Monday, July 21, 2014

A Change in Elevation...

In my ongoing quest to visit all of the National Parks and to escape the heat that has hit Salt Lake, I recently took off to Great Basin National Park in Nevada.

First, a little information about the park, it was made into a National Park in 1986.  It is one of the younger ones, and it distresses me a bit to know that I am older than a National Park.  The kicker, there are younger ones........

Lehman Cave, a major feature of the park, has been a National Monument since the 1930's and got the upgrade into the National Park category.  The park is one of the least visited of the park system and it is understandable due to its location.  To access the park, you drive at least part of the Loneliest Road in America, the section of Highway 50 from Ely, Nevada and Delta, Utah.  The closest town to the park is Baker, Nevada and it is a blink and you'll miss it kind of town...

Now, onto the fun stuff, this was a camping trip!  Vault toilets, no sinks, tent camping and bliss.....
We stayed at the Upper Lehman Campground, campsite #10, and my only beef with it was the fact they do not accept reservations, so it is first come, first serve.  Arrive early and get your campsite first, because every night, the campground filled up.  Exploring the park, I found a campground, that if you don't mind be at 9800 ft elevation, would be stunning--Wheeler Campground.  Just an idea....
Upper Lehman Campground is at 7500 ft and the difference in elevation made a difference to some.


A visitor to our campsite.
We had marmots, chipmunks, squirrels, and 2 mule deer in our site.  The rodent contingent was brazen and is now armed due to a theft from our supplies.....they stole a KNIFE!!!  A knife!  I was flabbergasted!

it should also include a theft warning.....
There are a lot of hikes to do in the park, and we chose the Alpine Lakes Loop Trail and ended up hooking up with the Bristlecone Grove Trail for a 6 mile or so adventure for our main hiking adventure.  Just a note about the hikes, most trailheads are near 9800 ft. elevation, so take that into your planning, as the elevation can cause some trouble.  Our hike ended up at almost 11000 ft, with the last .7 mile a doozy on loose rocks.  Take breaks and go slow and you'll make it.

The Pinnacle of our hike, an ancient Bristlecone Pine in the grove

A wildflower near Lake Teresa
High Turkeys....I've never seen them at 10000 ft.

Wheeler Peak, the 2nd highest peak in Nevada
Another point of interest in Great Basin National Park is Lehman Cave.  As I stated above, it was a National Monument before being included in the Park.  There are tours, either 60 or 90 minutes, that sell out, especially during the summer months, so make a reservation at least a couple of days in advance.  I made Friday reservations on Wednesday and got the tour I wanted, the 90 minute Grand Palace tour.  The Rangers are well informed and very entertaining, but also allow you time just to explore in silence.
as you enter...
You do not have to take an elevator down into the cave, just a tunnel, that makes the cave very accessible.  There is a concrete walkway thru out the cave that was made by hauling the supplies in by 5 gallon buckets (can you imagine????).  They have lights on timers so it is illuminated, but not so bright that you lose the adventure of being in the cave.
see that light in the distance?  it's the original entrance
Back in the day, before the trails and the tunnel, you would have to drop 30 vertical feet to access the cave.  It was found by Absalom Lehman in approximately 1886, and if you were brave enough, for a dollar (quite expensive back in the day), you were given a candle and permission to access the cave.  If you were not back out in 24 hours, he would come and search for you.  During our tour, they turned off the lights and lit the candle in the replica of the candle holder....it gave off a pretty good light, but it was very focused.  Then they blew out the candle and we were left in total darkness--I actually hit my nose with my hand while trying to see it.  Can you imagine, you are in a cave with no trails exploring with only a candle and you trip over something your candle did not illuminate and your candle now falls and goes out.  You are not going to find that candle....  Now you wait, 24 HOURS, for help in a darkness that you can not see your hand 2 inches in front of your eyes.  I don't mind being in a cave with lighting and the exploration already done, but that would FREAK ME OUT!!
Before regulations, a movie was actually filmed at the point of the cave

Another amazing formation in the cave

The drive from Salt Lake was not too long and including part of the Loneliest Road in America.
a stretch of Highway 50
 It was a Great adventure in Great Basin National Park!!!

My list of parks now visited is growing, and I have loved all of them, and if it was not for the fact that my list remains incomplete, I would go back to each and every one of them.......

No longer smelling of Campfire Smoke after a Long Shower,
Melissa

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Lessons Learned and other Weird Items

This bathroom remodel of mine has turned into a blogging goldmine.  Who knew?
With the previous posts of this, and this, and finally this..., it has kept my blog flowing.

This post is a list of all of the weird things and thoughts that have occurred to me during this adventure.

1.  At some point, I have had paint brushes and rollers wrapped in plastic wrap in my fridge.  FYI, it is a great way to keep your paint from drying while waiting for your coat to dry or you are done for the day.

2.  I designated an older t-shirt and yoga pants as my remodel outfit.  They have specks of paint on them and a little streak on the shoulder......Really?  If I had done something for just a second in a nice shirt, you know darn well that it would of been covered in paint, but because I didn't care, clean as a whistle.

3.  I really, really, really missed my bathroom door while it was off it hinges.

4.  My dogs would not go under the blanket I had hung in lieu of a door but will push a half closed door open to visit you in the bathroom.

5.  The painting area of my local Home Depot now asks me what the idiots have done now whenever I am in there.....

6.  It turns out I am a really clean painter.  All of the preventative covering had only a few drops of paint on them.

7.  Prep work really is the devil.  Forget the idea of flames and burning for Hell...it is prep work.

8.  Put some quick to heat dinners in the freezer ahead of time.  I can not tell you how many days at 8:30 pm, I realized that not only had I not started to prepare dinner, I did not even have an idea what to cook.

9.  Be prepared for sore muscles.  You are going to use your body in weird ways.  Even if you workout, you are going to do something that is out of the ordinary that leaves you sore.

10.  Have a plan on how long the project is going to take, but if you are like me and fitting this in on the weekend and after or before work, be flexible and do not freak out if it takes longer.

11.  During the wallpaper take down, I got ridiculously excited when a piece about 2 inches by 8 inches came off at once....both layers.  (I need help..)

12.  If you live in the Salt Lake area and need a mirror or glass cut, Sugarhouse Glass on 21st South will cut it for you for $5 per cut.  WAY cheaper than any other place I called.

13.  I ended up with the door off the hinges longer than I intended due to the fact that it was easier to work in the relatively small space and I got better ventilation with it off.  Shy people need not visit during remodeling......

14.  Whatever your budget, add $50 to it.  I forgot to add in new towel racks and such..  Give yourself a cushion.

15.  I have gotten absurdly good at applying spackling.

16.  Painting a ceiling is not fun....get the extension rod and still be prepared for a sore neck.

17.  When painting a ceiling, even with my extension rod, apparently the only way I can get an even coverage is backwards behind my head.  Backbends R Us...

18.  I know I am being a tease, but photos are coming....

19.  There has been an unexpected surprise that has ended the project before I thought it would.

Finally cleaning up...
Melissa


Saturday, June 7, 2014

One Size Fits All?

If you have been following this blog, you know that I have been leaning off the edge of the health and fitness wagon and am working on getting back in the saddle.  One of the benefits of getting a little older is that you know your body a bit better, so you hopefully know what works for you....

For me,
Diet Cokes have to be gone.  When I drink them, my lower abdomen gets immediately puffy.  When I eliminate them from my diet, it goes away.  I have noticed this time on Diet Cokes, the sugar rush and resulting crash.  The puffiness, alone is worth getting off Diet Coke, but the rush/crash cycle is what has me motivated to get off them this time.  I think my body is realizing this is (FINGERS CROSSED) the last time Diet Cokes are around, so it is RESISTING big time.  I will make it, but it is taking some time.

Next for me, the more natural and less processed the better.  I have found that I can even have desserts in moderation, if they are homemade.  My body does not react well to the preservatives and chemicals.

And finally for me, movement....  A mixture of high and low impact cardio and yoga seems to work the best.

Now, you will notice that at the beginning I said for me...
there is a reason behind this.

My friends and I have been having conversations about diet and exercise lately and we have noticed a common theme,
One size (or diet or exercise plan) does not fit all...

but there are a few common ideas that do.  We call them the 4 M's.

1. Moderation.  No matter what you eat moderation is the key.

2. Movement.  Find what works for you and have some fun.

3. Mindfulness.  Be aware of your diet, movement and your thoughts.

4. Mind your Own Business.  What works wonders for you may be a nightmare for someone else.  For example, a vegan diet is a nightmare for me, due to the fact that a lot of the protein sources come from nuts and I have a massive issue with most nuts. (They trigger massive Migraine headaches)  However, if it works for you, I am happy and pleased for you.  Please do not judge or condemn a person for the diet and workout regiment they have chosen.  This also applies for exercise--Running is a favorite of mine for cardio and I toned up and got in shape faster with it than with any other exercise program.  One of my good friends would rather face her worst nightmare than go for a run, and that's fine by me.....

Notice that the Mind Your Own Business is the one with the most info on it.  My friends and I got into an almost fight before we realized this one was the most important one.  Losing weight is hard enough as it is and if a person has recognized that they need to lose weight, and trust me on this one, they know they are not looking their best, so any condemnation or criticism is going to hit deep and hard.  If they ask for help that is one thing and even then, be kind.  But for the most part, just encourage and celebrate their new choices and changes in their life.

I saw a quote the other day that sums up how I am approaching life lately...

Be firm on your goals,
But flexible on how you get there.

Making progress,
Melissa

Monday, May 26, 2014

Moving Forward....

I thought I would give an update on how we are doing around here....

We are ok.

Humphrey's death clobbered me and I am still grieving.  I do not think that I have been hit as hard by a dog's death as I have been by his.  He was my boy.....  I think the trust that he gave me and the patience I learned from him were such life lessons that he went deeper into my heart.  I have had a bit of the blahs and have fallen back onto the Diet Coke crutch, which is something I will be working on (avoiding emotional eating and Diet Coke consumption), but I can only handle so much at once.   Going to Georgia for almost a week really helped, but I will still tear up at certain times of the day or when the silence gets to me.  It turns out he was a fairly noisy dog.  Snorting, sighing, barking to get your attention, and the such which kept the noise and energy level fairy high around here for a basset hound's house anyway.

Bacall is a much quieter dog.  I never knew how quiet until now.  It's been interesting to figure out how to interact with her without trying to replicate the things I used to do with Humphrey.  I have never had one on one time with her, Humphrey was always in the background.  She will sigh or give the basset hound equivalent of an eye roll when I do something that is not her style.  Adding to her grief, and she is grieving, while she was at boarding, she managed to get an infection on the skin on her neck and has been one sick little camper the past week.  She is on a steroid, antibiotics, and a cream to help fight the infection.  Since the early part of May, she has lost 6 pounds.  Fortunately her appetite is starting to come back and I am seeing glimpses of her sunny personality.

Once Bacall is feeling better, I will be adding another dog to the mix.  Not a puppy and probably not a Basset, but I don't get to decide, Bacall will.......

I've decided to deal with myself with a bit of grace with everything that has happened lately and not beat myself with those negative comments that pop into my head.  I have not exercised with regularity and  the Diet Coke issue, so I have gained a couple of pounds... grrrr.  I am now recognizing it and getting back on the wagon, so maybe that is the lesson of all of this.

Just keep moving forward.
And forgive yourself if you just need to stand still for a bit to catch your breath....

Healing,
Melissa





Thursday, May 8, 2014

Goodbye, My Sweet Prince.

my boy....

Humphrey lived in a house full of women,
and often was teased for it.  I would ask him if he wanted his nails done and he would just sigh....

I would leave the tv on for him on sports when I left the house just to get some manly energy in his life.

We are now a house of only women.

Humphrey is no longer with us.

On Wednesday evening, he was hanging out in the front room with me when he suddenly ran out of the room.  I could see him when he stopped.  He looked scared, then it happened.  A bigger event, whatever it was, that had him scurrying back to me.  The only problem, his back legs no longer worked.  He was dragging them.  I got to the floor next to him and his fur was still standing up near his tail and his upper body was just quivering.  His back legs had no movement at all....  It was like he had been shocked by a massive electrical bolt.  I've been describing it to people like this, Humphrey had a 'Spinal Seizure.'

I sat with him just petting and comforting him for about 15 minutes to see what would happen, per experience from his seizure this past fall, but in my mind, I think I knew immediately that this was different, but my heart did not want to believe what I was seeing. He did not improve.  The quivering did not end and you could see pain beginning to creep into his eyes.  A call to the vet occurred next, but guess what?  My normal vet was closed.  It was 7pm.  Emergency Vet time......

It was time to go, even if I really did not want to, but I knew I needed to....
My amazing neighbor helped me get Humphrey into the car.  80 plus pounds of Humphrey was never easy to move, but this time H could not help me at all and there was no way I could of done it alone.  It was a gesture of compassion and kindness and I will be forever grateful.  My mom and Bacall joined me on the drive to the Vet.

I knew before I left the house that Humphrey would not be coming back.....  It is the hardest, yet the most important, part of having pets in your life.  This moment of compassion.  Of letting go...

You see, dogs have hearts that will not give up on you.  If they have a choice, they will stay with you. They will suffer pain as long as you still love them.  They will not give up.

The vet, whom I had never met, came in and agreed that there was no coming back from whatever had happened and the compassionate and right thing to do was to end his suffering.

I had one last responsibility in the gift of having Humphrey in my life....I had to let him go.

He died peacefully in my arms...
with Bacall near by.

We are now dealing with the silence of his missing presence.

Bye Boo....

In Mourning....
Melissa

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

I got in a fight with a mouse....

Yes, you read that correctly....

I got in a fight with a mouse, and I lost.

Let me set the scene for you and maybe it will help stop the laughter.

3 am.
My bedroom.

I needed to go to the bathroom, so I left bed and headed to the bathroom.  I know the path so well that I did not turn on the lights.  

BIG MISTAKE.  HUGE.  (bonus points, name the movie)

I reached the end of my bed when I stepped on something furry and mushy.  The furry and mushy item did not react well to my foot and tried to squirm its way out from under my foot.  Needless to say, my reaction was to yelp and go vertical.

This is where the real fun began.

I went vertical and a little to the left and landed on my bed.

Upon landing on my bed, due to the velocity in which I hit the bed, I bounced.

I bounced up and right off the bed to the floor.

With a thud.

Scraping my left elbow, bruising my entire torso, and knocking the breath out of me.

I now hurt.
A lot.

And even worse, I think my cat played a role in this, because when I made it back to my room with the lights on...Meeko was there with her whiskers in play mode and meowed at me like I had ruined her fun.

It's ok,
you can laugh at the fact I got in a fight with a mouse
and lost.

Setting traps....
Melissa

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Unexpected Gifts.

Alternate title--Phase 2 of the Remodel


I was more than a little terrified when I started phase 2.  The were two major parts in this phase-taking down a 3 foot by 6 foot mirror and removing wallpaper and then the  minor parts of changing the light fixture and painting the walls.  After the cork adventure, I really did not know what to expect

This is what I found....
only nail holes and no wallpaper under the mirror!  IT'S A MIRACLE!
First of all the mirror is old school....thick and heavy and of an amazing quality.  :)

Second, they did not wallpaper under the mirror.  For once, not doing a complete job is going in my favor.  It cut the amount of wallpaper I needed to take off by over half!!!!!

Third, thanks to Pinterest (I know, I know) I found a wallpaper removal mixture that in a little over a hour and a half had the majority of both layers of the wall paper off!  It had water, vinegar and fabric softener in it, so my bathroom smells April fresh right now.

Fourth,  except for the holes for the that held the heavy duty mounts for the mirror, a couple of other nail holes and a little gap around the light box, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the wall!!!

Fifth, with the help of a master electrician that I know, I learned how to change light fixtures.  Not that scary and not that hard.

Sixth, if you live in the Sugarhouse area and need a mirror cut, Sugarhouse Glass is wonderful!  $5 per cut.  Custom mirror without the cost.

And finally, after a bad day and a regrouping of my sanity, my wounded wall is healed and looking good.  WAHOOOOOOOO!!!!

Unexpected Gifts that were sooooooo very welcome.

And got this project back on track.

Seeing the light at the end of the tunnel....
Melissa