Saturday, April 30, 2011

Utah State Championship Series Race 1: Lambert Park

Last Saturday while Drew was off flying around the country, I raced my mountain bike.  I was not prepared. I was not in shape. I was not expecting to do well. But I was expecting to see friends and have fun.  I did not do well (4th of 6 in the expert women category) but I did have fun (loads of my racing friends turned out for this brand new race).  The course was a super fun twisty turny tacky singletrack route through the still-dormant (where is spring?!) scrub oak.  We expert women did three ~20 minute laps and since all the beginner and sport groups had raced earlier and we started last out of the pro and expert groups, we had the course almost to ourselves until the pro men started lapping us on lap number 3.  Passing was not a problem, since they come by me at the speed of heat.  That is the most awesome race planning ever. Thanks to our friends Bob, Drew, Shannon, and Ty at  MTB Race Productions for an awesome job putting on their first race. Should be a good series.

It was also the first time I got to wear my new special women's design racing kit.  They look pretty sharp, eh?

Thanks to Shannon, Steven, Kendra, and Lyna  for the pics.

Friday, April 22, 2011

We hit the Jackpot!

In February we took a mini vacation to Las Vegas.  It was time to get out of the Salt Lake smog and get the kids (bikes) some exercise.  On the way down we hooked up with our teammates, who were in Saint George for winter training camp.  I thought they would be as out of shape as us, but they weren't and they kicked our butts.  We slinked down to Vegas after the Friday afternoon ride. 

We stayed at the swanky Planet Hollywood Towers where a projection TV screen comes down in front of the picture windows
and there is a full kitchen for making delicious protein shakes as part of our 2-week special dietary cleanse

There was a whirlpool tub in the bedroom

 and sleek styling.

We were there to ride, so Saturday we met up with Erica, John, and Brad to ride the Blue Diamond trail system.  

There were some friendly burrows near the trail.

 And a Big Yucca.
Erica, John, and Brad were kind enough to wait up periodically for Drew and me with our northern climate, out-of-shape and wasted-from-yesterday legs.  To add generous to nice, John and Erica hosted us for a delicious lunch of healthy chicken, rice, and veggies at their house. We are lucky to have such awesome friends in Vegas.

The plan for Sunday was to ride some more, but the weather wasn't great and our legs were even worse, so we just chilled.  That evening, we went to a performance of Mystere by Cirque du Soleil.  It was incredible!

 Here are some of the performers on flying trapeze. 

After the show, we strolled in the casino and I put in my biannual $5 into the nickle slots.  I was pushing buttons and generally not really knowing what I was doing when the big jackpot scrolled up!  The machine started going "ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding..." forever.  The payout indicator kept going higher and higher and higher. $15, $30, $50, $115.  How high would it go?  Strangers stopped to check us out and seemed genuinely happy for me.  Since neither of us knew how to read the machine, we had no idea how much the payout would be.  The chronic gambler who had been at the machine next to us before I sat down kept giving us evil eye and finally said "if you had bet "max bet" you would have won $50,000".  Holy smokes!

As it turned out, the dinging stopped at $308.  That almost paid for our trip!

On Monday we headed back to Utah, stopping again for some great riding in Saint George on the Stucki Springs loop.

Sam was in the works and I knew this was probably my farewell ride on Magma. It was a bittersweet ending to a fun getaway.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Hawaii Days 7 & 8: Molikini Snorkel and Lucy Learns a New Trick. Then we go home.

Because of the storm five days earlier, the waters on the South Maui beaches were still cloudy, so we booked a commercial snorkel trip to the mini-island of Molokini, a partially submerged rim of a volcanic crater.

Once on board a large powered catamaran from Ma’alaea Bay, the funny crew fed us breakfast as we motored a 10 miles across the channel where the whales hang out to go snorkeling in the much clearer water.   While the water was clear, it was also cold-ish, so we forked over the extra $10 for wetsuits.  Former dive master Drew was comfortable in this get up, but it was another new experience for this land-locked North Dakota girl.  Into the water we went with at least a two hundred other people from 6 or 7 different boats.  It was like viewing the Christmas lights at Temple Square but underwater.

But the fish were pretty good and the coral was nice. I counted about 20 different kinds of tropical fish, and had a good time in the underwater world.

After lunch on the boat, we were supposed to go back to somewhere on Maui called “Turtle Town” where we could snorkel with sea turtles, but, of course, it was too murky.  That seemed to be the theme of water activities on this trip.  Oh well, we did stop for a few minutes on the way back to Ma’alaea Bay to watch a mother humpback and her less-than-a-month-old calf.  There were a couple of bottlenose dolphins swimming near them too.  That was pretty cool.

It was about then that I realized that during our six days of Maui and with only one afternoon left, we had only spent a few hours doing the beach thing.  So after a frozen yogurt treat, we loaded up the car with beach chairs, beach towels, beer cooler, and boogie boards and headed to Kama’ole III beach.

The sun was threatening to turn Drew into all shades of pink during his nap if he was not vigilant against the dangerous rays.

While Drew napped, I carefully studied all forms of boogie boarding.  This was a new activity and I needed some examples.  I mostly figured out that if you jump up and out just as the wave is breaking, you will have the best ride.  Not daring to go in the warm and gentle but still very scary water, I drug Drew out with me for Boogie Boarding 101.  Soon I was getting along just as well as the other un-tanned and out of shape tourists. Here I am (center) about to launch myself onto this monster wave.

 Look, I'm boogie boarding!
 Like a beached whale.

And if that wasn't proof enough that Lucy J. can officially boogie board, here is an action video of me boogie boarding.
Drew went back to his nap, but I stayed out for at least an hour riding wave after little wave.  I would be sore for two days after that, so I guess boogie boarding doesn’t use the same muscles as hiking or biking. :)

After returning our snorkel gear and picking up some lettuce at the expensive grocery store for our last and this time technically complete Asian chicken salad dinner at the condo, our last day came to an end as we kissed Maui goodbye with sunset on Wailea Beach.

Hawaii Day 8 – going home
The next day we simply packed up and headed to the airport, stopping for one last sip of good coffee before we departed.

The Alaskan Airlines flight was oversold, but somehow Drew managed to snag a free seat right behind me.  After a very delayed departure due to crew error, the flight itself wasn’t all that bad.  The two screaming children and spineless parents in the row in front of me got pretty old after the first hour though. Five more hours to go and we landed in Oakland, a few minutes after the SWA flight we were trying to get home on departed.  A night at the down-scale (is that the opposite of upscale?) Days Inn and back at the airport at 6 AM to try to catch SWA flight to SLC, but what we didn’t realize was that the Sundance Film Festival and the huge Outdoor Retailers Trade Show were starting in SLC today, so the flight was oversold.  Plan C was to go to Seattle and then on to Salt Lake, but when we got to Seattle, the Salt Lake flight was 2 hours delayed.  Finally, after almost two full days of travel, we came home to our cold, smoggy hometown.  Was it worth it? You bet. That was a great vacation!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Hawaii Day 6: Drive around the north side of Maui

I am determined to document our trip to Hawaii.  I know blogs are supposed to be full of current events and our trip, all the way back in January, hardly classifies as current anymore, but I don't care. When I go back and read this in five years, it will seem close enough.  So I left off telling you about day 5 when we experienced the sunrise at the top of Haleakala.  Today's story is about another road trip on an island where most people go to relax on the beach.

After day 5 – the day with little sleep, we had to push it to get to Cheese Burger restaurant for the breakfast special by 10 AM.  $5.99 for eggs, hashbrowns and toast.  Would you like cheese on your eggs? $2 extra.  Juice instead of coffee?  That’ll be $3.  OK, so our effort to eat cheap didn’t work out so well this morning. We’ll redeem our Scottish ways later today.  
After breakfast we set off on el camino.   
Is Maui the right place for a road trip? Well, on this trip, it seems so.  We drove up past Lahaina and Ka’anapali beach where we were a couple of days ago and pushed on to new sights.  First up was the airport.  After days of lava looking, Drew thought it only fair to punish me with airport stuff.  There were no planes coming in so we traveled on.  We experienced view after gorgeous view along the highway
Our first real diversion was the Nakalele Blowhole.  But first we had to hike to the blowhole.  We passed by these large potholes that we nicknamed the toilet bowls.  The water would surge in and out of them with great fury.  If you wanted to get rid of a body, this would be the place. 

The rest of the walk was like hiking on the moon.  Wind and water erosion has sculptured the lava into interesting shapes and patterns.

The red layer in the middle is most likely a separate lava flow that contains more iron than the gray ones sandwiching it.

Here I am for scale in front of a nifty example of erosion and sedimentation in volcanic terrain.
Looks like there was some sort depression in the older lava flow where water deposited the tan sand.  It was probably pretty high energy, like in a shoreline pothole, because you can see the chunks of lava entrained in the sand near the bottom and right side of the pothole.  Then the younger lava flow buried the whole thing. The heat from the molten flow baked the upper part of the sand, changing its color and welding it together.

I loved poking around here, but we wanted to get to the blowhole. Tides and sea conditions have to be right for the Nakalele Blowhole to be spouting.  Seems we got moderately lucky because every few minutes the surf would pound in and shoot high-powered mist followed by frothy water up through the hole. Locals had a fun time standing adjacent to the hole and giggling when they got wet.  
It was a hoot to watch.

I had mentioned lunch nonchalantly on the walk back to the car.  After that, Drew had lunch on the brain. We found a nice overlook where we munched on veggies and turkey sandwiches while we napped (Drew) and looked at whales in the distance through binoculars (Lucy). 

On the road again to the Olivine Pools.  A quick apparel change in the car before poking our way down the cliff 

to these surreal tidal pools on a lava ledge a few feet above roiling, sea-turtle “infested” waters.   The power of the ocean was on display here and we could feel the surf pounding away at the lava rocks.

The pools are named the Olivine Pools because of the abundant olivine, an olive-green transparent magnesium-iron silicate mineral common in basalt, in the rock here. You can see the glassy greenish-gold olivine crystals in this close up of the lava.

While whales spouted off in the distance, we dabbled in the cool salty pools.  One was deep enough to jump into, 

but when I did I got creeped out by the numerous tropical fish, crabs, and jumping fish in the slightly murky water.  Better to just poke around and enjoy the waves trying to destroy the lava.
The afternoon was getting late, so we loaded back into the car
and set out on a road so narrow and filled with tourists that this

was bound to happen.  While passing, the blue Mustang convertible inched over a little too far and lost its footing over the edge of the pavement. Since we were on island time, with nowhere particular to go and no time to be there, we pulled out the beach chairs and popped the tops on a couple of beers while we waited for the incident team to come.

A half an hour later a local on his quad puttered up and hitched on to pull the Mustang back onto the roadway.  We were back in business.  Along the road we cruised, taking in the scenery along the way.  We tried to stop for the what our guidebook called the "best banana bread on the island", at the beautiful and lush little village of Kahakuloa, 

 but the stand was all closed up. Talk about disappointment.

We continued around 636-foot high Kahakuloa Head, enjoying the views and our time together.

A short stop for a romantic walk at sunset on Sugar Beach 

on the way back to the condo before an early night in.  At our condo we opened up our delicious pre-made Asian salad kit that we bought in a hurry at Costco when we were hungry. The picture showed chicken, almonds, and Chinese noodles in a bed of lettuce.  

It looked quick and healthy.   You can imagine how surprised we were when we opened the packaging and found two salad “kits” but no salad!  Guess we should have read the fine print that said, "Just add lettuce."

Oops. I laughed so hard I cried, but did we go out to dinner? Heck no. We ate Asian salad, sans salad.  And that is what you get when you mix two Scotts with a bit of Asian.