Summer Books 2010

I've read a few books over the Summer - here's what I thought of them:

The Millionaires - I should have aborted. I didn't care for this book. The story idea is OK, but the telling was too dramatic and too much made of little things. The reader of the audiobook added flair, but it couldn't be saved. And it ended with a whimper to boot. It was free and recommended, maybe that's why I stayed with it. I can accept the occasional clinker, but I should have pulled the plug, there's so much better out there.

The War Of The Worlds - I liked the movie. I liked the Orson Wells radio program that caused the panic back in 1938 (here's the MP3). Since it's out of copyright in the USA, I downloaded the audiobook read by a volunteer (with a pleasant English accent). I quite enjoyed it, even though I usually don't like old books and there were a few flaws in the recording. I'm impressed that H. G. Wells imagined such fanciful yet believable concepts (for fiction, you know what I mean). And he described things so well. The part about his brother in London was an unnecessary tangent that went too long, and I got bored with a few other sections where H. G. waxed on about some detail, but overall I liked it.

Brave New World - After reading Genesis (not in the Bible) I was in the mood for some more future fiction (I guess that's science fiction, but that usually means space travel and aliens and such). Aldous Huxley can write and I enjoyed reading his prose. It's an odd story, but it has a point, many points. It's not a message story, he just presents a possible future and if you don't see any parallels to where our society is headed, well then you read a nice story (and missed the points). I liked how he described this future society and it's technologies in just enough detail to make them realistic, but vague enough that they don't sound hokey today. Sure he was off on some things, but I'm impressed how well it's held up. Good book.

Snow Crash - Another future fiction. Some cool and ingenious concepts and technology in this book. The history lesson went on a bit long, but I respect the research he did for the book. The premise for the story is inventive and intriguing. And I liked his writing - get to the point and keep the story moving. I can see myself reading more Neal Stephenson. But I think I need to read Neuromancer first.

Blind Descent - I like adventure stories. So when I read a recommendation for this book about explorers seeking the deepest cave in the world I was hooked. The tale is indeed interesting, but the book is hampered by the merely adequate writing and the author's penchant for talking about the story when he should be telling the story. The content was worth it, but just barely. Here's a taste (spoiler): before 2001 the deepest cave in the world was in Austria (1,632 meters, 5,354 feet), and while American Bill Stone and his team was exploring Cheve cave in Mexico that went deeper, a Ukranian team kept pushing deeper still into Krubera cave in Abkhazia, Georgia to the current record of 2,191 meters (7,188 feet). What these people went through and what they discovered was amazing - too bad the book wasn't better.

More Information Than You Require - dug turned me onto this audiobook and it was a hit with me. John Hodgman's humor is sly and often cerebral. He's best known as PC in a series of Apple ads. A few his topics were duds, but most were at least amusing and I usually laughed several times each commute. John's command of language allows him to finely craft his jokes. I even liked his wistful, yet still tongue in check, commentary about fame. The book is probably OK, but you really want the audiobook as it is read by Hodgman and has a lot of good adlibs and cameos, and a few songs by Jonathan Coulton (my favorite song is The Future Soon). Now I need to listen to his first book, The Areas Of My Expertise.

Play And Pay

Had a good cycling week.

Tuesday evening I joined the Utah Velo Club for their Alpine climbing route. I enjoy riding with those guys. If I hadn't been having so much fun on the mountain bike this year I would have done more rides with them. As the ride neared the end Mike and I went up south Suncrest. It felt good to stretch the legs on a group road ride.

Thursday evening I met Rick, Colin and Cory for Park City ride. We went up Colins and Robs then out Mid Mountain to Red Pine Lodge and back. They set a brisk pace and being stuck in middle ring didn't help. (I put on a new crank last week and didn't get the front derailleur adjusted properly.) It's a long climb but it went by pretty quickly. Strangely, the downhill seemed longer than the climb. It just went on and on, fast and fun - loved it.

Friday morning was the Alpine Loop ride with a special appearance by Rick - his first ride since breaking his hip 6 long weeks ago. Rick was off his usual blistering pace, but he's still plenty fast. We had a pretty good turnout. I brought some fritters to celebrate Rick's return. We got rained on near the top, but it wasn't too cold and actually felt good to me. Going down Mark and I took off first to try and get a jump on dug. It didn't work, dug is just too fast on the descent and takes corners at warp speed. The wet road made it sketchy but no one crashed. Following Mark I would draft until I couldn't stand the water spraying in my face from his rear tire. I lost contact with Mark below Tibble Fork and didn't have the legs or gears to catch him (spun out with a 12 tooth cog). It didn't matter, dug was gone - we'd see him now and then but the gap was too big. Dug soloed for the sprint win. At the bottom we were treated to muffins made by Rachel, Mark's wife. The lemon muffin I had was amazing.

Then I got a cold (I could feel it coming on Friday) and I was laid up all weekend. It pained me to see a nice Saturday wasted. But I'm feeling better now and will be back at it tomorrow morning with a mountain bike ride with my neighbor. I'm feeling the riding days are counting down so I better get in every one I can.

Student Government

My parents are moving, and in the process of going through the house they presented me with a few more boxes of treasures, which provide the material for this post.

Post mission I went to UVCC (Utah Valley Community College, now Utah Valley University) to get my general education classes before moving on to BYU for my bachelors degree.

While there I did two years of student government. It was a good experience for me and generally a lot of fun. I made some good friends.

I ran for Public Relations the first year, but didn't get elected. However, I have this awesome campaign poster:

Let's zoom in:

I'm in the back row, 2nd from the right. Sporting a thin, have-I-reached-puberty mustache. And I've got some hair going, but not sure what you call it.

Everyone's got some 80s style going. Remember those softball shirts?

The next year I ran as Technology Senator and won. It was a good year of activities and debating the weighty matters of student politics (read: nothing of serious consequence).

The following year I ran for Academic Vice President with the Focus party and won. Here's the campaign poster:

Hair still long in the back, but more under control. Mustache out, Hubble glasses in (I still had them when I got married). Tweed jacket with skinny tie. Wow, what a dork. But that's how I looked then. Pretty funny now.

So there you go, more embarrassing treasures from my past.

Summer Cramming

The days of Summer are ticking down for the kids - they start school next week. So it's time to cram.

Friday - Cascade Springs

Friday after work we drove over to Cascade Springs. It's been a few years since our last visit. We had fun roaming the boardwalks and trails looking at the springs, fish, flowers and other plants.

After driving around we found a spot with a fire ring and had a cookout.

I show the kids how to perfectly toast a marshmallow.

Then breakout the ukulele for one clumsy song.

Saturday AM - Mountain Bike AF Canyon

Jolene and I did a moderate mountain bike ride up American Fork Canyon. Start at the summit, out Ridge, down Mud Springs, up Tibble, down Joy then back up to the car.

I've come down Tibble several times, but I think this is my first time going up. Some steep pitches and tough obstacles. No, I didn't make this one.

At the 4-way we met Sally and Cat and rode with them back to the summit.

The weather and trails were near perfect. Only annoyance was all the motorcycles on Tibble.

Saturday PM - Family Reunion

Had a good time seeing all the aunts, uncles and cousins at the family reunion in Riverton.

When we parked my kids spotted this dead bat stuck to the car. We hit it last night after the cookout. Actually, it hit us as it was chasing a flying bug. Ironic timing with Alex's excellent bat post on Thursday.

Sunday - Tour of Utah

I drove up to Suncrest to watch the racers come over the summit. Fun little party up there. Saw Mark, dug, Rick, Sleepy, Jon J.

First came a small break, then another, then the peloton.

Now I'm off to a salmon dinner with the in-laws (they just got back from an Alaskan fishing trip).

Can we get one more month of Summer? Augustember? Come on politicians, get on it.

News Flash (Flood)

The White Rim road dropping down to Mineral Bottom was washed out in several places. Strong storms Thursday produced heavy rainfall and floods in Canyonlands. I first heard about this on (Rumor is spreading that the storm story is a smoke screen with the real cause being trundling.)

Tour of Utah 2010 Stage 2 Start

I didn't have time to go watch the finish of Stage 2 of the Tour of Utah at the top of Mount Nebo so I settled for watching the start at Thanksgiving Point, which isn't far from work.

Walking to the start the Xango van drove by tossing out freebies. I scored some socks.

The dignitaries rolled out, including Bob Roll (in the yellow helmet).

The racers look WAY too casual at the start.

And they're off.

They did two laps around a small circuit before heading south for Mount Nebo.

The weather has turned ugly since the start. Raining hard here at work (Bluffdale). Reports of strong wind gusts hitting the racers. And this photo taken from the caravan doesn't look good:

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Lemon Ride

Even though I was still feeling the Timp hike, I was getting cycling withdrawal jitters so I hit up the Draper trails for a ride after work.

Decided to mix things up and start at the pool. I wanted to see what was happening with the Oak Hollow trail (last rode it in May). I'd heard the lower part (start) was widened, it's true - I preferred the old narrower trail, but it wasn't too bad.

Went through the culvert under Traverse Ridge road, made the tight switchback, past the water tank, up onto the ridge, riding up the nice hard-packed trail when I came to this:

I gave it a try but it was so soft and loose it was like riding in sand. After 50 yards I pulled the plug and went back down as I mourned the loss of that sweet narrow single-track.

Took the BST east over near the temple. Above the castle mansion I spotted the newly built Potato Hill trail theZeph told me about.

Here I've turned around to face west - Potato Hill trail on the left, BST on the right.

Newly machine cut and settling in pretty well. The heavy equipment you see in the background is along Traverse Ridge road at the S turn climb. They are digging a tunnel under the road for the trail to continue on the other side.

At Traverse Ridge road I pondered my options and decided to go up to the trail behind the Suncrest sign (Oak Vista?). It was more road uphill than I thought to get there.

I enjoyed the trail. I went down it once years ago. This was my first time up it. I was happy to make all the switchbacks.

Now in Suncrest I headed south and picked up the Eagle Crest trail and headed west. I like this trail, it feels rugged. Someone weedwacked the grass and weeds back, nice.

I started down the Maple Hollow DH trail and kept feeling this jarring like the tire was compressing and the rim was hitting the ground. I checked the air pressure and it seemed OK, but I added more air anyway. Still kept clunking. Then I noticed the fork was bottoming out in the bumps. When I came to the new cutoff for the Oak Hollow trail (or is it Valley View as seen on a 2008 Draper map, or will it be Draper Rim as Brad with Draper City told me?) I took it. Descending the DH trail with a bum fork didn't sound like fun.

The trail was OK, but it is very freshly cut so it was loose and rough, just like the lower part I tried to go up at the start of the ride. (Back in the middle you can see a mini backhoe.)

Kind of a lemon ride as I'd managed to choose a bad route while being surrounded by good trails. By checking out new and under construction trails I was aware it could get ugly, and it did.

I advise staying away from Oak Hollow until it's finished and we get some rain to solidify the tread.

The good news is, once Potato Hill gets punched under the road and the (whatever name) trail is done it will make a nice loop with the BST, or Eagle Crest if you're willing to grind up the top of the DH trail and risk the DH riders.

Timp Hike 2010

I hiked Timp again this year with coworker Chris. This time Jolene joined us. (2009 hike report)

The Timpooneke parking lot was full (since 3:30 AM) so we found a spot along the Alpine Loop road and started hiking before 6 AM.

It was still dark so I used a headlamp for the first half hour or so.

The first section of trail is pleasant.

The wildflowers were out in abundance. (Me in front, Chris behind me.)

We saw four Pine Hens near the trail.

No snowfields to cross on the way up, mostly due to hiking two weeks later than last year.

Zig-zagging up the little chute after crossing the ridge saddle.

Half hour to the summit I was surprised to see this young mountain goat so close (we'd spotted two other groups on the way up).

I was shocked when the goat talked to me:

"Tell Rick his broken hip was no accident."

Looking nearly straight down at Emerald Lake is vertigo inducing but the water color is so amazing you must look.

Me and the loving woman who still lets me talk her into things like this (and gets up at 4:15 AM for them). On the summit a few minutes after 10 AM. Our house is over my right shoulder.

The refreshing scenes on the way down help distract from tired legs pounding the trail.

Arrived at the car a little after 2 PM.

Today we're both sore and tired, but the hike was well worth it.

Anniversary Riding In Park City

We like Park City. Jolene and I have been there several times for our anniversary. This year I took a day off work (yesterday) and we went there to ride.

We did a variation of the ride we did with Andy and Rhonda last year. We drove to the gate at the end of Daly Avenue (in Daly Canyon) and headed up the dirt road.

How do you instill confidence in your riding partner when you have a somewhat tricky route you want to navigate? Take the wrong turn at the first junction. Fortunately there was a good trail (see photo below) to take us over to the trail I wanted to start on.

So, up the mellow Ontario Bypass which crosses the paved road then climbs a bit steeper up to Mid Mountain.

I must mention that we immediately noticed how green it was. Whereas down in the valley the grass has dried to tan, the mountains are all green.

We took Mid Mountain out the upper north side of Deer Valley. Good trail - cross the paved road again, fairly flat, in and out of trees.

As Mid Mountain crosses Park City Mountain Resort (PCMR) its more up and down. There was some work going on - thinning Aspens with chainsaws (I'd guess to open it up for skiing) and laying pipe for snow making.

Our plan was to take Mid Mountain to the ridge on the north side of Thayne's Canyon, but the trail has been rerouted about a half mile before the rocky top of the ridge. So we decided to see what this reroute looked like and where it went.

The reroute goes farther out (lower on) the ridge, passes under the cliff band, then turns north and cross over to the north knoll and switchbacks up it before sidehilling around to the south and connecting back into Mid Mountain proper. We went out a ways then turned around and came back. It's not bad for being cut this Spring, but pretty rough and it adds more elevation gain and loss.

We ate lunch at this switchback on the reroute.

Coming back Jolene passes the cliff band.

Back into PCMR we took Mid Mountain back to the old mining area near the Payday & Town lifts.

We turned off onto Empire Link. We love this trail. It has banked turns and many little humps you can get a little air off of. This trail put smiles on our faces.

We finished off with Lower des Suds then some dirt road back to the car.

25 miles of excellent single-track with my favorite riding partner. I'm a lucky man.

After the ride we ate Italian-style pizza at Cafe Galleria in Midway. The pizza was delicious and not expensive. We wanted gelato for desert, but they were out.

A very good day.

Kade's Bonus Day & Curly Battle Ride

I felt a bit bad Kade really only got half a day of fun Wednesday, so when it was just him and me Saturday morning I decided we'd do the other stuff I had planned.

First up, Donut Falls. I'd never been there. It's a short hike. The falls aren't impressive, but it's a pleasant alpine setting with a stream. Kade and I scrambled around on the rocks below the falls. Then we floated stick boats and threw rocks. Simple stuff, but he loved it.

Plenty of flowers along the hike. I don't think I've seen this one before:

Next we drove up to Silver Lake. I expected the typical deep mountain lake surrounded by rock. But Silver Lake is shallow and marshy. There is a boardwalk loop around the lake. We watched these ducks for a while:

Then out on one of the fishing platforms we saw a large bird of prey flying over the lake. With it's white head I wondered for a moment if it was a Bald Eagle. One of the fishermen said it was an Osprey. It perched on the tip top of a large pine tree near the lake. I kept an eye on it. A few minutes later it dropped from the tree top and soared over the lake. Then it tucked it's wings and plunged into the lake and took off with a fish in it's talons. It amazed me that, so near civilization with people all around and opportune timing, we were able to watch this. I took a photo, but the camera only has 3x zoom so it just looks like a splash.

Back in the car we drove over Guardsman Pass then over to The Canyons to see Jolene at the final ICup race of the season. It was fun to see and chat with many MTB friends. Rain forced us inside for the awards.

Kade liked the gondola ride.

Curly Battle Ride

Back home I went for a mountain bike ride.

I've been wanting to do this ride for a while - I call it the Curly Battle loop. Starting from the firing range trail head, up Water Tank road, up Betty then left on 051, drop into Dry Canyon then climb out the other side, climb past Curly Springs and around the front of Big Baldy, drop down into Battle Creek Canyon, descend Battle Creek then take BST back to the trail head.

13 miles and 3000 feet of climbing. Took me 2.5 - 3 hours.

051 north of Dry Canyon is a good climb, but the recent rain (and water running down the trail) made it more loose than usual.

I've gone up 051 out of Battle Creek, but never descended it. It's steep, but surprisingly not that technical.

It's been years since I last went down Battle Creek. It's on par with Grove in terms of steepness, loose shale and technical features. I'll admit I walked a few places. Near the end my front brake started squealing and it sounded funny the rest of the ride (looks like the pads were worn out).

The BST climb hurt more, and I took it slower, than usual. The rest was mostly downhill and good fun.

I enjoyed this loop. The climbing is grunty but doable. The downhill is sweet, and with the addition of Battle Creek, more technical. The higher altitude and Battle Creek add to the scenery factor.

Kade's Day

I took Wednesday off to watch Kade since Jamie had to work, and Jolene and the other girls are at camp this week. So it was to be a guys day.

Started early (5:30 AM) being woken up by a Thunderstorm. The clouds were low and the lightning struck near and often. Here's a short video of a few lightning flashes. The one at the end was close and loud.

Slept in a little then a leisurely breakfast.

Turned on the computer to discover the internet was out. Turns out the access point was fried. Headed out to buy a new one.

On the way back I asked Kade what he wanted to do, he chose golf. We had a good time at the miniature golf course at Cascade.

Then it was lunch time. He chose Carl's Jr., for the playground. He played in the rat maze for an hour while I played games on my phone. He was having fun so I rolled with it.

I had planned to take Kade to Big Cottonwood Canyon to see Donut Falls and Silver Lake, but the rain was back and I needed to help my neighbor replace his fried DSL modem - that storm did some damage.

Finished the day with pizza and movies at my neighbor's house.

It was fun to spend a day with my boy.

It's been a while since my last update. I've been out riding - a few morning rides, more evening rides (MTB and road). Helping my wife get ready for camp took some time. Saw Inception, it's been many months since I've seen a movie that good. Went out to dinner with friends. You know, the usual stuff. Life if good.