Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Meanwhile

Back at the ranch, the hurricane hit Mexico, south of Gulf Waters, but we have reports of 20 foot waves, tides up to the dunes, 20 foot waves, and wind gusting to 65 mph.

 

Video from the pier down by Jetty Beach.

 

From: Jon McIntyre [mailto:mcintyrebirds@hotmail.com]

     http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SwwKO6Xo2Hc

Chatfield State Park

It was a nice week here. No altitude issues. The weather was comfortable, punctuated by afternoon thunderstorms.

Visits with Matt, Lindsay, and the boys for dinner every evening.

Got my walk every day. There is a wonderful walk up the Platte River through ancient riparian habitat. Very birdy. Got a Warbling Vireo and several Yellow-Breasted Chats.
Wimbledon tennis on the television.

Had a business lunch last Friday. Gary Kring, our office neighbor CPA friend, takes the entire crew out for lunch at the end of every busy season; his crew and our crew combined. Last year it was at the Brown Palace. This year it was at Elway’s downtown. We’re fully in favor of that tradition. Thanks Gary.

Lesser Goldfinches on the sock feeder:




Our bird list for Chatfield:







































































































































































Canada Goose



Mallard



American White Pelican



Double-crested Cormorant



Great Blue Heron



Black-crowned Night-Heron



Turkey Vulture



Swainson's Hawk



Red-tailed Hawk



American Kestrel



Mourning Dove



Black-chinned Hummingbird



Broad-tailed Hummingbird



Belted Kingfisher



Downy Woodpecker



Northern Flicker



Western Wood-Pewee



Western Kingbird



Warbling Vireo



Black-billed Magpie



American Crow



Tree Swallow



Violet-green Swallow



Cliff Swallow



Barn Swallow



Black-capped Chickadee



White-breasted Nuthatch



House Wren



American Robin



Gray Catbird



European Starling



Cedar Waxwing



Yellow Warbler



Yellow-breasted Chat



Chipping Sparrow



Vesper Sparrow



Lark Sparrow



Song Sparrow



Red-winged Blackbird



Western Meadowlark



Common Grackle



Brown-headed Cowbird



Bullock's Oriole



House Finch



Lesser Goldfinch



American Goldfinch



House Sparrow



Tomorrow, St Vrain State Park.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Chatfield

A quiet morning


Including a balloon launch





Then an Alex, Conner Birthday Party after lunch.

(Becky, Teigan, Alex, Conner, Austin, and Tony)

Which included a soap bubble gun battle.

(Teigan, Tony)
There are soap bubbles there, you just can’t see them.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Can you spot the.

Can you spot the Curve-billed Thrasher in this picture?


Friday, June 25, 2010

My wife sleeps around

 

The shoulder is so much better Judy can sleep lying down.  Most of the time.  When the shoulder starts to ache, she has to change positions.  We have two different recliners in the living room, and a couch with a nice back to prop up against.  She can lie down most of the nights now, but sometimes it still takes the full range of sleeping locations to get her through the night.

 

She’s always here when I go to sleep.  I just never know where I’ll find her in the morning.

 

 

Thursday, June 24, 2010

I've been thinking about.

Birding.

How hard could it be? There are 900 or so North American birds. To be a good birder, all you have to do is be able to recognize each one.

Well, okay, there is a little more to it than that. There are a few multipliers. Sometimes the females look different from the males. The juveniles are always a little different from the adults. So it’s 900 birds, times a few variations for each. If you have to use the sounds they make to help in identification, there are songs, calls, flight notes, and chips; a few more multipliers.
And then there are gulls. Gulls are special. Each kind of gull looks different each year until they reach breeding maturity. That can take up to four years. Not only do feather colors and patterns change seasonally and by year, but bills and feet can change colors too.

Spring breeding plumage tends to be brighter than fall plumage. Non-breeding plumage can be altogether different. Different birds go from breeding to non-breeding plumage at different times. Even two birds of the same species will change at different times!
Here is an example of a simple identification challenge from last May. Two birds. Same beach. Same day. Same time.

One.


The other.


By plumage, these two look completely different, but physically, they are exactly the same. Breeding plumage. Non-breeding plumage. On the same day. In the same place. It’s the same kind of bird.

Black-bellied Plover.


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Colorado

 

We’re back in Colorado.  Chatfield State Park.  Matt, Lindsay, and the boys.  We should be here a week.

 

http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&hl=en&msa=0&msid=107013362562471418011.00047964b60d16d130156&z=5

 

 

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Kansas

Midway USA. We’re on our way back to Colorado. Stopped for the night in Goodland, Kansas.

http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&hl=en&msa=0&msid=107013362562471418011.00047964b60d16d130156&z=5

The birds have been a little different for us here. Ring-necked Pheasant, Brown Thrashers, Dickcissels, Baltimore Orioles, and Red-headed Woodpeckers. Here is our Kansas list:

Ring-necked Pheasant

Turkey Vulture

Swainson's Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk

American Kestrel

Killdeer

Eurasian Collared-Dove

Mourning Dove

Red-headed Woodpecker

Northern Flicker

Western Kingbird

Eastern Kingbird

Horned Lark

Cliff Swallow

American Robin

Northern Mockingbird

Brown Thrasher

European Starling

Dickcissel

Red-winged Blackbird

Western Meadowlark

Common Grackle

Great-tailed Grackle

Brown-headed Cowbird

Baltimore Oriole

House Finch

House Sparrow

Monday, June 21, 2010

Computers

We got a new laptop, a Toshiba Satellite. It’s big for a laptop but that’s okay, I don’t really have to carry it much. Mostly I pick it up and put it on the floor while we’re traveling, then put it back on the table when we’re stopped. Windows 7 operating system. 64 bit processor. It boots up, opens programs, and shuts down in seconds. The screen is big enough to open two windows side by side. The keyboard is big enough to include a 10 key pad. I love it.

(I guess that’s not a good picture. Mostly it just shows glare off the ceiling. Really, it’s a very nice screen.)

We don’t have everything loaded onto the new computer yet, so I have to use the old and new computers side by side for a little longer. I’m used to using two screens, so I catch myself trying to move objects from one screen together when they aren’t actually connected.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Truth varies

 

We may think of ourselves in static terms; as having certain characteristics or not; of having certain abilities or not.  That may not be the case.

 

I’ve had a realization; something even more profound than figuring out why I have that callus on the tip of my left thumb.  When I was a kid, I had calluses just like this on the tips of all four of my left fingers.  I played guitar.  Now, all these years later, the fingertip calluses are long gone and I have one callus on a digit that never touched a guitar string.  A mystery.  It’s not painful and doesn’t interfere with my life in any way, but it’s a mystery.  Or it was…

 

I’ve been paying attention to what I do.  I figured it out.  Since we live and work from the beach, I only wear shorts.  Whichever shorts I wear, I only use one belt.  The belt is a little odd and requires I hold the buckle at a certain angle when I thread it.  Holding the buckle at that angle requires a tiny repetitive pressure right on the tip of that thumb!  Mystery solved!

 

But the more important realization is that not each day is the same.  I get this from Sudoku.  Judy’s brother-in-law John introduced me to Sudoku.  It’s his fault.  There is a 9 by 9 grid of squares (divided into 9 blocks of 3x3) with some of the numbers filled in.  The challenge is to fill in the numbers in the rest of the squares without duplicating a number in any row, column, or block.  Simple.  When we got the ITouch for its birding program we discovered we could download a Sudoku program too.  The ITouch Sudoku is good. There are four skill levels to choose from for every game.  The Easy and Medium levels can be solved every time by applying a few simple logic steps.  The Difficult and Extreme levels require more than that.  They require cognitive leaps, beyond simple patterns, to solve the game without guessing.

 

I progressed past the simpler levels of Sudoku to the more challenging ones, then one day I discovered I could solve them all!  Extreme Sudoku.  No match for me.  I mastered the game.  But to my surprise, a few days later, I discovered that I got stuck every time I tried a game above the skill level of Medium.  My mind was not leaping effortlessly, creating patterns to solutions that day.  Since then I’ve found that some days are better than others.  Some days the mental acuity is there and some days it is not.  Mental acuity is not a constant.

 

Life is shades of gray.  Categories and labels are our shorthand for dealing with life, but no-one is all good or all bad; always smart never stupid.  We all have our talents.  We all have our shortcomings.  And even at that, it all varies from day to day or even moment to moment!

 

 

Today we’re comfortable in Kansas; in Wa Keeney at 2,200 feet.

 

http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&hl=en&msa=0&msid=107013362562471418011.00047964b60d16d130156&z=5

 

Hot this afternoon, then thunderstorm warnings.  Tornado warnings.  It’s raining.  Lightning all around.

 

Glad to be here.

 

 

Matt, Alex, and Austin

At our visit yesterday.






Saturday, June 19, 2010

Limon

 

We left Grand Junction and stopped at Rifle for a quick visit with Janis and Brian.  We drove on and crossed the divide without incident.  We stopped at Chatfield for a quick visit with Matt and the boys.  We drove on to Limon in time for dinner.

 

So here we are, out on the Colorado plains.

http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&hl=en&msa=0&msid=107013362562471418011.00047964b60d16d130156&z=5

 

We’re doing much better than our brother Tom, who is making negative progress right now.  He only briefly made it as far north as Corpus Christi.  Now he’s fifteen miles from home.

http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&msa=0&msid=109311542386358702480.000487c2576b23e261ef3&ll=27.215556,-98.085937&spn=32.952553,78.662109&z=4

 

Yesterday we saw two golden eagles, one bald eagle, a red-tailed hawk, an American kestrel, and two peregrine falcons.

 

 

Friday, June 18, 2010

Colorado

 

Claritin for the pollen.  Nitroglycerine for the altitude.  It worked for a while, but the altitude started wearing me down.  At least we think it’s the altitude.  There are a number of other possible reasons that might have been making me feel crummy.  We considered staying where we were and one-by-one eliminating all the non-fatal possibilities first, then retreating to a lower altitude only if we needed to.  We decided to deal with the altitude first instead.

 

Ridgway is in the 7,000s.  Too high.  We were going to go to Rifle Gap State Park next, but that’s not much lower.  Today we changed our plans and moved to the lowest place around: Fruita (outside Grand Junction) at 4,400 feet.  When you decide to get out of the altitude here, it’s not that easy to do.  What we’ve done so far is good.  I feel much better this evening.  We’ll spend the night, then drive again tomorrow to get lower still.  I want to feel all the way better.

 

The plan is to drive east to Kansas.  We have to go over the high country to get there, and once we get over the high country, Denver isn’t any lower than Grand Junction, but after that, our country slopes off to the east all the way to the Mississippi River.  We don’t have to go as far as the Mississippi River, its only a few hundred feet above sea level for most of its course.  The cardiologist tells us that elevations between 3,000 feet and sea level should all feel about the same to me, so we’ll get down to the 2,000s for a few days to let me reset and get comfortable again.  Then we’ll come back to Colorado gently.  No high country to cross.  No mountain hikes.  Hopefully that approach will work better and we can hang out at 5,000 feet for a while.

 

http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&hl=en&msa=0&msid=107013362562471418011.00047964b60d16d130156&z=5

 

 

One more thing

 

The carpet is wet.  We have a leak.  But it’s not a leak in a place where we have ever had a leak before.  Come to think of it, we haven’t had any rain either.

 

The carpet is wet next to the refrigerator.  We have an ice maker in the refrigerator.  The plot thickens.  I go outside and pull off the outside panel revealing a portion of the rear of the refrigerator.  Lots of stuff.  I find a tube and follow it, looking for a shut-off.  I find a shut-off, but soon figure out that I just shut off the propane to the refrigerator.  I find more tubes to follow that really are water tubes.  No shut-off.  I look at the water manifold in the utility cabinet.  There are shut-offs for every single water outlet in the coach…..except the ice-maker.  We got out the owner’s manual for the refrigerator.  It says if there is a problem with the ice-maker, shut off the water source.  Okay.

 

A little light glimmers in my head.  Not a flash of light, but a little tiny glow way deep; from five years ago (five light years?).  When we took delivery of the coach, there was a walk-though.  A trained technician gave us a tour of every feature of the coach.  The morning was devoted to the outside.  The afternoon covered the inside.  I remember some of the morning session.  By the afternoon session I was numb.  There was something in the morning session about a secret compartment; a compartment with controls in it in a place where you wouldn’t think to look.  Something between the exterior refrigerator panel and the utility cabinet.  I took a look.  There was a cover on one wall of the slide out drawer cabinet, behind the slide out drawer.  I went around to the passenger side of the coach and pulled the storage drawer out that side.  I went back to the driver’s side and pulled the now exposed panel cover off the wall.  There.  The water pump motor, a water filter for the ice maker (We didn’t even remember our ice maker had a water filter hidden away.  Must be time to change it!), and a water line valve, clearly labeled “Ice Maker Shutoff”.  Mission accomplished.  In this climate, the carpet dried in a day.

 

We didn’t actually fix anything, but we did manage to stop the bleeding until we can get to someone who does know how to fix the problem.  We’ll just have to make-do with a limited ice supply until then.

 

 

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Ridgway State Park

Wednesday.

http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&hl=en&msa=0&msid=107013362562471418011.00047964b60d16d130156&z=5

We get the roar of the river for background sound day and night.


Perfect mountain weather. Warm days. Cool nights. The campsite is a tight squeeze for us, but what a spot!




Unexpected adventures

Tuesday. Gremlins! We got electrical gremlins! They’re everywhere in the coach. First they locked us out and wouldn’t let us back in the front door. The door just clicked and latched, while we were on the outside. Finally, they had had enough fun and let the door click to let us back in. We drove away.

The gremlins left us alone while we were driving. A late start to meet a work deadline before we left, then off east we went. We turned right at Grand Junction and headed south though Delta and Montrose. Well, we didn’t actually go through Montrose, we stopped there for lunch. There is a perfect parking lot for us in Montrose. It has plenty of room. It’s right on the main road; easy-in, easy-out, and it happens to be the parking lot for the Russell Stover Candy Factory.
We were almost at our stop for the night, but I needed one last (internet) exchange with the outside world before we headed off the map and out of touch to our destination. We ate lunch. I uploaded, downloaded, and communicated. Then the gremlins launched their attack. They were everywhere. First, they wouldn’t let the slide go in. We only had one slide out, routine for a lunch stop, but it would only go part way back in. Lights flashed off and on then suddenly went out altogether, only to reappear moments later. Alarms for the carbon monoxide and propane leak detectors went off, then stopped, then started again. The refrigerator flashed warning lights. I started the engine. It worked fine and so did everything else. I shut the engine off and everything else worked fine for a few minutes, then went haywire again. I started the generator. Some things worked. Not everything did. We could hear the gremlins giggling.

We tried this and that. We made phone calls. We debated changing our destination for the day. Hours went by. We talked about sleeping in the parking lot. We heard about Carl. Carl is the proprietor of Uncompagrahe RV and Farm Implement Repair. Four miles south. Against the protests of the gremlins, we got the passenger side slide pulled all the way in. We found Carl and Judy gave him the fifteen minute version of what happened. He thought about it. We were blocking his driveway. He walked out to have a look at the bank of batteries in the outside compartment. He didn’t say much. He decided we needed to pull the rig around, closer to his toolbox. I didn’t know if that was a good sign or not. It took a while to clear a path.

Slow conversation. Carl focused on the house batteries. Looking and prodding. Finding a few points with a meter to test voltage. We slide the battery drawer out for better access. He pulled off all the fill caps and spent some time with a hydrometer measuring the specific gravity in every cell. He went back to the voltage meter. He grumbled. He started disconnecting cables. It’s a complicated mess, the spray of cables that turn four 6 volt batteries into a 12 volt source for the coach. He wasn’t careful. He just pulled off connecting cables and threw them on the ground until the tops of the batteries were completely clear. I was worried. Carl was calm.
Carl and Paula. They’ve been there since 1989. Carl worked. Paula handed him tools, paper towels, spray cans of stuff, fine cleaning brushes, a power wire-brush tool. Everything he handed back, Paula wiped down and put away. It went slowly, but ultimately, the tops of all the batteries were perfectly clean and dry. Every post was spotless. Carl turned his attention to the pile of wires on the floor. He pulled off every connector cover. He cleaned, wiped, power brushed, and put new covers back on every terminal. He measured their resistance. He put every cable back in the correct place. He fastened everything down with new stainless steel nuts.

We fired up the coach. Everything was perfect. We turned off the engine and fired up the generator. Everything was perfect. We shut off the generator. Everything still worked. Apparently, when the gremlins weren’t running through the coach giggling, that’s where they were. They weren’t hiding in the house batteries, they were in all the corroded connectors linking the house batteries to all the electronics of the coach. He got every last one of them.
Carl knew exactly what he was doing. There are reasons why the terminals were so corroded. We live on the beach. Everything there corrodes at warp-speed. Also, we had just driven the coach all day on engine batteries that were fried. We put out an all-day fog of boiling sulphuric acid vapors. The house battery terminals all got terribly corroded that day. The guy that changed out the engine batteries for us power washed everything off, so it looked better, but that wasn’t enough. (It’s not like the engine battery guy was bad. We brought the engine battery problem to him and he took perfect care of it. We didn’t know about the “other” problem yet.) The corrosion went deep; right into the wires. Carl charged us for 2 hours labor and nothing else. He set us free. Thank you Carl.

We drove the final ten miles to the park. We had a momentary discomfort, and thought maybe the Campground Gremlins had struck when we finally pulled in to Ridgway State Park at 7pm and found our campsite already occupied, but it was just a nice couple from Olathe who had been extending their stay day-by-day until we finally arrived. (We have been delayed getting here and this is the third day of our reservation.) Our new-found friends were prepared to leave at a moment’s notice and they did. The park welcomed us with a nice sunset.

Simple.


yet dramatic.


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Travel day!

Monday. We got to travel. We were at the repair shop by 8:30. They put in two new chassis batteries, they checked the charging system, they charged us for 1 hour of labor, and by 9:30 we were on the road. The best possible outcome.

We had talked about continuing north to meet up with Becky and family at Yellowstone, but decided to go ahead and turn right at Cove Fort like we had originally planned, and head to Colorado. We had plenty of fuel so we cruised right past Richfield and Salina for the 110 mile trek across the Utah badlands.




Past Green River and into Colorado. We’re at Colorado River State Park for the night.


With its teaser view of the Colorado National Monument.




Monday, June 14, 2010

Layover day

 

Sunday.  Jeff and Carol went on their way this morning.  We stayed here.

 

http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&hl=en&msa=0&msid=107013362562471418011.00047964b60d16d130156&z=5

 

Saturday morning when I started the coach, the engine batteries sounded weak.  That night, when we stopped, I could smell the batteries out back.  There are six batteries; four for the house and two for the engine.  The house batteries have been changed.  They’re only a couple years old.  The batteries for the engine are original.  I think they’re shot.  The alternator charged them all day while we were driving and they were steaming when we stopped.  We found a shop that will have a look at it on Monday.  We’ll hope all we need is new batteries and nothing else got cooked in the process.

 

We must have adjusted to the time difference.  Now that we’re working our way back east, we didn’t wake up before the alarm.

 

We got a dozen birds in the campground.  Robins, blackbirds, orioles, swallows nighthawks, doves, finches, sparrows, phoebes, kingbirds, meadowlarks.  The usual suspects.

 

This afternoon, the sun came out.

 

 

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Beaver, Utah

Saturday. Made good our escape from civilization, back to the life of peace and quiet on the road. We checked in with Jeff and Carol and Eddie to see how they were doing. They had been in Arizona all this time and were 50 miles away headed the same direction as us. We met up with them at the KOA in Beaver, Utah.

(You can’t see Jeff and Carol in this picture. I took it after they left.)



We’ve been in the hundreds every day. We haven’t had an overnight low of less than 80 degrees in weeks. We drive for one day and arrive with temperature in the 50s. Cold and drizzly. Lows in the 30s. What a difference a day makes!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Get away day

 

 

Friday.  The temperature broke out of the hundreds and we had comfortable 85 degree day today.  Good for checking out of the hotel.  Back to the rig.  It’s good to be home.  The Oasis RV Resort was a much nicer place to leave the motorhome than at the parking lot at Circus Circus like we’ve done before.

 

Move back in.  Ready the rig for our next mission.  One more visit with Jake.  Judy made a home-cooked dinner for us.  Delightful kid.

 

Earlier this week, while we were outside the Bellagio on The Strip to watch the fountain go off from ground level, we met Captain Jack Sparrow walking by on the sidewalk.  Got an Aye, Captain Graybeard from him.

 

No new birds to add to the list.  We’re stuck at four.

 

Tomorrow morning, we’re out of here.

 

 

Friday, June 11, 2010

It's ironic

We work so hard all year long to be responsible. It’s a team of ten people doing everything that needs to be done to produce the billings we generate. We’re careful with what we spend. The finances all have to come out right at the end of the year so we can do it all again the next year. Then, when it’s time to go to a conference about the best ways to run a business, we end up in a lavish place like this. The AICPA holds the Practitioners Symposium at excellent conference facilities every year.

It’s funny how it works though. This is the best place to be to do what needs to be done. We have to be this far away from the real world; away from the distractions of work and our normal lives. We get complete separation and we’re free to really think about what we do and how we do it. This may be the most important thing we do for our business all year.

Those were long days at the conference. Ten hours a day of nonstop presentations and interactions. We spent long days working through it all afterward too, but we spent them poolside.




It was a good place to be, and we came away with a good plan. We need to upgrade some equipment and software. We can improve how we monitor the workflow so we always know what’s where. We can better integrate the technical tools we use so it takes less time to use them.

We know what to do to improve the process. Now, all we have to do is hang on to the vision and execute. That’s always the biggest challenge, not coming up with a plan when that’s the only thing going on, but executing the plan when everything else is going on all around us.


Thursday, June 10, 2010

Bellagio

 

Wednesday.  Next generation accounting firm, A view from the future, Technology futures.  The end of the conference at noon.  Ken and I stay for two more days for our annual meeting.  We talk about what ideas to implement; how we improve, and what direction we point for the future.

 

Las Vegas bird list…….. no change.

 

 

Bellagio

Tuesday. Professional update, trust, Windows 7, Office 2010, gadgets, Adobe, strategic planning.



Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Bellagio

Monday. Practitioners’ Symposium. Tech update, exploiting opportunities, value, ultimate mobile warrior, social media. Judy and great nephew Jake had lunch and a nice long visit. He has a semester at UNLV under his belt and is working and saving, looking forward to getting back in school in September. Happy Birthday Jake. He turned 21!











































Monday, June 7, 2010

Bellagio

Sunday. Put all the outside covers and shades on the coach. Pulled down all the interior blinds. Set the air conditioners at 80 degrees. Locked it up and left.


Dropped Annie off at Sleepover Rover, and moved into the Bellagio today. Our view from the room:




Sunday, June 6, 2010

Oasis RV Resort

Saturday. Prep day. We got ourselves here a day early so we could pack up to leave the coach for a week. Got some work done. Got the rig washed.

Annie gets her Muttlucks on so the asphalt won’t burn her feet.





Enjoyed the pool in the afternoon. Satisfied a Taco Bell craving for Dinner. It got dark. It was still 99 degrees.


Saturday, June 5, 2010

Las Vegas!

Friday. We changed time zones but we didn’t change our clocks. Arizona to Nevada. Mountain Standard to Pacific Daylight. No difference.

Another great desert scenic drive. It included a Joshua Tree Forest. We skipped the Hoover Dam road; construction and delays. The bridge bypassing the dam is supposed to be open November of this year. Photo from their website:


It’s about 1,000 feet above the river. Judy says “No f’ing way I’m going over that!”

We’re at Oasis RV Resort. Blazing hot. Triple digits. It hurts to touch anything.


A cool overnight low of 80 degrees.

http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&hl=en&msa=0&msid=107013362562471418011.00047964b60d16d130156&ll=32.805745,-108.720703&spn=15.705974,39.331055&z=5


We’re building up our Nevada birding life-list:

1 Pigeon

2 Mockingbird

3 Grackle

4 Sparrow