Thursday, March 29, 2012

Utah 2012: First Day in Zion National Park

Ever since our trip through Utah last year, Jonathan and I have been itching to get back down here. So we did. Chelsea and Mike are along this time and we're down here for about 8 days to hike, backpack, and just enjoy the outdoors. This is a quick update from Zion Lodge (I've got internet!).

We pulled in late around midnight last night, but thankfully we had already reserved a campsite so that wasn't a concern.

Today, we hiked about 10.5 miles up to Observation Point, including a detour into Hidden Canyon. The canyon called for some scrambling and I got to experience the unpleasant feeling of losing my grip on a sandy, slick rock face, and just about sliding off an 8-foot drop-off into a pool of water. Jonathan grabbed me before I fell and Mike was down below to help catch me. Fun times!

Tomorrow, we're planning to head out into the backcountry to hike the West Rim Trail. That will be an overnight trip. We'd appreciate prayers for safety. So far, so good!

I'll type up more detailed reports when I get home. Enjoy a few photos from today below.

Echo Canyon 

View from Observation Point

Hidden Canyon - scramble or be scrambled

Saturday, March 03, 2012

In Which We Brew Heaps of Tea for the Thirsty Masses

Our church hosts a lady's tea every now and then. Since they spend so much of their time cooking and preparing things for the men in their lives, it was determined that the guys should assume the role of waiters.

Two quick things: ladies, you certainly drink a lot of tea! And guys, we're not very good at this whole waiter thing, are we?

I was tasked with overseeing the tea brewing process and making sure that things went smoothly back there in the kitchen. This sounded pretty easy to me. Little did I know... In hindsight, I should have at least taken 5-10 minutes to come up with a strategy, but instead I decided to just show up and wing it.

Here's how it all went down.

I got there 30 minutes before everything was supposed to start, and quickly got debriefed on the situation.

There were 10 tables, each of which seated about 8 people. Each table had 2 – sometimes 3 – teapots. There were 8 waiters, excluding myself, so that meant that two of the guys needed to handle two tables and the rest could serve just one each. So far so good.

There were 6 different varieties of teas, 4 black and 4 herbals, which presented the first difficulty. How were some of the less initiated tea-totaller waiters supposed to remember names like "Black Currant" or "English Breakfast"? They needed tea lists to refer to. Done.

Now here's where it got difficult. Each table had two teapots, remember? Those two teapots had to stay with the table they came from because they were brought by folks who specifically wanted to use their teapots. No mixups allowed.

What would happen when those teapots made their way back to the kitchen and I began taking orders? How was I supposed to know who brought in which pot and which tea(s) their table had requested? I tried to solve this by writing the names of the waiters on a sheet of paper and telling them to jot down their order under their name so I could tell who needed what. That idea quickly disintegrated. I couldn't keep track of what had been brewed and what hadn't. Did Seth get his Earl Gray? Was it Gabe or Ethan who needed the Lemon Ginger?

On top of that, we were brewing loose leaf tea, which meant that we didn't have those handy little labels to identify which tea was which – they all looked exactly the same! I decided to write out labels for each variety and, when each pot was beginning to brew, place them next to the label for the tea they contained. That sort of worked...

To further complicate things, most teas need to be brewed for a specific length of time or they'll become bitter, so I had to try to keep track of how long each pot had been brewing. No easy task. Through it all I was dreaming of an iPad/iPhone app that would help us manage all the details. Surely someone has programmed something like that...

It was a fun, albeit slightly stressful, time. Guys you did a great job! Sure, we're not naturally adept at this kind of thing but it's good to get out there and help the ladies have a nice time. Next time, though, I think we'll need some new strategies!