Being an Account of Our Annual Trip, This Year to Utah, August 2008
So, Utah! Even getting there was something of an adventure. As you know (Bob), Ken blew the clutch on the bike on the way home from the Midwest (this was after the rear drive failed and was replaced). Turns out that the clutch blowing resulted in oil and tiny bits of shredded metal and gods know what else spewing all over the innards of the bike. When it became clear that the bike wouldn’t be ready for the trip, we had to regroup.
I was already flying out on Tuesday, so Ken booked a flight that would bring him in about an hour later. We also decided not to stay through the following Tuesday, because Ken wouldn’t be running the rally that started that day in Utah. While we were looking forward to going to Utah, it wasn’t specifically all that high on our list of travel destinations, so we agreed that heading home (me) and back to Oregon (Ken) on Sunday made sense. It meant Ken had an extra week of work so that (::fingers crossed::) we have him home* for the next month and a half or so.
Other than getting up at an unholy hour of the morning to get to OXR (where there was a bit of panic about paying for parking, which involved stuffing cash into an envelope and loosely writing down where my car was, because it was dark and I couldn’t read the parking space number), I sashayed onto the plane, had a quick change in LAX, and soon was at SLC. Ken did indeed show up about an hour later, although he walked right by me and thankfully called my cell before he’d gotten too far. (I think I must’ve turned to look at the gate just as he went around me or something.)
We had a pleasant drive to the Zermatt Spa and Resort in Midway City, found our chalet (where our friends Ernie and Pauline and their friend Mo had already set up base), and ate lunch.
Then we took a nap, because my 4-5 hours of sleep the night before had been luxurious compared to Ken’s 2 hours.
When we registered and picked up our swag, I found a lone flyer for a birds of prey show, and I snapped it up so fast the paper was a blur. The next day, we were so there.
But first on Wednesday, there was High Tea.
The woman at Zermatt who organized it used to run a tea shop in the area, and she knew what she was doing. She even provided tea hats for all the ladies! (And now I’m so inspired to haunt thrift stores for hats and decorate them accordingly.) I say “for the ladies,” but Ken is an amazing sport with a silly sense of humor, and yes, I have pictures of him in several different hats.
The tea itself was gorgeous to the point of gorging ourselves: broccoli and cheese soup, cheese and crackers, and of course tea sandwiches and scones (although apparently rural Utah doesn’t “get” clotted cream, so we had to put up with whipped cream ::shudder::). I’m surprised we ate dinner that night.
But we had at the opportunity to work up a good appetite that afternoon—flying birds of prey!
They flew a prairie falcon, a gyrfalcon, and a red-tailed hawk. The prairie falcon essentially flew away and didn’t come back for an hour; apparently her sister flew off during the morning show and hadn’t been seen since. (Sadly, there have been golden eagles in the area, and they think one might’ve gotten her.)
The gyrfalcon flew to the top of the barn and pretty much came down only occasionally—apparently he wasn’t very hungry, so after landing on a couple of kids’ heads (yes, that was planned) he got lazy.
The hawk, however, was fabulous! And we got to fly her, too. Ken got pictures. Another guy there got an awesome picture of her in flight, just about to land on Ken’s hand.
It was just incredible. Squee bouncity!
I love vacation. :-)
We truly intended to go to bed early that night, but best laid plans and all that…. Still, we dragged ourselves out of bed the next day at 5 a.m. because the carrot was a hot air balloon ride!
This was our 10th anniversary celebration, and Ernie and Pauline’s 30th anniversary celebration. I admit, at first I was pretty nervous, as I do have occasional bouts of vertigo (and height/falling dreams), and I was afraid that it would hamper or even ruin the experience for me.
The basket was tinier than I expected, with two sections for passengers and one for the two operators (flyers? pilots?). There were six passengers (another couple from CCR rounded our group out), and we were divided between the two sections, and to my horror I was separated from Ken, although truth be told we were right next to each other, just not touching from the waist down. (And when things started, I regretted not being shorter, so that the edge of the basket wasn’t at my waist, but farther up….)
It took me about 10 minutes to logically look up and process how the basket was attached the balloon and that there was no way barring a hurricane that the thing could tip over.
At that point, it just became sheer awesomeness, in all senses of the world. I know I say things are magickal, or amazing, or stunning, and all those words fit here, but it was so much more. It was…impossible. We floated. Gravity did not have any power over us. How is that possible? I still can’t wrap my brain around that concept.
When they weren’t firing off the burner, it was silent. Just us and the light wind. Floating, drifting. The sun rose over the mountains, and then we cast a shadow on the ground.
We watched people get pulled over by cops, too, way down below, but that was just amusing.
The best part for me, though, was coasting 10 to 15 feet over the ground towards landing. That’s when it really felt like we defied gravity, that it had no meaning.
Imagine if you jumped up in the air…and just stayed there.
I’m embarrassed to say the rest of the day must have paled in comparison, because I can’t remember anything else we did. I know there was a dinner and silent auction that night, but that’s about it.
Friday was a pretty low-key day, due to some minor medical issues on my part. We went into Park City to find a bookstore, and met the world’s mellowest cat therein. We bought no books, though. We simply went into the attached Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory and spent our money there!
That night was the big banquet, where we learned that through the various fundraising efforts, most notably the auction, we raised $28,000 for Utah Children’s Justice Center, Wasach & Summit Counties branch. The director was in tears. So were a lot of us.
Ernie, Pauline, and Mo left very early the next morning, well before we were prepared to drag ourselves out of bed. So we had a more leisurely awakening, and then walked across the street to the Homestead Crater: the only warm-water scuba site in the continental United States. We decided to just snorkel, though, rather than take scuba lessons. (I took lessons in college and did everything but my fresh-water dive, because I couldn’t afford it, so I never got certified. Sigh. Someday!)
This was another amazing experience.
The mineral water was 95° and impossibly blue; the sun slashed through the hole in the ceiling to send one corner sparkling. There wasn’t a lot to see, per se, but there’s something to be said for just floating, drifting, experiencing.. Watching the air bubbles from the scuba tanks burble up from the depths. Savoring the moment.
After we showered and checked out, we made our way into Salt Lake City and checked into another hotel, then met up with our friend Thom for a late-ish lunch. We found a Thai restaurant in an outdoor shopping area, and had a lovely time eating and chatting.
And then, after Thom headed of to a rehearsal and we headed to the Apple store to buy iPhones!
We’d been talking about it for a while. Ken really disliked our current phones, and needed something that would function loosely as a PDA as well (for contacts, calendar, etc.—iPhones still aren’t good with other types of information management, but we’re hopeful). My biggest holdout was having no option other than AT&T, because I don’t like not having options. Plus I’ve been quite happy with T-Mobile. But I agreed that our phones were less than optimal, and in hindsight, it’s a good thing we did get them, because when Ken’s laptop was stolen a week later, he still had e-mail and Internet access via the phone and thus didn’t lose any work time.
Clutching our booty (which included not just the phones, but cases, Bluetooth earpieces, etc.), we determined that if we were in a new city, we really did have to do some proper touristy things, so we headed to Temple Square. We didn't take any tours, just walked around and admired the flowers and water features and architecture.
I was still a bit under the weather, though, and just plain wiped out, so we didn’t spend a lot of time there. We headed back to the hotel and collapsed for a bit, playing with our new toys and just sort of being mellow and brainless. We eventually roused ourselves for a late supper in the hotel café, and called it an early night.
Our flights weren’t stupidly early the next morning (yay!) so we were able to have a leisurely breakfast in the airport. We were on the same flight to SFO, and then I had to rush to make my connection to LAX. A sad kiss goodbye, and then I was winging south and he was pointed north. Sigh. But, as you know, we were together a week and a half later in Arkansas, so…
Anyway, pictures are here. Enjoy!
*”Home” being a relative term, since over the next month and a half we had/have a trip to Arkansas, a trip to central California, Great Western War, and a visit my parents in New York.