What Could Be Better than a Picnic With Smokey Robinson?

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Who doesn’t love a picnic? I love to picnic so much I made my New Year’s Resolution for 2015 to have 32 picnics. This is true.

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When you think about it though, to enjoy a whole lot of picnics is not really a resolution, it’s a goal.  Either way, I set it for this year.

Setting goals like this helps to stretch my imagination and make special memories in daily life. Park City is such a beautiful place, I figure, why just take a hike? Why not bring a picnic to savor the experience?

But there are more to picnics than food. Picnics are:

  • an outdoor activity
  • a chance to relax and linger
  • a time to be with friends and family
  • usually in a beautiful setting

When I saw that Smokey Robinson was coming to Deer Valley to sing with the Utah Symphony, I thought, “picnic with Smokey Robinson, I am in for that!”

At the age of 75, Smokey still has it “going on.” He was stylin’ with a green satin jacket and matching leather pants, and he sang with his signature sweet, sweet voice as he shared the music of Motown.

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The picnic? That was so easy. Deer Valley prepared it for us so all I had to do was pick it up at the concert. One call ahead and I ordered not one but two baskets; salmon and filet mignon.

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We ended up with a group of six people and there was plenty of food for all since the baskets have such generous portions. I just brought extra plates!

The gourmet picnic baskets came with antipasto, brie and baguettes, grapes, two salmon entrees and (since we ordered two double baskets), two filet mignon entrees with horseradish sauce. We also added a bottle of red or white wine.

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And there was more. They each contained two servings of lemon cake and brownies (on a stick – so easy to devour). My friend Michelle brought some individual cheesecakes for dessert too for everyone to share so we had no limit on choices.

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Smokey Robinson and the musicians from the Utah Symphony entertained us with our favorite songs including:

  • You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me
  • Stand by Me
  • Tears of a Clown

He even sang my husband’s favorite song, Fly Me to the Moon (Smokey style).

This was a picnic I won’t forget anytime soon.

For more information on the Deer Valley Concerts at Snow Park, click here.

To order a gourmet picnic basket or bag, click here.

#DeerValleySummer Mountain Bike Tip Series – Week 4

Level

The third of the “Four L’s,” “level,” refers to keeping your torso and shoulders relatively level to the ground and not letting them dip into the turn and/or inside the bike. You want to move your bike laterally under you, leaning your bike, not your body. Riders often get into trouble when they lean their bodies into a flat non bermed turn causing a loss of traction and/or balance. Remembering to stay level will help you avoid this pitfall. Of course, there are times when leaning your body can be useful, but in general there are few negatives in staying level.

LB2015.07.73 goodlevelcroppedIn the above image Doug is letting the bike move laterally under him, keeping his torso “quiet.”

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The image above is an example of tipping into and being inside of the turn. Doug is demonstrating incorrect technique in this image.

We hope you enjoy our weekly mountain bike tips. Please remember these tips can help but will not eliminate risks, as mountain biking is a dynamic sport. These tips are meant to help you build skills and progress for a more enjoyable mountain biking experience.

Summer is all about trails! 

I started hiking and biking in early May this year, and to keep my excitement high through the rest of the summer, I recently chatted with Charlie Sturgis, Executive Director of the Mountain Trails Foundation. This organization is involved with everything trail related around Park City. Charlie told story of his Foundation, its current projects and its future goals.

JF: How did you get involved with outdoors sports and activities?

Charlie Sturgis: I’ve always been an outdoorsman, I grew up in Chicago but was always involved with hunting, fishing and skiing. I remember visiting Snowbird in 1974. That’s when I fell in love with the Wasatch Mountains and declared then and there: “This is really cool!” That is how I made Utah my home. I finished my college education at the University of Utah and went to work for Mountaineer Sports and then Wasatch Touring in Salt Lake City. I had a ball! I skied, rock climbed, ice climbed, mountain biked and kayaked wherever and whenever I could.

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JF: What brought you up to Park City?

Charlie Sturgis: Contrary to what many people believe, I didn’t actually start White Pine Touring. I came in when it had just begun in a teepee near the old Park West. The original owners asked me to manage the business for them and they eventually sold it to me. The timing was perfect and that’s when I added biking to winter sports, and we became a year round outdoor shop. My wife and I made Park City our home in 1985.

JF: How did you get involved with the Mountain Trail Foundation?

Charlie Sturgis: Jan Wilking and I started establishing the Mountain Trails Foundation, a non-profit organization, to promote trail development around Park City. In 1993 we hired Troy Duffin, our first executive director. Mountain Trail Foundation has been around for 22 years already! I eventually sold White Pine Touring, stayed on for a few more years, and as the Mountain Trail Foundation executive position opened up in 2009, I seized the opportunity.

JF: What was your vision at the start?

Charlie Sturgis: My vision was to make this nonprofit organization work and run more like a business that would become financially sustainable. At first this wasn’t the case, but today memberships represent 40% of our income, 20% to 25% comes from corporate sponsorship, another 20% to 25% is the product of races and events we organize, and the balance comes from special grants. This allow us to make decisions because we have money in the bank.

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JF: Did you find inspiration at other resorts?

Charlie Sturgis: Not really. From the get-go, things have really worked out well for us. Our growth has been organic, and when success came, we decided to share our best practices; IMBA (International Mountain Bicycling Association) is the “mothership” of an organization like ours, but we really stand as the good example out there. We’re in assuming a leadership position in the outdoors community and remain willing and ready to share our expertise and mentor other organizations.

JF: Who was your audience then, and what is it today?

Charlie Sturgis: Based on surveys, we seem to have as many hikers as we have mountain bikers. We support and advocate for non-motorized recreation. Our audience is everyone from grandparents to their grandkids, hardcore athletes and casual weekend recreationists.

JF: Non-motorized? Then tell me, how do electric bikes fit in the picture?

Charlie Sturgis: The dust has yet to settle on the use of e-mountain bikes. At this point, I’d like to leave you with a few thoughts: Besides some legal issues related to the way conservation easements are written, the electric assisted bike offers an opportunity to someone who wouldn’t normally be getting out, to enjoy the outdoors. It provides an option to easily leave one’s car home. These two goals can easily be accomplished. If today, someone on an e-bike is straying on a trail by mistake, the overall good outweighs the occasional incursion.

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JF: Over time, has your work evolved or is it still the same?

Charlie Sturgis: My job has become more administrative, something I’m not too crazy about, and more regional, in the sense that our influence reaches beyond Park City which is a very good thing.

JF: What are the opportunities for your Foundation in the greater Park City area?

Charlie Sturgis: We’re working on plans to connect all seven adjoining ski areas by trails, so bikers and hikers can go from town to town and use all lifts in between. I’d like to see the Great Western Trail be completed, but at the same time would like to see a more organic growth to our programs, so we don’t get carried away by doing too many things, too fast, and lose control over the users’ experience.

JF: Is the local business community supporting what you do?

Charlie Sturgis: Yes, they are supportive and they would be foolish not too!

JF: How do you see Deer Valley’s Mid Mountain extension fitting into the overall picture?

Charlie Sturgis: Anytime someone is willing to let us build a trail across their land, as it is the case with the Bald Eagle Homeowners Association, we should jump on the chance! Steve Graff, Deer Valley’s Ski Patrol/Mountain Bike Manager, wanted us to get involved with the build. Deer Valley’s Mid Mountain extension is going to provide an easier way down the mountain for the typical family, a gentler trail should make it a lot easier for mom, dad and the kids to get down in confidence. No matter what the size of trail infrastructure a resort can offer, it is important to think of easier access and egress points.

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JF: How can readers of this blog help Mountain Trail Foundation?

Charlie Sturgis: All non-profit organizations often go unnoticed and the Mountain Trail Foundation is no exception. Any contribution, no matter how small, is always meaningful and in the long run, contributes to the non-motorized cause!

 

#DeerValleySummer Mountain Bike Tip Series – Week 3

Loose

Our second “L,” “loose,” is all about letting the bike work under you. As in any athletic endeavor, it’s important to keep your body loose while biking. In allowing your arms and legs to move long and short you gain more suspension than just what’s on your bike. Having a death grip on your handle bars and riding rigid will only leave your body fatigued and you will constantly get thrown off balance. The looser you ride, the more fun you’ll have moving with the terrain, not bracing against it.

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Doug allows his body to work with the terrain, flexing and extending through the trail’s rollers.

We hope you enjoy our weekly mountain bike tips. Please remember these tips can help but will not eliminate risks, as mountain biking is a dynamic sport. These tips are meant to help you build skills and progress for a more enjoyable mountain biking experience.

My Day at the Outdoor Retailer Show

A friend of ours was attending the Outdoor Retailer (OR) Show in Salt Lake City, a 45 minute drive from our house. He asked if he could stay with us while he was in town, since he had flown in from Boulder, CO, and was spending all day meeting potential clients and collecting cards. I had heard of the OR Show, but I had no idea how big it was and my curiosity fueled my fire.

“I should write a blog about it for Deer Valley,” I thought to myself. “I could show all the new ski and snow gear!” Great idea, right?  Hmmm, maybe not.

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I arrived at the show and asked where the ski and snow toys were (rookie mistake) “No, this is the Summer OR Show…the Winter OR show is in February.” I couldn’t play it off…the cat was out of the bag.

All of registration knew I had no clue what I was doing and away I went with a smile.

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First stop, the most comfortable neck pillows in the world. Well, that is what I felt they should be named in the moment but Cocoon works too. They are furry and compact and if I hadn’t felt the need to regain some sort of pride, I would have walked around the rest of the day with this sucker cuddling my neck region. See that little pouch I am holding? That’s how small they are when deflated!

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I turned around from Cocoon and was looking straight at my husband’s pants. Not the actual pair, but his favorite pant company, Kühl. Erik, in true ski racer form, has a little extra muscle in the trunk and these pants give him the much needed freedom to move. He loves them.

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All this OR’ing made me quite hungry so I stopped by the Cliff Bar booth for some before, during, after and on-the-go fueling.

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GSI OUTDOORS Coffee Maker. This could be my favorite gadget. I love coffee. But I really love coffee when I am camping. I don’t know why it tastes better. Maybe it’s the effort it takes to get a perfect cup that makes me appreciate it more. This gadget is sweet, cute and looks like it could pull off a mean cup of joe! Mama like!

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Remember Croakies®? I don’t have to think back that far, as I was in search of them for our whitewater rafting trip last summer. I found them, and I was flooded with memories from my youth. Who didn’t have croakies attached to their fake Vuarnet’s®? Okay, maybe it was just a Northern California thing. But, these belts caught my eye. The colors they are coming up with for men’s socks and belts is blowing my mind. I love it. And guess who makes these babies? That’s right, Croakies®!

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Nothing in life is complete without Zombies. Honestly, I don’t know what company these ladies are representing or what they are selling but I love me some Zombies.

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Naturally, I was feeling tense after hanging out with Zombies and I felt I needed a 10 minute break to loosen up. No wonder it was so difficult to get in to this place! Lot’s of hidden treasures.

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Innova was there with some really cool water toys. They basically featured a blow-up version of almost every water vessel except for a speedboat. Now you are not limited by the size of your car. You can fit a large tandem kayak in your Mini-Cooper®! This absolutely amazed me.

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I had to show you standup paddleboards; they make me happy and they were everywhere. I love everything about these boards and I am loving their beautiful colors. I plan on trying this fun looking sport at Deer Valley very soon.

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I voted Life is good® as best booth; so homey and cute. And, frankly, I think we can’t spread their positive messages enough. Life is good!

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Okay, wait…my favorite, for obvious and biased reasons, was……Speedo®.

They just happened to win “Gear of the Show” with these awesomely elegant flippers. I put my “flippers” into the awarding-winning flippers and it was quite a scene.

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And speaking of flippers, thank you Feetures!® for upping the sock game! My feet are thrilled with your vibrant and exciting take on the under-footwear.

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I stopped by the ChicoBag® booth and asked the obvious question “Are you guys based in Chico, CA?” Instant family. They are based in Chico, which is very close to where I was born and raised. We had a moment and then I took a moment to understand their message. See all those plastic bags, people? The average person uses that many in a year, that’s 500! YIKES! Let’s change our ways!

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Cutest dog at the show. (wonder how he got through registration? Just saying.)

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This product stopped me in my tracks. Yup, those are iPad’s in a fish tank. Loksak’s® are the coolest zip-lock bags for your smart stuff. Phones, tablets, etc. They have got you covered up to a depth of 100 feet. And it still senses your fingertips through the plastic. Lots of technology goes into making these better than the bags you have in your kitchen.

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Kayak’s were king at this show and they came in every size and color. My kids are obsessed with kayaking, and I understand why. They are small enough to handle and big enough to be great, thus the perfect vessel. This is the Wilderness Systems® booth.

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I am sensing a serious shift in wheel size for everyday outdoor gear. People want to pull and lug their stuff onto and through any terrain. Anything from off-road to deep sand, it looks like Wheeleez® has you covered.

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This was by far, my favorite activity at the show. This fella was on the back wall. And, by this point, I was lost so I had no idea where the back wall was located. But it was awesome. I hit so many levitating balls that I created a gallery. I finally caught myself having too much fun and gave up the bat. The ball hangs out at the end of a strong stream of air. This HitZone® was really fun and it costs $350.

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These cute backpacks are from Hook & Tackle®. Guess what the kids will be taking back to school this year?

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I survived and I loved it. My husband scored some new shoes out of the day and his feet have never been happier with his new Cushe® shoes. I can’t wait to go back for the 2015 show, August 5 – 8!

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Kicking Off Summer – White Water Rafting With All Seasons Adventures

Summer may be a season but it’s also an attitude.

Grabbing lunch is suddenly transformed to more than a meal but an experience with al fresco dining or an impromptu picnic. Forget sitting inside or at your kitchen counter – you want to be outside enjoying the sun and the fresh air.

Summer changes our outlook to where we want to get outdoors, try new things, and make every hour of sunshine count.

The question is, how do we kick off summer in the best way possible? Is it an ice cream cone?  A day at the pool?  Perhaps an outdoor concert with a picnic and your best friends?

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My husband Jay and I decided to kick off our summer with a white water rafting trip with All Season’s Adventures.

What better way to enjoy a summer day than hot sun, cold water and an experienced river guide named KaiLin?

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We drove about 45 minutes from Park City on Highway 89 to the Weber River where All Seasons Adventures puts in their rafts. (Transportation is available for Deer Valley guests, of course.)

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After greeting our guide, securing our life jackets, and listening to a safety lesson, we were ready to head out on the river. Our trip was about 2 1/2 hours of rafting down the Weber River. Since this is a Class II whitewater river, we were engaged and active paddlers with just the right amount of excitement on the river!

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The Weber river trip kept our interest because there are three distinct parts of the trip. During the farmland portion, we returned the gaze of a few horses as we viewed working farms as well as some vintage farm equipment from our vantage point on the river.

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After passing a more industrial section, we were treated to the gorgeous red rock mountain views that Utah is famous for. We passed rock arches and rock formations called “Devil’s Slide.”

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We had the chance to get a little wet as we hit a few rapids.

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We had to duck under a low bridge.

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Our guide had us spinning through waterfalls and navigating a “rock garden” in our raft. With her seven years experience on the water, she had no problem anticipating the flow of water around bends, over rocks and under trees.

With some directions like, “Pull two” or “backwards one” she skillfully had us negotiating our river journey with ease.

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You can see by the smiles on our faces that we had a great time.

It’s now official: it’s summertime!

For more information on whitewater rafting with with All Season’s Adventures, click here.

 

Solitude Mountain Resort; not so far!

Since Deer Valley Resort announced it would be acquiring Solitude Mountain Resort, I have always thought of Solitude as far away in a remote canyon. When thinking about the commute, people often think of the winter route that consists of driving down Parley’s Canyon and then accessing the resort from Big Cottonwood Canyon, which is about 43 miles away and takes just under one hour to reach from Deer Valley Resort.

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Contrast this with getting there “as the crow flies,” about a 6 miles journey and you suddenly realize that there must be a better way to get to Solitude Mountain Resort. Not so long ago, State Route 224 went from asphalt to dirt road as soon as you reached Empire Pass and remained that way all the way to Big Cottonwood Canyon.

Since I never drive a sturdy 4×4, I’ve always preferred going to Solitude the long way, via Interstate 80 and the Salt Lake Valley, during an annual fall trip through Guardsman Pass to marvel at the bright foliage that treats motorists all the way to Solitude Mountain Resort.

In recent years SR 224 underwent some major improvements and is now easily passable with all passenger cars. On a beautiful June day we decided to adventure from Deer Valley to Solitude and find out for ourselves how close the resorts really are, via the scenic, mountain road.

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Our journey began at the Deer Valley Grocery~Café where we had an early lunch on the patio overlooking the pond that has become the meeting place for the local Standup Paddleboarders. We didn’t go on the water, we just watched while enjoying a scrumptious lunch.

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It’s a wonderful site for having a meal outside the hustle and bustle of Historic Main Street in Park City. The atmosphere is both quiet and relaxing. My wife had the Grilled Three Cheese and I had the Albacore Tuna Melt. When we were done munching our Chocolate Chip Cookie and sipping our coffee, we were on our way to Solitude Mountain Resort.

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We went up Marsac Ave., AKA the Mine Road, and drove all the way to Empire Pass. We made a quick stop at about 9,000 to snap a few pictures, catch a glance of Mt. Timpanogos and get our fill of the vistas before continuing on to Guardsman Pass.

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Guardsman’s lookout is at about 9,700 feet. We were astounded by the numbers of cars stationed up there this early in the season. We could barely find a parking spot. Sightseers, mountain bikers and hikers love to stop there and use this promontory as a trailhead of choice. From there, the vistas are impressive as they span all the way to the High Uintas, Deer Valley Resort, Heber City and plunge into Big Cottonwood Canyon.

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The drive down canyon is now on a beautifully paved road, complete with markings and as smooth as can be. The views are awesome as the valley opens up and we soon come in sight of the Solitude Mountain Resort ski runs. Because of the canyon’s high elevation snow remains in many spots, even early summer.

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Very soon, we reached the entrance to Solitude Mountain Resort where we conveniently parked our car. A larger parking area is also available a few hundred yards down the road. The village’s altitude is about 8,000 feet. It’s quite charming and reminiscent of the Alps, with its specific architecture and clock tower. Not counting our multiple stops, we drove the 13 miles between the two resorts in about half an hour; so much for the remoteness factor!

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We stopped for an ice-cream at the Stone Haus Pizzeria and Creamery that had just opened up for the season (you’ll also find pizzas and sandwiches there). There’s also the Honeycomb Grill that is open Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays serving lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch. There are many good reasons to visit this new addition to the Deer Valley family of resorts!

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From there, you have the option of driving down Big Cottonwood Canyon into the Salt Lake Valley, another scenic descent, or returning on the picturesque route over Guardsman’s Pass. This high-road is an alternative itinerary to consider when you drop or pick up someone at the airport, shop the Salt Lake stores or simply want to make your trip down to Salt Lake a lot more interesting!

We choose to return from where we came and enjoyed yet another series of very distinct viewpoints all the way back to Park City. We can’t wait to do it again!

Mid-Mountain Trail Extension Opens at Deer Valley Resort

Deer Valley Resort is opening the Mid-Mountain Trail extension this Saturday, July 11, 2015. This project was a collaborative effort between Deer Valley Resort, The Mountain Trails Foundation and the Bald Eagle Homeowners Association.

dv-CSturgis-blog4The extension connects the Silver Lake area to the Deer Crest Trail for bikers and hikers to more easily access the Snow Park area and the trail system of Park City.

Mountain activities this summer promise to provide an even higher level of enjoyment as Deer Valley has embarked on its largest-ever summer investment to modernize and update its existing mountain biking and hiking trail network of over 70 miles.

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For more information on Deer Valley’s Mid-Mountain Trail extension, please visit the resort’s website at deervalley.com

#DeerValleySummer Mountain Bike Tip Series – Week 2

Look

“Look” is the first of what we like to call the “Four L’s.” For both inexperienced and experienced riders a common tendency is to look just ahead of your front wheel.  This does not allow you to anticipate what is coming next and makes us ride defensively. Being able to anticipate line choice and braking zones as well as the looking through corners and technical zones of the trail are the keys to a successful ride. So keep your chin up and your eyes down the trail.

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Doug demonstrates how to look beyond your front tire. His bike is turning but his eyes are already looking to the next part of the trail.

We hope you enjoy our weekly mountain bike tips. Please remember these tips can help but will not eliminate risks, as mountain biking is a dynamic sport. These tips are meant to help you build skills and progress for a more enjoyable mountain biking experience.

Park City’s Kimball Arts Festival July 31 – August 2 

When I was a child, one of the biggest events each summer in my small town was “Art in the Park.” It loomed large for me, my parents looked forward to it, there was always music in the gazebo at the park’s center, and the entire town seemed to turn out to stroll through booth after booth, where artists displayed their work.

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When Jeffrey and I first moved to Park City, our arrival coincided with the Park City Kimball Arts Festival. I was thrilled, especially when I discovered that it was an even bigger affair than that of my own hometown. The show takes over all of Historic Main Street, hosts artists from all over the world, while still including a lot of local artists. It’s a thrill for me to see which of my friends are in the show each year, in part because when I visit their booths, I can see others appreciate their work as much as I do.

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It’s no surprise to me that all of these years later, I greet the first weekend of August with eager anticipation, as the Park City Kimball Arts Festival (July 31 – August 2), rolls into town. Our children have attended the festival in baby carriers, strollers and backpacks, growing into walkers who stood in awe at the foot of giant, moving sculptures.

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Art has a multi-generational appeal and the Kimball takes a lot of pride in making sure there is something for the whole family. From including large format sculptures in a sort of “garden” on Heber Avenue, to the shaved ice vendors and a variety of food vendors with tastes for almost every palate (we’re partial to the kosher hot dogs at Java Cow), to creating interactive experiences for kids. In fact, there’s a hands-on center for on-the-spot art projects (design-a-hat, tie-dye shirts, clay molding), and a “treasure hunt” with clues that can be answered by visiting various artists’ and sponsors’ booths, that help foster an appreciation for the arts in kids. In fact, I give the treasure hunt credit for serving as a great ice-breaker for my kids to get used to talking to artists about their work.

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Often—by arrangement or by chance—some of our family visitors are in town for the art festival. Last year, one set of doting grandparents was in town, and both Lance and Seth undertook a photography project all their own. Then snapped photos of each other, of all of us, and asked each artist what inspired their work, and whether it was okay for them to photograph pieces that made an impression on them. More than once, the kids asked detailed questions about technique, and each artist took the time to answer in the kind of detail that only stoked the fire of curiosity. Of course, part of this project involved the camera on my phone, so I was able to see, nearly instantly, how they captured the spirit of the day.

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What I found was a creative and playful photo essay of our “Day at the Kimball.” It made me wonder what other families do to engage their kids at the festival and in the art world in general. It made me wonder how my kids will approach the festival this year. So, if you see us wandering through the booths, trailing our smartphone-photographer kids, stop us, say hi, and tell us about your favorite part of the Kimball Arts Festival this year. See you on Main Street!