Moab, UT and The Desert

The Only Picture I Took All Weekend

The Only Picture I Took All Weekend

Kinsee, the dogs and I went camping in Moab, UT this past weekend. Durango is on the edge of where the high desert meets the San Juan mountains, but the hot summer weather has been pushing me towards the mountains until now. With the weather getting cooler, and the mountains getting their first dusting of snow recently, we headed out to the desert.

I’d never been to Moab before, never even been to Utah at all, but I’ve spent a lot of time in the deserts of Southern California, Anza Borrego and Joshua Tree and their surrounding areas. For the most part Moab was different. It still has the same “desert feel” to it, a feeling I can’t quite describe but love. Something about how wide open it is, how free and liberating it feels. Much of Utah is brilliant red rocks, arches and towers, but the area where we camped, 10 miles north of town on BLM land just outside Arches National Park was different, sure there were red cliffs in the distance, and depending upon where you stood you had a great view of Arches NP, but for the most part the surrounding area reminded me of the high deserts of Southern California only with more juniper trees.

I got my (two wheel drive) truck stuck on a 4WD road at midnight looking for where our friends were camped. Luckily some folks from Crested Butte were camping just down the road and pulled us out of the sand/ditch. We finally found said friends and beer drinking around the fire ensued. The next day opened up with a lazy morning and mountain biking followed by afternoon naps and more time spent around the fire. The weather was perfect until Sunday morning when we got a bit of rain, we packed it up fairly early and went into town to check things out. We had breakfast and hit the road. Picked up some hitchhikers heading back to Durango from a weekend of climbing in Canyonland’s.

As we crossed the border from Utah to Colorado the false summer we’d driven to returned to the fall we’d run from, if only temporarily. Not only were there trees, but the leaves were yellow, golden and red, the daytime weather crisp and nights below freezing.

When we got back I saw that the KSUT One Book Four Corners this month is The Secret Knowledge of Water by Craig Childs, a book about water in the desert. I decided to pick it up as I’m a little homesick for the desert right now. It’s started off slow but I’m hoping it picks up.

SHEEP! Bayfield Heritage Days

The sheep were back this year. And that was a big deal I hear. The annual Heritage Days Festival celebrates the history and heritage of Bayfield, and ranching has played an important role in our little town’s history. The sheep have been a part of this festival for a while, but recently the rancher couldn’t afford to move his sheep from the high country down to the lower valley to coincide with Heritage Days because there was still plenty of time for them to eat up in the mountains before moving down (where they would need to purchase food for the sheep), so I hear.

Well, a new rancher was willing this year and so the sheep were back. Surprisingly (or unsurprisingly if you’re familiar with Bayfield) this wasn’t my first run in with sheep on the highway — one day while cycling I saw the hand painted signs: “Sheep in road ahead, use alternate route”, I kept going, it was late in the day and I thought I had missed them, after a while I forgot those signs and soon enough I turned a corner and was met by at least 500 sheep.

A couple hundred people lined the sides of the Buck Highway Saturday morning to watch the sheep walk by. As they approached and saw all these people standing around they got scared and stopped, then ran up a driveway, got herded back, stood around some more, then finally ran past us all. Let me tell you, it was exciting.

Click below for some more pictures and video.

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The Drive from Durango to Denver

I’ve only done it twice so far, but I love the drive from Durango to Denver. It takes about six hours, about the same amount of time San Diego to Santa Cruz is (a drive I did about ten times) but it’s way more exciting. One of the things I really like about it, is that depending upon which way you go, you’re only driving on the interstate for between 10 and 60 miles. The rest is mostly two lane highways, that go right through small towns. I like slowing down and driving right through a town rather than speeding past on the interstate. It reminds me of a lot of the cities I passed through while travelling by bus in Argentina (and the landscape is similar in places also).

There’s plenty of things to see along the way, one of which is South Park, Colorado. We stopped there last weekend to check it out while driving home. It’s not identical to the tv show town, but it’s apparently where they got some of the inspiration for it.

Just a few miles down the road is “Two Mile High Stadium” I’m hoping to stop there next time.

Local Food

I don’t consider myself a localvore at all, but lately I’ve been eating some great local food thanks to our CSA share with La Boca and the farmer’s market every week.

With the CSA we don’t get to pick our food, they just deliver what’s been grown. This is nice because we eat things we otherwise might not. We’ve been eating some great beets, chard, kale and all sorts of other things. We got some potatoes this past week which were awesome. Yellowish fingerlings, red and purple potatoes. All delicious.

At the farmer’s market I’ve been buying basil and eggs. The eggs are from local ranches and the basil is from a local farm. I bought a gallon zip lock bag of basil for $3. Pesto made with the local basil and local garlic was just amazing. The garlic we got is so much more flavorful than any garlic I’ve had before (even at the Gilroy Garlic Festival, the supposed Garlic Capital of the World).

I was afraid I’d use all the basil for the pesto but there’s still so much left. Summertime is good out here…

Lake City, Colorado

Lake City, Colorado is the spot where Alfred Packer ate five of his fellow travelers while stranded in winter 135 years ago. I’ve heard that Packer is the only person convicted of cannibalism in the US, but I’m not sure if that’s true. You might know Alfred Packer from the fantastic Cannibal: The Musical, a musical retelling of his story.

We headed out early Saturday morning for Lake City, Colorado, about a three hour drive up into the mountains to do some backpacking. Some friends were supposed to meet us there, but they decided to take the “short cut” over Cinnamon Pass and couldn’t make it over, so it was just Kinsee, Walter, Mona and I. The trail was only 4 miles but over 2000 feet of elevation gain. It got steep in some parts but not too bad. We got to Waterdog Lake and were the only people up there.

I was a little disappointed that the surrounding mountains weren’t more rocky and that there was no good beach or jumping rocks at the lake, but it was nice regardless. We camped around 11,100 feet and the weather was perfect. As is usually the case (unless you’re in a canyon) the hike out was much quicker and easier than the hike in.The physical geography of Southwest Colorado reminds me so much of that of Andean Patagonia, from El Calafate to Bariloche.

Below are some more pics from Lake City and Waterdog Lake.

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Bayfield, CO Fourth of July 2009

I spent my second Fourth of July in Bayfield. Other than the shock factor of not knowing what to expect, it was just as great as last year. We had a wedding shower the night before and a couple of Kinsee’s friends came to town to hang out.

Below are some of the pictures. You can see more on flickr.

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La Boca Center for Sustainability CSA: Week 4

I blogged about our tour of La the La Boca Center for Sustainability a few months back, and now we’ve finally started getting our weekly deliveries.

It’s mostly greens right now, but we’ve been told it will get better and better as the season continues. Pictures of this weeks food is below.

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The Economics of Non-Financial Things

The lastest NPR Planet Money podcast is a great example of why I listen to Planet Money and Marketplace.

I’m not big in to economics, at least not in the traditional sense of the financial world and money and all that stuff, but the economic principles can apply to all sorts of other parts of our lives. The latest podcast is about South Carolina Governer Mark Sanford and is on the Economics of Cheating and Love. I think it’s facinating to look at other non-financial aspects of our lives in economic terms.

Clear Lake near Silverton, CO

Waterfall on the Clear Lake/Ice Lakes Trail

Waterfall on the Clear Lake/Ice Lakes Trail

Walter

Walter

Miss Mona Pretends Shes in the Jungle

Miss Mona Pretends She's in the Jungle

An old (copper?) mine

An old (copper?) mine

Wildflowers and Thirteen Thousand Foot Mountains

Wildflowers and Thirteen Thousand Foot Mountains

Small pond below Clear Lake

Small pond below Clear Lake

Walter Walks on Ice (Theres no picture of Walter falling through the ice, but it happened)

Walter Walks on Ice (There's no picture of Walter falling through the ice, but it happened)

Clear Lake, 11,960 Feet

Clear Lake, 11,960 Feet

Kinsee and Jeff at Clear Lake

Kinsee and Jeff at Clear Lake

Montanya Distillers, Silverton Rum

I write a lot about beer over at my other blog, Beer N Bikes, and beer’s been my beverage of choice lately, I haven’t been drinking much liquor at all.

But I was recently given a bottle of Platino Light Rum from Montanya Distillers just up the road in Silverton, Colorado and I have to say, it’s good stuff. I made myself a lime daiquiri, not the slushy sugary daiquiri most people are used to these days, but the original lime daiquiri, the kind Hemingway drank (I’ve read that the lime daiquiri, not the mojito was actually his favorite drink). Fresh squeezed lime juice, sugar, rum. That’s it. It’s one of the most refreshing drinks I can think of on a summer afternoon.

The lime daiquiri has been a favorite summer time drink of mine for a while now. Far better than the mojito or Cuba libre in my opinion. And don’t even get me started on rum and Coke. The lime daiquiri is extremely similar to the caipirinha, except for the fact that after drinking a few lime daiquiri’s you typically don’t wake up in a stranger’s bed with no memories of the last 12 hours, the same can’t be said for the caipirinha, the national drink of Brazil. The difference between the two is in the booze, the lime daiquiri uses light rum, the caipirinha uses  cachaça, a liquor very similar to rum, distilled from cane sugar like rum, but typically not aged at all.

I drank plenty of caipirinha’s on the beach in Brazil, but I stick with the lime daiquiri these days, and save those crazy cachaça fueled nights for special occasions.

And it didn’t hit my until I sat down to write this and looked at their website, but Montanya Distillers Platino Light Rum sells for $25, I don’t buy rum too often, but that seems like a great price for artisanal rum from a small mining town in Colorado.