Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Hot tub up and running

It has been a long time since I posted anything about the house.  We've done a lot and are 98% done with the home addition.  Hopefully I'll get to posting pictures before the spring and summer fun starts around here.  For now, here is a report about one major milestone: The Hot Tub Is Up And Running!

One part of the home addition plans called for an in-deck hot tub.  We wanted to move our existing hot tub from its former life behind the old garage to a place of honor and potential frequent use set down in the deck.  We couldn't do this because the place we have for it is less than 10 feet from the property line, a SLC building code (we don't know why that code exists).  Well, we passed our final inspection, on 10/11/11.   Once that was out of the way, we were free to do things that are not quite up to SLC building code.

First step was to cut a hole in the new deck.

which got ugly and big.

The hole is the place where the hot tub would drop into.  But the ground below wasn't at the right height, so we had to pour a concrete pad.

We went to great measures to protect our new sod from the tire ruts that could be created by wheel barrels full of concrete.

 Meanwhile these darn cats of ours can't keep out of anything we're doing, including running across the new pad.

Drew had to catch Marley and quickly wash the fresh concrete off her paws so they wouldn't get burned by the additives.  He reported that she "didn't really like having her paws washed".  Understatement!

But the pad came out just fine and was ready to accept the hot tub.
But the hot tub wasn't ready yet!  Years of direct sun had weathered the composite skirt.

 So Drew spent a couple of days cleaning it up and adding new stain.  The new stain looks really blue in this picture, but it's not so colorful in real life.

 Once the tub was ready, Drew hired three or four other strapping men to move it into place.  I was away at work on the day they moved it, and Drew was up to his elbows in a certain heavy object, so we don't have any pictures.  From the description of the act, there were Egyptian-esque techniques employed to move the tub across the lawn, up a temporary ramp, and down into the hole.   There was a moment of drama when the heavy tub reached the tipping point to slide into the hole, but brute strength and ingenious engineering prevailed, and our hot tub is in its final resting place.

 Here is how it looks from the back of the house. When the wether warms up again I'll finish the lattice deck skirt for the hot tub side, which will hide the bottom of the tub.
I will say, it is rather wonderful to have a steaming hot tub of water waiting for you on chilly nights.  Especially one with your husband in it!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


The lack of snow in Utah this winter has somehow made even me, the one who has spent her life moving farther and farther away from cold weather, wish for the white stuff.  Drew bought some new snow shoes at the end of last season and we have not had the snow to test them out.  So when today dawned partly sunny after the past two days of rain and snow, we strapped them on and hiked up Millcreek Canyon.

Even though our dawn patrol started at 10:20 AM, we still had fresh tracks in Elbow Fork. 

 The fresh air does a couple good!

The Most Fun in January, on a bike

For MLK day weekend, a bunch of mates from the Revolution/Peak Fasteners team conglomerated in Saint George, Utah for some sun and singletrack.  Drew and I shared a one bedroom condo near the Green Valley trails with Stephanie and Sally, two rad mtb chicks who are relatively new to the team.

Good Times in Green Valley

Saturday morning the four of us met up with Bonnie and Jonas for a long ride on the Green Valley trails.   This would be my second ride on Scotty.  Scotty is my new 2-year old bike baby.  He is an aluminum Scott Scale 29er with mid-range components and front suspension.  I have not ridden a hardtail on dirt since about 1999.  Would I like him or would he hurt me. I would soon find out.

Our first test was Bear Claw Poppy trail, a giddy trail about as close to a pump track as you can get in Utah.

Drew on Bear Claw Poppy trail

Bear Claw Poppy - much more fun than it looks.

Scotty felt to me like a BMX bike!  I was launching off little whop-de-dos like never before and laughing out loud all the time.  The trail was a hoot on my new hardtail.  I liked him.

Next up were Stucki Springs and the Rim trails.We rode and rode and rode, stopping long minutes to talk to at least 25 other northern Utah racers that were doing the same thing we were: giggling and smiling in the 60-degree sunshine.

Bonnie and Jonas headed back after Rim, but the four of us pressed on to Barrel Roll and Sidewinder.  It was at the point where Sidewinder reconnects with Barrel Roll that Stephanie and Sally headed back to the condo the long way via Santa Clara.

And then there were two.  I was tired now and my back hurt from the hardtail riding, but it felt so good to actually be on dirt and the afternoon was so pretty, that I sucked it up and kept turning the cranks over.

Barrel Roll trail

Near the end of the Barrel Roll loop, Andy, Steve, Mark, and Ken caught us, and thank goodness they did because there is no way Drew and I would have found our way back to Green Valley through the redneck shooting range, deeply incised wash, and what seemed like five miles of double track.

Back at the condo we were all delirious with fatigue and happiness.

Dinner that night was at the highly recommended Bella Maria pizzeria.   The pizza was indeed delicious, but a note to those of you that enjoy the occasional adult beverage, this is not the place.

The Magic Miles on Goulds-Jem-Hurricane Rim

Sunday we indulged in banana pancakes and bacon at Bear Paw cafe before heading out to Hurricane to ride the big loop.  I took Sam, the full suspension bike to give my body a break from the hardtail.  This time we didn't see many people, but we had an awesome time ticking off the miles and racing down the flowiness of Jem trail.

Dinner was waiting for us back at the condo in the form of turkey chili we had thrown into the crock pot that morning.  Beers and a hot tub session were followed by a rousing game of charades. Yes, charades.  Sally is the biggest game pusher I know, but it was a huge amount of fun trying to guess Drew's sign language for Viagra and Stephanie's impersonation of bacon. 

A Zen moment
Monday before the long drive back, Sally, Drew, and I took a lap on the Zen Trail.

None of us had ridden this trail before, and we were pleasantly surprised at the amount of riding we could do on this technical trail.

 Sally having a zen moment at Zen Point

Overlooking Bear Claw Poppy trail

Panorama from Zen Point

And here is a 10-second video of Sally and me riding around a cool rock, just for fun.

I think that weekend was the most fun I have had on a bike in January, ever.  Great trails, perfect weather, fun friends, hot new bike.  Just what January should be!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The cat is IN the bag

The cats were having fun one day playing in an Ikea shopping bag.


We had an enjoyable and busy holiday season.

We went to friends Jim and Shelly's for Thanksgiving.  Shelly set a beautiful table,

 and made a fabulous meal.

I made some nice pies.

We ate too much but didn't party all night since Drew had to depart for work at 4:30 AM the next morning.

There was a lunar eclipse on December 10, which gave me a chance to try out my mew Christmas present to myself, the Casio Exilim H50G camera.

The eclipse pics turned out better than I thought (double click the picture to see more detail), but some of the other pictures I have not been as happy with.  Time will tell.

The next important holiday is Drew's birthday.

We celebrated with a very short hike because it was freezing cold and windy.

But that burned enough calories to justify dinner and cake at the Dodo Restaurant!

Then was Christmas.  Drew had to work so I went to visit my sister and her family in their beautiful new home near Castle Rock, Colorado.

Di and I got to spend some time walking around the neighborhood and catching up.

And then we feasted on a marvelous meal,

before we opened gifts.  Here are Laura and Kelli with the necklaces I gave them.

And Tober is always in there to warm one's lap.

Tober likes Di's new book.

Christmas Eve was over too fast but I was not sad that Christmas morning was coming because I got a fantastic gift.  I got to ride in the back of the plane that Drew was flying from Denver to Los Angeles. It's pretty cool watching the plane pull up to the gate knowing your husband is driving it.

Just like a curious kid, he took me up front and let me sit in the right seat.

He flew me to LAX, where we had a nice afternoon at the hotel

sitting by the pool in the 77 degree sunshine, chatting with family on Skype, and dining with the crew.
The next morning Drew had to work again, and I lucked out getting the very last seat on the direct flight back to SLC thanks to a uniformed flight attendant who graciously gave up her seat to take the jumpseat so I could get on the plane.  She obviously had the Christmas spirit.

The last holiday is, of course, the first: New Years.  Drew was working so I planned to go to a party solo.  I had a goal of getting another portion of the trim in our bedroom stained and polyurethaned during my long weekend of bachelorette-dom.  So when it was 8:30 PM on New Years Eve and I had already had a few beers and I looked like this

I decided to blow off the party and just finish the job.  The finished product looks great, even if it did cost me some fun times.

Since the holidays have passed, we are back to work but are still finding time to do some mountain biking on the trails here in the valley.  We have had near record high temps and no snow! It has been awesome to ride in knickers and a vest on January 4.  So awesome in fact that I felt compelled to buy a new bike!  I scored a 2009 Scott Scale 29er off the local classifieds.  It is a hardtail, which will be an interesting change from my cushy full suspension.   Variety is the spice of life.

This past week we had a light snow that made for a slippery but enjoyable hike.

And I've finally found some time to blog with a little help from my warm kitties.

To all of you, Drew and I wish you a happy, healthy 2012!