Skiing in Brian Head, Utah

This winter we worked in our garden, orchard really hard to find at least one day of time and go skiing. The other thing we have to figure out before going – is the right weather. Because so many days here may be fine and sunny. Whereas over there, only 1.5 hours north from Zion – it may snow, the winds may be unbearable, etc. And it may also be very cold. The mountains in Brian Head are 9000 Ft height. Some even higher. So we figured only one day that suited us and it was February 7th, a day after Andrei’s Birthday, that is how he wanted to celebrate:

Even after finding one of the warmest days in February, it wasn’t very warm and the winds were fierce, especially closer to later afternoon. it takes us 10 min to sit on the chair lift until we get to the top of the mountain and boy those 10 min are cold and boring…One time I took the camera to take the pics from the whole trip up and down. Here are the views going up Navajo mountain (there is also Giants Steps mountain- another lift system):

The summit of Navajo Mountain:

The view from the summit. Red slopes of some lower mountains can be vaguely seen in the far distance, by them you know you are in Utah :

This is the beginning of the slope once you get from the lift:

Then you can take different trails, different directions, I prefer in the middle of the forest:

There are houses here and there, I bed real big lovers of skiing own them, and one of the owners was not lazy or had enough time to build this cottage on a hens leg from fairy tails like it belongs to a witch :

Then you dive under a bridge in the far end and the last part is really fun – steeper and also even, no bumps or pits, fantastic ski slopes I should say.

Not to walk to the bottom of the big ski lift we first take the small lift – for starters and kids, called Pioneer lift and from there we proceed down toward the start of the big Navajo lif. The Pioneer slope looks like this:

And the turn towards big lift is here:

And here a I am coming to the finish of the day:

The best time to ski in Brian Head to my mind is March and April until they stay open. But then during the day the snow can get wet. In February the slopes are wonderful, but you have to be very careful choosing the weather. Two years ago I remember going there from our sunny and warm Zion, buying tickets and managing to do only one landing…The snow storm and winds were unbearable…

P.S. I haven’t posted this till now, April 1st. And it is not April Fools :-). We were skiing in Brian Head yesterday, it was rather warm because we are havign a warm spell here in Utah, but the winds on the top of the mountain were still very strong, they even stopped us at certain parts of the trails and certainly didn’t let you go down fast. As my goal on a mountain is to train myself into better movements, more gracious and all, and Andrei’s goal is to get the excitement of going down fast – I was satisfied enough and he was not that much. And yes, the snow was already wet, but closer to the evening it got dry again.

It is nice to be there in Brian Head -you can leave your skis, nobody will take them, eat, have some rest by the central building on cozy benches, but one thing…Americans consider themselves clean people. They wash their hair every day. And here in Brian Head – every time I sit to eat by the table outside – some families especially with babies – they put their shoes, boots on the tables!!! and one of them goes skiing, the other takes care of a baby, but the boots stay the whole time on the table. As if someone will kick their boots from the floor, as if the boots don’t belong to a floor…or at least – a bench, which I also am doubtful if they do…but on the same table where we put food, where we put a book to read…The same boots with which they go through the dirty pavements – snow melted, so roads are really dirty with all the remnants of salt and black dirt; boots with which they go to the bathroom. I am really shocked at that and even if I tell them about it- they don’t care, never take their boots off the table as if they are some precious sculpture. This is not one case already, makes me sad. But maybe there is something in some of their culture (not to offend the clean and neat ones that I also met in bigger numbers, thanks God)- I remember my roommates in Maine were keeping their shoes on their beds…The only positive part – they usually collect after their dogs, unlike in Europe, but I am wondering- why some people are super scared of bacterias, of contamination, while others are supplying them on eating surfaces without any reason at all.

(This was an interruption of my writings about Spain. Expect them to be continued in my next Blog.)



Our Autumn in Rockville

It was a busy season since August started. Besides the boring and never ending irrigation, lots of good guests (which was wonderful!) – peaches were brutal this year. So many…to thin them, to support branches, to pick, to freeze, to give away, to try to sell. Our kitchen was permanently overstuffed with boxes of peaches… And me making jams…

The two apple trees that we planted some 6 years ago were also loaded, but because we never spray them with neither chemicals, nor organic stuff – they were very much inhabited by worms, so we got a reasonable number of apples for our consumption:

We also had figs, pomegranates, pears and right now before the frosts I picked persimmons. Quite a lot, I would say.

Here they are before the frosts:

And after the frosts:

They are very decorative and very sweet, it is the best fruit to my taste. The figs also had lots of baby figs but the frosts got them. here is the inside of the fig bush just before the leaves were crinkled and down:

You can see a little fig on the right upper corner. The leaves are very sharp, harsh, I can’t imagine how Adam and Eve wore them as they were. I would have looked for a softer leaf for that purpose.

My garden also produced, but far from being abundant:

I used a lot of lama manure in winter and spring for the garden, but it didn’t seem to work well. From the 40 tomatoes I planted – we had enough only for the two of us -is it a lot? The cherry yellow ones were the best producers, with one individual expanding to a record size by late autumn, so that I felt sorry to leave him for the frosts to kill and was covering with blankets and jackets during nights for a while. But once the frost hit minus 4-8C -I gave up. So now we have a lot of green tomatoes :-). And here is a sweet Italian pepper which was more decorative than useful:

On the 24th of November we woke to such a magnificent morning:

Our street:

Our pear turned red only that night.

Most of our trees didn’t change colors, their leaves dried on the branches and are falling off now in big quantities. We can hardly catch up with raking and burning them. Thanks God there are those cottonwoods by Virgin river and around town – at least they turned yellow and we had some autumn colors. But they are fading fast… the unusually early frosts…

Towards Glacier NP – 2.Through Idaho North

We drove that long road #93 in Nevada and Idaho North, with nothing by the road except for chains of mountains. it would be kind of boring, except that the road was being fixed on several parts and we had to stay and wait. Several parts of it had only one lane. Also – there were a lot of trucks on the way and it wasn’t very comfortable to drive, to pass them, etc. But once of a sudden we had an attraction – there was sign on the road that there are hot springs only half an hour from Twin Falls, Idaho, called Nat Soo Pah – Magic Mineral Water:

It was very good to have break in driving, to have a rest, pleasure and to cleanse our auras. And all that fro only $5 per person (versus $40 per person in the hot springs closest to Zion – in La Verkin, Pah Tempe Hot Springs – which I am not advertising at all).

Then we passed Twin Falls, there are real falls there, but we didn’t go to see them, saw them several years ago on the way to Oregon. Since Twin Falls there landscape was strange – no mountains around, just flat lava fields, rough black lava fields, that can’t be used in agriculture in any way…Like a devastated land…I didn’t even take pictures of it. We were wondering where did the lava come from – then we realized there were some tiny hills in the horizon. What an amount of magma burst into the surface some very long time ago. It left some caves under the lava surface. One of them is turned into museum – called Ice Caves. We didn’t visit it – it was too late, but saw some pictures and talked to rock shop keepers – it is really ice there covering the floors of the cave. The ice s so smooth that sometimes people skate there. But there are no stalactites or stalagmites as we would expect in a cave. As the ice is there – it is cold inside and they advice to dress warmer while going down. It was amazing that on that very hot day it could be cool somewhere without AC. Especially under a black lava layer… But you should never assume -that is my rule I have developed during my life span.

When we started seeing mountains in the distance, some even covered with snow – this was towards Sun Valley, where we were planning to stay the night. Once we entered the canyon where this well know ski-resort-rich area is – the mountains around it where not white at all and they were not spectacular. Just mountains, with rather even surfaces -maybe it was the reason fro ski resort. I would say Brian Head ski resort is much more beautiful. OK, not speaking about the resort buildings. Approaching Sun Valley you start getting the feeling that there is a lot of money spent or invested (depends on who and why) in every inch of the land. The trees and lawns by the road are already irrigated, everything is green, luscious pine and spur trees, lots of flowers, lots of fancy condominiums and houses. However – very few motels or lodges. So that tourists wouldn’t disturb of some people’s rest :-). When we stopped to ask in one motel about where can we find a no-vacancy sign – the woman started laughing at me. She looked at me and said I have to reserve a year in advance to get a room. That only very rich come here and have a good time, meaning it is not my place to have a good time, I didn’t look i belong to that class. Sorry. Not for myself, but for her – the woman was not old at all, but already had very few teeth in her mouth. But at least she was serving very rich people. I asked – what celebrities like to come here, besides Schwarceneger – who we all know has broken his leg while skiing here. She said – celebrities like Bill Gates. Wow, and they stay in that pretty simple looking motel? Well, I kept this question to myself, I was already too sorry for that motel manager.

So being simple and not too rich as we are we drove back towards the airport that big airliners as well as celebrity air crafts are using to make their trip to Syn Valley a piece of cake. And in the town called Hailey we found a room in a simple motel called Hitchrack. By that time we have already done 606 mi. the room was very comfortable, small, but had even two beds, could sleep 3 people, had two pictures – a photo of a wolf who was staring at me on the bed and a drawing of a sheep – to whom the wolf didn’t pay any attention. The room also had a small kitchen, which we didn’t use. There were lots of restaurants around and some of them had quite interesting menus, healthy choices, local veggies – I guess they were all trying to please the celebrities’ and their flocks’ pallets. So ingeneral – it is a nice area. But fro pictures – I made only one I really liked:

This is how some people make fences by the ski lifts. And how good those skis looked to me: while still in my country when I was young, full of energy and into mountain skiing , I could only dream of skiing on Atomics, Roosignols, Salomons – but at least I heard of them. So you can imagine – I had a bit of sentiment there…:-) . This was unexpected thing to see. But there was a thing I planned to see and was happy I managed – the skating arena, where I heard that lots of Olympic skaters train and the Lithuanian dance couple Povilas Vanagas and Margarita Drobiazko are sometimes training the young generation. This time they were not there, but it was impressive to see others dancing, men throwing women, then either cathing or not, singles doing triple axels, toulups…etc.

After watching for a while we drove towards Sawtooth National recreational Area – and that was impressive:

At first we drove up the pass, “up above the sky”, and then landed into a very green valley by Salmon river:

I think it requires no explanation why this mountain range is called Sawtooth.

This is the watery and fast Salmon river. Stanley the town is seen at the foot of the mountains. It is spectacular to spend some vacation there! Here is another view of the Salmon river that we followed for a long time on RT 93 and we parted with it only in North Fork when we started going up a pass and towards Montana.

You can see some people by the bank – it is where a hot spring is entering the river. People are wading, some kids are even immersing into the warm waters. We didn’t find enough space to immerse…:-)

The views all that way by the river were very pleasant, the slopes of mountains had a lot of loose morena and it seems lots of them were shaped by glaciers long time ago…

(to be continued)

Spring around Rockville

This is the time now when red cacti bloom in our area:

They are most prolific on the bench or mesa on top of Rockville, a “secret place” where Rockvillians go for their walks. And who can say they are not worth visiting and seeing?

The other positive thing about those trails on top – they are prepared for mountain bikes and very few bikes ride there. So it is nice to walk in nature by yourself, with no crowds or noises around. This time I walked with a second time guest from Chicago – Daniel Pyne. And here is what we reached:

It is on the very edge of the mesa over our house, over Rockville, over the winding Virgin river:

Up here it is Rockville, down here it is our house:

And here is our parking lot – a closer look -Andrei is filming me on the top :-):

This view is from another edge which is on top of Dan McGuire’s house, our house can’t be seen here, it is behind the mountain edge on the right. But someone’s pasture all under water is seen in this picture – that is how we irrigate:

It was scary to stand on the edge…Going back we walked through some rocks where mountain lions may well reside:

And also lots of petrified wood pieces, but one piece was especially big, entangled in sandstone:

And this is already my yard with tomatoes and peppers in pots and boxes – this spring is so unusually cold, it is still dangerous to plant them in the garden:

Tulips and hyacinths bloom so late this year:

And this is how I dress at home and meet my guests :-):

How I celebrated April 15th!

I have to make a break in Thailand blogs and describe the events here and now, in Utah. it was almost a historical event – at last we managed to find the right day, the right weather and only light winds and go to Brian Head – to ski. The first and last time in two years. The fact is that either we have to wait for guests when the weather forecast for the ski resort is good, so we can’t go, or the weather is really bad, which happened there most often. I can’t imagine how they make money, so many bad days they even have to close the lifts, the winds there are usually unbearably high. So here we managed at last to get there on April 14th! Almost no cars…they extended their operation for a week because of the amount of snow we all got in this spring. And the student holidays are now over – maybe that was the reason there were almost no people. Rather strange but I should say -comfortable. Like the mountain belongs only to you and all those guys on both ends of the chair lift are here to help only you:

Andrei couldn’t ski, his knee is still not very strong after he twisted it in Thailand, but he took me there and took also his PC so that he would not waste his time, in a cafeteria in this building:

And I also tried not to waste my time, up and down almost non stop. I land from the mountain and just “swish” into the chair again, getting the rest while going up.

To tell the truth it was funny after two years break to get on skis. I felt as if preparing to go into cosmos. Digging out my ski suit, putting on those heavy boots, gloves, cap glasses – here we are almost in summer clothes and over there it is still winter:

One can see how desolate the slopes are – but how nice! The trails are well prepared with that special car, some of them had still their virginity. So comfortable, I never remember such a good skiing there…

The temperature was around 12C and in the sun some parts of snow were a little wet, but didn’t cause problems because there are still frosts at nights over there. And here is the view from the top of the lift – and of that mountain:

You can’t put a price on it!..

And here is the view from Toquerville -the town that we have to pass on our way from Rockville to Rt. 15, toBrian Head:

And yesterday, which was April 15th, we went on a trail from the town Virgin. It took us 8 years of living here to figure out such a nice trail only 10 min drive from home…

We crossed the river on a bridge there and walked along the rather steep and high edge that Virgin river has created during many years:

And there are also inlets with scarce water, some slim waterfalls, but you can’t cross them, too steep, just follow the mountain bike road:

Then we drove to the La Verkin overlook – it has even a sign on highway but we never had a chance to drive those couple of miles and see for ourselves how amazing the view is:

You don’t need to hike up or down – you are here on top of a mountain -where can you find such a comfort?

To the right is Toquerville, to the left – Hurricane and St. George.

And here is our pear tree two weeks ago:

and the peach blossoms…

Farewell to Susan

Spring was busy with guests and garden work. So it took me a long time to finally sit down and write.

Susan left us rather fast. I mean we didn’t expect her health to go down so fast…We just came from New Zealand and I planned to spend more time with her but never managed. I would say she felt really sick and in plain for some 3-4 days. Still watched a movie almost every night, I found her watching even Slumdog Millionaire – she seemed to enjoy. Alison was reading her the Tibetan Book of Dead every day for an hour or so – Susan enjoyed that a lot, that is what she said to me. She wasn’t very much interested in my impressions from NZ – which is understandable. She was already thinking about the next stage of her soul’s journey. Morphine made her feel really bad, so from that point of view she did not suffer too long…But she was such a lover of life on this planet, particularly in Rockville – from that point of view her leaving so soon is very sad. And also – we, all her friends and relatives miss her a lot.

So on March 25th I ran to her house and saw Marie, her daughter, crying on the phone. Susan was on her bed motionless, but smiling, as usual. It seemed very peaceful. A Memorial party was held in a couple of weeks – Susan wanted it to be call “Going away party”. Marie was a good organizer – everything was as she wanted. It was held in Rockville community center, with lots of Buddhist decorations, flowers and food, lots of Susan’s friends and relatives. Here are some pics from Susan’s Going Away:


Susan’s portrait was done by Sharon, her artist sister from New York.


Marie, Susan’s daughter, the talented organizer:


Susan’s sister from CA, David -Susan’s best friend, and me:

Susan’s sister from New York Gloria:


Here is Sharon, Susan’s younger sister, the artist – she dressed in the way Susan would have liked:


Genvieve, a girl from the neighborhood that was very close to Susan drew a picture about how Susan’s soul is traveling to heavens where nice people are waiting for her in the castles and birds are accompanying her journey while a King snake is watching from the land and Pegasus-horses are creating a good atmosphere for that :


For me personally this picture is like a masterpiece. I wish Susan could see it. But we don’t know what she sees or cares for from that other side of the curtain… So here is the author of the picture, little Geneviev:


And here is she with her mother while explaining to us all her picture:


There were beautiful speeches said:




When most of the people left, Bernadette recited her poem, also a masterpiece in my opinion, but she was very shy:


Susan somehow had a talent to inspire many of us…The air around her was usually more alive than anywhere else. She knew how to enjoy every beautiful moment she came upon, every nice person she met, every tasty meal she ate. She would have enjoyed the meals that were served during her last party:



She had the Buddhas, Ganeshas and Shivas watching us:


Most of her memorabilia pleasantly presented on the wide shelves of the hall:



Some of the participants:






And here was she – our Susan, in this little clay pot by a tree and plants she loved..:


When I reflect now almost two months after she is gone – what is it about that human life – a short stay here in this world among those people, with all your ups and downs and when you are gone – life goes on…as if you never existed. Maybe you stay in memories for a while but then those memories will fade, life consumes us until we are gone, too. Wise people say that you have to live in the “now”. As opposed to tomorrow or yesterday. But where is a place in the “now” for our loved ones who are gone forever? I wish I could ask Susan because she would have a smart answer as she always had…

Finally, I can’t sustain from posting this pic with Susan just this January – who could have imagined that lest that 2 months were left for her…We were celebrating her sister’s birthday. Is it a smile of Budha?


Belated New Year celebrations

I am sorry, I guess my mind was somewhere else, that I didn’t describe our New Year’s celebration in St. George. First of all – we do it every year. Since we figured out that it is so much fun. Maybe it was the fourth year we participated in the First Night – that’s how they call it. I consider it to be an incorrect name – because the celebrations go from 7 pm on the 31st of December till 12 am. Which makes it the Last Night. But maybe it would sound too gloomy, like “the last night of your life” :-), almost reminds Halloween, so they named it optimistically.

No pictures from St. George, sorry. It was dark already, lots of trees diligently wrapped with red and blue lights and several very tall pine trees all decorated with colorful lights to the very tops. I bet they did a lot of work there. The celebrations were held in the Ancestor square – newly arranged square in the place where old library was demolished. There were stages with rock music going, vintage car show, painted kokopellies and food booths, but the main thing for us was in the Arts center – they were showing short movies non-stop from 7 pm till 11:45 pm. The movies that had won prizes in Red Rock Film festival. On the top floor of that building there is a fantastic newly remodeled hall for dancing. With a small orchestra playing swings and foxtrots. So our evening looked like this: first figuring out what where the movies worth watching and then running up and down the building – to see some movies, to dance, then again to watch, etc. The only time we sneaked out of the building during the evening – was when we literally ran to a school on the other side of the square to watch a magic show by Max the local Magician. Which was entertaining and good. The room was over packed, everyone laughed and happy so that that the good mood spread around. I think people who live around could even feel it. Why not to be happy – no traffic jams, no problems to park the car, all the events going on close around, just relax, consume and enjoy.

At 12 am people gathered from dances, movies and shows and saw a 15 min firework show which was fantastic! I mean fantastic for a small city like St. George, because maybe a good 10 years ago I happened to see the Independence Day fireworks in Washington DC – they were similarly good. And that is it – no more activities, you just find your car and head home. Oh, one more detail – no alcohol in this celebration, it is run by Mormons. Who else would desire to sacrifice their New Year’s night and volunteer…except for the saints. Therefore I doubt other cities with non Mormon population can have such a First Night. And the last detail – all this costs $5 a person, totally, food not included. Except for some cookies with hot chocolate in the dance hall. They were included :-).

Meanwhile we managed to visit Bellagio in Las Vegas and here is what they had for Christmas and for the Chinese New Year which started on January 24th:

Those snowmen are all made of white carnations. They smelled good!

Based on the Chinese calendar this is the Brown Cow year. Some call it Ox year. Whatever – but this bull is standing on a platform covered with real mandarin oranges…

My mom came to visit us, so here we are after we picked her from the airport.

With another version of cow in the background…

This is how she enjoyed the fountain show by Bellagio. They start at 3 pm, so we had to wait for some time and then they start it with American Anthem. Another song follows after – it means we were lucky – we got two shows! for the price of one (the price was our waiting time).

And that is it from Las Vegas.

Happy New Year, Happy Brown Cow year!

Tai-Ji in Zion

Here in Rockville and Springdale we are blessed – we have Yoga ant Tai-Ji classes! It is hard for us to choose where to go or to find time for both. Ann Rutz teaches Anusara Yoga and David Rutz teaches Tai-ji. They are both wonderful teachers, what a family!

This time I will talk about Tai-ji which we usually have on David’s terrace, and that is how we usually see him :-):


And this is us, his most devoted students: Susan, Genevieve and Nida:


It all started several years ago – David got engaged in his Master’s Chungliang Al Huang classes in Oregon and even invited him to our canyon one of the beautiful autumns maybe a couple of years ago.

Here Chungliang is in the middle of the circle teaching us to relax in our movements, to dance in his class and through life.


He also showed us how graceful he is while doing Chinese calligraphy:


At the end of the classes as usual we were taking pictures with him:


But then he left and David decided to continue teaching us the Five Elements and Four Circles of Life. So we are enjoying every minute of it:


Especially when the weather is nice enough (which is almost always 🙂 we have it on the terrace with the magnificent views of Zion:


That is why when we come to class we at first all exclaim what a wonderful weather we have here, how beautiful the mountains look and how grateful we are for that:


Then we do the Five Elements and Four Circles of Life created or choreographed by Chungliang, trying to be as graceful as possible and also trying to feel the energy floating around and through us:


And at some point we always discuss things like whether there is a bad and good energy or just the energy we need and use and the energy we don’t utilize (Susan’s brilliant thought). We discuss Chinese symbols, some philosophy and then David tells us something in pure Chinese language, which to him sounds musical and to me – not so much :-). He is a very good student of everything Chinese! There are quite a few Chinese paintings in their house, so when the weather is not the best -we do Tai-Ji in the house and admire the art:


There is also another Buddha outside who watches us while we dance and gives us a hint to be as Present as possible:


We usually end the class with the healing movements of Spring Forest Chigong and then usually Ann, our Yoga teacher, comes back from walking their dog Lao-Tzu and we have a nice chat with her:


And then David sees us off, till next Saturday:


Thank you, David!

Susan’s Birthday – March 10th

I guess – every little town has someone. We have Susan Taylor. She simply shines. Not only that she eagerly helps in every Rockville event, but her presence is more than her help. Seeing how people love her I dare say that she lifts the vibrations not only in me. Today – March 10th – was Susan’s Birthday. Here is how her house looked in the morning when we came to congratulate her:


Susan’s daughter Marie organized the most beautiful Birthday party for her I have ever seen. It was in Rockville Community Center and how many people participated?…Sorry, I was so excited that I didn’t count, but my guess is – no less than a hundred… Here is how it looked:




And here is our Susan, alone and with Marie:



And with our outstanding photographer Jim who is reading a poem specially created to Susan (he and his wife Carol are also poets). He was also very excited, he could hardly see what to read:


Though the invitation said “no presents”, Susan got two. Well, she got some more, but the others were not official. Under the experienced direction by Alison a bunch of women created and sewn a fantastic quilt – a very personalized one for it had the pictures of Susan and her friends on top, several of Susan’s best pictures of Zion park, Buddhist monks and Rockville under snow (which rarely happens) and Buddhist prayer flags on the bottom. It emphasized not only Susan’s social talents, but her talents as a photographer as well. I bet she likes the quilt because she is a picture lover and keeps boxes and boxes of them.

So here is the quilt:


And here is the other present:


This fancy man (Agent 007) simply emerged from the box while Susan was unwrapping.

There were lots of cards, but this one requires to be shown separately. It is made of metal and is huge like a sculpture:


This is the most magic moment – and what do you think – she blew all of the 58 candles at once! What a lung capacity!


And here are some of Susan’s friends, sorry, I didn’t take them all…Some pics were blur, too excited to have steady hands…

Alison and Johnny:


Oh, I have to mention – almost all of us has green dots on our noses – to show we belong to “Susan’s gang”:


Delores is embraced by the man who is not her husband – she is the artist of the metal card! Such a delicate and tiny woman and so strong…


Ann Weiler Brown with Trista and Allan:



I can’t mention our wonderful Yoga teacher Ann with the best yoginia’s:



Susan with Sandra, Kim and the legendary La Berta:


With Margot:


And with Fay:


Logan is the journalist and politician – he helped to introduce democracy in Lithuania and other Baltic and previous Soviet Union countries, not an easy task. He even knows some words from each country he has worked and always greets me with “Labas”. On his teeshirts he always has something peculiar. Good that Lenin here has this punk comb on his head – otherwise it wouldn’t be funny to me, having lived through his established regime:


Robert Perkins with Fay (both artists and neighbors as most of the people here):



The end.