Tuesday, August 30, 2011


Believe it or not, we're repeating ourselves (and I don't mean skiing weekend-in and weekend-out at Alta): our TENTH wedding anniversary was last Thursday and we went back to Log Haven to celebrate.  You can click through here and read all about our first visit on our ninth anniversary.

Things were slightly different this time.  It was much busier on a Thursday evening; our server was a little shyer and not as personable, though certainly competent; they didn't serve those luscious little watermelon-goat cheese tastes.  But we got a table right by the waterfall, had a bottle of Greenpoint shiraz (just like last time) and toasted to our ten years of marriage.  (Note: you can bring your own wine and pay only a $15 corkage fee; had I known that, I probably would have brought the bottle of champagne that sitting downstairs, waiting for an occasion.)

The food: H had the baby romaine salad with a local aggiano cheese and I had the organic greens with heirloom tomatoes (some of them were purple!), green beans and wheat berries.  They brought around a bread basket several times, with chewy kalamata olive rolls, parmesan-encrusted foccacia and other tender breads.  For our entrees, I had the grilled bison NY strip steak, served with roasted cauliflower, pancetta and fingerling potatoes (some of them were purple!), while H went with the filet again - this time, seemingly much smaller than last summer.  We of course had dessert: the honey-topped creme brulee and the warm chocolate lava cake.

Log Haven is just such a beautiful spot, the old lodge nestled in the cool green of the canyon, and was the ideal place to celebrate the past ten years and look forward to the next adventures together.  We started those next adventures with a camping trip ... that'll be the next post!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

alta in the summer

Not so long ago we were in the mood for a shortish, don't-let's-get-started-until-the-afternoon hike (approx. 5 miles).  We headed up Little Cottonwood Canyon to Alta, parking in the Catherine's Pass trailhead lot just below the Sunnyside lift.  We hiked up to the pass through Catherine's Area, traversing the bowls and meadows we frolicked in all winter, now in full summertime wildflower bloom.

Self portrait atop Catherine's Pass

At the top of the pass we could see down into Brighton in Big Cottonwood Canyon, a couple of small alpine lakes (Catherine and Mary?) below us.  We walked up along the ridge to the top of the Sugarloaf lift, peering down the chutes we ski and marveling at how dang steep they are - things are a lot less steep when you've got your skis on.  I'm serious.  I wouldn't have wanted to hike down any of those chutes but I ski down them with hardly a second thought.  Well, maybe a second thought but almost never a third.

What Vicki's/3 Bears looks like in the summer

For the descent we followed ski trails: Upper Big Dipper to Rock N' Roll, then followed the access road through a cluster of private cabins and back to the car.  It's so much more fun hiking up at Alta this summer because now, after having skied there every weekend last winter, we know what we're looking at.  There's still a fair amount of snow up there, tucked away in the shade in Castle Apron, and I imagine it'll not melt before there's new snowfall.  Last summer, the first snow was August 28th ... wonder when it'll be this year.

Seriously, the wildflowers are nuts out here

Thursday, August 25, 2011

rocky road

It had been ages - yes, ages! - since I'd gotten on my MTB, so in a last minute decision, we headed over to Park City to try out the Glenwild Trails.  Glenwild is on the north side of I-80,  near Kimball Junction.  Because it's Park City, the Spring Creek Trailhead had plenty of parking and an extremely swanky (i.e., not a port-o-let) restroom.  Because it's Utah, it was all frickin' uphill.

Well, not all of it, but the first bit for sure.  And H and I learned a couple of lessons.  First: discuss which trail you're going to ride on.  I assumed we'd be doing the Glenwild Loop, which we did, but because the trail was narrow and rocky and up from the get-go, I psyched myself out and walked, pushing my bike up the trail.  At the first junction, I went left, whereas H had continued straight on and was waiting for me at the top of the hill.  So I continued on and on, up and up, pushing my bike up the Stealth Trail to the top of the hill, fully expecting H to find me at any time.  Then, at the top of the hill, I rode down the Cobblestone Trail for a bit, chickening out on all the steep and rocky switchbacks, until I wasn't entirely sure that I was still on the loop ... and turned around to start pushing my bike back up what I'd just ridden down.  (By now, what with all the walking in bike shoes, I had a huge blister on the back of my right heel.)

H did find me before I had walked up more than four switchbacks.  Poor guy: after waiting at the top of the hill, he rode all the way back down to the parking lot in case I'd given up or was stuck in a ditch.  When he didn't find me, he turned around and rode back UP the hill, this time going to the left the way I had gone until he caught up with me.  I hadn't been terribly worried - I knew he'd find me, especially if I really had managed to stay on the loop (which I had).  I turned back around and we kept riding to the bottom of the steep, rocky hill where the singletrack turned and meandered through the rolling sagebrush-covered hills.  By the time we'd wound our way back around to finish the loop, I was wicked tired and ready for a band-aid and a beer.  Luckily, we had both of those things in the truck - ready for anything.

Still smiling!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

red rock south

If we're in downtown SLC, our go-to microbrewery tends to be Squatter's.  There's another brewpub just around the corner from them, though: Red Rock Brewing.  They've got the SLC location, one in Park City and just now have opened a third location at "Fashion Place Mall" in Murray.  (I'm sorry, but that's just about the dumbest name for a mall ever.)  We went there to check it out on a recent date night.

The place is absolutely enormous with two huge dining rooms, patio seating and a rather smallish bar given the size of the dining rooms.  It was busy when we went that Friday night but we were able to score seats at the bar without waiting, and were able to watch everyone else bustling around, taking in sustenance after some hard mall shopping.  The space is pretty much decorated in late 20th Century Brewpub with glass walls, exposed ventilation ducts and a mostly open kitchen, including a view into the brick ovens.  There are lots of fantastic photographs of various Utah red rock formations, adding some nice warm color to the space.

I think I know why we haven't been to Red Rock Brewing since before we moved here: I find the beer and the food okay but not great.  I had the bitter, which was on the cask, and H had the IPA: his beer was floral but not overly hoppy; mine was pretty nondescript, although it was a lovely color.  I had a Caprese sandwich with mozzarella, carmelized onions, roasted Roma tomatoes and basil - tasty enough but too much (and too dry) bread.  H had the Cobb salad which was quite big and piled high with bacon, egg, cheese and avocado.

It looks like the new location is being well-received, which is great, and I'm thrilled to see a local company holding its own in a mall dominated by national chains.  Still, given the choice, I'm going to stick with Squatter's if I'm downtown and the Porcupine if I'm south - the food is better at both of those places, and I can get Full Suspension at both of 'em too.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

red pine lake revisited

One of the first hikes we did when we moved to Utah was up to Red Pine Lake.  We picked it as a recent weekend hike because it's mostly shaded and, with the late start we'd gotten, shade was going to be important under the Utah August sun.  Also, that hike kicked my butt the first time and I have wanted to go back and see if it would do the same now that I've acclimated and gotten my hiking legs under me.  Verdict: I need to spend more time on the stairclimber at the gym, apparently.

H on the shore of lower Red Pine Lake

It's about a 7-mile round trip, with the trailhead elevation around 7,700 feet, lower Red Pine Lake at around 9,650 feet and the upper lake at 10,000 feet.  The trail is rocky - something I need to remember about both the Red Pine Lake hike and the White Pine Lake hike: gorgeous lakes but tough on the ol' footsies - and pretty steep in places, especially between the lower and upper lakes.  The first time we did it, in November 2009, there was a ton of snow, so much so that we were post-holing, and I remember taking two steps, then pausing to breathe, then taking another couple of steps.  It wasn't nearly so bad this time (snow fields in the bowls but not really any to walk on) but I was still puffing pretty hard by the time we reached the upper lake.

The upper lake is just up above that
higher clump of trees, below the ridge

These glacial-blue alpine lakes are so beautiful, nestled down in their rocky (quartz monzonite, up there around the upper lake) bowls.  We didn't see much wildlife - a woodpecker and one pika - but heard from various other hikers that the fishing had been quite good, particularly in the lower lake.  The flowers were incredible too, a little late this year due to the late snow and probably just at or about peak right now.

Lupines and ... yellow ones

Friday, August 19, 2011

crazy for/at the tou

Okay, one more post about the 2011 Tour of Utah and then I'll get back to posting other stuff (just as soon as we do something other).  This Vimeo video is from Stage 5 on Tanners Flats and it is a party for sure.  Seeing spectators get so close to the racers always makes me nervous ... but it looks like such a party that we may have to tailgate there for 2012's race.

Tour of Utah - Queen Stage - Wacky Food Hand Ups from Roots Culture Connect on Vimeo.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

2011 tour of utah - stage 5

2011's Stage 5 was about the same as 2010's: a 161 km (100 mi.) ride from Park City, through Kamas and Midway, down Provo Canyon to Sundance, up and over Alpine Loop and descending through American Fork Canyon, then climbing up and over Traverse Ridge, through Draper and Sandy, and, finally, climbing Little Cottonwood Canyon to finish at Snowbird.  Dang.  That's a heckuva lot of mountain climbing:  11,000 vertical feet, including 3,500 feet over the final six miles.

Henao and Levi (in yellow) about to finish

We packed a cooler (ham and cheese sandwiches and PBRs) and headed up to Snowbird around noon, finding a shady spot near Little Cottonwood Creek to consume our repast.  A stroll through the expo showed Snowbird taking advantage and selling both food and beer (the latter up at the lodges but folks felt free to take their brews to go, so we did too).  They had a Jumbotron set up near the finish line so we hung out there for a while and watched the cyclists make their way up and up and up.  Then, when the riders were just a couple miles away, we found spots at the rail to watch as they crested the final climb before coasting downhill to the finish line.

Stage 5 podium: Henao (1), Levi (2) 
and Brajkovic (3)

It was Radio Shack vs. Gobernacion de Antioquia the whole day, with Leipheimer, Brajkovic, Henao and Sevilla playing cat-and-mouse with each other.  And once they hit LCC, it was just Levi and Henao.  They came over the final crest together and then Levi, in a classy move since he was about to win the Tour, never challenged so that Henao was able to win the stage.  Brajkovic took third behind his teammate Levi, and Tommy Danielson came in fourth.

Final general classification podium: Levi (1),
Henao (2) and Brajkovic (3)

The tough little Colombians won the best team competition - gleefully spraying each other with champagne - and it was wonderful to see the crowd cheer so loudly for them ... almost as loudly as they did for Levi, winning his second Tour of Utah in a row.  It was a great Tour, for us spectators as well as the riders, and Levi promised us that he'd be back again next year to attempt a three-peat.  Can't wait!

2011 tour of utah - stage 4

If Stage 3 was hot, Stage 4 was a scorcher: 96 F under cloudless skies for the downtown SLC circuit race.  The course was a brutal eleven laps for a total of 132 km (82 mi.) and somewhere in the vicinity of 7,000 feet of climbing all told.  The race started at 1:00 p.m., so we got there a little early to walk through the expo set up at the start/finish alongside the state capital (where I was disappointed to only find two food vendors (aside from the ice cream/sno-cones), one of which was only selling vegetarian hot dogs - again, a missed opportunity to sell a lot of food).

Charging up from the start

We watched the start from a head-on vantage point before meeting up with my work friend Jody and her husband who scored prime real estate in the shade near the top of the toughest climb, 500 m. from the finish atop State Street.  The peloton held together for the first few laps but had started to disintegrate by lap 5, with a breakaway, the main peloton and then stragglers falling off the back.  The crazy climbing Colombians were extremely impressive, several of them leading the breakaway all day.  Poor Team Radio Shack basically imploded, though, unable to handle the heat and the climbing, leaving just Levi and Brajkovic to work together.

Levi (in yellow) on Lap 4 - still with 
support from his team

In the end, Javier Acevedo won the stage (2.56'18"), with the Spanish rider Javier Megiasleal coming in second and the Swiss Rubens Bertogliati taking third.  Levi held onto the yellow jersey for another day but Henao crept up to within 23 seconds of him.

Stage 4 podium with skis for prizes

2011 tour of utah - stage 3

Stage 3 of the Tour of Utah was Friday night out at Miller Motorsports Park in Erda, Utah.  H picked me up from work and we headed out there.  Finally getting to attend a stage in person, we saw that the Tour was much better organized than last year with better signage, lots of staff and volunteers and more barriers set up to delineate spectator area.  (They also now restrict the grandstands to VIPs only.)  This stage was an individual time trial: 14.5 km (9.0 mi.) on the racetrack.

Tommy D. working the crowd

We stood right next to the start for most of the riders, then walked around to the other side where we could scurry between the start and the finish.  Tom Danielson got himself a new fan (me) when he grinned at the crowd and waved to get the cheers louder, all whilst sitting on his bike waiting for his start.  The crowd ate it up and it was nice to see one of the cyclists let their game-face slip for just a bit.

Big George Hincapie ready to go

Tejay Vangarderen gave himself a stage win as a birthday present (17'33") while Levi finished second (17'39") and the Colombians - climbers, not time-trialists - scarcely made a showing and Hanao had to give the yellow jersey up to Levi who moved into first in the general classification.

Stage 3 podium: Vangarderen (1), 
Leipheimer (2) and Gretsch (3)

Random notes:  it was really hot out there in the setting sun with scarcely a breeze (which the cyclists probably appreciated); the event organizers needed to have some concessions open - they would have made a fortune in hot dogs since the race went from 5-8 p.m.; and the podium girls were wearing too much make-up, hair extensions and truly street-walkerish shoes.

2011 tour of utah - prologue, stages 1 and 2

It's been Tour of Utah time again around here!  It went off a week earlier than last year and with much better weather: sunny, hot and not too windy this time around.  H wasn't able to get to the first three events, so I'll synopsize them for you all together; we both went to Stages 3, 4 and 5 and I'll put up photos from those in subsequent posts.

Prologue (8/9/11):  the short-but-steep Prologue was held in Park City's Utah Olympic Park, a 2 km (1.25 mile) ride up 615 feet with some 7% grade stretches.  One of the Colombians from Team Gobernacion de Antioquia-Indeportes Antio won: Sergio Henao, with a time of 4'05".  Paco Mancebo came in second (4'07"); Oscar Sevilla, another Colombian third (4'10").  The Colombian team is going to be a factor in this Tour: they are young, tiny and used to racing at altitude.  Levi Leipheimer came in sixth.

Stage 1 (8/10/11):  the Stage 1 road race took place up at Ogden, a 187 km (116 mi.) ride consisting of a 38.5 mile loop so that the riders have to climb the North Ogden Pass Road three times (nearly 3,000 feet of climbing each time), then circling around through Eden Valley and Pineview Reservoir before returning to Ogden through Ogden Canyon.  American Jesse Anthony won the stage with a time of 4.39'29" and Henao and Sevilla were right behind him, as was Levi and Radio Shack teammate Janic Brajkovic; Henao kept the yellow jersey.

Stage 2 (8/11/11): Stage 2 started in Lehi, went south down the west side of Utah Lake, then curved around north to finish in Provo, 161 km (100 mi.) - much, much flatter than Stage 1.  Kiwi Jack Bauer won the stage with time of 3.33'43" and Henao kept the yellow jersey, although Levi scootched his way up to third in the general classification.

tour of utah report coming soon

Today is the final stage of the Tour of Utah ... this evening I'll post about the Tour, to report on the stages we've gone to.  The Columbians are going to give Levi a run for his money today!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

camping in the uintas

I meant to get this up ages ago, at least before girls' weekend, but life got in the way and I didn't.  So it goes.  A couple of weeks ago, our friend R rode his motorcycle out to our house from California.  He and H went for an overnight camping trip to the Mirror Lake Highway region of the Uintas; I stayed home because we sort of had to cobble together enough camping equipment (we don't have much yet so they rented a tent and a propane stove from REI) and I wanted them to do a test run before I committed myself.

One of the lakes along their hike on Saturday

This area is national forest, in the Heber-Kamas Ranger District, which meant that our national park pass covered the entrance fee.  Even without reservations, the boys were able to score a tent site for Saturday night at the Shady Dell campground ($7.00): large, tree-filled sites along a stream with a picnic table and fire pit; a spigot for water and a vault toilet.  The campgrounds along Mirror Lake are popular and several of them were still closed as of two weeks ago, what with flooding from the above-average snowmelt.  H had hoped for a site along a lake but said that the Shady Dell campground was perfectly serviceable - they couldn't see or hear any other campers.

Itchy! (and limber, for such a big guy)

The hike they did Saturday was the first hike H and I had ever done in Utah, with Captain Mike way back in October 2009; please feel free to click through on the link and read about it.  That night, H rustled up some penne alfredo with chicken and broccoli for dinner and rumor has it that some beers got drunk too.  They had visitors as they broke camp Sunday morning: two young bull moose moseyed into the campground and laid claim to a clearing across from the boys' site, calm and unafraid of the campers taking photos of them.  After  the moose photo shoot, H and R did the Lofty Lakes hike that H and I had done last July.  There was still quite a lot of snow up there, whereas last summer I think we only found a small patch; many of the switchbacks were buried so the guys had to do a little bushwhacking.

H on the Lofty Lakes hike

They came back out of the Uintas, dirty and reeking of bug spray (the Uintas are known to have mosquitoes and they are late this year, due to the extra snow and water), and I met them at the Porcupine for dinner.  Seems it all went pretty well for as haphazardly equipped as we are - now it's time to buy our own tent so I can give it a shot.  Hope I remember how: I don't think I've been camping since I was about thirteen!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

girls' weekend

This past weekend, my two bestest girlfriends came to SLC to visit.  It is practically criminal how long it's been since the three of us have gotten together, so we made up for lost time by practically talking nonstop from Friday evening when they got here until just about now when we dropped them at the airport.  Neither of them had ever been to Utah so it was fun to do the introductory tour.  We began, of course, at the Porcupine for nachos, beers and burgers - because that's how you start vacation.

On Saturday, while H escaped for a road ride and a self-guided fishing expedition up Big Cottonwood Canyon, the girls and I leisurely breakfasted at home, then drove up to downtown SLC for a (free - see prior post) visit to Red Butte Garden, the fabulous University of Utah botanical garden.  The sun was out, clear and strong, so we happily wandered through the gardens, pausing in the shady spots ... except for where the rattlesnake was hanging out.  We snapped a photo there and then moved out without disturbing him.  We were hot and parched after that, so we stopped by the Desert Edge brewpub at Trolley Square for a light lunch, and then hit a shave-ice stand for frozen treats - I had the sour pink lemonade which was quite good.

Cheers for beers!

We packed beers and a supper picnic and drove up to Snowbird for that evening's Cool Air concert, snagging a prime umbrella'ed table for our make-your-own chicken, black bean and corn burritos.  The chairlift rides close at 6:00 p.m. so instead we bought tickets for the tram ride to the top, spotting a cow and a calf moose far below and then enjoying the fantastic views all around from the 11,000 ft. summit.  When we descended, we enjoyed a couple more beers in the pleasant cool as the live music (Marshall Crenshaw himself!) wound down and the sun slipped over the western mountains.

Sunday morning found us up and at 'em and at the Silver Fork for breakfast, then taking a stroll around Silver Lake at Brighton to watch the numerous fishermen not catching a thing.  Guardsman Pass from Brighton to Park City is finally open so we drove over that - LEY spotted a huge bull moose grazing in the aspens - but didn't linger in Park City as it was swarming with people for the PC Arts Festival.  We went to Sundance Resort instead for a beer at the Owl Bar, then continued up and over the Alpine Loop beneath Timpanogos, exiting through American Fork Canyon and returning home in time for cleaning up and snacks before the girls had to be back at the airport.

Top o' Snowbird, under the tram

I'm so glad they came to visit - I'm so glad the monsoon thunderstorms gave us a break this weekend - and I hope they had fun.  I know I did, and I really enjoy showing off my new home to old friends.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


I'm not sure I should be sharing this with you, since I don't need the competition, but I'm guessing most of my readers don't live in SLC so it's okay.  I have girlfriends coming out to visit this weekend (yay!) and as part of planning what we might do, I thought that visiting Red Butte Garden might be fun.  I've never been there myself but it's supposed to be spectacular: a non-profit four-season botanical garden run by the University of Utah.  Adult admission is $8.00 ...

... unless you have what I've got, which is a Community Exploration Card that will allow me and three guests free admission to each of Red Butte Garden, the Museum of Natural History, the Museum of Fine Arts and Discovery Gateway Children's Museum.  We can go to each place only once, and it has to be in this month, and I can't get another card for six months.  There are eight of these CECs offered on the first of each month at every Salt Lake public library.  They're available on a first come/first served basis (no reservations) and, as you might imagine, are in pretty high demand.  I was waiting at the main library before 9:00 a.m. on Monday (along with the mass of great unwashed homeless who apparently surge into the library on a daily basis, looking for A/C in the summer and heat in the winter) and managed to snag the second one.  It's a great program and I'm glad I found out about it.