Tuesday, May 29, 2012

the return

Our apologies for the short break, but we had to take a trip back east to upstate New York to see H's family and go to a dear friend's wedding.  Highlights: eating good barbecue not once but twice; an afternoon on Keuka Lake, including a boat ride; meeting Tula, a sweetheart of a year-old yellow lab; and spending some quality time with family and old friends.

Now we're back and getting ready to get back into it.  Upcoming items may include continuing work on a big yard project, a road race, hiking, biking and transitioning into summertime.  Stay tuned!

Friday, May 25, 2012

mtb: jeremy ranch road

When the choice for the day is chores or play, you know what we're going to choose.  Sunday: up, walk the dog, load the MTBs into the truck, go to breakfast at the Cottonwood Cafe (Athenian omelet for H, french toast and bacon for me), drive on up through Parleys Canyon to the Jeremy Ranch exit.  Jeremy Ranch is an upscale bedroom community just west of Park City.  There's a golf course, a bunch of very nice houses, and a dirt road that runs along a little river and comes out in Morgan County, on the road to East Canyon.  Since we don't golf, we were heading for that dirt road.

It was a very pretty day, sunny, 70s, with a slight breeze and occasional high, thin clouds.  We parked where the asphalt ends and jumped on our bikes, riding very carefully over the cattle guard.  The signs warn of free range cattle and we were on the look-out; we've driven the Jeremy Ranch Road several times but free range cows on a MTB would be much more exciting.  We'd opted for this outing because I'm still such a spaz on the MTB that a well-maintained dirt road sounded like a good skill builder.  It's a fairly popular road - we saw runners, walkers and other MTBers, many with their dogs.  There were a few cars too but not many, which meant that it didn't get too dusty.

A little too matchy, outfit-wise
(don't know how that happened)

The road runs for about 7.5 miles, following the river the whole way.  All around us were rolling hills, green with grass and sagebrush, the aspen just starting to green up.  When we reached the end of the dirt, we turned around and rode back the way we came.  The problem with having followed the river down on the way out was that there was a lot more up on the return: we climbed about 260 feet on the outbound but over 700 on the way back.  I was very proud of myself, though, as I made it up all the hills without putting my foot down once.  Just gotta keep practicing, I guess.

After we got back to the truck, we grabbed the cooler and found a spot to sit by the little river, where we could sip our beers and do some bird-watching, as swallows, a warbler (or maybe goldfinch) and a big red-tailed hawk busied themselves around us.  No free range cattle after all but still a nice day out on Jeremy Ranch Road.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

this and that

Saturday was a bit of a hodge-podge day for us, but a nice one nonetheless.  H hopped on his road bike by 9 a.m., planning to ride up through Emigration Canyon and back for a nice fifty mile jaunt, and promising to be back by noon.  B and I enjoyed our iced coffee, took a way around one of the city parks near our house, and then worked on removing the vegetation (by which I mean "weeds") from the no-man's-land portion of the north lawn.  I didn't seem to make much progress, despite working for two hours: it's an 820 s.f. area we're looking to transform from lost-cause lawn to xeriscaped-stonework.

After H had gotten back and we stood around and frowned at the sprinklers on the north side of the house for a while(the north side is often neglected as we never, ever go there and rarely even look at it; also, we're beginning to understand why sprinkler maintenance seems to be a full-time weekend hobby for so many suburban Utahns), we went over to Arrow Rock & Stone - which is where we got the two tons of fiesta rock to subdue the backyard last spring - to check out our options.  Because it's such a large area, and because you pay by the ton and smaller rocks cover more square footage per ton than larger rocks, we ended up ordering 7+ tons of local crushed gravel to be delivered, and loaded the truck up with 500 lbs. of "stacker" stones to use as borders.  Rock is actually pretty reasonable and although we would have liked to go with slightly larger, slightly more colorful stone, I think this will look fine once it's broken up with some native, drought-resistant plants.  It's certainly going to look better than the scorched weeds we've got going on now.  We're not going to have the gravel delivered for a while so as to give ourselves time to prep (kill the vegetation and lay down weed-block fabric), so stay tuned.

We'd brought B with us to the rock shop (where she bravely barked at everyone from the front seat of the truck), so when we were done there we headed to Millcreek Canyon for a walk.  The upper portion of the road is still closed to motorized traffic, so we only had to dodge cyclists, pedestrians and other dogs.  We walked for about an hour all told, pausing occasionally so B could wade into the stream.  She didn't like to drink out of Mill Creek, however - I guess the rush of the water was just too unusual for her (city dog!).  When we got back to the truck, she got some water (out of a water bottle, from our kitchen faucet) and we each got a PBR.  She totally crashed on the drive back home: yard work, rock shopping and hiking is a lot for an old dog.

Saturday, May 19, 2012


Last weekend, when we did the sodding project, I had weeded and raked my veggie garden beds in the backyard, intending to plant seeds Sunday afternoon.  But by the time we got home from MTBing, I just wasn't in the mood.  By glorious coincidence, I got an email from one of my coworkers whose husband is a terrific gardener - we call him "Farmer Bob" - saying that Bob had planted ninety tomato plants and had a few left over that he wasn't going to use, plus he had some broccoli, sweet pepper and basil start too, and would I like any of them?  I said that I would take any little plantlings he didn't want and gladly give them a home.

Tuesday morning Susan showed up at my office door with a flat's worth of plantlets: six tomato plants, three basils, two broccolis and eight peppers.  I handed over a bottle of WeWentWest Winery's own Cecret Chardonnay - knowing that she likes sweet wines - and we both walked away happy.

I put everything in the ground that night, plus planted several rows of radish seeds.  I still have one bed's worth available, plus two-thirds of the bed that holds my strawberries (which I need to cover soon before the dang magpies eat the four berries that are ripening) so I need to figure out what to plant.  I tell you what, though, bartering a bottle of homemade wine for all those healthy plants is a great way to get a garden going. Bartering is the way to go!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

for the record

Lest I impugn his good name for any longer, I should state for the record that H did get the sprinklers up and running Monday night.  We're thinking that this makes him a real Utahn now: puttering around in the yard, disassembling the sprinkler heads, cleaning them out, reassembling them, testing them.  By dinnertime everything was a go, lawn irrigation-wise.  Our grass is happy, the neighbors are happy, everybody's happy.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

back in the saddle

After far too much yard work on Saturday (frankly, anything more than a half hour is too much yard work for me), we decided to play on Sunday.  We dragged the mountain bikes up from their winter storage in the basement, dusted them off and loaded them into the truck, and, once the temperatures warmed up from the early morning 40s, headed through Parley's Canyon to Park City.  I had requested a MTB ride at Round Valley: since this was to be my first time back on the bike since last fall, I knew I'd have to relearn/remember everything and needed some gentler trails to ease me back into it.

Nice wide dirt road - perfect for me

We parked at the Prospector Avenue Rail Trail trail-head and rode the paved rail trail out to Quinn's Trail-head, then got off the pavement and onto the dirt.  I really feel comfortable at Round Valley as there are a lot of easy-to-intermediate trails.  I do much better on double-track and jeep roads as the extra width accommodates my wobbling much better; when we ride single-track, I quickly remember that sagebrush smells good when you crash into it.  As this was my 2012 inaugural ride, we stuck to the easier trails for the most part, although we did inadvertently venture off onto the expert portion of Cammy's Trail - where I happily got off my bike and walked it down the rocky, steep, slippy slope.  We ended up on a perimeter jeep road - the Silver Quinn trail - that skirts the Round Valley protected area and it was just nice to be out in the sunshine, admiring the scenery.

We ended up doing a 14-mile ride, which was enough to make my sit-bones sore the next day.  But I didn't crash, and there wasn't any blood, and we wrapped up our excursion with a couple of PBRs in the Deer Valley parking lot, staring at the mountains.  Hell yeah that's a better way to spend the day than working in the yard.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

160 s.f.

Here's the thing about the end of ski season: the yard work can no longer be avoided.  We'd intended to spend the day putting together our "72-hour kit," the emergency stash of supplies that every good Utahn who lives along the Wasatch Front fault is supposed to have.  But we made the mistake of turning out sprinklers on for the first time this year.  Most of them work but not three on the park strip along the front of the house - one of them was a gusher, in fact, as we'd forgotten the sprinkler head had snapped right off.

So while H made two trips to Home Depot for sprinkler supplies, I weeded all the backyard garden beds, cleaned last year's morning glory vines off the trellis (they've self-seeded and some new sprigs have sprouted already, so that's fun, although cleaning up the old dead vines is a pain and I think I may have to find some perennial vines instead - will hops grow here, do you suppose?) and then moved on to weeding one of the front flower beds and sweeping the front entry/patio and the garage.

Mowing is easier than weeding

I was pointedly ignoring the flower bed that runs along the front of the house - it's large and very weedy.  When H gave up with the sprinkler heads (still not working right), he came over to where I was standing, staring balefully at the weeds, took a look and said, "Sod it!"  He wasn't being English; his point was that if we dug it out and sodded over it, it wouldn't be so high maintenance.  So that's what we did, twenty 2x4 pieces of sod later.  It was kind of fun, actually, fitting the sods together like a jigsaw puzzle.  I'm not sure it looks great but it absolutely looks better than the junky flower bed that was there before.  And that's 160 square feet I'll never have to weed again.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

the list, pt. 2

Where were we?  Right: so after H vacuumed the house and did all his laundry Saturday late afternoon, he went to Crown Burger for dinner and then to the RSL game vs. the New England Revolution.  Unbeknownst to me, he'd planned ahead and gotten himself a ticket Friday afternoon, landing a seat near midfield and about five rows back from the field.  RSL won 2-1 (yay!) but standout goalkeep Nick Rimando hurt his shoulder and will be out for at least one game.

Sunday morning came clear but chilly again.  H packed up all his gear - and he'd need a lot of it before the day was done - and headed to Ruth's for breakfast.

The next stop was some MTBing at Park City's Glenwild trails which, given the paucity of snow this winter have dried up quickly.  He gashed up his leg pretty good on a hairpin turn in loose gravel.

He then swapped out his mountain bike for his road bike and did a 24.92 mile road ride in Park City,

before taking himself to lunch at the No Name Saloon.

After lunch he got back in his truck and drove through Parley's Canyon, down Wasatch Boulevard and up Little Cottonwood Canyon to Alta: he was going skiing.  He bootpacked up in his tele boots and did one run.  (At this point, I had gotten back to SLC and was heading to the house.)  There's still some snow, and he saw two other people doing the same thing he was, but the place was pretty deserted.

Having finished his ski run, he had one thing left on his amazing list: beer at the Porcupine.  He gave me a call and invited me to join him there; I thew B in my car and did just that.  As we split our requisite pitcher of Full Suspension, H couldn't stop grinning as he updated me on his weekend.  I totally stand corrected - he was able to do everything on his list.

And even better, we've proved to ourselves that we can still keep busy doing fun stuff even though the lifts aren't turning.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

the list, pt. 1

I had the opportunity to go away for a last minute grrls' weekend, leaving H and B alone together.  Now, usually when one of us is away, the at-home other tends to just poke around the house not doing too much.  Not H, not this time: he made a truly epic list of things to do while I was away.  And when I scoffed that he'd never get to it all, the challenge was accepted ... and well-documented, as you will see.

Starting with Friday night after work, he came up in town and had a beer at Dick N' Dixie's, a neighborhood/hipster bar that we've been talking about going to forever.  Now it's only me that's never been to Dick N' Dixie's.

After that, he did a road ride, then went to the Cotton Bottom for a garlic burger for dinner, then watched Blazing Saddles before hitting the hay.

Four things crossed off the list.  Keep in mind that this was the first weekend that Alta's lifts weren't turning, so there was some concern about how we obsessive skiers might transition to non-ski-season.  Would there be enough to do?

First thing Saturday, H went up to the Silver Fork for breakfast.  He reported that while tasty enough, the french toast is not a good value as you only get two pieces of bread for your $9.00.

After his 60+ mile bike ride - which had a chilly 41 F start - he had lunch at Woody's Drive-In, another local establishment we've been talking about trying out for ages.

Next on the list was taking B for a walk up Millcreek Canyon.  She did really well, even with all the other dogs running leashless - with all the walkers and runners and cyclists and dogs and nearby creek, the old girl was probably in sensory overload.

When they got back home, H tackled the laundry and swept and vacuumed the house.  It had been a pretty full day, but it wasn't over yet.

Friday, May 4, 2012

bowling is not my game

The night we went to the Wing Coop, we decided to get a little crazy and do something totally different: we went bowling.  There are lanes just at the other end of the shopping plaza from the wings place - Olympus Hills Bowling, at 4015 Wasatch Blvd.  This is a real dive, bowling alley-wise.  I don't think the decor - or the shoes - have been updated since the 1970s; it's all a little run down and beat-up - our lane (Lane 3) had a huge divot right at the edge where someone, at some time, slammed their ball down.  Still, neither H nor I are any sort of good bowlers so it suited us just fine.  Plus there's beer on tap (and slightly better beer in bottles).


We played three games and that was plenty.  I managed I think two strikes in total for the three games; apparently I swing wide on the wind up and release and that doesn't help much.  H did much better than I, bowling what he believes was his best game ever.

Did I mention that this is not my game?

There weren't too many people there when we started but by the time we left, all the lanes were full.  I think we'll search out a different bowling alley the next time the mood strikes us* - maybe candlepin, if I can find any - but if an evening of low key, low rent bowling is what you're after, Olympus Hills Bowling is right up your alley.**

* Get it?  A little bowling humor for you there.
** I did it again.  Sorry.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

last day of the 2012 season

It was with heavy hearts and plenty of sunscreen that we headed up to Alta for the final day of the 2011-2012 season.  There were a few big, puffy clouds in the morning but they cleared off by noon, so that it got warmer than Saturday ever was.  It was still cool in the morning, however, and the snow held up much better than we expected it would.

Party on the Watson's beach

Since it's Alta, all the costumed weirdos came out to bid farewell to the ski season: grass skirts, tutus of all shapes, sizes and colors, the Three Amigos riding hobby horses, a kayaker (with kayak), Spiderman with a cape ... our favorites were the guy in the Big Bad Wolf costume and the guy with the purple shag skis.  It actually got pretty busy as the day wore on, with lift lines to wait in since Collins was the only lift running, and the parking lot filling up with revelers staking out prime tail-gating territory.  There was a live band playing outside the Watson Shelter lodge and folks were just chilling, soaking up the sun (and the beer) and enjoying the last day.

My eyes are open - just squinting

Because of the limited terrain, we pretty much skied the same trails all day: slipping over the back to Devil's Elbow, hitting the Ballroom, speeding down the blue cruisers.  The snow stayed cold through lunchtime and only started to get really slushy and sticky after 2 p.m.  I was skiing better than I was the day before and managed to keep making runs until nearly 3:30 p.m.

Saying goodbye to another season

After that we sat on the tailgate of the truck, watching the folks take their final runs, and toasted with PBRs to the end of the season.  The snow wasn't nearly as good as it had been last season, but we got a ton more bluebird days and still got 48 (H) and 39 (me) days on the hill.  It's sad to stop skiing - it's been so easy knowing exactly what we were going to do each weekend, with no decision-making required - but now we can shift into summer mode.  Bring on the hiking/cycling/MTBing/camping!