Mar 082016
 

Did you know there are opportunities for life as a Senior that are not available for the young whipper-snappers?  Life after 55+ years doesn’t have to be boring or expensive. These are some of the places I’ve found that offer senior discounts or are free.
Senior Discount

SENIOR DISCOUNTSwww.seniordiscount.com
I’m sharing with you some of our favorite places in Utah, but this website will also show listings for your area.

Businesses rarely offer this information.  I would always ask if they give a discount, so you don’t miss out on these opportunities.
Restaurants: some that we enjoy locally and may consider 55+ years of age for a senior discount.
A & W Restaurant
Carl’s Jr.
Applebee’s
Chili’s

Ski Hills: most of the ski resorts offer a senior discount, but you must show proof of age.  These are a few of our favorite places to ski with the family.

Brighton Ski Resort
Solitude Ski Resort
Snowbasin Resort

Retail: businesses that advertise their discounts, but may offer a better discount not age related.
Ace Hardware
Jo Ann’s Fabrics
Kohl’s Department Store
Rite Aid

Automotive: a few of the auto service businesses that are handy for a needed oil change.
Jiffy Lube
Midas Auto Service

The senior discount website lists many more categories like airlines, golf and other sports. I would recommend contacting a business to find out what you can save a few bucks on and when.
National and State Pass
State Parks – The “Utah Senior Adventure Pass” is valid for one year, starting from the month purchased. Eligibility for the pass is for seniors 62 years and older.

Our favorite State Park is Antelope Island and a great place to visit any time of the year.  Besides seeing where the buffalo (freely) roam, there is a sandy beach for the grandkids and the historical Garr Ranch to learn about ranching a century ago.

National Parks – An “America the Beautiful” pass is a lifetime pass for only $10.  This is a bargain worth purchasing.  We love visiting the national parks during the off-season as a perfect way to relax and take photos when it’s not so crowded.

Seniors on the go

http://slco.org/aging-adult-services/senior-centers
There are 19 Salt Lake area Senior Centers that offer local tours for a small fee and also unique special events. This is a wonderful way to socialize, eat a meal, and learn new crafts from weekly classes and workshops.

My hubby and I have an HO Model Train Room that we manage at the Harman Senior Rec. Center.  Reminiscing about trains seniors rode or played with are a way to share fun stories.  Also, helping seniors who don’t have access to computers is one of the many opportunities for volunteering at the center.

http://www.culturalcelebration.org
Utah Cultural Celebration Center offers free admission to Summer and Winter concert series for everyone from July through December. Their art gallery and artifacts include traveling educational exhibits from the Smithsonian and local artist groups.  Some of our favorites are the Trees of Diversity and Face of Utah Sculpture annual exhibits.

Silver Sneakershttps://www.silversneakers.com
Health plans offer this program at no additional cost and is designed for all levels and abilities. SilverSneakers provides access to fitness equipment, group exercise classes, online education and a chance to meet other healthy seniors.
The locations are conveniently close by, so I don’t have to drive far to enjoy free classes at my local recreation center and my Curves Gym.

There are so many opportunities as a senior for learning, exercising or just being entertained.  I’m interested in learning what other ways you have found to save money through your senior discounts or other freebies.

Aug 112014
 

Visually stroll with us down this colorful brick pathway to the patio of an elegant French-style chateau restaurant. We didn’t have to travel to France for Sunday Brunch with our family.

#La Caille, #swans, #RetirefortheFunofitA summer morning is the perfect time to enjoy blue skies, picturesque mountains in the background, and graceful swans.
#La Caille #brunch #RetirefortheFunofit
Although the restaurant’s patio was filled with guests, our dining area was secluded for a perfect family brunch experience. The gazebo has grapevines intertwined on the metal work to create a natural privacy. We were surrounded by fragrant trees, a water fountain and wandering peacock families.


We didn’t think we were that hungry, but we devoured the warm croissants and appetizers that were served while our food was being made. The boys were kept busy with pictures to color that they turned into cards of birthday wishes for Grandpa Lee.


The children’s menu had the boy’s favorite – French toast with Chantilly cream, bacon and fresh berries. Our waitress offered suggestions on menu choices and the staff was quick to refill our water glasses. The waiter brought our meals at the perfect temperature, while entertaining the children with funny comments. I love trying something different, and the salmon with asparagus omelet was uniquely delicious. You could tell everyone was delighted with their food, when the discussions turned to how much they were enjoying their selections. I’ve included the menu to tease your taste buds.


The grapes in the vineyard weren’t ready for harvesting yet, but the boys noted that the wine cellar certainly wasn’t empty.


After brunch, we leisurely wandered down the walkways and stopped on bridges to enjoy the clear water flowing down from the mountains. The fragrant topiaries add a fantasy setting to the 20 acres of gardens surrounding La Caille, where ducks, geese and peacocks roam freely.


This fairytale setting made our daughter and son-in-law’s wedding so uniquely memorable five years ago. Our Sunday Brunch was a perfect excuse to celebrate their anniversary. One special remembrance was of our grand-daughter making sure she only dropped three flower petals on each step, to lead us to the wedding ceremony.
#La Caille #Restaurant #RetirefortheFunofit
Although we didn’t stay at La Caille until dusk, I couldn’t resist sharing this picture from our daughter’s wedding. I wanted to leave you with this idyllic setting as the final page of our picture-perfect anniversary story. Where is your favorite restaurant?

Jun 282014
 

Kari Sikorski, a professional photographer based in Salt Lake City, Utah, shares a guest post on how to capture amazing photos of Fireworks like a professional.  She takes all the guess work out of using a DSLR camera for you in this tutorial.

Firework Photography

by Kari Sikorski


The key is to have a long exposure and keep the camera steady.  Use a DSLR for the best results.

1. Use a Tripod:  Longer shutter speeds will not only capture the movement of the fireworks but any movement of the camera itself. The best way to keep your camera still is with a tripod.  

2. Remote Release: One way to ensure your camera is completely still during fireworks shots is to invest in a remote release device.


3. Framing Your Shot:  Scope out the location early – get a good, unobstructed position. Think about what is in the foreground and background of your shots and make sure you won’t have people’s heads in your shots (also consider what impact you’ll have on others around you also). Take note of where fireworks are being set up and what parts of the sky they are likely to be shot into.

  • Find Out the Direction of the Wind – You want to shoot up wind, so it goes Camera, Fireworks, Smoke. Otherwise the images will come out hazy. Make sure you are ready to take pictures of the first fireworks. If there isn’t much wind, you are going to end up with a lot of smoke in your shot as the show goes on. The first explosions are usually the sharpest ones.
  • Watch your Horizons – This is especially important if you’re going to shooting with a wide focal length and will get other background elements in your shots (ie a cityscape). Make sure your camera is level on your tripod.
  • Vertical or Horizontal?  Vertical works well because there is a lot of vertical motion in fireworks. Horizontal shots can work if you’re going for more of a landscape shot with a wider focal length or if you want to capture multiple bursts of fireworks in one shot.
  • Remember your framing – spend less time looking in the viewfinder and more time looking at the  sky. Doing this will also help you to anticipate the right time for a shot as you’ll see the light trails of unexploded rockets shooting into the sky.


4. Focal Length: I recommend using a zoom lens. Wide angle or zoomed in… experiment for variety.

5. ISO & Aperture: Set your ISO to 100 – fireworks are bright, and a low ISO has less noise/grain. Set your aperture to f/8.


6. Shutter Speed: Set the shutter speed to Bulb (B) setting. Bulb leaves the shutter open for as long as you depress the shutter release, and it’s a great way to make sure that you capture exactly what you see in the sky because you control when the exposure starts and stops. Hit the shutter as the firework is trailing up into the sky, and hold it down until it’s finished exploding (about 1-2 seconds).

Don’t keep your shutter open too long. fireworks are bright and it doesn’t take too much to over expose them, especially if your shutter is open for multiple bursts in the one area of the sky.

7. Switch off your Flash: If you’re using an SLR, simply lowering the flash and setting the camera to Manual mode will keep the flash from going off.


8. Manual Focus: If you leave your camera set to auto focus the lens will whir backwards and forwards trying to find something to focus on in the black sky and you’ll end up missing a lot of shots.

Set the lens to manual focus and set it to the ∞ (infinity) mark and leave it there. The fireworks will be far enough away that the camera would focus at infinity anyway.

9. Experiment and Check Results: Throughout the fireworks display occasionally check your results, but don’t check after every shot or you’ll miss the show.

When you’re shooting fireworks at night, the aperture controls the brightness of the lights, and the shutter speed determines how long the light trails appear in the photo.


If you want brighter fireworks, open the aperture by making the f number smaller (f5.6).

If the overall photo looks overexposed, make the f-number bigger (f11). Try again until you get an exposure you like.  Post-processing—darken the sky for increased contrast.


I asked Kari about her love of photography. This is her story about becoming a professional photographer: I have had a camera in my hands since I was about 7 years old. I grew up taking photographs of everything, and have a ridiculous amount of photo albums from my childhood which I cherish today. My dad first taught me how to shoot manually on his old 35mm that he carried in the Navy.

I am a mom to three adorable, loud, rambunctious boys, and photographing them gave me a new appreciation for what a photograph can mean to someone.

Check out her blog for the photos that have captured those smiles, milestones, relationships and special moments for her clients.

Jun 222014
 

There are easier ways to travel, but families still love their three mile an hour horse power on the hoof.
Antelope Island Horse and Wagon
This covered wagon group travels through the western states each year. They converge on Antelope Island in Utah each summer during the annual Western Music Festival. The riders donate their time and covered wagons for local charity. As fellow horse lovers, we couldn’t resist the chance to go along for a ride down the dusty trail.
Antelope Island meeting wagon
They allowed me to ride shotgun with the driver, which seemed to give a very short proximity to the back side of the horse. Nell was harnessed close enough to me that she brushed the dust off my cowboy boots with her tail. I was so relieved that the horses didn’t need to add some fertilizer to the trail, or I’m sure that would have landed on my boots.
Antelope Island Covered Wagon
The driver explained what a day out on the road was like.  Although some of the group travels in motor homes, he keeps the heritage alive by camping as weather permits.  He described his morning as being awakened at dawn by the sounds of harnesses clanking and smelling coffee boiling.

The smile on his face while explaining that his average speed is three miles per hour, gave a sense of what I’m missing.  One of the tales he dispelled was the colorful phrase “circle the wagons” actually meant that the wagons served as a corral for the livestock.
Antelope Island riding shot gun
The towns along the way welcome them with organized guitar playing groups sitting around the evening campfires.  Other entertainment in the towns would include quilt and craft shows, toilet bowl races and cow pie bingo.

He admitted he’s feeling the old bones are telling him that riding on wagon trains may have to end soon.  His motto has been “as long as he is able to continue, this is an adventure that gives him a real appreciation for God, Country, and his pioneer ancestors that thrived on the western life.”

May 312014
 

There are no trees, except for one, standing tall as a colorful sentinel in this vast expanse of white salt.  Karl Momen, an artist now living in Sweden, envisioned and created the Tree of Life.  He donated the 87 foot tall sculpture to our state and thus became The Tree of Utah.
Tree of Utah
Photo by randomfactor

Why would an artist from Europe donate a million dollar sculpture to Utah?  Let’s go back to when he was a 15 year old painter, living in Iran.  He was commissioned to paint a six foot high official portrait of Stalin.  Some years later when Communism was denounced and the Shah of Iran was returned to power, Momen watched as his portrait of Stalin was trampled underfoot.  Ironically, he was commissioned to paint a 12 foot high portrait of the Shah of Iran.  When the Shah was denounced, Momen watched on television as troop carriers rolled over this portrait in the street.

As a renegade in the art world, I believe he needed his own memorial that would withstand the test of time. When he stopped his car on the Bonneville Salt Flats to add a pinch of salt to his lunch of tomatoes, he saw what seemed like an alien panorama. That night he dreamt about “adding a focus of color in this endless expanse of featureless terrain.”
The Tree of Life
Photo by F. Tronchin

The concrete sculpture’s tree trunk holds up six spheres, coated with natural rock and minerals that were mined and cut in southern Utah.  Near the base are several hollow sphere segments that symbolize the changing of the seasons.

Not being very artistic, I keep seeing a pole with tennis balls stuck on top. What do you see? Recently, an ugly metal fence was reportedly added to protect people from falling leaves (aka corroding cement). I think it was meant to stop the graffiti artists from marring Karl Momen’s dream.
Coming up on Metaphor sculpturePhoto by c_nilsen

Parking on the shoulder of the Interstate is technically illegal, since there isn’t an exit ramp by the Tree of Utah. A visitor’s center was proposed by Karl Momen, but is waiting for donations to cover construction costs. Should you decide to stop, you probably won’t get a ticket. I wouldn’t know, since my law abiding husband refuses to take that chance every time we drive by.

Have you had any dreams about a creating something you would be proud of, no matter the cost?

Feb 232014
 

Welcome to my orchid growing hobby.  No, I don’t have a huge room for growing orchids.  When we became ‘Empty Nesters’ and moved to Utah, we downsized to fit our new lifestyle.  It would be nice if growing orchids was as easy as growing a bloomin’ onion, but the dry climate of Utah adds a special challenge.
Orchid Hobby
I’ve loved these unique flowers since my first prom date, when I received an orchid in my corsage.Orchid Hobby Room

My “orchid room” consists of a large plastic container, lined with heavy plastic to hold water. This plastic liner can then be easily replaced when it becomes dirty.  A plastic ceiling grate or grill was cut to fit on top of the container, so the plants can sit above the water and receive needed humidity.  Shining down on the flowers are two Fluorescent lights – one regular and one warm or grow light.  An automatic timer takes care of producing each day of artificial sunlight.Orchid Hobby close up

My flowering Phalaenopsis or moth orchid’s only care is a watering “weekly and weakly.”  This means the flowers are given water each week with a weak amount of orchid fertilizer.  Some growers recommend placing three ice cubes around each plant weekly, which is the equivalent of 1/4 cup of water.  Apparently the ice cubes melt so slowly that the temperature doesn’t affect the plant.

If the orchids are to receive light from a window sill, it’s recommended that the windows should be cleaned frequently.  Well, now you know why I don’t keep them on a window sill.

For more information on growing orchids, click to the  Just Add Ice website.  What flowers challenge your green thumb these days?

Feb 132014
 

A look back to a special time in my life as an Olympic volunteer, when Salt Lake City hosted the Olympics in 2002. Olympic Torch
The 2002 Olympic motto was Light the Fire Within and the Cauldron was created with the Fire and Ice theme in mind. Designed to look like an icicle, it was made of glass which allowed the fire to be seen burning within. Small jets sent water down the glass sides of the cauldron to give the effect of melting ice.
Olympic rings with Airforce one President plane
Air Force One landed with President George W. Bush on board. To be visible across the valley, the illuminated Olympic Rings were displayed across an area the size of ten football fields.
Olympic opening trade center flag
The tattered flag was recovered from the World Trade Center ruins after the Sept. 11 terrorist attack in New York City. It was carried into the opening ceremony by eight athletes escorted by New York City firefighters and Port Authority police.
Olympic chair lift from tents toshovels
Every morning our course crew teams were sent up the mountain at Snowbasin in Ogden, Utah to prepare the Women’s and Men’s Downhill courses. We looked like Blue Smurfs skiing to our designated areas.
112 clean course between racers
This is what you didn’t see when you watched the Olympics. We were a small part of the many volunteers making this the best possible Olympic event ever. I’ll never forget how dedicated these volunteers were to work for “free” just for the pride and love of the sport, country, and the fact that the world was watching us.
Olympic day with Wisconsin skiers

All volunteers received extensive training on being helpful and friendly to the visitors. Being part of a photo op was the easiest part of my job, since these three guys were visiting from my birth State of Wisconsin.
Olympic Mascots with Mitt Romney
The three Olympic mascots are: Swifter, a snowshoe hare. Higher, a coyote. Stronger, an American black bear. They are based on a Utah legend inspired by petroglyphs from a Native American tradition. Mitt Romney was the President and CEO of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee, and more recently the Republican nominee for president of the United States.
037 Kari's view of mountains
023 sunrise

 

 

 

 

Since our days began as early as 4 a.m., we enjoyed beautiful sunrises at the top of Snowbasin Ski Resort. My daughter Kari stands near the starting gate of the Woman’s Downhill course and a view of what the Olympic skiers saw on their way down the mountain.
Olympic Volunteer party 1
After the Olympic and Paralympic games ended, the volunteers came together one last time. This special night was given to honor all the dedicated volunteers, with a concert on the Olympics Medal Plaza.

What is your favorite Olympic memory?

Aug 082013
 

 

We traveled to Spanish Fork, Utah to add a ride in an Experimental Gyroplane to our bucket list.  This ride was generously donated as an auction event, to earn money for our grandkid’s school.Gyroplane rideGyroplane ride in sky

Although a storm was brewing nearby, the pilot made the decision to take to the air.

We’ve attended many Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) events and dreamed about flying in one of these aircrafts.  This was an exhilarating bucket list experience.

Gyroplane ride airport

Like a helicopter, a gyroplane is a rotary wing aircraft- which means that it has a rotor to provide lift instead of wings like a conventional airplane.

Unlike a helicopter, the rotor is not powered by the engine.  It is made to spin by aerodynamic forces, called autorotation.

Since the rotor is not powered, a gyroplane needs a separate source for propulsion, like an airplane. Gyoplane interior

Riding with an experienced pilot who knows how to push the envelope, made for a great half-hour in the sky.

For more information, I’m sure you’ll enjoy the videos in this blog post: http://blogs.howstuffworks.com/2011/04/27/how-gyrocopters-work-an-ultralight-aircraft-that-is-small-cheap-and-easy/

Jun 112013
 

As previously mentioned, my husband and I became volunteer managers of an HO Scale train room, at our area’s Senior Recreation Center last year.

This room had been a four year work in progress by another train lover, so we are dealing with what was already built.  What we jokingly called our seven foot chocolate cake/blob, is the cover for a (circular track) helix that’s designed to bring the trains to the upper or lower level of tracks.

Model Train helix

To reflect how we would have wanted our town to look in the 1950’s, we added a Ski Lodge and Skiers on the mountain.
Model Train Ski area

Model Train Ski LodgeWhen people cleaned out their dusty, spider infested boxes, they donated the HO scale model items to the train room,

Luckily for me, all the spiders were dead and one of the great finds was this saloon.

We kit-bashed it into a ski chalet and painted winter Model Train Ski Hill 1clothes on the patrons.

Kit-bashing sounds destructive, but it is really a gentle method of creating what you need to fit a theme.

A fence was cut, shaped and painted to become ski racks.

Coal dust was used for the blacktopped road and the rock retaining wall was molded from plaster.

Model Train Ski Hill 2More trees were added and hot glued into place to finally stand up straight.

Our research on adding snow to the mountain was entertaining.  One suggestion was to add crystal sugar for the sparkle.  How cute would it be, to have ants snacking on our sugar mountain?

We haven’t been historically true to how our town looked in the 1950’s.  We’ve captured some interesting sites of Utah and compressed them into scenes of what we hope everyone will enjoy seeing in our train room .

May 222013
 

Almost 100 years ago, Albert Christensen began carving a home for his family out of this rock near Moab, Utah.  No, that’s not our Jeep in the upper left hand corner.  Just above the “C” is a 65 foot chimney for the fireplace.  The only natural light coming into the home, is from the windows in the three front rock openings.
Front view, Hole in the Rock
We had driven past this place many times and thought it was just a tourist trap.  Well it is, but we were also impressed to see how people actually lived in this big rock.

view of rooms, Hole in the RockWhat’s described as an “engineering marvel”, took 20 years to make this 5,000 square foot home.  Albert excavated 50,000 cubic feet of sandstone with his hand tools.

Fourteen rooms are arranged around these huge pillars.  The summer temperature never varies from a comfortable 72 degrees.

view of the artist's work, Hole in the Rock When Albert wasn’t carving rooms out of this sandstone rock, he painted religious and historic pictures.  He also taught himself taxidermy, when he found animals that didn’t survive the harsh winters.  We considered Albert to be very talented, but his mounted animals were weird.  His wife must’ve really loved him a lot, to allow these grotesque looking animals in her home.   view of the wife's doll collection, Hole in the Rock

After raising two boys, Gladys indulged in her feminine side by collecting dolls.  She displayed them in her pink carpeted bedroom.  At least her dolls could enjoy the elegant dresses she couldn’t wear in this desert environment.

To supplement their income, a large kitchen was carved out of the sandstone to serve dinners to travelers.  To make a deep fryer, Albert carved that out of sandstone too.

view of two rooms, Hole in the RockWe enjoyed our walking tour through the furnishings and tool displays of their life, as it would have been in the early 1900’s.

The Hole N’ The Rock was named by the National Geographic Traveler’s Magazine as one of the top 10 roadside attractions in the USA.  To encourage people to stop, the new owners added a gift shop and small zoo.  If you have ever wondered what living in a rock would be like, this is the place.  Also, visit this website: http://www.theholeintherock.com for more information.

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