Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Farewell Nemo

Tonight we had to say goodbye to our little friend Nemo. We've had him almost the whole time we've lived here--two years and two months. In 2006 at the Chalk Art Festival in Salt Lake, Jarom ran off and came back holding a tiny goldfish in a plastic bag. He had played some game--on his own--and was rewarded with the fish. Jarom decided to name him "Finding Nemo," though we really only called him Nemo.

That day we bought a fish bowl and some basic supplies. Bowls are a very bad idea for fish. The water turned orange every three days and Nemo barely survived. But he grew from an inch to six inches in no time. He outgrew the bowl before we knew it. (If you ever get a fish, *please* don't use a bowl.)

For Amy's birthday that year (four months later), her wonderful best friend Michelle bought us a 2.5-gallon tank. He's been in it ever since. The first winter we used to leave the light on at night to heat the water, though that must have confused poor Nemo because he doesn't have any eyelids and he probably always thought it was daytime! Finally I bought him a little heater. The first heater burnt out so now we're on our second, but it's kept his water toasty during freezing cold winters.

For his first birthday we bought him a little skeleton with a treasure chest that's been in there ever since. We used to feed him skinned cooked peas and he absolutely loved them. He played with the pea halves like balls. Amy called him our little dolphin. He had beautiful fins that were elaborate and fancy. The first time Claudia (Amy's mom) came to visit, she remarked how pretty a goldfish he was. And it was true. He would change color, and could turn the most wondrous sunset orange

He knew me--his feeder. No joke. Whenever I walked in the kitchen he'd come attacking the glass, wiggling back and forth furiously. If it were up to him he'd eat all day long. We had to practice restraint just to make sure we didn't overfeed him. If you put your fingers in the tank he'd nip at them, gently. Before the skeleton was in there, there was a little cave/cove that he would swim through and hang out in.

Jarom asked almost every day if he could feed him, and Amy always had to assume I already fed him and say, "Wait till Daddy gets home." Jarom loved to feed Nemo. Orion--being our outdoors/animals boy--could watch him for hours. He would point up at the counter and say "ishie" so that Amy would hold him up and let him watch Nemo swim. I bought an automatic feeder for him when we were gone on long trips. He was the first thing I would check when we got home, rushing into the kitchen and nervously throwing the light switch on, and he'd always start swimming right at me.

He was the toughest little guy. He survived that tiny little bowl, two Utah winters and (almost) three Utah summers, Jarom pouring way too much food in there, being left for a week at a time, and he survived bouts of fin rot and badly ph-balanced water (my fault). He could take anything.

But today something was wrong. His right pectoral fin was completely missing. Whether this was due to an accident (with the filter?), fin rot, or some parasite, we'll never know. But he couldn't swim, not at all. He was curved up like a C, swimming in spirals or being sucked up to the filter. He was pale white. We know Nemo when he's sick, and when he's recovering. I've actually gone through a few sleepless nights (I know, I know) where I'm very worried about him surviving. Amy would keep watch and call me the next day at work to give me updates. But today was worse than these other times. We knew he was dying, and it was actually extremely hard to deal with (hence this blog). So late tonight, I opted to euthanize him, the freezer way, which is peaceful--no flushing, no chopping. Tomorrow we will bury him in the yard in a little box.

I only ever took one picture of him. I took it thinking we would want one if/when he ever died. See goldfish, when they're well taken care of, can live a very long time. Up to 20 years and beyond. We always pictured him with us as the kids grew up and afterwards, just taking good care of our one little fish, our little buddy. Well, it's not a good picture, but here he is. You can see his pirate skeleton below him.

It's really sad. He was seriously our friend. It's only good if it hurts--that what I say, and Nemo was good for us, a fun little blessing and a great part of our family. Who knew one tiny goldfish could do this? Well it's true. We'll miss you Nemo! You are loved. And I like to think that the good things we love will always be with us, and will somehow be experienced by us again.

Sorry for the touching fish blog, but I'm just being honest. I couldn't help it.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Following the trail of the ancients

We had been planning on camping in or near Moab since mid-March. Finally, in early June, we did it! We had lots planned, and it all ended up being even better than we expected. We hiked about 15 miles in three days. Jarom did all of it--he's the best little hiker. Bella did pretty well too, although I had her on my shoulders a lot of the time. During this trip we saw eight different Anasazi ruins sites! Some were easy to find, others were remote and required a lot of work.

We camped two nights at Negro Bill Campground, right next to the muddy Colorado River along Highway 128 near Moab. We got there at 11:00 on a Thursday night, to ensure we had a site. The funny thing was that four other groups showed up after us, up till almost 1:00. The nearby canyons were beautiful, but the brush had just been cleancut so there were lots of burnt little stumps that plagued the newly-walking Orion. Plus we invaded red ant territory (though they left us alone). First we went to Moab to throw a certain someone's sleeping bag in the laundramat. Then we went up to Dead Horse Point and Canyonlands Island in the Sky district. That day a sandstorm swept through our campsite, knocking down our tent and filtering tons of find red dust inside. Second time we've camped in Moab, second time we've been attacked by wind (last time threw our tent twenty feet). So we decided that in the morning we'd pack up and get a cheap motel room for our third night. We went to Arches and barely made it to Newspaper Rock and Canyonlands The Needles district (one of our very favorite places), then ended up in Monticello late at night, searching for a cheap room. There were few options, so we decided on the Monticello Inn. For dinner we made baked potatoes in the microwave and melted cheese on them.

The next day we drove south to Blanding, had breakfast at the Peace Tree Juice Cafe, and then continued west on Highway 95, part of the Trail of the Ancients scenic byway. This is where we really immersed ourselves in Anasazi history. Edge of the Cedars, Butler Wash, and the very amazing Ballroom Cave which was difficult, remote and absolutely worth it. We finished the evening going to Natural Bridges National Monument and then *backtracking* to see Mule Canyon and hike to the House on Fire. Finally at late dusk we headed west again on 95, over the northern portion of Lake Powell (Glen Canyon) and the Dirty Devil river. It was black out so we missed a lot of very beautiful scenery. We'd already seen so much, but I really can never get enough of the southwest. Highway 95's really long and empty--and we kept waiting for good spot to get dinner. When we finally hit Hanksville (population 300) we knew it was our last chance, so we ate a pretty nasty meal of gas station food then continued north till we got back to good old Provo. It was one of my favorite weekends in a long time.

Forgive the amount of pictures below. I haven't uploaded them to Flickr yet, but when I do, I'll post about it.

our campsite at Negro Bill campground

right next to the beautiful Colorado River

at Dead Horse Point . . .

which looks a lot like this

Jarom and his Junior Ranger backpack we borrowed from the Canyonlands visitors center. The kids loved the books inside.

at Mesa Arch

on top of Whale Rock

it was extremely windy up there

Canyonlands (Island in the Sky) is filled with amazing overlooks. This is from Grandview Point. We really were on an island in the sky, literally.

Hiking Aztec Butte. There was a lot of kid rotation going on between hikes.

The cryptobiotic soil that every park in Utah will tell you to watch out for. It's alive, and this was the thickest we saw it. Don't bust the crust!

Anasazi granary

back at camp--dinnertime!

Balanced Rock at Arches

hiking to see the Windows

Amy and the kids behind Turret Arch

Jarom and one of his many "take a picture!" poses. I couldn't include them all.

that's Turret Arch

The "goggles"--both Windows--from the backside. We hiked the primitive trail behind them. We all got sunburnt.

Jarom's favorite thing to do was stack or restack the rock cairns (that mark the trails). This helped him become a Junior Ranger.

Quite pretty huh? La Sal Mountains in the background.

the hike to Landscape Arch

That's Landscape Arch behind us. One day soon (relatively) it will collapse.

Newspaper Rock! An amazing place on the way to see The Needles.

our favorite Polaroid ever

Oey was so anxious to get down and walk on his own. This is on the way to Roadside Ruin in The Needles district.

Cave Spring. An old cowboy spot, filled with artifacts.

Amy scaling. This hike was definitely one of our favorites, which had something to do with the time of day. You'll see in pictures below how pretty it was.

ladder up

Anasazi grindstones inside Cave Spring


they very much loved the potholes, we could hardly tear them away from them

one of our famous "timer" photos

Bella dancing on top of the butte above Cave Spring. I love this video. Watch how she keeps coming back into the frame.

At Monticello. Who knew they had a temple in such a tiny town? It was a pleasant surprise.

breakfast, Peace Tree Juice Cafe (delicious, seriously--Amy's already made this for me again and I love it)

Jarom and an anatomically-correct Kokopelli statue outside Edge of the Cedars

Oey wants in the kiva . . .

cause these two are in the kiva

The ruins at Edge of the Cedars are restabilized. They had to be excavated from a mound. First-class archaeology.

Oey makin his rounds

hiking to see the Butler Wash ruins of Highway 95


Jarom and I found the natural bridge we were looking for . . .

And then *he* found handprint pictographs inside it! We were so proud of our budding archaeologist.

This trail was so fun, so remote and so rewarding: to see the lesser-known Ballroom Cave ruins in Cedar Mesa.

crossing the muddy creek, which we had to do several times

making our way through the thicket

The horsetail reeds were taller than Jarom much of the time. He's the best, most determined and least complaining little hiker.

holding a tadpole (he put it back)

the ruins! (see the wall?)

there were ancient corncobs all over the place--one of the most amazing things to me

up and up

grinding stones again

looking out from under the overhang

I found some potsherds

The walls may not look that spectacular, but it's because they haven't been touched by archaeologists. They've been up here for centuries, crumbling and shifting, and this is how they look.

where the ladders were secured against the rock (the wooden ladder legs were off to the side)

inside the cave itself

carved footholds


At Natural Bridges National Monument. Amy and I took turns running to see the Horsecollar Ruins. Oey sat here with Amy while it was my turn.

Jarom and I hiked down to Owachomo Bridge

can you see Jarom?

The Mule Canyon ruins, all nicely done up and right off the road. We meant to go to a different location, North Mule Canyon, where we'd hike to see the "house on fire," but first we ended up here instead (then we found the correct turnoff).

North Mule Canyon, our last hike of the trip

We finally made it! It was getting late, but here's the famous house on fire photo. It's not so dramatic--the effect really only works around noontime.

our family follows their families

A sight we were used to seeing--Amy blazing a trail ahead of us! She really is a trailblazer (though it was 8:30 and we wanted to make it back before dark so we could start driving).

Okay, nasty picture I know. But that Ballroom Cave trail got us some bugbites--me especially. I had 60ish total, and 45 below the knees. I woke up early a few nights because of the itch, and couldn't go back to sleep. It was worth it.