Saturday, December 24, 2016

Traditions and Transitions

It’s Christmas Eve, and the rain that is falling now is expected to turn to snow.  Heavy snow.  Until very recently, this would have caused great angst between me and my husband.  You see, my Christmas tradition, from the time I could remember, was to go to Grandma’s house for Christmas Eve.  In the Danish tradition, we had a turkey dinner with all the trimmings.  Dessert was Danish apple cake, beautifully painted marzipan fruits, and other Danish goodies that came out only at Christmastime.  And then, best of all, we opened our presents from Grandma and Grandpa.  These Christmas memories are among my happiest.

When we became adults, my parents became Grandma and Grandpa and the tradition continued.  The only problem came when the weather was stormy.  My very practical husband made it clear many times that he was not happy I insisted on driving to Ogden for Christmas Eve unless the roads were officially closed by the Highway Patrol.  That happened only once in the 33 years we made the trek, but we drove in some pretty treacherous conditions over the years.

All good things must come to an end.  Last year my parents made the decision that our family had become too large for them to accommodate the huge gathering, and frankly, they just didn’t have the energy to do it anymore. 

After I recovered from nostalgia’s punch in the gut, I realized that the timing of their decision was actually very good.  Our son is married; our daughter will be soon, and they need to incorporate their life partners in their Christmas traditions.  As for us, we’ve decided that Christmas Eve will involve a steak dinner and Christmas Candlelight service.  The kids are invited but not obligated.  Tonight it will just be the two of us.  On Christmas morning, our family and friends will join us for Eggs Benedict.  This is our 25+ year tradition. 

When I finally graduate to Grandma status (I have faith it will eventually happen), I suspect we’ll continue to celebrate on Christmas Day.  Our son’s in-laws are of German descent and celebrate on Christmas Eve.  Our daughter’s in-laws-to-be also celebrate on Christmas Eve.  We may move the celebration to one of the grandkids’ houses.  We may not.  We’ll face that transition when we come to it – in the joyful spirit of the one in whose name we celebrate.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 19, 2016

Climbing Walls

It wasn’t on my bucket list.  In fact, it wasn’t anything I’d even contemplated doing.  I’ll take photos of mountains “because they are there,” but I have no interest in climbing them.  But climbing is a passion of my daughter and her boyfriend, and they practice every Monday night on the rock wall at the local rec center.

After declining multiple invitations to join them, I accepted last Monday.  Josh was waiting for me at the desk.  He showed me the harness I would be wearing and taught me how to work the locking carabiner that would hold the rope that would keep me from falling off the wall. 

He went on to explain to me that he would “belay,” which meant he would keep tension on the rope at all times so if I slipped I wouldn’t fall very far.  He showed me the belay device, a complicated system that the rope was threaded through to ensure tension.  As I climbed, he would keep the rope taut.  When he let me down he would do so gradually.

In his best Cyndi Lauper, he crooned

If you fall I will catch you, I’m be-lay-ing
Climb after climb

We both laughed.   He taught me the communication between climber and belayer.  “On belay?” I asked him.  “Belay on,” he replied per the script.  “Climbing,” I said.  “Climb on,” he replied, again per the script.  Then I started up.  He told me that I should use my arms to keep myself on the wall and use my legs to advance up the wall.  Easier said than done. 

It was time to face my biggest fear – coming down.  I had only climbed a few feet when I asked Josh to let me down.  I explained that I just needed to know what it felt like.  He obliged.  It was pretty easy.  I relaxed a bit.

He had one of the staff members belay me the second time up so he could climb alongside me.  As we climbed together, he pointed out the best hand and footholds.  I made it past the halfway point before I got tired.  I hadn’t listened.  I had exhausted my limited upper body strength pulling myself up.

By the time I’d come down the second time, my daughter had arrived.  She asked if I would belay her climb – with Josh helping, of course.  I learned the technique – pull the rope, move the rope hand below the securing hand, slide the securing hand up, move the rope hand back, repeat as needed.  Josh looked over my shoulder, but I did it.  I got Lisa to the top and back down again.

As I watched the others climbing, I observed that it would be OK to let go of the wall if I didn’t like where my hands and feet were placed.  I wouldn’t fall.  I saw that the climbers had complete faith in the rope and belay system.  And I realized that I had to come back.  I had to make it to the top.  

Next time – to the top!

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Sorry, Martha

This morning, around 8:30 AM, as I am dutifully dusting and vacuuming my house in preparation for this afternoon’s guests – one word rattled around my mind in time to the humming of the vacuum cleaner:  Why? 

Why is it that on the day we’re expected to spend all day in food preparation we are also expected to have our house resemble a showplace?  We seem to be inundated with TV ads, magazine articles, and even social media showing a perfect Thanksgiving celebration.  The Thanksgiving gurus show us tabloid after tabloid of perfectly displayed food, including an uncarved turkey on a platter in the center of the table.  They provide ideas for the most festive of decorations.  And all of this happens in spotless homes – never mind that it snowed last night and every guest will be tracking snow in on their shoes.

Really, folks.  I know how I cook.  I know that there will be food splatters on the kitchen floor, and that there will be no time to clean them up before the guests arrive.  And who carves the turkey at the table, anyway?  I read just last week that one of the gurus actually cooks a second turkey – a “stunt” turkey to sit as centerpiece while the real turkey is carved and served.  Two words:  not happening.

So I hope that our guests today will kindly overlook the stack of dishes overflowing from the sinks as they heap their plates with pre-carved turkey and all the trimmings.  I hope they’ll overlook the less-than-perfect table arrangements as they sit down for an evening of great food, great conversation, and a heaping portion of gratitude.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Monday, November 7, 2016

Have You Voted Yet?

My father was involved in local politics when I was growing up.  I remember posting signs, knocking on doors and handing out flyers from the time I was eleven years old.  Dad was elected to two terms on the City Council before being hired as City Manager.  He ran for his final elected position, that of County Surveyor, in 1994.

He won every election he ran in – except one.  Today I want to tell you about the one he lost.

Dad was running for a position on the County School Board.  He and his opponent were both well known in the city.  Dad was City Manager; his opponent was a city police officer.  Dad campaigned well.  His opponent also campaigned well.  In the end the race was decided by three votes.
Three votes!  After Dad had conceded and put that race behind him, several of his friends confessed that, “If I had known the race would be so close I would have voted.”

Your vote counts!  Never believe – not even for a second – that it doesn’t matter whether you vote or not.  In this race, dominated by an ugliness unbecoming our great nation, it’s especially important that you vote.  Don’t like either candidate at the top?  Skip that race.  In Utah the rest of your ballot will be counted.  It says so right on the ballot.

Too late to mail in your ballot?  Drop it off at a polling place.  Or just go to the polling place and cast your vote the traditional way.  Yes, there will be lines.  Take a book.  Or just visit with all your friends and neighbors also coming out to vote.

But vote!  Your vote counts.  And your vote matters.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Goal Setting in Retirement

That day when you look at your spouse and realize that you’ve accomplished everything you set out to accomplish after you retired?  Yeah, that’s happened. 

For those of you whose goal is to retire, be advised:  retirement is a doorway, not a destination.  When we retired we knew we would buy a trailer and work as campground hosts for five years.  During this time we would continue to become totally debt-free by reinvesting most of our rental income back into the properties.

Fast forward four years, five months, and three days, and here we are.  We decided to give up camp hosting after the summer of 2015 and learned that we quite enjoy camping without cleaning toilets.  All our rental properties are paid for.  Our hard work helping our son and daughter-in-law plan and execute their wedding culminated in a beautiful October 1 celebration.   And we have set no additional goals.

So now what do we want to do?  Travel?  Downsize?  Buy a summer home (or in our case, a winter home)?  Just for fun, I looked through an attempt at a “Bucket List” written in 2004 (eight years before we retired, and three years before we started calling them Bucket Lists).  There are 33 items on the list. 
#1 is to write and publish a novel. I’m working on it.  I’ve been working on it since 2012.  I’m on Chapter 31. 
#2 is to own two condos – one in SLC and one someplace warm.

Of the remaining 31 items, 13 are places I want to travel to (2 accomplished), 6 are things I’d like to do with my time (2 accomplished), 2 are things I’d like to learn, 3 are places I’d like to sing (2 accomplished), 2 are places I’d like to volunteer (1 accomplished), 2 are items I’ve since decided I never want to do, and the rest are pretty random .  Things like owning another pug, giving the kids nice weddings, and running a 5K.  Yes, I did write 5K.  How was I to know what an avid runner I would become?   So far I’ve accomplished 11 ½ of the 33 items on my list.

Just for fun, I shared the list with my husband.  He agreed with me that traveling more and trading in the big house for two smaller houses were ideas worth considering.  Maybe it’s time to transform these from the bucket list to actual goals that we can work on together.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Carrot vs. Stick

At the height of the burst of the housing bubble and the “too big to fail” debacle, I worked for what was then the 8th largest bank in the U.S.  At the time, Wells Fargo was one of the good guys.  We knew that lending money to people who couldn’t afford to pay it back was bad for business, and according to those I worked with who knew the mortgage business, we turned away a lot of money because of this.  We paid back the “bailout” money.  And we grew to be the 2nd biggest bank in the U.S.

Fast forward eight years and the shocking revelation that so many Wells Fargo bankers created fraudulent accounts in order to meet sales goals.  5300+ were fired.  The head of Retail Banking retired.  And just a few days ago, CEO John Stumpf announced his immediate resignation. 

I am saddened by the fact that the company who treated me very well as an employee did not treat the customers who keep the bank in business quite as well.  And I’m more saddened for the Retail bankers, most of them honest and hardworking, who are likely taking the brunt of the fallout.  And I can’t help but wonder…

First – a disclaimer.  I’ve never worked in Retail banking.  The hypothesis I’m about to put into words is mine alone.  And it is this:  Wells Fargo Bank used to have a wonderful reward for high performing employees called the Sales and Service Conference.  Salespeople earned their way to this conference by meeting and exceeding sales goals.  Service people like me earned their way by being recommended by other departments for exemplary service.  The conference was an honor to attend – and a lot of fun!

My first Sales and Service Conference, held in the Bahamas was themed, A Culture of Legendary Excellence. I met a phone banker who was attending for her seventh time.  She worked hard every year to meet her sales goals and was rewarded.  But there were many more first-timers like me who were awestruck at the way Wells Fargo leadership honored us “little people” who were the “heart and soul of the company.”  The culmination of a long weekend of recognition and inspiration was walking across the stage to receive a medal from the CEO.

I attended two more times.  The last time I attended was in 2008.  John Stumpf presented my medal.  I shook his hand.  He seemed genuinely pleased to be there.  Later that year the company announced that it would be doing away with Sales and Service Conference, as it appeared to the outside world to be a boondoggle for highly paid executives.  In the climate of bailouts, buyouts, and out and out failures, no financial institution should get away with such frivolity.

That frivolity, however, seemed to be a significant incentive for bankers to meet their sales goals.  Sure, the executives were there, but they were there to encourage, support and honor those who had excelled at their jobs.  I wonder – in making the decision to do away with the conference, did we lose a part of our “culture of legendary excellence?”  I wonder – would the now-fired bankers have turned to fraud to meet sales goals if instead of threats such as reduced compensation or even job loss, an incentive were on the table?

I wonder – but I’ll never know.  

Friday, September 16, 2016

The Arapeen OHV Trail System

Blue Lake on the Arapeen OHV Trail System
We just completed a wonderful six weeks at Pine Mountain, located east of Spring City on a gateway road into the Arapeen OHV Trail System. This set of roads and trails, many open to 4X4 vehicles as well as off-road vehicles, is located in the Manti-LaSal National Forest.  The roads and trails are maintained by the National Forest Service and are well marked with signs bearing the road number.  System maps are available – free – at the Forest Service Offices in Ephraim, Ferron, Price, Moab and Monticello.

The main road linking the trails is #1, Skyline Drive.  It’s classified as a 4X4 road, and in certain sections you can drive a 2 wheel drive vehicle over it, but great deal of the road is pretty rutted.  I’m picturing the first sunny day in March, an old 4 wheel drive truck, a six pack of Keystone Light, and “damn the mud and snow – full speed ahead.”  That’s probably not what happened, but that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. 

The trails are rated like ski runs –green for easy, blue for intermediate, black for advanced.  The color code is on the actual signs marking the trails.  But look carefully at the colors on the map. We learned the hard way that a green line for a trail on the map doesn’t mean it’s easy.  It means it’s restricted to ATVs 50” or less in width.  They take this width restriction very seriously.  The gate to enter the trail is just a bit wider.  Seriously.  We cleared one of the gates by ½ inch on either side.  The gate is also stationary.  If you don’t fit through, you don’t ride the trail.  Case closed.

Most of the ATV-only trails are two-track, alternating through dense forest and open meadows.  The Reeder Canyon trail and the other road #5 (still confused) had steep uphill and downhill sections punctuated by Forest Service speed bumps – actually culverts to divert running water.  There are several reservoirs along the trail, many with fishing and camping opportunities. 

We rode in this area more than a dozen times during our stay at Pine Mountain and still have trails and loops we have yet to ride. Interested?  You can download the trail map here.  Happy Trails!

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

What the Best Dressed ATV Riders are Wearing

Welcome to my first – and most likely last – fashion post.  But if ever there were an event where the right attire is paramount, ATV riding would be it.  So, without further ado, starting at the bottom and working up….

1.  Boots.  Your boots should have good tread and provide ankle support.  Remember, you’ll need good traction on the trails and on-foot sightseeing.

2.  Socks.  Your socks need to cover the space between your boots and the inevitable lift of your pants when you’re seated.  Why?  The heat from the ATV’s engine can make the sideboards near the footrests very hot.  Save yourself the burn.

3.  Long pants.  Covering your legs protects them from windburn, sunburn, insects, flying objects and again, the heat of the machine.  The best riding pants have lots of pockets.  Ladies, the trail is no place for your designer handbags.  You need a pocket for your camera or cellphone, a pocket for chapstick, a pocket for tissues, and anything else you really need.  Don’t pack a comb or brush.  Trust me on this one.

4.  Long sleeved shirt.  Covering your arms has the same benefits as covering your legs.  I use a white cotton shirt on hot days, a pullover windbreaker on cooler days, and a parka for cold days.

5.  Bandanna.  Or maybe 2.  One should be tied around your neck so you can slip it up to cover your mouth and nose if you’re riding in really dusty conditions.  They make official dust masks for ATV riders, but so far I’ve found the bandanna to work just as well.  I use a second bandanna around my hair.  It keeps most of the dust out and makes it a lot easier to brush when we’re finally back home.

6.  Helmet.  This is the most important fashion accessory in the ATV riders wardrobe.  The benefits of wearing a helmet are many:
- It's the law (in Utah) if you're under age 18;
- It keeps wind and bugs off your face;
- It keeps rocks and dust out of your eyes;
- It keeps your ears warm on cold days;
- It keeps low tree branches from hitting you in the face, and
- It can save your life.

According to Riders West, “Recent research indicates that wearing a helmet while riding an ATV reduces an individual’s risk of death by 42 per cent and of suffering a head injury by 64 per cent. Head and spinal cord injuries are among the most common injuries incurred by ATV users.”
Don’t scrimp on the helmet.  Buy the best helmet you can afford and make sure it fits you well.  And if you should have the misfortune of having the helmet do its job, replace it.

But as for the pants, shirts, and windbreakers – the best source I’ve found is my local thrift store.  After all, why pay big bucks for clothing you intend to get dirty?

Happy trails!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Pine Mountain – A Guest Post by Frank

Hi!  It’s me again, Frank.  If we haven’t met yet, you can read my story at The Story of Frank.

Shortly after my previous owner, Fred, passed away, his daughter and son-in-law purchased a 5-acre lot in Pine Mountain in Sanpete County, Utah, southeast of Mount Pleasant and just east of Spring City.  Paul and Cheri brought me there for the first time last weekend.

The property sits on top of a hill.  The views are amazing and sunsets are spectacular.  The owners have built several trailer spots, a lovely sitting area and dining area, a playground complete with sand, and two horseshoe pits – so far.  Fred’s kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids come up most weekends to enjoy the property and the nearby recreation.  There are several hiking trails and easy access to the Arapeen OHV trail system.  You can drive (or ride) to several ponds and reservoirs to fish, and can walk out onto public lands to hunt.

Or you can just sit back and enjoy the peace and quiet.  Pine Mountain is a gated community.  Only owners and their guests can even access the area, and our spot is at the end of a road that the kids are in charge of naming.  During the day you can watch the hummingbirds (and chipmunks) at the feeders, and in the evening you can enjoy thousands of stars and dozens of solar lights.

I came this particular weekend to participate in a Memorial Service for Fred and his wife, JoAnn.  Fred’s children had chosen Pine Mountain as the final resting place for their ashes, and on Saturday, August 13, they honored Fred and JoAnn and buried the ashes.  Most of the family, including adopted son Paul, were there and spoke of their fond memories.  There were tears of joy and tears of gratitude.

The gravesite is marked by a tree planted in honor of Fred and JoAnn.  A simple cross and angel guard the site with their colored lights.

I think Fred and JoAnn would have loved it here.

Friday, August 5, 2016

All In

 When we bought our first ATV – the very old, very small, very cheap one with the Queen’s chair – we did so deliberately with the idea that we would try it and see if we liked it before we invested any real money into the sport.

Or so we thought.  The downside of buying anything used is that you know something’s wrong with it.  What it is and when it will surface is a crap shoot, but something will break.  We put lots of hours and lots of miles on this used ATV – and lots of money on maintenance that never really got it working as well as we would have liked.

All the while, in the back of my mind, I started my list of requirements for the next one:

1. Power – it had to be able to go faster than 30 mph.

2. Foot rests for the passenger – the makeshift stirrups we used so I could brace myself riding downhill just weren’t the best solution.
2A. OK – we really needed a machine that was factory built for two.  The industry term is “two-up.”

3.  Built this century.  When I said the first ATV was “very old,” I meant “very old.”

When we brought the old ATV back from Hurricane, we immediately sold it for parts.  Then we spent a good deal of time deciding whether or not we really wanted to buy another ATV.  Were we ready to put both the time and money into the sport – for the next several years?

The decision was “yes.”  Last April we bought a brand-new, 2015 Polaris 570 Touring model.  It was a base model without power steering and without a built-in winch.  We bought a gun rack to hold fishing poles and walking sticks and pouches to hold whatever else.



We took it out in the west desert for its trial run and learned that I can drive with my husband riding as passenger.  (I would have never attempted this on the old ATV.)  We took it to the mountains and learned that it gets stuck in a foot of snow.  Thankfully we had another vehicle to pull us out.  We bought and installed a winch.  We took it camping and learned we could bungee chairs to the back, pack lunches and snacks in the pouches, and put fishing poles in the gun rack and go on all day adventures. 

It’s official!   We’re all in on this ATV thing!  Now if we only had a GPS…


Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Reminiscing at Hoop Lake

We decided not to work as campground hosts this year – mainly because we spent four months in the trailer during the winter and were ready to spend some quality time in the house and yard.  But when it was time to go camping, we decided to go to the first area we hosted – Hoop Lake on the North Slope of the Uinta Mountains.

We didn’t actually camp at Hoop Lake.  There is only one site in the main campground big enough for our trailer – and it’s not the host site!  We camped near the Middle Fork of Beaver Creek.  We rode to Hoop Lake several times.

The lake is as high as I have ever seen it, and as of June 25 they had not opened the spillway to let water out.  Of course, they didn’t need to.  The trailhead near the campground was under a foot of water – again, as of June 25.

Some things hadn’t changed.  The campsites are as rustic as ever, and after hosting at Washington Lake, seemed even smaller.  We ran into our Forest Ranger, Nancy, at the lake.  She told us that she would likely retire next summer, so it was great to see her one last time.  She was doing double duty as there was no camp host.  Not surprising.  Only in the month of July does Hoop Lake get enough business to justify paying the host couple 30 hours a week.  We were paid 20 hours a week in June and August.  Our area managers at the time commented that it was a difficult post to fill.

Some changes had been made.  Sites 1 and 2 on the horse camp side have been made double sites.  Also not surprising.  We were used to having several trailers on those sites, and we charged per trailer.  The good news was that we could charge half price to Senior Pass and Access Pass holders.  These discounts don’t apply to double sites in most National Forest Campgrounds.  A sign requesting a trailhead fee of $3 per vehicle per day is now posted at the horse camp. 

When we hosted at Hoop Lake four years ago I was a rookie runner.  It took all summer before I was able to run up the hill on the lake side of the main loop without stopping to walk.  And I didn’t even think about running up the hill to the horse camp.  This year, even on my first day running, I made it up the lakeside hill and ran all the way to the horse camp.  It was great to realize that I am that much stronger – even though I’m also that much older.

While I loved the walk down memory lane, it was really nice to drive back to camp and then, when the camping trip was done, to drive home.  I’m loving the summer off!  

Monday, June 27, 2016

A Day in the Life of a Small Town

We were going fishing.  That was the plan, that is, until our little pug, Ty, decided to do a face plant off a moving ATV.  He was seriously injured.

We headed into Mountain View, WY, the closest town from the remote spot in the Uinta Mountains where we were camping.  We flew down the dirt road into Lonetree, and as we made the curve the car stopped.  Just stopped.  We pulled over and it started back up again, but it wouldn’t go into overdrive. 

I checked my cell phone for service every 30 seconds.  (Are we there yet?) We finally made it into cell range just outside of Mountain View, and I found the Uinta Veterinary Hospital in Lyman.  I called to let them know we had an emergency.  Then I called again because I didn’t trust the Google map directions.  Then I called again because we just couldn’t see the place. 

Meanwhile, the car is getting worse.  By the time we finally arrived at the vet, the car would only go into first gear.  I hauled Ty into the hospital, which was really busy.  They checked me in and we waited for the one veterinarian on duty to take a look.

Outside, Paul chatted with a few locals.  They recommended Bradshaw for towing; Rees Automotive for the repair.  We knew we were looking at a new transmission – not something they stock in small-town Wyoming.  We also knew that we were stranded.  Our car was broken and we had no way to get back to our campsite where a working vehicle awaited.

Dr. Osborne, the vet on duty and hospital owner, had good news.  There were no broken bones and the lacerations could be stitched up.  He would need general anesthesia; the surgery would take about an hour and a half, and he’d need at least that long to recover.  Well, we weren’t going anywhere.

So we stayed all day at the veterinary hospital.  One of the vet techs, who had just finished her pre-vet program at Utah State, brought us coffee.  Each time a tech went to lunch, she offered to bring us something.  “No thank you.  My stomach is still tied up in knots.”  One of the techs offered to talk with her husband about taking a ride up the mountains and returning us to our campsite. 

We watched all morning and all afternoon as people came in and out of the hospital.  About half of these people weren’t there for the animal care.  They were picking up or dropping off items for a virtual silent auction.  The story:  a local young man was severely burned in an auto accident and was at the University of Utah Burn Center fighting for his life.  Dr. Osborne’s wife had set up the silent auction to raise funds for his medical bills, and the entire Bridger Valley had rallied around them.  It sounded like everyone in the towns of Mountain View, Lyman, Fort Bridger and Urie – and the surrounding ranch lands – had either donated an item, bought an item, or both.  As of that afternoon Mrs. Osborne had collected $25,000 of the over $50,000 raised.  Wow!

In the end, Bradshaw came to tow the car to Rees, we gathered Ty up with an assortment of medications and the dreaded cone of shame, and rode with the vet tech and her husband up the mountain.  They refused to let us give them money for gas.  The kindness and hospitality of the people of these small towns gives me faith that, even in the face of all the evil we see in the world, there is hope for humanity.   

Sadly, Ty died at 6:10 AM the next day.  He never woke up from the anesthesia. We took him back to Uinta Veterinary Hospital.  Their final act of kindness to us was to arrange for him to be cremated.  We made a donation to the silent auction fund in his memory.  

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Yellowstone Half Marathon

Sue, Cheri, Tracy and Rachel at the finish
The Yellowstone Half is officially in the books!  And what an amazing race it was!

Paul, Sue and I arrived in West Yellowstone, MT on Thursday afternoon, June 9 and pulled the trailer into the Buffalo Crossing RV Park.  The park was not much to look at – pretty much a gravel parking lot interspersed with railroad ties and picnic tables – but the location was fabulous!  We were right around the corner from the entrance to the park, and walking distance to pretty much anything the town had to offer – including the Race Expo.

This year’s Race Expo was set up like a Forest Service campground, complete with the brown and beige sign and, get this, the Forest Service!  They were there with a fabulous display on the bears of Yellowstone Park.  After all, the Yellowstone Half Marathon is a trail race, and the trails are right smack in the middle of bear country.  The Forest Service advice:  run with others, make noise, and if you think you’ll be all alone on the trail, carry bear spray.

Sue and I had signed up for the Bison Double, a 5K on June 10 followed by the Half on June 11.  The 5K was, for the most part, on groomed dirt roads, so we both made pretty good time.  Sue placed first in her age group; I placed second in mine.  Not bad, considering neither of us had planned to really push it for this race.

We had planned to just run and enjoy the half as well.  It was our first ever trail half marathon, so we both expected to run more slowly.  The race started on the same groomed gravel roads, but after about mile three we landed on a two-track snowmobile trail.  We ran through woods and meadows.  It was particularly beautiful along the river.  Not that we got much of a chance to see the scenery – we were both pretty focused on the terrain ahead.  Sue crossed the finish line 6 minutes 55 seconds ahead of me for a first place finish in her age group.  I finished 4th in mine.


Trail running is a completely different skill than road running.  I felt muscles I didn’t know I had as I focused on keeping myself upright on the trail.  I was surprised to see more than one runner stumble on flat ground after maintaining against the rocks, twigs, and other uneven surfaces of the trail. 

Were there bears?  More than likely.  But we didn’t encounter them.  Neither of us was ever alone on the trail, and I know I heard the sounds of bells and clapping throughout the run.  The Forest Service?  Volunteers?  I don’t know for sure, but whoever they were, I thank them.

At the end of the run, Vacation Races provided their standard chocolate milk, bananas, and awesome food boxes.  The awards ceremony was probably scheduled too early, as a few of the age divisions hadn’t had the top five runners come in yet, but they still do a great job of presenting the award medals.  Sue and I each came away with four medals and the promise of a fifth medal in the mail.

I love Vacation Races!  Next year – Yosemite!

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Blood, Sweat, and Training in the Heat

Summer is officially here.  Maybe not by the calendar, but definitely by the thermometer.  In just a few days the temps here went from pleasant 60s and 70s to 80s and 90s.  Ughhh!  After my less-than-stellar performance in the Red Rock Relay – which I attribute entirely to the heat – I’m really worried about running in the valleys this summer.

For the past four summers, my running challenge has been altitude.  So I studied altitude training and implemented what I learned.  Logic would say that there are techniques for learning to run in heat as well.  I began my research on runnersworld.com, where I learned why heat impacts runners and what to do about it. 

According to the article Good Reasons to Love Training Through Summer, “Yes, [the heat] slows your pace--by 1.5 to 3 percent for every 10-degree jump above 55°F, in fact…But by training through scorching temperatures, runners reap a performance boost come autumn.  In hot weather, one way your body tries to cool itself is by sending blood to the skin's surface, where the blood's heat dissipates into the air, says Janet Hamilton, a Georgia-based running coach and exercise physiologist. This cooling action diverts blood (and its run-fueling oxygen) away from working muscles. To satisfy the opposing demands of cooling and exercising, your body makes more blood. Once the mercury drops, your muscles enjoy this surplus. "You feel like you can fly, like Peter Pan," Hamilton says. "If you're on the cusp of a PR, heat training can be the factor that closes the gap."

The article, Ten Ways for Making Hot Weather Tolerable explains the physiology further.  “When you run, you get warm because your exercising muscles increase body temperature. When body temperature rises, a greater percentage of blood flow is directed to your skin surface in order to carry away this internal heat, and you break a sweat. However, it is not sweating that cools you, but rather the evaporation of the sweat from your skin. As sweat evaporates, we are cooled.

Since sweat is composed of plasma from your blood, sweating can decrease blood volume. This is why adequate hydration becomes extremely important in hot weather. ..As blood flow is redirected to the skin's surface, it means less blood is available to your working muscles. With less blood available, the heart is forced to work harder to sustain hard running, and the result is a higher heart rate. Simply put, warm, humid weather means your usual run pace has just become much harder. ..”

And while the above-referenced article did present 10 tips for running in hot weather, I like the presentation from the article Running in the Heat better:

“1. Make adjustments: Don’t do long or higher-intensity workouts during the heat of the day… As a general rule, start your workout slower than you usually do. If you’re feeling good halfway through, it’s okay to speed up a little bit.
2. Wear as little as possible: Wear apparel that’s light in color, lightweight, and has vents or mesh. Microfiber polyesters and cotton blends are good fabric choices. Also, be sure to wear a hat, shades, and sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. 


3. Watch your alcohol and meds: Alcohol, antihistamines, and antidepressants can all have a dehydrating effect. Using them just before a run can make you have to pee, compounding your risk of dehydration.
4. Drink early and often: Top off your fluid stores with 16 ounces of sports drink an hour before you head out. Then toss down five to eight ounces of sports drink about every 20 minutes while working out. Sports drinks beat water because they contain electrolytes, which increase your water-absorption rate, replace the electrolytes you lose in sweat, and taste good, making it easy to drink more.
5. Be patient: Give yourself eight to 14 days to acclimatize to hot weather, gradually increasing the length and intensity of your training. In that time, your body will learn to decrease your heart rate, decrease your core body temperature, and increase your sweat rate.
6. Seek grass and shade: It’s always hotter in cities than in surrounding areas because asphalt and concrete retain heat. 


7. Check the breeze: If possible, start your run going with the wind and then run back with a headwind. Running into the wind has a cooling effect, and you’ll need that in the second half of a run.
8. Head out early or late: Even in the worst heat wave, it cools off significantly by dawn. Get your run done then, and you’ll feel good about it all day. Can’t fit it in? Wait until evening, when the sun’s rays aren’t as strong—just don’t do it so late that it keeps you from getting to sleep.
9. Slow down: Every 5°F rise in temperature above 60°F can slow your pace by as much as 20 to 30 seconds per mile. So don’t fight it—just slow down.


10. Run in water: Substitute one weekly outdoor walk or run with a pool-running session of the same duration. If you’re new to pool running, use a flotation device and simply move your legs as if you were running on land, with a slightly exaggerated forward lean and vigorous arm pump.”

So now I know.  And as much as I would like to avoid the heat, I can at least embrace it as a great way to train.  I wonder if heat training will help at altitude.  I guess I’ll find out – the Yellowstone Half is just days away!

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Testing the Tricks of the Trail

After studying trail running techniques and purchasing trail shoes, it was time to seriously practice trail running.  Sue and I had thought this through and signed up for the Shootout at Blackridge 5K last Saturday, May 21.  But we both had brand new never-been-worn trail shoes, and as all runners know, you don’t break in new shoes on race day.  So on the Monday before race day, we laced up the shoes and drove ourselves all the way out to Herriman so we could practice the actual race trail.

It was a good thing we did.  The trail was much different than what we expected from the race description.  While there were sections where the trail was “two-track,” for the most part it was a single, mildly steep, narrow lane.  The good news was (drum roll, please) – it all worked!

My new trail shoes, Altra Lone Peaks, are marvelous.  They feel great and they really do hold the trail – both uphill and down.  The technique of taking smaller steps and using the upper body for balance was a huge success.  I laughed at myself as “little tiny steps – dance with the mountain” became my mantra on the downhill.  I smiled as I realized that I was going a lot faster than I had allowed myself to go before.

Then it was race day.  And instead of the sunny weather and dusty trail we had experienced before, we found ourselves – along with 111 other crazies – running in the wind and rain on muddy trails.  Once again the news was good.  The new shoes held the mud well – a little too well.  I felt like my feet weighed 20 pounds as the mud caked on the shoes.  But I did not slip.  Not even once.

This was not my fastest 5K.  In fact, I’m pretty sure it was my slowest.  But I felt really good about the practice, and am feeling more confident in my trail running ability.  My advanced age also contributed to this slowest-ever time still resulting in a 2nd place finish in my age division.  Sue and I were in the same age division in this race, so it didn’t bode well for the home team.  Sue finished a good 5 minutes ahead of me.  We both held our own against our much-younger competition. 

As we warmed up in the car after the race, taking care not to get too much mud on the floor mats, we commented that now there was nothing the Yellowstone Half could dish out that we couldn’t take.  And our shoes are now, well, a little more trail-worthy.

T-minus 16 days and counting down to the Yellowstone Half Marathon.  Bring it!!!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

A Hot Time at Red Rock Relay


Team Girls’ Day Out, the coolest team that has ever run the Red Rock Relay, arrived in Moab late in the afternoon of May 13.  This year our captain and official housing arranger, Dawn, secured a beautiful condo for the entire team, including Helen and her very brave husband, Bill.

Helen made the decision last year to transition to alumna status on the team, so Dawn’s niece, Merissa, took her place in the lineup. We showed up at 5:30 AM – in the dark – wearing our new team shirts with this year’s logo, and sent Lyndsay, our first runner, on her way.

The temperature was pleasant – until the sun came out.  And then it started to warm up.  And then it started to really warm up.  We knew that hot weather was in the forecast, but we didn’t think we’d be affected by it until the last few runners of the afternoon.

We were wrong.  Once we started the heavy climbs, everyone started to feel the effects of the heat.  We started dumping water on ourselves.  We ran in our sport bras – yes, even those of us who are old enough that we probably shouldn’t run in our sport bras.  But the heat still took its toll.

Even with the heat, the race was a lot of fun.  We bantered back and forth with several other teams, including a team that came all the way from North Carolina, a bachelorette party, a really fun team that had brought a large spray bottle and used it liberally, and an ultra-running team, 3 men that were all veterans.  We picked the team we had to beat – the girls in the blue tanks.  Why?  Because they changed clothes in the porta-potties.  Note to all relay teams:  never do this.  Porta-potties have one purpose and one purpose only.  To use them for any other purpose is just sick and wrong.  And yes – we beat them.  By about 5 minutes.

My personal experience was that I really couldn’t run more slowly, so I found myself running a while, walking a while, drinking/dumping water, and doing it again.  I felt so sluggish, and felt that I’d let the team down, until we realized that we really had done quite well.  Our finish time was 10 hours and 18 minutes – only 2 minutes slower than last year – for a 10:06 pace.  I finished leg 7 – that horrible uphill with the switchbacks – in the same time that Lyndsay had done the previous year, and I finished leg 12 in 58 minutes – only two minutes slower than my projected time.

As we debriefed, we realized that this was the first time the Red Rock Relay had been hot.  We decided that if it’s hot again next year, we’ll split the late afternoon legs so nobody has to do six to eight miles in 90 degree weather.  And we’ll bring our very own very large spray bottle.  Oh, yes, we’ll be back next year – only we’ll change our title to “Hottest Team Ever.”

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Role Models

Helen, Cheri and Sue - the first half of team Girl's Day Out
Shortly after I retired I learned that two women I had known for years – Sue and Helen – were also runners.  Why I didn’t find out until after retirement still astounds me, but the good news is, I did find out.  And we started running together.  And we started doing races together.  And we started doing travel races together.  And we became half of the well-known relay team, Girls’ Day Out.  What?  What do you mean you’ve never heard of us?

I find it so much more fun running with people than running by myself.  I train harder, and I go out to run with them no matter what conditions are like.  Because Helen and Sue are going to be there, and they’re not going to wimp out because of a little rain or snow.  We talk while we’re running.  We talk about our families.  We talk about our plans.  We talk about the races we’ve run and the races we’re planning to run.  Sometimes we even whine about our running injuries – but not often.  We encourage one another.  We cheer for each other’s accomplishments – both on and off the pavement. 

Ida Keeling
Helen and Sue are both older than I am.  They are role models to me.  I hope to still be running when I am their age.  Actually, I hope to be still running with them when I am the age that they are now.  I hope to someday have Sue’s speed and strength.  I hope to someday have Helen’s peaceful determination.  I hope to one day watch as Helen or Sue beats Ida Keeling’s record for the fastest
100-year-old.

At the last 10K we ran together, we chatted with some younger women who had just finished the race.  They commented on how much fun it must be to have friends that you’ve been running with for years.  And while we’ve been running together for a much shorter time than our respective chronological ages might indicate, we all encouraged them to keep running, and to keep running together.

 I guess that makes me a role model, too.  I am hopeful that I, like Helen, Sue, and Ida, can encourage women of all ages to be runners for life.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Salt Lake City Half Marathon

I have to admit that I was lukewarm about running the Salt Lake City Half Marathon this year.  I had run it once before, and while it was a great race, it was in my hometown.  I’ve lived in the Salt Lake City area for almost 40 years.  Where’s the adventure?  Where’s the excitement?  But the timing was right, and the SL Half would be a good training run in preparation for the Red Rock Relay in May and the Yellowstone Half in June.  As the race date approached, I started to realize what a great race this was going to be.

The race expo was held at the Fairgrounds.  As we rode the local light rail, Sue and I reminisced about the last time we’d run the Salt Lake Half.  We’d stayed together the entire race.  I’d set a PR.  It had been warm enough to have beer after the race – not always possible with Utah’s fickle weather.   It was my first time actually attending the race expo, which was well staffed and quite fun.  There were lots of vendors, a few good deals, and the opportunity to see some of the latest and greatest in running gear and nutrition.  Lots of people milled around.  Everyone was excited about the upcoming race.  Walking away from the expo, we overheard two gentlemen speaking French.  They were a father and son who had come all the way from Montreal to run the Half Marathon.  Wow – this race is a bigger deal than I thought.

The Marathon organizers had partnered with the Utah Transit Authority to offer free rides on Trax (the light rail) to the start line.  We took them up on it, and got to the start line just in time to check gear and get to our corral.  Then we were off. 

The course is truly beautiful.  It begins at the University of Utah, climbs into the Avenues where it runs through some historic neighborhoods and past an old cemetery, then descends through Memory Grove and into the city.  It runs up South Temple to 9th East, up 8th South to 11th east and into the Sugarhouse area.  We turned east before I got to my first apartment in Salt Lake City, but we ran past the little house where my husband and I lived when we were first married.  At 21st South the marathon runners turn east; the half runners go west to 6th east, then through Liberty Park, then down to 2nd east with the finish line at Library Square. 

Me and Sue after the race
At 59 years, 11 months and 17 days, if I wasn’t the oldest in my age group I was pretty close to it.  I had no chance whatsoever of placing in my age group, so I made the decision to just give it my best.  Race day adrenalin kicked in and I was able to keep up with Sue for the first six miles (no easy feat).  I slowed down on the first major hill.  Sue didn’t.  I didn’t see her again until the finish line.  She finished in less than two hours, set a PR, and took first place in her age group.  Sue is a rock star.  But between keeping up with her and accelerating my own pace on the downhills, I was able to set a new PR as well.  OK, it was only 7 seconds faster, but hey – it still counts! I checked the stats after the race.  If I had been 60 I’d have taken 3rd place in my age group.  Oh, well.

The finish line was festive and family friendly.  There was a good assortment of post-race snacks for the runners.  Disney princesses and Marvel superheroes entertained the kids at the playground area.  While we made a beeline for the beer tent, we did pass several other vendors on our way.  Live music played, and the racers and their families reveled in the sunshine and the joy of achievement.

I read the results this morning in the Salt Lake Tribune.  Of the top 5 male finishers, all were local.  Of the top 5 female finishers, 4 were local.  Yes, this is a hometown race.  And now I proudly claim it as my hometown race.  Want a great race?  Come to Salt Lake City next year!  I’ll see you there.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Champions

The race invitation sounded fun.  The Recycle Run was pitched as a 5K where you get a random medal and a random t-shirt at the end of the race.  Even better, it was a fundraiser to support Addict to Athlete (AIIA), and an opportunity to donate gently-used running shoes to the program.  My running buddies and I were in.

We were familiar with AIIA – a good friend and fellow Girls’ Day Out teammate is a strong supporter of the program – but since not everyone has heard of it, here are the details:

Addict to Athlete is a community support program available to anyone touched by addiction.  The organization’s mission is “to establish and maintain sobriety by promoting lifestyle changes through erasing addiction and replacing it with something of greater value.”  The organization is local, with chapters in Salt Lake, Utah and Davis Counties.  They run strictly on volunteers and donations, and everyone is welcome to participate.

We signed up.  And we waited for more information on a critical detail – the location of the race, which wasn’t emailed to the participant list until the morning of race day.  And then, early afternoon of race day, another email came – the location had changed.   Yet another email came later that afternoon – the location AND the time had changed.  Did we really want to participate in such a disorganized event?

We arrived at the final location about 20 minutes prior to race start.  Several runners were already there, including a few handicapped racers in strollers from Team Kid Courage.  The race director kicked off the race in what we learned is the usual beginning of all AIIA gatherings – a moment of silence for the addicts who are still suffering.  The silence was broken by a shout, “Athletes, who are we?”  The crowd responded, “Champions!!”  And at that moment, the confusion and disorganization on the location was forgiven and forgotten.

The race began.  Some ran, some walked, and some took turns pushing the beautiful children in the strollers.  Everyone encouraged one another.  There were no awards for being fastest, and nobody cared how many laps around the course anyone made.  Everyone was a winner.

I came away inspired by the courage and tenacity of the AIIA members.  While I cannot even begin to imagine the suffering that addiction can bring, I am a first-hand witness to the joy that running brought to these athletes.  Who are they? Champions!

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Tricks of the Trail

One of the easier sections of the Wall Lake Trail
Sue and I are planning to run the Yellowstone Half Marathon in June.  The Yellowstone Half is sponsored by Vacation Races, a fabulous racing company – and it’s a trail run.  13.1 miles of dirt road and trail.  Running on trails is different from running on roads, and I find it quite challenging.

My first trail run was Patia’s Race, a 10K trail run in Eureka, Utah.  The race was great –except for a steep downhill stretch where I found myself walking – no, stumbling – as the rest of the racers blew by me.  Why?  Fear of falling.

I have a rational fear of falling.  Along with Blythe Danner, Sally Field, and thousands of other post-menopausal women, I have osteoporosis.  If I fall I could break something – and that would seriously interfere with my running.  So imagine my chagrin when one of the articles I find on downhill trail technique includes this sentence: “Some call downhill running “controlled chaos.” I call it ‘falling in control,’ because that’s more of what it looks like. Falling.”

The author, Doug, goes on to refer to downhill trail running as “dancing with the mountain.”  OK, I can get behind this. Here are his five key components to proper downhill technique.  I am pleasantly surprised at the strong ties to the Chi Running technique I’ve been working on.

1.  Quick foot and leg turnover.  (There’s that cadence again).
2.  Lean forward, not back. (Lean for speed, but apparently also to prevent stress on your legs and quads.)
3.   Look straight ahead – not down.  Keep your gaze about 5 – 7 feet ahead of your steps.  Trust that your brain will process the information and put your feet in the right places. (The concept of Y Chi – focusing on a distant point to channel your running in the direction you’re going.)
4.  Use the upper body for balance.  (Another Chi Running concept – amplified in trail running by allowing the upper body to float as needed to balance your footsteps.  Dancing with the mountain…)
5.  Descend with confidence.  (I think Doug was looking directly at me when he wrote this sentence.  I have all the confidence in the world going uphill; I need to reach out for that confidence on the downhills.)


He closes the article by reminding his readers that they need to practice.  A lot.  And to dedicate time to strictly practice running downhill.  Queue the music - it’s time to start dancing with the mountain.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Running Faster

I am a very consistent runner.  I pretty much run the same pace no matter what distance I’m running.  This is not necessarily a bad thing; in fact in many ways it’s a good thing.  But somehow deep down inside I’m feeling like I should be able to run a shorter distance faster.  Running faster is a goal of most serious runners.  We runners measure improvement in increased distances and faster paces. 

Last fall, after I returned from three months in the mountains, running at 10,000 feet, I should have been a running superhero down at a mere 4200 feet.  But I wasn’t.  I found myself running about the same paces as I had at altitude.  Why wasn’t I faster?

My answer came in an old email from Brian Corbett, an RRCA-certified running coach and my former coach at the Wasatch Training Group.  In his email dated 5/31/2013, Brian advised the group, “… many of us would like to run faster than we have before or do currently.  In almost every case, this is a goal that can be reached with an appropriate WILLINGNESS to train and the understanding of HOW to train. 

The first component involves a willingness to run at a pace that is somewhat uncomfortable, at least some of the time.  In other words, in order to run faster, you have to run faster.  It seems a bit obvious in plain English, but it always amazes me how many runners epitomize the definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.  While a beginning runner will improve dramatically without intentionally altering their training pace, the point of diminishing returns for this type of training comes quickly for the more experienced runner.  The key is a willingness to ‘step outside the comfort zone’ (I hate that cliché) and push ourselves harder.”

To run faster, you have to run faster.  Who knew?  Oh, wait.  Brian knew.  So I tried it.  I set out from the trailer park with the intention of pushing myself as fast as I could go for about a minute, then scaling back for a couple of minutes, then doing it again.  I felt my heart rate go much faster than in my normal training pace, and came back from that run totally spent.  What was I doing wrong?

This time the answer came from Danny Dreyer, the author of Chi Running.  In the Chi Running technique, you control your speed though your lean and your cadence.  Leaning into your run will lengthen your stride, and as long as you take just as many steps per minute as when you’re running upright, you will go faster.  And with a lot less effort.

I’ve been practicing this a little, and it does seem to work, but nothing beats the adrenalin that comes at the starting line of a half-marathon.  Salt Lake City Half Marathon – April 16 – here I come! 

Monday, March 21, 2016

Snowbirding - A Review

We pulled the trailer home yesterday after our four-month stay in beautiful Hurricane.  It’s cleaned up and back in storage.  So what was snowbirding really like? 

Well, we were truly rookies.  If we had been experienced snowbirds, we would have brought a coordinated bistro set, a small gas grill, and a plant or two.  We would have also known that our trailer didn’t fit in the smaller driveways with the cutout, and would have missed the fun of vacuuming dust and mud every other day.  Now we know.

It was great not to have to shovel snow.  Yes, it did get cold in Hurricane but it never snowed.  It was also great to be so close to so many activities: Zion National Park, three state parks, and so many backroads that it would take years to explore them all.  It was also great to be able to run any time without worrying about falling on the ice or breathing the bad air.

Being in Hurricane felt like a four month vacation, and that’s just too long to be on vacation.  Every day we made a plan to go do something, because it just didn’t work sitting home in the trailer all day.  This was a good thing – we’ve seen a lot of beautiful country and done a lot of fun things.  But there were no projects to work on, and in such close quarters I didn’t feel comfortable taking time (and hogging the shared laptop) to write or scrapbook.  I even neglected my blog.  And this trip reminded us that three months in the trailer is pretty much our max.  We thought we could handle longer if we didn’t have a job, but having a job actually gave us some structure to our days.

We volunteered for VITA in St. George, and found ourselves doing far more instruction than production.  They needed Paul to be a site coordinator for an established site at the Red Rock Center for Independence, so that was our regular spot.  It was appointment only, and we only had six appointments each session for three preparers, so it was a much slower pace.  We were also asked to help a new preparer at the Deaf Center.   He was deaf, as were his clients, so we worked with him through an interpreter and helped him learn the program.  He’ll be able to do this on his own next year.  That was an amazing experience.  American Sign Language is so beautiful.  Learning it just may land on my bucket list.

What I really learned about myself is that my life is in Salt Lake City.  For better and for worse.  The air may be bad, the traffic may be bad, but our kids, our friends, our extended family, and our volunteer work are all in SLC.  I guess Dorothy had it right – there’s no place like home.

That said, we won’t rule out snowbirding again.  After all, now we’re experienced.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Tri-State ATV Jamboree

One of the biggest annual events in Hurricane is the Tri-State ATV club’s Jamboree.  Jamboree attracts riders from throughout the US, Canada, and even a few foreign countries.  The three day event features guided rides each day, breakfast every morning and a fun event each evening.  Headquarters, at the Washington County Regional Fairgrounds, also hosts a number of ATV vendors displaying the latest and greatest in ATVs and gear.

This year we were among the 500+ participants.  We weren’t sure how the logistics of this many people and machines would work, but the organizers have it down to an art.  The large parking lot had plenty of room for the riders to line up each morning for their rides, and the lines moved one by one as the riders trailered to their respective staging areas.

There were 22 guided rides to choose from, with difficulty ratings quite similar to what you’d see on a ski slope.  Or so we thought.  We’d been riding for a couple of months, so signed up for Intermediate rides, thinking they would be challenging enough without getting us in over our heads.  Or so we thought.  We learned the code on the rides.  What we would call “Oh, s__t!” they refer to as “Intermediate plus.”  We managed one such section with me riding on the back, but I had to hop off and walk for the other two so Paul could maneuver the ATV.  Of course, in hindsight, our machine is somewhat underpowered and not built for a rider.  Yes, it’s true – the Queen’s Chair is an add-on. 

Other than the “Intermediate Plus” sections, which were just a small part of the rides, the rides were fabulous.  We rode some incredible trails and saw some fantastic scenery.  We got to know people from all over the country.  We met sisters from Beaver, one a cancer survivor, who drove the “Oh, s__t” sections like champs, and even had breakfast with a Huntsman Senior Games gold medalist in pickleball.  

There are similar jamborees all over southern and central Utah during the spring and summer months, and many participants know one another from past jamborees.  While we were the new kids on the block, we were welcomed with open arms.  How open?  On one of the rides we ran out of gas.  Seriously.  We started out with a full tank but between the sandy conditions and the climbs we used more gas than we had.  One of our guides came to the rescue.  He put his spare gas into our tank and refused to take any money for it.  I promised him that someday I would help another rider.  I hope to someday be able to keep that promise.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Hurricane, Utah, USA

Now that we’ve been in Hurricane for two months, it’s time to share the best and brightest about this beautiful little city of 11,000. The city name is pronounced “Hurr-i-kin” as opposed to “Hurr-i-cayne.” Local lore states that it was named after the wind that blows fiercely every afternoon. Other lore states that the area was settled by English converts to the Mormon Church, hence the British pronunciation.   Many of the city streets honor the names of the founding families.

I love small town grocery stores.  And small town hardware stores.  And even small town Walmarts.  Really – haven’t you noticed that small town Walmart stores are SO much nicer than their big city counterparts?  But I digress…

Lin’s Market is a delightful little grocery store, walking distance from WillowWind.  Lin’s carries most of the products I buy and has a great selection of meats and produce.  But the best thing about Lin’s is the deli.  All their salad entrees and dinner items are homemade.  They make fresh sandwiches to order.  They seem to be the alternative to the Hurricane High cafeteria; we’ve often seen high school students munching on chicken, corn dogs, and potato logs at one of the several tables in the deli area.  Best of all, they are fully stocked and ready by 8:00 AM. 

Hurricane’s Buck’s Ace Hardware has a little bit of everything.  And I do mean everything.  They were able to match our ATV key.  They carry fishing and hunting gear, trailer supplies, and of course, the usual hardware.  What’s that delightful smell as you pass the front door?  Fresh popcorn – free to customers.

The local movie theater is Coral Cliffs Cinema 8.  It offers stadium seating and has a VIP Theater.  What’s that?  It’s a fabulous concept that I haven’t yet found in Salt Lake City.  The tickets are about double in price, but the price includes recliners with tray tables and the ability to pre-order both theater concessions AND Mexican food from the Durango’s restaurant across the street.  Your food is delivered to your seat.  About halfway through the movie they pause for a bathroom break and bring in mint truffles.  A great date night experience.

Hurricane has curbside recycling.  It’s on the curb at 400 South and 700 West.  We’ve brought our recycling several times.  The bins are regularly emptied and the area is always clean. Add to this a view that I’ll never tire of looking at, two golf courses (it’s getting warm enough to golf), the close proximity to both Sand Hollow and Quail Creek Reservoirs (it’s getting warm enough to fish) and of course, the miles and miles of ATV trails, and you’ve got a great place to visit.  Or vacation.  Or snowbird.  Or live????