Thursday, October 29, 2009

Shut My Mouth!


In my last post I said “let it snow” because tomorrow we leave for a Caribbean cruise…..I hope! Seems as if the snow storm that started Tuesday, will hang around for another day, stopping tonight. Before it departs the weather shaman says we’ll get and additional seven inches of snow. So far I estimate we gotten about 36” of snow here at the house

I have already shoveled the driveway twice and used the snow blower on it three times. I’ve had to shovel a portion of the back yard so that Molly Dog can do her “business” because without that she would have to be Mole Dog instead of Molly Dog.  I’ve even shoveled the deck one time because I was afraid of the weight of the snow on it. Keep that in mind when you look at the picture of the deck. When I shoveled it, the snow was about as high as it is in the picture. Picture twice as much snow.snow2

Yesterday afternoon I had to go help The Emmer get out of the parking lot where she works because the snow and snow plows had her pretty much walled in.

This morning it was bad enough that I decided that I would just drive her to work so at 3pm I’ll have to go back and get her. In the meantime I have to take Molly Dog to the kennel where she will stay while we are gone. In between all that I’ll probably have to shovel the driveway at least one more time.

We will leave here at about 4:30 am tomorrow morning and head to the airport. God, I hope they do a good job on the roads today!

I will be grateful for a change in latitude!

Thanks for visiting.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Take Me To The Caribbean


The timing couldn’t have been more perfect! The picture above is the weather shaman’s guesstimate of how much white stuff we could have by Thursday afternoon. It will begin snowing tonight and continue off and on until mid day Thursday.

I say “let it snow” because bright and early Friday morning The Bride and I and The Emmer head to the airport to fly to San Juan, PR and get on a Princess cruise ship for the Caribbean. The snow on the ground at that time will just make the transition to the Caribbean that much sweeter. Our ports of call on this cruise include St. Thomas, Tortola, Antigua, Barbados and St. Lucia. We will meet Ladder Lady in Atlanta and then all fly together to San Juan, spend two nights there in Old San Juan before boarding the ship on Sunday morning.

On the practical side of things, I moved the snow blower up to the front of the garage today and made sure it had gas….and would start. I will probably have to use it tomorrow. We’re also finishing up doing some interior painting at the house. The painters started Monday and should finish up tomorrow. This is something that was on our “to do” list for some time but this week is the first time that the painter and us could agree on a schedule. Between all the furniture that has been moved around and suitcases being packed the house looks like it’s been turned upside down. I hope the painting will be done tomorrow so that I can put the house back together on Thursday before we leave.

I will be bringing my computer with me on the trip but don’t know if I’ll have time…or connections, to use it, so this may be the last post for about 10 days.

Thanks for visiting.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

It Must Have Been An “Arctic” Front


Yesterday morning it began to snow. A wet, early season snow. The temps were so close to freezing in the morning that some of the precipitation was more like white rain. As the day progressed it got colder and by late afternoon we had about two inches of snow on the ground. By the time the system blew out of the area early this morning we had gotten about four inches of snow.

rox2 There’s something about the first snow of the season. It seems non threatening, and because it’s been so long (going on 5 months now) since the last snow, it’s a novelty and something to be enjoyed. With that in mind, yesterday morning, I headed for the local State Park hoping to stumble on some good photo opportunities.

My premise was good but my timing was not so good as the clouds and snow kept the visibility down to a minimum. Add to that, the very slushy conditions and I didn’t spend a whole lot of time seeking the perfect pic. It was pretty though, and I was the only one in the park besides the rangers….and they were hunkered down in their office.rox4

Back at home in the afternoon, I commenced studying other “Arctic” things…..stay with me here, there’s a point….the quotation marks are there for a purpose.

I have been chronicling my search for a fifth wheel trailer on this blog since the beginning of September. I’ve spent a lot of time, and mileage, searching for that one fifth wheel that was perfect for The Bride and I. It’s a difficult task because The Bride and I both have different expectations and wish lists. In the last few days I have almost bought three different trailers, only to reconsider and change my mind.

One of the brands on the list was Arctic Fox…..get it now? Yesterday was a perfect time to review all of the pluses and minuses of this particular trailer. By the time I was done reviewing I had decided that this was the trailer for me. This morning I called and placed an order for my new Arctic Fox 27-5L fifth wheel trailer.

This unit is really head and shoulders above the rest of the trailers I was looking at. That was one of my problems. I wasn’t sure whether I wanted something that much better that the rest of my candidates because  you do pay for “better”. After thinking about it for the day however I know I made the right decision and I am “pumped”.fox1

This trailer is a true four season trailer. It has superior insulation, thermo pane windows and even an electric blanket that is wrapped around the water and waste tanks to keep them from freezing in cold weather. It is also solidly built and weights a bit more than the other units I was considering.

It is not as long, and consequently doesn’t have as much living space inside as some of the other units I was considering but the other longer units wouldn’t have worked at most of the Forest Service gigs I did this summer….Life is a trade-off.

The bad news is that because I had a specific list of things I wanted with it, I couldn’t find one already built that way so I have to order it from the factory. The build date is scheduled for the second week in December and I expect it will be mid January before it is delivered to the dealer in Colorado Springs.fox2

Tomorrow I drive down to Colorado Springs and give the dealer a deposit to make things official….I won’t be a motherless child for too much longer!

Thanks for visiting.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

A Weekend In The Mountains


This is true Colorado weather. After a very chilly week (see my last post), things warmed up considerably. The Bride and I headed out on Friday morning to spend the weekend in the ski resort, Keystone, about a hour west of the Denver metro area. The weather was absolutely perfect, 60’s daytime with brilliant blue skies.ski1

Before the ascent, I took The Bride to three different RV dealers to look at new fifth wheels. We have both agreed on several parameters and those choices narrow the range of trailers to look at. Of all the different units we have looked at we are down to three models that we now need to choose from…that is providing that something unknown doesn’t pop up before a decision is made. Looking is fun but there are so many variables that it can be confusing at times. Each unit has pluses and minuses but it seems like no one unit has it all so we have to make choices.ski2

The RV search lasted until noon and after a quick lunch we headed into the mountains. The weather could not have been more perfect and it was soul soothing to get into the high country under these conditions. Our destination was the Ski Tip Lodge. This quaint little lodge is an old 1880’s stage stop that was converted into a ski lodge in the 1940’s and then acquired by the ski resort in the 1970’s. Throughout the years it was remodeled and added on to numerous times but it still only has nine rooms. It would never be able to live up to today’s building codes because of the narrow winding hallways, frequent step ups and downs and other eccentricities of the add on building style. That is however one of the reasons it is so charming. It also has a fabulous restaurant in the lodge itself.ski4

Saturday morning we decided to go into the resort area of Keystone. We were surprised to find that we were there in the slowest time of the year, after the leaf peeping but before the ski crowd arrived.  It was absolutely deserted! The picture above was taken at 9:30 in the morning and if you look closely you can see one, count ‘em, one person in the middle of the retail area (I marked him with an arrow). Most of the shops and restaurants were closed until the snow falls.

That was a bummer to The Bride as shopping is ALWAYS a big part of any get away. Fortunately, Breckenridge is only a short drive from Keystone so Saturday afternoon was spent browsing around another ski town. There was much more activity in Breckenridge and all the stores were open and doing a brisk business.ski5

This morning after a leisurely breakfast we headed back to the Denver area. We avoided I-70 for a while and took the Loveland Pass road which goes right by Arapahoe Ski Basin. This ski area is always one of the first to open for skiing and it’s not uncommon for it to be open as late as June at the end of the season. Sure enough there were quite a number of “early bird” skiers on the slope.

By the time we made it back into the Denver area (45 minutes) the temperature was up to 75 degrees. That change in temperature is appropriate as in two weeks, The Bride, The Emmer and I leave for a Caribbean cruise. We will fly from here to San Juan on the 29th and return to the Denver area on the 9th of November. More about that in a later post.

Thanks for visiting

Monday, October 12, 2009


Last week I had a post with the title “Fall Has Fallen”. Well in the last couple of days it had done more than that, it has turned to winter!

On Thursday I decided to take my new truck and drive it to Colorado Springs to look at an Arctic Fox fifth wheel camper. The day was cloudy and chilly. By the time I got down to the Springs the temps had sunk to 30 degrees and there were periods of light snow.

The trailer was very nice. About 28 feet long and a quality build. It was a true four season trailer as it had upgraded insulation, thermo-pane windows and heating blankets for the waste tanks to keep them from freezing. On the down side there wasn’t a whole lot of storage area. A lot of the basement area normally used for storage was taken up by an onboard propane generator, something I don’t need since I have a little portable Honda generator. After looking at the trailer I decided to do something I had been thinking about for several years.w1

I went to high school in Colorado Springs in the early 60’s. My Dad, The Colonel, was stationed at NORAD at the time. I started at Wasson High School in 1962 and graduated in 1965. Two weeks after graduation the family moved to Ft. Benning, GA and I have never been back to the school for reunions or even just to look. This day I decided to take a trip down memory lane and visit the high school I graduated from 44 years ago.

I wasn’t sure I would be allowed to even look as a lot of schools these days have pretty tight security. I was surprised when after explaining what I wanted to do in the school office they said, no problem, just sign in and help yourself. Their one caution was to make sure I didn’t get trampled when the bell sounded for the period change! Some things never change.

I spent about a half hour wandering around and was amazed I remembered as much as I did. Wasson HS was opened in 1960 so it was very new when I attended. At the time it was “state of the art” with a great auditorium/theater, state of the art labs, several gyms, a pool, and other amenities that made it THE place to be when I attended. It’s now 50 years old but it has been well taken care of. I don’t have the connection to the high school that I do to my college alma mater but I’m still glad I went to visit. It brought back some pleasant memories.

Saturday The Bride and I had a number of chores to do including checking out a kennel that we were thinking of leaving Molly Dog at when we take our cruise and driving up to Ft. Collins to retrieve my little Suzuki that I left at the dealership when I bought the truck last week. Along the way we also stopped to look at some more trailers.

The weather had turned even more wintery on Friday night with some snow and ice on the roads. We probably saw 20 accidents on the interstate between the south side of Denver and Ft. Collins. At one point I was reconsidering driving up to Ft. Collins and just waiting until Sunday but I pressed on. We arrived in Ft. Collins about noon, picked up the car and had lunch at a local Olive Garden. By the time we headed back to Denver the roads had returned to normal.

This week I’m planning on visiting a few more RV places to continue the hunt for a fifth wheel. On Friday, The Bride and I are leaving town for Keystone, CO, a ski resort about half way between Denver and Vail. We have reservations at the Ski Tip Lodge for the weekend. In addition to being a great place to stay, they have a very nice restaurant in the lodge. We are both looking forward to it.

Thanks for visiting.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

One Step Closer


After over a month of searching I finally found a truck to pull the fifth wheel I have yet to buy. It was a tough search because I knew exactly what I wanted and there weren’t that many used trucks like that, in good condition, at a fair price.

I had mentioned in a previous post that I was looking for a Dodge Ram 2500 diesel pickup. More exact, I was looking for a 2006 Dodge Ram 2500 diesel pickup. I wanted a 2006 model because that was the last year in which Dodge used the 5.9 liter diesel. Starting in 2007 Dodge used a 6.7 liter diesel and that engine has had a few problems and gets a lot less gas mileage than the older 5.9 liter. After searching the internet diligently for the past month I finally found one in a dealership in Ft. Collins, CO, about 75 miles north of where I live.

truck Yesterday morning I drove up to Ft. Collins with fairly low expectations. I had been disappointed several time in the last few weeks. This time however, everything was as advertised. The truck was clean, low miles for a diesel (54,000) and had everything except running boards…us short guys need help getting into something this high off the ground! Without all the gamesmanship normally attached to a vehicle purchase, a deal was struck and I drove the truck home the same afternoon.

Even though this is a short bed truck it’s still a whole lot of metal and it’s long. So long, that it will not fit in the garage with my other two vehicles so for the time being it will have to live out of doors.

The next step is to find a fifth wheel hitch and get The Bride to start looking at trailers. Saturday I plan to take her to a local RV place to see one of the models I have “prescreened”. Once again I know pretty much what I want and the supply of units for The Bride to look at is limited. The good news is that I will probably buy a new unit this time and I can get the manufacturer to make exactly what I want….I don’t like feeling like a motherless child and the quicker this get’s done, the better I will like it!

Thanks for visiting.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Fall Has Fallen…


With all my travels of the past few weeks, I haven’t had a chance to enjoy fall in the high country so Sunday Guitar and I headed up through Kenosha Pass to the Fairplay and Alma area to do a little leaf peeping. I didn’t have big expectations since we’re at the beginning of October and it was a good thing. There was still some color at lower elevations but once we got to the summit of Kenosha Pass the leaves were totally gone. Not only were the leaves gone at higher elevations but a lot of the peaks were showing a dusting of recent snow.

The top of Kenosha Pass gives you a wonderful view of South Park and the many high peaks that surround this beautiful area. On this day we could see wintery clouds and snow squalls covering the entire area.lonely

Plan B was to head up to the timber line outside Alma, CO and visit with the 1000+ year old bristlecone pines in an area called Windy Ridge. These amazing trees are among the oldest living things on the planet. One tree in California is 4900 years old! The Windy Ridge trees are young in comparison to that but they are still pretty spectacular.

It wasn’t the best day to take a 4WD trail above timberline but this would almost certainly be the last chance we had until next June when the snow finally retreats from this area so up we went. Aside from the cold and wind…on Windy Ridge, go figure…it wasn’t too bad. We had a few snow showers blow by but nothing serious. It was however, cold enough to keep me from doing all the photography I had planned on doing.On Top

After a couple of hours of visiting and exploring we headed back down to the little old mining town of Alma and lunch at the South Park Saloon. The saloon is one of about two places in town to get a bite to eat and despite it’s “rustic” look the burgers were quite good.

We were back home in time to see most of the Denver Bronco football game….yes, winter is just around the corner.

Thanks for visiting.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child

gone1 Especially on days like today. Today, for the first time in many years I do not own an RV. That’s right, last night I sold my Holiday Rambler Class A RV in preparation for getting a fifth wheel trailer. The timing isn’t exactly what I would like it to be but in the world of buying and selling RVs you kind of have to go with the flow.gone2

Because of the economy, I thought it might take a while to sell my RV and I really didn’t want to “trade it in” when buying my new rig. Trade in values on RV are notoriously low, so, I decided to try to sell it through craigslist. I did my homework and priced it fairly but aggressively on Wednesday.

I got a couple of calls and emails on Thursday but nothing that I thought would turn out as a sale. Friday morning I got a number of calls and had one couple look at it at about noon time. At about 2 pm the same couple called gone3again and asked if they could see it again with their son. About the time they arrived for the second viewing, I got a call from a man with whom I had traded several emails earlier in the day.  When I told him I had to call him back because some was looking at it right then, he offered to buy it sight unseen…he would drive about 50 miles after he got off work and pay for it in cash and drive it home! I accepted his offer and went to tell the people that were then looking at the rig. Before I could tell them I sold it, they said that they had decided that they would buy it.

Early in my work a day career I was a salesman and it was music to my ears to hear someone say they wanted to buy what I was selling. Telling someone that I couldn’t sell them what I had and what they wanted is like fingernails on a chalkboard to me….but I only had one RV.

gone4 The guy on the phone was true to his word and appeared at my doorstep at about 8:30 pm with his wife. He did a brief inspection….in the dark, with a flashlight on the outside and a little closer inspection on the inside..with lights. He said it was as advertised and handed me cash money!

So, here I sit, RV-less, without a truck to pull the fifth wheel that I have yet to buy. I guess this is a better condition to be in that to have the truck, fifth wheel and my old RV and not be able to sell the old RV.gone8

I only had this RV for about two years but I certainly used it and enjoyed it. I figure that I slept in that RV around 100 nights over that time. I summit-ed just about every major pass in Colorado with it and travelled a lot of back roads in New Mexico and Arizona sitting in it’s driver’s seat.

So now the pressure is on to find a replacement to take me to new adventures. Before I leave this chapter however, I’d like to echo that old trail song of yore….Goodbye Old Paint ! Here’s some more pictures of good times had…

gone6 gone0










Thanks for visiting.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Catching Up and Searching


This week has been one of catching up on all sorts of things after being on the road for two weeks. Early in the week it was catching up on clean clothes and cleaning out the RV. Mid week it was catching up on normal chores like mowing the lawn…hopefully I’ll only have to do it once or twice more before the weather impedes it’s growth.

The weather has definitely turned more fall like. A front swept through yesterday with strong winds and today the high is in the 50’s with more wind. I am enjoying the cooler weather. Nothing is better than a crisp day, cool enough to have to wear a vest or light jacket, the colors of autumn and that cobalt blue Colorado sky. The only down side is that it doesn’t last long and winter is next. They are actually calling for snow (4”-8”) at some of the ski areas tonight!

I’ve also been catching up on my search for a truck. I have searched car dealerships, want ads and craigslist. The other day I spotted one that met all my needs and traded several emails and phone calls with the owner, who lived in Cheyenne, WY. The owner agreed to drive the truck to Denver and if my inspection verified his description of the vehicle, I would buy it. The owner also said that someone else had expressed interest but had offered him a lowball price. About an hour ago I got a call from the owner and he said that the other party had called back and offered his asking price and was going to meet the owner on the north side of Denver for the inspection….I live on the south side of Denver, so I lose out due to a couple of interstate exits.

The owner is a young man and I told him that I was disappointed that I was treated this way especially since I contacted him first about the vehicle. I am disappointed and somewhat… peeved, but on the other hand if the young man didn’t have the integrity to honor my first offer, he may not have the integrity to be totally honest about the condition of the vehicle? So, it’s back in the hunt….

In the meantime I’m going to try and take a trip into the mountains this weekend. The leaves have already peaked at higher elevations but there’s plenty of lower altitude areas that should be just as spectacular.

Thanks for visiting.

P.S. The picture at the top of this post was taken at the Old Agency Forest Service Work Center, two weeks ago.


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