The title really says it all. After last year’s serious bout of pneumonia and the realization that life is perhaps worth living after all, several major changes were put into action. First up, the last cigarette hit the ash tray on 11 Nov 2015 at 1700 and 2 days later Brenda followed suit and we have been smoke free ever since.


Age 69, smoking for 62 years…… 11/11/15  “The Last One!”

Next in line was another dose of the Nutri System Diet and the plan was to come down from 220 lbs to about 190-194. That has been achieved but in truth I would like to just get under 190.



That would be my next goal

In order to keep breathing, and being on nighttime oxygen, I decided that I can improve most functions by getting back on the old bicycle again. It was duly pushed outside on 28th Feb and despite the cold, a massive 3.39 miles were put in the book to open the account.


Very true


Not that old and cost a lot when I bought it in 2002

Since then, and it did snow on many days from March through early May, I have been trying to up the ante and once I could get up to my target distance of 10 miles a day things started to look like I was actually achieving something.



More non cycling days! April-May

With my birthday just around the corner on 7th August my next goal is to hit 1000 miles  cycling around Dolores and never having left the town limits.

So from 28th Feb through 2nd June when I had my last visit with my lung Doctor I managed to crack the 400 mile level and since then have seen the numbers climb up to today’s total of 840. So now I need 160 miles in the next 18 days Which should be feasible unless its too windy! I don’t much care for headwinds!


This weekend is Tucker’s Ranch and one of my favorite venues in the Trials calendar but this year with all the boat building and gardening I still haven’t got to prepping either of my bikes. Fear not, I’m not giving up just yet so I should have it all together by Sipapu which is one week after my 70th birthday.


Coming soon

Workshop cleaning and a lot of reorganization is the number one priority and indeed yesterday was a good start with a load of junk carted round to the dumpster. After building shelving for the boathouse the leftover components made some good units and will be fitted over the weekend and then next week I should be in good shape for the bikes.


Boathouse shelving complete

With the Tour De France coming to a close and watching their exploits it certainly encourages me to go for the 1000. The week started at 756.69 covered, and after yesterday’s double header of 26.38 I’m at 866.39 with 109.70 pedaled this week. Bit windy this morning but I suppose I could do another 10.30 to make a record 120 for the week.

Sunday 7/24, two weeks to the birthday and 133.61 to go. Off again after a dull F1 race so a later start and clearly short of a major accident Chris Froome will win his third TDF.


Fabulous win

Better get in the saddle and knock a few more off the hit list. Pretty windy again and a spot or two of rain as I pound my way round sleepy hollow. Another 16.23 goes in the book for a total of 882.62, will I make 900 on Monday?

Odometer reads 17.57 and the 900 is cracked  so the target is in sight! I do get asked some dumb questions!


Being alive mon ami







PLAN B is made ready for her maiden voyage

…….. and so it came to pass that the new Plan B was to take to the Seven Seas with her new Captain,  Brenda, but there is still much to do before an operation this size comes to fruition.


Another 5 gallons of 2T is made up and joins the other 3 that I poured in earlier. Lights are checked one more time, and loading of all things nautical begins……. ropes, fenders, plugs and tools, food of course, the duty coleman cooler (in matching red and white), rods and tackle boxes, more ropes, cameras, fire ext, first aid kit, flares, paddles, boat hook, lifejackets, the list continues …. kitchen sink, champagne for the renaming ceremony, ………. finally dogs fed and walked and now we are ready for the lake.

Being a Sunday the lower parking lot is already full so Brenda will be in for a long walk after the boat is launched. She eventually returns while I have been left on guard by the ropes. During her absence a family gets off (no doubt en-route to the loo) and the 8 year old boy asks his Mum if our boat is a new one!!!

We put to sea and notice the speedo doesn’t start working until about 15 mph …… probably blocked with the infernal cottonwood fluff. Everything else seems good including the steering trim. The coffee cup holders …… not so good!

Now in deep water (200′) the renaming ceremony begins………


Much blessing, dousing in champers, and toasting


………. a lot of toasting later  we enjoy our first tour of the mighty McPhee reservoir and stop for lunch at sea.


The repositioned Bimini works well




A Happy Captain

Finally we venture down a spur towards Dolores and see the road bridge and the School Bus Barn. The water gets much shallower here and we are in about 20-25′ and this should be good for fishing at a later date.


Heading for shore


Clear of the “No Wake Zone”

Time is moving on so back to the marina and get reloaded


The Owl and the Pussycat make it home after trip 1









The arrival of “PLAN B” on Wednesday lunchtime starts the next round of manic boat rebuilding by our professional team of restorers.  After placing her in the boathouse, and of course a settling round of cocktails, the next set of work sheets are drawn up.

Brenda wants the Bimini top further back and then it should lay flat behind the rear seats once the trolling motor is removed. First thing to do is remove all the extra batteries which power the trolling motor and then the motor itself.

A new tire was ordered on Wednesday afternoon and should be available on Thursday afternoon when I can also pick up some covers for the grease units on the axle. Not a good combination of tires with a cross ply and two radials!

Thursday morning and the Plan B changes begin. The cables are disconnected and the batteries removed. Trolling motor has its own bracket but the bolts and inside nuts are at the end of my finger tips and very difficult to reach. Eventually, as we are not keeping the custom bracket, the coach bolts get the Makita treatment and with sparks flying everywhere they are cut off and the bracket is junked!


Trolling motor removed, need to find 3 larger stainless bolts

The Bimini is relocated, new holes drilled, and the old ones covered with more stainless screws and finishing washers. I’m off into town to get the tire while Brenda cleans the inside and removes items she is not keen on. Town tasks go well and I’m back shortly after 1600 with new tire and grease covers.


Bimini goes back about 10″ and stainless screws and washers go on to cover the other holes  

While I replace the wheel, ( the nuts were only just past finger tight!) Brenda and Carol start the staining and preservation of the teak strips ……. and they are beginning to look really nice.


First coats go on the teak

Friday and back into the next round of tasks and first up is finish the wheels and grease the bearings which of course are continually subjected to water abuse every time you load and unload the boat. The grease units are pretty clever with a spring loader which moves out as more and more grease is injected until it is full and it seeps out and then the covers (which were missing) can be replaced. Pressures checked and spare tire back on but the fancy wheel cover is toast so it gets scrapped.


Cleaned, greased and covers on


Looking good!

Now time for lights, chains, and the winch in no particular order. First thing of note is the front wiring section is “tacky” and then a further look shows the ground/earth wire has snapped off! Must be a boating thing as Scuffy’s trailer was the same.


Tacky, tacky, bordering on VERY tacky!


Internal trailer wiring improvements


Wiring and chains finished

Looks like I’ll be “harvesting” some of my investment from Scuffy’s trailer where at least I know everything worked after I replaced it all as the original stuff was little more than a collection of wires and a lot of bare sections!


Plan B’s winch with “farming ” knot on the strap!


The new one goes on ….. thanks Scuffy

The new winch and strap are taken off Scuffy and the nicely knotted “farm” winch is swopped over. Chains changed and shortened with old friend Makita (that tool gets a lot of use!!), a new earth/ground point made and taken down to bare metal and by 1800 I’m done, getting a beer and thinking about more down at the Brewery along with a super pizza.

Another double header on the bicycle and 25 more miles are added to the growing total which is now over 750 ridden without ever leaving Dolores!!

Saturday, and today’s projects on my side are, lawn mowing, and then trimming the rudder, change the boat battery to “our” new one and connect up the fish finder on the spare. New license plate to fit, find some finishing bolts for the trolling motor bracket holes, and a dose of waxing on the steel trailer with some good old turtle wax. Not forgetting to check my wiring work on the lights and the new chains for correct length.

Everything on the list gets done but not in the order I had mentally planned. The lights still don’t work ? More investigation shows that the light unit themselves are sealed units, and we have spares, but the newer replacements are slightly bigger and the holders on both are different ….. great! This requires one hour with woodworking chisels to cut and reshape the inside of the holders to take the larger units …… it gets done and now they work.

The trim unit shows a simple marked disc, a bit like a stator plate for those trials riders reading this, but at some stage someone has fitted an upper plate over the engine and drilled through the disc!!!! All that can be done is set it up in neutral and leave the bolts out until the Captain is happy with the steering settings and then re-drill the holes as required.


Back to Neutral but the holes need to be drilled again

Brenda meanwhile has done a wonderful job on cleaning and the 27 year old upholstery looks lovely.




Great cleaning job by Brenda

Back in the workshop I find 3 large stainless bolts to replace the trolling motor coach bolts. Three old TY Yam rear suspension unit washers are cleaned up as they are chrome and drilled to take the bigger bolts. Marine silicone goes down the holes and then pushing body limits to the extreme, nuts are fitted and it all comes together.


TY 250 suspension washers finish off the trolling motor holes

The “Scuffy” new battery is brought over, set up with the fish finder wires and put on overnight charge. Second coats of the 4 required go on the teak while I mow the lawn.




The boat is loaded and ready to put to sea, join us next time for another gripping yarn;  “The Owl & the Pussycat”








One way of looking at it!


OH, Scuffy!

So today, Tuesday, we go and collect Scuffy (she still looks pretty) but we know that she is sadly a lost cause, so with expensive lessons hopefully learnt we move on to sea trials tomorrow on WIN WIN or Plan B.

The current owner nearly had a fit after her inspection when Jay announced that she also had a “soft” transom! Scuffy is home and will now find her way onto EBay in many parts, small and large, and hopefully go someway to recover the past month’s  expenditure. Or as we have just seen from people who have clearly had similar situations in their boating history, she could become a “planter”, “garden seat”, or a “marine bar”.


A planter ?


A garden seat ?


A bar ?


Another bar ?  …… Current thinking is a bar out front with an aspect of the planter and first name for the bar is “Scuffy’s at the Cozy”

The decision seems to be a marine bar and she will be a tax write off and she will be relocated circa my 70th birthday come 7th August.

Today then, was “Sea Trials Day” and after yet another BOAT visit to the bank sufficient funds are available should sea trials deem to be satisfactory by Captain Brenda.

We meet Mark the farmer at the marina and we are soon on board and get underway. We chug away from the ramp and turn for the open water …… and the engine dies! Could be over choked but sounds more like fuel starvation to me.


…….. and then it just died!

Engine covers removed and choke checked and more engine cranking to no avail. I’m looking at the motor and the fuel line and the squeeze bulb …….. hmmm, “excuse me the fuel line is not connected!” …….. seems Reliable Marine disconnected same after their inspection runs.


The grey fuel line was off !!!


Take Two ……..  ACTION

Line back on and a short reload of the fuel system and it bursts back into life…… everyone is now happy ……. and Brenda is happy with the top speed which is less than the Mercury “Tower of Power” but quite enough for lake running.


It works well


She likes it

Brenda takes the helm and we power round the lake. Everything works and it rides well but needs a minor trim adjustment which we can do at home.


Into port for paperwork and official handover

The deal is done, I’m a little poorer, but this year’s birthday present for Brenda is wrapped up and she is eager to get cleaning and deal with “Plan B’s” minor problems. Back home Plan B is backed into the boat house and further inspection and cleaning begins.


Plan B arrives at Cozy

First up the left wheel needs changing as the other tires are both new. Further checking shows 2 are radials and the other is a vintage cross ply. New tire ordered and the 2 running wheels degreased and cleaned. Need 2 grease caps for the wheels, the wiring for the lights needs some replacing in the forward section and our 2 new security chains will come over from Scuffy. Small adjustment required on the trim and Brenda wants to remove the trolling motor, spare batteries and relocate the bimini top as well as a load of cleaning and polishing.














Groundhog from our Hotel on Wheels

Back home by lunchtime on Tuesday and not really in the mood for much so review the Austrian F1 GP and then get up to speed with the Tour De France which the TV had failed to record the first 3 stages.

Today back with the program on my Tour De Dolores and now I’m past the 660 mile marker and looking to hit 700 by Saturday.


A dirty Safari on location at Groundhog

It’s bus washing day today which after all last week’s rain and our 35 mile run on dirt roads was a major requirement. Lunchtime, and 1/2 way through so should have her completed by 1500 and back in her slot.


Washed up GOOD!


That was hard work ! …. don’t think the bus has ever been that dirty, now time to clean up my act and wander over to the 9 Ball competition. No practice and it seems I’m on fire with hardly any errors and I breeze through to the final with 8 straight wins playing best of 3 and then finish the final with another 2 straight wins and 10 wins in a row for the evening and 1st place.

Now Thursday and time to be updated on “Scuffy’s” visit to the ER section at Reliable Marine.  Well despite all our hard work and the many hours Brenda has spent rolling around under the hull with a massive Makita polisher it seems we should have had her inspected before we started all the work, and indeed had we done so then we would not have bought her. To repair the engine ……. about $2500, to fully repair the soft transom $4000……. or a temporary fix $1000. Correct the Redneck steering assembly around $300, and about another $300 on wiring and extras.

As there  wasn’t any good news we went and looked at 3 other boats one of which has already been through Reliable and looks really good and everything appears to work. The current owner, a farmer, is more than happy to have it inspected and then take us on sea trials ….. so armed with Reliable’s past worksheet, $1000 refundable deposit paid, and Reliable should be able to get the inspection done on Monday.


At the farm


Could be a WIN WIN ?         …… or maybe Plan B?

Another gardening weekend with lawn mowing and edging done and now a second round of weeding on some beds that were swamped with cottonwood fluff. Need to get strimming again and then transplant some plants up to the Cat’s cemetery and put in a little more grass seed between the graves.



Front lawns mowed and beds weeded

Back on track with the cycling and now over 700 and still haven’t got out of town. Might just have a Tour De Dolores rest day today as its very windy.

First idiot of the day arrives and drives into the Rose Bed that I have just finished weeding again! Who teaches these people to drive ??       With that repaired time to get on the cat cemetery and that is duly done with a small side bed cut out for some of the transplants I need to bring over. Strimming the whole side of the property completes the day and I’m very tired.


How can you not see this ???



With a very high probability of boat changing, and “The Scrapping of Scuffy” plans are put in motion as to how to finance yet another ocean going liner. Well a pair of diamond ear rings can pay for the motor, maybe an exotic Italian shotgun can become the hull? and perhaps a bicycle that has sat in the office for several years can be the seats?



Sadly too nice to sell locally


Cheap for the right person

Up in the loft the choke tubes are found for the Benelli Super Black Eagle and off I go to Shooter’s World but they are not buying guns and the other gun dealer is not open on Mondays. Back to my new beds and more cutting, digging and root removal. This afternoon should finish the job and then put some grass seed down and move the selected home grown plants over….. how exciting!


Beds around the graves cut and planted and the grass reseeded

Hoping to get this all done by 1600 beer time and just maybe get Superglitz on the blocks ready to start work . Completed on time and now for some left over Crawdads.



…..  and a beer or two!





Today is Day 3 of the July adventure and its a fishing competition. First thing to do is check how the crawdad traps did in their 14 hour soak. Well, they are still here, and as I haul them ashore they have some crawdads in them and the bait jars are empty!


First haul from the Crawdad Traps

The head count is 63 in the first and 53 in the second which when all things are considered and this is our first attempt, its not too bad. They are re-baited and cast back in the same spot.

Now time to get offshore and see if we can do as well as our new friends did yesterday. We cast off around 1100 and drift around with not even a sniff of a bite on any of our 3 lines. Back to port for dog walking and some lunch, the banks are now chock a block with would be “master anglers” but as yet not one single person has caught one or even had a bite!! If you have ever fished you will know that sometimes a change of weather brings them on the feed and now going back to warm sunshine it can work the other way.

One more session from the boat and then I’ll try some shore fishing to see if I can break my duck. Out we go again and more storms arrive so we beat feet for shelter. A few more hands of cribbage and out again as the wind has dropped to zero.

Now this is very pleasant but we manage to lose a new lure but Brenda switches to some strange looking device. Within a minute she has a nice 2lb rainbow and then I lose my lure ! I switch too but although I get a couple of knocks I can’t set the hook.


“See, that’s how its done”

Back on land the crawdad traps hold 83 but quite a few small ones but it brings the day 1 total up to 196. Now re-baited and cast out as night time seems better.


The Crawdad haul is at 196


Catch of the Day


What an amazing color

The catch of the day is cleaned, and the salmon like flesh is indeed amazingly pink! We prepare for another camp fire and outside meal but that wind comes back with a vengeance and once again we give up as other people’s tents start lifting off the ground. However, the fish that Brenda, caught, and now cooked, is delicious. The end of Day 3.


The day begins, bright and sunny, but the forecast is the same as yesterday so NO boat today and the Crawfish Boil is scheduled for a late lunchtime affair.

Dog walking and the now daily ritual of trap inspection and it seems another 128 will be joining us for a late lunch.


Breakfast gets under way with Bloody Mary’s and for those requiring something  more substantial blueberry waffles, sausages and syrup. Yum, yum!



With the lake still flat I try my hand at some shoreline fishing and conditions look perfect but nothing happens and I see NO bites and can only assume Crawdad Special Forces are stealing my worms from right under my nose. The bait is changed and at 1130 a super bite ……. but I have the drag set too softly and can’t reel in. The fish is lost but I will persist.

Back in camp its dog walking again and now time to set up the new boiling equipment. Brenda can’t make head nor tail of the building instructions and tempers are beginning to show …… I fear the worst for the pot from old china town and could see it being hurled in the lake if it doesn’t reveal its shape soon.


At last!

Some time later a drone like creature is connected to LP gas and lo, it fires right up so we shall have boil. Potatoes, corn, onions, sausage and many other secret ingredients are added to the witch’s cauldron and then at the magic moment crawdads are added and just like their big brothers change color.


Coming to the boil

Timing is critical I’m told and the essential newspapers are spread ready for the next phase. Fishing for me is beyond hope and no more  bites so I get skunked at Groundhog.

Having retrieved all my tackle we are ready for the eating portion of this operation and it certainly smells good. The cook offers the contents of her afternoon’s labors to the news room.


One potato, two potato …….


MY very first Crawdad boil

It all tastes very good but obviously somewhat of an overkill for 2 people!


Groundhog mission complete!






July 1st, our departure day, and a bleak ,wet, overcast day it is! Seems like we have 48 hours of this in store but its not cold  but just wet. Finally we are on the road at around midday with 35 miles to go to the destination.


On the “wet” road leaving town


Bye, Bye, Dolores

After a  climb out of town and 15 miles the pavement ends and the dirt road is wet and muddy. 22miles in the road gets nasty and washboard which Safari with its long wheelbase does not like and you can feel them all and speed drops off to 10-12mph. Now we are in “Open Range” and wet cows and their calves line the road. Some wild flowers break up the muddy scenery and a few logging trucks keep us on our toes.


Through the pines


Open range

The turn comes up for the final 5 miles and there is a marginal improvement in the road surface….. muddy but not quite so washboard ……. finally the lake comes into sight …….. all is well light rain but warm enough. By 1400, decidedly wet and muddy, we trundle into slot 6 which will be our base camp for the next 4 nights.


After 2 hours ….. “Lake Ho”


Smile for the camera


Here we are …… GROUNDHOG

After checking in and the purchase of our much sought after warm “Groundhog” jackets with hoodie we set up levelers, electric, and test for Brenda’s Wi-Fi. All good as is round 2 of the reheated tomato pie from last night’s feast.

The rain continues but Brenda’s enthusiasm will not be deterred and she is in the bays hauling out chairs and tables along with the fire pit and wood.


I wander along the shore line and see a couple of trout being caught and then venture over to glean what information that I can from Vic the local crawdad “Guru”. Secrets of the trade are thick and fast, not sure I absorbed it all, but he did say you don’t need to venture very far to get big trout and plenty of what he calls small crawfish. He tells me this lake is mercury free and the flesh of the trout are quite pink unlike the white ones I get out of Summit and around Dolores. We will see if I’m on the money catching any.

Dinner outside with fire pit going listening to one or two guitars being played nearby. As darkness descends time for the last round of dog walking and off to bed. What will day 2 bring?


The answer to the question was: ……. more rain! Dry enough to walk the dogs but once back inside it has started again and the forecast is a 60% rain day. Perhaps the Doctor will advise another day of drinking heavily.


Still raining

Fishing kit is given another once over and after another bout of rain we venture down to the shoreline but within minutes the wind picks up and the rain arrives….. project abandoned and 3 games of cribbage ensue. The weather brightens up and out we go again. Pay the entry fee for the fishing competition and see our next door neighbor returning with a string of lovely big trout which they have caught out on their boat in the deeper water which we are told is about 100′ deep.


Advanced knot tying for beginners

Now time to bait up our crawfish traps and throw them in the shallows…… not sure we are anywhere deep enough but we will see tomorrow morning and we should be able to reset in deeper water tomorrow  as we have a boat.


Into the unknown


Tomorrow ??

With that done time for a steak on the Barbie and now the DJ has arrived and his music isn’t too bad. Now they have lit the fire so let the fun begin. More news as it breaks which the fridge door handle just has!


Another Yummmeeee!




The huge fire burns brightly, and the DJ plays on



After all the fun and games of Sunday night we stumble into the beginning of Groundhog week. We leave on Friday and will be there until the following Tuesday.


Leaving Cozy for Reliable Marine

Monday morning and we get the “call” to bring the boat in to survey the damage to the motor and check her over before sea trials can be completed ……. she sure looks pretty and is a credit to all Brenda’s hard work…….. I think the boat people were quite impressed.


Scuffy arrives at RM

Lets see what else needs to be done before departure. Brenda has completed the interior cleaning and I have Wednesday as my work day for washing and sorting out all the lower bays on the Safari.

On the fishing side the Crawfish traps arrived along with floats and are now suitably marked with the Blackcat logo. Bait bins were bought at ACE and should work well enough.


Blackcat logos on the floats and bait baskets from ACE

We have a giant crawfish broiler and stirring paddle and all the cooking goodies will be purchased Tuesday afternoon as well as getting new tags for the Safari. …….. we still need to get our fishing licenses and last minute hooks and bait.

Today should see the last of the front bed weeding and hopefully a lawn cut and watering will complete the arduous tasks of the day along with a clean of the waterfall 3 pumps.



Waterfall bed complete, now lets see what else is happening


The last 3 Clematis are now in flower



Gorgeous, and that Rose Bed has gone mad!



Who doesn’t love summer ?


Mr Sulky enjoyed his transplant …….meanwhile about those weeds


Weeding begins


Awful ….. does this ever end ?


Nearly there

The weather changes and storms start to roll in heralding the start of what could be monsoon season. Lawns, front bed and pool pumps all done. Now collect the tags, done! See how much a fishing license is for me ? Well, I’m a senior citizen and Colorado resident so the total cost is ……. wait for it………. $1.00 and as I use 2 rods I have to pay an extra $5.00 or I could pay for 5 more senior citizens and have 6 rods????  ……Brenda not so lucky $36.00 as she is still a minor in CO eyes!!

Today is pre departure day so time to shape up, fire up the Safari, fuel up, gas up, load up and make ready. Trailers get moved, Safari comes off jacks, power disconnected, coolant and oil checked, and the mighty engine bursts into life. A bit of cash from the ATM and now top off beer supplies along with other essentials and a visit to get the licenses for fishing. All goes well and now the Safari rumbles down to top off fuel and LP. Back home run through our dump station and fill up the water tanks.

Clean up begins. Everything out, bits trashed, who stacked this? but soon the place looks like I’m having a yard sale. The shop vac is fired up and the bays are cleaned. Boxes of wood are filled and ready for loading.


The yard sale begins


Bits everywhere


Yuk !



That’s better

The freshly painted fire pit (USFS approved) is stowed along with crawfish boiler, bar-b-q, LP tanks, chairs, coolers, more water, an axe, fishing kit, crawfish traps, carpet, shade umbrella, picnic tables and benches, and finally 3 fishing poles and a partridge in a pear tree.



USFS approved fire pit


Crawfish boiler


……… and the newspapers


Let it burn !

A once over with the hose to loosen up the dirt and a quick wash tomorrow. Now time to harvest the tomato bushes and over 3 lbs get picked and this is what happens …..


Oh …… yummmmmeeeee!