November 8, 2014

Dear Family and Friends,

    It has been a long time between newsletters. We last sent one in April shortly after we returned from our winter hiatus in Arizona. Since then we traveled to Italy (May) and took a road trip through new areas of Colorado to Utah where we ended the trip by working at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab (August). Both were memorable trips for different reasons: Italy because we shared a week in Rome with our daughter's family and got a grand tour from our grandson who had been studying there since the first of the year; the road trip reminded us of the pleasure of using our RV (which had been in storage for over a year) to travel at a leisurely pace and visit areas we had not seen before. By taking the bikes and towing our small 4wheel drive Rav4, we had the flexibility to see many places off the beaten path. You should have received reports of both trips, but in case you missed them you can click on the links above.
Ridge Road
    Between trips, the last six months we have enjoyed being at home in our mountains. Our weather has been near-perfect and we have had no appreciable nor lasting snow yet. The summer and fall have, so far, been wonderfully mild and dry. Only twice have we felt the need to have a fire in the wood stove, though that's all going to change this week when our temperatures are going to bottom out in the teens for several days. The skiers say "About time!" but those who hike, bike, and run have enjoyed a balmy, sweet autumn, and would love it to last forever.

      In addition to the routine medical maintenance visits to our team of doctors, we have enjoyed time with our neighbors; we have entertained—and been entertained by—visitors from Ohio, Florida, and Washington; and we have continued our regular volunteer activities.

Hiking, Biking, and Running
    Judy has been doing all three on a regular basis. She has continued as a regular member of a hearty group of mountain ladies who hike in some of the most scenic and, sometimes, challenging areas of the front range, mostly in the Indian Peaks Wilderness Area. The photos they took really show off the beauty of the high country that is within a half hour drive of Nederland: the wildflowers this year were spectacular, the aspens in September were as glorious golden as we've ever seen in our area, and the snows on the Continental Divide provided a nearly continuous backdrop for the alpine lakes and meadows. If you tried to call her on a Thursday between May and November, the chances are she couldn't answer because she was out of cell phone range.
Alpine Lake
    Most every Sunday, and many days in between, Judy was biking—either with our son, Michael (on Sundays) or solo on the roads up here. Hughes has very occasionally joined the Sunday rides or weekday rides with Judy on the road to Eldora. It's a 17 miles round trip from our house to the end of the pavement in Eldora (the small former mining town west of Nederland), with an overall elevation gain of over 1,000'. It's a few miles further from the house south to the small railroad town of Pinecliff. She averages a little over 15 mph in spite of the ascents, some of which are really quad-busters. She has so taken to biking that given the choice and the appropriate weather, she is more likely to chose biking over running. Group running on Saturdays (with the Purple Runners) and Sundays (with the Boulder Roadrunners) have gone pretty much by the boards, and it's clear that she has become more of a biker than a runner.

    That's not to say that her interest in running has disappeared altogether. She did not sign up for this year's Bolder Boulder 10K, much to the delight of Dianne Fuller who won Judy's age group for the first time. She did, however, win her age group in the Boulder Distance Classic in April and brought home a case of beer for winning her age group in the Avery 4 on the 4th. Unfortunately, this year's Neder-Nederland races, always held on the Sunday after Labor Day, were canceled because the person who took responsibility for directing the races decided she couldn't make enough money putting them on. So after more than a quarter of a century there were no races in Nederland!
Avery Race
    [Note: Michael, who has been an AARP member for a couple years, continues to impress us both with his biking achievements: he commutes 24 miles by bicycle most work days, and likes to ride a Century on frequent occasion. He aims for 10,000 miles and 100 miles of elevation gain each year, and usually cracks the goal well before Thanksgiving. He charts it all on Strava, a program that maps, records, and analyzes each ride, as does Judy.]


   We've had friends stay in the guest suite at the Moir Motel every year for the past 22 years. (Is it the beauty of the mountains or Moir hospitality?) We enjoy reconnecting with folks from our past as well as delight in showing off the scenery and history that is so close by. We have great hiking for all ages and abilities. We have intriguing ghost towns and old mines in which to poke around. We have fine places to eat. There is history around every corner. For the past four years we've introduced guests to the pleasure of the town's unusual and whimsical Carousel of Happiness. While there's not a lot of shopping in town, you can always find terrific gifts and souvenirs in Nederland; more serious retail is no farther away than Boulder, 18 miles down the canyon. Though no one yet has been interested, there is also casino gambling 18 miles to the south in historic Black Hawk and Central City. And Rocky Mountain National Park is less than an hour to the north.

    Hedy Bressler knows all this. She started coming out from Florida years ago when her son was a student at the University of Colorado down in Boulder. Since he's been living and working in the Vail area for many years, Hedy loves to visit (skiing in the winter, golf in the summer, concerts year round, etc.). She usually pays us a call for a day or two so we can catch up on how her Florida golf game is progressing and the tribulations of her HOA, as well as reminisce about our Antioch College days back in the late 50s and early 60s. It's hard to find something new for her to visit—she's seen almost everything in the area, but we so enjoy her laid back, relaxed, don't-go-to-any-trouble style of visiting.
    Jill Calcamuggio worked with Judy at the hospital lab back in Toledo. More important, she's responsible for encouraging Judy to begin running. When Judy entered her first race at Jill's suggestion, Judy won a trophy; her competitive juices kicked in and she couldn't be stopped. She's been running ever since. Jill has a sister living in Denver and Jill and Judy get together while she's visiting from Toledo.

    Former students Dick and Trish Sanders from Whitehouse (Ohio), who have visited us in the past, came to Colorado for the marriage of their son, Ben. When we heard they were coming, we insisted on a day of Shanghai rummy. After all, they are the gurus who introduced the game to us (along with the now famous Sanders Shuffle) and set the bar high as, in our estimation, the best (and fastest) Shanghai players we've encountered. They're also funny and fun to play with. And so are their daughters who came with them (one is a lawyer, the other a stand up comedian, so you know they're fast and bright and funny!). We also met David, a likely soon-to-be member of the family, who won not only Laura's heart, but also Dick's since they are both avid fly fishermen. The seven of us played triple deck Shanghai for hours, well past sunset. While we had dinner on the patio, one of the daughters casually remarked that there was a bear walking through the meadow in the back. It was not the first one we've seen, but it always gives us a thrill, especially if the dogs remain unaware of the animal's presence and we can observe it calmly. In spite of the event, we later walked across the meadow and through our woods to stretch our legs between games.
    Bill Martin and Christine Besch, friends from Desert Trails, decided to accept our invitation to drive out from Washington (state) and get to know what our part of the world is like (They're the two on the left end of the log). We decided to do more than play endless rounds of Shanghai rummy, and instead showed them the full range of hiking in the nearby mountains (Bill even enthusiastically joined the ladies Thursday hiking group); we poked through nearby mine camps and found geocaches in some nearby rugged areas; of course Judy and Christine went treasure hunting through some of the trendier thrift stores in in the Boulder area, while Bill and Hughes stacked wood, hauled mounds of slash to the local sort yard, and did some other maintenance projects. It's true we did play some Shanghai, but not as much as we could have. After all, they were with us for two weeks and we had time.

    One would think that a two-week visit would grow old, but it didn't. We enjoyed the entire time they were here, which passed quickly. However, to show their gratitude, sometime just before they left these Seattle Seahawk fans sneaked downstairs, under the cover of darkness, and swiped one of our Bronco super bowl pennants, which we proudly hang above our bar, and replaced it with a Seahawk pennant! It was at least two weeks before we noticed the switch! We were good sports and laughed at our lack of observation. However, after Seattle beat Denver last month (by a fluke in overtime), Christine sent a photo of our pennant (which they kept) poised for down-loading it into a toilet in their house. We were not amused. We felt this brazen act demands some form a retribution (TBD). We have said nothing, but we suspect they know we're waiting for the right time to strike back. We'll report back in a future newsletter.

Neighborhood Doings

    •Judy returned from Arizona with a quilt top that was pieced together by a good friend who was taking a quilting class at Desert Trails. Judy spent many hours this spring and summer finishing the hand quilting using a design of her choosing. The finished product is fabulous quilt, the combined efforts of Carole's and Judy's selection of striking colors, Carole's machine piecing, and Judy's careful, fine hand quilting.

    •As the Carousel of Happiness enters its fourth year of offering visitors to Nederland a unique and happy experience, we continue to support it through volunteering by greeting visitors, selling tickets and gifts, and generally making visitors feel welcome. We like working there, and when you come for a visit, we'll get you up on the moose or rabbit or sit you next to the gorilla. Whatever, it will be quite a memorable trip.

    •By all accounts, this year's town 4th of July parade seemed to lack the usual enthusiasm and had fewer participants than in the past. We've not had fireworks in the evening for the past few years which may have taken some of the luster and anticipation away from the parade. Membership in the Barker Dam Brass Band has shrunk to its smallest numbers in years and the parade route itself was shorter than usual. Sadly, after over twenty years of popular performances, our band director has raised the question of the group's future.
2015 Outback
    •After nearly 140,000 miles of reliable service, Judy sold her 2000 Subaru Outback and purchased a new 2015 Outback that is longer, wider, taller, roomier, and more fuel efficient than her older model. It's also very high tech (the manuals are three times the size of the manual for the 2000 outback) and has more functions that operate automatically (once they are programmed) so that Judy calls it her "Smart Car." Hughes finds it much roomier and more comfortable than her previous model, and he has had great fun playing with the navigation/audio systems. We'll take our inaugural "long" trip when we leave for Arizona at the end of the month, and look forward to the two-day drive that will be quieter, more comfortable, and we'll have our choice of music and talk programs through the dreaded "radio dead zones" across wide sections of New Mexico and Arizona.

    •The Mystery Book Club continues to meet monthly to read and discuss a variety of mysteries of varying levels of quality, though this year we unanimously enjoyed William Kent Krueger's Edgar winning Ordinary Grace. We recommend it highly.

    •In addition to human visitors, we enjoyed the company of two neighbors' dogs, either for one-day visits or stays as long as a week. Bella and Lucy enjoyed each guest and were happy to show them where the bunnies lived and where all the good smells are.

    •Three seminars at the Apple Store helped to ease Hughes's transition to his new iMac computer, which is enough different in many features that the move has not been without some bumps along the path. The hard drive on his previous iMac, purchased eight years ago, simply died, went silent, and like the bird in the famous Monty Python "dead parrot" sketch, the computer was "no more"—it was a "late computer." The number of updates and new procedures was often baffling.

    •We saw G&S's "Pirates of Penzance" for the umpteenth time this spring: we've seen high school productions, college performances (several at the University of Michigan), professional concerts, and video/movie versions. (Our favorite is probably the NYC production with Linda Ronstadt, Kevin Kline, Angela Landsbury, and a talented cast who seemed to understand that Gilbert and Sullivan did not intend for the audience or actors to take the whole thing very seriously and clearly seemed to enjoy the fun of the play.) The University of Colorado Opera put on a first rate production with innovative sets, a terrific orchestra, and talented singers/actors. We never seem to tire of it.

    •Among several seasonal neighborhood eating events, our calendar for the past six months recorded showed the following social events:
       •We hosted at least five Desert Trails style happy hours for small neighborhood gatherings, one of which featured Cathy Phelps's special margarita recipe.

       •We hosted the second of what surely will become an annual Octoberfest gathering of good German style food and drink and drinking songs. As you can see, some guests even came in constume.

       •We attended a musical BarBQ with the folks with whom Hughes makes music each week; we enjoyed the Bradburys' annual tube steak party, the Rudstrums' patio party and their rice and beans Bronco party; and frequent neighborhood potlucks, very much in the tradition of Desert Trails where no good deed seems to go unrewarded without a potluck celebration.

       •Card playing absorbed many good hours of concentration, conversation, and snacking. Our Nederland Cutthroat Bridge Club met monthly, and several informal foursomes met frequently throughout the past six months for social bridge; we found enough interest from a few neighbors in playing Shanghai rummy that we looked forward to several sessions for that; Hughes and Rick averaged at least one game of cribbage a week; on several occasions we lost significant portions of our Desert Trails laundry quarters at the hands of Jim and Sandi Bradbury who love to play "31."

Final Reflections

    Judy found among the emails she recently received the following (
unattributed) question: "If we don't feel grateful for what we already have, what makes us think we'd be happy with more?"

    It was in this spirit that rereading this letter, and in the spirit of the season of Thanksgiving we realize that we seem to have had huhugh than we deserve. Maybe we have, but at our ages it does not seem a sin to enjoy retirement. We know we are among the very lucky to have relatively good health, a supportive family, and a network of friendly and active neighbors who seem to enjoy the same things we do. We live in an area of clean air, spectacular scenery, and lots of sunshine. We acknowledge the good fortune we've had in our lives and live with few regrets, and we recognize we made some good decisions along the way. We don't spend what we don't have, and have tried to retain and nurture the friendships we've made. In short, we have our health, our friends, and are generally free from economic worry. The ability to retire when we did, where we did, and how we did has been a blessing. We have been given so much in our lives, we can only hope that we, in turn, have been generous toward others. We continue to look ahead with optimism and anticipation of what lies ahead.

All good wishes,
Judy and Hughes

Judy and Hughes Moir
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