Icy Roads With A Chance Of Say Your Prayers

This is the forecast for the morning commute tomorrow. Ask me how excited I am. They might as well have written this:

Tomorrow morning your commute will be shitty. Make sure you have your insurance card ready for the accident you will likely be involved in. If you do manage to avoid an accident, rest assured it will take you a full hour longer to get where you are going. Oh….and the roads will be ice covered in snow for the afternoon commute, so that should be fun. Good luck, losers.

I mean, with recent Covid-19, work-from-anywhere transplants from Texas, Florida, California, and Georgia will be on the roads. How bad could this be?

Let’s go!

Walking In A (Snowless) Winter Wonderland

It was 24 degrees when we went to the Trail of Lights in a nature preserve near our home. We have gone to this event several times over the years, but it has been a while. It’s a fun thing to do, but the colder it is, the faster we seem to move through it. We moved pretty fast tonight. But a quick winter walk with both our sons was worth it.

Back together again
Not enough layers for this, but we took this photo before our faces froze
This tree is amazing, and the ambiance around it was ethereal
Neon trees
Quiet night along the trail
Brothers

We may have had cold bodies, but we had warm hearts.

The Spiders Are Still Here, Dammit!

Photo of our cute puppy in the shade because it’s over 70 degrees and he has black fur

It has been warm in Denver. Record-breaking warm. National news coverage level of warm. I was in Target this morning and I saw two women wearing sandals. SANDALS. In December. In Denver. This is nuts. The latest I am usually able to wear flip flops is October. We’re not exactly south Florida. We’re literally a mile high. When other people are getting rain, we are getting snow. But, here we are at December 2nd and we still have not had our first snow of the fall. We have not made it to December without a measurable snowfall since record keeping began here in 1882. It has been 224 consecutive days since we last had snowfall. This is not good for many reasons. The first of which is two-thirds of Colorado’s water supply comes from snowpack. The second is the dry conditions put us at serious risk for forest and brush fires. And the third of which is this:

This not-so-little wolf spider (can’t tell from the photo but he is about the size of my palm when his legs are extended) was waiting for me in my garage this morning. I rarely see these fellows after September. Sometimes I see them through October if it is a warm October. But I have not once seen them in November or beyond. Until this morning. As I came around the corner to my car door at 7:10 am so I could drive my son to school, he was right there. After I dropped a juicy expletive, I judged that he was at a safe distance for me to access my car door. I rushed in and slammed the door, checking to make sure he hadn’t made a leap for it (they do jump). I was safe. As much as I wanted to back out and run it over, he was a little too close to the wall. Damn. When I returned home and opened the garage door, I noticed he had moved. He was now positioned about right where I would need to exit. So, I did the only logical thing. I crawled over the center console, popped open the passenger side car door, and exited that way. When I later went to leave for an appointment, I noticed he was still there, so I entered my car from the passenger side because that is what any sane arachnophobe would do.

I like warm weather. I like sunshine. I’ve enjoyed not having to wear hats and gloves and snow boots yet. But with this latest spider development, I’ve decided to start praying for snow. I barely tolerate those hunting spiders in the late summer and fall, when I expect to see them. I certainly won’t stand for this now. They should be hiding underground at this very moment. They need to go and, for that to happen, it needs to get a lot colder and snowier here ASAP.

So, if anyone knows how to summon snowfall, I’m all ears. I would like to be able to be fear free in my garage and I would also like to enter my car through the driver’s side door tomorrow and for the foreseeable future. Feel free to leave me an ancient alchemist’s snowfall recipe or the number for a reputable shaman in the comments section. Thanks in advance.

The Most Colorado Thing That Happened Today

We live in an area that is currently being developed southwest of Denver. It’s a part of town that up until now has been characterized by small, family-owned ranches. Little by little, though, the landowners here have been cashing out as Denver has expanded and housing costs have skyrocketed. We moved out to this new development from Denver last year because we wanted to have a little more open space and a little less traffic congestion and street noise around us. We were thrilled to buy a house that backs to a natural ravine, which is characterized as open space as we have no one living directly behind us. In the past year, we have seen deer and coyotes in this open space. One day there was even a moose spotted further up the ravine. Today, though, we were fortunate enough to witness something different.

The people who own the development put on a cattle drive through our neighborhood. Since Denver was originally a “cow town,” it was fitting today to get to experience a little of that history. The cattle were driven up the open space behind our house to a pasture behind the neighborhood where they will graze for the winter. The beauty of this is that we were literally able to stand in our yard and on our deck to see this spectacle. While many of our fellow neighbors who turned out for the event had to find a spot along a street from which to watch, our yard was within feet of the ranchers on horseback who were herding the cattle up the ravine. Even our three-month-old corgi puppy enjoyed the experience, barking at the cattle he felt compelled by nature to herd as they jogged on by.

It’s a privilege to live in Colorado every single day, even if driving here can be a nightmare. On this particular Sunday, though, it was epic that there was no Broncos game so the only traffic we had to deal with was the four-legged kind moving briefly behind our home on the way to better pastures.

Colorful Colorado

I had to drive my son to a volunteer shift this morning. On my way home, I had a full view of the entire front range of the Rocky Mountains in Denver. We have many sunny days in Colorado, but the clearest ones often occur in fall. The mountains have a light coating of snow, so they appear larger than they have all summer. The foothills seem closer because of the scrub oak bushes that have turned orange and red. And with the bright blue sky overhead, it’s simply gorgeous. This morning was so beautiful, I shed tears in my car as I headed west towards our home. I am so fortunate to live here. I moved here when I was 8. I’ve lived 75% of my life here, not long enough to be considered a native, but it’s home. Every day I get to wake up and remember I live here.

So today I am sharing photos I’ve taken of home.

Snow Mountain Ranch
Boulder and the Flatirons from a hot air balloon
Kebler Pass
Mt Sherman
Wildflowers on Rabbit Ears Pass
Steamboat Lake State Park
Great Sand Dunes National Park
View of the other side of Colorado’s famous Maroon Bells taken from Paradise Bowl at Crested Butte
Aspens changing color near Vail
Cliffs in the background of Haviland Lake
Powder day Crested Butte Ski Resort
Wilderness near Telluride
View from winery near Paonia
Mesa Verde National Park
Falls near Telluride

Fetcha Day

Today was Fetcha Day for our new furry baby. After spending the night in Vernal, Utah, we drove into Duchesne and met the breeder at 9 am. She was wonderful, and Loki (whose full AKC name shall be Happy Go Loki Seven) was perfect from the get go. He played with a kitten, ran around the grass, and then settled into our arms like he had always belonged with us.

The drive from Duchesne to our house is approximately seven hours, and with a new pup we wanted to get home as quickly as possible. Along the way, we stopped several times at parks to let Loki use the grassy facilities and stretch his three-inch long corgi legs. By the time we hit Interstate 70, a point where we should have been a little over three hours from home, traffic came to a dead stop and then proceeded at a snail’s pace. That was about 1:30 pm. We got home at 7:30 pm. You do the math. At least it was a gorgeous Colorado fall day with plenty of color on the mountains to make the sluggish day bearable.

Loki could not have been a better travel companion, all five pounds of him. He did all his dirty business on the stops we made and never in the car. He missed his dinner time, but never whined about it. He entered his new kennel on his own and took several naps in there unprompted. And he tolerated ten hours in a car like a seasoned pro. He is a puppy to be sure, all sharpy teeth and nails, but he loves people and could not have a sweeter disposition. I can tell he is going to give us a run for our money, though, because he is smart. He has already proven he learns quickly. We are going to have to be careful because he is sure to pick up bad habits as quickly as good ones if we are not.

When we got home, we had a plan to slowly and respectfully introduce Ruby to the new brother she did not request. We had Luke walk her before we came home to get her in a calmer mental space. We let Loki run around the yard as soon as we arrived and then we put him in his small kennel, carried him in, and set him where Ruby could see him. She came close to investigate, clearly was not thrilled, but walked away without a snarl or as much attitude as I had expected. Then we left the puppy with Luke and took her for another walk. We are going to work to keep them separate by keeping Loki in his pen or crate when he is around her and not allowing him to play around her until Ruby is ready to accept her new roommate. It might take a couple weeks, but I think our slow approach will work. Fingers crossed.

We are all exhausted now after a long day, so it’s time to settle in for the night. So far so good with the puppy, the doggy introduction, and an only mildly sassy Ruby. Life is better with a furry dog friend or two.

We’re In The Upside Down

Sunset in the middle of unpopulated nowhere Colorado

We spent the better part of our day heading west towards the small Utah town where tomorrow we will fetch (pun intended) our newest family member, Loki puppy. The thing about Colorado is it is big, bigger than you might imagine. It’s the eighth largest state, which isn’t clearly apparent when you look at a map of the US. However, it is only 20th in terms of population. This means there is a great deal of open space here. The traffic in the cities is a nightmare, but outside the cities there are areas of the state where you really are ostensibly out in the middle of nowhere. We passed through some of those nowhere areas today.

When I was a child, Colorado was a red state. As the population has increased and the cities have grown, it has become a blue state. Let’s call it light blue. Denver, Boulder, Fort Collins, Pueblo, and many of the mountain towns are blue. Colorado Springs, along with the rural towns in the west and east, are red. You can travel through Denver and see LGBTQ+ and Black Lives Matter signs along with American flags, but once you hit the rural areas you will begin to see Don’t Tread on Me and Blue Lives Matter flags, along with Trump flags and even Confederate flags (don’t get me started on that). This division of our state’s population along political lines has never been as apparent to me as it is now. It’s enough to make little liberal me feel uncomfortable when we pass through Rifle, where US Representative Lauren Boebert owns a restaurant aptly called Shooter’s Grill, where servers wait on tables with loaded guns holstered at their sides. As we left the Denver metro area and headed west and then northwest, we entered some of the lower populated areas that are solidly red, including Rifle.

Outside of Rifle, heading north towards Meeker today, I saw something I have never in my 53 years as an American citizen seen. There was a small ranch off the road on my side of the car. As we drove past, I noticed they had two flags attached to the wooden entry gate, one American flag and one variant of a Blue Lives Matter flag. This did not surprise me. What caught my attention was that both flags were flying upside down, waving in the fall breeze.

I turned to Steve and remarked about it. According to the US flag code, “The flag should never be displayed with the union down, except as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property.” From what I could glean from the appearance of the ranch, there were no instances of extreme danger to life or property, which could only mean that the union down on their flag poles was meant to signify that our country is in dire distress. I told Steve that I too agree that our country is in dire distress, but I imagine I probably disagree with the person who hoisted those flags as to why that is.

The sight of these flags flown upside down, combined with the events of January 6th at the US Capitol, are deeply concerning. And after reading an opinion piece in The Washington Post yesterday written by neoconservative scholar Robert Kagan, entitled Our Constitutional Crisis Is Already Here, I’m getting increasingly worried about where we are headed. When you see conservative pundits on mainstream media saying they expect there to be violence, it’s time to expect violence. We are in an ugly, scary place. We don’t have a roadmap for where we are heading. I know it doesn’t help my mindset that I am a huge fan of the Hulu series The Handmaid’s Tale. I keep telling Steve as I see the battle to overturn Roe v. Wade play out that I won’t end up like June Osborne, unable to escape a country that has fallen under authoritarian rule while she kept thinking, “This can’t really be happening.” It’s not hyperbole to say that we are in dangerous territory, and I’m not talking about Rifle or Lauren Boebert’s Shooter’s Grill.

Liberals and Democrats in particular need to distinguish between their ongoing battle with Republican policies and the challenge posed by Trump and his followers. One can be fought through the processes of the constitutional system; the other is an assault on the Constitution itself.” ~ Robert Kagan

The Best Views Come After An Uphill Climb

“And into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul.” ~John Muir

Thing 1 heads back to college next week. In between packing and getting in last-minute visits with high school friends, he’s been trying to fit in as much time in the great Colorado outdoors as possible. This summer he climbed three 14ers, rode his bike over Vail Pass (10k feet), and this past weekend he and his father rode from our house to downtown Denver and back again (56 miles). He and I had discussed going out to climb another 14er today, but decided to sleep in and hike a little closer to home. So this morning we went to Roxborough State Park. It’s one of our favorites and it’s ten minutes from our front door. We’ve been hiking in the summer and snowshoeing in the winter at this park since the boys (I can’t get used to calling them men) were young.

Since the original goal was to climb a 14er, we decided to hike Carpenter Peak, the park’s longest and most strenuous hike. During the past few weeks, Denver has been inundated with smoke from the fires in California; today the skies were crystal clear by comparison. We started hiking around 8, but it was already quite warm. We found ourselves lingering longer in the shady spots than we might normally. Joe was patient, waiting for me when I had to stop to catch my breath. But finally I was spurred on by the rising heat to push for the summit as quickly as possible, and we started making good time. When we finally made it to the top, we were rewarded by being the only ones there and having the clearest views we’ve seen in a while. And when the hike was finished we’d logged over 7 miles and climbed about 123 flights. It was a nice morning workout.

I will miss having Joe around to kick my butt into gear, but maybe I will be able to use today as a springboard. Then when he comes home for Thanksgiving, we can do this hike again and I can show him the progress I’ve made.

Home Sweet Home, Indeed

You got that right!

After racking up about a thousand miles driving around Colorado this weekend, we arrived home late this afternoon. We’re filthy, the camper still needs to be cleaned out and put back together, and we had to order in pizza because the fridge was empty, but we’re home. Funny how walking into your home after time away feels heavenly. Nothing has changed. It’s the same place you left not that long ago. But somehow it’s renewed. Maybe it’s just because I spent the past four days living in a tin can on wheels, but our home felt like a palace when I walked in. It seems huge. I’m feeling pretty spoiled.

The walls might start to close in on me a little tomorrow when I have to catch up on laundry, go grocery shopping, and fall back into my normal housekeeping job, but for tonight this house is the Four Seasons with a luxurious king bed and top-of-the-line bath products. Now all I need is a decent night’s rest and a long, hot shower that turns me into a Disney princess.

They say home is where you hang your hat. Tonight I am grateful that my hat rack is no longer on wheels.