High Mountain Doings

From 8200 feet along one side of the Upper Arkansas River Valley in central Colorado, my blog is about many things: travel including river and bicycle trips, and other experiences as well. The focus is on photography, not lots of text.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Warranty Time

We spent a little time yesterday afternoon photographing a few defects in Anrahyah's new house. The time for warranty notifications is up soon, though the warranty actually remains in effect for a long time.

Here, for example, is an electrical plug that was installed too high. Anrahyah's hand shows scale.

I drove home from there this morning, worked on the photos, printed them, and then drove them up to the Monarch ski area (where Anrahyah and co-teacher Charlie take their students every Friday as their only PE). So it's been a long day for everyone, but a good day.

Home again this evening, my house feels noticebly less drafty because of my new doors. This is the hoped-for result! But I think I'd better crack a window during the day for fresh air.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Next Door

Here's Blake working on the next door—this time the door I use most.

Part of the job involved replacing material underneath the sill. I happened to have some material that came to use here.

I already have other composite material that will go to construct molding and strenthening around the new doors. Better to use up what I've got than to buy new wood.

Blake was very careful, consciencious, and thorough. He's an employee of Knight & Sons of Salida.

One more door to go, on the other side of the house, plus a couple of screen doors.

Ripple the cat emerged from her secret hiding place when all was clear.

New Doors

This is the first of four new doors that are being installed today (and probably tomorrow morning).

The old doors were really bad in winter. Frigid air would leak around all four sides of each one. That won't happen anymore.

Before I started this blog, my whole house was reinsulated, resided, and reroofed. I don't know why I didn't think about installing new doors then, but I didn't. It's happening now instead.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Big Day, As Planned

Today I took Arkansas River Guide to the printer.

I'm always very keyed up at this point, but there's also a huge sense of potential relief. I say "potential" because the relief is only final when I see the printed books, and then only after I thumb through the first one out of the box to make sure it has all its pages and photos! Of course it does--that's what the proof copy will have shown me.

The proofing process has changed. During the dark ages, I've always received a rough copy of the book--not nicely bound or anything, but a copy. I'd look through it to see if all the pages and photographs were in place (particularly back when I would supply separate prints). The photos are all part of the file now.

Last time, for example, everything was in the right place but each page was spaced too far from the "gutter" of the book, toward the outsides of the pages. That is because the printing company routinely adjusts for "grind." That's the distance a page's contents need to be moved outward to compensate for the presence of a gutter between the two pages of the "spread." But Adobe InDesign already builds in such space. The printer included it again, and I saw it on the proofs! The problem was solved and the book was printed. Today, I made a point of discussing the grind with the rep.

The big difference: This time, I'll be able to see and approve the proofs online! That'll happen in 1-2 days, and will save 2-4 days of shipping time. Who said the Internet was gonna make books obsolete? Instead, it's helping.

My printer is in Loveland, Colorado, about a 3.5 hour drive from home.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Last Detail--Arkansas River Guide

Today was very long, but I found the last place there was to find for my Arkansas River Guide.

I want to include a launch area for people who like to float from Florence (near Cañon City, CO) down to Pueblo Reservoir. I've never done this float, but it's said to be a very nice trip through wild country. I don't think there are any rapids down there, but there are low hills, groves of cottonwood trees, and a real feeling of isolation. You don't do this trip in high water, because sometimes when the water is up, a whole tree will crash over into the river, making a very dangerous situation for a raft. It would be a superb trip in autumn.

This isn't even an integral part of my river guidebook. It begins about eight miles after the main part ends at Cañon City. But it's an extra detail that will make this a more useful book for a few people, and that's why I drove down there today.

The state park people in Salida told me about a launch area there, but they only knew approximately where it was. River access has long been a problem in the Florence area. In the first edition of Arkansas River Guide, I had to say that finding a launch site depended on knowing a landowner! This time, I wanted to say more.

So I drove into Florence and checked one possibility I thought I saw from one of the river bridges. No, that wasn't it. Then I saw a group of three ladies who were out for a walk together. I lowered the car window and asked them. They consulted with each other, and then explained where I should look. It was about where the state park people had suggested, plus I got the name of a street to turn on.

It involved finding "River Road" and then the Florence sewer plant. There, I drove out behind the plant and found a dirt road along the river. And I came upon the launch site I'd been seeking! The road turned out to be a big loop through bottomland trees and vegetation. I figured out better directions to the place, and I need to fit it into about half an inch of space that I've been saving for the purpose.

Even when I lived down there, I'd never eaten at the well known and popular Merlino's Belvedere restaurant. But I drove by it between Cañon City and Florence, and told myself that if I found the launch site I was there to seek, afterward I would go eat at the Belvedere. Since I found the site, I rewarded myself. And because I have about half that excellent dinner in a box, it'll be my dinner tomorrow night, too.

Now I can wrap up this river guide and take it to the printer Monday, right on schedule. Just a few more details tomorrow, and I'm done. I'm very deliberately NOT working on it tonight, as would normally be my habit. It's 11:30, I'm tired, and I'm going to save it for morning.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Balloons in the Sky!

This was a day last summer when balloonists gathered in Buena Vista to fly. They set up on the old fairgrounds a mile or two south of town, and proceeded to launch when they could.

Balloons don't like wind—any wind at all is enough to keep them on the ground. So they only fly first thing in the morning while the air is still calm.

Here are two balloons out of many that weekend, bags erect and full of hot air. Mt. Princeton is in the background.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Strange Messages

It happened again this afternoon. I got a Yahoo IM message from someone with a very foreign name who wanted to chat with me.

I read an article within the last year that put me in the know about this. The lady was probably in Africa like an earlier communicant had been. I didn't learn which country. These are women who work for some boss who is not unlike a pimp. Their job is to spin a sad story that induces you to send them money--which goes to the boss, of course.

I ended the conversation quickly by saying goodbye and putting her on ignore. Yet I wonder about the true situation of these women. Beyond whatever tale this lady was about to tell me, there must be a real story that may or may not be a whole lot better. Are these women sadly oppressed, or is this maybe the best job in town? Who knows?

Back to work.....

Richard Wagner and The Royal Gorge

Wow, there's something very strong about working on text about Colorado's wild and rugged Royal Gorge—while listening to orchestral music from Wagner's oh-so-powerful The Twilight of the Gods!

Music Course Continues

I'm still listening to The Teaching Company's "How to Understand and Listen to Great Music." I'm on CD #9 out of 48 (one lecture per CD), so there is progress. So far, I've listened to each lecture twice before moving on to the next. I wish I could have done this in college.

Current topic: How much the language for which vocal music was composed affects its composition. Italian is a language capable of very long vowel sounds, whereas German is much more explosive and abrupt. Therefore, vocal music composed for Italian has a much different sound about it (and it can take longer to perform!) than it would if German were the intended language.

I'd heard before of problems translating opera from another language into English. For example, Richard Wagner's Der Ring des Neibelungen was performed for a while in both German and English by the Seattle Opera. The performances were only a week or two apart, and did the singers ever hate the English version!

I'm sure that Professor Greenburg, in this course, will touch upon this. In his course on opera, I'm sure he will.

I received a printed catalog from The Teaching Company the other day, and it was only about their wonderful offerings in the field of music and other so-called "soft" subjects. I'm thinking my next course should be calculus if not particle physics, not just because I'm fascinated thereby, but so I'll get catalogs that mention the math and sciences, too!

Working With an Editor

My editor recently sent back his suggestions and corrections about my text for Arkansas River Guide, and I'm busy implementing them.

Evan found a lot for me to fix! Attempting to write and publish without using an editor would be the surest way I know of having to crawl off somewhere and change my name. (Somebody else wrote that phrase once, in a different context.)

There will be simple spelling errors that result from mistyping. There will be poorly constructed sentences that need to be fixed. Wrong words will have been used. Other problems are there. And they ARE there! You can be sure of that.

Your writing may look perfect, but that's just because you've been looking at it for a long time. You wouldn't even notice an upside down paragraph, let alone simpler errors. Your writing isn't perfect. Far from it.

I pay attention to everything my editor notices. I may apply a different solution than what Evan suggested, and I often end up rewriting that whole paragraph! But if something bothers the editor about a certain passage, I want to know why. You give up no freedom. Final choices are yours.

Editors can work in another way, too. They can go ahead and make the changes as they see fit. This may suit you if you aren't a professional writer but you need something finished on schedule. I don't use this method, myself.

Don't even think about publishing a book without an editor. I've even seen books that have duplicate pages! You don't wanna do that.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Arkansas River Guide Progress

I have several more days to get this river guide done, and then it's going to the printer!

There are just a few corrections on my map pages. I added more photographs today. And I'll soon start making the corrections in the body that my editor found.

Evan Yamakawa of Olympia, Washington, is an excellent editor! I'm very pleased. He's thinking about pursuing a college program on editing and I hope he does. He's also my good friend Anrahyah's son.

This thing's gonna be done real soon, and that's good.

My Prius is Still Amazing!

I'm still very happy with my Prius. This vehicle is no less than a work of genius.

I have no idea what's inside the "transaxle." I do know it does a perfect job of mixing power from the gasoline engine, and the battery via the electric motor. Or, when descending a hill or slowing down, it manages the reverse. The gasoline engine may shut down entirely and the motor becomes a generator. Energy, as shown by the energy management screen inside, can flow from either or both of the two motors to the wheels, from the gasoline engine through the generator to the battery, or from the wheels to the battery.

Several combinations are possible, and the hybrid system switches among them seamlessly. Driving down a highway that I once assumed was flat, and which seems flat even on a bicycle, there will be variations in the flow to or from the battery. Now I see that the highway isn't flat at all, but has shallow hills and valleys in it. That's enough to make the Prius' hybrid system switch modes!

It's really amazing. Fun to drive, too!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Random Thoughts, Post-Midnight

Ah, it's been a long day. Actually it's been a very long two days. I drove to and from Colorado Springs yesterday. That city is about two hours east of me, across South Park and then down out of the mountains.

That's across the REAL South Park. I've never seen the TV South Park. The real one is desolate and cold in winter. I think it was 18 degrees up there, in broad sunshine. I did my errands and came home about dark.

Today I got a political phone call. The caller was a lady who described the latest evil deeds that were about to be done to me by the other party. I believed her, and that's why I always vote. But it occurs to me that this very same lady (if she's a phone solicitor by trade) might make other calls, to a different list, in which she says whatever it is that Republicans respond to. Then she must scare 'em silly with a verbal image of Hillary! Then stuff about staying the course, about doubling the sentences for crimes, and a bunch of code words for whatever Republicans fear. I suspect that Republicans even respond to a different tone of voice, a different manner...but I'm not sure I can quite put my finger on it right now. Oh well.

I tried to learn more about Adobe Illustrator this afternoon. I succeeded, but it wasn't enough. I had to work on my book project just the same way I have in the past. No innovations today at all. Just a deeper awareness of how much I still don't know.

Off to bed! I'll have at it again in the morning.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Continued Learning

A recent discovery has been this: college-level courses available on CD. Over the last few years, I'd received several free samples from The Teaching Company. I finally listened to one, and then ordered a set of CDs from The Great Courses series.

My first is How to Listen to and Understand Great Music. I'm now on CD number 2 out of 48 and am very pleased! Excellently presented in a scholarly manner by Dr. Robert Greenburg of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, I think I'm hooked on this mode of learning.

Yeah, I took a similar course in college. But I'm a much more receptive person now than I was at age 20, and I have a much better framework into which new information and understandings can fit.

If I manage to finish this first course (I bought the CD version so I could listen while driving), then I'll have a wide choice of what else I'd like to learn or relearn. Right now, I'm thinking it'll be their calculus course. Or maybe the one about opera. Philosophy? History? Science?

Overdue Snow

Springtime in the Rockies really ought to mean lots of snow, and yesterday afternoon and evening we collected our down payment. How much? I dunno--it depends exactly where you look. Several inches, anyway. And that's down here on the 8000 foot valley floor. Quite a bit more, no doubt, up in the nearby mountains.

Significantly, this storm moved here from the southwest. It snowed above 1500 feet near Los Angeles, it snowed either in or around Phoenix, and it must have put some snow on the San Juan Mountains of Colorado--where the snowpack was a dismal 42% of normal. (We river rafting people notice such things.)

Now, before we get all excited, remember that it's supposed to snow! What's normal already includes a good dose of spring snow. So the drier parts of Colorado probably aren't charging ahead just yet. What's happening is what's supposed to be happening. But that's a whole lot better than nothing.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

House Nearly Assembled

Still Friday, March 10

Almost there... The near half of the house is still attached to the crane (note the straps) and it isn't perfectly joined yet.

There are fittings low on each end (where the worker is on ladder). Here, "come-along" winches are attached to pull the two halfs fully together.

In this case, each corner of the porch needed to be jacked up in order to properly join the roof.

There's a concrete strip (the ladder is standing on it) where support will placed for the roof. But a larger slab will still be poured on the lower level, in front of the house.

This whole process, which I'd never seen done before, was quite fascinating.

A Balancing Act

Friday, March 10

The crane was going to move some small pieces of wood, but the straps were attached off center and the load would start to spill out one end.

So this guy just sat on the short end of the boards, balanced the load, and got a good ride crane ride!

Half-View of House

Inside a modular house, with basement and a loft. This is a look into the anatomy of the thing. There will be stairs that connect each level, making quite a versatile space.

The treated green wood atop the foundation (foreground) wasn't available anywhere near there, so I got a call asking if I'd bring some. The crane was coming tomorrow (which was Friday). The other problem would be to find people who knew how to install the boards to finish off the foundation, and get it done in time for the crane.

I got there with the wood on my trailer on Thursday evening and the crane was already set up, ready for business. By morning, people had been found, and the crew on hand was very helpful! Everybody pitched in, and people were found to install the top of the foundation. The house was craned on about a minute after they finished, and this was around noon.

Cranes must cost about a million bucks, and they DIDN'T want theirs to sit unproductive for an extra day. Besides that, the whole crew wanted to get back home. They were very determined to get the job done, and they did.

House Is Assembled!

My gf's house was assembled today, and this was an exciting thing! It was a long road to this point but it happened! It's on a slope, so she thought of making the foundation into a basement that would serve any of several purposes.

It was a very long, cold day. We started early at around 20 degrees, but it warmed up to just over 30! A cutting wind blew, but not hard enough to interfere with setting the house.

It was a real rush to get ready, and I had hauled down the lumber that here forms the rim around the top of the foundation.

Now it's all detail work, plus installing the solar heating and hot water systems.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Lenticular Clouds

These are lenticular (mountain wave) clouds that have formed downwind of one of the nearby ranges, probably the Sangre de Cristo Range in this case. A glider flown between these clouds and the related mountain may be able to climb ten or twenty thousand feet or more.

I'm working on a new edition of Arkansas River Guide and it's sure being troublesome! Specifically, I'm working on the map pages and there seems to be a bug of some sort in either Illustrator or InDesign.

I can put "symbols" onto the maps in Illustrator and they look great. But when I import that map into InDesign, some of those symbols disappear. So I just went through all the maps and thought I had the problems corrected. I broke the connections as symbols, so that the small designs (access markers, translucent boxes under text and river mile numbers) would stand on their own. But some still didn't appear in InDesign when imported!

I went back to Illustrator and fixed one of the maps, and this time it seemed to import OK. Either I didn't have the maps right in the first place, or something still isn't working. This is frustrating.

If it all works, this book can be finished by the end of this month!


I'm really just experimenting right now, learning how to post photos on here.

This is Brownie, one of two cats who will go to bed with me when I go, which will be very soon.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

The Prius and Ham Radio

Regarding the installation of ham radio in my Prius:

Per the manual, I phoned Toyota about this and received a letter on the subject. Essentially, it said to make sure the radio is working properly--that the standing wave ratio (SWR) is not real high. If it is, then radio frequency (RF) power may be reflected back from the antenna and get into sensitive auto computer components

So I'll make sure to ground everything, and also to ground the hatchback door (on which the antennas will be mounted) to the chassis. I'll be using antenna mounts that are designed to fit around the edge of a trunk, a hood, or a hatchback door like mine. One is there already and it fits perfectly!

I know that others have experienced a situation in which an ungrounded trunk door resonated on a certain frequency, and messed things up. I plan to avoid that.

The letter cautioned against running an antenna or power wire right along with a bundle of wiring that's part of the Prius' electrical wiring harness. Better to cross such bundles at right angles to avoid inductive or capacative coupling.

All this seems real basic. Now I need to figure out how I'll mount the actual radio (It has a removable control head so the main unit can be under the seat or even farther back).

My letter from Toyota noted that there are many ham radio people in the U.S. and that there are even more (per capita) in Japan. I certainly wasn't told I couldn't install and use the radio: quite the contrary! I just have to do it right.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Great Hudson Valley Pedal, August 2006

I signed up today for what I think will be a really neat bicycle tour!

It'll go from Albany, New York, down the Hudson River to Battery Park at the tip of Manhattan. Then there'll be a shuttle back to Albany for me and my bike. This will be in August of 2006.

I'll drive to Albany from Colorado because this will dovetail very nicely with my plan to photograph all along Highway 50. I'll do that both coming and going.

The bicycle tour by Parks & Trails New York is only 172 miles in six days, so it won't be a
challenging ride. But there's much to see and visit while bicycling through "the landscape that defined America." The days will be quite full.

Day one will go from Albany to Hudson and cross the Rip Van Winkle Bridge. Next day will be a ride to Hyde Park for a layover day (during which there will be an optional loop ride to New Paltz). Hyde Park was the home of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt.

The fourth day will be a ride to Highland Falls past several Revolutionary War sites. Also past Locust Grove, the home of Samuel Morse who invented the telegraph.

On the fifth day, we'll bicycle to Nyack. First stop: the military academy at West Point. Then we'll go through the Hudson River gorge, where it essentially cuts through the Appalachian Mountains. There's Bear Mountain State Park along the Hudson, and then the town of Nyack with shops and eating places.

Day six goes along the Palisades, which are part of an interstate park. We'll cross the George Washington Bridge (over which I've only driven a truck, never a bicycle) and go down the Hudson River Trail (no cars) to Battery Park at the very tip of Manhattan. That's it! The shuttle will go back to Albany that same day, and then I'll head south for more photography along Highway 50. Home to Colorado a few days later....