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

Abajo Picnic and Needles Overlook – April 2020

Upon our return to homebase in southeast Utah in early April, life begins to settle into a different routine for Clifford and me. Now we have more house and yard chores to take care of, but it is nice to have access to hot showers, washer/dryer, and other conveniences.

More house and yard chores

For the most part, we are still living in Cougar. I miss being able to walk in the vast desert of southwest Arizona where we were camped all winter, but we make a couple of outings that are enjoyable.

Delighted with my first ever daffodil

Our first outing is a drive up nearby Abajo Mountain for a picnic. We intend to go to one of our favorite spots, either Monticello Lake and Pine Flats. However, when we reach the parking lot at the first campground, we can go no further, as the highway has not been plowed and there is too much snow. We drive back down the mountain to a forest road that is clear enough to allow us to pull to the side and park safely. We set up our table and chairs between old snowdrifts for our picnic before taking out our instruments to play music on the mountainside.

Picnic between the snowdrifts
Scrub oak

Our next outing is to Needles Overlook, about 45 miles from homebase. We pass the BLM campground where we stayed last fall, currently closed. As we drive to the overlook, we watch for places where we might boondock later this spring. Needles Overlook is 20+ miles from highway 191, but worth the drive for the spectacular view of the southern portion of Canyonlands National Park.

Views from Needles Overlook
Canyonlands National Park
Rock formation at Needles Overlook

Although there are picnic tables tucked in here and there, we decide to check out a couple potential boondocking spots for our picnic on our way back to the highway.

Sandstone Formation

The wind deters us from picnicking until we find a low spot off a side road that is out of the wind. A juniper provides a mix of sun and shade. We have our picnic and then play music, happy to have found a spot warm and calm enough to enjoy our afternoon outdoors.

Picnic in an arroyo
La Sal Mountains from our picnic spot

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

One More Outing – November 2019

Wednesday November 20th, the day after our return from the Colorado trip, it rains all day, and by Thursday, the rain has turned to snow, but not a lot of snow, just icy.

Rain all day and the birds come for seed

By Saturday, with a sunny sky and warmer temperatures (43 degrees), we decide to explore boondocking spots past the Wind Whistle Campground where we stayed on our way back to Monticello in October. It is too chilly to sit out for a picnic, so we have our picnic in the car, but we happy to be out and finding new places to camp.

Exploring in the Canyon Rim Recreation Area
Snowy LaSal peaks seem to float above the valley

On Monday, we make a trip to Blanding, where I ace my Utah driver’s test. Stopping briefly at Recapture Reservoir on the way home, I take photos of the reservoir with the snowy Abajo Mountains in the background

Recapture Reservoir with snowy Abajo Mountains in the background

Walking to the post office on Tuesday is darn chilly, with a high of 28 degrees and a stiff wind. I’m eager to mail the San Juan calendar to family, as two of my photos were chosen as insets to the main pages.

A cold day for walking

Thursday, Thanksgiving, I send photo greeting to family and friends via text and messenger. Dinner is a little fancier than usual, but not the huge production that it was when I had a family at home. Light snow falls all day.

The photo used for Thanksgiving greetings

Snow continues on Friday. We drive to the market for a few groceries and the Merc for more birdseed. I enjoy watching the birds through the sliding glass doors and the birds are glad to have the seed. In addition to the usual juncos, sparrows, and finches, there is a flock of red-wing blackbirds. Even the ravens come to the yard and when they drop down, everyone else leaves.

At first light, the birds start coming, mostly the redwind blackbirds here
Ravens are King

This past week has been focused on pre-travel preparations, cleaning and reorganizing inside Cougar, paperwork, and preparing house and yard to be left for the winter. In addition to travel preparation, I’m also focused on writing blogs and editing for three authors, trying to get as much done as I can while internet and power are readily available. Although Clifford’s ear has bothered him a lot, he continues with his projects and his packing for the winter journey.

Happy to have a warm home on these chilly days

And thus ends November 2019.

Colorado Interview – November 2019

Saturday November 16: After saying good-bye to our friends in Loveland, Colorado, Clifford and I drive to the Embassy Suites Hotel in Boulder. The accommodations arranged for us are quite luxurious. Our 4th floor room is as far away from the elevator as possible, a ways to lug our stuff, but the room is nice. From our vantage point, we can see a Trader Joe’s just a little over a block away. While Clifford naps, I walk there to get fixings for meals in our room.

Sunday November 17: We are both up by 5:30 a.m., which is way way early for our routine. We get ready and arrive in plenty of time for the interview, which is in a small neighboring town. The televised interview is an hour and the focus is on Clifford’s research. This is a venue that is different than our usual ways of dispersing information, and hopefully an opportunity for more people to become aware of the work.

Clifford on TV

After the interview, we return to Boulder and the rest of the day is spent at our hotel. Clifford naps and I write in the journal, post a blog, and other such stuff.

Monday November 18: We forgot we were entitled to a complimentary breakfast and have fruit & yogurt in our room before we pack up and begin the journey back to Monticello.

Leaving the Embassy Suites

It is a bit tricky getting back on I-70, as GPS is confused, but eventually we are heading west on a road that takes us through Golden Canyon before joining I-70 west of Denver.

Golden Canyon
Back on I-70 West

Going through the Glenwood Canyon, we pull off at Bair Rest Area and Clifford naps while I saunter about taking photos of the river.

Colorado River in Glenwood Canyon
Glenwood Canyon
Glenwood Canyon

Rested, we continue on to the Econolodge in Grand Junction, finding the hostess to be friendly, fresh-baked cookies at the check-in counter, and a comfortable room. I fix soup and sandwiches for our dinner and then, since we have had a jam-packed few days, we head to bed earlier than usual.

Late afternoon sunlight turns formation at Grand Junction a golden color

Tuesday November 19: Temperatures are still mild today, but it is very windy and spraying mars the sky. At least we are ahead of the winter storm that has been forecast.

Back in Utah

Soon after entering Utah, we leave I-70 at the junction to 191 south. Road construction is still going on between Moab and Monticello, but luckily our wait time is fairly brief.

Road Construction on 191

Once we reach home-base, we unload Suburban and then relax for the evening. Rain starts here in the evening, but in Colorado, where we just were, the snowfall is heavy, and some roads in Boulder, part of I-70, and the Golden Canyon are closed. Whew – that was a close call.

Monticello, Utah to Loveland, Colorado – November 2019

The early days of November are relatively calm and sunny days warm enough for us to spend time time in the back yard. Writing in the journal while Clifford plays dulcimer is especially pleasant. Most of our day is spent on projects: I am catching up with travel photo blogs and editing for a couple of authors, while Clifford focuses on music for the dulcimer, ham radio, and preparing for the televised interview to be held mid-November near Boulder, Colorado.

Sunrise at home-base in Monticello
Recapture Reservoir seen on trip to Blanding
Clifford playing dulcimer in the back yard

Clifford’s ear bothers him most days, but we continue with an itinerary for the trip to Colorado, planning on seeing friends in Loveland for a couple days before going to Boulder for the interview. I have some reservations about traveling to northern Colorado this time of the year, but the forecast is favorable for safe travel.

We leave on the 13th and our destination today is Rodeway Inn in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. Travel is smooth and easy compared to towing Cougar, which we are not doing this time. There is a stop for construction on highway 191 between Monticello and Moab, but luckily we didn’t have to wait too long, just long enough for me to jump out and get a couple of photos, but not nearly as long a wait as the line of traffic headed the other direction.

La Sal Mountains in the distance
Wilson Arch north of Monticello, Utah
Taking photos while stopped for contstruction
The oncoming line of traffic extends as far as one can see … waiting

It is canyon country for much of the 250+ miles today, most of it on I-70 east.

Utah Canyon Country
Formation at Grand Junction, Colorado
Colorado Canyon Country
Approaching Glenwood Springs – traveling on I-70

The Rodeway Inn is comfortable with room for both of us to set up laptops, free wifi, fridge, and coffee maker. Since we don’t feel like going out for dinner, we are a bit limited, but make do with what we have with us. Since there doesn’t seem to be anyone else in the motel, I even get out the viola and run through some of my fiddle tunes while Clifford works on his projects.