Hiking at Desert Trails    By the time you read this we’ll be in Tucson enjoying warm winter weather. It will be our second full winter at Desert Trails RV Park and our fifth visit since discovering it in 2010. We regret leaving our good friends in Nederland for the winter, though to tell the truth, several of those we spend time with are also heading for their own winter retreats: Florida, Texas, and Arizona. One couple got so tired of the snow and ice and wind they permanently moved to southern California.
    As much as we will miss our mountain neighbors, we look forward to our second set of friends when we reach Desert Trails just west of Tucson. We have kept in touch with many of them throughout the eight months we’re in Nederland; several couples have paid visits to us here, which gives us a chance to show them our beautiful area at its best: in the summer and fall.   
    By now, you have had a chance to read our newsletters about the first half of the year: our winter in Arizona and the ups and downs of our spring—knee replacement and recovery; bringing Bella back from the brink of a serious heart condition thanks to the genius and careful diagnosis by the head cardiologist at CSU’s veterinary school; Judy’s discovery of the joys of bicycling to replace part of her passion for running which she had to curtail because of injury. All this and our other routines and minutia are found in the winter and spring newsletters.

  15 years apart
    We finished the year with several exciting events. We had the house and garage stained, the septic pumped, the deck off the living room replaced (warranty issues with the decking material), the windows washed, all in preparation for a rare visit from the Boston family: Dan and Debra, grandchildren Griffin and Julia, and Natalia, a college friend of Griffin’s. They had planned a week’s visit (it actually turned out to be four and a half days) and we tried to cram as much into the week as possible. In that short time,  
    We made our first outing a leisurely 4-mile stroll through the nearby Caribou Ranch Open Space trails to the site of the Bluebird Mine complex and the DeLonde Homestead. At 8600’ elevation, it is an excellent place to acclimate to altitude before heading to 10,000’ or higher.      

We successfully recaptured a little of our collective pasts by duplicating a family photo we had taken about 15 years ago: comparing then and now was an eye-opener to everyone. See for yourself in the pair of photos.
    We hiked to Isabelle Lake in the Indian Peaks Wilderness Area—two miles of gentle ascent to discover this scenic glacier-fed lake was undergoing repairs to its drainage system and was therefore, empty save for a few feet of water covering the deepest point in the basin that remained. (The “lake” is in fact a reservoir owned by the Left Hand Ditch Company established in the 1860s by farmers in eastern Boulder County to protect their water rights.) We were disappointed at the lack of water, but the weather was bright and sunny and the mountains were glorious.
    We went on a moose hunt in the Brainard Lake area where numerous moose had been recently spotted. We were ultimately successful and felt the extra effort and time were worth it, especially for easterners who don't have them frequently wander through their backyards.

    We took a horseback ride into the outskirts of Rocky Mountain National Park near Allenspark. Dan’s brother Jim and his wife Lucy drove up from Denver to join the line of horses through some beautiful forested mountains and meadows. This was followed a day or so later by a group ride on Nederland’s Carousel. No horses though: zebras, leopards, dogs, and frogs. 
debra on carouselJulia and JudyNatalia and Griffin
    We walked Boulder’s Pearl Street Mall, a wonder of retail and eating opportunities, a customary—almost obligatory—and much anticipated experience when visiting us. However, our special dining treat was dinner at the historic Gold Hill Inn in the small mining town of Gold Hill, a short half hour away.
    During rest periods, we played cards, read, scouted our woods for local moose, and most everyone tried their hands at splitting some logs. We’re glad we don’t count on them to keep our supply ready for cold weather.  
Griff and the ax Dan with the ax9Julia and the ax
    Michael and Cindy joined us on the last day of the visit to complete the family picture, though we thoughtlessly let the opportunity for a full family photo get away from us. We wonder when we’ll have another opportunity to squeeze all the Moirs/Buddes into one photographic memory.
 Doc Martins Surgery
    Last year we had planned an 11-day trip to Cornwall and Devon that would begin in late August. We had plenty of time after the Buddes’ visit to get ready for the trip. Hughes finished physical therapy a week before leaving and was given the green light to walk the English countryside and villages as much as he wanted. Our passports were in order, the rental car, as well as the airline tickets, were confirmed. We had reservations at a resort in Devon and two B&Bs, the first night in Clovelley and the last night in St. Ives. We had arranged for the dogs to visit other dogs while we were gone: Bella spent the time with Gidget at Michael and Cindy’s, and Lucy visited Maggie who lives with neighbors Rick and Pat. In short, all was ready and nothing could go wrong.

    [Many thanks to both the Moirs and the Rudstrums for helping to make our trip possible by providing a safe and comfortable home for Bella and Lucy. We knew they were in good hands.]
    Once we located the site of the car rental agency and secured a map of that would get us out of London we had smooth sailing. We were surrounded by charming villages, green fields, historic buildings, and we saw just about everything we’d hoped for and planned. We returned with lingering pleasures and mental images of a beautiful part of the world. Our special destination was the village of Port Isaac, Cornwall, where Doc Martin has his modest surgery, situated above Mr. Large's seaside restaurant, shown on the left. For a detailed account and more pictorial proof of Cornwall’s scenic coastal villages, we have posted an online account of the trip.
     When we returned from England, we had planned to pack up the RV, which we hadn’t had on the road for nearly a year, and head west, either to the northwest (Washington, BC, Oregon) or to the west coast (California). There were, however, two factors on which we had not counted: we felt “traveled out” after our sojourn to England and the need for re-establishing ties to home were very strong. In addition, the week of our return, our part of Colorado, especially Boulder County, got hit with a storm of “biblical proportions” (this from a very excited member of  the US Weather Bureau) that flooded dozens of state highways and washed out bridges in the area that interrupted normal transportation habits, to say nothing of destroying homes, businesses, in some cases whole towns, and causing loss of lives. The storm facts:
        1. We arrived home on September 9. From September 9–13, 14.62 inches of rain fell in Boulder, Colorado.

        2. On September 12, 9.07 inches of rain fell in Boulder. The previous one-day record in any month was 4.8" in July, 1919. The wettest September day was 3.05" in 1909.

        3. The average rainfall in September is 1.63" The previous record in any month in Boulder is 9.60 inches in May, 1995. (We remember that vividly. We had water rushing down our road and leaving about 2" in our lower level.)  
    To be clear, we do not live in Boulder. We are 18 miles west and 3,000' higher than Boulder. We were fortunate to escape major damage, unlike the nearby mountain town of Jamestown and the foothills town of Lyons, both of which will be months or years to recover to some facsimile of their pre-flood existence. We were inconvenienced at most: we had to use alternative routes to get to Boulder or Denver that cost us an extra half hour of travel. For the few minor inconveniences we are very grateful. Many people lost their homes, their belongings, their pets, their livelihoods.
    In addition to forcing us to reroute our travel, the flood (dubbed by an excited media as the “1000-Year Flood”) did cause one inconvenience for us. The ground around the house became so saturated that water came into the lower level in two places: in the corner behind the bar is a 2’x2’ area that is not part of the concrete slab, a area where a water pipe comes up into the house. Water emerged from that area at a rate that kept Hughes and our neighbor Rick constantly sucking it with a shop vacuum for over 15 hours. The problem was alleviated by the loan of a neighbor’s sump pump that ran for several days until the seepage stopped.  
    An additional “leak” sprung in a corner along the west wall where the floor and stone wall meet. This leak did not flow as quickly as the other one, but it did demand constant attention. Pat, Rick’s wife, spent hours—including part of the night—attending to sucking the water with a shop vac. Meanwhile, those not attending the leaks were trying to get the water out of the carpeting using another shop vac and our Bissell carpet cleaner to suck water. Rick and Pat were insistent on being good neighbors above and beyond the call of duty.  
    The final result is that the carpet is now dry and without any lingering stains; we accumulated no mold (though a strange and pervasive odor was detected and, after removing the refrigerator next to the bar, we discovered the carcass of a fairly recent mouse who decided to die in the back of the frig); and we spiked our well to rid our water supply of suspected E. coli contamination (a common result of flooding where folks have wells). And we bought a sump pump, which we hope never to have to use. We are happy to loan it out to those who desperately need odesert trailsne as we did.
    In the end, we decided to put the RV “to bed” for the winter, and look forward to a road trip next spring or summer.  
    Thanksgiving was a pleasant mixture of good conversation, cribbage, football, and great food. In addition to Michael and Cindy, we were joined by neighbor Tracy Nevin and college friend David Delo (Antioch, ’62), along with two visiting dogs keeping Bella and Lucy company. The problems with water in the rec room/bar area are long forgotten and the road to Boulder is open and traffic is back to normal.
    Now, with only leftovers to remind us that Thanksgiving has past, we have about a week to gather together our clothes, meds, dog things, electronics and other toys for our trip to Tucson and a winter of new adventures. There are still a bunch of chores to get done: stop the newspaper, arrange for mail to be forwarded, turn off the TV service, get new drivers licenses, and shut the house down (heat, electricity, water, etc.) for the winter ahead.  
    We are looking forward to sitting in the warm Arizona sunshine. Below zero temperatures here are forecast during the first week of December. We’ll endure this early deep freeze, and the anticipation of sun and shorts weather will pull us through.
    Our plans for next year include a long road trip in the summer and, we hope, a surprise trip to a new destination in the spring. Whatever plans work out, we have much to be thankful for this past year and to look forward to in 2014. We hope the same for you and your family.  
    All good wishes for a very happy New Year!
Judy and Hughes

Xmas Photo for 2013
         [Note: Many thanks to desert Trails friend Susan Carberry for taking our New Year's picture this year. We were on a hike with her and Reve to the DeLonde Homestead just a few miles from our house during their visit in August.]

Judy and Hughes Moir
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