THE 2017 TARGET ?

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Thanksgiving Morning 2016 and the last cycling ride of the year down to the Dollar Store before winter set in big time and closed me out for the year on 2031.22 miles achieved.

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With this new taste for cycling the Roubaix was added to the inventory and by the time we set off for Vallecito Lake at the end of August  2802.39 was in the books …….. but then along comes the bloody cold again and its another 3 weeks of misery until various pills and antibiotics finally kill it. Now with weather changes as well its been a struggle to get anything done as time never seems to be on my side and strong winds and pouring rain are not to my liking!

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I’ve had enough of this !!!

Due to all of the above I’ve been struggling to get to the 2017 target of 3000 miles, and I’m almost there but not quite!!! Today should have been a nice recovery day as it a day off from school bus driving and after all the awful fall weather from earlier in the week today was forecast to be back in the 60F range with only a 20% chance of rain.

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1500 done!

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Tour de France and 2200 in the bag

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My  71st birthday and 2500 done and dusted ……. now for 3000

The day started well and after the roads dried up a bit 13.41 was done before lunch. Before I could get out and get more done yet another storm arrived with torrential rain and kept me inside as I’m now waiting on a party of 4 RV’s to arrive around 1600. (Thinks bubble) “I could ride up and down the main road and see them as they come through the town??”

Another 7.23 done before the next big shower, and I’m forced to admit defeat. They arrive at 1730 and I’m with them setting up until 1830 and its now cold, wet and miserable!

Saturday morning and it has been raining again so a small wait for it to dry up a bit and warm up. Now I’m limited time wise as its Pool this afternoon but I push on and reduce the numbers by another 15.31 taking me to 2976.27 which I’m determined to finish this weekend.

Sunday, cool and still damp, but its got to be done. 24.73 to hit that 2017 target, so with a nasty sharp cool westerly gusting 25 mph time to plan how it will be done. Plan is to go for a morning run and hit 16 and then a second outing for the remaining 8.

The first run has plenty of headwind and now with falling leaves at least you can see where the wind is coming from. I elect a town ride to stay in what shelter I can find. The wind is easterly to start with but swings round to westerly as I’m halfway through. Never mind I take it a bit further than planned and knock off 18.25 leaving me 4.48 for phase II.

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Getting there ….. another 18.25

A few household tasks and some lunch after the Bill’s win, and I’m ready for the Bronco afternoon game. Brenda needs to catch up on Outlander before we can watch today’s episode so at halftime, I’ll ride and she can watch, and we will record the Denver game.

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“By jove, I think he’s done it !”

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Yes, its 3000 in the bag !

The wind is now really gusting and it is hard work so more hiding and shelter is the name of the game but its great when you turn round! With Brenda’s TV I can stay out a bit longer so I hit 12.55 for good measure finishing the day on 30.80 and in doing so crash through the 3000 mile target.

Now what ? you ask …….. carry on pedaling until winter shuts me down.

 

TONY DOWN

 

WHAT A VEULTA !

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Seldom have I seen a Grand Tour like this one. Normally I watch the Tour de France  on a daily basis and the days conform to what you would expect, either a GC day in the mountains, or a massed sprint on the flat stages.

So this year I decide to watch the Veulta a Espana and I’m thrilled from start to finish. The race gets underway with a short team time trial with BMC winning and Chris Froome’s team of Sky in third place.

With a very high number of mountain top finishes and some other very lumpy stages its easy to see why most teams have left their sprinters at home.

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Chris takes the lead on Stage 3 by a mere 2′ but takes every opportunity to grab time, even taking bonus seconds on an intermediate sprint!! By Stage 7 he has increased his lead to 11′ and then has an impressive win on Stage 9 surging out to 36′ on a very nasty uphill finish.

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First Stage win

At the end of Stage 11 Chris has a commanding lead of 1.13′ over Nibali but of course now the commentary team of Paul Sherwin and Bob Roll are advocating that he should give away the jersey and save his team from doing all the daily hard work of grinding down the opposition.

However, Sky has the team to crush the opposition and by setting the tempo they can wear other teams down who then can’t support their stars on breakaway attempts. With a Grand Tour of this type with climbers going to win the overall every second counts and the smallest error in any department from hydration, feeding, to going into the red zone, or a mechanical, or even a crash can wipe out all the hard work in one fell swoop.

Stage 12 sees that scenario come to life as Overall Leader Chris crashes on a simple left downhill turn for no apparent reason. The levers get damaged on this crash and he take a spare bike………..

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Simple crash but bents the levers

Within a very short distance on the next right hander the front wheel slips away and he is on the ground again! He wasn’t really up to speed when this happened and apart from the mental feelings he was able to dig deep, and with the aid of two team members made it to the finish only losing 20′.

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How did this happen?

With his lead down to 53′ the numbers flip flop on the next 3 stages and as he enters the individual time trial his lead has crept up to 1.01′. Time trialing is one of his strengths and he wins Stage 16 with his overall lead up to 1.58′

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Second Stage Win

Stages 17 and 20 are the two toughest climbs for everybody and as they start up the tortuous climbs of Stage 17 it appears Chris has put too much out there on the Time Trial. He loses most of his gains to Nibali and finishes with only a  1.16′ advantage. This is really “edge of the seat” stuff and on paper it all comes down to the fearsome Angliru on Stage 20.

Alberto Contador is on his last professional ride of his career and has spent the last week breaking away whenever he could and clearly wants a win on this tour.

Stage 18 looks like the GC riders should all finish together and save themselves for the “big one” of Stage 20. Like the rest of this race more surprises and Chris gains another 21′ on this stage  which he maintains on Stage 19.

Special gearing for this big monster and once again Contador hits the break and very few can stay with him and he is clearly a man on a mission. Chris and a team mate set off and as they approach the top they are not that far behind as Chris further extends his overall lead to 2.15′ and I must confess I’m somewhat relieved after 3 weeks of nail biting stuff.

Contador wins this epic stage and his career on a high note. I do think that perhaps Chris let him have this one as a fitting tribute.

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A great way to finish a career

All that remains is the usual run into Madrid and several laps of the city. At this stage Chris is the leader of 3 of the 4 jerseys and as we get into the intermediate sprint Chris is right up there with the leading sprinters. Some say this was foolhardy as a serious crash at this stage could have ruined all the hard work. The number 2 rider in the Green Jersey competition, Trentin, wins the intermediate but now has to win the stage and have Chris finish worse than 13th. Chris as a GC man never really has a chance at a Green jersey and its pretty clear he WANTS IT!

Trentin wins the stage but Chris finishes 11th and takes the Green. What a race! ….. perhaps the best I’ve ever seen.

 

TONY DOWN

LAKETIME

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We are looking at “5 Branches” No 14 on the map

Its the middle of August and time for an inspection of another Lake and RV Park with slots on the waterline. About 85 miles away, but with more amenities than our local ones!

A Wednesday drive over on a stormy Summer’s Day. We duly arrive and survey the area. Plenty of places to eat, village stores, and of course some waterfront drinking holes. That’s a good start, so what has the RV park got? Plenty of sites on the edge of the lake, launch ramp, tie up spots for adventurous boaters, and plenty of camp facilities.

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The Camp Office and Store

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Bathrooms

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………. and toilets!

Fishing we are told is excellent at the beginning of the season but is falling off a bit now. The rain finally stops and on the way back we stop for lunch overlooking the marina. Very popular and some reasonable fish n’ chips! ……. the venue is booked for Labor Day weekend and I add on a “personal day” to give us the Friday to travel.

Friday September 1st and off we go with Brenda in the Cadi + boat and me in the Safari. Two hours later we arrive and check in. Very pleasant location amid the pine trees with a lot of “set aside” for nature’s flowers and fauna and some other amusing touches.

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Plenty of interesting wild flowers

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Amusing touches on the walk to the Office

We are in our slot but with the electric plug in on the shore line we are in backwards like all the travel trailers ? There has to be a way to fix this.

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In backwards ?

Over at the camp office we find the way with a 30 amp extension cord and after an afternoon ice cream scoop or two the Safari is turned round to face the lake.

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A 30 amp extension cord

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Success and an ice cream

Tables, arm chairs, out and time for lunch with some of my “2nd attempt” radish.

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Now facing the lake

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Fresh home grown radish and cheese

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Fire pit at the ready

Tomorrow we will launch Plan B from the rather steep and narrow boat ramp………. and so to bed ………. up again and a pleasant morning and while Brenda goes through her morning RV clean up ritual I  try a spot of fishing despite having watched many casting away without any sniff of a bite…………. 20 minutes into the mission and a giant take and its “fish on!”

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A 19 inch rainbow trout  for supper

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“Nice one” says Woody

With many “Vet” helpers and camp guides Plan B slides easily into the lake and we set off for a gentle runaround before testing the shore anchor.

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We put to sea once more

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Only 7-10′ deep in this section

Lunch and before we can go out again the weather changes with a few showers, strong winds, and some thunder and lightning. Oh well, get the cribbage board out again and drink heavily after first putting on the new boat cover.

Vallecito Lake is another of these mercury free lakes like Groundhog and the trout flesh is a gorgeous orange color and cooks and eats well.

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Fire pit in action and Smores

We will be back next year, and staying longer as this trip was way too short! The lake is to our liking and we believe it will work very well now we have given it a try.

 

TONY DOWN

GETTING IT ALL TOGETHER

Friday morning and its cloudy and raining ……..  no riding this morning so alternate plans swing into action. Having seen more Beemer videos time to get the backrest and speaker housings off the top box.

Next on the agenda transfer all the fishing kit into the new tackle box. Well that was all in order so not too much of an issue getting it all located in its new compartments.

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The old & the new slightly larger model

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Transfer complete

The battery I ordered earlier in the week has arrived at the Fun Center so I’ll get that and some fresh fuel for the Beemer and then start reading the 208 page School Bus Driver’s manual.

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On time without the 100 mile round trip to Durango

Sunday morning, post Escalante Days and time to get back to repairs and getting organized for the upcoming School Year. Hopefully Jack will be over this afternoon and we should be able to complete the shocks on the Safari.

I have done my first read of he School Bus Driver’s Manual and I’m ready for a ride after all these wet days we have been enduring. Unlike the riding the Manual is pretty dry old stuff! 26.74 joins the log book so I might get close to 2700 by the end of the week.

Monday, the “In Service” first day back to work and just time for Jack to get the new shocks back on which will require final tightening with the hammer drill so a trip into town and catch Jack after he finishes his shift at 1400.

Tuesday’s plan is to get some miles in the book, clean up the branches I cut yesterday that were over the Safari, drive Safari into Cortez and get the shocks tightened and start work on the Beemer.

26.69 in the books taking me through the 2600 banner and into Cortez on time and home again by 1430. Now for the branches and take it from there.

Branches get cut up into bite sized chunks for the trash and more get cut down as the Safari is out of the way. During a beer stop I fill the fountain and haul the hose over to the pumpkin which is actually producing a fruit at long last. No water ? ……. must be a kink in the kink free hose ……. quick tug …….. BOOM! the hose reel flies off the wall and I now have a huge super shower to get through to turn the disaster off.

Wednesday and Beemer time but things do NOT go well and even with the new battery all I get is a semi dismal start but no sniff of an acceleration so even with the new fuel I’m back to square 1 and now need to get the tank off and start again!!

Thursday and the plan is boating although I have an almighty hangover despite another 2nd place at 9 ball last night. Boating goes well, no bites on the fishing gear, and my Nikon camera throws up another new caption basically saying the memory card has had enough! No pictures today!

Friday and now after another 26.39 time to go into town, get a copy of my driving record (again) and pick up the last of the children stop requests before Day 1 back to school on Monday. With everything done in town time to pack up my fishing kit and maybe get a cast after running up to Rico to see if cycling the 38 miles from there to Dolores is in my 71 year old’s wheelhouse ?

My regular daily run has me out to the 10 mile marker with a couple of days out to 11 but that has been as far as I’ve gone. From my bus driving experiences on this road and many winter trips to Telluride I know Rico is at 8972′ and Dolores is 6932′ so basically I drop 2000′ in 38 miles.

The drive to Rico gives a lot of false impressions and a little daunting to the older cyclist in terms of uphill bits but on turn round in Rico and driving back the “zones” that I didn’t fancy did not seem uphill at all?

Saturday and after watching the Vuelta team time trial I eventually get my arse in the saddle and make 23.53 leaving me 14 miles short of cracking the 2700 marker. A good week nonetheless with 131 miles in the account.

Sunday and a last chance to take on the Rico-Dolores run before getting back to bus driving. We leave at 0945 and once again those optical illusions and “false flats” make the mind think there will be some biggish hills on the way back!!   However as I remember Friday the run home seemed very much downhill ?

We pull into the Rico coffee shop and as I saddle up its 62F and no wind with just a few small clouds. The road sign across from the Cozy says “RICO 38 Miles” so with my current riding numbers one would imagine this trip should take about 3 hours.

I leave Brenda to get her coffee and she passes me on an incline about 3.5 miles down the road …… this was quite a little climb and one I hadn’t remembered!!!        Off I go again with speeds up to 30 mph and even pedaling at over 25 mph in places. After 1 hour of this I have clocked up 19.5 miles !!! A little later I find her in the shade garden and she is somewhat amazed to see me as my total time is a mere 2 hours and 4 minutes for the trip which records 36.45 on the odometer.

Well that one is done and for my next adventure I’ll try Lizard Head to Dolores which is about the 50 mile mark.

A very tiring week driving the bus so soon, very soon, it will be round 2 on the Beemer!

 

TONY DOWN

 

 

 

 

ESCALANTE DAYS 2017

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Saturday 12th August and once more its Escalante Days here in Dolores. Usual format with the town parade kicking things off with it’s run down Central Avenue with horses pooping, candy thrown everywhere, and sirens wailing from emergency vehicles. All manner of cycle racing on mountain bikes on courses from 13 to 50 miles for Novice or Expert.

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….. and they are off !

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No return to the  2 Day trials of the past as the ungrateful group ruined that for everybody despite some great terrain and unusual sections very close to the town center. The ungrateful group, of course, were those that couldn’t clean every section and thus thought it was too hard!

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Me, on the 4th Road Bridge unusual section

Brenda is out on her early run prepositioning bottles of champers at various locations through the town should we end up there. We duly arrive at Carol’s house on Central Ave and take up seats and the first corks are popped.

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This lot were playing in our sprinklers

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The “Log” on its way to its grizzly fate

The parade rolls by, more horses this year? …… not as many floats, but a fun turnout nonetheless.

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Oh NO! there must be Botox in the champagne

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Parade done, down to town center where the chain saw competition will be, some margaritas while we wait and the saw dust begins to fly and once again the master lumberjack, Bill Ragland, wins the 100cc class in convincing style.

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Another easy win for Bill

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Log gets reloaded

The Open Class is not quite a runaway as Bill has a saw malfunction but is given a “redo” and finishes 3rd …….. not bad for an 84 year old!

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The “redo”

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Winners all

The arm wrestling competition will be after lunch so time to wander through the vendor’s stalls and see if anything catches the eye. All the usual foods being cooked, jams and produce, and a host of arts and crafts.

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One stall catches “our” eye and prime targets are a wind chime with RV and a giant ugly ceramic frog. We will make them an offer on our way back after a ride on the Galloping Goose.

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First time for us on the Goose but we do get to ride with the driver and all the clanking machinery.

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In the cabin

Back at the stall the lady makes us an offer we were more than prepared to pay so everyone wins.

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Ceramic frog for me with “the evil eye”

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The RV Wind Chimes outside  the Cozy

Now its Brewery time where bottles have been positioned and we quench our thirst …….. ad then it pours with rain as another August storm rolls in. Nothing for it ……. drink heavily!

The camera takes no more photos but we last until early evening before wending our way home.

TONY DOWN

BIKES AND THE FUTURE ?

As I approach August, my birthday, and my second year having done absolutely diddly squat on the trials or road bikes I’m forced to wonder if I want to ride anymore.

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Nobody cares

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The rot is spreading

The BMW looks like nobody cares with a cracked rider’s seat with holes in it and the rotting leather has spread to the rest of the bike. I need to replace plugs and wires and track down the annoying long standing electrical problem through the horn and brake lights.

The Trials bikes want for nothing and only require a quick once over to put them back in A1 condition. I seem to have lost my “keenness” button here but perhaps with a ride around that might fire up again and have me wanting to get back into competition…….. all rather sad.

After much moping around I finally got my act together and ordered all the parts that I will need to put the Beemer back in top condition.

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Just doing that made me feel 10 times better and perked up my lost enthusiasm. Even got on and cleared up the side of the workshop so quite amazing what one simple action will do.

Friday 4th August the seats arrive from Canada, not “take offs” but NEW OEM parts at a very reasonable price! ……. very pleased.

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New seat for ME !

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New seat for Brenda

Into the workshop and locate the Iridium plugs and the new plug wires.

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New plugs and wires

But first, the Beemer needs a clean and that gets done and I’m ready to start stripping her down but where are the keys?  No, I can’t find them anywhere. When Brenda gets home she produces them in a second as they had been put somewhere else during a clean up phase.

Saturday morning, wet and miserable, so after breakfast I should be able to get going. The last time I had to do this mega operation was on the other side to replace the quick disconnect fuel lines when the nice ethanol fuel ate the o rings and pissed high pressure fuel all over my right foot !

Quick refresher on “You Tube” and the mayhem begins. Mirror, turn signal light, and the clear deflector thingme all off and now try and remember where all these “torx” screws are located. Thanks to the video I found them all and after removal of the tip over bumper the chrome comes free and then the main panel.

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Mirror first, remove another wasp’s nest and need to replace the mirror glass

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Turn signal next then the  deflector

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Secret torx screws under here!

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Another one in here

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The take-off continues

Now remove the crash bar, reverse switch and take off the lower fairing. With that lot out of the way its easy access to the two ignition plates.

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Reverse and lower fairing off

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Crash bar, and ignition plates off ……. I’m in  !

Believe it or not I would have had to have taken the upper fairing off to get at the heated seat wiring so I’ll be changing the seats at this stage. Another interesting point of note is that the HORN electrical connector was undone????? I can’t imagine how that happened and whether that was the cause of the blowing fuse as I’ve never taken this side off before. Very strange?

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Ready for the new seats

The plug wires don’t seem bad but as I have new ones I’ll fit them but the BMW uses a narrow  plug (18mm) and of course I don’t have the right plug spanner.

The birthday boy buys the correct one, a load of fuses, a couple of new fishing rods and orders the correct 50/34 crank assembly from the bicycle shop. Home again for birthday lunch.

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Two new birthday poles for me!

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Nice simple birthday lunch

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Champers, of course,  …… I could get used to this!

Change the plugs and now discover the battery won’t hold the charge so now I need to go into town (again) and get a new one of those! This is adding up.

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Nothing happening here!

Tuesday morning and an early start to NAPA for the battery only to be told they don’t have it (despite ringing yesterday and being told it was in stock!) Now they say it will take a week. Finally order one from a Dolores store and they say Thursday or Friday.

This isn’t helping the cause as I can’t start the bike, see if the new plugs have done their job, and get on with proving the electrics now I think I know what I’m doing in the bypassing of the alarm.

While I’m waiting on the battery I can at least take the top box off, so after more consultation with the internet I follow along with the “how to” pictures and the top box is off. This will give me access to the alarm system which is lurking under the last panel!

More fun and games, this time on the Safari where the front shock absorber bracket broke in two on our last outing to Groundhog Reservoir on those dreadful wash board roads. The same thing happened a few years ago on one of our many trials trips on another rough road. The next excursion with the Safari is planned for the end of the month at Vallecito  Lake where we have a reservation.

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The dead Safari shock

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My No 1 mechanic from the Bus Barn, Jack, has once again stepped in to help and yesterday stripped off the broken bracket and the “dead” shock. He will weld the mounting plate back together and I’m off to NAPA once more to try for some new shocks ….. wish me luck!

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New shocks from Napa

Still waiting on the battery for the Beemer but the new crank and gearing has arrived for the Roubaix so I should get something done with any luck.

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The new 50/34 set of gears

Into the bike shop after Napa, and they fit the new crank set and pedals in 15 minutes and don’t charge me for labor so once again I’m very impressed.

Try the new ratios and knock up 28 miles and despite headwinds the slightly lower gearing allows me to go faster so I think the change was a good idea.

No sign of Jack this afternoon so back to the “how to” videos and now we are looking at what is involved in recovering the Beemer speakers and backrest. Those parts arrived from the UK yesterday so all I need now is the battery and I can get things moving.

Meanwhile one of our hanging tomato plants has something amiss but the other one is still producing gorgeous fruit and our “free gift” plant in the whisky barrel has started to ripen.

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First fruits ripening

The cucumber has recovered from the storm beating and new fruits are swelling up joining my lettuce and radish which are getting bigger. Annoyingly bugs are attacking the radish so I’ve given the bed a dose of “cedar dust” which I’m told bugs do NOT like!

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Cucumbers doing well

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Radishes dusted

Grim and gloomy weather for Friday and indeed a small shower while I’m walking dogs. Don’t see too much happening although I can start work on dismantling the speaker units, maybe get the Safari done and failing all that change the fishing tackle boxes and even flash up my new cycling helmet.

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One of those plastic hinges has snapped!

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My new “birthday” helmet

 

TONY DOWN

 

 

 

THE NEXT TARGET

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2017 Tour is done, well earned congratulations to Chris Froome

As the Tour De France winds down and Chris Froome wins his 4th title what can I see in my own cycling crystal ball ?  2200 miles are done and now my birthday looms on the horizon just two weeks away.

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Last year at this point I was hoping to hit 1000 miles by 8/7/16 so this year maybe I’ll try and hit 2500 ?

As always the “summer break” seems to have gone very  quickly again but looking back an awful lot of good work has been achieved including, sign straightening and repainting, irrigation and power out to Scuffy, the usual mass of weeding, and removal of trees and branches.

Monday, forecast is 60% chance of storms and heavy rain, but right now its not too bad so I’d better saddle up and get on with it! Brenda is on side 2 of the sign but doesn’t want pouring rain upsetting her art work so she may be on hold.

The weather isn’t quite as bad as the forecast and I’m on the road at 1015 while Brenda gets into painting. Seems to be hard work for me this morning but no serious black clouds ahead so I press on for the 10 mile turn round point at the lakes. By the time I get back the sign is half way done, and after 4 hours the painting is complete. After lunch the new tubes get fitted and we are done.

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Painting done and the lights are on

With all the afternoon rain the grass and gardens are looking good but those weeds are coming back again!

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Dismal!

Sadly my radish seem to be getting eaten by the ants? Never had this problem before so I’m in the process of building a small bed for them out by the Maple where they can be in company with the toms and the fast recovering cucumber who has generated another 7 new fruits and is looking very healthy.

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Toms a’plenty

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Cucumbers on recovery

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Scuffy electrics have their own house

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New soil and irrigation = new flower

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Happy new rose

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Scuffy side beds looking good, and this time last year NONE of this existed!

After my first attempt at “Hill Climbing” the decision is change the gearing which I bought a little while ago but now need to get that changed this afternoon………….. Not so fast!!! seems I bought the WRONG system so of course it doesn’t fit. Time to rethink this one and maybe get them to order EXACTLY what I need.

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Wrong one!!

Home again and just time to finish the new bed and get that ready for my second attempt at some radish.

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NEW veggie bed ready for planting

Wednesday morning, and from the forecast what looks like a better day so today I’m planning on riding a little further down the road to Telluride as a bit of variety. That didn’t happen but I did knock up 26.24 which now gives me a total of 2306.62 so still on track for my birthday numbers.  The seeds go in the new bed and we will see what happens in round 2.

Saturday, and success at last! The radish seed are germinating and popping up in the numbers I would expect. Hopefully the lettuce will do the same in the next three days.

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Much better germination in the new bed

Cycling, a bit of a mixed feast, with some nasty black clouds every which way I turn and indeed I did get rained on yesterday but I still got to my objective even if Friday’s ride got cut short. Hoping to crack 2400 by close of play Sunday.

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Just got dressed up ready to go and of course its started raining! Well as I’ve waited all day for this bleak overcast weather to do something I can now wait for it to stop.

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Out I go and its spitting but I can live with it although it gets worse the further out of town I go. Only 3.8 on the clock and time to come back in and find the drier roads in town. Not very nice but I clock up 14.18 which puts me 11 miles behind schedule but I think I can catch them up in this last week.

Sunday and a much brighter morning so I need to get those numbers back up and close in on the next goal. Post ride it will be sorting out the lawn and a clean for the mower and sharpen up the blade as the grass is a collection of many types with different rates of growth…… but with all the rain its certainly much greener.

Pleasant enough start and out to the 10 mile point where there is a big black cloud and the wind is increasing. In bound and 2 miles down the road it starts raining and there is a lot of thunder. Carbon bikes, wet roads and storms ?

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I’m in the rain until the 17 mile point when I finally get back on dry roads for the run into town. Blue skies overhead but as black as hell up the valley. Push on and finish at 27.32 and a smidge under 2400 having caught up 3 miles of the 11 shortfall caused by the rain days.

After lunch the weather suddenly moved in over the town and it starts raining and carries on right through until the evening. The seeds I planted are loving the rain!

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Radish and lettuce all up

Monday, a better looking day, so off down the road and another 27.28 takes me through the 2400 banner and now I’m only 6 miles behind where I should be.

Brenda wants to take a look at another boating lake at Vallecito some 80 miles away and from the pictures it looks pretty good for all aspects. However, no sooner have I got changed and our old friend the weather starts to become seriously unsettled so that mission is now delayed until Wednesday morning. Oh well, maybe I will get the grass cut after all.

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Here we go again!

Before I can get back in gardening mode the rain starts and then gets really nasty. Above the thunder and pummeling hail I hear the rumble of some Hardly Ablesons and 3 teams of drowned rats or hogs are on our porch. They were attempting the 250 mile round trip and are staying at Ouray so they are about halfway round and of course being classic Harley people they have NO RAIN GEAR and NO HELMETS ….. I say nothing despite my views on the subject!!!

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Absolutely typical! No rain gear or helmets ……. and soaked through and VERY cold.

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……… and that about sums that up!!

Another Tuesday and August 1st, today I will edge closer to that 2500 target and if the heavens allow even get the grass cut. Riding conditions are good and 26.24 joins the total before attention turns to the grass. The mower gets the underside cleaned out and the blade sharpened although after 4 years and mucho rock and stone bashing it is time for a new one. It runs a little better and I’m about 1/3 the way through when the rain arrives!! Not the mega down pour of the last few days so I’m back on it and manage to complete mowing, strimming and edging for a nice finished product.

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The grass is cut, strimmed and edged

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Very green from all the rain.

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The Scuffy marina looking good

Now its Wednesday and plans change again so the Lake trip moves to Thursday and I’ll do a little weeding this morning and take an afternoon ride. Not a lot of time available this afternoon but a pleasant rain free ride notching up another 18.65 before coming in and getting ready for the Wednesday evening pool competition.

Brenda WINS the pool competition and is thankfully now qualified and well qualified at that!

Thursday now becomes a cycling “rest day” on my way to the 2500 birthday challenge. Only 36 miles to go and 3 days to get them in.

Friday and a hard working 26.39 goes in the books for the grand total of 2490.64 so less than 10 miles to the target champagne.

Saturday and a morning working on the Beemer as I’ve got my mojo back at last on the engineering front. Full strip down complete and ready for the replacement units on Sunday.

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Ready for new parts

Champagne loaded in the fridge and the lone rider sets off to finish the task in hand and crack that 2500 mile marker for 2017.

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Fridge loaded!

Out to the 8.0 mile point where its raining so that calls for an early turn back to home and the 18.24 for the afternoon achieves the mission taking me to 2508.88 compared to last year’s 1000 birthday target.

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Ready to pop

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Cheers, 2 days ahead of schedule

Happiness is being alive and a glass or two of the champers!

 

TONY DOWN

 

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