Monday, July 28, 2014

The long way home

Stewart Falls up close

It's my own fault.
You'd think in 25 years of marriage I'd learn to be afraid when Marc says "It's fine. We'll be fine. It'll be an adventure!"
We were at the company party at Sundance.
Xactware had rented out the whole place for a day and we could do whatever we wanted...go horseback riding, mountain biking, ride the ski-lift up and down, picnic, enjoy the mountain streams, relax...
We put in for horseback rides and won.
So we spent a dusty hour riding Trigger and Gringo around the resort. That was nice even though Marc's trusty steed, Gringo, was intent on grazing and my sweet pony kept nosing up to the back end of the lead.
We came back a little saddlesore and hot and covered in trail dust.
So we jumped on the lift and rode all the way to the top from where we could see Stewart Falls off in the distance.
"We could hike over there," Marc suggested. "We have time."
"Um, how far it it? How do we get back?" I asked. "Is there a way down?"
"Of course there is," Marc snorted. "How hard can it be? And if it's too hard, we'll just come back here and ride the chair down."
He looked it up on his phone...only 1.5 miles over and 1.5 miles down. Sounded doable.
Well...I think the GPS calculates mileage differently than my feet do.
We hiked and hiked and dodged trees and rocks and slipped along on the same dust we'd just choked on earlier with Trigger and Gringo.
But it was shady and interesting and we did get to the falls where I slipped off my shoes and sat with my toes in the ice water.
We watched people with little kids and teenagers play on the rocks and in the waterfall.
Eventually it came time, though, to look for the way home.
I couldn't see any marked trails and we knew the way back the way we came would be harder than coming over.
Stewart Falls from Trigger's back
A guy told us to go "this way where it was steep for a bit and then all downhill" so off we went on the "Return to Sundance" trail.
Well, this trail fits the definition of eternity.
It wove through the bushes, over the desert sand, up the hill and around. It was in the shade here and there but mostly it was sunny and dry.
We climbed and slid and hauled butt for what I figure were miles more than 1.5 miles.
I started to gripe. I thanked Marc repeatedly for getting me into this and getting us lost.
My toes hurt from banging into the ends of my shoes. At one point my knees simply refused to handle another hurdle. I would have loved to abandon the ship and have called an ambulance but how could I tell them where we were?
We are all right now. Neither of us can walk or stand up without serious effort and pain but we're off the mountain and home.
Marc thinks we had a ball. He says he knew where we were at every moment.
I'm just not sure we didn't leave Utah for considerable lengths of time.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Checking the chicken

I usually stand up and applaud businesses that admit to making a mistake.
Car manufacturers who issue recalls and offer to pay for the needed repair or adjustment. They're doing the right thing.
Companies who tell you right out that they've been hacked help you take preventive measures.
When the credit union calls to tell me my card might have been used fraudulently it's a pain because I have to get a new card but I think it's good to know.
I think Target deserved some credit for telling us all our information may have been compromised when we shopped there last Christmas. It may bury them eventually but the alternative is to keep quiet and we all pay.
I believe it takes courage and some understanding of human nature to just take it on the chin when it's unavoidable — er, the right thing to do.
But Costco doesn't get any points from me for telling me in July that the chicken I bought in March might have been tainted "due to the presence of Salmonella Heidelberg."
Why would I want to know that now?
I guess if I still had some in the freezer that had a pull or freeze date of March 17 to March 31 I would appreciate knowing I should toss it.
But the chicken I bought three months ago is long gone and eaten and I can't recall if anybody got sick from ingesting it.
It might have upset somebody's tummy but I can't go back and say, "Hey, remember when I had you over for Sunday dinner. I'm sorry to tell you that, according to Costco, the chicken was probably bad."
I am somewhat appalled at the late notice. There's little I can do about it now except look very suspiciously at the meat display as I contemplate buying something to cook for dinner.
And how does Costco know I bought some anyway. Is there a big brother thing going on here I don't fully appreciate?

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Creeping along the way

My daughter and I wanted the kids to have some adventure, some memorable experiences while we were in Midway this week.
We'd already done Grandma's Pine Canyon hike and they were really not very impressed.
It was hot, dusty and dry. The cute little hiking path I remembered from vacations past that ran alongside a gurgling stream didn't.
We had the baby in a backpack which made his mother hot and a 3-year-old and 5-year-old who wanted to know why I thought this would be fun. The 8-year-old was OK with it but when did it end, grandma? Did I mention it was hot?
So we changed our plans for another hike the next day and opted for a ride on the old-fashioned steam train that runs between Midway and Provo Canyon.
We knew it would be expensive but we figured the kids would be riding the rails as opposed to walking the trails and they'd love it.
At first they did.
They liked the gift shop and playing with the Thomas the Train display.
They like smashing a penny into a flat bit of copper for 50 cents.
They liked climbing onto the train and hearing the whistle blow.
From then on, it wasn't so much fun.
The train rumbled along at a pretty slow speed and it was hot in the train car.
The baby couldn't get out and crawl.
The windows were half open so I kept thinking 3-year-old Mia would go flying out like her hat did.
We amused ourselves for a while looking at the reservoir and the hills and the osprey in a nest off the tracks.
We walked back and forth between the cars. (Only later did I discover how dangerous that was...that behind the billowing curtain was a drop onto the railroad tracks...just about 3-year-old size.)
We bought some junk food because we weren't allowed to bring outside food or drink on the train. This is for a run that goes from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Can you say hungry children?
We were robbed at one point where the bandits gave us chocolate coins instead of taking our money. That's a minute of fun.
We enjoyed one another but it was really hard to climb back aboard after we stopped at Vivian Park for a 20-minute break. The kids have now promised NEVER to ask for a train ride again.
I love history and I like that the Heber Creeper (now the Heber Valley Railroad) is still running.
But here are my suggestions if the management really wants paying customers to keep coming:
  • Provide some free water, preferably cold.
  • Provide a little treat like a cookie? A popsicle? 
  • Reduce the price a little...It's hard to feel you've got your money's worth when it's $30 per adult and $15 per child.
  • Maybe hand out some Train Bingo cards or scavenger hunt lists? 
Make it a little more fun and a little less old-time hardship.
I'm just sayin'.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Things I learned from soap operas

Hope trying to choose Wyatt or Liam
I've seen a book titled something like "Everything I've learned, I learned from Star Trek" and "Everything I know I learned in Kindergarten."
I'm ready to write called "Everything I know, I've learned from soap operas" because although I'm not a die-hard fan (I can quit anytime I want!), there are certain directions in which the plots always go and some things the characters never seem to get.
No matter what the situation or how dire the consequences they tend to react in the same ways.
For instance, it seems to me the Golden Rule of daytime drama is: Always lie first, tell the truth when there are no other options. The baby is going to need a blood transfusion so the mother will have to admit there is more than one guy who could be the father.
The character is dying so it's time to tell the truth about switching the babies.
Belle? Maxi?
The wedding is heading to its final stage so the best man, the bridesmaid or the most nervous person in the audience has to stand up and shout "Objection!"
Another rule obviously draws out the drama and keeps the audience dangling a few more days: This is the rule about holding your face still: Look away. Look pensive. Look as if you're about to answer but wait three or four episodes before you do. Don't let on which way you are leaning.
And be aware: Recognize that nothing positive will last from marriages to business decisions. In fact, the better the situation, the more chance it will explode or go bad.
Understand that on soap operas age makes no difference when it comes to getting together.
Phyllis stopping Nick from punching Daniel
Neither does job experience. The same character can be the head of a company, a super model, a bartender and a doctor/surgeon/gynecologist/psychiatrist within weeks of "applying for the job."
And money is no object.
The characters live lavishly without having to show up for work at all.
Also note that children on a TV drama love to color with little or no supervision required. They go off to bed and to brush their teeth the first time they're told. And they grow up at an alarming rate (Especially when they go off to summer camp).
Pregnancies go quickly as well, from conception to hearing the heartbeat to the sonogram to the birth (usually in a storm or an elevator) to the paternity test in just a few weeks.
The dead don't stay dead. They come back when least expected and often with amnesia.
It's really an interesting world and one that perhaps leads women at home who aren't watching these shows to develop unrealistic expectations of life.
Not me, of course.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Rockin' the boat

The happy couple, do we look tired?

 Just for fun, Marc and I decided to stay on a boat this time at Bear Lake.
For years, we've traveled on up to Garden City and stayed in the condos on Ideal Beach where we had a timeshare rental.
Once in a while, we stayed in a Bed & Breakfast nearby if we were off-week or just stopping by.
This year, since we had just a couple of nights when we would be in town, I was looking around for something cheaper.
I noticed an ad posted for Cisco's Landing.
For a mere $100 dollars or so, we could stay on what was advertised as a 26-foot yacht docked at the marina.
Step down carefully
I messaged my husband and he was game.
(At least he was until he saw the size of the bathroom that came with the "room.")
We checked in. We looked around.
We came in from the top of the boat down a series of little half-moon steps. To one side was a sleeping berth that looked cozy to me. Marc was somewhat appalled.
In the middle was a kitchen area with a tiny sink, a tiny hot plate, a tiny microwave and a tiny fridge.
On the other side was as padded table surrounded by vinyl bench seating that was supposed to be a second bed. The table promptly broke after Marc leaned on it.
TP and the kitchen sink, it can't be in the bathroom. It gets wet from the shower.
(At first, there was no power or hot water but the nice girl in the office called the owner and he came out and fixed everything.)
To the left was a very small bathroom with an itty-bitty sink, a doll-sized toilet and a mirror. (It also came with a plastic curtain that pulled down over the door if you decided to take a shower with the hose that hung on the wall.)
If we were careful about our movements we could manage to get about and change clothes without colliding with one another.
We weren't allowed to cook inside so it didn't matter that there was no space to put a bowl or hot pan.
We soon figured out that there was space everywhere. You just had to look inside a drawer or a cupboard or a cubbyhole.
It wasn't very grand but it was quiet inside even with other boaters partying next to us. There was no TV which I count as a good thing.
It rocked gently beneath our feet.
Teeny tiny
We could see the stars from the upper deck and gaze at the homely carp surrounding us in the water.
It was frustrating, restrictive, a new experience in efficiency and planning your steps in advance. 
The front yard
But mostly, it was memorable.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Cement mixers and falcons

Masters of the sky
So my granddaughter and I knew we were early to the Hutchings Museum free bird show.
Swim team practice ended at 10 a.m. and the show wasn't supposed to start until 11 a.m. — at least, that's what I thought.
I had read about it on the city website and in an email I received from the museum.
I told my daughter about it and she agreed to bring the other granddaughters and the baby and see the show with us.
I reserved a whole row of chairs and we sat down to wait.
We played a game on my phone and we waited in the shade.
Other people with little kids started to fill in the seats around us.
Only another 30 minutes to go.
Then a lady came out and pinned up a sign that said: "Bird Show at 12 and 3 p.m."
We all reacted.
"We're sorry," the lady said. "The information on the website was wrong. The museum opens at 11 a.m. but the bird show doesn't start until noon."
Who's there?
We all looked at one another, the 50-70 of us gathered with small children and babies in metal chairs.
"We don't want to wait another hour..."
She sensed our dismay and potential hostility and retreated inside. "Maybe they'll come out and do a mini-show," she tossed at us as she left.
We all waited fairly hopelessly. What do you do?
After another 20 minutes, the bird guy came out. Yay! He was bearing an owl on his arm and leading several other people with hawks and hooded heads.
He started to talk, to tell us to hold down the noise because the birds get worried when there's chaos.
That was just as a cement mixer on the other side of the lawn starting backing in to dump cement on a project at the Legacy Center.
The rumbling and roar made it very hard to hear.
Ben Woodruff and friend
It also made the birds nervous. They communicated their distress by fluttering and flapping as the bird man tried to tell us about them: how owls have colors only visible with black light and how falcons can drop on their prey at 300 miles an hour.
They did alright and we enjoyed the show but I'm thinking maybe there needs to be some better communication going on here between the humans.
Scheduling 101?

Monday, June 23, 2014

Baby birds and dinner

What Marc saw on the walk
We've had a lot of quail sightings this summer.
It's great.
Quails are very welcome at our house.
I love the little flip-top quails have on top of their heads and I find their funny little waddle-walk amusing.
So since they've started making our backyard, and now our porch, their home, I've been intrigued.
For a while there were two males obviously vying for the attention of the lone female in the bunch.
What a little one looks like
They'd fluff up their feathers and chuck at each other and sometimes even chase one another around the grass under the bird feeder.
The lady being sought just ignored them both for the most part.
But she must have succumbed to the attention because today we noticed a whole bunch of baby quails out following mom around the front lawn.
Dad sat on the roof chucking at them once he noticed that we noticed the little family.
We tried to get a good look but retreated when we noticed how frantic we were making everybody.
The new chicks are miniature and basically just small bits of feathers trying to get through the wet grass back to the nest (which must be under the front shrubs).
I haven't tried to get under the bushes to see them up close. 
We didn't want to stress them into moving to another home because, again, I like quail.
I think they are far cuter than the average pigeon or mourning dove that populate the back fence on a regular basis.
They are as cute as the tiny golden finches that come and hang upside down to eat.
And they definitely deserve to live and grow and chuck along in peace.
So when I came across this picture and recipe in one of the cookbooks I'm reviewing, I was indignant.
Not my kind of fine dining
How could anybody do this to a sweet, little birdie?
Who do I call?