Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Y Hike

This post should be titled whY did I think I could do this hike? For some reason the Universities around here think it's a good idea to plaster giant cement letters representing their school on the side of the mountain. And for some other reason, still unknown to even myself, I thought it was a good idea to hike there.

Anyone who knows me knows that I do not hike. I will take nature walks as long as the trail is flat and shady. But when the trail gains almost 1000 feet in 1.2 miles it is not my cup of tea. I wasn't trying to be brave, but I felt a little like Toad in this video.
The scene at about 40 seconds is a fairly accurate representation of our hike. Doug would have been Frog, and I was Toad, sadly lagging behind and muttering. At one point I made him run ahead to tell me how much farther we had to go while I collapsed on a bench thinking I would die and tried not to pass out and roll down the side of the mountain. You think I'm exaggerating but if you ask Doug he'll tell you that this is a very accurate account of the days happenings.
A rock with plants growing out of it
I pretended to be interested in the plants growing out of this rock and took multiple pictures of it so that I could rest for longer without seeming wimpy. Little did I know I was less than half way there. Later my pride didn't get in the way of collapsing on whatever benches were available.
The view from another of my resting spots
I finally got close enough to see the stupid giant white letter! At this point I had hope that I could make it all the way. Little did I know I still had a long way to go.
The sliver of white hope
Finally after much complaining, resting, and water, I made it to the Y. Now I can say I did it. And I never have to do it again.
The view of the valley from half way up the stupid mountain
The Y looked disproportionately long since we were near the bottom of it. It really is kind of ugly to have letters plastered all over the mountains.
A giant Y
You may be thinking to yourself that there haven't been any pictures of me and maybe I sent the camera along with Doug while I stayed behind. Well I thought of that and took a picture of my sweaty red face next to the stupid letter so you wouldn't doubt the validity of my claims of hiking up the mountain. You may say that my head is edited into the picture, but I assure you, there is no other picture of me so red and sweaty to have taken it from.
Yes, I was there
In the future, if you ever hear me mention going on a hike remind me not to unless I have months worth of training and gallons of water.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Mini Golf

A little while ago on my day off, Doug and I went mini golfing. We had such good intentions of sneaking into all three courses, but it was so hot and I kept sneezing so we only made it through one. The good news is that I got TWO holes in one! There were also a few holes where I maxed out at six shots. Doug did fairly well, but I had the lowest score and won in the end.
Look at that form
So close!
In front of the princess castle
We thought my ball got stuck in the castle. But I ended up with my original purple ball and a black one! Although the day was hot and my nose was stuffy, it was very fun.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Birthday Celebrations

Thursday July 5th was my dad's birthday. You can read his happy birthday post here. Due to our busy schedules, we celebrated almost a week later on the 11th. My parents, my brother Jess, and Doug and I met at the cabin. We then drove to Silver Lake and enjoyed walking around it.
Doug and I in front of the meadow
My brother Jess. Can you tell he's 15?
My parents
The mossy outlet of the lake
A great reflection
A wild rose
The inside of a fallen tree
There is a spot on the south side of the lake where my brothers always climb the rocks. This trip, Doug also scaled his way to the top.
Beginning the ascent
Half way there
Made it!
Doug chose the more challenging route
The "summit"
It's not a very tall rock area, maybe 40 feet. But it's fun to watch them get so excited to climb it.
This little guy got tired and crashed on the boardwalk
Some mallards came to visit
The brewing storm
A lot of my pictures are dark because a thunder storm was threatening the end of our walk.
Ominous clouds thundering over the peak
The procession along the boardwalk
When we got back to the cabin my mom found this beautiful butterfly on a water hemlock flower. I love taking pictures of insects. Which is apparent in this post since there are two insect pictures. Can you spot the third accidental insect in one of the photos?
Butterfly on hemlock
After our walk around the lake we had a great dinner and birthday cake.
He blew out all the candles with the first breath!
It's always fun to spend time with my family, especially in the beautiful canyon. Thanks for giving us an excuse to join you there dad.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Happy Pioneer Day

Here in the great state of Utah, we celebrate our pioneer heritage with parades, time off work, and fireworks! On July 24 in 1847 Brigham Young and the first group of Mormon pioneers entered the Salt Lake Valley. I have ancestors on both sides of my family who traveled to Utah as pioneers, not with the first group but later. My great great great grandmother Emily Hill Woodmansee was in the Willie handcart company which got a late start in 1856 and ended up stranded in a blizzard in Wyoming. She survived and went on to do wonderful things. You can read about her here. I'm so glad I wasn't born back then. I like my running water, electricity, and car. Thanks to those pioneers for being tough and giving us a reason to celebrate.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Books I've Read: Water for Elephants

This is another book that I read a little while ago but I thought it was good enough to mention.
"Water for Elephants" is narrated by a funny old man who is reminiscing about his past while waiting for his family to take him to the circus that just arrived down the street. The old mans name is Jacob and he starts by remembering when his parents died in a car accident leaving him heartbroken and destitute as a college student studying to be a veterinarian. Not knowing what else to do, he jumps on a train. It ends up being a circus train and Jacob is hired as a vet even though his schooling wasn't completed. While with the circus he falls in love with a performer named Marlena. The book follows him on his crazy circus adventures including acquiring an elephant from a bankrupt circus, almost being thrown off the train, and witnessing a riot where all the animals are let out of their cages. Even with all the crazy things that happened, at the end of this book I wanted to travel back in time and join a circus for myself.

Sunday, July 22, 2012


A little while ago Doug decided he wanted a barbeque grill. So we went off in search of one. We ended up finding a cute little charcoal grill for only $10. It is only big enough for six small burgers, or four big ones. And it's perfect for roasting s'mores.

We had potato salad, burgers, and s'mores for desert on our fun little barbeque picnic in the front yard. Everything looks a little more red than usual because the sun was filtered through smoke and ash from the wildfires in our state.
Potato salad
Are these the vegetarian burgers? or the beef?
Maybe these are the beef?
My sweet husband caters to my vegetarian lifestyle and buys me Morningstar Grillers Prime vegetarian burgers. I can't even remember what a real burger tastes like, but I'm pretty sure these are really close, and a lot healthier.
Preparing the burgers
We were a little flushed from the BBQ and the hot sun
It is quite a tiny barbeque
After our picnic we roasted marshmallows for a yummy s'mores dessert. I love s'mores. May I have some more?
Doug getting his roast on
Just roasting a marshmallow
The first perfect s'more
The first bite of the first perfect s'more
The second perfect s'more
A $10 grill made a meal that tasted like a million bucks. Thank you for always cooking Dougie.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

One, Two, then Three!

My in-laws have a beautiful deck where we get to enjoy many summer dinners. Lately, we've had to be a little more careful while dining and playing outside. A mother robin decided that the flower box was the perfect place to build her nest.
Her nest among the flowers
We fist spotted one egg
Then two eggs
And by the time we left she had 3 eggs
Doug's sister Mary informed me that the mother bird ended up with four beautiful blue eggs in that tiny nest.
Diligently sitting on her nest in the morning July heat
Snuggled in to keep those eggs warm
I found out that all four eggs recently hatched into little naked baby robins. What a crowded nest!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Happy Ramadan

My calendar has informed me that today, July 20th, is the first day of Ramadan. Ramadan is a Muslim religious observance. You can read more about it here. While I am not Muslim, I think it important to know about other religions and cultures.

Sorry for the lack of blogging lately. The past ten days haven't been particularly busy, I just haven't gotten around to writing anything. Actually, now that I think about it, I have been busy. Penny had a vet check up where they informed us that she should have a broken tooth removed. We opted to let it's remains fall out on their own and check for infection until they did. We had a birthday celebration for my dad. We went to a funeral for my great aunt and visited with my grandparents and uncle who attended the funeral. I got a really bad summer cold. And we went mini golfing. All on top of work, pets, and daily life. No wonder I haven't written.

I also have been busy with a second blog for my sister-in-law who is serving an LDS mission. I only write once a week, and basically just copy and paste whatever she emails to the family, but it still takes time. If you'd like to read it, the address is http://sistahbrown.blogspot.com.

The next few days I'll go into detail about some of the things I've been up to lately. I have a renewed vigor to keep this blog updated.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Books I've Read: The Tigers Wife

I read this book at the beginning of April so the review may be a little flawed by life's interruptions filling my memory with other morsels of goodness. While my review may have flaws, this book is excellent.
"The Tiger's Wife" follows a young doctor on a journey to help orphans. Along the way she reminisces about her recently deceased grandfather and his tales of meeting a man who cannot die and a deaf-mute girl who befriends a tiger. His stories help the young doctor keep her grandfather alive in her memory and also help her understand his life a little better.

I really liked reading about the incredible things the grandfather accomplished while he was alive and that he shared them with his granddaughter. This book was compelling from beginning to end.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Adventures on the Mountain

Yesterday I mused about being on the mountain, today I'll give you a glimpse of the adventures we had.

There are three old cabins on the mountain. None are glamorous or have electricity or running water. They include my grandmas cabin where we cook, eat, and my parents sleep, the Butch Cassidy cabin which is in the middle of the meadow, and vole-house formerly known as the sawmill cabin.
Doug and I American Gothic style in front of vole-house
You may ask why the sawmill cabin was renamed vole-house, and why it was named the sawmill cabin in the first place. Well, the mountain has a ton of trees, and as responsible forest owners, we thin the trees every few decades. The sawmill owner built the sawmill cabin to stay in when he was working many years ago. Like over 50 years ago. My dad fixed up the sawmill cabin and put some beds in it. Doug wanted to sleep in there rather than staying in the tent. I reluctantly agreed and went in to look around. Just as I was warming up the place, I saw what I thought was a dead mouse in the middle of the bed which resulted in me leaving vole-house very quickly. Doug still wanted me to sleep in there and nicely removed the "mouse." He then informed me that it wasn't a mouse, it was a vole. I then informed him that I would be sleeping in the tent and not in vole-house. Penny got vole-house all to herself.

After vole-house was named, we decided to go toad hunting. Boreal Toads live in the stream in the meadow. They are a regionally endangered species. The toads live all over the Western United States but in Utah they are scarce. Doug works as the assistant curator in a herpetology collection at his University. As part of his job he processes specimens. Since the Boreal Toad is endangered it cannot be collected. But we can submit the pictures of the toads we caught and they will record the location, the date found, and us as the finders. We found three big old toads. There were probably more but we got a little tired of looking.
A Boreal Toad
It thought it was hiding. You can see it by finding the line down its back
The stream with the toads leads to the Butch Cassidy cabin in the middle of the meadow. When my dad was a kid they stayed in this cabin. At the end of a two day cattle drive to the meadow they spent the night here before riding their horses back down the mountain.
Doug and my brother Jess in front of the Butch Cassidy cabin
Legend has it that after a few of his robberies Butch Cassidy hid out in this cabin. It is very remote so I can imagine it was a good place to lie low while the posse was searching for him. Way too many people have heard this legend and as a result thought that gold was buried in the dirt floor. It's not, we've been through with a metal detector.
The inside of the Butch Cassidy cabin
Penny went on our toad search across the meadow. We tried to let her wander off her leash but she kept finding way too many treasures to eat, including a dead fish, a dead bird, and multiple elk droppings. Overall she had fun and luckily didn't get sick from eating all that garbage.
Penny going through the fence
We made out way back to vole-house and my grandmas cabin to take a nap. Instead we were summoned by my dad to hop in the car and ride to the bridge to make repairs. Every year the bridge has damage from the snow. This year the damage was minimal and consisted of replacing the ramps up the the bridge deck. After repairing the bridge, we drove to the upper 80 acres of land. One of the wildfires was reported to have burned some of the property. My family was devastated and angry. A few days later we found out that it hadn't actually gotten as far as reported. We drove to see where burned and how close the fire really got. 
A herd of elk or wapiti
On the way we saw a herd of elk. We couldn't get very close without spooking them but there were probably at least 50 elk in the herd. We found that the fire got within about a mile of the property. We were lucky this year. Hopefully our luck will hold out the rest of this fire season and many years to come.

Our final task was to repair the east fence so the cows can't get out. The fence is made of cut trees stacked like Lincoln Logs. It just has to be tall enough and sturdy enough to keep the cows and calves on their own sides. By this time I was really tired. I managed to take one last picture of my brother next to some super tall trees.
My 6'6" brother next to the tallest aspens I've ever seen
We returned to the cabin, ate a delicious dinner of soup, stew, and sandwiches, then retired to our tent. No way was I sleeping in vole-house. My sleep was interrupted by elk bugles and cow moos but it gave me the chance to step outside and see millions of stars. It was a perfect way to end the day.

The next day we packed up early and drove 16 miles on the dirt road back to civilization and to our jobs. I can't wait to go back, hopefully for longer next time.