Friday, July 15, 2016

No Motor? No Problem.

We're in the midst of a standard southern Arizona Summer.  Blazing temperatures in the mid teens.  You know, like 112*.  It has been quite a while since we dusted off the canoe and went to the lake.  Luckily our adventures friends invested in a canoe recently and drug us out to Bartlett Lake.

To avoid the worst of the heat, we left home at 4PM and made it to the lake by 6PM.  Sound late?  It's not; the sun doesn't set until 8PM here.

We piled in our respective canoes and began to meander around the lake.  We lucked out with minimal motorized traffic on the lake this evening.

We found a small cove perfect for swimming.  The water was surprisingly warm and we spent a good chunk of time just floating along with the assistance of our life vests.  Yes we can swim, but when you have a piece of safety equipment willing to do the work for you, why do it the hard way?

Mark the day on the calendar, Pete is smiling.  ON FILM!

We put foam mats down the canoe floor for comfort for the dogs.  Mike made an impromptu floaty for Elly.  

Once out of the water, Elly ran and ran and ran.  Unfortunately for her, there were bees imbibing at the lakes edge.  We think she stepped on one, because she refused to put weight on her left foot the rest of the night.  And oh was she dramatic.  In my mind her dialogue would've gone like this: "I hate this. The lake sucks.  I want to go home.  I'm going to lose the foot. Three legged dog, here I come".

Cooled off, we got back in and paddled up the lake a bit more while the sun began to sink below the mountains.

We found another cove to explore before heading back across the lake.  You don't want to be canoes on a dark lake with drunk idiots manning speed boats zooming around after dark.  

The sun was sufficiently below the mountains before we made it back.

Mopey McMopey Dog cuddled with my legs on the way back.  

We rounded the small bend back to our landing spot as it was getting dark.  Pete taught his daughter the fine art of righting a flipped over canoe and Mike swam with Rommel a bit more.  We loaded up and headed out to Five Guys for a very late dinner.  It was only a few hours out, but it was a very welcomed escape.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Owl See You Later

Minding our business is the driveway and I hear "Who Who Who...Who".  Glance up and the owl I have been listening to since we moved in was right above our head.  Just pearched at the top of one of the trees near the patio.

Elly and Rommel stopped dead when he (or she) called to us.  He allowed me time to run inside and grab my camera.  Then additional time to go back inside to get my long lens.

I had zero time to mess with exposures and whatnot and only managed 3 good shots before he flew away.

But man, did this make my night.  I've finally seen the source of the "Whooing" I hear every night.

And according to the Internet, he was a Great Horned Owl: a male to be specific.

He finally got tired of me messing up prime dusk hunting time and took off towards the horizon.

I hope to see him again.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Vacation Ruins You

Mike and I ran out of coffee the day before in Colorado.  We hastily packed up and bid adieu to our camp friends for a little while.  We scooted to Mexican Hat for breakfast.

Goodbye Valley of the Gods.

We hit the road and made it to southern Arizona by 4PM.  We've cleaned the trailer, have done a million loads of laundry and settled back into the house.  I've already return to work.

While I wasn't as melancholy during our return as I normally am, I still feel like vacation ruins you.  As a friend put it: "It gives you a moment of clarity where you just look out in the distance and ask "WTF am I doing here?"

And with that, I bid you adieu until the next adventure.  

Friday, June 24, 2016

The end may also be the beginning

It was a lazy morning.  Elly and I stayed in bed a few minutes longer.  After all the rain from the previous night, we needed to wait for the awning and tents to dry.

Once on the road, we pushed fast through Colorado and back into Utah.  We went from tall pines and creek water to the surface of the moon.

From the surface of the moon, to the surface of Mars. Even with the heat, we decided to pay a visit to the first camp spot on our trip in Valley of the Gods and stay the night.

Elly and Rommel were dramatic about the heat, but as soon as the sun set behind the monument the shade was nice.  We all took showers in order to drain out the water from the tanks in our respective camp rigs.  With the added benefit of washing off the sweat and dry red dirt.

We set up both my Nikon and his GoPro to take a million shots for time lapse.  It took a few days, but I managed a video of the Nikon shots.

The dogs slept outside most of the night, with the exception of a bad dream Elly suffered and a few hours napping with mama.

The moon rose late in the night, the air barely cooled and only warranted a sheet to sleep.

It was fitting to end our trip where it began.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

The Beginning of the End: Roadside Creek Camping

We packed up and left Woodland Park for the last time.  As as before, the theme for today was CONSTRUCTION.  Ugh.  We easily wasted an hour stuck in construction traffic.  After making it through, we passed through several quaint towns that warrant a visit next time we have, well, time.

We hit another first on this trip: hail.  As Mike put it, what the hail?! It was loud.

Pete lead today and ducked off into the Rio Grande National Forest.  We easily found a camp spot (free!!) right next to Park Creek.

We set camp up in sporadic rain storms.  But they didn't last and we enjoyed sun before dinner.

Bocce ball was played, walks were taken and the creek offered ample entertainment for Rommel.

After taco soup and biscuits, we lounged before turning in.  It was a long day on the road, and only the start of our journey back home, but at least we managed a fantastic camp spot.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Pikes Peak

In reference to the last two days, Mike said "I came to Colorado Springs just to do Pikes Peak".  I am sure is was purely coincidental that we ended up here during the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. Mike is a car guy to the core, so we know the PPIHC well.  We paid our fee and started the climb.

We pondered aloud if we would see Aaron Kaufman since we watched his first attempt of the PPIHC on Fast and Loud.  Before we could finish our statement, down comes a F250 hauling a trailer with Aaron's Falcon on it!  And I wasn't fast enough to snap a picture.  

I took a million photos.  Mike and I thoroughly enjoyed every mile of the climb.  The views were incredible, the twists and turns fun and the weather phenomenal.

As usual, I wandered too close to the edge for Mike.

At the top, we wandered around for a bit before we said farewell to our adventure friends for the rest of the day.  We wanted to spend as much time on Pikes Peak as possible.  Mike bought us some homemade donuts (man they were amazing) and we munched on them on the way down.

We hit just about all of the turn offs and view points.  And of course played in the snow with Rommel.

At Devil's Playground (named for the incredible lighting shows that occur there) I separated and explored.  

Find the marmot!!

By the time we got back into the Jeep, rain was obviously moving in but didn't actual hit us until the bottom.

About ⅔ of the way down, there was a stop where an attendant measured the temperature of brakes and would stop those that wore their brakes too hot to continue.  The attendant was very proud of us, praising us for 106* brake temps.  Imagine that, we got a proverbial gold star for having a manual transmission.  HA! 

We hit Colorado Springs and fled westward.  "The curse of cities is that they root people in one location and make them blind". Ogadai Khan

We drove through the rain to Woodland Park where we stopped at the Ute Brewing Company for pulled pork sandwiches and a few frosty beverages for Mike.  After wandering a bit through town, we finally finished our day back at Painted Rocks Campground.  

It rained off an on.  We had a light dinner and finally turned in.

Today was an incredible day.  We had a blast on Pikes Peak and today made the whole trip to Colorado Springs worth it.

PS: While we didn't take video of the drive, here is a super relaxing video of one of my favorite race cars climbing Pikes Peak.

Big Red Pikes Peak Test Day 2016 from Big Red Camaro on Vimeo.