Today was Monday

It’s hard to believe that in just a month, it will be a year of lockdowns, shelter in place, and two weeks to flatten the curve.

I have been too busy lately worrying about much of that. My life these days has already been sort of a shelter in place, since I moved back up to the mountains in my hometown in Colorado, where this time of year, it is too cold to do much else besides stay inside.

I’ve been slowly getting the house in order and yesterday, when I picked my son up in the Front Range, I stopped and got a larger fridge. Right now it’s hard to find a full sized fridge, and if I could, the shipping costs up here would kill me, so I have two mini-fridges now that keep everything just cool enough. I actually like it. One fridge for veggies and leftovers and things I don’t need all the time, and another fridge for milk and meats and things I use all the time. I couldn’t put a turkey in either of them, but I don’t like turkey, so it’s fine.

It gets the job done.

I’ve got a small kitchen, which is very rustic. I am my own dishwasher now. Honestly, I don’t miss having a dishwasher all that much, but it’s usually just my son and me. We had my parents over for dinner a little over a week ago, so there were a few more plates and forks to wash, but otherwise, it doesn’t take much longer to wash a sink full of dishes by hand than it did to rinse everything, load it into the dishwasher and run a load, and likely still not have everything come clean.

There is something to be said about washing your dishes by hand, which I think people are missing out on a little bit. It forces you to take a little time. It’s very meditative.

Tonight I have been organizing, sorting, washing dishes, cleaning cabinets and the stovetop. I have everything just about how I want it with the exception of adding in some counterspace and a different water heater. There are few repairs and renovations to make, but what do you expect out of a 108 year old house?

Some might call this kitchen run down and run in fear, (the same people who are nervous about everything and like to cry about it), but seriously, in some places in Europe, this would be considered rustic, charming, old world. As I’ve said, it’s a work in progress. The way people light their hair on fire about this sort of thing, you’ve think they never saw Under the Tuscan Sun. Not every house is perfect. Not every kitchen is a dream kitchen. It used to be that people just lived and they made due with what they had. There is something to be said of that, and I know that for the last six years, I was very spoiled.

Yesterday I was able to write a little, which felt great. The day before I wrote much, much more. I feel like I’m getting back into the groove again, and maybe that has a little to do with getting settled in. My office is nearly exactly how I need it to be, complete with my Keurig, my books, and now steady wifi signal. Penny spends most of the time with me while I am writing, or bothering me to play fetch. My son does his online schooling in an environment with few distractions and good accoustics. I am hoping to get back into podcasting, but it’s hard to do this when you don’t have guests.

We keep busy, watch shows together, play fetch with Penny, and usually everyday there has been a reason for my folks to come over or for me to drop in and see them. We have lightsaber fights and walk the dog a few times a day, where she often just sniffs around in the snow until we have to go back inside. Once the weather warms up, I’ll get cracking on more renovations, but right now, the idea of having the doors and windows open to ventilate paint fumes is not putting me in my happy place.

It’s strange how the family landscape changes. We don’t watch a lot of tv. If we do watch together, it’s in the office and it’s Disney Plus or Netflix. We sit close in a little room and I don’t miss having a big TV or a couch. I think in some ways these things have divided families over the years.

Everyone needs a den!

There are some things to get used to. The altitude is one. Not really for breathing, since we’ve acclimated, but more how things cook. Heat dissipates so much more quickly, so it takes about ten minutes to boil a pot of water instead of four or five. Once dinner is ready, you eat fast if you like hot food, because it cools off very quickly. Sometimes the wind is awful, but this house has weathered through over a hundred winters, and probably has another hundred in it.

There is something nice about not having to sit through stop lights at intersections, or having to spend money for ANY kind of entertainment. In the city, boredom usually motivated us to go on the town and buy just random stuff to keep us entertained. We haven’t really felt that urge here. Trips to bigger towns are planned out, since they don’t happen very often and everything up here is expensive anyway, so you try to economize. $50 gets you a lot further in the city when it comes to groceries in the city than it does here, but jeez, to have to fight the traffic down there just to get anywhere…I’m not sure if it’s worth it sometimes.

For now, i think I like visiting the city, and I’ll stick to my mountain town for home.

I Hope Walden Never Gets a Stoplight

Hi everyone!

This is a reblog/repost from an article I wrote last year for waldencolorado.com.  According to my good friend Jamie who admins the site, it got thousands of hits in the first couple days.  I couldn’t have been happier!  Such a great place to grow up and some of the best people I still know!

walden

So please give the North Park website some love and click the link above!

The Search for Bigfoot

I grew up in a mountain valley, one of the three vast “Parks” of Colorado, a windswept plain at about 8000 feet above sea level, surrounded by 12,000 ft. tall mountains on all sides.  We were isolated.  Undeveloped and to this day, still one of the most untouched regions of the Colorado Rocky Mountains.

My home town was, and to this day, hovers at around 700 people.  We had one school.  Two gas stations.  Three bars.  Three liquor stores. And two grocery stores, both of which featured severely marked up milk, bread, canned beans, and meat.  Most people in town drove sixty miles to the nearest town (in any direction) to do their shopping. Only during blizzards when the roads were closed did the locals succumb to price gouging and shop locally.23795308_10155225267713412_8676039804032762096_n

A number of years ago, when I was just around my youngest’s age now, someone in town had a corral of horses down by the river. Something had been spooking them.  Something which had emerged from the primordial forests, followed the river down, close to town, and began tormenting these horses.  In the partially frozen mud of the Michigan River, someone found a footprint.  It was like the shape of a man’s footprint, only large.  And fresh.

I remember that chilly afternoon when a large group of local men gathered, some riding in the back of pickup trucks, others with their dogs.  A few had horses.  All of them had hunting rifles.  There was a lot of hushed talk, fearful talk in low voices about Bigfoot.  Sasquatch.  For two days, the men crashed through the willows which choked the floodplain.  They looked for any other sign.  Hair.  Scat.  More prints.

Two weeks later, a black bear was shot by a friend of my dad’s with a bow down by the bridge outside of town.  The bridge that spanned the Michigan River. Bears weren’t all that common in those days, having been hunted out decades before. And with the death of the bear, strangely enough, the signs of Bigfoot also disappeared.  The two were obviously a coincidence.  But I never forgot the angry villagers who converged to drive a monster out of our community.

I love telling my kids that story whenever we visit.  This last Thanksgiving, my youngest, seven years old at the time, got excited about the prospect of hunting Bigfoot.  His grandpa outfitted him with all sorts of lanterns, flashlights, compasses, binoculars, and other gear to help him in his expedition.  Unfortunately, Grandpa ran out of steam that afternoon, and so it was up to me, Grandma, and his sister to indulge him on his trek.

The days were growing shorter, and so at about 4pm, we loaded up in the car while my dad napped, and headed east to one of my favorite places in North Park.  I’m convinced it would be nearly impossible to take a bad picture of this place.  The sunsets are spectacular.  The mountains are just as they were when settlers came into the area, and probably not much different than they were when the first people came into the area, with the exception of a few timber roads and patches of clearcut here and there.23755425_10155225267848412_3970156591653163350_n

We drove up the winding road, chasing the shadows cast by the last rays of light for the day.  The higher we got, the colder the air became.  The roads were rutted with mud and snow and ice.  An unseasonably warm November, but because of recent snowfall, the mountains were caked in an impressive white, unmarred above treeline by the warm days that had followed.

As night set in, we took pictures and walked a hunting trail a little ways to the trailhead of what is still one of my favorite hikes.  I have probably hiked this path in the Summer more times than any other trail.  It is daunting to say the least.  Most of it is at a grade that would be straight up if not for the switchbacks.  An old logging road allowed to grow over.  A thick forest of lodge-pole pines and aspen make up most of this five mile ascent until you reach tundra and some of the best views of the valley I have ever seen.  North Park stretches out to the west, north and south.  To the east is the Front Range as you stand on wilderness area, the highest tors and crags to the South are the Rawah peaks, across the valley to the West are the Zirkels.  Unlike Rocky Mountain National Park, just a few miles to the south, there are no groomed trails, no busloads of tourists, no cell reception, and no signs kindly reminding you to take only photographs and leave only footprints.  There is just you, the biting wind, and the cerulean sky infinite.

23915548_10155225267668412_4059718559982791491_n

That night, there was no Bigfoot to be found.  And though we only stepped out of the car for a little bit, being unequiped for a night hike in the snow, my son ran and played, searching, hunting, as is what boys are born to do.  His goal was fulfilled, even though I couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed that we didn’t even see any footprints that weren’t our own.  But that is what adulting does.  It fixes your sights on the goal for so long that you forget to enjoy the path.  We didn’t need to find Bigfoot, only look for him.

And that is what we did.

We headed back home, watching the last rays of light fade behind the mountains to the West.  The stars and other worlds of our solar system began to wink into view.  My son fell asleep in his seat, holding his trusty brass lantern.  My daughter got back into range of the cell tower and was happy again.  My mom and I talked about life and the world and broken things and hope.  Back at the Grandparents’ house, hot chocolate was poured.  Television was watched. And Bigfoot remained elusive.

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, mountain, cloud, outdoor and nature