Saturday, June 23, 2012

80 Days of Summer - Day 23

Day 23
Brandi's company - Intrepid Potash - hit 1 million man hours of no injuries and threw a big party. That took up most of the day. I then took the kids to the pool for a couple of hours in the afternoon. The day closed with a great surprise. One of my college roommates - Joel Jorgensen -  from the Fall of 1995 at Ricks College, texted to say he was passing through Moab with his family. That was the semester I met Brandi, so he knew both of us. We hadn't seen him since that spring after we were married. Normally, I might not remember a roommate, but that Breckenridge #5 apartment was a crazy bunch. I was home off my mission with a bunch of guys that hadn't left yet. We had a blast together - Joel, Brad, me, Dave, and Boaz. Most of the fun was at the expense of Boaz. We were constantly stealing his "chonies" and putting them on each other's pillows and stuff. Brandi and I got married in January, and when I unpacked my things at my apartment, I found 10 pairs of Boaz's underwear in my luggage. Joel told a great story from the semester after I left. A stray dog followed Dave and Joel home, so they locked it in Boaz's room. What followed wasn't pretty. Good times. We met Joel and family at Zax and caught up on the last 16 years. 
The day started with a big boat ride by Canyonlands By Night and Day. The jet boat holds over 100 people, and it skimmed through 14 inches of water at one point on the little journey up river from Moab. The boys loved it. I thought it was boring. Rather be in my canoe or a kayak. 
James checking out the cliff walls north of Moab on the Colorado River during the boat trip. He hypothesized that a mountain lion lived in that high cave. Then he switched to a bear before finally settling on a heron.
Intrepid had 300 plus people out to the mines about 15 miles west of Moab. The yard was filled with bouncy houses that Matt and James loved.
 The biggest bouncy house. I even went through this one.
Emmy on the baseball throw bouncy house. I videoed Brandi when she picked up a ball, so I could make fun of her. She then promptly threw the first pitch right into the 5 inch opening.
 James and Matt. James is into wearing a pair of Oakleys I found recently. Cool guy. Matt and James were choreographing their "slides" by going down exactly the same way together. 
 I pretty much dominated the football toss.
An aerial photo of Intrepid Potash. The river cuts across the top. The plant is along the river at the upper left. The evaporation ponds are on the right. Vertical shafts are drilled all over the photo here. See below.
The company started in 1961 when they built most of the buildings. The vertical shaft tower (below) used to send men and equipment down into mines 1,000-2,000 feet below to the potash veins. Soon, the veins were too thin to make mining with men and machines worthwhile. Intrepid came in and started a new system. They drill down to the vein, and then horizontally follow the vein with a machine. They cap the drill shaft and pump salt water down into the shaft. The potash attaches to the salt crystals. They then pump it out, send it to evaporation ponds, and then bring it back to the plant for separating. The potash sells for a buttload of money. The excess salt sells for pennies. Potash is used for a lot of things, but in bulk, it is used for fertilizing crops.

 Vertical mine shaft (abandoned) and other buildings still in use.
 Salt pile after separating.
 Salt is everywhere, and everything is in a state of decay.
For the first time maybe ever, they shut down the operations and allowed family to walk through the whole operation. It was a pretty cool tour, although it would have been better with someone explaining the process.
 These road graders are used to scrape the potash/salt combo out of the evaporation ponds.
Two huge holding "sheds" that are at least the length of a football field, maybe two, house the potash. I've been in them before where they were full up to the ceiling. We drove right on in for the tour. They ship most of it out by rail.
The evaporation ponds have a blue dye in them that helps capture sunlight. They look really cool. Pictures from Dead Horse Point State Park above the mines often show the evap ponds' striking blue set against the red rock. It was out around these ponds that Will Smith and his son Jaden just finished filming for the movie, After Earth. Brandi's boss, and our home teacher, met the director, M. Night Shyamalan. He said the guy was very cool. Shyamalan showed him the cameras they were using and how they were using 5 of the 8 specially designed cameras existing in the world for that type of photography.

80 Days of Summer - Days 18-22

Days 18-22
This week was mostly scattered events, so no single-day posts. Returned from Wyoming on Monday evening just in time for Emmy's softball game. She had a hit and scored a run in a close 12-11 game. Had my first Apple Store experience on Monday as well. Crowded, everyone angry, and poor customer service. But they bought my affection by handing me a replacement phone for mine that had picked up a "virus" even though Macs don't get viruses (Shhhhhh. Don't tell anyone). It's been a love-hate relationship with my iPhone these past 9 months. My first phone never would sync with my iTunes, so it never held music. Maybe this one will. It also spent one entire week in January not taking a charge. The day my replacement phone arrived, it suddenly started taking a charge again. So, iPhone Number 3 should be an improvement, right? I've had 3 versions of the iPhone 4 (non-Siri) since November. 
Tuesday, I drove a group of girls from church, including daughter Annie, down to girls camp in the mountains above Blanding/Monticello. Wednesday, I drove down with the other counselor in our bishopric (I'm the first counselor in our bishopric - every LDS congregation has a bishop with two counselors) to Boy Scout Camp near Blanding to check on our guys down there and take down some junk food. We then spent the evening at the girls camp where we were asked to share a motivational/spiritual message. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Navajo tacos for dinner and dutch oven cake for dessert around the campfire. Annie was having a great time.
Dave and Erin stayed the night on Thursday passing through Moab. Erin and Brandi wanted to eat at Pasta Jay's in town. It's my least favorite place to eat in Moab other than Wendy's. I asked for a bigger table than the one above, and they flat out told me, "No." Love eating out with Dave and Erin - always good conversation and lots of laughs. Walked down to Moab Diner for Hot Fudge Malts afterwards.
After dinner, we drove out Potash Road west of town along the Colorado River. They're still shooting Johnny Depp's movie, Lone Ranger and Tonto. This set on a sandbar has a "Hanging tree" (we just canoed past this spot a few weeks ago with the kids). Today, there was a guy with a camera up on the scaffolding and two people on horses riding away from the tree along the river. Not Johnny from what I could see (the camera was small, so I think it was a demo shot).
The movie tents at Gold Bar. If you've been following my blog all summer, this is the "take out" where we pulled our canoes out of the river on Day 1. The movie company has totally taken over the entire campground and river takeout. Oddly enough, a UTEP student from Texas just drowned right behind these tents (before they were set up) in the river during the past week. He was walking across with some friends and got dragged under. Guess he should have read the signs that say, "Don't enter the river. Dangerous currents."
Movie set pieces at Gold Bar. Old West train cars. Each day, more equipment arrives, and today, the "Star Wagons" arrived, which means, Johnny might be out there soon. Brandi drives this road everyday to work out at the Potash Mine at the end of the road.
Dave and I drove out to the Mill Canyon area north of Moab on Friday. I hadn't ever been out there. There's a cool ruin of a stage station, several springs, and a .8 mile long Dino Trail with fossil dinosaur bones in the rocks along the trail. Kinda cool.
Driving up Bartlett Canyon. In the middle of the desert - see below - there's a lush canyon with tons of trees and occasional water.
 Past Bartlett Canyon around 3D Jeep trail. To iPhone's credit, I took all of the pictures in this blog post with my new iPhone 4. 
 Past Bartlett Canyon around 3D Jeep trail. Miles of slickrock out there attract the mountain bikers.
Friday afternoon, it was so hot (104), that I took the kids up into the mountains above Moab for some cooler weather and fishing on Oowah Lake (a little high mountain body of water in the pines). Test-driving my new hat above. I must be getting old because the sun on my neck is starting to bother me. Brandi said she would allow me to wear this in the wilderness, but she won't be seen with me around town in it.
James brought a stick to me after fishing with his real pole for awhile. He also had 5 feet of fishing line he found in the bushes. He asked me to tie it on with a hook and give him a worm. I said, "No" at first because I didn't want to take the time for such a pointless endeavor. But I relented and set him up. Two minutes later, I hear, "I got one" as he yanks a 12 inch trout from the lake onto the grassy shore. He fished with it the rest of the day and caught several more small ones with it. He'd just stand there totally still for a long time until a fish came up and took the worm. Then he'd yank back bringing the fish out of the water.
We hiked up a small creek feeding the lake. It had little 6-10 inch deep pools as it worked its way down through the small canyon and the pines. James used his stick pole, and I used a regular pole. We caught about 10 small fish in these tiny pools ranging from 6-12 inches. James and Matthew got into stinging nettle again. James said through tears, "I wish stinging nettle didn't even exist."
Matthew jumped off an embankment by the stream and landed on what he thought was a mound of dirt. Turned out to be a fresh cow pie (ranchers graze their cattle up above 10,000 feet in these mountains). He was pretty angry - see below. We were cracking up. I hate the cows up in the mountains. They really tear up these pretty creeks and meadows.
 He was mad that we were laughing about the cow crap. Lucky for him there was a creek close by.
 Fishing the creek.
 Matthew finally caught his first fish at the end of the afternoon.
James catching some Zs on the drive home.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

80 Days of Summer - Day 17 - Broken Finger

Father's Day!
Yesterday, we stopped in Jackson Hole for dinner at The Gun Barrel with the kids on the way out of the Wind Rivers. When we reached the cars after eating, I opened my car door to get in and was holding the door with my left hand. Emmy had climbed into Boone's big Dodge truck and closed the door, but then she suddenly opened the front passenger door to move to the back seat. The truck door swung out and crushed my ring finger between the two car doors which met edge to edge right on my finger. Crazy pain. Luckily, Boone is a hand therapist, so today, we went down to his clinic and he made a custom plastic splint for my fractured finger. I also took a pair of metal sheers and cut my wedding ring off since it was getting really tight from the swelling and in the way of the splint. We had homemade steak and crab legs for dinner after church. The only thing missing from a good Father's Day was cute Brandi. Can't wait to see her tomorrow. 
Cut ring and splint. 
Dr. Hodges and Dr. Heywood in the clinic.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

80 Days of Summer - Days 13-16

Wind River Mountains - Green River Lakes, Wyoming - Backpacking Trip
Took the 4 kiddos up to my favorite place in the world, Wyoming, for a backpacking trip with Brandi's brother Boone and his 4 kids. Our families love getting together since our interests are the same and our kids all match up almost exactly in age. For six years, Boone has been taking his and Laura's kids up to the headwaters of the Green River where two natural lakes hang suspended in the Wind River Range of the western Wyoming mountains. From time to time, other cousins join, but we have not been able to go up over the years. This was our first, although, I have been up several times with Brandi's dad canoeing, hiking, fishing, and camping on the lower lake. Above is a pic of the mountains we are heading for southeast of Jackson Hole Wyoming.
Don't eat the jerky you didn't make yourself, or you might have to have an impromptu roadside stop for relief.
The crew at the trail head all loaded up. The kids were all great hikers. James and Matthew did some complaining on the way in, but I kept their packs light enough that they weren't overwhelmed. It was a 6 mile hike in over rolling lake shore trails and a 6 mile backtrack hike out again. We hiked in Thursday afternoon, and hiked out Saturday afternoon, carrying all of our gear and food for 2 nights.
Boone and I carried the bulk of the heavy items to keep the kids' loads manageable. My pack was probably about 50 lbs. Annie, Emmy, and James all carried their sleeping bags, clothes, personal items, and either a piece of cookgear (James had mugs) or an item of food (Emmy had the mallows). Matthew carried a small pack with his sleeping bag, water shoes, and camera in it. I bought disposable cameras for Matt, James, and Emmy. It will be interesting to see what their photos turn out to be.
James chilling on the trail. He has done a 35 miler in the Grand Canyon as a 5 year old, but never had to carry a larger pack before. He did well with his only real complaining the last 2 miles of the hike in.
The crew strung out on the trail. Annie, Bailey, Tyler, and Emmy always zoomed ahead. On the way out they really zoomed ahead and hiked out in 90 minutes.
We caught a garter snake on the way in. We dared Annie to put its head in her mouth for $5. She grossed us out by immediately earning the five bucks. She even closed her mouth over its neck. Nasty.
Just reached the second lake below Flat Top mountain. We camped on the edge of the spit of land with pine trees on it sticking out into the lake from the left of the photo just to the left of my pack.
The campsite. The big boulder served as a nice fireplace. The kids were constantly foraging for firewood. On Friday, they kept the fire going almost all day long. We're about 20 feet from the lake shore at this site. We passed a moose in the marshes between the lakes, and there was a moose and baby at the north end of the upper lake when we arrived. We didn't see any elk this trip, but elk sign was all through our camp and all along the hike in.
We used spinners, spoons, and weighted sucker meat set-ups to fish. Every kid caught a fish (except Annie who didn't want to fish). Matthew caught the first fish, I think. Jacob caught the biggest fish. We were killing them Thursday night - I think we hauled in 8 fish that first evening.
 James fishing. He fished off and on a bit, but Matthew was the most patient. He sat for hours fishing.
 My first catch on a Kamlooper mid-size silver spoon with a yellow and red pattern.
 James with his catch. James always asked to fish, but he wouldn't sit for very long. This one hit within about 15 minutes. He'd sit about 30 minutes and then move on.
Sunset on the first day. There isn't a more beautiful place in all the world with striking views and the pristine nature of the natural lakes.
The upper end of the second lake is just a spectacular high mountain panorama with granite rock sliced with snow and pine trees.
The kids were dirty animals. James' face was smeared with soot by the second day. He's waiting here for his oatmeal and hot chocolate to cool.
 Beautiful views at the end of the upper lake. We had fair weather except for some rain on Friday afternoon.
 Emmy's second fish. Other than Matthew's undying patience, Emmy loves fishing the most out of our kids.
 Boone strung up his hammock and took a morning nap. Jacob snuggled in with him.
After a restless sleep Thursday night, I laid out my sleeping pad on shore and took a nap while reading my book on Mesa Verde.
Annie and cousin Bailey sharing the hammock. They were in there for a couple of hours chatting and sleeping.
Some of our haul from the two days. The mountain lake water is so cold, we could string the fish up and use it as a fridge. Boone cooked his in tin foil, butter, and spices right on the coals. I had mine roasted on sticks over the fire with some spice added later. Nothing better than a fresh caught mountain lake trout roasted over a pine wood fire.
Matthew begged to roast his fish that he caught all afternoon. We finally sharpened a pine limb and skewered it in a U. It was delicious!
 The cavemen hanging out on the deadfall pines along the shore.
Jacob hauled in the biggest fish of the day. 7 lbs and 27 inches long. Monster fish. Several others were pretty close in size, but this one was just huge.
Friday afternoon, the rain came, and while everyone went into the tents, Matthew and I sat under a pine tree  near the shore and fished for hours in the rain at his insistence. He caught one fish, and we just sat and talked. He's a really funny kid with deep questions and observations. I hiked out with him the entire way, just the two of us because everyone zoomed ahead, and he talked the entire 2.5 hours and 6 miles just saying really interesting things and asking questions about nature. He's a smart little 5 year old. During one 30 minute stretch of the hike out, he summarized all of the major holidays from the past year in pre-school, what they did to celebrate, and what he thought of the day's events. He even included Dr. Seuss's birthday celebration. I just listened quietly to the entire dialogue. After the summary, he said, "But all of that is junk. My favorite thing in the world is my family. I love my family." Driving out of the mountains after the hike, Matthew was looking through the DVDs for a movie. I hear from the back seat, "Oh man, I hate that girl. I saw her on a commercial on TV for a movie. I want to punch her in the face." I said, "What girl?" and he handed me a DVD from the case with Shirley Temple on the disc and said, "This girl." I was cracking up.
 Matthew sat here for hours just out of the heavy rain under a pine tree. This is my favorite picture of the trip.
Heywood camp chef. Cooking quesadillas for the kiddos. My kids are such picky eaters, they mostly ate hot dogs, hot chocolate, and fruit snacks and left the all the food to me. I'm taking a heavy iron fire skillet next year and living off of pancakes and fish.
Looking out our "kitchen window." Without kids, I could camp up here for weeks with good books and a fishing pole and Brandi to keep me company. So peaceful. The kids are fun, but they can be a handful.
The four amigos chillin' by their fire - Matt, Nathan, James, and Jacob. They played in the woods, fished, tended the fire, and had a blast.
 This is Jacob's big fish and some of our earlier catch on the stringer under water.
Emmy fishing. She's always fishing or moving. She'd get up with Tyler every morning at like 5:00 am and start a fire. The rest of us would come out at about 7:00 to enjoy the warmth. Days were in the 60s, and nights were in the low 40s or upper 30s.
 Matthew and Jacob used this log as a slide one afternoon. Weirdos having fun.
Group photo of the kids just before departure. Can't believe I've missed this trip over the years - won't miss it again!
Joe and Boone getting one last look. Yes, we're holding hands.