Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Morning lift-off

The white pelicans gather in preparation for the group soar.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Along the way

It’s a funny thing. We walk on the tundra looking for birds a few weeks back and we get elk. We take a weekend drive to check out the next family reunion location and we end up getting a moose. He wasn’t at the reunion location; he was farther along the drive in North Park. Life is the world’s greatest zoo.

Friday, July 25, 2008

St Vrain

The explanation for the mystery buildings might be about camouflaging cellphone equipment, but I still think there is a space alien component in there somewhere.

It would have been a great adventure to be on the Texas Coast and experience a category 2 hurricane landfall. We could have pulled in all the slides and awnings, put the jacks down, put the dish down, and ridden it out. Of course if we had been there we would have left long before the hurricane was projected to arrive to protect ourselves and our coach. Now, the hurricane has left the building. It headed inland for Laredo and points west.

A blustery afternoon here. A hot day in the 90s with a heavy afternoon thunderstorm dropping the temperature 20 degrees. We’re back at St Vrain for a week, working on a job in Santa Fe and another in Cortez.

Our elevation is 5,000 feet. Highs in the 90s is a little hot. We’ve been watching the weather in Breckenridge at 9,000 feet. Highs in the 60s and low 70s looks a little cool. Halfway in-between should be just right. We should be somewhere at 7,000 feet. Maybe next summer we’ll set the temperature we want and move accordingly.

Granddaughter Taylor starts driver’s ed.

The Broncos started training camp today.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Camo Annie

Can you spot the puppy in this picture?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Hurricane Dolly

We kept the weather channel on in the background today. Called Gulf Waters. Fourteen foot waves. The hurricane made landfall just north of Brownsville. The south end of Padre Island. Slow moving. Lots of rain. As heavy as 5 inches per hour. Total rain of more than 1 foot in places.

Exciting times.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


Weather excitement. Not here in Colorado. In Texas. Here, it’s just high 90s every day. Hurricane Dolly is headed for the Gulf Coast. Evacuations of all the barrier islands. Flooding expected along the Rio Grande (well south of our place up by Corpus). 800 RVs on South Padre evacuated. 700 of them went out today, the rest expected out tomorrow.

Time for barrier islands to do their job.

FW: Mystery buildings

We have an answer! Jim Beck used to live here, found someone to ask, and got an answer. Cellphone antennas and related equipment. The need to disguise has to do with the proximity to open space.

Now we’ve seen Frankenpines in Colorado camouflaging cellphone towers, Frankenpalms in the desert doing the same, and Frankenbuildings concealing equipment.

Who knew? (besides Jim)

From: Steve Taylor [mailto:spt@thetaylorcompany.net]
Sent: Friday, July 18, 2008 11:42 PM
To: Bill Taylor (Bill Taylor); David Taylor (David Taylor); Tom Taylor (Tom Taylor)
Subject: Mystery buildings

We try to figure out why things are like they are. It keeps us occupied. Even if we’re not right, it feels better if we can figure out a logical explanation without asking.

Small square buildings. Identical. They have windows and a tower. Out by Chatfield. Four of them. They’ve been there for years. They’re too small for houses. There are no signs of life around them. No vehicles. No yards. They appear to be on government property or open space. There is no-one to ask.

If they are not for habitation, they must be buildings erected to cover up something. Gas wells. Old landfill gas vents. Space alien landing sites, or secret government projects perhaps. What do you think? Any help here?

Monday, July 21, 2008

Cherry Creek State Park

Yesterday we relocated to Cherry Creek State Park. It was hot; over a hundred. Today is ten degrees cooler. Birds. Trails. Walks. This is good. Kingbirds. Orioles. Goldfinches. Swainson’s hawk. Got a Cordilleran Flycatcher in the wetlands preserve.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

so close

I almost got the pine grosbeak while we were in Estes Park. Took a walk on the Fern Lake Trail. Heard a bird singing. I recognize a lot a bird songs. This was not one I recognized. I had listened to what the pine grosbeak sounded like before I went on my walk. I was looking for it. The bird singing sounded kind of like the pine grosbeak recording. You have to allow for regional differences; dialects. I needed to see it to confirm. It kept singing. It was in a big ponderosa pine next to the trail. I circled the tree. The bird kept singing. I had my binoculars. I couldn’t find him.

I have a little trouble locating birds now. It has to do with hearing. If only my hearing would degenerate in both ears equally. Sound directs you where to look. A slight inequality in hearing directs your eyes to the wrong place. Then you just have to guess. The problem is: Judy wasn’t with me. We hear birds. We both look. Judy tells me where it is.

Judy wasn’t there. I almost got the pine grosbeak.

Saturday, July 19, 2008


We’ve moved for a day. We’re at Dakota Ridge, the commercial park in Golden. We’ve used up our fourteen days at Chatfield. Our reservation at Cherry Creek State Park doesn’t start until tomorrow. Not quite the same here as the State Parks.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Mystery buildings

We try to figure out why things are like they are. It keeps us occupied. Even if we’re not right, it feels better if we can figure out a logical explanation without asking.

Small square buildings. Identical. They have windows and a tower. Out by Chatfield. Four of them. They’ve been there for years. They’re too small for houses. There are no signs of life around them. No vehicles. No yards. They appear to be on government property or open space. There is no-one to ask.

If they are not for habitation, they must be buildings erected to cover up something. Gas wells. Old landfill gas vents. Space alien landing sites, or secret government projects perhaps. What do you think? Any help here?

Thursday, July 17, 2008


The intermittent burn of the gas jet, like a great beast breathing, is the only sound the balloon makes as it slips otherwise silently by overhead.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


Balloons in the mornings. Continuing the slow recovery from the bug; we’re both about 90% better. Once in a while we’ll start to think we might be 100% but then reality jerks us back. Patience.

On a television program, some guys were giving a Japanese guy a hard time; helping him study for his U.S. citizenship test, and asked him “In what year did America discover Japan?” I thought that was pretty funny; a poke at the U.S. really, as if the rest of the world could be measured by the United States calendar. After all, Japan had its own people, own customs, own civilization long before any Anglos stumbled onto it. It’s not like, say, Columbus discovering America in 1492 is it……..?

An old guy about our age, maybe a little older, wandered by our camp and struck up a conversation. We chatted for a while, but the more we talked the older he got. He was stationed at the Corpus Christi Naval Air Station right after I was born. He’s twenty years older than us and still vibrant. I want to be like him when I grow up.

Spaghetti for dinner tonight. Yum.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


Getting used to 90 degree days. Nice weather. Working on a job in Santa Fe this week. Evenings with Matt and the boys.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Taco Bell

From our camp at St Vrain we could see the Taco Bell in the distance on Highway 119. Judy was looking at birds through the binoculars and spotted some gray smoke rising from the Taco Bell roof. I put the telephoto camera on it. The smoke didn’t go away right away, so Judy called 911. Fire trucks rolled. Fire trucks from Longmont, Frederick, and even Loveland by the end of it. It was never flashy. We never saw flames. But we watched it smolder for half an hour. They waved a snorkel over it, but we never saw them put water on it either. Maybe it was a grease fire and they handled it from inside.

Now there’s a fence around it.

Sunday, July 13, 2008


Gone from St Vrain. Back at Chatfield.


Annie the dirt dog.

Saturday, July 12, 2008


Any walk around the ponds is to the sights and sounds of killdeer and spotted sandpipers. It’s not uncommon to be surrounded by killdeer, but we’ve never seen so many spotted sandpipers anywhere else.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

St Vrain State Park

A great summertime dinner last night: grilled brats smothered in sautéed peppers and onions, with corn on the cob and mass quantities of watermelon for dessert.

Saw Jupiter. It’s huge right now. It rises in the southeast and sets in the southwest. It’s worth a look.

Morning coffee then a drive back to St Vrain today. We’re hooked up in a different site this time. We’re on a pond, but this one has been drained. They’ll do a little maintenance on the bottom then refill it…. Sometime.

Hot. A hundred degrees. No problem. I sit inside in the air conditioning and work.

Tonight, chicken and shrimp fajitas at Becky’s. Trampoline with the grandkids. It’s nice being in town.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Boyd Lake State Park

No, we weren’t the motorhome that dropped the tow car, and that wasn’t our motorhome that the runaway tow car hit. We were just there. We were just reporting.

We got the DVR satellite box installed. A hard drive that’s always spinning. We had the installer plug it into a switched outlet so when we turn on the ignition key the power goes off, just like with the television. That way the hard drive will be turned off when we drive. Now we don’t have to remember to turn it off (which means we would forget to turn it off).

Hot here. Sometimes 90s. Birdy. Only 22 kinds, but there is always something flying around. Got two kinds of orioles: bullocks and orchard. Meadowlarks. Kingbirds. The cottonwood tree behind us has an oriole nest and a kingbird nest, at least.

Good progress on the new website and blog. More features on the new website. It will be interactive. There will be a portal to exchange information with clients securely instead of by email. The website will include a link to the travel blog. They will be ready for primetime soon.

Tomorrow, back to St Vrain. More kids. More birthdays.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Things not to do while motorhoming

And can you imagine how much it would suck to go off for a nice day hike in Rocky Mountain National Park, only to come home and find that someone’s driverless tow car from about 250 feet uphill had tried to drive through your coach? I was walking nearby when it happened. It was a very heavy “thump”. The good news is that, other than some physical damage to the perpetrator, the remainder was all property damage. No other humans, kids, or pets involved.

Life on the road.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Things not to do while motorhoming

There are lots of connections between a motorhome and tow car. There are a couple of extraneous hookups: electrical and brakes. Then there are the critical ones: two points where the tow bar connects with the front of the tow car, and two safety cables. It’s okay to disconnect the extraneous hookups before you do anything else; the anything else being “put the car in gear”. When you’re towing, you want the tow car to freewheel, so by various means, depending on the make and model, you put the towcar in neutral or otherwise disconnect the transmission from the drive train.

Back to disconnecting the tow car. If you’re on level ground, it’s even okay to disconnect one side of the tow gear before you walk around to the other side of the car, get in, and put the car in gear. That is what I often do. It’s an efficiency of movement. It’s never a good idea to disconnect the tow car on a hill though. At best, the tow gear will bind up under the stress and be difficult to work with. At worst…

You never never want to disconnect both sides of the tow car before you put the car in gear. Of course, every once in a while, someone will demonstrate why you don’t want to disconnect the tow car before you have control of it. It’s like when you’re sailboating, towing a dinghy. You never want to get into the dinghy, set it free of the mothership, then give the outboard a pull to see if it starts. Starting the outboard is something that should be done at your leisure, while you’re still attached to the sailboat, not while the people on the other sailboat you’re about to be blown into are screaming at you from the deck.

When we were at the Estes Park campground, a person demonstrated how not to disconnect a tow car on a hill. The RV sites there are lined up on a hillside. He pulled his coach into one of the higher sites before disconnecting. He didn’t put the tow car in park before disconnecting it. Can you imagine how much it sucked to be that guy, chasing that car down the hill, trying to get into it to stop it before it hit something, and getting his foot run over in the process?

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Travel day

Breakfast at Wimbledon. Nadal takes the first two sets with a break in each. Third set, rain delay. We hit the road and head south. Judy watched Wimbledon.com on the laptop using the Verizon phone card, and when the match started up again she narrated it to me. We stopped at a rest stop outside of Cheyenne, put up the dish, had lunch, and watched the third and fourth sets. Federer won them both in tiebreakers. Fifth set, rain delay. It’s getting late; almost dark (in London). We headed south again. Wimbledon.com. It started up again. Judy narrated again. Signboard warned of a wreck on the freeway ahead. We turned off on surface streets. Worked our way over to Highway 287. Continued south. Nadal wins it 9 games to 7 just before we get to our next campground. What a match!

Boyd Lake State Park outside Loveland. Bicycle trails. A lake. Robins, kingbirds, and a blue grosbeak. Friendly neighbors. The Dish Network people are going to meet us here tomorrow and upgrade our satellite box to a DVR box.

Saturday, July 5, 2008


It’s where all the people in Colorado go to buy the fireworks that are illegal to set off in Colorado. There is a fireworks stand right behind the RV Park here. In preparation for the Fourth, the fireworks stand periodically sent a few teasers skyward. They have some serious ordinance. Municipal quality stuff. The high flying stuff city fireworks displays are made of, including those airborne concussion grenades that rock nearby buildings (and motorhomes). Exciting times.

It is legal to buy, sell, and explode fireworks here, but only until midnight on the Fourth. The neighborhood was pretty quiet while the city display was on, but then everybody came home and lit up their own. It sounded like a steady firefight until midnight when it shut down completely. Everybody did just what they were supposed to do.

Burgers on the grill at Bill and Marge’s. A heavy evening thunderstorm. Fireworks all around. A good Fourth of July.

Eastern Wyoming

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Travel day

From the mountains to the plains. East out of Estes Park on Highway 34, down the Big Thompson Canyon to Loveland, north on Interstate 25 past Fort Collins, into Wyoming, Past Cheyenne, past Chugwater (home of Chugwater Chile), to Wheatland. One hundred fifty miles. Three hours. We’re here to visit with Bill and Marge for a few days.

We’ve stayed at this small town RV Park before. Full hookups, fifty amps, only a few sites, right off the interstate, surrounded by farm fields. Super friendly hosts. It has its charm.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Estes park

A walk at 12,000 feet didn’t produce any of the target birds. We did get some white crowned sparrows, horned larks, and American pipits. We also got some really cool elk. They graze the tundra all summer then move down to the valleys in the fall. We saw several herds of cows and calves, and a couple bulls.

Backcountry etiquette requires that if there is a trail on the tundra you stay on it. You don’t want to create any new ones. If there is no trail, you spread out so, again, you don’t create any new ones. Don’t create any new trails and allow any other critters you encounter a wide berth so you don’t disturb them. Apparently our elk didn’t read the handbook. He grazed his way along a course intersecting our path. We stayed on the trail as long as we could, but when he lay down next to it we had to improvise our way across the open ground. In spite of the irresponsible behavior of the elk, the balance of the backcountry was not disturbed. None of us were unduly alarmed.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Estes Park

We’re gone from the Front Range. We traveled Sunday, all of thirty-five miles, but well uphill, and are now in Estes Park right on the outskirts of Rocky Mountain National Park. Elevation: 7,500 feet. Cooler weather; highs in the 70s, lows in the 40s.

Birds on the feeder so far: magpies and hummingbirds. Birds on the ground: bluebirds, robins, and ravens. Birds in the air: tree swallows and violet green swallows. There are three target birds here for us; all high altitude: white tailed ptarmigan, brown capped rosy finch, and pine grosbeak. The ptarmigan is essentially always above timberline on the tundra. The rosy finch is all over this area in the winter, but moves to high altitude cliffs and snowfields in the summer. The pine grosbeak is high forests in the summer. We’re going to need a trip to the top of Trail Ridge Road.

The view from our windshield. That’s the backside of Longs Peak in front of us. It’s 14,259 feet high; one of 54 “fourteeners” in Colorado.