Wednesday, December 23, 2015

ATV 101

When we made the decision to winter in Southern Utah, we also made the decision to buy an ATV.  Why?  The Southern Utah area, including parts of Nevada and Arizona, boasts some of the most beautiful red rock desert terrain on the planet.  And what better way to experience it than from the back roads?

We found both the ATV and the trailer in Lehi, Utah.  We actually bought the trailer first – at Cabela’s.  Really.  It was quite by accident.  I had pulled up to pick Paul up at the door after our annual holiday shopping trip, and there it was.  Right in front of us.  The trailer we were looking for.  I have to tell the world what a great experience it was.  Selling a trailer involves more than just running the credit card; the trailer has to be titled.  They don’t sell a lot of them at Cabela’s, but even so, the customer service there was above and beyond.  They even helped us put the new ball on the trailer hitch and put the trailer hitch on the car. 

We found the ATV on, offered by a family in Lehi.  It is a Yamaha Big Bear 350, and it already had the storage/passenger seat attached to the back rack.  I call it the Queen’s chair.  The bad news is that it’s manual transmission, but that sounds worse than it actually is.  It’s pretty easy to change gears.  The lever is operated with your left foot.  No clutch involved.

We brought it to Hurricane this past Monday.  That same day I walked over to the Willow Wind office and bought a laminated copy of the local ATV trails.  A fellow camper saw me walk out with the map, introduced himself, and just like that, we were hooked up with the ATV riders in the park. 

So far we’ve been on three rides and have had a wonderful time – well, mostly.  We’re learning from each ride.  Here’s what we’ve learned so far.

1.  ATV riding is a really dirty sport.  When you’re riding in open air on dirt roads, you’re going to get some of that dirt on your clothes, in your hair, and of course, on the ATV.

2.  Going downhill as a passenger is challenging.  Our ATV doesn’t have footrests for the queen.  Paul rigged some rope “stirrups” to help me brace myself.  We’ve tested these on minor slopes; still need to test on really steep downhills.

3.  Forty degrees is too cold to ride – even if the sun is shining.

4.  Willow Wind RV Park frowns upon washing your ATV at the dog wash.

More adventures to come!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

The Baker’s Dozen Half Marathon

The postcard in the Howl-o-weenie Run was bright yellow, and in big red letters stated that this half marathon, relay and 5K would be held on December 12 in Hurricane, Utah.  The slogan, “Proudly exceeding the legal limit of racing fun.”  I was in. What better way to meet some fellow runners, I thought.

On researching the race, I had to think twice about running the half.  You see, the race involves four 3.25 mile loops, and at the end of each loop, each runner is required to eat a sweet snack.  Frankly, I didn’t think my digestive system could handle the intake requirements.  I signed up for the 5K.

Since I was only doing the 5K, and since the start line was only 1.5 miles from Willow Wind, I decided to run to the start line.  A good decision, since there were many racers and many cars in the parking lot and on the adjoining roads.  The racers gathered at the start line as the announcer reminded everyone of the rules of the race.

1. The race would not be timed.  This was not so much a race as a celebration of running.
2.  Each half marathon / relay runner must report to the “Sugar Shack” after each loop, eat a snack, and get their hands marked.
3.  Prizes would be awarded for best costume, best jump caught on camera, and most treats eaten.

And we were off. The weather was cold and crisp, but not nearly as cold as the weather app had led me to believe.  The racers spread out fairly quickly and I found myself running at a reasonable pace.  Twenty-seven minutes, 59 seconds later, I reached the Sugar Shack.  

They offered water, Dirty Doctor Pepper (hope there’s no trademark infringement going on there), and of course, several sweet treats.  There were doughnuts, cookies, and mini-pumpkin cheesecakes – not a protein bar in the mix.

It was fun!  Not racing against the clock, most of the racers lingered over the sweets, took photos, and chatted before starting their next lap. It was truly a celebration of running.

I didn’t stay for the prizes, but as I was running back to the park, I met one of the photographers.  “You’re going the wrong way,” she chided me.  I told her I was done; I had completed the 5K.  But I really felt a twinge of regret that I hadn’t done the half.  Next year – if we’re here – I’ll do the half, sweet treats and all.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Snowbird 101

We did it!  We moved our trailer to Willow Wind RV Park in beautiful Hurricane, Utah, and are now starting our first stint as official snowbirds.  Our plan, once the holiday season is behind us, is to spend the first week of each month in SLC and the next three weeks of the month in Hurricane.  There’s so much to do here – fishing, golfing, sightseeing, and of course, pollution-free running!

Many years ago we had friends living in St. George (just south of Hurricane) who would always lament the arrival of the snowbirds.  “Blue Hairs,” they would call them, or “FOPs” (OP stands for “old people”). Now that we’re the snowbirds descending on the southern Utah town, I have two things to say.  1)  My hair is not blue, and 2) I.  Am.  Not.  Old.  Amazing how young 59 really is once you’re there.

Willow Wind caters to snowbirds.  They have activities throughout the week, and there are two gathering areas with large propane fireplaces where we’ve been able to meet our fellow residents.  When we investigated staying here last spring, we were told to get our reservations in before the first of July.  Really?  Yep.  I made our reservation at the end of June and paid for our first month, with a plan to arrive on December 15.  Plans change, of course, and the staff at Willow Wind were very accommodating.  Our spot was available for us to arrive nearly a month early.

So now that we’ve started our third week of snowbirding, we’ve learned a few things.
1.  While very nice in the afternoons, Hurricane gets very cold in the mornings.  One of our first purchases when we arrived was an electric space heater.
2.  We’re paying our “newbie” dues this season in one of the less-desirable sites.  If we come back next winter, we’ll know which sites to ask for.
3.  It is challenging maintaining two households.  While there are some things that I don’t mind having duplicates of – mostly food items that we’ll use anyway – there are a few things I’ve discovered just have to be hauled back and forth each time we make the trip back to Salt Lake.  So far, all the toiletries, the vitamins, the running gear, and the recipe box travel back and forth with me.

I signed up for my first 5K in Hurricane – to be held December 12.  Where else can you run a 5K in the morning and play bingo in the afternoon?