Thursday, October 30, 2008

Halloween 2008

Can you tell who this is? (no, it is not me and Paul)

It's Dora and Diego!

We decided to dress up for the grandkids this year and it totally worked. Aspen and Collin knew exactly who we were; most of the other adults didn't have a clue (except for the parents of Aspen & Collin).

Every year we get invited to this wonderful extended family Halloween party that is put on by Paul's sister, KJ (see the following post). She timed it just perfect so Paul and I could be there by holding it last Friday night -- the night before we left for Hawaii. She figures that this was the 25th year! She has always gone overboard (in a good way) with all the decorations and food and even games and favors but each year it just keeps on getting better. This year was no exception. Don't you love her front porch!

Here's our Star Wars relatives from a "a long time ago and a gallaxy far away". Yes, even Darth Vader (Cam), Princess Lea (LaRane), Anakan (Collin) and Yoda (Cache) stopped by to join in the fun and games. There was alot of light sabre dueling taking place during the course of the evening. That Anakan is really a tough guy!

Heidi's family wasn't able to make it from China but Katie, Clark and Aspen went to their Japanese connections (Clark's mission days) and came outfitted in authentic kimonos. They won the prize for the most comfortable costumes especially for the 8 month pregnant Mama.

Thanks for the fabulous evening KJ! It is a much anticipated, 3-generation event!
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The party host and hostess

Here is Paul's sister, KJ and her hubby, Scott. They get the credit for hosting this annual festivity for the past 25 years. She really puts on quite the celebration.

Here is Paul's other sister Kalita (my hiking buddy) and her family -- minus a couple of kids and grandkids who weren't able to make it to the party this year. You can tell from these pictures that everyone goes all out!
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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Paul's adventure

Yesterday morning Paul decided he was ready to ride the road to Hana. For any of you that have actually driven this road, I don't need to tell you how crazy an idea this really is. For those of you that haven't driven this road, believe me, it is a crazy idea! But that never seems to deture him. We talked to a guy at a bike shop over here and he told Paul it would be a great day to ride because the winds had shifted to the other side of the island and it would likely not rain. This is the side of the island that it usually rains somewhat every day so a non-rain day would be a real bonus.

We drove over to Paia which is where Paul wanted to begin his ride. It would be 45 miles from there to Hana. He thought it would take him about 4 hours. I kissed him goodbye, told him to be careful and waved goodbye. Then I took off to find my quilt shop. After about 2 hours killing time on my own, I decided I better head out to Hana myself. Paul & I have driven this road once before but it was about 20 years ago and I knew it was narrow and twisty but I'd forgotten HOW narrow and twisty! The posted speed limit was 10 - 15 mph and a lot of the way that speed seemed almost too fast.

It is a really beautiful drive. It is like a rain forest with thick vegetation and tall trees and vines growing right up to the edge of the road. It concerned me a lot to think of Paul riding on a bike since there was a lot of
sightseeing traffic. I was afraid a distracted driver would come around a sharp corner and run him over. Wives tend to worry like that. I thought I'd probably catch up with him before I got to Hana so I kept expecting to see him when I came around every corner but I never did. We had decided on a location to meet up at when we got to Hana without really knowing where that location would actually be. But with a warm feeling of relief I found him sitting on the side of the road in the location we had chosen. He had been there all of about 3 minutes so our timing turned out perfect also. He had finished the ride in 4 hours. The ride had a lot more terrain than he expected. There was an uphill section that was about 3 miles long that was quite the workout but then on the downhill sections he was going faster than most of the cars. When I got out of the car and walked up to him I did notice a bloody, scraped up forearm and he admitted he had a "little crash landing" along the way.

He was riding along taking in the ups and downs and feeling quite confident when he went around an extremely sharp, uphill, hairpin turn that had a lot of ruts in the road and his bike chain slipped and he couldn't get his feet unclipped out of his peddles and he ended up tipping over. He landed on his elbow and forearm and shoulder and then bonked his shin pretty good as well. There was a guy in a convertible right behind him that saw the whole thing so he stopped and made sure Paul was OK. This guy was an athelete too. In fact he had just finished a triathalon a couple hours before down on the other side of the island. This wasn't a serious incident but Paul is kind of sore in those place today and he is having an off-bike day.

Ironically, as we were driving back down from Hana we came across 2 teenage girls who had been on mountain bikes and one girl was laying on the side of the road. We could tell as we got closer that she was hurt. So we pulled over and jumped out. This must have just happened because she was kind of out of it; she couldn't tell us what exactly had happened. Between them they only had one helmet and thankfully the girl that crashed was the one wearing the helmet. She had bonked her head pretty hard and she said her neck was hurting. She had scrapped up hands and knees. We gave her friend our cell phone and she called her mom. Luckily, they lived close by and the mom came within 5 minutes. The hurt girl was able to get up off the road and we had her sit in our car until the mom came. Paul could totally relate to her!

So all's well that ends well. He is still planning to ride up the volcano but not for a few more days! Stay tuned!
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My adventure

I found it... the only quilt shop on the island of Maui. It is located in a town called Kihei which is about 30 miles from where we are staying but only about 12 miles from Paia where I dropped Paul off for his bike ride. We had actually come over to this town the night before and gone to dinner close by but the shop was closed by the time we found it. So I was glad to have another chance to get inside.

It is quite a small store but it is very well stocked! I enjoyed checking out EVERYTHING! It was fun to see so many fabrics and patterns that I don't normally see at home since so much of what is offered is very authentic Hawaiian-style.

Here is my one big purchase from this shop. I really though this was adorable. It is a pineapple pin cushion! It is an original, handmade creation of a local woman. I'm excited to add it to my pin cushion collection.

Besides stopping at the quilt shop, I checked out the Sugar Cane museum which was very interesting and informative. There are lots of sugar cane fields all around here so I enjoyed learning about how it began as an industry and how they process sugar from these leafy, bamboo-looking stalks. I won't be taking sugar for granted so much any more.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


Welcome to Heaven!!!

At least as close as I can find here on earth! Here is the view off our balcony. Tough duty, huh! Paul & I are here in Maui enjoying this gorgeous scenery and this delightful Hawaiian culture for the next 2 weeks. I know, pretty indulgent! We haven't been to Hawaii since 2001 so we decided to trade in our Mexico weeks and stay US this year. We are super happy with our accommadations; it was a great trade.

As we sit at the pool or out on the beach we can see at least 2 of the neighboring islands. This one is Molokai and Lani is just to the left (out of the photo). A woman I was taking to out by the pool today said that at night you can even see the lights of Honolulu in the far distance (I don't know if that is true and I'm not sure what she was drinking).

We got here on Saturday and so far we have pretty much just sat in the sun and begun to decompress. This morning, I went for a
4-mile run/walk and Paul went for a 45-mile bike ride -- show off (just kidding, dear!). We have been eating very delicious, island food and have found some fun, unique restaurants. We like to find little local eateries that are somewhat off the beaten path. So far we have been to Cafe Mumbo in Paia, Cheeseburger in Paradise and The Front Streeet Grill in Lahaina and tonight we drove over to Kihei and ate at Stella Blues Cafe.

We haven't got too much planned yet but we are considering a few options like a snorkeling trip, a tour over to Molokai, maybe a luau but FOR SURE Paul is planning to ride his bike UP Haleakala, the volcano that most people ride bicycles DOWN! He is talking about riding his bike over to Hana tomorrow as some warm up for the BIG ride. I am planning to find the one quilt store on this island! That will be a highlight for me.

To be continued...

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Mount Logan adventure

Every fall Paul and I like to get in an ATV outing. This year we were struggling to come up with a weekend that we could get out on. Between IRS tax deadlines and stormy, snowy weekends, we were afraid we were going to have to miss out this year. But lucky for us, we were able to take advantage of a beautifully perfect Saturday this past weekend and get our ride in.

My brother lives up in Cache Valley in Logan, Utah. He has always told us about all the great off road areas there are to explore around there so we convinced him and his cute new wife, Barbara, to take us out and show us around. When we arrived in Logan at 10 am on Saturday morning the temperature was 43 degrees in the valley... that worried me about what the temperature was going to be up on the mountain where we'd be riding. And we also realized it was the opening day of the deer hunting season so there would be TONS of hunters out there also. But being the hardy souls that we are (yeah, right) we just added some orange and a few more warm layers and took off. It was so worth it!

Our adventure took us a total of 30 miles over a wide but super rocky and gnarly dirt road. It had snowed up there over the past two weekends so there were lots of portions of the road that were covered in mud and snow and even quite icy in places. Our destination was the peak of Mount Logan which is here in this photo. The most intense portion of the ride was this last steep climb. This photo doesn't do it justice! It looked really steep and slippery and even icy. I thought there was no way I was going to be able to get up there but I watched my brother make it to the top so I decided I'd be brave and give it a go. I put my machine in the lowest gear and 4-wheel drive and then just crept up slow and steady. Turns out it wasn't as steep as it looked at a distance and it wasn't icy either just wet and muddy. I was pretty stoked when I got to the top! The view from here was spectacular. You could see the WHOLE Cache Valley and all the surrounding mountains. I swear we could almost see Bear Lake from this vantage point!

Here is my trusty ride! My machine is called "Spiderman" since it is red and Paul has a green machine just like it that we have named "The Hulk". I don't think I have ever finished a ride with this much mud caked on me and my machine. At one point along the ride I thought I could see black butterflies flittering off the sides of my machine and then I looked closer and realized it was really just big chunks of mud flipping up all around me!

What a fun way to end another ATV season. Paul cleaned up the machines Monday night and put them "to bed" for the winter. We got enough memories to get us through till next spring when we can head out again.
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Monday, October 20, 2008

Fall & Winter both on the same trail

So after reviewing the weather forcast for this week, Kalita and I determined that today would be the best day for our hike. We decided on hiking up to White Pine Lake. It is located in Little Cottonwood Canyon which is another beautiful canyon just a few miles from where we live. As we drove to the trailhead, this is what it looked like. This is the most fall colors that I have seen in any of the canyons we have hiked this fall. It is really hard to capture the intensity of the colors with just my little Power Shot camera. I actually took this photo after our hike as we were driving back down the canyon.

This hike is rated as "easy". It follows an old off-road vehicle tract so the pathway is wide and well marked. No motorized vehicles are allowed in this area anymore though mountain biking is allowed. The hike is a steady uphill climb but it switches back and forth along the mountainside so it is not necessarily steep. But it does gain 2500 feet of altitude in the 4 miles up to the lake so it gets you breathing pretty heavy. We left the parking lot at 9 am and we got to the summit by 11 am. I felt great with that pace.

We went from leaf-covered trail to snow-covered trail about half the way up the mountain. The trail narrowed down to just
1-person-wide as we got up to where we were traversing over a huge rockslide area. The weekend before this past one, we had a major snowstorm here. We even had about 4 inches of snow in our yard. Of course, it hasn't stayed on the ground in the valley but up here at 8,000' - 9,000 ' elevation, there was a fair amount of snow we were treaking through. It is hard to decided what to wear on a hike like this because you start out warm in just shorts and a long sleeved shirt but then you soon find yourself needing an extra sweatshirt and some gloves.

Ta Da!!! I just love it when we get the the top! It was really windy and chilly up there so we snapped a few pictures and headed back down. We had a lot of cloud coverage on the trek up the mountain but the sun broke through the clouds and the clouds disappeared and it was sunny and bright for the downhill portion. I'm always surprised how many other people are still out hiking this late in the season (crazy like us!). We passed 3 other guys today. The total mileage was 8 miles!!! That is the furthest I have hiked this year. It really helps to have half that total come from the downhill, gravity-supported portion. We got back to the parking lot by 1 pm. I felt really pleased with our 4 hour time frame. So, so fun!!!

(PS: more weekend adventure to share with you tomorrow)
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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Voting day at my house

And the vote goes to....I'm still pondering!

Here is my official ballot for this year's Presidential, State and local election. It arrived in my mailbox about a week ago. I have scanned over it a few times and I think I'm just about ready to fill in my selections.

A few years ago when Paul & I went to our local polling location the lines were sooooooooo long that we decided to switch to "mail-in ballots" and we have been happy ever since. I love being able to take my time and look over every option closely and even do some further scruntinzing before I decide which way to vote.

Besides I'm excited to have a photo of this year's "historic" ballot.

No matter how you choose to vote, I just want to encourage you to be sure and take advantage of your opportunity to make a difference and have your say!

Good luck to all! and May the best people win!!
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Friday, October 10, 2008

Road Trip

At the end of the summer season, it is a family tradition to go on a "road trip". Actually, we just drive 50 miles up to the cabin to close it down for the winter. The participants this year were me and Paul and my brother John and my dad. It is always tricky to decided when to close up the cabin. We don't want to do it too soon and admit that summer if over for another year but then again we don't want to wait too late and get caught by a sudden change in the weather and end up with frozen water pipes and snow covered picnic tables. Since it did snow in the higher mountain areas last weekend and this weekend it is forcasted for a much stronger winter storm, we had to face the facts and "put it to bed for the winter". Following our family motto of "first we work, then we play", that was the work portion.

This was the play portion!

Our cabin is 5 miles outside the town of Oakley, Utah. Oakley is a very small, farming town known for it's world famous Oakley Rodeo held during the 4th of July. But there is a new novelty in town and we have been anxious to give it a try. For the past year we have been watching this diner being renovated and have been anticipating checking it out.

Back in May of 2007 a man named Keith Walker decided to follow his passion and move this authentic 1939 roadside diner all the way from Middletown, Rhode Island out west to Oakley, Utah. Mr. Walker decided to use a play on words for it's name, "Road Island Diner" so as to reflect where it came from - Rhode Island - but also to reflect where it has been relocated to on the "island of a road" here. So far he has spent $1 million rennovating it. He has done an amazing job. It is completely authentic (except for the 2 flat screen TV he added for his 21st century customers). The menu is huge and contains everything you would hope and expect to get at a diner. All the staff are dressed in retro outfits and there are jukeboxes at every booth. There are about 10 or 12 booths and a counter with at least a dozen stools.

It had it's Grand Opening during the Oakley Rodeo this past 4th of July weekend and there were crowds of people lined up waiting to get in. Ever since then, every time we have driven past we have been amazed at the continued popularity and disappointed that the line was still too long for us to stop in. But this time we lucked out. I guess 4 pm on a Wednesday afternoon is a slower time. If you are ever passing by on any of your Road Trips, I highly recommend you stopping in for a real treat and a piece of history!

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Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Another beautiful outdoor day

So, for this week's hike, Kalita and I decided to trek up to Lake Blanche. This week we switched canyons from Millcreek to Big Cottonwood. I actually live all of about 2 miles from the mouth of this canyon and have done so for the past 32 years. This is the first time I have ever made this hike! Seriously, what have I been doing all these years? Oh yeah, working! I'm so glad I retired!

The trailhead is located 4.4 miles up the canyon. This was a longer and, I would say, a more difficult hike than the last 3 hikes we have taken. The trail is a steady uphill climb. In fact, it climbs about 2500 feet in the 3 miles up to the lake. The trail is more narrow and lots more rocky also. But the scenery is every bit as spectacular. The foliage is in various stages of transformation; everything from leaves totally fallen to some leaves just starting to lose their green to lots of shades of yellow and gold since most of the trees here are Aspens. The sky was perfectly blue with not a titch of a cloud anywhere. The temperature was in the high 40s to low 50s, I'm guessing but we were just fine in a couple of long sleeved shirts. We both wore gloves for some of the hike early on but we were mostly kept warm by all the physical exertion.

This past weekend we did get some weather changes which resulted in that "white stuff" there on the highest peaks. I have to admit that the snow looks so pretty as a contrast to the fall colors and the rocky ridges. There were several peaks surrounding the lake. I came home and did a little research and found out that the peaks are: Dromendary at 11,107 feet, Sunrisedeck at 11,275 feet, Monte Cristo at 11,132 feet and Sundial at 10,320. I have no idea which peak is which but they all were very impressive. We made the whole 6 mile trek in about 3 1/2 hours including hanging out at the lake for 20 minutes or so.

I have got my fingers crossed that we can still get in at least one more hike (really, I'm hoping for 3 or 4 but I am trying to take it one week at a time). If you get the chance, get out and enjoy this precious time of year. We only live once!!

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Monday, October 6, 2008

Having fun

The reason I haven't blogged very well for the past couple of weeks is all this woman's fault!

Two weeks ago I went to a quilting class taught by this woman, Karen Stone. I have admired her quilts for years and when I got the chance to actually take a class from her, I was thrilled! And she didn't disappoint!

She is known in the quilting world for her New York Beauty quilts; specifically the one in the photo with her. New York Beauty quilt blocks consist of all those spiky points and lots of contrasting patterns and colors in the fabrics. The technique for accomplishing straight, non-chopped-of points is paper foundation piecing. That is where the pattern is drawn on a piece of paper and then you actually sew the fabric right on the paper following the printed lines. It is such a fun technique. Karen brought along with her probably 20 of her most well known quilts and they are even more stunning in real life. I was totally blown away. She has such an artistic take and a creative eye for color and design. She is extremely inspiring yet her class was about the most non-stressful quilting class I have ever taken.

The quilt that she taught is called "The Happy Rick Rack Quilt". Here is a small portion of her quilt. She has done her quilt in kind of retro, vintage, 50's & 60's fabrics. She has embellished each block with rick rack, hence the title. These fabrics are not my favorite but I love the contrast and the combinations and the movement and interest it provides in the overall affect.

So here is what I have put together so far. Each block seems to be taking me about 1 1/2 to 2 hours to put together. I initially had a really hard time deciding what colors I wanted to go with. After visiting MANY quilt shops, I came across that background fabric that has been my "inspiration piece" -- specifically, what I have used to pick all my colors and fabrics to match (or contrast with). If you click on the photo you will get a better look at all the patterns that I have going on. The white circles pinned to many of the blocks are the centers that I am going to wait until I get all the blocks done to choose those fabrics. The original quilt has 32 blocks in it and is a bed size but I think I want to do a wallhanging size so I'm only going to have 18 blocks in my version.

So there you go... that is my excuse for getting nothing none but boy, I'm having a good time!
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Wednesday, October 1, 2008

This week's hike


That is all that I kept saying to myself as I hiked up to Dog Lake in Millcreek Canyon this morning. The foliage is simply stunning!
Last week we hiked up Elbow Fork but the colors hadn't changed that much from the week before. This week there was a big difference. The higher we got, the more vibrant the Aspens were.

My sister-in-law, Kalita and my niece, Konni and their 3 dogs (Ivy, Harley and George) were my hiking companions for today's outing. The weather couldn't have been any more delightful. It was about 50 degrees and you can see from the pictures that the sky was sunny and stunningly blue.
We passed quite a few hikers -- mostly on our way down since we got a relatively early start going uphill.

Most of the trail is a steady uphill terrain with a very few sections that level off for 25 feet or so before heading uphill again. The trail is mostly just dirt and tree roots and some small rocks so it doesn't trip you up very much. It winds through spruce pine trees and douglas firs and aspens. We crossed over two 10 foot-long bridges with a small creek running along alot of the trail. We probably hiked about 4 miles total. The lake was perfectly still with the sky and the clouds and the golden aspens reflecting on the surface... until Kalita's black lab jumped in for her morning workout! Ivy probably spent a good 15 minutes swimming and diving and chasing after sticks that Kalita threw in to the water for her to retreive. I was content to just watch from the shoreline.

I've got my fingers crossed that these precious, perfect fall hiking days are going to continue for a few more weeks. I'm just not ready to admit that shortly everything will turn from green, yellow, orange and red to WHITE!
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