Thursday, April 29, 2010

Just how liberal can you get?

Living in Utah, you get used to state politics that are about as right-wing as it gets. When it comes to animals, it is more about hunting and ranching than any version of animal rights.

However, we live in Park City, which tends to be a little island of liberal thought. We are very kind to animals. Everyone has a pet or six. And to minimize traffic and pollution, we have an outstanding bus system, and it is always free.

This seemed to take it a bit too far though. Jasper and I were driving along when we saw two Mallards waiting at the local bus stop. Where do we draw the line?

Golf Monday, snow the rest of the week

What can I say? It looked like spring was here a few days ago. Three inches so far and the snow is pounding. We won't see 50 again until Monday. It would be kind of pretty if it didn't piss everyone off this time of year.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The weather was gorgeous yesterday, sunny and 60. Out here that means short sleeves. Yeah! We went over to Midway to squeeze in a round of golf before the weather turned.

This is Doug Drexler, a fellow Wednesday host at PCMR.

And Bill Benson, close friend.

The course was in surprisingly great shape. This is an inexpensive, public course that has just come out from under the snow. The Park City course hasn't opened yet.

We all stank up the course at about the same level. It wasn't pretty but it was a lot of fun.

Trying to break mud season

A cute little creature, but a pain in the butt. This is a vole and for whatever reason, the voles had a great year. The spent the winter tunneling around under the snow, eating lots of grass.

This is what it looks like when the snow melts. Little bastards were everywhere! I think we need a LOT more fox.

This looks like yet another blurry iPhone picture. It is actually an iPhone picture of a very blurry cloud. It was as though the normal clouds got smudged with an eraser.

Meanwhile, up on the top of the hill behind our house, the snow melt leaves a high altitude marsh. Lots of little plants are starting to pop up.

But you just can't stop the people who desperately need something to do now that the ski season has ended. Hop on the mountain bike and start riding. If you look closely, you can see how hard it is to ride in a straight line when the ground is this soft. They really should wait another month or so to avoid damaging the trails.

Monday, April 26, 2010

It's about damn time

Remember these? Floppy disks that held a whopping 1.4 Megabytes? I have single photos in uncompressed RAW format that are ten times that big. And yet, Sony sold 12 million of these last year.

If you want them, buy them soon though. In March of next year, Sony will stop producing them.

When you can get 8G flash drives that hold 5,000 times as much data, for about $15, I wonder who bought those 12,000,000 floppies.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

A quick run to Raleigh

I made a quick run back to Raleigh for a few days. We had decided to change real estate agents and we had to interview several, pick one and get them up and running. The market has picked up a bit, but leaves a lot to be desired.

Almost all my other time in Raleigh was spent working around the house, making it more presentable for sales. It looks better but there is always more to do.

When driving to see my uncle, I was behind an SUV with one of the little oval stickers with a three letter tag for somewhere. You've probably seen millions of them. This was the first I have seen with my initials. Cool. More likely to be St John than me.

I grabbed Sam (my uncle) from the Mayview nursing home. We trekked up the street to the neighborhood restaurant and had a nice lunch. It's tough for most people to get him out anywhere, so we always try and go for an adventure.

Julie and I had a miserable set of flights back to Salt Lake City. There were thunderstorms in Atlanta. Our flight got there late and we missed our connection. They booked Julie through Cincinnati and me through Chicago, an extra leg for each of us. Our tickets weren’t “connected” so they routed us separately. I was supposed to get in three hours after her. She got on her flight, which then left late (more thunderstorms) and she missed her SLC flight. She took one that left two hours later. I got lucky and caught a standby seat on a later flight direct to SLC.

By the end of the day, we had both managed to get home and we even had both of our checked bags. Traveling can suck.

Monday, April 19, 2010

End of the year party at Park City

Yesterday was a gorgeous sunny day, a perfect end to PCMR's season. The last day is always a bit of a party on the mountain and it moves slowly to the parking lot during the afternoon.

At the base, they set up a little version of a pond for pond skimming.

Of course the guys love seeing the bikini-clad ladies.

... and the miniskirts

We were in the parking lot as the ski patrollers did their last push down the mountain. All of a sudden we hear a crowd of about 100 skiers and boarders come screaming over the hill, cheering the very last run of the year. I didn't catch them coming down, but you can see them all gathered at the bottom of the half pipe.

An hour after the runs closed, I would guess there were still 500 people in the parking lot. They ranged from little groups like this...

to big groups like ours. The Mountain Hosts had about fifty people feasting from several grills.

It was a very nice way to end an injury-free season.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Kelly picks a college!

Our niece Kelly has been doing a lot of work this past year, visiting colleges, sending in applications, hunting for scholarships,.... She has made her choice and the winner is Gonzaga!

Gonzaga is a small-to-medium sized Catholic school in Spokane, Washington. About 7500 students attend, with a bit over half as undergraduates. Perhaps most important, they consistently have an excellent men's basketball team.

Congratulations Kelly!!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Paint day at the FOA Ranch

Back to the construction site for the Friends of Animals Rescue and Rehab Ranch. This was "paint day". They got donations of paint from local paint stores. Now it was time for volunteers to come paint walls.

Of course, in Park City, you can always expect the odd occurrences. From the highway on my trip to Brown's Canyon, I saw two hot air balloons. No big surprise.

Of course they stopped traffic on the highway by dragging this one across to get it closer to their trailer. The customers are still enjoying the fairly low ride in the basket.

At least this one landed further from the highway.

Everything going on the walls now is primer, so it makes for an interesting mix of colors. Pretty much, anything goes. This is the FOA's Executive Director, Cathy King, painting in the wiring closet. That mass coming out of the walls is all the Cat5 and coax that Julie and I pulled.

Here we have a volunteer who got to play on the scissor lift. Notice the lovely mix of colors.

One of the keys to building the new facility is getting donations and figuring out how to make the most of them. This area is filled with donated cabinets, appliances, and other odds and ends.

One of the nicest donations was a double oven, 60" Viking stove and cooktop. These cost many, many thousands of dollars. Kitty is giving it a thorough cleaning.

Although I went to be "paint man", I was assigned the job of "door man". My first task was unstacking a pallet of very heavy donated doors. Quite the mix. The trick is to find enough that match that are either the right size, or can be trimmed down.

Mark Huber is the builder for the Rescue Ranch. He and I spent the morning configuring the jigs for routing the exact spots for hinges and drilling holes for door knobs.

It was a good learning experience for me and I was at least slightly useful.

Our finished work was one, correctly hung door.

Actually, it was using the one door as out final test for all the measurements, setup, jigs and such that should now make the next doors much, much simpler and quicker.

The Ranch is still on track for a grand opening in June. It is really taking shape!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Bird watching versus bird photography

I do my mountain hosting at PCMR with a wonderful group of people. One of them, Dick Pick, turns out to be an avid wildlife and landscape photographer. He has done some wonderful shots of hummingbirds. You can see some of them on his web site.

Dick and I left on a photography journey before dawn yesterday morning. Our first stop was the Sage Grouse lek. There were dozens of males ready to do their courtship dances, but no females were in sight and the males were too far off the road to make a good picture. We watched for a while, enjoying the show, but disappointed with our luck. After a number of trips, I still haven't managed to capture what I got two years ago. It takes a combination of close males, interested females, good light, and no loud birders in other cars.

From there, I wanted to show Dick where I had seen a flock of turkeys. Sure enough, they were there. There were at least four Tom's prancing around and dozens of hens. Same luck though. They wandered off to the far side of the field in the deep shadows. When we decided to quietly get out of the car to use tripods, they decided to quietly move even further away.

Just as we gave up and were leaving, we saw a group come out of some trees, cross the road and head up into a field. They were all hens though. I'm not being sexist, but it is the males that really fluff up and put on a show. It was fun to watch the line of hens march right up the field in a line, easting as they went.

The next stop was the Great Blue Heron rookery. We drove around and drove around, trying to figure out how we could get close enough for a reasonable shot. It's tough because they nest at the tops of very tall trees, right along a river, surrounded by private property. I think the only hope is to find a willing landowner and I haven't done that yet.

The last stop was a quick one closer to home. I had seen two Sandhill Cranes on my way to my CrossFit workout. We found them again, but even they refused to come anywhere close to the barbwire fence we were trapped behind. Frustrated at this point, I took a shot.

It was fun having another photographer to make the trip with, but I sure wish the birds would cooperate a bit more.

Spring is busting out

You may have heard the news lately about the volcano in Iceland that is erupting beneath a glacier. The mixture of searing heat with millions of pounds of ice has to be an incredible reaction to see and hear. In Park City, we can't match that drama, but it is still fun to watch.

Since it snowed 7" on Monday, the temperatures have climbed into the 60's with brilliant sunshine. The recent snow is long gone and we are quickly working through the base, especially on any south-facing slopes.

During the heat of the afternoon, you can hear water everywhere. Gutters become creeks. Creeks become rivers. Houses drip non-stop with the occasional calving of a chunk of the roof glaciers. It's best not to be beneath one when it gives.

The animals are out in full force. Chipmunks and squirrels are everywhere. Coming home from dinner this week, Julie and I saw a fox, then another fox, then a moose, all within a mile or so of driving. One moose has been hanging out in our next door neighbor's back yard. I'll have to get a picture of her soon.

Most of us are wishing for a quick, definitive end to winter. Two of the three local ski resorts have closed and Park City has only three days to go. The trees don't really start greening up for another month or two, but I would be quite happy with a dry brown instead of snow and mud.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The end of the ski year

Yesterday was my last day of the season doing the Mountain Host job and almost certainly my last day of skiing. Park City is still open for another week, but Deer Valley and The Canyons close today. Even with the monster snows last week, the return to spring temperatures makes the snow pretty crappy to ski on. Last night is one of the first this year where the night's lows did not get below freezing. That means a sloppy snow hill.

Thanks to Bill Benson and the team leaders for putting together a great barbecue on the mountain for everyone's last week. They dug a giant hole for the grill, complete with a table and bench seating. These are the Saturday hosts. I was working as a sub with them yesterday.

And after the last run down the hill, we all hit the roller coaster. It was actually more fun than I thought but I'm not sure I would ever do it if it wasn't free for the employees.

The snow held up well for the year, but it was definitely a low year. Even with the big snow falls last week, we only got to 303 inches, about 85% of our norm. That's enough to keep us out of any major drought status.

Now it is time to put the skis away, wash all the ski clothing (seems like tons) and prepare for the spring mud season.

Quite the to-do list

I noticed this sign the other day as I walked down Park City's Main Street. It may have been there for years, but I just now noticed the words.

At the top of the sign is the apparent list of services offered:
  • Heal the sick
  • Raise the dead
  • Cleanse the lepers
  • Cast out demons
Perhaps it is just me, but this seems like a fairly unusual set of offerings.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

More snow?

I know this is getting repetitious so I will keep it short. Last night Park City got another 24" of snow.

Most of us have never seen April skiing like this before. I thought Sunday was awesome (it was). Today was even better. Heading into the trees meant thigh deep powder. It was gorgeous! I had my camera but it was cloudy and still snowing, so I didn't even try.

The snow was so big over at Alta and Snowbird, the resorts stayed closed all day. It is called an Intralodge shutdown. The avalanche danger is high and they are blasting everywhere, so they don't let you out of the buildings. You can't ski. You can't drive anywhere (the road is also closed). All you do is look outside at the huge piles of powder and wish you were over at Park City skiing!

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Huge spring snows

Bruce and Hannah Kahn came to visit from Australia with the idea of skiing some. I warned them of our recent warm temperatures and below average snow. But they seemed to have brought some great snow with them! Since Wednesday, Park City's ski resorts have picked up about 4 feet of new snow.

This morning, Hannah was visiting with some friends and Bruce, Julie and I hit the slopes. The powder made it the best day of skiing we have had this year. In April?

Bruce, enjoying the soft fluff.

And Julie doing the same.


We stumbled across Bill and Loris Benson and skied with them until time to head home. What a spectacular and surprising day! Park City has decided to stay open an extra week (through April 18th). Where was all this snow back in January and February?