Wednesday, January 28, 2015

An Enormous Cement Arrow Worth Checking Out

A year ago I read THIS article about a few enormous cement arrows high up on plateaus. Back in the 1920's before sophisticated radar, pilots used these arrows to guide their planes to Salt Lake City from Los Angeles. Only three of these arrows still exist.

Ever since I read the article I have wanted to go find one of the arrows. Well.....last week it happened. We found the arrow high up on a ridge overlooking Quail Creek State Park.

We got a picture of me standing on the arrow to give some perspective on how big it is:

The actual trail to the arrow is fairly short, probably only a mile but it is fairly steep and rocky. For you southern Utah peeps that want to check it out, drive out past the Walmart Distribution Center in Hurricane and keep driving until you reach the end of the road. You'll see a big building that says "Crocker Ventures Park". Park on the road there and look toward the hill on your right. You'll see a trail leading up the hill that will take you right to the arrow. (HERE is a Google Maps overview.)

Jackson was the only one who wanted to come with me. We had a ton of fun hanging out on the top of the ridge checking out the views, watching an incredible sunset, and jumping.

While up there we were treated to this absolutely stunning sunset over Quail Creek. I took a ton of pictures and every time I looked at my camera screen I couldn't help but say "Wow!"

This was an awesome little hike. I'd definitely recommend checking it out. Don't forget to take a jumping picture while you're up there!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Trails More Beautiful Than Burt Reynold's Moustache

So many things are beautiful. Cheesecake is beautiful. Afternoon naps are beautiful. Burt Reynolds' moustache is beautiful. Growing up, Winnie from the TV show The Wonder Years was beautiful. In high school anatomy class we had to dissect a cat......which WAS NOT beautiful. Gooseberry Mesa in southern Utah is beautiful.

I don't think Mel and I have ever spent a whole day together on the trails. Between work schedules, family schedules, and life it's hard to get times to match up. Well, last week we had that rare opportunity. I wanted to take her to Gooseberry Mesa, home of the most beautiful trails I've ever run. We were treated to this spectacular sunrise as we headed to the trail.

Gooseberry is one of the most challenging areas I've run. Many of the trails are technical, and the majority of the miles are on rolling, twisting slick rock that puts your legs through a cheese grater. The trail heads have signs warning of "Extreme Difficulty".

The trails lead you over, under, and through cool rock formations like this.

One of the areas we visited was the South Rim. I was so excited for Mel to get her first glimpse of the edge of the cliff. The views there are ridiculously incredible.

It was pretty chilly on top of the mesa so we had to keep a steady pace to keep from turning into ice cream. (This is a legitimate risk for me. My blood stream is 80% Ben & Jerry's. If I get too cold I may turn into Cherry Garcia.)

We reached my absolute favorite section of the entire mesa. The views: Beautiful. The girl: Beautiful.

Would you like to know something else that is beautiful? These trails, these views, this awesomeness is all part of the Zion 100 race. If scenery like this doesn't tempt you, you are an emotionless cyborg that probably enjoys cauliflower and Celine Dion music. (A cyborg that enjoys Celine and cauliflower is the worst thing I could ever imagine.)

This area is called The Point. Mel suggested that this would be an awesome location for a jumping picture. I wasn't about to disagree.

This would have been an optimal place for me to "slip" if she were interested in collecting life insurance money.

It was a wonderfully beautiful day on some amazingly beautiful trails with a beautiful wife. Nobody turned into ice cream, nobody collected on life insurance, and nobody enjoyed Celine Dion music. Win.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Southern Utah: Home of the Most Amazing Views In The World

I haven't been running much lately. I figure after lots of running over the past year I'll take it easy for a month or so and not push the running so hard. BUT I've still been getting my feet dirty on lots of trails. Here are some of the really cool places I've been over the last few weeks:

This little gem in St. George Utah is a blast to hang out at and explore. Usually when we're here it's with the kids but this time I went alone.

There are lots of places at Snow Canyon that I've yet to explore. We took the kids there on a Sunday afternoon and checked out the Petrified Dunes trail.

For the first time we visited this cool overlook where we could see most of the canyon stretching out below us.

This trail still gives me a little bit of PTST from when it was part of the course of the Zion 100 the first year. It is a more technical trail but has some pretty cool views. I took Jackson and Aunt Jackie for their first time on the rim. This is one of the very few smooth sections.

Aunt Jackie LOVES, I mean LOVES to go out on runs. Any time he sees me putting on my running shoes he acts like I'm about to feed him a plate of meatloaf.

Jackson + Aunt Jackie:

This mesa is absolutely enormous. It's a spiderweb maze of trails. I followed a long dirt road that had the added benefit of views like this:

For years I've been trying to find an overlook on the edge of the mesa and finally found it! It was completely spectacular.

And finally what may be one of my favorite jumping pictures ever. It was taken from a distance so it looks way scarier than it actually was. You should have seen the 10 second dash that was involved to get this picture after pushing the self-timer to take the picture!

The crazy thing is that the views in all these places are completely amazing.......and there are 10,000 more completely amazing places like this in southern Utah. All of us photographers around here are cheaters. With scenery like this it's impossible to take a bad picture. Utah: home of the most amazing views in the world!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Elton John Is My New BFF and I Could Have Gone To Jail

Elton John is my new BFF. (And by "BFF" I mean that we hung out. And by "we hung out" I mean that we were in the same room together. "And by "in the same room together" I mean that I sat on the last row at his concert Friday night.)

On Christmas morning my son told me that my present was downstairs. We went down and then he sat at the piano. He played the most beautiful versions of three Elton John songs I had ever heard. Apparently he had been practicing the songs when I wasn't home so that they would be a surprise on Christmas. I started clapping when the songs were done.

Then he stood up and said "Dad, that's only half of the present."

He walked over to a drawer and pulled out two tickets to an Elton John concert coming up in January. He had saved his money for months to buy a ticket for me and him to go to the show. Wow!!

So over the weekend we drove to Las Vegas to see Elton John at his Million Dollar Piano concert.

Before the show we checked out the gift shop at Caesar's Palace and found a shirt that I would be happy to wear the day after never.

I took a picture of all the people sitting behind us. I counted exactly zero other people. I thought it was so awesome that Jackson had just enough money for tickets on the very back row. We were both so excited.

The concert was basically awesome. The incredible talent that guy has playing the piano gave me goose bumps.

And here's where the story gets interesting.

Jackson also saved up enough money to get a $40 hotel room in Vegas to stay after the concert. We discovered that $40 in Vegas will buy you a seriously ghetto room at Days Inn which is connected to a seriously ghetto casino.

Just pulling into the parking lot leaves people contracted with chlamydia, emphysema, and stolen wallets. I was concerned that I would inadvertently be part of a drug deal just by walking to hotel registration.

And the hotel room?

Super classy! If you hop in a time machine and travel back to 1974. Fingers crossed that we don't have lice.

But staying in a hotel room where you risk facing criminal charges for drug trafficking and you take the chance of contracting a host of communicable diseases is a small price to pay for being best friends with Elton John. Thanks for the Christmas present Jackson!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

My 2015 Race Plans

I am obscenely excited for two things:

1) Ben & Jerry's came out with a new ice cream flavor called Hazed & Confused. I would like to bear witness that this ice cream has been made by angles and delivered directly to Mother Earth from heaven.

2) My 2015 race schedule. Here is what I have on tap for the coming year:

February 14th - Jackpot Ultra Running Festival 100 Miler
I ran this race last year and it was my first experience running a short loop course. It's a 2-mile loop through a conservation area in Las Vegas. A loop course forces you to stay focused, and though it's a bit easier physically, it provides a completely different mental challenge. I got my 100 mile PR of 22 hours and 24 minutes last year.

March 13th - Monument Valley 50 Miler
Monument Valley is the only Ultra Adventures race I haven't done yet. I've been to Monument Valley a few times and it is easily one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen. I CAN NOT wait to run here. Check out this picture of my friend Lisa Henson at last year's race. Wow!

April 10th - Zion 100
I'm proud to be among the few runners who have done the Zion 100 every year of it's existence. I'm so fortunate to live only a few minutes away from the course and do almost all my running here. I think I'd have to say that the Zion 100 is my all time favorite race. (HERE is last year's report.)

May 16th - Grand Canyon 50
I ran the Grand Canyon 100 last year and loved it. I'm tentatively thinking to go for the 50 miler but we'll see. This race has a great variety of scenery, everything from those enormous canyon overlooks to forest trails:

June 6th - Bryce 50
A few years ago I attempted to tackle the Bryce 100 miler.....and earned myself a DNF. It's a difficult race but the scenery is absolutely indescribable. I may switch to the 100 depending on how I'm feeling.

August 1st - Tushars Marathon
This will be the innagural race and it sounds like the marathon distance will be as hard as a 50 miler. It sounds crazy difficult and crazy beautiful.

September 11th - Wasatch 100
I put in for the Wasatch 100 lottery. This is one race that I'm praying I get into and I'm praying I don't get into. Here is a picture from the Wasatch 100 website:

December 2014 - Across The Years
I had such an amazing experience running 205 miles at the 72 hour race a few weeks ago. I want to train specifically for this race and see how many miles I can get in. I'm considering either the 72 hour race or the 6 day race. I've got plenty of time to decide.

There will probably be a few others thrown in along the way but these will be the highlights. Anything here sound interesting? I'd love to share the trail with you at some of these races! What races on your 2015 calendar have you most excited?