Gliding Through the Snow

It wasn’t until I was in college that I ever did any snow sport more ambitious than sledding. While a student, I borrowed a snowboard and boots and went snowboarding. My first experience was skiing at Brighton on a cold, icy night (hey, two for one lift tickets for night skiing!). I didn’t venture far from the bunny slope.

Over the next two winters, I went a total of five times. I went to Sundance, The Canyons, and even went to Steamboat Springs on a road trip with some friends. I was finally starting to get the hang of things and felt somewhat comfortable carving a bit. Then I got married before the next season and never went again. I never tried downhill skiing and never tried cross country, either.

Yesterday was my first experience with skis strapped to my feet. We went to a “Winter Trails Day” hosted at Ogden Valley Nordic Center in Liberty, UT (about an hour north of me). They waived trail fees, had free gear rental, and also had some vendors demonstrating equipment, waxing techniques, providing free food, etc. I took five Boy Scouts with me so we could complete the Snow Sports Merit Badge.

Being neophytes to the sport of cross country skiing, we all stuck to classic style (where you essentially glide in a track with your skis always parallel and never leaving the ground). I had a blast. I really enjoyed the aerobic side of the sport, and the opportunity to be out in the snow in something besides snowshoes. I look forward to doing this again, but with fewer people — it got pretty crowded due to the free nature of the event.

One funny thing: the boots you wear when cross country skiing aren’t rigid like they are for downhill skiers. This is probably because you need some flex in your shoe when cross country skiing — you actually lift your heel with every glide and rigid boots wouldn’t allow that very comfortably. Well, to click in to your ski, you’re supposed to put the toe of your boot on a latch, push down, and watch it click in place, therefore connecting your feet and the ski. Since I essentially only have half a right foot, I couldn’t do that very easily. I pushed the toe on that right ski but the boot essentially compressed / collapsed (imagine you’re wearing shoes too big — now stand on your tip toes and see what happens). I actually had to ask the other adult who came with us to help me by pushing down with his hand on the toe of my boot so there was some weight/structure to force the boot in place. Things you don’t think of… Sigh!

Group of skiiers

Five Boy Scouts and two leaders at Ogden Valley Nordic Center in Liberty, UT.


Snowshoeing with the Girls

There’s a great little park near our house. It’s called East Mountain Wilderness Park and is roughly 130 acres of scrub oak, grass, and trails. We frequent the park in all season to hike, run, mountain bike, snowshoe, I’ve even made the Scouts learn about orienteering in the park.

With a series of storms this week, we’ve had a ton of snow. The ski resorts up Big Cottonwood Canyon are reporting 63″ (over 5 feet!) of snow in the last 72 hours, and we’ve had close to two feet here at the house in the last week.

These storms make for excellent opportunities to create new tracks in fresh snow. Today I took the three girls while Jen and Austin stayed behind to work on a Secret Santa gift. We did a loop that took us only about a mile and a half, but it was enough to wear everyone out. Along our hike, we found opportunities to summit close hills so the girls could try their hand at snowboarding (they dragged some plastic snowboards along on their hike).

It was a spectacular bluebird day and a great way to formally kick off my Christmas break away from work.


Entertaining the Iowegians

Warning: picture-heavy post (21 of ’em).

We had a visit from a real Iowegian this weekend. He may call himself an Iowan, but what’s the fun in that name? My nephew Jared (son of my oldest brother Jason and his wife, Michelle) is in Utah for the summer visiting my folks. We took advantage of his proximity to have him with us Thursday – Saturday. We kept busy while he was here, too:

Thursday: After Jen picked him up in Elk Ridge, we met at our house for dinner and then went to a classic car show at nearby Station Park in Farmington. We probably saw 60 classic cars and really enjoyed looking at these restored beauties. My favorites were the late-60’s model Camaro’s. They were gorgeous.

Friday: I went to work for half a day and was home by 1pm. We decided to venture out of the valley in an attempt to escape the heat (105 degrees Friday and Saturday … potentially more of the same on Sunday and Monday of this coming week). We went to Pineview Reservoir in Hunstville. We’ve never recreated on this lake and decided it was well worth the visit. It was an even 35 minutes from our driveway to the beach where we went swimming. The water was warm — felt warmer than Utah Lake the week prior — and very refreshing. We spent a few hours relaxing in the sand, the water, and the mountain views.

That evening we attended a neighborhood BBQ and enjoyed the fact that someone else cooked dinner for all of us. Nice.

Saturday: Jared and I went up to Snowbasin Ski Resort north of Mountain Green and took the Needles Gondola up to the Needles Lodge (8,170′). From there, we hiked up the Ridge Trail and then hooked up with another trail all the way to the top of Mount Ogden (9,570′). While it was super hot in the valley, it was probably 80 degrees up there with views to kill for. I really enjoyed the hike because there were plenty of places gentle enough to run the trail at a fairly gentle pace. It was awesome.

After the mountain, we all went to Primary Children’s Hospital in SLC to visit my brother, Ammon, and my mom. Ammon’s surgery last week didn’t go as well as hoped because his sew job that closed up the hole into his stomach failed, spilling stomach contents … well, no more details needed there. He had a rough night last night. One very nice thing, though, was that at one point all of  Ammon’s Utah siblings (Chelsey, Jess, Gillian, and Kaitlin) were all in his room at the same time making a visit. It’s weird that there are only 5 of us around these parts, but it was great to see everyone there to support the kid.

It was a great weekend that was dampened (not by rain, sadly) a bit by observing the struggles of Ammon and my folks who work tirelessly to attend to his needs.

Boating in the manicured yard

We had our first boating opportunity of the summer last Saturday. We’ve had a lot of 90-100 degree days already, but for some reason, the high last Saturday — the day we went boating — was only 78 degrees. It’s still relatively early in the summer, so that means the water temps aren’t very warm, either. Regardless, we had a great time swimming in the lake. We got the tube all hooked up and ready for the real fun but then the boat wouldn’t start. The engine acted like it seized up, so we flagged down someone to tow us back to the marina. No problem. It was still a fun afternoon.

Austin didn't like the water temperature too much.

Austin didn’t like the water temperature too much.

All ready to tube but no engine to pull us!

All ready to tube but no engine to pull us!

We’ve been slowly working on small projects around and outside the house. After a month of watering, I have a pretty clear picture of where my sprinklers are inefficient, so I’ve been moving, capping, and adding sprinkler heads around the yard. In the house, Jen picked a bunch of pictures to print and hang and went with the display shown in the picture below. It’s a nice addition to the family room; some of the pictures are great and some are just fun.

This is the photo wall in the family room.

This is the photo wall in the family room.

Finally, we have some neighbors who are very good gardeners so Leah decided she wanted to get out and take a few pictures. These are a few she snapped with my camera.

Flowers at the Brown's

Flowers at the Brown’s

Flowers at the Brown's

Flowers at the Brown’s

Love this time of year

Over the last few years, I’ve really started to appreciate and enjoy the Easter week more and more. I think it started the first time I heard Elder Jeffrey Holland give a talk entitled “None were with him.” It was such a powerful talk and the message hit me in a way I’ve never felt before. In that talk he describes the ironic week starting with Palm Sunday and ending with Resurrection Sunday (Easter). The amazing thing was that he went from nearly rock star status on Palm Sunday and his triumphant entry into Jerusalem to completely alone and unsupported — even from the Father — on Friday, the day of atonement. It’s a powerful story and one that has been resonating with me over the last few years.

We certainly celebrate the secular side of the holiday, but not all that intensely. The kids went to Fruit Heights City’s Easter Egg hunt (lasted all of about 3 minutes) and then walked up the street to the Presbyterian Church Easter Egg hunt. They had an abundance of teeth-rotting treats for the kids — which they loved. We live 4 houses from the Presbyterian Church so it’s a short walk home.

My kids with some of the neighborhood friends.

My kids with some of the neighborhood friends.

While Jen and the kids were hunting for eggs, a friend of mine (Travis Maughan) came over and we proceeded to cut a ~50′ tree down. I was very grateful for Travis, his chainsaw, and his willingness to come over on a weekend to help while his family was at home. One of my neighbors also came over with some ropes and a come along to help with the effort. It came down relatively easy due to the tools and expertise of these two guys (not me; I’m just physical labor).

This was the tree we felled. Fun times.

This was the tree we felled. Fun times.

Travis did most of the chainsaw work -- I don't even own one. Sigh.

Travis did most of the chainsaw work — I don’t even own one. Sigh.

Today for Easter Sunday dinner my entire Utah family came up to my house. It was really fun to have everyone up at our home for a brief message (8 minute video about Easter) and then a yummy potluck dinner. The weather is perfect right now outside and we all had a great time spending time together.

Unrelated: Leah and I made cupcakes a few weeks ago. She was anxious to try her hand a baking and Jen gave me the green light to help. We had a great time.

Leah and her cupcakes -- buttercream frosting and all.

Leah and her cupcakes — butter cream frosting and all.

Leah Bean

We found perfection

Do you remember the movie with Sandra Bullock called Miss Congeniality? There is a scene in the movie where the beauty contest judges asked a particularly blonde contestant to describe their “perfect date.” The surprising answer was, “April 15th. It’s not too cold, not too hot.”

Well, folks, if one of those judges asked me to describe my perfect date, I could very easily have said, “Wednesday, March 13, 2013.” I think we found perfection on Wednesday. There was sunshine, clouds, slight breeze at times, and perfect stillness at others. The temperature hit 71 or 72 degrees. It was light outside until nearly 8pm. It seriously was the epitome of a perfect (climatically speaking…) day. Even Jen commented that at one time, she stood outside and said, “I don’t feel any feeling of cold.” That was the first day since last October we could actually say that. Wohoo!

Having said all that, I’m not ready to start mowing the lawn and dealing with sprinklers.

But, on a different note, here are two pictures of my kids I took this week in our house.

Digging through knees

The snow and bitter cold has temporarily stopped. Groundhog’s Day was yesterday and indications are an early spring, which is going to make us all happy. It’s amazing what two or three days of 40+ degree days will do for one’s spirits.

My dad had knee replacement surgery earlier this week. We decided to head down to see him in the Utah Valley Regional Medical Center (also known as the “hospital”). This trip to Provo was my second trip down there in about 6 months and it was a bit ironic that yesterday Mom, Kaitlin, and Gillian all drove to Salt Lake.

When we got back Jen reminded me that our fire hydrant was completely obscured by snow drifts so I dug it out. While doing that, the girls decided they wanted a snow cave/tunnel and a sledding track. It’s a lot more fun digging in the snow if it’s for a fun purpose — something other than clearing the driveway. Here’s a brief video.