Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Sledding with the Wedges

Saturday we went sledding with the Wedges. 

Jim and Drew

Drew and me

We got some good video.  Turn your sound down or my screams of terror will hurt your ears.

This video is more mellow. You can turn your sound up again.

And here we are having fun again.

That was a wild ride!  Later that evening we were invited over to Jim's parents' home for a real home cooked family dinner.  It was great!

Christmas activities

We went to Cabella's to exchange Drew's new-for-Christmas toasty warm slippers for a larger size.  Have you been to Cabella's?  That place is amazing.  So much camo I couldn't even find the bathroom.  They have all these giant pseudo natural displays of dead animals. This one really scared me.

Drew had to work on Christmas day, but Rhandy was gracious enough to invite me and some other friends over for dinner.

Andy was on call and wouldn't you know had to go in to work, so Rhonda had to finish preparing the meal.  She did a fantastic job. Carl brought deviled eggs, Gigi brought wine, and Andy made sugar cookies frosted with naturally-dyed frosting.  (Turmeric frosting, anyone?)  I added my two pies to the mix and we all felt overstuffed by evening's end.

Drew had a good crew and they weathered the storms in the Midwest with smiles. 

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Early Christmas, On Time Birthday

Tonight is Christmas Eve.  I'm here at the house in Salt Lake City, alone, blogging.  Poor me?  No, not at all because: 
  1. Drew and I just spent 20 days together (minus one for an overnighter to the West Desert) and celebrated both an early Christmas last weekend in Moab and Drew's birthday on the very day of,
  2. Many friends and family members sent us delightful packages and holiday cards to let us know they care,
  3. Three neighbors just tonight* brought gifts of goodies and fresh eggs laid by the chickens that live across the street, and one neighbor invited me over for food and drink**,
  4. I have friends to eat with tomorrow that will appreciate my pies, and
  5. My life is full and happy!

* in addition to the other fabulous gifts we received earlier from neighbors.  We live on a good street!
**plus, Rhandy invited me to go to church with them, but I'm not much of a churchgoer.

So our early holiday/solstice celebration took place in Moab last weekend.  We went down to our place for four whole days to do nothing much* except hike, snowshoe, cook, eat nachos and drink beer at the Moab Brewery, and stay warm by the working gas log fireplace**.

*but the bonus reason to go to Moab in the winter is to escape the really horrible air quality in Salt Lake that you can see in this picture from dug's blog looking down on Salt Lake Valley last week, where I live and work day-in and day-out

**as opposed to our non-functional, work-in-progress gas fireplace in Salt Lake

Friday we hiked Hidden Valley at sunset. 

You can see there is not much snow on the ground, but that is because we were at a pretty low elevation.

Saturday was different.  We went to the La Sals.  I am not a meteorologist, but I'm guessing the La Sals get the lightest, fluffiest powder because they are in the desert and are really quite high.  I think they have like 12 peaks above 12000 feet in a pretty small range.  Anyway, the snow was perfect, we saw only three skiers and two courteous snowmobilers on a 3.5 hour snowshoe tour on a Saturday with fresh powder, the sun was glorious, and we had the best dagwood sammies for lunch after we finally stopped to sit our butts down to rest. 

I'm perched on an avalanche rescue shovel. It was still cold.

Moab was stupendous!!!!

We came back to Salt Lake to celebrate Drew's solstice birthday on Monday.  Is there something wrong with me that I insist on baking a real (i.e. homemade) birthday cake for Drew even though what he really wants is a cake from a bakery that has perfectly formed icing roses made with hydrogenated oil and artificial coloring?  Isn't there something I am supposed to learn about loving a person that should make me want to give him what he really wants?  Or is that I love him so much I want to feed him only cake baked with love and natural ingredients? 

This birthday, he got John's Reece's Cake served on Drew's mother's china. With eggnog!  This cake I have been wanting to make for 13 years, but could not get the recipe because John had lost it.  He found it again at Thanksgiving, so I was eager to make it. It is gooey, peanut buttery, chocolate goodness!

So I am warm and content in our house in Salt Lake, but missing Drew, who is, at this minute, flying to Buffalo, New York where he will spend Christmas Eve with random coworkers. We are both thinking about Moab and cake and the good life.

Warm holiday wishes go out all our friends and family, especially my sister Jackie and niece Abbie, who were scheduled to drive to North Dakota but were wise enough not to attempt the roads during the bad blizzard, and to those around us who have had a difficult year.   Peace be with you all!

Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

December holiday activities

December for lots of people is occupied by shopping trips to big stores for toys their kids will like for a week.  Since we don't have kids, no shopping. Hooray!  Instead, our holiday activities involve riding bikes in our living room,...

digging holes for the modified pergola we are putting up in the muddy backyard,...

and scalping parts off a free donor VW Westy that an acquaintance donated to the Bobke project.  Doesn't the donor (gold van on the left in the picture above) make Bobke look spiffy?

I also completed my final installation trip to the West Desert this week.  (Check out those snazzy insulated Carhartt bibs.  I'm telling you, Jennifer Aniston will be wearing them at Sundance this year.)  The Snake Valley surface-water monitoring network is in place and data should be posting live next week!  I will still get to visit the sights regularly for maintenance, but trips won't be as long or as frequent.  What a lot of fun fieldwork this project has involved.  Data analysis should prove interesting, if not as fun.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Snow-racin' at 'cross #11

For Drew's second cyclocross race at Fort Buenaventura in Ogden, there was FRESH SNOW.

Carl was fine with that, but Scott wanted to cry.  Just kidding.

Jim, Drew, and my co-worker Rich (in red) were ready to go.

And they're off!

Carl takes a corner.

Jim coming in on his first lap.

The course was very slippery at this location (video above).  Luckily, none of my boys hurt themselves too badly in crashes.

Drew in the snow.

The snow was coming down pretty hard at times. (Click on any picture to see a larger version.)



Part of 'cross racing is jumping barriers.  Check out Jim's smooth moves and the not so smooth action on the guy behind him in below.

After the men's race, it was the ladies' turn.

Gigi took 2nd. Yay, Gigi.

Melissa has worked very hard with the race organizers putting on these races.

Theresa wears snow pants when racing.

Nancy was inspired by the snow.

Kathy is just wicked fast.

Erika is a faster than a rabbit.

Jen looks damn good.

Jenny is hard core.

And, me? I'm not foolish enough to race my bike in the cold and snow. No, my job this day was to fry up some hot greasy burgers as post-race fuel.   Insulated Carhartts are much, much warmer than cycling tights.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Cyclocross Debut

The temperatures have dropped in Utah but the cycling adventures continue.  After creating a multitude of excuses and declaring that the months of October through January were "Recovery months" I finally decided to enter the world of cyclocross racing.  The chance encounter with several of my teammates in a dark alley several weeks ago was only a mere coincidence with my decision to purchase a cyclocross bike.

The bike arrived fully assembled in a gigantic box.  The box was so big that it had it's very own zip code!  Pictured above you can see several normal sized bike boxes stacked next to the "dominator" box.  In order to reduce shipping costs the bike was shipped to my local bike shop where we picked it up.  Rumor has it that Carl, who works at the shop, has decided to save money and is currently living in the box.

The weather in Utah these past two weeks has been blustery, but the snow has not crept down from the mountains to the valley floor yet.  Returning home from work I hopped on "Rocky" and we headed out on some of the local trails, after this driveway moment (video above). 

Riding a cyclocross bike can be describe as interesting at best. Riding off road in the mud and dirt combined with the addition of man-made obstacles designed to force you off your bike makes for a delicate balance of power and finesse.  The above picture shows my friend Jim chasing down a fellow racer during our race in Draper, Utah.  Jim, being a brave soul, has entered the world of cyclocross in 2009 as well.

During my first race I decided to throttle back on the first lap and observe some of the more experienced racers and watch their techniques.  This plan was flawed since I found it very difficult to pass once we entered the singletrack.  The goatheads, which would flat your tire in a heartbeat, were all along the side of the trail.  This coupled with the short nature of the race (40mins) made for a mental note that I would have to peg the throttle full forward and go out hard next weekend.

Racing Thanksgiving weekend is like going to Grandmas house.....up the hill and through the woods!


Ice, mud, and tight turns afford you very few chances to pass.  When you get a chance you better go for it!

After the race I was ready to do it all over again.  A great time racing with and against friends.

Carl and Jim are smiling because they were told there was beer back at the car, not because they just finished!

The great thing about the cyclocross racing series is that usually before or after your race you get to stand around and cheer on your friends.

On a sad note Jim knocked over his Rogue Chocolate Stout while cheering on some of our teammates.  Based on the amount of time the bottle was on its side, the outside air temperature, and the soil absorption rate, we were able to determine that he improperly wasted 4 oz. of beer.  He has been placed on probation and will only be allowed to consume Miller High Life at next weekend's race!

Allison and Jennie are pictured here racing neck and neck in the womens division.  They are wearing other teams colors for the cyclocross series, but we know they bleed Revolution during the mountain bike season.

Jen shows us how to get over the barriers with her combination Lady GaGa / Joe Heisman stance.

Lyna makes throwing a bike over your shoulder and climbing a muddy hill look easy.

Everyone had a great day out on the race course and I am looking forward to next weekend's race up in Ogden, Utah.  Until then, keep the wheels turning and enjoy the outdoors no matter what mother nature throws at you!