New Addition to the Clan

IMG_6779A lot of schedules and routines got jjiggered over the last couple weeks with the pre-mature birth of Inari, the new daughter of our nephew Christopher and his girlfriend Aidan.  Long story, but short version was that Aidan and my sister Donna were air-flighted to Denver several weeks ago, where mother and unborn Inari were ensconced in a high-risk unit in Denver’s premier preemie hospital.  Baby was born at 36 weeks and she arrived at 4 pound 2 ounces in good health.  Adding to the kerfluffle was they closed on a new IMG_6778Durango house (via FEDEX) while in Denver, and all the family and friends moved them into it in their absence.  Stanna had to rush her contribution off the loom in time for their return to Durango and the new crib. The super soft blanket was fashioned in green because she (and the parents) had no idea what color blanket would be appropriate.


Hke and bikeI finally managed to slip away for a couple of single-day jaunts – a shake down bike tour and a trail hike.  The Shake-Down was a bike packing trip to check out all my gear for the Great Divide ride, and it proved worthwhile because I had a number of bike failures that I’d rather take care of locally than 1,000 miles away.  First the seat came loose from the seat post after about 20 uphill miles and then the bottom bracket started to make ball bearing grinding sounds as I reached the summit after the 4,500′ climb.  Thankfully there was still plenty IMG_6775of light and one Subaru high up on the pass, so I hitched home rather than continue with the overnight trip. It wasn’t easy climbing the last 2 miles out of the saddle, so I’m going to change out the seat post before I go out again.  (The bolt wouldn’t tighten enough and I didn’t want to strip it – I’ve already experienced a stripped bolt this year).  My nephew Christopher, the new father, will change out the bearings in the bottom bracket as soon as he settles into the new house.

And instead of waiting on the new house stoop with all the family for the baby’s arrival, I snuck away on a day hike with Kurt.  We cleaned trail 5 miles up Burnt Timber Creek for the Forest Service under the WIS program I’ve joined.

IMG_6768Saving the best for last, I got to set-up the latest Zpacks Hexamid Duplex tent I ordered for my riding partner on the Great Divide.  I’ll have to have one for next season as it’s only 1 ounce more than my current Hexamid and has lots more features I’m impressed with. I especially like the fact that you don’t need to place the poles inside the screen, the sewn-in bathtub floor, and the over-lapping double doors, plus the extra head room for the 2nd side.  For the sailors out there, this is all Cuban Fiber sail cloth fabric (total of 19 oz for two people) .




Almost Summer

IMG_6748Hard to believe how fast the time goes, especially when you’re hanging around home. In a twist of the common “just retired” comment: How did I ever find time to hike (bike or raft)? It’s almost summer and if it weren’t for chores, commitments and complications I’d rather be logging hours as a WIS volunteer, breaking in my new Brooks saddle, or rafting the Middle Fork.  But all play makes the responsibilities stack up, and June is the month I’ve got to knock off as much as I can, because July, August and September are already booked up.

One of the pleasures of being home is hosting cross-country cyclists and Eddy was the rider of the month so far.  He is/was a delightful South Korean who decided to traverse the US on a bike after discussing it with several students in his English as a Second Language class (in Kentucky).  Well equipped and enthusiastic, he made it from Los Angles to Durango in 17 days, including stays in Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon.  He liked Durango so much he stayed over and made a quick 9-mile day hike with me on his day off.  Only comment I had for him was to put some toe-clips on the pedals because he was attempting the 3,000 mile trip in tennis shoes and pedaling flat footed.

Since we’d contracted to sell our rental house, I had to sort, move and trash items in that rental garage, which dove-tailed nicely with my purging of the equipment wall in the spare bedroom.  Between a friend’s fortuitous yard sale, the thrift shop, some give-a-ways, various dumpsters and a nephew, I’ve lightened my load considerably.  Now if I could double or triple that amount of divesture, I could fit into assisted living if they’d allow bicycles, backpacks and raft.

IMG_0566I did make time for a sewing project – a bike-packing frame pack – for my high school and cross-country-cycling buddy, Don Ahlert.  I’m not announcing it yet, but he’s going to cycle the Great Divide and I’m going along.  This little custom pack will fit between his top and down tubes and hold a pump and tent poles, plus a few spares for his cross-country adventure.

IMG_0568Luckily I was in town for a program at Rotary this last week on a local bear study with the Division of Wildlife. Evidently we are the only community in the world studying the conflicts between bears and people living in close proximity. This is a totally fascinating multi-year project that uses GPS technology to track adult female bears, all within our county.  The Division of Wildlife knows where each of the collared bears are year round, and tracks them down in their dens during winter to change the batteries and count cubs. If there was any doubt about how many bears are around our community, we now know there are at least 270 that have been trapped, tagged and released exactly where they are found.  We know for certain that drought conditions bring the bears into town and more importantly, those bears who’ve discovered town trash don’t come back to town if there is plenty of food outside of town the following year.

Soon it’ll be summer and I’ll be back outdoors.


Visit us in Durango

Chalong bannerFun to have visitors.  We always felt that on the boat, and it’s just as fun when folks from out of the US come to visit us in Durango.  We’ve been quoted many times saying, “We get to see our ‘old familiar things’ thru fresh eyes, our visitors’ eyes”. This week’s visit by Chalong (just like it sounds ‘Cha-long’) from Trang, Thailand was almost as exciting for us as it was for her.

IMG_6638As many know, we have great friends in Trang, Thailand, among the Trang Cycling Club, and Chalong is the wife of TigerSong the defacto leader of all our Sunday and weekend excursions, each of the three years we’ve stayed in Trang.  TigerSong and his crew have toured us repeatedly around southern Thailand showing us sites, events and occasions that the average foreigner would never see or IMG_4119even notice.  We finally got to reciprocate when one of “their own” came to Durango.

Ever since learning the term “breaking the fun barrier”, I’ve used it with abandon, and once again we practiced what we preached.  Chalong only came for four days and the first day was aborted by United Airlines when her flight was delayed 18 hours due to equipment issues.  But she hit the ground like a champ when we thrust her into an open-house potluck (potlucks don’t happen in Thailand – if you can’t afford to feed everyone you invite, you just don’t invite many.  It IMG_4151must be a matter of ‘face’ because they do have big parties and the host provides and usually has a rented tent, tables and chairs).

Chalong is just finishing her studies for a Doctorate in English and she’d come to the states for a month of classes in San Francisco to prepare for her final exams.  We’d convinced her Durango would be a great diversion between classes and testing back in Bangkok.  The open-house was super as she got to see and talk to many folks about language, culture and her country.

IMG_6619The next day we drove the “million dollar highway” in search of snow, which she’s only seen in pictures.  Neither of the two passes had accessible snow left, so we motored right thru Silverton and up the Alpine Bypass to Eureka where she finally got her wish in an avalanche debris flow that had almost as many broken trees as snow.  Her smiles, laughter and joy were priceless.  As we approached historic Animas Forks town site she got lots more snow opportunities.

IMG_6628We picnicked in the ghost town parking lot and zipped back to Silverton where Stanna and Chalong boarded the Durango & Silverton Narrow Guage Railroad open car #20 and rode thru the Weminuche Wilderness toward Durango.IMG_6636



Next day was just as ambitious, because we visited Mesa Verde National Park touring both Balcony House and the Cliff Palace with another picnic lunch between tours.IMG_6719There was barely enough time to freshen up back in Durango, before we took in the Bar D Wrangler Chuckwagon dinner and Cowboy music show.

We took over 250 photos of her enjoying some of Durango’s highlights. Thanks Chalong, for reminding us what a wonderful place we live in.