Sunday, September 29, 2013

A Renaissance Freeze

A tiny knight on the zipline
Let me, first of all, be perfectly clear.
We enjoyed The Utah Valley Renaissance Faire held at Thanksgiving Point's Electric Park this past weekend.
It was very much like a visit back to England to Warwick Castle with knights and beautiful ladies all about.
We enjoyed the Joust with the Knights of Mayhem breaking their jousting lances on each other's armour.
We liked the little tots who did tricks on the backs of the equestrian vaulting horses.
We liked the magic, the belly dancers, the smell of Shepherd's Pie in the air, our visit with William Shakespeare on the walk.
We laughed at the little kids dressed up as royal ladies, fairies and tiny knights in shining helmets and shields.
Everywhere there were people who took this event very seriously.
They were in cloaks and gowns and boots and carried swords and daggers and pelts.
We learned about carving wood, throwing pots and working leather.
It was intoxicating and a visit to a different time and place.
But on Friday night, we misjudged what the weather was going to be like.
Sure, it had rained hard during the morning and early afternoon but after the sun came out we figured we were fine to pop over to check out the goings-on and attend the Medieval Feast.
After all, we had complimentary tickets from the Faire's organizer and didn't want to waste them.
At the last minute, I kicked off my socks and shoes in favor of my new flip-flops.
I reasoned that I'd be walking a lot and they are more comfortable.
Big mistake.
I knew it when my feet got all wet walking out to watch the Joust in the damp grass.
My toes were very cold by the time we finished and headed for the Feast which I thought would be in the Show Barn.
It wasn't.
It was outside, at night, in a tent, without heaters.
I had basically bare feet. Neither Marc or I had worn clothing designed for 40-degree weather.
The food — while hot and tasty — came slowly while the temperature dropped rapidly.
It was miserable and, by the end, we were frozen solid. (Only the teen-age girls seated by us in thin Renaissance gowns and light wraps were colder.)
But it won't keep us from going again next year. We'll just dress more appropriately.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Up a tree

Adell in heaven
I always sort of assumed trees took care of themselves.
Of course I knew when we planted the trees in our yard that we had to be careful during the transplanting.
I knew we needed to water them regularly and keep the kids from climbing them before they were big enough to handle such attention.
So it has taken a while for Marc and I to wake up and realize they need professional attention and financial investment on a regular basis.
I started into the tree stuff after we got a little coupon in the mail for a discount on tree trimming. Since people had started to stop by and ask us why we weren't joyously harvesting the cherries the tree produced each year, we felt it was time to take some responsibility.
I called for an estimate.
The man came by and looked over two of our oldest trees, the cherry on the side and the big cottonwood that is towering over the house in the backyard.
Marc is happy that the cottonwood is growing so large and producing so much nice shade.
He didn't want any changes.
But the tree trimmer guy said we needed to take out a big front section unless we wanted it to fall on our house one day soon.
He said the cherry would be easy to thin out and suggested we raise the skirt a couple of feet.
He handed us an estimate for about $800.
That was about $500 more than my best guess.
My sister-in-law suggested we check with a guy she uses for her trees.
His numbers were way better and so far we've been impressed with his work...though I couldn't watch while he whittled away at the cottonwood. It was like watching your child get his shots.
He and his helpers took out branches, deadwood and gave new shape and direction to both trees.
They made trees out of one that looked mostly like a big bush and called back the other that looked like it was out of control and reaching for the sky.
The only problem now is we've been told the cottonwood needs something called "cabling" to keep the tree from failure in the future.
We don't know yet how much that will cost.
We have a call in to an expert.
Meanwhile I'm sitting back and thinking.
Who knew that tree trims should be planned into the family budget?
I didn't. I thought God took care of trees.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Driving crazy

As I tell others about our week in Bear Lake, I'm starting to notice a pattern to the patter.
We had a lot of tough driving experiences this time around.
I've already blogged about the ride on the RZRs into the wilderness.
As I've talked to others I've found that the untrained, innocent ought to think a little before jumping on an ATV without any preparation.
In addition, we had quite the adventure coming back to Garden City from Smithfield...after we finally arrived late for dinner (which we were bringing).
We thought it would be fun to pop over to Smithfield for a game night since we were only — I thought — about a half an hour away.
We love games.
Marc's daughter Erin and her husband Brian love games.
We could have dinner, play games and see some grandkids all in one shot.
We headed out a little after 3 p.m., me thinking we were on schedule and thinking Marc knew what he was doing when he suggested we go by way of Preston and Emigration Canyon.
At 4:15 he called Erin to say we were just getting going.
At 4:45, I realized this was no short trip.
At 5:30, we rolled into Smithfield.
I was fretting and unhappy with thick pork chops still to cook.
Then around 10:00 we left for "home."
It was raining and stormy and we were worried about hitting deer in the canyon. (This time we were going through Logan Canyon since our shortcut hadn't worked very well.)
Thunder clapped. Lightning flashed and our wipers worked hard to keep ahead of the raindrops.
Steam rose from the road and obscured our view. Clouds rolled in.
(Fortunately the deer seemed to have the good sense to stay in their thickets and off the road so no problem there.)
So by the time we came off the hill into Garden City, I was once again white knuckling and bracing for a run off the road.
We made it and to Marc's credit, we didn't die.
But I'm really ready for a nice quiet journey in heavy traffic down I-15. These road trips are killing me.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

God sent us a couple of cowboys

We found ourselves with a few free days after the grandkids and their parents packed up and left Bear Lake.
We had already spent the weekend splashing and ski-dooing on the deep blue lake water and collected a fair amount of sun.
Now here we were, two grandparents with time on our hands.
We decided to each pick something we wanted to do that we hadn't done before.
I picked out horseback riding but the lady we called in Laketown didn't have a ride time before Wednesday so it became Marc's turn.
He chose off-road riding.
We found a little shop that was still open. (It is off-season now in Bear Lake.)
They had a sweet red and black ATV with no windshield and high clearance and sturdy tires.
The teenager in charge handed us helmets and goggles. He showed us how to make the driver's door stay closed with a velcro strap. He explained how we ought to go and suggested we avoid hitting big rocks at 40 miles an hour.
Then he handed Marc a map and we were off!
(This is after we signed legal documents saying we wouldn't sue or come back from the dead to complain if we died doing this.)
We headed up a rugged but simple trail towards the mountain top with instructions about turning left, going for a while and connecting with Hodges' Canyon after we found the underpass in the forest.
Marc manned the wheel. I manned my side, clutching my "steering wheel" tightly even while I understood it had absolutely no effect on our outcome. I stuck my feet firmly to the floor.
At first it was glorious. The air was clear. The sky was blue. The road was pretty straightforward and you could see dirt between the rocks.
It wasn't until after a while that it became terrifying.
There were places with big washes where Marc had to decide whether to try and straddle the ruts or climb the boulders. The choices were mostly between big rocks and bigger rocks.
We struggled along thinking we were pretty good at this. We scared away cows and deer and the occasional chipmunk.
Our sweet ride
We found the under-the-road tunnel. We gunned the engine.
Then we found ourselves on a decent gravel Forest Service road that was easy but we seemed to be going to Wyoming. After a fair time, we realized we'd missed something.
We tried to check the map.
Marc couldn't find it.
And he couldn't remember the name of the turn-off.
Oh dear. We were going to die for sure.
We headed back the way we came but now the novelty had worn off and I was worried.
We tried a turn-off called Richardson Fork.
Oh boy!
There were more rocks and ruts and less dirt and trail than one could imagine. We chased a cow into the brush and ended up in a pasture with him and his bovine friends.
We were two hours into our two-hour ride with no clue as to how to get back. We had no
cell-phone service as well as no matches, food, flashlights or warm clothing.
I was getting a little upset as I tend to do when I can't see any future for us.
So Marc said a prayer asking that we find our way home safely and that he/we could make good decisions.
We started again and promptly came to a fork. He suggested going right. I said left back the way we came through Hell.
Then remembering the prayer, I decided to trust him.
We went right and 10 feet up the trail a herd of white-faced cows blocked our way. Two cowboys were rustling them up. They regarded us with amusement -- two senior citizens in an ATV, obviously lost.
"Can we get out this way?" Marc asked.
"Yeah," said the talkative cowboy nearest to us as he parted the cows.
We motored noisily on, relieved that we had some clear direction but still battling the worst road I had ever seen.
I now understand how people upset their ATVs, how they get seriously injured and the exhilaration that's very much like riding a really scary roller-coaster.
Marc was laughing. I was trying to image how much more difficult a difficult path could be. The one we were on was supposed to be easy to moderate.
And, actually when we did get back to the rental shop, the kid admitted that Richardson Fork can be one of the more tricky ones particularly after a good rainstorm.
"I wouldn't recommend it," he said.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Big Bird

We've tried for a while now to discourage what I call the welfare pigeons from raiding our bird feeder.
We don't mind buying $25-$30 worth of black oil sunflower seeds a month for the cute little finches and the occasional scrub jay.
But we really don't like the big, lumpy pigeons that consistently topple the feeder and the birdbath and overtake our little bird world.
Sometimes there are dozens lining the top of the fence out there.
They hustle in and push away the cute ones.
They scatter the seed.
They make a mess, leaving feathers in their wake and other personal debris.
We've tried scolding them and scowling out the window.
We've bought smaller feeders but they hang onto the edge of whatever bird feeder we own and flap around trying to maintain purchase.
They have no shame.
And if we stop putting out food for them, the dozens of acceptable birds would have to go without as well.
And we really enjoy having a lot of chirping and fluttering going on in our back yard.
So we endure.
But I'm seeking a solution still.
Any ideas?
(I've threatened to put up a "No pigeons. Keep out!" sign but I think they're too dumb to read.)