Saturday, September 17, 2016

Moab Weekend


We took a spur of the moment getaway last weekend to Moab, landing at one of our favorite spots: Red Cliff Lodge.  The lodge itself is fine, not great, but . . . location, location location!  Up the Colorado river from Moab along route 128, our room opened to a deck just yards from the river. Here are a couple of photos.

 From our deck.

 At the hotel restaurant for breakfast.


The hotel sits near Castle Valley, an aptly named area of sandstone cliffs and pillars at the base of the LaSal mountains.  We arrived late Friday, road bikes in tow (I know, I know -- you're thinking road bikes in Moab?  We are just a bit contrarian sometimes . . . ). After breakfast Saturday morning, we headed south down the 191 to route 211, a 16 mile paved road into Canyonlands National Park, and a spot called Needles Overlook.




The route had a surprising amount of climb and drop across beautiful high desert plateaus. It was also about 92 degrees -- hot for mid-September, but the ride out was worth it.  I had forgotten just how stunning Canyonlands National Park can be, but Needles Overlook, 16 miles in, reminded me what happens when God turns to sculpture to pass the time. So remarkable. (More on that later).

But first, for fun, can you tell me what happens when an FOM (fat old man) bikes 32 miles up and down hills for three or so hours?  (HINT:  It is NOT pretty.)   I began to cramp up a couple miles from the car, and only got there by virtue of some well-timed down hills. Thinking how badly I needed a Gatorade, I hopped in the driver seat and started for the main road, believing I had made it through the worst. Then it happened . . .

I sneezed.  Which promptly caused my previously non-existent abdominal muscles to cramp into a tiny little ball.  Which caused my always stressed back muscles to seize up from top to bottom. Which caused my shoulders to seize up, which caused my arm to seize up, which caused my quads finally to seize up completely.  Not only couldn't I move, I couldn't breathe.  All this while our car is careening down the road.   Who knew that a little sneeze would set off a chain of events that would turn me into a purple faced human pretzel?  I looked like Wiley Coyote after the road runner gets done with him.  Kathleen kept saying "it'll pass, just drive." I could barely draw enough breath to say "no it won't."

Luckily, I somehow managed to spasm on the break pedal. At which point I opened the driver door, and fell out.   After a long, breathless stretch and some ginger walking to loosen up, I managed to get back into the car and not die.  Miracle in the Desert, is all I can say.  Powerade never tasted so good.

Now back to more superlative things, as in Canyonlands.  The next day, we took a short but truly incredible hike to Grand View Point in the Islands in the Sky section of the Park.  Photos:




The drop behind me is several hundred feet.  Good thing those legs weren't cramping up then . . .



Not bad for a guy who would rather die by fire than by falling, no?  The jump back across actually scared me a bit, but then, I had barely recovered from the bike ride, and even a small leap was questionable.


No matter how many pictures we took, there was just nothing that could really show the scale.  I love this place. It is as unique and beautiful as you will find anywhere in the world, and every time I come, I wonder why I don't spend more time exploring it. Next time, though, the camelback is getting filled with Gatorade.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Shakespeare 2016





We just returned from the Cedar City Shakespeare-fest, which we’ve hit for the sixth year running, I think. How I love this little place, and the spectacular quality of its actors and their productions. This year we came with Grandma and Grandpa B, saw a new theater, and a rendition of Much Ado About Nothing that had me in tears I laughed so hard. We also saw King Henry V, with its iconic St. Crispin’s day speech, as well as the Three Musketeers (Keegan’s favorite – he knew the story by heart even before we came), and the incomparable Julius Caeser. Is there a play with more memorable lines? I think not. The evidence:

 Quotes from Julius Caesar

 “Beware the ides of March.”

 “Men at some time are masters of their fates: The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, But in ourselves,”

 “It was Greek to me.”

 “He will never follow any thing That other men begin.”

 “Cowards die many times before their deaths; The valiant never taste of death but once.”

 “Et Tu, Brutus?”

 “I am constant as the northern star,”

 “Cry 'Havoc,' and let slip the dogs of war;”

 “If then that friend demand why Brutus rose against Caesar, this is my answer: --Not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved Rome more.”

 “Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears; I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.”

 “The evil that men do lives after them; The good is oft interred with their bones;”

 “When that the poor have cried, Caesar hath wept: Ambition should be made of sterner stuff:”

 “O judgment! thou art fled to brutish beasts, And men have lost their reason.”

 “If you have tears, prepare to shed them now.”

 “This was the most unkindest cut of all; For when the noble Caesar saw him stab, Ingratitude, more strong than traitors' arms, Quite vanquish'd him: then burst his mighty heart;”

 “Even so great men great losses should endure.”

 “There is a tide in the affairs of men, Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; Omitted, all the voyage of their life Is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat; And we must take the current when it serves, Or lose our ventures.”

 I think I can rest my case there. What a work of art it is.

 Not to mention that Brutus quandary over the fate of republican Rome amidst crowds that don’t appreciate their freedoms, and want a strong man king, feels quite timely. Shakespeare captured the eternal issues of man like no one I know. What a great thing to be alive 400 years later and still hear and see his work, as it was meant to be seen. We live in such a great place.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

BAILEY FAMILY CHRISTMAS LETTER 2015


Here is our 2015 Christmas Card in Blog form (with a few more pictures of course :-)

Dear Friends and Family,

Are we really on the eve of 2016?  How can that possibly be?  We’re not quite sure where the last 15 years went, let alone just 2015, which flew by so fast I don’t think we even saw it.  Good thing Christmas comes each year, with its annual Christmas letter review, or we could end up tottering into the nursing home thinking we hadn’t done anything with our lives.  (Probably will end up doing that anyway, so here goes nothing . . .)

We certainly started the past year in proper fashion, at Snowbird on New Year’s Day (and many days thereafter).  If you have never been to the top of Hidden Peak on a sunny day, with fresh snow below and blue skies above, you have missed one of the truly great things in all the world.





Skiing with my family in such a beautiful place, where I spent so much of my youth, is like icing on the cake of life. We are so lucky to live where we do.

Here are some of our other favorite things from this past year:

Camping at the Grand Canyon for Spring Break.




Nights were cooooold! But the days were perfect, and sunsets from the south rim are simply magical.




We spent them with people from places like Palestine, India and China, and some crazy kids who had driven 24 hours straight from Chicago just to see it.  No matter your origin, the reaction is the same – as the sun sinks, voices drop, and stillness covers the vast expanse like a blanket, while four-billion-year-old light bathes two-billion-year-old rock in a golden goodnight. The reverence it commands and the perspective it provides are priceless gifts.

Oahu and The Big Island. We love the islands.  I swear they have a stress barrier that lets none in. That aloha spirit is palpable and feels like what life always ought to be.  What a treat to enjoy it with the kids and Grandma and Grandpa Bailey.






Alden’s dreams came true on a tour of the battleship Missouri, as he pulled the trigger for the big 16 inch guns (luckily the safety was on).



Keegan swam fearlessly in the open ocean with dolphins, a highlight of his trip.



Sunsets on sunset beach, a beautiful Kona rental home, snorkeling in Sharks Cove and Kealakekua Bay Marine Sanctuary, Kate’s first helicopter ride, glowing lava at night, a crater hike in Hawaii’s Volcano National Park, and watching Alden and Keegan thrill every Chinese tourist in sight with their Mandarin, were some highlights of this great trip.







Goblin Valley and Lake Powell with the Moons and Stars.



Camping in one of America’s best dark-night places, amongst hoodoo goblins, during the height of the Perseid meteor shower; towering, thousand-foot, burnt-orange sandstone cliffs and blue-green water; and a gathering of a really great family on a houseboat in the middle of it all.






Keegan literally flew off some of those (much shorter) cliffs into that water; Kate and Alden waterskied for the first time; Kathleen still slalomed away; and leisure book reading, amidst stunning sunsets and glass-like water. Who could ask for more?




Take a close look at the picture of Alden in his first moment on waterskis.  It is joy pure and personified--my favorite memory of the year.  If you have never been to southern Utah, you need to go, and make these places a part of the trip.

Utah Shakespeare. This little festival in Cedar City is a gem, and this was our fourth straight year of attendance.  King Lear; Henry IV, part 2; Taming of the Shrew; Two Gentlemen of Verona; and a side treat of Bram Stoker’s Dracula – what’s not to like?  The boys even enjoyed all the plays.  We’re going again next year.

Other Highlights.  We also visited Bryce Canyon, Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument in and around Kanab (thanks for the tour Jordan Bailey!), Cedar Breaks National Monument and Brian Head Resort (where Kathleen and I honeymooned 26 years ago).






In August, we had a great weekend in Los Angeles with all seven of Kathleen’s siblings, which of course meant fantastic food, and concluded with opera at the Hollywood Bowl.  There is just no way not to love that.  







Not all our highlights involve travel – we love our home, and enjoyed our re-landscaped yard this year, complete with six new fruit trees and a great deck (thanks Brent!).  We gardened, and enjoyed Kathleen’s amazing talent in cooking all that “locally grown” produce.  We received visits from some wonderful old friends, hiked in our beloved Wasatch Mountains, and spent many evenings biking the Legacy Trail near the Great Salt Lake, all of which made me quite happy.






Kate, 15, learned to drive, and has only run over her father one time.  I think it was on accident. She also started piano lessons again, this time because she wants to; spends an incomprehensible amount of time listening to music, and is a sophomore in high school, much to her father’s dismay. Guess I have to finally admit she is a teenager.  She works very hard in school, and is buried by homework almost every night.  She is a fantastic girl.

Alden, 11, has really developed a love of reading this year.  He is a boy born with an unbelievable ability to focus on what he loves, and so has proceeded to read about a million books, much to Keegan’s chagrin and frustration (its hard to lose your best play buddy to a book).  He sent a video greeting to a Chinese pen pal this year, and his Mandarin is good enough to be frustrated with Google translate on a regular basis.  Lego continues to be his greatest joy in life.

Keegan, 9, remains our most tender-hearted and social child.  He loves his friends, and play dates with them are always highlights for him.  He also loves singing and all things water -- swimming, diving, jumping, and particularly the rec center water-obstacle course known as the “wibbit.”  He fiercely defends his cat, Grace, against all of dad’s efforts to get a dog. His mom is his biggest supporter in all things, and I hope one day he realizes how much she does for not only him but all of us. We are both proud of how hard he tries in school, which is not his favorite thing these days.

All of this was not enough for Kathleen, who decided to enter the rough and tumble world of politics, making a run for the Utah State Treasurer’s office on an interim election. She didn’t win, but made a great showing, garnering a nice follow up call from the governor and much encouragement from many state decision-makers.  No “Kathleen for President” in the works just yet, but given the current field, we probably should launch that baby before things get worse.

I continue to be unbelievably blessed by a great job, great parents, great brothers and sister, great in-laws, great kids, and a truly great woman, without whom I would be utterly and hopelessly lost.  And of course, great friends, for whom I am very grateful.  That’s a lot of great, but it pretty much sums things up for me.  I know when I have a good thing going.

Wishing you all the very best this Christmas. Please don’t be strangers in the New Year! With much love,

Brett, Kathleen, Kate, Alden and Keegan