Happy Thanksgiving to All!

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Happy Thanksgiving to all my friends, family, and readers who dip in to read my blog postings.  Time to be thankful for all our blessings.  I’ll be back next week!

Published in: on November 26, 2013 at 5:24 pm  Leave a Comment  

Hiking in Utah is Now a Full-contact Sport

As if hikers in Utah don’t have enough to worry about–gear, hiking skills, weather, food and water–they now will have to dodge bullets.  Forget winter skiing.  If you want real fun, huff a big rifle up a snowy mountainside and shoot at things.

Utah is known for its fabulous and varied terrain for all sorts of sports, including, of course, hiking.  In fact, it’s more challenging and dangerous than one might expect.  In the past year, about a dozen hikers have fallen and sustained injuries or have been killed while hiking trails that just might have been beyond their skill range.  The mountains and red rock canyon country are seductive, but can be treacherous.  Unskilled day-trippers head up what looks to be an easy trail walk–often in flip-flops and with no water or warm jackets–and get caught on the upper parts of the trail trying to reach an overlook or waterfall.  Many fall or get stuck and have to be rescued.  The TV news programs had stories like this about these ill-prepared idiots just about every week this past summer.  Night rescues, often using helicopters are common.  In fact, one EMT fell to his death while trying to rescue an injured hiker.

Just last week a young woman fell to her death trying to get to Bridal Veil Falls above Provo Canyon at dusk.  At least she had a companion–a must–who could call 911 for help, but the woman’s head injuries were too great after a 50 foot fall.  She died on the spot.  Her friend commented that they didn’t think it would get dark so early.  It’s only been getting dark by 5:30pm for about a month now.  Where is the common sense?

So now that winter’s here, hikers (yes, enthusiasts and ice climbers still attempt these trails in winter, slogging through deep snow!) in the Ogden area of the Wasatch Front mountains will now have to concern themselves with live bullets.  It seems one man owns a good chunk of acreage above Ogden and many public trails criss-cross his land.  High-powered rifles carried up the mountains by marksmen will be part of a sniper-fire program he runs on his property in winter.  Roads will be closed occasionally to accommodate the snipers, but the trick for the hikers is to figure out when the dates are.  Apparently, this info will be posted on Facebook and if you “like” his page, you’ll get updates.  Woe to the out-of-state hikers who don’t know this!

Sharpshooters who want to can stay at his ranch facility to make access easier and a vacation of it.  The owner, Chris Peterson, claims it’s all safe, as the sniper practice fire is downhill into a canyon wall.  The hiking community isn’t so sure and is in an uproar.  Since this is a new gun program, no one is exactly sure what the legal ramifications are.

Sure puts a new wrinkle into an afternoon hike.  So, what do YOU think will happen?  Will we lose at least one hiker to sniper fire?  Stay tuned; I’ll let you know if we have a casualty.

Published in: on November 21, 2013 at 6:21 pm  Leave a Comment  

Deranged Turkey Attacks

It must have been a slow day for news.

The lead headline in the local newspaper about a week ago indicated a deranged turkey in a northern Utah town was attacking children and pets.

Spoiler alert: The honored fowl, a holiday icon, does not survive this tale.

More than a few 911 calls were made to emergency dispatchers and for a while it was thought to be a wild turkey threatening the locals.  During the nearly tw0-hour escapade, the animal control officer was summoned, but he claimed he had no authority over turkeys, only cats and dogs.

An hour after the initial call to dispatch the family under attack called back to say the turkey had now attacked the family dog as well as the children.  “A deputy arrived and saw the bird’s behavior, attacking the children and the dog, and ended up shooting the turkey,” said Chief Sheriff’s Deputy Kevin Potter. “He saw it in that attack posture and he put it down.”

It turned out the animal was not wild but a domestic turkey. The owner was identified and contacted to come collect the deceased.

“He could have been cited under the vicious animal ordinance,” Potter said. But since there were no injuries, he wasn’t.

If the bird was a wild turkey, he said, the state Division of Wildlife Resources, game wardens, would have had to be involved.

The deputy’s supervisor was called to the scene to make a report, policy for any discharge of a firearm. Potter said it was the first turkey attack he could recall in his 20-plus years with the sheriff’s office.

I can only hope the owner prepared and eventually froze the turkey to enjoy it on Thanksgiving, but on second thought, that might be a bit traumatic for the family.  Personally, I think the poor bird had a premonition that it’s life was in danger, what with the approaching holiday, and lost its mind, going berserk.

Published in: on November 14, 2013 at 4:46 pm  Leave a Comment  

Praying for Both Powder and Heavy Voter Turnout

Last weekend we awoke to a polite dusting of snow on Sunday morning: the proverbial warning shot across the bow!  On Monday morning, the second part of the early “storm” dropped more snow, even in the valley (which melted by mid-afternoon), but this time it was slightly measurable on our lawn.

The lake-effect snowfall is a harbinger of the winter to come and the ski areas are moving mountains (well, almost) to be the first to open for this season.  It’s below freezing in the high mountain elevations, so they can make snow to add to the natural amounts, already measured by feet.  Solitude has claimed the honors and will open this weekend, with the others sure to follow rapidly to catch some of the early lift ticket windfall.  The normal opening date is usually a little closer to Thanksgiving.

It’s mostly the locals who benefit from this pre-season start and, in fact, some have already tested the virgin powder even before the ski lifts are running.  Intrepid enthusiasts will schlep their skis and poles or snowboards for about an hour climb uphill (and the better trails are steep!) for a 10 minute run to the base.  Now that’s obsessive dedication.

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It’s supposed to warm up a bit this week, but I’m sure by Thanksgiving, we’ll have been visited by Jack Frost and the Snow Queen again to prepare us properly for the winter months.  Twice already I had to defrost my windshield.

As for the election, voter turnout in an off-year election is always low (just like most places) and for most of the precincts in Utah that was the case.  Utah even has about 10 days of early voting; we’re not stuck with just Election Day.  No excuses: I voted early.  And, yes, these are what our computer-screen voting machines look like; gone are the clunky monsters with the curtains and levers.  No more feeling a bit like the Wizard of Oz in his mysterious booth.

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Syracuse elected a new mayor, Terry Palmer, who, mercifully, was the right candidate.  His opponent, was an already sitting councilman and insider: a member of the good old boys’ club.  Terry won by a decisive 2-1 margin.  Now we’ll see what he can do with the in-fighting the town council is well-known for.  I wish him well; it’s one of those thankless jobs we hear about.

Today’s paper didn’t have the results for the Syracuse council positions, so I don’t know yet who was elected.  I am curious to find out how the write-in candidate did.  He was a true outsider and I voted for him mainly just to be ornery, figuring if he somehow did win (this was a case of a snowball’s chance in hell), he just might be a thorn in the side of some of those obnoxious council members.

Ah, the joys of small-town politics.

Published in: on November 14, 2013 at 4:39 pm  Leave a Comment