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