I know I’ve said this before, but I’m continually amazed at all the cool scenery we have here in Utah, literally in our backyard! It’s all bitter-sweet for me. I have been without a full-time job for over 9 months now. That in itself has been a strange reality to work through. On the brighter side, I have been able to run, hike and reconnect with friends, family and myself. I have found that throughout my life, when the obstacles fall in front of me or life seems overwhelming.. I head to the mountains, either on foot or bike. Lately it’s been hiking/trail running. I have loved the options for hikes, trails to explore and almost endless bike trails… however, almost all end up in snow right around 8,000 feet MSL. This Spr-ummer has been unusual. Lots of snow from Winter and later Spring storms and cool temps have left a ton of snow in the mountains. That’s made the trails damp, muddy or just plain covered with snow. It will all melt soon enough.. then it will be hotter than hell for the next 2 months or so… until the snow gods bless us with more again. To be honest, I have really enjoyed the seasons this year. Don’t get me wrong, I miss many things from Texas.. but i really like having seasons here in Utah.

One of the hikes i went on this week was Desolation Lake in Big Cottonwood canyon. It’s a great hike, about 3.5 miles one-way. Lush pines and aspens all along the way… in fact here are some pictures:

Aspens along the Desolation lake trail

Once I got to the lake, I found snow for about the last 200 yards or so… no surprise at all. The lake was still partially covered in snow and ice..

Desolation lake... covered in snow and ice. Late June 2011.

On my way back down the trail, I passed a couple I had already passed on the way up. They told me that there were a couple of moose ahead of me on the trail and that I “better watch out”… I thanked them and headed down the trail. As I reflected on the conversation, I realized that I was completely alone on this mountain train.. just me.. and wild critters. Now I’m not afraid of animals usually.. but bears had been spotted in the canyon a few days before. My mind started to think carefully about escape/survival routes.. you know just in case a bad ass bear or angry moose decided to jump out of the trees and try to make me scream like a girl. Then I heard a branch snap… holy shit.. what was that! I stopped in my tracks on the trail. I started to scan the trees.. nothing. I resumed my movement down the trail.. much slower of course, and much more vigilant. Now, most people don’t know this, but I have been known to have the eye sight and hearing of a highly trained K-9.. no it’s true. I also have a keen sense of smell. Kind of like a super-hero really. More like a retired super-hero.. anyway, with all these senses reacting like a something you’d see on a national Geographic special highlighting super human skills… I heard it again… wooow.. that was closer and big. I slowed down to a stop and scanned the forest again. I thought I should keep moving and stay aware.. I remembered that sometimes the best thing to do when you hear an animal in the wild, but can’t see it, is to clap your hands a couple of times. Just to let them know you’re there.. so I did it. Yeah, now all those boy scout skills are coming back. As I pull out my cellphone I see still no service, figures.. so I move on. Before long I was back on my pace with turned in to another trail run down the trail. No moose, no bear, no snakes.. but it make me realize how cool it is to be there in the “wild” and consider your options in case you need them. Much like going into a convenience store late at night in Houston to pay for gas.. you have to make a plan for a quick escape… you know, ‘just in case’.

This is kind of a running theme in my life. The escape plan thing… funny is, my wife told me she does it too. For example, if we are staying in a hotel.. we look at the suggested escape route in case of a fire. When we go to a restaurant we do the same thing. Especially when traveling abroad or in unfamiliar locations. I tell you, with my super-human senses and her master of languages… we should have been international spies… or at least contestants on the Amazing Race!!!

With this “no full-time job thing”, I seem to be doing the same thing. Not being to anxious to take the first job that comes along, but to look long-term. The longer this goes on, I’m starting to change my paradigm.. meaning.. a job is a job at some point. I need the cash flow… I’ll let you know how it goes.

this week we also went to a family reunion at Bear Lake. For those of you not familiar with Bear Lake, it borders Idaho in far North East Utah. The water is always about 50 degrees.. cold, but on a hot Summer day, very refreshing! Growing up in Cache Valley (Northern Utah), we always made a trip or two to Bear Lake as kids. It was a great get-away for the family. The lake is huge too… like 7 miles across and maybe 20 miles long.. crystal blue and clear, clean water. But the drive through Logan canyon to get there is always a treat. I love that canyon.. I wonder what it would be like to live there again, playing in the mountains and doing radio in the area I started my career some 25+ years ago… full circle. Hey, it could happen. Yes.. there is a job open there right now… hmmmmmm…

Anyway.. the first glimpse of Bear lake that you get as you emerge from Logan Canyon is breath taking!!

Bear Lake from the Logan Canyon overlook..

I never get tired of this view. So we continued to the cabin my dad and Shauna (step-mom) rented for the whole crew. We always go back to the same spot. It’s a “training center” owned by USU.. every year they do a lottery for Summer rentals and we always seem to get it. Love that place.. right next to the water..

View off the deck at Bear Lake

I love spending time with family.. this is the perfect spot too. All of the 300 kids can run, jump, swim and yell as much as they want.. and uncle Dain has plenty of places to escape to.. see there it is again. We spend all day at the beach playing the water, boating and just relaxing.. I love Bear lake…

Every morning I was the first one up… this is actually one of my favorite times of the day on these kind of excursions. Watching the sunrise and hearing the birds…

Bear Lake sunrise

Just doesn’t get any better than this. I also got to run both mornings we were there with Alyssa, our oldest. She’s training for a half marathon, so it made sense that we take advantage of the perfect weather and temps. We ran 3 miles one day and 5 the next. It was perfect…..

Like most things, it all ended too soon. I got to have a couple of one-on-one talks with my Dad. This I have missed more than anything. My dad is a “no-shit” kind of personality… wonder where I get it? He’s a retired professor and author. Very smart, but his first love was sports and boat racing. So when we get close to the water, he’s really in his element. We talk about life, fishing, job hunts and just random things.. like his new truck and how much he misses his Toyota Tundra. I laugh as I hear these deep conversations we have about trucks, weather, fishing lures… whatever.. and thank God that we can have them. My Dad isn’t usually free with his advise, but when asked he usually has very sage wisdom to consider.

As we all loaded our cars to leave on the last day.. I hugged my Dad, told him I loved him… **sniff, sniff**.. and asked him when we can go fishing. This has been an ongoing conversation. His Dad passed away before they could take one last fishing trip… I think my Dad is still haunted by that.. but we committed to set a date and make it happen this Summer. I hugged him again.. as my eyes welt up with tears, I couldn’t make the words come out.. so I stared at my Dad and smiled. He hugged me and slapped me on the back, and told me he loved me. I could see he was moved too.. emotion isn’t something that we have ever been able to share easily… but I always tell him I love him, and hope he knows I mean it. I can’t explain it.. I just got real emotional at that second…. so we said goodbye, and I headed back down the road with “the girls”.

On our way back home, we stopped at Beaver Mountain ski resort…..

I spend many days skiing here in my youth.. later, at the age of 12, I broke my leg here just before a lesson.

Again we travel Logan canyon for home…. this time a little slower.. savoring the moments we’re together.

As I think about these memories from this past week..

I can truly say..

“Today I Am Rich”