Monday, August 14, 2017

A crisp 43 degrees

It's August and it's normally hot, it's not normally wet and green and chilly. That's reserved for spring and late fall, but I am personally enjoying this nice change. There is a lot of wet hay in the fields and whenever the sun is out there is a lot of work being done to try and harvest without mold.

The seemingly daily deluge of rain has made the yard go from 'OMG don't step on the grass' to a very fast 'Hi, can you please mow again before the cabin disappears in the grass?'. It's been a blessing to have someone that is able to do a few things around the property, not that I didn't enjoy 3-4 hours of mowing a week, but my running takes a lot longer now. The person doing the work is a great kid, not that we had ever thought it would be any other way, but it's very refreshing knowing we don't have to worry about the work being done when we aren't there.

The clover has spread out, master plan at work!

Our 'pond' is normally dry in August, now the water lulls me to sleep

This neighbor is an escape artist, but I can't blame him for visiting.
In the city, the garden continues to grow... and grow... and grow... and when the sun does eventually make it's appearance for more than a few hours, it's going to be a madhouse of veggies. So far it's been beans and zucchini, but once the sun does it's magic, the tomatoes will be abundant. Cucumbers are almost ready to start picking and the carrots will be ready to pull this week.

This is all great news because I eat a lot more food than I used to. Perhaps not as much as when I was heading upwards to 300 pounds and size 40 pants, but I consume some serious calories. My long runs burn 3-4k calories and my regular runs and workouts take their toll on the nutrition as well. My Saturday routine is up at 4am, running by 4:45am after a drive to the trailhead. This weekend was nice with a clear sky and bright moon so I didn't need a headlamp for the first hour. 3 hours and 3 minutes up, 5200 feet of elevation gain, 2 hours 10 minutes down.

You can see the trail/old road as well as the amazing views

Horseshoe lake, very inviting and tempting in the sun

An idea of the footing on the upper half of the route
I fell twice running on Saturday, there didn't seem to be any options for stable foot placement, so I had to slow it down a little. I don't want to get hurt in training and not be able to even start the Marathon next month. The lower portion of the road gets a lot of ATV traffic, and for some reason most people have the need to tear everything up when they ride, instead of just enjoy and cruise. The route is very technical and getting harder each week, but it's still a joy for me. Zero talent and natural ability, just stubborn determination and a never quit attitude.

We (ok, not really both of us, but I don't mind) decided to fence the road side of the property and install a cattle guard. My only requirement was that it needed to be 4 strand barbed wire to make sure we were open range compliant. Our friends and down the street neighbors helped get it all worked out and installed, and it turned out really nice. We just need to install some 'people' gates and tie in the fence with the cattle guard posts. This might keep the little black pony out, and whatever else the Amish seem to misplace frequently. We picked up some wagon wheels to turn into gates, hopefully they will turn out as well as everything else.

Our friends who have helped with all of this have been really amazing, especially considering they are still building their house. Some of you might have followed the blog one of them had when they were in Cali (what if it is today) and I can say they are all doing well. It's not easy adjusting to a completely new location and life but they seem to have adjusted great to the valley and Colorado altitude living. We are so grateful and appreciate of the friendship.

Rock is doing well, although the frequent thunderstorms rattle his nerves a bit, he loves all the fresh grass he can eat (and later vomit back up), and the high water in his favorite swimming hole. We often have father in-laws dog with us as well, we know that will be a permanent addition to the family at some point fairly soon. She doesn't go swimming. She has a high pitched glass shattering bark. She demands to be fed twice a day. She is always underfoot in the kitchen. She doesn't really like me.
Oh well, there are a lot of people who don't like me, but at least she knows where her next meal is coming from (when I'm damn good and ready anyhow).
Enjoy your week!

Retractable leash = fishing with Rock bait.

Monday, July 31, 2017

A wet July

I try my best to never complain about the weather. It's one of those 'if you can't control it, enjoy it'. Sometimes it's more of a 'deal with it' instead, and from temperatures in the upper 90's that caused the grass to brown out, to torrential rains, July has been a 'deal with it.

I'm really enjoying the weather for running, it's nice and cool in the mornings and usually not raining until I'm done. This weekend was a 16 mile run, much flatter than my usual routes (3500 ft. of elevation gain vs. 5000 ft.) but not any less taxing on the body since it consisted of more running and almost no hiking. The more I run, the harder I run, the more brutal the course... the more I crave the experience. It's really hard holding back and limiting the hours and miles each week, tying to be smart about the progression.

6AM stumble running through a tunnel

Finally light enough to see where I'm stepping

The majority of the state is nice and green, greener than I can remember for this time of year and the water levels are really high. This weekend I was in town so I could attend some training, without a long early morning drive. Had I not been in town, I wouldn't have heard the drops of water hitting the hardwood floor in the bedroom (the only upside to PTSD and very light/little sleep habits). Idk, we have a leak somewhere in the roof and I cannot find it. It actually makes no sense as to how the water could be getting in, but it's a roof and there is a leak so we will have to call an expert on this one.

Perhaps the word 'expert' isn't correct, we will call someone who can come over and give us a guess. This exact same spot had a leak before and we ended up redoing the entire back roof, and hindsight should have had us extend the metal roof on the entire area... hindsight is cruel. Since the leak just started, has it been there for a while and does that mean the insulation and drywall have simply had enough now? Black mold? Spiders (hey, why not)? If it's bad, insurance will be involved, so t his is why we need someone to 'best guess it'. If they are clueless, it's time to start demolishing some drywall.

The upside to the weather pattern is I haven't had to run the sprinklers for almost 2 weeks and the garden is crazy big. I need to harvest beans and of course zucchini always needs harvesting. Green tomatoes abound and cucumbers are starting to show. I'm going to pull a carrot and check the size, I don't grow them normally so I need to check visually vs. google guess it.
One rose bush is still blossoming nicely, it's about 9 feet tall. The grass in the yard is almost a foot (waiting for someone else to cut it, bluegrass allergy doesn't appreciate when I do it) and has filled in a few needed spots. The cabin grass and clover looks amazing, we are paying to keep the grass trimmed and it's been money well spent.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

4 months in the books

Sometimes I just want people to 'shhhh'. I figure this has a lot to do with me trying to be more of a listener instead of a 'control every aspect of a conversation'.

I've enjoyed my no blogging time, not that I didn't have things to post/say, but everyone needs breaks from whatever. Those breaks should be enjoyable, and I've been enjoying myself.

We took a trip to Italy and the surrounding area, including Croatia. That trip stirred up some interesting emotions (although I'm not sure that's the right word), but it was nice to see the area thriving since my peacekeeping mission to the area many years ago. We did a lot of running and it was hot, mid to high 90's with about the same humidity. Sicily, Montenegro, Croatia, Rome, etc. Everything was really nice but of course Rome was filled with trash and I don't think we will go back anytime soon. Next year we will drive to Alaska and place my fathers ashes on a mountain somewhere.

The garden is ready to bust out a lot of veggies, I'm going to be giving away most of it as we can only eat and store so much. Each year I think 'is this worth it' but we both are glad we have things in place should we need to rely on whatever.

I'm running more, and more, and more. Mountains are there to run up... right? I passed whatever barrier was physically/mentally holding me back from being better and things are really dialed in great. The biggest barrier now is honestly having to haul my ass out of bed at 4am so I can run before it gets hot, or at least run most of the trail. I get a lot of great thinking and zen moments while in the mountains, on a trail, trying not to die on slippery rocks while wondering where the oxygen went.

I hope everyone is well, I'll bounce around some and see who still exists in the blog world and get back to updates often. They might be all about running, but do what you love and tell others to be happy and love what they do.

13k feet, somewhat dry conditions on the trail

Horseshoe lake inviting me to swim, but that would slow me down

The trail up, rocky and nasty but perfect.

This was a wet day, the trail is essential a creek.

Game of Thrones 'castle' and 'blackwater bay', Croatia.
Most of the rooftops in the above photo are new, being destroyed during the 'homeland wars' 91-95.

Montenegro, a nice 10 mile run in absurd heat from the bay below.

Our usual pizza spot in Rome.

Added some 'flair' to my new Rover.

Snow, sleet, hail, rain. The summit is a few feet away over the glacier.
Life is really good for us, a lot of work with smaller paychecks, but we are trying to remain positive and have a great time. We are older longer than we are younger and each day is one less marble in the jar. Don't know how many marbles I have left and I could die on a trail somewhere, but I'll have been doing something I love and everyone can stop calling me crazy.


Saturday, March 4, 2017

The quiet and busy life

The yard in town is raked and watered, 66 degrees and finally zero ice on the ground in the shade. We have the seeds started on the table just waiting to pop up and say hello. Some new full spectrum LED lights are keeping everything at a comfortable 72 degrees and well lit... as in damn your eyes! The garden will be nice and big this year and we are both excited about the over abundance of produce we will have.

The other half received a promotion at work and what little time we had to spend together has diminished even more. Father in-law is in the hospital again for pneumonia and has decided assisted living isn't his cup of tea and is going back home when this stint is up. He needs 24 hour a day care but doesn't seem to care that he isn't strong enough or stable enough to live at home. Home care is about $15k per month but in his mind he only needs help for a few hours each day so the entire family is just going to let him do whatever he wants until the money runs out or he does fall and kill himself. It's enough of a strain on everyone, especially us, so we are just taking a step back.

After a few months of debating, I finally decided to get a new SUV. I had looked at so many different models, colors, makes, trim levels, etc. Since I had a Range Rover and loved it, I decided to get another one.

That's it being cleaned when it got off the truck, I've only put 100 miles on it but really love it.

In between all of the work and family issues, we have really been loving getting away to the mountains. We had fresh snow this week, this is the time of year we get the most but it doesn't stick around too long. The mountains look amazing, but the winds are being a little nasty and we are pleased to be in the tree's.

I've been running a lot, up to about 10 hours a week now plus gym time on top of that. I feel like the training is paying dividends, but sometimes it's really wearing thin on my body and nerves. The run I'm training for is in 2 months and so far out of the 8 people who signed up to run with me, only 1 is actually training still. Everyone else dropped out in short order, apparently a mountain elevation marathon seemed fun until they had to run more than a few miles a week.

I'm heading to Miami next week, there is a lot of travel for me this year. Conferences, convention, leadership courses, etc. Some fun trips for diving and our 22nd anniversary trip in a few months. Busy no matter what it seems, work, family, life, travel, etc. We have a blessed life and continue to plan for the future, good times and bad.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Garden planning

If ever there was a year that I felt we needed a large garden, 2017 is the year. With all the political drama and wall talk, it's going to be nice to be as self reliant as possible. Many people forget the years in the past when produce was really expensive and had some limited availability. Fast food places weren't adding tomato on whatever you ordered and I do love tomatoes.

I think the price of produce is high currently, so I can see those prices doubling and tripling. Eating healthier is causing us to buy more veggies but it's winter and we don't have a greenhouse for all year growing.

A large order of heirloom seeds showed up on Friday, they will replace what I'm getting ready to start growing on the dining room table. Tomatoes, bush beans, pole beans, cucumbers, onions, zucchini, lettuce, beets, carrots and probably some more items will be on the menu for the garden this year. I'm contemplating potatoes but we don't eat many of those.

I have traditional grow lights but we've decided to swap those out for LED's this year. The initial investment is about $330 for two full spectrum 278watt 600 count LED lights. They will each cover a 4x4 section, so two of those will be great rigged above the table. I'm using narrow window-sill type trays in order to maximize the light on the seedling trays. Once the seedlings get large, I'll transplant them into large pots and those will be placed into trays. This will enable us to manage the individual plants better than having 30 seedlings competing on a tray.

Well it's a plan anyhow.

It's a really nice weekend in the mountains. Father in-law is back in the hospital but we are trying to have a normal weekend together. Friday the winds were ridiculous but by noon on Saturday they dropped off to normal levels and today, nothing. Great for running, great for melting the large snow drifts. Pancakes are almost ready and some bluegrass is playing on the radio.

Toys? Shoes? Boxes! He might be part cat.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

New Orleans fried chicken

and some other tales from behind a fork...

While I'm not a fan of New Orleans, the food there can be incredible and since I had to be there for work I wasn't going to miss out on some good eating.

First stop after checking into the hotel was Commerce Restaurant. Conveniently located across from the hotel, it's not a place that many tourists would stop in. It's run down, the people working there might have enough teeth for one full set, everything about the place just screams keep walking.
Except the fried chicken.
Not many people can make really good fried chicken, the kind that makes you pick at your plate until you are sure there isn't anything but bones left. Yum. I had to pry myself out of the rickety chair and leave before I ordered a few more pieces.

Tomas Bistro was next up, a little cocktail hour with snacks and then dinner. The service was horrible, they seemed to not only be short staffed at the front of the house but also the back. They did have the best chocolate covered strawberries I've ever eaten and the gumbo was spectacular. I sort of wanted to get a little drunk (as an excuse to eat more strawberries) but I never got a refill so we decided it was time to get some sleep.

Another day we headed to the Hermann-Grimma house. This is a 19th century mansion with a working outdoor kitchen from the 1830's (my favorite part of the whole place). We toured the house and I learned a few things (they would roll up and store the carpet to protect it during the summer since they would have the windows open to keep the house cool). Connected to the mansion is a fancy restaurant that we visited cocktails and appetizers. I never saw the name nor can I now find it on google maps but they had the best chocolate eclairs ever.

The Palace Cafe was another dinner pick, it's several stories but we sat on the ground floor so we could watch all of the people. It's not Mardi Gras but that never seems to matter. Bourbon street was busy and loud, and all sorts of people enjoying themselves created a great watching environment. I opted for a simple filet and veggies, my coworker landed on a pork chop and he said it was the best one he had ever eaten.

We had a lot of food and just a few drinks over the long weekend and that meant running. I managed to get about 4 hours of running done in total and avoided a few sketchy areas by simply turning around.

While I was having fun, someone was home and getting father in-law settled in an assisted living place at least for the next month. This was also the 1 year since mother in-law passed away. All of this led to a quick trip to the emergency room for dehydration and exertion so I boarded the first flight out and got home as quick as I could. I'm glad we keep money in an emergency fund, it was $1200 for the flights and we don't need to pay the credit card off over the next year just because of it. We really do try and be prepared and every once in a while something happens to keep us pointed in the right direction.

The washer and dryer are now stacked safely at the cabin. This created room for more shelving and I'm trying to locate some barn wood so this project can be finished up. We replaced the toilet and flooring in the bathroom, carpeting in a bathroom finally wore on our nerves and it just had to go. Here are a few pictures from the postcard life:

Somewhere under that snow it's almost spring

The view back towards home after an hour of running

Rock was worn out from our adventures

Obviously not that worn out

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

A little snow finally.

While winter isn't over around here until the end of April, it's nice to see the mountains blanketed in snow. There isn't much snow anywhere else but the peaks and in the trees. The light for this picture was really amazing, the entire area just seemed to have a glow about it.

Rock and I were hiking a lot, navigating the ice patches on the road until we got out in the open. He enjoyed the mud, I didn't enjoy cleaning him off every few hours. We had a good time, father in-laws dog is staying with us while we are determining what a good course of action will be. He is in a rehabilitation old folks type home right now. It's a nice place and it's safe, we are worried about him being back home and something happening but it's really going to be up to him.

What's it like in the trees?

Whatever snow lands out in the open blows across the valley, but it does like to stick around at home. The last few weeks have been windy, upwards of 120 mph gusts and sustained 60+ mph especially in the city. We had about 20k worth of damage at work from the wind and flying debris and my company car is missing a back window. Fences are broken and sections just missing all over the county but ours is perfect. I remember my first blogger post was about metal fence posts, and those saved us from not only fence work, but they fence kept everyone else's debris out of our yard.

It's a pretty incredible difference in/out of the tree's. I've driven in and had to shovel (especially the occasional drift) in order to get the door open but the valley looked clear like this photo. Even in the tree's the wind can blow hard enough to have dirt collect on the inside window sills of the old non-storm windows.

We really love living here, and while it might not be full time, we are starting to remodel and update a few things in 2017 so when we make the full time move, it's all set. We are even thinking of adding a 2 car garage and turning the attached 1 car garage into a regular home room. Unfortunately, watching how slow construction goes in the valley that might not be something we will do this year. If we can get a concrete pad put down without too much trouble, we will most likely get a tuff-shed type garage so at least we have a shell up fast and can go to work on the insulation and interior finish.
Something like this:

It will give us storage for 2 vehicles and room for the ATV's and other things. We don't need an upper level so perhaps just a nice pitched roof with a loft type area for storage.

Rock is as cute as the bear. I was loading up heading in for work while he tried to pull the ears off 'sir knottingham'. I also had to shovel the foot of snow that had fallen while we were sleeping. It was coming down hard and I'm sure we got close to 18 inches or more over the course of yesterday. In town there was maybe 1/4 inch but honestly it makes my job easier when we don't have to manage with weather. Work is nuts, as usual, and I'm heading to New Orleans next week. Yuck.