Sunday, August 02, 2015

Parking strip...Done!

We have just completed one of our largest summer projects. We wanted to redo our parking strip because parking strips are rather useless and difficult to water. Here's what it looked like halfway through the excavation project:

After many hours of back breaking work, including several trips to the dump, and moving tons of rock, here is the result:

From the same spot as the partial excavation above.

From the opposite end
We think it came out pretty nice. Now if we can keep the grandkids and the neighbor kids from moving the rocks around (hint, we've already had trouble with this), we have one project that is completed and won't have to be done again. That's always a good thing.

Saturday, August 01, 2015

My personal fitness challenge

I'm still on my way to get down to 185. Originally I had the goal of doing so by July 4th, but my wife's hospitalization, my own bouts with diverticulitis, and a few other roadblocks delayed my attempt. However, the past two days that I've weighed myself, I've been at 187.5, and 188. That would be on Thursday and today--Saturday. It's the first time that's happened in this attempt. Of course, that could possibly have something to do with getting my haircut. Even though I just got it trimmed a bit, I've been known to lose a pound or two after a haircut in the past. Maybe that's why I gained a pound between Thursday and Saturday. Or, it could have been the buffet we went to last night.

Albion Basin hike


For at least half of my 56 years, I've heard tales of the wildflowers in Albion Basin. For whatever reason, I had never hiked there. I don't know if it was because it seemed like too short of a hike for me, or what, but after shoveling rocks for hours to finish my parking strip on Monday and Tuesday, what I needed was a short hike.
I got up there early for a couple of reasons. First, I'd heard that the parking lots get full. I'm not one to dawdle about getting up before others to stake my claim to a good parking spot. Second, the best photos are usually shot in early morning light or early evening light, and that was my main objective--to get some good pics of some of the legendary wildflowers. I was not disappointed in the flowers and I hope you're not disappointed in the pics.
There were four or five cars in the parking lot when I arrived. So far, so good.
The hike itself took me through a large chunk of Alta ski resort. I got to see most of the runs I'd gone on during the past winter, including the spot where my brother, Mike had been standing on level ground and had fallen. That was still funny, just thinking about it.
The main trail begins at the parking lot at the end of the road in Little Cottonwood Canyon and heads basically south from there. You can eventually wind up at Cecret Lake if you take this trail, though there are trails going everywhere up there. I took a fork in the trail heading east, winding my way up toward the cliffs. Along this trail I saw no one. But there were still plenty of flowers to see along the way.
This trail eventually heads north and I suppose if I had continued on it, I would have connected with the trail to Catherine Pass and been able to look down into Brighton.
Anyway, let's start with some of the pics.






I thought this would make a great jigsaw puzzle.
I had told Ann that there was still some snow left and I found it.
I decided to make a snow angel, but it was solid ice.

And this one would make a great puzzle too. Very challenging.





More snow pockets, way up high.

Lupines
It was very crowded as I wound my way back to the fork in the trail. I still had some time left, so I decided I'd check out Cecret Lake since I had never been there. Here's a pic of the lake.
The parking lot was full and other cars were driving around waiting for someone to leave when I returned to the 4runner. As soon as I left my spot was filled. It had been a nice hike and one that I'd remember for a long time. And I found a place or two for a nice picnic.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Rockport artifacts

On July 8th, I went fishing to Rockport Reservoir. The low water revealed in the area where I was fishing, some old foundations and some interesting artifacts. I picked up a couple of things, which I'm trying to identify. The first was this round object marked with the letter "T":


And then there was part of a broken bottle that looked like this:

If any of you antique experts out there have any ideas on what these are exactly, feel free to clue me in.


The Fireworks Fizzle

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I won a drawing for a huge package of fireworks. I was very excited to finally break into them and put on a show for the family who were going to come over for the 24th...a state holiday in Utah honoring Utah's pioneer heritage.
We had a fun time with our dinner and visiting, though if  I did it again, I'd bag the idea of using pre-made boxed hamburger patties, and use fresh ground beef to make our own patties. Those from that box tasted like cardboard. All the other food was good though, and we topped it off with our first attempt at home-made chocolate peanut butter gelato, along with tried and true vanilla ice cream in the hand-crank ice cream maker.
Then came time for the fireworks display. I could tell that many of the items in the package were fountains, but as I got further into it, I found that there wasn't a single firework in the entire package (suggested retail value $1000) that shot up into the air. Now some fountains can be cool, but they can get boring after a while. I should've realized it and figured it out sooner, only I kept believing that amongst this huge package, at least some of them would shoot into the sky. Unfortunately no. We shot off about half the package before everyone got bored...the grandkids had stopped watching at least twenty minutes before the end and had begun chasing each other around the yard. Several other people in the crowd were watching the sky rockets being shot off in the neighborhood, instead of the fountains in front of our house. Still I had to remind myself that I hadn't spent a dime on these things, and that those people who kept shooting things up in the air had spent a bunch of money to do it. It was a small consolation, but I learned that bright packaging doesn't mean that it's all it's cracked up to be.
So, I have half of them left. I can't think of a time when I'm going to want to watch a bunch of fountains. I'm thinking of selling them on KSL in the next day or two. And then I'll buy with the proceeds, at least one firework that will shoot up into the air and go "boom", for New Year's Eve.
All in all though it was great to be with my family members and have them all able to come. That's a rarity these days and I'm extremely grateful for it.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

You know, some days are just better than others...

Yesterday (Tuesday) ended up being a comedy of errors of epic proportions. It wasn't the worst day ever. It just ended up being much less than I had hoped, on many fronts.
It began well. Or kind of well. It was my day off and I needed to go help my son Sam at 8:00 with a ride over to the tire repair place, so I decided to get up early and get to the gym. For whatever reason, I didn't get out the door until nearly 6:40 and I knew that would not be enough time to complete my entire workout and make it to help Sam at 8. I ended up shortening the workout. That never pleases me. I figure if  I made the effort to go at all, I should do a complete workout. But at least I got some exercise in, so not a bad start.
I made it to Sam's apartment complex just after 8, where we discovered that his spare wasn't flat after all (as he'd thought), and so we removed the flat tire, put the spare on, and I followed him to Discount Tire. No problems there.
I went home and began looking up places to buy decorative rock for landscaping. I had finished digging out the parking strip on Saturday, and so I was anxious to get the job completed. I found out that the place where we bought the specific rocks that we used a couple of years ago to redo our parking strip at our old house was out of business. After finding out that the place I'd gotten them before was out of business,  I began to search for places that carried the same kind of rock. I narrowed in on a place in Magna and wrote down the address along with a couple of other possible vendors.
Next on the agenda was that both Ann and I needed haircuts. I dropped her off at Fantastic Sam's where she had gotten a quality haircut the last time she got it cut, while I headed across the street to a new barbershop/salon that was over there. It was 10:10 by this time, but when I arrived at the place on the other side of the street, even though their sign said that their hours began at 10, there wasn't a single soul inside the locked place. I thought about going down the street a few blocks to another place I knew of, but thought that Ann would be done way before me if I did so and wouldn't know where I was, so I headed back to Fantastic Sam's to wait for her. I sat there in the 4runner, looking at a coupon book until 10:30. At that time, she finally appeared at the door, so I went in, only to find that she's struck up a friendship with a couple of old ladies, one on oxygen, and was just waiting to hold the door open for them. When I came in and found out that she hadn't had her haircut yet (because they were calling her back at that time to get it started), she said that I could hold the door open for the ladies. I was more than happy to do so, but I stood their looking dumb for about five minutes while one of the ladies looked for a punch card or something in her purse. Finally I went outside and stood, thinking that when they made it to the door, I could pull it open from the outside, which is what I did.
After that, I wandered up and down the strip mall, then climbed back into the 4runner and started reading the coupon book. It actually looked like there was quite a few great places with coupons that we should try. I was looking forward to later in the day driving up to Tremonton and having lunch--after the haircuts and rocks. The place we were heading for wasn't one of the coupon places, but some place I had bought a hot fudge shake at once on a drive down from Idaho--and I had remembered that shake with fondness.
When Ann got done and came out, I told her about not getting my haircut, and she told me that since I had planned on stopping home to change shirts (I can't stand the itchiness of the cut hairs that get inside my shirts), she had not used the restroom and would need to stop somewhere. I had thought I would stop at that second hair cutting place, but instead headed further up the road to the library, a place with a restroom. When she came out, we backtracked to the hair cutting place, called "Authentic Cuts". I went inside while Ann waited outside in the car. There was one barber. There was a guy getting his hair cut, and a teenager waiting. I sat and watched the barber and his customer, heavily involved in a conversation, and the barber shaving the guy's neck, up and down, up and down for about five minutes. I never knew it could take that long to shave a neck. I knew then that the barber wanted to continue the conversation with the customer and was trying to delay finishing. I left. "Let's go see if we can find rocks," I said.
We drove to the vicinity of the first one on my list (in Magna), the one that supposedly had rocks that looked like the ones we had purchased the last time. The address took us to a neighborhood, not some kind of lot with rocks piled around that we could look at. Frustrated, we headed to the second place on the list, which was over in West Jordan. We looked over their rocks, and found something that I thought would work, but Ann wasn't convinced. She wanted the same rocks as before. So we left there and headed to the last one on our list, over in Murray.
You know it's kind of frustrating when people don't update their websites. This place was listed as being at 141 W. Vine Street. It's Staker-Parsons, which is a pretty big name in sand and gravel/ landscaping etc. What was at that approximate address was the parking lot for the Murray Trax station, light rail parking, that had been in that location for at least ten years. Why not update your freaking website?
We decided to go back to the house, eat some lunch, do more research on the rocks. I found only one other name, and when I checked it out, it led back to the one that was in a residential area. This time I called on the phone, then texted, to see if I could figure out where this rock place actually was. I was tired and had a headache after all of this, so I decided to lie down and take a nap. I had just fallen deeply into sleep when the phone rang. It was the guy at the rock place. He said that he ran the business out of his house, but that the landscaping rocks were in various areas around the house so I could go and look in his yard to see if I liked any of them. Ann and I decided that we could do that on the way to Tremonton, so once again, we headed to Magna.
After a little searching, we finally found the street, Moon Beam Bay Drive, and the house. We found that they had the kind of rocks we wanted. I called to place an order with the guy, but got his voice mail. I left a message and then we headed up to Tremonton.
We had gotten to such a late start that we were now in rush hour traffic, headed north toward Ogden and beyond. It took us a while, but we finally got to Tremonton, and the drive-in called Mack's that I had been anxious to go back to.
The food wasn't bad, but when we ordered the ice cream afterward, we were disappointed. I ordered a hot fudge shake and Ann had an ice cream cone. The shake wasn't mixed well, and it wasn't hot fudge that the girl mixed in--some kind of chocolate, but not hot fudge. Definitely not as good as last year when we stopped there on the way back from Salmon, Idaho.
Our dinner done, we began the drive back home. The sun was getting low and I was trying to make it to a place that I knew of that is kind of an overlook of the Great Salt Lake. But the sun was setting faster than we were getting there. Ann asked me to get off the freeway and take a picture, but the freeway was about thirty feet higher than the surrounding terrain and I didn't think I could find a high enough spot in those lowlands to get a shot of the sky. I kept trying to get the the overlook, but the sun was going down. I finally pulled off and began looking for a place to take a picture. There was a railroad overpass (no parking on top of course), and we drove down the western side of it and I tried to hurry back up to the top to get a shot, but the moment was gone. "I told you you should have gotten off the freeway earlier," Ann said.
She was right. The guy never called back a second time, and I've texted and called him today with no response. I hope he's just busy and will soon call me back, because he had quite a few good reviews on ksl.com. All in all yesterday was a weird and unproductive day, I didn't hate it, but it wasn't one to write down in the memory books. Good thing there are other days.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

New recipe

I just made this new recipe: Bangin' Blueberry Coffee Cake
I had a bunch of extra blueberries to use up after stocking up on them at a recent sale. I had already made some blueberry muffins, and Ann had already made a great pie. I had used them on my cereal in the morning. They would begin to go bad soon, so it was time to use up the rest. A few minutes ago I tasted the cake and it was great. It was like eating To Die For Blueberry Muffins in a cake pan, maybe even better since it was coffee cake and not muffins. So the next time you have some blueberries to use up, try the coffee cake--or the muffins. Whichever one you're in the mood for.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Sunset hike to the Salt Lake Overlook

I needed a hike during my vacation week, which was a stay-cation. I had canceled my hike on Thursday morning, so that I could do some other things that needed doing, but I didn't want my entire vacation to go buy without getting at least one hike in. I decided to try an evening hike to try to catch a spectacular sunset and get some pics. I got off to a later start then I'd wanted. The trail to the Salt Lake Overlook begins up Millcreek Canyon, just east of the Millcreek Inn. There is a trailhead parking lot for the Desolation Trail there. That parking lot and any other bare spot around for a quarter of a mile, was filled with cars. There was a wedding reception at the Millcreek Inn, and the parking for that place itself has only about ten spots, so obviously guests were parking in the trailhead parking lot and everywhere else. I tried driving up the canyon and the only available spot was about half a mile further up. I tried down below and found a spot a quarter of a mile away, but I'd be walking downhill on the way back so it wasn't a bad option.
I started hiking at about 7:15 and made it up to the Overlook by about 8:40. The sun was getting close to the horizon and there were some clouds so I thought it might be possible to get a nice shot. One thing I found out though was that the sun was too far north and would be going down behind a nearby mountain instead of Stansbury Island out in the Great Salt Lake, so a little later in the summer is probably the prime time to take this hike for sunset purposes. Still, even though the sun wasn't where I would've liked it, and the sunset itself wasn't one of those truly amazing spectacles that we all hope to capture with our cameras, I think I got a few pretty decent pics. Here's the one that I liked the best of all that I took:
You can see how it was going down behind the nearby mountain.
I thought I'd hang around a bit and see if I could get a picture of the city lights coming on down below and ended up with this:
Salt Lake lights at dusk
There were some other people up there with me, some teen girls (sisters and friends) and a woman who was mother to at least one of the girls. I left them up at the top and headed down. I strapped on my headlamp and as I walked down the trail, I saw a small speck of flashing green light on the trail. At first, I thought someone had dropped some kind of electronic device on the trail, but as I neared the light I found out that it wasn't anything man-made at all, but my light was reflecting from the eyes of a spider! That was awesome! I found out that the flickering was caused by my movement, not anything to do with the spider's eyes. After that, I saw numerous green flashes on the trail and every time, it was a spider. Once I saw a larger white light down the trail and thought someone with a flashlight was coming up, but that ended up being a bird sitting on the trail whose eyes reflected the light from my headlamp. That was awesome too!
The party at the Millcreek Inn was still happening, as there was a cover band doing all kinds of familiar songs as I approached the bottom of the trail. I was ready to rock out and listened to some hard rock on KBER as I drove home in the cool night air. I turned it down as I rolled into the neighborhood and pulled into the driveway just before 11:00.

Thursday, July 09, 2015

"56"

I just turned 56 yesterday. There's one thing I can't stand about that, and that's having to plug my age in as 56 on the treadmill that I run on instead of 55. Each year I dislike that--having to increase my age by one year. I'm kind of funny that way. There was one advantage and that is that I was at the youngest I could possibly be in my age category in the recently run 5k. I was probably the oldest 55 year old, but at least I was at the bottom end of the range, which was 55-59. The only way I could have been personally one of real youngest is to have been born on July 3rd, and having just turned 55 the day before the race. As it was, I turned 55 361 days before the race. I wish my parents would have planned better for my birth...
Another thing I don't like about turning 56 is the life expectancy analysis at Blue Zones. Blue Zones is based off of a book in which unusually high populations of centenarians are examined by teams of scientists and medical professionals to find out why they live so long. They have a "How Long Will You Live?" calculator and among the other results it give is a category called "Your healthy life expectancy". Guess what my healthy life expectancy turns out to be according to their calculations? Yep. You guessed it. 56. Now, I know that's a crock, but I keep wondering why they came to that conclusion. They don't even know about my diverticulitis. They didn't even ask about my genetic history. I wonder what they base that on. Of course, my plan is to prove that wrong.
All that being said, I did something fun yesterday. I went fishing at Rockport. I didn't catch a thing, but in my book, you don't have to catch anything in order to have a good time.

The fishing was poor, but it was nice up there anyway.
 The water was really low, and where I was, there were remnants of old bottles, building foundations etc., that had once been underwater. I looked around for a few minutes, hoping to find an antique bottle still intact, but no such luck. I did find the bottom of a rectangular bottle that had to have been pretty old, and another object that was like some kind of a bottle cap marked with a  "T". I'll be posting some pics of those objects in my next blog entry to see if anyone knows what they are.