Picnics and Flowers and More – June 2020

June 1st Monday – 6th Saturday: Clifford and I are engaged in our usual activities – music, ham radio, and virtual flying for Clifford; photography as it relates to blog-writing and posting on my website and on FB, editing for Ang, and domestic activities for me. I especially enjoy taking photos of our few flowers and preparing them for the Higher Vibration Series posted daily on FB. I am up to day 237 – one photo a day plus a comment.

Highs are mostly in the mid-80’s, 50 to 60 at night, wind is almost constant, although sometimes calmer in the early morning, and that is when I try to take care of watering flowers and refreshing bird baths. Some days the sky is beautiful blue, sometimes spraying creates haze.

On Thursday we go for an outing up Abajo Mountain, even though it’s breezy. We are happy to find our favorite spot at Pine Flats is available and we get set up with Suburban blocking the wind somewhat as we have our picnic and then play music. Of course, any outing is an opportunity to take photos, and right now it is the wild iris that demand my attention.

Picnic and music on Abajo at Pine Flats
Wild iris at Pine Flats

The big project of sanding the picnic table and a couple of benches in preparation for staining happens on Friday. In the later afternoon, a very strong wind causes a power outage lasting nearly 5 hours.In the night lightning, thunder, and rain wake me up. I am happy to have the rain.

Around 10:00 Saturday morning, with just enough warning for me to move herbs and potted flowers to safety, we are hit with a ferocious hail storm. The extreme wind, thrashing trees, and hail, some stones the size of gumballs, creates darkness and a deafening roar for several minutes.

Darkness of a ferocious hail storm

Even after the storm passes and big cumulus clouds replace the dark storm clouds, it remains very windy all day. As far as we can tell, we have only suffered minor damage and are grateful it wasn’t worse.

After the storm

What I have not mentioned because I do not want to focus attention on it, but for future reference, the controversy over how best to handle Covid19 remains, peaceful protests have been infiltrated resulting in rioting and looting, as well as undeserved deaths. The weather is increasingly unstable. It is a challenging time for this nation, the world, and our planet Earth.

May Draws to a Close – May 2020

The last weeks of May are marked by wind and highs in the mid-60’s. The final days of May are a bit warmer, so we make an outing to Abajo Mountain for a picnic and music.

Music on the mountain
Aspen and scrub oak

A trip to Ace Hardware in Blanding twenty miles away gives us an excuse to stop at Recapture Reservoir on the way back to Monticello. We are always on the lookout for places to camp.

Recapture Reservoir

At the close of the month, we do an exploratory outing on Abajo Mountain, checking out a narrow rocky road that leads to a knoll with a scenic view, followed by a hike to find Taylor Springs.

Narrow rocky road to Buckboard Knoll
Wild Iris on Abajo
Mountain bluebells

Besides our usual projects and these few outings, I take photos of blossoms in our yard, happy for their beauty in our lives.

Utah Outings – May 2020

In mid-May when my brother Rollie and his lady friend, Tata, stopped to visit Clifford and me at our Utah home-base, in addition to rebuilding our deck, we went on two outings.

Deck not quite done, but usable

The first outing was a short trip to Pine Flats on Abajo Mountain west of Monticello. Although there were clouds and a breeze, we were not deterred from having a picnic and playing music in a grove of scrub oaks. Nearby aspens added variety to the scenery.

Picnic at Pine Flats
Pine Flats

The second outing was a longer trip to Needles Overlook, south of Moab, about 20 miles off highway 191. Needles Overlook provides an unrivaled view of the dramatic landscape of the southern portion of Canyonlands National Park. In addition to walking the trail along the rim of the overlook, we again had a picnic and then played bluegrass tunes.

Rollie at Needles Overlook

This area is worthy of more exploring and we did pull off on one side road, but there is more to be seen another day.

View from a side road

Flowers at Homebase – May 2020

May starts out with a trip up Abajo Mountain for a picnic and music. In the morning it is calm with a lovely blue sky, but by time we head up, it is quite windy. We drive around Pine Flats until we find a spot a little more out of the wind.

Heading to Abajo Mountain
Mountain music man

The next two weeks are projects at homebase. With highs in the 60’s and windy most days, we are not so tempted to make more trips up the mountain.

Working on the backyard ….

as well as the usual editing and domestic chores, fill up much of my day. I play around with Snapseed to make the most of flower photos, as this is the first year that we have had such blossoms. Many of these become the daily Higher Vibration posts.

Rescuing a volunteer gaillardia on the street corner becomes a little landscaping project – little in size, but big in effort!

Clifford works with his ham radio and music with the dulcimer and the CI Legacy Project.

Most days we go for a walk around town, just to get out. We are looking forward to campgrounds opening, hopefully by the end of the month, and maybe other outings in the meantime.

Historic building in Monticello
Trees in blossom

April in Utah – April 2020

Mid April brings cool temperatures, highs sometimes only in the 40’s. Most of my projects and Clifford’s are indoor activities. This is a good time for reorganizing closets and cupboards in Cougar, editing, blog writing, and reading. With Clifford’s help I submit four photos to the Community Beautification Project.

A chilly April day

One of my sisters sent me a book, The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory. Very interesting insight into the reign of infamous King Henry VIII.

Reading

In spite of the chilly days, as I keep an eye on all the flower beds, I am happy to see the potential for blossoms this spring.

Blossom potential

Clifford is occupied with his ham radio, passing traffic (ham radio messages), and music, playing dulcimer and writing his own compositions using music software.

Although most small businesses are closed, on our daily walkabouts, we discover that the greenhouse is open, which I am glad to see. The “essential businesses” are mostly where we go anyway, so we notice very little difference in our weekly errands, other than the Plexiglas barriers in some places and many people wearing masks. We follow the news on Covid19 and inform ourselves through watching a number of videos related to the topic. There is certainly more going on than what the mainstream news reports, and even that is very contradictory.

Abajo Mountain

It is only toward the end of April that temperatures reach the upper 60’s and lower 70’s and we are finally able to make another outing on Abajo Mountain. The pond created by snow melt is a good place for us to stop. We set up table and chairs for our picnic and music, and I enjoy taking photos of reflections on the pond in spite of the clouds and gusty breeze.

Relflections on snow-melt pond
Picnic on Abajo
Reflections on a pond

Flagstaff to HomeBase – Utah – April 2020

April 6, 2020 – At our overnight camping spot in the Coconino Forest north of Flagstaff, our last morning in Arizona, it is 38 degrees and windy. The winds will be coming from behind, so we pack up and are on our way by 10:00 a.m. We leave the forests behind and enter the badlands of northeast Arizona, taking the junction off US Highway 89 to US Highway 160, and then north on US Highway 191 into Utah. The badlands, while barren of vegetation, are impressive. It is Navajo Reservation all the way to Bluff, Utah.

Badlands of northeast Arizona
Utah looking a bit barren

When we reach the San Juan River just outside of Bluff, we plan to spend the night at the Sand Island Campground.

San Juan River at Sand Island Campground

The website did not indicate closure, nor was there a sign at the entrance to the campground. It is only after getting set up that, at the pay station, we see a sign indicating that the campground is closed due to Covid19. Odd, since are a few other RV’s camped along the river. I am very disappointed, as I have been looking forward to camping by the river, having gone all winter with no rivers, streams, or lakes. However, it seems that we don’t have a choice, so we leave the campground and continue the journey to our homebase in Monticello, arriving in the later afternoon.

Abajo Mountains – Monticello lies at the eastern foot of the range

And now we are back at homebase after having left four months ago, returning a month earlier than planned due to the travel and camping restrictions imposed by the covid19 issue. At this point, travel plans for the summer are on hold until we see how things develop.

Homebase

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.