Monday, July 31, 2017

Vermont and Charleston

Oh my goodness - a giant delay in posting. I actually have a good excuse this time however. Our week long trip to visit friends in Vermont turned into an additional trip for me down in Charleston to help Tiffany house hunt. They move on August 9 so there was not a minute to spare. Huge move for their family of 4 - they're moving from the DC area.

Mt. Equinox summit
Vermont was gorgeous, in every direction. Our friends live in Manchester, a very picturesque town, and we had some fun exploring a little bit of their mountains which are quite different than the Rocky Mts. First they are 400 million years old, second they are all 3 to 4,000 ft in elevation. As comparison, Rocky Mts. are approx 80 million years old, and we have over 50 peaks that hit over 14,000ft. Quite a contrast! It was cloudy hazy day but still beautiful anyway. It is also home to the only Carthusian monastery in North America. No visitors allowed but lots of information on their life at the center. Strict rules of behavior is putting it mildly.

Hildene - Robert Todd Lincoln's summer home
The guys were in a golf tournament and we girls marched off to do hard work: shopping, gallery strolling, and touring historical properties. Tough life...

Everything is quaint, cute (I overused the word to no end) and gives a real sense of the look and feel of the 1700's. Handmade crafts, amazing pottery, and of course the cheese, blueberries, and masses of maple syrup and local honey everywhere.

Robert Frost's home
Visited Robert Frost's home, you know the one. The prolific and famous poet who wrote "But I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep".

Our friends were the perfect hosts. They've just moved into a new home that is still undergoing transformation inside and out and it's quite spectacular even not finished. A fun time was had by all and Mark and Tom won their flight. And a postscript, on our drive from the airport to their house, bear number 4 appeared. I'm having an amazing bear sighting summer.

So Mark and I drove to the Hartford airport and said goodbye while I went off to Charleston and he went back to Miami. Living a strange life for sure at the moment. Charleston is equally as charming as Vermont just in a very different way. Southern to its core.

We raced around and looked at houses until we were silly, but were successful in finding a very cute house in a lovely, family friendly, great school area - Mt. Pleasant. That's not Charleston proper but its just a hop, skip, and a jump over the bridge into downtown. Chris will be making that commute daily, but it's short indeed compared to DC area commuting.

breakfast at Toast - cheese grits, fried green tomato, crab and egg, and giant biscuit
Charleston is a very big food town, something Tiffany and Chris are thrilled about. Tiffany wisely had us stay downtown so at the end of each exhausting day we had a great dinner to look forward to. All were great: Butcher and Bee, Sorghum and Salt, and The Darling Oyster Bar. Yum.
Back to Star Mt. and company expected the end of the week. Yippee!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Perfection in the mountains

And summer marches on. We/I am in between guests (human that is) and just reveling in the fabulous weather and constant wildlife. Enjoying a number of rainy afternoons bringing much needed moisture along with spectacular booming mountain thunderstorms. Mark reluctantly left to go back to Florida but will return soon.

I don't know if cattle qualify exactly as wildlife, but nonetheless, I'm going to talk about them for a moment. Two hundred strong and are quite the messy bunch, they leave "cowpies" everywhere and it's hard to maneuver the car around it all. I'm visiting the car wash much more often and that's only to take a layer off. Impossible task to keep cars clean here. Those steers, which is what we have which are kinda boys, bellow and moan on a regular basis, and as you see, love to congregate at the gate on our upper driveway. They will literally stand, moan, and stare in for hours. Why do we have them, you ask? We lease all of Star Mt. all summer and early fall to a local rancher for the magic ag exemption. Mucho reduced taxes for our community.

It is all about deer season here. Fawns everywhere. We have our resident buck as well (see last post) He has been under our deck for hours every day since I took that photo. Mark has a theory he is related to Flap, our beloved doe of much errant behavior. It's certainly possible,we've seen her every year since we built - 8 years now, and she's had babies that we've seen almost every year since.

She just showed up a couple of mornings ago very early as I got up. I saw her strolling up the driveway and on a hunch, went to look out the front. Oh yes, she had eaten all the day lily blooms before 6am. The only deer I know of who eats day lilies and other plants that none of the rest touch. I'm not even mad anymore, it seems a proper thing to have happen in Flap's "later" years. Don't know how old she is least 9.

Elk chewed aspen up the road
We walked our woods which is a bigger undertaking than you might think. Our property is 35 acres and probably 20 or so are totally wooded. Happily we discovered quite a few baby aspen ( hadn't seen any for quite some time) as we have a fully mature aspen forest with unknown time left. We also saw a lot of chewing/scraping of downed trees of some unknown animal. Hard to say what, we have a myriad of creatures that roam in the woods - porcupine, fox, coyote, bear, mountain lion, deer, elk, weasel, badger, marmot, and the endless teeny creatures.The bottom photo is to show the difference between the mystery critter and elk chewing.

Cashmere goat farm in Gunnison. Been here going on 20 years. The owner is incredibly active in the community and supports the kids 4h programs. Wish I could get my hands on that cashmere! It goes elsewhere I'm afraid.

The last of our sunflowers are going. I'm sad but then I see the flocks of finches swooping down for the seed. The patterns remain the same every summer which is nice. Our bluebirds under the deck are grown up and flown out of the nest, and the second nest of robins under the deck seem to be almost ready to fly. A little mystery on why we don't have our usual giant number of hummingbirds. I've filled all 4 feeders for them while I'm gone anyway.

A bit of an interlude coming up for us.  A trip to Vermont planned to see friends. I'll be gone a week, hope all the creatures can survive without me!

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Hot air balloons, deer, and jeeping

Hot air balloon rally for 4th of July. There's our alma mater W peeking out in the background.
Brush Creek jeep ride to see the wildflowers. It was spectacular and very Switzerlandish. This is also mountain bike central and we had to maneuver through the bikers. All friendly, we went super slow to avoid having them eat dust and we had waves all around.

Changing gears, we went to an early, 6:30am early, hot air balloon rally in Gunnison 4th of July morning. Gorgeous stuff.

"Our" elk have moved off Star Mt. with their babies but they're surely part of the enormous herds that are roaming up and down Ohio Creek. It's quite the awe inspiring sight.

One breakfast restaurant review. After having been to the lackluster opening of the "new" Paradise Cafe some years ago, had not been back until a few days ago at Mark's suggestion. It was fabulous, the most amazing breakfast and service. We highly recommend going - and Bloody Marys are optional.

where is my baby?
Coming Mama!
My first sight of the buck lounging under the deck as I drove into the garage. Looks like art sculpture right?
The beauty
Lots of deer action happening right now. Interestingly no sign of Flap since the first few days I got here. She's somewhere around though, maybe with new babies. She'll show up again I'm sure.

And the cattle are in! Roaming Star Mt. until mid October
Ohhh the summer is already going too fast. Every year I wish for time to slow down, but not to be. Mark is back in Miami and was sad to leave. Me too! The one good part of time moving too fast - he'll be back again the end of the month, be here before you know it.