Monday, May 31, 2010

Happy Memorial Day!

Hope everyone is having a great holiday weekend. Can't believe it's the end of May. We've been here almost a month and out of state cars are starting to show up. The weather has been gorgeous the last few days with flowers popping out by the hour and the aspen are almost fully leafed out. We see deer & elk everyday and feel so lucky to have the magnificent scenery around us.
Hummingbird mania is upon us - up to twice a day fillings. They feed all day until the sun goes down.
Had to talk about the magic spring a little distance down Ohio Creek Rd from us. It is the purest water around and as you can see ,someone put a pipe on it and people in the know come to fill up. Even our guy who did our water system at the house will fill up a jug or two. If he says its pure, I gotta believe it.... Pure untreated mountain water - fabulous!
Finished book #31 - The Chinese Nail Murders by Robert Van Gulik. Murder mystery set in China in the 11th century. Interesting and lots of info on how people lived then. No idea where I got the author's name - definitely behind on my book reading!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Mountain majesty

We've been burning up the road between Star Mt. and Gunnison and in separate cars - Mark with golf games and me with a new occupation - volunteering at the local art center. They are non-profit and struggling a bit (funding is not what it was with the economy -of course). So far I've been invited to join the visual arts council, had a tour of the facilities, and spent a few hours taking in art pieces for the latest art show. (and I'm putting in two paintings of mine - why not). I think I'm also going to help hang the art next week (hmmm, not done that before - they seem to need all the help they can get!)
Hurray - jeeping today! We went up to Almont Triangle and were on top of the world. The jeep works like a charm and seemed happy to be doing what it was built for.Mark was able to use his new GPS with altimeter. It's important to know at all times how high you are. We felt completely alone, but were not. Ran into two cowgirls (see pic) and their heeler dogs. Yes, girls(really proper term would be women - my age I think.) Everybody around here is tougher & stronger than I could ever hope to be.
Tried to go over Ohio Pass for the first time today, but no go. Gate shut still - one day too early...oh well. Mark wanted to be one of the first over this year.
And lastly, the river report. Oh, boy the runoff has started big time. East river is as Mark put it, "chocolate milk" and the Taylor was high & murky. He was going to try fishing tomorrow - I'll let you know...

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Busy activity day and night

We opened windows for the first time yesterday. Great weather is really here, it seems. And with windows open, heard howling coyotes a few times in the night. What a sound! Were they inspired by the moon almost full?
We see deer now every day. They're a lot more cooperative than the elk staying still so I can get a picture. Keeping eyes peeled for signs of newly awake bear - nothing yet. Mark smoked salmon from last Oct (the ones that the hatchery was giving away - bouncing around in big paperbags) with his new smoker. That should have gotten a bear's attention if he/she were awake I think. We had a great meal - smoked salmon with cilantro, garlic, and olive oil/butter pasta. Yummm...
The flower photo is larkspur. They're just popping out everywhere, and these are the plants that keep the cattle ranchers from putting their cattle in Star Mt. until mid-July. Very poisonous to livestock, but so pretty.
The race is on. The hummingbirds are very active & there are a quite a few. I'm boiling sugar water once a day, and Mark is filling the feeders once a day also. This will get us in the routine for the peak (3 times a day and mountains of sugar).

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

And the winds blew through

After the hurricane force winds that blasted most of Colorado yesterday, we're basking in the sun and enjoying the still air. We saw a crazy thing at the bottom of our hill - a solitary elk chased away not one but 3 coyotes. Is it possible that the elk already had her baby and was protecting the area? We'll be keeping a sharp eye out...
The aspen did start leafing out while we were gone and they're opening up more by the hour. Green everywhere, flowers popping out, and lots of hummingbirds around now.
Had to take a photo of one of the baby spruce. Isn't the sunshade cute - hopefully it helps the survival rate. Actually we looked at all the baby trees when we got back - some look great but some already look stressed. We'll just have to cross fingers (and water a lot).
Quite a few people put teepees in their yard, thought it made a nice photo. It's very atmospheric - is it for decoration or what - don't know...

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Back after family visit

We are just back from a few day jaunt to Colo Springs to visit my parents and brother George & sister in law Linda. Great visit and sooo much easier than in past years, since my parents have moved from Oregon to across the street from George. Nice weather,a round of golf at George's beautiful course, some great dinners out, and some shopping at "real" national chain places to stock up. They don't exist in Gunnison except a small Walmart. Yippee.
Golf picture is of the boys - Mark, George, & Travis (nephew) -and yes I played too. Pretty view yes...
We stopped at Hartsel for tamales -yes Lisa - remember? Fabulous tamales in a funky little building. A one strip town with the local jail with hand painted sign across the street. Somehow I think it doesn't get much use...
Nice to get away and nice to come back.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Gotcha - not quite spring yet

Hee, hee, much laughing as mother nature flips her nose at me and my predictions of winter white done. Snowing late yesterday, and snowing this morning. Nothing stuck and it's stopped for now, but I now know why the locals have been glancing quizzically at us when we said we wanted to come back in early May. Weather is predicted by altitude, seriously, listing snow above X feet. It just so happens we are 8800 and a lot of predictions talk snow above 8000. Okaaay then...
We did get the rest of the baby trees planted yesterday - all 60 are now in the ground with their various moisture slurry, fertilizer tablets, sun or animal protection. A lot of stuff for foot high trees! Wish us luck on a good survival rate.
There are 2 pair of orioles as it turns out. And clever creatures, they have figured out how to pull out the yellow plastic inserts that keep bees out of the middle of the hummingbird feeders so they can reach the sugar water more easily. Constant battle between the hummers & big boys. We weren't here this time last year so don't know if this group is transient or staying.
Elk are still wandering around, and we've seen more deer showing up in the woods. I figure this is a sign the trees will be leafing out soon. And little flowers are popping up everywhere in spite of snow.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Blue sky and the warmth of the sun

Gorgeous weather has arrived here. We think, for no good reason really, that the late winter white stuff is done. We've been hauling up outdoor furniture for the deck, since it's warm enough to sit out. Both hummingbird feeders are busy, busy with hummingbirds so I had to duck my head arranging furniture while they buzzed by. And the silly pair of orioles are still hanging out drinking sugar water.(photo courtesy of Mark this time - the orioles will not sit still for me)
Saw our first deer back in the woods walking yesterday morning. We'd already scared a bunch of elk on the way. The elk are much more skittish than the deer - don't know why...
Mark caught a record size rainbow trout yesterday (his biggest ever in CO) 22inches and fat. He didn't take a picture (since I have absconded with his camera) but does have a witness - our friend Steve, who actually took him down to this area of Spring Creek. Thanks Steve!
Had our first aged beef here at Star Mt. Yummy, yummy as usual with Mark's caramelized onions & blue cheese. Yes, one of the first things on the list when we got here was to buy a little rack and cheesecloth for beef preparation. Really difficult prep too, takes all of a minute to wrap the steaks in the cheesecloth and plop on the rack in the frig.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Anticipation of spring

Today is still spitting winter, little bit on the ground all gone by mid-morning. Thunder in the middle of the night - I don't know if I'm coming or going...
We went to Crested Butte to have lunch at our now favorite pizza place (Secret Stash) - whoops - only open for dinner at this off season time. As a matter of fact, lots of places aren't open at all yet.
Had coffee at Rumors (the cute bookstore/coffee shop) with one young lady working both ends of the store. Sat by the window and read newspapers, which is a treat in itself. That's our dirty (of course) Tahoe out the window. Oh, so peaceful & quiet.
However, when we ended up at McGill's for lunch, which is great anytime, it was jammed. A mob (two dozen at least) of University of Denver students crowded in. Evidently a late season weekend away. Do we want everyone to know about quaint Crested Butte -no not really - just enough for the businesses to survive...
Lots of animals out, including this saddled and no rider? horse. Cowboys were out herding cattle to where have no idea, but they were too faraway to snap a photo. Our very own (leased) bunch of cattle still have some weeks to go before they'll be let in (mid-July). Some of you will get to experience this fascinating close up & personal look at cows who missed it last year. Thank goodness we have the fence!
The hummingbird feeder photo is a quiz. What's wrong with this picture? We've had a pair of what we think are Bullock Orioles hanging around, trying to eat from the feeder,and having it seems, some success at drinking sugar water. The hummingbirds seem a tad frustrated - and they are way too small to fight this.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Ode to snow

Here was our yesterday: rain, snow, sleet, hail, snow, sleet in waves all day. The elk were out a lot of the day, I think they thought they were hidden in all that white stuff.
So today we woke up to 6 inches of snow covering everything. Welcome to mid-May in CO! Mark actually shoveled the deck where the roof runoff snow piled up. Crazy. And the lonely hummingbird feeder attracted a few hummingbirds this morning, surrounded by snow. Here's the weirdest thing about the snowstorm. It didn't exist - on any weather report; just for us on Star Mountain. Mark went to play golf in Gunnison - no snow there. I came down Star Mt. to do errands in town and no snow anywhere after a mile or so. Expect the unexpected here...
Finished book #29 Balcony of Europe by Aidan Higgins. Sort of Hemingwayish reissued classic. Interesting, but the style made is a little harder read than I was hoping for. I've gotten way behind on my reading, it seems my surroundings are far too distracting.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

And the fox dance & the snow flies

Our little late season snow did show up last night. Caught a couple of photos early - the dusting melted away within an hour. The elk didn't seem bothered - were out in force this morning. Another excuse to have a roaring fire going!
Forget everything I said in the last post about the fox parents.Not parents at all. Not one, but two appeared back in the yard to play and sniff (and pee on) our new baby trees. We think they were two young males (the peeing clue) and they played all over the yard for 15 minutes. It was an amazing show - we just never know what's going to show up here...
This is a major week - we had both FedX and UPS actually come through the gates and deliver at the house!! I realize this doesn't seem like a big deal to you city people, here yes and yes. No more things flung in the dirt outside the gates. Hurray.
And the last piece of news - two days in a row we've managed to get through our steep 3 1/2 mile walk through the woods without stopping once to catch our breath. That is remarkable considering last summer it took a month to get to that point. I guess we didn't lose all the conditioning in, flat as a pancake, sea level Florida. A big hurray.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Yummy fires and animals with parenting skills

Okay, evidently it's still early here - snow flurries were in the air all day today. There's a end of season storm headed for Colorado the next couple of days. No big accumulation or anything for here (worse for Denver), just not warm spring weather. Actually the snow has melted off our driveway, but as you can see from the photos, the peaks still have a giant pile.
We've had the ambiance of a lovely fire going in the fireplace a couple of times since we've arrived with the chilly mornings. You may or may not remember my rant last winter on Colo state laws for new woodburning fireplaces. Giant fires behind closed glass doors do not make for good heat conduction contrary to the lovely instruction brochure. So we went on a hunt for a simple screen to protect the open area when we flung open those idiotic glass doors. Not to be found before we left for Florida. This time - success! Last one at the hardware store, but cheap and does the trick. Blessed heat pours out. Pretty - yes!
The local paper had an article about bears waking up for spring. I expect this will happen in the next couple of weeks. Imagine, they birth their babies while hibernating and the cubs nurse for two months with an asleep mommy and then she wakes up. Is this the easy way or what... Yes, I will have my spray ready - love to see a cub though...
Had to stop my post for a moment while the fox came back for more food hunting. I've read that the foxes have their babies (kits) in the den right now, and they stay in for two months. Sooo, I think this is a mom or dad on the hunt. Had to snap more photos - look at the head cocked - he/she is listening for rodent movement. Kept doing it over & over. Funny!