31 January 2006

Two more trees

Last Sunday, I dropped two more Ponderosa Pines. They were about 10" and 12" in diameter but not healthy. They were sucking water away from a nice Douglas Fir and another Ponderosa. If we don't get some serious snow this spring, the trees are going to need all the help they can get. The turpentine, pine bark and IPS beetles have made their mark on our property. The beetles are minor so far but a hurting tree won't survive a serious attack.

These two trees bring my total to 905 trees cut. Our 1.8 acre property was a bit dense with trees when we moved up here in 1999. Fire mitigation was my first priorty. Thin out the trees and low limb the rest. It took me 7 years but I'm getting close. Tall, skinny trees down by the road still need some work.

Now I need to have the BMFPD chip the branches and I have to rent a log splitter. Up to now, I've split my own but I have too many logs to split by muscle. Then I have to stack.

29 January 2006

A nice ski to Heart Lake area

Julia and Garett, Bob and Inge Wood's son, had a play day. This left us free for a day skiing. George Lemkuhl & Jim Langsted joined us for a ski up to Heart Lake.

We met at the East Portal trailhead at 10:00 in car rocking wind conditions. Until we reached the trees, it was grim. George, 63, skied up the steep trail without skins. He's our hero, even with his bad jokes and self made, high friction wallet protector. As we skied, George told me all, and I mean all, about the radio frequency based ISP he's involved with in Coal Creek Canyon. Also he told me all, and I mean all, about the balloon and satellite equipment his amateur radio club sends up.
Jim and George are cohorts in this stuff. Pretty interesting.

After 3 hours of uphill, we called it good between Roger's Pass Lake and Heart Lake. Beautiful spot. We geared up for the downhill fun, then did it. It was a bomb run, baby!! I caught air a few times and I wasn't even trying. Afterwards, we drove to the Stage Stop Saloon at Rollinsville for a bowls of chili and beers. More pictures found --> here.
Here's an overview map. The trail heads SW from East Portal.

26 January 2006

Busted !!

I thought the house was too quiet. Based on past experience, I took a look for Julia. Here's what I found -->

I busted her during an illicit raid on the cookie cabinet!!

Julia hassles Papa

I'm not sure if another female in the house is a good thing. This morning, Julia told me: "Papa you need to shave". Last week it was: "Papa you have holes in your pants. You should put on good pants".

What is it going to like when she turns 4 in a few months? Since she's been 3, she's been telling when my clothes don't match. I say: "Yes, they do." She says: "No they don't". I say: "let's go ask Mama". Of course, Margit agrees with Julia. I can't win and it's going to get worse .... But I love it !

22 January 2006

Julia's 1st ski lesson

Today Julia had her first ski lesson. We went to Winter Park. We had her out a once this year earlier and a few times last year. She had a few big wipeouts with Papa during those episodes. We decided it was time to get her into a decent ski lesson. Hah!

She did ok. She received a report card which said she missed her parents a bit, (probably meaning she missed us a lot) could slow down using the ski tip tethers but couldn't get up when she fell. Julia's doing great! She'll get there on her own time. Also she graduated from a Bear to a Bunny. Pretty cute.

20 January 2006

A little backcountry skiing up Second Creek

Margit & I went skiing, up Second Creek, w/ Charlie and Kathy King. Second Creek is N. of Berthoud Pass towards Winter Park. Beautiful country. Here's a picture looking South, when we hit treeline.

We ended up at the Gwen Andrews Hut and had lunch. It was pretty windy up there. Nice to have some shelter. Here's Kathy at the hut.

After lunch, we headed up to the ridge. The higher we skied, the windier it got. At the top, we pulled off our skins, faced down and made turns all the way back to the truck.

Finally: some christmas pictures

We finally uploaded a few Christmas pics. Check out the album here. Here's a teaser of Julia making cookies. Margit is doing a good job helping out.

17 January 2006

Mark Suska 1957 - 2005

The wind was howling as I walked to the road to get the mail. The top letter was from Steve Lipsey, a good friend from my teen years. Back at the house I opened the letter to Mark's obituary and picture. I read it. Shocked, I read it again. When we were young, we were great friends.

A web search turned up some info about some huge 46" Northern Pike he caught at the Kasba Lake Lodge in the Northwest Territories. I started to dig thru my childhood memories ...

When did I meet Mark? I'm suprised how blurry my memory is when we had so much fun together. Mark moved into the neighborhood when I was around 10. I remember walking along the graveled Bruce Road for 3/4 mile to get to his house. He had a long drive and I had to check if the dogs were out before I approached the house. The Doberman's were as big as I was and pretty scary.

Mark, I, and sometimes his younger brother Mike, explored the woods regularly and did what kids do growing up in rural Illinois ... build forts, climbed trees, explored Messenger woods, rode our bikes down Suicide Hill, trespassed to fish at the best fishing pond around and threw dirt clods and worse at cars, while hiding behind the roadside treerow. I remember us running through the tall corn rows while being chased by irate drivers. Great fun for us!

Mark's parent's, Ed & Joyce had a nice property with horses and a corral. Later they built a big corral out back for rodeo practice. Mark, Mike & Lynn were big into the rodeo stuff. They had a pet baby racoon for awhile. It was really fun to play with but it wandered off as it got older. Mark had a great place to grow up.

When it was time to go to high school, Mark went to Providence High and I went to Lockport High. We still got into trouble together but we made new friends and slowly grew apart. Mark introduced me to Steve Lipsey one night at the drive in movie. We watched a Monte Python film. I'm suprised I remember it the day after and even more suprised now. Trouble was our middle name back then.

Mark expanded his horizons while I went to college. He told me the wild times he had at Octoberfest in Germany and more fun times when he moved out west for awhile.

I lost contact with him after I moved to Colorado. I wished I hadn't. Now it's too late. I never met his wife and kids and he never met my wife and daughter. He never knew I lost my leg, from rockfall, in a climbing accident. Now it's too late ...

Mark, I toast your life. You had a good run, man!

10 January 2006

Pics from 2006 calendar added

Almost every year we create a calendar from our previous year's pictures. I've uploaded these shots. These calendars used to be full of action shots but since Julia was born, the calendar has changed to more of a Julia calendar. Hah! Here's one of them, a pic of Julia ready to climb in Tensleep Canyon, Wyoming. Actually she likes to swing on the end of the rope more than climb but that's fine too. Julia's turning 4 this spring. Growing up way too fast. We always threaten to duct tape a rock on her head to slow her down ...

The 2006 calendar pics can be viewed at my Flickr site at this album location.

04 January 2006

Our Christmas letter 2005

Dear Friends and Family,

Happy Holidays and a Great New Year 2006 to all of you!
2005 has treated us very well. We had a lot of fun. Steve, Julia and I went on over 20 camping trips this year with our new truck. (It’s a Dodge 2500 Diesel– Steve’s new toy!). We climbed all over Colorado and Wyoming; Shelf Road, Penitente, Redcliff and Vedauwoo. We also took some longer trips. The first one took us to Nevada, California and Utah. We climbed at Red Rocks, outside Las Vegas and by St. George, Utah.

Usually, the weather in May in Nevada and Utah is perfect but as soon as we got there it rained and even snowed. So we headed for the Death Valley. We were amazed. The Death Valley was in bloom. Meadows full of flowers where you usually only see sand and rocks. Unbelievable! Supposedly, this is a once in every 100 years nature display.

Over the 4th of July we went to Wyoming, climbing at Wild Iris, Cody, and Ten Sleep. This time it was too hot but we had a great time anyway.

Our last longer trip in September took us to California and it was too cold again. But anyway it turned out to be a great trip no matter what the weather gods did to us. Because it was so chilly we had to spend a lot of time at hot springs. Julia and I in particular liked those diversions.

Unfortunately, besides taking trips we still had to work in 2005. Steve is still working for IBM. He is working from home now, which is really nice for all of us. My business, Web Yodel, LLC flourished in 2005. I was really busy but also had a lot of fun creating very nice websites.

Julia is doing really well too. She is at BB’s, a German child care place, usually three days a week. She really enjoys swimming and climbing (surprise, surprise!)

03 January 2006

Building this blog

Last updated: 07Apr06

I'll be adding to this post as this blog evolves and as I have time. This post will be accessible, as a link, from the upper left sidebar (under HOME). I'll describe elements I have currently and mention elements that were superceded by others and why.

I'll divide this post into the general sections which will also evolve with the blog.

general template

I tested a few of the blogger standard templates but I really wanted a 3 column template. I settled on this 3 column blogger template. This is from Thur Broeders template page. I was also influenced by the Minima standard blogger template. It's very readable with a clean look. I made additional changes based on "current web style" articles from Naked IT and web design from scratch. Am I done? Nope!

what's hot!
  • del.icio.us tagroll (this blog's tags): I created a new del.icio.us user for this blog called .. drumroll .. rifugioMestdagh, accessed here. After I create a post, I tag it in rifugioMestdagh. After that, it's a simple matter to create a tagroll, using this del.icio.us tool. The beauty of this is that the tagroll on the blog is updated dynamically.
  • Maps: These are fun and/or interesting links that I update manually. The mapped trip locations will be more interesting as the year continues. I recently switched to CommunityWalk after a strong look at other sites. (See What Got Canned).
  • RSS subscription and updates by email (email RSS feed): Feedburner
  • Flickr html badge: Faster than the flash version, which I used to use. Either badge can be set up here if you're logged in.

what got canned!
  • Babel Fish Translation and Google Translate. These look good on the surface but Margit said the translation to German wasn't even worth a laugh. She compared both Babel Fish and Google. They are pretty similar. Babel Fish is easy to add to a site. To put Google buttons on a site requires a bit of reverse engineering. In any case, it's not worth it the real estate and load time ... even though you see translation flags on a lot of sites.
  • Tagboard: This is fun but it didn't get much action. I tried ShoutMix before Tagboard. It looked nicer and with a lot of templates to choose from. The load time was bad though ..
  • Lazlo weatherblox: I like this but it's a slow load. I'd like to find a quicker weather box, without ads, but so far I haven't. Laszlo weatherblox also wasn't updating regularly.
  • Map Builder was used to plot our 2006 travels. All the mapping products had some non-intuitive idiosyncrasies but Map Builder fit the bill. I started to notice that the map display was sometimes displaced downwards w/ respect to the top of the window. A try w/ IE showed the same problem so I looked around. SEOmoz Web 2.0 awards gave wayfaring top billing in the mapping department. I spent a solid hour w/ this and liked it except for the difficulty marking a lat/long waypoint. Coordinates are a big one for me since I'm not a city slicker and don't frequent areas festering with city slickers. I went back to Map Builder and couldn't figure a way around the inconsistent display problem so I checked SEOmoz's honorable mention CommunityWalk. This worked great with coordinates AND has a large display map. I'm sticking with it for now. I'm sure I spent 3 hours on this comparison. Is there a better mapping tool? Probably. Tell me if you find one.
  • ZoomClouds: This didn't work as I expected. Canned. What I previously wrote - From the site: tag clouds are informative, appealing representations about what's happening in your blog. This tool analyzes my current rss feed and builds the tag cloud from the words. I like it so far and will continue to evaluate it as the cloud gets populated from new posts. This is similar to the del.icio.us tagroll (see above) but is automated based on the rss feed. I think the results are interesting and useful.
  • Updates by email (email RSS feed): FeedBlitz - Now that Feedburner offers this feature, I'm using that instead.
  • Flickr flash badge: Pretty fun but slows down the page load too much. I switched to an html badge.
  • del.icio.us linkroll (steve's recent fun bookmarks): For some time now, I've had a del.icio.us account under the user mestdagh. I created a linkroll from my tag: fun. As the tagroll above, the linkroll is updated dynamically as bookmarks are added to the fun tag.

About this blog !

This blog's purpose is to document the life and interests of Steve, Margit & Julia Mestdagh. We live in Boulder, Colorado. Our passions are climbing, backcountry skiing and canyoneering. Margit has been climbing since 1980 and Steve since 1976.

Julia changed our active lifestyle since she was born in 1999. Julia is included in as much of our adventures as she is able .... and willing. Expect to see a lot of dispatches about Julia.

Most of our posts will be family based but we take individual trips occasionally. Also Margit is a great cook and I hope she shares some of her passion for that here. Steve will be also be posting on happenings around the home, vehicles and maybe some computer tech stuff as well.

Julia is too young to write up a dispatch but it won't be long ...

Margit grew up in Berchtesgaden, Germany. Steve grew up mostly in what used to be rural Illinois, Homer Township. Due to a alpine climbing accident in 1997, Steve is a below the knee amputee. Mostly you can't tell unless he's wearing shorts.