brdgt: (Mrs. Robinson Closer)
Now that the snow is off of the >10,000 ft. peaks we are enjoying bagging one a weekend that have been on our list for a while. This past weekend was Mount Olympus (9,026 ft.) - strenuous 7.6 mile roundtrip with over 4,000 feet of elevation gain. This meant a constant and grueling uphill grade, often 30%.

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Honestly, this trail is about the destination and not the journey - the trail didn't have much of a view (mostly of SLC itself) and despite the elevation you could hear traffic from the freeway most of the way up.

The best part, by far, was the class 3 scrambling for the last 600 ft. before the summit. Yes, that's the "trail" going straight up - it was just one hair shy of "too" scary - therefore, perfect.

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At the summit the views were mostly of Twin (11,330 ft.) and Lone (11,253 ft.) peaks (behind us - Twin is the peak nearer on the left and Lone is in the distance - we'll be hiking those in July, after we do Pfeifferhorn (11,326 ft.), which is supposed to have great wildflowers this time of year).

I don't have a great camera, so I can't show you the proof, but we also saw a mother mountain goat and her baby on the lower peak to the North - I swear I see more charismatic fauna within SLC city limits than I do in the National Parks!


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Since we had tickets for a Lions game that night we needed to hustle down the mountain, so we ended up ascending it in 3.5 hours and descending in 1.5 hours. My quads are STILL killing me - not just sore or sore when I do something, but burning even when I sit down. Still, that didn't keep me from a five mile run yesterday and cardio class today.

Back to the rheumatic fever chapter... and a sort of last minute idea of ours to head up to Glacier National Park for the Fourth of July weekend to give me something to plan when I need to cheering up :)

Scenes

Apr. 14th, 2014 05:56 pm
brdgt: (Mrs. Robinson Closer)
Have I mentioned that our yard is lousy with trilobites?

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The hyacinths have switched over to tulips - I'm actually getting in the habit of cutting fresh flowers from our yard for inside the house - weird!

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Our next door neighbors (Oink's owners) took this great panoramic view from their roof - this is essentially my office view (actually, if you click on the image to make it bigger you can see my office window, it is the grey house on the far left - the two windows right next to each other):

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brdgt: (Mrs. Robinson Closer)
It was the first real snow storm of the year here. So we thought it was a great day to go car shopping!

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We borrowed Oink's mom's car and went to some dealerships - the snow actually really helped in getting a good deal. We negotiated a good deal on a 2010 pre-certified Toyota Corolla and decided that we should just go for it!

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Looking forward to joining a climbing gym and going camping and trying new restaurants and fun things further afield!

New car!
brdgt: (Mrs. Robinson Closer)
The day after Thanksgiving we climbed Little Black Mountain (8040') - a 6 hour, 11 mile, 3,544' elevation gain hike. Little Black Mountain is the mountain in the center of the photo, it's actual peak is the smaller looking one furthest away.

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This was around where we turned back last time. The snow actually made it easier.

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After 7,500' both of us felt a bit dizzy from the elevation, but the views were great.

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The last mile or so was along the ridge-line. This is only the false peak, the real one is hidden by this one.

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Little Black Mountain's peak - it's pretty scary.

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This was as far as we got, since it would take a good hour to scramble the last bit and we were fighting daylight.

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We were still proud of ourselves.

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Looking down into the valley - you can just make out downtown in the inversion.

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brdgt: (Winter is coming by iconomicon)
Nick left for a conference on Sunday and this is what I woke up to the next day. I love how the snow looks like a lattice work on the flagstone cracks.

SLC Cemetery

Needless to say, I got pretty lonely, cooped up in the house without human contact, so I tried to get out - going to a lecture on campus and book club. I decided to walk back from the lecture on campus on Wednesday (about 3 miles) and explore the cemetery more. I love the snow on the mountains.

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I've been meaning to get a photo of this memorial - Winter is Coming?

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The main reason for my visit though was to find this grave. It has quite a story behind it and the note was fascinating (essentially someone who claims to be in touch with the spirit world relating Lilly's wishes).

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I discovered what must have been the handcart section of the cemetery. Many Mormons could not afford oxen or horses, so they traveled to Deseret (their name for what is now Utah) with handcarts and each "company" of handcarts had their own name. This grave is actually made out of wood and has been resealed as needed over the years.

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In the vicinity of that grave were other sad reminders of the handcart companies:

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brdgt: (Windy Road by iconomicon)
Yesterday we decided to go for a hike before the fall colors were completely gone and it was too cold at high altitudes - so we went back to City Creek Canyon and headed up a very old trail and then hiked toward Little Black Mountain until it was too late to get back by dark.

This is the route according to Nick's camera's GPS (I forgot to wear my GPS watch)

MAP

As you can see, the Pipeline trail is... poorly marked....

Helpful Sign

But it brought us, steeply and quickly, to a seven way intersection:

Seven Way Intersection

And since we'd seen lots of views of the city (and the city is under a pretty bad inversion right now), we headed toward Little Black Mountain.

Inversion:

Inversion

Our goal, if we could make it before we had to head back to our bikes, was the ridge on the right, several ridges before Little Black Mountain:

Goal

Apparently the trail is very popular with trail runners and we saw a lot of them (and found ourselves running down a lot of the trail on the way back, since that was actually easier):

Little Black Mountain Trail

We got to around 7,100 feet at 4:30 and decided we had to turn back, so we had a snack and enjoyed the view:

October Hike

Next up we plan on taking a quicker route to the start of the trail and starting earlier so we can go all the way to Little Black Mountain. Then, after that, maybe Grandview Peak, which can be seen here:

Grandview peak
brdgt: (Mrs. Robinson Closer)
What a perfect weekend! Instead of going out to see a movie, we decided to stay in on Friday night - which was just the right decision. We are watching Community from the library, which lends you the entire season at a time, not just single discs! Cozy and relaxing.

Saturday morning I went and got an amazing pedicure at a local spa, thanks to a gift certificate from [livejournal.com profile] antarcticlust. On the way back (it's conveniently just about a mile away), I saw some trash on the curb that included these signs from someone's wedding. It's the kind of detail I wouldn't bother with for our wedding, except they were free, so I grabbed them!

Found signs

To top it off, when I got home my wedding dress arrived! It's perfect - just like the picture and fits great. I'll just take the waist in a little before the wedding so that it shows off my figure more. I wasn't sure about shoes until I got it (ballet flats? heels? retro?) and these will be perfect with the tea length of the gown:



Later we explored some of City Creek Canyon, which is just about a mile away from us - the road is only open to cars certain days of the year, so it's mostly cyclists and walkers. We took the trail that runs parallel to the road 3 miles up and then walked back on the road - with the ups and downs of the trail it was almost 7 miles round trip. Not difficult, but beautiful scenery, with what foliage Utah has to offer and snow in the distant mountains.

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City Creek Canyon

We got home and I was able to watch the Red Sox game that I had recorded. I was also cat sitting Oink this weekend, who continues to be objectively adorable.

Oink at the faucet

And yesterday I went for a 5 mile run in the morning - beautifully chilly weather for running - and then we went to a bar we hadn't tried yet to watch football. We found a nice section of the bar, where they put the Patriots on one tv, the Packers on the other, and some Saints fans were watching the third. My first Bloody Mary in SLC (and they free pour - pretty rare here!) and a 9.00 buffet for me to eat ALL THE PROTEIN after my run. Came home to take a nap and relax some more.

Now. Back to work!
brdgt: (Mrs. Robinson Closer)
I've seen Oink scratching on the trees, but this was the first I saw him climb one! Don't worry, that Hummingbird wasn't having any of his sass.

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And this little guy was hanging out on our patio - it was so bright that day even my crappy camera was able to get a good photo of him!

Backyard Wildlife
brdgt: (Mrs. Robinson Closer)
On the way back from the Avenues Fest we checked out a corner of the cemetery we haven't been to yet - it's an older part with more LDS graves -  you can usually tell...

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Lots of sad ones

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There are lot more famous Mormons in this part of the cemetery, including this architect of mansions, factories, and forts...

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On the back:

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Sam died building the LDS temple (although 80 years old seems to be pushing the limits of retirement buddy!)

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There are many lions in Salt Lake City, I assume because Brigham Young was called the "Lion of the Lord." In fact, the city's professional Ultimate frisbee team is the Lions

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We were impressed with this tombstone, which was actually a piece of petrified wood!

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And I think I would like the Packs. A lot.

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brdgt: (Problematic by mouthfullofdust)
Yesterday Nick and I slept in and wandered down the hill to the Avenues Fest - a local street festival that started as a remodeling tool exchange and now has two music stages and four blocks of local booths and vendors (SO Avenues - people *love* restoring houses around here - we've seen three turnover since we've moved here and they are working on one across the street from us). There were Girl Scouts and the humane society and our local politicians and lots and lots of dogs :)

I have discovered another thing to love about this city - their committment to shave ice. Seriously - there were 5 different shave ice stands at the Fest.

Shave Ice

To give you an idea of how busy it was - this is from the Fest's webpage, not by me.

brdgt: (Jesus Baby Dinosaur by Iconomicon)
On Saturday I went to the Soldier Hollow Sheepdog Championship at the old Olympic Biathlon venue. It must be one of the biggest of it's kind in the US, because it was four days with over 40 competitors each day! My friend Jen invited me (she used to handle sheepdogs in 4-H growing up) and we had a really great time - it's surprisingly tense! The dogs had to go about 1/4 mile up a hill, drive 5 sheep down a hill, around a pole counterclockwise, back up the hill through a gate, across the hill through another gate, back to the handler (who is guiding them by whistles), separate two or the three sheep from each other, and then drive them all into a pen - all in 12 minutes! We only saw one dog successfully get the sheep in the pen and, sadly, since he missed a gate, didn't even place! Everyone clapped when a dog completed a part of the course and we all generally agreed that sheep are jerks.

This is from the same competition a few years ago:



There was also a "splash dogs" competition - dogs jumping into the water for distance. The furthest we saw was 22 feet! Watch this video with the sound off (stupid "who let the dogs out?" music playing). We saw several of these and especially enjoyed that Jack Russell terrier in the beginning!




On Sunday we got our Mormon on and checked out Temple Square, the world headquarters of the LDS church. It's a very pretty area, with lots of beautiful flowers and fountains - and many pairs of "sisters" who are happy to help you with any questions! You can't go in the Temple (in fact, not all Mormons can) but they do have a replica in one of the visitor centers.

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The Angel Moroni:

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I didn't learn anything new about Mormonism, but the experience did actually normalize the religion to me - in a way that sort of made other religions seem equally weird - but as a born and raised atheist, I guess that's normal.

Anyway, we got a little Mormoned out and headed up to the Capitol, which was pretty dead, since it was a Sunday.

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It's not nearly as impressive as the Wisconsin Capitol, but hopefully we can go back sometime with out of town visitors and go on a tour.

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And I swear to god, every single time I leave the house I see a wedding - any day of the week, any place in town.

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Then on Labor Day itself we went for our first hike! There are quite a few trails that go up from the Lake Bonneville Shoreline Trail behind the University (mostly from mountain bikers), but the Mount Wire peak (about 7100') seemed like a good starter hike for us. It is recognizable for the two microwave transmitters on top:

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The trail alternated between shady scrub and exposed rocky hillsides. It went pretty much straight up the canyon, with little to no switchbacks.

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The view at the top is nice though - Salt Lake City all the way out to the Great Salt Lake (you can really make out The Avenues - our neighborhood - the Aves are the very straight streets on the near right, going up the foothills):

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South East toward Mt. Olympus, which we want to climb as soon as we get a car (we were able to bike to this trailhead - about 7 miles roundtrip - steady uphill on the way there and mostly downhill on the way back)

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Selfie at the top! You'll be seeing a lot more pictures of me in hats now that we're in Utah :)

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Then, instead of heading back the way we came we went over a saddle to the Red Butte, where the trail went right along the steep ridge-line:

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This is looking back up at the "trail" as we came down toward the "Living Room" - a rock-slide locals have name such for the sheets of rock people have turned into "chairs."

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Taking a break in the "Living Room"

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The hike took us most of the day and we are definitely still getting used to the altitude, but it was great to get out and enjoy our new environment! We even ran into two Madison natives on the trail and a UW grad at the supermarket later!
brdgt: (Mrs. Robinson Closer)
Last night, after dinner, we went for a walk to check out the park and cemetery that are close to our house. Lindsey Gardens was the first playground in Salt Lake City - with "greasy poles" and whirleygigs!

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It also has, what I can only assume is the next set location for The Walking Dead...

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Especially since across the street is the Salt Lake City Cemetery, the largest city run cemetery in the country!

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The cemetery is divided into Catholic, LDS, and Jewish parts and we only explored the northwestern section last night. We still found our fair share of original pioneer graves (you can tell by the little plaque on them). At first we didn't want to assume too much... maybe this "patriarch" remarried...

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But it soon became pretty clear by the rows of "mothers..."

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... that we were in the LDS part of the cemetery...

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Where they like to put memorials up to martyrs that call out their murderers!

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Because "there is no law in Georgia for the Mormons."
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We barely scratched the surface of exploring the cemetery - we will definitely be back!
brdgt: (Mrs. Robinson Closer)
We spent Thursday night mounting our flat screen to the wall - that was quite the adventure since this wall was added in order to divide the house in half (you can just make out the handles of the sliding glass doors that used to divide the space.

Flat Screen

On Friday night we tried another restaurant in our neighborhood (our neighborhood is very residential but has an interesting vibe in which there are businesses and restaurants sprinkled in right between homes). This place - Third Avenue Bistro - uses only locally sourced ingredients (we were sitting right next to our tomato source). I had their quinoa burger and Nick had the regular one. Much like the Avenues Proper Brewhouse that we went to a few weeks ago, this place knows how to make an aioli!

Avenues Bistro

The next day we biked over to the Natural History Museum on the Bonneville Shoreline Trail (the shoreline of the prehistoric Lake Bonneville), which would have been better with mountain bikes - we ended up having to walk a good part of it.

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The Natural History Museum did not disappoint - lots and lots of dinosaurs!

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The building is beautiful, but as you can see by this photo, a storm came through and we had to wait a half an hour before biking home!

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We came back via the cemetery - this is a view southwest toward downtown SLC.

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And my latest adventures in cooking - some pork and beef tacos!

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brdgt: (Where Cheddar Is Beddar by iconomicon)
I am officially already over the "mormons, no alcohol, no coffee, mormons, blah, blah, blah" stereotypes I hear about my new home. Stereotypes may be a real time saver, but they are lazy and petty. Wisconsinites are fat alcoholics! Southerners are stupid racists! Californians are vain fakes! *sigh*

(I actually saw a bunch of "Real Mormons Drink Beer" t-shirts at the BeerFest and when I googled it found out that this is a pretty hotly debated issue, with some Mormons actually arguing that beer, in particular, isn't just ok to drink, but that beer is a "barley drink" that is *favored* by God - some interesting stuff here and in the comments.)

In response, here we are on Saturday at the Utah BeerFest with our friends Jen and Jane (Jen is doing her residency in OB/GYN at the University Hospital and got her MA in the History of Medicine Program at UW a few years ago and Jane moved here the same week we did from Madison, where she also played frisbee and is apparently a home brewer!)

Utah BeerFest 2013

And a great photo that our injured teammate got of me in one of our last frisbee games back in Madison. I look so calm because this girl was really bad and wasn't even calling a stall count, so I had all the time in the world to decide what to do :)

Handling
brdgt: (Mrs. Robinson Closer)
We were concerned before we moved here about closet space, overall space, and the weird layout of the house. Ends up we have *more* closet space (we each have a closet and we share a large wardrobe that comes with the apartment), the space really works for us, and the layout is a nice combination of open and private spaces. Here are a few of my favorite little spots in the apartment.

Next to the front door. This shelf used to be in our bathroom because the sink was not level and things would slide off. Now it's a nice key, hat, vase, picture, and candle holder :)

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The living, dining, and kitchen are all open and the house came with a dining room table, chairs, and some benches. Fruit is much cheaper and fresher here and since I'm working from home and don't have to worry about how to transport things, my snacks are way healthier :)

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This orchid was 8.99!

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Between the large sink and the stove is a nice prep area (the whole kitchen has a lot of counter space and outlets!) Those "curtains" came with the place and we like them so we kept them!

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Here it is - the "reverse osmosis" sink! The littlest things make me inordinately happy - like the fact that both the kitchen faucets have two sprays and can be extended.

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The back-splash!

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Our built in bookshelves are coming together...

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The bedroom is an interior room with no windows, but it stays very cool and it makes sleeping late easy. Still not sure about the orange walls though...

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My side of the wardrobe - a closet for just my dresses, purses, and scarves!

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A level sink!

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My office...

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... slash guest room

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brdgt: (Mrs. Robinson Closer)
Here is the view from the corner of our street southwest toward the Wasatch Mountains and some nice clouds.
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One of the handy things if you're a runner, is that the streets and avenues are all stamped on the sidewalks at intersections. The blocks are all a tenth of a mile, making them not line up with the rest of the city grid, but making it very easy for planning a running route on the fly.

I Street

Fortunately we have a private back yard, because this is the view from our shower window...

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It looks out over our birdfeeders and patio.

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And this is the view from my office window - literally behind my monitors. The small deck belongs to Oink's owners.

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Just below my office window is our grill, which is hooked right into the gas line, so no need for tanks (the backyard also comes with one of those outdoor heaters, like they have for smokers at restaurants, that does run on a propane tank, but we won't be needing that for a while!). We grilled some harissa marinated chicken for lunch on Sunday. The peppers in the harissa came from the pepper farm we are going to have the wedding at!

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brdgt: (Mrs. Robinson Closer)
The back of our house has a set of beautiful french doors leading out to our back yard. It is very private, so we generally leave them open all night and morning, only closing them in the high sun of the day. Soon after moving in we met "Oink," our next door neighbor's cat, who seems to think our yard is just an extension of his (hers?).

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Now we look forward to hearing Oink's little bell in the morning (when we were still unpacking we awoke to him playing with a grasshopper in a box in the back yard). He'll come up to get pet, roll around, and sometimes even meow for attention, but he never tries to come inside. This is his favorite spot.

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He also enjoys watching the birds and playing with the fallen apples.

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We also have a family of quails in the backyard! There used to be a back alley behind our block, but it has been gated off on either side of our house. This gate has a remote that opens it and we do have right-of-way access on this side to use the driveway, although street parking is not a problem around here.

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The quail babies are so tiny!

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We also have Praying Mantises! I was out cutting some sunflowers for a vase when I almost reached out and grabbed this guy!

Praying Mantis

SLC!

Aug. 19th, 2013 05:21 pm
brdgt: (Mrs. Robinson Closer)
After having a yard sale (I made over 200 dollars!) to get rid of a lot of stuff that was more expensive to move than to replace, having our awesome friends over to help us load up the UHaul, and spending a day cleaning, running errands, packing up our campus offices, and other odds and ends, we headed out around 10PM (we just wanted to get out of town and make a few hours), stopping at a "Motor Inn" just East of the (not) lovely city of Dubuque. The hilly area of southwest Wisconsin was a killer way to get introduced to UHaul gas mileage (about 6 miles/gallon), although it did get better as we entered central Iowa. To save gas mileage we didn't run the AC and the UHaul had rudimentary entertainment options, so we entertained each other with things like reading out of the Cloud Collector's Handbook - an informative but hilarious guide to clouds. It included gems like "Cumulus: The little ones, by contrast, are only scary when they take the form of David Hasselhoff."

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We camped the next night at Mormon Island State Park (fitting, huh?) in East Central Nebraska. Just before getting there we encountered a beautiful lightening storm to our north.

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The next day was Western Nebraska and Eastern/Central Wyoming, which this gas station pretty much summed up.

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Our new apartment is in an area called "The Avenues," an older part of the city that slopes slowly at first and then rapidly steeper up the mountain side. We are about a mile up, on one of the steepest blocks.

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It took us about 5 hours to unload this thing - just the two of us :)

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Here she is! We live in the right half and the landlord stays in the left half, when he is in town, which is apparently never. It was built in 1900 and used to be one home (originally just the front right four rooms. The left side was built a little later and then the back two rooms and bathroom added in the 1950s.

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Won't you come in?

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Some "before" pictures to wet your appetite - our amazing built in bookcases in the living room! When the two sides were connected that archway went to the other side (the tv is actually resting on some steps in this photo, that would have led up to the other side, which they did so that they didn't have to level the floors on such a steep hill), but it is now boarded and sheet-rocked up, with an outlet and cable jack for us to mount the flat screen on as soon as the tv mount arrives in the mail!

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My favorite part of the house - the kitchen. It has a pot rack, a double fridge, restaurant grade gas stove with an awesome hood, a trash disposal, a dishwasher, a reverse osmosis sink as well as a large stainless steel one connected to the water softened water, a wood and glass backsplash, a wood floor, and laboratory countertops.

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The back yard is very private, backing up onto the landlord's garage, where he keeps his massive pinball machine collection. I kid you not.

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More to come!

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