Sherrie and I finished our PADI certification this week! We did four dives at the Homestead Crater–two on Wednesday and two on Friday. We practiced a few skills and generally got used to being deep underwater breathing air from a tube. We had a few interesting experiences in the deep dark (nothing dramatic), but all in all, it was fun and we are now Open Water certified! This really means nothing more than that we have a “license to practice.” What I mean by that, is we know very little about diving, and we have a lot to learn.

On Saturday (yesterday), we did a hike in Logan Canyon called the “Crimson Trail” (shout-out to our niece Brianna for suggesting it!) It is a beautiful hike! It was about five miles, and took us a couple of hours, and we climbed about 1300 feet. The hike down (we went counter-clockwise) was very steep (but mercifully not too long–we had memories of the hike down from Box Elder Peak a couple of years ago!). Michael was stung by a wasp, and his arm is quite itchy today. We enjoyed the woods and the shade and the steep cliffs. Here are a few photos:


Michael on the Crimson Trail.


We look like we are having fun!


A view down one of the cliffs. NOTE: Only the phone is peaking over the edge–Michael is laying on his belly near the edge holding the phone.


A view up the cliffs from below. Probably not the same cliff as the prior picture, but who knows for sure?

Today (Sunday) we are in San Diego. Michael has a meeting tomorrow at MCAS Miramar, and Sherrie is going to just do whatever (something fun!) while Michael is in his meeting. We are going to stay a couple of extra days after the meeting to do stuff in San Diego, including a planned dive at La Jolla Cove on Wednesday with Dive California! We are nervous about the dive, but excited at the same time. Hopefully we have a favorable report next post!

Here are some photos from today at Mission Beach. I have fond memories of my childhood in San Diego in general and La Jolla and Mission Beach in particular. It’s been fun to be here today.


Belmont Park in the background, and the old (even when I was a kid it was old) roller coaster.


Beautiful Sherrie and sunset on the beach. The guy in the background caught some kind of ray just after we took this photo.


Crescent moon through the palm trees at dusk.

Trying to Be Brave

I notice that Michael and I tend to record just our adventures, which makes it seem that most of our days are not filled with such things as cleaning bathrooms, vacuuming and going to work.  I am here to report that much of our time is taken up with day to day chores,  and for the record we try to keep up with them, and with our borrowed garden and grasshopper/deer infested yard, we both try to practice every day (I am taking piano lessons, and Michael guitar lessons), we do our best to get some sort of daily exercise, we make sometimes feeble attempts to keep up with the families and individuals we have been assigned to watch over from our ward, we on occasion get to spend time with our children and their families, and if there is time left over, we try to fit in some choose time – and hopefully some adventures.

My choose time has been hampered with a sore neck that started during a pickleball game several months ago.  I tried to play for a couple more weeks, but finally gave up because it hurt too much.  It is hard to play pickleball when you can’t turn your head.  Tennis started soon after that and I have only played a little here and there before I have had to say uncle and take myself off the roster.  I have seen a chiropractor, a doctor, and now a physical therapist is working on me and I surely hope to be back to normal soon!  A sore neck just seems like such a small problem to be giving me so much grief!  I tried tennis again this week, and was again disappointed by my neck that doesn’t want to let me have fun.

For Michael, the getting old problem has been his knee and his continuing stomach troubles.  We were very hopeful that he would feel much better after getting his gall blaldder out, but he has been a little disappointed to feel sort of the same since.  I am trying to convince him that life can still be fun if you walk instead of run, because your knees feel better,  but it is going to take some convincing to get him to slow down.

So those are some things we are trying to be brave about.

I lucked into an adventure on Monday – Michael spent the day at work but I spent it at Tony Grove up in Logan Canyon.  I went with my friend Marie and some of her family.  We started the day with a hike to the top of Naomi Peak.  We had some kids along – Marie’s great neice and nephews, which made the going quite slow.  That was nice because when we finally got everyone to the top, it didn’t feel like we had done all that much work.  I was surprised to find out that we had climbed close to 2000 feet!  It is one of those peaks that feels like the top of the world with views all the way around – it was beautiful!   We had about 15 minutes or more on the way down where we were not exactly sure where one of the kids (about 8 years old) was.  He decided he couldn’t make it to the top, and was going to wait for us but wasn’t there when we came back.  I was amazed at his calm mother who just assumed he had started down the trail.  I, the catastrophisizer, was looking at trails leading other directions and remembering the search helicopters we had seen in the Uintahs last week.  Despite my worries, we eventually passed someone on their way up who reported they had passed little boy in a blue shirt on his way down.  I was very happy to hear that.


We made it back to the lake and spent the rest of the day lazily paddling around in Marie’s kayaks and reading books.  She and I were successful in taking her little grand daughter out for a ride/nap that lasted 45 minutes or so.  I thought I was paddling pretty lazily, but that might have had something to do with how bad the next morning’s tennis felt on my neck now that I think of it.

For me the real need for bravery has come about with our scuba lessons.  I am a scaredy-cat!  It just doesn’t feel all that natural to put yourself way under the water, especially in the ocean.  I am SO excited to go and see under there, but SO scared!  But our second class this week was not as scary as the first one – in fact I was scared before but not hardly scared at all in the class and did all the crazy stuff with really no problems.  So now I am not that afraid of scuba diving in an 8 foot deep swimming pool.  Very brave, right??  Next, we will go to the crater at Midway and learn to go much deeper.  So I am scared again.  But I think I can do that.  Mostly I am scared when I think about jumping off a boat into the ocean.  I am going with Michael to San Diego in a couple weeks and every time we talk about maybe trying a dive there I get feeling a bit wound up ( Michael will be laughing when he reads that I characterized that as “a bit”).  I am pretty sure that diving will be amazing and when I get used to getting myself equalized and breathing comfortably under water, it will be awesome.

Anyway, we went and saw the new Mission Impossible movie this week, and scuba diving is not in the least dangerous or adventurous.  Kind of boring, really.


Two adventures

Sherrie and I had two big adventures this week. We started our PADI open water diver certification classes, and we went on a big hike with Sherrie’s brother Kevin.

When Sherrie was younger, she always dreamed of being a marine biologist. Growing up in Utah made that a far away dream. We’ve had a couple of trips to Hawaii and California where she’s had the opportunity to snorkel, but the idea of learning to scuba dive was something that seemed out of reach, or even out of our conscious thought. On our recent trip to Southern Utah, we learned that our friend Glen, who is an experienced diver, was planning a diving trip to Cozumel in December, and the thought occurred to me that this was our opportunity to learn to scuba and help Sherrie get closer to something that’s been a dream of hers for a long time.

So we took the plunge, so to speak, and started a dive class this week with a local establishment that teaches classes here in Brigham City (yes, Brigham City!). We took our first class this week. Learning to scuba is a bit intimidating. They talk about all the things that can go wrong and teach methods to cope with potential problems. It’s technical, because you have learn how to use the equipment. There’s a lot to keep in your head, and you have to learn a new language–that is, you have to learn to talk underwater with hand signals. And, it’s scary to be under water breathing through a tube! But we’ve started, and we’re looking forward to learning more and becoming more comfortable as we learn. Our “graduation” if you will is to do four “open water” dives, which for most Utahns who learn to dive happens in a hot spring crater in Midway called the Homestead Caldera. We’re looking forward to learning more and becoming more comfortable and less anxious while in the water!

Our other great adventure this week was a loooonnnnnggg hike in the Uintahs with Sherrie’s brother Kevin. We started at Trial Lake and hiked north through notch pass. Our original goal was to hike over the pass and go to Ibantik Lake. We got there early in the afternoon and decided to continue our hike further and go all the way to Meadow Lake. Here’s a screenshot of the track:Screen Shot 2018-07-22 at 17.29.08

The hike was probably 7 miles each direction, with about 900 feet of climb up to Notch Pass. Our endpoint of Meadow Lake is about the same altitude as Trial Lake, so it was up, down, up, down for 1800 feet of climbing. It was a long day, and we were tired at the end, but it was awesome!

We had some fun things on the hike: (1) we caught fish at most of the lakes where we stopped (Wall, Lovenia, Ibantik, and Meadow), and (2) we saw tons of wildflowers! We also saw a mountain goat near the summit of the east portion of Notch Mountain. It was walking along the ridgeline up high, and we could easily spot its silhouette. That’s the first time I’ve ever seen a goat in the Uintahs!

Wildflowers near Notch Pass:uintah-wildflowers

Panorama looking south toward Wall and Trial Lakes from Notch Pass:IMG_0597

Panorama of Ibantik Lake (One-half of Notch Mountain in the back left; Notch Pass is the dip in mountains near the middle of the picture. This view is looking almost due south):IMG_0649

Sherrie with a fish on the line at Ibantik:IMG_0651

Michael on the trail somewhere:trailMichael with a monster (!) but colorful Brookie at Ibantik:brookie

Yes, it is the middle of the summer, and I am wearing a warm jacket in that last picture. Early in the afternoon at Ibantik, a small rainstorm blew in and cooled us off quite a bit. It warmed up later, but it was a nice respite.

The trail on the north side of Ibantik to Meadow is some of the most beautiful terrain I’ve seen in the Uintahs. It was great to be there, out in nature, enjoying a beautiful day with Sherrie and Kevin.


Venetian Falls?

Sherrie and I had a wonderful (too short!) trip to Southern Utah at the end of June.  On Friday, we stopped in Parowan to see our friends Bruce and Kathy and had lunch with them at La Villa’s, which was Michael’s mom Susie’s favorite place. It wasn’t Taco Thursday, but we still had a nice lunch and got caught up with Bruce and Kathy.

That afternoon, we hiked the Ramparts Trail in Cedar Breaks National Monument. We saw lots of wildflowers, which are just coming into full bloom in the high altitude.



And we also saw some old, big bristlecone pines


The cones were beautiful. Some turn red and blue depending on whether they are male or female; we didn’t see any blue ones but we did see red ones.

DSC_0012 . DSC_0019

The view from the rim trail isn’t half bad either:


It was a smoky day from wildfires in Southern Utah, but it was still fun.

After Cedar Breaks, we drove to a site below Navajo Lake where the lake leaks out of the mountain at Cascade Falls:


The view at Cascade Falls was a bit anti-climactic. There’s a nice wide trail and a built-up landing, but the falls itself is only about six feet tall, and not super spectacular.

By time this, it was late in the day and Sherrie was not feeling well. In retrospect, we now believe that she got altitude sickness. She had a horrible headache and nausea, but a couple of hours after getting “down” to Cedar City (still around 5800 feet), she was feeling much better. I felt bad for her, as the afternoon and evening weren’t very pleasant. But we still enjoyed the day.

On Saturday morning, we checked off an item on our bucket list: we hiked the Kanarra Creek Trail to Kanarraville Falls. We have been wanting to do this for a few years and finally got our chance. Our friends Tracie and Glen from St. George met us there and hiked with us.

DSC_0097(Admittedly, Sherrie is none too pleased with this candid shot. My only regret is that I didn’t get it in better focus!) That’s Tracie and Glen in the background; I was glad they were with us because they have hiked the trail may times and helped us know what to expect.

What you should expect is to walk through amazing slot canyons in very cold water (ankle deep most of the time at this time of year) for a couple of hours. Interspersed with water up above your knees from time to time.

DSC_0115(Yes, the trail continues behind us as seen in this photo).


There are a few beautiful falls from time to time:




And of course the famous ones you have to scramble up, using sketchy means:



We climbed the first one (the tree trunk with the metal rungs), but not the latter, as it is the end of the line, and there’s not much to see above the last falls. And the woman in the latter photo (with her head peaking out on the left), who is in charge of the Kanarra Creek Trail conservation society (unknown exact name) told us that in the past few weeks, a couple of people have fallen off the logs at that last falls and broken various body parts. It wouldn’t be easy to evacuate someone from there!

Saturday night, we attended a “preview” showing of Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice at the Utah Shakespearean Festival. It was a “preview” because the festival had just started, and our show was in essence an advanced public dress rehearsal. It was a fun play. We’d not been to the festival since they opened the new building. In spite of being toward the back and side, we still heard well and enjoyed the play a lot. But the play also instigated some conversation between us about the apparent (blatant?) anti-semitic nature of the story. We saw in Shylock a compelling figure, and one of his monologues in particular is a robust statement of the way society treats many sub cultures today.




Miscellany on Sunday

I (Michael) was in Virginia Beach for one of our client’s planning meetings. We had the opportunity while there to tour the flightline at NAS Oceana with the chief maintenance officer (Readiness Officer) at the base. He was very gracious and gave us a wonderful tour and insight into the maintenance challenges the Navy is facing. Here’s a photo of me with Stephanie and Matt in front of an F/A-18F:


Last Saturday, we went to Salt Lake and met up with Rachel, Natalie, Zac, Matt, Becky, Esther and Sylvia to celebrate Rachel’s birthday. I took a few photos of various gang members while there:


Rachel, Natalie and Zac intrigued by something happening on the screen. Speaking of screens, they can be quite captivating:


And, quite difficult to keep from falling off the wall:


Whenever I take photos, I try to do something creative in composition or editing, and I came up with this of Esther playing at the ping-pong table:


Just goes to show you that you can salvage photos that may not have ideal exposure settings if you shoot in RAW format (don’t ask)!

People aren’t always happy when you are taking photos:


But every now and then, you capture beauty at its best:



We are looking forward to Jared and Rachel’s visit (plus Silas and Phoebe) this week! They’ll be in Utah for a couple of weeks, for a math conference for Rachel at Snowbird (I think) and for our family vacation. It will be great to have everybody together!

Today is Mother’s Day. Sherrie and I love our mothers a lot and miss them. It was fun today to talk to kids and grandkids and think about the joys of our wonderful family.

A day at the races!

Last Saturday was the big event in Brigham City: the “Soap Dish Derby.” We reported last week on some of the preparations in getting the car ready. We were all quite pleased with the final product: hopefully you’ll agree:


We had quite a time explaining to the race officials that we wanted to number our car π. They asked, “Do you mean 3.14?” “No, we mean π,” we responded. They eventually got it, but on the schedule on race day, our number was listed as “Pie.” Sigh.

From the get-go, it was obvious that our car was very fast. Larissa won her heat by a few car lengths, and then Ben won his heat in the “slow” lane as well. We got excited! In the end, our people took First Place (Hannah), Third Place (Larissa), and Fourth Place (Ben). Hannah and Larissa won medals, but Ben, who finished fourth by 0.02 seconds, went home with nothing but memories.

We estimate the AVERAGE speed of the car on the track was 22.3 MPH for Hannah’s winning heat. The max speed at the finish was higher–probably around 25 MPH.

Check out these photos:

A couple of days before the event, we took the car to a nearby hill to test it out. Sherrie got to drive it (click for video):


The look on her face is one of sheer joy–trust me on this!

Here are our drivers:


(Larrissa, Hannah in the car, and Ben)

And here’s the crew (those who were able to attend on race day):


For a couple of weeks, I had been able to resist the temptation to get into the car, but after the race, I couldn’t stand it anymore:


It’s a good thing I didn’t try to drive! The only way I could reach the steering column was by crossing my arms between my legs.

If you care to download a large file, we have a video from the helmet cam for one of Ben’s runs. It’s pretty fun: Ben’s run (helmet cam)

We’re already looking forward to next year!

Back in the (blog) saddle

Sherrie and I have been lax in writing in this space. Part of the reason is that it’s been Winter, and since we don’t do much stuff outside (besides skiing and snowboarding), we haven’t been writing stuff. Actually, Sherrie had some fun adventures snowshoeing with her friends, so she should probably write about that sometime.

And the other part of the reason is that we are lazy and don’t always follow through on things we should be doing.

Yesterday was our (34th) wedding anniversary. We celebrated by cleaning the church (with some of our fellow ward members) in the morning! Then we went to Mantua and ran around the reservoir (4.2 mile run). We were invited to attend Esther’s dance recital in the late afternoon, so we went to Layton and had a bowl of Pho for lunch at a favorite place, then went to Salt Lake. We were early and went tennis shoe shopping for Sherrie. It’s surprisingly hard to find real tennis (court) shoes–most sporting goods stores only sell running shoes, basketball shoes, and field (i.e., football and soccer) shoes. So we went to a tennis store and found some good (read: WIDE!) shoes for Sherrie. She wasn’t too enamored with the blue and yellow (she likes nondescript white), but the lady in the store and I convinced her that blue and yellow would be dandy.

After that, we went to the Missio Dei church in Salt Lake to attend the recital. And then I promptly dropped Sherrie off at the Missio Dei church and drove back to the tennis store because she had left her sweater. Never fear, I was able to get back by the time the recital started.

The recital was a great success. The “kids community ballet” has the mission of helping each child feel “seen, known, and loved.” (Kids Community Ballet). We feel like they are accomplishing their mission. One cool thing that we’ve not seen done before is that before each group performs, they do a slide show with a photo of each child in the group, and their response to the question, “What do you like about ballet?” Here’s Esther’s:


Apparently, Princess Walks are quite the rage amongst the three-year old crowd–that was the most common response given. It’s fun to see the little ones enjoying moving about and being together. It’s also fun to see the older ones and they progress they’ve made since they were little (assuming they were once like the little ones are now). If Esther sticks with it, she should have many fun days in the future doing ballet.

Here’s a picture of Esther with her parents:


I wanted to post a video of the performance, but our site doesn’t support that (have to pay for that option). If you want the video, send me an email and I’ll send you a Dropbox link.

After ballet, Sherrie and I returned home and made a nice dinner and enjoyed the end of a good day. It was fun throughout the day to talk about our life together and our wonderful family and the joy that we have in the many blessings in our lives.

I (Michael) was in DC this week for some meetings, and I got to see Sherrie’s brother Randy on Friday. It was fun to catch up with him about our kids and families. We miss living close to Randy and Karen.

The Brigham City office of Veracity Forecasting and Analysis (our company) is building a soapbox derby car for the April 28 races here in Brigham. It’s been fun for our folks to do this project. Here are a couple of photos:


(Ian on the right, with two kids from David’s family, painting the baseboard with Danish oil).


(The steering mechanism with David’s son, and Ben in the background)


The nearly completed car–only lacking the decals on the side!

We’re all excited to see the car run this Saturday! We have two or three employees who are small enough that they can fit into the shell and drive the car, and at least one who can’t fit:


(Ryan trying to fit into the car shell before it was painted)

I’ll post photos after the race next week.


Groundhog Day Brings Another Birthday

If birthdays have to come around every year, at least they should be a lot of fun.  This year my birthday did seem to get here even more quickly than ever, but Michael and many others made sure that it was definitely fun.

I started the day with some pickleball.  Pickleball has been getting REALLY fun on some of the days I play.  Birthday pickleball this year was fun, but not REALLY fun – some of my tennis friends wanted to learn so Marie and I took them for a teaching day.  Teaching days are fun, but I guess I prefer the days I am being taught (but hopefully not schooled!).

I hurried home to meet my friend Lori who bakes me something new and lemony every year.  This year it was Lemon Streusal Cake.  YUM!

My friends Marie and Tina took me to lunch and we had such a nice time sitting around visiting for long enough that even though we were at Wendy’s, someone came around and bused our table!

I met up with my old Stake Young Womens presidency for treats after that – but I just stayed for a half hour until Michael picked me up and took me on ANOTHER birthday celebration.

We drove to Salt Lake City and checked into one of our favorite downtown hotels just in time to change clothes, find somewhere to eat (Thai), then walked over to Abravanel Hall to see the Utah Symphony play.  They played Mozart and Hayden with a guest pianist from Amsterdam, Ronald Brautigam who played Mozart’s Jeunehomme Concerto.  We were sitting very close to the piano and had a great look at all that he was playing.  WOW!  I did get a bit distracted with all of his “choreography” which was at times a bit over the top.

We really enjoyed the concert, as well as the pre-concert discussion that helped us to know what it was we were listening to, plus learn a bit about the pianist who was also there at the introduction and gave a short interview.

On the way back to our hotel we “happened” past a super fun dessert shop and decided that since it was my birthday we should try it out.  It was one of those places with cleverly named $10 desserts, and it was super fun.  We went all out and ordered the lemon stack (layers of lemon and thin crepes, with white chocolate sauce and fresh berries) and the Glamping S’mores which were quite glam!  We ate about half of each and about killed ourselves but it was tons of fun and we took the rest home for later. (Didn’t learn our lesson, I suppose.)

Saturday morning we got up and went for a walk around downtown and up and around the State Capitol building.  It was actually a very beautiful morning for early February and we really enjoyed ourselves.

Not ready to be done with our adventure, we went back and got ready for the day, checked out of the hotel, and headed to the Winter Farmers Market.  We had a blast tasting samples and buying lots of fun things from local artisans – probably mostly fancy chocolate.  We did balance it out with some really great looking baby arugula that we took home and ate for dinner.

Before calling it quits for the birthday party we met up with Matthew, Becky, Esther and Sylvia for lunch.  What a wonderful celebration.

I also got to see or talk to each of my wonderful kids, and heard from lots of friends and family so it was a pretty great birthday.  So much fun helps keep my mind off the number of birthdays I have now celebrated!

Thanks, Everybody!!!!

We visit the arctic tundra of Ann Arbor

Sherrie and I have been slackers in writing our doings, or doing our writings. We apologize for the hiatus, and hope (promise?) to do better!

All of a sudden we are all the way through fall and halfway through winter.  We had a super nice fall in Brigham City that lasted much longer usual and we really enjoyed the great weather with lots of hiking, biking and the like. Now that winter is here, though, the skier/snowboarder within us is desperately seeking snow! We haven’t got much yet, but we had one day with Mike Macedonia and his daughter Daphne a couple weeks ago. It was our first trip to Snowbasin, and we quite liked it, even though the snow was thin and we wished we had trashy skis for the conditions.

As we write this, Sherrie is in Ann Arbor, and Michael is back home in Brigham City. Through the miracle of Google Docs, we are collaborating on this entry in real time. We went to Ann Arbor a little over a week ago, and Michael came back home on last Saturday. Little Phoebe May was born six weeks ago, and we hadn’t seen her yet!

We (had?) (are having?) a wonderful time in Ann Arbor. Sherrie and I got to walk Silas to and from school each day, and meet his teachers and see what his school is all about. It’s a fun school and Silas seems to like it a lot. In face, he likes it almost as much as playing in the snow piles on the way to school (which is quite a lot!).

Ann Arbor was hit with the arctic blast like much of the midwest and east coast, so we had some cold days last week. It warmed up for a few days then got cold again when Michael left. Meanwhile, Utah is warm (highs in the low 40s) and sunny. But it appears that Sherrie is bringing a major storm home to Utah with her this weekend.

Our purpose in going to Ann Arbor was to meet Phoebe and also to help Jared and Rachel as they adjust to being four instead of three.


(Rachel and Phoebe. Phoebe is so cute!)

We got to do chores, take Silas to school, walk with Phoebe, and take the whole family out to run errands in our rental car.


(Grandpa reading to Silas)


(Rachel and Silas in some task)


(Jared and Silas making “egg nuggets”)

It’s been fun for Michael and Sherrie to see Ann Arbor again after being away for so long. Lots of old memories, and we even saw some people at church that we hadn’t seen in almost thirty years!

We made a trip to Frankfort (near Traverse City) to see Michael’s stepmom Jan.


(The arctic tundra of the road to Frankfort)

Our visit was too short! Jan made a lovely dinner of salmon, salad, potatoes, and dessert, and we had a lot of fun catching up. On the drive, we had a good time taking turns reading from “A Wrinkle in Time.” Michael had never read it before, and it’s been a while for Sherrie. We are reading it in preparation for the release of the movie this summer.

We got together with Michael’s sister Wendy and her son Dylan one night. Kevin is teaching in Arizona, and Wendy and Dylan are looking forward to moving out there this summer when Dylan finishes high school. It was fun to be with them and we appreciated their willingness to make the trek to Ann Arbor from Waterford on a snowy night.

On Saturday, we had a fun trip to the Hands-on museum in Ann Arbor. It was fun and a bit tiring following Silas as he ran from exhibit to exhibit. It’s an amazing place with lots of cool things, and occupied Silas full attention for a couple of hours.


(Silas in the “ball room”)

Today, Sherrie and the rest got to visit the Bell Tower on Central Campus for a concert in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Silas even got to try his hands on the bells:


Photo challenge: Layered

This week’s photo challenge is “Layered.” I immediately thought of this photo I took in Snow Canyon on our hike this week:


Snow Canyon is famous for “petrified sand dunes.” They are sort of like slick rock in Moab, but sort of not. The look like they could blow away at a moment’s notice, but they are as stout and firm as any rock you’ll see. The patterns in the rock are mesmerizing.