Monticello Days – October 2019

The latter half of October includes emphasis on our projects, especially those that require steady power and internet. For me that is blog writing, editing photos, and editing for a couple of authors. I especially enjoy my quiet mornings in front of the sliding glass doors that look to the east.

Looking to the east at sunrise

I’ve been cleaning Cougar, getting ready for the winter trip. Clifford works with his ham radio, CI research papers, and writing music programs, as well as taking care of business that can’t be easily done on the road. He has also been preparing for the televised interview that he will be doing in Boulder, Colorado, in November.

The weather is changing and by the 20th of October, we see a covering of snow.

Skiff of snow

Also on the 20th, the Carnicom Institute Newsletter, which we have been working on for several weeks, has undergone its last revisions and I am glad to hit PUBLISH and send it on its way to our mailing list. My granddaughter Jasmine has her baby today, a big healthy boy. Congratulations to her and her husband Bart! And Clifford decorates for Halloween.

Cllifford clowning around with his skeleton buddy

By the 26th, the weather has warmed up. With a clear sky and a forecast of 60 degrees for today, we leave our projects, make a picnic, and head up Abajo Mountains to enjoy a day in the outdoors. We first go to Monticello Lake, which is low, so not as pretty as before. Quite a few other people are there, it is windy, and we don’t have a level spot to park for our picnic… so we leave and go to Pine Flats, taking the other road in to explore, finding a nice spot where we’ve never been, level and out of the wind. We set up our table and chairs and have our picnic. Then, while I saunter about taking photos, Clifford plays dulcimer.

Piicnic at Pine Flats

When the sun goes behind the mountain and the shade creeps over us, we pack up and head back down the mountain. What a great way to spend the day. Two days later, the temperature is down to 18 degrees and more snow. What a switch.

Back to more cold and snow

October in Monticello has gone by quickly, the days filled with meaningful activities. We hear of hardships around the country and the world, like the fires in California, and are so very grateful for the safe and comfortable place we have here when we are not traveling.

Writing about the end of of October is not complete without mentioning my dear mom. Although it has already been three years since she passed on, it seems like she is just a phone call away.

Just a phone call away… or so it almost feels….

Trip to Abajo Mountain – October 2019

Monday October 14: A few days after our return to home-base in southeast Utah, with a sunny sky and the promise of a day in the 60’s, Clifford and I make a trip up Abajo Mountain for a photo outing.

We first go to Monticello Lake, which is especially blue with the blue sky above. I walk around to the dam so as to get a better angle of sunlight behind the scrub oak that grows on the hillside around the lake.

Monticello Lake
Walking around to the dam
Grasses growing on the dam
Sunlight through the scrub oak leaves

A strong breeze comes up, and we decide to go on to Pine Flats which may be more protected. Someone is camped in our spot, so we stop in the aspen grove and I take a few photos there.

Our last stop is the Buckboard Campground because the aspens there are quite photogenic, especially along with the scrub oak, all in their autumn colors.

Aspen at Buckboard Campground

Then back down the mountain and the afternoon is spent with our various projects.

Down the mountain

The mountain outing was lovely and back at home-base, I am appreciative of the sturdy house protecting us from the wind, as well as the electricity that allows our numerous projects to continue.

Summer Solstice on Abajo Mountain – June 2019

Friday June 21 – I wake up much earlier than normal and being unable to get back to sleep, I get up, make coffee in the French press, take a few moments for quiet time, and then write in the journal, sitting outside in sunlight filtering through pine boughs.

Today, to celebrate Summer Solstice, we are going for a picnic on Abajo Mountain. After the morning routine, which includes the ham radio net that Clifford checks into daily, we head up the mountain. Today we go to Pine Flats, thinking that we will go to the spot where we camped last June for Amateur Radio Field Day, but a big party is blocking the road.

Last June we camped in the pines beyond this stand of aspen

Too bad, but we decide to go in further on the main road and around the bog area to see what we can find. Due to abundant snow melt and spring rains, the bog is now a pond and wild iris are blooming everywhere.

The bog is now a pond
Wild iris are blooming everywhere

The road is above water, but muddy and Clifford has to gun Suburban to get through it. We certainly would not be able to bring Cougar up here. We find a pretty and level place to park where the road becomes a 4-wheeler trail. Clifford sets up table and chairs and gets his books out, while I wander about taking photos and gathering a few rocks for the backyard landscaping. After awhile, we have our picnic of nachos and hot tea.

We find a pretty spot for a picnic

By the time we are finished with our picnic, the wind has picked up and it is getting a bit chilly here on the mountain. We pack up and head out, but take time to explore a bit, finding other potential camping spots, should we decide to come up with Cougar for this year’s Field Day.

Before heading back to base camp, we drive further over the mountain to the view point where we stopped with our friends just a couple of days ago. Sage is abundant here and I want to pick enough to make a couple of sage bundles for smudging.

Wild lupine and sage are abundant at the overview

Back home, checking messages, I learn that my daughter Becka and her driving companion, on the journey from Atlanta to Missoula, Montana, are in mid-Wyoming and it is snowing in Bozeman, their destination. I’m guessing she is not thrilled with that! While Clifford continues with his projects – CI research and ham radio – I unload the rocks, edit photos from our outing, and play viola before starting dinner. Before I know it, bedtime has arrived; Mary Oliver poems close out the day for me. Clifford, as usual, stays up late working on his projects.

Canyonlands Here We Come – June 2019

Wednesday June 19: Clifford and I enjoy a leisurely morning with our friends, Kaylee and Ren, who are here visiting us on their way to Arizona in preparation for their upcoming wedding. Clifford and Kaylee work on the Carnicom Institute website, while Ren I visit and drink her delicious coffee substitute.

Even though they have to leave this evening, we decide on an outing to Canyonlands National Park, as Ren has never been there. We are taking the road over Abajo Mountain and our first stop is a viewing area on the far side of the mountain. The wildflowers are in bloom and it is really lovely here on the mountain.

View of LaSal Mountain from Abajo Mountain
Wildflowers on Abajo Mountain
Kaylee and Ren on the sagging bench
The viewing spot on Abajo Mountain – bench to the right looks out to Canyonlands

Our next stop is “Newspaper Rock,” a rock panel covered with petroglyphs. There was vandalism at some point, but the panel has been protected and is in very good condition, for the most part. It is fascinating to look at all the etchings, recognizing what some are and trying to guess at the meaning of others.

Newspaper Rock
Newspaper Rock
View from the parking lot at Newspaper Rock

From there we continue west through BLM land until we arrive at Canyonlands National Park. It was quite warm on the mountain, but much more so here in the lower elevation of the canyons. We stop at the Visitors Center to see the displays, then continue on the scenic loop.

Scenic drive through BLM land toward Canyonlands National Park
It is very surprising to see this pond in the otherwise arid region
Scenic drive through BLM land toward Canyonlands National Park
Iconic formation seen from Needles Visitor Center

We stop at Pothole Point to hike the loop. Even though Clifford and I have hiked this loop before, it seems the cairns have been moved and a portion of the loop is missed. However, it is much too hot to go back and redo it. As it is, we appreciate the unique formations and the shade of rock overhangs.

Kaylee, Ren, and Clifford on the Pothole Point Trail
Looking toward the Needles District from the Pothole Point Trail
Formations seen along the Pothole Point Trail
We missed part of the loop, but too hot to go back
Where did it come from?
Enjoying the shade of an overhang

Our last stop is a side road that gives us a closer view of the iconic Wooden Shoe Arch.

Iconic Wooden Shoe Arch in Canyonlands National Park
Good-bye to Canyonlands for this trip

Back at home base, the guys nap (Kaylee has a long drive ahead yet tonight), while Ren and I chat as she writes wedding invitations and I edit photos. For dinner, we all sit outside at one our bistro tables, enjoying the mild evening temperature. Then our friends finish packing their car and are soon on their way. We wish them well and look forward to seeing them on our journey south next winter.

May in Monticello – May 2019

Tuesday May 21 to Friday May 31: These last days of May are punctuated by inclement weather. Lows are mostly in the low to mid-30’s and highs vary from 40 to 70 degrees. Rain, sleet, and snow make for interesting interludes between the sunnier days. Some days I can sit outside in the morning to write in the journal, but most mornings journaling happens at the writing table at the sliding glass door.

Sitting outside on a sunny morning
Sitting inside on a chilly day
Inclement weather

Clifford is focused on his work in the lab, the most important being the development of a process for protein separation.

Work in the lab

The to-do list for busy work continues with consolidating our various car insurances, involving much time on the phone. Where is our secretary when we need him (or her)?!? In my morning quiet times, I try to see a positive aspect to all the daily activities that I would gladly turn over the maid and the secretary.

In spite of the busy work that eats precious hours of the day, I continue editing photos, writing and posting blogs, playing viola or cello, and editing for my daughter Ang, making good progress on Emperors and Exiles, the second trilogy of the current series.

The only outing other than errands is to a view point where I can take photos of Abajo Mountain cloaked in new-fallen snow.

Abajo Mountain cloaked in new-fallen snow

As May draws to a close, I am encouraged to see the appearance of some kind of mint family blooming in the back yard, as well as the the promise of rose and poppy blossoms to come.

Monticello Springtime – May 2019

The days of Wednesday May 15 to Monday May 20 are spent with the busy work of taking care of emails for CI, paperwork for this and that… things that have been on a back burner while traveling. More interesting for me are blog writing, editing photos, editing for my daughter Ang, sending letters to literary agents, and sending texts with photos to family and friends.

One day Clifford and I make another trip to Abajo Mountain, to Monticello Lake again, so I can gather a few rocks for the landscaping project in the back yard. It is a windy day with a smeary jet-trail sky, so not many photos. However, Clifford takes his dulcimer and I have my journal, and we improvise outdoor seating out of the wind in the lee of the Suburban. We have hot tea and enjoy the warmth of the sunshine out of the wind. Too bad I didn’t bring snacks!

The road to Abajo Mountain
Windy at Monticello Lake
Clifford plays dulcimer in the lee side of the Suburban
La Sal Mountain to the south

Some mornings I can sit outside to write in my journal, but other days, the wind and rain, and even snow, keep me inside.

Snowing

Some days the high is only in the 40’s, which seems quite chilly for this time of the year. However, my morning writing table at the sliding glass doors provides a view of the backyard, the early morning light, and the activity of the birds coming to the feeder.

Sitting inside at the sliding glass door

I am using the food dryer to dry bananas, apples, spinach, and other veggies so as to have a better supply of food when we are traveling. It is time-consuming to prepare the food for drying, but worth it to have the greens and fruit available.

Clifford continues research in the lab, and we both play our instruments – Clifford with his dulcimer, and me with either viola or cello – whenever time allows.

Research in the lab continues

We enjoy outdoors when the weather allows, whether Abajo Mountain or our backyard.

Enjoying the outdoors

Life is a Journey – November 2018 (Part 2)

After our two-day trip to Farmington, New Mexico, I spend several days thoroughly cleaning Cougar and packing for the next outing. We have thoughts of going to Canyonlands for a week, but it doesn’t happen, as there is just too much to do here before we leave for the winter.

View from the sliding-glass door

As part of his research, Clifford needs some pond water, so one day we go up Abajo Mountain to Monticello Lake, which really is just a pond. It is a nice enough day that we could have had a picnic, but we didn’t plan for it and Clifford is eager to get back to his research. I am happy to have another outing to the mountain; I feel altogether better when I am here. I submit one of the photos to the San Juan Reporter and am quite delighted when they print it for the featured photo of the week.

Monticello Lake

A highlight of these weeks is receiving the hand-crafted knife that my son Tye has made for me. He has made and sold a number of knives this past year, each one distinctly unique. The beautiful knife made for me fits my hand perfectly and is a pleasure to use.

Our projects continue as the weather becomes more late-fallish. Clifford is spending hours and hours in the lab. Moss balls are sent for and added to the pond aquarium for research. I even get a couple of these “plant pets” for the kitchen. Even though my head and hearing are still not quite right, I begin playing my cello and viola again. Blog and journal writing continue, as well as agent research and a few other home projects.

Thanksgiving: I send texts to family and friends, feeling quite grateful for these people in my life. How I would love to be sharing the day with them. Since we aren’t out camping this Thanksgiving, I fix a turkey dinner, which I haven’t done for years and years.

The weather is turning colder and I am excited to get a photo of falling snow.

Mother Nature is happy to oblige the last day of November, and now we will see what December brings.

Life is a Journey – November 2018 (Part 1)

Life is a journey. Even when Clifford and I are not on the road (the outer journey), the inner journey continues. Being back at our home base in southeast Utah, the lab for Carnicom Institute, we appreciate its conveniences. We have power and internet, not to be taken for granted, and Clifford will have the full lab to work in.

We take care of business, I do a lot of photo editing, blog writing/posting, finish editing and begin doing agent research for Ang’s fantasy novel Princes and Priests. Clifford is deeply immersed in his lab work.

Although being in town is not very inspiring for me as a photographer, there are moments that are worth documenting and remembering, even if only in their ordinariness that is part of the fabric of life.

Morning is a special time for me. The rising of the sun is the daily miracle that I delight in. The first rays of the sun bring a glow to the naked trees that I see from our east-facing sliding-glass door.

This is the time when I write in my journal and in the smaller Gratitude Journal, read inspirational writings, most especially resonating with poems by Mary Oliver, “…. and you too have come into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled with light, and to shine” and “My work is to love the world” and “be astonished,” (excerpts from the collection “Thirst”). As I write and read, I savor the aroma and flavor of fresh French press organic coffee.

We have had a bit of a rough start to our return to Monticello, as we discover that the hot water heater has been leaking while we were gone, and now the bathroom/laundry area has an unpleasant odor. A neighbor helps us cap off the leaking pipe, and after the mop-up operation, we run a fan and ozone to dry things out and deal with the odor. I begin having serious head ringing and auditory issues. From the ozone? I start spending time out in Cougar to get away from the source of the problem, whatever it is.

November 5th is a sunny fall day, so we go up Abajo Mountain to the Buckhorn campground for a picnic. I do a walkabout for photos, happy to have a blue sky day, rather rare nowadays. Because of the chilly breeze, we end up sitting in the car to have our picnic. A year ago we came up here and had a picnic sitting at the picnic table in spite of the breeze. Guess we were tougher last year. Haha… We then drive out to Pine Flats where we camped last June for the Amateur Radio Field Day. We are pleased to see that the roads have been improved, so we may able to come here with Cougar next spring.

Abajo Mountain, Utah
Aspens in November

As the days go by, my head and hearing continue to be “off” and I don’t know if it is the ozone, which is being run less or something about the house itself that is causing this toxic reaction. In spite of the head issues, I continue with photo editing, blog writing, and agent research, while Clifford works in the lab. We take breaks to run errands, walking to the post office, the hardware store, or the market. Because of the auditory problems I am experiencing, I don’t play cello or viola much, and Clifford does not take time for his music, either. He is focused on the lab and the work that needs to be in place before we leave for Arizona next month.

In mid-November we make a trip to Farmington, New Mexico, a drive that takes us through the reservations of the Four Corners region. It seems to me to be a rather harsh environment.

Ute Mountain Reservation, Colorado

We are meeting with CI associate, Gary S., who has been on our unofficial staff for many years. He is exceedingly talented at fixing electronic devices and has repaired an important lab instrument, an osmometer, for us. Once we all arrive in Farmington, we go out to dinner before Gary and Clifford run tests on the repaired instrument. Everything is looking good! Hooray! This is an important addition to the lab work that Clifford is involved in.

Gary and Clifford run tests with the osmometer

We spend the night in Farmington and the next morning, after saying good-bye to Gary, we head back to Monticello. We have many things to accomplish in the upcoming weeks.

Field Day on Abajo Mountain – June 2018

 

Thursday June 21: We are heading up Abajo Mountain today to Pine Flats, a dispersed area beyond the campgrounds, and setting up for Amateur Radio Field Day 2018. Leaving the paved highway, the road into Pine Flats is terrible, with deep ruts some places, rough and rocky in other spots. We had checked out this area last fall, so we have an idea of the layout. Creeping along at two miles an hour, we make our way to the branch that we’d like to take. We walk in first to make sure the road is passable and the spot free. Hooray, we are good to go, so continue creeping to a group of pine trees beyond a stand of aspens. The pine trees ofter shade and the aspens offer their graceful beauty.

Aspens add their graceful beauty

Once Terry (our 30 year old camper) is in place, the fridge won’t light. It is touchy in its old age, but we know what to do and soon we have a cold place to keep food. We set up our yurt tent for the first time, as it will offer outdoor protection from the flies and the breeze. We are delighted that this spot was available. Guess the bad roads keep most everyone out except the 4-wheelers.

Terry is set up in the pines for shade

Friday June 22: This morning I pick rocks while chatting on the phone with Becka, happy for cell service here on the mountain. The yurt tent is perfect for playing viola and writing in my journal away from pesky flies.

The yurt tent is a great place to play viola and write in journal

In the early afternoon I make a trip down the mountain to take care of errands and chores. It takes me much longer than planned and the sun is near setting by time I get back to camp. So glad to be here! Clifford has spent his day preparing for field day, which will start tomorrow at noon.

Saturday June 23: A lovely blue-sky day on the mountain with a few cumulus clouds floating around to keep the temperatures pleasant. I make tea and then sit in the sunshine for my morning quiet time. What a great place with its stillness and beauty.

A great place for outdoor quiet time

Walking down to the aspen grove, I see that these trees are suffering from the lack of moisture – no monsoons last summer and little snow pack during the winter, a pattern going on for several years from what we’ve heard.

I’m involved with phone calls and texts while Clifford concentrates on his ham radio field day activity. He is using several modes, has made 30 contacts with low power in six states and two countries so far. I know he will be up late into the night.

Amateur Radio Field Day is underway for Clifford

Sunday June 24: Another lovely day on the mountain. Clifford continues with his field day activities until it ends at noon. I text ham radio friends who are doing their field day in tents on a rainy mountainside in western Montana. Man, we sure do have it nice here!

Last contacts for Field Day 2018

I play viola in the yurt away from the breeze and the flies, read, and write in my journal until Clifford wraps his field day. Later, we go for a hike to see if there are any camping spots that we missed in case we come again and find this spot taken.

Monday June 25:

Catching the rising sun

Even though field day is officially over, we are going to stay on the mountainside. Clifford has received a portable high-quality microscope (which I brought up on the errand day), so his studies and research can continue right from the mountain. I take care of CI email and then begin the re-editing of Princes and Priests, Ang’s first book of the Novels of Shannon series. Later, Clifford and I go for a walk before dinner, and after dinner we read until time for bed.

Walking in the aspens near sunset

Tuesday June 26: I go for a long walk by myself this morning. This is really a beautiful area with the huge gnarly pines trees, aspens, scrub oak, among other vegetation.

Gnarly sub-species of ponderosa pine

Today is a day of editing for Ang, writing blogs, and editing photos. Viola, journal, and reading also find their way into my day. It is a study day for Clifford.

Study day for Clifford

Wednesday June 27: I pick up more rocks and load them into the Suburban before making another trip down the mountain for errands and home chores. At the post office I have a package from Becka, including the cutest leggings and a summer top. It is so fun to get a package!

Pretty leggings and summer top from Becka

I drive back up the mountain with the setting sun in my eyes (again). After we unload the groceries, I make nachos for dinner and even after sunset it is warm to eat outside. Then we go for a moonlight stroll, Clifford in his house shoes and me in my Tevas. Back at camp we read until bedtime.

Thursday June 28: Sure could use some rain here – only 1% humidity this morning! I show Clifford the bear scat that I found just beyond the scrub oak grove by our campsite. The first night we were here, I smelled something musky, almost like skunk, but not quite. From talking with Ang, I think it is was a bear, but he/she has not bothered us at all.

A shy visitor

Meals, calls and text conversations with my kids, playing viola, editing, and blog writing for me; studying, reading, writing and ham radio for Clifford – good day on the Abajo Mountain!

Gnarly pine tree behind our campsite near sunset

Friday June 29: Another lovely day on the mountain with all the usual good activities.

Good mountain activities

We receive good news that my brother Rollie has sold his house, bought a big Class A motor home, and is now officially a full-time RV’er. Way to go, Rollie!

Saturday June 30: Our last full day here. It has been a great camp and we might have talked ourselves into staying longer, but our webmaster is coming tomorrow, and soon we will begin preparations for our summer journey to Montana!

Our last evening at Pine Flats on Abajo Montain

Way Up on Abajo Mountain – May 2018

 

Sunday May 27: It is a beautiful spring morning, so we decide to go up Abajo Mountain for an outing. I make a picnic lunch and thermoses of tea, and off we go. For the first time, since we also like to explore, we turn left on the Lloyd’s Lake Road just outside Monticello and head up Abajo a different direction from where we’ve been before.

Abajo Mountain ahead

It’s a beautiful day for an outing with the blue sky and the variety of trees, aspens being one of my favorites.

Great blue sky

Aspens line the road at times

I have an ulterior motive: the neighbor has told me where I can gather rocks needed for the landscaping I’m doing in the back yard.

We go quite a ways up the mountain, not having yet seen the rock slide, and turn on a side road named Electronic Road. There is a tower of some sort here, and although it is not a great place to gather rocks or have a picnic, since we are here, I start picking up a few rocks. In less than ten minutes a 4-wheeler turns on the same road and it turns out it is a park ranger, probably wondering why we are so close to the tower. I tell him we are exploring and looking for a place to have a picnic and he recommends we go on up the road to the top where the main set of towers are – a great view, he says.

So we do that, but the further up we go, the more we wish we hadn’t. The road isn’t bad, but it is very narrow and no place to go if we meet someone coming down. Right before the last ascent to the towers themselves, there is a wide turnaround spot and we take advantage of that. The views are quite expansive.

Expansive views from way up on Abajo Mountain. Monticello and Lloyd’s Lake can be seen left center

Looking the other direction from the turnaround

On the way back down, we are ever so grateful not to meet anyone, other than motorcyclists who squeeze by us. We stop at the rock slide we passed on the way up and gather rocks.

One of several rock slides

A ways further down, we turn off onto a side road to a camp spot we had also passed on the way up. We set up a little table and have our picnic, relaxing as we enjoy our late lunch.

View of where we have been, as seen from the picnic pullout

It was a good outing, but we are not likely to take the road beyond the rock slide next time. That was far enough for us!

Landscaping moves forward with rocks from the mountain