• Spring 2014 Color Trends – Energizing Orange

    A gorgeous spring day with blooming California Poppies...

    A gorgeous spring day with blooming California Poppies…

    Spring has finally come to Northern California! After a cold and scarily dry winter, a couple of weeks of much needed rain fell and now everything is in bloom! The picture above was taken on a hike in Helen Putnam Park here in Petaluma…the hills are turning green finally!

    As you can tell from my Etsy shop Silverly Jewelry, I adore color, and one of the big color trends of this Spring is bright, energizing orange. Confuciansim, the ancient Chinese philosophy system, sees orange as a color of transformation, symbolizing light and fire, spirituality and sensuality. In Asia the word for orange is saffron, which was traditionally used to dye the robes of Buddhist and Hindu monks. If you have ever been to Thailand, everywhere you go you see all the Buddhist monks wearing orange holy robes…and some sculptures as well…I took the picture below when I was in Thailand in 2001.

    DCP_1107Pantone has released it’s Spring 2014 Color Report and here are the colors…I love them all and plan on incorporating as many as I can into my Spring Collection…

    Pantone Spring 2014One of my favorite stones, which also happens to be perfect for this season, is Carnelian. It gets its name from the red-orange Kornel cherry, and is variety of chalcedony and a micro-crystalline quartz. It gets its reddish tint from the iron oxides in the stone and varies in color from bright orange to a reddish-brownish-orange. It was believed by the Romans to be a stone of courage, able to increase confidence and strength. The ancient Egyptians put it on mummies to help them in their journey to the afterlife. Some people believe it can be used to enhance self-esteem and increase energy…these are good reasons to wear it but I just love how it looks!

    I have lots of carnelian stones, and will be using them more and more…I am also planning on doing some more enameled pieces as well.

    Here are a few pieces I am offering in my shop right now…

    Hand-forged sterling silver earrings with carnelian

    Hand-forged sterling silver earrings with carnelian

     

    Sterling silver carnelian ring

    Sterling silver carnelian ring

     

    Silver carnelian earrings

    Silver carnelian earrings

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Of course, orange is found in many places in nature, you don’t have to look far. Several days a week I go hiking at a local County Park called Helen Putnam, which is where I took that picture above with the California poppy…and I also heard an Orange-crowned Warbler singing…

    Orange-crowned Warbler

    Orange-crowned Warbler

    and saw a Ring-necked Snake. The one I saw was tiny, only about 6 inches long and was crossing the trail.

    Ring-necked Snake

    Ring-necked Snake

    So what do you think of this color trend of orange right now? Do you ever wear orange, either clothing or accessories? I really like it, I think it’s a fresh, vibrant color for this gorgeous spring weather, and I’m finding more and more reasons to incorporate it into my wardrobe this season.

  • The Holiday Shopper’s Guide to Jewelry Metals

    Fine silver leaf earrings with 24k gold accents

    PART 1 – THE PRECIOUS METALS

    The holidays are fast approaching and this is the time of year when lots of people will (hopefully) be buying lots of jewelry. But it can be a little confusing as to what you are buying especially when it comes to metals-there are many kinds used in jewelry! So here is a list of the most common ones and some of their properties. It’s not an exhaustive list but it should help clear up some confusion…let’s start with the easy ones…

    GOLD

    World's Largest Gold Bar

    World’s Largest Gold Bar

    Gold is an element, and its symbol on the Periodic Table is Au (from the Latin name Aurum), and is of course known for its bright yellow color. It is considered a precious metal, as it is valuable and highly sought after…and expensive! The price fluctuates daily but as of this writing, gold is $1227.50 per troy ounce (one troy ounce = 1.10 ounces = 31.103 grams). While I was looking up gold in Wikipedia I learned an interesting bit of trivia…”Most of the Earth’s gold probably lies at its core, the metal’s high density having made it sink there in the planet’s youth. Virtually all discovered gold is considered to have been deposited later by meteorites that contained the element.” Wow, who knew…so that means people are walking around with extra-terrestrial jewelry…that’s pretty cool.

    So when you look at gold jewelry you hear words like ’14 karat’ and ’24 karat’ gold…here’s what it means. 24 karat gold is pure 100% gold. Because gold is such a soft metal, as well as expensive, you mostly see 14 karat gold, which is an alloy of 14 parts gold to 10 parts other metals (58.7% gold). This makes the product a little harder and more durable. And affordable.

    I don’t work a lot with gold because it is so expensive, but sometimes use it for a process called keum-boo, which is pure gold leaf bonded to pure silver. It’s actually quite easy…you take a piece of fine silver, heat it to 500-700 degrees (I use a hot plate), add a piece of 24k gold foil and use a metal or stone burnisher to rub it on the surface of the silver, where it will chemically bond. If you are interested in the process, artist Celie Fago has an excellent book on it…you can check it out here.

    Here is an example of some keum-boo I did on some fine silver leaves I made….they sold last year and I really should make another pair as they as so pretty.

    Fine silver leaf earrings with 24k gold accents

    Fine silver leaf earrings with 24k gold accents

    What is white gold? It is an alloy of gold and at least one white metal, usually nickel, manganese or palladium. Its purity is also measured by karats. Rose gold (also known as pink gold and red gold) is an alloy of gold and copper…the higher the copper content, the more pronounced is the red color. A common alloy for rose gold is 75% gold, 25% copper. Red gold is a 50/50 mix of gold and copper.

    SILVER

    OK, silver is clearly my favorite metal…I love its bright white reflectiveness, its relative affordability, and it’s pretty easy to work with. Although silver is much much cheaper than gold (silver is $19.36 a troy ounce as of this writing), its price does tend to fluctuate quite a lot, as you can see from this chart I took from the Rio Grande website (this is where I buy pretty much all my metals and everything else-they are awesome!).

    Silver prices 2010-2013

    Silver prices 2010-2013

    As you can see, it was up to almost $50 a troy ounce in spring 2011! It sucks for us jewelers when the price spikes like that…we have to raise our prices to compensate or we lose money.

    Pure silver is also an element, and its symbol on the Periodic Table is Ag (from the Latin argentum) and it also possesses the highest electrical conductivity of any metal (a question I once embarrassingly got wrong while playing trivia-I thought it was copper). Almost all silver used these days is recycled or recovered as a by-product of gold, lead, copper or zinc refining. Besides being used for jewelry, it has tons of other industrial and even medical uses. Interesting bit of trivia…a bill passed in March 2012 makes silver (and gold) legal tender in the state of Utah.

    There are several types of silver that I work with…sterling silver, fine silver and argentium silver.

    Sterling silver is 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% copper, which is why you see sterling silver stamped with 925. It is pretty much the standard silver you will find in most jewelry, as it is harder than fine silver. Because of the presence of copper in sterling silver, it does tarnish more readily than fine silver and is a little more difficult to work with than fine silver. This is because when you heat it up, you get what’s called firescale, which is a red, purple or blackish stain on that appears on the surface. This is from the reaction of oxygen with the copper in the alloy when it is heated…this also what happens when your jewelry tarnishes, albeit at a slower rate.

    Also, because of the presence of copper in the alloy, even sterling silver can turn your skin green, especially if you are wearing a wide ring band on your finger. It’s harmless and is caused by the chemical reaction between the acids of your skin and the metal. The best way to avoid this happening is to try to keep lotions, soaps and other chemicals away from your rings, and remove them before bathing or swimming, particularly in salt water.

    I love sterling silver though, as it is fun to work with and beautiful to look at. It makes lovely strong, durable ring bands and chains. I work with it in wire and sheet form and also in clay form (which is what I use to make my sterling silver Leaf Ring).

    I will cover Precious Metal Clays in a future blog post but here is a picture of fine silver and sterling silver clays.IMG_2376

    Fine silver is 99.9% pure silver (I have no idea what the other 0.1 is). It is slightly whiter and softer than sterling silver and tarnishes less readily than sterling. Because it is pure silver, you don’t get firescale when you heat it, and you can actually fuse it without using solder! If you are interested in doing this to make jewelry (this is how I got started making rings) there is a great book called Silver Wire Fusing that explains it all step by step. You can get it on Amazon here…I highly recommend it.

    I work with fine silver in wire form (to make rings), and as Precious Metal Clay…an example of this are my fine silver Leaf Earrings.

    Argentium silver is a new form of silver, created in the 1990′s…to make it they have modified the traditional alloy of sterling (92.5% silver + 7.5% copper) and replaced some of the copper with the element germanium (not the geranium flower!). Because it contains at least 92.5% silver, it is still referred to as sterling silver.

    The advantages of Argentium silver are that it does not get firescale when heated, and it can be fused without solder like fine silver, and it tarnishes less readily than traditional sterling silver. It is slightly more expensive than sterling silver, and I sometimes like using it for ring bands as it is a little easier to solder.

    PLATINUM

    Screen Shot 2013-12-05 at 12.01.56 PMAlthough I love platinum, I don’t work with it for reasons I will describe in a minute, but it’s worth mentioning as it is a commonly used metal for jewelry. Like gold and silver, it is an element and its symbol on the Periodic Table is Pt, from the Spanish platina, which translates to “little silver”.

    Platinum is more expensive than gold ($1364 per troy ounce as of this writing), as it is one of the rarest elements in the Earth’s crust. Only a few thousand kilograms are produced annually. It is also the least reactive metal, and extremely resistant to corrosion, which makes it valuable for many industrial uses. It is slightly harder than pure iron.

    Why don’t I work with platinum? Well, besides being crazy expensive, it has a crazy high melting point which makes it very difficult to work with. Here’s a little comparison…

    SILVER     1763° F    (962° C)

    GOLD        1948°F     (1064° C)

    PLATINUM      3215° F     (1768° C)

    Twice as high as silver! But I love the color of platinum and wish I had the skills and tools (and the money) to work with it…

    Rhodium is closely related to platinum and like platinum, is rare and expensive. I mention it here because it is also used in jewelry, but almost always as electroplating over white gold and platinum to give it a more reflective, whiter surface, and on sterling silver to protect against tarnish. You almost never see solid rhodium jewelry, not so much because of its cost, but because it not only has a higher melting point than platinum (3565° F!), it is not very malleable at all so it makes jewelry hard to fabricate.

    I hope this helped! I know it can get confusing out there, and it’s hard to know exactly what you’re buying. Next time I will cover some very common, less expensive jewelry metals  (what they call base metals), which are copper, brass and nickel or german silver. Feel free to let me know in the comments sections if you have any questions, and I’ll do my best to answer them!

     

  • Resistance is futile…

    OK, so only fellow Star Trek geeks will get that title but here is a little reminder of that plot line…

    I just started this book, The War of Art by Steven Pressfield which is all about overcoming Resistance. What does he mean by Resistance? He says most of us have two lives…the life we lead and the unlived life inside us. Between the two is Resistance. And like most people, I am awesome at Resistance.

    I have a dream. I passionately love making jewelry and my dream is to touch as many people as I can with my creations. For this to occur however, I need to have a successful jewelry business. I have been actively (so I tell myself anyway) pursuing this dream for the past few years with some success but not as much as I would like. And my enemy is Resistance, which is basically me avoiding doing the work necessary for me to succeed at my dream. And by ‘the work’ I don’t mean actually making jewelry. That’s the easy part…I could do that all day, every day (and frequently do). No, my Achilles Heel is actually running the business part-sales, marketing, and especially, accounting. I will do anything to avoid those things. I’m a champion at avoiding those things. Especially accounting.

    Why do I avoid those things? To be honest, it’s mostly fear. Sales and marketing require me to put my stuff (and by extension, myself) out there for the world to see, possibly opening me up to ridicule and/or rejection. I might look foolish. I might seem arrogant…for example, this blog. I know having a blog is great marketing for your business, plus, I love to write. I have something to say. But still, every week I tell myself I need to post more often…and every week I resist writing a blog post because I start thinking, who cares what I have to say anyway? I know that is not technically true…I have plenty of friends who definitely care what I have to say. But for sure there are people out there in the world who don’t give a crap about what I have to say…and why should I even care about those people, or let them stop me? But I do. So dumb.

    And I can’t help but think there must be a bit of Fear of Success going on too…why else would I resist doing the very things that help me reach it?

    So I thought I’d make a list of the Top 10 Things I Do to Resist. I do this to call myself out publicly in the hopes that will help me and maybe some of you in overcoming your Resistance. This is kinda scary to do so be kind…

    1) Reading books and articles on blogging instead of actually blogging (I’m REALLY good at this). Somehow all that reading about blogging doesn’t magically get transformed into actual blog posts.

    2) Reading books and article on sales and marketing and SEO optimization instead of actually doing those things. Especially since after two paragraphs of reading anything about SEO my brain starts to glaze over and I don’t absorb anything anyway.

    3) Making new pieces of jewelry while I have a pile of pieces forlornly waiting to be photographed and uploaded to my Etsy shop.

    4) Making lame excuses about why I’m very lax about keeping track of expenses and sales. Well, I can access those figures if I need to…doesn’t that count?

    Screen Shot 2013-11-14 at 3.07.41 PM

    5) Social media. Yes, let’s check Facebook for the 1000th time today because I am sure George Takei’s hilarious posts will help me sell more jewelry.

    6) Shopping online for new supplies that I don’t need because I just had an awesome new idea for a design or technique and I must immediately have this new tool/gemstone/metal/enamel to see this idea to it’s inevitable brilliant denouement. Or how about I just think of brilliant ways to use up all the crap I already have? Trust me, I have a lot.

    7) Isn’t it lunchtime?Screen Shot 2013-11-14 at 3.09.44 PM

     

     

     

    8) Going to check on my Etsy shop and then start reading the Forums and checking out other shops instead of working on my tags and titles to see if I can improve my SEO.

    9) Thinking that by next week I should have enough good pieces to submit my work to shops and galleries and catalogs I’d like to be featured in. I tell myself this every week.

    10) Not setting goals except vague, nebulous ones that don’t hold me accountable for anything. I have commitment issues.

    So there they are…I am hoping that being more aware of Resistance in my life will help me overcome it. Since, of course, Resistance is futile…just DO THE WORK. Which incidentally, is the title of his other book that I will also be reading when I finish The War of Art. Hopefully reading about Doing the Work isn’t Resistance.

    I would love to hear how you all deal with your Resistance. What dreams to you have that you put off year after year, always making excuses as to why you can’t take that step towards fulfilling it? What things do you do that sabotage your success? I know I’m not the only one!

    Resistance to change

     

  • What’s New at Silverly Jewelry

    Hi there!

    Happy Fall to everyone! I just love this time of year, especially where I live here in northern California. The weather has been fabulous-warm sunny days and cool nights, and the colors are so gorgeous.

    Hammered silver stick earrings with aqua chalcedony

    Hammered silver stick earrings with aqua chalcedony

    I know it has been awhile (again) since I have posted but I have been very busy these past few weeks! I’ve been trying to get as many new pieces as possible in my Etsy shop before the (hopefully) busy holiday season. I have not been posting as much in my blog as I would like to, and vow to change that going forward. So stay tuned!

    So as you can see, I have redone my blog and website with a new theme, which I think looks much better. I had been doing my website with iWeb, and my blog with WordPress, but since I am not a professional web designer (and too poor to hire one), I wasn’t that happy with the look of the website. I didn’t think it was professional enough…iWeb is great if you just want a simple personal website but it just doesn’t have enough features for a business site.  So I decided to use WordPress to host my entire site, both my blog and my jewelry. I thought it was going to take forever to get all my pieces up here but I got very lucky and found a great new widget also, called Etsy Pro. It allows me to post all my items in my Etsy Shop here on my blog/website with just a few clicks, and was a life saver. Plus it automatically updates when I add new pieces to my Etsy Shop. It’s a great widget, and something to consider if you have an Etsy Shop and a blog.

    And I have been working on a bunch of new pieces as well…

    Fine silver leaf earrings with green onyx

    Fine silver leaf earrings with green onyx

    Hammered silver ring with blue chalcedony

    Hammered silver ring with blue chalcedony

     

     

     

     

    Fine silver leaf with labradorite

    Fine silver leaf with labradorite

     

    I also have been doing some enameling…just did a few pieces today…

    New enameled pieces!

    New enameled pieces!

     

    Also, another exciting development is that I have been accepted into The Artisan Group!

    TAG_Member-Badge_NEW-1It’s an exclusive art promotions group representing talented artisans at Hollywood’s Best Celebrity Gift Lounges and on TV shows. I only joined a couple of weeks ago and am still figuring out the ropes, but I am very excited about the opportunities it represents. There are so many talented artists in our group, from jewelry artists to artisan soap makers and beauty products. So proud to be part of such amazing group!

    In honor of the season I am making Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Sage-yum!  The nights are getting chillier and soup just seemed perfect for tonight.

     

     

  • Happiness is the journey…

    journeyThis photo was taken by me on Fraser Island, Australia…I had been walking along this deserted beach and when I looked back at my footprints. Gorgeous.

  • The Pearl of Siberia

    It has been quite a long time since I have written a post-my apologies! I was out of town for several weeks and have been trying to catch up ever since then. I had planned on writing about the time I got to go opal mining in Australia but I got a little sidetracked. During my 4 years of traveling around the world I periodically would send out emails to my friends and family telling them about my travels, and I have spent the last couple of hours re-reading them. I came across one about when I was at Lake Baikal in Siberia in 2003…I was taking the Trans-Siberian Railway from Beijing across Mongolia and then Russia. It brought back such nice memories that I decided to share it with you all…and with some photos as well.

     

    Sent: Tuesday, July 27, 2004 4:22:54 AM
    Subject: The Pearl of Siberia

    Me on the shores of Lake Baikal in Siberia, 2003

    Me on the shores of Lake Baikal in Siberia, 2003

    I arrived in Irkutsk from Mongolia and was picked up at the train station and brought right to Olkhon Island on Lake Baikal, a 70 km long island on the western shore. I have been dying to see Lake Baikal for some time, as it is the world’s deepest lake at 1637 meters (5369 feet). It holds 20% of the world’s fresh water, more than all the Great Lakes (Superior, Erie, Michigan, Ontario and Huron) combined. And it is absolutely gorgeous, crescent shaped and a pure clear blue such as I have never seen. I stayed in the small village of Khuzir at a place called Nikita’s Homestead, which is a collection of rustic wooden buildings and cabins and an outdoor/indoor dining area that served excellent food.

    On my second day there I took an excursion to the northern tip of the island, and before we left we stopped at a small store to buy some water. In there I ran into Sergei whom I had briefly met the night before, a guide that works for a local travel agency that arranged my stay there. I guessed him to be in his (very) early 20′s, although he had a calm confidence and composure about him that belied his age and he spoke English quite well. He was in line in front of me ordering some water in his soft voice and I wondered how someone simply speaking their native language in their native country could sound so exotic but somehow it did. He was tall, over 6 feet and leanly built, with a shock of straight pale blond hair that fell over his forehead and light green eyes. With his colouring I could have assumed he was Scandinavian but he was born in Irkutsk, a native Siberian. I asked him how to ask for water without carbonation and he said “biz gassum”. I repeated it and then said “spasiba” (thanks) and he replied “pazhalsta”  (you’re welcome) and then smiled at me.
    DCP_2768
    My trip to the northern part of Olkhon was amazing with beautiful sweeping meadows covered in wildflowersDCP_2767 and edged by pine forests all along the cliffs where falcons and swifts soared overhead. On the tour I became acquainted with a Finnish woman perhaps about 50 named Helena who had spent the last 4 years working at the Finnish embassy in Moscow. She laughed loudly and often and I liked her immediately. It was a wonderful day and when I returned to Nikita’s that evening I had a traditional Russian banya. banya is basically a small room with a wood stove that heats a small reservoir of water, an urn of cold water and a small washtub just big enough to stand in…it was a bit of a challenge to wash my long hair in it I must admit but at least the room was nice and warm.
    sweet
    After my banya I joined Sergei, Alex a 30-ish guy from Zurich, and their driver, a heavyset Russian man in his 50′s named Valentine who spoke no English but looked at me with kind eyes. We sat there for quite a while, having dinner and then drinking Russian beer. While we all chatted I peeled the labels off the bottles and folded them into paper cranes and boats and gave them to Valentine. He smiled at me with his gold-capped teeth when I made the crane’s wings flap. He finally went off to sleep and then Sergei suggested a walk….Alex, who was well on his way to getting sloshed, begged off but I was feeling restless and wanted to go.
    sweet
    As we walked through the deepening twilight toward the cliffs Sergei told me about the Buryats, the native people here around Baikal who are of Mongol descent, their shamanistic religon and their gods. They believe Olkhon to be a sacred place, especially the giant white rock off the cliff we could see as we walked toward it called Shamans Rock.

    Shaman's Rock, Oklhon Island, Lake Baikal

    Shaman’s Rock, Oklhon Island, Lake Baikal

    I asked Sergei about the totems I had seen that day scattered around the island on the cliffs, tree trunks as tall as a man covered with different colored strips of cloth. He told me that the people here write wishes on the pieces of cloth and tie them around the totems so the winds will carry their prayers to the gods.

    sweet
    We walked to the edge of the cliff and sat on some stones with Shaman’s Rock below us to the left. In the sky above it gleamed a single star, visible through a break in the clouds. Although it was nearly half eleven at night there was still a pale patch of sky on the west horizon, reflecting pale gold and silver on the calm water. Across from us on the mainland to the northwest I could see Siberia laid out before me,

    Straight to the Arctic Ocean

    Straight to the Arctic Ocean

    an endless expanse of mountains and the taiga, forests of birch and pine that eventually gave way to tundra before sinking into the Arctic Ocean thousands of miles away. I could feel the immensity of it and I whispered to Sergei that living here he must be used to this place but for me it was so incredible to be there. He said no, that he comes here often and thinks this is a very special place. We became silent as we sat there side by side and it was so quiet the only sound was the water lapping on the rocks far below us.

    sweet
    To the north the lake, the Pearl of Siberia stretched to meet the mountains and the clouds and the sky, deepening them all to a mysterious midnight blue. As the night grew darker, Shamans Rock was lambent with a presence that made me see why they thought it sacred. A breath of a breeze as soft as a sigh eased over us and I heard a click of his lighter as Sergei lit a cigarette. He asked if I was cold and although I felt the chill I said no, as I didn’t want to leave this place, not yet. A lone gull flew up in front of us uttering a plaintive cry as it wheeled around, a pale apparition against the dark clouds and then disappeared into the night.
    sweet
    When he finished his cigarette we got up and were silent for a time as we walked slowly back. Then I said quietly to him, “Thank you for that-that was really amazing,” and he replied with sincerity, “Thank you,” and I knew neither one of us would forget this walk.
    sweet
    I return there
    I return there often in my mind and I know that if I could, I would write my wish on a ribbon of cloth and tie it on a totem high on the cliffs of Olkhon so that the winds of Siberia would carry my longing, my prayer for those moments up there to last for all time.

  • Inspiration Tuesdays

    Be in love...

    Be in love…

  • Southwest Road Trip Part 2

    Yes, I know it has been a month since my last posting…I had meant to post on the road but it was a bit more difficult than I thought it would be! Mostly because I was usually pretty tired at the end of my riding days but also because it was hard to find wifi, or even a cell signal in a lot of places.

    I last left you when I was in Moab…getting there was a unexpectedly long day, as I had planned to leave Zion and drive to Capitol Reef via Highway 12, which is one of the most gorgeous drives ever.

    Zion to Capitol Reef

    Zion to Capitol Reef

    It takes you past Bryce Canyon NP, but I did not stop as I have been there before and was in a bit of a hurry to get to Capitol Reef, as the campground there is all first come first served. The road takes you through some amazing scenery and (if you’re on a motorcycle) some really fun twisties.

    Along Highway 12, Utah

    Along Highway 12, Utah

    Here is one I took as I went through Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument…the road twists along the spine of a mountain with canyons on either side of you. Then it winds up through Dixie National Forest over a 9,200 foot pass. Spring had barely started up there as the aspen trees were just beginning to bud, and it was cold! How I wish I had stopped to take more photos (I really need a GoPro), since as it turned out there was no point in hurrying…

    When I arrived at Capitol Reef around 1 PM I found out that the campground was full. I was so frustrated, as the Fruita campground there is a great spot to camp. So I decided to push on another 153 miles to Moab, and it was a long hot drive. I arrived around 5 in the afternoon and after a brief freak-out over the fact that every hotel in town that I passed said NO VACANCY, I managed to find an overpriced room at a somewhat dodgy hotel/self storage place on the edge of town.

    I took a long shower, then walked to my favorite restaurant in Moab, the Moab Brewery (ok, so it’s a brewery…but the food is pretty good). I love their beer and I think it might be the only place in town where you can get beer that is higher than 3.2…

    Moab Brewery

    Moab Brewery

    but you have to order a can. It’s good stuff. The staff is friendly and it’s a great place to go after a day of hiking or mountain biking

    I ended up sitting at the bar next to an older cowboy-looking gentleman named Russ who, if he is to be believed, has been everywhere and done everything. OK, maybe not really but he made it sound that way. But he was a nice enough guy.

    The next morning I slept in and then packed up and drove up the street to Canyonlands Campground, where I’d reserved a spot for the next 2 nights and set up camp.

    My campsite

    My campsite

    Moab is such a great place to base yourself as there is so much to do in the area…the mountain biking is fantastic, there are tons of off-road riding for 4 wheelers and dirt bikes, you’ve got Canyonlands and Arches National Park with great hiking trails. You can go rafting down the Colorado River, or drive up to the LaSal Mountains if you want to cool off…you get the idea. It’s just awesome.

    I had a leisurely day writing postcards and wandering around town, then late in the afternoon I drove into Arches National Park to hike to Delicate Arch, the iconic symbol of Utah (and it’s on their license plates). It’s not a long hike, only about a mile and half each way but you are climbing up slickrock that is a little steep in places. It’s usually pretty crowded, especially around sunset but the hike is well worth it.

    Delicate Arch

    Delicate Arch

    The next day I rode out to Canyonlands National Park to the Island in the Sky District to go for a hike to Upheaval Dome. Turns out there are some really fun twisty roads in the park, so it was a great ride, and a pretty hike as well…

    Canyonlands

    Canyonlands

    IMG_0157

    Upheaval Dome

    IMG_0155

    Hike to Upheaval Dome

    After two great nights in Moab, was heading the next day to Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado…more on that in my next post…

  • Mountains and Red Rock Canyons

    I made it to Moab, Utah! What a great trip it has been so far…despite hitting some rain and hail early on, it’s been a blast.

    20130512-151244.jpg
    Here is my baby, loaded for bear…

    I left last Tuesday morning, May 7th…my plan was to head to Gardnerville, NV to stay a night with my cousin who lives there. I was taking Highway 50 as it was quickest way. I had considered postponing the trip by a day because the forecast for the Sierra Nevada was thunderstorms. I checked the Caltrans website and looked at the live webcam for Echo Summit and was not thrilled with what I saw…

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    But the forecast was the same for the next day and I figured that maybe by the time I reached the mountains it would be mid-day and maybe the weather would warm up and clear. I decided to go for it. Things were going fine until just past Placerville when I began hitting fog and a heavy mist. I stopped and put on my blue and white rainsuit, which is a little big on me and makes me resemble the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man. Not a good look.

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    As I climbed higher it got wetter and the fog was so thick in some places I couldn’t see more than 20 feet ahead of me, which was pretty scary. But I just took it easy and luckily the tires I had (love my Michelin PR3s) had good traction on the wet roads. There was still quite a bit of snow up there but none on the road, thank goodness. Once I got on the other side of Echo Summit, it actually stopped raining and roads were fairly dry, although it was cold!

    I made it safely to my cousins and to celebrate we hit a local happy hour. We were all tired and hit the hay early…my next day was a pretty easy 3 hour cruise down Highway 395, which is one of my favorite drives. On one side you have high desert smelling of sage, and the other side of you are the gorgeous snow-capped Sierra Nevada.

    20130512-152249.jpg I did hit some rain and hail but it’s a pretty straight road with little traffic so it was no big deal.

    Spent the night in Bishop at Brown’s Town campground, and then to Las Vegas…originally I had planned to go to Valley of Fire State Park, which is about 30 minutes past LV. But since it was going to be a long driving day I decided to stay in a hotel, and actually found one in North Las Vegas called Santa Fe Station for $25 a night and it got good reviews. It did end up being a long day, over 300 miles, going through Death Valley over two 4000+ foot passes and then to Furnace Creek, where it was 91 degrees, which is not too bad for Death Valley.

    Made it to North Las Vegas and the hotel, and it was actually a surprisingly nice casino/hotel. Especially for 25 bucks! My room was big with 2 queen beds, and there were several restaurants a movie theater and a Starbucks. I’d definitely stay there again.

    Fortified with a venti triple shot latte, I hit the road the next morning by about 8…I had booked a site in Bryce Canyon NP but the weather was calling for snow showers so I decided to stay in Zion NP, which is always warmer being at a lower elevation. Unfortunately the campground in the park was full but luckily I found a spot in an RV campground just outside the park entrance.

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    No sooner did I set up my tent when I big thunderstorm blew through. It rained hard but only lasted about 20 minutes or so.

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    Zion is such a gorgeous place, I never get tired of it…I didn’t hike as I am planning on coming back to Zion for a couple of nights after my birthday in Las Vegas, so I just walked around the town of Springdale, which is right at the entrance to the park.

    27 years ago when I was in college (yes, I am old) I spent an entire school quarter backpacking through southern Utah with a UC Extension program called the Sierra Institute. We took trips ranging from one to two weeks through Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, the Escalante River canyons and our last trip was in Zion. Utah has changed a lot since then, some good changes, some not so good. When we hiked through the canyons of the Escalante River, the area was all BLM land then and they were running cattle through the canyons, and was subject to mining and other uses. In 1996 President Bill Clinton established that area (1.8 million acres) as the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, which is great as that designation nixed the Andalex Coal Mine that was propsed for that area. In a future post I will show some pictures that I took from when I was there-it’s a spectacular area.

    But boy has Springdale changed! It used to be a sleepy little town with a couple of motels and restaurants, rocks shops and houses. I remember walking by this old man’s house where he had set up a table by the sidewalk with old peanut butter and jam jars now filled with clover honey from his bee hives. Each one had a price scrawled on masking tape and there was a coffee can with a handwritten sign directing you to leave the money in the can. I bought a small jar for a dollar and it was delicious.

    Now Springdale is full of chain hotels, lots of pricey restaurants and pricier galleries. It’s still beautiful but very touristy now. And expensive. And I didn’t see anyone selling honey in their front yard.

    I’m in Moab now, and will be for a couple of days. Then I head to Mesa Verde National Park. Stay tuned for my next installment!

  • Alis Volat Propiis

    The latin phrase alis volat propiis means “she flies with her own wings”, and is also the Oregon State motto. And one of mine as well, as I plan a road trip!

    "She flies with her own wings"

    “She flies with her own wings”  A bracelet I made and will be wearing on my trip.

    Tomorrow morning I am loading up my beautiful motorcycle…a 2009 Kawasaki Versys 650…

    In Bridgeport, CA  April, 2011

    In Bridgeport, CA
    April, 2011

    And heading on a solo motorcycle trip to the gorgeous deserts of southern Utah…

    itinierary

    itinerary

    I have been wanting to do this trip on my motorcycle for quite a while now…I have been to Utah a bunch of times these past 4 years but always when I’m working as a tour leader, and was too busy to hike and explore as much as I would like to. And there are so many amazing places there to visit! This trip I will be going to Zion, Bryce Canyon, Arches, Canyonlands, and Capitol Reef National Parks, plus Mesa Verde NP in Colorado. After that I haven’t decided which route I will be taking as I work my way back to Las Vegas on May 17th for my birthday weekend! My friend Katherine will be flying out to meet me…where I am sure there will be some imbibing of adult beverages…

    After Vegas I head to Zion to camp for 2 or 3 days, then back again to Vegas to fly to Oklahoma to see my sweetie, where we plan on renting a Harley and cruising through the Ozarks over Memorial Day weekend. I will be a passenger this time and sure I will welcome the break! After 10 days I fly back to Vegas, jump on my bike and head back home. If time permits, I am planning to go up through Great Basin National Park, which I have always wanted to see, and then back over Hwy 50-The Loneliest Road in America.

    I will be gone about a month, camping the whole way except for Las Vegas and Oklahoma.

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    Grand Canyon, June 2009

    I was hesitant to put my Etsy Shop Silverly Jewelry on Vacation Mode for that long but I realized now was actually the best time. If I don’t go now I’ll have to wait until fall (the summer will be way too hot and crowded) and that is too close to Christmas, as I will be trying to get my shop ready then for the holiday shopping. Spring is my favorite time in the desert as well…

    So my bike has been fully serviced and she’s ready to go with some awesome Michelin Pilot Road 3 tires I bought last year. I am so excited! Today is my day to pack everything up and finish up everything here and figure out how I’m going to get all my crap onto the bike…

    I will be posting photo and updates on Facebook and blogging about it as much as I can. I am also hoping to get some inspiration too from the beauty of the deserts for my jewelry. Here is a work in progress inspired by previous trips to the desert…

    Fine silver petroglyph pendant

    Handmade fine silver petroglyph pendant with Arizona Castle Dome turquoise, sunstone, labradorite, ruby and deerskin suede

    Newspaper Rock

    Newspaper Rock

    The petroglyph design on this handcrafted pendant was from a stamp I made taken directly off a sandstone wall called Newspaper Rock, located in San Juan County, Utah. It has one of the largest known concentrations of petroplyphs in the U.S.. The carvings were made around 2,000 years ago, left by the Archaic, Anasazi, Fremont, Navajo, Anglo, and Pueblo cultures.

    In Navajo, the rock is called “Tse’ Hone’” which translates to “a rock that tells a story.” But what are the stories? No one really knows why this large concentration of petroglyphs is here…except the ancient people who put them there.