Sunday, October 30, 2011

UFO Clouds

I call these UFO clouds. I see them a lot out here in the West. I love these UFO clouds. They are Lenticular Clouds, but most people, including me, like to call them flying saucer or UFO clouds. Pretty amazing site Mother Nature...thank you.

California Desert near Pioneertown, 2011

Utah Salt Flats, May 2011

Saturday, October 29, 2011

CIty Creek Canyon, Salt Lake City

A beautiful Autumn hike today, and I've found my newest favorite walking place in Salt Lake City. City Creek Canyon. I can't believe I've been in Salt Lake for a year and a half and I have never visited this place until today!

City Creek Canyon is a national forest and nature preserve with a trail that starts less than a mile from the Utah State Capitol and downtown SLC. You can enter the area from Memory Grove Park or Bonneville Boulevard.  There is a single paved road that goes up the Canyon 9 miles, accessible by foot or bike. The Canyon road is open for walking all the time (except bad weather). Bikes are only allowed on odd calendar days during the summer and then all days during the winter. A limited number of private vehicles with reservations is allowed on the road on some days of the year (even calendar days and holidays). Dogs are allowed on leash. There is a mountain stream that flows from the Canyon across Salt Lake City and into the Jordan River and emptying into the Great Salt Lake. The stream provides drinking water to parts of SLC.

There were no cars allowed on the road and no bikes today either. There were just a few other hikers and me. It was peaceful and beautiful and wonderful. I only went up part of the trail today. I can't wait to return and hike the whole road and to bike it too.

Today's Scenic Moment

Alpine Loop, Utah, October 2011

Friday, October 28, 2011

Carpe Diem

Yesterday I learned that someone who worked at my organization passed away. The news came as a shock because this person was not that old and she did not have any illness. In fact, she just fell very ill over this past weekend and then passed away.

It really upsets me even more because of the circumstances. Here is a woman who just - JUST - retired. September 30th was when she sent her "good bye" email around the organization. Less than one month ago. And in this farewell email she said that she is looking forward to spending more time with her family and that she is going to make it a point to live life to the fullest. Then she adds a P.S. that says she recently found a quote that expresses exactly what she feels:

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." - Mark Twain

Do you see why I am so upset? I was not very close to this person, but it still has me very distressed. Because it is so unfair. She retires and she gets one month?! One month to live her wish to spend more time with her family and live life to the fullest?

I am still trying to figure out what happened. Why did this woman die? Life really blows chunks sometimes. Sure, the "glass half full" way of looking at this is that at least she got that month. Yes. I hope it was a wonderful, magical month. I hope she got her wish to spend time with her family and live life to the fullest for that month.

The universe sending a big, fat, loud reminder message: live life every day to its fullest your loved ones and let them know it...don't put off the things you really, really, really want to do...the byway is very, very scenic so remember to get out there and see it...carpe the hell out of this diem...

Today's Scenic Moment

Monday, October 24, 2011

Today's Scenic Moment

Never Stop Loving

Found this on a walk around my neighborhood. Love it. Have a great week and never stop...

Alpine Loop Scenic Byway

Saturday we had the chance to take a scenic drive around the Salt Lake City area to catch the Fall colors. Fall is my favorite season and I wanted to experience it here and capture some images to share with you. Fall is beautiful back east where I come from, but I have discovered it is equally spectacular out west here in Utah.

We drove from our Millcreek Canyon area, past Parley's Canyon and Lamb's Canyon, up Parley's Summit to Park City, then on through Heber City, Midway, past the Deer Creek Dam, Mount Timpanogos off in the distance, down into Provo Canyon (I-80, Rt 40, Rt 189). I love driving this route (approximately 45 minutes) from Salt Lake City to Provo Canyon as an alternative to taking I-15 south, because its much more relaxing and scenic. I posted some photos from this loop two weeks back when we had snow (in early October!!) and you can see them here.

After that drive, we stopped and had a fantastic lunch at the Sundance Resort (I recommend the place and the restaurant) and then headed to our prime destination - the gorgeous Alpine Loop. The Alpine Loop is a 20-mile drive across the Wasatch mountains and the Uinta National Forest, between Provo Canyon and American Fork Canyon. It is called Utah Highway 92, but it is a small road that in some places can barely take two cars. This Utah Alpine Loop should not be confused with a similarly named one in Colorado. Our Utah Alpine Loop is an official Scenic Byway (!) and it is a beautiful drive any time you can do it, which is typically only between May and October as the rest of the year it is usually closed due to snow. On this drive you have great views of Mount Timpanogos and other glacier carved peaks, alpine forests, amazing Aspen groves.

I have posted a few of my favorite images here and will be posting more this week to celebrate the beauty of Fall and Utah. I hope you are able to get out and enjoy the Fall on your own scenic byway adventures, and I hope you enjoy my scenic byway moments.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Breakfast in SLC - Millcreek Cafe and Eggworks

My one gripe about Salt Lake City is its restaurants. Coming from Washington, DC with its ever expanding diversity and number of good, really good, and fantastic eating establishments, this place was an adjustment. I realize that living in the Washington, DC area for so many years really spoiled me. This is one of the things I miss most about Washington. To be fair to Salt Lake, I've been here less than 2 years and I don't go out to eat as much as I used to. So I don't know the good places yet. It takes time. I lived in DC for 20 years, so I had time to find the good places. What do you do when you move to a new city? You ask friends, you read reviews, you do internet research (resources such as Yelp certainly help), but these only help so much. You have to get out there and find and test the places yourself.

Today we did that for breakfast and I now can say I do have one good recommendation for breakfast: Millcreek Cafe and Eggworks at 3084 East 3300 South.

My husband and I love breakfast, and we typically eat breakfast in because we are excellent breakfast makers and I prefer to know that I am eating quality items we purchased at the grocery store - coffee we like, organic eggs, butter, cheese, and meat that we know came from more humane farms. Plus its nice to sit around the house in your pjs on the weekends instead of getting dressed and leaving the house for food. But sometimes you just want to go out. In the case of today we weren't stocked for making breakfast, didn't feel like making breakfast, and I had a mean craving for bacon and pancakes.

As much as I don't like to eat a lot of meat, bacon is my weakness. I love it. Its really hard for me to say no to it. Usually of late I intentionally do not buy it to have in our fridge, because I know I will just eat it. Pancakes on the other hand, meh. I rarely to never want them. I do not like sweet food, especially in the morning. I'd always prefer an egg with spicy salsa and cheese rather than a donut or pastry or pancakes for breakfast. But my husband has a large framed photograph of pancakes sitting around the house, from a past gallery show - a close up shot with these delicious looking pancakes.  We were looking at it the other day, and ever since then I have been craving pancakes.

This is what drove us out of the house this morning to Millcreek Cafe and Eggworks. Its close by. We had been there once before months ago and remembered it as being good. So we went. It was a great choice.

Open since 2006, it is small and cozy - a real neighborhood place. It is open daily from 7 am to 2 pm and serves both breakfast and lunch. They have a nice selection of breakfast items - your standard breakfast fare, with a Mexican flair for some items. The cappuccino was not great - next time I will stick with a regular cup of coffee. However our food was pretty good. We each got an egg dish and split a side of pancakes. Again, pancakes I can have as a side, but I have to have my eggs with a ton of hot sauce. Willingness to share a side of pancakes - reason #356 why I love my husband.

Salt Lake needs more places like this. No more chain establishments! If you are looking for a good breakfast place in the area, I recommend this place. Plus you can go shopping at REI, Savers or Smiths just across the street afterward.

Other restaurants I've found in SLC that I have blogged about and would recommend: Himalayan Kitchen, Red Iguana and Bruges Waffle & Frite. Other Salt Lake City restaurants that I would recommend but haven't blogged about yet: Barbacoa, Papa Murphy's, The Copper Onion, the restaurant at the Sundance Resort, Tony Caputo's Food Market, 9th South Deli, all of the Market Street restaurants, Squatters and Red Rock Breweries.

No Shooing Allowed...

in Salt Lake County.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Desert Drive

Some of my all time favorite photos that I have taken. I shot these last Saturday late afternoon, driving from Pioneertown to Barstow, California as the sun was setting. I was in the passenger seat, daydreaming and looking out the window, when I noticed our car's shadow. I thought it might make a cool photo. Then I couldn't stop taking photos until the sun set behind the mountains and we lost the shadow. I have a whole series. What you are seeing is the shadow of our car, hitting the brush and sandy soil at the side of the road, while we are driving probably 60+ mph. The shifting light and landscape would change the shape of the shadow, making it look like we were driving in 20 different types of cars. Some of the shapes look like your classic flying saucer images (not included here). I love the light, the colors, the changing shapes, and movement you see in the images. I like these images so much that I might consider blowing some of them up and framing them. To me they represent the desert landscape, road trips, traveling My Scenic Byway...

Monday, October 17, 2011

Pet Hell

I have had a rough morning. Specifically I have had a rough PET morning. Those of you who are pet owners know what I am talking about. It has been a glorious Monday morning of pet diarrhea, pet urine and pet vomit. That began last night with even more pet diarrhea and drama. And I am not amused.

I've been trying to do my work in between incidents as it is Monday morning and I follow an east coast schedule which means I start working at 7 am, which is exactly about 15 minutes before I was awakened by the smell of feces in my bedroom.

Perhaps I am being punished by my pets for being away for the weekend? But we go away for two weeks at a time, and this doesn't happen when we return. Perhaps I am being punished for laughing hysterically at my friend's recent blog post where she was awakened around 4 am by one of her dogs having explosive diarrhea all over her bathroom? But she wrote it to make us laugh.

Please allow me to vent and share, to help me deal with this with a sense of humor...

Yesterday afternoon we arrive home from a trip to the desert over the weekend. The pets seem good. We have the best house sitter in the world who takes great care of the cats and has been for more than a year now. We unpack, do some things around the house, have dinner, catch up on some tv programs we taped from last week. I go to feed the cats around 7:30 pm and I can't find my little one, Monkey. As she usually comes flying when she hears the food, I am concerned. I go back into our bedroom and we discover she has been locked in our closet, most likely for a few hours since we've been home. We didn't know she was in there - she usually doesn't go in there - and we shut the doors. Big mistake. Suddenly the smell hits us. I start frantically searching through shoes and clothes on the floor of the closet. I finally find it - massive diarrhea, unfortunately on Paul's side of the closet (Monkey you really aren't helping me convince him how wonderful it is to have pets), but fortunately wrapped up in some t-shirts that Paul doesn't care about, not one of our favorite shoes or items of clothing. Its not just feces, its diarrhea. Really runny, smelly, difficult to clean diarrhea. Good times.

So I set about cleaning. Finally I get downstairs in our finished basement to feed them. And I realize there is more crap in about 5 places on the carpet. This is not the easy pick up kind of feces. This is again, runny, smelly, difficult to clean diarrhea. More good times.

We are renting this house and the basement carpet is essentially ruined. We know we will have to replace this when we leave. It was an old crappy carpet to start when we moved in, but now it literally is an old crappy carpet. Things were all good for more than a year here, then suddenly the other old cat, Mr. Kitty, started randomly peeing on the carpet down there, feet away from his choice of three clean litter boxes. Its only happened twice, but you cannot clean cat pee from a carpet. It is a myth that you can. We just cut out the pieces of carpet and threw them away. Now the carpet has more problems with this recent bout of diarrhea all over the basement.

The urine in the basement we blame on Mr. Kitty being old and senile. He is old and he is sickly from the diabetes, so sometimes he does weird things. Monkey does not typically mess anywhere in the house. And I know she only did what she did in our closet because she was locked in and obviously was having some gastrointestinal issues. I can be frustrated and mad about what happened, but I can't be mad at her. It was an unfortunate accident. And I am concerned that she is having all of this diarrhea. If it keeps up I will need to take her to the vet.

Moving on...

After this drama, we went to bed. I wake up at 6:45, a few minutes before my alarm, because I smell something. Something unpleasant. I can't quite figure it out because it is faint. I walk out of the bedroom into the living room and down into the basement. There is, of course, more diarrhea. But thankfully it is in the litter box this time. I clean it up and put it outside. But why am I still smelling something? I walk back into the bedroom and discover Monkey has had more diarrhea on my antique, expensive rug from India - of course. And even better, I had stepped in it with my sandals (thankfully I was not barefoot!!!) and tracked it around the house. It had sucked before. Now it REALLY sucks.

So, I go about trying to clean my beautiful antique rug, and my shoes and try to find where I might have tracked it. I do the best I can and realize I am just going to have to make time later today to clean all the floors in the house. Again, good times.

So I sit at my computer and start working. Mr. Kitty comes in because I do need to feed them. Its around that time. I need a few more minutes to finish my work. Suddenly I see and hear the cat in the corner of my office - peeing. On the hardwood floors. Right there. Staring at me. I leap up, yell at him, grab him, take him downstairs to the litter box, immediately come back to save the floors and keep the urine from touching anything. That SOB. I cannot believe he did that. Thankfully because I cleaned it up so fast, no smell and hopefully no damage to the floor.

I am tearing my hair out now. I cannot believe this morning. I go back to work. I won't feed them now because I don't want that cat to think he will get rewarded with food if he just pees on the floor anywhere he wants. I know he is old and he has diabetes, but this was just some crazy bad behavior. This was not medical or situational. This was just evil.

I finally feed them. Moments later, of course, Monkey is throwing it all up. And when I go to find it and clean it, I step in it.

So, I am now back at work and nervously pacing around the house every so often to look for more incidents. I am not looking forward to having to clean all the floors later today, along with all the real work I have on my plate today. Pet hell. Not amusing. Happy Monday. Not.

By the way, if you ever have issues with cat urine, I recommend using Nature's Miracle Advanced Just for Cats Stain & Odor Remover. Its the best thing I've found.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Driving Utah

Driving Utah Route 36 to Route 6, back roads south from Salt Lake City towards St. George...not an official Scenic Byway, but it should be. It is, however, part of the Pony Express Route. Caught my favorite old shack driving by at 60+ mph. Only mid October and the snow is definitely here up in the mountains. Love the long view down the road. Those colors in the sky at sunset are real - no touch ups.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Vegas Moon

Giant rising, orange, almost full moon over captured with no flash and driving by at 80 mph...

Friday, October 14, 2011

We don't see...

Found this. Love this.

How true.

Courtesy of this very interesting website and blog I discovered yesterday called Summer of Salt - a woman exploring and writing about the great Salt Lake. That is her and a friend swimming in the Salt Lake. Check it out here.

Road Trip

Road trip! Left yesterday evening, spent the night in Mesquite, Nevada and now on our way to...

See you on Monday. Happy weekend. xo

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

My Scenic Byway

My husband rocks. He is romantic. And kind. And thoughtful. And an artist. If you know him, you already know this.

Yesterday out of the blue he asks me to come outside and feel how nice the weather was. I walk out on our front porch and find a wrapped package sitting there on the bench. This is completely unexpected. From the size of the package I think maybe he has framed one of his photographs.

I open up the package and find....

a Utah Scenic Byway road sign.

I find out he has spent a year trying to secure one of these for me because of this blog. He has called numerous people in the Utah Department of Transportation, the Convention and Visitors Bureau and other resources. He finally remembers seeing one of these signs in someone's yard years ago. He drives around until he finds the house and starts leaving notes for the owner asking them to call him about the sign. This apparently takes months before they connect. The gentleman is reluctant to part with the sign - who wouldn't be? However, he finally gives in. Paul won't tell me how much he paid the guy for this sign. I can't believe he has gone to all of this trouble to get me one of these - my own Scenic Byway sign for My Scenic Byway. Complete with bullet holes!

And not only did he secure the sign, he turned it into an art piece. He has been collecting beautiful plastic strings of beads (not the crappy cheap kind - these are good ones) over the years, in many different colors, to use for art projects. He found colors that matched the sign and wrapped them around a post for the sign so we can display it as you would a proper road sign. It has a native american kind of feel to it, don't you think?

For now its sitting in my office so I can stare at it as I work, but we will find a better place for it in our current home and can't wait to place it in the desert home we hope to have built by next year. It deserves a big, special space. Thank you Paul for sharing My Scenic Byway. xoxo


“ Most people are about as happy as they make up their mind to be. ” 

— Abraham Lincoln

Found this quote today. And I love it. Words to live by. We each have the power to choose happiness, or not. Sometimes it can be a struggle to just let yourself be happy because other junk gets in the way. But the reward for the struggle is worth it. 

Svaneti, Georgia - October 2009

Svaneti, Georgia - October 2009

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Gettysburg Battlefield Tour

On a recent trip back east, I took my husband to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania for his first tour. We were driving up to NYC and did not have a lot of time so we opted for a quick informational film and a 2.5-hour bus tour and it was a worthy stop. If you haven't been to see the place, you should. It is an important part of American history. Even if you aren't into the details of battles (which I am definitely not), it is a beautiful place to visit.

Growing up near Gettysburg meant that this was one of the places slated for school trips. As a teenager with friends in Gettysburg we spent hours hanging out at Little Roundtop during the day and driving the battlefields at night looking for ghosts. It was a lot of fun back then and definitely not as popular and visited as it is today.

The Gettysburg tourism scene has definitely changed since my teenage days. It seems that tourism has exploded there and continues along quite nicely. The old visitors center that I remember is gone and was replaced in 2008 with a much larger, nicer and modern one, known as the Gettysburg National Park Service Museum and Visitors Center. At this space you can find:

  • the Gettysburg Museum of the Civil War
  • the film "A New Birth of Freedom" (pleasantly narrated by who else of course but Morgan Freeman and Sam Waterston - voices synonymous with serious documentary narration), 
  • the restored Gettysburg Cyclorama (still cheesy, but not as bad as the old one), 
  • along with an information desk, clean bathrooms and a pick up area for battlefield bus tours (you buy your tickets there).

What the heck is a Cyclorama? Well there is an interesting bit of history there. Find out more here.

If you want a tour of the famous battlefield. you have many options, depending on the time of the year (weather). You can do a double decker open bus tour, a closed, air-conditioned bus tour - both with either a taped audio tour on board or a real live guide. We did the closed bus tour (too late in the year for the open air one) with a real guide. You can also do biking tours, walking tours, horseback tours, segway tours. You can hire a guide to go with you and others in your own car. You can rent or purchase CDs/cassettes for self-driving tours.

The 2.5-hour bus tour ($28.00/adult) with the real guide was a decent introduction to the battlefield and its history. Now that we've done that bus tour, the next time we visit (and we have to go back because that tour didn't cover a lot of the places there that I wanted to show my husband) I'd like to rent the CDs and do the self-driving tour. That allows you more freedom to go your own pace and see the things you want to see. I think a bike tour would also be a lot of fun. If you've been there before you know that the whole battlefield area is quite a beautiful place to drive or walk around. They've done a good job of preserving the area of fields, farms and woods. I shot a few photos to give you a little flavor.

I recommend visiting Gettysburg if you get the chance. One day is enough to get a quick feel for the place. However, if you really want to get into the history and see all the things the area has to offer, I recommend giving yourself a few days if you can as there is a lot to see. The little town of Gettysburg is quaint and fun to walk around. There are some decent restaurants and little shops. You can stay in old haunted inns and take nighttime ghost walks of the town. If you want more information about the whole area, check out the Gettysburg Convention and Visitors Bureau or Trip Advisor for some tips.

Like many places, if you can visit on a week day, preferably when most kids are in school, and not in high tourist season (summer), you are probably going to have a more pleasant touring experience. We were there on a Thursday in September and it was us and the retirees. In my opinion retirees make for more pleasant bus tour companions than do screaming kids and bored teens. If you want to take your kids, I would still recommend taking them out of school and on a week day, and not in the summer, to avoid the crowds. And if you are thinking about going around Halloween - forget it unless you made reservations a long time ago. With the area's bloody, violent past, its known for its ghost stories and the town takes full advantage of that, making this time of the year one of the biggest for tourism.