Monday, May 26, 2003


Not a very ambitious weekend. Did get the north garden shoveled and the tomatoes planted though. Water teepees around them. Got the back garden shoveled for the corn too. Didn't plant the corn. Just weeded and shoveled, and admired the freshly turned dirt.

Got my work done on four different jobs without going in to the office too. Brought the work home. Just a few more weeks to go in busy season.

Drove the Jeep.

Watched a movie.

Sat outside in the fading light, drank coffee, and talked about retirement.

Saturday, May 24, 2003

Tow cars

Exploring tow car options.

We're not happy with the Windstar. It still works, but we'd like to move on. We have been considering the Honda Odyssey. It has walk-through room to the porta-potty, but that doesn't get us four-wheel drive. We think the ultimate tow car should have four-wheel drive.

We're looking at the Jeep Liberty. Access to the porta-potty would be from the outside rear, but we would love the improved access to the back country once we park the mother ship.

Thursday, May 22, 2003


I made a mistake.

I sent the trip report without mentioning the white-throated swift encounter. And David and the cat. Rags the cat went bonkers over brother David. Just as I was explaining to him that Rags wasn’t really all that affectionate: that he was not a lap-cat, Rags jumped up onto David’s lap, made himself comfortable on David’s chest, and settled down to purr and get his head scratched. Nevermind that part about not needing people. David is different.

So Uncle David is now Rags’ favorite Uncle. David takes him for walks in the desert, waits while Rags rolls upside down in the desert dirt, and stands in one spot as long as Rags wants while he’s pouncing on bugs and lizards. Rags the Hunter. It’s an awesome sight. And Rags and David together. It was great. Rags ran over to the door to greet him every time David came over.

At the Colorado National Monument, we, David and I, had a close encounter with white-throated swifts. While sitting at the edge of a two thousand foot vertical cliff, we watched the white-throated swifts swoop and swirl in the currents, wreaking havoc on an insect population unseen by us. At least I think the birds were eating. I guess they could have just been flying around having fun. We watched through the binoculars when we could lock on. They’re so fast, they’re hard to follow. Then we realized we could just sit quietly and listen to them as well. It’s a thin little cheeping call they make as they fly around. Subtle. Then suddenly, from high above, and at a speed we can’t even guess, we got dive bombed by one. He buzzed close by our heads with a roar. It was a tiny roar, appropriate for such a small bird, but it was a roar nonetheless. He was going so fast, it must have been the sound of his feathers fluttering in the extreme speed. It startled us both. We continued to sit and listen, and it was a delight.

We did hear some more wing-noise from the birds flying around, but nothing like that one roar happened again. To us. Later, when we ran into the young forest ranger, out to Grand Junction for firefighting school, he told us a story about watching those little birds flying around, swirling and swooping through the canyon, and suddenly, one of the little buggers buzzed him. Startled him, in fact.

Sorry for the oversight. I didn’t mean to leave out our cat and bird experiences.

Saturday, May 17, 2003


A constant source of entertainment.

Tonight, the cat lit himself on fire.

We had a container candle burning on a counter. Rags jumped up onto the counter and stood right over it. Cat hair is not only really smelly when it burns, but it sparkles once it really gets going.

Luckily, I was close enough to grab him away from the flame and blow him out right away. The damage was limited to burned fur all up his right side. Kind of like a crown fire.

Never a dull moment.

Friday, May 16, 2003


Busy season is not over. We’re scheduled pretty thick through the middle of June.

But we’re on a mission. The first part of our mission involves doing a job in Creede. So we left Saturday morning and drove to the Great Sand Dunes National Monument. It was windy all the way there. It was windy at the dunes. Now, of course, we understand it takes a certain amount of wind to create these sand dunes in the first place. That being done, it requires a continuing amount of wind to maintain them properly. But this was way beyond maintenance wind. This was rock-the-motorhome, sting-those-bare-legs-with-sand, flap-those-tents and drive-all-the-tenters-home wind.

We took a few walks. I put down the stabilizing jacks. Mostly we watched the dunes from inside the motorhome and got a lot of sleep. I had it all figured. The wind could die down at dark. Then it could cloud up and start raining as we fell asleep. It could dawn bright blue, clean, and calm the next morning.

Didn’t happen. The wind did die down for a quiet night of sleep, but it never rained. It did dawn bright blue, but then the wind started back up again and clouds rolled down off the mountains and kept it chilly.

Not the best dune-exploring weather. We had lunch and moved on. We drove an entire hundred miles Sunday to get to our real destination for the week, Creede. Checked in at the Antlers Lodge: fishing cabins and RV Sites. We got Site One. Fifty feet from the stream. We’re told the fishing is good. It was good last year when we were here. The weather is cold and windy. Not much prospect of any good fishing weather the whole week. Rain and snow mixed with sunshine.

I got to finish a run one evening and lie back on the picnic bench and listen to it snow. You don’t normally get the hear it snow, but it is so quiet here, and the snow was a little gropply, so I could hear it hit the gore-tex windbreaker I was wearing, and rattle down the edges, if it didn’t happen to hit a spot that could hold it.

We’re having a humidity crisis. There isn’t any. It’s dry here in Colorado. It gets even dryer as you go up in the mountains. The thinner the air, the less heat and the less water it will hold. We’re at 8,800 feet. We were feeling pretty dry, so I checked the gauge. Five percent. Out comes the humidifier. At least for ten to twelve hours a day, we’ll have reasonable humidity. Even when we were dry camping we plugged the humidifier into a small inverter and ran it off the battery.

The fish wouldn’t come up to any dry flies. We had to give up and rig for nymph fishing. Judy got what we needed from the local fly shop. I fished a little more. I can fish in the wind. I can fish in the cold. What I can’t do is fish in a cold wind. The fingers don’t take it anymore. I fished the first day and tried again the last day. I couldn’t handle more than about ten minutes each time.

We had our thirty-seventh anniversary while we were there. Drove down to South Fork to the Rockaway Inn Steak House, for the second consecutive year. A new tradition. Every time we drive that road between South Fork and Creede, we are delighted by the old dilapidated Rio Grande Railroad tracks that parallel the Rio Grand River all the way. There is even one spot where the tracks pass right through the middle of a campground on the river. We know somebody in Denver who knows someone who is on a campaign to get the tracks reopened, and run an historic steam train back and forth between the two towns. That would be a great attraction.

Creede is a small town. Basically, it is six blocks by three blocks, but not all the blocks have been developed. We were talking to Maurice at the theatre about that. He pointed out that it is twenty-two miles to the nearest town, and forty-seven miles to the nearest stoplight. Forty-seven miles!

Now for the next part of our journey; the great bassinette exchange. We’re off to find brother David, somewhere in the Canyonlands. We left by way of Wolf Creek Pass. We’ve never been over it before, but had heard it was steep, so we left the car unhooked until we got to the other side. Good thing. Ten miles of 7% grade, with sharp corners. We went down very carefully to preserve the brakes. Lots of snow on the ground and some in the air, but none on the road.

We did manage to hook up with David by cell phone. He finally got to move on past Bakersfield, after being stuck there for a few days getting some repairs done. He was in Arizona headed east. We were in Colorado headed west. We considered the meeting-point options, and settled on a primitive campground just outside Canyonlands National Park. David knew the way and directed us there. We got there first and staked out a couple great spots. We hiked the Canyonlands for two days. We barely touched it. This place deserves a lot more time.

We thought the road was steep down Wolf Creek Pass. Approaching the Canyonlands, one section of road just above newspaper rock is a 10% grade. We descended that one carefully too. On the way back out, we waited until we had passed that spot before hooking the tow car back up.

It was cold and windy at the Sand Dunes. It was cold and windy the whole week at Creede. It was cold and windy driving out to the Canyonlands to meet David. Then it got great. We had mild clear weather in the seventies for the rest of the trip.

The pets enjoyed the desert. They both got taken for walks. Annie usually went off-lead. Rags usually went on-lead, but not always. Then Rags the cat found a great cat toy. It was this buzzing rattling thing attached to the back of a snake. Luckily Rags was on the lead at the time, and he was prevented from charging in to play with his new-found toy. Annie loved the big sandstone boulders, and leaped from rock to rock delighting us with her unbridled enthusiasm. Then she would startle us by leaping off a six or eight foot high boulder right to the ground below. Generally, she leaped off onto desert sand, but not always. We were more careful with the pets after the snake incident.

We drove off toward Colorado. Together. We all stopped at a Colorado River State Park, and David and I got to spend another few hours driving through Colorado National Monument, marveling at the dramatic scenery, and venturing out into it a little bit. We ran into a young ranger from Ohio. He was at Grand Junction for some training, and had used some free time to explore the monument. This was the most beautiful place he had ever seen in his life, and there was nothing he could do to contain his excitement. We got to talking and found out he had spent all of last summer fighting forest fires on the eastern slope near Denver. I made sure he knew how much we appreciate what he does.

It’s fun to take the pets along. They’re great companions and hardly any trouble at all. As long as everything goes as planned that is. Poor Rags got sick while we were out. When we got back, we took him to the vet and found out he had gotten giardia while we were out. It’s a little trickier traveling with a sick cat than with the usual healthy pets. He’s getting better now though.

We left David at the Colorado River Campground just below the National Monument Tuesday morning. He has a few more weeks of rambling to do. Solo. It looked like he still had time for a nap that morning before relocating to the dry camping inside the park to settle down and take it easy for awhile.

When we got home, we found a mess in the yard. We had gotten a foot of snow at our house while we were gone. Becky was kind enough to come over and collect all the broken branches out of the yard and stack them, but even more had come down before we got back. The silly trees thought it was spring and put their leaves out. Leaves do a really good job of collecting heavy snow. Judy collected the rest and made a big pile in the street. The city will come by and pick them up for us.

And another thing. We suffered our first vandalism loss of yard decorations this year. One of the decorations Judy puts out are some giant plastic Easter eggs attached to a string of lights so each egg lights up. One night a couple weeks ago, the giant Easter eggs disappeared. Gone without a trace.

When we got back from this trip, we found a lot of tree branches in the yard. Tree branches and something else. A whole string of giant lighted Easter eggs returned to the yard. Fun.

We did remember to make the exchange. The reason for the meeting in the first place. The bassinette has landed.

Got plenty of work waiting at work.

Got home at six. Racquetball at seven. I ducked all the league matches in the spring league until my foot got better. Now I have to make up all my league games in about a week.

Eleven hundred fifty miles. Sand dunes. A week of work. An anniversary. Giardia. Dramatic roads. World class scenery. A visit with a brother I hardly ever see. And a bassinette.

It’s all good.

Thursday, May 15, 2003


Hey. We're back.

Got back Tuesday night.

Disappeared back into work.

Friday, May 2, 2003


Well, we got work all caught up for the week. Judy got us all packed. We get to leave tomorrow morning.

Sand Dunes, Creede, and the canyonlands.

Motorhome trip. Don't know if we'll have any phone access. Cell phones don't work in Creede.

Back in about ten days.