Thursday, July 23, 2009

A Coupon you Dont Want to Lose

My brother called me up last week with an idea. Here's how our conversation went:

Steve: "Hey, man... I've got a favor to ask of you."

Barry: "Sure, what's up?"

Steve: "Well, you're really good with photoshop, right?"

Barry: "Yeah... I mean, I've got skills. What do you need me to do?"

Steve: "So, you know that really awful rap song, 'Birthday Sex'?"

Barry: "Oh, man! I hate that song!"

Steve: "Yeah, me too! No married woman is going to ask for that for her birthday. Ya know? It's so ridiculous. Well, Ashlyn's birthday is coming up..."

At this point I start busting up because I know exactly what Steve's idea is. He needs the most hip-hop laden, cheesy coupon ever made for birthday sex. He and I continue laughing about it for a few minutes and I promise him that he'll love it.

Here's how it turned out:

And, yeah... he cracked up when he got it. She got a kick out of it, too.


The Bottomless Pit

Scott told me a few days ago about a place he'd visited when he was a teenager. He said that out near Eureka was a massive, gaping chasm with a large metal grate over it. He and his friends called it the "bottomless pit." He didn't remember where it was exactly, but we decided yesterday to head out there and find it anyway.

Eureka sits west of Santaquin, Utah in the Tintic Mining District. It was, many years ago, a hotbed for mineral production and had many large mines in operation. Today, it exists only as the dilapidated shell of the city it once was - like a ghost town with people living in it. It's a rather creepy, yet fascinating little place.

On the outskirts of town was this enormous headframe. It must have stood 50 or so feet high.

The detailed view of the plaque shows the purpose of the headframe, which is to transport massive amounts of ore and gear up and down the main shaft, which (according to the plaque) can range from 300 to 3000 feet deep.

We stopped at a gas station to get drinks and ice cream and asked the attendant there where the "bottomless pit" was. She inferred that there were many in the area, but that the only one she could direct us to was east of town. Following her directions, we set out east to the dirt road she'd described and found our prize not more than 100 yards from the main road.

As you can see here, the pit spans about 25 feet by 25 feet.

Sadly, pictures do no justice to the size of this hole. I had to shoot wide angle, which makes it appear as if the walls are sloping inward and that the hole is smaller in the middle. This is very much not the case, though.

Close-up view of the rebar lattice - your only salvation from the gaping jaws of the earth below.

Here's another shot through the bars. I tried to zoom in to see further, but the darkness quickly clouds the depths of the hole.

We found a small, two foot length of a two-by-four near the shaft and decided to drop it in. It fell into the blackness without making a sound for four seconds or so, and then we heard a distant *PONK* .... then another second or so passed and we heard a more distant *CONK* followed by another even more quiet. The ever-quieting commotion continued for another three or four seconds until we couldn't hear it anymore - unsure of whether or not the depth was silencing the sound as it continued to fall or if it had finally found a resting place at the bottom.

I couldn't help but wonder about what might lay below on the bottom. How many wallets had fallen from the pockets of reckless visitors? How many pieces of wood were down there? How many rocks? How many bodies? It's a morbid thought, but such thoughts seem to come naturally to you as you gaze into the horrible depths of a bottomless pit.

*********************** UPDATE ***********************
I've had so many ask for directions to the pit so here they are. I have two requests, though, if you follow these directions:

1) Please comment on the blog! Let me know if you were able to get out there and what adventures you had while there. It's fun to hear about this.
2) I take no responsibility for anything that happens to you. There are certain risks and dangers associated with old mines, even those that are capped like this. You proceed at your own risk! Be careful. Use common sense. Don't be stupid. :)
*********************** DOUBLE UPDATE ***********************
Some dumbasses (yes, I called them dumbasses) ruined the fun by being stupid. Due to this, the mine shaft will now be capped with cement. I'm not sure you can even get to it anymore. You can read the news story here:,0,5827173.story It's a shame that things like this are ruined because of the stupid actions of a few. I feel bad for those who were burned, but not for the jackasses that threw safety out the window. Regardless, I am happy I had the opportunity to see the mine shaft and enjoy some fun (safe) times out there with friends. I'm also impressed with the amount of information I've received from others through this post and have enjoyed hearing about the experiences others have had out there. :)

1) Take I-15 South to Exit 244 (Santaquin Exit).
2) Head west on Main St. out of town and follow for 16.6 miles
3) Turn right onto Elberta Slant Rd.

Here is the google maps link so you are more familiar with what this looks like.

On the map, you can see the mine as a black square to the upper left of where the directions end.


Monday, July 20, 2009

Where the Angels Land

Angel's Landing. One of my favorite hikes in Zion National Park. I was down there a few weekends ago helping my grandparents install their new internet modem and thought I'd swing by for a quick, leg-blasting hike.

When I arrived, the sun was peeking in and out through the clouds. The top of the monolith at the center of this photograph is Angel's Landing.

Fuzzy little caterpillar.

The first of probably 20 or so chipmunks I saw on my way up the hike.

This is the view from the back of the canyon that is the second of five legs of the hike.

I caught this squirrel mid stride as he came to check me out, making it appear as if he were waving to me.

On the left, you see the chains installed to help keep you from falling off a thousand foot drop, which you can clearly see on the right.

A hiker rests as he surveys the final leg of the hike - a strenuous climb up the northwestern ridge of Angel's Landing.

The more dangerous parts of the trail have chains installed.

With nobody else up there to take my picture, and no good rocks from which to perch my camera for a timer shot, I had to settle for the "stick-your-arm-way-the-hell-out-there-and-hope-for-the-best" type of picture. Nevertheless, it felt great to be done with the climb.

The scenery up there is breathtaking. Very much worth the hike.

I took this picture with my camera's color setting on "Extra Vivid." It makes for some interesting color, but I prefer something more realistic over this option.

These chipmunks were fearless! I couldn't help but wonder if any ever fell as I watched them leap from rock to rock at the edge of a 1000+ ft. drop.

More of the amazing scenery from Angel's Landing.

A shot of the valley - and a smaller sandstone spire adjacent to Angel's Landing - below.

This part of the hike is easily the most difficult for those who fear heights. On either side of me was certain death had I fallen.

More chains.

This series of switchbacks on the backside of the saddle is known as "Walter's Wiggles." Anyone who has "wiggled" up them probably hates Walter as much as I do.

I was hoping the clouds would clear enough to allow this to happen. You can imagine my joy when I came out of the canyon and saw that the sun was finally painting the top of the valley. :)

On the way back to the car, there was a doe with two fawns meandering on the hillside just next to the main road.

They were adorable!

The doe had substantial scarring on her right shoulder and above her right eye. It looked like she had been hit by a car sometime in the past. She seemed to walk normally, though - with the easy, cautious gait typical of deer in the area. (The car you see in this picture is parked.)

This fawn gave one final peek over the rock before heading up the hillside with the doe and the other fawn.

On my way home a brewing storm created an excellent sunset.

This caused me to pull to the side of the road multiple times for pictures. Well worth the stop, though.


Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Fourth of July!

We went down to visit my grandparents in Hurricane, Utah for the Fourth of July this year. Between barbecues, water fights, movies, and fireworks we had such a great time! I can't say enough how much I love visiting my grandparents. They're amazing people and tons of fun.

The clouds were absolutely beautiful on Friday!

On Friday night nature put on a little firework show of its own.

Does anyone else see Jabba the Hut in that cloud?

We had breakfast in a little park in town and watched the annual Fourth of July parade.

This little guy sat next to me and was entirely fascinated with the firetrucks and police cars that led the parade.

Everyone stood as the veterans passed with the flag.

That night, we lit fountains in front of the house.

To capture them, I left my shutter open for anywhere between 5 and 15 seconds, trying all the while to hold the camera very, very still.

Watching the show...

Shan and Andrew (or "Shandrew" as we affectionately call them) admire the pyrotechnics.

Man, I love the Fourth.


Monday, July 6, 2009

Alaska Pics!

Seattle, Washington was where our boat dis-en-land-ed itself. Nautical terms are very strange like that. Don't question my vocabulary.

Tyler ponders the mysteries of the ocean.

Settling in to our luxurious cabin.

This is Juneau, Alaska. It's the smallest capitol city I've ever seen. Literally, it would fit in the palm of your hand. Provided you're the size of Alaska.

I must have seen a hundred of these planes land and take off in the duration of the cruise. They're everywhere!

We toured a Salmon Hatchery in Juneau and, sadly, the stuffed bear was the most exciting part of the whole thing. At least he smiled for the camera.

After the hatchery, we went out to the Mendenhall Glacier. It was the first glacier I'd ever seen and it was stunning! (Click on the picture to see the larger version)

YES! A real bear! We were on our way to the shorefront of the lake and found this little guy digging in the grass! He was adorable!

The next town on our stop was Skagway, Alaska. Notice the sign that says, "Begin." How cryptic...

Alaskan flowers. Tight.

In Skagway we took a train up to White Pass. The guy in the far right of this picture stood there for the entire duration of the trip, filming. I felt really sorry for his friends and family that must endure hell every time he shows a home movie.

As we rose higher, a thick fog crept closer and closer.

Old, broken bridge + atmospheric fog makes for a great picture.

Fractured arctic lake near the top of the pass.

What's this? Another bear!? Yes! This guy was peeking out from the bushes as the train passed by.

That evening, we were presented with a great sunset ay.

Everyone came up on deck to enjoy the view.

The following morning we woke up in Endicott Fjord. This eagle was enjoying breakfast on the rocks.

These seals were a couple among hundred that we saw that day.

This iceberg got stuck at low tide.

At the end of the fjord was a massive glacier. Apparently, those who had binoculars could see massive chunks of ice breaking off into the water.

Fellow cruisers off on the horizon.

Another shot of our cabin.

Ketchikan was very pretty, but we didn't really do anything there. Just took pictures.

Getting back on the boat...

This is the backside of our ship. (Taken when we docked in Victoria, BC)

We went on a tour of haunted locations in Victoria (including this graveyard.) It's supposedly Canada's most haunted city.

This was our hippie tour guide. He told interesting stories but kept trying to apologize for how boring and/or unbelievable the stories were. Definitely needs to work on his storytelling skills.

The headstones were gorgeous.

And this one was crooked.

Victoria was full of great architecture. I'd like to go back sometime.