Burnzz Blog

a running commentary

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Las Vegas, New Year’s Eve, and a Jazz game

At the end of December we drove down to Las Vegas. Although we’ve been there before, it was the first time on New Year’s Eve. The drive was fairly eventful, with the last blizzard of the year slowing us down, and eventually getting us off the freeway near Springville.

The freeway had snow on it all the way to Nevada. we stopped at Mesquite for a bite to eat and our obligatory first donation to their economy. Sitting at a slot near the hotdog vendor, i somehow managed to win $200.

We wanted to make our hotel at a reasonable hour, and also not quite knowing how that machine payed off, we hightailed it for Sin City. It was just after dusk, and with our new-found windfall got the bright idea to see the Strip.

New Years 11-3141

The Eiffel Tower at the Paris Casino sits near the middle of Las Vegas Blvd. As we wandered in the casino, there was a line of people buying tickets to ride to the top. Tania got in line and asked if there were any tickets available for New Year’s Eve. As luck would have it, there were- and for the cost of $200 we could spend the holiday almost 500 feet above 300,000 drunken revelers.

New Years 11-3390

After successfully escaping Nevada on the 2nd, we had tickets to a Jazz game for the 3rd. Someone wasn’t particularly excited to go to the game, with it being the evening after going back to work and against the Detroit Pistons. Things changed around 3:30 when i got an e-mail saying we were going to give up our 2nd row, upper bowl tickets for 1st row, on-the-court upgrade.

Jazz vs Pistons-6024

The Pistons, despite a subpar record battled hard and even had a lead within a minute of the game ending. The Jazz snatched victory from the jaws of defeat with some fourth quarter defense and some timely offense. Sitting on the hardwood, close enough to hear the players was a rare and fun event.

Welcome, 2011, you*re off to a nice start . . .

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Winter, and a Florida fling

Yay, short work week. We got back from the east coast yesterday, and slept. A lot. Back in September we decided to see a Raiders road football game, choosing Jacksonville this year. Going in, they were 6-6 and had a chance to make the play-offs. The Jaguars were 7-5, and anything could happen . . .
Jacksonville-4852
We flew in not on a red-eye, but the flight got us into Orlando about 11. We had planned to see Epcot on Friday, plus we lost two hours going east.
Epcot Center-2595
i enjoyed the Epcot Center, and if it came down to that or DisneyWorld, i’m glad we went there. i only took 200 or so pictures that day . . .
The next day found us having to make a choice, because we didn’t plan – do we go east to the Atlantic coast, or west to the Gulf coast? Despite the weather, we knew we wanted to see a beach. So we went west, and found ourselves in St. Petersburg
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As the afternoon wore on and the clouds broke, we went to Treasure Island. Found a little place called Caddy’s, that had not only parking and food, but was right on the beach.
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Watched the sun set from Sunset Beach, and headed back to Orlando.
The next day we got up early to head for Jacksonville. At the east end of Highway 4 we found a Waffle House
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in Daytona Beach. We drove on the beach, and took some pictures. i only had 99 for the day . . . when we did make it to Jacksonville, i stowed my camera and we took Tania’s to the game. It was a fun game, but in the end the Jaguars won a slugfest 38-31. So we headed south down the coast, and Googled something for dinner. The internet suggested trying Harry’s bar and grill in St. Augustine, and whaddya know? It was pretty good . . .
St Augustine-2801
Heading back to Orlando, we saw a line of cars still trying to get off the road and go to DisneyWorld. We made it to our hotel, packed for the flight home, and called the front desk for a wake up call.

The next morning, we got that wake up call and another one – it was 33 degrees outside and the weather promised to be warmer, when we landed back in Salt Lake. Still, i’m glad we got to see another corner of our country, for the hat trick – three of four within 12 months. i’ve a feeling we may go to New England in the not too distant future . . .

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Eureka

Eureka

So in the week that was the end of summer, the end of September, and the beginning of the end of 2010 – i look back and see that i’ve been out of the country, been out of the FaceBook, and out of television. The last one doesn’t bother me, the former not so much but the first was pretty awesome. Sitting at my PC in my environmentally controlled den, i see that not much has changed weather-wise, there’s a new page to the calender, and being home is a triumph of laziness over knowing the weather will change.

The picture above was taken a week ago in the hamlet in central-western Utah. We had left behind Seattle on Labor Day, embraced our hometown since, and not experienced any change in the weather. Why is this pertinent? Because it lulls you into thinking (this recent global warming) that things won’t change, that everything will remain the same, and that the garage doesn’t really need cleaning out.

The old fridge is gone, the forecast calls for radically different temperatures, and the pumpkins are out.

harvest time

harvest time

As i sit here contemplating change, something occurs to me that pretty much occurs to me every year – that the seasons come and go, that the cheapie calender i’ve been looking at loses pages as fast as i’m losing hair, but the one constant this world offers is the depth and breadth of the world is unknowable.

What a mystery tomorrow offers, what a divine revelation – even though the weather guesser tells you, you are in for more of the same it’s really a crapshoot if you*re going to pass the come line and get to roll the dice again.

i started to take pictures to bring the world in (well documented vision probs) but i realized that i take pictures to share a baseline, a common thread that someone could pick up and weave

row your boat

row your boat

after i was gone.

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Pioneer Day, a homecoming, and one of the best places on Earth to take pictures

i was born and raised in California. My adopted state celebrates the day that pioneers first entered Utah, and as irony would have it, i spent that day in Yosemite National Park.

The East Gate

The East Gate

A lot of time has past since i lived in Yosemite, and i have been back for a couple of brief visits, but this trip was especially special for the company i keep. Tania and i have been into photography and travel for awhile, and if there was one place that I knew, that offered the best of both – that place is Yosemite.

Toulumne Meadows Lodge

Toulumne Meadows Lodge

Half  my life ago. i had darker hair, a minimum wage income, and no camera. i knew at the time that i would be back, with a fine machine to capture what i saw. In the mean time, real life happened, i almost lost my sight, i gained a house and a wife – and most importantly, someone who i could share this corner with.

Tunnel View

Tunnel View

i came on a day my adopted state celebrated an arrival, i came half a lifetime later, i came as half of a couple. i came to a place i called home for awhile, a place alot of people have taken pictures of before – but i came back to a place i felt i knew and missed. i’ve published a few of the captures i’ve managed to process, but here is the story of the man behind the lense.

A sort of homecoming

A sort of homecoming

When i moved to Yosemite, it started the long, slow process of me getting out of the way of me. Remnants still remain, i still shoot myself in the foot and i’m closer to a teenager than my contemporaries that have kids, but the time i spent in the Park released me from the demons of childhood and the mores of my upbringing. Today the influence of raw Mother Nature is a bigger part of me than the tradition of my parents. i’m glad for the fact that my natural mom has a part of my life as my adopted mom – spending time in the wilderness made me believe that i needed both to learn the lessons i would need to make my way in the world.

Today, a safe home and a warm bed are my prerogative. In the Park i was able to park my shoes by a door we pre-paid for.

home for a night

home for a night

Twenty Four years ago, i found humility and a work ethic waiting on people that used the same amenities that i paid for last weekend. Being the one parking my boots at the door, i realized i did give something – to live in those shoes . . .

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As the leaves turn

As i previously lamented, the weather has turned, the days are growing shorter and the nights are getting long. and cold . . .

widget

widget

We’ve enjoyed the summer and Tania had just said “It doesn’t feel like it’s ready to be over”. i agree. Being on the pragmatic side though, i’ll decline to argue with Mother Nature. The turning of the calender has a few benefits.

Octoberfest

Octoberfest

There is snow on the mountain tops, another calender page is gone, and one of our personal favourite festivals has just ended. Octoberfest finds us just missing the last good weekend to catch fall colors and go trekking in the high country. So, we got a room and enjoyed the weekend.

With Halloween coming, followed by all the year ending holidays, we look back on the seasons just briefly. And anticipate their return . . .

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Driving

i shoulda named this entry “South East Utah, cont.” but i didn’t want to step on my toes. i’m two weeks removed from the beginning of my trip and my anniversary. The last is an important point, as i shall point out in a minute.

i can only guess at the mileage we wracked up on our last trip. It was alot. i know because i piloted 99.8% of it (Tania almost ran my ass over as i was trying to get a capture between Valley of the Gods and Monument Valley – i returned the favor at Natural Bridges).

The Road to Monument Valley

The Road to Monument Valley

[editors note:  this a differant capture from the one previously posted.]

We spent more time in the truck than we did in motels. We had to – the trip was about seeing things, not reclining in some Euro-spa. Our truck is a proxy for a young one (as it should be – it was born in 2002) and is featured more prominently in our pictures than anything besides us. Our truck has only forty eight thousand miles, we acquired it when it had four, and it has been a trusted companion on our trips. It filled the bill, admirably.

Trusty Steed

Trusty Steed

i had estimated for a co-worker 850 as the number altogether, i could be wrong. The point is that it’s been a part of our adventure, and this particular one is the varied terrain and differant vistas we beheld. It was a fun trip, a long trip, and a trip that introduced me to the corners of Utah. i’ve now been around the state, and look forward to seeing the middle of it.

The one thing that sets this trip apart is the fact that Tania both have cameras, we had picked up lenses before we left, and the purpose was to spend time together and see what we would see. And capture it as we saw it. This road took us to corners not seen, on a timetable unfettered by an itinerary. Part of the allure was getting away, together, to sights unseen. To get there by road, a road untravelled so far.

The Moki Dugway

The Moki Dugway

The unique combination of factors led us to some singular experiences. Views beyond compare. Time well spent. Proximity with comfort and views combined with the option controlling the pace a plane trip could never afford us. A trip we didn’t need to take a plane to. A once in a lifetime opportunity to explore an environment close to home, yet worlds away.

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Southeastern Utah Tour

Tuesday night – the first one after Labor Day. Went to work today, sporting a custom t-shirt, compliments of a Navajo shopkeeper at the Four Corners. We traveled miles and miles, saw some amazing country, and played the part of tourists willingly.

We saw plenty of foreign tourists, heard Japenese, German, all types of Eastern European languages, and the occasional Navajo and Spanish. Our trip took us from Salt Lake to Moab,  Mexican Hat to Torrey. We celebrated our anniversary Friday at Buck’s Grill House, in Moab. A patio dinner, preceded by top shelf margaritas. T-bone steaks, a little Beaujolais, a nice late summer night. We hit the road fairly early, armed with a Utah road map that neither of us could read. We purposely left the itinerary open, and agreed the only thing we needed to do was make it to the next hotel.

South on 191, we turned off and took the road out to the Needles Overlook.

Needles

Needles

If, at anytime you find yourself anywhere near Moab, i will recommend making this excursion. Soon i’ll have more pictures posted to the gallery, but i will say; of all the places we went, National Parks,  Monuments, this place was the most unexpected. i had an idea of what we might see at Monument Valley, of Capitol Reef, but the vista from this lone lookout completely surprised me.

We spent Saturday night at a gorgeous little hotel in Mexican Hat. The room sucked, but the setting was awesome. It was perched right on the San Juan river, about 40 miles north of Monument Valley.

road to Monument Valley

road to Monument Valley

We got a nice start after putting on miles the day before. The area is dramatic, i can understand why they filmed here years ago. Today the Navajo are putting in a visitors center, and they graded a road through the valley itself to make it more accessible. While we were stopped at that center, we had asked a guy to take our picture. Turns out he had visited the same spot twenty years before, and had shared with us some watercolors he had painted then.

We trekked through northern Arizona and came back into southern Utah. Our destination that night was Torrey, miles away from the border. We saw Natural Bridges National Monument, after driving up the face of a cliff. From there we caught the corner of Lake Powell, making Tania more boat hungry than she already was. Capitol Reef National Park is due east of Torrey, and we drove through it on our way to the hotel. We decided to return in the morning, and finish a hike we started four years before.

Hickman Natural Bridge

Hickman Natural Bridge

The last time we came through here, we wanted to make the hike to the bridge. We had gotten a ½ mile into it when it down poured. Caught unawares, we retreated. Soaked to the bone. So we took up the challenge again and made the trip. We were rewarded with the picture you see above, and the company of old and young (very young, flip-flop wearing, crying) people passing us along the trail.

We almost made it home without incident. Right before Highway 6 intersects Highway 15, some idiot left their boat on the road. We were at a dead stop for 45 minutes.

This was one of the most rewarding road trips i have ever taken. Tania and i realized that we could go on a vacation, and the only thing we needed to do was sight see. If that makes me sound old, well then, i can live with that. And the fact that i now have a weeks worth of picture to go through . . .

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Southwestern South Dakota

My wife called me, a little while ago. She said her plane was diverted, as she was making her way home from Fargo. Two weeks ago, i was flying into Rapid City, S.D. to meet her.

Rapid City

Rapid City

She picked me up, and the next day we spent exploring that corner of the state. We saw national monuments, state parks, and alot of beautiful scenery. i even got stickers for the truck out of the deal.

Keystone, S.D.

Keystone, S.D.

Keystone is a fun little, well, townlet. i can’t imagine calling it even a town. It’s perched right on the boundry of Mt. Rushmore, and if you are afraid of not getting enough souviniers there i highly recommend you stop here. We went on to behold some spectacular sights, to wear ourselves out physically, and thoroughly play the part of tourist. i do not believe we left one tourist trap unvisited.

Wall Drug, S.D.

Wall Drug, S.D.

Until the next day when we went to Wall. Now i’m sure the good residents of this fine town are grateful for all the visitors they get here, they have to know that the prodigious billboard advertising for one of the premier tourist traps in North America are responsible for roping in unwary travellers to their part of the country. My mother in law read aloud every single billboard on the way to this timesink, gleefully. The shear amount of souvineers must be measured in tonnage. Thank goodness there was a bar across the street from this monstrosity, or i wouldn’t have enjoyed a respite from the overwhelming commerciallism of the place. That and the styrofoam ice chest in the back of the rental . . .

Which brings me to the next, next stop in our little tour. You’ll have to search the website for pix of our travels through the Badlands of South Dakota, but i promise it’ll be worth it. After a fun-filled ride from the furthest outpost of a Chinese souvineer beach-head, we found ourselves in one of the premier cities for celebrating American manufactoring prowess, the Harley-Davidson motorcycle. Sturgis is renowned for it’s gathering of people every year to pay tribute and revel in the two wheeled sub-culture of motorcycles.

Sturgis, S.D.

Sturgis, S.D.

i didn’t spend alot of time in Sturgis, and i can’t say i got a feel for Bike Week, but i was glad to stop here nonetheless. By my own admission, and the fact that we were a week early for the rally, i wanted to press on to the town of Deadwood.

Deadwood, S.D.

Deadwood, S.D.

A town nestled in the Black Hills, a place where Wild Bill met his untimely demise. i thoroughly enjoyed my brief stay in Deadwood, and who wouldn’t? It has gambling, and drinking, and spectacular views. i’m gonna go out on a limb here, and recommend that if you have limited time to spend in South Dakota, devote a day and a night to this town. You will not be disappointed.

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Back from the Badlands

. . . and i can honestly say, they weren’t bad at all! Thirty years ago my family went through this part of the country, but it never registered how pretty it is – at least in the summertime.

55mm, HDR

i will have a follow up post, later this week. Today i wanted to talk about the area in general. For those who haven’t seen Mt. Rushmore, i can say that it was one of many attractions in the area. i think we were in the area at the right time of the year. The weather for the most part cooperated. The area was green, even though we were at times in foothills, prarie, woods, and cities. The temps were nice, compared to here. We stayed in Rapid City, a town about the size of West Jordan. The differance is WJ is a suburb of Salt Lake, where Rapid City was the biggest town in the region. The region we stayed in was in the southwest corner of the state, and we shared our visit with people from all over the nation. My nephew and i noticed license plates from almost every state, from New Jersey to California. And that was just on the cars – on some of the motorcycles we saw, we couldn’t see a plate.

On the road to Mt. Rushmore

Like all the getaways we’ve had lately, it’s been easy for us to see the beauty in an area new to us. i don’t feel this detracts from our home, on the contrary; i think it has made us more grateful for where we live. “I could live here” is something that my wife and i say, and it’s meaning to me is “if i couldn’t live where i’m at”. South Dakota has some stunning views and alot that is beautiful. It is also very differant from Utah, and to me the charm lies in the differance. The one thing i’m afraid they have in common though, are nasty-ass cold winters . . .

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Tania’s home. Next week: South Dakota

Just got back from a steak dinner at a tavern, near where i used to work. A place called the Lonestar Saloon. Tania flew in from Fargo to join me. This time next week, i’ll be getting on a plane to join her. Hopefully, we get off a plane and have a steak and a beverage then, too!

cheerfully lifted from flickr, teh user was *deleted*

This flying around places has got to be hard to do. i’m sure the fun of it would wear off in short order. It won’t be the first time i travelled to meet Tania somewheres when she was doing her job; i drove to Reno one winter, when she was there already. We drove over Donner pass in a snowstorm, right in front of a snowplow, and a chain came loose on the right rear tire. i couldn’t stop, i couldn’t go faster, we just had to keep going, listening to the damn thing beat the shit out of the wheel-well. Then there was the time i got to go with Tania for her job, to Puerto Rico. There she was in meetings while i was @ the beach.

gleefully taken by me, no theft here . . .

This summer, we kinda planned to stay close to home, see more of Utah, when events conspired to make me actually see more. That, and the random job assignment for The Consultant. So we make do, actually take advantage of, a situation that will drop us into the middle of North America. And, in the middle of summer. In this state, like Missouri and California, we celebrate July 24th.
Utah because the ‘Mormons’ discovered it, Missouri because the ‘Mormons’ left, and California because the ‘Mormons’ didn’t make it that far.

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