Monday, January 25, 2016

2016 Fire and Ice Festival at Cave Lake

 We had the good fortune to go to the Fire and Ice Festival at Cave Lake last Sunday. A snow and ice sculpting contest goes from Friday to Sunday, with judging Sunday at 3 pm. We've entered before, but warm weather canceled the competition. We had thought about entering this year, but didn't have quite enough help. Those who did enter had fantastic conditions, and we were eager to see how the sculptures were going. I like to see them Sunday because they are almost done.

Darth Vader and Jabba the Hut were in one area.

We saw a very detailed carousel. Ice poles (made from putting water into PVC pipes the night before) ran through each animal. One of the keys is to set up forms on Friday, fill them with snow, then let them freeze overnight so you can carve on Saturday. Another key is to have some artistic talent! These folks had a lot.

This tortoise was eye catching and huge.

The boater getting ready to spear a fish wasn't large, but the attention to detail was amazing.
Moby Dick/Plan C

Although we were too late to enter the contest officially, we could make our own unofficial sculpture. So the kids started digging.

We met up with some friends who were willing to lend a hand. That entailed putting Desert Girl into the middle of the snow volcano.

When she came out, Desert Boy wanted his turn. We sculpted around him.

Somehow we managed to squeeze in a snowball fight! Or was it a lava fight?

The snow sculptures are just one activity going on. We saw people ice fishing and even catch a little trout. We hadn't brought fishing gear, so we tried our luck with ice bowling.

You can make your starting point anywhere you want in ice bowling. And you can put up as many pins as you want.

We watched the ball connect. Strike! Or at least a few pins down.

Ron showed off a secret talent: juggling bowling pins. I was impressed!

Then it was on to sledding. I enjoyed sledding too so didn't get many photos.

Next we wandered around again, picking out our favorites and wondering which ones would win the competition. I'll give you the names and then tell you the judges' selections at the end of the post.
Ranger Danger

SOS Snoopy


The Golden Carousel


The Frost Awakens---A Galactic Standoff

Cave Lake Trout

Camo Cues & Brews

A Giant Tea Party

May the Force Be With Us

Cave Lake Cat House

The Guardians of Luke's Light Saber

And saving the best for last: our big volcano, with two nearby little volcanoes. We did this in about two hours.
Snow Volcano

The top winners the judges selected were:
Tied for first ($750 each): Ranger Danger and the Guardians of Luke's Light Saber
Third place ($250): The Frost Awakens---a Galactic Stand-off

Which one is your favorite?

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Catching Up

I've been working all weekend so am way behind, but here's a photo of some recent snow we got, with pregnant heifers (cows giving birth for the first time) in the lower middle of the photo. The line of trees in the middle of the photo is a creek that comes out of the mountains. I love the foothills--they always produce the best shadows, and it's a treat to see them and the mountain above covered with snow.

Good luck to everyone who is covered with snow, some of the totals I've been hearing are incredible.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Parowan Gap Petroglyphs

Parowan Gap near Cedar City is known for its excellent petroglyphs, and everytime I go through, I love to admire them. I hadn't been through the Gap for awhile, and when we went this winter, I was pleasantly surprised to find some nice improvements for visitor recreation.

The BLM had added a small parking lot, restroom, shade ramada with benches, and interpretive signs. It's hard to see under the snow, but they also put in paved walkways so the site is more accessible.

Here's a view looking the other direction.

One thing I really liked about the interpretive signs is that they interpreted the petroglyphs in various ways. The Paiute perspective was highlighted in this sign.

The "Zipper Glyph" is probably the most famous one at Parowan Gap. There was also an explanation about how the petroglyphs could relate to archeoastronomy.

Often I look at petroglyphs and wonder what certain parts mean, and this sign explained some of the symbols.

Across the road we learned about the settlement of Parowan Valley.  The sign also included information about what is historic graffiti, and what is modern graffiti, which is bad and can be prosecuted depending on where it's left.

Desert Girl does her Vanna White impersonation of not-good graffiti.

And here is some historic graffiti.

Back across the road we admired some much older writings.

Some of these were identified with the Hopi perspective.

It was really nice seeing more interpretation of the petroglyphs, it makes me appreciate them even more. For more information, check out this BLM brochure.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Parowan Gap Dinosaur Track Site

We recently took the road through Parowan Gap, which is north of Cedar City and west of the town of Parowan, Utah. The paved road has a sign pointing out the Parowan Gap Dinosaur Track Site. I was so excited to see that, as years ago I had found information on the Internet about the dinosaur tracks, but hadn't been able to locate them. 

A short road led to a parking area and an informational kiosk. Unfortunately most of the posters in the kiosk were so faded by the sun we couldn't read them. One was about Discover Dinosaur Tracks and Preservation, another about Birds of Prey and Climbing. I had no idea that there was rock climbing nearby, that's something we'll have to go check out sometime.

The BLM has a little information about the dinosaur tracks on their website.  The tracks were made by ornithopods, ceratopsians, and theropods in sandstone of the Iron Springs Formation. The most obvious ones are in large fallen boulders on the valley bottom. You can find a lot more info about the tracks in the Milner et al. 2006 paper.

We followed the trail and found that some of the tracks were quite obvious, jutting out of the boulders.

Soon it was a race to the next track.

The metal track markers were very helpful.

It was chilly and late afternoon, so our visit was quite brief, but we look forward to returning. There is a lot to see in this small canyon. Up next: recent improvements at the Parowan Petroglyph Site.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Fun in the Snow!

 Today it snowed and snowed and snowed some more. There are only about five days each year where I don't see any blue sky, and this was one of them. We've had less snow the past few years, so it was such a treat to see so much snow (even though driving in it wasn't fun at all).

When I got home from work, it was still snowing and I knew we had to go play. How to make it even more fun? Invite some friends to a sledding party at the nearby pond.

The pond is surrounded by small trees. Desert Girl learned that if she stood under them and shook them, she would get covered with snow. She thought this was great fun. (I think this is one of the reasons that it's so fun to be with kids in the snow, they don't necessarily do what you expect!)

The pond isn't very big or deep, but it has small banks and the kids were soon sledding. And me too. I made sure I had my own sled.

Later it was time for a snowball fight (I didn't get any photos of that, as I was a very active participant), and then snow angels.

Then the kids decided they wanted to be buried in the snow. They said it felt warm and comfy.

I pulled the kids part way home. Then I ran out of steam.

So they pulled me!
 It was a nice way to get some fresh air and a little exercise.
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