Friday, August 29, 2014
What a week! I went to the ranch this week to get in three days of work. When I arrived, I discovered that lightning had burned up my cell signal booster, my DirecTV receiver, my DVD player, my television, and my coffee pot. And that was with the power off at the breaker box! In addition, hogs had destroyed one of my gates on the property and mice had decided to use the air intake system on my Kawasaki Mule as a storage for corn.
So in addition to fixing the things I could, I cleared brush for 4 hours, put 1,000 pounds of feed in feeders, spent 8 hours mortaring stone under the cabin, and spent 4 hours participating in a night-time spotlight survey of the deer along 21 miles of road to help determine the average deer population on the overall ranch this year. If that wasn't enough, we were notified by the county than an Anthrax breakout has killed 68 deer so far (and that's only the ones found by people!). Not a good week, and I am tired. At least I got a lot of fitness minutes in...
Tuesday, August 19, 2014
Since my wife passed away in January, I decided to make three trips this year to help with the grief. I planned to visit friends and do something active on each trip. This was my second trip - a trip to Colorado to visit friends and do some hiking, fishing, and camping. Since I got there early in the day (and my friends were working), I went hiking around the Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs. That is such a beautiful place. Here are a few pictures from that hike.
I spent the first weekend visiting a friend of ours whom we had previously gone on a trip to Alaska with. His home escaped destruction last year when the deadly fires in the Black Forest area of Colorado Springs destroyed 500 homes. I helped him remove brush all day on a Saturday from an Animal Rescue Center that he volunteers at daily. (It was kind of like working at my ranch...) On Sunday, we visited Cripple Creek and I won $110 within the first 15 minutes of playing the slot machines. Not to say that I'm a conservative gambler, but I quit shortly thereafter when I was still $100 ahead.
That evening we went to the person's house that runs the Animal Rescue and had steak and king crab. My friend contributed over 10 lbs of crab for that dinner! Boy, it was good! Here is a picture of my friend and I clowning around with some king crab legs. The woman to the left is the mother in a family of Blue Grass musicians who won a national contest that we attended in Branson, MO last spring. The other young lady is a volunteer at the Rescue Center. She is also Miss Teen Colorado! She is a very sweet and giving young woman.
From there I went tent camping for a couple of days at Lake Ruedi, near Aspen. I was supposed to go for three days, but I discovered that camping alone just wasn't as much fun as with my wife - it was actually a little depressing as it rained all night each night I was there. During the day, I did catch some trout and go on some hikes, but it just wasn't the same. This is something I am going to have to work on (or find a friend to go with me). Here are a few pictures from those days camping.
On my way back to Colorado Springs, I did a demanding hike near Independence Pass to an overlook above Lake Linkin. It was on this trip that I learned about the sudden afternoon storms that are typical this time of year. When I got to the top (13,000 feet), the storms hit, and I got hailed on, ice'd on, snowed on, and rained on as I headed down. I brought a rain jacket, but I still wasn't prepared for all of that!
After I returned to Colorado Springs, I spent the weekend with a very close friend that I used to work with in my Air Force days in San Antonio. We went on a demanding 4-mile hike on the grounds of the Air Force Academy to a place called Stanley Reservoir - it was on top of the mountains surrounding the Academy. Here are some pictures of that hike.
I also went on an extremely difficult 14-mile hike on the trail towards Pike's Peak. I would have gone a little further, but the forecast was for storms up top and people are killed by lightning every year hiking to the summit. It was still a fantastic hike and good training for an 18-mile hike I plan to do with my son in the Grand Tetons in late September.
All in all, it was a great trip. Visiting with friends was very therapeutic, and I really loved the hiking. I also enjoyed getting away from the 100 degree temperatures in South Texas. This may just have to be an annual trip!
Tuesday, May 27, 2014
I just got home from a great 2 week road trip vacation. I traveled almost 4,000 miles and visited friends in North Carolina, Virginia, and Pennsylvania. It was the perfect vacation to take my mind off the recent passing of my wife. I thought I would share a few pictures from the trip.
I first stopped in North Carolina to visit friends from my Air Force days in Texas. I had a great time visiting and seeing the local sights. The beach was also really nice there.
From there I went to Richmond to visit some very good friends of my wife and I. This visit coincided with what would have been our 15th wedding Anniversary. Although a sad day, my friends were great at lifting my spirits. We relived some great times we had with my wife.
Then I went further north in Virginia to visit a friend whom I worked with at Brooks AFB (also in San Antonio) for 15 years. She and her husband moved to Virginia after the base closed in 2011. We visited numerous local wineries and breweries one day and then watched my friend complete a half-marathon the next day. Here she is at the finish - I wish I could be in that kind of shape!
The next day my friend and I walked nearly 6 miles at Sky Meadows state park. Part of the hike was along the Appalachian Trail - here we had a great visit with a hiker who had been on the trail since March 2nd! Here is a picture of me along the trail.
The next day I did some hiking on my own while my friends worked. Here is a view along Skyline Drive on my way to the first hike.
On the first hike to "Mary's Rock," most of the hike was on the Appalachian Trail. I met many more people who had been hiking since early March, and they all had interesting stories. This particular hike was very demanding, with 2 miles of steep incline. The walking was also over rocky ground. You even had to duck under one fallen tree.
When I finally got to Mary's Rock, I was able to climb up top and get a full 360 degree view of scenery in Virginia and West Virginia. It was breathtaking. Here are a couple of pictures from Mary's Rock.
I did one more hike that day, for a total of 6.1 miles. It felt good hiking in the mountains!
From there, I went to Pennsylvania and had a great homemade lunch at the home of one our Teddy Bear members on the 5% Challenge. SVELTWARRIOR and I had a great visit, although it was way too short. I'll have to plan better on the next trip - I also need to take a picture!
From there, I went to Canton, Ohio to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. It was interesting seeing all of the exhibits of the NFL players I grew up watching.
From there, I visited the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, OH. I spent 5 1/2 hours there, and could have easily spent another 2 hours looking around. They had some incredible footage of our musical heritage.
From there, I went to Indianapolis to get some craft beers that we can't get here in Texas. After that, I made the long trip home. It was a great trip that was made extra special by those I visited along the way.
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