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Things Left Un-Blogged

15 Jul
  • The Flat Tire.  On a related note, Tomichi Tires in Gunnison, CO is awesome.
  • The Tornado.  Spotted out the window while driving to Denver, CO.
  • Being on my own with the kids for a day and a half in Denver, CO.  Funny how there is no time for blogging when that happens.
  • The change in route that has us going through:
  • Kansas.  Flat.  108 degrees.  Evil.  Enough said.
  • No functional internet in Kansas hotel.  Enough said.

Enough for now, hope to see you next in Indiana!


Where We’ve Been: Colorado

13 Jul

Colorado is a state of the United States of America that encompasses most of the Southern Rocky Mountains as well as the northeastern portion of the Colorado Plateau and the western edge of the Great Plains. Colorado is part of the Mountain States, the Western United States, and the Southwestern United States. The High Plains of eastern Colorado may be considered part of the Midwestern United States.
Colorado is nicknamed the “Centennial State” because it was admitted to the Union as the 38th state in 1876, the centennial year of the United States Declaration of Independence. Colorado is bordered on the north by Wyoming and Nebraska, on the east by Nebraska and Kansas, on the south by Oklahoma and New Mexico, and on the west by Utah. The four states of Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah meet at one common point known as the Four Corners. Colorado is one of only three U.S. states with no natural borders, the others being neighboring Wyoming and Utah.
Colorado is noted for its vivid landscape of mountains, plains, mesas, and canyons. The 30 highest major summits of the Rocky Mountains of North America all lie within the state. Colorado is home to 4 national parks, 6 national monuments, 2 national recreation areas, 2 national historic sites, 3 national historic trails, 1 national scenic trail, 11 national forests, 2 national grasslands, 41 national wilderness areas, 2 national conservation areas, 8 national wildlife refuges, 44 state parks, 1 state forest, 323 state wildlife areas, and numerous other scenic, historic, and recreational attractions.
The United States Census Bureau estimates that the state population was 5,024,748 on July 1, 2009, an increase of 16.82% since the U.S. Census 2000.[3] Denver is the capital and the most populous city of Colorado. Residents of the state are properly known as “Coloradans”, although the archaic term “Coloradoan” is still used. — Wikipedia

Identity and place

7 Jul

It’s been nice to be back here in Gothic for a while.  Besides the very welcome help with child-wrangling, food, and other necessities of daily life, the gorgeous scenery, and the fact that it’s not in the 90s, it’s nice to be somewhere familiar.  I could hike/climb/mountain bike/drive in any direction and know (for the most part) where I’d end up, where there’s fishing, where there’s edible mushrooms to look for in wet Augusts, some of the history of the place, etc.

Or at least, I could if I didn’t have three kids.

Moon’s old enough now I can remember what I did here at her age, but of course being her own person, and having not grown up here, she also isn’t going to choose to do the same things.  She just hasn’t been exposed to the outdoors that much- it’s been hard to get out of town while living in Seattle, despite the proximity to great camping, etc.  Theatre, the house, and other things just took up too much of my “free” time.  For the most part she’d be happiest just staying in Nonnie and P-Pop’s cabin playing ponies, and eating nothing but rolls, hot dogs, and string cheese.  Hard sometimes not to break in to the “back in my day..”s, but she’s very much her own kid.

What’s also been interesting is just noting my own differences here.  It’s easy sometimes to fall in to old routines when going to old homes with your parents, but it’s been a little different this time- whether because I’m dragging along so many of my own kids, or because we’re sleeping in another cabin, or what, I’m not sure.  Still, I’ve found it generally easier to just “be” here, having spent enough summers here working part-time or not at all.   Much of my time here was spent as the only person my age, without TV or movies, either reading books, drawing, or going outside to bike, fish, hike, etc.  Now most of our time is, as always, taken up with child-wrangling, and I’m sad we haven’t been able to actually go out and see/do/experience much of what I’d hoped to share with my family. It’s just hard to get everyone ready to go anywhere, to work around feeding & nap schedules, sunscreen the crew, figure out how we’re getting anywhere since we take up a whole car ourselves… so some of that may need to wait until the kids are all a bit older- but by then, the rest of us are a bit older too.

I remember finding out about the first of my grandparents to die, while out in my parent’s cabin here, 25 years and a few weeks ago.  His wife, my last remaining grandparent (having seen two husbands die, and suffering from a variety of ailments), is now seeking hospice care, and we’ll be cutting our stay here a day short so I can fly out of Denver to go see her.  There’s no more denying that I’m becoming the middle generation, instead of the kid, and relations to family members are all being reflected upon somewhat.  I’ll be overlapping for an evening with my older brother, who I far too rarely see, with my father (who we’re here with now), and I think both of his brothers- one whom we visited last month on the first leg of our journey in his ranch in Naches, WA, and the other of whom we’ll see much more of after the journey is over, as he currently lives in Northern Virginia.

The idea of Importance of Place has been highlighted in their recent conversations- my Uncle’s place in WA has really come to define and reflect him, as has Gothic for my parents, and to some degree my grandmother’s place in Vermont, purchased after the death of my grandfather.  My daughter still treasures the last small vial of maple syrup from my grandmother’s place there.

In retrospect, this really wasn’t a bad place to grow up, or at least spend parts of it.  Crested Butte would be a great place to raise a family, for those who can find a way to afford to do so… which I don’t think will be me.  It’s a rare gem, geographically of course but also for being small town that’s in no way small-minded.

I do hope to return some time in the next few years, and can only hope to do so under better (or at least more freeing) terms than mid-move with the cats and very young kids.

Forget heat and humidity; let’s talk altitude.

7 Jul

We wake at 9,500 ft and 36-39 degrees each morning (that’s F not C, Paola).  The cabin we are staying in is not insulated and the temperature dips and rises accordingly.  It is hard to convince myself to climb out from under the covers, but slowly and inevitably I do and the morning chaos begins.  We work to shower, stop Castor from climbing off the back of the couch, change diapers, stop Moon from dragging Pollux across the carpet, get everyone dressed, stop Pollux from putting cat food in his mouth, and open the curtains.

There, we find earnest young Marmot researchers, standing in our yard and gazing with binoculars and clipboards ready at the round rodents waddling about the hill.  We also find that once again, Marmots have climbed into the wheel hubs on our Forester and need to be removed.  The beep of the car lock is no longer enough to dissuade them; we will have to walk outside.  The Magnesium Chloride that is sprayed on the dirt roads to control the dust leaves a delicious salty residue on the hoses, tires, and other bits of car — things can be chewed through if we are not careful.

Stepping outside as the screen door squeeks the sun has made it warmer.  Looking up, we see cliff swallows have been building a small cave in the eaves of the cabin, their calls and chittering noises a quiet sort of cacophony.  Just down the hill, a mother Marmot spots us and begins her alarm calls to her young.  Seven babies scurry back into the burrow; an eighth keeps meandering on.  Mom calls louder, baby continues on his or her merry way, and I sympathize.

We make our way to the cabin of my husband’s parents, my children’s grandparents.  It sits on a Lupine-covered hill, overlooking the road and the valley.  We see deer and hummingbirds right next to the cabin windows, and watch elk through a scope as they clamber up the heights of Gothic Mountain.  We have breakfast (“Oatmeal with maple syrup!” Moon insists), the boys settle into the (now rare) morning nap, and after Moon has coerced her grandma into yet another game of Ponies, it’s somehow time for lunch.

Fresh rolls (some sort of homemade bread) is generally featured, and a selection of fruit from the farmer’s market or straight from the garden outside (covered to protect it from those foraging deer we see).  Lunch is eaten, laundry is taken off the line outside, and we watch the clouds to see if a storm is blowing up valley in the afternoon (a small one has been the usual occurrence).   It’s around 70 degrees out now, with a nice breeze, but the altitude means the sun is intense.  Hats, sunscreen, and more sunscreen are required here (and ouch! the inevitable missed spots!).  We make our way down for a walk in the late afternoon, after the boys have napped, when the intensity of the sun seems to wane a bit.  Maybe we make our way to throw stones in the East River, or perhaps we head up valley to Emerald Lake, where pockets of snow let the adventurous of us sled in June and July.  Perhaps we see a doe with her two spotted fauns, or stop to sample the delicious rocks and dirt.  As 6:00 approaches, the sun has dipped behind the mountains, leaving light but giving us some relief.  Now we can see baby foxes playing on the hill behind the lab, pouncing each other between the monument plants while their mother eyes us warily.  We make our way back to the in-laws cabin for dinner, more fresh bread and fresh vegetables, as well as some Elk that Moon’s grandfather hunted.

If we’re lucky, dessert includes fresh Rhubarb from the garden.  Moon hopes for whipping cream to ‘help’ with, and shares her Grandfather’s love of ice cream.  Bellies full, we slowly clambor back to the cabin for bedtime.  A rush of pajamas, brushing teeth, and then story time (we’re onto “How to Train Your Dragon” now) before lights go out.  Quiet, calm.

Life here would seem relatively peaceful and idyllic if it weren’t for that nagging feeling of procrastination; that constant unscratched itch that says we need to keep going and our move isn’t done.  Regardless, it has been a beautiful and amazing reprieve.  We’ll be on the road again only too soon.

10 Months Old

3 Jul

10 Months Old.  Really?  How did this happen?  The boys have been growing in leaps and bounds lately — and Pollux finally has two teeth coming through (this process started in Utah)!  He’s also using his words more and more — today while out he spotted a dog and proudly pronounced “Kitty”!  He’s got the idea anyways.  His other big word is Duck, used in the context of rubber ones in the bathtub.  He’s also now standing unassisted for short periods of time, and usually just using one hand while pulling up on something.  There is a rolling stool at his grandparents house that he gleefully uses to cruise around the kitchen.  We’re doomed.

Castor is still winning the teeth battle by far — he has seven of them now.  His favorite (only) word is “hi!” , which makes sense given how much others say it to him.

Both boys are practicing walking while holding people’s hands; can’t wait to try and stuff them back in their car seats for the next long leg of the trip.

More adventures celebrating the 4th here with family; a parade (where grandpa will be featured on stilts), games, BBQ and corn on the cob, and fireworks.  Hope your 4th is a wonderful one!

Scenes from Colorado

1 Jul

Baby foxes play on a hill outside the biological research center.

A Marmot sits on the hill just outside our cabin

Grandpa, Castor, & Mr. Damn

The East River

Pollux thinks the rocks in CO taste great

Daddy and Castor at the riverbank

All these Lupines, and not a single Awesome Children's Librarian


28 Jun

We’re with the grandparents in Colorado, and you get a quick webcam shot of the view out the front windows here.  That’s Mt. Gothic, and it’s beautiful. We’re settling in here for at least a week, and everyone is looking forward to the time (and the time out of the cars).