Monday, July 22, 2013

A seat! A seat! My kingdom for a seat! . . .

The vacation is winding down. Tomorrow we go home from Las Vegas (we hit Vegas at the right time: after the torrential downpours and heavy winds of a couple of days ago but before it really heats up again tomorrow and for the rest of the week [107 on Wednesday]. Are we smart or what!?).

I made a reservation for two nights at the JW Marriott Resort and Spa (technically in Summerlin but any normal person would say Las Vegas) about two or three months ago (real bargain for a JWM resort, $104/night) aond a couple of days ago we emailed them to ask for a recommendation for a restaurant for our anniversary. We made a reservation at their recommended restaurant and didn’t think any more about it until we got to our room. ROOM? Palatial suite is a more appropriate term. It has double doors into a large—VERY large—living/bedroom area with a bar. The is a very large walk-in closet, two bathrooms (including a bidet), a dining table, sofa, two comfortable chairs, and a patio that could hold 100 people with a table, two chairs, and two chaises. Wow!

So of course we had to order a room-service breakfast this morning. Nice way to end our vacation!

Our excursion for the day—after we finished our breakfast on the terrace and read the paper, of course—was to the Springs Preserve ( It looked really good on paper and online, but the reality was a bit less. Those of you a bit less long in the tooth than Randy and I are might not have the same appreciation for seating that we do. We wandered through their Origen (yes, that is how they spell it) for over an hour trying out their interactive exhibits and watching their videos and reading their posters and admiring their statues. There was not a seat to be found in the whole bloody place! We had to watch a 15 minute movie STANDING UP!  

I know, I know, nobody was forcing us to watch the movie at all. But when you hype something, your visitors will want to see it! And they hyped the movie about the building of Boulder/Hoover Dam, so we wanted to watch it! But my feet were really complaining by now. Anyway we survived, but Springs Preserve? Put in some chairs! Please?

Springs Preserve is definitely aimed toward children and Randy and I felt a bit out of place without a small hand in ours! The most interesting exhibit was the demonstration of a flash flood, complete with a real roaring stream! There is a video (no seats!) and then thousands of gallons of water start rushing down a rocky ravine complete with lightning and thunder sound effects. Quite impressive!

Their version of what the Desert Museum calls Running Wild was a disappointment. The presenter had his heart in the right place but the program he put on was a bit understated. He was trying to show desert animal adaptations by putting several (live) animals in a reality-TV show-type presentation and for Randy and me, it didn’t quite make it. But for the kids in the audience (I think we were the only adults who didn’t have an ankle-biter in tow) is appeared to be mildly interesting. He did use a video camera enlargement of each animal so even those in the back row could see exactly what was going on up front.

Tonight we have dinner in Carmel restaurant and then home to Tucson tomorrow.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Winter and waiting for winter. . .

That’s pretty much what the seasons in Park City are. Well, there are LOTS of people here in the summer, but Park City and the environs (meaning the mountains around Salt Lake City) are all about snow and skiing and snowboarding. Just around our timeshare (Marriott Mountainside) there are about a dozen ski shops. A couple are open with bicycles for rent, but most are shuttered, waiting for the snow to start.

We aren’t doing any hiking as Randy’s knee is still bothering him (Ace bandages and ice every day) so we have wandered a bit around the art galleries in Park City and gone for drives in the mountains when the weather is good—which has been most of the time.

So, not much to write about, I'll just post some of the pictures I’ve taken.

Our picnic lunch site.

But with a warning!
And a nice little stream running through it.

A thistle and friend

I love these thistles and they are everywhere in the mountains around Park City.

More thistles and more friends.


Among the beautiful mountains, all is not well. This little lake, Silver Lake, is WAY below its full level.

Another lake, actually a reservoir, is down, just not as much as Silver Lake.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

This and that and Yellowstone and Tetons

We have made it to Park City via Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. We’ve watched the special about Lewis and Clark witch has inspired me to tell you a little bit about a couple of the Canadian explorers of the mountains around the Columbian Icefields back in the late 1800s.

Our little electronic guide ( used two explorers, Norman Collie and Hermann Woolley, to measure our progress up the Icefields Parkway in 2013 against theirs (they hiked the approximate same area and distance) in the late 19th century. What took them 19 days took us a half a day. When I did some research on them I was very, very surprised to learn that although Collie was an accomplished climber, a lot of his biographies online barely mention that part of his life. Even though Collie (and Woolley, of course) basically discovered the icefields and climbed and named most of the mountains in the area, his biography barely mentions it. In fact, I wasn’t even certain I had found the right Norman Collie at first!

If you look on you get a lot of this: “Collie culminated his work on dehydracetic acid, 2,6-dimethylpyrone, and diacetylacetone in his generalization of the multiple ketene group. What Collie called the ketene group (—CH2CO—) and its enol tautomer(—CH=COH—) can, in one comprehensive scheme, relate pyrone, coumarin, benzopyrone, pyridine, isoquinoline, and naphthalene to the polyacetic acids. He also speculated on the formation of sugars and fats, with the multiple ketene group as the fundamental building block for these biological materials. Pentose sugars would be formed from pyrones and fats or acetogenins from acetic acid, depending on the hydrolysis of the multiple ketene group. The breadth of this early suggestion is just now being appreciated in biochemistry. . .”

It is only at the end of the article, almost as a footnote, that you read this tiny blurb: “He also wrote two books, Climbing on the Himalaya and other Mountain Ranges (Edinburgh, 1902) and Climbs and Explorations in the Canadian Rockies (London, 1903).”

One of the online resources (translation: I can’t remember where I found this) says, “On August 18, 1898, Norman Collie and Hermann Woolley became the first to grasp the extent and significance of the Columbia Icefield when they completed the first ascent of Mount Athabasca, the spectacular peak to the east of the Icefield and just south of Athabasca Glacier. Collie's description of the view from the summit is classic Canadian Rockies literature and it is a testament to his intelligence that he understood the geographical significance of what he saw. ‘The view that lay before us in the evening light was one that does not often fall to the lot of modern mountaineers. A new world was spread at our feet; to the westward stretched a vast ice-field probably never before seen by human eye, and surrounded by entirely unknown, un-named, and unclimbed peaks. From its vast expanse of snows, the Saskatchewan Glacier takes its rise, and it also supplies the headwaters of the Athabasca; while far away to the west, bending over in those unknown valleys glowing with evening light, the level snows stretched, to finally melt and flow down more than one channel into the Columbia River, and thence to the Pacific Ocean.’"

I have so much admiration for those early explorers, whether they be the Americans—Lewis and Clark—or the Canadians—Collie and Woolley. Driving this area in our air-conditioned, leather seated, automatic  cars, can we even begin to comprehend the difficulties that these men (and women! don’t forget Sacagawea!) had to put up with to map the areas that we so facilely traverse these days?

We are now in Park City, UT, with its arcane liquor laws. There are afternoon thunderstorms, art galleries, food, and mountain drives. We will take part in all of that, assuming we can understand the vagaries of the liquor laws. As an example, yesterday we stopped partway through our gallery walking tour to have a beer. No problem, sat outside, drank a couple of great beers. Today, after a grueling day of driving through the mountains (wonderful names like Guardsman Pass, Sundance) we walked to a pub near our timeshare, sat down outside (just like yesterday), and ordered a beer. The waitress brought out our beers and THEN informed us that we could not just drink beer, we HAD to order food. We did, but I wonder what she would have done if we said, “Oh, sorry, we just wanted a beer, we’re leaving.”

Why was it ok yesterday in downtown Park City and not ok today? As far as I know, the bar and our timeshare is still in the city limits of Park City. Yet another mystery of life!

Two more days in Park City, then on to Lost Wages, Nevada.
We feel that, if we don't see a Pilot Car on out trip, something is missing! This is just one of MANY that we had to endure, both in Canada and the US. In this part of the US, there are only two seasons: Winter and Construction.

This has to be our national mammal, the bison.

You can see the growth since the fire in the late 80s. Trees don't grow very fast in this part of the world.

This is what is called a "Bear Jam." Or maybe an "Elk Jam."

Life is good if you are an elk in a national park.

More of the fire damage, probably not the 80s fire.

Mud pots.

Randy taking pictures of the Grand Tetons.

An elk, obviously not too concerned about the other elk since it isn't quite breeding season.

Just a pretty view.

Jenny Lake in Grand Teton National Park

Another scene of Jenny Lake

The Grand Tetons. Need I say more?