Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Decisions, Decisions....

One of the major drawbacks of having a Class A RV is that unless you tow a "toad" or hitch mount a scooter or motorcycle, your only means of transportation on trips is that big gas guzzling brick of a vehicle. Once you make camp somewhere that's pretty much it. It's a pain to break camp to go to the grocery store or go sightseeing in the local town.

Towing a small car for basic transportation (toad) requires......an extra car, Duh....and normally makes already meager gas mileage on the RV even "meagerer".

I've been looking in to the possibility of buying a scooter and carrying it on a hitch mount on the front of my RV. Scooters are small, light and get extremely good gas mileage. The downside is that the smaller ones will only transport one person and in foul weather it's not a whole lotta fun. After months of mental acrobatics I've become almost convinced that a scooter is a good idea.

I've narrowed down the type of scooter I'd like, to one specific model, the Honda Ruckus pictured to the left.

These things are "utilitarian" to say the least. They kind of remind me of the old Cushman scooters of my youth. Curb weight is 194 lbs. so it's light enough to hitch mount on the RV. It has relatively big tires that would work on many of the old mining roads I like to explore and it gets close to 100 mpg. Because the engine is only 49 cc it doesn't require license plates in Colorado but is street legal.

I have been searching Craigslist and other sources for used models and have found an interesting dilemma....Ruckus scooters became quite popular in the last few years and in the last year especially, they have been sold for somewhat above their MSRP (Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price). Right now the market has eased somewhat and a new model costs less than most people are asking for a one or two year old model.

I have communicated with a few people that listed a used model for sale and so far not one of them was willing to sell theirs for even close to what the Kelly Blue Book retail value is. The market is "upside down" as they say......So, if I decide that this is indeed the course I should take and I can't find someone willing to sell a used model for it's true current worth, it will be cheaper for me to buy a brand new unit with zero miles and a warranty? Crazy but these are crazy times.

I'm always open to suggestions and advice so if you have some, leave a comment.

Thanks for visiting.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Bride is now The Graduate!!

Today at about 1pm local time The Bride passed a final exam for the last college course she is required to take for her degree. I can't tell you how proud I am of her!

If you've been following this blog you realize that The Bride and I are not young pups. I just retired from a business career and The Bride is a few years behind me. Knowing that, you might be thinking, Huh?

The Bride didn't go to college right out of high school. As a matter of fact she didn't start taking college courses until a little over 15 years ago. When we were living in Savannah, GA in the late 1980's and early 1990's she decided that she wanted to get a college degree. That's easy enough to say, but at the time she had two small children and a husband (me) who had a job that required me to be out of town at least 30% of the time. She was determined however.

She attend Armstrong State College in Savannah for about two quarters full time. All the rest of her "matriculation" has been through night courses in the different places we lived during my business career. When we moved to the Denver area she was lucky enough to get a job with an employer that encouraged her....and helped her financially, to get a degree.

For the past few years she had been relentless in pursuing this goal. I can't seem to remember a time in the last few years when she wasn't either in class at night or working on homework, research or papers during the weekend.

With all that crammed into the everyday work and home life she managed to do all of this with a grade point average that is stratospheric compared to what I managed to eke out 40 years ago!

To make this accomplishment even more impressive, her degree will come from Regis University. This is not your typical "get your degree in your spare time" deal. This is a real, well respected, tough, Jesuit college. On top of that her degree is not a BS (and I don't mean Bachelor of Science, I mean "Bull S&%$" like Political Science) degree, she has a degree in Accounting.

Before anyone gets upset about my Political Science remark, I have authority to say that because that's what my degree of 40 years ago is.

This day belongs to The Bride. I could never have done what she accomplished. I am in awe of her determination and desire. Three cheers for The Bride.

The Graduate part of the title of this post is a reference to the 1967 movie starring Dustin Hoffman and Ann Bancroft. A really terrific movie even today.....and if The Bride is The Graduate in gender reversal, she can have that affair......with me.....now that she has the time.

Thanks for visiting.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Dodging Winter

The weather in Colorado this time of year is always an adventure! Looks like we dodged the bullet this time. The map at the top of the post is the national radar picture. See that classic curlicue over Kansas? That's a pretty strong storm that's causing a blizzard in western Kansas today.

Tuesday night the temps dropped like the stock market and the winds howled most of the night. When I looked around yesterday, a lot of the trees had been stripped of their gorgeous fall plumage but it looks like the mountains directly to our west deflected the system enough to protect us from the really nasty stuff.

The radar map to the above left is this morning's radar showing the snow starting about 100 miles to the east of here. I can see the dark storm clouds at the back edge of the storm from my home office window.

Now let me show you why Colorado weather is an adventure. Look at the extended forecast below. By this weekend it will be spring/fall like again. Short sleeve weather. I'm loving it!!!

Stay tuned for a BIG, BIG announcement on Saturday!!!!

Thanks for visiting.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Adventure Is Where You Find It

As I said in the last post, I was abandoned this weekend. The rest of The Circle except for me and Too Tall-Two Timing was out of town having all sorts of adventures. On Friday I felt like the unwanted orphan but I was determined to find at least a little adventure to fill a beautiful fall weekend.

Saturday at about noon I got a call from Too Tall. He said he was washing the Jeep and had the top and doors off and, by golly, he had the urge to drive that thing with the top and doors off, and did I want to go with him? Did I.......you're darn right I did.

Not too much later we were on our way up into the foothills around the South Platte River. Temps in the mid seventies, gorgeous sunshine. THIS was my idea of being abandoned!

We didn't have to go too far to find a dirt road that paralleled the river, that we had never been on before. There were plenty of people fishing and there was one party shown in the picture to the right that looked like one of them at least had bagged the limit!

That's a wedding party with the ceremony in full tilt. When we stopped to take a picture they were almost to the "I Do-s". They certainly picked a wonderful day and a pretty neat spot to start a new marriage. It kinda' gave our ride some "adventure" too.

Not far down the road we came to an abandoned old hotel. I remembered seeing something about this place on the internet or the paper but couldn't remember what it was. This morning I "googled" it and found the story. Quite an interesting place and just the thing to add a little more adventure to the ride.

Too Tall and I spent about 3 hours on this ride and it was just the "salve" to sooth that abandoned feeling. This wasn't the end of the adventure for the weekend however.

This morning I decided to try a little more geocaching. If you will remember from previous posts that I have tried to locate a few in the past couple of weeks but was stymied by one thing or another. This morning was another beautiful fall day with temps forecast to be in the mid 70s again so it was the perfect opportunity to give it another try.

This geocache was close to a popular hiking and biking trail and I arrived at the parking lot a
t about 9:30 am. I guess the geocache Gods were with me because this one was pretty easy to find. That's it in the picture to the right. A small camouflaged box hidden in the crook of a tree in a very brushy area. I didn't even bother to open this one and sign the log because as I was looking at it I heard some movement not far away. When I came away from the tree and looked across the small stream that ran nearby I saw the coyote shown in the picture at the top of the post. He was probably only 100 feet from me. It was obvious that he knew I was there and didn't seem frightened at all.

That was enough to get me, quickly, out of the brush and back on the trail. To my amazement this wasn't a lone coyote, there were several more in the brush foraging for food. I watched the for about 10 minutes and just as I was about to leave I saw a rabbit scurry across the trail into the woods behind me. Now it all made sense and I hope that my presence gave the rabbit a new lease on life!

With that little adventure to add to the weekend I decided to head home and prepare for the return of The Bride and the rest of the ladies of The Circle. While they tell me about their adventures this weekend I'll have that smug thought that "adventure is where you find it"!

Thanks for visiting.

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Tables Are Turned

Most of the time I'm the one going on trips and adventures since I'm the only retired one in The Circle. I was supposed to have left for Moab yesterday but because of the impending birth of Too Tall-Two Timing's grandchild, that trip got cancelled.

Now I'm sitting here thinking...huh??? What happened? Why am I sitting at home when all the rest of The Circle except Too Tall-Two Timing is gone on trips. Who turned the tables?

The ladies of The Circle had planned to spend the weekend in a cabin just west of Colorado Springs while Too Tall-Two Timing and I were in Moab. Since the cabin is not that far from the Denver area, K. decided to go with the rest of the ladies. If a grandchild appears she is close enough to home to get back pretty quickly. Guitar is off on a long planned trip with his brother in New Mexico.....I'm sitting home with nowhere to go!

I feel like the high school kid without a date on Prom night. I've been had, snookered.....I'm mad and I'm not going to take it any more!!

I guess I'll have to catch up on reading this weekend.

Thanks for visiting.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Missing Moab and The Spanish Market

Too Tall- Two Timing and K. are still waiting to become grandparents. The scheduled date is tomorrow but that is not certain as all of us with children know all too well. Too Tall has opted to stay in town where he can monitor the situation a lot better and not go to Moab as was planned. Since we were going to share the ride and the hotel room, I am canceling out of the trip as well. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a healthy, sorta on-time grandchild for the both of them.

I forgot to report that on the Saturday before Guitar and I left on our Passport In Time project, I went to the Spanish Market and Mountain Man Rendezvous with The Bride, Guitar and Pic-E. It was a spectacular day weather-wise and the event was a lot of fun.

In one area there were people dressed in the frontier garb of the 1830's and 1840's selling wares that were sold at the time to the frontiersmen and Indians. Things like spices, clothing, trinkets, knives and other implements and so on.

In another area Mountain Man re-enactors had set up cam
p tents and were giving demonstrations on almost lost arts such as fire starting, blacksmithing and even hatchet throwing.

A third area was for the artists displays. Most of the art was religious folk art known as "santos". I'm not much of an aficionado of this type of art but it is very colorful.

Finally, there was a burro race. In this type of event each contestant (human) has a team-mate (burro). The human does not ride the burro but rather runs alongside the burro. In a lot of cases it the human trying to get the burro to run by coaxing, pleading, swearing or whatever.

The race this day was a very small race by comparison. Pack burro racing is a pretty big sport in Colorado with the largest race being the "Get Your Ass Across The Pass" race held annually between the towns of Leadville and Fairplay.

It was a fun time and we even had a chance to buy some roasted hatch chilies which The Bride has already turned into pork green chili.

Thanks for visiting.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Happy Birthday to The Bride!

Happy Birthday to The Bride, my honey. Today she is.....................naw, I gotta live with her for hopefully MANY more years so I'm not gonna tell you how old she is. I will say that her age is still a double digit although we are the teensyest bit over half way to triple digits.

The picture above is probably the earliest picture I have of her that was taken since I have known her. Ah yes, those were the days.....but you know what? These days are pretty special too.

Tonight we will have dinner at a local Outback to celebrate.

Happy Birthday to The Bride....my bride.

Thanks for visiting.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Where Have All The Aspen Leaves Gone?

The post title is a take off on the 1962 Kingston Trio hit "Where Have All The Flowers Gone". Actually the song was written by Pete Seeger and recorded by just about every folk singer of the 1960's but in my mind I will always associate it with the Kingston Trio.

But I digress...I was at Tarryall Reservoir about three weeks ago and the aspen leaves in the high country were just starting to show the slightest bit of color. Last week Guitar and I were in far southeast Colorado, far away from any aspen so yesterday I decided to take a ride up to Kenosha Pass (10,000' altitude) to see if there was any color left in the high country.

Looks like I missed it by about a week and a half. The trees at 10,000' and above were pretty bare. At lower altitudes it was a mix of bare trees, full color trees and even some that haven't started to turn yet. This year is just not a classic Colorado autumn.

In spite of that, I came prepared to enjoy a brisk fall day in the mountains. The Colorado Trail crosses Highway 285 at Kenosha Pass so I thought I'd walk that a ways and maybe do a little geocaching. It was a perfect day for a hike. Temps in the 60's, bright sunshine and the classic cobalt blue Colorado sky.

I arrived at the pass at about 10:30 and started back home at about 2:30. My idea about finding a couple of geocaches didn't pan out too well. I was able to get to the general vicinity of the caches without any problem with the aide of my GPS but all the aspen leaves on the ground made it next to impossible to find the cache itself. So...I had to make do with just enjoying a gorgeous fall day....Pretty good consolation prize, huh?

While hiking, I did manage to find a couple more aspen graffiti trees to add to my collection.

Next on my adventure list is a trip to Moab for some 4 wheeling a week from this Thursday. This is the annual Fall on the Rocks that I have missed the last couple of years and I'm looking forward to it. There is one potential hitch. Too Tall-Two Timing and K. are expecting the arrival of a grand baby any day now. I was planning on riding with
and sharing a room with Too Tall-Two Timing, so if he needs to stay in the Denver area I will probably cancel the trip.

If everything goes on schedule. Too Tall and I will go to Moab and the ladies of The Circle, The Bride, Pic-E, and K are going to do a ladies weekend at a cabi
n in the Cascade, CO area.
Thanks for visiting.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Passport In Time - What Can I Say?

I'm back from a week in the boonies and a Passport In Time adventure. If I had only one sentence to describe it I would say it was one of the most exciting and unique experiences in my life. It really was that special.

Guitar and I left the Denver area on Sunday morning and headed for the far southeast corner of Colorado. Picture Canyon to be precise. Once we left La Junta, CO the population became more and more sparse. By the time we reached our destination there was a ranch house maybe every five square miles. It was 35 miles back to the nearest town. We were scheduled to meet all the other participants at the Picture Canyon picnic area late in the afternoon.

The group we were to work with included 10 volunteers, a cook and the Forest Service archaeologist. The accommodations were what we brought with us. Guitar and I slept in his truck camper, a husba
nd and wife team brought their Scamp trailer and everyone else either slept in their trucks or in tents. There were covered picnic tables and a vault toilet but nothing else including water. The water we drank (and we drank a LOT during the week) and washed with all had to be brought in by each member of the team.

The volunteers were an amazing blend of folk. The picture at the top of the post shows the entire group just before we left on Friday afternoon. In the group we had a 77 year old lady who had more energy and stamina than any three city teenagers put together. There was a retired school teacher and a retired couple from Canyon City, CO, a book store owner, two young students that really knew their stuff and a businessman from the Parker, CO area. Guitar and I were the only members of the group that had not participated in one of these types of events before. After hearing the Forest Service archaeologist say that she had over 40 applications for this event, Guitar and I felt very lucky to have been chosen to participate.

Our task for the week was to survey Forest Service lands for any signs of historic and prehistoric activity. This included finding stone implements or evidence that stone implements were made at a site, looking for rock art left by ancient peoples or graffiti left by later people.

Monday morning was dedicated to training us what to look for and a little sight seeing to show us examples of some of the rock art in Picture Canyon. Amazingly, while we were doing this one of the volunteers discovered an arrowhead point and a stone knife! The point is pictured on the right above.

After a half day of training we headed off to the first area we were to survey. The mechanics of the survey are simple. You get a whole bunch of people in a line and you walk forward looking at the ground for something on the surface. We did not dig in the dirt. Everything we found was laying on the surface....and we found a lot. Sometimes we resorted to crawling around on hands and knees because some of the "finishing flakes" we were looking for, and found, were about a quarter the size of your pinkie fingernail.

Identification of artifacts required some skill and experience but after a little while it got a bit easier. Since everyone else on the team besides Guitar and I had some experience, it was easy for us to get help or a second opinion.

Some of the artifacts we found were; points, cutting tools, flakes left over from knapping an implement, ground stones, spoke shaves for smoothing arrow shafts and cores. Cores are the big pieces of rock that were the start of an implement. Once these people found the chert or quartzite rock they would pound off a piece to make into an implement of some sort. We also found a lot of expended cores which are what's left over after all the usable pieces were whacked off. The picture above to the right is a quartzite core that clearly shows a piece whacked off on the upper right of the stone.

During the week we went to five different areas that had never been surveyed by an archaeologist before. One area was a "quarry" area where stone was harvested and broken down into smaller pieces. Sometimes it was worked further at the site and sometimes it might have been taken elsewhere to work further. On this site there were hundreds if not thousands of artifacts strewn over a pretty large area.

One site was definitely a campsite where tools were manufactured. We knew this because most of the artifacts were tiny "finishing flakes". These are the last few pieces of stone that are chipped off of the finished product.

One site produced a number of grind stones. These are the flat rocks, usually sandstone, that were used as a surface on which to grind grain or meat. One example is shown at the left above.

The terrain ranged from flat and rolling to steep and rocky. The temps were in the upper 80's and it was hot, strenuous and dirty work. I probably drank a gallon and a half of water a day while we were out. We were back at the campsite by about 5-5:30 p.m. each day, ate dinner at about 6 p.m. Guitar and I were sound asleep not later than 9 p.m. every night.

On Friday morning we went to a site near a rock face called "Inscription Rock"
. This rock had graffiti scratched in it over a one hundred and fifty year time period. The earliest inscription I found was 1846. There was also a very interesting inscription left by a Colonel in the Oklahoma 1st Cavalry.

The project conclud
ed at noon on Friday and Guitar and I drove to Trinidad State Park to spend the night and get our second shower for the week. Wow did that ever feel good.

As I said at the top of the post, this was an exciting and unique experience. I hope it's not a once in a lifetime experience because I fully intend to volunteer for more of these next year. Here's some more pictures to give you a flavor of the event.....click on any of the images to enlarge them.

Thanks for visiting.


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