Saturday, September 26, 2015

Another fabulous sunrise in Utah

I just woke up about an hour and a half ago. I was trying to get my new phone to work. It's a smarter phone than I used to have and I can't figure out how to get it to detect the wifi in our house. Right now, I'm waiting for my son-in-law, Justin, who lives in our basement, to wake up so that he can get it running for me--I've spent enough frustrating time on it already.
When I finally decided to let someone with more experience help me, I put down the phone and looked out the window and saw this:
Sometimes, we just need to put down the gadgets and see what there is to see around us. I'm glad I did.

Thoughts on autumn and life

Have you ever found yourself on the road and you've traveled many miles from home before you suddenly realize what you should have brought with you, that you forgot to bring? For me, it's one of those "doggone it" moments.
Yesterday, I had another in a long litany of "doggone it"s when Ann and I headed up to the Uintas for some views of the fall colors. We were about forty miles from our home when we passed the first body of water and I realized that I was heading up into some great fishing lakes and had not thought to at least throw in the fishing gear. "Doggone it!" I said. "I should've brought my fishing stuff."
Life is like that too. We sometimes find ourselves many miles down the road of life before we realize we should've brought something along that we didn't. Too late to go back and pick up whatever it was we left behind, we soldier on, learning to live with whatever we brought with us.
As we drove up further into the Mirror Lake highway forests, I soon found myself looking at all the beautiful autumn colors. It's mostly quakies up there, so mostly yellow, but some of them had turned an orange/red that was spectacular. I snapped several pictures as we drove the dirt roads, we picked up several rocks for decorating our yard, and generally had a great time out there in the great outdoors.
Quakies near Whitney Reservoir in the Uintas

Shane and Ann enjoying the day

Some of the leaves were already down. Imagine this a week ago.
But, as we drove down, back past the lakes, I couldn't help thinking that I wish I had my fishing stuff.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

First time shooting the .45

My friend, Bruce, who works out at the Lee Kay Center, had taken the .45 (which I had never shot) out to see why it wouldn't fire. I had tried to fire it out in the desert in the spring and hadn't had another chance to figure it out. When Bruce took it, he couldn't get it to fire either, and after showing it to a couple of experts at the range, it was pretty much assumed that the magazine wasn't seating properly in the gun.
When I borrowed this gun for an indefinite period from my mom (hint, I'm keeping it, Mom, until you need it, ha ha), it had no magazine with it. A few weeks ago I finally made it to Gallenson's and purchased a new magazine for it.  Previously I had purchased one from Impact Guns in Kearns. This was the one that didn't fit properly. I don't know if the guy who sold it to me didn't know what he was doing, or what, but that may be a reason I don't go back to that store again.
Anyway, Thursday, I finally made it out to the Lee Kay Center to shoot. The magazine seated properly and I was ready to fire. Here is what my target looked like when it was finished.
I took the first 8 shots from 7 yards, four at the middle bulls-eye and one at each of the corners. The two shots circled are the ones I fired from Bruce's gun, also a .45, that he let me shoot.
I then moved the target back to 15 yards and fired seven more rounds, all at the middle. You can see that I was pulling slightly to the right with the gun I brought. This was the first time I've ever fired a semi-auto, and the first time I've fired a handgun in at least 25 years. It was pretty darned fun! I don't think I did too badly for a self-taught first timer. Of course, I've had lots of practice rifle shooting over the years, so that helps. I'd like to do this more frequently, but the cost of ammo is prohibitive. Maybe I'll find a smaller gun with cheaper ammo to do the majority of my practicing.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Gardening tips and other advice

Many years ago, I took the Salt Lake Master Gardner's Course and got my certificate. Prior to that time, I had a great interest in knowing how to grow things, but not a lot of know-how. It was a great class, taught by Larry Sagers who was the USU Extension Agent for the Salt Lake area, as well as the expert on the KSL Greenhouse program that was featured on Saturday morning radio.
Since that time, Larry has passed away, and I have grown numerous gardens. I've had the opportunity to teach gardening at community education programs and at other gatherings. I will never know as much about gardening as Larry did, but at least I know how to grow things respectably--something that I once didn't know.
One rule of thumb that we learned was that most things are best transplanted in the cooler parts of the year. The reason being is that heat caused plants to go into stress. Fall is generally an excellent time to transplant anything because the plant is less likely to go into stress, and will go dormant for the winter within just a few weeks.
The other day, my friend asked me about how and when to transplant irises. I answered the "when" wrong, and I'm not sure I gave a very thorough explanation of the "how".
I did some further checking, just to make sure and I found that the best time to divide and transplant irises is after the flowers die back, but before fall, which generally means sometime between June and the end of summer . The reason being is that irises can get root rot pretty easily in a wet autumn and transplanting predisposes them to it. I found this great article on how to do it. Clickety-click.
There are exceptions to every rule, and when to transplant irises is one of them. Now I know.
As for the how, the above article gives a good explanation, but here's a video that should help: Dividing Irises
Happy Gardening!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Fitness challenge update

Sometime in the spring, I started out with the goal of getting down to 185 pounds. It has been an interesting road, including my wife's bout with pneumonia, and my own struggles with diverticulitis (twice). I've had to stop exercising or cut way back on exercising for several periods of time averaging a week or more. I've gone on vacations and bludgeoned my diet. Somewhere in there, my blood pressure has risen and won't come down by ordinary means. Still, I've managed to make it to where my weight is fluctuating between 186 -187. I'm getting close to my goal of 185. That shirtless pose is just around the corner.Yesterday, I ran a treadmill 5k in 27:42, which is faster than I've run that distance, on the road or treadmill, in at least three years. I'm in good shape. I'm feeling good. And, I think I may have pinpointed the blood pressure culprit.
Since I exercise a lot, I sweat a lot. I also work out of a blazing hot mail truck in the summer, again, sweating a lot. When we sweat, we lose electrolytes, namely, potassium. After evaluating my symptoms, I think I have a potassium deficiency.
My plan is to radically change my diet and include many foods that will build up my potassium stores. It remains to be seen what affect this will have on my bp, but I'm hopeful.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Oh Babe, What Would You Say?

I love this song, by Hurricane Smith. Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Hike of the year...Lone Peak

For years one of my goals had been to hike Lone Peak, at 11,253 feet in elevation, the 11th highest peak in the Wasatch Range. Yesterday (Monday) was my second attempt at this rugged peak.
Towering over the city of Draper, this monolith has beckoned to me for years. At 7 AM, my brother Mike and I started up the Jacob's Ladder trail to the top.
Jacob's Ladder is the quickest way to the top of Lone Peak. It is very steep. Think climbing a stairs for 1.5 miles and you get the idea. This stretch of the hike is withering and by the time you reach the ridge and the trail that intersects with the Jacob's Ladder trail (called the Draper Ridge Trail), your quads are burning. It was at this point last year that I knew I'd never make it to the top that time. I was dizzy and just didn't feel well. Not so this year. I had the strength and stamina I needed for finishing what I'd started.

Mike Roe
Along the way we saw some nice bucks a few hundred yards across the hillside.
I did the best I could to capture them on my Elph 340HS. I zoomed in on a patch of mountainside where I could barely see anything moving and captured the above image. Mike had told me all about how big the racks were on these deer, but I could barely see the deer at all, and through the viewfinder in bright sunshine, it was tough to find them, but I guess it worked.
We continued upward, through the pines and into the bottom of the boulder field. We saw one guy going way high to the left and wondered if that was a better way to make it to the shoot.
Mike had been experiencing nausea and so we sat down and ate lunch. After lunch we climbed higher into the bowl, trying to search out the cairns that marked the trail. We got off trail a few times before finding our way back.
There were some nice views of Timpanogos and other mountains to the southeast
This mare and another horse were up near the top of Jacob's Ladder, brought by bowhunters. I was hoping for a ride up the rest of the way, and if they'd have still been there when we came back down, I'd have paid them to take me down.

As always, there were some amazing flowers

Mike and I. The selfie.
Mike, finding that he'd need to put in some workout time before he could actually make it to the top, decided to stop and wait for me to reach the top. This was a little after 2 pm.
I made my way up the chute that led to the ridge I would follow to the top of Lone Peak.
I was actually feeling pretty good, considering how I'd felt the year before when I'd turned back at about the same spot we ate lunch this year. My workouts had paid their dividends and I was reaping the rewards of good health.
See the guy on the left? There was a place just behind him that I wasn't willing to risk, without having someone experienced with Lone Peak alongside to show me the safe way.
I didn't need to go any higher though. It was enough to know I'd gotten close.

This is Lone Peak.

On the way down, we saw this plume of smoke rising over the peak to the east.
This final shot of Timp in the distance and skies that had cleared of the smoke from the fires to the west of us.
That being said, I made my way up the rocks toward the pinnacle of Lone Peak. Just yards short, I decided I'd had enough. I could not see a way that did not include a huge amount of potential danger. The three people who had been just ahead of me had taken a very precarious route to the top. I wasn't willing to take that risk. There is just too much to live for. I watched those all younger than me who had made it up to the very top. I thought of when I'd been that age, full of recklessness and thinking myself unconquerable. I've learned that I'm not invincible and that often the journey is greater than making it to the top of the mountain. I had met my goal after all, the goal of enjoying myself in the midst of the great creations of God. I headed down, met up with Mike, and we began our descent at around 4 o'clock.
The sun went down and we spent the last half hour in the falling evening. We got to the vehicle at 8:22
In the end, Lone Peak defeated me. Or maybe I defeated myself in my quest to stay alive. I had beaten the dreaded "ladder" for the second year in a row, but my beautiful peak remained unconquered. For now. More adventures promise the future, and one never knows what might happen as the years go by.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

September 1st--still summer

It's a stunningly beautiful night here in Salt Lake Valley. The few clouds in the sky have caught and have lost the glow of the sun and now hang, just the right color of gray to complement the darkening blue of twilight. It's peaceful and still, and the heat of the day still lingers, drying the lawn, withering the flowers, parching the pavement. It's cooling though, slowly. Not just the day, but the last days of summer--cooling, slowly--our desires for cooler weather are about to be realized, and soon, our wishes will turn to longing for warmer days. But not before we get to enjoy the cooler. The leaves cascading from the maples, the oaks, the quakies. The crisp mornings morphing into gently warm days as the summer begins to wane and autumn returns.

The days of the harvest are beginning. I took my first load of tomatoes to work yesterday. I cut open the first cantaloupe I've ever grown to maturity, just a few days before Ann and I left for our few days in Colorado. I say I've never grown a cantaloupe to maturity before, but not actually liking them, I haven't really ever given it a lot of effort. It's different this year. I built my raised beds. I tried some things that I haven't tried in a while. I knew someone in the household would actually like cantaloupe and I found out that Justin, my son-in-law who lives with us, does. I cut into that first cantaloupe and sliced it, smelling its odor, longing to love cantaloupe. I cut a few chunks, from a slice, and put them in a small bowl. Maybe this would be the time. I ate one of the chunks. Not terrible, but I didn't fall in love with it just because I had grown it. I ate a second chunk. It was better than any of the store bought cantaloupes I'd ever eaten. Still, it was a cantaloupe. I still don't like it, but Justin does.
My first ever successful cantaloupe. If you like cantaloupe, you're likely drooling right now...

While we were gone, those who live in our house with us let a second ripe cantaloupe rot. When I got home, I turned it over and it had turned mushy, bruised, caving in like moldy wood. I threw it into an adjacent bed, stabbed a hole through its heart with a bamboo pole, and checked the other one that looked nearly ripe. This one, would live. Today, I picked it and took it to the neighbors. "Do you guys like cantaloupe?" I asked Jason, the man of the house. "Yeah," he said, and excited gleam in his eyes. "Here ya go then," I said. "Thanks," he responded.

Just a few more weeks and the harvest will be over. The days will turn shorter and colder and then one night, it will freeze hard. The tender flowers and veggies will all collapse and it will be time to gather up the vines and clear the soil, making way for next year's crop. I hope to harvest many more tomatoes before that day arrives. I can only eat so many BLTs, and so many salads. I don't have the time or equipment this year, nor the means to purchase it in order to preserve the extra tomatoes. But there will be neighbors who will enjoy them. And I will enjoy that they are enjoying them.

Summer vacations rock!

We had planned our destination months ago. This is the first time we have tried renting one of the properties listed on VRBO, and it worked out fairly well. Here's the full story.

We lost our list of things to bring when we were just about ready to leave on Monday morning. I racked my brain to think of the rest of the things we hadn't gathered. I had already turned off the computer and so I didn't want to turn it back on again to print another list off. We surmised we had everything and took off.
Our drive down was uneventful.  I have driver's license on my list of things to bring, but I had my wallet and had no reason to suspect my license was missing from it, so I had crossed it off the list. I didn't find out about it until I went to purchase my Colorado fishing license in Cortez. I thought my chances of fishing in Colorado had been dashed at that point, and I was a little upset. More upset about not fishing than the missing license itself, but still upset about that too. More about my missing license in my previous post.
We arrived at the cabin near Navajo Lake early in the evening—probably about 5:15. I had told the manager we'd likely arrive between 6-7 and he was still there dusting and stuff. His name was Terry and after a while he finished up and was ready to leave. He was a nice man, full of information about places to fish and eating establishments. He also told us about some roads we could travel to see sites and waterfalls and things like that.
The cabin where we stayed

The rest of the evening was spent trying to get Ann comfortable. The recliner that was in the bedroom was pretty much non-functional for her. It was hard even for me to put the bottom part back in once it had been extended, so you can imagine the difficulty she would have with her RA. We were able to move some stuff around and creatively use pillows to make it work. It was then that we found  we found out that the only significant thing we didn't bring from the list was shoes. The shoes Ann walks in (she only had her flip flops), and my running shoes and hiking shoes. I wouldn't be able to run in the shoes I brought, but I could hike. I stayed up trying to figure out how to photograph the moon. I finally figured it out.
I got the moon with some detail after 20-25 tries. Now if I can get both the moon and the clouds highlighted by the moon, I'll be doing great.

Tuesday we drove up to Pagosa Springs. We stopped at a bakery called the Pagosa Springs Baking Company. I really liked it. Ann didn't. Ann is really the Mikey (remember those old Life Cereal commercials?) of our family, so I wasn't surprised that she didn't like it. She was hungry though so I drove her to McDonalds where she could get something she liked. We then went to Walmart where I was able to convince the sporting goods clerk to sell me a license by showing him my Utah fishing license (which had my DL number on it) and my Concealed Carry permit as I.D. I found out that the clerk there had lived in Price, Utah. I was set for going fishing that afternoon. I had been offered a chance by one of the locals--we'll call him Joe--to go fishing out on his boat that afternoon.
When we got back to the cabin, I made sure that Ann had what she needed for the time I was going to be gone (estimated 3-9pm), took a nap, then left for Joe's house which was just a short drive away.
Out on the boat, we caught some bass. I caught about five to his fifteen or more, but then again, I haven't been bass fishing in about forty years and I was learning a new skill. I watched the way he did it, trying to learn something from an expert. It was great. I had fun both fishing and talking with Joe. I offered to pay for the gas or something, but he wouldn't take it. When we got done fishing, as darkness fell, he asked me if I would drive his boat onto the trailer. I told him that I wouldn't trust me with it, but he did anyway and I handled it fine, though I was a bit nervous about hurting his boat. It was a nice boat and I didn't want to make a wrong move with it.
On Wednesday we made some sandwiches and headed back up through Pagosa to do some dirt road driving and sight seeing. There was a waterfall up there called Piedra Falls. It was a short hike of ½ mile, but by the time we got to the trailhead, Ann needed to use the restroom and there wasn't one. I asked her if she could survive waiting while I hurried up to check out the falls and she said that yes, she could. The sign at the trailhead estimated 15-30 minutes each way. I jogged most of the trail, but especially the downhill portions and it took me 20-25 minutes total. It was raining and I was pretty wet by the time I got back. For that reason, I had left the camera in the 4runner and have no pics of Piedra Falls. We drove down to the nearest campground where she there was a restroom and it was okay. Then we checked out the other fork in the road that went up to Williams Reservoir. That was a nice lake that looked like it would be great fishing, but I was thinking that Ann had had enough and it was time to get back. Those fish will have to wait for another day.
Williams Reservoir
When we got back that night, I made tacos, spanish rice, and some squash for dinner (the only dinner I'd actually end up cooking), then we played Boggle for a while.
Thursday morning was when I went fishing from the shore. I caught no fish, but I know I was getting bites, because I saw the tip of my pole go down and before I could react, my worm was gone. This happened a couple of times and when I reeled in my worms were gone. My worm was gone a third time too, so I got another bite that didn't even rattle the pole. The wind was blowing slightly so it was tough to tell. I got back and made a great breakfast of bacon, fried potatoes, and french toast—the only breakfast I would actually cook. The rest of the day was four-wheeling up to another waterfall called “Silver Falls”. That waterfall was really cool. I had to hike up to it too, and Ann had her Kindle, so she just read. Afterward, our plan was to go up to Elwood Pass as it was supposed to be spectacular, but the weather wasn't cooperating, so with Ann in the car I didn't want to risk getting high centered by slipping into the deep ruts we saw at the beginning of the road. I probably could have made it, but that wasn't the time to try. We had a lot of fun though, Ann included, driving through all the puddles on the road from the night before. She had her window open and I was trying to get a little bit to come in through the windows and hit her and it did. Not enough to soak her, but just to splash her on the arm. I actually had her laughing with delight which is a very good sign. The puddles were plentiful and if we hit them with a little speed, the muddy water would wash over the windshield. We ended up driving up into a place called Quartz Meadow and checking that out because the road was much better than the one to Elwood Pass. We purchased our dinner that night. I got mine from a BBQ joint called “Smoken Moe's” and Ann got hers from a Mexican place called “Ramons”--two of the places that Terry had suggested. They were both good. Later, we played Scrabble.
Silver Falls

Silver Falls closer view
The quakies looked awesome near Quartz Meadows
Friday we cleaned up, packed up, and left. We left some of our home grown tomatoes for Terry along with a note of some possible improvements for future tenants, such as explanations as to how to work the oven (I could never figure out how to turn it on and ended up making some brownies on the BBQ instead), and how to run the DVD players etc. Heading through Pagosa for the last time, we saw another bakery and decided to try it. I had already purchased a McGriddle for Ann from McDonald's, but I didn't want McDonald's so I thought I'd get me something at the bakery. It was called "Two Chicks and a Hippie Bakery and Restaurant" or something like that. My mouth was watering as I narrowed my choices...the cinnamon rolls that were loaded with oozing melting frosting, or a sticky bun. I ended up getting a delicious looking sticky bun plastered with pecans. I decided I couldn't eat that for breakfast though, so I saved it for later (I pieced at it all day and ended up sharing it with Ann. It was fabulous), and bought a burrito at the gas station for breakfast.

We left town and headed up our route home, up toward Wolf Creek Pass. Along the way we stopped at our final waterfall, Treasure Falls. I left Ann parked in the shade while I did the 1/4 mile hike to the falls, but when I got back the shade had deserted her like a sketchy date.

Treasure Falls
We drove up through Creede and Lake City, which was a departure from our original plan, but I really wanted to see both of them and it was a more scenic route. Ann said she hated Creede and then I reminded her of how years ago we used to like to walk the streets of such towns and go into the gift and antique shops and look around at all the stuff. She said that she kind of remembered it, but now that she can't really walk, she hates the towns where you have to do it. I told her "it's not the town's fault you have RA" and that I still would like to walk through towns, but that I feel guilty and rush through them because she's waiting in the car. We were eating lunch at a picnic table during this conversation and a woman by herself sat down  at the picnic table beside ours. Ann told me to go and take my time and look around at the town because I had finished my lunch and she was still eating hers. She said to check with her when I got to the other side of the street opposite her. She ended up striking up a conversation with the woman who was by herself and ended up enjoying herself more than she thought she would. I enjoyed my walk through Creede as well, talking to several shop owners as I made my way through.
Lake City was interesting because a couple of years ago we had wanted to drive there on a four-wheel drive road from Animas Fork, but it started snowing while we were up on top and again, I hadn't wanted to risk it, and for mostly the same kind of reasons why we hadn't gone on up to Elwood Pass. It was interesting to see where we would have arrived. It was amazing seeing how many of the evergreens in that area have been killed by pine bark beetles up in that area. Tragic really.
We liked this different take on the carved bear statues. This was in Lake City.
We arrived at the Rodeway Inn in Gunnison in the early evening, maybe around 6:30, and ordered salad and pizza for dinner. The rest of the night we just hung out. I needed to get Ann as comfortable as possible and you never know what you're going to find in a motel room. The arm chairs weren't high-backed enough. We added some pillows to the top and that helped. We had reserved the room for disabled people and it had one of those stools that you put in the tub to sit down on, and she tried that for the first time, but ended up not being able to stand up. I had to help her, which was fine. I told her that if she ever wanted one of those things, they do make them with adjustable legs. In the middle of the night she was having trouble with her arms and needed something to rest them on so I made some platforms with some of the room furnishings, stacked a suitcase on one and a pillow on the other and that gave her some relief.
Ann's set up at the Rodeway Inn
I got up early on Saturday and went for a walk. I wanted to capture some pics of the sunrise if it was good. I climbed to the top of the highest hill nearby, I saw an Assembly of God church building. I felt good and grateful to God for his Grace and guidance and blessings in my life.  Walking further up the hill I found a spot where a dirt road took off and I had a clear view of the east and down below, the town. I got some fairly nice pics of the sunrise. Here are  some of them.
The first touch of orange on the clouds

The cloud colors get more subtle as the sun comes closer to rising

And, the sun finally comes up.
We ate the free motel breakfast. It was less than stellar, but there was one funny moment. I wanted a waffle and they have one of those waffle makers that you commonly see at motel breakfasts. I cooked a waffle and started looking for the butter. I found a bin with two kinds of things in it. One was called “spread” and the other, I thought was called “margerine”. I decided that margerine was less of an unknown than spread so I got out a package of that and began trying to spread it on my waffle. It wouldn't spread and I thought that they had kept it too cold, so I threw the waffle with the “margerine” on it into the microwave for 15 seconds. It still had a hard time spreading so finally I just poured some syrup on it and began eating it. It was horrible! I ended up throwing it away. Later, Ann wanted some butter for her toast and asked me where it was I showed her and told her not to use the “margerine” because it was too hard to spread. She looked in there and said, “that's because it's cream cheese, not margerine”.  I looked at the cursive writing on the packaging that I thought had said "margerine". Upon closer examination, it said, "regular". We were laughing the rest of the day over that one.
Then we drove home, stopping in Fruita for lunch (at a place called "Munchies" which was recommended by the local mail carrier we stopped on the street. It was pretty good.), buying some peaches in Delta where I also went into an estate sale (the other guy I met from Price). We arrived home at around 7:30 safe and sound. It was an eventful and fun trip all around. Now, to the task of finding my license.