Please, please, PLEASE get in touch with us and let us know if we're inspiring or annoying you, if you have questions or comments, or just to say hi! We may even stop in and see you at some point!

Saturday, February 17, 2018

The Respectful American Party

One of the coolest parts about having your own blog that nobody really reads is having the ability to stand on a soap box and speak some truth.

The driving force for me, a father and husband, for building our homestead, living simply, doing the things we can the way we choose, is that there's an ugly and cold world right outside the door.

I'm aiming to change that. I don't know how, but I do feel compelled to write about my experiences all over, share them politically (occasionally). I'm not aiming to destroy a single person or a party, as much as, I suppose, I'm simply looking to share respect.
Respect is where we start. If, by some fluke, you're reading this, you have probably read other things, like the news. You probably know who the American president is, and what he stands for. You probably don't know what your neighbor thinks. You may not even know your neighbor's name. Start there.

We are a country, a society, of people who are disconnecting from each other. Regardless of faith or belief, we are all connected. Through social interaction, we grow, we learn, we change, we cooperate, and the world becomes a better place. We are denying ourselves that interaction, instead learning to type at over fifty words a minute with our thumbs alone.

The irony if living in a time of social media is that there's so much information, the truth hidden in plain sight from us, all of us. We are so eager to find the next sensational thing to share that somehow, in whatever skewed way, supports the stance we have so defiantly made. Opposition must be crushed. Changing one's opinion doesn't just mean one is weak, it means one is also unintelligent or incompetent. Danger isn't the truth. Danger is the people surrounding it.

We have an opportunity everyone single day to change that. We can talk to strangers. We can help old and disabled and pregnant and young and healthy people alike, because it's the right thing to do. We can work hard, and enjoy the fruits of that labor without leaving behind those whose exposure to people, education, resources, has been marginal at best. We have within us the power to not only fix our home but to explore countless more, in our lifetime.

...so glad I didn't get a chance to read the news before I read most of that.  Love thy neighbor.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Snow, Cars, Climbing, and Stubborn Pride

We're got the third snowstorm of the season, second of the year, this morning. I don't know how much actual moisture we got, but being that it's February, I'll take whatever we get with happiness and humility.

I picked our newest family member from the mechanic today. He replaced a bunch of gaskets and the water pump in this first phase. We'll have you see how she does. I like to think of the old cartoon where there's water leaking through a wall, and you plug one leak, find where the others are. This vehicle is 30 this years old, after all. At least the new gaskets aren't made out of cork!

Getting excited to go climb some rocks sometime soon. The little girl is getting to a point where I can't keep her from climbing anything around her, so a harness and a rope may be a good thing to make sure she can get a good experience. Maybe a trip to Eldorado Canyon sometime?

In other news, apparently my last root canal left me with a souvenir. A small file or wire, something, got stuck in my tooth. Oh well, thank goodness for medication and a fantastic partner who refused to let me whine in my own personal suffering and made me go to the ER... twice... and to Cañon City to a dentist. 

Sunday, February 4, 2018

A New Year, a New Format?

Since the actual construction of the homestead hasn't commenced, I'm going to start putting some good music to listen to on this blog.  These songs have stories beyond their melodies, and will likely be making up my playlists as I plug away at getting one thing after another finished up.

Radiohead - Optimistic

Here's the kickoff.  "Optimistic" was on Kid A, which wasn't my introduction to Radiohead, but should have been.  (I jumped on the bandwagon around the time Hail to the Thief came out, and that's my jam.)  It's a deep song, that gets into your head and makes you feel just a little bit better about the way things are.

John Mayer - My Stupid Mouth

I've been in a John Mayer kick lately, listening to his first album, Room For Squares, over and over again. I almost always have to skip the first track, it was far too overplayed. However, I'm finding some real gems on that album. One that stands out to me is "My Stupid Mouth". It's a simple yet elegant blues-rock ballad with throwbacks to the best parts of the 90s (this did come out in '03), but when you realise how modern it sounds, the gravitas of this song, this album, this artist...  Digressing, this song plays deep on the heart strings.

Milky Chance - Stolen Dance

Milky Chance isn't a great band. Seriously, I listen to them over and over again, and I hear off pitch singing that comes across as lazy and uninspired. That being said, it's catchy, and it's a craving that soothes as much as it drives me nuts. The tunes are great to have on in the background while you're conversing with a friend, working on something loud, or just not really wanting quiet, but don't want to commit to actual complex melodic or lyrical construction. Doing dishes is when I find the most joy with these guys, Milky Chance.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

General Leia Has Arrived

I don't know if you noticed, but the last blog featured a picture of a random, beige Jeep Cherokee.  This beautiful, classic XJ is now "General Leia".  She is the new BattleScout.

A little background about the good General, she was built in 1987 in Toledo, Ohio.  American Motors (AMC) started designing Cherokees in the late 70s, noticing that General Motors was designing a Blazer based on their small S-10 pickups.  In retrospect, this was kind of the prototype for the crossover, but really, it's just the sort of small, bullet-proof SUV that serious off-road makers would try to copy for years and years.  (Look at 4Runners, Pathfinders...)  Kiplinger said the Cherokee was one of "10 cars that refused to die."  They made them from 1983 - 2001, which is incredible, a 18-year-lifespan, which, interestingly, is put to shame by it's big older brother, the Wagoneer, which ran for 29 years from 1963-1991.  Long live Jeeps, I guess.  Literally.


At any rate, we're the third owner of this beautiful thing.  It's so base model, it doesn't have a passenger-side rear-view mirror.  The Matriarch's excited for me to put the Rebel Alliance symbol on the hood.  I'm just excited to have a vehicle that I feel confident going out in the snow to play.  It doesn't hurt that it gets a little bit better than 8 or 9 miles per gallon around town like the BW.  Plus, it's got enough power to pull the little teardrop we inherited, so I'd say with some nominal tweaking, we're gonna be ready to hit the dirt as soon as we're out of our lease in our current house.

I talked to the mechanic recently (the best mechanic around Salida, who likes to keep a low profile, so I won't put him on blast), and he's got some work to do underneath it.  There are some pretty significant oil leaks and a couple of loose odds and ends here and there.  I don't know how much we'll be getting into him for, but it'll be worth it for the peace of mind.  This will probably be the BattleScout that comes to visit you, wherever you are, pulling a beautiful teardrop trailer behind it.

The interior is super clean, and very basic, which is perfect.  Simplifies things on the inside, so you can focus on more important things, like the rocks all over the road, or the loud kids in the back.  The automatic transmission shifts pretty smoothly, considering it has over 180,000 miles on it.  It handles really nicely on the highway, for sure.  It climbs over the passes between Buena Vista and Denver with ease, gently downshifting at the tops of the highest to give you that boost to get you back up to the speed limit (or on the tail of the Californian RV in front of you).

We're feeling stoked, blessed, and all that other nonsense.  Thanks for the support!

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Replay of an old post, one of my favorites...

I posted this blog in October of 2007 on my now-defunct blog site. It's a re-hash of old material for your entertainment. Enjoy.

I was raised to embrace the outdoors as my religion. Instead of dressing in our best clothing and making the walk to the Methodist church a few blocks away in my small hometown, our family donned our most rugged clothing, packed ourselves and our 2 big black lab mixes into my dad's old Land Rover, and took off for another new trail, road, or high mountain lake somewhere in the wilderness.

I grew up in a small town in Rocky Mountains. The local range was full of gentle giants, towering mountains that held us in their embrace like loving mothers do their own children. Growing up like this, I didn't learn my morals by being told from a preacher at a podium what was right and what wasn't. I learned by being humbled by views that few people were ever going to see in their lifetimes. I discovered, no matter how badly I wanted to stay home and play with friends and neighbors, that I would always regret the part of the day where we had to turn around and head back to the truck. I was inspired, as a young adult, to continue chasing these dreams, exploring these places that had the ability to expand my view of the world around me and deepen the view into myself.

Through friends and family, I have been led to places I didn't know existed. These places had a way of transcending everything I thought I understood about reality. The journey to and from my geographic destination ultimately became a spiritual voyage into new realms of serenity and passion that made my brain feel like a bomb with a lit fuse. A few days ago, my close friend and most-trusted climbing partner Ryan led me to one such place, except at this place, the bomb in my psyche exploded, shattering my reality once again.

The sun rose on a terribly windy Saturday morning in our camp south of Moab, Utah. We set up camp after midnight the night before, our bodies rested but our minds aching from the five-hour-drive to get here from Denver. Ryan, his family, and our friends Dan and Melissa were all in attendance, making the preparations for what was to be a challenging climb in significantly gusty wind. We all drank some coffee and piled in my van, heading steadily towards our destination inside Arches National Park.

The sun had been up for a while, and we stopped at a few places along the way to admire the huge rock cathedrals that seemed to have been made by Mother Earth for God, or maybe vice versa. This alone was a very deep experience, but was only a glimpse of what was around the corner.

We continued to drive, and turned into a small viewing point off one of the main roads in the Park. There, we saw our climb: Owl Rock. "The Owl" is a modest sandstone spire, but I only say modest because, compared to the other towering monuments in the park, it's eighty foot summit isn't exceedingly remarkable. I should correct myself here and say it WASN'T remarkable at first sight, being limited to walking on flat land. I remember thinking to myself, half-seriously, "This is it? It looks like a giant wang! Where's the glory in this?"

The wind howled, and Ryan, bravely yet nervously, led the route up the large crack on the west face. I ran around taking pictures of this feat, knowing that someday, I was going to be doing the same thing on some other rock. He took his time, placing the correct gear into the correct place so that it would protect us, should we fall. He was graceful yet bold as he approached the summit, and when he got there, he tied into the chains bolted near the top, scrambled to summit, and stood, the wind at his back, the rising sun behind him. However he felt then will never be completely known to me, but how I felt seeing him there was overwhelming. He had become more than a simple human, but also less than a human at the same time. He had become part of the rock, part of the earth, part of a force that is bigger than I can even begin to know how to comprehend.

Ryan set up his belay spot on the Owl, and Dan was next up. Dan made this climb look easy, taking out the gear that Ryan had set on his way up, and trusting the top rope that held his life at bay. Dan easily grabbed holds, crammed his feet into the crack, put his toes on little pebbles that one wouldn't think capable of holding even a child's weight, much less a grown man's. The summit in his grasp, Dan made the final pitch, reached the top, and sat there for minutes, taking it in. Another god-like image burned itself onto my brain, another climber bonded with some unexplainable Chi, and I waited patiently for my turn.

Dan came down, and I roped up, ready, willing, and eager to have my chance to climb a rock. Climbing mountains had been my single goal at this point, but this small tower held more inspiration for me than the tallest mountain I had ever climbed. Slowly but surely, I started my trek. It was an amazing sensation as I crammed my hands, arms, legs, and hips into the large crack that now felt more like a cradle than a part of a sandstone tower. I inched my way up, and got to the crux of the route. Still 20 feet below Ryan, I stopped climbing. This crux was more difficult than anything I have ever encountered before. I was nervous and excited, and I had to talk myself down. I had to breathe.

Breathe.

Calm and collected, I easily moved over the crux and found the rest of the route to be like a ladder to heaven. Meeting up with Ryan, I checked my ropes, got my instruction, and began my Buddhist-like hands-and-knees crawl to the summit. And there I sat, quietly, happily, humbly, and feeling so many other wonderful emotions that I can't write. The wind swept over me, like God was holding me in Her arms, and I never wanted to leave. I cried as I thought of the most important things to me and how those things were now redefined. I smiled as I saw the clouds in my own life give way to a clear view of things that maybe weren't so beautiful, but were a part of me. I felt pride. I felt honor. I felt changed.

In the days after the Owl, I found myself thinking about these climbs and escapades into the wild. I felt like I could train and learn as much as I could, but would I morally be ready to climb? Are all of my sins and my bad karma going to allow me to accomplish what I'm setting out to do? I think, in retrospect, the only thing we can do is trust that there is a general idea for what we are supposed to be in our lives. Having the courage to follow what our ideas for ourselves is the tricky part. That courage gives us the moral compass necessary to have a passion for something bigger and better than what we know to be real. That courage allowed me to climb the Owl. That courage allowed me change my life.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

The Year in Vehicles

This is one of my new favorite posts.  Check out some of these awesome means of transportation that we've come across in our travels all year!

This is a kick ass Dodge Ram Charger van.  It looks like it's been converted to a true four-wheel drive system.  It's the long-body (with the fishbowl windows on the back corners), and it has a high top.  I don't know if I'd take this thing on every single trail I'd come across, but I'd feel a lot better camping in the snow with a rig like this.


This is one of the locomotives for the Royal Gorge Route Railroad.  This one, #3104, was built in 1970, according to drgw.net, the home site for the Railroad.







Don't know much about this guy, except he was on display at the train terminal in Canon City.

This is CRRX #402, completed in October of 1949 (the same year as some people I know who share birthdays with Sigourney Weaver).  These streamlined locomotives are probably my favorite type to check out.  In my head, they mark the end of the Golden Age of Railroad.
The one and only, my dad's 1985 Toyota Tercel.  I recently drove this thing to Lamar, and the odometer turned over 333,333 miles just east of Pueblo!  To be fair, it's on it's second engine, but it's a beast in it's own right.  The bonus is that the 4wd system is true 4wd, with a granny gear, to creep you up the steepest of hills!



This is our BattleWagon... umm... Wagon?  How about the BattlePod?  That sounds good.  This is a very comfortable teardrop trailer we were given (THANK YOU IF YOU ARE READING THIS!!) earlier this year.  We took this to Arizona and we had a great time in it.  My son wasn't with us, but there was plenty of room for me, the wife, the little girl, and the dog.  And it almost got TOO hot in there, even when it
was freezing outside!
This is my family's old 4Runner behind what's the real deal, a mostly stock XTerra my friend of mine owns.  His words (which I can assure you are trustworthy) are that his XTerra has no right still being drivable.  Both of these trucks have been through the ringer.  The 4Runner's down awaiting diagnosis.  The saga continues...

Thanks for reading!  Hopefully there's another year full of awesome rigs to share with you all.  In the meantime, run with your inspiration and get on the road while it's good to go!