27 April 2006

BoyZrUs canyoneering trip this weekend

Pretty much ready to go. The GO box is filled with Utah topo maps hosting cryptic markings. Primed the GPS with new opportunities. Picked up some cigars. Will pick up some ammo on the way out of town tomorrow. Time for adrenlin packed adventures. Bob & I head out tomorrow afternoon. Bill flew in last weekend from France. We'll meet him in Grand Junction. Chuck will fly up from Ridgway. We'll pick him up in Green River. Wish I had more than a weekend ...

23 April 2006

Nice weekend at home

After the last few hectic, adventure filled weekends, we had a fun weekend at home. Well sort of ...

The daffodils are in full bloom ... (as usual, click the image for full effect)

... and we have a heck of a lot of wood to split. I've always split logs with my maul but I have way too much too split this year (.. and yeah, I'm getting older). Here's a picture of one pile. Like I said, way too much. It'd take me all summer in my spare time.

I rented a 22 ton hydraulic gas powered splitter for $85. It took us over a day to do most but not all of it. Margit did all the splitting on Sunday while I stacked the wood in the shed. It's pretty interesting. The splitting ram moves very slow with much force. I guess 22 tons to be exact. Dry ponderosa splits excellent. Green ponderosa is a bit messier. Either way, it's beats splitting by man power.

Sunday night, just before dinner, we saw a fox. Nothing unusual there but this time I had a camera handy.

19 April 2006

Rocky Flats Mountain Group canyons trip

Although everyone in the Rocky Flats Mountaineering Group (RFMG) were invited, not many joined us. The King family (Charlie, Kathy & Jaimie), Lance Masoner & our family met in the Robber's Roost area of Utah for a canyon trip. My niece, Sarah from Illinois, joined us also. For Sarah, 15, it was her first time sleeping in a tent, driving a truck, canyoneering and furthest West she has ever been. Big stuff!

The camping was great. We slept like pigs! How could you not sleep well surrounded by this kind of scenery?

The first day we did a family oriented variation of the Lost Spring Fork of the South Fork of Robber's Roost Canyon. This is one fork South of the normal route. Julia, 4, loved it. This variation is perfect for kids. It's short, has some downclimbing, squeezing and a short roped section. Nothing scary. The adults had fun too. It was Kathy's first canyon as well as Jaimie's and Sarah's. Watching Julia work her way through was amazing.

The girls drove the trucks for a bit on the way to camp. Sarah has the luck to drive my truck with it's 6 gear manual transmission. She did well and had fun after she relaxed a bit.

The next day, Sarah and Jaimie babysat while the big kids did Bull Pasture canyon. I did an early descent of this canyon but it has been years. The first time was during December with lots of water and no anchors in place. What was thought provoking was now just plain fun. A few good drops, some rope work and ending with a mostly free hanging 100 ft rappel. Lance's eyes were the size of silver dollars as he started down the drop.

We celebrated Julia's 4th birthday when we got back. She had to try out her new clothes in the desert. Pretty funny. They didn't stay clean long.

The last day we did a hike in Horseshoe Canyon, the adjunct district of Canyonlands National Park. Lot's of pictographs but we had some mutinees on the way down. So only Margit, Lance and Charlie were able to see them. Nice flowers too.

Good trip. Charlie wrote up a good blog entry also. My flickr album has many more pics.

18 April 2006

Sarah, my niece, cooks us a meal

My niece, Sarah, is in town for Spring Break. She cooks a mean chicken parmesan. We are happy to oblige her. It was excellent. Another picture here.

Mountain Lion attack in Boulder

Last weekend, a mountain lion attacked a 7 year old boy on Flagstaff Mountain. The boy was holding hands with his father. Read about it here and here.

The Daily Camera seems to think "it is not cause for alarm" per this editorial. (The full editorial is password protected - use mail address: bob@bob.com / password: bob, courtesy of BugMeNot). Here's the first paragraph of today's editorial:
The fact that a 7-year-old boy was attacked by a mountain lion in the Boulder foothills is saddening and distressing. But it is not cause for alarm. Nor is it a reason to slaughter these animals. Unfortunately, some local residents seem unable to draw such distinctions.
I believe people don't want to slaughter the lions. People just want the lions to go away. The issue is reducing the lion's need to dwell in the human/ animal interface. I've been thinking about a couple of points.
  1. Deer are a lion's natural food.
  2. Lions are equal opportunity predators. If easy prey, like pets or kids, are available, the lions will kill and eat those too.
My thoughts on these ...

1. Boulder has way too many deer. They are protected. Deer have no natural predators except the lions. The lions are drawn in to feed on the deer. Everyone thinks they, and their kids, are safe in town but this video of a lion in Boulder proves this thought wrong.
Pretty obvious stuff but what to do about it?
I think culling the deer drastically to their natural population density would help dramatically. Easy enough said but people love deer. I see them all the time on my property in the low foothills. I enjoy watching them but I'd rather see less of them ... and not worry so much about my daughter being under constant supervision outside.

2. In addition to above, another idea is to push people to keep their pets inside in the mornings, late afternoons and night. Foothill dwellers are accustomed to pets disappearing due to lions. Town folk probably don't attribute pet disappearance to lions but I expect it's pretty common. A friend in Fort Collins said they did a study there. Lions were tagged and tracked. At night the lions would come down into the 'burbs. I'd guess pets were a good portion of the lion's diet.

What are my credentials to talk about the above? I'm a concerned citizen but by no means an expert. I have close contact with lions at my home. See this and this. I've been face to face with a lion at 15 feet. The lion killed our cat. It was the most savage thing I've ever seen. (I'll write this incident up later this week.)

17 April 2006

Margit's GirlZ Canyon Trip

Margit, Diane Dallin, Deb Piranian and Margie McCloy recently did a girlZ canyon trip. Margit took some great pics. I'm hoping she'll add some trip details. If not, here's a teaser picture of Deb rappeling.

The rest of the pictures in this Flickr album.

Desperate Father cooks a quick meal

Margit was on a girls Utah canyon trip for the weekend. I picked up Julia from daycare and ran some errands. It was getting late.

Julia, what do you want to eat? Mashed potatoes said she. I thought about the dried potatoes that my friend, Mary Wallace, alway raved about. Quick, easy and good said Mary. She gave me a couple packages awhile back.

I cooked it up in a few minutes. Julia suggested we add some ham and cheese. Incredible! Almost as good as Margits. Paradise Valley Creamy Mashed Potatoes from Nevada. All natural. No kidding.

09 April 2006

Free Educational Software for Kids

Tux Paint and Tux Typing are open source and available for Windows, Mac and Linux. Julia, our almost 4 year old, has really been having fun with Tux Paint. We haven't tried Tux Typing yet but it looks good.

From the Tux Paint site:
Tux Paint is a free drawing program designed for young children (kids ages 3 and up). It has a simple, easy-to-use interface, fun sound effects, and an encouraging cartoon mascot who helps guide children as they use the program.
I'm amazed how intuitive and how well designed this is for the child.

From the Tux Typing site:
"Tux Typing" is an educational typing tutor for children. It features several different types of gameplay, at a variety of difficulty levels.

05 April 2006

A weekend in the San Luis Valley

The features of this high valley include the Great Sand Dunes National Park, the Alligator/Fish Farm near Mosca and the Sand Dunes hot springs Pool at Hooper and of course driving through the valley with the mighty Sangre de Cristo mountains to the East and rock climbing in Penitente Canyon to the West, near La Garita.

Julia had been to Penitente, of course, but none of us had been to the gator farm or the pool warmed by hot springs. My hand was on the rebound but it was too early to climb. I found that out last weekend. Julia was another excuse to visit the sand dunes. It's been a few decades since I've roamed that area.

It was windy at the dunes but it was a riot watching Julia run and run and run - barefoot.

Did I say it was windy? Julia would have hiked us to the top of the highest dune before understanding she was freezing. We headed back after sliding down some steep slopes.

We camped in the park campground. Julia got bored of us and carried her folding chair to the neighboring camp and proceeded to entertain them ... I think. The night held the joys of the campfire and roasted marshmellows. She invited the neighbors over for marshmellows too!

The next day was big fun. We went to the alligator / fish farm between Mosca and Hooper. Hot springs make it a good place to raise tropical Tilapia fish. They ship 1 ton / week to the Asian market in Denver. What to do with the fish innards and bones after cleaning the fish though? That's when they brought the gators in to clean up the fish remains. Alligators like the warm water too.

At this point, it appears the place is basically a zoo for rescued animals + a fish farm + a gator display. Snakes, tortoises, ostriches ... Great place for kids and big kids! I'd like to try the gator wrestling but it costs $50.

When you enter, they force a little gator in your hands. I had NO idea they were going to do this! Then they give you a certificate of bravery stamped by the same gator's jaws you were just holding. This place is definitely a must see. We'll be back.

Then we hit the Sand Dunes hot springs pool in Hooper. (I couldn't find a web site for this, sorry.) There's a small kids pool, a small pool for the big kids and a large pool for everyone. Very clean and supposedly the best concessionaire in Colorado. The food smelled good but we brought our own lunch. It was fun! Especially for Julia. Margit did a passable dive on the low diving board and a non-passable job on the high one. At least she tried. I wish I had brought the camera in to show the view of the Sangres from the pool ...

We met some nice folks at the pool, Leslie & Julie Lewis. They were from Red River, New Mexico and run the Timberline Lodge. Check them out if you're down there.

More photos at this Flickr album.