Dear Family and Friends,
June 21, 2004
Summer began wet and cool, like all of last week. The
so do the area firefighters and our neighbors with shallow wells. In fact,
the past month or so has been "normal" for a change; we've had thunder showers
almost daily and there's water actually flowing in the ditches along our road.
Judy has trenched the upper section of road and we've kept the run-off channels
clear on the steeper areas of our road to avoid flooding the garage and house.
Judy's gardens are flourishing, though the rabbits and chipmunks have eaten
so many flowers and buds that we have only about half the columbines, poppies,
etc. to show for the effort.
Our property has become a mini-wildlife sanctuary. For
some reason, we've seen more animals in our yard this spring than we can
recall. The hummingbirds returned on April 27 this year, a few weeks earlier
than usual. Deer, foxes, coyotes, and elk have visited, driving Sophie and
Bella into a barking frenzy. However, the presence of bears kicks their barking
up several notches. We've had four visits by at least two different bears
who are making the rounds looking for something to eat. We learned our first
year here that garbage cans, bird feeders, and barbecue grills are prime
targets. Oddly, they do not disturb our compost container where we throw
vegetable garbage. This fellow(?) above tried to get to a bird feeder hanging
from our third story balcony 20 feet off the ground by attempting to scale
the outside of the house!! He slipped off and Sophie and Bella chased him
away. It's great living in the mountains.
The past three months have, in retrospect, been
relatively quiet for us. Our calendar shows we had planned to take at least
two short trips that we didn't go on for one reason or another—unscheduled
dental work, a stretch of poor weather, sickness at our destination—and then
we suddenly found ourselves up to our armpits in home remodel projects we
didn't see coming when the new year began. So much for making plans.
However, there are some spring highlights:
JUDY WINS AGE GROUP IN BOLDER-BOULDER
After a year's absence, Judy returned to win
her age group in this year's annual Bolder-Boulder
10K on Memorial Day. She ran easily and was surprised that her time
was within a few seconds of her 2002 time. (Can you pick her out of the
crowd entering the University of Colorado stadium? She's on the left just
about halfway up: dark glasses, white tank top, smiling.) Since we moved
here in 1992, Judy's run every year except in 1999 (just back from Australia/New
Zealand/Fiji trip and hadn't trained) and 2003 (injury). She's won each time
she's run, so, to correct any previous confusions, this year's victory is
number 11 out of 11 tries.
In addition, for the first time Judy and three other
"older" women formed a team and entered the Bolder Boulder team
competition. They won their division ("Seniors Aged 60 or Greater")
by nearly three hours over the second place team! Their combined
time of 3:31:04 means each runner averaged about 52:30 minutes for the 6.2
miles, or a little less than an 8.5 minute mile per runner. Pretty darn good
for a group of "older" women!
HUGHES RIDES (MOST OF) KOKOPELLI'S TRAIL
I went for the hype. I was seduced by the legend.
National Geographic Adventure Magazine says, "If you
undertake just one multiday mountain bike ride in your life, make it Kokopelli's
Trail. This five-day, 145-mile trip starts in Loma, in western Colorado,
crosses into Utah, and ends at the Graceland of off-road biking: Moab."
(March/April, 2000: page 84).
What follows is a very brief, occasionally inaccurate,
two paragraph article about the trip. In spite of a couple of egregious errors,
they're right on target when they say the route gets "technical—twisty, narrow,
and rocky…" They fail, however, to mention the trail is impossibly steep
and rocky in several places requiring riders to dismount and carry their
bikes. (For a more accurate and comprehensive day-by-day trail description,
read about a 1993
trip by "Team Koko.")
Two other fellow Boulder Road Runners and I set out
for what we'd planned as a six-day trip. (For the record, the trip has been
completed in a twenty-four hour grueling dash; or you can take as long as
desired, hiking and exploring the high desert and Colorado River and its
tributaries along the way.) We planned to take turns driving the sag wagon,
so that two of us would ride and meet the sag wagon at the planned camping
area sometime in the afternoon. I biked the first (about 20 miles) and
second (about 28 miles) days—both challenging rides with great views, some
single track, some jeep roads, and a bit of pavement here and there. The
weather was perfect: warm, clear, and a slight breeze. We had seen so few
people in those first two days that when we came upon an isolated pond alongside
the trail (for thirsty cattle?) the two of us skinny-dipped to cool off and
wipe away some of the salt and sweat that had built up. Wouldn't you know
it—two riders came from the opposite direction, discreetly and wordlessly
passed us while we sat in the water. I think I saw a smirk on their faces,
but I could be wrong. They were only one of two groups we passed on the entire
The third day was shorter (less than 10 miles) so we
made camp at the Dewey Bridge (the halfway point) and drove in to Moab for
some groceries, a real meal, and brief contact with civilization.
The fourth day was a tough 25 miles or so with serious
hills, deep sand trails, and a major impassible downhill that was treacherous
just walking our bikes over the boulders. We were exhausted by the time
we reached our camping spot near Onion Creek Road. A weather front was moving
in during the day so we camped against a sandstone outcropping that protected
us from the wind. We also discovered a small Anasazi ruin—probably a grain
storage site—on the face of the rock above our camp (about halfway up the
tallest portion of the formation on the right). We probably passed dozens
of them along the trail without noticing. That night, to my surprise the
other two fellows declared their lack of interest in biking the final two
sections into Moab. So, in the morning I biked solo the 10 miles on the Onion
Creek Road (19 stream crossings) to the highway (state route 128) where they
picked me up and we drove into beautiful Castle Valley, dropped our gear
at our intended camp
site, and continued on to the trial head for the Fisher Mesa trail. They
planned to run several miles out to the end of the mesa and I would bike
it. However, not a mile into the trail the weather changed from cold
and gray to steady snow. (That's the storm approaching in the photo on the
left.) I returned to the sag wagon and read until they finished their run.
We drove back, picked up our gear and drove to Fruita (Colorado) where we
spent the night, and returned home the next day.
If anyone is interested in completing the final two
legs of Kokopelli's Trail this fall or next spring, let me know and we'll
HOME REMODELING ONE MORE TIME
When we bought our house over a dozen years ago, we knew
we'd want to make a number of changes to the colors, cabinets, tiles and other
floor covering. There were 3–4 rooms that need finishing, so we learned to
hang drywall, wire outlets, insulate, install carpet, etc. The garage went
up in '92 and so did Judy's office, the laundry room, and storeroom. We added
an entry room in '97, put in a new kitchen in '99, re-tiled the greenhouse
in 2000, replaced both stoves along the way, and put in new carpet in the
lower and middle levels in between.
This year we planned our final project: a new ceiling in
the great room and bedroom. Good-bye to the "popcorn" ceiling, hello to the
warmth of stained wood.
Of course, this would be a good time to put on a new
coat of paint on the walls before the ceiling is in place. Get rid of the
cold white walls and warm them with soft tones of sage and beige. (That's
Judy at the high point of the project in the great room. The next time we
take this picture, the ceiling will be stained wood.) It would also be a
good time, we reasoned, to dispose of the
last of the original sculptured blue carpet now on our bedroom and bathroom
floors and put in a new, up-to-date style and color. How about sage? We probably
should get a new bathroom vanity to go with the new color scheme. Maybe one
of those custom designed closets for the walk-in area off our bedroom. And
some new light fixtures. A new coat of stain on doors, window frames and baseboards?
Right. And those screen doors that never hung square? New storm doors, of
course. And while we're at it, with the paint left over we can put color
on the walls in the hall and down the stairs to the lower level. And knock
off the popcorn on the ceilings in both areas and put some new paint there
as well. Can you see how one thing leads to another? Have you been there
H&J Construction went to work planning, painting,
staining, installing, and hiring subs to do the plumbing, install the closet,
lay the carpet, and hang the ceiling. Work began in earnest three weeks ago
and we've been pretty steady workers since. We'd like to be done by mid-July,
but you know how that goes.
IN THE MEANTIME
For relief and a change of pace, we continue to welcome
visitors to town on Saturday mornings and Monday afternoons. Judy maintains
her good standing with the fire department, though thankfully there have been
no fires this year!! She worked the Saturday shoppers in town with a fire
fighter's boot collecting for the 4th of July fireworks extravaganza. Hughes
is thinking about getting his trombone out from under the bed in the guest
room and looking over the music the Barker Dam Brass Band will play in the
parade. We read our mysteries and discuss them monthly with our group of
mystery book lovers. Hughes makes music Thursday evenings (guitar, piano,
tin whistle) with others who like Celtic and bluegrass music played slowly
More than this, we continue our non-stop war with thistles
and cheat grass which, if ignored, will take over our back "meadow." We have
a whole summer of local hiking ahead of us—maybe even some backpacking. We
look forward to some short trips with friends (Glacier National Park in July
with Judy's high school girlfriends and spouses); with family (Kanab, Utah
with Julia in August, a Milton Christmas with the Buddes, and Cozumel in
March with the whole family); and by ourselves (Sedona in September and Puerto
Vallarta in November). And if things work out, we've got Great Trip #8 waiting
in the wings for us next year, but it must be kept secret until plans firm
up. But if it works out, it will be an incredible adventure.
It's great to have so much to look forward to. So many
things to do, so many books to read, so many places to go, and so little time
to do everything we'd like to. But you know how that goes.
Sophie and Bella, meanwhile, remain on the alert for more
intruders—whether it be bears or elk or the UPS truck. They continue to be
a constant source of pleasure, smiles, and dirty feet. You are seeing them
on the left at their best: resting side by side in their living room bed.
Life is good for them, as it has been for us.
We hope you'll drop a note sometime (with photos if possible)
and let us know what's going on with you and your family. We always look
forward to hearing from you.
—Hughes and Judy