It doesn’t snow much in Castle Valley (especially compared to Salt Lake — where the lake effect snow really brought the valley a lot of snow.
The mountains that make up the southern valley-boundary get several inches of snow almost weekly, but down the geology of the mountains and cliffs and mesas that surround the valley aren’t very nice to approaching storms, and so a lot of the individual storms are broken up before they arrive.
Last night, it starting snowing at around 7p.m. Beth and I hit the hot tub then, because it’s really pretty fun sitting in the hot tub outside while it snows on your face, and everything around you is white and brighter than usual.
This morning, a low ceiling + the sunrise made for some pretty dramatic pictures. As always, it is so much more vivid in person, but the pics are petty spectacular as well, especially this pic of our house with Porcupine Ridge looming behind it all brightly lit and snow-covered.
Beth and I rang in the new year with homemade pizza, beer/wine, and a movie marathon. Oh, and we hit the hot tub for an intermission.
Me: pepperoni/ricotta pizza, CoConut Porter
Beth: eggplant/orange bell pepper/ricotta pizza, organic wine
We watched the second half of The Desolation of Smaug and the first half of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.
It was a lovely night, and it was absolutely cold outside (in the teens), which made the hot tub both a delightful (settling into the 103f water) and miserable (walking back into the house) experience. But the 3/4 moon was amazingly bright, and the air very crisp.
Moving to Castle Valley in 2014
I really didn’t think, when we discovered and first flirted with the idea of moving to Castle Valley, that we’d make it out here before 2015 spring. But I was wrong. So the experience was extra special for me, being outside in the absolute quiet, the clean, smog-free air with the silhouette of various mesas, buttes, mountains, ridges, whatever they are.
At the start of the new year, a natural time for reflecting, I am especially grateful that Kitty is still with us. After being diagnosed with feline leukemia in 2011 and given ~ 6 months to live, she did unexpectedly well for several years, until November 2014, when she almost died. We rushed her to the vet E.R. one night—a 1.5 hour drive for an emergency blood transfusion. Her red blood cell count was ultimately 11% right before the transfusion (that’s really knocking on death’s door), but she recovered well. After the transfusion her RBC was 21%. A recent blood test showed her RBC to be 46%. Amazing.
As I write this, she is sitting on my chest, purring. Am so thankful.
It was a good night. I’m looking forward to 2015. Am super happy I get to spend it with this girl:
To celebrate my surviving a very nasty encounter with what was most likely food poisoning, Beth and I visited the USU Eastern Prehistoric Museum. There, they had ACTUAL Utahraptor bones (including a real, not replica, fossil of a NASTY piece of bone known as the KILLING CLAW), a beautiful and in-tact Mammoth skeleton, and many Fremont Indian artifacts.
Here’s me and the Utahraptor:
It was a 2.25 hour drive, one way, and we drove through some (pretty) snow on highway 101. Dinner was at Groggs Brew Pub, which was better than we thought it’d be!
My second favorite part of the museum (which included many full size dino replicas, such as Allosaurus and Stegosaurus), was the complete fossil of a mammoth.
Beth declared that Christmas is now Utahraptormas, so I made her a necklace of a velociraptor claw, and a website explaining the tradition. It was fun. 🙂
Here is our rosemary tree with presents under it:
And a lovely shot of our little garden space, with snow:
It has snowed a bit here and there in November and December, but this was the first really strong snow, that stuck. Kind of magical!
We made seeded bread with marscapone + toasted hazelnuts + blackberry honey for breakfast, and had a nice oven roasted turkey and mashed potatoes in the evening. After it got dark, we made vanilla bean + cinnamon ice cream and watched (2/3 0f) The Desolation of Smaugh. [Spiders!!]
Like we do, last week Beth and I had some time to kill, so we wandered south of Moab. Maybe we’d finally get to check out the exciting cities of Blanding or Bluff! But then something magical happened. A few miles outside Moab, there is a wonderful little place called Hole in the Rock.
What is Hole in the Rock? It’s a lot of things, such as:
A 5,000 sqft house/diner carved out of a giant sandstone structure (pictured above).
An exotic zoo.
Your one stop destination for native American art souvenirs.
Seriously. In the 50’s, Albert and Gladys Christensen blasted out this huge section of rock and made themselves a house over the course of several years. Here’s a picture I found online (they don’t allow photography here).
It’s much cooler than you’d think, actually. If you ever end up in Moab, I highly recommend visiting Hole in the Rock. It’s crazy to think as you’re walking around the house (on the tour) there’s about 65+ feet of solid sandstone above your head.
Hole in the Rock also features, for some reason, an exotic zoo, where you’ll find
an albino racoon
a very intense emu
the dear from bambi
Here’s a picture of Beth getting a kiss from the two-humped camel. (Such a nice camel! You put a carrot stick in your mouth and he takes it from you, very gently).
What? It was awesome.
After Hole in the Rock, we made our way farther South, just wandering. We decided to turn off the main road and head toward “Needles Overlook,” which was 17 miles west of Highway 191.
It turns out, Needles Overlook is on a cliff that overlooks a huge basin and, in the distance, the Needles District in Canyonlands National Park (but just to be clear–the overlook is NOT a part of Canyonlands).
We arrived a few hours after noon. It was cold. Like, really cold. We were treated to the slow formation of a snow storm over the basin (was amazing, pictures don’t do it justice) and then it promptly started hailing on us. This only lasted a few minutes. When the storm left us and moved back out over the basin, I got a pic of the storm. Here it is:
Here are some pics from our Needles Overlook adventure.
Living in Castle Valley is wonderful. I’m still amazed when I go outside that I actually live here. I enjoy the quiet (no dogs and no loud bass from cars at stop lights–it’s just blissfully quiet). I enjoy the space (each property is on five acres, and mountains give the valley a sense of seclusion, but also really define the wide open space). I love working from home, on my trusty macbook air.
But when I saw that the library was hiring a children’s librarian (part time), I applied right away. I love books, and I love working with kids (I got a degree in education after all!). But what I really think I’ll love is working in a place with other people (who ALSO love books), and being a part of the community. People love libraries, and the library is definitely an important to the city. Here in Moab, a lot of the kids from local elementary and middle schools (within walking distance!) go to the library after school to do homework, read, and interact with their peers until their parents pick them up.
I was hired to work the late shift three days a week as a children’s librarian. I’m really excited to start. I’ll still be running my business and podcasting from home, but a few days a week I’ll spend half the day in town, helping kids with their homework and checking books out to them. 🙂
An early birthday present for Beth, I ordered these hand-made, beautiful mugs from Droste Pottery. Fantastic.
For a week now, we’ve had water coming out from the baseboards in the laundry room. We finally got a plumber to come and check it out. After cutting several holes in the drywall, he found the busted pipe, and spent most of the rest of the day fixing it. There was water everywhere, and it’ll take a long time to dry out, but we got the leak fixed.
Thankfully it wasn’t a leak in the concrete slab/foundation.
After all the plumbing drama (the leak wouldn’t stop long enough to attach the new fitting at first, and then the water softener started leaking ALL over the laundry room), we went to dinner.
**Update–captured a second spectacular rainbow, pics below. For all pics, click to see the big versions.**
Today started off with fresh home-roasted coffee. This was a good thing.
Then we went into Moab to run many errands. It’s strange driving into a city full of enthusiastic tourists, in no hurry to go anywhere. They are sight-seeing, appreciating the sun and the cool little shops, and the view.
But I just need to buy groceries.
Also, I’m coming into town from a little valley where 300 people live. Quiet, spacious, and wonderful meets busy, excited and loud. It’s a bit jarring.
Today we were in Moab so Beth could sign papers and FedEx them to the title company. We sold our old house in Salt Lake City, and were just wrapping up the final loose ends. This was a good thing. 🙂
We barely beat the rain storms home. The temperature dropped from 80 into the 60s, and the rain and wind came. Up here in the valley, storms can be a bit intense. All the homes are on five acres, and there are very little trees (this is the High Desert). When storms come in, they are fierce.
But then the storms leave. While the air was still saturated from the rain, the Sun came and made the most beautiful rainbow I’ve ever seen. This was amazing.
Of course, pictures will never do justice to the real thing, I took some anyway, so I could share. It was magical.
I love it out here.
Here are a few more pics from the storm and the rainbow:
sunflowers and the driveway:
Parriot Mesa after the storm:
Update: after I published this blog post, another rainbow popped up at sunset. It was brighter and bigger, and looked like it went right over our house. The only way I could get the whole thing in frame was to do a panorama shot. Here is the panoramas:
And here is my favorite picture, an edit of the panorama: