The new ‘101 Ways to Experience San Juan County‘ guide is now available! It’s actually been out for just over a month now, and we’re almost halfway through the time period for submitting photos for the competition. Back again this year is the ‘101 Challenge’- a competition for visitors and residents to complete as many of the 101 things listed in the guide as possible between June 1st, 2016 and September 30th, 2016. The grand prize is the winner’s choice of a jeep or a rafting trip with Four Corners Adventures. Three 1st prizes of dinner for four at a local restaurant, and sixteen 2nd prizes of San Juan Record shoulder bags will also be given away.
This year I’ve decided to take on the challenge with my husband and son! We’re off to a little bit of a slow start, but I know we’ll make it up as the summer goes on. Here’s what we’ve done so far…
#1. Visit A Visitor Center
This one is easy- for my job I’m often picking up/dropping off brochures at the visitor centers in our area, but to remember to take a photo while I’m there… that was the challenge!
The staff at our local visitor centers have a wealth of knowledge about the area, and I’m always glad to see that ‘Visit a Visitor Center’ has been #1 for all three editions of the ‘101 Ways’ guides. Brochures, maps, directions… they’re ready to help you with anything you need and get you on your way to explore this amazing area!
#18. Take a Walk & #57. Enjoy the Wildflowers
We walk daily around town in Monticello; to the post office, to the store, in the evenings at the golf course and at the Millsite, but for the sake of the 101 Challenge, we decided to walk in an area we hadn’t ever been- here in Monticello the only place we hadn’t been to that was listed in the 101 Ways guide was on the trails at the Canyon Country Discovery Center.
The trails are really nice out there, there were quite a few flowers blooming along the trail, and we also saw some wildlife. We saw lots of birds and a few rabbits, but the highlight of our walk was definitely the owl that flew out of a low tree while we were walking past it. It was so big I thought it was a hawk at first, but I quickly realized that it definitely wasn’t a hawk. I wondered for a split second if it could have been an owl, but I honestly don’t think I’ve ever seen an owl in the wild before. But just as I started to dismiss the idea that it could have been an owl, my husband confirmed that it was in fact, an owl, and we’re pretty sure it was a Great Horned Owl due to the ear tufts we both caught a quick glance of as it flew to another tree. How cool is that?! We’re definitely planning to walk out there again, and we’re hoping we might get to see that owl again! *I’ll have my camera ready next time!
#20. Visit the Latigo Wind Farm
We drove out to the Latigo Wind Farm last night to check out the windmills and see how close we would be able to get to them. It turns out, you’re able to get fairly close to the windmills, but I was a little disappointed that you aren’t able to walk right up to the base of any of them.
When I was living in Japan I had a friend who spoke next to no English, so we relied mostly on my Japanese to communicate. He kept saying he wanted to take me somewhere, but as many times as we talked about it, I couldn’t figure out what he was trying to describe to me, but I was open to the adventure and got in his car one day with no idea of where we were going. We drove up into the mountains for at least an hour and he finally pulled up at the base of a giant windmill just like the ones we have in Monticello now. It was really cool to be able to stand right at the base of one of these huge windmills and watch the blade going around and around. I wish we were able to do that here in Monticello too- it’s a pretty amazing experience!
I actually feel a little guilty about this one because my dad was just visiting a few weeks before the challenge started, and was fascinated with the windmills and wanted to drive out to see them. I told him that I doubted that you were able to drive out to them, and that he could see them fine from town anyway. When the new ‘101 Ways…’ came out right after he left and I saw that #20 was to visit the wind farm, I felt so bad that I hadn’t made an effort to find out if it was okay to drive out there or not. I’ll definitely take him out there on his next visit!
If you haven’t read my last post, ‘Stars & S’mores at the Canyon Country Discovery Center‘, go read it now! And then go to their weekly program- you’ll be glad you did!
#58. Submit a Photo to the San Juan Record ‘Photo of the Week Contest’
Not only did I submit a photo, but it was selected for the cover of the San Juan Record! (Got my $10 check in the mail yesterday too!)
Just a week before Free Fishing Day, the Department of Wildlife Resources put on a family fishing clinic up at Lloyd’s Lake. We took our son and they had a bunch of fishing poles all set up and ready for kids to practice casting with. I have to admit, it’s been almost 20 years since I’ve fished… I used to live in Alaska and I LOVED salmon fishing, and honestly, ever since then I’ve felt like it kind of ruined me for fishing down here in our stocked ponds and reservoirs. Luckily, one of the DWR guys took my son over to the casting area and showed him what to do. I was really shocked that my son could cast as well as he did! He’s just a couple months shy of his 4th birthday, and I really wasn’t expecting him to be able to pick it up so quickly, but he did, and he was really good at it! (And I don’t think it’s just because I’m his mom that I think that… the DWR guy kept saying it too!)
Over the next week we found him a kids fishing pole- he wanted a ‘Frozen’ one, and normally we’d let him pick, but this time we decided to overrule him since we’re hoping he’ll be able to use the fishing pole for at least a couple years. We were kind of thinking that his current love of the movie would probably not last as long as we’re hoping that the fishing pole will, so we got him a ‘Cars’ one instead.
Since he’s still only 3, every day is free fishing day for him, (fishing in Utah is free to children under the age of 12) but I was hoping that he might give me a turn or two with his fishing pole, so that was why we decided to go up to Foy Lake on free fishing day.
Believe it or not, in a lake stocked with thousands of fish, we didn’t catch anything! I’m pretty sure we didn’t have the right kind of lures or bait- we really had no idea what we needed, we just bought something that looked similar to what they were showing us at the DWR family fishing clinic. I was very torn between hoping my son would catch one, and hoping he wouldn’t! I worked in a fish processing plant for 5 summers through college, and I think I can safely say that I’m an expert fish cleaner! So on one hand, I was kind of hoping he’d catch one so that I could see if I still had my skills, (and of course I wanted him to experience the excitement of getting to reel in a fish!) but on the other hand, he’s allergic to fish so I knew that he wouldn’t even be able to enjoy it! I suppose the 3rd option was that we also could have put it back, but since we didn’t catch anything anyway, we didn’t end up having to make the decision.
Even without catching any fish, we had a great time up at Foy Lake. There are several lakes up on the mountain just outside of Monticello, and it may sound weird, but I think we kind of forget that they’re there! Once we were up there, I was wishing we had planned better and brought lunch with us. It’s so beautiful and peaceful up on the mountain- I could have spent all day up there! We’ll definitely have to do that the next time we go!
(*Also, now that I’m sitting here typing this, I see that I missed an opportunity to get #89 on the list- Bird Watch. There were some really beautiful birds up there that I don’t remember seeing before. I would have taken pictures if I’d realized that it was on the list! )
#94. Build a Fire
One of my favorite things to do in the summer is to have fires in our back yard, so I was happy to see that this was on the 101 list! We do this at least once a week, so this was by far the easiest thing on the list for us to check off! And of course, you can’t have a fire without s’mores!
#96. Picnic at a Campground
In the end of June some friends invited us up to Warner Lake in the La Sal Mountains to camp with them. What a beautiful place! I can’t believe we’d never been up there before! We’re planning another trip up there this summer, so stay tuned for a blog post on it!
#101. Grow Something
As easy as this sounds, this was our first year since we moved to Monticello that we planted a vegetable garden. I’d planted (small) gardens before and swore that I wasn’t going to do it again until I owned a house, but it took us several years to get our house and yard in shape enough that we felt like we were ready to tackle a garden.
More than anything, I really wanted my son to experience the process of planting, growing, and harvesting vegetables ourselves. When I was growing up my dad always planted a huge garden and although I hated having to help pull weeds, one of my best childhood memories is picking warm, ripe tomatoes from the vine and eating them like an apple right there in the middle of the garden.
So for our first year we just put in one small raised bed and squeezed as much into it as we possibly could. We took our son with us to Muhlestein’s- our local nursery- and let him help pick out what kinds of vegetables we were going to plant. We ended up with zucchini, tomatoes, eggplant, broccoli, poblano peppers, onions, and we also bought one of the starts for the giant pumpkins that are part of the contest they hold in October! (The person with the heaviest pumpkin wins an ipad mini!)
Even trying to keep it small, we still bought too much for our raised bed, so we have one of the tomato plants and the pumpkin planted in another area along with about 6-8 raspberry plants we were given by someone who was thinning out their garden.
Although we’ve done almost everything on the list, this is all we’ve done so far this summer, so we definitely have a lot of work to do! I think I’ll try to hit as many of the Monticello locations as we can on the weekday evenings, then hopefully we can hit 1 or 2 locations around the county each weekend.
I know that they need to change it up a little bit each year, but there were two things in particular that I was really sad to see that were not included on the list this year; The Monticello Ghost Tour and Go Geocaching. If you’re feeling ambitious and finish the current 101 things on the list, by all means- both of these are well worth your time!