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Zion National Park

Dan, Wiebke, Mindy and I traveled to Southern Utah to spend the weekend exploring Zion National Park. Zion had been the park that I had actually visited the least during my time in Utah, so this trip was a long time coming.

On Saturday, we hiked to the Emerald Pools, which were cool, but not quite as good as the photos had suggested. From there, we continued on to Angels Landing. Dan and Wiebke made the 0.5 mile trip along the knife-edge ridge to Angels Landing. Mindy and I stayed back at Scout Lookout.

The highlight of the weekend for me, however, was our foray into The Narrows on Sunday. Mindy and I had walked a small section of The Narrows six years ago, but not enough to make it feel like an adventure. This time, we didn't go too much farther, but far enough that The Narrows took on that otherworldly feel that makes hiking it such a special experience. We'll definitely be back to hike even more of The Narrows.

Although Zion was overwhelmingly crowded, we still had a great time exploring this unique park. I'm not sure if I've ever been to another place that so perfectly combines the green of the canyon bottom with the red of the surrounding cliffs and monoliths. Zion really made a great impression on me this weekend.

Great Seats to an NBA Game

Tonight, I decided to take advantage of the poor weather and the poor opponent to get a good value on some great seats to a Utah Jazz game. So, for about 50% off the face value of the tickets, I was able to cross "great seats to an NBA game" off my bucket list. We sat in row "4", right behind the New Orleans Hornets' bench. (Row "4" is actually seven rows from the floor.) It was simply awesome to watch an NBA game from that close.

Winter Storm Hits the Wasatch

A huge winter storm hit the Wasatch Mountains starting on Friday. It snowed for more than two days straight. Parts of the valley received over a foot of snow. The Cottonwood Canyons ski resorts received over 40-inches of snow. This evening, I ventured outside to capture some photos of the mountains covered in a fresh blanket of snow.

Quick Trip to the Tetons

We took a last-minute/last-chance trip to the Tetons for the weekend. We had planned to make a trip to the Tetons at some point during the summer, but it just never happened.

We didn't arrive until Saturday afternoon. Clouds were covering the Tetons when we arrived, so it wasn't such a big deal that we arrived later than we had planned.

Saturday night we enjoyed the heated pool and hot tub (complete with man-made waterfalls) at our Teton Village hotel.

The weather was nearly perfect on Sunday. Some clouds lingered, but the weather was perfect otherwise. We hiked to Bradley Lake, and then we just drove through the park.

It was a lot of driving for such a short trip, but it was worth the effort.

Yankee Stadium and Rogers Centre

On a trip back to New York for my sister's wedding, we took some time to see a couple ballgames. On an extended layover in New York City, we watched the Orioles play the Yankees at new Yankee Stadium. Later in the trip, we took a day-trip to Niagara Falls and Toronto to watch the Blue Jays take on those same Orioles at Rogers Centre (formerly SkyDome).

Yankee Stadium had some pretty dull atmosphere for being the home of one of the most famous sports franchises in the world. The sightlines, however, were very good--even from the upper deck. In the end, though, a copy is never as good as the original. And the original was already kind of a dump--albeit a dump with great history. I have mixed feelings on new Yankee Stadium, but it definitely isn't a bad place to watch a ballgame.

At Toronto's Rogers Centre, there was seriously almost a rain delay even though the Rogers Centre is equipped with a retractable roof. I was glad they opened the roof for a time, but the remnants of Hurricane Isaac were in the area, and opening the roof seemed not to be a good idea that day. The Blue Jays lost 12-0 in front of the smallest crowd of the season.

Foul Ball!

Foul ball from a Salt Lake Bees game

I got a couple fingers on this hard line drive foul ball down the right field line at tonight's Salt Lake Bees game, but I couldn't quite reach it. Luckily, though, the ball bounced back towards me and I was able to grab it before it rolled away.

QRM Conference in Chicago

I've spent the past week in Chicago attending the QRM Conference. (QRM makes financial risk management software that I use at my job.) The conference was very good. I liked having the opportunity to learn more about that software. I also enjoyed all the activities QRM planned for us attendees.

I arrived on Sunday afternoon. After checking into my room at the Trump International Hotel, I walked around Chicago and went to the top of the Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower).

Throughout the week, I had the chance to go on an evening dinner cruise on Lake Michigan, attend two Blue Jays vs. White Sox ballgames, and go on an architectural tour cruise on the Chicago River.

For a business trip, I don't think it gets much more enjoyable than this trip.

Blue Jays at White Sox Game

Blue Jays at White Sox game on June 6, 2012

Who's that handsome guy wearing a Blue Jays hat sitting on the aisle at the Blue Jays vs. White Sox game on June 6, 2012? It's me! I was watching some highlights of the game on MLB.com when I noticed myself on the White Sox broadcast of the game while they panned over the crowd after a great play by Orlando Hudson of the Sox. Cool!

311 Day Weekend 2012

I had the fortune of attending 311's biennial concert/convention. This year, they decided to hold two concerts instead of just one. I applauded that move, since the ridiculously long show in 2010 had too many intermissions and you could tell the band (and much of the crowd) were absolutely dead tired by the end of the performance.

The first night's performance was the best 311 concert I have ever attended, to date. It was better than the second night, in my opinion, but both shows were pretty amazing. These 311 Day shows were also the antithesis of the small 311 show I saw in Wendover, NV on March 3, 2012, which served as a warm-up show for the 311 Day Weekend shows.

In all, the band performed 79 different songs over the two nights. So, in the past two weekends covering three 311 shows, I saw 86 different songs performed, and 23 for my first time (or 27 for my first time, if you include Coda, the Sunset in July remix, and the Waiting in Vain cover).

It was an amazing weekend that I won't soon forget, and then we topped off the weekend with a stay at the Wynn Encore, where we procured an amazing 59th floor panoramic view suite with a view of the Strip.

View the full trip report.

Another Short Trip to San Diego

I took another last-minute, short trip to California to visit my sister and my parents, who were in town visiting my sister.

Mindy and I broke up the long drive to California with a stay at Treasure Island in Las Vegas on Friday night.

On Saturday, we drove to Los Angeles, CA. We weren't sure who we were going to meet up with first, Mindy's brother or my family, so we got off the highway onto Santa Monica Boulevard in Hollywood. From there, we began a long journey to Santa Monica, where we planned to meet up with Mindy's brother first. With him, we had some lunch and checked out the pier.

We then headed back to Hollywood to meet up with my family. We were supposed to meet them for dinner at the Saddle Ranch. It took us over an hour to get there, of course, but it was nice seeing some of the residential areas of Santa Monica and it was nice to drive on Sunset Boulevard into Hollywood.

After dinner at the Saddle Ranch, we drove down to San Diego.

On Sunday, we visited the USS Midway aircraft carrier museum, and spent a lot of time in the Torrey Pines area where the cliffs and ocean views were amazing. We had dinner in La Jolla with my cousin, who was also in town visiting his girlfriend.

On Monday, we drove back to Salt Lake City, via Las Vegas. In Las Vegas, we stopped for dinner at a Vietnamese restaurant in Treasure Island.