Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Winter Raptor Survey 2019

In early January it's time to do the Winter Raptor Survey. It's done all over the state of Nevada (and probably many other states) to monitor raptor populations. We did a route in Spring and Snake Valleys. The most common raptor we saw was the rough-legged hawk, pictured above. 

The Spring Valley wind turbines caught my eye, with the inversion hanging out with them.

We celebrated when we found a Prairie Falcon.

Our turnaround was a place called Stonehouse. It's miles and miles from the nearest building. Today it's abandoned, but I can only imagine what it was like living here many moons ago. 
Watching birds is always a great excuse to get outside!

How's your backyard bird list going? We're up to 12 species for the year. :)

Friday, February 22, 2019

2019 Fire and Ice Festival

One of our favorite events in January is the Fire and Ice Festival in Ely, Nevada. This year the events were expanded to include many more activities, such as water volleyball, darts, bowling, a bonfire, and more.  We didn't have a chance to make it to those, but we did head out to Cave Lake on Sunday to enjoy the traditional ice/snow sculpture contest. Some winters it's not cold enough, but fortunately Mother Nature cooperated this year. We checked in on friends making Engine 93 from the Nevada Northern Railway to celebrate the 150th anniversary of White Pine County.

We also brought ice skates and desert Boy gave it a go. The ice was rough for skating, but he made it work.

Then Desert Girl and Ava gave it a go. Having a ski pole keeps you upright more. :)

We also got in some sledding. Then it was time to take another look at the snow sculptures. This one was quite impressive, with the horse breaking out of the water.

That inspired our group to do our own snow sculpture. The kids made a snow alligator.

Meanwhile, Jenny and I made a sea creature (we never could quite decide if it was a dolphin, fish, or monster!)  Photo by Jenny.

Usually we eat at Cave Lake, but the food booth was having trouble getting their heaters to work. We hadn't brought lunch, so my dear husband ran into town and got us some burgers. They never tasted so good!

Some year I'd love to stay for the fireworks, but the drive home at night over mountain passes in the winter with lots of wildlife on the road is a little daunting. So for now it's a daytime event for us. And good news, our friends won 1st place!
Maybe next year we'll get organized enough to compete??  See more photos of the event on my friend Jenny's blog.

Monday, February 18, 2019

More Fun Things To Do in St. George

 We love going to St. George, Utah. It's warmer, which in the winter is great! We went down on Christmas Day and took our bikes to ride on their amazing city bike trail system. The kids suggested where to go--to the "Physics Park," their nickname for the more commonly known as Cottonwood Cove Park. The playground has a bunch of unique features we haven't seen in any other playgrounds, and many of them use physics to make them work (like in the photo above).

It was about 4.5-mile ride each way, easy-peasy on a nice bike trail. Except that it started to drizzle. And then rain. And we got soaked through. The kids didn't care, but I got pretty cold. Fortunately my husband had packed an extra jacket. The kids played for awhile and then we headed back to where we were staying.

The next day we explored some more urban bike trails, this time in nearby Washington, UT. Somehow I forgot my phone, so didn't get any photos.

Later we went to the Washington Aquatic Center. For some reason it was almost empty. The big water slide was great and we had a good time.

Also in the same building was a climbing wall, which we could do at no additional cost. Since we wanted to do some real rock climbing in a few days, I figured this would be a great warmup. Off they went! There were easy and more difficult routes.

On the way out, we noticed this bulletin board. It really got the kids' attention. "How much sugar are you drinking?" Even the fruit juices and smoothies have more sugar than you might think, and since they're pasteurized, not so many of the nutrients.

We don't have a tennis court anymore in our small community, but I thought the kids might enjoy this activity. We bought some fresh tennis balls (the one we found in our yard wasn't so bouncy!), took our thrift-store tennis rackets, and went to a nearby court. We were terrible, but it was a lot of fun.

My brother Ed was with us and he loves to mountain bike. We wanted to ride Gooseberry Mesa, but found it too cold. So we headed back down in elevation and found some nice trails by Quail Creek State Park.  I learned that Desert Boy is like his dad and makes singletrack look easy. I tried to keep up.

The next day we had a permit for Bloomington Cave, a gated cave near St. George. But due to the government shutdown, we couldn't pick up the permit and get the gate code. 

So Plan B was to go rock climbing. We bought a climbing guide book by Todd Goss at the Desert Rat and went to Green Valley Gap. It took us a little time, but we eventually found the very easy 5.3 (Brazilian Ninja) and 5.4 (Texas Jug) climbs I wanted the kids to start on (they're not on the website, but are in the guidebook). Those are super easy and helped them gain confidence.

Then we proceeded to nearby 5.6 (The Offering) and 5.7 (Hairy Virgin) climbs. The kids did well on those, too. My brother and I enjoyed them as well, dusting off some rusty climbing skills. I used to do this a lot more and would like to get back into it.

Then it was off to the Santa Clara Aquatic Center for more swimming. While I was with the kids, Ed discovered the newly created Sand Hollow Bicycle Skills Park out back. We went to take a look, and even though the sun had already set, we couldn't resist riding some more! This was built starting in May 2018.

The bike park was amazing, with a variety of obstacles, hills, and curves. We all loved it.
We still haven't gotten through our original list of things to do in St. George and are already adding more. Hopefully this gives you a few ideas if you're heading in that direction!

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Skiing/snowboarding at Eagle Point Resort

 Our closest ski resort is about 2.5 hours away near Beaver, Utah. It's called Eagle Point Resort and we love it. It's rarely busy and the slopes range from very gentle to very steep. Last year Desert Girl and I did some new runs and found this fun t-lift on the backside of the mountain. It's now a destination every time we go.

There's a warming hut at the top of the main run, and we finally took a look in it.

On our second day of skiing, we were joined by friends. Desert Boy switched over to snowboard to be cool and we headed to the green (easy) slopes. Well, being with friends makes you improve fast, and after two runs we were on the blue (intermediate) slopes.

And then we tried out a black (advanced) run. These kids all made it!

And they passed me. I have a feeling I'll have a harder and harder time keeping up! 
One of the best parts of a day of skiing/snowboarding is that we're out side and away from screens. The kids love it. We'll have to go more. Good thing there are more storms coming!
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