Serendipitous Saturday (1 of 2)

On Saturday N and I took the kids and drove up into Provo Canyon to see the fall foliage.  The trees up in the mountains change color several weeks before those on the valley floor and usually by the time I think about going up into the canyon the leaves there have already fallen.

But not this year! We drove up to the Squaw Peak overlook and the views were amazing.

At night Squaw Peak is popular with college kids looking for a spot to park and make-out.  N and I never made it up there when we were dating–the laundromat parking lot next to my apartment complex was much more convenient 😉 –but I bet the views of the valley at night are awesome too. 

State Fair

N and I took the kids to the Utah State Fair on Saturday.  We’ve gone for the last three years and are well on our way to to establishing a family tradition.  It’s easy to support a family tradition that is all about cotton candy and rides and cute baby animals and the best Mexican food in the state.

It’s become tradition that before we go to the fair we have lunch at Red Iguana 2 which is just a few blocks from the fair grounds.  It’s the same food as at the original Red Iguana just in a more spacious (and kid-friendly) atmosphere.  Seriously, if you want good Mexican food, try their moles.  Widely-known to be awesome.

Thus fortified by deliciousness we looked at the folk art, photography, and fine art exhibits and then walked through the livestock barns and pet the animals.  And then E went on a few rides, which he loved.

We took Mimi on her first carnival ride–the Wiggle Worm–and at first she loved it but the operator let us ride for an especially long time and after a few minutes she started to get nervous.  I think she’ll be more into rides next year.  After the rides we got a few treats (cotton candy for the kids, a funnel cake for N and I) and then headed home.

Visiting the fair is one of my favorite family traditions.  How about you?  Have you gone to a fair lately?  The Utah State Fair runs through September 16th so if you’re local, there’s still time to go.

On Saturday night we went and saw the musical “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” at the outdoor theatre at Sundance.  It was a spur-of-the-moment sort of thing; a work friend of N’s had some extra tickets a vendor had given him so the play and the pre-play barbecue were both free which of course made the evening that much better 🙂

We had never seen a play at Sundance so it was a real treat.  Before the show started the announcer told a funny story about how thirty years ago they had wanted perform “Seven Brides” and had tried to buy the play rights, but the company who owned them refused to sell them.  Robert Redford thought it might help if he called them up himself and when he got shot down too he got mad and suggested that the theatre put the play on anyway and just call it “Five Brides for Five Brothers”–and they did! 

Speaking of Robert Redford, it was his birthday so the announcer had the audience sing “Happy Birthday” to him and put the video online so Redford could see it.  Bonus points if you can stop N and me! (We’re in the 4th row in the center.  N’s wearing a red shirt with a black jacket over it.)
I’ve seen the movie version of “Seven Brides” but this was the first time I had seen it live.  I was really impressed with the cast.  Both the girls and the guys did a great job of acting, singing, and dancing.  But on top of all that the guys did  some fancy tumbling runs across the stage which were pretty impressive.

The only problem with the production was that the microphone of the female lead (Millie) kept cutting out and then finally broke.  Poor Millie popped off stage for a second and came back with a  handheld microphone which she used through the new few songs (including a dance number) until they could hold intermission and fix her headset mic.  The actress who played Millie showed great poise was totally unfazed and did a fantastic job.  It was awesome to watch.

After the show an announcer came on and told the audience that if we didn’t want to wait in line for the shuttle to take us back to the parking lot that we could hike up and then back down the mountain behind us to our cars, but she warned that it was a “steep and strenuous” hike.  We didn’t want to wait so we followed the crowd up the mountain.  The announcer had not exaggerated!  It felt surreal to be plodding up a mountain in the dark in such a large crowd. If you see a play there, remember to wear comfy shoes!

Arches National Park

Last week N and I decided on the spur of the moment that it would be fun to take the kids down to Moab. Neither of us had been before and it’s only about a 4-hour drive from our house.  So on Friday N took the day off from work and we drove down.

Despite our best intentions, it was after two in the afternoon before we got on the road (I know!) so it was already the kids’ bedtime by the time we got into our hotel.  But since it was a special occasion I took E to paddle around the hotel pool while N put Mimi to bed.

After E and I got back from the pool Mimi was still super jazzed about our little adventure and amiably refusing to go to sleep.  N and I took turns trying to get her to lie down in her portable crib and she kept crying every time we put her down.  We couldn’t let her cry since it would have bothered the other guests so we did this up-and-down-and-rock-and-shoosh dance with her until after ten when she finally conked out.

The next day we drove into Arches National Park to look around and do some hiking.  The scenery was otherworldly and magical.  The kids were troopers: E held his own on the hikes and Mimi chilled in the baby carrier.

After a late lunch we got back on the road and made it home in time to give the kids a much-needed bath and put them to bed at their normal bedtimes–success!

It really was a nice trip.  The drive wasn’t bad at all and Arches is amazing with lots of kid-friendly hikes.  I’ve love to visit again.

Hill Aerospace Museum

On Saturday we took the kids to the Hill Air Force Base Aerospace Museum.  My dad is retired Air Force and I have fond memories of going to air museums and air shows on base when I was a kid.  I knew that E would love looking at the airplanes.

E went nuts for the planes.  The museum has about fifteen planes / helicopters parked outside but it also has two big hangers with more planes and displays inside.  I especially liked the display of WWII pilot helmets.  It was interesting and a fun sort of creepy with all the disembodied mannequin heads.

The museum is just outside the base gates and is open 7 days a week from 9:00 am to 4:30 pm.  Everyone is welcome.  Best of all, it’s free!  (Donations accepted.)

There’s a gift shop but not a snack bar.  However, there are several tables outside so you can bring your own lunch and have a picnic underneath the wings of one of the planes.

If you’re planning on visiting, I would keep the weather in mind.  It was HOT on Saturday and while it wasn’t so bad when we were outside with the breeze, the hangers were pretty stuffy.  It must be difficult/costly to fully air condition such large spaces and by the time we were finished looking at everything we were all pretty sweaty.

The museum is in Roy, so it’s a little over an hour’s drive from our house.  On the way up we stopped for lunch at a new-to-us restaurant, Oh Mai.  They serve bánh mì and other Vietnamese-style sandwiches.  It was really good!  N and I got a few different types of sandwiches and shared them.  They even have a Korean-style rib sandwich with kimchi on it.  Yum!

Plum Alley

I’m just now recovering from a nasty 72-hour bug.  The most annoying symptom was having the chills while simultaneously being drenched in sweat.  It came on so suddenly that when I woke up feeling horrible on Sunday morning I didn’t have time to get a substitute teacher for the ladies’ Relief Society class I teach at church so I blundered through my lesson with sweat running down my face and some pretty impressive pit stains on my sweater.  I am (obviously) all class.

But that’s not what this post is supposed to be about; it’s supposed to be about the delicious food pictured above.  On Saturday night N and I went on a date to see Moonrise Kingdom (loved it!) and to try out a new restaurant, Plum Alley. 

Plum Alley is a pan-Asian sister restaurant to The Copper Onion which is one of our favorite places to eat in Salt Lake.  It has the same owners and one of the same chefs. Since N and I both love all sorts of Asian food we were excited to try it out.

The restaurant itself is more casual than The Copper Onion, with several communal tables and seats available along a bar at the window and a bar facing the kitchen.  Strings of colorful lanterns cover the wood-paneled ceiling.

We parked ourselves at the window to people watch and studied the menu.  Everything sounded so good that we went a little overboard.  Happily, the prices are lower than at The Copper Onion so the damage wasn’t that bad.  Most small plates were $5-8 and the large plates were $12-13.

We ordered (clockwise from left): beef rendang, two types of steamed buns: pork shoulder with pickled mustard greens and glazed pork belly), the “Angry Birds” noodle special with duck, and to lighten things up, the papaya salad and the red curry beans with crispy shallots.

Everything was very flavorful.  The server had warned us that the noodle special was spicy but I was still a bit taken a back.  I LOVE spicy food (I’m half-Korean, after all!) but I was still gulping down my water.  The pickle-y papaya salad was the perfect thing to take off some of the heat. 

Everything was good but my favorites were the long beans, which were surprisingly rich with red curry goodness and also perfectly slightly crisp, and the pork belly steamed buns (two for $7).  The bun itself was lovely and pillowy and the pork was succulent and perfect.  If I have any complaints, it might be that the rendang was a little too salty on its own, but eaten with rice ($1 for a small bowl) it was fine.

It can be next to impossible to get into The Copper Onion without a reservation on the weekend so we were kind of perplexed to see people standing outside waiting when you can walk fifty feet down the street and find yourself at the happy place that is Plum Alley.  My guess is that it’s only because word hasn’t gotten around yet.

Train Ride

Last week E attended a friend’s birthday party held at the home of “The Train Man,” this retired gentleman who has built an over-a-mile-long miniature train track on his property.  Riding the full circuit took about twenty minutes and we even went through a tunnel.  E was over the moon with excitement and Mimi and I thought it was pretty cool too.

The Train Man and his wife allow families in the neighborhood to enjoy their property (swimming pool, sports courts, huge covered patio, etc…) free of charge; people just have to call ahead and schedule their visit.  He said that he gets 4-6 families a day who come by to ride the train.  While we were there they were super nice and didn’t bat an eyelash at a herd of preschool boys running in-and-out of their house to use the bathroom.

It was lovely to meet people who have done such magical things with their home and who are so interested in giving back to their community.

Roller Derby Photos

I finished going through the photos I took at the roller derby in Spanish Fork a few weeks ago.

It was exciting to watch our home team the Molly Morbids beat the Portenuf Valley Bruisers from Pocatello, Idaho.  All of the ladies were AMAZING.







After the game, Pain In The Nikki came over and chatted with us.  N works with her husband and we had sat with him during the bout and tried to learn the finer points of the game.  Nikki told Erica and I that they were having a “fresh meat” training camp in July and that we should come skate (!)  I’m tickled by the idea but don’t think I’m up for it.  It seems like a fantastic workout but the commute down would be too much.  Also, um, the very real possibility of breaking some bones.

But it was very flattering–I don’t attend many sporting events where afterwards they tried to recruit me to join 🙂

For a detailed recap of the bout and more information about the team, see the Happy Valley Derby Darlin’s site.

There’s another bout on June 9th.  Hanging out in a vacant Food4Less and watching these ladies compete makes for a fun and unique evening–maybe I’ll see you there!

Tulip Festival

Last week I took my mom and her friends to the tulip festival at Thanksgiving Point.  The flowers were stunning.  Every time I visit the gardens I’m impressed by the amount of work it must take to create such a lovely place.

The festival’s over but the gardens are still worth checking out.  It’s a great place to turn the kids loose and let them run around.

Ken’s book signing

My brother-in-law and Jeopardy! champ Ken Jennings is in town for a book signing for the paperback edition of his book Maphead.

Maphead is a fun and informative read even if you’re not especially into geography and maps. It would also make a great gift, especially for any dads or grads you might need a little something for.

If we can find a sitter N and I will be there–come hang out and say hi! 🙂

Tuesday April 17th, 7:00 pm

The King’s English Bookshop, 1511 South 1500 East, Salt Lake City