PARIS OR BUST ?

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The Tour de France is in full swing and provides me with very entertaining viewing for 21 days through the month of July. I love to listen to Paul and Phil taking us through the French countryside with all the stories of Chateaus, Monasteries and  beautiful old Churches as we ride with the peloton beside famous French rivers and through wine growing regions.

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The famous duo

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During my motorcycling heyday I always loved the “big” events and of course as a trials rider the Scottish Six Days was my No1 event every year, and back in the 70’s we rode about 1200 miles in those 6 arduous days.

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1970 into the unknown!

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1974, my fourth ride

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It was tough as always

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Bottom of Ben Nevis

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1976 on Edramucky

The Tour is 3540 kms this year which converts to 2199.654 miles on its equally arduous journey from Dusseldorf to Paris and as I pedal my way towards my objective of 3000 for  the year the question is will I knock up the 2200 miles before the peloton arrives on the Champs Elysees.

Today I surpassed my last year’s total of 2031 having ridden 155.40 miles in the last week…… not bad for the near 71 year old up here at 7000′.

Monday 17th July, a rest day for Le Tour, and they certainly need it, whereas I’m at 2106.60 on my quest to get to Paris before they do. 93.41 to pass the finish line so time to get out there and knock off a few more before the afternoon thunderstorms arrive.

Road work signs everywhere as I try to leave Dolores and then the “Flag Man” single lane and the follow me car! Hard work trying to keep up with the pilot car and a lot of wet tar on the tires which are picking up stones and gravel. Two stops to clean tires but hit another 25.08 in pleasant conditions. However, need to ride somewhere else until they finish resurfacing this 2 mile stretch.

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The plan for Tuesday will be to try and get up the hill out of Dolores for the first time and this will no doubt force me onto the 39 tooth ring! Well, steeper than I thought!!! 3 stops and down to the next to lowest gear, but I finally made it without a heart attack. No K.O.M. shirt for me in the near future.

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The top of Dolores Hill

While doing some Tour de France research I noticed that in the early years when the roads over the mountains were little more than cart tracks riders carried their own tires and tubes, much like the two tubes I carted round Scotland on my 8 rides.

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Of course in the post war era just about everybody was a “smoker” and many riders were often seen smoking while riding and stopping for a drink or two. Sounds more like my sort of event!!

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In my experience people who drink and smoke don’t have much need for drugs and doping.

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Can’t see Chris Froome doing this for me but a lovely idea

Wednesday and after yesterday’s mini mountain climb I’ll be back to my standard ride down the valley towards Telluride. Only a smidge under 50 miles to go to Paris! After watching the grueling ride up and down the Alps I’m feeling quite tired just taking in other’s efforts!  I’m late out of the start and forced to cut things short after 21.23 miles but I’m just outside Paris at 2171.51 although storms are now part of the daily forecast.

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Serious hail and then heavy rain

Thursday and another gripping run through the Alps but then it gets pretty black and the thunderstorms arrive for a NO RIDING day. The rain carries on all night and Friday’s forecast is not any better and is currently cool and cloudy.

Never mind off I go, I’m not going to be defeated when I’m this close and 25.71 goes in the book which leaves me at 2197.22, or 2.78 miles from Sunday’s finish line! ……………………… Well the afternoon thunderstorm has arrived although today its just light rain after the cracks and booms of the early afternoon. I also need to get up to the light on the sign and fit the new tubes I bought at lunchtime. It does look a bit clearer out to the west so maybe one beer and all will be well?

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Artwork complete and now the lights are on

Brenda has been up the scaffolding and painted the name and redone the hummingbird to great effect. Finally it stops raining and starts drying up so I can get those new tubes in the sign lights, all done and ready for dog walking and a short ride to the Brewery for beer and pizza. Another 4.45miles clicks over so I’ve made Paris before the Peloton.

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That’s me in the blue shorts on the far left

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Done it!

TONY DOWN

BACK TO THE GARDEN

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The peace and tranquility of a Groundhog Sunset

After our short, and much needed  break to Groundhog, it was back to the garden and finish up all those projects.

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Where we left it

When we left we had just started the irrigation trenching for the front bow beds around Scuffy and the side rose beds. Those are now priority 1 for completion.

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Driveway and the stretch to the Maple done!

Second project is the main Cozy Comfort sign which had developed a very nasty “lean”. Many contractors had been approached to get this sorted but none had come through with any realistic bids. Cliffie our painter from last year had the job done in 3 days.

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The Leaning Sign of Dolores

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Looks like a job for Cliffie

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Come-a-long pulls it back to “Plumb”

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New concrete and collars

Now the sign is back upright the painting of same needs to be done and Brenda has this in hand with new lower signs and then painting of the upper half. I will be replacing the neon lights when she is complete on the paintwork.

Weather wise still up close to 90F and just coming into the start of Monsoon Season which is a variable feast with afternoon thunder storms and dark skies. Sometimes the storms move on and don’t dump until they get up the valley and have Rico in their sights.

Sadly for everyone our local bar across the road continues to be an unmitigated disaster. The layout is awful, it lacks any sort of theme, and the service is virtually non existent. They say the are starting pool competitions on Thursday evenings but have two tables crammed in a tiny room and NO LIGHTS over either table!! They even plan on charging a $15 entry compared to $6 everywhere else, why, oh why, don’t these people ask???

Therefore we don’t go there and continue our pool at the Montezuma where I’m still top of the leader board with a win last week and second this week. In other pool stories………….

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“Hey guys, can I get a shower around here?”

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“Damnation, that’s good!”

Cycling is now back on the menu for morning riding before the afternoon winds and rain arrive. 25 miles a day is now my target number and currently I’m at 1927.71 which is a bit behind my planned numbers on the 2017 quest for 3000.

Before I can knock those numbers up I MUST finish this irrigation job and after review I have some more serious maintenance weeding to do.

After much watering the grass is greener but the weeds are enjoying it too! The Cone Flower bed gets done and I finally manage to plant a catch crop of radish and little gem lettuce.

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Cone bed ready

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Little Gem and French Breakfast are in !

With all my current weeding tasks done back to hiding the irrigation pipes and freshen up the Scuffy beds with some nice rich topsoil.

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Pipes and tube everywhere and now the “hiding” begins

More trenching and under the steps and onward through the rock piles but eventually the main pipe has gone and fresh topsoil can be added to the rather lack luster sand and gravel.

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Passing the first set of steps and new soil goes in

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All hidden through the rose section

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Looking good as I get to the “bow beds”

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Scuffy irrigation done

Well finally its all done and Brenda’s friends say it looks good so I guess my work on this one is done!

While this has been going on the cucumber which had taken a beating from the high winds has made a comeback and is in full leaf mode again so hopefully we will get more fruit in the future.

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Very pleasing to see new growth

Not to be outdone our free gift “Tom” has put out a couple of trusses and has fruit forming.

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Freebie going well

Didn’t get my tomato pie up at Groundhog but it was on the menu as soon as we got back and it was ……….DELICIOUS!!!

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YUMMMMMMEEEEE!!!!

TONY DOWN

 

 

READY TO HOG ?

Almost there, new tags for the Safari, extra coolant, and booze onboard. Brenda working overtime getting the bus spick and span ready for Friday’s departure.

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Ready to roll

The only garden task for Thursday is an irrigation  system to be installed across the driveway and out to all the Scuffy beds. If I can carefully lift up the Christmas power cord to the Maple I can make it into a utility trench then bury the last section when we get back.

Of course there will be the mega shopping and loading with enough food to last a week even if we are only away for 3 nights. I will be on wood, the fire pit and fishing items and after last year’s complete underside clean out I hope this will be easy.

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Trench complete, cable and pipe in, my, its only 2015!!!

The utility trench gets completed, more and more “stuff” goes on the bus but I still have much to load but I’m good on wood, and there seems to be plenty of room for fishing stuff and the fire pit.

Friday morning, last minute shopping items and after an age loading we finally depart. First portion up the hill (which one day I will cycle up) and then the bumpy road until the sign saying “Pavement Ends” which last year was awful as it was non stop washboard which the Safari hates!! Clearly they have graded it and about 10 miles of a reasonably pleasant surface and my mind is already thinking this is GOOD …… but then its back to washboard for about 8 miles with the speed way down at 10mph. We roll into our reserved slot a little after 1400 and survey the scene.

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Out of Dolores, nearly the same shot as last year, but today its not pouring down with rain

Time to set up camp so out with all the tables and chairs despite the strong westerly wind. Many tales of GOOD fishing and bag limits, now need to get some info on good areas and what they are taking as bait.

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Weekend set up complete

The duty walk round to collect nature’s flowers and her display should last a couple of days. Humming bird feeder out with the cat on duty!

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Natures free bounty of flowers at 9500′

Many margaritttttttas later, its supper time with lamb chops and our very own mint sauce, delicious! An excellent film “Sully” completes the evening and tomorrow we will try the fishing thing one more time.

Nice morning but a dose of apathy in my camp. Pleasant enough but more than happy to just relax this morning doing absolutely nothing! A little snooze, amazing how tired gardening can make you, and being up at 9500′ there is no rush to do too much.  A walk round and people have been catching some good looking trout and the bait is our old friend “power bait” .

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Custom made rod rest by a bored stone mason!

After lunch and some bloody Mary’s I stumble down to the lake for a couple of hours. As I arrived people either side of me catch a fish but then absolutely nothing until I leave at 1800 so another zero for me!

Brenda paid a short visit along with beverages and now I’m back on the BM’s. The celebration fire that was for the 4th has already been started by the idiot Redneck fraternity and has now burnt out to the annoyance of the organizers who were planning on a 1930 start time!!

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The “Big Fire” destroyed by rednecks playing Horseshoes!

With no fish to fry (again) its ribs which are just about ready and smell wonderful.

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Ribs and corn …… Yumeeeeeee!

Try the fishing game tomorrow when there is a competition (not that we are doing it) …… a bit odd as they have changed all the boating regulations so you can only launch a small boat with a 20 horse motor or less and then have to pay $20 when you take it out. Other choices are two “party barges” at $200 a half day or the mini fishing boat we tried last year at $70.

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Decidedly pissed off campground owner has the embers rekindled and the fire is off again and more wood arrives.

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The day finishes with more drinks and a dog film which is amusing and touching if you are a dog owner.

Sunday, a bit cooler and not so much wind, back to bloody Marys and our last bowl of Brenda’s chicken liver pate and some cherries before a session of “revenge cribbage”.

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These are GOOD, what’s for lunch ?

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The last of the pate!

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Cribbage time

As we finish the decider there is a sudden change in the weather, skies darken and the wind suddenly increases to about 45-50 mph and people are taking cover and trying to protect their belongings.

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Getting windy……. note the flags!!!

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Whitecaps on the lake and tents lifting off

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Not good!

Tents and easy-ups are taking a hammering as helpers try and get awnings and covers stowed. Lightning and thunder, whitecaps on the lake and some ominous black clouds.  After about 20 minutes it blows through and peace returns. …….. the bar-b-q is lit and we shall have steaks, and if she gets her way SMORES.

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Now that’s a GREAT steak!

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Yumeeeeee!

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Smores it is then

Monday morning and not too windy so after breakfast time to load up and be on our way. Within a couple of miles there is a Jeep upside down where it has rolled after some incident on a straight road?

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Ooooops

Finally off the washboard road and the high speed rednecks in their super vulgar Dodge pickups.

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Free Prime Rib ?

Almost home, only 90 minutes on the return trip, …….. a pleasant break from all things and now back to it.

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Glad you are back

TONY DOWN

GROUND HOGGING

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One week until the start of the Tour de France but I’ll be cracking on now that the bloody awful center bed is behind me! 8 days non cycling in the past 2 weeks has done nothing for the distance totals and even less in the hill climbing section.

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Groundhog

Next Friday we will be taking a break from cycling and gardening as we will be at Groundhog Reservoir which we enjoyed very much last year. That means sorting out the Safari in the coming week prior to departure around 1000 Friday morning.

With all the weeding complete in the center bed time for some miles but something is not quite right? Is it headwind? Am I getting worse at this cycling thing as I can’t seem to get going? My speed is down 2-3 mph And I’m feeling every bump and stone from the back wheel! I even look down at the back wheel but all seems well so I put it down to my wimping. I struggle on but its hard work and the headwind seems to be with me whichever way I’m going. I press on and by 23.16 I have had enough!!!

Sunday and a morning shopping run after Moto-GP and F1 and with lunch behind me time for a ride. Rear tire is soft ? ….. well maybe I was right, …….. only 25lbs so that would account for the bumpy ride and the extra drag. Pump it up and its a funny shape!! Not only that but there are surface cuts and holes in the tire. While I carry spare tubes and tools this tire is likely to EXPLODE.

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Cuts everywhere and a strange shape ?

Out with the Giant and ride 20.36 on what feels a very strange bike after many miles on the Roubaix. Better get into Cortez Monday morning and see what the experts say.

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NEW tire goes on

Still got the center bed edge cuts to do and then start work on the Safari. In Cortez, tire is toast so new tire and tube and back to the edge cuts which take until 1930 to complete but they do look good. Another non riding day but gardening will now take a back seat!

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You might remember this ….. which transforms to ………

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Edge Cuts complete ………. !!!!

Tuesday, and the last few tasks out front with tons of water to bring back the lawn to green. Need to plant the “Miranda Lambert” rose before I forget and end up doing a Walmart on it.

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Miranda in the ground

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Other roses approve

Miranda is in the ground, mini weeding around the property, water spraying on the grass and now time for the Safari. Just as we left it, a gallon of coolant and a quart of oil the engine is ready. Brenda fires up the generator now time to de-winterize the water system and switch the lines over for the hot water heater.

This operation takes longer than usual as calcium is blocking all the threads in the heater. CLR gets the job done, the pink flows out and fresh water comes onboard.

Jacks up, engine running and I notice all the winter damage to the fence that was on my “to do” list and I had completely forgotten about. Maybe later?

Into town and visit the Bus Barn to use their high pressure air line and pump the tires up to 100 in the back and 110 in the front. Now use the pressure wash to get rid of the winter grime. Home again and into slot 1 for the next few days while Brenda sets about the inside cleaning and restocking.

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Slot 1 for internal cleaning

Too windy to even think about a ride so after a refreshing shade garden beverage time for that fence ……….. find exactly what I’m looking for and several repairs are completed.

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Main problem solved, but there are others

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No cost fence repairs……. Done!

Meanwhile hop and pumpkin training continues!

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Meanwhile a few new plants are going well

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Some replanting of two shades of lobelia

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The Morning Glory seeds have made it

TONY DOWN

BACK TO THE TASKS!

Death Valley National Park

Here it comes again!

This hot weather (for Colorado) has diverted me from some of my main objectives as the summer sun has been sapping my strength and energy!

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Need another one of these

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Lunchtime and even hotter

True there has been progress, but I need to push on with that center bed and get out there on the bike first thing in the morning and get those numbers ticking over again. If I can get back in my summer routine then there is a good chance I can try for some hill climbing in the afternoons and maybe catch up on my distance targets.

The morning goes well despite the uphill headwind for the first 3 miles but a solid 25.25 completed and now ready for yet more weeding in the big front bed.

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Bloody hard work ……. but worth it!

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Smothered plants enjoy the sun once more

Back on track and into the main bed after a little maintenance weeding around the garden for those that I missed. 4 beers and 3 margaritas later I’m up to the cottonwood stump and have uncovered some really nice plants smothered by my number one enemy the “arsebine” !

Wednesday  and another 25.30 ticks over before weeding kicks in and its horrible! Still a long way to go but some more progress in the jungle. At least I’m now coming to an easier stretch where for some reason this dreadful creeper weed has not taken over. While I struggle with this mess time to look at the “pretty bits” in the garden as with all this heat everything is bursting into full flower.

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Peace

The shade garden is fully stocked and a delightful haven for a cold beer  and along the front the clematis are loving summer to the full.

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The roadside weedbed plants are back every year, and the mint that I planted is taking over but smells wonderful when the hose is on it.

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………and of course with all these flowers the butterflies are out and about

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……..something to enjoy, but for now its back to the non stop weeding and the voyage of discovery to see what plants are still alive under all the non desirable vegetation.

Onwards from the cottonwood stump, around the corner past some surviving yellow ice plants and down the side hill with all the fir trees an odd heather or two still alive amid the wild strawberry plants. Two self seeded firs of unknown type and some small pinks choked by the infernal creeper.

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Ice plant with self seeded fir trees

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Wild strawberries

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Last year’s pinks hiding in the weeds

By day’s end I’m left with one last push for Friday and the end of Weeding Round 1. The ground has been severely watered and I should be through the jungle by lunchtime, all being well.

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Not looking forward to this!!!!!!!

Well that didn’t go as planned! Very, very slow pulling out this lot and hard on the hands and shoulders. By lunchtime I’ve hardly made a dent in it. Brenda has some new water lilies and gets them in before leaving for work.

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They look pretty good

More and more grass  gets removed along with the creeper and dandelions a’plenty and by 1645 I’m finished and the battle is won!

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…. from this ……..

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…….. to this

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Now time for a few beers and then water, plant up, and water some more.

All that remains for completion is cut the edges and mow the lawn and I’ll be done for this stage.

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The beers were good and, I believe, well deserved, and I get the thumbs up from our pumpkin who is singing “The pumpkins got his hat on …… hip, hip, hip hooray”

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Most people get syrup from Maple trees but we get cucumbers and tomatoes?

TONY DOWN

 

MORE FROM THE OWL & THE PUSSYCAT

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The Owl & The Pussycat get ready for summer sailing

Sunday, lovely warm weather and time to put to sea again. First get the fishing licenses and some bait. McPhee is full to bursting so not sure how fishing might be but always worth a try. More to celebrate Father’s Day and the fact that Brenda has so many memories of boating with her father.

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The Captain says that after further review she wants to delay 24 hours to ensure everything is ready.

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Fishing tackle checked

I weed the boathouse and surrounds and make a small start on the center bed before “the beer” calls and then not much gets done from that point.

So, Monday morning and all’s well, new lights are checked, tools loaded along with rods, tackle, refreshing beverages and a light lunch.

A day away from weeding and biting insects will be nice but Brenda has discovered another use for “Off”

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It seems this stuff might, or might not work on mossies but it sure is good on faded headlights and does the job without grinders and whirling electric drills

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Now you see me

So we arrives with our sparkling headlights at the lake and see they have changed the sequence and directions in and out the inspection and parking area.

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At Inspection and making ready for sea

Through inspection, plug in, and down the ramp to the water. Yes, as expected pretty full lake after record snow falls in the mountains over the winter.

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Plan B is clean again

Boat released smoothly and I await the arrival of the Captain. Plan B starts, and following a little engine exercise we put to sea. The lake is VERY full and we ride round and cruise up to House Creek where the other boat ramp is which is only open now at the weekends.

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Working well, thanks Reliable Marine

The water is SO DEEP that you can now clamber ashore pretty close to your RV site

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Deep in thought

Nice to see the Captain so happy and all those memories flashing through her mind.

Back to our fishing area towards Dolores and the depth finder tells us its 10 feet  deeper than last year.

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You can but try

Fishing begins but not even a single nibble which in view of the time and conditions didn’t really surprise me.

Back to the dock and once more through the system and home we go. Plan B back in her boathouse after a good testing of all systems. Now time for some adult beverages.

Day1 success !

TONY DOWN

 

 

 

2000 AND SOME HILLS

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With the 1500 in the bag now time to experiment with some hills and see if I can get up them. Until I get some confidence I’ll be using standard shoes as the thought of having my feet locked on the pedals does not sound too good if I run out of puff and need to put a foot down!

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Really ?

Now into June and week 2 of the bus driver’s holiday begins. The weeding has once again given me “The Jesus Blister” in the palm of my hand but the results of what caused it are very pleasing with the driveway, rose bed surrounds, and the driveway side of Scuffy all free of the winter weeds. I now need to repair the irrigation tube I poked a hole in and the main water faucet which is also toast!

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Let’s see if you can break this one!

Today’s tasks repair the plumbing, and de-weed Scuffy and all the rock areas around her.

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Irrigation repaired

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Scuffy side beds weeded

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Ready for “bow beds” to be cut 

The jobs get done, everything  ready for a couple of extra beds in the “bow area” which becomes the weekend task. Prior to that a quick maintenance ride of 22.84 going out as far as the 8.5 mile marker despite the uphill headwind. Tonight it will be time for the brewery and a couple of beers so swap over to the Giant and ordinary shoes and bang in another 10.29 which I have to say felt a bit strange after a road bike.

Saturday and “Hanging Basket Day” but after all the shopping and unloading I finally get out there and take it out to the 9.6 mile point before finishing up at 23.62 for the day. New total 1560.59 as I head for the 2000.

Sunday and Monday are no ride days as the garden tasks take priority but Tuesday out to 9.9 and another 23.34 is completed and now its Wednesday once again and today its the full 10.00 miles before the run home  topping out at 24.41 taking me over the 1600 marker.

Thursday and out to 8 miles in pleasant conditions for a quick 23.39 and now they are forecasting high winds again for the next 3 days!

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Bow beds cut and planted

Gardening first then review this wind situation and see what I can do in terms of mileage. Need to finish the Rose Bed, then move on to the main front beds and waterfall zone. Rose bed done without too many cuts from the bushes and now finish all the repairs to the rock surrounds which the dumbarses keep driving into!! Water now on the lawn to soften things up. Out for the ride and not quite as windy as expected. turn round at 8.5 today and finish on 23.74 bringing the total to 1655.47 miles for this year.

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Rose bed complete and rebuilt

Saturday and many tasks including strimming and lawn mowing and a load more water on everything prior to those main beds and the ton of weeding that awaits. No ride today!

Sunday and although windy I set off up the long hill to Telluride with  a host of riders coming the other way. Some wave, most don’t even acknowledge my presence (rude miserable bunch!) …..well never mind each to their own. Not exactly a race but a lot of them, some sort of “just do it” event. I knock up 24.68 which takes me to 1680.15 a little under the 1700 I was hoping to hit before the weather went crazy with these 50 mph winds! Finally get into the waterfall bed for the first serious weeding session and now ready to crack on with the task but we have a few other things going on.

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weeds out!

Nice thing about summer is evening cocktails in the shade garden with the odd surprise dinner from head chef with much grilling on the bar-b-q.

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An excellent kebab

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Well done Chef!

Monday and after two other summons for jury duty I’m forced to go! The two previous ones were nipped in the bud as we were short of drivers but, now that School is out difficult to find a “get out” clause.

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Through security and now one of the most boring days in memory as the judicial system rolls on. Its a Domestic Violence case and could take 3-4 days with a lot of “he said, she said”. The morning rolls by and now they are privately asking questions of individual potential jury members in chambers. 1130 and the rest of us are dismissed and need to come back at 1415.

The afternoon session is even worse as we now call out 26 people to be the jury pool and the questions begin with the judge going first and dismissing a few. New people join the pool.

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Now the lawyers start their hypothetical questions a bit like the TV series Bull. This drags on and on but by 1630 the judge says OK now the advocates can reject up to 6 people each so the rest of you can go!!!! Well I could not have ridden today and its still blowing a gale when I get to the car.

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Very tedious!!!

Tuesday and time for another Doctor visit reference that little cold that arrived mid May. An annoying little beast that lasted a week and just when you thought it was gone came back again in full flow. It seems it was a virus and my Doctor says there was a lot of it but they found the answer. 6 days of medication and it will be gone so better get the prescription on Wednesday morning.

Into Walmart for the prescription and can’t resist a few “annuals” in the shape of lobelia and dianthus for the front of the Waterfall bed. A new timer for the waterfalls and oil and coolant for the Safari all join the cart and I’m home by 0930 and ready for a quick ride in what seems to be quite pleasant conditions. Another 24.17 goes in the books and I’m past the 1700 banner with just a chance of hitting that “2000” by the end of the month!

After being bitten by some bugs while weeding, might have been fire ants? it will be long pants this morning as I attack the last of the weeds on the waterfall bed. Would be great to get that finished today but still a lot of work to do.

It gets done, all the weeds, long grasses and other rubbish out so now time for a load of water and then recut the edges, plant up and put the rocks back in. No ride today as this project took a bit longer than expected (don’t they all!)

Today its ride first, then change the lights again on the boat trailer and get back to planting and edge cutting on the waterfall bed. The ride gets done but heavy going for the first couple of miles until I got my second wind then on, and on and feeling stronger and stronger knocking up 27.64 in relatively warm and pleasant conditions. Now for the other tasks.

Lights changed on the boat trailer, battery on charge, now for the edge cutting around the waterfall. By 2015 I’m just finishing up watering and I must confess I’m knackered!

Saturday, a party later in the afternoon, not feeling up to a ride at the moment, and I really want to plant up and get the rocks back in place.

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Edges cut and extended and the rocks back in

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Fresh “pinks”

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Summer climbing up the waterfall

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Weed free and blooming

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Ice plants loving the sun

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Lobelias and dianthus around the edges

Garden takes priority and it all goes together very well! Now I need a few more border plants to go with those that like it in that bed which are salvias and ice plants. A quick start to the main bed but the palm of my hand is getting very sore with all this weeding.

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Waterfall climbers requesting “more flow” over the falls!

Sunday and we should have been at the lake but, …… Brenda wants to be totally ready so boating slips a day. I need to get some extra plants and I’m still not feeling 100% energy wise after all last week’s labors. After getting licenses for fishing I’m into 4 Seasons and then a mercy mission to the Walmart Plant Mortuary. I could have had a ride but carry on gardening.

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Mercy mission to Walmart for Salvias

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Boathouse and surrounds get weeded and fishing kit gets checked over ready for tomorrow’s first outing.

It never ends, but its fun!!!

 

TONY DOWN

HANGING BASKET DAY

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SUMMER finally arrives in the Mountains!!!

With the switch over to June Mother Nature finally said “OK” and now we will have warmth and summer! ……… waiting in the wings Brenda is ready!

Saturday morning, time for some household shopping (those dogs need feeding) and a quick visit into the Walmart Plant Mortuary to see if anything can be saved. A couple of “pinks” make the basket along with a mixed display which will be the center piece in front of the Maple tree.

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Pinks and center display around the maple, with hanging toms

First Cadi load and back to the house for unloading and by 1100 we are at Four Seasons to see what they have. Petunias and ice plants for me along with something different in some calibrachoa hybrids called “cherry star”.

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Petunias for the rose bed

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Iceplants for the Scuffy border

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Cherry Star

Trolleys and carts are loaded but we lose a terra cotta ladybird in the process but do snag some lovely little birds for the fountain in the process. Finally with the five big hanging baskets for the front, a small one for the shade garden, along with a collection of 3 different types of coral bells and not forgetting 2 hanging baskets of tomatoes and a fuchsia, she just can’t resist, we are done!   ……. or are we? …. What is this ?   ……. a hanging basket of cucumbers?

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Coral bells in 3 different colors

Nice idea but nowhere to put it for the journey home. First load in the car and back to the house well pleased with our purchases. All unloaded and while Brenda starts arranging I’m off for round 2 and soon back again with the rest.

The last two trolleys are loaded and the fuchsia hangs over Brenda’s seat for the drive home. Unloaded and positioning is started. Two similar HB’s either side of the main entrance, two more in a combo of yellow/blue and finally a purple and unusual white spattering effect that I will call the “painter’s bucket” as it looks like someone cleaned their brush and this poor plant was in the way. Padlocks go on !!

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The front 5 are up

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Doorway

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“The Painter’s Bucket”

Sunday and Brenda is off again while I set about the rose bed and cutting the new Scuffy bow beds.  Once again I can see what happened in the UK when Yorkshire and Lancashire had their epic battle known as “The War of the Roses” as my arms are slashed to pieces and running with blood after a full assault on the weeds. Two of my old roses did not enjoy winter and need to be replaced.

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War of the Roses

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Need two more

Brenda is back another $200 poorer and the Cadi is full once more! 3 more big ferns from City Market and an assortment from Cliff Rose, Walmart and 4 Seasons ……. including the Cucumber Basket which was NOT for sale!!!

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3 more ferns

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Matching extras for the Gazebo

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NOT FOR SALE!!

A truly remarkable tree, the Maple, which produces unlimited quantities of cheery tomatoes and full size cucumbers all summer long and then lights up for Christmas.

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” A very strange tree is the Maple which fruits all summer……”

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…….. and then it does this ?

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How does this happen ?

Monday and now its my turn as I need two roses, a headstone type plant for the Scuffy beds and some landscaping stone to finish the job off out by the road and blend it all in.

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Roses ready!

As always it takes a lot longer than expected but I like the results and now all I have left in this sector is the rose bed.

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Cutting, edging, planting and road roadside gravel

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Bow Beds done !

Meanwhile back in the rest of the garden, a new development in the Clematis pot ?

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Shade garden gets inundated with those ladybirds and they are everywhere!

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Percy the pumpkin gets a new home and the egg lady will be very happy.

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In the pool fountain area we bought those three little birds but then found out there are four ……….

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“Anybody seen Harry ?”

So we just had to have him.

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“I’m down here, thanks for checking!”

TONY DOWN

HOW GOES THE 3000 YOU ASK ?

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The “trim” 70 year old Cyclist

The manic cyclist, flush with 2016’s impressive 2031 miles @ 7000′ set himself a 3000 mile target for 2017. Sounds easy enough but still a challenge for the COPD and soon to be 71 year old.

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Last year’s workhorse the Giant MTB

The  faithful Giant Mountain Bike started the quest on Superbowl Sunday back on February 5th and despite the winter weather progress has generally been pretty good. Various targets, banners and cycling kites have all been passed as I battle these constant winds. Life did become a little easier with the acquisition of the 16 lb Specialized Roubaix.

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The Roubaix for me!

Every time a target is achieved a new one comes up and right now I’m looking for the first sips of champagne when I cross the half way point of 1500 ! A bit windy this morning but the last two days have been warm and sunny and winds have been fairly light making riding a lot more pleasant. With 67 miles done in the last 3 days a mere 33 to go until those corks pop!

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Last year’s “1000” bottles

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I seem to get wrapped up in this distance “thing” which of course is good for air in the lungs but once I hit that “1500” I want to try and get up some of the local hills. I have Road 30 which is short and steep and the longer main road of the 145 going into Cortez. If I can crack these then I might take on the Boggy Draw climb which looks a bit like Alpe d’Huez but in reality is probably 1.5 miles at most.

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Coming out of Dolores in the Safari

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Nasty business

Further challenges I have set myself is for Brenda to drive me up to Rico at 9000′ and then I’ll give it my best on the 38 mile run back to Dolores. Before that I’ll slowly increase my outbound mark from the 11 to 14 miles to see how that feels.

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Wednesday 31st May, Target Day, for the “1500” but first some weeding around the driveway for Scuffy. Brenda sets off for town to collect various goodies for the “celebration luncheon” …… cheeses, French bread, fruit, shrimp ………. and if you can’t find “pate” then make your own.

Meanwhile the driveway is completed and the gardener moves over to the rose bed and with first strike hits the irrigation tube with the fork! One side finished, now time to reline the weed eater and complete the lawn, east side ditches and what will eventually be my vegetable garden…… one day, one day!

As I finish the lawn Cliffie turns up to assess how to straighten up the “Leaning Sign of Dolores”

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Serious lean !

Time for that ride, not many miles required but the ever present wind is still with me. Off I go towards Telluride and the wind, which is supposed to be Southerly seems to have a slight Westerly component but I think I can deal with it. As I make the sweeping turn  at the 3.5 mile mark the wind is now right behind me which won’t be much fun on the inbound portion as I can see the trees and bushes all bending over. At the 5 mile point it starts to rain! Time to head back as up ahead its looking pretty black. Hard work back to that sweeper but now I detect an Easterly flow has joined me and speed rockets up to the low 20’s. Well this is nice and today’s ride is completed in less than one hour.

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1500 done!

Photographs of the cyclist (first ever) are taken and I’m dismissed to the shade garden to await champers and the chef’s feast. Time for a quick beer for hydration purposes while chef finishes her luncheon masterpiece.

The feast arrives!

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WOW !

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SUPERB effort from my lovely Chef

Everything is superb including the pate which is an absolute delight and as we finish two bottles of bubbly the storm clouds darken and we get our first monsoon like thunderstorm of the year.

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Never mind and its Wednesday which means 9 Ball where I seem to be excelling and in the 4 weeks of play I have had 2 seconds and a first.

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The Shark is back !

Tonight is no different and once again I’m in the final and run out with another 2nd place.

Thursday will be a cycling rest day and the next target will be the 2000 mile marker.

 

TONY DOWN

 

SUMMER PLANS

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Buses parked for summer

School Bus Driving is now over for another year so time to plan how this year’s summer will be! Last year of course went anyway it could and followed none of life’s expectations. It was, nonetheless very enjoyable.

The big picture is next year will be the last full time bus driving year and thereafter I will revert to being a Sub and driving as required. This will enable us to do a few of the “Viking River Cruises” in Europe.

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Back to the present, its Friday and Day 1 of the holiday!  Drive the boat into Reliable Marine for de-winterization and summer checkup. Now into City Market and a giant fern for the shade garden. A few stops on the way home including the first of the summer’s tasty ice creams.

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The fern becomes the 1st new plant of the season

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Giant pumpkin from our Egg lady

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NEW potting bench for 2017

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These pansies have gone mad!

Last year when the manic cycling game started the goal was to hit 400 miles before my Doctor’s visit on June 4th. This year the daily numbers have gone up from the 12-14 miles a day to a daily average of 20+.  With an uninterrupted afternoon at my disposal 27.36 miles ticks over on the odometer giving a 2017 total of 1400.52 miles in the quest for 3000.

First sessions of weeding done while Brenda sets about cleaning up Scuffy for the summer season. Good job and certainly looking a bit more sparkling after winter’s worst! House side weeding of driveway complete and a lot of dead branches removed from the Shade Garden. Some plans for another water feature are in my mind’s eye.

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Nicely felled ???

Today, Memorial Day, time to remove the debris from last year’s idiot who said he would fell a dead cottonwood. Well, yes he did, but that was all he did! Now I have to get MY chainsaw up and running and do the job properly.

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Tree removed and area cleaned up

Hoping to get on the Rose Bed and finish the driveway for Scuffy’s entrance. Need to remove all the grasses and weeds in the rocks and then the two major front beds.

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Serious weeding ahead

Priority for the day was removal of the tree for me, strim all  the west side of the property and get my ride done. Brenda aimed to finish Scuffy and top off with some plants. Everything we had planned gets completed and now I MUST turn my attention to the  Scuffy zone and get shot of those weeds.

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Restored and looking GOOD

I suspect I’ll be weeding for a couple of weeks interspersed with routine maintenance but then I should be able to get some work done on the Beemer and the trials bikes.

Future plans include 4th July back at Groundhog, which we enjoyed last year, and maybe a few trials. That of course means getting the Safari up and running.

TONY DOWN