Butterflies (short video).
Normally my brother Nick and I don't get to see each other more than once a year, so when we got to see each other twice in a week it as a real treat. Nick came to Utah in late January for a long weekend of skiing and exploring Zion. Much fun was had in the brilliant blue skies and excellent snow at Alta. Afterwords we headed south, stopped by my climbing team's practice to prove to them that I really do have a twin brother and went to Zion National Park for the night. The weather in Zion was cold in the shade, but warm in the sun and we had a couple of great hikes exploring the emerald pools, the hike alongside the Virgin River and enjoying a scenic vista of the park from up high. On his last day in town we took Nick to the climbing gym where he tried bouldering for the first time. I must say he did very well for his first time. Afterwords much complaining of incredibly tired forearms was heard. We put Nick on a plane that Saturday with hugs.
The following Thursday evening Cassie and I boarded a plane for NYC. We arrived around midnight and were greeted by Katie and Nick in a car they had rented. They drove us back to their apartment and we slept. Friday Katie took Cassie and I to a great local bagel shop and then walked us to the subway. It was a quintessential NY theme, riding the subway and eating a bagel. Cassie and I explored the city on our own that day as Nick and Katie had work to do. We opted for the true tourist experience. We rode the subway into Manhattan and went to the International Center of Photography. There were 4 exhibits and all of them sounded really promising. The first was my favorite. During the Spanish Revolution just prior to WWII a few photographers were breaking the boundaries of photography and taking front-line war pictures. The black and white images were stunning. The next exhibit was completely different. A contemporary Chinese photographer taking huge color glossy pictures. The sets were created by his team and they show the contrast between modern and historic China. Really a neat contrast, but probably one more appreciated by people who know Chinese culture better. The exhibit after that was a interesting set of pictures taken by a small town photographer in the south in the mid 20th century. Lots of intimate pictures of people just being people at proms and social gatherings. The final exhibit was of southern water baptisms. Really interesting stuff, with some of the baptisms taking place in lakes where they had to remove blocks of ice just to get to the water. One has to think that getting dunked in freezing water could definitely feel like being reborn.
On Saturday we went to the Museum of Natural History with Nick and Katie. I must say that 10 years ago I probably wouldn't have appreciated it. Back then I was more interested in staying up late and going to clubs then in walking around a museum. Luckily I grew out of that because this museum is outstanding. We first went to a butterfly exhibit where you walk into a room that is 85 degrees and 85% humidity. It was pretty oppressive and caused out camera lens to get fogged up. In the room are many different green plants, flowers, and sugar feeding dishes. Butterflies fly around you in a way that you always wished they would as a child. I certainly felt like a little kid when a butterfly landed on my head and as I watched them flutter around. Little children were equally enraptured by the flying colors and I wondered how many butterflies met their end at the hands of an overly enthusiastic kid. Luckily they breed their own butterflies and since their life expectancy isn't that long anyway it's hard to feel too bad about it. It was really a magical experience and one that I'll remember for quite some time. That's the way true science can inspire kids, but completely capturing their imagination.
|Please land on my hand.|
We went to a few more exhibits and finished with the dinosaurs. They were really impressive and we all enjoyed gawking at them. Many exclamations were made about how large they were. It really is impressive when you are standing next to them rather than just seeing them as pictures.
|Cassie and the dinosaur formerly known as Brontosaurus.|
We finished the weekend by getting more bagels, walking around in the warm sunshine and taking a walk through Prospect Park which is only a few blocks away from where Nick and Katie live. It's a really nice park and one Cassie and I were pretty envious of as Salt Lake has very few parks and none that come even close to any as nice as this one. Afterwords we said our goodbyes, called a cab and went to the airport which was surprisingly empty, probably because of the superbowl being on right as we arrived. Cassie flew home to Utah and I headed to Montreal to work for the week. Many thanks to Nick and Katie for showing us such a great time!
Montreal was cold and snowy but my friends from our office up there showed me how to eat in a way that keeps you warm. You can really learn a lot about climate simply by the foods people eat. I enjoyed rotisserie chicken, poutine a Quebec dish made of french fries with a mozerallaish cheese and 4 kinds of meat with gravy on top, and another local favorite called smoked meat which is a beef brisket slow roasted. I might have to go vegetarian for the next week I thought to myself after each meal. Alas, when I got home to Utah Cassie and I went to a friends house for our first "Bacon Formal". The theme was all things bacon, and as dressy as you can get. Cassie looked beautiful in her dress mom got her for Christmas and I dressed up in a suit. Cassie made two dishes, one was dates wrapped in bacon, and the second was a dessert that was essentially heavy cream and bacon with blueberries (cooked in bacon fat). The dessert was one of the richest things I have even eaten in my life. Maybe the richest. And since there was a huge amount of food that no one ate we have a bunch left over. So, maybe I'll have to put a hold on the vegetarian plan for at least a couple more days....