Saturday, January 29, 2011


H was feeling a little under the weather (sore throat, head cold and not a lot of get-up-and-go), so I did something I don't think I've ever done before: went skiing by myself.  I mean, I'd already gotten all my gear on when he decided he was out - what else was I to do?

Although an inversion has socked in the valley for the last couple of days, the sun was out - way out - up the canyon.  It was warm too: starting at 28 at the base lodge and ending up at about 44 when I left.  Unfortunately, an inversion means that it hasn't snowed for a while (Tuesday) so there was no fresh powder to be found anywhere.  The snow was pretty packed down, and crusty in places since it had been so warm and sunny yesterday, so [Utah snow-snob talking here] it really wasn't very good. 

I skied for three hours: starting at Supreme where even after an hour in the sun, the snow in the trees was some wicked firm; then moving to Sugarloaf (extremely skied off); and ending up doing some runs off Collins in the Ballroom (where the snow was soft enough but dense) and off the low traverse on West Rustler.  My last run wound up being a bumps run under the lift; the moguls were huge and rather firm, but I'm not going to get any better if I don't practice.

One of the better things about skiing by yourself is that you can ride the singles line, which generally gets you to the front of the lift line much faster.  I did that all day today and ended up chatting with some interesting folks, including the captain of the U.S. Forest Service volunteer rangers, who told me that the rangers give guided tours of Alta every weekend day and holiday at 1:30 at the Cecret lift, and a old local guy who cracked open a brewski as soon as the lift took off.  He told me that on the last day of every ski season, a bunch of locals hike to the top of High Rustler and drink some beers; I told him that I was going to go home and put that on my calendar.  If H doesn't feel well again, who knows what kind of tips I'll learn tomorrow!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

favorite things

We've found something that B likes better than empty beer bottles

and being on the furniture.

She had no idea she could actually fit inside the dog food bag (and didn't really want to come back out).


I just may have to send that one in to Iams.

Monday, January 24, 2011

making progress

Sunday brought day 2 of H's telemark experiment.  He did admit to his legs feeling a little sore and fatigued - although he's pretty strong, telemark skiing uses very different muscle movements than regular alpine skiing - but gamely strapped on the K2s and hopped aboard the bunny lift for more free-heeling. 

Sunday also brought bright sunshine and blue skies and while the actual temperature was colder than Saturday, the lack of wind and the heat from the sun made it much more pleasant.  So pleasant, in fact, that I abandoned H to the bunny slope and headed straight for Supreme.  The snow was great, the new six inches from Saturday's storm soft and fluffy.  I rode the singles line, chatting with all sorts of friendly folks (lots of midwesterners here on vacation and convention-attending dentists, as well as a number of East Coast transplants). 

At first I was just skiing easy, jumping into the fluff at the side of the trails.  But I kept looking over at Catherine's Area, which just seemed FULL of snow and NOT full of people.  The old me would never have considered hiking up and skiing over there without H; the new me ... took off her skis, hiked up to the traverse, traversed across the ridge and had an absolute blast playing in the snow-laden meadows. 

Those sort of runs take a long time, as you've got to hike and pick out where you want to go, and then realize that you've ended up not anywhere near where you thought, so I only had time for one before I had to rendezvous with H.  I found him on Crooked Mile, definitely tired but definitely faster and improved from the day before.  We had lunch at the Albion Lodge - which is the family lodge at Alta - and then H went off for his tele lesson at 1:00 p.m.

Me?  I went back to Supreme.  I did another hike up to/run down through Catherine's, then focused my energies on the trees between Supreme and East Castle.  I did get myself into a rather more narrow and steep Piney Glade chute but managed to pick my way out; later, I brazenly followed a ski lesson into another chute, figuring that if the five year-olds could do it, I certainly could.  It was all great fun, and a real confidence-builder for me.

I ended up skiing just past 3 p.m., then headed back to the main lodge to meet back up with H (whom I'd actually seen during his lesson earlier, on an intermediate trail off Supreme).  He was feeling encouraged after the lesson - which turned out to be a semi-private one, with only two students to the one instructor - having learned that he had decent form and just needed to practice-practice-practice.  We had a beer at the Goldminer's Daughter lodge to celebrate our respective days, then headed home tired, a little stiff (but not my back!) and pleased at the progress each of us had made.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

learning curve

H finally broke out of his analysis-paralysis and bought some used K2 Anti Piste telemark skis.  The bindings came with and a friend had already given him some hand-me-down tele boots, so all we needed was some snow.  A foot on Wednesday and another three inches overnight last night - wish granted!

It was actually sunny in the valley when we left the house but the temperature dropped, the wind came up and it snowed all day up at Alta.  No matter: H worked up a sweat just trying to get his new tele skis on (he's not very flexible and by "very" I mean "at all ").  We went straight to the bunny slope (Sunnyside lift) and H got right to it.  He's never skied tele before but has been reading about it and watching instructional videos on YouTube, plus he's got great balance and has good coordination, so he was making tele-turns right away.  Wobbly, slow and with poor form, but he was turning.

I skied about a quarter of that first run with him before realizing that I was going to freeze if I didn't move a little more.  Promising to find him in a couple of runs, I scooted off to the Supreme lift ... and almost immediately wished I hadn't.  The wind was howling, blowing the snow sideways, and by the time my chair got up to the summit, the visibility was beyond bad.  I hurried back down to the Sunnyside lift, warming my legs up on the drifts and bumps on the way, and reunited with H, who was already getting noticeably faster.

We skied a few runs together, then stopped in at Alf's Lodge (a midmountain lodge) to warm up and eat a granola bar.  The lodge was packed so we didn't linger once we could feel our fingers and toes again.  Outside, the wind and snow had not let up.  While H continued to practice on the bunny hill - rocking such trails as Crooked Mile, Patsey Marley and Dipsy-Doodle - I discovered some good tree skiing off of Vail Ridge.  There was a ton of snow in there, and hardly any traffic because not many folks riding the Sunnyside lift are eager to ski black diamond trees.  So that's what we did until 2:00 p.m.: H on the groomers and me in the trees.  By the time we quit, H was even beating me back to the lift - huge progress!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


We tried a new restaurant Saturday night, meeting up with Jody and Steve.  Jody had suggested Layla (4751 S. Holladay Blvd., Holladay), a new Lebanese place.  The family who owns and runs the restaurant has owned/run a restaurant there for years - Confetti, serving good continental/Italian food in dismal decor - but recently gutted and remodeled, and revamped their menu to a more Middle Eastern and Mediterranean bent.

We'd made a reservation for 6:30 p.m. and the place was pretty much full when we got there.  There are 10-15 (?) small tables and a small bar off to the side.  Our waiter was friendly and enthusiastic even though his tables were keeping him hopping.  The menu has plenty of options: eight each of chilled and hot mezze (appetizers), of which our table selected the crab cakes (light and flavorful, without too much filler) and the grilled haloum cheese; a couple of soup selections; several salads; traditional Lebanese(-ish) entrees, grill items served in flatbreads and kabobs, plus a couple of random holdovers from the prior restaurant.  I had the warah malfouf (tender, creamy cabbage leaves stuffed with spiced ground beef and rice and served with a cucumber mint yogurt sauce); H had a chunky (if none too colorful) chicken curry; Steve had the musakhen (flatbreads stuffed with roast chicken, carmelized onion, sumac and pine nuts); and Jody went with the braised beef shortribs (very tender and flavorful but a HUGE portion).

Layla also has desserts (various Middle Eastern pastries and funky ice creams (including mango and rosewater flavors) and a full drinks menu with bottled beer, wine and cocktails.  The prices are pretty reasonable, although the bill mounts quickly once you start adding mezzes and salads and drinks and desserts; the food tasty.  Jody says that the old restaurant had a patio which she hopes the restauranteurs will remodel as well: a summer evening spent there with a cocktail and a couple of mezzes might be very pleasant indeed.  I think Mazza's food is better but Layla is closer to home and would do in a pinch were I suddenly in the mood for Middle Eastern cuisine.

Sunday, January 16, 2011


Finally (finally!) I got off the groomers.  Saturday rolled around, the week only having brought trace amounts of new snow, with temperatures in the valley were near 40 and in the low 30s up the canyon.  We headed straight to the Supreme lift and did a couple of warm-up runs where H jumped in and out of the trees to test the snowpack, delightedly announcing that it was much softer than its been for ages.  It was starting to get busy - and, due to the holiday weekend, ended up being as busy as it has been all year - and we hopped in the singles line, where I told H to figure out a good, not too crazy ungroomed trail for us to do next: my back felt pretty good and I wanted to give it a try.

When I got off the lift, H was already heading up to the traverse to Catherine's Area.  On and on we went, puffing and sweating, until we got to a wide clearing.  Although there wasn't any untracked snow, this part of the mountain just doesn't get many skiers - the hike up and over weeds most of them out - and we had it pretty much to ourselves.  It was great - and if we would get some new snow, it woud be spectacular. 

Catherine's Area is quite different from Supreme Bowl: the former is not very steep with rolling glade punctuated by conifers, while the latter consists of steep, dramatic chutes.  I'd not gotten all the way over to Catherine's last season and I really liked it: the snow was deep and soft and we just meandered along, picking out where we wanted to go. 

My back was holding up pretty well but after three times through Catherine's, the traverses were starting to wear on me.  We'd been skiing for about four hours at this point so we decided to head back across the mountain to take a couple of runs off the Wildcat chair, figuring that there'd be plenty of snow without having to traverse.  By the time we got back to where the Collins lift unloads, the visibility was terrible.  A cloud had settled right onto the mountain and you could scarcely see ten feet in front of you.  That killed it for us: I'll ski in real cold or snow or even rain, but not being able see is too disconcerting.  We picked our way back down to the main lodge and called it a day, happy at the runs we'd made and happy that my back seems to be holding up at long last.

The ice crystals on the trees were growing sideway - supercool

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

a little new snow

A little storm came through Saturday night, enough to push that gross inversion out of here and leave 3-4 inches of new snow up at Alta for Sunday’s skiing. It was due to be a little colder than my birthday – mid teens – so we dressed warmly (i.e., no exposed skin) and after a rib-sticking “mountain breakfast” of egg, potatoes, cheese, ham and leftover brisket, we headed up to Alta.

Ha! Can't tell if I blinked in this one or not

Surprisingly, for a Sunday, it was quite a bit busier than we expected, although I guess we should have expected to see more folks drawn out by the new snow, little as it was. The sun was out too, which was awesome, but it was still cold: about 5 F up at the summit of Supreme lift. The new snow was light and soft, silent under our skis, but the underlying base had set up pretty hard so H didn’t have much fun trying out the bumps or in the trees. We stayed out until about 1:30 p.m. (including a half-hour or so in Alf’s Lodge to warm up midway through), enjoying the blue skies and great views, even if the snow wasn’t the best. Man, we have turned into such snow snobs!

Monday, January 10, 2011

pat's barbecue

For my birthday, I wanted to go out for barbeque. H and I love barbeque - I even have the notes I compiled years ago for a barbeque-centric vacation to the Carolinas where we were going to fly into Charlotte and then hit as many barbeque joints as we possibly could within a 150 mile-radius circle.  We were lucky in Maine because believe it or not, there are several good barbeque places: Norm's in Portland; Buck's Naked BBQ in Freeport; Beale Street BBQ in South Portland and Bath. 

Out here in SLC, the pickings are a little slimmer.  We've been a couple of times to Sugarhouse BBQ, which serves Memphis-style (my favorite, if I can't get North Carolina style pulled pork), but I've never been crazy about it for some reason.  We'd heard that Pat's BBQ was another good option and it has been on our list of places to try since this past summer, when we tried to go on July 24th - and it was closed for the Pioneer Day holiday, despite it being a Saturday.

Pat's Barbecue is located in a fairly sketchy neighborhood at 155 W. Commonwealth Avenue in SLC, in what must have been an old garage. It’s much bigger inside than we expected: a take-out counter with seating, a main dining room where live music plays most every night, and numerous other large dining rooms, furnished with picnic tables. We were seated right away when we said we were there for dinner, not necessarily the band. They put us in one of the large peripheral dining rooms which was pretty empty for a while, but which had nearly filled up with all sorts of people by the time we left: older couples, groups of young people, families with kids and babies.

The menu is pretty basic: pork ribs, sliced beef brisket, pulled pork and BBQ chicken, but you can get any of that in nearly any combination imaginable. Everything comes with corn bread and there are a good number of sides, from cole slaw to mustard greens to Creole beans and rice to “meaty gravy and rice” (which I wish one of us had tried), and more. I had the 3-meat combo ($13.75): two pork ribs, two slices of beef brisket and 4 oz. of pulled pork with a side of mustard greens; H had the brisket and pulled pork combo with red beans and rice ($13.75), but since I gave him one of my ribs, we essentially had the same dinner. Beer was Uinta Cutthroat Pale Ale.

Mmmm - greasy!

I really wish I could say that the food was good, but we really didn’t think it was. Nothing had a very strongly smoked flavor (which I feel is important in barbeque), the ribs were very fatty and the other meats were very, very greasy. The sides were good – my greens were quite tasty and had big chunks of pork stewed in there – and the three house-made (?) sauces were flavorful. Everything is served on disposable wares too – paper plates and plastic cups and utensils, which I find soooo very wasteful.

So the hunt for fabulous barbeque in Utah continues, and based on our experiences thus far, Sugarhouse BBQ has moved into the lead as I don’t think we’ll go back to Pat’s. On the plus side, we’re starting a new tradition of mediocre meals on my birthday: 2 for 2, so far!

Saturday, January 8, 2011


Yup, it's my birthday.  Same as Elvis - except I'm only early40something instead of 76, which the King would have been.  (Truly, some days I feel 76 ... but not today.)  Unfortunately, I did not get any new snow for my birthday, so we took our time getting up to Alta this morning - having leisurely coffee, phone calls from back east and egg and cheese sandwiches a la H.

With the current inversion (supposed to skide on out of here this evening, which would be awesome), it was chilly and 18 at home, but brighter and 23 up in the Alta parking lot.  We'd thought it was going to be sunny, and, being excited to see the sun, slathered on the SPF, but the tops of the mountains were nestled in the clouds.  This meant patches of occasional blue sky, but mostly clouds and snow flurries.  The light was flat and the clouds blew in and out, making the visibility less than ideal.

The visibility issues coupled with the dearth of new snow - they still have a 105 inch base and no ice, so I'm just being a Utah snow snob here - and the fact that I'd dressed for "high 20s and sunny" and not "high 20s and cloudy," which is what we got, meant that we only skied for three hours.  No complaints though, really, because three hours of skiing is way better than three hours of not-skiing.

The afternoon was spent chilling at home before we headed out for birthday dinner ... but that's another post.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

maintaining the status quo

It's been a quiet week: back to work and no new snow since the last storm.  A nasty, cold inversion has stalled out over the Salt Lake Valley, which at least makes the sunrises and sunsets spectacular.  H and I celebrated our 1 year and 3 month move-iversary on Monday by - you guessed it - going to the Porcupine for dinner (my new favorite is their veggie stir fry, Szechuan-style, with broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, sprouts, baby corn, green beans and tofu over rice) and beer (Full Suspension, natch).  Other than that, nothing is new although I did manage to run on the treadmill at the gym for the first time since I strained my back in early December; I've been climbing to nowhere on the Stairmasters, which is like the most boringest thing ever, so it was actually a relief and a treat (!) to run on the treadmill.  We should have some decent posts out of this weekend, however: skiing, of course, and trying a new restaurant on Saturday for my birthday. 

Sunday, January 2, 2011

skiing in the new year

I mentioned it was going to be cold this past weekend: when we were getting ready to head up to Alta Friday morning, the wind chill was –21F. Being the poor-circulationed person that I am, I opted out of –21F windchill. (What a wimp: between my back and working this past week and chickening out due to the cold, I’m at about one-third the ski days H is). H skied all day, however, mostly in Catherine’s Area where he was tempted to, but did not, go off the backside. When he came home, we rang in the New Year (early) with homemade pizza and cheap champagne. Welcome, 2011!

Alta Ski Patrol is quite helpful

 Saturday was still cold, but not as cold as Friday had been: the temperature at the base lodge was 1F and it was only –4 up top. We wore our facemasks – almost everyone skiing wore their facemasks – and I had absolutely no exposed skin, managing to stay warmer than I would have expected. I did still have to go in for a cup of coffee and a 45+ minute warm-up, but by noon the clouds had cleared and the bright sun definitely made things warmer.

H’s legs were a little fatigued at this point, so he largely skied with me on the groomers, jumping off now and again into the bumps. We skied exclusively off the Supreme lift and, thankfully, for some reason Alta groomed several more trails so we had seven groomers to chose from, instead of just four like last weekend. The snow was a little sticky so that you got scarcely any glide in the flats; it coated the trees gorgeously.

Naturally flocked trees on the Challenger trail

I tweaked my stupid back skating out on the East Baldy Traverse ("EBT"/Collins Return) when we left Saturday, so I did not go on Sunday. I wish I had been able to since it warmed up to nearly 27F, allowing H to ski without his facemask. He reported that the snow was less sticky too, and that he’d found TONS of untracked powder (the second weekend of a holiday week – amazing!) out in Catherine’s Area. Getting to a trail just when they drop the rope is a good way to get freshies too.

Low traffic area off Supreme chair

I’m going to go to the gym all week, and work on strengthening and stretching my back out so that next weekend, I can ski both days without injury. At this point there’s no snow in the forecast (rats!) but weather here moves in and out pretty quickly, so maybe we’ll get some new pow for my birthday.