Sunday, June 19, 2016

Sunsets are worth taking time to see

I was finishing up mowing the lawn last night, just as the sun was going down. As I pushed the mower up the driveway to put it away, I saw great streaks of red, pink, and orange in the sky. Knowing great sunsets don't wait for lawnmowers to be put away, I stopped doing so and darted into the house for my camera.
Our house is situated low down with surrounding trees, so it's tough to get a good shot of the sunset. I got out the ladder and scrambled up on the roof. Good sunsets are worth it, by the way. Here's why.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Can you laugh at yourself? If not, you can laugh at me.

A couple of weeks ago my evaporative air cooler (known colloquially as a "swamp cooler") appeared to be on the fritz. Air was blowing through it, but it wasn't cool air. A few days prior, I had reinstalled the copper tubing that supplies the water to the unit, oiled it, and it had appeared to be working. Now, after a long day at work, it was still over 90 degrees in the house as it began to get dark. I got out the ladder to take a look. I had not turned off the unit, so the belts and pulleys were moving inside of it. I really didn't want to stick any parts of my body inside to figure out what was wrong, but I spotted it right a way. The hose that supplies water from the pump to the pads had come unhooked from the pump. I saw the end of the hose, that should be attached, and a connector to which I connected it and it was great--done in five minutes.
Until the next time it got hot enough to use a couple of days later. It still wasn't cooling. I was thinking that the pump must be bad, and that instead of spending the night peacefully at home watching a movie or playing a game, I'd be heading to Home Depot for a new pump and installing it. Once again, I climbed up to take a look, this time with it turned off.
At once I began to laugh at myself. I had hooked the loose end of the hose not to the pump, where it needed to be hooked, but to the drain spout. The pump was working all right, but it was sucking in water then spitting it right back out into the pooled water in the bottom of the swamp cooler. I quickly made the appropriate reconnection and the thing ran like a champ.
I think the ability to laugh at oneself is healthy, but if you can't laugh at yourself, go ahead and laugh at me.

Thursday, June 09, 2016

Leather and Lace - Stevie Nicks and Don Henley

This song is simply great on many levels, but as a duet, it rocks as one of the greatest of all time. I hope you like it. I do.

Sunday, June 05, 2016

Exploring Utah's Stansbury Range

This past Friday, I enjoyed a few hours exploring South Willow Canyon, parts of North Willow Canyon, and the Deseret Peak Wilderness area. I began hiking at the Medina Flat Trailhead at just around 5:40 am.

The trail begins off of a spur road that leaves to the right of the main canyon road (South Willow), and leads to a small parking lot where an outhouse and the trailhead are located. It begins steep, but after fifty yards or so flattens somewhat. This trail is part of the Stansbury Front Trail, which leads from South Willow Canyon over to North Willow and Davenport Canyons. I'm fairly certain it leads at least part way to Hickman Canyon to the south as there is another trailhead within the campground that's off to the left of the main canyon road (called "Boy Scout"). That trailhead is clearly labeled "Stansbury Front Trail"

It was the second time I had been on the Medina Flat Trail within the past three weeks. I was hoping to see the sunrise and get a few good pics of it. It was light enough to see as I began hiking, the first pale light of dawn lightening up the sky in the east. I knew I'd have to hurry to get any good shots at all, and probably should have arrived a half hour earlier. As it was, I left my house in West Valley just slightly after 4:30.

The sun began to rise as I was hiking, and I knew there was going to be a small peak in between the eastern horizon and me when it got at its best. It wasn't one of the spectacular ones that we see every now and then, but it was kind of nice. If it had looked like it was going to be one of the all-time great sunrises, I would have stayed down lower on the trail to make sure I got an open shot. It did have a best time though, and that little peak was right in the way.

I continued up the trail to where it crosses Mining Fork Road. Nearly three weeks earlier, I had followed this road for a ways, not knowing what it was called, nor where it led. I had wanted to go back to where I had eaten lunch that day and take some pics, so I followed the road again. The forest closes in around this road and I kept thinking that I'd like to find out how to access it and drive up it to see where it goes. Eventually, it becomes Mining Fork Trail and leads to South Willow Lake.

It was difficult to retrace my steps from the earlier trip, and I thought I knew where I had left the road to climb into the rocks above, but I wasn't sure. I had taken my GPS with me the previous hike, but had failed to check the batteries, so had been unable to mark my coordinates because the batteries had been dead. I walked past the place where I had gone up, thinking I wanted to see where the road went anyway, and to make sure that my point of departure from it hadn't been further up.
The place where I ate lunch three weeks ago.

It's just a little spot, up in the cliffs, using a rock as a tripod.
Eventually, I returned and made my laborious way up to the cliffs where I had taken my lunch the last time. Just a little place to sit and enjoy the view. One thing I really liked about this place was that there were fossils in many of the rocks on the way up. This time, I picked up a small one to take home.
This kind of fossil was found all over up in the Mining Fork Road area.

I've been doing a lot of experimenting over the years with using large rocks in lieu of a tripod, so I don't have to pack the weight. This time I had my tripod with me and began setting it up, but halfway through I spotted a large rock in a great location and decided to use that instead.

I struggled and slid back down to the road, noticing for the second time in a month how dangerous hiking can be, because I spotted a prickly pear cactus hidden amongst the lush undergrowth--something I had remembered from the earlier hike.
Those sharp needles hide themselves very well amongst the foliage. Notice, there are some in the lower left of the picture too.

Once on the road, I headed back down to where the Stansbury Front Trail crossed it. I decided this time to continue down the road on the other side of the trail to see if I could tell where I could begin driving on it. The road ended up going up a sidehill to the small peak that had obscured my view of the sunrise earlier in the day. It took a hairpin turn and headed down to the north at that point. I decided to climb the peak so I could get a good view of the surrounding area. It took less than five minutes from where I had left the road, and was worth the time it took.
View from the small peak, looking south.

New cones on the trees.
I retraced my path, back to the trailhead, noticing the scenic wild flowers along the way. It was only 9:30 at that point, so I thought I'd give the Deseret Peak Trail a little time. The trailhead for the hike to the top of Deseret Peak begins at the Loop Campground, which is actually at the end of the South Willow Canyon Road. To get there, just drive to the far end of the campground. There are restrooms and the Mill Fork Trailhead is right next to them.
A view of Deseret Peak
The path through a sunny meadow filled with flowers.

I started up the trail and was immediately amazed at how beautiful it was. I had thought that the Stansbury Front Trail and Mining Fork Road had been gorgeous, and this was just as fabulous, or even more so. I set a time limit of 11:00 to turn around, having told my wife I'd be home about three, and wanting to do some other things before I left the area. Before 10:30 though, I made it to the stream crossing and it was raging. There were some wet logs and rocks that I probably could have crossed, though I would have felt much better about it had I remembered my trekking poles. The way it looked was that it was likely I would slip and endanger my camera by falling in. In no way did it appear to have enough water to have swept me away and killed me, so I'm thinking that if that's its peak at spring run-off, people would likely be okay around it. Just watch your kids.
It was simply magnificent up there.

Taking a few pics of the stream, I then turned around and made my way back. I was noticing all of the old dates carved in the aspen trees. I saw some from '43 and even older. Of course, someone could've carved fictitious dates into the trees, but looking at some of them, I felt they were legit.
Apparently lovers have been up here too.

I got back to the 4runner with still plenty of time to drive up North Willow and look for the beginning of Mining Fork Road, which I felt must originate over there, for I had found no such roads near South Willow. I drove up the only available side road in North Willow and it quickly became a bed of rocks, very slow going, and I decided that this couldn't possibly be it. Of course, later on, I checked the links above and found that Mining Fork Road does indeed begin near South Willow, so I have some more exploring to do.

And that isn't the only thing left to explore. All in all, the Stansbury Range has a lot to offer in the way of adventure, and I think I've only managed to see the tip of the iceberg. I anticipate spending many days in the future discovering its secrets.

My time was soon up. I stopped and took a pic of myself hanging out in the 4runner, this time, the camera on the tripod. It was at a place lower in the canyon that has special meaning for me.
Ready for adventure? Let's go!

My last stop was lunch in Tooele. I've always liked a burger joint called "Dairy Delight". It's a great place for lunch or dinner after a hard day's hiking or other outdoor activities.

I was going to get home about a half hour early. Ann would appreciate that. And I had left a lot on the table to be explored later. I guess that's what keeps me going back out--because the adventures are always out there waiting.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Stormy sunsets are awesome!

We sat and watched on Friday night as pockets of rain caught the light from the sunset and moved across the valley. This picture from my phone doesn't do it justice, but it was absolutely beautiful and amazing!

My advice is to take the time to watch a sunset when you have the time. It is time that cannot be deducted from anyone's life.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

The rumors and the truth about my faith

Since my wife Ann has confided in several people and for other reasons (maybe things I've said or posted), rumors are beginning to swirl around about my abandonment of Mormonism. I'm not one to let speculation continue in regards to my personal beliefs. I've never liked one-sided stories, whether they are told by the liberal media, or whether told by individuals, my wife included. I love her and she's doing what she needs to do to find comfort and commiseration. I fully understand those feelings. However, there are always two sides to every story.

The truth is, I have left the LDS faith. Some of you reading this right now just had your collective jaws hit the floor, because you haven't heard of any of this. Some of you will never comprehend why I've left.  I fully expect this revelation will cause several of you to drop me as a friend, possibly on Facebook, possibly in real life. I hope you don't feel that way, but I fully understand how you might think and feel about it, especially based upon one of the temple recommend questions. But let me offer you my experience of what happened the last time I went in for a recommend interview, in the fall of 2014. When asked if I associated, affiliated with, or agreed with anyone who's teachings were contrary to the church I told them that I had friends who I associated with who believed and taught things contrary to the church. The counselor in the stake presidency kind of chuckled and said, "we all do".

I have written a paper, originally intended for Ann, that explains in detail my reasoning. You can find it here: clickety-click. The paper can come across as a little bit harsh and sarcastic in parts of it. Please realize that I originally wrote it after being severely criticized for my choice and that I was trying to defend my reasoning. I mean it as no personal attack against anyone. Then again, when I was a member, I used to think even slight accusations or condemnations of the Church were all-out anti-Mormon rants. I'll let you know without reading it that I still believe in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, and as the Lord God omnipotent, come to earth in the flesh. The paper also includes my current beliefs and witness. Needless to say, in order for me to go through the ordeal it is to leave the church (especially within my own family and circle of friends), I must believe I'm right.

I hope we can all remain friends and that I can continue to associate with you whom I love. My love for you has not diminished, though you may no longer know what to do with me  and I may wonder what you're thinking. So be it. A man has to do what he believes is right. Here's a very good article, by the way, on how to respond to one of your friends who is leaving the church: check it out.

May our gracious God bless you all.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Identity theft is a pain in the behind

Sometime in 2014 or early 2015, someone opened our mailbox and took some mail. A few months later, we began getting notifications from our health insurance company (Blue Cross Blue Shield) of how much they paid on certain bills--always in my wife's name. Unfortunately, the bills they were paying were for someone who was masquerading as my wife, up in the Seattle area. My wife Ann hasn't ever set foot in Washington State.
As we continued to get more insurance statements we reported them to the fraud people at BCBS. One time, the employee of BCBS told us that the woman who was using Ann's name was checked into a hospital at that very moment and they could catch her red-handed.
Sadly, that must not have happened because we got a statement of the hospital stay, amounting to over $51,000. I called the fraud line immediately, but had to leave a message. The next day we received statements for ambulance service, and a couple of checks amounting to over $1600 in the mail to pay for those services. Okay, we're not stupid enough to cash those checks, and we're not going to do anything with them until I talk to the guy from the fraud department who returned my call when we were gone, and by the time I could call him back, they were likely long gone for Memorial Day weekend.
All I need is to start receiving actual bills from these hospitals, ambulance companies, doctors, etc. I don't understand why, with the number of times we've reported this woman, that they haven't caught her. How is it that you can use someone else's name for a hospital stay, then we call the fraud line right in the middle of that stay, and they still can't catch this woman?
If they don't solve this soon, I may need to call Vito to take care of it.