Bear perched just off our deck


Either, while we were at Kurt and Carol’s daughter’s wedding near Telluride or after we got home late that night, a bear evidently climbed up our apple tree and settled in for a snooze and a apple fete.  Virtually flattening the apple tree and breaking almost all the upper branches.

Fortunately the bear didn’t find a reason to climb onto our deck and eat the fresh crop of tomatoes we’ve got there.  We didn’t notice a thing until the next morning.

We gave the neighboring plum tree a quick haircut that afternoon and today we totally pruned the apple tree so that our deck is out of reach.  Funny thing is I ran off a couple who wanted to sneak a camp under our deck just the night before.  They would have had a rough night with that bear and their food bag.  Sorry no photo of the bear. Here’s a clip from last year’s bear.

USA Pro challenge 2012

20120823-112543.jpgDurango was the host for the 2012 USA Pro challenge bicycle race from Durango to Denver in seven individual stages. The town has been preparing for the race over the last six months and especially the last week. Every volunteer possible was setting up for the race.

The town was expecting 20,000 visitors but the realists were only expecting 10 to 12,000. I was a volunteer on two different days. The first date bagging parking meters and the second day I was a Course Marshall (Word Press sucks).  Some anxiety rose in the days leading up to the race as there just weren’t the crowds checking into motels and crowding the the merchants.  However on race day all was right, the crowds swarmed the starting line 5 to 10 people deep.According to the race coordinator, “the best overall start to any stage race in the US that he’s ever seen”.  The enthusiasm has lasted thru the week as many Durango folks (including some that never ever watched a bicycle race before) are glued to their computers and mobile devices watching the remaining stages of the USA Pro Challenge. is the URL to watch for yourselves.  And if you just want to see a uTube video of the start, check out this URL



Can’t say enough about how much fun we had taking our grandgirls out on their first backpacking trip.  Since pictures are worth a thousand words checkout the Gallery tab in the header or click here for 22,000 words in photos.

We thought for several reasons it would be best to take the girls backpacking up in the Northwest, closer to their home.  For one, we wanted to outfit them in Portland where we could have numerous choices and their bodies for fitting, also to show them (and ourselves) backcountry that was close to their home, and lastly we could outfit them with ultra light gear for the same price as flying them down to Durango.

In an effort to make it fun for them and us, we opted to set them up with ultra-light gear that we’ve been enjoying.  Choosing an 18-ounce 30-degree sleeping bag, 9-ounce pad and 18-ounce backpack enabled us to get their base weight down to 5 1/2 pounds.  (Base weight is all gear on your back, excluding consumables like food and water).  Happy to furnish spec’s on our choices if you’re interested.  Portland’s outlet stores and discount outdoor gear suppliers made it easy to find clothing to layer up with, at extremely reasonable prices.  They carried all their camping gear (excluding a 3-person tent), clothing, rain coat, water, dish and spork, plus one meal each.  Oh, and plenty of snacks for each day.  The girls hardly knew they had anything on their backs and rarely took off the packs at rest stops.

We only took a 3-person Warmlite tent and my single-person ultra-lite tent, plus three days’ food, extra snacks and cooking gear, over and above our ultra-lite gear, so it was an easy trip for all of us.

We lucked out on the “dart-throw choice” of both our itineraries. We chose the Olympic Peninsula Quinault River for the first adventure, hiking up 6.5 miles to O’Neill Camp.  We made it easy by starting in the afternoon and only having to hike 2.5 miles uphill the first day.  Next day was 4 miles to O’Neill and from there we hiked out 6.5 miles back to the trail head to re-supply.  The mosquitoes were the only detriment to that hike, as at least one of the girls got over 60 bites on her forehead alone.  We were constantly in awe of the height and girth of those tall trees in the Olympic National Park. They’re often well over 100′ high with branches that don’t start for 40 or 50 feet.  Real hard to hang your food away from the bears on branches that high.  If you haven’t ever hiked among those giants you’re missing a great wonder.