Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Let's go get a Christmas tree!

Jeff has taken his wee family out to the forest to cut their year Christmas tree for the last three years.
This year...Bernie and I were invited to go too!
November 29th two cars were on their way up through Wyoming and then back to Utah to find the perfect tree.
(Two hours of driving it was...)
Snow on the ground made it just perfect don't you think?
(I thought so...)
We pulled into a small lot where a permit was purchased and a "cutting map" was obtained.
Apparently trees could be cut in a very large forested area.
I thought I saw several excellent trees in the forest about three minutes away from where we bought the permit.
Silly me.
We drove on an ice slicked road past a car that had slide off into the wood.
We drove and drove some more.
The snow on the road got thicker and thicker until the road became merely a snowy path.

Bernie and I had Luke in our car's back seat; Jeff and Rachel were ahead of us with Calvin.
I kept seeing wonderful trees...Jeff was in conquering mode and drove up and up the mountain, passing cars stuck in the snow and skewed in various directions.
Eventually Bernie backed us down thinking we would get stuck in the deep snow.
While we waited for Jeff to back down too...

Bernie decided to hike up the hill to see if Jeff was stuck.
Luke wanted out of the car after two hours in his car seat.
I think this was the most snow he had ever seen.

A powder suit would of been good.
And something other than my light weight gloves to wear.
(His snow gear was in Jeff's car.)

Ooops!

Getting back up is tricky!

I waded in and grabbed him, then we carefully navigated our way back to our car.

While we waited in the car I snapped a few pictures of Luke waiting in the back seat.

We had sung folk songs most of the trip.
He was singing to pass the time.

Bernie eventually came back and said Jeff was actually not stuck and we would continue going up the road.

We made it!
Luke got his real snow gear on and the Great Christmas Tree Hunt of 2014 was ON!

Look!  Look! Look!
(as my first reading book in first grade would put it.)

Hey Calvin!  
Wanna go find a Christmas tree?

Bernie and I agreed (after I said I wanted a Sub Alpine tree) that this would be our tree.
I had hiked around (like for five minutes) and decided this one was just great!

A guy who was walking around looking for a tree for himself was carrying a small chain saw.
He offered to do the cutting.
We accepted.

Jeff is a traditionalist.
He came armed with a hand saw.
He looked and looked, climbing higher and higher up the mountain until he saw the perfect tree.
Rachel climbed up and gave the tree her thumbs up.

I hiked up the hill with him to document the harvest.

And down the hill he goes with his trophy tree.
And down I went too, landing neatly  on my fanny.

The view from up high back down to our cars.
Jeff got a Lodge Pole pine.
He is 6 ft 2 inches tall.
Yes, that is a BIG tree!
The yellow item behind Jeff is a sled that we brought thinking it would be fun for Luke to ride in.
Luke did not think it was fun at all.
Oh well.
Maybe next year he will have fun on that.

Jeff actually selected this area because Olaf was already in residence.
Let's face it: Building a snowman is a LOT of work.
Adopting a ready made Olaf is just great!

This (semi frozen) Olaf had trouble keeping his eyes, nose, arms and other parts attached to himself, somewhat like the Olaf in the Frozen movie.
Luke was more than happy to fix Olaf up over and over again.

Time for the Christmas card photo!
(Luke is screaming because taking a Christmas card photo is NOT as much fun as fixing up Olaf.)
I must remember to ask for the photo of Bernie and me with our tree on their camera...

The trees are loaded up...

(I think Calvin slept through most of this adventure.)

I love this boy's eyelashes.
They are so long, just like his mother's.

Brave Rachel slogging through the slippery snow with a baby on her chest.
Doesn't she look cute?

Say goodbye to Olaf....

I don't want to leave Olaf!

Down the mountain we go....

Past winter beauty...

Rivers still running for now.

A clue as to about where we were.

Ahh...back to the highway.


Mountains and volcanoes in the distance.

Farmlands with cattle.

Farmlands with farmers with a sense of humor!

                                                                  Hi there hay bail!


The tree now stands gilted in our living room, in all its wild imperfect glory.

So special, more special because of the family fun we had getting it.

Can't wait to go find a wild tree again next year!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Another generation

For years and years I received a mouse in my Christmas stocking. 

My children enjoyed playing with them each Christmas.
This year...another generation is playing with them and hearing the stories that go with them.  The mouse with the red bandana and striped hat is a Rail Road signal man.  Luke's great grandfather worked on the railway tracks in Idaho...that little mouse is to remember him.
The rocking chair that I rocked in as a preschooler eventually was enjoyed by my kids. I have a picture of our son in that tiny rocker; now I have a picture of his son playing in it too.


Froggie joined our Christmas fun about 15 years ago. If one presses his paw he croaks out Jingle Bells and other tunes. For some reason I have always found those croaky versions to be quite funny.
Luke gave Froggie quite a fast ride.
"Feeling queasy Froggie?"
"Wheee!"

"My chair Froggie!"

Little boys.  Playing rough comes naturally.  Glad the Froggie can take it!

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Park City: A blissful get away week

So behind in blogging!
Dear me!
(Or should I say deer me...)
Early one morning in November our son Jeff dropped by and spotted these two hanging out across the street from our house.


That is one nice rack on the buck.
I should be used to seeing deer in our neighborhood but when I am outside and a couple of them go trotting by (or leaping as the case may be) I get completely startled.
Those things are pretty big and I am always glad that they always seem to have a pressing engagement elsewhere and are swiftly departing my area.

Bernie realized that we still had two weeks of time share to use before the end of the year so he booked us into the Park City Westgate property for a week in early November.
(Bernie does get vacation time, it is just his job tends to roll with irregular demands so he usually takes time when there are lulls in the action. And still winds up working remotely during his vacation.)
The first evening draped the local hills with a beautiful purple and apricot sunset.
We watched it from the balcony of our time share balcony.

The sunset was reflected in the snow bearing clouds to the east.
 

We watched until the last glow upon the mountains died away.
Such a glorious show, free to all to see if they cared to look.
I was glad we did look and stayed watching to the end of  colorful event.

The Westgate has a very warm Family/kids welcomed pool on the property, a pool which is  both an inside and outside pool, with hot tubs and steam rooms and saunas.
I loved to use it and watch snow fall on the glass ceiling and glass walls while I lounged in the inside area.
I would then go and get splatted by cold snow as I soaked in the outdoor Jacuzzi.
There was also an elegant adult only indoor pool with a steam room, sauna and hot tub.
I spent a lot of time loafing around in there too.
Our suite came with a two man hot tub in the bedroom room and a steam shower in the bathroom.
The visiting oldest grandson enjoyed a long play time in the family pool and then went for another round of water romps in our private Jacuzzi tub.
He thinks we own this place.
When do you think we should tell him actually we don't?

Grandson #2 was satisfied with cuddles.
His pool days will come soon enough.

There had been freezing weather just before we came up to Park City and there were several small snow storms during our week's stay.
One day I walked around the Westgate property to see what snow scenes I could find.
I liked the blazing reds and oranges mixed with snow.

The blue metal chairs were pretty.
 
Might be chilly to sit in...

Beautiful design though.

Snow was being made around the clock in an attempt to open the ski areas by Thanksgiving.
The snow being shot out of the snowmakers looked like fog, or maybe a snowfall in reverse!

An interesting fact: Man made snow flakes does not form in the beautiful crystal patterns of God made snow flakes.

There was just enough snow on our deck for a first snowman making attempt.
(note the bare feet....)

Pretty darn cute if you ask me!

Bring the snowman inside next to the fire?
Well, if it was good enough for Olaf why not!
Warm hugs anyone?
 

The view out our bedroom window.
The aspen leaves thinned more each day.
(I am posting some of my pictures in an extra large size. Will you please so kind to let me know if the extra large format is problematic for your viewing on your computer? The earlier shots were just "large".)

By mid week Bernie was ready to drive over to the nearby river to wet a line.
As usual, he fished, I photographed the scenery.
Over the years I have blogged many small hike that I have taken in various places in various times of year.
Those posts are some of my favorite posts.
As always, I invite you to come along to see what there was to see.

A good stand of autumn color against a blue mountain.

Other areas had lost all leaves and were beautiful in browns and greys.
I wish I could share with you  how beautiful the air smelled here.
  A mix of cold water, snow, leaf mulch, wood, grass, and mud.
A very invigorating blend of scents.

The cold being chased by sunlight had created a fog in the distance.

Snow was melting into crystal droplets on the fuzzy leafed ground plants.

The yellowed grasses heaped on the ground, amazingly bright.

Broken fences are so picturesque.
Especially since I am not obligated to keep them fixed.
I wonder if the fence owner sees the beauty of them or just sees work to be done.

Same view shot in landscape orientation.
Which layout suited the scene the best?
You tell me!

Here's the path we are walking by the way.
Interesting how the snow has stuck to the small pathway isn't it?

In the shade beneath trees the snow has settled/melted down around leaves and rocks.
Each such area has a slightly different color scheme.
This one mostly golden tan and sage colors....

While this one is made up of soft apricot, grey and bright green.

The snow on the bark of a fallen mossy log.
I treasure such short lived art, and photograph it knowing it will never be seen in nature 
just so
ever again.

A view back to the roadway, and the entrance to the parking area.
The snow had highlighted the small undulations of the hills around the area.

Walking across the parking lot I spotted these tracks.
They looked just like our cats paw print in the snow.
I wondered and guessed what kind of animal made them while the snow was fresh, perhaps early that morning.

A ponded area in the meadow still had ice on it.
The ice blanked out the pond's reflection of the surrounding trees.
It would have been fun to have taken a series of photos at the same spot over several hours to watch the ice retreat and scenery be revealed reflected on the pond's surface.

The little stream had joined a larger stream now.

I had not found Bernie after I swung by the parking lot so I thought I would try to track him.
I wasn't sure what his boot print might look like as there were several boot prints in on the snowy trail but I decided I would follow the biggest print, figuring his size 12s probably would be the biggest boots on the trail.
If I was wrong I hoped the big guy I would track down would be a nice guy. 
:-)

Fall colors don't always hang from trees!
I love the white brush behind the bare red shrubs branches.

Tiny, tiny flowers spangle dried upon a fragile bush.
Another snowfall and I suspect these will crumble into mulch.

The snowy path continues beside the river.
As I walk I see what I hope is Bernie's "spore" and the animal paw prints as well.
I spotted a couple that had stepped off the path.
They were peering into a thicket and raising their cameras to photograph something.

The paw prints DID belong to a house cat!
Oh my goodness!
He mewed at me...

Then strolled over to see me, talking the whole way.

Totally calm and happy to have me pet him, but did not wished to be held.

There were farms and houses in the area, some a quarter mile away or so.
I decided I would continue my walk and hope the cat would continue his, hopefully back to his house.
The cat...preferred to walk along beside me!
He leapt up on fallen logs but stayed steadily upon the path the rest of the time, purring away happily.

The big prints did lead to Bernie.
After he came out of the river I checked his boot print.
Circles and crosses.
Good to know and remember in the future.
He caught and released several fish.
(I was miffed, I wanted poached trout for breakfast!)

The cat sat on a log with me while I waited aside the stream for Bernie to finish fishing.
To say Bernie was surprised to see me sitting next to a cat on a log is an understatement!
The cat enjoyed rolling on the warming damp path on the walk back.

He was in excellent condition with thick healthy glowing fur and young teeth.

I guessed he was probably a very young cat based on his smallish teeth.

He seemed to enjoy posing for me and selected his back drops carefully.

Sometimes it took him a bit to figure out how to dismount from some of the fallen trees.

So there we were...just strolling along in the warming sunshine.
Other fishermen came along and asked about my cat.
I told them it wasn't my cat.
The cat marched up and eyeballed each person on the path with a relaxed glaze.

I was of course arguing with myself about what to do about this sweet kitty.
I was pretty sure he hadn't been abandoned here as he seemed quite sure of himself.
I hoped he did belong to one of the nearby farms.
He didn't like to be picked up so it would not be possible for me to carry him door to door to ask about him.
I didn't have a cat carrier with me, and I wasn't sure about what kind of animal shelters Park City offered.
I was very sure that a coyote would enjoy the cat as a snack if the cat stayed out in the wild.
The highways nearby...another danger.
Such a sweet cat...agggghhhh!

I had first spotted him not far from this spot.
We had walked together about a quarter of mile up the path and a quarter mile back down the path.
Once we came to this log across the path he stopped and would come no farther, even though the path eventually lead to the parking lot where I had first seen his prints.
What you can't see in this photo is the fisherman mid stream that the cat is watching with a laser focus.
Well.
I prayed for the cat and left him to the care of God and any feline assigned guardian angels who might be about.
And tried not to think about the circle of life.

Back in the car I nibbled on a snack and awaited Bernie.
Got a few photos of my guy as he filled me in on his fishing.

He fit right in with the bare November scenery.

I am so blessed that he likes to be outdoors as much as I do.
I would hesitate to go out in the wild without knowing he was nearby.
Our hobbies---his fishing/my photography are a match made in heaven.

The rest of the week in Park City was spent reading Outlander books, knitting on a hat for Bernie, enjoying the fire and the view out the window.
We came home for two days to watch Cal, missing one night of our week.
Bernie nipped into work for a bit.
The kids came up twice, once for the day and once for an evening.
Sometimes vacationing twenty minutes from home does not let one get completely unplugged from usual life.
And yet...
for some reason that I just can't quite pin down...
this was one of the most relaxing weeks I have ever had.
Realizing that, I asked Bernie if we could stay another week.
Well, the Westgate didn't have an opening for that but there was another place we could go in two week.
I will post about that second getaway soon!