June 21, 2004
Dear Family and Friends,


    Summer began wet and cool, like all of last week. The plants celebrate, Bear in Woods so do the area firefighters and our neighbors with shallow wells. In fact, the past month or so has been "normal" for a change; we've had thunder showers almost daily and there's water actually flowing in the ditches along our road. Judy has trenched the upper section of road and we've kept the run-off channels clear on the steeper areas of our road to avoid flooding the garage and house. Judy's gardens are flourishing, though the rabbits and chipmunks have eaten so many flowers and buds that we have only about half the columbines, poppies, etc. to show for the effort.

    Our property has become a mini-wildlife sanctuary. For some reason, we've seen more animals in our yard this spring than we can recall. The hummingbirds returned on April 27 this year, a few weeks earlier than usual. Deer, foxes, coyotes, and elk have visited, driving Sophie and Bella into a barking frenzy. However, the presence of bears kicks their barking up several notches. We've had four visits by at least two different bears who are making the rounds looking for something to eat. We learned our first year here that garbage cans, bird feeders, and barbecue grills are prime targets. Oddly, they do not disturb our compost container where we throw vegetable garbage. This fellow(?) above tried to get to a bird feeder hanging from our third story balcony 20 feet off the ground by attempting to scale the outside of the house!! He slipped off and Sophie and Bella chased him away. It's great living in the mountains.

Bolder Boulder Finish     The past three months have, in retrospect, been relatively quiet for us. Our calendar shows we had planned to take at least two short trips that we didn't go on for one reason or another—unscheduled dental work, a stretch of poor weather, sickness at our destination—and then we suddenly found ourselves up to our armpits in home remodel projects we didn't see coming when the new year began. So much for making plans.

    However, there are some spring highlights:

      After a year's absence, Judy returned to win her age group in this year's annual Bolder-Boulder 10K on Memorial Day. She ran easily and was surprised that her time was within a few seconds of her 2002 time. (Can you pick her out of the crowd entering the University of Colorado stadium? She's on the left just about halfway up: dark glasses, white tank top, smiling.) Since we moved here in 1992, Judy's run every year except in 1999 (just back from Australia/New Zealand/Fiji trip and hadn't trained) and 2003 (injury). She's won each time she's run, so, to correct any previous confusions, this year's victory is number 11 out of 11 tries.

    In addition, for the first time Judy and three other "older" women formed a team and entered the Bolder Boulder team competition. They won their division ("Seniors Aged 60 or Greater") by nearly three hours over the second place team! Their combined time of 3:31:04 means each runner averaged about 52:30 minutes for the 6.2 miles, or a little less than an 8.5 minute mile per runner. Pretty darn good for a group of "older" women!

Start of Kokopelli Trail I went for the hype. I was seduced by the legend.

    National Geographic Adventure
Magazine says, "If you undertake just one multiday mountain bike ride in your life, make it Kokopelli's Trail. This five-day, 145-mile trip starts in Loma, in western Colorado, crosses into Utah, and ends at the Graceland of off-road biking: Moab."  (March/April, 2000: page 84).

    What follows is a very brief, occasionally inaccurate, two paragraph article about the trip. In spite of a couple of egregious errors, they're right on target when they say the route gets "technical—twisty, narrow, and rocky…" They fail, however, to mention the trail is impossibly steep and rocky in several places requiring riders to dismount and carry their bikes. (For a more accurate and comprehensive day-by-day trail description, read about a 1993 trip by "Team Koko.")

    Two other fellow Boulder Road Runners and I set out for what we'd planned as a six-day trip. (For the record, the trip has been completed in a twenty-four hour grueling dash; or you can take as long as desired, hiking and exploring the high desert and Colorado River and its tributaries along the way.) We planned to take turns driving the sag wagon, so that two of us would ride and meet the sag wagon at the planned camping area sometime in the afternoon. I biked the first (about 20 miles) and Campsite second (about 28 miles) days—both challenging rides with great views, some single track, some jeep roads, and a bit of pavement here and there. The weather was perfect: warm, clear, and a slight breeze. We had seen so few people in those first two days that when we came upon an isolated pond alongside the trail (for thirsty cattle?) the two of us skinny-dipped to cool off and wipe away some of the salt and sweat that had built up. Wouldn't you know it—two riders came from the opposite direction, discreetly and wordlessly passed us while we sat in the water. I think I saw a smirk on their faces, but I could be wrong. They were only one of two groups we passed on the entire trip!

    The third day was shorter (less than 10 miles) so we made camp at the Dewey Bridge (the halfway point) and drove in to Moab for some groceries, a real meal, and brief contact with civilization.

    The fourth day was a tough 25 miles or so with serious hills, deep sand trails, and a major impassible downhill that was treacherous just walking our bikes over the boulders. We were exhausted by the time we reached our camping spot near Onion Creek Road. A weather front was moving in during the day so we camped against a sandstone outcropping that protected us from the wind. We also discovered a small Anasazi ruin—probably a grain storage site—on the face of the rock above our camp (about halfway up the tallest portion of the formation on the right). We probably passed dozens of them along the trail without noticing. That night, to my surprise the other two fellows declared their lack of interest in biking the final two sections into Moab. So, in the morning I biked solo the 10 miles on the Onion Creek Road (19 stream crossings) to the highway (state route 128) where they picked me up and we drove into beautiful Castle Valley, dropped our gear at our intended camp Storm site, and continued on to the trial head for the Fisher Mesa trail. They planned to run several miles out to the end of the mesa and I would bike it.  However, not a mile into the trail the weather changed from cold and gray to steady snow. (That's the storm approaching in the photo on the left.) I returned to the sag wagon and read until they finished their run. We drove back, picked up our gear and drove to Fruita (Colorado) where we spent the night, and returned home the next day.

    If anyone is interested in completing the final two legs of Kokopelli's Trail this fall or next spring, let me know and we'll make plans.

    When we bought our house over a dozen years ago, we knew we'd want to make a number of changes to the colors, cabinets, tiles and other floor covering. There were 3–4 rooms that need finishing, so we learned to hang drywall, wire outlets, insulate, install carpet, etc. The garage went up in '92 and so did Judy's office, the laundry room, and storeroom. We added an entry room in '97, put in a new kitchen in '99, re-tiled the greenhouse in 2000, replaced both stoves along the way, and put in new carpet in the lower and middle levels in between.

    This year we planned our final project: a new ceiling in the great room and bedroom. Good-bye to the "popcorn" ceiling, hello to the warmth of stained wood.

    Of course, this would be a good time to put on a new coat of paint on the walls before the ceiling is in place. Get rid of the cold white walls and warm them with soft tones of sage and beige. (That's Judy at the high point of the project in the great room. The next time we take this picture, the ceiling will be stained wood.) It would also be a good time, we reasoned, to dispose of the Painting Ceiling last of the original sculptured blue carpet now on our bedroom and bathroom floors and put in a new, up-to-date style and color. How about sage? We probably should get a new bathroom vanity to go with the new color scheme. Maybe one of those custom designed closets for the walk-in area off our bedroom. And some new light fixtures. A new coat of stain on doors, window frames and baseboards? Right. And those screen doors that never hung square? New storm doors, of course. And while we're at it, with the paint left over we can put color on the walls in the hall and down the stairs to the lower level. And knock off the popcorn on the ceilings in both areas and put some new paint there as well. Can you see how one thing leads to another? Have you been there yourself?

    H&J Construction went to work planning, painting, staining, installing, and hiring subs to do the plumbing, install the closet, lay the carpet, and hang the ceiling. Work began in earnest three weeks ago and we've been pretty steady workers since. We'd like to be done by mid-July, but you know how that goes.

    For relief and a change of pace, we continue to welcome visitors to town on Saturday mornings and Monday afternoons. Judy maintains her good standing with the fire department, though thankfully there have been no fires this year!! She worked the Saturday shoppers in town with a fire fighter's boot collecting for the 4th of July fireworks extravaganza. Hughes is thinking about getting his trombone out from under the bed in the guest room and looking over the music the Barker Dam Brass Band will play in the parade. We read our mysteries and discuss them monthly with our group of mystery book lovers. Hughes makes music Thursday evenings (guitar, piano, tin whistle) with others who like Celtic and bluegrass music played slowly and uncritically.

    More than this, we continue our non-stop war with thistles and cheat grass which, if ignored, will take over our back "meadow." We have a whole summer of local hiking ahead of us—maybe even some backpacking. We look forward to some short trips with friends (Glacier National Park in July with Judy's high school girlfriends and spouses); with family (Kanab, Utah with Julia in August, a Milton Christmas with the Buddes, and Cozumel in March with the whole family); and by ourselves (Sedona in September and Puerto Vallarta in November). And if things work out, we've got Great Trip #8 waiting in the wings for us next year, but it must be kept secret until plans firm up. But if it works out, it will be an incredible adventure.

    It's great to have so much to look forward to. So many things to do, so many books to read, so many places to go, and so little time to do everything we'd like to. But you know how that goes.

Sophie and Bella     Sophie and Bella, meanwhile, remain on the alert for more intruders—whether it be bears or elk or the UPS truck. They continue to be a constant source of pleasure, smiles, and dirty feet. You are seeing them on the left at their best: resting side by side in their living room bed. Life is good for them, as it has been for us.

    We hope you'll drop a note sometime (with photos if possible) and let us know what's going on with you and your family. We always look forward to hearing from you.

                —Hughes and Judy

Judy and Hughes Moir
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