Tuesday, May 21, 2013
A Torii Gate and Pagoda; Recovering from Wounds; A Delightful Dinner; Bo(u)ld(er) Drumming; Polish PT
We had a great bike ride today, for the most part, this time on Left Hand Creek, which is a tributary of the St. Vrain River. Halfway along, we discovered this nice Torii Gate and pagoda, along with a grove of cherry blossom trees which unfortunately were not in bloom. That was the good news...
The bad news is that I was attacked shortly thereafter by a giant eel. This attack occurred while we were riding our bikes along the same trail that we have ridden twice, but the predator was concealed in the sand, sort of like a “snake in the grass”. I am recovering from my wounds in St. Agatha’s Hospital for the Marginally Sane and Terminally Strange. The Sisters of Perpetual Virginity are taking good care of me, and I should be released in a few days. Please send me your prayers that the injuries aren’t permanent.
Breaking News: I was released early from the asylum... er, hospital... for good behavior (or maybe I was discharged for bad behavior?), just in time for us to meet our good friends Rusty and Jerry Bianchi for dinner at the Mediterranean Restaurant in downtown Boulder. The meal was fantastic, a variety of tapas ranging from calamari to spanokopita, lamb kebab and skewered swordfish. But best of all was the delightful company of Rusty and Jerry, who filled us in on the Boulder area, which we have fallen in love with. As you may recall, Jerry is my fishing mentor, and Rusty will be attending Suzanne’s Making the Connection talk in Fort Collins on Thursday evening. Thank you both for a fabulous evening!
After dinner, we strolled with Rudy and Gretchen around Boulder. There are dozens of neat restaurants and bars here, and every parking place in downtown was taken. For a Tuesday evening, it was amazingly crowded. And there were lots of strange people there... young people, like college-age. (May have something to do with the University of Colorado being here, but I’m not sure.) There was also a busker (street musician) drumming on plastic paint pails; he was very good. I was about to offer him some hints from my days drumming with Mick Jagger, but My Lovely Bride grabbed my arm and said, “Sweetheart, I think the eel bite must be affecting your memory... we’d better go now.”
My Sweetheart wanted to get a haircut, so she looked up a few salons in Longmont near our campground. She picked one, and as I dropped her off, she asked what I would be doing for the hour or so she needed for a trim. “Not to worry”, I replied, “I’ll just stop in at the Eastern European Fitness Center down the street and learn some new techniques.” She looked at me perplexed, and asked what I was talking about. I merely pointed to the self-explanatory sign above the door... Smack! It was a tough day....
Posted by Ty and Suzanne Giesemann at 9:32 PM
Monday, May 20, 2013
While w-a-l-k-ing the puppies in t-o-w-n, we met a neat couple who wanted to pet Rudy and Gretchen. (Dog owners will understand that we have to spell out those words because our dachshunds would go crazy if we said them aloud.) Lynette is a retired English teacher who is writing a series of murder mysteries based on plays by The Bard himself, William Shakespeare. Cage is a software engineer for a telecommunications company. Both formerly lived in Blacksburg, Virginia, but moved back to Colorado to enjoy the unique atmosphere and outdoor activities that this state offers. We discussed writing and our working lives and how nice it is for at least two of us to be retired (Cage still does that nasty four letter word, w-o-r-k). Lynette and Cage are good examples of why we love to travel in The Bus all over this great country - they are interesting, friendly people that we wouldn’t have ever met had we not “gotten out of Dodge”. I wish Suzanne had been there to meet them, but she was back in Virginia Beach, and I forgot to ask for their number, but maybe they will read this blog and we can get together before we leave the area.
Sunday was a Good Fishing Day for Your Faithful Correspondent. Jerry Bianchi, husband of Rusty Bianchi, who is cousin to “Grits Girl”, AKA Elizabeth Magee, joined me for a day of trout fishing at St. Vrain State Park, where we are staying. Jerry scored his first trout within an hour, and the second later in the day. Here is Jerry pondering the mysteries of trout fishing with Long’s Peak in the background... not a bad place to spend the day.
Jerry was very helpful in teaching me some of the finer points of trout fishing, such as which lure to use for these particular Colorado lakes (such as the “Wooly Bugger” lure shown at right). These lures are only an inch or so long, since the trout themselves are only about 12 inches long and have small mouths.
I changed lures from my Mepps spinner to a Wooly Bugger, and within a few minutes, had this nice rainbow in the cooler. Rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) are among the most sought after food and sport fish in the world, and fight like much larger fish, often throwing the hook and disappointing the poor fisherman.
A Fish and Wildlife Officer (armed to deal with potential elk poachers during hunting season, but not usually an issue with fishermen) named Josh came around to check our licenses and fish, and stated that ours were good size for these lakes, probably just over over a year old. It seems that the heavy fishing pressure doesn’t allow fish to reach really large sizes in this near-metro area. Josh also gave us very useful information on the five small lakes here. He was the friendliest wildlife officer Jerry had met. We certainly appreciated his advice.
Not only did Jerry help me with local fishing techniques, he also took me to a great Mexican lunch and donated his two rainbow trout (yes, Bob, I know that I was out-fished) to Suzanne’s Trout Dinner Larder. (I think Jerry knew that My Lovely Bride would be going trout-less unless he made a big sacrifice...) The three rainbows, a perfect amount for two voracious trout-lovers, made a delightful meal as we enjoyed sunset over the Rockies Monday evening. (Only half of the fish are shown here because our frying pan could only hold that much at one time... Part Two of the feast was still on the stove).
As many of you may have heard, Suzanne's new Facebook page is up and is getting rave reviews. Just search for Suzanne Giesemann on Facebook. Thanks to Bev Garlipp for all her hard work in making this happen, and to Renee Scalzini for her beautiful graphic artistry. On a related note, we just heard from Suzanne Gotesky commenting on this blog; Suzanne was concerned that I would get a swelled head from her very kind comments. Who, me? Suzanne, you made my day!
Posted by Ty and Suzanne Giesemann at 8:50 PM
Saturday, May 18, 2013
Success at A.R.E.; A BIG Rig; A Real Red-Wing; This Way, Class; Cats on Golden Pond; Bread on a Bike?
My Lovely Bride completed her conference presentation at A.R.E. in Virginia Beach today. Here she is with CEO Kevin Todeschi, and later with Dr. Eben Alexander. Her talk on The Meaning in the Messages was very well received, and she has another presentation tomorrow morning at the annual conference of the Academy of Spirituality and Consciousness Studies.
Back in Colorado, this unusual RV rig is across the road from us in the state park campground. The Peterbilt tractor has a 600 hp diesel engine, and gets 7-8 mpg in the flat. The fifth wheel is about 45 feet long, and probably very luxurious inside. The owners are from here in Colorado, but snowbird in Clermont, FL, just down the road from The Villages. They spend summers here to be with their kids and grandchildren.
It was pelicans yesterday, and today our Bird of the Day is this Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) sitting on a fencepost near our campground. This bird is probably the most abundant bird in North America; they are certainly everywhere out here in Colorado. According to Wikipedia, “The Red-winged Blackbird is sexually dimorphic; the male is all black with a red shoulder and yellow wing bar, while the female is a nondescript dark brown.” This difference is generally attributed to a mating preference for more highly colored birds (e.g., pheasants, peacocks, Birds of Paradise), which allows the male to mate with multiple females, thereby ensuring the survival of the species. (It also makes the male easier to spot by predators, thus helping preserve the nesting female. What we guys do for our girls...)
I couldn’t pass up a ride on the St. Vrain Greenway Trail, which runs right along the small river of the same name. I did pass up the riverside Left Hand Brewery halfway through the trip, since I thought “just a few” might impair my cycling abilities. The Greenway was finished in 2004, and is a beautiful paved path designed to go under traffic-laden roads in the Longmont area.
You ride past farms and scattered houses until you reach town, where density increases, but the path is nicely separated from people as much as possible with lots of small parks and ball fields. I reached the end of the trail at Golden Pond, where I found this interesting sign warning of cats in the area... not feral tabbies, but big cats... mountain lions, AKA cougar, puma, panther or catamount (Puma concolor)... Its normal diet includes elk, deer, sheep, cattle and horses, but humans are occasionally on their menu as well. I think being on a bike helps, since cougars pick their prey based on size, but I’ll probably skip dawn and dusk rides in that area just to be prudent.
Cougar are beautiful creatures, as this close-up shows. (This is not one of my photos... it wasn’t a “Here, kitty, kitty” moment. I do have some common sense.) They are about the same size as humans, with males 8-9 feet long weighing between 115 and 220 lbs, and females between 64 and 141 lbs. The largest cougar recorded weighed about 300 lbs. You would not want to mess with one that size.
Back on the trail, the river was running quite high, since this is the time when higher elevation snows melt and raise stream levels. The water is also cold (let's see, "snow melt" is "melted snow", which must be pretty chilly, right?), which explains why the fishing isn't that good. (Works for me.)
I was about to take a photo of part of the path under water when these two adult Canada Geese (Branta Canadensis) marched across the path... with 26 little goslings in tow. Since a female goose will average only 5 eggs per clutch, this group of apparently adopted goslings and 2 adults is called a crèche. Geese are also known to attack humans, not for meals but to protect themselves or their young. A goose will normally warn you first by spreading its wings and hissing; if that doesn’t get you to move, they will charge and bite.
On my way back to The Bus, I saw a familiar sign about a quarter mile off the trail. I didn’t have a backpack, but I asked the young lady at Panera to slice a baguette into thirds so I could carry it on my handlebars. (I got some funny looks from other cyclists, but it saved time and a long car drive, since my lunch was to be a platter of cheeses and French bread, perhaps with a nice glass of Pinot Noir as an accompaniment. (Hey, good food and wine are some of the great delights in life... and as my sister-in-law Janice Clay confirms, “Life is too short to drink cheap wine!”)
Posted by Ty and Suzanne Giesemann at 4:46 PM
Friday, May 17, 2013
Yesterday was a banner day... I got my Colorado license and went fishing for the first time in months. St. Vrain State Park has several lakes, and I didn’t do too badly for the first day out in unfamiliar waters and no local knowledge. (That’s an experienced fisherman’s excuse for not catching many...) I landed one small trout, had two toss the hook before I could get my hands around their throats (sorry, I meant to say “before I could gently release them”), and one enormous lunker that broke my line. It was probably a walleye, judging by the relatively vicious hit and fight he put up. Trout aren’t nearly as mean. I was using small spinners for the trout on an ultralight spinning rod and reel with 4 lb. test Stren line and a larger jig with a yellow tail (that’s what the suspected walleye took) on an 8 lb. test line. This is what the walleye that got away would look like. If I had landed him... Sigh.
When walking back to The Bus, I met Matt, a Fish and Wildlife Volunteer. Unfortunately, I didn’t have my camera or phone, because he was a neat guy. He asked how I would rate my day (actually only an hour) fishing. I gave it a 5 of 5 because of the birds (particularly these white pelicans, who must have eaten all the good fish before I arrived) and beautiful weather. Matt’s parents live in Florida now, but he loves Colorado for the myriad outdoor activities. We talked about the outdoor life, and I mentioned that if it weren’t for the snowy, frigid winters, I could live here. He assured me that winters weren’t that bad. (Yeah, it snowed just two weeks ago! I think Matt may be Terri’s distant cousin.)
Friday wasn’t going to be a snow day, though. I held early reveille on the hounds, so that I could get a run in before solar heating raised the temps to an expected 90F. I trotted through gently rolling hills at mile high altitude. My route took me past open fields with hay stubble and hundreds of prairie dog holes, with their owners popping up every now and then to see if this human interloper was going to be a threat. Fortunately, prairie dogs don’t sound very appetizing, so after my run I found a coffee shop and a cinnamon roll. (Being able to pamper one’s person in proscribed pastries is the only advantage to your wife being two time zones distant.)
Speaking of My Lovely Bride, she is keeping in touch, and having a wonderful time at the Edgar Cayce Conference in Virginia Beach. Last night she had dinner (flounder stuffed with crab meat) with Elizabeth Magee from The Villages; these partners in crime are rooming together, and I have alerted the Virginia Beach Police about two tourists getting wild and crazy while visiting their fair city. Here is Elizabeth at breakfast, making a face over the quality of her grits... now I ask you, what does a gal from south Joisey know from grits? (Maybe they should have eaten at Waffle House.)
Suzanne is seen here today at the display of her books in the A.R.E. bookstore. (She appears much happier about her book table than Elizabeth did with her breakfast!) Today she is a conference attendee; tomorrow afternoon she will be presenting.
While the girls were being spiritual at a beachfront conference, the Colorado contingent of our group was touring on our combined ten feet around Estes Park. A family driving by saw us and pulled over to say hello. Rudy and Gretchen got to meet one of their distant cousins, Oscar, another long-haired miniature Dachshund who looked much like Gretchen but with darker tan accents. The three Doxies got along famously. Oscar lives with his family in Wyoming, and is as affectionate as our puppies.
Estes Park itself is a contradiction; there are beautiful sights such as the vintage Stanley Steamer in the historic Stanley Hotel, and then there is...
... the Estes Ark... one local I spoke to called it an eyesore. I will refrain from making a judgment. (Gag...) I wonder if Noah realizes he built this thing at 7,300 feet above sea level?)
Estes Park is the Gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park. The view from the visitor center is beautiful. The peaks are still snow-covered, and several of the trails are closed until Memorial Day. There were signs posted of extreme avalanche danger in the back country, but we didn’t have that on our to-do list today.
We hiked a short National Forest trail outside RMNP, since fierce canines like our Rudy and Gretchen aren’t allowed on NP trails. They might be a threat to the 500 lb. elk that roam the park. By the way, we saw these cow elk in downtown Estes Park. (I think the one with the green jewelry might be looking at me with more affection than I care to think about... she must know that I'm a member of an Elks Lodge... Hey, I’m spoken for!)
Posted by Ty and Suzanne Giesemann at 7:26 PM
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
A Kansas Bimbo; Terri Survived! Wind Breaks; Portmanteau; A Sugar Beet Dinner? Jump Starting the Brain
While departing our campground in Kansas the other day, I noticed this sign...
Then I tried to visualize the sexy, voluptuous blonde farm girl who would appear in the TV ads to promote the bakery... my warped mind ran wild...
Speaking of blondes, we have good news from Terri of the Frozen North; she survived the “unseasonable” early May blizzard, but was trapped in her car for a week under 12 feet of snow on I-94. She was rescued in time, with only minor frostbite injuries, and has recovered sufficiently to return to work. That’s the good news. The bad news is that Terri is now complaining (dare I say “whining”?) about the unseasonable heat wave that Minnesnowta was enduring, with temps in the high 90s. Terri, you can’t have it both ways! Hasn’t this past winter convinced you that you need to move to central Florida? Our lakes haven’t frozen over in several millennia, and Sunday’s 89F in The Villages was much cooler than Minneapolis’ 98F!
Weather, weather, weather... on the Great Plains, they talk about the weather a lot! Western Kansas was less windy today than yesterday, but the photo at left shows a sturdy line of cedar trees set to the west of this farmhouse to help cut the vicious winter winds.
The last town in Kansas, just before crossing into Colorado, is named Kanorado. This is an interesting name, because it is a portmanteau word, a combination of two or more words or morphemes, and their definitions, into one word, such as smog (smoke and fog). The name is derived from the French, portmanteau luggage, which has two compartments. Kanorado’s 2010 population was 153, but there were 276 residents in 1990. One may assume that real estate prices are a bargain here...
We arrived in Longmont, Colorado, 25 miles north of Denver, amidst thunderstorms and lightning. We are staying in St. Vrain State Park, where I will do some fishing and get some work done on The Bus. We’ve been out for about 2 weeks, and almost 2,000 miles later, we’re just a few minutes from the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. This Canada goose in the foreground is probably wondering if he should have flown farther south and wintered in Cancun.
It’s bizarre to see so much snow on the mountains in mid-May, and sobering to see signs on the Interstate requiring truckers going west to have chains ready for snow conditions. The temp tonight should get down to 48F. I get to stay here and freeze while My Lovely Bride goes to the beach...
“The beach?” you ask... Colorado is a long way from the beach! Yes, Suzanne will fly out on Thursday to Virginia Beach, VA, where she is a presenter at the “Our Soul Life Conference” sponsored by the Association for Research and Enlightenment (A.R.E.), the organization founded by Edgar Cayce. The conference is fully booked with 250 attendees, and her fellow speakers include Dr. Eben Alexander, John Van Auken, and mediums Robert Brown and Maureen Hancock.
But surely being stuck here won't be too egregious... we had dinner tonight at a local place called Sugar Beet. Doesn't sound too appetizing, does it? Well, don't judge a restaurant by its name... look at these dishes:
We shared a delicious arugula salad with almonds, lavender honey vinaigrette, shaved cheese and tasso ham...
I opted for appetizers instead of a main course: fried Hama Hama oysters from Washington State with a scrumptious sauce over some purple leafy thingees...
and large shrimp with applewood bacon, drizzled with a passion fruit vinaigrette, again with some leafy green fodder that was actually quite tasty...
A glass of quite palatable Block Nine Pinot Noir complemented my meal nicely.
My Lovely Bride selected sea scallops on purple potatos with a carrot ginger puree, with a side of Dungeness crab on avocado:
I may have to check out the chef's other specialties while Suzanne has Chesapeake Bay crabs....
I mentioned yesterday that our car battery had died... here’s the rest of the story. When we stopped for our daily run at Ft. Riley, Kansas, I had to jump start the car, with My Lovely Bride at the wheel to turn the ignition switch. We then drove the car over to the Cavalry Museum, with Your Faithful Correspondent in the passenger seat. Just before getting out of the car, I said, “Love of My Life, please leave the car running while we’re in the museum.” You can see this coming, right?
Yep, you guessed it, she turned the car off ten seconds later (she claims it was force of habit), requiring me to find a nice passerby to park next to us to get our car started again. “Short memory span” doesn’t quite describe it... So here’s my solution to jump start Suzanne’s brain...
Posted by Ty and Suzanne Giesemann at 8:48 PM
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
On Monday we departed St. Louis and headed west. While passing through the Kansas City area, we stopped at Unity Village, the headquarters of the Unity Church. Suzanne had been interviewed by Unity Radio, and then gave a reading to Carla McClellan, Director of Retreats, who was kind enough to give us a tour of their beautiful and serene campus. We then met with Denise Blake, the new Director of Retreats, to discuss Suzanne coming to Unity Village to lead a retreat in early November. (See Suzanne’s web site for details).
We are now driving across a very wide and windy state... Kansas. With 25-30 mph headwinds, the fuel economy of The Bus (okay, stop laughing out there!) has taken a hit today, down from almost 9 mpg to just under 7 mpg. When the wind shifts astern, I’ll be getting the sails out! The farmers here have figured out the wind... we passed hundreds of modern towering windmills producing electricity to feed the power grid.
It was going to be a scorcher, up to 98F, so we stopped at Fort Riley at 0930 for a run before the heat became dangerous. Fort Riley is the home of the First Infantry Division, the Big Red One. It used to be a cavalry post, as this statue of a cavalry soldier from the 1870’s proves. The grave behind me is where Chief, the last horse to be part of the US Cavalry, is interred. He served from 1940-1949, and died in 1961.
We also took a few minutes to tour the Cavalry Museum. Just a few yards from where we parked were the stables where the commanding general’s ceremonial guard horses live. We enjoyed listening to the whinnying of these beautiful horses who all carried the same US brand on their left shoulders like Custer's horses did when he fought the Sioux over 150 years ago.
One of Suzanne’s books, The Priest and the Medium, has several chapters set in Victoria, Kansas, where (medium) Anne Gehman’s husband (former priest) Wayne Knoll grew up. This tiny town of 1,342 souls was just a mile south of I-70 as we headed westbound toward Colorado, so we turned left and stopped to recon. We parked next to Wayne’s home church, St. Fidelis Catholic Church, “The Cathedral of the Plains”. When it was built in 1911, it was one of the tallest buildings west of the Missouri. Suzanne was very excited to see the town and places she had written about but had never visited.
As we approached the cathedral, we noticed a woman about to cross the street. We introduced ourselves to Betty Brungardt and asked her if she knew Wayne Knoll; she replied, “Yes, Wayne was one of my classmates.” We were amazed, and after hearing some of her stories, Suzanne gave her a copy of The Priest and the Medium.
We then toured the church; it is stunningly beautiful, a real testament to the faith of the German-Russian farmers who settled here in the 19th Century. The building stones were hauled and cut by hand, with some families, including the Knolls, recorded as hauling up to 80 wagon loads of stones; engineers estimated that townspeople cut and dressed over 125,000 cubic feet of rock.
As we departed, we met Ivan, one of Wayne’s brothers' fraternity brothers from college. Both local residents that we encountered had known Wayne well; that doesn’t happen often except in a very small town!
We stopped for the night in Oakley, Kansas. While My Lovely Bride set up camp (sort of like a troop of cavalry might in 1876), I found the local blacksmith for some tack for my horse (also known as a replacement car battery, since mine was failing). I was going to put a .45 through the battery to put it out of its misery, but the NAPA store clerk was aghast, so I holstered my trusty Colt revolver and trotted to the campground for some firewater (a very nice Cabernet). What did I find but Suzanne, Rudy and Gretchen trying to hunt dinner, in the form of several rabbits that they were chasing hysterically around the campground. The hounds got within a few feet, but the bunnies were too bashful to play. (I had to settle for pasta and chicken sausage, but it was better than cleaning bunnies, that’s for sure). Corvette Chick was feeling frisky, and decided to visit the playground and ride the kids’ swings. I don’t think she will ever grow up...
Posted by Ty and Suzanne Giesemann at 8:30 PM