Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The call of the mountains

I sit and wait. High in the mountains, the snow still measured in feet, tries to melt to accommodate alpine sojourners for a short summer, hiking, backpacking, or fishing. My time is not yet, but soon. Soon I will be breathing faster in anticipation of once again being in the forest, among the cliffs, high in the Wasatch, Uinta, or any other mountain range I can get to. Already, I feel the pull of the timberline, and the call of the fresh air.
I don't have my new hiking shoes yet, but my old ones, still breathing--even more so with the extra holes that are working their way through the outer fabric--will still carry me up onto the wind-scoured peaks and ridges on trails likely used for millennia, first by wild animals, then later, by Native Americans, before finally becoming trails for throngs of people wanting, like me, to just get away and see some country--the high country.
Part of the Mt. Nebo trail
The view from Kings Peak is what it's all about
Eagles and hawks live here among the cliffs. Marmots, and pikas abound in the rocky scree. I long to watch the raptors circle the peaks, hoping for a tasty meal, perhaps of a pika or marmot. The freedom of flight is magnificent to watch.
And then, for me, there is God. When John Denver penned the words, "you can talk to God and listen to the casual reply" in his hit song, Rocky Mountain High,  he was without knowing it, penning the path of my life. So often I have poured my heart out to Him, when I'm in some far away, remote place.
Hiking in the off-season has its risk and rewards too. This is an October hike to the Notch in the Uintas.
There is always danger in nature. If not to the rodents, to those who venture in. No one knows when something might happen that could keep them from returning home. A fall, lightning strikes, getting lost, bear attacks--those are all part of the risk of heading out into the wilds. They are part of the thrill. If you don't put yourself out there, you don't live a life--and I don't mean just in the outdoors.
So I await my next adventure. It is always calling me. This life is too short to ignore it. So get up. We're burnin' daylight.

Hawk on the Lone Peak Trail.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

I'm Not in Love - 10cc

I'm Not in Love by 10cc is perhaps one of my favorite songs ever. The reason being is that to me it seems like the words of the lead vocalist mean the exact opposite of what he's singing. When he says "I'm not in love" he's really desperately in love, and when he says "that doesn't mean you mean that much to me" what he's really saying is "You are all I've got. Don't ever leave me".  The feeling behind the song is strengthened by the background vocalist saying, "big boys don't cry" over and over again. The guy is definitely head over heels in love and that's what makes it so wonderful. Because love is. The actual story of the writing of this song is awesome and can be found here: clickety-click

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Hiking: Yellow Fork Canyon

I have been on vacation this past week and due to life's circumstance, haven't had much of a chance to get out and hike. Friday, I made arrangements to do so. I had limited time and wanted to go someplace fairly close to home. I also wanted to go somewhere I'd never been. I had heard about Yellow Fork Canyon in Utah's Oquirrh Mountains earlier in the week, and since I hadn't done much hiking in the Oquirrhs, decided to give it a shot.
Let me say that first of all, I had a hard time finding it. It wasn't hard to find, it was just that I had a hard time finding it. I had not been able to find details as to directions to the trailhead, and the closest thing to details was "just follow Rose Canyon Road to the end and you'll find it". But that had been a few days before I left. When I arrived in Herriman Friday morning, I had no idea where Rose Canyon Road was. I stopped in at McDonald's and asked there if anyone knew where Rose Canyon Road was. No one did. I was having trouble getting my phone to connect to the internet for some reason, and I couldn't look it up.
I left McDonald's and since I already had some idea of where Yellow Fork Canyon might be, I drove around looking for Rose Canyon Road. I came across a road called Rosecrest Road and thought to myself that maybe I had it wrong and that the real name of the road I was supposed to be on was Rosecrest, not Rose Canyon. After driving up and down Rosecrest, I decided that it couldn't possibly be the right road, and after several attempts to get my phone to work, it finally did and I was able to GPS it to Rose Canyon Road.
Once on that road it was just a matter of following it, because the trailhead truly was at the end of that road. Unfortunately, I was unable to figure out where you would normally get on Rose Canyon Road because from Rosecrest, my GPS took me through subdivisions etc., to get there, which isn't the best route. And I was planning on noticing on the way out where the road began, but got a text from my sprinkler installer saying that my "son", which was actually my grandson Jack, was trying to help them and was getting in their way and could I deal with it because they were about to start using the trencher and didn't want him to get hurt. So I was busily trying to get a hold of Ann, so that she could tell Rebecca to go and get her son and that made me forget to notice where Rose Canyon Road began. I'm thinking though that if you get on 134th South in Herriman and head west that you won't miss it. And if you get out there and can't find it, use your GPS!
Once at the trailhead, there are several directions you can go. There's a map there, but I stared at it and tried to figure it out, and couldn't really do so. I noticed that part of the Bonneville Shoreline Trail ran through the area though. I chose a trail that went to the left, across a wooden bridge. This trail ended up following the ridge line, thus, it was the harder trail, but got me up high a lot quicker than any other direction would have done, and thus was a blessing in disguise. The trail was rocky and muddy, both because of the recent torrents of rain we've received. The rocks looked like what you see when all the soil has been washed away around them, so the water must've run down that trail pretty good.
Right after I left the trailhead, the trail started up the ridge.
I liked the way the light was shining on these moss-covered scrub
oak trunks.

A lot of flowers are coming out right about now.
After a while of walking the ridge, I began to wonder if I would ever come across a trail that would lead me down into Yellow Fork Canyon, which was to my right. I kept looking and walking, occasionally leaving the trail to look off to the side, taking pics.
Looking southeast
To me this kind of looked like a landscape on Mars if Mars had any plant life

View to the south

A bit to the northwest.

The mixture of clouds and sunlight allowed for some interesting views.
I saw this lichened rock from a distance and further away it looked like crop circles to me.
The views are great, and I could tell that if I had more time in the day to spend hiking that getting up higher would be even better. After about an hour and a half, I found an old road that headed down into the canyon. The trail on the ridge continued up and I decided that I would come back on another day for more exploration. Certainly with all the private property in those mountains, largely due to Kennecott and others, I had spent far less time exploring them than I would have liked. Incidentally, there is more access to the Oquirrhs from the Tooele side of the range.
This is where I turned right and went down into the canyon.
As you can see, the trail continues up along the ridge.
I continued down the road into the canyon below.
While the ridge line trail had been muddy, the road was even muddier.

Another canyon had opened up that led down into Yellow Fork, and I followed the road through this canyon down to the junction with Yellow Fork.
In the middle of the pic is the clearing where the road came down from the ridge.
The trail in the foreground is the trail in the bottom of Yellow Fork Canyon.
The canyon bottom was an entirely different experience than the ridge line had been. At the junction, I noticed that the trail continued on up and marked that one down too for further exploration. So many hikes, so little time!
Deer tracks were everywhere in the fresh mud.
There are a lot of deer along this trail system, and while up on the ridge, I had spotted some on a distant hillside. Tracks were plentiful in the mud.

The canyon bottom trail will definitely be the shadiest and coolest.

I saw this shelter someone had made.
It was a good nine feet tall.

One of many picnic areas. The rest didn't have tables.
One half mile from the trailhead, I found a group of picnic tables, and considering the scrub oak and other lower elevation plant life, and how wood ticks like that kind of brush, I composed a little poem in my head:

If you're gonna have picnics
Watch out for wood ticks.

A pretty little stream flowed near the picnic grounds.
Not a real extensive poem, as you can see, but very informative. I think I'll put that on a poster.
I arrived back at the trailhead and shucked my pack and my jacket, then went over to look at the map again. I still couldn't figure it out. I will have to look the area up in my map book that has quadrants of the entire state. I was actually doing pretty well on my handheld GPS until the batteries died. Oh yeah, always replace your batteries before you go. I would've, but I thought that there was no way I could get lost at this place so I didn't worry about it.
I would recommend this hike, especially the lower portion through the canyon, for anyone desiring an easy, kid-friendly hike. I would possibly wait for the trail to dry up if I was taking small children up there, and I would probably avoid the ridge with younger kids. 
All in all, while it wasn't as spectacular as some hikes I've been in, it was quiet and peaceful and I only saw a few people, all of them on the canyon floor. It was a good opportunity to get out and explore some place I'd never hiked before. It was a chance to unwind, and to think, and I never turn down that kind of activity.
For those interested in the extensive planning going on for this part of the Oquirrhs: Clickety-click

Monday, April 17, 2017

Return of the wasps

Those of you who have read most of my previous posts know that I have had an all out battle with wasps. Last year, they made their nest, or at least one of them, in between some pieces of sod that I had thrown in my trailer while I was waiting for a full load to take to the dump. This year, they are in my shed. Well, they got in my shed last year too, but because they were in an easily accessed part of the shed, it was hardly worth mentioning because I took care of them easily. Not so this time. The shed in question resembles this one:
The shed looks like this one and the wasps are flying in and landing
just above the doorway, out of sight.

I found out there was a nest inside when I opened it to retrieve my fertilizer spreader and several of the winged beasts flew out at me. Since I couldn't tell where that nest was above the doorway, and I didn't want to go poking around to find it, I set about trying to figure out how to get rid of them without putting myself or others at risk.
I first got my handy can of wasp spray and tried just soaking the edge along the top of the doorway. They were still flying in and out after that. So I darted over to Home Depot and picked up a fogger. I put a sheet of plastic in front of the doorway, put some duct tape on the sides to keep the breeze from blowing it out of the way, and used some rocks on the top and bottom to hold that in place. Then I sat the fogger inside and pushed the button. I saw several wasps fly out against the clear plastic and attempt to escape, but I also saw some of the mist coming out the cracks of the shed. I figured that it probably didn't hold the mist in long enough to kill the wasps, but the instructions say not to go in there until four hours have passed.
I'm thinking that I'm not going to use fire this time to drive them out.
If I'm still seeing wasps tomorrow, I may need to dress up in protective gear and just stick my hand/arm inside the shed and spray all along that edge, just hoping to get them. That makes me nervous though because I don't want to end up spraying myself in the face by turning the nozzle toward me on the other side of the metal, and then suddenly finding a seam.
I really need to fertilize my lawn though, and both the fertilizer and the spreader are in there. It will rain tomorrow and if the rain gets inside the shed, it's going to ruin the fertilizer, so I've either got to kill the wasps and shut the door, or not kill the wasps and shut the door.
So many adventures, so little time...

Sunday, April 09, 2017

Rarin' to go

I sit here at my computer, wanting desperately to be doing something active. I'm dreaming of future hikes, backpacking trips, road trips, visits to places I've never been, and just doing things. My heart longs for the places of openness, for feel of the wind in my face and the rain trickling down my neck, my sodden clothes clinging to my body--for the smell of evergreens and the sound of sprue needles catching the breeze.
I long to be skiing, driving on dirt roads, taking pictures of mountains.
I want to be out in the garden feeling the warmth of the soil in my fingers, and the sun on my back. The call to adventure and life is ever strong. And now I face such adventure in the need to care for another. It isn't as thrilling as scaling a peak, or watching a river cascade down through the rocks, and my dream has never been to be stuck at home caring for someone. But right now, it is the thing I must do. And I have decided that I may as well be happy about it rather than sad.
I am happy and grateful that I still have a wife. She could have died a few times already. I am happy and grateful that God has blessed me with good health and a strong body, so I can be up to the task. I am happy and grateful that I was born with an optimistic spirit, that I always believe there's a light at the end of the tunnel, and that my will to survive and win is as strong as ever.
This won't be the last adventure I face. I'm hoping that most of them are a bit more exciting and thrilling. I'm hoping that this one ends happily. Most of all, I'm hoping that through all of life's adventures that I always remember God is the one in control.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Hal Ketchum: Past the Point of Rescue

Hal Ketchum's Past the Point of Rescue, from 1991 is a country classic love song. I am learning this song right now on guitar. If you have never heard it, you're in for a treat.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Short hike: Grandeur Peak

Yesterday I got a chance for a break from my care giving duties and decided to take a hike. My choice of destination was Grandeur Peak--or as far up the trail as I could go before my time limit expired. I chose that because I didn't want to find my spikes for snow hiking. I had a pair of micro spikes that I had found abandoned and slightly rusty at Lake Blanche a few years ago. I had never even looked at them since then and when I did, I found that they were extra large. I'm pretty sure I wear medium. Still, I threw them in the pack just in case. If any of you reading this are missing some,  and lost them at Blanche, if you can identify them, they are yours. Otherwise, I'd be willing to trade them with someone who bought mediums or large by mistake and need extra large.
This trail begins at the Church Fork Picnic area up in Millcreek Canyon. I started at about 8:30 from the main road that goes up the canyon, as this time of year, you can't drive into the actual picnic site where the trailhead parking is located.
The stream through the picnic area was rather pretty, so I took some shots of it as I leisurely followed it up the Church Fork drainage.

The trees didn't have their leaves yet ,but there was some green along the stream. I saw a lot of horse tail, what we used to call "snake grass". We used to make whistles out of it, and for the life of me, I can no longer figure out how we did it. If any of you know, I'd appreciate a head's up.
We used to call this "snake grass". Its real name is "horse tail"
If you know how to make whistles with the segments
I really want to know too.

I did a lot of stopping to take pics and that might have cost me my chance at summiting the peak itself, which rises just above 8200 feet. I needed to be home by noon though, and that's clear across the Salt Lake Valley, so I figured getting back to the 4runner at 11:30 was the plan. At around 9:55, I hit the final saddle before the final approach to the peak and there I reached a milestone. I actually caught an old guy in his seventies. I had no idea how far ahead of me he'd been on the trail from the time I began the hike, but it's pretty rare that I can catch one of these old mountain goats and pass them.
The way I figured it, I had been making great strides at the gym on the Stair Climber machine, having been doing around 36 minutes on the thing twice a week. I really think that helped my ascent on this trail. I don't have the exact figures, but it's around 1700-1800 feet in elevation gain to the saddle in around two miles. Usually that would be kicking my rear end, but this time I felt pretty strong the whole way--well except for the first part and I always struggle at first, until I get warmed up.
I looked around from the saddle. The cloudiness and general grayness of the overcast sky had not been relieved from the time I began until I reached the saddle, and I never saw the sun except through the clouds until I was most of the way back down. There's a nice view of the city and some great views of the surrounding peaks.
The sun was fighting valiantly to break through the cloud cover above the mountains to the southeast.

Looking down into the Salt Lake Valley.
The view from the saddle is excellent though and I would like to go back again, not only to scale the peak, one of the easier ones in the Wasatch Range, but to take in the views on a less gray day.
All in all it's a great little hike and pretty easy for anyone in decent shape. Since I have not done the last part, up to the top, I won't vouch for that, but the rest of it could be done, up and back in three hours, just like I did. The rest of the way up? That's another adventure for another day. I'll be up for it. Will you?

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Kenny Rogers' "Lady" is a truly great love song

Kenny Rogers was once at or near the top of the popular music market. This is one of his greatest songs. I think my favorite line is You're the love of my life, you're my lady. Listen and enjoy.

Sunday, March 05, 2017

On writing my personal history

I have been working on my personal history for over a year off and on. I've written about forty pages as of today, and am only up to age 26--and that's leaving out the boring stuff! I will need to totally rewrite it when I'm done because I began by putting it in categories, such as school, friends, work, sports, etc., but find that as I've gone on, I've been going by locations where I've lived and included some of the same things as duplicates (most likely, as I haven't yet taken the time to go back and read through the other stuff). That's okay though, as long as I get all my events and thoughts about those events down, I can always edit it later.
It's been interesting going back and remembering. Things early on often are formative in a person's life later on. My main goal with it is to show my posterity why I was the way I was. I think it's nice to know who one's parents and grandparents really are, and I intend to give that gift to them, and in the process show them what my choices and desires in life materialized, show them what went into my decision-making process for major things I've done in my life, and to hopefully get them to forgive me for any harm I may have caused or caused from their perceptions.
After all, it's only a human life, filled with the same kinds of mistakes, loves, achievements or lack thereof, dreams, adventures, and challenges of any other human being. God never made us perfect, only with His characteristics, and the ability to become perfected through Him.
It is a struggle I work on every day of my life, and filling in the details of how that struggle happened, I think in the long run will be beneficial to my offspring and theirs, and in some way pay a penance for my own struggles in life, and a road map as to how my triumphs occurred when I was blessed enough to have them.
In the end it will be rather lengthy, but fascinating. At least, as a writer, I hope to make it so by the time my final draft is complete, and my final chapter written. I don't know how that last bit will turn out yet, and someone else may have to finish, but by the end, my children will know a whole lot more about me. And I think that's a good thing.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Barry White's classic "You're the First, You're the Last, My Everything" a great love song

Barry White isn't known for subtlety when it comes to love songs. This is one of his best. I hope you like it.

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Circling the wagons: learning to prioritize as a caregiver

I've been a caregiver for several years now for my wife Ann. Just recently though, over the past few weeks, she has been basically bedridden. She has a desk chair which she keeps next to her recliner, so whenever she needs to use the bathroom, she stands up, turns around, and sits on the chair. Then she scoots it down the hall to the bathroom, where she stands up, walks two or three feet to the toilet and sits down. Then the whole process is repeated in reverse. Part of her challenge is a loss of stability on her feet. She is scared to do more because of it.
All of this has required me to do a lot of extra work. Before, she'd be folding laundry, doing some dishes, getting a lot of her own lunches and breakfasts, getting her own water when needed. Now, prior to leaving for work, I need to make sure she has extra underwear in the bathroom, bath towels stacked on the couch next to where she sits in her recliner, lunch in a small cooler, her water glass filled, and breakfast. Often when she used the bathoom, she needs my help, and when she gets brave enough to take showers (lately it has been once a week), she depends on me to help hold her up in the tub.
The time demand on me is huge. When in the past I was able to get out of the house for several hours every couple of weeks for much needed breaks, now I find myself chained to the house when I'm not at my job. I'm not complaining, just stating facts.
I've found that there are ways to deal with the extra load. I call it "circling the wagons" after the wagon train companies in the pioneer days who, when under attack, put their wagons in a circle and fought off their attackers from a less vulnerable position. To me, circling the wagons means reducing the things that need to be done to what needs to be done for survival.
The first thing on my list is my own health. If I go down, who is going to care for Ann? However, there were a few weeks there when even going to the gym was nearly impossible and it was beginning to take its toll on my health. Thankfully, for the past two weeks, I've been able to get to the gym three times each week, which is my bare minimum. During the time that I was relegated to one time per week to the gym, I did what I could to "circle the wagons" even further and I recognized that even if I couldn't make it to the gym, that didn't mean I had to stop eating healthy foods. I made it a point to keep eating my smoothies, or something else almost as healthy, such as oatmeal with blueberries, bananas, and Greek yogurt added each day. I have tried to avoid resorting to quick fixes like donuts or candy.
My own mental health is also a concern. Everyone who has been or is a caregiver, needs the occasional out. Skiing, hiking, a drive up the canyon, a picnic--anything to get away from a little of the stress. I've already had to cancel one ski trip for which I had already paid. During this extra stressful period, even going to church has been a luxury and I hadn't been able to go for weeks until last Sunday. It was such a relief to be able to go. I would like to be able to get to my discipleship group and associate with my friends there. In the old days, when the wagon trains were under attack, it became pretty stressful. They had to fight hard to survive and there was little reprieve until the attackers were defeated enough that they went away. Sometimes they came back, and sometimes they didn't. Honestly, I don't know what they did about the stress and the adrenaline rush they were having at the time. Probably just fought until it was over.
One thing I remember about the circled wagons was that it was always such a relief when the cavalry showed up. I'm still waiting for my personal cavalry.
Other ways I've found to circle the wagons have been to not fold the clothes. I hang the ones that need hanging, and fold the ones that need folding, but the ones that can go without folding, just go into the drawers unfolded, or stay in the baskets until needed. The floors are getting swept less often and the sinks, tub, and toilets are getting scrubbed less frequently. I am trying to make dinners that have leftovers.
And slowly, Ann is venturing with a few extra tentative steps. I caught her walking down the hall the other night, instead of rolling. Slow, and using a cane, she staggered along and made it back to the chair. I encourage her to do this, but sometimes it's just hard for her to take my advice.
Her rheumatologist has said that he doesn't want to provide any in-home physical therapy until after he sees her next (although he thinks it's a good idea), yet she's afraid to have to walk too far, like getting into a car, or a wheel chair, in order to make it in to see him. Her appointment is on the 23rd.
She has decided that she's not going to get the weight-reduction surgery. I personally think she's making a mistake in not seriously contemplating it, considering the amount of extra stress her weight is putting on her joints and lungs. But that's part of the battle too.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

The trials continue

I posted in my other blog about what's happening with Ann and I. It can be found here: http://raspouses.blogspot.com/2017/01/life-can-be-tough-even-when-you-dont.html

Sunday, January 15, 2017

What a week!

Many of you know of the struggles Ann was going through this week. I spent the night with her Wednesday night at the Emergency Room at the University of Utah Hospital after she went in to have the pain in her legs checked out and the doctor found out her oxygen level was very low. I ended up getting two hours of sleep that night.
Ann only had to spend one night in the hospital and got some plans for fixing her oxygen troubles, but nothing for the original leg pain. I spoke to the doctor as I was waiting in front of the hospital for the transport people to bring her out. He initially didn't want to prescribe any kind of pain killers, because most of them relax the lungs and make it harder to get the oxygen you need. He finally said that he could prescribe Prednisone, and that if her regular pain remedies of Ibuprofen and Tylenol didn't help, to call him back in a couple of days. This was after hours on Thursday evening.
Later, after we were home, I told Ann about the conversation and she said that I should have told him that she needed it now, not a couple of days from now.
She called the doctor's office on Friday morning, talking to the assistant, and got mixed up and the prescription wasn't called in. Now, of course, it's the weekend and it's not going to happen until they get back into the office tomorrow--that is provided that they aren't taking off MLK Day.
She has still been in a lot of pain, but actually this morning, after I encouraged her to walk more (she has been scooting around on her desk chair), she walked down the hall from the bathroom to her chair in the living room. I was glad to see it. One thing I've noticed with injuries in the past is that if you baby them too much, your muscles begin to atrophy and it's that much more painful to get back to good health.
I'm hoping that this is the beginning of her being healed. Certainly I and others have said enough prayers. I plead with God last night that he would heal her and get her back to normal. Today became a day of praise after she decided to walk instead of scoot the chair. Finally, I think we are seeing some improvement.

Friday, January 06, 2017

Fabulous snow yesterday for skiing!

I had the ticket voucher for several weeks as it's a better deal the further out they are purchased at Liftopia. Snowbird had a lot of pleasant memories for me from my youth as that was the place I actually learned how to ski. My first time skiing had been to Alta, and I had known nothing and had basically pointed my skis down the hill and gone. My second time skiing was with a group of friends from work, and one older girl had taken some of us newbies under her wing and had taught us the basics of snow plowing, stem christies, and how to fall without getting hurt (in other words, she taught us that if you get out of control, fall on purpose). And there was that other time I went to Snowbird when I was younger when the wind chill at the top where the Tram let us off was 50 below. Think about that for a minute.
It was with those thoughts in mind that I anticipated this return to Snowbird after about 40 years. This past week got to be real exciting as the snow storms kept piling up. Wednesday night, another storm rolled in dumping over a foot at the resort and several inches in the valley. Because of avalanche control, the canyon wasn't going to open until 8:00 Thursday morning, so, I thought I'd leave home at 8:00 to avoid the line up of cars. Boy, was that ever a mistake!
The snow storm that had happened the night before had left its effects on commuters and the trip across the valley that normally takes twenty minutes, took an hour and a half. Part way there, while stuck in a slow moving line of cars, I mentioned on Facebook that at this rate, I'd make it to the resort at 11:00. At the time, I didn't realize how prophetic I was.
Still, I was happy, but really anticipating getting up on the slopes.
Snowbird has three places of entry and I had no idea where to go, but both the first and second one had "tickets" on the signs (I needed to exchange my voucher for a ticket). I chose entry two, found a parking place and began getting dressed. I basically had to add layers, and put on my ski boots. When it came time to putting on the boots, I had a hard time with the right one, and the left one was nearly impossible. I began to wonder if my feet had grown a size or two. I had worn some thinner socks, but they weren't really all that slinky, and I just couldn't get that left one to go in. After about five minutes of working on it, I was beginning to think I would have to find the ski shop and rent some equipment. I remembered that I had another pair of socks in my 4runner. They were thicker, but slicker. I put one of them on my left foot and was finally able to get the boot on, though not without a lot of strain. I added "ski socks" to my list of things to buy in the near future, and when I got home, read a bunch of tips on how to get your stubborn boots on.
With my boots finally on, I began hiking up the hill to the ticket office the sign had directed me to. There was a shuttle, but it never came by when I was hiking and it was probably a quarter mile hike to the ticket office from there. Once there, I had the opportunity to look at the map of the resort and decide where I was going to start. I decided to spend my time on the easier runs at first, until I got adjusted to the conditions. Frankly, during all of my recent times skiing, I hadn't ever skied on this much new snow and I remembered how grooves are easily cut in the snow by other skiers and boarders and how I tend to catch an edge of my own skis on these grooves from time to time, and go toppling down the slope.
I exchanged my voucher for a ticket and asked how to get to the lift I wanted to ride up. The easy area was back where I had parked. I had to hike over a bridge and up a hill before putting on my skis and going down. Wow that new snow was affecting me more than I realized! I was all wobbly, just like a newbie. I got to the lift and rode it up (I was on the lift at 11) and my first run was a crazy run of wobbliness.
Halfway down my second run, I figured out that I had failed to buckle my boots. Just try skiing with boots that aren't secured and you'll see how tough it is. The thing is, this is the second  time I have done that. It's easy to do if I'm not thinking because I don't like to walk very far with them tightened, so I loosen them (or in this case, since I was walking a long distance to the ticket office, never did them up in the first place) and then forget to tighten them.
It was cold, and the goggles I had acquired from a yard sale in the summer got ice on them too easily, so I just wore them on my forehead for the rest of the day.
The weather let up for a while and the peaks looked amazing

I had a few really nice runs after that. I had decided that I was going to stick to the easy runs for about ten runs, then move on to the intermediates, but on about my fifth run, I got whacked pretty good in the back of my calf with the chair lift as I was getting on. My very next run, the same thing happened only worse. My leg was hurting like I had a bad charley horse in it. After the 7th run I took a short break to eat the sandwich I had brought for lunch, I had no water with me and it was quite a time consuming hike back to my vehicle for the water, so I went without.
After lunch I put my skis back on and promptly fell. Other people were standing around there, and thankfully pretended not to notice. It was the only spill I took all day.
The skiing was great for the next few runs, though my leg still hurt, and the sun even came out for a few minutes. I made it a point to ask the lift operator where I should stand, because I wasn't sure if I was standing in the right place after getting hit by the lift twice. I guess I had gotten myself a little too far forward. I didn't get hit again for the rest of the day.
It snowed heavily periodically, lightly periodically, and then the fog rolled in. I could look down and see my skis easily, so I knew my glasses weren't fogged up, but seeing down the slope was nearly impossible. There were still other skiers zooming around me, and I had no idea how they could go that fast in the fog. I guess it's the same reasoning of people driving to fast for conditions in fog. I had completed 13 runs, my thighs were burning, and my calf hurt. I wanted to reach my goal of at least twenty, but I had no idea if the fog was going to lift, and I wasn't having fun at that point skiing where I couldn't see.
In the half hour it took me to get to my vehicle and get my stuff off, the fog lifted. I was worried that would be what would happen, but I wasn't going to try and put the boots back on again. I had had a lot of fun, despite all the interesting things that happened. I had learned a little about where things are at Snowbird, in case I get the chance to go there again, and I had been up in my beloved mountains in the fresh snow, feeling gravity pulling at me in a far different way than I had felt in the night before when I had been rock climbing. And that, is what adventure is all about. I can't wait for the next one.

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

John Denver: How can I leave you again?

How Can I Leave You Again? by John Denver is an awesome song. Denver was in his prime at the time this song was performed and you can tell. If you keep watching you get even more great songs by him. Enjoy!

Monday, January 02, 2017

Goals, not resolutions

Years ago I started a family tradition in my household of a meeting in which we decided what we wanted to accomplish, both as a family, and as individuals. And one thing I stressed is that you can never accomplish anything if you only resolve to do it. Accomplishment takes action. If you have goals toward accomplishment, the only way to achieve them is through action.
One way to make sure that action occurs is to write down what needs to be done to achieve the goal. For example, if your goal is becoming a better guitar player, one way to achieve this is to actually practice. Set reasonable goals for the number of minutes you'd like to practice each day, or each week, then make a chart with boxes you can check off. Let's say my goal was to practice thirty minutes a day, every day of the year. In its simplest form, you could use an already printed calendar and just write down how much you practiced on each date. If you want to have a chart dedicated to guitar practice, you can design your own with any number of spread sheets, word processors, etc. You can make it as elaborate as you want, but continue to keep in mind the original goal, to become a better guitar player.
When you keep in mind the original goal, whether it be guitar playing, fitness, or any other goal you might have, it's best to focus on the long-term. This allows for occasional lapses, such as, in our guitar playing example, missing a day. We may have goals, but sometimes life gets in the way and we miss a day or two. That isn't a time to throw our hands in the air and exclaim "I'll never achieve this goal", but a time to reassess and/or recommit. Often we can make up things like practice time by doing double the next day, or adding ten minutes for several days, but that's not even really crucial. What's crucial is that when we miss a day, we get back on the path and practice the day after that and keep going. Your ultimate goal is to become better, and you will. A few years ago, due to the large amount of donut buying that occurred at my place of employment, I made the goal to not eat any more of them. At the time, it was more of a New Year's resolution, although taking it one day at a time is what helped me keep that resolve until July. I mentioned to a friend of mine that I had failed at my goal, and he told me that no I hadn't, because I had succeeded in not eating any donuts for seven months. Till this day, I have had more control over what I eat, and likely, because I found out it was possible.
Actually, it rarely matters whether you set such goals for the new year or whether you start them at some other time. However, the new year does provide a natural break psychologically and that can be a great time to initiate new approaches, new goals, and new ways to accomplish your desires.
The key thing is to forget about the resolutions and make a plan to accomplish all you wish to do.

Sunday, January 01, 2017

2016 wasn't all that bad

Normally, people like to look back at the old year on the last couple of days of it, and to get on with the new one after it turns midnight on January 1st. Traditionally, I'm like that too. Only this year, during the past week, I had a lot of trouble coming up with any blog posts at all, and a lot of that was fueled by not having much time to write. Being a mail carrier in December is not conducive to having huge amounts of leftover time. It is conducive to overtime.
So, I thought I'd sit back and reminisce about 2016. Worldwide, it was fairly sucky. A lot of bad stuff happened in the world. Terrorism, politics, unrest. Things that really tend to get people in an uproar were plentiful.
Personally, I had a lot of good things happen. There were hikes, skiing, picnics, four-wheeling, fishing, friendships, family--far too many good things for me to count. I can even look at lotion being rubbed into my dry mailman hands as one of the great things of the year, things for which I am most grateful.
One thing that happened to me stands out more than most. In December, I got baptized as a Christian. Taking the step to committing to Christ was more important to me than everything else. And though I know some of my LDS friends won't like it, it was something that I had to do, which btw, isn't the same as a Mormon baptism in which you become a member of the church. I was already a member of Christ's church when I decided to believe that faith in Him alone is what saves and I turned myself over to Him.
I won't becoming back to the LDS faith. And I still love all my LDS friends. My biggest hope for them and you is that you will seek the real Christ, the one who saves without requiring anything from us other than our faith that He loved (and still does) us enough to die for us. That belief will lead us to do good works in order honor Him, but those works aren't what saves us, because our personal righteousness is as "filthy rags" to God (Isaiah 64:6). Paul emphasizes this point in Galatians 2:21 when he says, "I do not frustrate the grace of God, for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain."
I thank those who led me to Christ.
2016 was a good year. I believe 2017 will be even better.