Thursday, November 30, 2006

Along the way

The camp at Karchner Caverns.


More motorhoming advice: don’t ever run into anything. Don’t do any damage that requires a body shop. It sucks up a lot of time. Today, we met with the repair shop in Mesa and got the estimate for the repairs. Next, an insurance adjustor will inspect the damage and give approval for the work to go forward. The actual work is scheduled for week after next.

In the meantime, we wait in town. The RV Parks here are amazing. Huge places; a thousand to two thousand sites in each. Park after park after park, just lined up one after the other. They're about a quarter occupied right now, but we understand they'll all be full in a month. Quite a winter community they handle here. We drove through several parks and found one we like. We have our own saguaro cactus, and even a gila woodpecker right on site. Friendly people.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Weather reports

A compilation of weather reports:


Weather update: it is currently forty degrees warmer here (and it's not snowing).


It has snowed and snowed here today. We have about 2 feet on the ground -- Aspen has twice that in the town, more on the mtn. Tomorrow, it's supposed to do the same. I cannot ski for another week and am dying... This is a super dump!!!! Am trying to be good, but am not sure how long I can hang in there,...

28 inches of snow in the past 24 hours, currently 12 degrees and dropping like a rock! Send palm trees..........

It snowed 6 inches at our place yesterday afternoon and evening. It's around 16 degrees now with a forecast ranging from 10 degrees to minus five degrees tonite. How's that for a lack of precision? We're making national news with our cold weather.

Snow here up to your ying yangs. It keeps coming... Jim is out on the Bobcat, scraping the driveway. The doggies are all huddled together even though it's warm in here. Oscar is under a blanket. Maybe they have the right idea.

It has warmed up a bit here since yesterday. It was 23 degrees last night and is up to 31 this afternoon (25 with wind chill). Everything is coated in ice and covered with several inches of snow. Kathy decided to make a grocery run at noon today before the next wave of cold hits us, and we spent a half hour scraping off enough ice to make the car roadworthy.

Piss off.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The incredible morphing power ranger

It’s not like when we were kids. No sir. We didn’t have fancy morphable toys that were cars or jet planes, then flying superheroes, depending on which direction we pulled their arms (or wheels, wings, or whatever). We had building blocks. We had tinker toys. We had tin cans from the pantry we could stack and unstack. It’s not like the old days.

We ponder this, while driving down the highway in our motorhome. Our motorhome perfectly proportioned for freeway driving; the maximum size allowable to fit the lanes. When we park, push a button, things change. Slides go out, rooms are suddenly square. The dish unfolds, extends and finds the satellite. Awnings, steps, heat, air conditioning, vents, curtains? Buttons. Now we have the perfectly configured house.

No sir. It’s not like when we were kids.

Benson, to Tucson, to Mesa today. Seventy degrees.


Weather update: it is currently forty degrees warmer here (and it's not snowing).

Monday, November 27, 2006

Tow cars

From: Steve Taylor []
Sent: Monday, November 27, 2006 4:54 PM
To: Bill Taylor (Bill Taylor); David Taylor (David Taylor); Tom Taylor (Tom Taylor)
Subject: FW: tow cars

In an effort to properly document everything that can possibly go wrong while motorhoming, I'd like to pass along this response from a friend with his own tow-car adventure to report.

Our little tow car is like the original, but I always worry that I forgot something (like leaving the parking brake on). Also, the book recommends we run it for a few minutes every hundred miles or so. I did this one time and when I got to the NEXT stop it was still running. DUH! So now I always leave the toad door open when it is running since I can see the open door in the coach mirror and will not do that again.

Date: Wed, 22 Nov 2006 20:38:42 -0700
Subject: st vrain

Did I mention how difficult it is to hook up our tow car? Not that it’s difficult to hook it up, it’s just different. The mechanical connection of the tow gear from the motorhome to the tow car is the same as with every other car, takes about a minute. Hook up the safety cables. Hook up the air line for the brake assist. From inside the car, still have to find neutral in the transmission just like every other car. It’s the last part that’s difficult. Taking the key out. For every other car, we had to be sure the key was in the proper accessory position so the steering wheel wouldn’t lock and the front tires scuff off as we towed them sideways. In this Jeep, it’s different. Confirm that the transfer case is in neutral. Pull the key out. Walk away. The steering wheel doesn’t lock. Years of training to check and recheck the key position in the tow car. It’s not easy to overcome. Pull the key out and walk away.

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Week before last, we had a nice visit with Duane Dibbens, our longtime renter/friend/neighbor next door in Louisville. He looked as healthy and well as we have seen him in years. A week after that, he died. He went out to dinner with his dancing partner, they sat down together to watch some television after, and he just died. He was older, seventy-four, had heart bypass surgery a couple years back, and health issues since, so it was not a big surprise, but we’re sorry to see him go. He was a good friend/neighbor.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Weather report

Current conditions: twenty-four degrees warmer than Erie, Colorado.


Up at dawn to bird Bosque for an hour. Thousands of sandhill cranes. Thousands of snow geese. Then back to the motorhome to follow the Rio Grande for another hundred miles south, while it followed the eastern side of the continental divide south. We left the Rio Grande at Hatch. We’ll catch up with it again in December when we’re headed for Texas. We’ll cross it at Las Cruces, then stay north and east of it from El Paso on, since it describes the US/Mexican border from there to the Gulf of Mexico. We’ve come far enough south now, that we’re back into fall.

Southwest at Hatch on the cut-off road, amid cotton fields and chilies. Interstate 10 and lunch at Deming. West through the New Mexico/Arizona desert, past jagged sky islands; northern tips of Mexican mountain ranges just poking over the border, and bringing their southern wildlife species, into our desert southwest. Through Lordsburg, into Arizona, Willcox, Texas Canyon, and Benson. Highway 90 south to Karchner Caverns State Park. A familiar campground. Got the usual spot. We’ll stay here a couple days.

Last night at Bosque we left the water hooked up all night. It was thirty-seven degrees.

Saturday, November 25, 2006


An easy day driving on the interstate. Haven’t done much of that this last year. We’ve logged a lot of miles on rural highways. South over Raton Pass onto the New Mexico high plains, driving through a vast expanse of soft brown pastels; driving through a giant chalk drawing. Prairie falcons and pronghorns. A coyote. Up and down the hills to Santa Fe at seven thousand feet.

The Rio Grande River starts high in the San Juans above Creede. From there, it flows east through South Fork and Alamosa in the San Luis Valley, then down through New Mexico. We catch up with it south of Albuquerque and follow it for another sixty miles. A stop for the night at Bosque Bird Watchers RV Park at the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge.

We’re traveling south in search of warmer nights. When it’s below freezing, we have to disconnect the water at night and run off the tanks. We haven’t been able to leave the water hooked up at night for weeks. Last night at Lathrop it was twenty-seven degrees.

187 days until the 2007 America’s Cup Challenger Series.

Friday, November 24, 2006


Moving from blue to red.

Lathrop state park

It was a good stay at st vrain. Forty-one birds. Buffleheads, hooded mergansers, night herons, golden eagle, bald eagle, prairie falcons, kingfisher serenade, blue jays, scrub jays, juncos. But enough of these cold weather birds. I know, the weather has been fantastic; temperatures in the sixties and seventies, but nevermind that, we’re leaving anyway. Look at the weather map of the country. We’re in a blue state. We’re headed for red states. Got a date with a gilded flicker.

A leisurely start. A two hundred mile day, from Erie to Walsenburg. Another night at Lathrop State Park.


Thanksgiving with the kids. Making ice-cream at Becky’s the day before, Becky gone to collect food for the food bank with the older two kids, Judy off on errands, Brian and I watching the younger two at the house. Conner stands on a chair next to me while I mix the ingredients. It takes me a while. He gets down and pushes his chair around me to the other side with purpose, but the maneuver doesn’t really register until I realize he’s eyebrows to elbows into the open sugar canister on the counter. I wipe off the counter. Brian wipes off Conner.

A little while later, Teigan is quietly watching a video, when Judy returns, removes Conner from the upstairs bathroom, turns off the water in both sinks, puts away the toothpaste and electric toothbrushes, and cleans him up again.

It’s a quiet morning.

Becky and the older two return and the house is back to full volume.

Thanksgiving Day, Matt, Kari, and Alex join the fray. Turkey, kids, football, pie and ice cream.

Happy Thanksgiving all.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

St vrain

Did I mention how difficult it is to hook up our tow car? Not that it’s difficult to hook it up, it’s just different. The mechanical connection of the tow gear from the motorhome to the tow car is the same as with every other car, takes about a minute. Hook up the safety cables. Hook up the air line for the brake assist. From inside the car, still have to find neutral in the transmission just like every other car. It’s the last part that’s difficult. Taking the key out. For every other car, we had to be sure the key was in the proper accessory position so the steering wheel wouldn’t lock and the front tires scuff off as we towed them sideways. In this Jeep, it’s different. Confirm that the transfer case is in neutral. Pull the key out. Walk away. The steering wheel doesn’t lock. Years of training to check and recheck the key position in the tow car. It’s not easy to overcome. Pull the key out and walk away.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

St vrain state park

We have never gotten the extended kingfisher serenade that we get here. Two kingfishers, perched in the tall trees, stopping to fish now and then, chattering/rattling all day long.

We see flocks of chipping sparrows in Colorado in the summer. We only see a few in winter. We were watching a couple in a bush here, reddish head, dark eye-line, when one turned and we saw the central breast dot. Chipping sparrows don’t have a central breast dot. Back to the book. Chipping sparrows go away in the first part of November. American tree sparrows show up in November. American tree sparrow. A new bird. I’m sure it’s not that we’ve never seen it before, but it’s the first time we’ve identified it. A new bird for November.

Monday, November 20, 2006

St vrain

Then it evolved.

St vrain

We got a sunset tonight.

Sunday, November 19, 2006


Another good football game. A great matchup with San Diego. A game for first place in the division. A good game, just like with the Colts. Maybe the next good football game with great expectations, the Broncos can win it.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

St vrain

The perfect RV spot is not just one place. It depends on the season. It’s all about exposure of the windshield to the sun. It’s about solar gain. We have those screens we can put on the front to cut down on the amount of sun that comes in, but it’s nice not to use them and keep a clear view out during the day. So in the summer, to minimize heat inside the coach, it’s best to be oriented straight north; let the sun shine on the rear of the coach; let the inside stay cool. In the winter, we like to point east; open up the drapes to soak up the heat from the morning sun to warm up the inside.

Friday, November 17, 2006

St vrain

If you try to email us at Dakota Ridge in Golden, you won’t find us there. We’ve relocated to St. Vrain State Park by Becky’s house. A forty mile move. Funny how many other couples about our age are at Dakota Ridge for another week. Here for Thanksgiving with the kids, then headed south.

An evening in Boulder for an elementary school presentation of Midsummer Night’s Dream. We didn’t actually understand any of the words, but they were all delivered with great enthusiasm.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

A victory

When our work in Colorado is done, we are required to head north and west to Oregon. We were there in August to get the dents taken out of the outside cabinet doors. They told us we could not get the dents taken out; we had to replace the doors. There was nothing they could do until they got the new doors. The doors were ordered in August, constructed in September, and shipped to Oregon in October. Here is where Judy stepped in. Judy does not want to go north and west in December. It’s cold here. It’s colder north. She’s ready to go south. She made some calls. She located a qualified, recommended, repair facility in Mesa, Arizona. The shop in Oregon has transferred the estimates and insurance claim information. The replacement cabinet doors have been forwarded to Arizona. When our work in Colorado is done, we’re heading south and west.

December in the desert.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Life on the road

This is what life on the road looks like.

Monday, November 13, 2006


Taylor got air! She has been riding every week, working her way up to jumping, getting the technique and balance worked out. You have to get permission from the instructors to jump. Months of preparation, and she was deemed ready. She got air. Well, the horse underneath her got air and she got to go with it. She got a horse off the ground. She said it felt great and can hardly wait to do it again. We don’t have any pictures of her and her horse in the air yet. We’ll see if we can get a shot next Tuesday.

Sunday, November 12, 2006


The elusive (for us) juniper titmouse. Got a great view of him on the hogback trail at Lathrop; a nice long look and listen.

Saturday, November 11, 2006


Well, here we are at Dakota Ridge in Golden again. Left Lathrop early; got here by lunch. It’s hard to stop after less than two hundred miles on the freeway, it feels so good and goes by so fast, but we managed. We’re back in town, first for some training at the office on new audit software, then on to Thanksgiving with the kids.

Nice day. Nice weather. A visit with Matt, Kari, and Alex. It’s good to be here.

Go Broncos!

Life on the road

It's important to learn how to lose oneself in the moment.

Lucky for us, we have Annie's guidance.

Friday, November 10, 2006


One more word of wisdom regarding the devious shed-rental hostage/felony situation. This advice from John: “It’s only a felony if you shoot them outside the gate. Shoot them inside the gate and it falls under the “Make My Day” law.” That ought to resolve the issue.


Yesterday was blue. Today is bright gray. The weather wants to be stormy, but the sun won’t let it.

Stopping at Lathrop State Park is like going back to the beginning. Several years ago, this is where it all began, our life on the road. Judy and I had been in Monte Vista in the San Luis Valley, doing a job. We had done it as a favor, because the nonprofit organization couldn’t find a local auditor they could deal with. We spent a week there in Shamu. When the job was done, and we were packing up to drive back home to Louisville, Judy wondered aloud why we didn’t do more of this. If we could do more of this, we could spend more time on the road together.

We headed towards home, but only made it to Lathrop State Park, eighty miles from where we started. We got so excited talking about the prospect, we had to stop so we could get it all figured out before we got home, disappeared back into real life, and forgot about it. So we sat here for an entire day, walking, sitting outside, and figuring out what we wanted to do when we grew up and how it would work.

It’s a fun place to come back to.

Thursday, November 9, 2006


In response to my “devious” email, a few people have pointed out that doing what they did, trapping delinquent renters inside and making them come to the office to get permission to get out, constitutes kidnapping and is probably a criminal offense. Well, sure, it might be a felony, but it’s a funny felony, isn’t it?

We’re done in Durango. We like it a lot there, but time to move on. Spent the morning at work, then headed east over Wolf Creek Pass in the afternoon, through Alamosa in the San Luis Valley, over La Veta Pass, and down the hill to Lathrop State Park outside Walsenburg. There is some weather on the way down from the north, but we’re out of the high country and back on the east side of the continental divide now.

Today’s crock-pot torture, vegetable and beef stew with barley and hot biscuits.

Tuesday, November 7, 2006


While we were in the Louisville area, we stopped by the storage shed. It takes a code to open the automatic gate to get in where the sheds are, and you have to put the code in again to get out, so they can track every visitor. It’s a secure area. That makes sense. The system almost always works, but when it doesn’t, you have to get their attention in the office to override the system and let you in (or out). We were inside the office having a visit, and looking through the window into the shed yard, noticed someone in their car, stuck at the keypad entering their codes over and over in an attempt to get out. We pointed this out to the attendant we were talking with and she said: “I know. They’ll give up and come inside soon. If you’re late paying your shed rent, your access code still lets you in, but it is disabled for your exit.” How devious is that? You can get in, but you can’t get back out. You have to come inside and face the music. How good is that?!!!

Sometimes, as an auditor, I have to be resourceful. Sometimes, I ask questions about one thing that are really designed to gather information about something else. But nothing like this. This is masterful. This is truly devious.

Monday, November 6, 2006

Sunday, November 5, 2006


We need a new bird. Still don’t have a new one since August. Four in July, one in August, none since. Late in the year we’re going to Arizona. We’ll get the Gilded Flicker when we’re in Tucson in December. Don’t have that one yet.

“Don’t have that one yet.” I say that rather casually, and can be misunderstood. I was having a conversation with a caretaker at a wildlife preserve a couple weeks ago, trying to get a lead on some rosy finches, when I realized my requests were being met with a cold stare. I stopped explaining long enough to let her vent about how that would be illegal if I went out and “got” any rosy finches. We weren’t allowed to do that. Good thing I did not casually refer to an interest in shooting a picture of one.

Relocated from Navajo Lake to Durango. A forty mile day. A walk on the Animas River path. A Bronco game. Tomorrow, back to work.

Good grandbaby news. Matt and Kari. Expecting in April.

Saturday, November 4, 2006


Walking on the empty marina dock as it was getting dark, got a western grebe working the water for minnows.

Friday, November 3, 2006

Navajo lake state park

We've found another uncrowded camp.

Along the way

The lewis's woodpecker is an odd woodpecker. He doesn't really peck wood. He stands on treetops, flying out periodically picking bugs out the the air, (when he's not hanging off our feeders). No hammering the head against tree trunks for this guy.

Thursday, November 2, 2006

Along the way


Eighteen degrees this morning, but no trouble with the slide awnings. No snow or ice. From Manitou to Durango. It’s an easy drive down the interstate, then a drive straight west through the mountains. That’s not how we did it. We took the scenic route. We went west instead of south first. That made it a day of mountain passes. Ute Pass, Wilkerson Pass with a stunning view of South Park, Trout Creek Pass with its view of the Collegiate Range dropping down to Buena Vista, Poncha Pass overlooking the San Luis Valley, then the big one: Wolf Creek Pass. Woodland Park, Divide, Lake George, Poncha Springs, Saguache, San Luis Valley the sand dunes all white covered with snow, Del Norte, South Fork, Pagosa Springs, hung a left and dropped down to Navajo Lake State Park, a little southeast of Durango. We’re still in Colorado, but right on the New Mexico state line. It's warmer here. We’ll lurk until it’s time for Durango.

Wednesday, November 1, 2006

Along the way

Steller's Jays are all western birds, but interior birds look a little different from coastal birds. Our jays have white marks on their forehead that coastal birds don't have.

Manitou springs

A hike in the Garden of the Gods park; a trail through rolling foothills, punctuated by vertical red sandstone, scattered pinon/oak scrub. Headed back, directly into the afternoon sun setting behind Pikes Peak. No visor cap on to shield my eyes from the sun, I’m wearing a ski hat to keep my head warm. Suddenly I found myself in the middle of a crowd of people. That was odd, but looking down, the only direction I could see, I could see their long shadows in the afternoon sun. I looked up. I was not in a crowd of people, I was in a crowd of mule deer. Accustomed to humans, the deer didn’t bolt. They stood there. I stood there. Then they quietly walked away. All but the spike. I thought he might be feeling the fall juices flowing and have something to prove, but after munching on a bush to demonstrate he wasn’t concerned by my presence, he walked past me within two feet.

That was fun.