Park City Adventures

“Hey Graham, big problem,” my husband texted his high school friend, a Park City, Utah local.

“Need more than that?” he replied, understandably confused and a bit concerned.

“I need to find a good burger, ideally with a gluten-free bun.”

“Ha! Forget the gluten-free — go to Road Island Diner in Oakley.  Worth the drive and you get an awesome shake.”

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And with that we were off, on a 27-minute scenic drive from Park City to Oakley, Utah for dinner at the diner.  It was well worth the drive.  Not only did we enjoy juicy diner burgers with hand-cut fries, but the gluten-free was not forgotten.  In fact, my husband was in gluten-free heaven as the menu was filled with gluten-free options, from Mac & Cheese to meatloaf, and more.

 

 

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And you didn’t have to be avoiding wheat to enjoy the dinner, especially if you enjoy a side of nostalgia with your food.  Because the restaurant is the beautifully renovated diner #1107, which rolled off the assembly line of the leading diner manufacturer in 1939, complete with green Italian marble countertops, Tiffany glass clerestory windows and hand laid quarry tiled flooring.  It was so special, in fact, that the diner was showcased in the 1939 World’s Fair.

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After serving diners in Fall River, Mass. for 14 years, the diner traveled to Middletown, R.I. and was rebranded as “Tommy’s Deluxe Diner.”  During that phase of its life the diner was featured on Charles Osgood’s CBS Sunday Morning show, along with many other appearances on TV.

Finally, in 2007, the diner was transported across the country to Oakley, Utah, where its new owners carefully renovated it back to its original condition with love and lots of money.  The only modern additions are flat TVs, air conditioning, and tabletop remote jukeboxes.  And who doesn’t like TV, A/C and table-side song selections?

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As an added bonus the people who work at the diner are  friendly and welcoming, and the food is delicious.  And don’t forget the milkshake!

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Photo by PhotoMIX Ltd. on Pexels.com

It’s only open Thursday- Sunday, so be sure to check that it’s open before you head  down to visit.

And do head for a visit… not only to the Road Island Diner but also to Park City, Utah.  Because the diner is only one of many treasures to enjoy in the area all year long.  For years we made the mistake of visiting only in the winter, spending our trip entirely on the mountain.  Skiing is a blast, don’t get me wrong, but coming only for ski season meant I was missing out on so much else.  I’ve met many people here who came to Park City to ski, but that it was a visit during the summer or fall that caused them to fall in love with the area and decide to make it their home.  It is definitely a four-season wonderland — so plan your next trip, for this fall!

 


Rediscovering Park City … in the Summer

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Those runs you careen down on your skis or snowboard during Park City and Deer Valley winters?  They are just as fun in the summer, whether on a mountain bike (a little fast for me) or on your own two feet.  We’re spending three weeks in July getting a taste of all the area has to offer in the summer, and having a blast.

In fact, biking and hiking are only two ways of getting down the trails at Park City — ziplines, an Alpine coaster and an Alpine slide are options as well.  Purchase tickets for single rides (which are pricey) or buy an all-day Alpine pass and take advantage of not only those but many other activities for families, including minature golf.  Purchase your all-day Alpine Pass online by 10 p.m. the night before for a 10% discount.  For shorter lines try going early, or midweek.

The ride to the top for the Alpine slide is leisurely  … but that leaves plenty of time to soak in the scenery.  And get your Go Pro ready to record the action as you prepare to zoom your way downhill.  Or clip your phone to your shirt and record a video to make sure your downhill slide is recorded to show off to your friends later.  Kids and adults alike love the ride, and one good and somewhat unique feature is that each cart is individually controlled by you, the rider.  So push the lever back to brake if you feel you’re going too fast, or forward to enjoy the full experience … you have complete control over the speed.  I recommend that you go for it — the  carts will stay on the track so let go and have a great trip down.

After you tire of the slide make your way a few yards over to the Alpine Coaster, also at the Park City base and included in the all-day pass or as a single-ticket ride.  We have to return to try the coaster, as despite clear blue skies the ride was halted for a 30-minute wait because of a lightning strike within 10 miles.  And then 29 minutes into our wait what occurred but a second lightning strike — thus re-setting the clock for another 30-minute wait.  Not wanting to spend any more of our afternoon in line, we headed downhill for dinner.  Fortunately, even though they didn’t have to, the resort refunded the cost of the all-day pass and charged us only for what we actually had been able to ride, and the restaurant gave us a discount as well, to ensure everyone left feeling good about the experience.  We did!  Below is a photo of some people who were able to enjoy the Alpine coaster, which we look forward to enjoying next week.

alpine coasterThe next day, as we headed out on another adventure we couldn’t help but notice a large Farmers Market in the Cabriolet parking lot.  Despite having a full refrigerator back at our townhouse, I couldn’t resist stopping by.  And I’m so glad we did.  We picked up onions too beautiful to resist, and corn that cooked on the grill that night per a Bobby Flay recipe (10 minute salt water soak) was the most delicious corn on the cob I have ever had.  We rounded out the veggies with some garlic scape pesto, grass-fed beef, beefsteak tomatoes and lemon pepper seasoning, all of which I can highly recommend.

The Park City Farmer’s Market takes place at Park City Resort Canyons (Off Highway 224) every Wednesday from 12-6 pm, starting the first Wednesday of June until the last Wednesday of October each year. Each week you’ll find a huge assortment of fresh local goods from Utah Farmers and vendors, usually organic.  It’s a don’t miss!

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Thursday we headed out for some easy hikes (or walks, which is more my speed).  Using our Alpine Pass a few days earlier we had riden the Gondola at Canyons Village up to a few trails, but this time we were looking for walks that did not require riding a lift (or a very long and steep climb uphill).  In the Bear Claw area we found Rob’s Trail, which was a great choice with moderate incline and plenty of shade.  We stopped after a mile but there are many options for longer hikes through a variety of connected trails, with good maps located at trailhead to point you in the right direction.

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Sunday morning was dedicated to “white water rafting” — although “white water” is somewhat of a misnomer — on the Weber River.  It’s Class II, mainly, so no wild rides, but very fun for everyone and a great way to spend a few hours in nature.  We went with All Seasons Adventures and they did a great job of ensuring everyone stayed safe while having a great time.  Sunday afternoon the Weber River fills with tubers, which makes maneuvering a raft quite the challenge, so we recommend the morning trip or going on another day.  The guides played Tuber Bingo, looking for the predictable “Rafter Walking Back” after someone tries to ride an inflated porpoise or swan down the Class II drop and ends up with mouths full of water (in addition to the porpoise and swan we saw a giant inflated duck that the man was somehow admirably managing to stay upright on).

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Of course, our favorite way to start and end every Park City day is sitting on our deck, enjoying the sounds of the creek while we barbecue some fish or burgers (and Farmers Market corn!) and wind down with a glass of wine.   And then a stint in the jacuzzi on the deck, watching the squirrels and counting the stars and our blessings each night.

We hope you’ll make plans to visit the Park City area this summer or next.  And if you do, you’ll find either of our two townhouses comfortable, welcoming, and conveniently located to every place you want to go.


The best part of my hometown? Brick

There’s a lot I don’t like about Tyler.  For a little town so full of Evangelical churches, the odd thing it seemed most to be missing was soul.  Tyler may be the Rose Capital of the World, home to the Rose Festival and the Rose Gardens and the fancy dress-up Rose Festival, but it isn’t the roses, no matter how sweet the smell, that pretty-up the oh-so-conservative town where no out-of-state plaintiff ever wants to find itself (but that’s another story).  No.  What gives Tyler its character, what constitutes, in my mind, its saving grace, is one residential area near downtown where the streets are made of brick.  Worn, deep red bricks, slick after the rain, bumpy to drive along, beautiful.  Tyler named those 29 blocks of brick a historic district and is determined to protect them, which makes my heart smile.  There’s an article about the almost 14 miles of brick streets, here.

The small, tree-shaded neighborhoods blessed with the brick streets give another gift to the town’s character.  The homes in this neighborhood feature wide and deep lawns of St. Augustine grass that provide the perfect backdrop for explosions of pink and white and red azaleas that every March burst forth their blossoms in an effort to make their brick streets proud.  Teenage girls dressed in pastel antebellum skirts carry parasols and pose for photos during the Azalea Trail each year, but the Southern Belles are outdone by the beauty that nature plus those brick streets provide.

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A few blocks away the asphalt paving threatens to overtake, with its easier and cheaper maintenance beckoning tax-conscious Texans.  If you don’t know where to look, you could easily thing the whole town is that same, conventional, asphalt paved, suburban subdivision, soulless place.  But drive near downtown, feel the bumps of the bricks, and luxuriate in those few blocks where brick has created character that prove beauty can be found anywhere.


Flourish

A joyful word, flourish.

Brings up images of spreading joy, gardens blooming profusely, joyous children — barefoot, eyes closed, spinning until they crumple in a heap on the grass in laughter.

Just as easily it can be turned around.  Pair it with “evil” and all of a sudden it doesn’t seem as nice.

Anything can flourish.  Good, evil, joy, heartbreak, love, hate … it depends on what you pair it with. It depends on what you focus on.  It’s a glass-half full test — do you look at the naked word “flourish” standing alone and conceive that within it are the seeds of despair?  Or do you see good starting from one space and growing, spreading, expanding, touching the sad, the heartbroken, the lonely and bringing light to their lives?

I’m sticking with joy.  Mind over matter, directing my thoughts, focusing my energy on what’s good, so that the little sparks of life and laughter and freedom and love and joy will spread, will embrace, will flourish.

Even when I can think of nothing to say, I will blog.  I will respond to the Prompt of the Day, today and everyday, just as I brush my teeth and dress myself and eat (even when I sworn the night before I am only going to have juice tomorrow, or fast — I still eat), every day.  I will grow, create, expand, blog.  I will  …

flourish.

 

 


A Day In Baltimore

Baltimore Harbor

Baltimore Harbor

Jack & I spent the weekend in Baltimore for his niece’s wedding. The little non-wedding time we had we made the most of, exploring. We stayed in a very cute B&B, the INN at 2920, which comes complete with everything from breakfast to a beta fish. The hosts are thoughtful and there are many nice extra touches to make you feel at home. And it’s just a block from Canton’s Square with a variety of bars and restaurants close enough to easily walk to but far enough away not to create noise.

Below is a photo of the lobby, where there is a cooler filled with fruit and soft drinks.  Up a short flight of stairs is the dining area where they serve you a delicious breakfast in the morning, and a small library with some books you can borrow during your trip.  It was one more flight up to our room.

The lobby of our B&B just off Canton's Square in Baltimore

The lobby of our B&B just off Canton’s Square in Baltimore

We had lunch at Plug Ugly in Canton Square, and I highly recommend it.  I had some very hot and crispy fries that hit the spot, and I almost tried the house specialty cocktail because it sounded delicious but also highly dangerous (I counted at least five kinds of alcohol). Maybe next time!

Lunching at Plug Ugly's

As part of my wedding preparations I also had a manicure at a little salon just off Canton’s Square, which was lovely.

Friday morning we explored the harbor and the Aquarium which, even though I’m not a huge fan of aquariums general, was one of the nicest ones I’ve ever seen (similar to the great one in Monterey, California).  There was one area with at least 20 exhibits of different types of jellyfish, from tiny to some with tentacles that could reach as far as 200 feet.  And, whatever the size, gorgeous.


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I’m not keen on seeing them when I’m in the water WITH them, but when they are safely behind glass I find jellies fascinating.

There were plenty of other fish to see at the Aquarium, of course, including this really cool shrimp …

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and a dolphin exhibit that reminded me of SeaWorld.

After our time with the fish we spent some time in another of my favorite activities … shopping! There were plenty of shops from which to choose, and J Crew was having a sale, so I would say the day was a definite success.

The next morning we made it out to Fort McHenry, and we felt fortunate to be there the week after the 200th anniversary celebration.  (Apparently there were huge crowds the week prior, for the actual anniversary celebration, which I wasn’t sad to have missed.)

Of course I’ve heard The Star Spangled Banner hundreds of times and have heard the story about the writing of the song as well, and in truth I put Fort McHenry on my “to do” list because I love history, but I wasn’t anticipating much.  It exceeded my expectations — you enter into a small room where they show a video retelling the story of the battle Francis Scott Key witnessed and, at the end, the screen disappears and you have a perfectly framed view of the huge American flag just as he saw it “at the dawn’s early light.”  It brought out the patriotic bones in my body and if you looked closely you might have seen a tear in my eyes.

The Star Spangled Banner

To be there and see the relationship between the river and the Fort makes you appreciate the story much more.  The tour of the Fort was worthwhile; I hadn’t had any idea that it once served as a prison for captured Confederate soldiers during the Civil War, as well as holding Southern sympathizers and political prisoners.  In the rooms of the Fort they have exhibits from the various time periods, including the beds from when prisoners were held here, rooms set up as they were for the officers, etc.  From 1917 until 1923 the U.S. Army hospital was housed here to serve WWI veterans, before it eventually became a National Park.

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Jack was a little tired of all the touring, so he enjoyed the benches the Fort so thoughtfully scatters around its site.

Resting at Fort McHenry

After that it was all wedding, all the time.  So while there are plenty of other sites of interest in Baltimore, we had to save them for a follow-up trip.  And our little taste of Baltimore definitely left us interested in exploring more.  Until next time!


Replacing Work with Joy … from Rollerblading

Life is Short

Life is Short

Rollerblading along the Pacific Beach/Mission Beach boardwalk was my favorite thing when I found myself at 37 divorced, supporting an ex-husband and two small children by putting in long hours at an international law firm, in search of love … the sense of freedom it gave me was the best thing in my life besides my amazing, beautiful children, and every weekend they spent with their Dad I spent rollerblading along the Bay.

Flying Down The Boardwalk

Flying Down The Boardwalk

But I haven’t put on my rollerblades for way too many years.   And as much as I value the spiritual over the material, the way I spend the time God gave me in this life suggests the opposite.  I say I value relationship and service and Things That Really Matter but I spend most of the hours of my day on the things that decidedly do not.

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Then a Facebook friend posted this video from the New York Times about Slomo.

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Honestly, it’s been so long since I’ve been to the Boardwalk that I don’t recall ever having seen him there, and boy have I missed out.  Slomo has it right.  The freedom and joy of his spirit shines through, as does his bravery, his not caring that instead of the respect the world showed him as a successful doctor he now has people talking about him, wondering if he is a crazy homeless man or just crazy.  He doesn’t care, because he is simply enjoying filling each day he has left with wonder and joy, spending it doing what he loves.

Here I sit, 10 minutes from the Boardwalk with my rollerblades packed up who-knows-where with no excuse for not putting them on other than knowing that (i) my feet will ache at first, (ii) I’m very out-of-shape, and (iii) I don’t see where I’ll find the time.  What I’d forgotten was not just how much fun it was to rollerblade at the Beach, but also how much rollerblading along the Bay enriched my life.

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Thank you, Slomo, for the reminder.  I know what I’ll be doing this weekend.



kickstart CounterCrop

I think we all know that one way to enrich our lives is by eating healthier foods … CounterCrop’s aim is to do just that, by transforming the way the world feeds itself one salad at a time. That’s the mission of CounterCrop, and we’re trying to launch it on Kickstarter. We’re almost 50% of the way to our goal in the first 24 hours — please take a look! http://t.co/EQg2NT6hW4


Surf and Sand in Laguna Beach

My practice group has its annual retreat at Surf and Sand in Laguna Beach each year, and there is nothing better than having a room overlooking the ocean.  They even provide ear plugs in case for some crazy reason you want to block the roar of the surf crashing into the sand below your balcony.

Surf and Sand

Surf and Sand

As if.  There’s something about hearing the surf pound the sand and then retreat, the sunlight glistening on the waves and melding into the blue of the sky on the horizon that makes it hard not to be at peace.  I’m supposed to participate in a scavenger hunt with my team members this afternoon but I can’t drag myself away from the balcony of my room.

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Surf and Sand

Surf and Sand

Laguna Beach is one of my favorite Orange County spots, with funky boutiques and more art galleries than you have time to visit and, of course, the gorgeous ocean and beaches.  It also makes you want to reflect and inspires you … well, inspires me at least … to write.

When there are many other things, including participating in the Scavenger Hunt, that I should be doing.  But that’s been my problem as long as I can remember … I feel obligated to do what I should be doing or guilty that I’m not doing what I believe I should be doing and who came up with this “should” anyway?  Why is it easier to deny the things my heart and soul want me to do to choose instead the things my head says I must do regardless of whether I enjoy them?  No matter how many O Magazine articles I read or TED talks I view or things I know to be true.  No matter that my 45-year-old friend was killed at lunch a few days ago and an 18-year-old classmate of my daughter at SDSU who was fine on Monday and thought she had the flu on Tuesday died of meningitis on Saturday — two tragic reminders that I may not live through this evening, so shouldn’t I at least try to live my best life now, today, right this minute and not some vague future year when I’ve got it all figured out — I still keep on plodding along as if I had all the time in the world.

I don’t. But I’m going to enjoy the view from my balcony this afternoon and soak in all the beauty around me without even a tinge of guilt, at least for today.


Surviving a Stroke at 33 (and Blogging About It)

Beautiful story of how writing and community worked together to help someone identify and get treatment for a stroke and then focus on what’s important. My 43-year-old friend and fellow big firm attorney had a stroke — one morning she went to log into her work computer to check email before work and couldn’t type in the password. Her husband got home from dropping off the kids at school and she tried to tell him about her difficulties but she couldn’t form the words. Not being able to write or speak coherently is scary for anyone and I imagine that for her– an attorney who depends on her written and verbal advocacy to support her family — it was especially frightening. She has since recovered, left the big firm to work in-house and all is well. But I hadn’t previously thought of stroke happening to someone so young.