Denise Goldberg's blog

Monday, February 28, 2011


Blue sky that is, not a blue mood! (Unless you count the fact that Denise would like to stay longer, but she isn't usually ready to come home no matter how long our wander is!)

The first thing I did when I woke up this morning was to bounce over to the door onto the deck to push the blinds aside and look at the sky. Oh! there are some clouds but they seem like fair weather clouds, lots of blue there too. Today is a traveling day, but we have a few hours to wander in the park before we start our driving-flying-travel.

The day started with another wonderful breakfast. The first course was vanilla yogurt topped with granola and berries, and then there was a wonderful omelet loaded with veggies - onions, yellow peppers, spinach, and mushrooms. Denise was happy, and I liked it too. What do you mean "little red dogs don't eat omelets"? Of course I eat people food!

It was a morning of following the light, looking at mountain peaks covered in snow, red rocks highlighted by white decorations. The deep narrow valley made for interesting changes as the sun moved overhead, some peaks shaded, some in bright sunlight. If it were a warmer day I think it would have been easy to just stay in one place, watching the light change.

Too soon, it was time to jump in the car, time to drive west to fly east.

As we drove through the corner of Arizona that houses the Virgin River Gorge I thought I saw a sign for a park. Denise didn't think we had time to explore today so we didn't stop. I just looked, and you know what? We're going to have to go back. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) runs the Virgin River Canyon Recreation Area, and it's just off the Cedar Pockets exit on I-15. There are hiking trails, access to the river, and two wilderness areas. I know Denise would like to play with her camera there. I wonder how long it will take her decide that she needs to go back to Zion. Or maybe we'll make the trip a little longer and go to Bryce too. Denise has been to Bryce but it was a long time ago, before I jumped into her panniers on her cross-country trip back in 2002.

We're at the airport in Las Vegas right now, waiting for our plane. It was supposed to leave at 4:05 PM, but right now it's showing a delayed departure at 4:40PM. Denise and I are both hoping for strong tailwinds to help push us home. I just checked Southwest's web site and they are showing a projected arrival time that is only 10 minutes later than normal. Right now we're due in at 12:15 AM. That makes our at home sleeping time a bit short tonight.

It was a good trip, so beautiful even with the odd (snowy) weather. Seeing Zion in the snow was a treat, even though the icy trails curtailed our wandering a bit.

--- Rover

waiting for a plane, Las Vegas, Southwest Airlines

Sunday, February 27, 2011


The world was white this morning. Snow dropped to the elevation of Springdale, coating the ground with (what seemed to be) a couple of inches of white.

The Zion Mt. Carmel road was icy, and the road into the canyon was closed at Zion Lodge. That wasn't surprising, Denise had already figured that she would need to stay on low trails today. She walked the Pa'rus trail from the visitor center to the end-point where she continued walking up the road to the Court of the Patriarchs. Then she turned around and walked back again. I bounced a bit down the trail but I rode in the camera bag for the most part. The trail was a paved one and it was just wet - but wet is cold on my feet. And Denise doesn't always stay on the trail; she wandered through the snow, and she followed quite a few of the little trails that led down to the river too.

The nice thing about walking up the road was that Denise could stop whenever she saw something interesting.

This morning's precipitation was mainly flurries, no need for an umbrella. It's so much easier for Denise to play with her camera when she doesn't need to worry about the lens getting covered with drops of water.

We popped out of the park in the early afternoon to get a nice bowl of hot soup. That was a good warming stop, a quick respite from today's chilly temperatures. The roads were clear and dry when we returned, so Denise decided to drive up the switch-backed road leading to the east so we could drive through the Zion-Mount Carmel tunnel. The tunnel is two narrow lanes, dark except for several windows cut in the side of the canyon. It's too bad that there is no place to stop and walking through the tunnel is not allowed. I know that Denise would have liked to have stopped at the windows. She had to be satisfied with our two quick drives through the tunnel though.

The clouds were low this morning, but by afternoon occasional patches of blue started popping up. Late afternoon sun lit up the mountains.

The forecast for tomorrow calls for sunshine and warming temperatures, good for one more morning wandering Zion. Then it will be time to head back to Las Vegas and an appointment with an eastbound airplane.

--- Rover

Fatal Error

Yikes! I just turned my Kindle on and was greeted by the heading Fatal Error.

My first reaction was that there was something very wrong with the Kindle. The capitalization should have clued me in that there wasn't a problem, as should my ability to switch from the book to the list of books, to turn the device off and back on again. Hmmm... Would you believe that Fatal Error is the name of the book that I am reading?

That was silly, wasn't it?

Saturday, February 26, 2011


You didn't mind that Denise wrote this morning's post, did you? She wanted to share the story of the dogs running on the treadmill. And now, it's my turn to write...

It was raining as we entered the park, wet. As the road edged higher, the rain changed to wet snow, intensity changing from light to heavy, then light again. The trails were covered with slush, turning into puddles as footsteps pushed the water out to the side. There were places where the footing was reasonable and others where it was quite slick - and that's on low trails, no climbing for us today. (Oh, I suppose I should say no climbing for Denise since I decided to ride in her camera bag today instead of bouncing down snow-covered wet trails.)

Our first stop after the visitor center was at the Court of the Patriarchs. There's a very short paved walk leading to up to a viewpoint. The rain had just turned over to snow for us, but the path was already covered and quite slippery. Clouds softened the edges of the still visible peaks, clouds and snow.

The Riverside Walk at the end of the road called, and we answered, walking the trail, chatting with other people, stopping occasionally to take photos, using an umbrella as a bit of a shield. Denise didn't take as many photos as usual; she said that it was difficult to shield the lens from water droplets. I hope that we have a few hours of dry walking tomorrow or Monday so we can revisit the places of our wet walks today.

Our other stops today weren't trails as much as they were spontaneous wanders along the river or along the road.

I wonder what the weather wizard will bring to us tomorrow. Fingers crossed...

--- Rover

snow falling on the Virgin River, Zion National Park
Can you see the snow falling?

Morning report

I heard rain falling as I woke up this morning. My initial thought was that I was dreaming. No such luck, it was wet (as expected)!

Today's breakfast treat was good fuel for the day. It started with yogurt topped with granola and berries and continued with a second course of eggs popped into homemade rosemary bread, topped with pesto & salsa. Ah, good energy for the day...

I was chatting with Liz when I thought I heard the sound of a downpour. I asked if she heard heavy rain too. She smiled and told me it was the dogs running on a treadmill. Liz & Larry have two border collies who are full of energy and who are quite happy to run off some of that energy on a treadmill. She took me down to see them - Larry was running on one treadmill and the two dogs shared a second. When Liz runs she said she usually shares a treadmill with one of the dogs, the other dog has his own. That brought a smile to my face.

view from my room, Springdale, Utah
Morning, the view from my room

Friday, February 25, 2011

A traveling day

Wheels on the road, heading northwest, our first target of the day was Manchester Airport. A driving rain turned into fat flakes dancing in the beams of the headlights. Snow...

Denise grabbed coffee for us (OK, OK, a decaf Americano!) before we boarded our plane to sit and wait for our turn to have deicing fluid thrown all over the plane. Oh! it was really snowing steadily, and the big bird we are riding in can't fly when it's covered with snow.

I wish I could trace the line of our plane on the ground. We left from New Hampshire, and the pilot just told us that we are a little east of Minneapolis. Hmm... I wonder if that means we crossed New York and then flew over Ontario then back into the states through the upper peninsula of Michigan, over Wisconsin and Minnesota. We're supposed to fly over Rapid City. I think that's in South Dakota, right? Then the pilot mentioned Utah and Nevada - but we can't get to Utah without crossing another state. Denise just pulled out the airline magazine for me so I could look at the map. I think that other state might be Wyoming. I kind of drew a curved line from Minneapolis through where I think Rapid City lives, and then on to Las Vegas. I wonder if that's the path our winged transportation is following.

My friend Gromit lives in Nebraska and I told him I'd wave when we flew over his state. Hey Gromit - I'm waving just in case you can see me through all of these clouds. Maybe the angle from the plane to the ground will let you see me even though I think we might not be flying over your state.

It sounds like we will be about an hour late arriving in Las Vegas. I think I'm going to try to grab a nap now; I told Denise she should sleep too since she'll need to be wide awake when we arrive. After all we do have a three hour drive to complete today's journey.

Denise & I both had nice naps. When we closed our eyes we were flying above the clouds, blue above, and solid gray below. I think we were over Utah when I woke up and bounced over to the window. Oh! I can see snow-covered mountains below us. Beautiful.

We changed vehicles in the afternoon, switching to a car to reach our final destination. Did you know that we touched the ground in five different states today? We started in Massachusetts and popped up to Manchester, New Hampshire to find our airplane. Then this afternoon we started in Nevada, drove through a corner of Arizona, and ended the day in Utah.

Denise even behaved (as a driver). There's a beautiful section of the interstate in Arizona that passes through the Virgin River Gorge. Every time we have driven through there I can hear her thinking about stopping. There are sections where it looks like you could safely pull off of the road, but it is an interstate highway with "emergency stopping only" signs. Hmmm... do you think we could classify the need to take a picture as an emergency? I think I need to find a local map of that corner of Arizona for Denise. Maybe there are some other roads we need to explore.

It was a long day, ending with a welcome to our B&B home for the next three nights. We're staying at the Zion Canyon B&B, and oh! it's really nice. Denise had a good chat with Liz (one of the owners) before heading out for a quick walk. Now we're just relaxing and unwinding from our travel day. Tomorrow? It's time for wandering. It sounds like it's going to be wet; hopefully Denise will find some photos in between the raindrops.

--- Rover

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Uh oh!

I tried to hide this from Denise, but I think she already knows... I've been keeping an eye on the weather forecast, and there is snow forecast for Springdale (the town where we'll be staying over the weekend, just outside of Zion National Park). The forecast seems kind of funny to me:

Rain and snow. Snow level 4600 feet lowering to 4000 feet after midnight. Low around 31. South southwest wind between 8 and 11 mph. Chance of precipitation is 90%. New snow accumulation of 2 to 4 inches possible.

Forecast courtesy of the National Weather Service
Springdale is at 3995 feet of elevation. I wonder what it means when the snow level is at 4600 feet and the town we are in is at 600 feet below that. Does the snow just disappear instead of dropping that last bit? And if it disappears, where does that predicted 2 to 4 inches of accumulation go?

I think white snow against red rocks could be quite interesting. And I know I can always jump into Denise's camera bag if my feet get to cold.

Tomorrow we fly!

--- Rover

weather forecast

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Changing light

The light is lingering a bit longer into the evening as we get closer to the equinox. Today my late date walk started in daylight, allowing me to comfortably walk on a road that's a bit narrow, still clogged with snow even though the last serious snowfall we had was the first week of February.

The snow is slowly dissipating although I still find it amazing how much of the road surface has been (and still is) covered. In the spots where mailboxes and fire hydrants stand free of snow, there appears to be a good 4 to 5 feet from the shoveled out area to the visible non-covered surface of the road.

I'm looking forward to spring. Are you?

Monday, February 21, 2011

Only a few more days

Oh! It's time to count the days before Denise & I escape for what I think will be a too short long weekend.

Remember my post in late January? I kept poking at Denise, telling her I thought she needed a quick escape soon, and she listened! We're heading west on Friday, to Zion National Park. It's a bit of a crazy destination (from a distance standpoint) for a long weekend, but Denise said it just felt right to her. It's been almost three years since our last trip there, and I don't remember ever being there in a real winter month. I hope we have reasonable weather for bouncing on the trails there.

I think Denise needs a break so I'm planning to take over the writing for this wander. You don't mind, do you?

--- Rover
Rover at Red Rock Canyon

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Long road back

There are people hospitals and there are animal hospitals, and... did you know it's possible for a dog to visit an inhabitant in a people hospital? Bailey didn't like his surroundings but he was happy to lick "our" Dad's face in an attempt to speed his recovery. In between licks Bailey looked away, snuggled in Mom's arms, clearly uncomfortable in a hospital setting.

Mom & Bailey

Bailey, looking away from 'his' dad

It's been a long road, a continuing voyage back to health.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Blowing snow

Last night there was light in the sky, clouds backlit by a bright full moon. The temperature was warm, a tease, a glimpse of (the not-yet-here season of) spring.

This morning winter returned with intense cold, strong winds, blowing snow.

snowy morning

Thursday, February 17, 2011


It's mid-February, still winter, and yet...

As I walked this evening I felt a touch of (almost) warm air. The temperature was hovering around 50, a semblance of warmth gracing my brisk pace. I'll stash that in my memory to help get through the cold days yet to come.

Watson fascination

The world watched Watson answering questions. Three days, two Jeopardy episodes, and I am still fascinated by Watson and by the incredibly talented people who created him. I don't think that fascination will disappear any time soon.

Click to watch... another day, another video, highlights from the matches, thoughts of the developers, explanations.

IBM Watson: Final Jeopardy! and the future of Watson

Sunday, February 13, 2011

No stopping

Traveling on limited access highways is a fast path to a destination, but oh! sometimes I am so tempted to stop along the side of the road, to absorb the sights around me, to capture a photo.

Today's temptation was the Castleton-on-Hudson Bridge spanning the Hudson River on the Berkshire Connector of the New York Thruway. As I flew across the bridge at highway speeds, a tight grip on the steering wheel was needed to counteract the forces of the wind. The bridge is high above the (apparently frozen) river surface, 4-lanes wide with no shoulders and a grated section between the east- and west-bound lanes. No, of course I didn't stop!

Let's see, where else have I been tempted to stop (but didn't)? I'd love to stop on the Piscataqua River Bridge on Interstate 95 between Portsmouth, New Hampshire and Kittery, Maine. There is a lift bridge a bit further down the river that I have crossed by foot and by bicycle but the higher interstate bridge offers a different view. The Confederation Bridge between PEI and Nova Scotia is different sort of bridge, much lower and much much longer (at seven miles long), yet equally tempting.

Sometimes access is granted. Walking on the new Colorado River Bridge (part of the Hoover Dam Bypass project) during my wanders in the west in December was a treat.

Do bridges tempt you too?

view of the Hoover Dam from the new Hoover Dam Bypass Bridge

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Snow squall

Visiting, upstate New York...

The morning sky was gray. By the afternoon the sun grew stronger. It first showed as a bright spot hiding behind clouds. Change continued as patches of blue emerged behind puffy white clouds. Sunshine...

Just a short while later snow squalls flew into the area, heavy, wind howling, dark gray above. Visibility? None.

Within a half hour the snow moved on, small patches of blue sky showing once more.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


A bit of a disclaimer... This blog post is about a creation of IBM. While I am employed by IBM, this post is from me as an individual. It's a sign of my fascination with Watson, my respect for Watson's creators, my amazement at a computer that can play Jeopardy.

I've been fascinated by Watson since I was first read about this question-answering computer. Watson hears and understands questions, delivering answers by speaking. The technology is intended for serious purposes, but somehow an introduction on Jeopardy seems fitting. Next week there will be a 3-day match with Watson challenging (or perhaps I should say challenged by) two of the "greatest Jeopardy champions of all times".

I know I'll be watching Watson on Jeopardy next week (Monday through Wednesday). Will you?


You might be interested in the entry Knowing what it knows: selected nuances of Watson's strategy in the IBM Research blog.

For a quick introduction, take a look at the two short videos below.

IBM and the Jeopardy Challenge, June 11, 2010

Watson sparring matches, January 19, 2011

If you have spare hour, the Nova episode Smartest machine on earth is very interesting.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Lined in white

Trees empty of leaves were wearing decorations of white this morning. Overnight wet snow lined dark branches, paintings by nature.

Bare branches emerged once again as the day wore on.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Winter warmth

A bit of winter warmth pulled me outside dressed in fewer layers than in the recent past. I headed to the New Hampshire coast, choosing again to wander in Odiorne Point State Park. As I walked, I listened to the crunch of my snowshoes on snow that had absorbed a bit of (rain) water late yesterday.

Odiorne Point State Park, snow, water, horizon

New Hampshire coast, inland, ice chunks, inlet

A few more photos from today's wander can be seen in the gallery Along the New Hampshire coast - 2011 starting here, and ending with the last sunset photo from two weeks ago.

Saturday, February 05, 2011


With each storm the roads have been shrinking, getting narrower and narrower.

The highways are fine, as are major roads, but roads through neighborhoods are frightening. Before this week's pair of storms most of the roads were wide enough for two cars to pass. That's no longer the case. Some side streets are still (barely) wide enough for two cars, with no additional space for safe walking. On other streets the cleared portion is slightly wider than a single lane.

While I much prefer using the neighborhood streets as my daily walking canvas, I'm lucky that I live next to a small college where both the roads and the sidewalks are nicely cleared. My after dark walking has been limited to loops around (the cleared roads and walks of) that campus.

Here's hoping this trend of narrowing roadways reverses very soon.

Snowman, buried

I first met this snowman earlier in the week when he was standing tall. And yes, he is a "normal" height snow person. He's now buried up to his neck.

Would you say we've had a bit of snow?

snowman, buried in snow

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Sounds of the storm

The morning sky was gray, filled with snow, flakes floating. It was quiet.

Snow changed to sleet. The quiet was gone, changing to a steady clicking sound, ice pellets hitting windows.

Sleet changed back to snow. It was quiet once more.

Afternoon, it was time for a walk, snow crunching beneath my feet.

Another sense, a picture, sight...
I looked up to see a small patch of blue in a gray, cloud-filled sky. I looked away, then back again. The blue was gone, the sky was clothed in gray. Do you suppose the blue was a figment of my imagination?

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

not again!

Oh no! The weather wizard is on a snow kick this year, and there's snow on the way once again. This time there are two storms headed our way, one moving in from the west, and another from the south. Two days, two storms...

We normally have fairly mild winters here when you look at both temperature and snowfall totals. This one? From a snow standpoint it doesn't feel mild to me. If you look at historic totals Boston is still well below its snowiest winter, but the totals seem to keep rising. A bit of snowfall total history in numbers:

60.3" --- Amount of snowfall so far this winter in Boston
41.8" --- Normal for entire season (through April)
102.8" -- All-time record for season (1995-96)
Tomorrow is Groundhog Day, and the folklore says if the groundhog sees his shadow we will have six more weeks of winter. The forecast of snow for tomorrow means that there shouldn't be any shadows. Do you suppose a cloudy Groundhog Day predicts the coming of spring?

Hey weather wizard? Don't you think we've had enough?
347 AM EST TUE FEB 1 2011




Warning courtesy of the Boston office of the National Weather Service