Sunday, July 29, 2012

sagebrush switchbacks

As we had different plans for Sunday, we went MTBing on Saturday instead, driving back over to Round Valley once again.  We got a later start than last weekend (sucked into watching the Olympics first thing in the morning) and the skies were much clearer which made for much warmer temperatures.  I ended up drinking nearly all my water - I usually carry 1.5L - which I almost never do.  My legs felt a little fatigued and I was concerned that that, in combination with the heat, would do me in.  To my surprise, I actually had a really good ride and felt as confident on the bike as I have in a long time.

We tried to do the same ride as last time, including that ridiculously steep hill THAT H RODE ALL THE WAY UP THIS TIME.  Sorry to shout about it, but this hill is seriously steep.  I wish we had a picture of it.  He said he just couldn't stop pedaling or he would have fallen over for sure (no time to un-clip from the pedals) and by the time he got to the top, his heartrate was as high as it's ever been.  Me, I had to stop to rest while just pushing my bike up to the top of it.  After that hill climb we missed the turn to that other long hill I had walked before and instead ended up on a rolling cross-country trail that skirted the hills.  We ended up on the Rambler trail, which has a lot of switchbacks: I'm definitely getting better riding those corner, especially on the packed dirt portions, but add in some rocks and I freak right out.  Ride stats:  17.8 miles (my longest ride to date), 2 hours, 8.9 average speed, 24.5 top speed (H's top speed - I certainly didn't go that fast.

After the ride we took our cooler and went back up to Park City Mountain Resort, which is much busier on Saturday afternoons than Sunday afternoons.  We got burgers from the slowest snack shack on the planet (come on: nineteen minutes for two orders of cheeseburgers and fries?) and sipped our beers in the shade. Just another great summer day.

We should get sponsored

Thursday, July 26, 2012

remembering how

It had been since the over-the-handlebars MTB in June since we'd gotten two wheels on the dirt, so the Sunday after our house guests left, we headed on over to Park City with our MTBs.  We went back to Round Valley, so as to ease me back into it, and ended up having a really great little ride.  It was mostly overcast, with the sun peeking through every now and again, so the temperature was quite nice.  We managed to put together a good loop too, tackling some trails we hadn't ridden on before - a nice mix of the jeep roads and single-track.  I am more comfortable with the Round Valley single-track since most of the trails wind through the sagebrush, so you can see riders (or walkers or runners or dogs or horses) approaching you; and most of it is hard-packed dirt which is lovely as I still get nervous and jerky on the rocks.  I did have to hike-a-bike in a couple of spots - once up a ridiculously steep hill that H walked up too and once on a long, much less steep hill where I pulled over to let another couple pass me and then couldn't get going again.

Round Valley self-portrait

After the bike we were hungry and drove back up to PCMR for another round of cooler PBRs, snack-shack cheeseburgers and people-watching on the upstairs patio.  The clouds blew through and we basked a little in the afternoon sun.

Monday, July 23, 2012

guest blogger: utah trip, days seven and eight


Shopping in Moab.  We woke up early on the last day in Moab.  We walked through the streets of the little town, stopping in shops along the way.  We bought many souvenirs including shirts, jewelry and key chains.

Drive through Potash (petrogliphs, arch and dinosaur tracks).  On our way out of Moab we drove on Potash Road alongside the Colorado River.  The petrogliphs (Indian writing) were difficult to spot at first, but once we found them there were a lot.  We also stopped at an arch to take pictures and we saw two dinosaur tracks.  Moab was very fun.


Cascade Springs.  Walking around where a real mountain spring was located with many waterfalls was very cool and relaxing.  The spring and all the scenery looked like it would come from a book.  It was very interesting.

On the boardwalk in the middle 
of Cascade Springs

Hike to Donut Falls.  As we started hiking it began to rain [Ed. - I have turned into my father, making people hike with me in the rain.], but started to clear up a little. We got to hike through a little creek and a path with many rocks.  Since it was raining, we didn't climb the rocks all the way up to the waterfall, but you could still see it and it was beautiful.

Thanks for taking us to all these wonderful places!  [Ed. - Thank YOU for coming out and sharing them with us!!]

Sunday, July 22, 2012

guest blogger: utah trip, days five and six

H and I had encouraged our guests to spend a couple of days in Moab: even though it was likely to be extremely hot, we thought that they should see what southern Utah has to offer as well as northern.


Drive to Moab:  It took us four hours to drive from Salt Lake City to Moab.  It was so amazing watching the scenery changes from green to very dry and red.

Arches National Park:  We drove around this national park and looked at all the different rock formations.  We hiked a little ways in the scorching sun to see the famous Delicate Arch.  Although it was hot, it was beautiful.


Dead Horse Point:  We drove around and looked at a beautiful canyon.  Lots of pictures were taken of the astounding view.

Canyonlands:  This national park is used to look like the Grand Canyon in movies.  Everywhere you would look there would be canyons surrounding you.  It was gorgeous.

Love the expressions on the kids' faces

Sunset Hummer Ride:  This is one of the best things I did all vacation.  Our driver was very funny.  Every time we went over sand he would go really fast and we would be sideways.  The stops had beautiful scenery.  I would totally do it again.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

guest blogger: utah trip, day four

This was Tuesday and they finally got a nice day.

Timpanogos Cave:  We drove over Suncrest [Ed. - in Draper] to American Fork Canyon.  We stopped at Timpanogos Cave National Monument.  We could've either waited three hours or split and began hiking right away.  We hiked together up the 1.5 mile mountain (that's 1,092 feet).  It took us an hour to hike to the op and we ended up going on the same cave tour.  The cave was very cold, but it was so cool on the inside (our tour guide was also very nice).  It was a half mile through the three caves and then we began walking down.  The way down was much harder on your body than the way up.

Just inside the cave - before it got really dark

Sundance:  This was a cute little ski resort owned by Robert Redford.  We ate lunch at a cute little deli/cafe (I had a chicken salad sandwich and cheddar potato chips).  After we ate we went up another chairlift (with no thunderstorm).  The views were yet again gorgeous and eye-catching.  At the top of the chairlift we got off and attempted to climb up a hill.  Uncle H made it all the way but I was slipping so I came back down.  When we got off the chairlift, we drove home through Provo Canyon.  We even saw Bridal Veil waterfall. It was another fun-filled day.

Top of the chair lift at Sundance

Friday, July 20, 2012

guest blogger: utah trip, day three

Antelope Island:  This island is located in the middle of the Great Salt Lake.  You can drive your car all the way around the island.  We came within fifteen feet of two buffalo, we saw antelope, deer, a jack rabbit and lizards.  We also stopped at a ranch built in the mid-188s and we saw where the horses herd the buffalo.  When we were leaving the island, a huge seagull hit the windshield.  This place was unique because it's very different.

Mexican Restaurant (Lone Star Taqueria):  This was a very cute restaurant.  I had a cheese quesadilla and some of my mom's chicken taco.  It was so packed at first that we weren't going to eat there, but the other place wouldn't let us [Ed. - the kids] in because it was a bar.  The Lone Star had good food.

Guest blogger K, on the Peruvian lift

Snowbird Ski Resort:  Here, we rode up a mini chairlift to the alpine slide.  This attraction was very cool because you could go as fast as you wanted and you aren't attached to the track.  We then went on the big chairlift.  The views were amazing, but a storm was coming in [Ed. - This was Monday, with a 60% chance of rain, which ended up being 100% of a torrential downpour that even awed the Snowbird staff].  It began sprinkling and thundering and lightening.  It was very nerve-racking.  Right when we got off, we had to run through the downpour.  It was a good laugh.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

guest blogger: utah trip, day two

Drove up to Silver Lake and walked around it:  [Ed. - Sunday, 60% chance of rain which turned out to be 100% chance of sprinkles, but nothing more serious]  This lake [Ed. - by Brighton, in Big Cottonwood Canyon] had marsh, a bog and a lake with many fish and ducks. It was a relaxing walk around the lake and we took many pictures.  It was very crowded because it's a very popular sight-seeing place.

Scariest car ride (in Big Cottonwood Canyon):  We drove up one face of a mountain and down the other [Ed. - Guardsman's Pass from BCC to Park City].  We drove on narrow and dirt roads with no guardrails.  Although there were many drop offs and it was very nerve-racking, there were very gorgeous views.  (Mom was the most nervous about this.)

Park City/Park Silly:  The dirt roads brought us into a very cute/rich town called Park City.  We went in a photography museum with beautiful photographs.  Then we split up and we went to lunch.  We ate at a place called Pizza and Noodles.  I tried everyone's food.  I even had real buffalo!  In Park Silly we walked through a street fair with live music, cute tents with jewelry ,clothes, pottery, etc., and there were so many people.

K and M on the mountain coaster

Park City Mountain Resort:  This was an amazing resort with many activities to do.  We went on the mountain coaster where we went really fast!  Then we went to the trampolines where you could do flips.  I thought I wasn't going to be able to do flips, but I did a back flip and front flip, almost doing double back flips.  It was a lot of fun.

J on the mountain coaster

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

guest blogger: utah trip, day one

Editor's note: Our house-guests, H's brother D and his family - wife D, teenage daughter K and 12-year old twins J and M - arrived last Friday night/Saturday morning, and H and I have been running them ragged ever since.  K seems to be enjoying the trip immensely and has been meticulously recording everything we've done; I thought I should let her exact words be your guide to our adventures over the last few days.  I'll add editorial comments but nothing else.  Enjoy!

Hiked up Albion Basin to Cecret Lake:  [Ed. - Saturday morning, 80% chance of rain ... which turned into 100% chance of rain]  Uncle H and I passed the rest of the family and plowed up the mountain with many rocks and wild flowers.  We reached Cecret Lake and waited as we enjoyed the view.  We hiked over to a patch of snow that bordered the shore of the lake.  There were many animals that aren't in N.Y. [Ed. - like potguts/Uinta ground squirrels and marmots].  As we were walking down the mountain, it began to downpour.  It was definitely an adventure.

The Syracuse, NY, gang up at Cecret Lake

Drive around Salt Lake City:  The rain held up for a little while while we were driving around.  We came across a mall, the Mormon Temple, the state capitol and the University of Utah.  We drove through the campus and stopped at a souvenir shop to buy a keychain for M.  We then drove to an ice cream shop [Ed. - Nielsen's Frozen Custard on Highland Drive] where we ordered "concrete."  It was very rich and delicious.

Drive up Millcreek Canyon:  We drove up a very narrow road to the top of a mountain.  We walked a little on a trail by a creek and took many pictures.  I accidentally touched a tree with sap, but it was rainy so it washed right off.  The view was amazing.  There are also gorgeous houses in the mountains.

Monday, July 16, 2012

something special this way comes

Sorry for the delay in posting, but we have house-guests and I understand it is considered rude to ignore your guests in favor of blogging.  There's something to look forward too, however: when I do get around to sharing the goings-on with you, the updates will be by a very special guest blogger - she's doing the work (and will be getting the credit) and all I have to do is type. So stay tuned!

Also: we have had no measurable rain since Memorial Day weekend ... until our guests arrived. It has rained on us every day so far - typical.  It's tough to complain about the rain though, since we really do need it so badly.  It's just too bad we couldn't have had it last weekend instead of this one.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

porcupine hill climb 2012

What's the difference between the Porcupine Hill Climb 2011 and the Porcupine Hill Climb 2012?  One minute and twenty seconds - and a whole lot less sleep prior.  Part of the reason I was trying to ride so quickly (relatively speaking) during the Antelope Island moonlight ride was that I knew we'd be getting up a little after 6 a.m. on Saturday morning so H could ride the PHC up Big Cottonwood Canyon.  With our delayed start on Friday night, he had to do the ride - 14.7 miles with an elevation gain of 3,800 feet - on about 3.5 hours of sleep.  This grueling ride is a fundraiser for the Huntsman Cancer Center; afterwards, H said that whenever he got really tired, he thought of his cousin who died from cancer earlier this year and it kept him going.

Charging up the hill

Other than the lack of sleep and the head wind all the way up the canyon, things were pretty similar to last year's ride.  H warmed up; I got some iced tea; the Citizen start went off right at 7:30 a.m. from the Canyon Inn's parking lot.  I waited a little bit, then jumped in the car and headed up the canyon, leapfrogging the cyclists and stopping a couple of times so I could take photos and applaud.  Despite how hard they were working, quite a few of the riders smiled at me, as I stood there, clapping all by myself, and some managed to gasp out "thank you!"  (One guy joked: "And the crowd went wild.  All of her.")

Just past Solitude

The finish was up at Brighton and H made it up there in 1h. 30 m., 1 minute and 20 seconds slower than last year.  He came in 50th overall and 17th out of 28 in his age group.  More importantly, he missed winning a free growler of beer from the Porcupine by ten minutes, same as last year.  I couldn't really give him too much grief about that, though, what with being sleep-deprived and all.

Crossing the finish line

After the race, we drove back down the canyon and stopped in at the Porcupine for breakfast.  We were too early for beers (not served 'til 11:30 a.m.) so we had omelettes instead: mine was "Sarah's" and had spinach, cheddar cheese, sour cream and bacon. Yum!  That was pretty much all she wrote for us for the rest of the day too.  We went home and cleaned up, and napped, and thought about doing stuff, and napped a little more, and went to bed early ... clearly too old for activities on such little sleep.  I have to hand it to H: I can't believe he was able to do that ride with so little rest.  The next time we do the Antelope Ride and the Hill Climb, we're going to make sure there are no scheduling conflicts.

Very happy to be done

Monday, July 9, 2012

antelope by moonlight

In the spirit of continuing to try new stuff, we signed up for the 19th Annual Antelope by Moonlight Bike Ride.  This non-competitive bike ride starts at 10:00 p.m., out on Antelope Island, where participants ride on the road from the marina to the Fielding Garr Ranch and back again under the full moon.  We had a mixed experience.

Since H had signed up to do the Porcupine Hill Climb the next morning, we hoped to finish the 22+ mile ride by midnight and thus be home and in bed by 1 p.m.  Unfortunately, the logistics for getting all the bicyclists out to the island were not well-thought through: we planned to get out there by 9:30 p.m., giving ourselves a half hour to put our bikes together, putter around, etc.  Instead, the folks running the park entry and parking were so overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of participants that we sat in traffic for over 1.5 hours, trying to get from the highway, across the causeway and parked.  As a result, we weren't able to get on our bikes until nearly 11 p.m. - almost an hour late, making our hoped-for finish of midnight impossible.  They also ran out of t-shirts and had to give us a voucher to mail in for our shirts.  It's been estimated that there were over 1,500 participants, which would only have been 50 more than last year so they should have known how to deal with the crowds, but clearly the organizers need to re-tool this event.

Not a very good photo, but good
enough for being taken at midnight

That being said, the ride itself was so fun.  Since we missed the start, it wasn't too crowded when we got on the road.  Although the moon wasn't quite full and was in and out of the clouds for a while, our bikes' headlights gave us plenty of visibility.  The road on the eastern side of the island has rolling hills and I am pleased to say that I rode up all of them, the whole 23.8 mile ride, which is the longest bike ride I have done in decades.  Even though I was on my MTB (H rode his road bike), we managed to pass way more folks than passed us; our average speed was 12.9 m.p.h. - not blistering, certainly, but respectable enough to finish the ride in under 2 hours.

We didn't linger at the ranch - which was swarming with so many riders! - just long enough to grab a snack, check our tires for goathead thorns and head back out.  On the return, with the moon at our backs, we were able to see up into the foothills a little and were thrilled to see a large herd of snoozing bison.  We pulled off to the side of the road and could hear them snorting and snuffling.  The next time we do this ride - and we will do it again, just not when it's the night before the Porcupine Hill Climb, as we didn't get home until 2 a.m. - we'll get out there way early to avoid the traffic, and bring a picnic supper with us.  And we'll not do the ride quite so quickly, taking a little more time to enjoy the stars and sleeping bison and the rest of Antelope Island under the moon.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

high uintas camping, pt. 2

Mirror Lake Hwy from top of Bald Mtn

The mornings up at 8,000 feet in the Uintas are chilly!  We dressed in our fleeces and inhaled the scrambled eggs as soon as H made them so they wouldn't get cold; I learned from last year's miserable attempt at instant camp coffee and switched to Cafe Vienna (which really isn't coffee but is at least drinkable).  Once the sun peeked over the mountains, however, it warmed up quickly and after a few casts in his favorite new fishin' spot, we headed out for a hike: Bald Mountain, trail head at mile marker 29, trail head elevation around 10,700 feet.

Heading up Bald Mtn.

Bald Mountain is a very popular, heavily used trail.  It's short (just under 3 miles RT) but climbs 1,220 feet in that 1.5 miles to 11,943 feet with spectacular 360-degree views of the four Uinta Basin drainages.  The trail is completely exposed, with switch-backs and a walk along a fairly precipitous ridge, so this is not a hike you want to do in any kind of weather.  We were having spectacular weather though so no worries.  There were lots of folks hiking up and down, and loitering at the top, and lots of friendly dogs making the rounds.  Off in the distance to the west we could see the wildfire smoke hovering around Mt. Timpanogos, although it was clear where we were.

Peering over the edge at Mirror Lake

After our hike we went back to camp to clean up (I got this very good new biodegradable shampoo from REI: it doesn't have that delicious peppermint scent that Dr. Bronner's has, but your hair feels much cleaner), then headed back towards Samak for a beer and quite possibly the best chicken quesadilla ever at the Notch Pub.  Not too many people were there - apparently there was a local girl's wedding going on and that's where all the townsfolk were - but the bartender was friendly, the building big, bright and log-cabin rustic, and it had a nice little patio out back.  We then got some more firewood at the general store and returned to camp for an afternoon of fishing and reading.  Dinner was slightly less highbrow than the night before (bratwursts and beans over the campfire).  Afterwards, we again enjoyed the fire and a few beers as we watched the stars wink into view.

Dinner is nearly served

The next morning we enjoyed french toast next to one more campfire, then packed away camp; although the campsite was technically ours until 1 p.m., we decided to head home to liberate B from the kennel (plus some opportunistic newcomers noticed us packing up and decided to sit in their car and wait, staring at us, until we left so they could take the site).  When we got home, we unpacked everything, making a note of the additional items we needed for the camp kitchen, and got cleaned up - everything smelled like old campfire smoke.  B was glad to be home while we were glad to have gone camping, and are trying to find another time when we can go again.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

high uintas camping, pt. 1

Shady spot for the tent

We had planned to go south to go camping last weekend, to Diamond Fork, a campground near Spanish Fork that a co-worker recommended to H.  But in light of the fact that it's been so dang hot and that campground is only at about 5,300 ft., meaning it wouldn't be much cooler than the Salt Lake Valley, plus smoke from the 46,000 acre Woods Hollow wildfire was making its way into the area, we cancelled our reservation at Diamond Fork and decided to take our chances finding a place along the Mirror Lake Scenic Byway.  So we dropped B at the kennel, tossed our car camping stuff in the truck - including our brand new tent and brand new Coleman camp stove - and off we went, past Park City, through Kamas and Samak, and up into the Wasatch National Forest.

Provo River behind our campsite

We got there early enough to claim a very nice campsite in the Cobblerest campground, right on the banks of the Provo River at mile marker 19.  This is one of the smaller campgrounds with eighteen sites; no ATVs are allowed; and while there is no culinary water available, there's a faucet a mile or so back at the Shady Dell campground where the host in charge of Cobblerest resides.  Because we opted for a pay site (as opposed to just picking a good spot off in the woods somewhere), we were allowed to have a campfire despite the state-wide fire restrictions, as long as it was in the poured-cement fire pit, the flames got no more than knee-high and the coals were drowned and cold when we were done.  We cracked some beers, put up our new tent and headed off for a short hike.

Unnamed alpine pond (that we thought was Shepard Lake)

We drove up to mile marker 31, to the Fehr Lake trail to find three alpine lakes: Fehr, Shepard and Hoover.  This is a short, easy, rocky-ish trail, meandering through the pine trees for a 3 mile out-and-back if you go to all three lakes.  It was fairly busy at Fehr Lake, but once we moved past that we saw very few people.  We thought we'd made it to Hoover but in fact only went to Shepard because we thought a tiny alpine pond was lake #2 and didn't notice the trail continuing on.  Didn't matter: it was a pretty walk - and since it was uphill all the way back, we felt like we'd gotten our legs moving a little.  We had noticed whilst unpacking the camp kitchen that we were a little short on matches (poor planning on my part), so we took a run back out of the forest to the friendly Samak Smoke House & General Store, where they've got everything you need and nothing you don't want: cold drinks and ice, fishing gear, locally smoked trout and cheese, ice cream, chocolate, firewood, beer. We got matches, firewood and I tried a Dry Lavender Soda - light, delicious and very unusual.

The actual Shepard Lake

Back at camp, H pulled out his fishing pole to cast into the pool in the river behind our site.  Within two casts, he'd landed a pretty little trout.  Within another two casts, he'd landed a bigger one!  He kept switching out the lures he was using and the fish kept striking at them, for the most fish action he's had since we moved here.  Fun!  As the sun started to move behind the mountains, we made our dinner of chicken and broccoli alfredo over farfelle pasta (for the record: H is our camp chef and all-around kitchen guy), and built a reasonable campfire.  The famous Uinta mosquitoes came out as dusk fell (as did the temperature - it would end up being in the 40s at night!) but I found them to be bigger, slower and less vicious than the Maine ones.  We enjoyed our little fire, sipping PBRs and rum and tonics, watching the stars come out and the moon come up, listening to the Provo River chuckle to itself.  All this, just about an hour from home.

Catchin', not just fishin'!

Sunday, July 1, 2012


We seem to be spending a lot of time in Park City these days - heck, if we didn't have to work, we'd love to live there, but there ain't no way I'll deal with the nightmare of I-80 as a daily commute.  (For the record, if we lived there, we'd ski at Deer Valley).  But I digress: on Wednesday night, we made our way back to Park City to meet H's cousin Nancy for dinner.  Nancy and her family had come out a couple of ski seasons ago and H met them for a ski day at Deer Valley.  I wasn't able to go then so I hadn't met her yet.  Her husband was attending a conference for work and they were staying at the St. Regis; he had a dinner function and that freed her up to see us.

We met in town at a place called Fuego Bistro and Pizzeria, a non-Main Street place (2001 Sidewinder Dr.) recommended by one of my work friends who assured me that this was a locals-only place.  The locals don't seem to go there on Wednesdays, however, because at 7 p.m. we were the only people in there.  It did get a little busier: a group of about ten teenage girls came in a little while after we did; several more tables showed up; and a couple of singletons had drinks and dinners at the bar.  The place was also doing a fairly brisk business in take-out pizza.

They had all the regular Utah microbrews available and a decent variety of wines, cocktails too.  We shared an appetizer order of the mussels, sauteed in white wine, garlic and chunky tomatoes and served with toasted Italian bread slices.  The mussels were quite good - I love mussels and haven't had any since we, you know, moved out here to the desert.  For entrees, H had the lasagne and Nancy and I each ordered an little pizza (although we probably could have split one between us), spinach/sundried tomatoes/feta/mozzarella/red sauce for me, pesto/kalamata olives/artichoke hearts/fresh mozzarella for Nancy.  My pizza was tasty, although the crust could have been just a little browner; Nancy asked for no olives on hers and ended up with no olives or artichoke hearts.

Fuego is a big, high ceilinged space, warmly colored with a fabulous huge mirror over the bar.  Even though it was hard to get a good feel for it with so few people there, I imagine it's fun in the winter time when Park City is busier.  I appreciated finding out about a non-touristy place too as sometimes Main Street/PC can be a little much.  I'd be willing to go back - especially since my friend said their chocolate cake was sooooo good that her husband ordered two.  Seems like that's something I should experience in person.