Saturday, August 20, 2011

That time of year again!

We have promised ourselves that some year we will celebrate the Swedish Summer Crawfish Festival properly, by which I mean in Sweden.

Meanwhile the next best thing is to catch the festival yearly at Ikea.
Friday night was the night; two seating times were offered, and an all you can eat meal was priced out at $9.99 per adult.

I forget how much they charged for a child's meal.  If I had a four or five year old kid in my life I would gladly pay for their meal just to watch their first encounter with crawfish.

Until then, my adult date for the evening  (and the past three decades) was the one cheerfully donned the celebratory dining accessories.
The crawfish tasted just great, although we dined with a bit of consternation after having a brief conversation in line with a real Swede who voiced her dismay about the fact that these crawfish were much larger than Swedish crawfish due to the fact that they were from China.
I think it bother her more that they were from China than it did that they weren't from Sweden.

The usual yummies: Cold dilled crawfish, dilled hard cooked eggs with shrimp, salmon, boiled red potatoes and Swedish meat balls with lingonberries.

I didn't get a picture of the tasty breads, bubbly blackberry flavored sparking  apple juice served in wine glasses, cucumber salads, shrimp with sauce and the oh so delicious Swedish desserts.

The restaurant was decorated for the occasion, Swedish melodies were played live by a violinist, and each guest was treated to a gift bag of Swedish potato chips, coupons for Swedish foods and some lucky folks had their dinner ticket drawn for gift baskets.

The drawings for gift baskets was a new feature at the festival this year.
Also new: A Crawfish Party Song Book.
(Bet you didn't even know there was such a thing to be had! I didn't...)
Our Swedish friend Janitha sent me pictures of her family's real crawfish party, held in Sweden last summer.  She made a point of explaining that a key feature in the festival was singing silly songs and drinking...a lot.  She included a picture of the liquor bottles at the ready for their part in the festivities.
Beer bottles however were not to be found in the shot.
Only one table indulged in singing at "our" party.  I was highly amused to find this song book and its odes to all things beer.

Drinking songs in Draper Utah?
This is a deeply observant part of Utah, by which I mean most of the folks you meet in the area are Mormon.
Which of course means those folks don't drink beer or any other kind of alcoholic beverages either.

Ikea was not serving beer or schnapps or any other controlled beverage to their guests while we were there.  I don't suspect they broke out anything stronger than sparkling apple cider at any time during the night.

Bernie and I got quite a chuckle out the songs anyway.
We know at least one family member who will enjoy learning some new songs to sing as he enjoys his daily pilsners.

I made sure I got a photo of each page of the song book for you Hal.
I am suggesting Jeff and Laura bone up on the lyrics too.
The next family reunion should be a lot more fun if you two could join your grandfather in singing while the beer goes down.
(And maybe Barbara could play some of the tunes on her musical saw too?  Oh yeah...good times a'coming!)

Skoal to all: I lift my glass of Lingonberry soda to friends from Sweden and other friends both far and near!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Quick Trip: Timp to Cascade Springs to Heber

The days are still long enough around here that Bernie and I can haul off and get in a bit of fishing after work.
In this case, we zipped down to the Mt. Timpanogos area as I have been wanting to see the nearby Cascade Springs in summer.

(I saw the springs last October with my friend Sara. I really wanted to see them again in winter snow since they are a hot spring fed, but the heavy snowfall disallowed any visits there until recently).

Naturally Bernie wet a line along the road side.

This fish was a "catch and release" catch.  While Bernie flicked a "streamer" into the stream, I moseyed along up stream a few yards.

See the tangle of dead branches hanging over the stream?

I sat on a rock on the bank right next to it.  My feet got a nice dip in the water, and I casually looked about wondering what might make for a nice photo.

Would you believe I sat there gawking about for about three minutes before I thought to look up?

Up and slightly ahead of me over the river...the dead branch over the river was gleaming with huge spider webs!

The sunlight was striking the webs just so...if I moved a few feet from where I sat I couldn't see the webs at all!

If you have read my blog over the years, you know I really like spiders and their webs.
In fact I kinda miss the HUGE yellow spiders that hung out in the woods by our house in Houston.
Those spiders were as big as one's hand.
Their webs...the size of a queen sized sheet!
So these webs were not so interesting because of their size but rather because of the way they glistened in the sunlight.
Sorry Jeff.... :-0
(My son reads my blog and has a strong aversion to all things spiders.  I guess I should have warned him about these pictures earlier).
The Timpanogos area was still deeply green, no fall colors at all.  There is a burned out area at one point, and we drove through it as the sky darkened and thunder rolls were just beginning to sound.
Bare burned trees: One of those "All things work together" testimonials.  Occasional burns are necessary for a forest to be healthy and for some plants to be able to grow. 

The resulting bare trees with white bark makes for stunning beauty against storm clouds. 

We stopped to enjoy  listening to the thunder sounds and watch the light playing through the clouds upon the hills. 

A wind began kicking up, as so often happens just before it rains.
If you look closely you will see tiny  golden seeds blowing in the breeze.

We could see the rain fall in the distance... 

Not a drop fell until we drove on a bit further. 
Cascade Springs.  Camera up!

The signage throughout the area kept warning: No wading allowed!
Sometimes I think it is a pity that I can read and so can not claim ignorance and go wading. 
Can you imagine what it would be like to wade in these warm spring waters?

If I can't wade, how about if I just float along, like a duck perhaps?

The springs are viewed and explored by walking along a concrete pathway.
Just off the path there are shrubs and trees and such.
I noticed this white thing bunched up about two feet up in one shrub.
Thought it was a plastic sack or child's ball caught somehow until Bernie commented it was a wasp's nest.

He, being allergic to bee and wasp stings, quickly moved himself away and futher along down the path.
 I snapped on my telephoto lens and attempted to get a good picture without getting too close to the nest personally.
It is really tough to a good focus on an object through branches and leaves.  Eventually I switched back to my regular lens and snuck up on the nest. 

Bernie hollared that if I stirred up the wasps I was on my own...
Thankfully the wasps didn't seem to mind me getting about two feet from the nest.

Personal courtesy, from one wasp to another WASP...hee hee hee.
(I'm a White Anglo Saxon Protestant...get it???)

The storm clouds gathered and broke up repeatedly as we poked around another burned out area. 

Last fall Sara and I had read about the area's Monk's Hood flowers.  This time the Monk's were all over the area; they are the purple flowers growing alongside the streambed.
Each flower is like two flowers. I am guessing the top is the hood and the bottom the robe with wide sleeves joined together in front?

(Don't worry...this was the ONLY bit of fall color that I saw in the springs area.  I think summer will continue properly until mid September!)

While I fussed with wasp's nests and Monk's Hoods, Bernie was busy chumming the stream's trout with the large ants that were easily found nearby.
See the trout in this picture, just to the left of the yellow columbine?

About that time a few raindrops began to fall.
Normally I would be not too happy about that, but in this case the raindrop made ripples on the water and added extra beauty to my view of the fish.

This picture is taken from a wooden walk way that goes over the water and is on the opposite side of the still water fish area. 

Here's something to think about: Does a water fall look better photographed slowly so the water blurs or photographed fast so the water looks frozen and clear?
What do you prefer?


The yellow and pink toned columbine got lots of attention from me.
I had never noticed that their petals were bi-colored before.

The tiny bead like tips look like they are doing some kind of circle dance to me. 

For some reason I was having a hard time getting flower pictures to come out focused.  There wasn't a breeze...sometimes it just takes a lot of shots to get one that really works.

The monks were really shy.
I had the hardest time getting a good close up of them...
(Can you kind of see the hood and sleeves now on the flower in profile?)

And I had NO luck getting a focused shot of this red rumped bee!

I really wanted a good shot of this fellow as I haven't ever seen such a red bottomed bee before.

One reason we came to Cascade Springs late in the day was because I was hoping for some good sunset light on the area and some good reflection shots.
The storm clouds that gave me the cute rain dropped dappled water also gave me little color and reflection; except for a few moments like in the shot above the sky stayed a rather uninteresting shade of uniform gray.

Gray skies are great for taking pictures of flowers though.
I finally got a good Monk shot with this picture.

Tiny little fellows aren't they?

The tiny shaggy pink thistle like flower filled meadow spaces with color.

Nice touch those thistle.
Even thistles have a purpose sometimes.

There may have been only the one tiny bit of fall leaf color, but the fields looked a wee bit like autumn with brown grasses heavily swaying.

As we left the springs the sky cleared and massive anvil clouds began to build.

We drove home the back way, through Heber Valley and Soldier Hollow, home of some of the SLC Winter Olympics events.
Last winter I posted pictures of this lake.
Back then ice fishermen sat about it surface....
The "Heber Creeper" train runs along side this lake.
 I posted our ride on that was a year ago and a month ago that we had that pleasant adventure.

Every time we drive through Heber Valley we both say that if we didn't live on Mt. Olympus we would want to live in Heber Valley.
I think you can see why.
That is Soldier Hollow golf course in the foreground.

Heber turns into Midway...home of the Ice Castles.
It is a nice mix of pseudo and real farm community.

A river runs through it too...and Bernie stopped once again to cast a fly out over the waters.
I admired the last bit of sunlight reflected in the towering clouds overhead. 

Parts of the area are going really upscale, with custom homes being built on large acreage lots.
Some of the new area "farmers" apparently are not planning  on taking their agricultural duties too seriously....

If we ever were to move to the area...I think I would want these folks for neighbors!

We drove home through Park City, stopping for a quick dinner at Wendy's around nine.  Twenty minutes later we were home. 

Yes, this is the kind of late summer late day adventures that makes me so happy to live in Utah!

 (Special note to Judy: Yes we actually do seem to keep European dinner hours around here during the summer!)