North Fork Park

North Fork Park camp

North Fork Park campsite

I believe this is the first time that Jill and I have been camping with all our grown children at the same time. Plus their spouses were with us as well as all three of our grandchildren. We did not go far, just to North Fork Park.

North Fork Park Bryson and Aurora

Bryson and Aurora enjoy giant marshmallows

North Fork Park Cassandra


Our children’s spouses are fun to be around. Jill and I are glad that they are a part of our family.

North Fork Park Derek


North Fork Park Rachel


North Fork Park Adelaide


The sunglasses that Adelaide is wearing remind me of the ones Jill wore back in the early 1980s.

For cooking, we had Derek’s smoker, which provided us with some great chicken. Sarah cooked our evening meal using dutch ovens. The campfire was used to roast marshmallows and a homemade cooker, made from a 12 ounce can, carboard, and candle wax, was utilized to cook our bacon and eggs for breakfast.

North Fork Park Derek and smoked chicken

Derek attending to his smoked chicken. Mmm...tasty

North Fork Park dinner

Dinner, clockwise from left: Paul, Megan, Jake, Rachel, Dan, Steven, Aurora, Adelaide, Cassandra, Rick

North Fork Park Dan

Dan: Marshmallow, anyone?

For entertainment we visited around the campfire, played with grandchildren, and identified the stars using Google Sky. There was also…

North Fork Park moose

moose watching...

North Fork Park Dan playing guitar


North Fork Park Jake and Cassandra

Jake making faces at Cassandra...

North Fork Park Jill and Cassandra

and smoke avoidance

The moose were just hanging around the campground.

Sleeping was uneventful except for Jake eating too much dinner and bursting his sleeping mat. And lastly, the mandatory group photograph, click for a 4000×3000 version.

North Fork Park Jake

We heard a loud bang late last night. It was just Jake and his exploding mat.

North Fork Park group photo

Rear: Jake, Paul, Dan, Steve, Derek, Rick. Front: Jill, Aurora, Rachel, Megan, Bryson, Cassandra, Ada, Sarah

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The Best Easter

Target practice rifle Mark

Mark with a Robinson Armament Company XCR

Last Easter weekend the family gathered west of the Golden Spike. Instead of a silly Easter egg hunt we fired a variety of weapons for several hours. We also had three ATVs, a bicycle, and even a few kites. The weather was not too hot and the rain stayed away. We had a great lunch. It was The Best Easter yet.



Target practice rifle Jake




Target practice pistol Susan


Target practice pistol Randy


Target practice pistol Megan


Target practice pistol Jake



Target practice atv Megan and Paul

Paul and Megan

Target practice atv Dan


Target practice atv Rachel and Jake

Rachel and Jake

The Children

Target practice hill Jake and Dan

The children, Jake and Dan, scrambled around on the hills when the range was closed

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Daniel Has Such Cool Girlfriends

Daniel and girlfriendNow that Daniel is back from his mission he can concentrate on his schooling and maybe the odd girlfriend. His latest date, Krystal, was somewhat cold and a little flaky but she didn’t talk much so that was a positive. She has no heart for studying but did try a semester at Snow College.

Krystal likes ice skating, snow cones, and being outdoors. Her favorite movies are The Day After Tomorrow, Snow White, and Cold Mountain. I think she likes Daniel because she literally melted in his arms. Daniel’s brother said not to let this one slip away.

Krystal under construction

Krystal under construction

Unfortunately Krystal told Daniel she will be leaving for the summer but will be back next winter, probably with the first snows.

What do you think of Krystal?
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Model Railroad Festival

At the model railroad festival

One of the several rooms with layouts at the Ogden Union Station

Today we visited the Ogden Union Station to attend The Hostlers Model Railroad 2011 Festival. There were HO, N, G, O and S scale layouts in several rooms. During the three day show over 8,000 people will visit (it seemed like all of them were there right at the time we arrived).

The Hostlers Model Railroad Club was founded in February 1988 in Ogden and has now grown to over 180 members.

We headed straight for the model railroad layouts. There was a lot of them to see.

Watching the trains

Watching the trains: Bryson, Sarah, Adelaide, Cassandra, Jill, and Aurora

Lego display

There was even a large Lego Layout

Watching Trains



Climbing on Trains

At the Union Station are locomotives that were designed to pull large trains over steep Western terrain. The 833 steam engine (at left in the photo below) is a Union Pacific Northern. This 4-8-4 saw both freight and passenger service between Utah and Wyoming. Also featured is a restored Red Cross Hospital Car, Railroad Post Office Car and the 2002 Olympic Winter Games Cauldron Car.

Ogden railyard

The Ogden railyard has trains that you can climb on

Inside the steam engine

Here is what it looks like on board a steam engine

Union Station train

They'll let anybody drive a train

Riding a Train

It is fun watching the model trains and climbing on some old full-size trains. But there is nothing like a ride in a train.

Aboard the train

All aboard the train

Riding in the train

Riding in the train even if it is just around in circles


The Long Train Movie

If you don’t have a movie for the evening then perhaps you could try this video. It doesn’t have much of a plot but there is one exciting part where one of the guard posts is knocked over. You can then watch it being put back in place. This video can also be used in place of a sleeping pill — no prescription needed. They way it works is to count the rail cars instead of sheep.

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Sledding Near Miss

Sarah, Bryson, and Aurora ready to sled

Sarah, Bryson, and Aurora ready to sled

There was snow on the ground so Adelaide, Sarah, the grandchildren, Jill, and I went sledding. We picked a very small hill for the grandchildren and took our cameras. Click on the images to enlarge. The videos are usually not visible in a feed reader. In the screencap below I have circled a girl in pink at the bottom of the hill. Keep your eye on her when you play the accompanying video of Bryson and I sledding.

Sledding near miss

Sledding near miss

Adelaide took the photograph below as we narrowly missed the little girl in pink. You can see how close we came. I still had the camera rolling.

Near miss, different angle

The near miss, taken from a different angle

Aurora in the snow

Aurora in the snow

Bryson with a snowball

Bryson with a snowball



Adelaide, Aurora, and Cassandra sledding

Adelaide, Aurora, and Cassandra sledding

Sarah and Bryson sledding

Sarah and Bryson sledding

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Taking The Jeep For A Spin

Have you ever felt like you were going around in circles? That all you were doing was spinning your wheels? That the next round that life dealt you would be just the same as the last? Well no, not normally. That is until today when Paul asked me if I’d like to get out of the house and go for a spin in the Jeep.

A few minutes away was the Centerville City ATV Area where you are welcome to drive your vehicle in the “dike” as long as you don’t deviate from the marked area. I took some short videos while we were there.

This is what making those circles looks like from inside as a passenger. The initial filming is of the view from the side window. I don’t mind telling you that it made me a little sick. There is a reason why I work on F-16s and not fly them.

I had had enough of the circles so Paul drove up and around a bank.

This is what it looks like from the inside:

And now you know why I don’t carpool with Paul to work.
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Spiral Jetty At Rozel Point

Spiral Jetty

Spiral Jetty is an earthwork sculpture constructed in 1970 by American sculptor Robert Smithson. This is a view of the Jetty from the dirt road.

Last Tuesday afternoon found Paul and I heading north to visit Spiral Jetty at Rozal Point. It was a warm day for Northern Utah in November. We drove past the Golden Spike Visitors Center and followed the signs to Spiral Jetty. The dirt road was being graded in places as we traveled closer to the northern shore of the Great Salt Lake. Google Maps on my Nexus didn’t know about Spiral Jetty but responded to Rozel Point.

I took several photographs of our visit. Click on the images to enlarge.

In 2008 it was announced that there were plans for exploratory oil drilling approximately five miles from the jetty. The news was met with strong resistance from artists, and the state of Utah received more than 3,000 e-mails about the plan, most opposing the drilling. Shown here are the remains of prior exploration just a few hundred feet from the Spiral.

Spiral Jetty

Spiral Jetty forms a 1,500-foot-long, 15-foot-wide counterclockwise coil jutting from the shore of the lake which is only visible when the level of the Great Salt Lake falls below an elevation of 4,197.8 feet. Paul stands by the Spiral entrance to give you some perspective on its size.

Spiral Jetty

Due to a drought, the jetty re-emerged in 2004 and was completely exposed for almost a year. The lake level rose again during the spring of 2005 because of a near record-setting snowpack in the mountains and partially submerged the Jetty again. Here are the ruins of a building right by the Jetty. Whether it was built by the pioneers or was used for oil exploration, I know not.


Notice how sand has filled in the spaces between the rocks. The current exposure of the jetty to the elements has led to a controversy over the preservation of the sculpture. There is a proposal to restore the original colors with the addition of more rocks, noting that the Spiral will be submerged again once the drought is over.

I did a 360 degree video at the top of the hill overlooking the Spiral. The issue of preservation has been complicated by ambiguous statements by Smithson, who expressed an admiration for entropy in that he intended his works to mimic earthly attributes in that they remain in a state of arrested disruption and not be kept from destruction.

I shot this on our return. It was a smooth ride once we were a few miles from Spiral Jetty. The wipers quit working so the windshield had to stay dirty.

Spiral Jetty

The Spiral is built entirely of mud, salt crystals, basalt rocks, earth, and water. This is the end of the long arm of the Spiral as it makes its first curve.

Spiral Jetty

At the time of its construction in 1970, the water level of the lake was unusually low because of a drought. Within a few years, the water level returned to normal and submerged the Jetty for the next three decades. Seen here is Paul standing on the innermost spiral.

Spiral Jetty

Lake levels have receeded and, as of fall 2010, the Jetty is again walkable and visible. Originally black basalt rock against ruddy water, it is now largely white against pink due to salt encrustation and lower water levels.

Spiral Jetty

The Spiral was financed in part by a $9,000 grant from the Virginia Dwan Gallery of New York. A 20-year lease for the site was granted for $100 annually.

Spiral Jetty

The only other visitors were a couple walking south of the Spiral towards the waterfront.

Spiral Jetty

Paul stands by a relic of some past exploration activity.

Spiral Jetty

To move the rock into the lake, Smithson hired contractor Whitaker Construction's Bob Phillips of nearby Ogden, Utah, who used two dump trucks, a large tractor, and a front end loader to haul the 6,550 tons of rock and earth into the Lake. The Lake edge is currently several hundred feet from the Spiral.

Spiral Jetty

Smithson began work on the jetty in April 1970. Construction took six days. Smithson died in a plane crash in Texas three years after finishing the Jetty.

Spiral Jetty

The sculpture is currently owned by the Dia Art Foundation of New York, acquired as a gift from the Estate of the artist in 1999.

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No Bears At The Zoo

Rocky Shores at Hogle Zoo

Rocky Shores will open Spring of 2012

We discovered at our last visit to Hogle Zoo that Tuff, Cubby, and Dale had been moved to the Oregon Zoo. Construction is proceeding on the Rocky Shores Exhibit, an extensive multi-animal habitat featuring polar bears, sea lions, seals and possibly other bears. According to Hogle Zoo:

Guests will experience unprecedented environmental immersion through realistic, cutting-edge habitat design. Educational information about the animals what they eat, their behaviors and instincts, and their future survival will be presented through interactive technology and innovative educational programs, adaptable for Zoo and classroom use.

Rocky Shores will be the largest exhibit ever created at Utah’s Hogle Zoo, and is a major step in its transformation to a 21st century zoo. (Hogle Zoo)

Rocky Shores construction

On our visit to the zoo on Wednesday Aurora and Bryson also saw the animals, rode the train, and clambered in the playground.

Zuri with mother

Zuri the baby elephant

Aurora encounters the Aldabra Tortoise

The shells of the Aldabra Tortoise are not very hard. Giant tortoises are slow moving, non-aggressive animals. Most of their time is spent foraging. Although the tortoises are primarily vegetarians, they will eat decaying animal matter. Paths to and from their favorite feeding and drinking areas are scraped into the soil by the massive shells. These tortoises can weigh up to 550 lbs. and shells up to 55 inches long. They live up to 200 years.



Splashing water

Train ride

Watch the video and see how intent Bryson is as he rides the train.

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Jeep Cherokee

Jeep CherokeePaul decided it was time he took up four wheeling so he bought a 1993 Jeep Cherokee. There was one problem — there always is: when Paul tried to shift into 4-wheel drive there was “a grinding and crunching noise,” as Paul described it, coming from the transfer case. This newly acquired 4-wheel drive vehicle would not go into 4-wheel drive.

Jeep Cherokee drive chain

Jeep Cherokee drive chain

Paul inspected the transfer case and found that the drive chain was loose. If you click on the photograph of the chains side by side, you will see that the old chain has stretched a good 3/8 inch longer than the new chain. Once the replacement chain was installed Paul had a 4-wheel drive Jeep that could actually drive four wheels.

There were a few minor issues like replacing the 90% water antifreeze with a 30% water mix, fixing the blower motor, and two new window winder handles.

Of course a quick test was in order so we headed to the mountains to check Paul’s repair work. It looks like he is good to go, judging from this superb video I filmed. Click here if you cannot see the video.

I took several photographs with the sun low in the sky which gave the Cherokee a definitely uncool pinkish color look.

Jeep Cherokee at sunset
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