Thursday, August 30, 2007


High desert. Seven thousand feet. Situated on a gentle slope amidst fragrant fields of sage. To the east, higher mountains. To the west, a grand vista over the Rio Grande valley.

Another donkey cart path town, like Santa Fe. Streets twisting and turning through Old Town, meeting at all sorts of odd combinations. Not a square block to be found. A vibrant place. A charming place.

And the occasional sunset.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Along the way

Have you seen that sign on the back of construction trucks hauling dirt and gravel down the highway at sixty miles per hour? It says:

Stay back 200 feet

Not responsible for broken windshields

Have you noticed that at that print size you can’t read the sign until you’re within 20 feet?

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Wild kingdom

A ladybug meets an unfortunate end.

Sunday, August 26, 2007


Taos; a beautiful place to be. From Lathrop State Park, we drove over LaVeta Pass to Fort Garland and turned left. We were going to drive to Alamosa before we turned left on Highway 285, but at Fort Garland we saw a sign that said Taos 74 miles. We turned left. New road! That doesn’t happen much in Colorado now, driving on a new road. It was a great discovery; much less traveled, and the surface much smoother than the road south out of Alamosa. It’s a new favorite.

So here we are, settled in the Taos Valley RV Park, surrounded by sage. All the RV sites here have names. We’re in the Jeremiah Johnson space. Being fans of old guys who used to be young, like Robert Redford, that’s a good space for us.

I’m really looking forward to going back to work. After a week of house packing, a week of work will feel like vacation.

Watching the afternoon thunderstorm approach, the rule of thumb about how far away the lightning is comes up. You count the seconds. When we were kids, the rule of thumb was one second per mile. I believed it then, but now it doesn’t sound right. A few years back, during a backpacking trip in the Black Hills in South Dakota, Brother Bill and I were trapped in a tent by a lightning storm and the question came up then too. We tried to work out the math in our heads, but it never came out the same way twice, and we couldn’t remember the speed of sound anyway, so we fell asleep instead. Using round numbers, if sound traveled at 600 miles per hour, we’d express that as one hour represents 600 miles. Then we’d multiply that one hour by 60 minutes, then multiply again by 60 seconds to get a total of 3,600 seconds, then divide that result by 600 miles to get seconds per mile. The result of this calculation is 6 seconds per mile; a result drastically different from the old rule of thumb of 1 second equals one mile.

The speed of sound varies, depending on atmospheric conditions. It isn’t really 600 miles per hour, it’s higher, maybe more like 760 miles per hour, so the actual count may be more like 5 seconds per mile instead of six, but the point is still the same. It is not one second per mile.


Grandkid update

Matt's boys, Alex and Austin.

Saturday, August 25, 2007


On the road again. Had a nice visit with Matt and the boys. Lathrop State Park for the night. Tomorrow, Taos.

Friday, August 24, 2007


Give a way or throw away. Anything big or important went to the kids or to friends. After that, we fed the free pile out by the fence every day. Once the pile got established, it never got any bigger. By the time we finished today, there was hardly anything left.

The biggest project was the attic full of holiday decorations. Most of it went in seven SUV and minivan loads. The rest got put by the fence. Our holiday lights will light again, but over a much wider area than before.

After we had thrown away and given away, there was not much left to put in the 8x8x16 foot storage pod. I got the first part all packed in and tied down in the back, but the rest of it is only about knee deep.

It was good to be there for a week. We reconnected with the neighbors. We got to talk again to all the people that walk past the yard. Before we left three years ago, we couldn’t tell everyone walking past that we were going away. Many of them were still wondering what had happened to us. Now, everyone that was wondering got a chance to stop and ask. We got lots of opportunities to tell our story about life on the road.

It was good to be there. We got to touch everything in the house and yard. So familiar. It was bittersweet. We love our life on the road, but the goodbye was more difficult this time than it was last time we left. Really moving out is so much more final than just leaving everything there while we travel.

Thirty-five years. We raised the family there. Love the town of Louisville. Loved that house. It was a great house for its time, but the time has passed. We’re only the third family to have lived there in a hundred years (plus Dan, who took such great care of it in our absence.). Now its time for the next family.

Less is more. Simpler is better.

Saturday, August 18, 2007


We got furniture moved to Matt’s and Puff moved to Becky’s. As you know, Puff (the magic dragon, the red nosed dragon, St Puff, Puff in bunny ears for Easter) is a six hundred pound sea monster. After all those years in the yard, there was an escape attempt three days ago. The two hundred pound head section made it over the chain link fence to the driveway, but no further. We're guessing he had an accomplice. We're also guessing somewhere in the neighborhood, there is a high school kid with a hernia. All of Puff's parts have been reunited to roam the back yard of Becky's house.

When we started packing up the house, we were faced with four choices for every item. Sell, store, give away, throw away. It didn’t take us long to eliminate one of the options. We decided not to sell anything, just give away or throw away anything we don’t need to keep. It doesn’t seem like we’re going to need to keep very much.

Simpler is better.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

St vrain state park

It was nice to summer at altitude, but we arrived in Basalt in late June. Grass had started to grow under our wheels. Time to get them rolling again. Left this morning for a drive through Glenwood Canyon, over Vail Pass, and through the Eisenhower tunnel to the front range. Our first tank of fuel in almost two months. We were set-up at St Vrain State Park by noon.

We’re here to work on the house; our house of thirty-five years. We raised the family here. It served us well, but it’s time to move on. We don’t know where we’re moving on to. We started three years ago, and we’re still just moving on. We’ll spend a week selling, storing, giving away, and throwing away. Judy has a storage POD in the driveway, and a truck and a crew lined up for tomorrow. We’ll use the crew to get all our stuff from the second floor and the basement moved to the first floor. We want everything out of the way so the house can go on the market by the end of the week.

Less is more. Simpler is better.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007


How to tell you've been in one place too long.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Things not to do while motorhoming

This one did not happen to us. I don’t want it to.

“We had a scary experience after crossing the border back into Alaska. We lost popcan (our tow car), and didn’t even know it. We went 27 miles before we discovered it missing. Luckily no-one was hurt with the exception of popcan ($5,500 worth of damage). What happened is that the receiver on the motorhome cracked and broke. It didn’t do much damage to the motorhome. The tow bar messed up the bottom rung of the ladder and took the paint off in a very small spot. It was a scary feeling though, when we realized the car was gone and not knowing if anyone had gotten hurt.”

Could this happen to anyone else? We have safety cables in case the hitch breaks, but guess what the safety cables are attached to; loops on the sides of the receiver. Our tow car braking system has a breakaway cable. If the car separates from the motorhome and the safety cables don’t stop it for some reason, the breakaway cable pulls a plug and the Jeep brakes are fully applied. The Jeep might crash, or someone else might run into it, but it won’t run on indefinitely at sixty miles per hour. But guess what the breakaway cable is attached to…

The receiver is a big chunk of steel. Who would expect that to break apart?

Sunday, August 12, 2007


Judy came home again. A return from Louisville on Saturday. Today we returned the rental car she has had since the first of July; the little white PT Cruiser (so she could drive back and forth to Louisville). We spent every bit of the first two years on the road together. In our third year, we’ve separated three times. Enough of that. We’re back together like we should be; one car between us; we’re done doing things separately.

Home is where you park it.

Saturday, August 11, 2007


Summer 1953. Seven years old. Wearing roller skates. Not shoes with roller skates built in like you could get at the roller rink, but roller skates the way they used to be. Metal frames with wheels. They adjust to the length of your shoe. The heel of the skate straps to your ankle. The front is held on by a clamp that hooks over the edge of the sole of your shoe. The clamp adjusts with a “skate key”. The front clamp works some of the time. It doesn’t work well at all with tennis shoes. At best, it seems to work just long enough for you to get up some speed; then the next stride find yourself with one roller skate on and the other dangling from your ankle by the strap.

We’re in Seal Beach. I’m next door at Marlena and Judy Prebble’s house, on the porch, on my roller skates. I ring the bell, but the doorbell button isn’t where it is supposed to be. It is several inches too low. Wearing roller skates changes my perspective. Doorbells aren’t where I expect them to be. Neither are steps and curbs.

At forty I needed reading glasses. That didn’t change my perspective. I wore the glasses to read. I took them off to walk. At sixty I got a real prescription; just a little correction for distance. Not much, but enough to change my perspective. Now I have glasses I’m supposed to wear while I’m walking around. It feels like 1953. It feels like I’m several inches taller. My feet are not where they’re supposed to be. Curbs are not where they are supposed to be either.

When I discovered the difference roller skates made, I had seven years experience with where my feet were supposed to be. Now I’m supposed to adjust sixty years of experience?

Friday, August 10, 2007


I spend a fair amount of time around people speaking languages other than English (mostly Spanish). It is strange but pleasant. It’s like listening to music I don’t understand, but I like the sound.

Thursday, August 9, 2007


I either solved the problem, or got lucky and all the big birds left. I took down the seed-hopper feeder (it was empty anyway), and replaced it with a tube seed feeder. The tube feeder has four small perches, and is proportioned for smaller birds. A big bird has to be a contortionist to stand on that little perch and eat seed out of the feeding port right at his feet. After the big birds left, we got a five chickadee morning, all on the feeders at once. That was nice.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007


I worked at the client’s all day today, so I don’t know if the pinyon jays came back or not. There was no seed in the big feeder when I got home though, so we know someone was here. The squirrel in the yard is looking a little chubby. Grackles and red-winged blackbirds are around too. They can suck up a lot of seed.

Judy wasn’t here to watch the feeder either. She drove down to Louisville again for a City Council meeting for final approval of the minor subdivision we did to separate the two properties. I was wrong when I said before that we were done with the City. Turns out the Planning Commission doesn’t approve the subdivision, they just recommend to the City Council that they approve it. On the agenda for “pass on consent”. No reading or discussion unless someone asks a question. We had several people there in case anyone asked a question.

It passed without discussion. We’re done. We officially own two lots just like we always thought we did.

Birds suck!

We put together a really good bird feeding rack and hang several feeders on it with different kinds of seed and suet. We even provide water. Then we wait. It takes a while for the little birds to get used to this new contraption in their neighborhood, but then the reward: first a few house sparrows and house finches, then they are joined by little chickadees, nuthatches and hummingbirds swarming all over it. What a delight!

But then the big blackbirds, grackles, and jays descend on the feast and demolish it in a matter of minutes. The big birds scare the little birds away and when they’re through, there is nothing left for the little birds. Wait till the big birds are gone and put more food out; they weren’t really gone, they were lurking. Here they are again and it’s gone in another flash.

I think we still need one more birdfeeding accessory. A pellet gun.

Monday, August 6, 2007


Our camp hosts at the RV Park in Basalt seemed particularly cheerful this year. It didn’t take long for them to confide that a sale was pending. They continued cheerful for the entire month of July. Then the sale was announced in the local paper. The Aspen-Basalt Campground just sold for five point five million.

All those years Bonnie and Rich have been working so hard. I wonder if they thought they were running a campground all that time, or realized they were just babysitting land. The last remaining campground in the valley just got sold to the Aspen Ski Company, not as a campground, not as a going concern, but as land the Ski Company can bulldoze to build employee housing.

A magpie record this morning. Five of them at our feeder at the same time. And a pack of pinyon jays. For the first time, they stopped at our feeder. First one, then a dozen. Two dozen. Four dozen. That’s never happened before. It will cost us a lot of food if it continues.

Sunday, August 5, 2007


Nice summer mountain weather. Each day dawns cool and bright. It warms up into the eighties, but there is moisture in the monsoonal flow from the south overhead. The humidity in the air gathers into thunderheads in the afternoon providing cloud cover and afternoon rains. The next day dawns cool and bright again.

It’s not just our feathered friends that enjoy our bird feeders.


Look what the McKees found for us.

Road trip anyone??

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Saturday, August 4, 2007


Rufous hummingbirds. We got Rufous hummers. They finally arrived a few days ago. Black chinned, broad tailed, and Rufous. And a pack of pinon jays blowing through the camp. Black capped chickadees and mountain chickadees together. Magpies. Lewis’s woodpeckers. Cedar Waxwings. I finally got another flycatcher besides the western wood pewee. Dusky flycatcher. All the swallows, catbirds, black headed grosbeaks, bullocks orioles, goldfinches, American dipper, western tanager, pine siskin, spotted sandpipers, yellow warblers, plumbeous vireo, warbling vireo, white breasted nuthatch. It’s birdy here.

Taylor turned fourteen. She has her own cellphone and an ipod. She has arrived.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Key 123

While Judy was at the bank, the helpful young guy there volunteered information (unsolicited) on how to encrypt email. You type key123 into the subject line and it automatically encrypts your mail so it can't be stolen. We were skeptical. Questions occurred. Like: If we encrypt the email how does the receiving computer know how to unencrypt it? And if the receiving computer knows how to unencrypt it, what's to stop a thieving computer from unencrypting it?

We wondered why our children and children in law, who are so computer literate, never mentioned this to us, so we mentioned it to them. Judy sent an encrypted email to our son in law Brian. If you start at the bottom of this thread and read up, you might be able to follow the exchange (although some of it is encrypted).

From: Brian Alexander []
Sent: Thursday, August 02, 2007 9:05 PM
To: Judy Taylor
Subject: Re: Key 123

!seod ti tub krow dluow ti taht eveileb t'ndid I

!suineg a si yug tahT



Judy Taylor wrote:


Can you read this? Can ya Can ya.



No virus found in this incoming message.
Checked by AVG Free Edition. 
Version: 7.5.476 / Virus Database: 269.11.2/933 - Release Date: 8/2/2007 2:22 PM

Wednesday, August 1, 2007


Training camp reports on the news every night. Football season is on.

Go Broncos! I think they’re going to the Superbowl this year.