Sunday, September 27, 2009


Yesterday I fulfilled a lifelong dream of mine. We drove up to Strawberry Reservoir and caught crawdads. It was a riot. We brought a rotisserie chicken and a bag of rolls along for a little beachside picnic. Craig, Meg and Greg (sounds like a Dr. Seuss book, right?) and Yo Hey (that's a phonetic spelling of our new friend's name) accompanied us on our outing.

After devouring the savory greasy chicken, we took chunks of the carcass and tied them to the ends of string. Greg went out into the water first and launched his line. He didn't catch anything for a while, but we didn't get discouraged. Yo Hey took a dip in the frigid water while I continued preparing lines with bait. We moved over a ways to a rockier area and continued tossing out lines and waiting. Nothing. Then Yo Hey, crayfish ninja master, spotted a crawdad right where we were standing. We had no idea they'd be so close. We started luring it with the chicken, and it slowly emerged from its rocky lair. The crawdad circled the chicken and then decided he wasn't interested, but Greg had already positioned himself to lunge for the unlucky crustacean. Greg snatched it out of the water with his bare hand and tossed it in a five gallon bucket.

Then the frenzy began. Yo Hey and Greg continued spotting them all over, and one after another we baited the crawdads and scooped them up. Yo Hey found a badminton racket on the shore which he and Greg used to capture them. In the end we only caught eight crayfish, but that was more than enough for a sampling. We left a little early to get Samuel back, and Greg and Yo Hey met us at our place to cook them up, along with Luke. Greg and Yo Hey pulled them out of the cooler and stabbed them all in the head (Greg read that this is the quickest, most painless death, although they continued to move around long after the lobotomy was inflicted). Then we threw them in a big pot of boiling water until they turned bright red. We savagely ripped off their tails and cracked them open. Armed with butter, garlic and salt we carefully extracted the meat and scarfed it down. Yo Hey figured out you could get meat out of the claws too, and we pretty much dissected every part of the animal to get every morsel. It's a good thing we hadn't planned on them for dinner, because we would've needed about thirty times as much. But it was a glorious experience, and definitely something I'll want to try again.

Saturday, September 19, 2009


We decided we wanted to hit up one of those "pick-your-own-berry-farms." We didn't have any buckets to put our loot in, so we bought a gallon of cookies and cream ice cream and had an impromptu party on Monday night. Fifteen people responded to the free ice cream text message and showed up for some sweet sweet mooching. It was a really good time and a nice way to start the week.

On Tuesday night we went out with Alpha to the McBride Briar Patch in Mapleton. It was impressive. They had row after row of blackberry and raspberry bushes, with ripe fruit just dangling, waiting for us. We ate and picked simultaneously until our buckets were satisfactorily filled.

As I made my way down one row of bushes and approached the end of the farm, I saw a bunch of deer in the neighboring field. As I got closer to the fence I noticed that they weren't your ordinary mule deer. Some had speckles and the bucks had huge reindeer-like racks. It turned out the place was an exotic deer farm, and they had some cool animals. There were some miniature caribou, white deer, curly horned rams and little antelope dik dik looking things bouncing around. The speckled caribou came up to the fence for some berries. They had geese and ducks and chickens running around in there too. The place had me pretty jealous. I can't wait till I can get my own farm!

We liked berry picking so much we decided to go back with our friends on Friday night. Greg, Luke, Ryan, Stephen, Amelia, Quinn and Violet joined us for round two. This time we got a chance to talk to the owners of the farm and they gave us free corn.

Later that night we had a Dune party. A few weeks ago we borrowed Dune from Brinton and thought it was amazing. We invited a bunch of friends over to watch it and had some great laughs. That movie doesn't even need Mystery Science Theater dialogue; every line is amazing on its own. Here are some favorites:

What do you call the mouse shadow on the second moon? Muad'Dib!
Not in the mood? Mood is a thing for cattle and love play, not fighting!
Fear is the mind-killer.
My name is a killing word.
And how can this be? For he is the Kwisatz Haderach!
Bring in that floating fat man!
We have wormsign the likes of which God has never seen!

And it doesn't hurt that Sting dons a winged speedo for a complete non sequitur scene.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Spring City

Yesterday I went down to Spring City with Ashton, Samuel, Maryn and my parents. Spring City is a little Podunk city down by Moroni, a little over an hour away from Provo. It's a colony for artists, potters, sculptors and photographers, sort of like the art Mecca of small towns. They were having an art festival down there where all the artists opened up their shops, studios and galleries for the public to walk through and check out.

Highlights included a woman who makes violins AND stain glass windows. Her little shop is called the Crystal Fiddle. There was also a hippie out in front of the potter's shop who was carving sandstone by "subtraction." Some of his designs were pretty incredible, and it made me want to pick up a hammer and nail and give it a go. I really enjoyed walking through the main art gallery where a Plein Air contest was displayed. There were some very beautiful scenic pictures in all different styles. My favorites were Doug Braithwaite and Steve Pugh.

What I enjoyed most was walking around the small town and seeing all the historic homes. In a way it was reminiscent of old Nauvoo, although on a much smaller scale. I think it would be really cool to live in a community like that, but there would definitely be drawbacks. Like no cell phone reception. And no nearby shopping. And girls with braided mullets.

Samuel was a gentleman and gave us no trouble all day. He just sat in his stroller or car seat and slept, except when I teased him for a smile.

Other trip highlights included an alpaca farm right before Moroni. I've never seen so many alpacas in my life! It was like the entire credited cast for Monty Python and the Holy Grail!

On Friday night we had Quinn and Violet over to make bread. They brought Kurt with them because his wife is in Canada (something about her being pregnant and the mounties offering free health care.) We made a special recipe Violet learned at enrichment, a fool proof wheat bread. It only had 5 ingredients, and it turned out incredible! It was just as good as the 4 dollar loaves you can buy in the store. One day I want to get a wheat grinder and go totally free of store-bought bread. Samuel was a good helper in the kitchen.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Silver Lake

So I survived the first week of fall semester. It's going to be brutal, but I also think it will be the most enjoyable semester. I'm finally done with all the lame-o general ed classes, so I can immerse myself in some upper level biology classes. I'm especially excited about my evolutionary biology class (I'm sure I'll post something separately for that) which is taught by my lab boss Byron, and I'm stoked out of my mind for my conservation biology class, which is taught by Rick Gill, the man who persuaded me that climate change is fo real. Con bio is a capstone class and we have to do a conservation assessment for our grade. No exams! My classmates and I decided to get a leg up on the assignment and go camping this weekend. We chose the picturesque and surprisingly accessible Silver Lake for our "geographically bounded region."

Cooper, Quinn and I headed up American Fork Canyon in the late afternoon. We passed Tibble Fork Reservoir, which gave me a heavy dose of deja vu (I went camping there when I was eight with my dad and little brother), and we continued up to a sign that read Silver Flat Lake, 3 miles. We then cruised up a dirt road, which was filled with holes and big rocks. Good thing we had Coop's truck. We got to Silver Flat Lake, which looked like a huge puddle, and parked at the Silver Lake trailhead. The scenery was beautiful, with mostly scrub oak, aspen and pine.

We headed up the trail and made it to the lake no problem in about an hour. The panorama was breathtaking, and I was stunned at how beautiful and untouched the lake looked for being so close to civilization. The lake is surrounded by high mountainous cliffs, formed by a glacier, and the granite crags make for an incredible picture. Fish were leaping out of the lake like mad, and we sent Cooper to catch some while Quinn and I hiked up a little higher to set up camp.

I busted out the sweet tent I bought at a garage sale earlier this summer for the first time. Quinn got to work setting up his hammock, and when we'd put on warmer clothes we ran down to the lake to see what we'd be eating for dinner. Coop had caught a couple brook trout, but he had let one go because it was so tiny. So we set about making a fire away from our campsite (to avoid bear problems) to cook our manly meal, which also included some instant Betty Crocker mashed potatoes, made with water boiled by Quinn's Jet Boil. In lieu of s'mores we had mate, an Argentine tea which got me fairly wired. We saw flashlights near our campsite and hurriedly killed our fire (we technically weren't supposed to light one) and Quinn went down to inspect our company. Cooper and I watched with terror, fearing the rangers had come up to slap a big fine on us. Finally Quinn came back up the mountain and let us know we just had some neighbors camping nearby. We cleaned up our dinner mess and hung in the bags on a tree, then headed back to our campsite.

Cooper set up his hammock around eleven thirty, and we decided to head out under the full moon to see if we could find some wildlife. We took a spotlight with us, and we walked around the lake and perched on a few rocky protuberances to sit and wait. We got pretty spooked talking about cougar attacks, and around 12:30 we decided to head back to camp. As we were walking above the lake, however, we heard a loud splashing noise and we ran to the edge of the trail to check it out. We could just barely make out a silhouette out in the water, and guessed that it was probably a moose. As our eyes adjusted and we continued watching, we became positive that it was a female moose. We decided to get a little closer to try to get a photo. We perched on a big rock and shined the flashlight on her. We could see her eyes glowing and confirmed that it was a moose, but we weren't close enough to take a photo.

We continued watching her for about fifteen minutes, when suddenly she bolted from the lake and started making circles on the muddy shore. She bucked and snorted and grunted and scared the crap out of us. It was super erratic behavior, and we could tell she was really agitated. At one point she started galloping toward us at a surprisingly fast gait. Moose look like such awkward gangly animals, but that she-moose could move! We stood up on the rock yelling and Cooper started clapping at her. She broke left about 25 paces from us and ran out into the lake. She did a few laps and then came back to the shore to repeat the ritual. She must've been just as spooked as we were. We moved to a bigger rock and gathered ammunition to hurl at her should she charge us again. We waited until she swam back across the lake and we couldn't see her anymore, and we made a mad dash for our campsite.

We were all wired on adrenaline and a pretty jumpy. As I laid down in my sleeping bag and closed my eyes, a chorus of coyotes started howling. They sounded really close, like they were down on the lake shore. The cacophony continued for several minutes, and my heart was racing like a hummingbird. I tried to convince myself that coyotes were harmless, but images of a pack of thirty coyotes ravaging our campsite kept flashing through my mind. Needless to say, I didn't get much sleep that night.

We woke up the next morning around 7:00 and went down to the lake to inspect the panoply of tracks left behind by all the nocturnal wildlife. We saw a lot of tracks from our crazed moose friend, as well the pack of coyotes. We also saw a lot of deer tracks and something that looked like Sasquatch.

We spent the morning fishing on the other side of the lake from a rocky outcropping. Each of us took turns with the fishing rod while the others worked on breakfast. Thanks to Quinn's Jet Boil we had some fantastic mashed potatoes, instant oatmeal and hot chocolate. It was perfect for the light drizzle of rain that persisted most of the morning.

I've never been much for fishing, but I had a blast throwing that line out there and reeling in those brook trout. I caught four total (Cooper cast the line on one of those, but I still brought him in). Quinn and Cooper caught some more too, but we only brought three home with us.

Around noon we decided to head home. On our way out we saw our moose friend again, this time munching on some willows down in a gulley. We watched her from a much safer distance on the trail and snapped some half decent photos of her. The whole experience made me want to get out and camp a lot more often. It was a blast. And it didn't hurt that we were doing it for a class assignment.