Monday, September 30, 2013

My personal update

I have been tracking three personal things: rowing, weight loss and selling the house.  
  • The rowing is over for the year, at least the real stuff in a boat on a lake.  I will keep cranking on Jim Covaleski's indoor rower as a more knee-safe alternative to running.
  • The weight loss is moving very slowly, but in the right direction.  A pound here, a pound there.  Three down, but two back up.  I'm in no hurry.
  • We really expected the shoulder season to be slow for house showings.  In contrast, we had a showing on Friday and they returned on Sunday.  Another couple came today and we have another coming Tuesday.  Now if we can just get a few to start making some offers.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Wasatch Head Race

Each fall there is a local rowing race (both scull and sweep) at the Jordanelle Reservoir, which is where I row.  I didn't get good enough to race. Perhaps next year?  However, I was good enough to be a volunteer and photographer.  There were competitors from around Utah, Colorado and a handful from Arizona.

This is the first time I have been around all these boats.  I can't imagine driving around with a trailer full of fours and eights.  They seem like they are a mile long.
This is the Park City Rowing Academy's girls 8 team holding up their boat for a safety inspection.  When you are a young, startup team, you can't afford the incredible expense of new boats.  They purchased this one, fixed it up, but because of the wet, cold weather, didn't have time to paint it.
Why all the fog on the water?  Because the water was still mildly warm and the air was 27.  Brrrrr.
Worse, the winds were picking up, making a fair amount of chop.  Once you got across the reservoir into the protected leg where the race was run, you were OK.  Getting across the open water was pretty risky and later in the day they only let the bigger boats go across to compete.  I would have been swimming for sure if I had been in the little single I practiced in.
Half the time I was stationed at the race start.  Notice how the water is calmer here.
This is Susie and Dayna (looking over her shoulder). Dayna is my ever so patient rowing instructor.  These ladies were smoking the competition.  They passed four boats, all of which had big head starts. Dayna had never raced in a double before.
The very end of the race course was back in the open water.  The four is so big and heavy that it is fairly stable, but notice how the oars are all splashing through the waves.  You see the four rowers, but do you see the coxswain?  In front, laying down, the coxswain gives commands to steer, coordinate, and motivate the efforts.  In some of the boats, the coxswain sits in the back of the boat and on a day like this, they got soaked.
Hoping that next year I will be out sculling instead of spectating.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

First snow of the year

Jasper and I drove mom to the airport and then took a more interesting way home.  We went up Big Cottonwood Canyon, past the Solitude and Breckenridge ski areas, to Guardsman Pass.  This area got about 6 inches of snow, not unusual for September.

You have to like Park City's athletes.  What do they do when it snows?  Drive up the mountain, unload a bunch of mountain bikes, and head off for a ride up Puke Hill.  Insane.
Jasper loves the snow.  I am sure we would have been happier following the bike riders instead of hanging with me.
In the next few pictures, you will see how little patches of Aspen trees had changed to a bright yellow, while others were still very green.  The trick was to wait until a bit of sun lit up the patches of yellow.

Hoping to get some more color over the next few days, even though the snow will all have melted.

Grand Teton with mom

My mom had been to Yellowstone before, but hadn't gotten to dig around in Grand Teton.  I had gone in the fall of 2011 and was hankering for another visit.  Mom flew out from Maryland and the next morning we drove into beautiful Wyoming.  Along the way, the road cuts over into Idaho, a state mom had never visited.  We stopped the truck, walked around and mom took a photo for proof.

Mom does a lot of photography and sometimes I am jealous.  While I make good use of the camera lenses and equipment I own, I often feel like a sherpa packing in equipment for an expedition. Mom has two nice portable cameras.
We stayed in a condo in the Aspens neighborhood, about five miles south of Teton Village.  Having a kitchen, living room and dining room was great.  Beat the hell out of hotel rooms, and it cost less.
This is the view behind our condo.  Nice digs.  I was hoping for some moose or elk out the back window, but all we saw was deer.
When you look the other direction, we had a scenic creek that seemed to be almost overflowing.
This sums up the photographic challenges for the trip:  clouds and precipitation.  There was a bit of blue sky but it was sporadic.  Most of the time we were trying to make the most of storm clouds.
One sunset left us with some pretty colors.
No matter where the clear skies were, there were always clouds socked in around the Tetons.
Every once in a while, when you were certain that it was just too dark to shoot anything, a little beam of light would appear.
Some beams were aimed down at the valley.  Other were aimed right at the tops of the mountains.
Mormon Row, off of Antelope Flats, is a set of four old barns.  At sunrise, they can be one of the prettiest sites in the national park.
This is another barn, just down the road.  Notice how much the clouds moved in during the 30 minutes between when the shot above and the shot below were taken.
While the landscapes were gorgeous, Teton has a lot of interesting wildlife: bison, bears, moose, elk, deer, mountain lions, bobcats, and more.

The most interesting was running across a family of three moose, a bull, a cow, and a little one. We were watching and photographing from about 300 yards away.  We couldn't get closer because the rangers didn't want us getting near their work.  It turns out that the bull had wandered through the Gros Ventre campground and wrapped a tent around his rack.  The rangers darted the bull, waited for him to drop, and then cut the tent off.  Don't you know some camper was surprised?
Right before dark one evening, we saw a big bull elk with a harem of 15 or 20 cows.  The bull ducked over the ridge before I could get his picture.
Our prize wildlife find was a hungry black bear.  He was busy gobbling Hawthorne berries. I was stunned at how well he was able to climb around in the very top of a fairly small tree.
He was busy staring at us, but if you look close, you can see that it is pouring rain. I think he was hoping one of us would loan him an umbrella.
One of my favorite areas in Teton is Schwabacher Landing.  It has spectacular flat water for mirror-like reflections of trees and mountains.  The bad news is that because of Congress's sequestration, they closed several areas in the park, including Schwabacher.  Very sad.

I looked around for some other reflections. None were spectacular, but they were OK.
This was taken up in the north end of the park, near Jackson Lake.
At sunrise and sunset, Oxbow Bend can be drop dead  gorgeous.  In the middle of the day, it is still fairly pretty.
I got bored one rainy afternoon and when a little bit of sun popped through, I started taking photos of some thistle plants in our back yard. I hate these thorny buggers, but they can be pretty.
Kevin, a friend from Rotary, suggested we visit the National Museum of Wildlife Art.  It's a mile or two north of Jackson and south of Grand Teton Park. It was definitely worth the stop and a great idea for a rainy day.
The last day of our visit included some rain, followed by some light snow.  While I was loading the car, mom got to clear the windows.  While we got a lot of rain down in the valley, the big Teton mountains got about a foot of snow.  We drove around for a while before leaving the park in the hopes of a hole in the clouds to capture the white capped mountains, but nothing even close.
It was fun getting to spend some time with mom.  The weather could have been nicer, but you just roll the dice and take what you get.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The America's Cup

I was watching NBC Sports this morning.  I had Tivoed Sunday's America's Cup races.  I've done a fair amount of rock climbing.  I've jumped out of a perfectly good airplane.  All fine.  However, if I was on board one of these boats during a race I would probably wet myself.  They are absolutely flying along the water, topping out at better than 50 mph. The entire race seems a bit like choreographed pandemonium.

If you want to catch any of the action, watch soon because New Zealand is just about done kicking our U.S. asses.  My favorite was from Race 8.  Hit play and skip ahead to about minute 28:00.  Watch for a minute or two and you'll see how exciting it can get.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Not such a great idea?

I follow a nice online Deals site called  I have found all sorts of wonderful discounts out there.  Today one of the Front Page deals  was for a Norelco Razor.  I wasn't interested but I had to click to keep reading once I saw the title: Philips Norelco Headgroom Do-It Yourself Hair Clipper.  Maybe I am being too extravagant but I think that cutting your own hair is likely to be a mistake.

You can check it out on Amazon here.  It actually gets decent reviews, but I do notice that several people mention "my wife uses it to cut my hair".  Given the title, that sounds like cheating.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

A small September 11th memory

Yesterday was September 11th, so there were lots of things people were doing to remember the World Trade attacks.  A friend posted this commercial on Facebook.  It only aired one time.  It is without a doubt, one of the classiest things I have seen on TV, and from Budweiser no less. Better to watch it in full screen.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

A mediocre trip to Antelope Island

I haven't been doing a lot of photography recently.  It just isn't that great right now. I would start considering some fall photos, but this is what the color looks like.  Instead of our normal bright yellows and reds, we are stuck with green turning to a flat brown.
So, off to Antelope Island to get some of the early migratory birds.

This was equally disappointing.  The water that normally comes right up to the causeway was extremely low leaving mud flats for hundreds of yards.  There was only a small stretch with water close enough to shoot and it held only a few gulls.
I did have some better luck with the mammals.  The big male bison were wandering everywhere.  This guy seemed to be heading up to the visitors center in case there were people wondering where to see the bison.  Notice the fake metal bison he is walking past.
This was taken with a wide angle lens from the truck.  Jasper was amazingly well behaved, hanging his head out the window but not doing anything to piss off this behemoth.
Not finding much to shoot, I stopped to smell (and photograph) the flowers.

Pronghorn were almost as common as the bison.  They were out in numbers and hanging out close enough to the road for good photos.
Did I say close to the road?  I meant in the road.

Fortunately the weather was decent and I enjoyed the day with the dog.  Probably one of my worst Antelope Island trips ever though.

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Differentiating your TV brand

This is a very clever ad from LG, demonstrating how realistic their TVs look.

Thursday, September 05, 2013


Not to get preachy or too political on this blog (except in jest), but I just wanted to plant a seed if people are interested.

I am really ticked at Obama (who I voted for) about this deal with attacking Syria.  We have spent over a trillion dollars in Iraq and Afghanistan and accomplished almost nothing other than killing a lot of American soldiers.  Every time we get into a Middle East conflict, we come out smelling like crap.  This time, we find ourselves alone because other countries either don't believe our evidence, don't feel it is their fight, or just don't care.  A lot of countries are unsure if the rebels are actually any better than the existing government.  Why is the US, who has a lot of its own problems to solve, the world's policeman?

Whether you agree with me or not, this is a great example of a time when your voice should be heard.  In about 15 minutes, I used the wonders of the Internet to write the president, my two senators, and my house rep.  Let your politicians know how you feel.

Ok, I'll calm down now and go throw balls to the dog.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

One last run

As much as I know I shouldn't, I felt the urge to do one last little 5k.  Julie and Sally were already signed up for the Miner's Day 5k, so I decided I needed a sign telling me whether I should run or not.  I went into our back yard wearing my new running shoes (only worn in my half marathon) and picked up all the dog and moose poop.  Because the grass is always pretty tall, I normally end up stepping in something.  I figured if my new shoes came out perfectly clean, it was a sign that they were meant for running.

Sure enough, free of poop, my shoes and I ran yesterday morning.  I finished 2nd in my age group and did 7:39 miles.  This was about 20 seconds faster than my last 5k.  Nice improvement given my stringent training regiment (no running at all).

Once I gather up some photos, I will share some of the rest of Miner's Day.