Wednesday, March 03, 2010

March Meanderings

My camera goes with me wherever I go, and wherever I go I take pictures.

Pictures of beautiful things, like the first pollen dusted blossoms of this year.

that were not here yesterday.

They are the first flowers to bloom in the flowerbeds next to work; more green bits are spearing up from the thick muddy soil.

I'll be enjoying someone else's gardening efforts for a change.

Swinging by for my mammogram, I see a die-hard fan at the doctor's office, still wearing his Canada hockey jersey the day after the big win.
That made me smile.
I had to take a picture to share it with my Canadian friends.

Next up: a stop at the library to pick up a book that's come in for me.

A sign informs me that the roof top garden in now open again.

Drat; I don't have time to linger over a book up there, I'm just on a lunch break from work.

But maybe I could just take a peek for a minute and see what is going on up there.

I'm not sure I could concentrate on reading anyway, with such a view to enjoy out there.

It is March 1st, and right on time the roof top daffodils are up and ready to show off during "their" special month.

The memories come back of counting daffodil blooms every morning in the garden with Jeff, back when he was still young, and knew that daffodils would be found blooming as the time drew near to his birthday.

First buds and blossoms always catch my eye.

There are 10,000 daffodils planted up in Red Butte garden.
I'll soon be visiting there too. It will be harder to see each flower in the midst of such a display.

I've noticed over the years that it is easy to remember the first daffodil bloom each spring, and then they just keep coming...

Back inside I see that the library has mounted a showing of Chinese brush paintings.
I admire this autumnal scene; snapping a picture will allow me to share it with Bernie later.

Outside the gallery is another display: A whimsical collection of chess sets!
Alice in Wonderland, and her cohorts do make for an amusing take on chess pieces.

Perhaps chess isn't to be taken as seriously as I had thought it should be.
Personally I think a Simpson chess set is going a bit too far....
I can totally agree with Dave Barry's chess experience!
Beatrix Potter chess set: That is Just.So.Wrong.

Leaving the library, I still need to get something for lunch. I'm zooming past the Bubble Tea Room, and suddenly I find that above all else I want to get myself a Bubble Tea.

I haven't had Bubble Tea since I was in Hawaii. That was... gosh... has been six years ago now? I really didn't like Bubble Tea all that much back then. Why should it appeal to me today?

I just dunno.

(Do you like bubble tea? Have you ever had bubble tea? What did you think about it?)

There's a place to park smack dab in front of the shop. I park, go inside and find myself eavesdropping on two 20something guys talking about an amazing woman that they knew who was 75 years old. Apparently she was on a cruise or trip or something and was much more energetic about going and doing things than they would have thought possible at her age.

It made me quite happy to hear their admiration of her. Yeah for older women who make younger men regard them with a new understanding of what older women can do!

I order a cherry blended bubble tea and hit the road. This time the drink does it for me; I'll be coming back for another "hit' of this tea real soon.

Time to get back to work. Outside the building rainbow colors surround the clouds that dapple the sky overhead.
I take another picture, just because.
Back at my desk I flip through a Spa magazine, scanning spa menus and treatments.
Calico cats are dear to my heart; this one naturally catches my eye.
I'm curious why she is so neatly positioned in this ad.
Are you laughing as hard as I did when I read the article and found out why?
How do people think of this stuff????
And no, Tiggie and Hart are NOT going to get dragged in for any of this.
Denver, oh yeah, it had to be Denver where this thing was going on.
You can always count on Denver to be weird!
This is how it was for me, for part of the day, the first day of March of this year.
Nothing really special or memorable, but with pictures and words, I've captured my meanderings, and now I've shared them with you.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Ice Castle Surprise

Towering two or three stories high....

Right there on the side of the road...

I had never seen anything like these forms before.

What on earth???

How did they form?

Why were they there???

A landscape of the towering ice was taking over an area in front of the Zermatt Resort in the small town of Midway.

At first I thought I would just take a picture from the car window. Then I decided I would get out to get a closer view.

Quickly I realized that would not be good enough! I commanded Bernie to pull our car into the hotel's parking lot so I could get a closer look.

A picket fence was between a side walk and the massive forms, and a gate.

A sign on a tiny booth said it would cost me two dollars to go inside the gate. I got out of the car again, and I motioned to Bernie to join me on the path through the ice.

He waved me on; I kept going, leaving him to enjoy his nice warm car seat.

Each form was so unique!

Every direction I turned afforded me another breath taking view.
The center castle in this picture is three stories high!
Some forms were powdered lightly with snow. The forms were a pale blue, the natural shade that you see in cracks in glaciers and snow crevaces.

Coral...moss...sand castles...stamen...forests

My brain kept searching for just the right word to describe what I was seeing.

About a quarter way into the area, I met Brent Christensen, the creator of this frozen masterpiece.

He briefly told me how they were created: PVC pipe grids were used to grow icicles, which were then harvested each day. Each icicle was then "planted" and sprayed with more water. The structures have been "growing" since December, adding about three feet in height a day. The ice forms are solid ice. No internal structures are used. Brent climbs up the structures to add more and more icicles to the design.

His blog site had pictures of the project since day one. The forms really did change every single day! The night time pictures are especially wonderful. What an amazing place it would be for a wedding!

He and his family and friends tend the creations on an average of 16 hours a day. The Zermatt Resort has given him and his wife a room to stay in while the forms are being made. He and his wife are the parents of six children, ages 6-23, and this has been the first time he has ever created his forms in public. "Today" he told me "is the last day the forms will be maintained". They will now begin to slowly melt away, lasting probably until May.

How did he learn to do this?

He said he used to create them in his own backyard for fun around a small skating rink that he had made for his kids.
Next year he hopes to do it again, only with LED colored lights instead of halogen colored lights illuminating them from inside at night. And if I was in the area, I was welcome to return at dark and see the forms again for free.

Oh amazing would that be?

This is definitely on the calendar for next year!

I've walked on glaciers, flown over glaciers, and even walked THROUGH glaciers in Switzerland.
This was even more beautiful than what I had seen made by nature.
It was kind of funny; when I was first walking the pathways through the forms, I kept thinking "This couldn't have just been made by nature"; and sure enough, I was was right.
There actually was a "creator" involved.
(If you want to do a moment of deep-ish thinking, consider this fact and compare it to evolution and see what thoughts you think...)
(The ice castle actually looked better without me in the scene, but I could imagine how cool pictures of kids could be on this bench!)

The path wound through narrow passages where the ice was deep blue. Brent assured me no dyes were used; that the blue was the natural color of water.

What was more interesting: the close up view of individual icicles...

or the distant view of their towering elements?

In the center of it all: A natural hot spring fish pond, with a school of brilliant orange fish swirling like embers amidst the colorful aquatic plants.

The night time reflections on the pond must be stunning.

They had ski poles available to aid visitors footing.
I didn't grab one, it did require careful walking on the frozen pathway.
The view back to the hotel.

Next year Brent wants more to add more ice caverns to explore.

Frankly, I hope next year he can franchise this idea so EVERYONE everywhere can enjoy such a fantastic exhibit.

The caverns were amazing too...wish I could have also gone through them at night.

Capturing the height of these forms was a problem.

I wound up holding my camera above my head and clicking away at random.
Just water...slowly poured and freezing naturally. Apparently the forms change daily as the icicles form and reform with the weather.

Wish I could have seen them on a night with a golden and pink sunset!

And then there was a bit of artistic whimsy as well.
It was hard to walk away from the Land of Castles of Ice.
I meandered back to the car and to Bernie...
Bernie had indulged in a bit of whimsy himself: while I was gawking at the ice castles, he had walked over to a Swiss pastry shop and purchased a fresh strawberry studded cheese danish, and a flour-less chocolate mocha treat.

Does this day just keep getting better and better or what?

Just one view of the Swiss Zermatt hotel. It has a killer great spa too.

The bell boy was awfully cute in his traditional Swiss costume. Look at his adorable grin.

Down the street was the Blue Boar Inn, a place where I want to go to dinner some day.
(I've seen the menu: mega yum!)
Midway, a town that I plan to explore more this spring.
I've got a feeling it has a lot more surprises to be discovered.
I am still just amazed at the surprise that it had for us on Saturday. What a bit of serendipity that Bernie had chosen to drive home a different way than before.