Monday, December 09, 2013

My goodness it's cold!!

On December 5, the official low temperature at the airport that's located about three miles from us was -12*.  Those that track such things had to go back to 1909 to find a lower  temperature; -17*.  Since last Tuesday, the 3rd, the days high temperature hasn't reached 20*.  On most mornings, Gopher and I took our before-breakfast walk in temps. below zero.

I really, really hope I did a good job of winterizing the camper.

Tomorrow, the weather guessers thing it might actually get above freezing.

 I went over on Saturday and drove the camper around town for about thirty minutes and ran the generator. I noticed something really strange. Both of the front pieces of plastic corner trim had hairline sized cracks running across the width of the trim.  The trim had not lifted from the siding; just cracked. Wonder if it was the extreme cold?  Lazy Daze is designed and built for SoCal weather where it's mostly warm with scarce rain. I don't think below zero is factored into the design.

Gopher doesn't mind this weather at all. She and I still take our three daily walks.   Not so with Carol. The other day it got up to 14*. Carol bundled up and joined us for about thirty minutes.  That plus church on Sunday, and a lunch out with Suzanne was about the limit of Carols outside trips for the last week.  If it gets above 20* tomorrow, she said she'll join us on a walk over to the lake.

A snowy day.

We got a live tree this year; a Dwarf Alberta Spruce. The plan it to put it on the back porch after Christmas then use it year after year as our Christmas tree.  According to the nursery, the tree will thrive in the pot it's in and not grow any larger. We'll see. For $90 I hope they're right.

The cold has made up our mind. Come early January, we're heading south to "Q"/Senator Wash for at least January and perhaps February as well. Enough's enough. We miss being warm.

On Thursday we  have Oliver's  first grade school pageant to attend.  We've been to lots of such things when our kids were young. Only parents and grandparents enjoy school pageants.  And then only when their child is on stage. :-)

 Having warm thoughts.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Things are going well.

We're doing well and really loving our move to CO. People ask if we miss Florida having lived there for most of our adult life. Nope. Not even a little bit. Not a week passes when we don't talk about how happy we are to be here.

We had out first winter snow yesterday. From 3" to 5" depending on which weatherguesser you care to believe.  We have a little view of the Rockies from our back porch. The snow covered mountains are so pretty. By afternoon today, the temperature got up to 38* so the three of us walked over to the lake.  To get there, we have to cross two bridges over a small creek. Both were still covered with snow. I should have gone ahead and gotten  the snow plow option when I bought Carols new scooter. Looking to see is snow tires are available that would fit. Gopher just loves the snow. Rolls in it, stretches out on her stomach, eats the stuff, on and on.  She's made a couple of good friends in the neighborhood; Beau and Newton(as in Sir Isaac). Newton's "father", Eric, is a professor of electrical engineering at the Univ. of Colorado.The guy's really smart. He has a PhD from MIT in physics and electrical engineering.

This morning I went to the RV storage place and scrapped the ice and snow off the solar panels so the batteries would stay charged. I sure hope it's well winterized. A half gallon jug of water I left inside the camper was frozen solid. Next Spring I'll know for sure. We're still talking about going to "Q". Depending on the day we're having the conversation, the answer's either yes or no.  Ditto about any future RV travel plans. We'll see.

Recently, we changed doctors to the Kaiser Permanente(KP) Group. What a huge improvement from where we were.  KP is the only 5 star rated Medicare HMO in the state.  Our Medicare Supplement policy through AARP/United Heathcare was $403/month for both of us plus another $20/month for Carols Medicare Part D. With KP our monthly fee is zero($0.00).  We do have a $20 co-pay per doctor visit and a co-pay if we're hospitalized but how often will we be going to the doctor and/or be hospitalized in any given year? A few times at best or maybe never. The change keeps about $400/month in our pocket.  We both have the same primary care doctor and couldn't be happier. Our previous doctors specialty was palliative care; that's helping people die.  She was a  very nice person but we both prefer going to a doctor who specializes in keeping people alive.  The first thing our new doctor did was order a whole battery of tests for each of us.  Turns out we're in pretty decent shape.  Carol's skin cancer came back but we're dealing with that.

Another nice thing about being old? No Obamacare to worry about.  In fact, our entire family is fortunate to have health care provided through very stable, long time employers. In fact through this entire Great Recession, no one in our immediate family was affected. We're grateful. Many others weren't so fortunate.

Jennifer and Karen are coming in for the Thanksgiving holiday. Looking forward to that.  We're cooking Big Bird, making the stuffing and desert.  Suzanne and others are cooking everything else. Most are vegetarians so that means lots of good leftovers for us. 

That's about it. Put some Christmas lights on the front porch. Ho, Ho, Ho.



Sunday, October 13, 2013

Back home

We were about ballooned out so headed home on Tuesday, the 8th. This was our third BF. Stopped in Las Vegas, NM at

for lunch. Linda had suggested this restaurant and it was as good as she said. Carol had a chicken quesadilla and I had a hamburger smothered with beans and green chili sauce. There is a large parking lot across the street suitable for RV's of any size.
We continued to the WalMart in Trinidad, CO and stayed the night.
Arrived home on Wednesday just before noon time. A nice, uneventful trip.

Winterized the camper then put it in the storage place. Our future travel plans are under discussion. "Q" in January?  Stay home for a year?   Sell the camper? We'll see. Carol and I have traveled for the last thirteen years and extensively for the last seven..  We're in agreement that it's time to slow it down. Carol votes to sell the camper.  I'm not so sure. We're in agreement that we'll make our final decision before January.

Winter is about here. From our back porch we can see the fresh snow on  the Rockies. Sub-freezing temps. are forecast for the next few days.

 Come January "Q" might sound good. :-)

Saturday, October 05, 2013

The Fiesta is officially underway

Over the course of the last several days, lots more people pulled in. There are 35 LD's  here now. The camping area, while not full, is close to capacity.

The Prevost rally is underway as well.
John talked to the Prevost rep. about the units. The shell costs $750,000 then the owner gets to custom design the interior. That generally runs a minimum of $500,000.

Every day starting at 4:30  was Happy Hour.

On Saturday the launch was delayed for about an hour because of strong winds and an overcast sky.
 But by about 7:30 the sun

came out, the winds died down and the launch commenced,

Some of the balloons didn't make it very far at all. They landed in the camping area right near us.

Mid-morning the three of us took a walk down to the launch field. There was a dog adoption event taking place behind the Balloon Museum. Took Gopher for a walk on the newly mowed grass. A real joy for her. No goat head spurs, no sharp rocks.
Before lunch, Carol and I went to the launch field area to poke around the different shops. Carol wanted a Balloon Fiesta wind breaker.

 After getting that, we shared a Navajo Taco for lunch.

Tonight is cook-a-hotdog night. We're bringing a pot of chili as our side dish. Yesterday was the breakfast buffet.   We made a loaf of really great banana nut bread.

Another wonderful day.

Monday, September 30, 2013

We're there.

Wednesday the 25th

In the morning we made a Costco run stocking up on stuff for the daily happy hour and all of the pot luck meals at the BF. Then it was off to Trader Joes for their special corn salsa. Carol picked up a great black bean salad receipt from Linda when we were camping at Abiquiu.  One jar of corn salsa, two cans of black beans, and as much fresh cilantro as you wish. We're not big on cilantro so just use a little. Very easy, vegetarian, low calorie and tasty. Then to Smith's for the basics.  After the days shopping we headed to the Sandia Casino free RV parking area; our home until Monday when the BF camping area opens. There were about 15 other RV's there. A few were obviously there for the long run; probably for all of the BF. The parking lot affords a great view of the balloon launching area so if you didn't want to pay for expensive BF camping, the casino would be a good choice. I noticed that all the private campgrounds double their daily rate during the BF. Scalp the tourists; an old Florida tradition.

The night view from our "campsite"

Thursday the 26th
First thing we headed to Murphy's Mule Barn for breakfast. The Mule Barn is a local's breakfast joint about a mile from the BF camping area. "Rustic" would be a kind word to describe the interior but the food is very good. Carol had the Belgium waffle and I had a breakfast burrito with green chili sauce. $14 total.  After breakfast we went to the North Domingo Baca Park for the day. Gopher hates walking on the gravel, stone and sticker surfaces so common in the Southwest so we're always on the lookout for a nice patch of green grass.  This was an excellent find. (35.17745  -106.56580) To  the east  our view is the Sandia Mountains and the aerial tramway, to the west the valley surrounding the Rio Grande River.  Lots of grass, a children's play area,  a nice paved walking path plus an off leash dog and cat park. You don't see cat parks very often. People would just chuck a cat over the fence and watch the dogs go crazy!!  (just kidding of course).  I no longer take Gopher into the dog parks; her herding instinct is just too strong. Any animal that runs, be it a squirrel, rabbit, dog, or whatever,  must be pursued  and stopped. Aussies stop other animals by nipping at their hind quarters to get their attention then getting in front of them and giving them what trainers call a hard stare. In the animal kingdom, staring intensely at another animal is a threat. The message is, if you take off , I'll run you into the ground.  Understandably, the owners of the dogs Gopher is herding resent all this so, out of respect for the other owners, I keep her out of the park.

On Friday the other LD owners we were traveling with pulled into the Casino.  The usual nightly happy hour. On Sunday we watched  the Broncos thrash the Eagles.

Move into the BF campground day. First thing Carol and I went to what might be the best breakfast place ever. Hannah and Nate's in Corrales.  We found out about in on Yelp! and the 4.5 star review proved very accurate. Carol was good and had a spinach omelet made with fresh baby spinach, cremini mushrooms, caramelized onions  and jack cheese. I went with the New Mexico Heavenly Hash. Hashbrowns, covered with  2 eggs, cheddar cheese, green chile and two sausage patties.  Wow. Enough calories and fat for the rest of the week. I'm gaining weight. When we get home from this trip, a serious diet/exercise program gets started.

Then it was off to dump the tanks one last time, stock up on groceries then into the camping area.  Right now the area is close to empty except for the volunteers and a few others like us. The closer Saturday gets, the more crowded it becomes. We're in a slightly different area then in past years because a group of over 100 Prevost Motorhomes are coming in for their Fall Rally.  For those not familiar with the Prevost brand, they start well over $500,000 and run into the millions. Should be fun to see.
The event organizers know their RV quality. They parked Prevost, Lazy Daze and Air Stream in the same area. 

Mostly empty

Tonight Roger is smoking a meat loaf on his grill. We made two low calorie, low fat refrigerator pies. So simple but so good.
1 graham cracker pie crust (9"). 1 regular size sugar free jello. Three 6 oz. containers of  fat free yogurt. Get the same flavor jello as yogurt. Key Lime Pie is a favorite. Cherry is also very good.  One 8oz container of fat free cool whip. Boil 1/4 (one quarter) cup of water and dissolve the jello. Mix in the yogurt then the cool whip until smooth.  Refrigerate for about three house or until it sets up. If in a hurry, put it in the freezer or freeze it solid and serve like an ice cream cake.

It's going to be a fun ten days. 

Linda says 39 Lazy Daze are expected. 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Heading to the Balloon Fiesta in ABQ

Tuesday the 17th.
Left home about 9:00am to give the Denver commuter traffic a chance to subside. 
We spent the first night at one of our all-time favorite campgrounds; Heaton Bay between  Dillon & Frisco. This time of the year, and during the week, we had our choice of campsites. We stayed in site 21 which had a nice path to the lake and an unobstructed view of the lake and mountains. We first came here in 2004+- when we were kayaking and bike riding. There is a paved multi-use trail running right by the campground as well as easy lake access for the kayaks. Our next visit was in 2007 or 2008. The pine bark beetles has pretty much destroyed the forests in this area; the campground had been clear-cut to remove the danger of falling trees. Today the forest has started to reestablish itself and the campground, while it's not as beautiful as we remember it from our first visit, is regaining it's wooded feeling.  The campground will stay open until mid-October or the first snow fall; whichever comes first. At 10,000' the snow comes early. (On the 23rd, there was snow on Vail Pass)

Our view

The Aspens are just starting to turn.

Wednesday the 18th.

First thing we made a quick stop at WalMart for a few things Carol forgot then stopped by the Butterhorn Bakery and Cafe in Frisco to pick up a sticky bun for the road. The Butterhorn is THE breakfast restaurant in Frisco.
We drove to Leadville and stopped at the Forest Service office to get information on what campgrounds were open. After Labor Day most shut down for the season. We weren't impressed by the selection so continued to the Clear Creek Reservoir State Wildlife Area which is perhaps 15 miles south of Leadville on US 24.  39.01910  -106.27686. This site has just jumped into out Top 10 All Time Favorite list.  First off it's free for up to 14 days. The camping area is just a network of dirt paths through the woods that border Clear Creek as it flows into the reservoir. I suspect it's crowded in the summer, but today we had our choice of great creek side places to camp.  As a bonus, we have cell phone and internet service as long as we use the booster.

Clear Creek from our campsite
Our campsite

Steller's Jay. What a beautiful bird.

 All a girl needs is a soft rock upon which to rest.

Our morning view to the west

Thursday the 19th

Continued south on US 285. We spent the night at the Brazos Summit (10,041') picnic area on US 64 west of Tres Piedras, NM. The plan was to stay at the USFS Hopewell Lake  campground but after driving through it wasn't much. We explored some of the Forest Service roads for  disbursed camping but it looks likes like hunting season might be starting soon because every decent looking boondocking site was taken by groups of guys dressed in their camo cloths. Saw an interesting sign on a residence along the road. "Trespassers Will Be Shot. Survivors Will Be Fed To The Dogs". That should ensure the residents some degree of privacy.  Not from the NSA perhaps, but from most others.
Our choice of the picnic area was perfect;  after sundown it was just us. There was a harvest moon tonight. It was like daylight all night long.
We awoke very early; about 5:30am, made banana pancakes then continued to the Riana campground to meet up with some of our Lazy Daze friends before we continued on to the Balloon Fiesta in ABQ.

 Sundown from the picnic area. Note the Harvest Moon
Friday through Tuesday the 24th.

There were seven LD's at Riana. Every day at 4:30 was Happy Hour. One night Roger bar-b-qued, actually smoked in his Krager unit, ribs for everyone. Another night Carol and Owen made a huge pot of chili in their Dutch Oven. Jeanne ,and her dog Riley, lead the 8am morning walk. 

Wednesday the 25th.
Frank and Cookie left yesterday.  Everyone else stayed but we were ready to move on so in the morning we drove into Espanola. Did our laundry then headed to Santa Fe for a Wal-Mart run and propane. Tonight we're dry camping in the parking lot of the San Felipe Casino which is about 30 minutes north of ABQ. 
In the morning we continue south.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

How high's the water mama?

Well, the rails are washed out north of town
We gotta head for higher ground
We can't come back till the water comes down,
Five feet high and risin'

Well, it's five feet high and risin'

Johnny Cash

Not much rain around here today, just the odd  sprinkle. I took advantage of the occasional  sunshine and gave the  camper a long overdue bath. Suzanne was called into her office in Boulder to help with the cleanup. There was a foot or so, of water covering the first floor offices (hers). Chris went along to help and Oliver spend the day with us.

This mornings Longmont paper was interesting. There were some 7,200 households evacuated from the flooded areas in town.  Three deaths in Boulder County and 172 people remain unaccounted for.  Two FEMA search teams, the CO National Guard and several local agencies have deployed a search team of about 250 people looking for the missing.

The Town of Lyons is completely cut off from road traffic save for the huge National Guard trucks. The town has no water, sewer, power or cell phone service.   Estes Park residents must use Trail Ridge Road across the RMNP to get to shopping.  I-25 is closed from the Wyoming line south to Fort Collins.

A road has been opened connecting north and south Longmont. The school system is inspecting all their facilities.  Right now school is scheduled to start on Thursday IF the damage to the buildings can be repaired and the roads and bridges used to get the students to school are safe.

More rain is forecast for tomorrow.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Keep Your Powder Dry

Tropical storms?  Hurricanes?  Routine South FL stuff. We've been through several.

A first for us in CO.

The rain started Wednesday and rarely stopped until late Friday. Per the city emergency management people, Longmont experienced a 500 year flood with rain totals varying from five to almost fifteen inches depending on where it was measured.  A 500 year flood  doesn't mean that sort of flood will only happen every 500 years. It can happen several times in any given year. A 500-year flood is one that only has a 0.2% chance of being equaled or exceeded each year. The 100-year flood has a 1.0% chance of occurring during a year.

Took a bike ride near one of the flooded neighborhoods
Longmont is divided north/south by the St. Vrain River. The river overflowed its banks on Wednesday, crested on Thursday and is still well above flood stage. We live north of the river and have had no standing water issues and never lost power. All along the river, homes are flooded. The newspaper is already carrying stories of people with flooded houses but no flood insurance because the water "never gets this high".  But it did.  When we lived in South Florida, we always carried flood insurance even though we didn't live in a designated FEMA flood zone because you can never tell just how much water a tropical storm or hurricane will dump. The typical homeowners policy covers wind driven water, i.e. rain, but not rising water, i.e a flood so if your house floods and you don't have flood insurance you are simply out of luck.
At this point, there are no open roads in this area that cross the St. Vrain River. The Old Timers are saying they have never seen a storm quite like this. The last 100 year flood in Boulder County was in 1894. There are several mountain towns that are totally isolated because all the roads have been destroyed by the floods.

The rain was a good leak test for the camper. I took a flashlight and carefully inspected everything that might leak. Found nothing.

We had planned on leaving Longmont on Friday, the 13th to drift slowly south to ABQ.  At this point, I-25 between here and Denver is closed because of flooding and a part of I-70 was down to one lane because of falling rocks.  We'll leave Sunday if we can.

Another change of plans:
A few minutes ago, it was announced that the local schools would be closed until Thursday because of flood damage and road closures. Of course Suzanne and Chris will be working, so we'll be taking care of Izzy and Oliver until Wednesday. Nice thing about being retired. No place we just have to be at any certain time.

The summer garden is doing great. Lots and lots of zucchini and yellow squash. We've been keeping our neighbors supplied. A good crop of Anaheim Peppers, lots of cherry tomatoes, a dozen, or so, raspberries  and three blackberries. 

A zucchini flower

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Grand Teton National Park (GTNP)

On the 11th, we left for the GTNP to meet up with a group of our Lazy Daze friends. On the way we spent the night at the BLM Warren Bridge campground north of  Pinedale, WY.  A very good stopping place if heading to/from the  Yellowstone or Teton areas.. Water and a dump station. All pull-thru sites so if you were towing there would be no need to unhook for the night. $5.

In the GTNP we stayed at the Gros Ventre campground which is about ten miles west of Jackson.  It's just an OK campground. It's very large having some 350 sites so there is a fair amount of traffic.  There isn't much privacy between  sites. On the other hand, there is drinking water available and a dump station and, because it's so big, you don't need reservations. $10/day.  On most days deer and moose wandered throughout the camping area. The day after we left, a large bison drifted through our campsite.

There were from six to eight Lazy Dazes there during our ten day stay. We were going to stay longer but the Tetons are mostly about hiking, kayaking, fishing and so on. Plus the smoke from all the fires to the north made things generally unpleasant.

One day I was walking Gopher and a women close to my age approached me and asked if she could pet Gopher. I said certainly. She sat down on the ground, hugged Gopher and cried.  Gopher licked the tears off her face. The women said Gopher could be the twin of her dog that had died just a few days ago and she just had to give her one more hug. I saw her a few days later and she said she was getting better.

I was reading Don and Dorothy's blog, as I do,  about their western adventure. Always lots of tips about interesting places to camp and some places to avoid.  They were talking about the looong trek from Colorado to Alabama. I don't envy them the drive. I checked out of curiosity. From Jackson, WY to our former home in Ft. Pierce, FL it's right at 2,400 miles. I can remember how depressing it was to enter Texas on I-10.  880 miles of mile, after mile, after mile of sage brush and sand. You think it will never end.   To our new home from Jackson it's about 500 miles; a good bit of which is through forest.  We're so glad we made the move.

On the way home, we stopped for the night in Lander, WY . Lander has a very nice free city park where you can stay for three days.  A good stopping place for the night. We heard about the Lander Bar and Gannett Grill on Yelp so we had dinner there.  The bar and grill are in an historic hotel in the downtown area. The pizza was excellent, as was our glass of water.

The Lander Bar/Gannett Grill

After Lander it was a night in Encampment, WY at the city park then on through Grand Lake, CO to the Timber Creek campground in the Rocky Mountain National Park. The dead trees from the beetle kill made the campground look like Ground Zero.  We completed the trip home via Trail Ridge Road to Estes Park, CO. The road has a maximum elevation of 12,183'.  It's interesting. When the road was first built it had a 16% grade. Now the max. grade is only 7%.

Trail Ridge Road

Right now we're home getting ready for our trip to the Balloon Fiesta in ABQ. On the way home from Jackson, our water pump developed a leak.  It was our third ShurFlo 5.7 series pump.  I ordered a new pump , not a 5.7,  from Amazon and installed it yesterday. We're ready to go.

The North Colorado secession movement is moving right along. The seven northeast counties have placed the secession issue on their November ballots.The current hot topics are about selecting a state flower, bird (the Bullockornis a.k.a. the Demon Duck of Doom is gaining traction), song, etc. It's rumored that the new NoCo license plate will have an oil well on one side and an assault rifle on the other.  :-)

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

More of our travels over the years.

We've done a lot of camping since we were married.
Tent camping with the Gremlin. Early 1970's

Our first motorhome. A 1976 Dodge based 19' TEC.  My father and I went in halves on this camper. We had recently finished a weekend of camping at Walt Disney World in Orlando with my parents, our children and my sister Lynne and her family. It was raining when we set up the tent and raining when we left. My dad said, enough of this, then he went motorhome shopping. Luxury camping like we had never known it.

Then it was the  2001 Arctic Fox  and Ford F-250, followed by the new-to-us 2000 Lazy Daze and now the 2008 Lazy Daze.

Sometimes we would take trips based on a theme. Once it was kayaking through New England, another time Rail-to-Trails and another time the War of 1812.  These trips took us all through the New England states and around the Great Lakes. We've ridden our bikes along the historic Erie Canal towpath, kayaked through Lake Champlain and explored Upstate New York.

We've been snowshoeing in the mountains.

 And ocean kayaking in Florida, Maine, Vermont and throughout the Great Lakes area.

Over a period of four years we covered the entire Lewis and Clark Trail. Between 2010 and 2012 we followed the Oregon Trail, and parts of the Mormon and California Trails, from beginning to end.
Then there was the summer exploring the Canadian Maritime Provinces. We've camped in every state in America except for Hawaii.

Me and my hiking buddy; Gopher the Aussie Girl. Glacier NP.  2005.  Shortly before Carol took this picture, Gopher and I were swimming in the adjacent lake. I looked towards the shore and there was a good sized  black bear sitting on this table looking at us. I was hoping the bear wasn't thinking it was lunch time and we would do just fine.  I grabbed onto Gopher so she wouldn't start after the bear.  The bear casually got off the table and ambled way.

It's been an amazing 47 years.

Come Sunday we head out again. Our adventure continues.

Ed & Carol.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

On August 6, 1966 in Gales Ferry, CT

Carol and I were married.

The beautiful bride

I was an ensign in the Navy attending Submarine School. Carol was a medical technologist at Lawrence Memorial Hospital. I was 23, the bride was 24.

We met at a  sports car club rally in December, 1965. Carol was driving a green  Austin Healy Bug-Eye Sprite and I has a red 1966 Triumph TR-4A. Eight months later we were married.
 Forty seven years, three children, and four grandchildren later,we're as happy as the day we married.

1974 Fort Pierce, FL. Jennifer, Suzanne & Alexandra

We've been to a lot of places and done a lot of things together in 47 years.

Hiking to a glacier in Alaska, 1999

Somewhere in the Rocky Mountains, 2000
Kayaking in the FL Keys

Near Stowe, VT, 2004

Biking the old 7 mile bridge. Marathon,FL

We don't do these things so much these days but we take pleasure knowing we did at one time.
Our outdoor adventures are more modest but just as enjoyable as they were over the years. It take's more then a heart attack, a stroke and broken hip to stop the two of us.

Near Longmont, CO 2013

We're looking forward to, hopefully, another fifteen or twenty great years together.