Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Anniversary

Our second anniversary in the coach. It was Halloween night we moved from Louisville. We stayed in the house all evening for trick-or-treaters. When it got quiet, we went to the coach in the driveway for the night. The next day we relocated to Dakota Ridge in Golden. It has been a good ride. We mean to keep it up.


Manitou springs

A twenty degree mountain morning. Heavy fog. Every needle of the ponderosa pines covered with frost. The road from Manitou to the job in Woodland Park winds its way along Fountain Creek, until we break out the top of the fog into a blue-sky winter wonderland of glaring white. It is a fleeting sight, because the frost melts off in the morning sun, but in that moment: the classic winter scene.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Manitou springs

A drive south on a warm sunny day, all of a hundred miles to Colorado Springs. Stopped and set up at the Garden of the Gods Campground right outside Manitou Springs. We’ll commute to the job in Woodland Park from here. Ready for some football, we got to watch an awesome Bronco Game against the Colts. Came from behind to win the first half, 14 to 6. It was a great first half.


Saturday, October 28, 2006

St Vrain State Park

Sitting at Wahoo Fish Taco, enjoying a Maui Bowl, soaking up the sun at seventy degrees, with snow drifts on the ground around us. Gotta love Colorado.


Friday, October 27, 2006

St Vrain State Park

The bottom fell out of the thermometer. The sky cleared, the earth radiated, and the temperature fell to twenty-one last night, but a perfect day today for a drive over the divide. Made a leisurely start; waited long enough for the sun to warm any remaining frost and ice off the roads first. A stop at the top of Vail Pass for lunch. A long downhill rollout to Denver. A bit of traffic getting through the metro area, and we’re stopped for a couple nights at St Vrain State Park east of Longmont, close to Becky’s house.


Annie

She starts out curled up, sleeping, at the foot of the bed, just like any good dog should. As the night progresses, so does Annie. She might move up to tuck in behind Judy’s knees before we fall asleep. Later, she’ll be sleeping against Judy’s back. By morning she’ll be a person, stretched out alongside Judy, head next to hers on the pillow.

Sometimes during the night, Annie will loop around to my side and just plop across my pillow, providing me with the perfect dog-hat. I never really want a dog-hat in the middle of the night, so I just give her a few taps and it works every time, she moves right over…. to Judy’s pillow. Judy gets to be Davy Crockett for the rest of the night.


Thursday, October 26, 2006

Difficult decisions

Slide awnings don’t seem to be designed for use in snowy situations. Don’t get me wrong; I think slide awnings are a good thing. I think they just don’t go well with snow.

The slides go out. We get bigger rooms inside. The slide awnings protect the top of the slide from all that stuff that happens to the outside of the motorhome. They keep the top of the slide room from bringing all that “outside” back inside when the room is retracted. They did their job. They collected a lot of snow, keeping it from accumulating on the top of the slide. The canvas sags under the weight. Snow accumulates. Now we have a half-foot of snow on top of the awnings. We retract the slide, the awning doesn’t retract into its spool, it just bunches up on top of the slide room. The slide doesn’t close well with all that stuff bunched up against it.

What to do? We’re supposed to leave tomorrow. Do we just wait for the snow to melt before we move? Judy suggested we brush the snow off with a broom. I’ve done that once before, from the roof of the motorhome. I survived that trip to the snow covered slick rounded roof of the motorhome to brush the accumulated snow off the slide awnings. I don’t want to do that again.

We have a little step-ladder in the house. That’s not tall enough. We have a big step-ladder strapped onto the back of the motorhome. That’s not tall enough either. Still can’t reach the top of the slides with the broom. But Judy… Judy is so smart. The step-ladder is tall enough to reach to the top of the Jeep. The Jeep is tall enough to reach to the top of the slides. Judy pulled the Jeep next to the motorhome. I climbed on top of the Jeep, and got all the snow brushed off the slide awnings. A little more messing around and we got every slide to retract just like they’re supposed to. Victory!

Slide awnings are not designed for use in snowy situations. So what do we make of this? Do we go in search of a better design for slide awnings; an improved design that will allow us to move from place to place in snow country? Gee. Seems like the only other alternative would be to move the motorhome to some place that doesn’t get snow.

Difficult decisions.


Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Basalt

Stormy weather. Wind, snow and cold. For as long as we’ve been here in the Roaring Fork Valley, the weather hasn’t mattered. It is what it is. Now we’re starting to watch it more closely. We’ll be heading across the continental divide to our next assignment in a couple days, weather permitting. Got to catch the weather window; ride the blue sky east.

Saw a bumper sticker we liked: “If you’re lucky enough to live in the mountains, you’re lucky enough.” Good attitude.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Football

Still thinking about the Broncos’ win, a win with a total offense of just seventeen points, and I think I’ve figured out the problem. It’s not that the Broncos offense sucks. The problem is that they have been playing against such good defenses. In fact, I think that all the defenses in the league must be well above average.


Monday, October 23, 2006

I recognized a bird!

At Pete’s Pond! Not the little birds bouncing around in the bushes, but big ones, standing right in the edge of the water. Not the Francolins running around squabbling, we’ve seen them before on Maui. They’re not native to Maui, they were imported, but now wander the grounds of expensive resorts, chuckling and trumpeting each morning, making it sound like a tropical jungle. No. I saw an Emperor Goose, a native of Europe, standing in the shallows. We saw one once before on the Texas Coast. We puzzled over it for days, knowing it was something exotic, something that didn't belong in South Texas. We knew it wasn't just some stray bird, having lost its way during some windblown migration, because he was with another bird totally out of context, a black necked swan. The black necked swan was easier to figure out. He's a native of South America, and we found him on the web within a day. For some reason the Emperor Goose took longer, but we knew there was something unusual going on to have two exotic birds, from two different parts of the world, floating free in the shallows of the Laguna Madre. We found out later that there is an exotic bird collector in the neighborhood of Rockport/Fulton, and you have to be careful about counting any unusual birds you see in the neighborhood. Given that, we had to give back the Mute Swan out of range we had identified and counted the year before.

Not that we can count the Emperor Goose we saw on the internet on our North American Life List, but sitting here in Basalt Colorado, I got to see a bird on the other side of the planet, compliments of an internet webcam, and recognize it! How cool is that.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Basalt

It was a mink! I had to look it up. Black tip on the tail, I thought it might be a black-footed ferret, but it turns out they haven’t been seen in Colorado since 1946. It was a mink scampering to safety on the other side of the trail.

The Rio Grande trail, named for the railroad, not for the river, runs the length of the Valley, between Aspen and Glenwood. Every day I get to walk a different section. Today I got to go from the pedestrian bridge outside Basalt to Snowmass Creek, at the road to Old Snowmass.

We see birds every day, but we recognize them all. We haven’t seen a new bird since the pigeon guillemot in August. We need a new bird. Time to change habitats.

A glorious sunset in Botswana this morning. Now it’s the middle of the night there, and elephants and lions are wandering around in the dark.


Football

Go CU!


Beat Oklahoma?




Football

Go Texas!


(sorry Nebraska)


Friday, October 20, 2006

Basalt

The paved bicycle trail runs from Carbondale to Basalt. It follows the old railroad grade along the Roaring Fork River. Sometimes it runs next to roads. We found the roadless section, only recently completed. They're still working on the shoulders. One person loops around in the car, the other person gets a one hour walk if they stop to look at birds a few times along the way. Roadless river, a mountainside. Some houses and hammocks on the other side. Trees, bushes, blue sky. A flyfisherman. Chickadees, kinglets, finches, magpies, ravens, kingfishers, juncos. Today, a mink….. or a ferret…. a small weasel? Long and slim, loping across the trail. Soft brown and white with black on the tip of its tail. Deer on the trail as I round a corner watch me intently, then bolt and disappear.

Yesterday, there was a breeze and it was too cold. Today, it was forty, calm, and sunny; just right.


Thursday, October 19, 2006

Email

The end of my spamming career already. Yesterday I got notices that any mail I tried to send to Comcast addresses was blocked because my email patterns had been determined to be spamlike. We tried sending mail from Judy’s computer and it got blocked too. I thought maybe our server at work had gotten hijacked. I called Matt. It turns out it wasn’t our server. It was a Qwest server. We didn’t have to do anything. The problem just went away.


FW: morning light

I love this time of year. The days get shorter. I still get up at the same time every day, but now it’s dark when I wake up. I raise the curtains and go to work in the front room in the cool gray light of dawn. I get to see the sunrise.

I’m not a morning person. It’s not that I don’t like mornings. I love being awake and about before dawn, I just don’t like anything about the process that gets me from being asleep in a warm cozy bed to being awake and about.

In a few weeks, we’ll lose daylight savings time. The days will still get shorter, but they won’t get back to me being up before the sun. Will I set my alarm for six instead of seven?..... I don’t think so.


Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Halloween

Some of us are ready for Halloween.


Sunday, October 15, 2006

Basalt

The football flag was hung. The rest was up to the Broncos.

It was a win. It was not a particularly satisfying win. Great defense, but it would be nice to see some Bronco offense too. Maybe they’re just saving it until they need it.

A break in the weather. Blue sky. Fifty degrees. Gorgeous fall mountain weather. Four more weeks, then we’re done for the year. We don’t want to be up here when real winter sets in.


Saturday, October 14, 2006

Basalt

A busy week. Jobs in Glenwood, Carbondale, and Aspen. All went well. They all finished or almost finished. It cleared up here for a couple days, but now we’re back to cold and rainy. A lazy Saturday. Lazy for us anyway. CU won its first football game of the season today. Go CU!

Tomorrow, the Broncos play the winless Raiders. How cool is that! The hated Raiders, and they suck so much there is no way they could beat the Broncos tomorrow night. Go Broncos!

Next week… one job in Carbondale.


Thursday, October 12, 2006

Along the way

A scrub jay, in the scrub.



Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Basalt

Cold and rainy in the Roaring Fork Valley, tonight the clouds break.



Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Football

When the Broncos fell down early, we realized we had neglected to hang the Bronco flag on the front of the motorhome to show our support. I hurried and hung it, and the Ravens never scored again.

Isn’t it nice to be able to make a difference.


Along the way

A fine looking green wing teal.



Sunday, October 8, 2006

Basalt

Ridgway to Basalt, by way of McClure Pass. Colorado Highway 133 from Hotchkiss through Paonia, Somerset, past the Marble turnoff, Redstone, and Carbondale. Another one of our favorite roads. McClure Pass. Not a dramatic “winding wonder” (as Elle calls it), like Red Mountain Pass, not even nine thousand feet high, but wide-open and scenic; rolling hills entirely covered with Aspen. No color left on the hillsides now, except for the color of the million or so leafless aspen trunks. Quite a bit of cottonwood and narrowleaf cottonwood color left in the river bottoms. With an early start, we were through it all and settled in here in time for the afternoon games.

Today’s crock pot torture: pot roast, potatoes, carrots, celery, and onions. All day.

A busy week next week. Jobs in Glenwood Springs, Carbondale, and Aspen. We’re parked in the middle, so we’re within twenty miles of everybody.

No waxwings, but we have seen some Lewis’s Woodpeckers.


Saturday, October 7, 2006

Cortez to Ridgway

It’s only a hundred thirty miles. How hard could it be?

We usually go over lizard head pass, or out and around by Naturita to avoid the highest passes, but since we hadn’t been the Durango route recently, we decided to go that way. Cortez to Durango, Silverton, Ouray, and Ridgway. A three-humper, not counting that little one between Cortez and Durango. Three big humps, Coal Bank, Molas, and Red Mountain Passes. Nine thousand, ten thousand and eleven thousand feet. A lot of 15mph winding and grinding in low gear, both on the way up and on the way down. A fantastic drive. And hardly another car on the road. We never collected more than two or three at a time, and then only for a few minutes before we got a chance to let them by.

The fall colors are on the ground now; ground blizzards of color swirling up behind as we pass. Hundreds of waterfalls; foamy intertwined ribbons of white cascading down the mountains in every direction. And now, one more day at Ridgway.


Friday, October 6, 2006

Thursday, October 5, 2006

The bridge

From our campground near Canon City, we had a view of the Royal Gorge Bridge, the highest suspension bridge in the world. It’s a thousand feet straight down to the Arkansas River below. What an engineering feat! Here you are, bumbling across the hills and you come upon this impassable obstacle. How to get across? It is way too deep and steep to go down one side and back up the other. Sheer rock walls. You have to get to the other side, so American ingenuity comes into play. You drill into the rock and build pilings on each side of the canyon. You drop the smallest lines you can to the bottom of the gorge, tie them together and pull them back up. From there, you start passing cables, one strand at a time, back and forth until finally you have assembled it, the world’s highest suspension bridge. Amazing!

Wait a minute…. What’s wrong with this picture? I’m sitting out here in the gently rolling hills, looking out at the world’s highest suspension bridge. I’m looking up at the bridge. Something’s not right. Why am I sitting here a couple miles away from the bridge looking up at it? If they had to get to the other side of the canyon, why didn’t they just build a bridge over here, fifty feet above the river? Why didn’t they go down the road a mile, where the highway crosses the Arkansas River, at river level, on an old cement bridge fifty feet across?

The Royal Gorge is deep, but it is not very long; only a few miles. You have to go out of your way to get to an overlook to see down in it. If you’re not careful, you’ll miss it and just go around without even knowing it’s there. We drive to the top, to the bridge. Cross the bridge. Know what’s on the other side? Know where the road to the other side goes? Nowhere! There is nothing on the other side of the bridge but a picnic area! There is no purpose to this bridge other than to be a bridge. Nobody needed this bridge. They built it because they could.

I feel so cheated.


Wednesday, October 4, 2006

Tuesday, October 3, 2006

Life on the road

Do you know where you are when you wake up in the morning? Sometimes we do... but not always. Sometimes we’re surprised. It wasn’t all that uncommon a sensation, waking up in the morning and not knowing who I was or where I was, when I was overseas in the Army and had been drinking the night before. Now, here we go again.

The challenge: Wake up. Think it over. Do you know where you are? Do it with a minimum of clues. See if you can figure it out where you are, before you open your eyes.


Monday, October 2, 2006

Dessert

Once a month daughter Becky creates a dessert and delivers it to a stranger. Not to just any stranger, but the same stranger every time; the high bidder at the annual fundraiser for the school. Each year, she prepares one dessert a month, for an entire year, for the highest bidder. Can you guess what the most popular dessert is every time? Of course. Grandma’s cheesecake. Rich, creamy, fresh cheesecake. Mom passed the tradition along. It skipped a generation and went right to Becky. And every time Becky delivers a cheesecake dessert, she includes a write-up with the recipe and its history. Mom’s cheesecake lives on.


Sunday, October 1, 2006

Fall

Okay, I’ll quit sending the mongo pictures and go back to the reduced versions. The big pictures aren’t a problem for those with high speed connections, but not everyone has access to high speed (including me). I get into this mountain scenery and want to send the pictures out high definition. For some, this means a standard size picture with more definition. For others, though, it just means a picture that won’t fit on their screen and they have to scroll around through it. I’ve probably sent enough “screen saver” material, so I’ll go back to less pixels per picture. It’s not like if I just try harder I can capture what it really looks and feels like, anyway.


Fall