Last day in Salt Lake City

14 11 2014

It was our last day today as a group… First off was a half-day city tour with a so-so tour guide,  then we got dropped off at Temple Square to go to the lunchtime organ recital (30 minutes) in the Mormon Tabernacle. Then it was on our own in the city centre until just before 6pm, when we had dinner at The Roof restaurant that overlooks the lit cathedral, followed by the ultimate ending – listening to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir rehearsing,  then walking in lightly falling snow back to the bus. (Some in  our group had never seen snow prior to this trip.)

When we got back to the hotel, we had a ‘thank you’ presentation to Michelle and Helen,  followed by our version of Waltzing Matilda that one of the ladies had written.

It’s sad that it’s all over,  but it’s also good to be heading home soon. I don’t think I can face too many more meals where eliminating carbs and sugar is not possible. I’ve been as good as I could be,  but sometimes it’s been really hard. This really is a land where carbs and sugars rule.

I’ve met some lovely people in the group,  and I hope to keep in touch with some of them,  even if it’s just on Facebook.

Tomorrow morning I’ll say my final goodbyes to the group as they depart for the airport and the long flights home,  then a friend from northern Utah will pick me up and I’ll spend two nights with her and her husband before heading back to SLC and my long flights home to Australia.

Some photos from today…

Photos from the entire tour: https://www.flickr.com/photos/rhondamadeit/sets/72157648980759492/

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Capitol building in SLC

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Pipe organ (11,000+ pipes) in the Mormon Tabernacle

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View from The Roof restaurant

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The Mormon Tabernacle Choir and orchestra in rehearsal





Day 2 at Handi Quilter

13 11 2014

Today was our second and final day at Handi Quilter.

The morning was devoted to ruler work (not my favourite activity… I really don’t have the patience for it).  After another delicious lunch,  we had a demo of graffiti quilting from the lovely Karlee Porter,  followed by an afternoon using the couching foot and various yarns. The couching foot on my machine played up (I had two of the best and most knowledgeable in the world working on it,  plus a technician from downstairs in production,  before it decided to behave, so I only ended up doing about an hour of couching.

After the day’s activities were over we were presented with our ‘graduation’ certificates from the Handi Quilter University,  then we all piled into shuttles to go to a Chinese restaurant for dinner with the Handi Quilter educators.

Tonight was spent repacking much of my luggage. Tomorrow is another full day,  this time in Salt Lake City itself,  followed by our last group dinner and a very special treat afterwards. We won’t get back to the hotel until quite late and have to check out early the next morning. Most will be flying back to Australia on Friday,  but I’m staying with friends in northern Utah for the weekend and will fly home on Sunday.

Our QuiltVenture 2014 is almost over 😦

Some photos from today…

Photos from the entire tour: https://www.flickr.com/photos/rhondamadeit/sets/72157648980759492/

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Oops! I think we’ve all sewn something to the back that we shouldn’t have!

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Karlee showing how she graffiti quilts

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Karlee’s work

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The Chinese restaurant had a special menu for those with different dietary requirements.  I thought this was a clever way to do this.





Day 1 at Handi Quilter

12 11 2014

We got a great welcome from the Handi Quilter people today when we arrived,  and the CEO gave us a guided tour of their new facility. We saw the massive assembly area,  testing area,  TV studio,  etc and of course the main training room upstairs where we spent today and where we will be tomorrow too.

There are heaps of beautiful quilts on all the walls in the administration area of the building and in all the offices.

Our training today was the basics of tension, needles, and thread, with 10 practice pieces using all sorts of threads (metallics, monofilament, silk, etc.). After lunch we worked on micro quilting, practising on printed fabrics and then applying that to our project piece.

The lovely people at Handi Quilter served us lunch,  provided free water and sodas and nibbles,  and put on supper for us too,  after an amazing trunk show of antique quilts quilted in a modern style.

Tomorrow we have more training (ruler work and couching), followed by dinner with the team (we have 5 trainers in the room to help us all!).

Here are a few photos from today…

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Helen Godden presenting the CEO of Handi Quilter with her couched quilt of Montana for his office

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Happy trainers!

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Trainers on kangaroos

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Trainers,  Helen Godden,  and Karlee Porter

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Busy working





Driving to Salt Lake City

11 11 2014

We left Moab about 8:30am for the final day on the bus – the mostly desolate drive to Salt Lake City.

Not only was it the final day on the bus,  but it was our final day with the lovely Tristan, our bus driver on our LeBus luxury coach. He has been such a delight and a great driver to boot. The whole group has really bonded with him and him to us. He made a lovely thank you speech to us on the way back to SLC, and said we were in top 3 groups he’s driven in the past 9 years. He got the assignment a few days before and it wasn’t until he was on his way to  Albuquerque that he found out he was picking up a group of Australians,  and then later that it was a group of Australian women,  many of whom were old enough to be his mother or even grandmother (Gretchen is 82; Tristan is 32). He approached us with some trepidation,  but after 8 or 9 days together it was sad hugs all round when we had to say goodbye at the hotel in  SLC. As a group we gave him a sketchbook with lots of messages from each of us and special Aussie slang sayings. And his tip! He must’ve wondered about us not tipping him along the way, but we were saving all the tips until the end. He wants to take his family to Disneyland and hopefully our envelope full of cash will help him do that. Thanks for driving us,  Tristan,  and for your infectious laugh and helping us eat all the food at dinner each night 😉

Before Tristan left us,  he dropped us at Gardner Village in  West Jordan for lunch and to wander around the quirky shops there.  Then he drove Helen and Michelle to the airport so they could pick up 7-seater rental vans,  then drove back to pick us up,  then back again to our hotel.

After a couple of weeks on the road,  I did some laundry (yes,  Skechers Gowalk2 shoes can go in the washing machine and the dryer and will not shrink!).

Then the Handi Quilter trainers we’ll be with the next two days introduced themselves  and joined us for supper. Tomorrow we get to quilt!

Oops! I forgot to mention that we had pretty much summer and winter in the one day. When we left Moab the weather was balmy – T-shirt weather at 8 am! By the time we got to a pass, the temperature had dropped to 33F, and there were light show flurries. Some of the ladies had never seen snow falling, so we stopped for a few minutes in the very strong winds for them to experience it.

Some photos from today…

Photos from the entire tour: https://www.flickr.com/photos/rhondamadeit/sets/72157648980759492/

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Awesome Arches National Park

10 11 2014

I’ve been to Arches once before, quite some time ago. I’d forgotten how awesome it was.

But before we got to Arches, we had to drive from Cortez, CO to Moab, UT.

We stopped at the Hole in the Rock  on the way there. It was an aptly named place (‘hole’), in my opinion. Cheap,  tacky,  tourist crap and a ‘zoo’ they should be ashamed of. I wish I hadn’t spent any money supporting that hell-hole for animals. The only vaguely interesting thing for me was some of the ‘found object’ metal art sculptures. This is the sort of place that might have held interest to travellers in the 1950s or so,  but not now. Some in our group must have found something of interest as several bought stuff there.

Next stop was Subway in Moab where we picked up sandwiches etc for our picnic lunch in the park, and my friend Kris who has retired to Moab. Kris was able to tell us a lot about Arches and how it was formed, gave us info about the flora and fauna of the park, etc. We had our picnic lunch on the rocks below Balanced Rock, then visited Windows, then the lower viewing area below Delicate Arch, and finally the magnificent jaw dropping Park Avenue.

This is such an awesome place where you are dwarfed not only by these magnificent structures, but by the magnitude of forces that were – and are – at play to create them. And the time-scale of these changes. Visiting Arches makes you realise how insignificant your place is in this world.

I took close to 100 photos in Arches today. Here are just a few.

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Contrails on the way to Moab.

 

Photos from the entire tour: https://www.flickr.com/photos/rhondamadeit/sets/72157648980759492/





Theory about why I don’t sleep on planes

9 11 2014

I’ve travelled to the US/Canada from Australia about 20 times since 1985, with most of those trips occurring from 2001,  which is when I started attending and speaking at conferences. You’d think I’d be used to the long flight across the Pacific and would have got the sleeping on planes thing worked out by now,  especially since much of the travel since 2001 has been in Business Class, and in more recent years on lie-flat beds.

However, I’ve never been able to do more than cat nap in short bursts. Sleeping on the plane had been impossible. I’ve tried prescription and over-the-counter sleeping medications,  to no avail. Ear plugs and noise-cancelling headphones (provided in Business Class on Qantas) dull the noise of the plane, but don’t eliminate it entirely. I’ve always assumed that my issue is related to the noise and vibration of the plane.

But perhaps that isn’t the reason at all. I had a light bulb moment in Santa Fe, New Mexico earlier this week – perhaps it is a combination of several other factors unique to me.

Here’s my logic…

I start getting altitude sickness symptoms at approx 7000 ft. I’ve known this from when I trekked in Nepal back in 1987 or thereabouts, and have had it confirmed whenever I go above 7000 ft. Well it seems that the air pressure inside an aircraft is set to be the same as the air pressure at an altitude of 6000 to 8000 ft. All the recommendations for flying and dehydration etc. are to ‘avoid alcohol’. Typically I have a couple of glasses of red wine with dinner when on the plane, not thinking that the combination of air pressure and alcohol might be affecting me.

I had three margaritas the night we arrived in in Santa Fe from Houston. Santa Fe is 7000 ft above sea level. Some 2+ hours later I felt very strange… Just like I feel on the plane when I can’t sleep. I should have been tired but I was wide awake and my pulse was a little faster than usual – almost tingly. At 10:40pm Santa Fe time it was 12:40am in Houston and I’d been up since 4am Houston time. I should have been dead on my feet (I walked more than 10,000 steps again that day… in low air pressure, but not thinking about it), but I didn’t feel the slightest bit tired. I had no symptoms of a hangover next morning.

Could alcohol plus air pressure plus my propensity for altitude sickness symptoms be the reason I don’t sleep on planes??

I searched for altitude sickness and alcohol and found a few medical sites that stated that anyone with that condition should not drink alcohol, and preferably not have caffeine, and that some sleeping meds should also be avoided as they don’t work – something to do with oxygenation of the blood, from memory.

As I can’t change the air pressure or my low tolerance of altitude, I guess I should have NO alcohol at all on the flights home and see if that makes any difference. And no Diet Coke either, thus avoiding the diuretic effects of caffeine too. I had two glasses of Diet Coke with lunch that first day in Santa Fe too, so that might have also contributed to the plane-like feeling I experienced that night.

Does this make sense? It could also explain why sleeping drugs don’t work on me, and why I have no  trouble sleeping at sea level, despite Diet Coke and alcohol.

I’ll provide an update after my long flight home in about 10 days time…

Update June 2015: Realised I hadn’t updated what happened… For 24 hours prior to the long flight home from the US (Salt Lake City to Los Angeles to Sydney to Perth), in the lounge, and on board, I had no alcohol or Diet Coke (I don’t drink tea or coffee). I cat napped, perhaps a little more than usual, but not appreciably so. And I may have got 2 hours actual sleep, which is definitely more than usual. So while no alcohol or caffeine may help, it didn’t put me into a long restful sleep on the flights home.





Quirky in Cortez

9 11 2014

Seen in Cortez, CO…

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This is a rental van. Beats the graffiti art on those vans from Wicked in Australia.

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A sewer (perhaps a quilter) was here 😉

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I cannot believe this price! Even in raspberry season in Australia you would rarely get a punnet of raspberries for less than $4  let alone less than $1.

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Fancy being able to buy these varieties of corn.