Denise Goldberg's blog

Monday, April 30, 2007

Cool, almost dry, windy!

Yes Denise, it's really still only April. And yes, rain and relatively cool temperatures are normal for this month! (But look, tomorrow it will be May... hopefully the new month will bring the gifts of slightly warmer temperatures along with drier days.)

My bicycles insisted on riding when the pavement dried out. That meant a decent ride on Saturday, and a short chilly ride on Sunday. While the roads were dry for most of the weekend daylight hours, the mid-40 degree temperatures on Sunday made me very glad I had opted for a (relatively) quiet weekend at home.

Today? I meant to ride, bicycles were clamoring to move, but the gusting wind convinced me that walking was a better activity for the day. No complaints...

Friday, April 27, 2007

Gray with emerging colors

Rain, rain, gray skies...

I have to admit that I've been dreaming of escaping with my bike for a quick two days away from home, but it appears that won't happen this weekend. Today's cold rain paired with the weekend forecast of a 50% chance of showers both Saturday and Sunday tell me that a lazy weekend at home might be a better choice. Oh well, later...

A month past the vernal equinox, and the signs of spring are slowly emerging. Scattered flowers are adding color to the land, and leaves are slowly unfurling on early-awakening trees. Willows are starting to wear a soft green cape, forsythia are covered with bright yellow flowers, and I can see a tinge of red decorating some (other types of) tree branches.

I wonder, will the colors really pop when this batch of water stops falling from the sky?

Monday, April 23, 2007

Playing in traffic

Oh, you think I should say "riding with traffic"? I suppose you're right, but doesn't "playing in traffic" have a more interesting ring?

Today's weather forecast sounded perfect to support my earliest ever (in the year, that is) commute to work by bike. Temperatures started the day in the 50s with the prediction that the high would be somewhere in the 80s. Calm winds in the morning were to increase to a pretty serious force by the afternoon, but the wind direction was supposed to be out of the south and west. Given that my ride home is to the north and east, I chose to believe that the wind wouldn't cause a problem for me. Yes, it was time for my first ride to work for 2007.

I first rolled out of the door at 6 AM. Oops! Just a half of a mile down the road I realized I wasn't wearing my RoadID. Yes, I had identification & my health insurance card with me, but that's just not enough - so I looped back home to retrieve my missing security blanket. It's funny, last night I thought about dropping it on top of my pannier so I wouldn't forget it, but it's so close to second nature that I didn't. Hmmm... next time!

Two rides today, and it felt like I was playing in two different seasons. Luckily wearing layers of clothes in the morning meant that I was warm and that I had the right summer attire for my commute home. What a difference from my normal rides... while I often travel on narrow roads with very little traffic, my commute to work rolls down the same roads that other people traverse in their cars as they (also) head to work. The constant sound of motorized vehicles accompanied me on my ride, but that's a small price to pay for the ability to ride to work.

And the wind? I was very glad that it was coming mostly from the side as I headed home at the end of the day. A tailwind would have been preferable, but sidewinds were much easier to deal with than the mile or two that I rode against the wind. (Yes, I do live northeast of my office, but I start my commute home in the opposite direction in order to avoid some "too busy" roads.)

First commute of the year complete, many more to come. That's a good feeling.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

A spring summer's day

Ah, warmth and sunshine! Yes, I know the season is still spring, and I know that the temperatures will soon drop back to more seasonal (that is, cooler) values, but I definitely enjoyed riding in today's warmth. It was a good day, with very occasional stops to capture a few pictures.

A slow 38 miles passed beneath my bicycle wheels. Happy!

The first photo (above) is from my ride. It was something I'd never noticed before - the remains of a tree ensconced in a pond, the stump covered in moss with roots reaching out and occasionally breaking the surface of the water. The daffodil is from a wander with my car, armed with my SLR and macro lens.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Hey - who are you?

Ah, after days and day of wet weather - the sun returned, the roads dried out, and my bicycles were screaming to roll down the road. Luckily I grabbed a camera as I jumped on my bicycle, because I met an alpaca (at least I think he's an alpaca!) who insisted on posing for me.

I was riding down a neighborhood street when I saw a small field sandwiched between some houses. There were several animals happily crunching away, eating what must be tasty grass. My bike stopped rolling, my little camera jumped into my hand, and I walked along the fence line to try to get closer. As I got closer, my furry friend looked up and started walking closer too. Ah, a stare-down! He quickly got bored looking at me, a two-legged creature who didn't carry any food; after posing for a few photos, he happily returned to munching grass.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Photographer smiling

It's quite possible that my camera was totally out of control during my (too) quick visit to Zion National Park last week, but it's more likely that it was me!

Home Tuesday night - really Wednesday morning - my first task was to pull the photos off of the camera's memory cards. I started with 1090 pictures and spent several hours over the next two nights weeding them out, deleting shots that didn't scream out to be kept. That brought my total down to 850 photos. Hmmm... that's still way too many to share. It was time to pick and choose! After several long days, I managed to select 275 of those photos to share with the world.

The sheer volume of photos was caused by a couple of things. I was in a drop-dead gorgeous place, and I was walking with a camera in my hand. Dangerous, but infinitely enjoyable!

Photos can be seen in my Zion National Park - April 2007 galleries.

There are five galleries, four of which contain the full set of photos. The gallery Enticements for the eye, a map to my Zion adventures contains copies of 25 of the photos in the other four galleries; it is my attempt to provide a map to the photos.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Slow? Fast!

Time flies, and time passes slowly...

It doesn't seem possible that both can happen in the scope of just a week. As I headed out on my bicycle this morning, I felt like it had been forever since I wandered on two wheels - and yet the few days of my long weekend trip to Zion just flew by.

I wish I could make my weekends and vacations pass more slowly, but I suppose I will have to continue to accept the reality of time.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Zion curiosities

Zion National Park, hiking, looking, red rocks, wildlife, a feast for the eyes, beauty...

Beyond the natural appeal, there were some man-made features that raised my curiosity - especially Walter's Wiggles, and the Zion-Mt. Carmel Road tunnel. I went looking for information, and found the answers on the Park Service's web site.

From the National Park Service (Zion website) frequently asked questions:

About Zion's hiking trails:
Q. How did they get the concrete on the trails?
A. The East and West Rim Trails were constructed by the NPS in the early 1920s. The trails were paved with gallons of oil (East Rim = 760 gal., West Rim = 1240 gal.) mixed with natural sand and rock chips available along the trail. The oil, tools, other materials and equipment were hauled onto the various sites by packhorse.

In 1985 extensive repair was done on the West Rim Trail from 4900 ft. through Refrigerator Canyon to the top of Angel's Landing. The concrete for this job was hauled in by maintenance and mules from the Grotto. Walters Wiggles was resurfaced with 88 cubic yards of concrete, and the concrete for this job was hauled onto the site by helicopter. This took 258 flights. WHEW!

About the Zion-Mt. Carmel Tunnel
Q. How long is the tunnel?
A. 1.1-miles. It was completed in 1930 by the Nevada Construction Co. The project took 3-years to complete and cost $1,896,000.
Ah, answers! My curiosity is satisfied for now...

The entrance to the tunnel, looking down from high above the eastern end. I wish I could have walked through this tunnel to spend some time staring through the windows cut in the wall. No pedestrians (or bikes) allowed; it's just too narrow.

A view of Walter's Wiggles from the top, hikers waltzing down much more quickly than their upwards jaunt.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

A deer surprise

It was to be a short day for walking, even with the extra hour that jumped out of my back pocket. And yes, I did switch my watch to Pacific time this morning to avoid inadvertantly losing that hour! Walking, traveling...

A chilly morning greeted me, chill air topped by clear blue skies. Instead of eating breakfast in my room again, I piled on the layers and ate at my outside table with a view of tall red rocks enhancing my meal. Another good breakfast prepared my feet for walking. Today's feast was quiche, English muffins, blueberry muffins (that jumped into my daypack for a mid-day snack), and wonderful cantelope & strawberries. Happy traveler, happy stomach. As much as I am happy with cereal and fruit for my normal at-home breakfast, a B&B breakfast is a nice change in pace.

This turned out to be the perfect place for me to experience some warm temperatures. This morning's weather forecast called for 5 inches of snow at some of the ski areas close to Salt Lake City. That forecast made me very glad that I'm playing in a large state with very different weather patterns in the northern and southern regions; snow and high desert. What I am accustomed to as summer weather is probably a little cool for the folks here, but I like it.

My biggest puzzle of the day was figuring out where to walk. I didn't have time for the trails that really appealed to me, and the shorter trails that I hadn't already wandered on this trip didn't call out to me for some reason (not a rational reason, of course!). So - I hopped on the bus and jumped out at Court of the Patriarch's. The sun was hitting the tops of some of the peaks while the area along the river was still cast in shade. The contrasts were beautiful, and I decided to just walk back from there. Sunshine, shadows, more sunshine... Walking along the empty road, wandering down by the river, listening, looking...

I jumped onto Pa'rus trail at Canyon Junction and followed that back to the visitor center. By some dumb luck I took a quick side trip to the museum - bathroom break, wouldn't you know? As I walked down the narrow trail leading to the museum, I startled a deer, and the deer startled me. It was so quiet, and all of a sudden I heard a thrashing sound. I looked forward to see a beautiful deer bounding across the trail. I stood still, and so did the deer. We had a bit of a staring contest and then she moved on. I looked to the right, trying to see where she had come from, and found two more deer across a small stream. They were quite happy to stand and watch for a few minutes too.

The end of my walk meant the end of my visit to Zion. I'm sure I'll be back again, I just don't know when. I wonder if I'll ever find a place that I like where I am willing to live with only a single visit. Somehow I don't think so.

Traveling, driving... heading out of the park, red rocks still evident. Speeding through Utah, and then the northwest corner of Arizona, beautiful scenery. The rocks tilted up, red, high above my head, road winding down. I had all I could do to stop myself from pulling over to the side of the road and leaping out of the car with my camera. No, Denise, that would be very bad behavior. After all, this is an interstate highway, and even though the speed limit has dropped to 55 from the 75 miles per hour norm - because of the curves and these beautiful hills - that doesn't mean it's ok to stop. (And you're right, I didn't stop!) Almost as soon as I entered Nevada, the interested terrain stopped; the land flattened, desert, scrub, rolling terrain.

Flying... Somewhere just east of the Rockies. I looked out of the window to the north to see what appeared to be a small plane in the distance, heading to the west. Distance does funny things to perspective though; I'm sure that what I saw was a reasonable sized jet and not a small plane. It was an interesting vision, and one that was repeated again a little bit later.

Flying east into a darkening sky... changing time in the direction that I find difficult... For some reason I have very little problem adjusting to the time change heading from east to west, but when I return to the east my body typically rebels. My flight lands tonight at 11:45. Getting up for work in the morning will be interesting.

My weekend escape over, it's time to turn my imagination to the puzzle of where my bicycle and I will travel later this year. I wonder how long it will take to decide. (And yes, that is a good problem to have!)

Yes, there are more photos from my wanderings this morning. You can see them at A last morning's walk, Court of the Patriarch's & south.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Chasing lizards

Lizards? Absolutely! The silly creatures were scurrying around, running under rocks, hiding. But then they apparently decided to spend some time posing for me!

The sun here warms the days into a "warm for this time of year temperature". Yesterday's warmth supported hiking in shorts and a sleeveless shirt, but as soon as the sun dipped below the red rocks the warmth ran off. This morning was chilly enough that I started out wearing 2 light shirts topped by a windbreaker. And yes, I was still wearing shorts because I expected the sun to warm the day once again. That was a good guess; within an hour I was once again hiking in shorts and a sleeveless shirt. Those light layers were the magic I needed this morning.

Yesterday was my getting started day with a combination of relatively short hikes. Today was a different story; it was my day to hike (almost) to Angel's Landing, continuing out along the West Rim Trail. The Angel's Landing hike is a beauty, even though I have never managed to get myself to cross the narrow ridge leading to the end of the hike. Somehow exposure to sheer drops and I just don't get along. The West Rim Trail heads even higher, but without the knife edge. That trail is the real prize since most of the people turn around after conquering Angel's Landing; I shared the trail with occasional hikers, but most of the time I could enjoy the quiet magic of hiking alone.

It was along the West Rim Trail where the lizards stopped hiding. Earlier in the day they would scamper across the trail, running from rock to rock, hiding. But then they must have decided that I wasn't a danger to them. I crouched down, focusing my camera on the lizard of the moment. Sometimes he (she?) would turn his head, run a little further, strike another pose. They do an amazing job of blending in with the rocks.

As I was walking down Walter's Wiggles on the Angel's Landing trail, a chipmunk decided to come out and play. I crouched down once more, exchanging glances with the little creature. He posed for my camera, moved a little further, posed again. The thing I found really funny is that other hikers just kept walking by, paying no attention at all to my chipmunk friend. The chipmunk ran off to the side of the trail, hiding under a convenient rock until the other humans were gone. I was still crouching in the middle of the trail, and my friend the chipmunk came out to pose once again.

I entered this morning at 8:45. My walking and camera play kept me there until 4:45, a very good day. To be honest I think my camera is a little out of control. Oh, you're right, it's probably the human behind the camera who is out of control - me! I've already managed to fill a 2 gigabyte card. Luckily I travel with extras. Here's hoping that I've managed to capture some good photos..

Oh, and I found an extra hour, so I'm going to hike here tomorrow morning before I head back to the airport. Where did it come from? I'm playing in Utah, which is in Mountain Time, but my plane leaves from Nevada. Luckily I remembered today that the hour time difference means I can have another hour to play in the park. My plan is to change my watch to Pacific Time in the morning so I can not forget what time I really need to leave here. Yes, I should be able to remember, but I know from experience that remembering that the time on my watch and the time of my flight time is an hour different doesn't work for me!

One more day in this beautiful place...

Interested in wandering through some more photos from today? You can find them in my gallery Up & up... Angels Landing & West Rim Trail.

Food, fabulous food

Let's see, do I travel to visit beautiful places, to play with my camera, to hike (or ride) - or do I travel to eat? It's really a combination of all of those things, and it's a treat when my search for beautiful places takes me to someplace where food can be fun too. Springdale, Utah is doing a good job of keeping my stomach happy.

I found dinner last night by following a sign pointing off of the main street through town. Oscar's Cafe specializes in Mexican (or variations of Mexican) cuisine. My feast of the evening was the roasted green pepper and black bean burrito. Yum! That was a great meal for replacing all of those calories I burned tromping around the park.

It's hard to believe that I was ready for more food by the time the sun appeared this morning - and yes, I was ready for food! Breakfast at the Red Rock Inn is delivered to your room at the time you request (as long as that time is between 8 and 9:30 AM. Promptly at 8 AM, my breakfast basket arrived. There is a table & chairs just outside of the room, but it was cold enough that I decided to make use of the table and chairs inside of the room. I was ready to eat, but even if I hadn't been hungry I think I would have been tempted by my meal. What was in my basket? Fresh strawberries with chunks of banana, eggs wrapped in a soft tortilla accompanied by black beans and a homemade salsa, orange juice, coffee, yogurt, and a basket of muffins. And yes, that was way more food than I needed for breakfast. I tucked the yogurt into the little fridge in my room for an apres hike snack, and the extra muffins jumped into my daypack to serve as a nice midday treat.

Tonight I wandered over to Zion Pizza & Noodle Company for dinner. Vegetarian lasagne served on a pool of tomato sauce was a good end-of-day meal. Happy stomach, time for a little rest and relaxation before tomorrow's wanderings...

Food, fabulous food!

Some photos from my before and after-dinner wanderings in Springdale can be seen in my photo gallery On the edge of the park.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Red rocks smiling

Walking, feet moving over and over and over... Eyes seeking interesting sights, a moving river, red rocks, sand, narrow trails, tiny new flowers, bugs, birds... A dark tunnel with occasional windows overlooking the valley, dark, dark, light, visions of Zion, quickly turning dark once more.

Layers of rock, different colors jumping out of each layer. Flat trails, steep trails, narrow trails with steep drop-offs.

Early morning gray skies changing, clouds moving, blue skies emerging, highlighting red rocks. Cool morning air warming through the afternoon, evening winds bringing scattered raindrops. Wind, skies darkening, time to wonder what tomorrow will bring...

More photos from today can be found in my gallery Walking loops, changing trails.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Jumping seasons

I woke this morning to a blue sky and winter temperatures, but it was to be a day of jumping seasons. From a cold morning to a nice warm afternoon...

First things first though. My bicycle and my body insisted on a quick ride before I headed to the airport. Out the door, rolling down a dry road surface, looking at the snow still blanketing the ground. It's hard to believe that I actually rode in shorts just two weeks ago. My riding attire today returned to winter layers as dictated by a thermometer hovering around 29 degrees. Luckily I haven't lost the skill of dressing to ride in cold weather.

Home again, time for a shower and a snack before heading to the airport.

Boarding a plane, sitting, waiting just a short while for our journey down the runway... Our takeoff was a smile-producing moment, not because of anything unusual with the flight, but because of the (loud) exclamations of a fellow passenger. A women sitting a row back from me apparently was on her first flight. She had her eyes covered at first, then changed to look out of the window with a hand still clasped against her mouth. Oh! Oh! She continued to make excited noises as we rolled down the runway and as the plane traced a steep angle into the sky. Funny, she apologized after the plane leveled off - but she made quite a few of us laugh. No apology needed!

I really wish that there was a magic form of travel that allowed me to snap my fingers and be instantly transported across the country, but I suppose I'll have to continue using planes as my fast transport method. I can't complain about today's flight though; we actually landed 45 minutes early. I walked out of the airport into a warm afternoon. 88 degrees was quite a change from the 29 degrees of my morning bike ride!

Time to drive... I spent just under two hours speeding back toward the north and east from Las Vegas, rolling along I-15 through Nevada and then across the northwest corner of Arizona. The road passed through dry and rolling terrain with folded mountains off in the distance. And then... the speed limit dropped from 75 to 55 MPH, and the road started winding through red rocks tilted upward, following the Virgin River. The sun was sinking, but it was still light enough to soak in the beauty of the land that I was swiftly passing through. I ended the day just inside of Utah, in St. George. Just under two hours of driving after my cross-country flight was enough; the two-lane road leading to Zion National Park can wait until tomorrow.

Just a quick warning - I'm posting this entry (and probably others from my long weekend escape) via email, and I suspect that the formatting in my blog may be a bit odd. I'll fix it as soon as I can get to a computer. Oh, you're curious about photos? My intent is that this weekend will be a playing with cameras weekend - but the photos won't be uploaded until I return home. Look for them sometime between Wednesday and next weekend.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Nestled in snow

Spring? Did someone say it was spring? Apparently the weather wizard had something else in mind as we were treated to an April blanket of snow.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Image of spring

Crocus, gently striped in purple against white, furled tightly against the end of daylight and the impending chill of an early spring night...

Monday, April 02, 2007

Looking back, dreaming forward

A fleeting visit, enjoyable but quickly disappearing into the past... I spent this past weekend with family, sharing a craft show with my mother and sister, spending an afternoon with my brother, laughing at the antics of Bailey, the crazy dachshund. The two days were packed with visiting and enjoying each other's company. Fast, fleeting, enjoyable; I feel lucky to be part of a family where there is mutual respect and friendship.

Home again on Sunday, it was time for a quick wander on my bike. Small patches of color jumped out; the crocus have come to visit, a sure sign of spring!

And yet... the weather forecast for this week is atrocious, a chill in the air accompanied by all types of precipitation. I had hoped to squeeze in some early evening rides since I'll be away from my bike for my upcoming (long) weekend. Unfortunately, given the weather wizard's return to wet, I think that riding this week is a real long shot.

My dreams are focused forward though, fastened firmly to my upcoming trip to Utah, to visions of red rocks, to absorbing beauty.

My dreams are keeping a smile on my face...

Sunday, April 01, 2007

What time is it?

Early this morning was the "old" time to switch from standard time to daylight savings time. Unfortunately, some of the clocks in my sister's house thought that today was still the time to spring forward...

Several years ago our parents got caught up in the magic of atomic (or radio-controlled) clocks - clocks that regularly check and reset the time based on a radio signal from Fort Collins, Colorado to ensure that the time is always correct. Unfortunately, these clocks also automatically adjust for daylight savings time, apparently based on the old "standard" calendar for switching between standard and daylight savings time.

This morning? The clocks were an hour ahead of where they should have been. Luckily I set my own traveling alarm, and my watch matched my clock - not the clock that lived in the room that I was borrowing. I knew that I still had another hour to sleep when my mother attempted to convince me that it was time to get up based on the time on her clock.

Oops! It makes me wonder if the clock manufacturer can do anything to adjust the daylight savings switch dates in these clocks automatically instead of forcing their owners to play a daylight savings game. It seems that they need a software update...