking. H had done extensive research (see post entitled "research") on what SLC area bars were going to be open Thanksgiving morning ... and we ended up back at Maggie McGee's, right where we were last year. They're under new management and had a friendly bartender who was surprised to see customers before noon. This year H and I were the first people to belly up to the bar (although other people came in shortly thereafter). We had a couple of PBRs, watched some of the Patriots v. Lions game, then headed home so H could get his skis and go up to Alta - with 118 inches and blue skies, it's hard to say no. (I did, however: I needed a shower and a cup of coffee.)

Updated with results:  time of 37:22.76 (due to uphill finish, imho), placed 6th out of 18 in my age group (being the youngest in one's age group is better than being the oldest, imho) and 211 overall (top half of entrants).

Sunday, November 21, 2010


We sure picked a good one for my first day out of the 2010/2011 ski season.  With the latest storm having rolled in, Alta had a new 12 inches at 8:00 a.m. this morning; it was still snowing when we got there at 9 a.m. and it continued to snow ALL DAY.  The crowds were nonexistent since it's before Thanksgiving and all, and everyone's tracks were getting filled in nearly as fast as they were made.  Temperatures were pretty warm (around 21-24 F) but the wind was quite gusty, at times painfully driving the snow into our faces.  This made for difficult clothing decisions: I was way too warm while I was skiing, but got chilled on the lifts.  I guess it all averaged out, though, and my hands and feet stayed warm enough.

Snow so good you don't even mind not seeing the sky!

We didn't cover a ton of territory since much of the terrain was still closed, either due to avalanche control or lack of cover ... although, coming from back east and all, I've never seen so much snow called "lack of cover."  We were consistently in heavy-ish powder well over my knees for most of the day.  After a quick snack break at noon, we ventured into some trees and found some incredibly deep pockets.  It was outstanding.  I'd been a little leery of skiing in so much snow my first day out but since the visibility was so bad, between the flat light and the blowing snow, I couldn't really see much of what we skied - I just went for it.  Whereas if I'd been able to see, I probably would have psyched myself out.

I managed to last until 1:30 p.m. when my legs finally turned to jelly.  Getting home was a whole other adventure: the road down the canyon was so bad that it took us 67 minutes to drive 8 miles, inching the whole way in a long line of brake-lights.  People played it pretty safe/smart, however, and we made our slow descent with no problems.

One guy we rode a chair with told us it's been about ten years since there's been this much snow this early.  It was awesome - absolutely, positively the best first day out I've ever had and pretty much ranking up as one of the best days ever for H and me.  Best part?  Now I'm totally psyched for the season.  Let it snow!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

opening day

H took yesterday off to ski Alta's opening day.  In a nutshell: "Better than any opening day back east."

With a "settled snow depth" of around 40" yesterday, the snow cover was thin in spots although there was no ice.  It was windy, and thus a little cold, but temperatures were in the mid 50s down in the valley so it wasn't that bad.  The chairlifts were full of people, but there were no lines to wait in; five of the seven lifts were running.  He was on the fifteenth chair up the mountain and skied until 2:00 p.m., when he called it a good day indeed.

We've got a storm just moved in this evening: they're calling for 10-15 inches up there tonight, with an additional 7-12 inches tomorrow.  The winds should die down to "moderately gusty" and with temperatures to be around 23F, I suspect we'll be on the hill tomorrow. 

Thursday, November 18, 2010

knowledge is power

Since it's been so light on posting of late, both here and at WWW's sister-blog, I'm doubling up and using the same post on both sites.  It's totally cheating, of course, but they're my blogs and I can do what I want.

In our explorations of Utah, we've relied on a number of sources of information: word of mouth, newspaper articles and, mostly, guidebooks.  Here's what our Utah-centric library looks like right now:
  • The Historical Guide to Utah Ghost Towns by Stephen L. Carr
  • Insider's Guide to Salt Lake City (4th edition, but a treasure trove of information regardless)
  • Frommer's Utah (a going-away present from MSM - thanks again, MSM!)
  • Moon Handbooks - Utah (found in a used bookstore and not that helpful because it's old)
  • 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles - Salt Lake City by Greg Witt (we've done so many of these that we're wishing there was a volume 2, 60 More Hikes Within 60 Miles)
  • Hiking the Wasatch by John Veranth (not quite as detailed as 60 Hikes)
  • Roadside History of Utah by Cynthia Larsen Bennett
  • Best Easy Day Hikes: Canyonlands and Arches by Bill Schneider (2nd ed., a Falcon Guide booklet)
  • and two Pocket Naturalist pamphlets, Utah Trees and Wildflowers; and Utah Birds
Click on over to the other blog if you're interested in any of these books - there are links over there directly to Amazon.

Monday, November 15, 2010

season passes

Alta doesn't open until this Friday (conditions permitting) so we thought we'd take advantage of the pre-season rush and go get our pictures taken for our season passes this past Saturday.  That way, when there's enough snow that I want to ski on it - because I'm too snobby for 48" now - we won't have to dither around in line for our passes.

One of these days I will figure out to dress for going up the canyons.  It was in the low 40s down at our house, so a long-sleeved t-shirt and a heavy fleece was plenty.  Up at the ski resort, however, it was 21 and I was wishing for a hat, mittens and another layer on the walk from the parking lot to the season pass office.  There were just a couple of other people in line ahead of us so fairly quickly we showed our receipts, smiled for the camera and waltzed on out, the proud owners of Alta season passes.  (My photo turned out better than H's - it's even pretty good!)

I wish we'd thought to bring the camera with us because the scene up there was great.  Despite the mountain not being open yet, the parking lot was about one-third full.  There were a number of little kids sledding down the low slopes with their parents but most of the folks there were there to ski.  The chairs were not turning, what with the opening a week away, but people were skinning up the trails by the Collins lift, presumably heading up to the bowls where the deeper snow lies.  Call me lazy if you will, but that's an awful lot of work for tracked-out partial coverage.  Still, folks are ready and excited about the ski season, and it was great to see all the people out there.

Next: must get skis tuned up!

Saturday, November 13, 2010


That's how many bags of leaves we (mostly H) filled today from our tiny, .25 acre, two-tree lawn.  SEVEN.  That just seems wrong. 

It didn't take all that long, however, and it needed to be done - not only because our neighbors had already cleaned up all their leaves, but also because Alta opens next Friday and once ski season starts, pretty much nothing else gets done on the weekends.  In fact, we're going to go up and pick up our season passes this afternoon.  Yay!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

not much happenin' here

Sorry it's been so empty around here but we really haven't been doing anything post-worthy: workin', goin' to the gym, doin' laundry, walkin' the dog.  The ski areas are starting to open, however, so soon enough we'll have that to share with you.

The Salt Lake Tribune recently had a list of fifty websites that are all about Utah and what this state has to offer - click here to get to the list.  I haven't checked all of them out yet but there's a wealth of information about the Beehive State, perfect for if you're thinking of exploring out here.

That's all I've got ... wish us snow!

Monday, November 8, 2010

snow men

Did y'all happen to catch the new Discovery Channel show, Snow Men?  It's about the folks who keep the highway open in Little Cottonwood Canyon so us skiers can get on up there to Alta: the snowplow drivers and the avalanche guys (technically "anti-avalanche guys" because they're working to ensure that no natural avalanches wreak havoc on the road and town of Alta).  It's on Fridays at 10:00 p.m., prime DVR time.

We watched the episode "Mission Impassable" and while I absolutely positively appreciate what these guys do and am really and truly thankful that they do it, it's not particularly compelling television.  The plow guys drive up and down the road, occasionally stopping in the garage to fix their trucks.  The avalanche guys tromp around the sides of the canyons and then set off howitzers to induce small avalanches to clear the potential for larger avalanches.  It's hard, exhausting and dangerous work to be sure, but it's a little light on the drama.  Still, it all takes place just moments away from our house so that was kind of fun.

Saturday, November 6, 2010


The ski season is almost upon us: Ski Utah reports that Solitude and Brighton are hoping to open next Friday (11/12), and Alta is aiming for November 19, conditions permitting.  (Since it's nearly 70 and fairly sunny today, it's going to need to get quite a bit colder and precipation-er pretty quickly.)

To help get ourselves in the ski mood, we trekked through Parley's Canyon to the Park City Ski Swap.  Held Friday ($10 admission), Saturday ($5) and Sunday ($2), the PCSS is part clearinghouse for new and used - no older than 5 years, supposedly - ski and snowboard equipment and apparel and part fundraiser - 30% sales commission - for the Park City Ski Team. 

The Basin Recreation Field House was packed with outdoor clothing, skis, boards, boots, poles, helmets, goggles, backpacks and people.  We cruised the ski aisles several times but didn't end up picking anything out; we haven't really figured out what we want, other than "powder skis," and didn't feel like spending the money on skis we weren't sure about.  I did pick up a new lightweight base layer and a new-ish pair of aluminum Scott ski poles - my current sticks are +/- 25 years old and I thought it would be okay to have a pair from this decade.

So, I'm ready to break in those new poles and parka.  Still need to get my skis tuned but I'm ready - bring on the snow!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

tea rose diner

We tried another new place for breakfast last Sunday, picking one from a 2010 "best of Utah" list: the Tea Rose Diner in Murray.  It's a tiny place, just off State Street in historic Murray, and has the distinction of being both a Thai restaurant and an American style breakfast diner.  The waitress was Thai, very cute and personable; from the voices coming from the kitchen, I believe the cooks are Thai as well.

All the traditional American breakfast items are on the menu - everything egg, bacon, pancake, sausage, etc. - and also some Thai-influenced omelettes with carrot, ginger, sprouts and mushrooms.  H had the farmer's breakfast, which was cubed potatoes, cheese, egg and ham all scrambled together with bacon on top, while I had the tasty "Jim's breakfast sandwich" - scrambled egg, bacon, cheddar and tomato on whole wheat toast.  It was all good and the bacon was excellent: thick cut and meaty.

They have a full Thai menu for lunch and dinner and I'd be interested in going back there for dinner sometime.  They also apparently a huge selection of teas - the counter was lined with dozens of glass containers holding various teas, many of which are blended by hand.  I heard another customer order the "Christmas tea" and my interest was piqued, but by then I'd had a couple cups of coffee and didn't need any more hot beverage.  Next time we go for breakfast - and I would imagine we'll go there again - I'm getting some funky tea.

Monday, November 1, 2010

ebb and flow

I can't believe it's November already.  The summer seemed to stretch forever with the warm spring and warm fall ... and now it's gone.  To commemorate the changing of the seasons, check out these photos that H took.  It's Little Cottonwood Creek, as it runs through Midvale.  The first photo is from this spring when the creek was at crazy flood-stage with all the snow melt; the second is from the end of the summer. 

June 6th - massive amount of water flowing through there

October 22nd - same spot, not so much with the water