31 May 2011

Ups and Downs

black wing of the family
During one of my recent commutes, I spied a group of pelicans and a great blue heron. I couldn't resist stopping to snap a few shots.

heavenly buds
Speaking of beauty, our lilacs finally are beginning to blossom. I wish I could keep the intoxicating fragrance forever.

Speaking of eternity, the best thing about moving to my own domain is Blogger doesn't let anyone else use the space I set up nearly two years ago. It's reserved now forever.

a new homeBack in the olden days, when someone moved from one internet spot to another, hackers of questionable character would load the old space up with less-than desirable... um, garbage, to put it mildly... to take advantage of the popularity of the original owner's site. Thank heavens that doesn't happen now!

Speaking of migration, a small group of western tanagers spent a bit of their northward journey feasting in our backyard. Typically, these brightly colored birds like deciduous forests, and we're not near one. They apparently developed a taste for something in our suet, however, and we couldn't have been more pleased.

Unfortunately, the suet ran out one day when I was commuting by bicycle. After 60 miles, I didn't feel like driving back into town to buy more suet, and our tiny grocery store doesn't carry any. So I made my own.

I didn't have a recipe. I just used what I had. Bird seed, black sunflower seeds, oatmeal, dried fruit, chunky peanut butter. What a gooey mess!

Red and YellowThe tanagers all but coughed and spit it out after their first taste, and we haven't seen them since. We have, however, gained a few new species that had not paid much attention to our humble abode prior to DIY suet. Crows, grackles and an occasional red-winged blackbird are enjoying my homemade suet. Red-winged blackbirds typically stay close to wetlands. The closest wetland is perhaps a mile away, so I'll enjoy the visual treat while I can get it. The crows don't have the agility of smaller birds when it comes to eating suet, so it's quite comical watching them attempt to get food. And then get chased away by tiny finches.

Where's the nuts?Next trip to the big grocery store in the city, I picked up a bunch more suet. I studied the label to figure out what it had that mine didn't.

Imagine my surprise to learn my tanagers were meatasauruses!!! Store-bought suet has beef fat. Ick!

And speaking of meat, I had to inhale a bit over the weekend. Needed a lot of protein for a lot of heavy duty climbing, including an attempt on Mount Evans the first day the road opened for what we hope will be the season. They still get snow up there. Sometimes quite a bit. As of this writing, the road still isn't open to the summit, only to Summit Lake about five miles from the true summit.

I didn't make it even that far. When I arrived in Idaho Springs, I sat in the wind-shaken car for a few minutes trying to talk myself out of turning around and going back home! The gale-force winds easily was 40 mph. I asked a cyclist who'd just finished his descent how his ride went. He didn't help my resolve much. "Not as fun as I thought it would be. Way, way too windy."

patriotic windNevertheless, I unloaded the bike and put on the front wheel. I donned two extra layers, put on my pack and helmet, locked the car, and began the slow climb into the headwind. The nasty headwind.

Every mile I traveled, I wanted to turn back. Each mile marker, I told myself I could do one more mile. I felt as if I was motionless. I felt as if I was a turtle on a flat section of road. It didn't look steep at all. But I just couldn't get over 4 mph. True snail's pace.

I finally decided to throw in the towel at the first switchback. Upon arrival, I looked down at my odometer (which really is The Lizard's, but he's letting me use it because mine was registering 18,000 feet in altitude on 10,000 Wolf Creek Pass last summer and not counting miles at all the last few weeks). The odometer read 6.66. No way was I stopping on that number! So onward and upward. I went a little beyond seven miles, until the headwind hit me again. I'd had enough.

I turned and began the descent and was up to 32 mph in no time. What had taken me nearly two hours to go up was less than 25 minutes back down. Short though it was, I guess I really was climbing after all!

The High Road
Idaho Springs forecast


  1. Seriously, you guys still have snow?! Lucky! We're right back to summer weather, though it's be pretty mild so far. That was a funny story about the birds. =] 6.66! I wouldn't stop on that number either!

  2. That's some serious summer snow pack! Way to hang in there and finish seven miles of climbing. That's a fierce amount of work.

  3. Someone should come up with an algorithm to calculate the effort expended in climbing miles and convert it to its equivalency in flat miles. It would have to take into consideration altitude, grade, windspeed, and probably some other factors I can't think of at the moment (being neither a physicist nor a mathematician). I'm guessing your 7 miles of climbing would factor out to at LEAST 40 miles of flat riding at sea level. :)

  4. P.S. We had a family of white pelicans show up at the lake in town this spring. They're awesome. When they take off, you can see that their wings are edged in black. Very striking birds.

  5. Thanks, Sue, for the super-sized motivator!!! I really had to work hard to give myself permission to turn back, so your words help a lot!

  6. On a number of occasions when conditions were horrid, I've remembered your motto of just trying to go a little further than I think that I possibly can. It's a great motto and has kicked me out the door to ride in some bad conditions! I always am happy that I did it though...

    I'm guessing that you're happy about riding up part of Mt. Evans. I saw the photos from your next post - and they were worth it (at least for your readers)!!!!!

    During those gale force winds, I found a campfire that the people had left burning and was spraying sparks into the forest. I had to call 911 and then stand there and freeze in the wind while I waited for the "officials" to arrive. They used a device humorously called a "pisser" to put it out! I felt glad that I'd found it because those winds were potent.


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