Slickrock hiking near Gunlock, UT. 3/2/21

I found some interesting looking hikes not too far from our base in St. George. The Bowl and the Vortex are mostly in a slickrock area in the Red Mountain Wilderness near Gunlock and Veyo, UT. Veyo is famous for its cinder cones and there is still a lot of volcanic rubble around. To reach the slickrock area we had to hike a very difficult downslope full of sharp basalt rocks. I needed help from John and Jon’s steadying hands.

The trail was not well marked and the hiking guide just said to follow the cairns. What cairns!? We would come across two or three close together and then nothing. So although we hiked around the area for almost 3 hours we never did find the Vortex. Luckily the area was beautiful and there were very few people about so our hike was pretty nice regardless of whether we found our goal!

Pictures from the hike-

As it turns out our goal was between the two big piles of rocks. We were told this by other hikers after we gave up and were going back to the car.
Jon did a lot of reconnoitering but did not find the right spot.
Here he is searching in another spot.
Hiking on the slickrock
Arches
Taking a breather
Enjoying our hike
Jon took this picture from quite a ways in front of us. I am a hiking slowpoke.
Basalt outcropping
Jon leading the way

Our reward for all the hiking was a delicious steak dinner with tater tots and collards and corn. Cooking together has been a highlight of our vacation.

Rib-eye steak, tater tots, and collards and corn

After dinner we took a walk over to our old house. It appeared that someone was home this time!

Our former house in SG

 

A hike and an All-American dinner. 2/27/21

John, Jon and I went on a hike yesterday up the Huber Wash in Zion National Park. Although the round-trip is supposedly 4 miles, it was a difficult hike for me since the rock-strewn trail was tortuous for my fragile knee which does not take well to any sort of twisting. My Fitbit said I went over 4.5 miles and took 12,000 steps but I did not make it to the end of the trail due to large boulders that I was unable to scramble over. John and Jon went on ahead and I sat on a rock and waited for them as they went further down the trail. (Poor me!)

John and Jonathan on the Huber Trail
Mary and John on the Huber Trail

That being said, this is why I felt totally deserving of my all-American dinner of a hamburger on a ciabatta, tater tots, and salad. In my less exhausted mind I would have had a small burger, no roll, half a small baked potato, and the salad.

Hamburger on ciabatta, tater tots, garden salad

Jonathan did a super job cooking the burgers to medium rare. I used some of the leftover fennel, onion, and red bell peppers to enliven our salad. And what can I say about tater tots other than that they were easy and yummy!

Sunday will be a recovery day for John and me. And I am planning something a little saner for dinner tomorrow night!

 

Visiting St. George with Jonathan. 2/26/21

We decided to take a week’s trip to St. George to enjoy the sunshine, the beautiful scenery, and to celebrate our vaccines. We invited Jon to come along since he is a great lover of the St. George area. He can play tennis, golf, and hike as well as accompany me to the grocery store and cook while he is here.

We have rented accommodations at the Villas at Entrada where we know the units are fastidiously cleaned and the tennis courts are a short walk away. We have stayed here before and are always interested in how one unit varies from the other. In this one, 2502, there is a separate potty room in the master suite bathroom and a powder room for communal use. We are up pretty high in the development so the views are spectacular. The kitchen is equipped rather poorly but we have brought along things that we felt we would need and can manage quite well.

Living/dining area
Kitchen

On our first day here we take a trip to Harmon’s to get our groceries for the night’s dinner. Shopping is a special mom and Jon activity. In the afternoon we play tennis. It is pretty chilly here but out in the sun even temperatures in the 50s are okay when we are running around.

Jon about to hit backhand
Jon set up for forehand
John about to hit forehand

After we are cleaned up we take some pictures from the little table and chairs in front of our villa. It has a great view of Snow Canyon.

Jon enjoying a Negroni Sbagliato
Mary and John
John and Jon

Our welcome dinner is the always fabulous Kenwood shrimp. It is a group effort with Jon and me cutting the veg, me cleaning the shrimp, and John doing the cooking. I think it turned out the best we have ever made it. Could it be that adding all the cream makes a difference!?

Kenwood shrimp – shrimp in a Pernod/white wine sauce with brunoise vegetables served over rice
Close up

Purim celebration. 2/25/21

We do not usually celebrate all the Jewish holidays but since we are still pretty isolated due to the pandemic, Sarah thought that finding occasions to celebrate and make new things was a worthy project.

The idea with Purim is that you read the Book of Esther from the Bible (Esther was a Jewish queen who outwitted the evil Haman and saved the Jewish people from destruction), give to charity, eat triangular food (the shape of Haman’s hat), and get a little tipsy. Sounds perfect!

We started out with some crackers and hummus. Since Esther was Middle Eastern we figured this was a fine appetizer to have.

Hummus with triangular shaped crackers

Rather than make our own triangular food we hit the frozen food aisle to try to find some already made items. We were actually hoping to find spanakopita but no luck. We ended up with samosas that were stuffed with chickpeas and a tamarind chutney and came with a delicious cilantro sauce. I am planning on using this new found sauce on many things in the future. The samosa manufacturer, Sukhi’s, was nice enough to put the recipe online.

Chickpea samosas with cilantro sauce

Our next find were Buffalo chicken poppers which were triangular and spicy. These were fine although it was hard to find the chicken in them and were not nearly as good as the samosas.

Triangular Buffalo chicken poppers

Finally we had homemade hamantashen that Sarah made. They were wonderful! The cookie part was crisp and delicious, kind of a like a sugar cookie. The interior was a great prune jam that she also made.

Sarah’s homemade hamanstashen

We really enjoyed our Purim celebration. Taking turns reading the Book of Esther taught us some new things and it was fun booing whenever Haman’s name came up. Maybe we will do it again next year quarantine or not.

Two other red letter days early in 2021. 2/15/21

Some good things are happening! On January 20, 2021, Joseph Biden was sworn in as 46th president. We are so happy that the dreadful Trump administration has ended. Maybe now the country can move forward. We deplore the awful insurrection at the US Capitol on January 6 when rioters tried to stop the confirmation of the ballots. The lies about election fraud perpetrated by the Trump administration and its rabble rousing caused this to happen. But now Biden is in and we are so hopeful for a better future for this country.

The announcement of the inauguration of Joseph Biden and Kamala Harris

President Biden has promised 100 million vaccine shots in the first 100 days of his term. And he is doing it!! On January 25 John and I received the first shot of the Pfizer vaccine and on February 15 we get the second one. Our side effects are minimal, mostly just a sore arm for a day or two. By March 1 we should be mostly immune. Of course the virus is trying to stay ahead of the vaccine and has mutated into variants which the vaccine may not deal with as well but we understand that even if we were to catch a variant the vaccine would protect us enough that we would not get seriously ill. Hurrah!!!

Sam’s 12th birthday. 1/11/21

It is a new year but the quarantine goes on as Covid-19 rages throughout the U.S.  But it is Sam’s birthday and it must be celebrated. We all don our masks and keep social distancing while we have a little party outside on Jon’s front porch.

Alex and Ryan. Alex is wearing some of the new clothes we gave her for Christmas.
Sam opening presents with Jon
Sarah and John at our little party
Sam’s at-home birthday celebration has a fabulous cake by Leigh
12 year old Sam!

 

New Year’s. 1/1/21

We were, at some time in the recent past, hoping that 2021 would be free of Covid-19 but as the deaths in the U.S. mount up towards 500,000, things still are very grim. The ray of light is that two vaccines have been approved for emergency use. However, the lame duck administration of president 45 has no plan for getting them in the arms of the American people. Hopefully the Biden administration will do a much better job.

Our New Year’s celebration is mostly about food.  We have a fancy dinner on New Year’s Eve while watching When Harry Met Sally and traditional, good luck black eyed peas over rice and collard greens for New Year’s Day.

Seared scallops, mashed potatoes with braised leeks an asparagus is a festive New Year’s Eve dinner.

New Year’s Day black eyed peas over rice with collard greens

Christmas Eve and Christmas, 2020

We celebrated Christmas as our own household unit due to the pandemic. We had hors d’oeuvres on Christmas Eve and watched Die Hard. There was no present opening or singing of carols which was sad.

Christmas Eve hors d’oeuvres table
A family favorite, Pigs in Blankets!

We shared Christmas with Jon and family by texting photos and comments of their opening our presents.

Sam with Pusheen accoutrements
Ryan with silk scarf
Alex with leggings
Jonathan with workout pants
Sam with Pusheen slippers
Alex with a special gift from Zayde

Of course we had some present opening and festive eating to do at home.

We start off with our traditional breakfast of bagels and lox with Schneider’s Tap 7 Hefeweizen
Then it is on to present opening. Mary with Cali dish towel
Sarah with Leigh’s box of chocolates
John with bourbon
Sarah and a 3 quart pot
Fruitcake!

Sarah makes us our traditional lasagna dinner. For dessert we have the panettone she spent days making. So good!!

Mmmm, lasagna
Sarah’s homemade panetonne

Even though our Christmas was quieter and more isolated than usual we still managed to have a good time.