Midlife Simplicity

A journey from more to less.

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Utah Liquor Law Silliness

additional hints A short post to show my out-of-state friends how wacky Utah’s liquor laws are. In this instance I’m at the Utah Pride festival where beer is being sold and can be carried within the confines of the fenced off area of the festival. There are kids, families, dogs, etc. roaming free. Some with beer, some without.

jahreshoroskop 2014 steinbock frau single Then there are two fenced off areas where you can buy cocktails, wine and beer. In these areas you will not find anyone under the age of 21 as they are not permitted. I don’t think I saw any dogs either. Perhaps due to the complications of calculating ages in “dog-years.” Perhaps it was just timing.

http://www.yellowrage.com/krabik/4016 While I don’t agree, I can understand that there might be some reasoning behind keeping children out of the cocktail area. Perhaps from an enforcement effort it is simply too difficult to tell if someone underage is drinking when you can’t quickly identify the drink in that person’s hand. I really can’t think of any real solid reason though. At events like Park Silly, the participates drink cocktails, wine and beer in a large portion of the blocked of street where children and dogs roam free.

mon mari inscrit site rencontre Whatever the reason, we’ll give the benefit of the doubt and assume there’s something valid we should be concerned with here. Lets get to the real silliness of the situation.

femcare nikomed uk IMG_1685

This picture is of me in the “beer area.” Where everyone is allowed to roam freely.

You might ask, “Steve, your beer looks close to empty, what are you doing leaning on that fence?”

On the other side of that fence is the “beer, wine & cocktail” area. Due to Utah law, I’m not allowed to carry my beer into the “beer, wine & cocktail area” and am forced to wait outside the more liberal drinking area until I finish my beer. Or I could walk back across the festival to get another one in this “beer area.”

The real sinners over there drinking those wine and cocktail. Thank God they are confined.

The real sinners over there drinking those cocktails & wine. Thank God they’re confined. They’re out of control.

Once I get a beer in the “”beer, wine & cocktail area”, I can’t carry it out and into the “beer area” as no drinks are allowed to leave the confines of the multi-use area where there are no children (holy crap there is a dog!)

Do not get a drink if you plan to leave this area.

Do not get a drink if you plan to leave this area.

What the legislature, with their infinite wisdom, didn’t realize is that this actually makes people drink faster as they don’t like being restricted and therefore consume their drinks in a hurry to be able to cross unnecessary and silly borders. As I did leaning on that fence.

This has been this weeks episode of silly liquor laws.

Size Doesn’t Matter

Click for full-size.

Click for full-size.

site de rencontre gay seropositif Black Rock City

Since I’ve returned from Burning Man I’ve been trying to explain the scope and size of Black Rock City which lasts for a little over a week in the Black Rock Desert once a year.

On Saturday in bright mid-day sun I took a little bike ride to the back of the city and found a scaffolding that was probably about 40-50 high with aluminum ladders attached to it by nylon rope. As I looked up at it I saw a 9-10 year-old running our on the four-foot wide top like he was the reincarnation of a steel worker who’d built the Empire State building. I asked one of the adults down on the ground if it was ok if I climbed up and they say, “That’s why it is there.”

Up I went as one of the guys shouted, “It’s a little sketchy.”

It wasn’t nearly as bad as I feared and as I climbed the last couple of steps the Kid asked, “Gonna take some pictures?”


“It’s pretty high up here,” he said with a smile. “I like it.”

For those of you who know the BRC layout this was somewhere about 6:30 and J streets. For those of you who that makes no sense, it just means it was not far from the center-back of the city as you looked towards the man who occupied the center of the City about 1/2 miles from any of the camping area.

All-in-all the city is about 7.4 sq. miles with another numerous miles of open playa dotted with art installations and art cars cruising about.

When I wrote in a previous post that I probably saw about 30-percent of Burning Man, I was probably off. Upon reflection, it was probably less than 20-percent.

As I climbed don from the structure a small girl of about six was trapped in a hammock. “Can you help me out?” she in her slightly squeaky child’s voice. I looked around thinking about what might be the thoughts of any adult around that sees a stranger grabbing a kid out of a hammock.

“”Sure dear,” I said as I grabber her under her armpits and lifted out of the enveloping pink nylon hammock. I place her on the ground as she scampered off. Ten feet away her dad was feeding a toddler Gerber baby food and probably didn’t even notice me helping out.

“Is that you boy up on the scaffolding?” I asked.

“Yeah, he’s been climbing on that thing every year since he was four.”

“We’ll thanks for the view. Enjoy the burn,” and I was off.


Driving on and UFOs

As I headed out of Furnace Creek, the site of the warmest temperature ever recorded on planet earth, the temperature was a steaming 47 degrees. The sky was blue, with light streaks of high-level clouds. It was 9:30 am. I was eager to get on the road for my destination was Rachael, NV.

Death Valley, CA

Death Valley, CA

Rachael is infamous for being located on the Extraterrestrial Highway aka Nevada State Route 375.  It is also famous for the Little A’Le’Inn, located a mere 28 miles from the runways at Area 51/Groom Lake.  But I still had 245 miles to drive and sights to see.

At the Northwest end of Death Valley there’s an interesting site called Scotty’s Castle. Before stopping at the visitor’s center I’d never heard of Scotty’s Castle nor had any idea of it existence. In a nut shell, in the 1920’s there was a character named Walter Scott. He was also known as Death Valley Scotty and he was a con man. He tried to get wealthy people to invest in his gold mining schemes in Death Valley. One of the investors, Albert Johnson, came to visit his fraudulent investment and feel in love with the landscape and began building a 32,000 sq. ft. home that cost around $2 million in 1922 dollars.  It has a $50,000 pipe organ.

Scotty's Castle

Scotty’s Castle

The 1942 film location of Castle in the Desert with Charlie Chan is loosely based on Scotty’s Castle.

Scotty's Grave

Scotty’s Grave

After a short stroll through the grounds of Scotty’s Castle I headed North into Nevada. Looking forward to visiting alien territory, but keeping in mind that I wanted to enjoy the trip. I was driving through a part of the country I’d never visited. I’m pretty sure I knew why now.  Western Nevada is not any more attractive than any other part of Nevada. Yes, I can look at the desolate landscape and find beauty. And it is a beauty that I truly appreciate, especially in the right light. But lets me honest, it is the same landscape for miles and miles and miles.

On the road

On the road

Between Death Valley and Rachael, I went through three towns. Beatty which I don’t even remember driving through. Then I hit a funky little town called Goldfield. As the name implies, Goldfield was a mining boom town. It is a cross between and ghost town and a main street from the 1930’s. At one point during its mining heyday 20,000 people lived in the booming town. That number is now around 440, though the remaining building look like they’re could be 1000’s. One of those 440 is known as “the world’s meanest bartenders.” I didn’t stick around long enough to find out.

World's Meanest Bartender

World’s Meanest Bartender

Haunted Hotel

Haunted Hotel

I’d found out that the Goldfield Hotel at which I’d parked the van in front of was extremely haunted. Time to get on down the road.

I fueled up in Tonopah, NV another mining town and headed east into central Nevada. After an hour or so on the treadmill of desert landscape I turned south on highway 375 toward Rachael.  The landscape hadn’t changed, but the anticipation had.

As I kid I became enthralled with the idea of aliens and UFO’s. When I was 12 years-old, there was a show on TV I recalled being named Project Blue Book. It also was known as Project U.F.O  and the stories were pulled from the USAF “Project Bluebook” files where the Air Force investigated possible UFO sightings. It was a short-lived program, but it introduced me to the idea of alien’s and I remember evaluating each story for credibility and/or ridiculousness. I was an open-minded yet critical kid.

Now through the mainly the History Channel, these stories and ideas have become a part of our national lore and I remain a skeptical but open-minded listener of tales and theories. I feel that anything sighted in the middle of Nevada is military related and has nothing to do with aliens, but this didn’t quell my enthusiasm for visiting the area. It’s a part of Americana and I wanted to visit first hand not to mention get out of the desert landscape for a few minutes.

I really hadn’t consulted a map to know where I was in relation to Area 51 but I drove south with my eyes scanning the horizon for anything interesting. I passed a few interesting geologic features of the landscape. The dark ancient lava rock contrasting against the winter brown grasses. I passed a white ford pick-up on the side of the road with a man in it scanning the range with a pair of binoculars. For a moment I thought maybe he was looking for strange activities, but then rationally thought he’s probably counting cattle. The road cuts through open-range cattle grazing. It’s common to have cows laying in the road given there is so little traffic.

Occasionally I would pass a cattle crossing sign that had been altered to have an alien head stuck on to the head of the cow or some other alteration done by folks trying to be funny. Then, after 45 minutes or so some buildings appeared on the horizon and a sign indicated I was approaching Rachael, NV.

Turns out the road I’d been traveling south was just gets you to the part of Highway 375 that is called the Extraterrestrial Highway.

Rachael, NV is the home of the Little Al’Le’inn. A destination of the curious, the silly and the obsessed. Probably the only food joint in 2 hours any direction, excluding food on the government installation to the West. It was mid-afternoon and as explained in my last entry, this meant the sun would be setting in about two hours. I hadn’t even had lunch yet.

Extraterrestrial Highway Sign

Extraterrestrial Highway Sign

After stopping at the Extraterrestrial Highway and adding a few stickers to the menagerie stuck on it by others, I headed to Little Al’Le’inn – “Earthlings Welcome”. I downed a “World Famous Alien Burger” No indication whether it was made from real aliens or not, and I was concerned about what the “Alien Sauce” might be. Best I could tell the burger was just made from cow and the sauce was pretty nondescript and ketchup based.

World Famous, not galactic famous unfortunately

World Famous, not galactic famous unfortunately

mmm alien meat

mmm alien meat

The atmosphere was all alien from the alien tequila to the collection of movies and books about aliens. There was plenty of things to look as I waited for my burger and silly souvenirs to consider. Luckily my recent purge of belongings has made me very reluctant to buy things just to buy them and I passed on the alien coffee mug, the space pen and the giant alien head bottle of tequila.



As I was getting ready to leave, I asked the woman behind the counter where exactly Groom Lake was and she said, as you head south it is to the west for the next 21 miles. She kindly handed me an 8 1/2 by 11 sheet of photocopied paper with a map on it that oriented me and I headed out the door.

As I continued my drive south, the scenery really wasn’t any different from I’d seen all day. There was more traffic. I mean in the next 21 miles I saw at least five cars compared to the three I’d seen the previous four hours. There were a couple of dirt roads that headed west. According to the map I’d been given, they headed to Area 51. Curiosity almost got the best of me as I considered turning down one of them, but then I thought about how clean my new van was and how close to dark it was getting and I drive on.

Off in the distance I could see the dust being kicked up by a vehicle traveling down a dirt road, I estimated it was 3 miles or so down the road. Rumor has it the government puts very fine dirt on the road so that vehicles will create an easy to see plume of dust as they approach the installation.

Down that road, security awaits.

Down that road, security awaits.

As you get past the area where Area 51 in off to your left, Highway 375 makes a hard turn to the east and travelers are headed away from the military installation. As I came up to the turn I saw a hand painted sign on a huge panel of canvas hanging off of stacked hay bales that said, “Snoops Welcome” and next to it was an open field where a couple of large RV’s were parked.

I suddenly heard the sound of emails arriving on my phone and saw I had signal for the first time in four or so hours. The sun was starting to set and the cloud cover had thickened up a bit. It wasn’t threatening rain, but it was mostly cloudy.

As I headed east I made a call to a friend to check in and after a few minute conversation I hung up the phone. I glanced down, taking my eyes off the road for a moment, as I placed in the cubby hole in my dash underneath my stereo.

When I looked up I was shocked to see two bright orange lights in the sky! They were perfectly round, bright like the sun but orange and about the size of a dime on my windshield. The were spread apart about 20 degrees in my field of view and then in a matter of seconds they went off like someone had hit a light switch. Both at exactly the same time. Gone. Nothing in their place against the clouds. No subtle fade out as if entering the clouds. There, then gone. It was strange. It was fast. And for a second I didn’t believe my eyes. I grabbed my phone and turned the screen on. I moved it around to see if I’d inadvertently created a reflection of some sort. Nothing.  I don’t know what I saw, but I saw it.

Area 51 did not disappoint. My plan all along had been to do a drive by. Now I’m really curious. I have no doubt that what I saw was military. I’m not one that sees aliens everywhere, if anywhere. What remains with me is a curiosity about the area, the people and the mystery. I will venture back into this part of the country, perhaps this spring when it warms up a bit.

In another 20 minutes it was dark and I was, once again, seeking a place to stop of the night. Highway 375 gave way to Highway 93 and in about an hour I was in an RV park in Caliente, NV.

Planes & trains …



Twenty five years ago when I first came to Ogden, UT, the drive from the Salt Lake City airport to Ogden was a fairly easy drive with added traffic around Farmington and Layton.  When done at night, there were few lights between the towns that lined the freeway. When you came to a town you knew it.

Now, as in many metropolitan areas, what used to be open space has been taken up with cookie cutter homes, malls, fast-food and the 35-mile stretch I-15 has turned into a river of steady traffic at all times of the day .

Another thing that has changed is Utah has made major steps in the direction of public transportation. Salt Lake City has rail system called TRAX and a commuter rail line (Frontrunner) runs from Provo to north of Ogden. The commuter rail has a couple stops in Salt Lake and for the most part it is pretty easy to get to place downtown in a reasonable amount of time.  As long as your schedule fits the train schedule, it’s a viable option. On April 14, 2013 an airport line opened that now makes the option of rail travel to the airport possible.

I’d new considered taking the train to the airport as I really hadn’t taken the time to learn the logistics, knew I’d have to have someone drop me at the Frontrunner station then arrange for someone to pick me up. I didn’t know how much time it would take to get there, then how long it would be to get home. All-in-all I figured it was just easier to get in the car and get to the airport, pay the $9-a-day for overnight parking, and be in relative control of everything. So the last few trips that is what I’ve done.

But now I live one block from the Frontrunner station so I figured it was time to learn what it would take to do this trip carless. To be honest, it was so much easier than I imagined.

I simply checked out the Frontrunner schedule, figured out that I had to get on the Green line of TRAX at the North Temple station. According to Green Line schedule I’d have to wait about 3 minutes after departing the Frontrunner. Then I’d be on the green line for about 13  minutes to the end of the line at the Airport.

At 6:55 am, with bag in tow, I headed out my door, grabbed a cup of coffee at Grounds for Coffee a few doors down and headed for the train scheduled at 7:09 am.  Being my time at this I gave myself a little extra time incase and connections we missed.

Grabbing my $5.50 ticket I jumped on the waiting train and in a few minutes the cars started moving south.  After stops to pick up other passengers headed south, we arrived at the North Temple Station at 8:03 am. I disembarked, headed quickly up the escalator and within a minute or so, the Green line train showed up and we were off to the airport.  The TRAX line ends at the east end of the terminal number 1. If you are Delta or flying international, it’s a bit of a walk to terminal 2 or 3, but not bad at all.

In all the trip had taken me about 1:20. I figured this was about 10 minutes longer than if I’d driven, parked, waited for and ridden the parking shuttle.

North Temple

North Temple

The trip home was a reverse of the trip out without the coffee. It also included about a 19 minute wait for the Frontrunner at the North Temple transfer. This made the trip home about 1:40. A long time when you’re ready to be home, but still a pretty easy trip.

When you consider that it saved $56 in parking, I was able to surf the web both ways and didn’t put any miles on the car, the time spent was probably worth it. The novelty certainly was.

It wasn’t one the things I’d really thought about when I moved to a downtown location but having Frontrunner literally three-minute away is something I see myself taking advantage of more than I have in the past. Now I just have to learn how to use the TRAX lines efficiently.

Just a mother little charm of downtown living.

Art House Cinema


As I’ve mentioned in other posts, I’m walking a lot more now. As part of that I’m getting to know the blocks around Historic 25th much better than I have in the past. One f the places that I’ve long noticed, but never really checked out is the Art House Cinema located at 158 Historic 25th Street.

For over two years I’ve seen it, walked past it, been slightly curious about it and never really understood what was happening there because once I left the street back to my neighborhood it was out-of-sight, out-of-mind. I never paused at it long enough to jot down any info about the films being shown, saw any showtimes, etc.

Now living across the street I’ve taken an interest in the little building that has CINEMA in large black letters across the front of it. A few days ago I dropped in when I noticed human activity just to find out what was going on, when show were, where to learn when show times started and how I could start taking advantage of this unique little feature of my new neighborhood.

From their website: “Art House Cinema is a 28 seat micro-cinema …. showcasing under the radar independent, foreign, and documentary film gems.”

Joel Layton - Proprietor

Joel Layton – Proprietor

After chatting with proprietor Joel Layton I learned couple really cool things about the operation of the theater. One, he gave me free popcorn! Try getting that at the megaplex. Two, they rotate through about 10 films a month. Most days you can catch a showtime of two or three films.

For instance, right now they are showing NO GOD, NO MASTER a historical drama set in 1919 about a period of time when a series of bombings rocked New York City. Also showing is THE GALAPAGOS AFFAIR: SATAN CAME TO EDEN a documentary portrait of a 1930’s murder mystery. Finally is UNDER THE SKIN a supposedly strange movie starring Scarlett Johansson. 

Showtimes can be found here.

Another little tidbit I learned is that for $300 for the year, you can have a pass to that allows you to attend any movie any time and have one private party for 27 other of your friends to fill up the seats of the tiny theater.

It is a unique experience watching a film in the small space. The brick walls helped to add to the period feel of No God, No master. The seats, while vintage from 1938, were comfy. The screen was smaller than we’ve grown used to, but the sound was excellent.

The Art House Cinema is a little-known jewel of Ogden and it took me living across the street to discover it. Hopefully this post will encourage you to wander down and check it out.  I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Oh yeah, they’ve just added the classic Talking Heads concert film, Stop Making Sense, to the rotation.

Ticket prices are a little confusing, their pinter material doesn’t quite match the website, but I guess that can be reconciled with an annual pass!

See ya there! www.ahc502.com



Walkin’ the dog, walkin’ the dog …


Moving out of the big house with a good size yard did change one critical part of my life. When living in the house, Charlie, my 13-year-old mutt, was able to hang out in the yard whenever I left. At night all he had to do was walk over to the door and stand, knowing I’d eventually notice and let him outside to do his business. In the morning, the first thing I’d do when we woke up would be to let him out, fill is food bowl, and often,  I’d climb back into bed as he seemed to like to wake up with the sun no matter how late I’d been out the night before. He could then chill in the back yard, bark at squirrel or even once in a while play games with the magpies that would fly through teasing him.

All of that has changed.

Now we have developed new rituals over the last week. Now, the first thing I do in the morning is go for a walk. We’ve developed a nice little downtown loop that offers Charlie many things to sniff, grass to walk on and lots of things to lift his leg upon. I don’t know how dogs do it, but they seem to keep just enough pee handy to piss on about 10 things after they’ve had the serious relieving of themselves.

At night we do the same thing. My last activity, whether it is 10 pm or 1:30 am is a lap around the block. It is actually quite enjoyable and, while it is not strenuous exercise, it is more than I got by simply opening a door.

We’ve also taken to walking to work every day where he gets to hang out. It’s about .8 of a mile each way through pretty sketchy neighborhood. Charlie is a very friendly and social dog and is met with smiles most of the way. At 13, I think he’s spent plenty of lonely days just hanging out in the backyard listening for the car to come down the driveway. I don’t know how many more years he’s got in him, but I hoping he gets to spend most of that time with people rather than waiting for me to get home.

You never know what a dog is thinking, but I think he’s liking the change.

charlie (1)

That’s my dog. And now we must go walk.

How it all began …

Back Camera My Dad – Summer 2010


Over the last couple of weeks I’ve had a several people look ask me, “Is everything ok?” “What’s going on?” So on and so forth. I thought it would be good to share the origins of my current mind-set that have actually been in motion for a bit over three years.

My dad in his new wife decided to spend the summer of 2010 traveling the West in their truck and trailer. During their travels they came to  Ogden, Utah to visit – twice. During each of their stays their stories of the road and their answers to my questions regarding their experience rattling around my mind. It seemed like such a carefree easy manner in which to live your life.

As my dad and I sat at a campground on the shores of the Great Salt Lake on a cool summer evening with a brilliant red sunset bouncing off of the Wasatch Mountains  we chatted about the experiences he had for a large portion of the summer. It seemed to me that he was happier that I ever remembered him being.  It was a lovely night and I couldn’t help but think that in their travels my dad, and his wife, had experienced something as lovely nearly every day.

“Dad,” I began my question, “why do you have to wait until you’re 65 to live in a manner that is obviously so enjoyable?” My dad’s expression changed to an almost childlike giddiness and he replied. “You don’t.”

On my 10 mile drive home I thought about the campground hosts who were living in their at the campground for the summer. Rather than residing in their home located eight miles way, they  chose to live on the shores of the Great Salt Lake next to a freeway instead of the house that many years prior had represent all of their hopes and dreams for the future. I pondered, “How could that be?” It was on that drive I actually began to formulate a plan that would allow me to make a dramatic change in my own lifestyle.

As I began to consider this plan, I really began to dissect my current situation. In order to get a feel for where I’m coming from and to contrast it with where I am going, allow me to spend a few minutes describing where I found myself at the beginning of this journey.

The best way I can describe where I was in my life is to say that I was doing all the things that I thought I should. Granted being a single guy with no children allowed me options that most 44-year-old guys might not get to consider. Yet upon reflection I would have to say my lifestyle wasn’t all that unpredictable. I would have to say I lived like many single guys would. I owned a motorcycle, a Porsche, a truck, jet skis and a 3500 square-foot home. My home had more than enough room for me and my dog Charlie. We had two rooms with nothing in them. Yet somehow I managed to justify the need for six flat-screen television sets throughout the house. Charlie didn’t even watch TV. I was definitely a consumer. I like to buy things and I liked to buy the best. The person who came up with the name Best Buy definitely had me in mind.

Before I get too deep into this I want to be clear that this isn’t the story about someone who woke up one day and looked around and saw all the things they had yet was still unhappy. I’m not even sure that this is a story about happiness. I can honestly say that I enjoyed having things. I enjoyed being able to go into six different rooms and watch TV. I enjoy movies on demand in the theater room. Driving a Porsche is fun. Jet skiing on the lake after work was quite enjoyable. Cooking dinner on a Wolf commercial grade stove is a much better experience than using a hot plate. I’m not here to say that having things or having toys is a bad thing.

What I’m examining is the difference in lifestyle that your choices bring when you decide to let go of things. I’ll never tell one that their possessions are bad, I’m a firm believer that there’s nothing inherently good or bad about anything – especially physical objects. It’s our reaction to those items and how we let them affect us in our daily lives that truly make the difference.

For instance if one chooses to simplify their life chances are they are not going to get rid of all  possessions. They are going to hold on to something. Whether it be  clothing, a book, toothbrush or car, they are keeping something. That is their choice. If someone chose to simplify to the point of living in 1000 ft.² home over a 5000 ft.² home or someone else decides to live in a 500 square-foot home I see nothing inherently better in either choice.

The decision is theirs and how it works in their life. What makes it good or bad is how well it is working for them. Someone could choose one book over another to keep as a possession. One might say the Bible is better than Moby Dick. Another might say they’re both fiction. Yet a third person might say they are just paper with ink bound together because that person can’t read and they need it for toilet paper.

My point is this: I am not doing any of this to make a judgmental statement about the choices that everyone else makes. It is up to them, and you, to make up minds about what is necessary.

I’ll be the first to admit that being single with no children gives me the opportunity to explore this dramatic shift in a way that many people could not. The choices others have made may have created situations that require them to take consideration of many others in a manner that I don’t have to.

My goal is to let you know how my choices affect me and what it might mean to you as you make choices in the future. I feel lucky to be able to add this exercise as one of the life experiences that I can add to my list of experiences. One day I’ll probably look at  friend and say, “Remember that year I got rid of all my stuff? That was pretty crazy huh?”

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