Monday, November 28, 2016

Zion National Park trip

In October, I went with four friends to Zion National Park for five days away.  I had always wanted to go to Zion and jumped at the chance when my friend Elissa asked me if I would be interested. We planned it together and knew that our friend Sarah would come, but weren't sure if anyone else would join us. We got two more friends to join (one of them was Elissa's cousin) and so that made for five. A great number for the trip. 

We flew into Las Vegas and then drove to Utah. On the way there, we stopped at The Valley of Fire, a state park in Nevada which came recommended by a friendly Nevadan we met outside an iHop. It basically on our way and it was awesome.

The park is named for all of the red sandstone formations. Above- Sarah, Becca, Britta, Elissa and me on a hike.

The park is known for petroglyphs. We stayed for a few hours and then kept going to Utah.

We continued on and made it to Springdale, UT where we stayed in a hotel for a night and this was our view from the porch. 

Since we didn't plan this trip a year in advance, we read that we would have to stand in line to get a campsite in the park. So while Becca and I slept in and took a leisurely walk by these enormous grasses, the other three poor souls waited in line starting at 6am until about 11:30. For the record, they volunteered.
All that waiting paid off-- we got an amazing site.

We got started midafternoon and the lines for the shuttles were really long. We then learned that all Utah public schools were off for a long weekend. So we vowed to wake up early the next morning and get on the trails ahead of most people. 

After we got through the shuttle lines, we hiked to Emerald Pools and did one more hike before heading back to the campsite for the night. 

The next morning we were up early and ready for the hike we had been looking forward to the most, Angel's Landing, which ended up being one of the most terrifying experiences of my life. If I had read the sign above thoroughly, I would have learned that 6 people have died on this hike since 2004. Granted they were probably doing headstand selfies, but there was still some risk involved for experienced, alert hikers.
The hike is 1 mile round trip and took about an hour total. Almost the entire time we were holding onto these chains on the side of the mountain for dear life. I can see why we were advised to go early because the more people there are the longer you have to wait for people to slither past you on the chains, so it can take a while. 

Sarah stayed back, but the rest of us made it safely to the top.

Beautiful, but wouldn't be a pleasant trip down if you had a misstep and weren't holding on to the chains.

It is hard to describe, or even show in pictures, the beauty of this park.

On the shuttle we met this fellow, Rob, and after Angel's landing we hiked with him in the afternoon. He was traveling the US for 3 months and originally from England. We hiked for a few hours and then paired ways as we went back to our site to make some dinner.

The next morning we hiked The Narrows, which is a spectacular gorge in the Virgin River. Sixty percent of the hike was in the water so we rented special boots and neoprene booties and I also rented waterproof pants. It got very cold in the water and with the wind, even more frigid. The hike is 16 miles long total, but I would say maybe we did 6-8 miles of it total. I think all of us enjoyed this hike the most.

Sandstone formations on the walls of the canyon. 

While hiking, I slipped on a wet rock and fell right on my left thumb. I went to the doctor when I got home and it was injured, but not broken. It still hurts although I have been resting it as much as I can and also not knitting. 

A little lunch on a rock. 

In the afternoon we ventured outside of the most popular area of the park where we had been and drove about 40 minutes to the area of the park known as the Kolob Canyon. The landscape felt completely different even though there were still the same types of mountains everywhere. 

It felt like fall with deciduous trees changing colors. 

After passing over a creek about 250 times we finally arrived and what is called the Kolob Arch. It was kind of a giant amphitheater. Here's a shot from the top of it that Elissa took and you can see the rest of us as tiny specks below. We finished the hike as it was dusk and had hiked a total of about 15 miles on our last day here. A great way to end the trip, even if it was exhausting. We treated ourselves by going out to eat in town for our last dinner of the trip. We also went back to the hotel hot tub, which was an amazing perk!

Sunday we bid farewell to Zion, a park we have come to love and appreciate for its beauty and natural wonders. It was my first real trip away alone from my family and I missed them, but also really enjoyed my time away with friends. We had a wonderful time together and all seemed to be on the same page about how much we wanted to hike and what we wanted to do. Everyone was very agreeable and up for anything. In fact, we loved it so much that we would like to go on a trip like this each year together to a new national park. Looking forward to the next adventure.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

October update

October seems like forever ago, but here goes. We went to the arboretum for their fall festival. We first stopped by the Apple House and learned from an employee that we could just go out in the orchards and eat whatever we wanted and it was open to the public, so we did. It was a real treat.

They have these insect sculptures everywhere around in the gardens, loved the scale.

 Steve got a break and went to visit with friends in Milwaukee and then went to a Packer game.

The yarn bus project launched in October. A coworker who does social media made this happen and I helped in a few ways. I got her connected with the Knitting Guild (who did a bunch of machine knitting for the project), knit a flower and leaf, designed a poster that I forgot to take a picture of and also helped sew some items on the bus. The bus will run for 2 months and it has brought a lot of joy to people.

My mom and I went to my cousin Karina's Prince Fashion Show. She didn't win, but it was a nice event and she appreciated our support in attending.

The next day the winners were displayed at the Institute of Art and Harriet and I went for Family day so we checked it out. 

Steve volunteered at Harriet's school carnival and made cotton candy all night. A sticky job!

I took a trip with friends to Zion National Park, more on that in another post. 

Steve and I went to a halloween party as Bob Ross and Blossom (not a group costume). 

Halloween costumes. Harriet wanted to be a rainbow, which I made out of cardboard and then did a sandwich board type thing with it. Eloise wanted to be a pink puppy, which I made with some felt and a hot glue gun to clothes she already had.
We went out with school/neighborhood friends and had a great time. We ran into people we knew along the way and the group kept growing! Lots of fun.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

September update

September seems like forever ago, but here is a recap. Above we went to the State Fair and had a great time and meet up with Adam and Ari.

We celebrated Eloise's 3rd birthday at Lake Harriet with family.

Eloise loving her birthday presents.

We went to the Monarch Festival at Lake Nokomis and Eloise and I got in the Star Tribune (see below).
We went to the 9/11 concert at Lake Harriet.

Family day at the Art Institute. Abstract art day!

Harriet and I collaborated on this artwork. I framed it and hung it up in our house. I love how it turned out.

Steve and I (with the help from our Lyndale parent friends Abby and Aaron) made this replica of Lyndale School for Nicollet Open Streets out of cardboard. It was a big hit.

Prink hair for Eloise at Open Streets.

Party in the Prairie with Harriet's friend Clara and her family. In the background Gaelynn Lea, NPR Tiny Desk winner, performing.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Monarch report

This year was a slow start with the monarchs. Apparently there was an ice storm when they were migrating back from Mexico and about 75% died. By the end of the summer though, it ramped up and we hatched 43 total. A few died after hatching due to misshapen wings, but we'll get to that. 

Can you spot this newly hatched caterpillar?

Harriet loved walking around the house and outside with them on her arms and hands.

A couple escaped and formed their chrysalises in odd places.

Here is an example of one about to hatch and a newly formed on.

Eloise smashed (but didn't destroy) a couple of chrysalises and I wondered what would happen. Mystery solved. A few of them died pretty quickly after hatched because they were unable to fly.

This poor thing wasn't able to properly dry its wings and thus, they didn't enlarge. This one was a goner.

By the end of August we just had tons of chrysalises.

One emerging.

We had the idea to bring them to Harriet's classroom, but the fish aquarium we were keeping everything in was too heavy/bulky to walk over there. So we looked up how to remove them and relocate them. You have to take a pin and detach them from the surface they are stuck on and then tie a knot with dental floss.

Then we hung them in this bee cage and it made it much easier to transport. The kids in her class just loved having them and watching them hatch.

It was a successful year of monarch raising, in my mind. It took up a lot of our time finding eggs and raising them, but the girls really enjoyed it, especially Eloise. Next year we will hope to do more than 43!