Thursday, April 24, 2014

Happy Christmas

Going with the holiday theme here, I'm going to post a few pictures from Christmastime, even though it is seriously spring now.

It's my blog, I can do that.

The Christmas season started out kind of rough with a leaky washing machine that we had to run out on the porch for a day.

Red neck laundry room.
 There was enough snow to make the LDS Temple light display one of the best I have seen.  And Drew even got to see them as it was his birthday so I took him to dinner downtown.

The figures are white but they look even cooler surrounded by a blanket of snow.

Had some fun at the friend Christmas party with white elephant gifts.

Max had some fun with Christmas gift wrapping.

 And then it was time for a trip to frigid ND.

The rampers at the airport have a very tough job!

But it was only cold the day I arrived and then it warmed up enough that I could go outside in a regular coat and take this pictures around the farm.

But the main point of visiting relatives really is this:

Sister lazing on the couch.

Doing puzzles.

Visiting and relaxing.

Having a glass of wine while visiting and relaxing.

Talking to my other sister who was in Australia.
Aunt and mom

Sisters and mom

For Christmas dinner we went to sister Jane's

She has cute grandkids!

And cute neices
And costumed neices

and cold cows

Family times
Bro and niece. Love.

 After gaining at least 4 pounds due to fudge, I flew directly to Las Vegas to meet Drew and friends for some exercise!

 Now that Christmas is over, we can start spring!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Happy Easter

Easter has become one of my favorite holidays.  I am not religious and I don't believe a man actually rose from the dead.  I like the holiday because it was the first one Drew and I got to spend together way back in 2005.

D&L's first Easter 2005
Drew had to work until late Saturday night this year.  I was to pick him up at the airport at 8:30 PM, which was fine with me because I needed to stop at work and do a few quick things to prepare to for an early Monday morning field trip. 

Unfortunately, he didn't land until 1:10 AM.  I got more work done than planned.

On Easter morning he hunted for his Easter baskets over coffee. Then we rode bikes to Fiddler's Elbow for brunch before gathering the mountain bikes for a real, if short, ride on BST.  We saw several friends out enjoying the wonderful weather and spring blooms.

Disclosure: this picture was taken last week, not actually on Easter, but you get the idea.
 Then home to cook the turkey I had brined using this recipe.

Had to use something heavy to hold the turkey down.  What does a geologist have around that is heavy? A cobble of Little Cottonwood stock quartz monzonite! 

While the turkey was roasting, we colored eggs.

Then our friend Monique came over and we toasted to spring and friendship and ate juicy delicious turkey (the best I have ever made, and that includes all three turkeys) with Monique's strawberry rhubarb crisp for dessert.

Easter is definitely one of my favorite holidays.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Tax Day Lunar Eclipse Photos

Lunar eclipses are cool.  You get to watch a normal night sky object change shape and color in the humanly possible time span of a few hours.  This morning's total lunar eclipse was especially cool because 1) I had my best buddy Drew to wait up and enjoy it with me, and 2) Mars and the star Spica would be close, 3) I could try out my newish little camera. 

I made the first-of-the-year rhubarb treat to celebrate the occasion.  

The backyard rhubarb, which I started back at my old house in about 2002 from a sprout carried home on the airplane from my mom's patch and which has been moved 4 times since, once into a pot to wait out the traumatic first winter post move.
Strawberry rhubarb crumble pie has a pie shell on the bottom but crumble top.
We built a fire in the backyard fire pit and ate our pie while we waited for the moon to pass into the earth's penumbra.  I took a picture of the moon to figure out how to make my little Canon PowerShot S120 point-and-shoot into a fully manual machine.

Normal full moon. Cannon PowerShot S120. 1/100th sec, f/8.0, ISO 100, set to 2 second self timer and infinity manual focus.  The lens has only 5x telephoto and then I cropped the files.

First few minutes of the eclipse. 4/14/2013 23:53 MDT. The earth's shadow is encroaching on the left side of the moon.  This picture is a little blurry due to camera, or rather, porch, shake.  1/100th sec, f/8.0, ISO 100.

By the time the fire died down enough that we could think about bed, the shadow was obvious. 4/15/2013 00:14 MDT. 1/100th sec, f/8.0, ISO 100.

By the time we actually went to bed, the moon was more than half way there! 4/15/2013 00:42 MDT.  1/100th sec, f/8.0, ISO 100.
By that time, I was not tired anymore so I just waited until 1:06 to see the moon in full umbral shadow, just in case my alarm didn't wake me. It was very nice. It was also about 45 degrees and pajamas are not appropriate for stargazing at that temp, so even though a had a built in bed heater (Drew), I couldn't warm up to go to sleep.  I was still awake when my alarm went off at 1:40 for the full blood moon. I bundled up this time and took the little camera to the deck and got some pretty decent shots for a camera that fits in my jeans pocket.

See how tiny.

So here is my best shot of the Tax Day Blood Moon in full lunar eclipse.  The star Spica is the speck down to the right. 4/15/2013 01:43 MDT 6 seconds, f/8.0, ISO 125.

And here is the same shot not cropped so far showing Spica down and to the right and also Mars in the upper right corner of the shot.  4/15/2013 01:43 MDT, 6 seconds, f/8.0, ISO 125.

I enjoyed this eclipse especially for the beautiful bright star Spica and orange Mars within 9 degrees of the moon. And also because I had Drew to snuggle up to afterwards.  I did not set my alarm to watch the moon come out of the earth's shadow ;-).

Monday, April 14, 2014

Spreading the love of dirt

Last weekend Drew and I helped the Utah High School Cycling League pull off a Moab Family Skills Camp.

Camp Coaching

The camp is designed for high school mountain bikers and their parents to learn new technical skills.

We went down early and Friday and got in a ride on a new-to-me trail system called Klonzo.

The lighting was terrible for pictures but I threw this one in so you can see the flowy ribbon of trail in the lower third of the photo on the red dirt. I think the finer grained red in the foreground is Summerville Formation and the white rocky parts are Salt Wash Member of the Morrison. All Jurassic in age.
Klonzo is a series of short, low to intermediate level loops that you can link together for about an hour and a half of riding. 
Primrose in bloom on Klonzo trail

Drew is happy to be on his bike in red dirt country.

I love how the trail goes between these huge rocks.

First ride of the year for us together in Moab. Big smiles!

Sun splashes on the far peaks.
Post ride, we grabbed a growler of beer and some nachos to-go from Moab Brewery and trucked on out to the condo.  Our friends the Binghams were staying with us so we wanted to make sure we beat them home.


The next day we assisted skills camp instructors all day.  The camp is divided into beginner, intermediate, and advanced groups that rotate into different skills clinics: 1. Braking, 2. Cornering, and 3. Managing terrain.  Each group also did an hour of trail building a brand new trail linking two parking areas and went on a ride to use all their new skills.

It was a really long day for us because we spend all day watching and assisting kids while all kitted up to ride, but not really riding much at all.  After the skill camp activities were done, we stuck around and did a loop there at Klondike Bluffs. We rode up Mega Steps and down Alaska.  The trail is phenomenally fun, and the views are some of the best in Moab.

Looking off the ridge of Summerville Formation over into Salt Valley, which is a valley because the salt in the underlying Paradox Formation has been dissolved and removed.  I briefly explain the formation of this type of valley at the end of this post. Snow-capped La Sal Mountains in the far background.
Another picture of Salt Valley. We could just barely make out a camper in the valley in the center of the photo.  I wanna be there!
Skills camp again on Sunday morning was fun.  All the participants had rested and were eager to ride and put their skills to use.  We took the beginner-intermediates out on an easy, flowing trail (across Morrison Formation - shale for the most part, which makes for smooth trail) so they could practice ride position, braking and fast corners. I think they had a lot of fun.

Like herding cats at times.
We returned on Dinoflow trail.  They were all much improved over how they started the weekend.

Riders and coaches at Moab Family Skills Camp
For the final ride, we took that same beginner intermediate group on Mega Steps.  They did awesome.
Mountain bike cool factor: Intermediate level high school riders making it up Mega Steps trail.       Geology cool factor: Most of the top of Mega Steps and Alaska trails traverse across Salt Wash Member (Morrison Fm) and Summerville Formation, but occasionally there are erosional windows where Moab Member (Curtis Fm) is exposed, seen here as the flat, white sandstone to the right of the trail.

Coach Lucy and two female high school shredders.

At the end of the camp on Sunday, many of the students seemed to have progressed quite a bit in technical skills and they all seemed to have had a positive experience.  It is my sincere hope that we were part of a weekend that infected these riders with the slick rock mountain biking bug.

Coach no more

After out duties were done, we stayed a couple of more days.  Monday we had a chance to ride Captain Ahab.  We had wanted to ride this trail since it opened last year and we watched the video of how the Moab Trail Mix crew built the trail.  It is a completely amazing video. Watch it here on Vimeo.

The way to access Cap't Ahab is on a very fun, techy new trail called HyMasa, which lets you avoid riding the Amaza Back Jeep road.  I highly recommend HyMasa.

On HyMasa
The top of HyMasa or maybe we were already on Captain Ahab at this point.
Plants grow where they can in the desert.

We found the bat cave!  At least I think this is bat guano on the underside of an overhang.

Views off the south side of the trail.

Captain Ahab is really fun.  Lots of technical riding. Quite a few places I walked, but after coming off teaching and practicing skills for two days, I found I was doing better than ever on the technical stuff.  My new 2x10 drive train and 170 mm cranks may have contributed too.

Here is a silly 17 second video of me coming down a series of rollers.

 On lower Captain Ahab, there is a section that goes around a cliff.

The sign says "Walk Your Bike".
So I walked that section, but also filmed it.  Watch the 20 second video of that cliff section.

After the ride we headed into town for a milk shake but ended up with smoothies.  Bonus health points for D and L.

It's not all fun and games in Moab.  We spend a fair amount of time doing maintenance and deep cleaning the condo, which is how we spent Tuesday morning before driving back.

The end result of the weekend: awesome time teaching high school kids to ride slickrock and I love the new trails!