Friday, August 28, 2015

I've been out of touch

I expect every place I visit to have wifi connections these days. Well, not if I go out in the wilderness somewhere. But if I stay in a cabin or rental property that has cable tv, yeah, I expect them to also have wifi. I like to keep up on my blog, and touch bases with certain individuals while on vacation. And I don't always want to make a phone call. Sometimes, I'm even in places that don't have a cell signal.

All that being said, I'm back in a motel with a connection that allows me to connect, even if it's not the most secure. I certainly won't be doing my banking from this room. We will be on the road and home tomorrow--Lord willing and the creek don't rise. In a way, I'll be glad to get home to the normal routine. I mean, when I was at home, I still had a driver's license. Or maybe I didn't. When I pulled out my wallet to show my license to the sporting goods clerk in Walmart in Cortez, so I could purchase a Colorado fishing license, well, that's when I noticed I didn't have my driver's license. I racked my brain trying to think of where I used it last, texted my son-in-law, Justin about it and he graciously volunteered to call the three places I thought of and check to see if they had it. None of them did.

We have been continuing our trip, hoping .we don't run into a cop wanting to just pull me over and check my license. I will have to deal with this when I get home, and I hope no one who's up to no good has it and that it soon arrives in the mail from some kind soul who has found it. This has been complicated by my cruise control going out on this trip, so I have to rely on my own control of the gas pedal through long stretches. I tend to have a lead foot on flat highways. Thankfully, in Colorado, I'm doing a lot of uphill driving and my 4runner, especially loaded down with all the rocks Ann wanted me to bring home, cannot climb hills at a fast rate of speed. Although climb hills it can, in four wheel drive, and when those hills are dirt, mud, or rocky. We mostly tested the 4runner on this trip by driving through and extensively large number of puddles on dirt roads, at high rates of speed, so that the muddy water would fly all over our windshield and elsewhere on the 'yota. Yeah, we had some fun too. I have mentioned how much I like adventure, haven't I?

A full report will be coming in the near future.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

You can't beet this...

Just about four days ago, I was talking to a friend about beets. I said I didn't like them, but that I'd only really tried the canned variety. Then, just two days later, I got my latest issue of Eating Well in the mail. Surprise, surprise, guess what was on the cover? No need to guess, because here it is:
 So, I thumbed to the article inside, just to see what was up. Here that is:
Kinda makes me want to eat beets...

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Slow down, people breathing...

Outside a small town in Montana, beside a dirt road, is a sign that says "Slow down, people breathing."
I could say the same thing about the forest fires plaguing the west, although the firefighters involved I'm sure are doing all they can to not just slow them, but stop them.
It's only a matter of time. I feel badly for those who live nearby, especially those who have lost their home, land, and in extreme cases, the few loved ones who have perished because of the fires.
Here in Utah, all we have to deal with is a little smoke in the air. Then again, smoke in the air, trapped by ridges of high pressure, is what causes our inversions in the winter. We do have those in the summer too, but because there isn't a lot of cold air, we don't normally see the pollutants we're breathing in. We hear from time to time news announcements not to use our lawn mowers and things like that, and that's usually how we find out about poor air quality in the summer in the Salt Lake Valley.
 For the past week or so though, it has been highly visible as smoke from our neighbors to the west builds up and is trapped in our valley. Here are some images I took yesterday.
Looking toward the Wasatch Mountains from just west of I-215

A look at the Oquirrhs from 56th West

Looking at the Wasatch from 56th West, not even visible.
We are hopeful that the firefighters will soon get these blazes under control, not only for the lungs of those of us living in the Salt Lake Valley, but for the homes, livelihoods, and lives of those in our neighboring states, California, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, and others who are threatened by these destructive fires.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Hiking and fishing the Uintas

Another day, another great adventure.

I believe, but I'm not certain, that this is Little Lily Lake.
I had originally wanted to do a backpacking trip this week, but after not being able to find anyone else to go, decided on a longish day hike to some great fishing in the Uintas.
My plan was to go to Little Hidden Lake and Divide Lakes which are accessed via the Crystal Lake Trailhead.
I started off on the trail and the first thing I noticed was that neither of the trailheads that start from that parking lot had the name of the major lake in the area that I was planning on hiking to. I was looking for Clyde Lake to be on the sign because that's near the Divide Lakes, which are near Little Hidden Lake etc. I started up the trail not knowing where I was going really. I'm glad I didn't attempt it in the dark as I had originally planned. My Uinta maps are buried underneath tons of rubble in the basement (my daughter and her family live down there), and I didn't want to buy another one knowing that those were down there, so I just thought I could manage without. I did, but I ended up spending a lot of time traveling cross country and trying to figure out where the actual trail was and which lake was which. My GPS was helpful with that, but some of the smaller lakes weren't on my GPS map. I think part of my problem is that I get too involved in looking around, and miss the obvious trail.
I found myself looking down at Wall Lake where I had camped in the 1970s just after Christmas one year.
Anyway at about 7 am, I hit the trail,  heading up the right one and took a fork to Cliff Lake, which I remembered was along the path to Clyde.
Somehow though at Cliff, I got off the real trail (probably by looking around at the amazing scenery--and I was trying to find some wild roses in bloom for pics).
No wild roses, but there were flowers in abundance. These will have to do.

The area is so close to the highly popular Trial Lake Campground that there are trails heading everywhere and most of them vanish after a while, or turn into deer trails and peter out. Using the GPS, I determined where Clyde was from there and set off cross country to find it. Clyde Lake is beautiful and it looked highly fishable as I passed it by—I could see fish swimming and eating insects near the shore. But, I wanted to get to Little Hidden Lake, because the book I had read had said that there were some larger fish in it and it was excellent fishing. I had to pass by the three Divide Lakes in order to get to Little Hidden Lake, and there were some people camping there and I asked if they knew where Little Hidden was. One of them said, “yes” then pulled out his map and explained how to get there. What he actually showed me was "Hidden Lake". Nice guy. I found it a few minutes later with no problem. I had found another nearby lake which I assumed was "Little Hidden Lake", but now that I think about it, I'm fairly certain that "Hidden" and "Little Hidden" are the same lake. At any rate, there are many lakes up there and I wasn't able to positively identify all of them. The one I thought was Little Hidden Lake, may have been James Lake
I'm not sure if this is James Lake or what...
or one of the many other unidentified lakes that are found in the Uintas.
I decided to head back to the Divide Lakes.
Divide Lake 2
I ended up at Divide Lake 2 where I could see tons of fish eating bugs off the surface. I ended up catching six fish there, but didn't catch my first one until 1:15.
My first fish
After a while it seemed to slow down so I decided to try Divide 1 and caught one more fish. At about 3 pm, I thought I'd try Clyde Lake. The first spot I tried at Clyde I caught one, but that was it. So I decided to move. I went around the lake and saw a place where there were some old trees in the water, and some fish swimming nearby and sat there. I caught five more fish, bringing my total to 12 by about 4:30.  By the way, the fish in Clyde Lake are larger than the ones in Divide Lakes. I was fishing near the southwest corner of Clyde, right where the trail comes into it from below. There was a group of guys fishing along the south edge, stretching east who also seemed to be catching fish.
Clyde Lake close to where I caught five fish
My feet were hot. I decided to stick them in the lake.
Just one more reason to bring a bandana along--drying feet.
 Because of the trail situation, I had decided that I didn't want to attempt descending after dark, so I had made the decision to go down earlier while it was still quite light, and fish at Crystal Lake, which is near the trailhead.
Again, I was glad I made that choice because I got off the trail again when it vanished into some rocks. I heard some guys below though and thought that they were probably on the trail, so I waited until I could see where they were and started toward them. They were on the trail, and I talked to them for a couple of minutes. They weren't sure where they were either, so I told them where Clyde was etc. and they said, “good, we're on the right trail.”
I talked to an elderly couple further down the trail. They said they had come up to Clyde Lake 35 years previously and wanted to visit it again. I gave them general directions, mentioning that I had lost the trail up there, but showing them where it was up over which ridges and stuff. I'm pretty sure they weren't going up there to have a picnic, but it was kind of romantic anyway.
When I got to Crystal Lake I had some memories flood back because I had been a Scout leader several years (10 maybe) ago when I had last been there. I looked for the lean-to the boys had made, but couldn't even find the right spot. I didn't spend a great deal of time looking though, because I wanted to get fishing. The waves were choppy because a breezed had kicked up and one thing I'd noticed at some of the other lakes I'd fished was that when the wind was blowing, the fish didn't want to bite as much. I ended up catching one, making my total 13, but that one was different from all the others. It was an Arctic Grayling—the rest had been trout—and that beast really fought me. It jumped out of the water three times as I reeled it in. Of course, I was doing catch and release, so I let the fighter go to live another day.
Arctic Grayling. He's the fighter!
As for the day itself, it was beautiful. The sky, however, was a bit murky due to all the forest fires in California, Nevada, Oregon, etc. We always get that smoke trapped in our mountains for a while. There were no clouds in the sky, and I was treated to a rare Uinta day that didn't include an early afternoon rain storm. I really enjoyed listening as the breeze came through the trees. It's interesting how you can hear it coming from a long way off, before a particular blast reaches where you are. That's an amazing thing about being in the forest. The temperatures were nice, though I got a little cool sitting in the shade at Clyde--I also got a little hot in the early evening sun at Crystal.
Never leave your hip belt buckled for always makes you look like you have a pot belly.
I ended up leaving at around seven, stopped in Kamas and got a personal pizza, and began the drive home, arriving at around nine. Just another great adventure in the wilderness. I couldn't be happier.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Uintas fly fishing

I just learned the "surgeon's knot" today. This is the knot that allows you to tie a tippet onto the leader of you fly line. My dad had taught me the old-fashioned way when he was teaching me how to fly fish about twenty years ago. "Take it down to the shop at Sportsmen's Warehouse and they'll tie it on for you."
After learning the surgeon's knot, I have no idea why he didn't teach me that. It was very easy to learn and will save me lots of time going to Sportsmen's--even though there are a lot of great reasons to go there. I was there earlier today picking up some bubbles,  the tippet line and some new leaders, and halfway thought about just bringing in the reel and having them tie it on. But I figured, it was time I learned something new.
I just typed it in in Google, and within fifteen minutes, five really, I had it mastered.
Now, I'd like to learn both the handshake and nail knots, but I don't need them yet. They both also look fairly simple to master.
Tomorrow, I go fishing up to Divide Lakes and  Little Hidden Lake in the Uintas. I'm taking both the fly rod and the spin rod. If one's not working, I'll try the other. In either case, the fishing ought to be great. Even if I catch nothing but beautiful vistas.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Another beautiful sunrise

There are homes all around mine, but I was able to capture part of a beautiful sunrise, just by going around the block and finding a more open spot. Not perfect, but you get the idea:
Yeah, it was amazing! I hope wherever you are, you got to see something like this today.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The mysterious ways of weight loss

This past week I fluctuated between 187 and 186.5. It's the first time in years that I've been below 187 at all, so I was pumped. The funny thing is, now I'm very conscious of the things I'm putting in my body. I'm wanting to reach my goal of 185, but it seems that I may be able to do even better. That being said, we who have weight-loss goals would do well to keep a couple of things in mind. The first is that there are nearly always daily fluctuations in weight. Most of those are due to water intake (or lack thereof). I have found myself in this process doing the two step forward, one step back kind of thing. It's to be expected. What needs to be considered is the overall trend, not the day to day weight.
The second thing to consider is that we should be focusing more on fat loss instead of weight loss. I think this is where one of my pet peeves comes into play, and that's the height to weight ratio tables that are used to compute your overall health. Body Mass Index measurements are really a false way of figuring out overall health. The reason being that someone who is heavily muscled will have a higher weight to height ratio than someone who does no strength training. I personally do a bit of strength training and have larger muscle mass than say, a skinny guy who never does body weight exercises, but who may be way out of shape because of no exercise to speak of. A far better way to indicate health is through body fat percentage, coupled with resting heart rate, blood pressure, and a few other indicators.
That being said, the most important thing is that we are out there doing something to improve our health. Whether it's giving up soft drinks, or stopping by the gym, we can all do something. Make it a goal and start today.

Saturday, August 08, 2015

Going green: The EPA, Animas River, and Ikea

On August 5th, the EPA inadvertently released over a million gallons of contaminated mine water into the Animas River, causing the PH to lower, threatening fish and other wildlife--in addition to farmers--all along the waterway which eventually flows into the San Juan River and the Colorado.
The EPA during the Obama Administration has been a bunch of clowns who are basically dictating, with no Congressional approval, a plethora of strict regulations designed to protect the environment. These folks tour the country looking for someone to fine for undue greenhouse emissions or other "violations" of greenhood. Prior to this incident, they've potentially caused billions of dollars in job loss for thousands of people by restricting development of fossil fuels etc. Now, they are causing perhaps millions of dollars in loss of income for people who depend upon the Animas and the San Juan for their livings, including many miles of the Navajo Reservation. The Navajo Nation is understandably, up in arms.
We cannot fine them--it would just come out of the tax payer's pockets. The cost for the cleanup alone will be in the millions, if not billions, of dollars. So what can be done to punish those responsible for this potential ecological disaster? Fire them. Since they get their marching orders from the man at the top--President Obama--he should be fired too. Corrupt crooks only understand one thing and that's losing their jobs over the mistakes they've made.
So what does this have to do with Ikea. Not much except for the hypocrisy behind the "green" movement. Ikea, which doesn't even provide shopping bags that you can take home with you (unless you purchase one), in the name of keeping plastic grocery bags out of the landfill, sends out millions of half inch thick catalogs each year. For the amount of paper used in the creation of these things, they would have to kill an entire forest. Now that's really being green.
I'm all for protecting the environment, but there needs to be some kind of balance. People's lives  and livelihoods shouldn't be compromised in sketchy schemes that supposedly will stop global warming.

Friday, August 07, 2015

Fields of Gold

We'll walk in fields of gold...

Another amazing song...

Thursday, August 06, 2015

Fire and Rain

One of the greatest songs ever. James Taylor and Fire and Rain:

I've always loved this song.

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.

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.