27 March 2007

Julia and her first bear

Back to June 2003 - Julia was 15 months old ..
We were sitting on the ground, in the woods behind the house. We were playing with nature's toys - pine cones, pine needles & stumps. Julia points up into the air at a bird. I tell her it's a crow.

A few minutes later she points over my shoulder. I look and look again, after the pattern recognition kicks in. Dang, it's a bear and a big one too ... only 60 feet away. I gather her up and retreat, rather quickly, to the open garage where we watch it circle the house.
Sorry, no pictures .. just memories. If you really need a picture, here's one from last year.

26 March 2007

Julia and space aliens

I heard some outworldish sounds coming from the office. Julia was playing some web game on the PBS KIDS site. (Yes, this is the kids variation of the respected grownup PBS site.)

I asked Julia - Who taught you how to figure out how to build the alien space ship?
She said - I figured it out all by myself.
I said - That looks like almost as much fun as carrying pine branches up to the slash pile for chipping.
She said - Papa, it's way more fun that that ...

A spring weekend at home

Spring is a busy time. The last two weekends, we away on climbing trips to Shelf Road. We had a breather this weekend. Mia & Julia planted. I cut down and trimmed trees and we all built and repaired bird houses.

Tally: 1 new bird house & 3 repaired bird houses for a total of 7 houses. We're hoping for bluebirds in at least one house. Our normal occupants are nuthatches, chickadees and tree swallows.

I dropped 11 trees and low limbed a few also. All the trees but one were under 12" in diameter. Getting ready for fire season. Ponderosa Pines like to be well spaced which allows for more water per tree. In the absence of fire, I have to play god. Healthy trees are happy trees ...

21 March 2007

Julia at 4-3/4 years old

How old are you Julia?
I'm 4-3/4 years old. (actually she's almost 5 at this point)

After she doesn't do as she's told, Mia asks: What good are you for?
Julia answers: I'm not good for anything. Just for Bussis and hugs. (Bussis is German for kisses)
We laugh good and hard at that reply.

Julia logs onto the computer by herself with her password and says things like - The browser isn't working right. Pretty funny. Not all is good though. She can be really obstinate and is not fun if she doesn't get her way. Julia's independent streak is almost scary. When we camp out, she gets bored of us fast and goes to other campsites looking for a captive audience. We had to set some ground rules around this new activity. She worries me a bit. I wonder where the future will lead her.

15 March 2007

To move or not to move ?

I've had an itch for the last year or so ... I need a new view, more acreage, easier accessible trails and still be close to the world class climbing mecca that Boulder is. A reduced mortgage would be a plus too. Julia wants more kids close by. Mia & I both want good schools and the fun downtown Boulder offers. Mia isn't so excited about moving since it's pretty dang close to perfect and the rec centers are great! Also as Julia gets older, she'll want to be driven more often to sports stuff, hang with friends etc. I could compromise with more acreage and views and less access to Boulder (I'm thinking western slope) but that'd be selfish and unfair to Mia and Julia. They are more social than I am. Boulder has a lot to offer even if it is too crowded and expensive.

What to do? This is a lose - lose situation for me. I like it where we are but I have this itch ...
Yesterday I convinced Mia to check out this place on Nugget Hill Rd, South of Jamestown. I knew it was too small but it wasn't too far OUT. I just had to see it. So we drove up. It looked pretty quiet so we drove up, over and down to the house (about 400' of driveway). It was empty so we felt ok snooping around a bit. The views were great. I really liked the feel of the place. We live in the foothills now but this is the real deal! We could check out the rooms thru the windows. Too small for us (1500 sq. ft.) but still ... No garage but it had some old leaky mining sheds for storage. It had some acreage but not very useable since much of it was somewhat steep. The real deal breaker was the private road up. (Private because it was too narrow to be maintained by the county.) Man, it was steep!! Mia said she'd be petrified driving down in bad conditions (and we have friends who have said the same about where we currently live...). If it wasn't south facing, it would be impossible for most of the winter. This would be a great place for a couple that didn't have to drive much and didn't have kids and weren't worried about resale value.

Anyway, it was an interesting excercise. I'm gonna keep looking though.

12 March 2007

A Peek at Spring

I know we'll have some hard weather before it smoothes out for summer but right now it's spring. This last weekend we climbed at Shelf Road. Climbing was a bit cool to rainy on Saturday (see Julia climbing at right) but great on Sunday. When it started raining, we checked out the Marsh [Felch] dinosaur quarry .. which every climber drives by on the way in. Julia found a dinosaur tooth, Mia found a Stegasaurus fin plate and I found some dino skin. (Not really but that's what we told Julia.) Julia was really excited because she wants to be a palentologist and can even say it correctly. :-)

Sunday, I was feeling my oats and tried climbing Purple Toe Nails, 5.11b/c. Unfortunately, my oats bag spilled on the way up. We did some great routes though especially after I decided to stick with 5.10 .. for now.

Spring was popping up at home too as evidenced by the daffodils sprouting and hammock testing.

06 March 2007

Highlights of the El Potrero Chico climbing trip

We climbed 6 of 9 days. This included 2 travel days + one rest day. We worked out a sitter for Julia on 3 of those days so we could do some longer routes. We were constrained a bit, of course. We couldn't do any bivies. Also we didn't want to stick the rope on rappel and get back too late to pick up Julia.

Most exciting climb: Aguja Cela Rey. Two pitches of 5.10. It is described as classic but we forgot that "classic" is really a code word for run out. The 2nd pitch was really EXPOSED. Aguja Cela Rey climbs the thinner spire on right (in picture). Here's a pic of Mia on top.

Best of week: Pancho Villa Rides Again (topo on photo). This was 5 pitches of 5.10. The last time we did a climb this hard was on the Diamond (Mountain Project site) and before my accident. We were pretty proud at the end of the day. To the left, is Mia finishing off the 1st pitch.

The best single pitch climb was Selam in Virgin Canyon. Although it was "only" rated 5.10a, I'd say this was a bit of a sandbag. The crux for me was clipping the bolt at the crux and avoiding the 25' fall. Since my foot popped at the crux, I almost took the dive. This was a real pitch. A 140 foot pitch. A beautiful route but I'm bring a stiff draw for the crux clip next time.

Another high point was the excellent food. We ate mostly at the Posado but Checo's was just as good. One thing I don't understand is why Mexican food in the US has cheese. Ain't no cheese in Mexico .. except for quesadillas.

Our rest day seemed to have some magic going on. There was a breeze ruffling the trees. The air seemed vibrant. I don't know what was going on but we liked it. I spent a good part of the day reading in a hammock. Some of that time Julia was on top of me talking & playing. I loved it.

We met a lot of good people. It was hard not to. The climbers walk the same road, eat in the same places and the camps are so close. Julia seemed to know everyone. At least she talked to everyone. One of her conversations somehow leaned to how we (Mia & I) met. Of course, Julia knew it all - Papa came to Germany on a climbing trip and met Mama at a party. Mama said to Papa: You are mine! What a laugh ...

This was a fantastic trip! We'll be back - hopefully next year.