Motor Trend Auto Show

On Monday I stopped by Motor Trend’s Auto Show in Sandy. My sons Paul and Jake wanted to see it so I went along. In the time I was there, I wasn’t approached once by any salespeople (a positive) and I was able to check out a lot of new autos. I was interested in Jeeps and any alternative fuel vehicles.

The Nissan Leaf was interesting but with a 100 mile range it didn’t work for me. I already own a natural gas vehicle with a 200 mile range which is the minimum for me. The Ford Focus Electric was on display and looks to be similar in performance to the Leaf.

Jeep Wrangler

Jeep Wrangler Unlimited

Jeep Wrangler

Jeep Wrangler on obstacle course

Nissan Leaf

Nissan Leaf charging port

Nissan Leaf dashboard

Ford Focus Electric
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Building a Giant Snowman

I thought it would never snow but overnight we got several inches in Kaysville. Out came the snowman builders to construct a giant snowman. Just build him like a regular snowman but bigger. You may need some help to hoist his head so pay attention to the photographs that follow.

Pass the snow

1. Pass the snow

Compact the snow

2. Compact the snow

Lift his head

3. Lift his head

Secure his head

4. Secure his head

How it is done

5. Use a step ladder

Give him a mouth

6. Give him a mouth

The engineers

The engineers. Dan, Rachel, and Jake

Later in the day our snowman got a nose but lost his buttons.
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Graduate Nerf Wars

Nerf Wars lineup

A friendly photograph before we started shooting each other

 
Rachel graduated with her Bachelors degree in Child & Family Studies and Derek with his M.B.A. To celebrate we ate out, waged Nerf War, and finished with cake. So on Wednesday it was off to Cafe Rio and then to Jake and Rachel’s basement.

We divided into two teams with total annihilation of the opposing team the goal. A player was considered killed when he or she was hit in the head with a Nerf bullet. Each team had LED rings in their team color for identification.

I spent most of my time as a Nerf War correspondent, taking photographs on the front lines. Yes, it was a war out there…

Nerf Wars - Adelaide

Adelaide

Nerf Wars - Aurora

Aurora

Nerf Wars - Dan

Dan

Nerf Wars - Derek

Derek

Nerf Wars - Jake

Jake

Nerf Wars - Jill

Jill

Nerf Wars - Megan

Megan

Nerf Wars - Paul

Paul

Nerf Wars - Rachel

Rachel

Nerf Wars - Steven

Steven

Graduates Rachel and Derek

In the end we all ate a Congratulations Grads cake


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Tracy Aviary in Winter

Tracy AviaryTracy Aviary has free admission (with a $1 conservation contribution) on Winter Wednesdays through February. So I went with my grandson and other family members to see a surprising number of birds for a cold day in December.

I enjoyed seeing Bryson’s reaction to the birds and also taking a few photographs (click to enlarge) of the feathered residents.

A pair of American White Pelicans

American White Pelican
Utah’s largest native bird, the American White Pelican weighs up to 30 lbs with a 9 foot wingspan, and lives around freshwater wetlands and lakes.

These birds do not dive beneath the water for their prey, but instead hunt along the surface in groups, herding and corralling fish toward shore into an ever-tightening half-circle. The pelicans then dip forward in simultaneous motion to scoop prey into their expanded pouches.

One of the largest breeding populations of American white pelicans in the world, often over 20,000, gathers on Great Salt Lake’s Gunnison Island, raising thousands of young each year. Pelicans can also be seen at Farmington Bay Wildlife Management Area, Antelope Island, Stansbury Lake, Ogden Bay, Willard Bay, Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge, Salt Creek Wilderness Management Area, and Cutler Marsh.

Andean Geese

Andean Goose
The Andean Goose resides around wetlands in the Andes, above 10,000 feet, unless forced to descend to lower altitudes by winter snow.

These birds avoid swimming except in emergencies and are mainly vegetarian, feeding on grasses, sedges (perennial plants that resemble grasses), and fleshy aquatic plants.

The Andean Goose builds a shallow nest of vegetation on the ground and lays 5-10 eggs with incubation around 39 days.

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle
Bald eagles are found only on the North American continent living near open water from Alaska to Northern Mexico.

Their primary food source is fish but they also feed on carrion, waterfowl, and small mammals. Adult male eagles generally weigh about 9 pounds and adult females typically weigh between 12 and 13 pounds. Adult eagles have a wing span of up to 7 feet. The distinct white head and tail and yellow beak of the mature bird is developed between 4-5 years of age.

Pairs typically mate for life, which in the wild can be between 30 and 35 years. In captivity, they have been known to live up to 50 years.

Bald Eagles have such keen eyesight that they can spot fish from up to a mile high in the air and will dive at up 100 miles per hour. Eagles have been observed lifting prey weighing well over 4 pounds.

Barred Owl

Barred Owl
The Barred Owl is native to North America and goes by many other names but is best known as the Hoot Owl because of its call. The adult is up to 2 feet long with a 4 foot wingspan and weighing 1.1 to 2.3 lbs. It has brown eyes; all other owls have yellow eyes.

The owl lives in large forests near swamps or other water in Canada, the eastern United States, and Mexico but in recent years it has spread to the western United States. Populations increase faster in suburban settings than in old growth forest. The main danger to owls in suburban settings is from cars but the increased offspring offset deaths.

The Barred Owl’s nest is often in a tree cavity, perhaps taking over an old nesting site made previously by another bird or squirrel. The female incubates her eggs while the male brings her food. Hatching takes place approximately 4 weeks later.

These owls have few predators, but young, unwary owls may be taken by cats. The most significant predator of Barred Owls is the Great Horned Owl.

The principal prey of this owl are meadow voles, mice and shrews, rats, squirrels, rabbits, bats, moles, opossums, mink, and weasels. Birds are taken occasionally including smaller owls. It occasionally wades into water to capture fish, turtles, frogs and crayfish.

Bryson at Tracy Aviary

Blue-coated Bryson
Unique to Utah, the Blue-coated Bryson is only seen with this plumage in the winter months.

He feeds on mostly what is given to him but will forage for snacks at any time. He is particularly fond of cheese.

Bryson can be seen at times carrying a stick that he likes to poke objects with or drag in the soil. He is not looking for tasty grubs but is merely playing, as this species is prone to do.

It is essential that he remain free roaming as humans do poorly in captivity. However, the young (and some adults) have to be monitored constantly to keep them from mischief.

The Blue-coated Bryson thrives in the traditional family habitat, which in recent decades has been threatened.

Chilean Flamingo

Chilean Flamingo
Chilean flamingos live in flocks of dozens to tens of thousands of birds along shallow, brackish lakes and rivers throughout South America.

Flamingos are not born pink but turn pink after two years of eating shrimp and tiny algae.

While their feet stir up algae, their beaks tip upside-down in the water, acting as a filtering system to keep food in and strain water out.

By tucking one leg up into the soft down on their stomach, flamingos release less heat along the surface area of their legs to regulate their body temperature more effectively.

Chilean flamingos build two-foot high mud nests on which the female lays one white egg on top.

Golden Eagle

Golden Eagle
In addition to North American, Golden Eagles are found in Europe, North Africa, and Asia. They favor cliffs, mountains, and other rugged terrain. These birds have a body length reaching 3 feet and a wingspan over 7 feet wide.

Golden Eagles mature at the age of 4 and generally mate for life.

When hunting, pairs divide the labor – one bird chases its prey to the point of exhaustion while the other swoops in for the kill. They use their talons to kill and carry their prey. While they can reach flight speeds of 80 miles per hour, their average speed is 30 miles per hour. When they dive for prey, their speed can exceed 200 miles per hour.

Their diet includes rabbits, squirrels, prairie dogs, groundhogs, skunks, fox, and sometimes much larger mammals. They also prey on other birds, such as crows, pheasants, and meadowlarks. Because of the bird’s impressive hunting skills they only migrate during occasional food shortages and rarely long distances.

Keel-billed Toucan

Keel-billed Toucan
The Keel-billed Toucan lives in Southeast Mexico through Northern South America. They are a very social species and live in groups of 6-12 birds.

Female Keel-billed Toucans are smaller and have a shorter bill than the males. The species sleep in tree cavities with other Toucans. They fold their tails up and tuck their beaks under a wing to make more space.

They eat fruit but also enjoy small birds, eggs, reptiles and insects. These birds have 2-4 eggs each clutch; both male and female help to incubate the eggs.

This bird was part of the free-flighted encounters with Tracy Aviary trainers.

Monks Parakeet

Monks Parakeet
The Monks Parakeet is globally very common and in Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay they are regarded as agricultural pests. They are found in open woodlands, palm forests and palm groves as well as urban habitats. They eat seeds, nuts, blossoms, insects, and grasses.

The Monk Parakeet is the only parrot that builds a stick nest, in a tree or on a man-made structure, rather than using a hole in a tree. They build a single large nest with separate entrances for each pair. In the wild, these colonies can become quite large, with pairs occupying separate “apartments” in nests that can reach the size of a small automobile.

These nests can attract many other tenants including birds of prey such as the Spot-winged Falconet, ducks such as the Yellow-billed Teal, and even mammals. Their 5-12 white eggs hatch in about 24 days.

Peacock

Peafowl
Peafowl are a species of pheasant native to India and Sri Lanka and are best known for the peacock’s extravagant eye-spotted tail display during mating season.

While wild peafowl live in forests and open grassy areas, peafowl can now be found all over the world as pets and exhibit birds.

They are content to remain free roaming and fully flighted wherever they have adequate food and protection from predators.

The male is called a peacock, the female a peahen, and the offspring peachicks. The adult female peafowl is grey and/or brown. Peachicks can be between yellow and a tawny color with darker brown patches.

Red-crested Turaco

Red-crested Turaco
The Red-crested Turaco measures 20 inches from beak to tail and is a fruit-eating bird from western Angola. They are so abundant in Africa that they are considered a pest. It inhabits forest and savanna and lives 5 to 9 years. The female lays 2 to 3 eggs but the male helps in the 21 to 24 days of incubation.

Turacos are the only birds to possess true red and green color. In most birds, the color is a reflection produced by the feather structure. The turaco’s red and green pigments both contain copper.

These birds have mobile outer toes, which they can rotate forward or backward. They live in large flocks of up to 30 individuals. During courtship, the male will feed the female.

This bird was part of the free-flighted encounters with Tracy Aviary trainers.

Southern Lapwing

Southern Lapwing
The Southern lapwing is a ground-dwelling wading bird found throughout South America near lakes, riverbanks, open grassland and even urban areas, such as soccer fields.

During the breeding season, parents produce alarm calls that cause their chicks to crouch in the vegetation when a potential predator is near. It has such an alarming call that farmers will use this bird as a guard for livestock.

The timing of breeding for Southern Lapwings is strongly related to the rainy season. They create a nest on the ground supported with twigs and the female will lay 2 to 4 black-spotted brown eggs.

It feeds mainly at night, often in flocks, eating insects and other small invertebrates.

In Uruguay, due to its bold and combative nature it has become mascot of the Uruguay national rugby team.

Beautiful Trumpeter Swan

Trumpeter Swan
The Trumpeter Swan is native to Northern North America and is the largest waterfowl found in its range. These birds can live over 24 years in the wild and form tight pair bonds with their mate that lasts a lifetime.

Females lay 1-9 eggs in a large nest of vegetation near water, and eggs are incubated by both parents. The grayish-brown Cygnets leave the nest within 24 hours of hatching to swim and feed with the parents.

During the feeding at Tracy Aviary, a duck was perceived by the swans to be eating their food and was dealt with accordingly.

Feeding Time Video

 

Sources

  • Tracy Aviary Meet the Birds.
  • Extracts from various Wikipedia bird articles.

Credits

  • Thanks to Jill Willoughby for the video and the free-flighted encounters photographs.

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Ford Canyon

Ford Canyon bridge

Susan and Jill check out the destroyed bridge

Last Saturday I ventured up Ford Canyon with Jill and Susan. The bridges were washed out so I fished a plank out of the water and we used that to cross Ricks Creek. We were not very far from civilization but it seemed like it as we got stuck in the undergrowth. We followed a trail upward but when it ended we had to descend to the creek again. Jill and Susan checked out the north side of the canyon but could go no further.

Ford Canyon Susan crossing Ricks creek

Susan crossing Ricks creek

I investigated the south side but could find no trail through. Jill and Susan returned to where I was climbing back up from the creek. We gave up and went back to our car and drove to Firebreak Road.

Ford Canyon Rick climbing up

Rick climbing back up to the trail. Photo by Susan Ward

I tracked this aborted attempt to find the trail in Ford Canyon using Google My Tracks (shut down 1 May 2016 by Google). My Tracks is was an application for your Android phone that enabled you to record GPS tracks and view live statistics such as time, speed, distance, and elevation while hiking.

Ford Canyon

Ford Canyon trail recorded using Google My Tracks

Here are some of the metrics that My Tracks recorded:

Total Distance: 1.15 km (0.7 mi)
Total Time: 44:13
Moving Time: 15:03
Average Speed: 1.56 km/h (1.0 mi/h)
Average Moving Speed: 4.59 km/h (2.9 mi/h)
Max Speed: 8.49 km/h (5.3 mi/h)
Min Elevation: 1324 m (4344 ft)
Max Elevation: 1380 m (4529 ft)
Elevation Gain: 88 m (287 ft)

From Firebreak Road there was a short trail that took us to Ford Canyon waterfall. Once we got to the waterfall we all had to pose by it, like it was the eighth wonder of the world. I even took a video of the waterfall, it is at the end of the post.

Ford Canyon Jill on the trail

Jill on the trail to the waterfall

Ford Canyon waterfall

First view of the waterfall

Ford Canyon Rick by waterfall

Rick by the waterfall

Ford Canyon Jill by waterfall

Jill by the waterfall

Ford Canyon Susan by waterfall

Susan by the waterfall

 

Ford Canyon view

Antelope Island from Firebreak Road


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Shepard Creek Trail

Shepard Creek Trail - Susan,  Shauna, and Jill

Shepard Creek Trail - Susan, Shauna, and Jill

Yesterday Susan, Shauna, Jill and I hiked Shepard Creek Trail. Shepard Creek Trail winds out of several residential areas in Somerset and Shepard Heights and up a canyon. To get to the trail, from Main Street go east toward the mountains on 1400 North one block. Look for a dirt road to the north and park along 1400 North. Step over the pedestrian gate.

Shepard Creek Trail stream

Shepard Creek

Walk north up the dirt road. This is part of the old Bamberger Railroad right of way. As you come to a large open area, cross near a stone culvert, past the weather station, to the far side of Shepard Creek. The trail parallels the creek winding through trees and crossing two bridges. The first bridge is a large log with a rope as a handrail. Turn left and follow the trail beside the stream.

Shepard Creek Trail steep in places

The trail was steep in places

When you come to some wooden steps, go straight across and continue paralleling the stream until you reach another set of wooden steps. Turn left and cross the second bridge. Follow the trail again paralleling the stream. You will pass some houses. If you take a wrong turn you could end up in someone’s kitchen. So watch for the trail markers.

Shepard Creek Trail flowers

Flowers along the trail

Keep bearing to the right and eventually you will rise up a short hill to an intersection where there is a bench. The Somerset section of the trail continues on from here.

In 10 or 20 minutes, the trail will come out on Bella Vista Drive. Look up the canyon over your right shoulder to see the break in the chain link fence where the trail continues.

Hike up the dirt road about 200 feet and watch for the trail to cut up the slope to the right. Continue up the trail beyond the chain link fence and hike straight up the dirt road until it “T’s”.

Go left at the “T” and follow this dirt road. After 75 to 100 feet, keep an eye to the right of the road for a faint footpath. Follow the footpath up a ways where it turns to the south. Notice that there is a footpath that travels east up and over a rock outcropping. Another trail goes south from here to Farmington Canyon.

It was a hot day but most of the first part of the trail was shaded. Once out in the open one could feel the sun. Occasionally there was a gentle breeze which felt really good.

We didn’t get to the end of the trail. A hiker on his return trip said it was very steep further up the trail. We weren’t equipped with hiking boots so we eventually turned back after admiring the view.

Shepard Creek Trail bench

There were several benches along the trail

Shepard Creek Trail uphill

Further up the trail

Shepard Creek Trail - Jill

Jill on the trail

Shepard Creek Trail - Shauna

Shauna with a view of the valley behin her

Shepard Creek Trail view of LDS granary

Jill with the Kaysville LDS granary in the distance

Shepard Creek Trail sego lily

Utah's state flower, the sego lily, by the side of the trail

Shepard Creek Trail flowers Shauna

Shauna and flowers

FAA long-range radar site atop Francis Peak

Shepard Creek Trail return trip

Jill, Shauna, and Susan make the return trip

Shepard Creek Trail waterfall

On our return, this little waterfall cooled the air while we rested

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5K Run Walk Bike Rollerblades Skateboards Strollers and Little Red Wagons

 

Last Saturday was the annual Kaysville Utah South Stake 5K Run. Run in this instance includes walking and transportation such as strollers and little red wagons. I ran in 2008 but in 2010 I merely took photographs, as I did this year. The runners to watch this time are Jill and Mike, pictured below. Not for their turn of speed but to see if they can best their 2008 times.

2008 Results

  • Rick 36 minutes 28 seconds, 106th, 8th in class.
  • Mike 39 minutes 23 seconds, 114th, 9th in class.
  • Jill 45 minutes 19 seconds, 150th, 4th in class.

I believe Mike’s goal was to beat my time as well as his own.

Kaysville Utah South Stake 5K runners

Jill and Mike are attempting to break their 2008 5K records

Kaysville Utah South Stake 5K leader

The leader at around the half way point

Kaysville Utah South Stake 5K runner with dog

The master appears to be in better shape than his dog

Kaysville Utah South Stake 5K neighbor

My neighbor was up with the leaders at this stage of the run

Kaysville Utah South Stake 5K Mike

Mike is looking very fit - for his age

Kaysville Utah South Stake 5K runner finishing

The finish line!

Kaysville Utah South Stake 5K neighbor finishing

Another neighbor finishing

Kaysville Utah South Stake 5K Jill

Jill at the finish

2011 Unofficial Results

  • Rick (did not run).
  • Mike 27 minutes 59 seconds.
  • Jill 43 minutes 15 seconds.

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Dinosaurs at Hogle Zoo

Tyrannosaurus Rex

Yesterday’s visit to Hogle Zoo with Jill, Adelaide, and my grandchildren found us encountering dinosaurs. Their heads and necks moved and they made noises so as to appear more life-like. The Dilophosaurus even spit water out of its mouth which scared my granddaughter Aurora and quite surprised me just as I was about to take its photograph.

The dinosaurs are presented in alphabetical order. If you click on the photographs, they will either show a larger version of the same photograph or a different shot of the same dinosaur.

Allosaurus

Allosaurus (different lizard) is the state fossil of Utah. The powerful skull of Allosaurus was a perfect meat-eating machine. The jaws were large and massive, with serrated teeth for cutting meat. The skull was composed of separated pieces that could be disjointed allowing him to swallow enormous chunks of meat whole. Allosaurus constantly grew, shed and replaced it teeth, some of which averaged three or four inches in length.

Allosaurus

Allosaurus

Dilophosaurus

Dilophosaurus (double-crested lizard) had colorful crests that could have been used to attract mates. In the movie Jurassic Park, Dilophosaurus paralyzed its prey by spitting blinding venom in the eyes. There is no evidence of this but it does make for a good story.

Dilophosaurus

Dilophosaurus with baby. They spit blinding venom in our eyes that felt a little like water.

Kentrosaurus

Kentrosaurus (sharp-point lizard) had plates along the low back tail that most likely served a defensive function. The tail had two pairs of sharp, two-foot spikes that were probably used for lashing out against predators. The plates may have had blood flowing through them to help heat and cool the dinosaur’s body.

Kentrosaurus

Kentrosaurus

Megalosaurus

Megalosaurus (great lizard) had curved teeth with a serrated edge and strong claws on each toe and finger. The curved claws were designed for seizing and holding prey, while the jaws were the main killing tool. Megalosaurus was the first dinosaur to be discovered, in England in 1676.

Megalosaurus

Megalosaurus

Parasaurolophus

Parasaurolophus (crested lizard) had a hollow head-crest that allowed it to make a sound like a trombone. The noise may have been used to “talk” to the rest of the herd, warning them about approaching predators.

Parasaurolophus

Parasaurolophus

Rhinosaurus

Rhinosaurus (horned nose) is characterized by its large size, an herbivorous diet, large horns, and a thick protective skin. The Rhinosaurus can exceed 7,700 pounds in weight and have a head and body length of 15 feet. They are extremely nearsighted; making the Rhinosaurus dangerous and unpredictable, and likely to charge unfamiliar sounds and smells.

Rhinosaurus

Rhinosaurus. This one looked the most life-like

Styracosaurus

Styracosaurus (spiked lizard) used its horns for defense and could charge like a rhino to protect itself. But because its frill was not solid bone and was easily punctured, some researchers theorize that it may have been able to flush the frill with blood creating eyespots to scare predators away.

Styracosaurus

Styracosaurus and baby

Tyrannosaurus Rex

Tyrannosaurus Rex (tyrant lizard king) was one of the largest animal predators. With a 5-foot-long head, 8-inch long teeth and a bite three times stronger than a lion’s, it could eat 200 pounds of meat in one bite. The little arms were extremely strong for holding on to struggling prey. It had a keen sense of smell, bone-crushing bites, and super speed.

Tyrannosaurus Rex

Tyrannosaurus Rex

 

Notes and News

  • Not shown here but on display at Hogle Zoo: Coelophysis, Suchmimus, and Brachiosaurus.
  • Dinosaur details are from onsite information displays.
  • At 1 pm we were fortunate to experience first-hand feeding time at the zoo.
  • An extensive multi-animal habitat, called Rocky Shores, featuring polar bears, sea lions, seals and brown bears will open in the Spring of 2012.

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Spiral Jetty

Spiral Jetty from shore

Spiral Jetty seen from the shore

Last November Paul and I visited Spiral Jetty at Rozel Point. Then the Jetty was several hundred feet away from the waters of the Great Salt Lake. Yesterday Paul revisited Spiral Jetty, accompanied by Megan, with Julie and Dan. They found the Jetty almost submerged. Compare the photographs of the Jetty from November of last year with the ones that are published here.

Spiral Jetty outer arm

Daniel standing on the outer spiral of the Jetty

The graph below shows a year of daily readings up until Paul’s visit yesterday. The water level has risen over a foot from the same day last year and nearly three feet from our last visit in November. NGVD 29 is the National Geodetic Vertical Datum of 1929 and is a hybrid model closely representing the mean sea level. Note that the equipment malfunctioned near the low readings and appears to have taken at least two weeks to repair.

Great Salt Lake daily mean elevation

Readings from 14 May 2010 to 14 May 2011

The historical average level of Great Salt Lake is 4,200 feet. Spiral Jetty is only visible when the level of Great Salt Lake drops below 4,197.8 feet. The maximum elevation of the lake was 4,211.6 feet, seen in 1986 and 1987. The minimum elevation was in 1963 at 4,191.35 feet.

Spiral Jetty center

Megan stands at the center of Spiral Jetty

Great Salt Lake is the largest U.S. lake west of the Mississippi River and the 4th largest terminal lake (no outlet) in the world. It is about 75 miles long and 28 miles wide, and covers 1,700 square miles with a maximum depth of about 35 feet. A remnant of Lake Bonneville, a prehistoric freshwater lake that was 10 times larger than Great Salt Lake. It is typically three to five times saltier than the ocean.

Spiral Jetty almost submerged

Spiral Jetty is almost submerged

Paul reports that the rough trail to Spiral Jetty has been graded and resurfaced and is now a smooth drive. A parking lot has been built near the Jetty. I suspect that those who do not visit the Spiral Jetty soon will have nothing to see for perhaps another three decades.

Spiral Jetty overcast

This may be the last you will see of Spiral Jetty for a time

Credits

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