Friday, November 27, 2015

2015---busier than I realized

Year 2015 --in review with photos! 



So, as I was sitting down to write up this year’s adventures, and I was thinking that not much had happened until my October trip.  However, I did way more stuff than I remembered—a problem with getting old??  Therefore, I thought I would give a very quick overview, then you can read on as you wish. 

The Review:

After returning from the AGU conference in SF and visiting friends is San Diego last December (which I will also do this year), I headed to Winter Park to teach skiing and snowboarding until the New Year.  I worked several weekends over the season finishing with a couple clinics.  During the week was my regular job of hydrology manager for a large NSF-funded research project at the University of Wyoming--WyCEHG. 
Spring saw a trip East to a cousin’s wedding and working with girls on a running program.
Summer was a mix of work, some hiking, a trip in the Wind River Mts, a 10 day photo challenge, a writing course, lots of yard work, looking for frogs and toads, rafting, a rodeo, visits from Ice friends, and a balloon festival.
Fall was a lot more field work and a great trip to Portugal and Spain.  Recently, my time has been spent getting ready for the conference in SF in a few weeks where I will present a poster on my research, then it is off to SD to visit friends, and the cycle starts anew.
For those of you who want more details, stick with me, and I will continue to describe and add photos and links for your perusal.  
As usual, if there is a colored and underlined text caption to a photo, it means that if you click it, it will take you to a whole album of photos related to that adventure.

The Details:
Winter Park & Summit County

I taught skiing and snowboarding at Winter Park Resort over the Christmas Holidays and then several weekends through the end of the season.  

Matt, a friend, from Keystone, CO, came up a few times to skin up WP after the lifts closed.    Took a couple PSIA-AASI (professional organization of ski and snowboard instructors) clinics late in the season—a Children’s Specialist certification  (at Loveland) and a (snowboard) Freestyle clinic (at Vail)—those pipes are HUGE, and I don’t bounce as well as I used to, but it was still fun.

Amanda from Breckenridge and I spent a day at Devil’s Thumb Ranch learning a bit more about skate skiing.   I visited with my brother and his family in March at his timeshare in Snowbird, UT
and even skied at Alta one day.  Almost went over a cliff at Snowbird---well, actually did go over the cliff, but only 6-7 feet and then caught a tree.  Had to haul myself back up.  The cliff was probably only 20 feet high, but the landing was FLAT.  So, I was glad not to go all the way--sorry no photos  :  )

field work through the year

There were many days of field work throughout the spring, including  a midnight snowmobile ride to an 11,000’ site to collect snow and plant parts.  We did manage to get lost on the way up, but finally figured out where the path was due to a bit of moonlight.  As I watched a lovely moon set, I wondered how the return trip would be, but it went pretty smoothly.

Traver wedding

 The first weekend in April, I was in Connecticut at my cousin’s wedding. 

April also found me helping coach a really wonderful 6 week running program for girls.  It is meant to get them interested in running, feeling confident, and prepared for a 5k race.  It is called She’s a Runner Girl and is really a great program.  I also became the secretary for our local running group High Plains Harriers, though I did not do as much running early in the summer as I had planned.  I finally started getting my act together in July when I realized that I going on a serious hiking trip in August.

cold and snowy birds

In May there was a nasty snowy day and several summer birds were already in the neighborhood.

In May I also took a writing course that was excellent and informative and taught by a fellow (Abe Streep) who has worked for Outside and also writes for other publications.  I am still working on the piece that I was writing for the course—the feedback suggested that I go in different direction, but that was not what I wanted, so I have been stalling, trying to decide what I should do, not to mention that the summer was overall very busy.

Toad project
In June, I participated in the Rocky Mountain Amphibian Project to visit various sites in Wyoming and look for amphibians.  We did not find any in our particular site in the Sierra Madres, but it was a beautiful area and a spectacular day. 

Stacy and Marty—Ice friends from California—came through for a quick visit.

Med Bow and Fireworks

In July I hiked up Medicine Bow Peak with Joe, a British grad student from France, then caught the 4th of July  fireworks.   

My gardens did some flowering and the chickens and cat were enjoying the warm weather.  I planted a small veggie garden and actually got some vegetables from it by the end of the growing year.  I also took a few walks in the nearby Laramie Range and at Veedauwoo, and, due to the smoke in the air, there were some spectacular sunrises and sets through the summer


Joe and I also went to the Tetons for a weekend

bucking bronc

and I spent a Saturday in Cheyenne at Frontier Days  and visiting the Capital Building with Larry, a friend from last year’s trip to the Galapagos.


 And one more trip to Lander, WY for work.

August saw a day raft trip on the North Platte (no photos), the visit of another Ice friend, Spang from NZ;  plus another hike up Medicine Bow Peak—this time at sunrise.  

ICCE Wind River Mts

In the middle of the month, I joined CWC students, as part of the ICCE,  and hiked to the Dinwoody Glacier-Gannet Peak area of the Wind River Mountains.  It was a quick trip, but I did acquire the largest 2 blisters I have ever seen.  It was a bit smoky, due to fires in the OR, WA, and I think ID, but what a spectacular area—I had never been to that part of the Winds before.  It was a very successful trip for the students who were looking at the retreating glacier, early human artifacts, black carbon residue in the glacier, and  E. coli and invertebrates in the streams coming off the glaciers.

 A few days later, I returned to Lander for a workshop and on the way home got to see a group of Sage Grouse

Sage Grouse

Photo Challenge

 I also took part in a 10 day photo challenge with the QACC—one takes at least one photo a day for 10 days and posts them to the group’s website.  It is a great way to make sure you have your camera ready every day and that you are constantly on the lookout for interesting things to photograph.

September saw me trying to install 4 sets of snow measuring arrays—one a week for the entire month, but they were finally in place and after some trouble shooting, they all seem to be working.  They measure snow water equivalency (which is really what tells you how much water there will be at run off) and snow depth.  The coolest part is that there is a logger-transmitter so that the information is sent real-time off to a satellite, and the information is then available on the internet.  In addition, MesoWest, an organization at U of Utah, downloads the data to their public site.  Other field work took place all summer!

Balloon Fest

Amanda and I went to the Snowmass Balloon Fest,  near Aspen, CO—what a feast for the visual sense—and a more spectacular fall weekend could not have been desired.

lunar eclipse
 There was also a full lunar eclipse at the end of the month

Then it was October and I headed for Portugal and Spain to walk along the Camino Portugues for 10-11 days.

Livraria Lello

Porto—arrived in the morning (9 October) and spent the day wandering about.  First thing, went to the main cathedral and got my Credentials booklet, where I received stamps for stays, churches, and restaurants to show that I really did walked to Santiago.  Dropped off my bag at a hostel, then took in some of the famous buildings and monuments, including the bookstore that inspired JK Rolling, Livraria Lello.  Also checked out the other side of the river with all the Port wine distilleries and took in a tour and tasted some white and rose ports.

Camino: Day 1—took the metro to the coast so I could avoid the heavy traffic and the industrial walk out of the city.  In Matosinhos, started walking North along boardwalks and bike lanes with a very tempestuous Atlantic always nearby.  A bit overcast and drizzly most of the day, ended in Vila do Conde, still on the coast.  A lovely and peaceful day, met almost no one along the way as I strolled along the dunes. Stayed at Bellamar.

Day 2—Headed inland to pick up the Camino Central, which I followed the rest of the way.  Another day of rain, not hard or cold, but pretty much all day.  My umbrella was great.  In Barcelinhos, stayed at a mountaineer hostel, but the snoring was loud.  Had an uneventful meal at the local café for the firefighters.   The trail was a mix of lanes, dirt paths through the forest, and some highway. 

Day 3—Stopped a bit short of the suggested town, Ponte de Lima, but stayed at a lovely 16th  century rebuilt house called Quinta da Portela.  A Dutch fellow completely rebuilt the building from essentially a pile of stones.  Beautiful location, bubbling springs, and terrific dinner.  By now my left foot was a complete disaster with several blisters caused by my shoes, so back to sandals for the rest of the trip.   There was a lot of water along the trail so there were fountains and streams and lovely stone bridges.  Met three very nice men from South Africa—a father and two adult sons—who I kept running into the rest of the way.

Day 4—Made up the extra way from the yesterday, and stayed at a cute little hostel, near Rubiaes, called O Ninho.  Met 5 retired American women who I also ended up running into the rest of the way.  This day was the only one with anything resembling a “hike”.  It was up some 400+ meters (~1500 ft) along a very rocky trail through a mostly pine forest where it looked like they were collecting pine resin.  I think that I must of tweaked my right foot as it started hurting the next day.  So, now the blisters on my left are doing their thing and my right foot is swollen and uncomfortable—but no reason to not carry on  :  )

Day 5—Another lovely day of walking through little villages, vineyards, past cornfields, springs, and lots of chickens.  In Valença, I walked through the medieval, walled city, across the river to Tui, Spain.  I stayed in a small youth hostel there and met two lovely young women from Canada who were biking from Portugal to Spain.  One offered me some very nice homemade salve for my blisters.
click here for all the photos along the way

Day 6—The following day, my foot really started to hurt, so I cut the day short to visit a doctor in Porrin͂o.  That was biggest adventure as I tried my Spanish and they spoke in Gallician (not Spanish) but eventually, I got a doctor who spoke some English, and we decided that I had tendonitis.  So, I rested.  I finished up my 4th novel (on a Nook) and started on my 5th.

Day 7-- But the next day  had to take the train to the next town (about 15 km) so that I would have enough time to finish the whole trip.  Stayed right in the middle of Redondela in the pilgrim auberge.  Like all the others, rather noisy with some 40 folks in essentially the same room in bunk beds.  Had  an excellent seafood paella for dinner though.

Day 8—To Pontevedra, probably the largest city so far.  A pretty easy  day, but tired from not much sleep, so took a pension—a home that rents out rooms.  Got my own bathroom and QUIET, at least after it started to storm and all the folks in the nearby square went home.   Walked all over town and finally found an internet place so I could catch up with the rest of the world a bit.

Day 9—A pretty short day, and another noisy auberge, but Caldes de Reis meant hot water springs.  Hung out and soaked my feet and met a lovely older fellow from Monaco.  We had a great chat at the hot springs, and I saw him briefly in Santiago.  Coincidentally, the guy who snored in my lower bunk in Redondela was also in my lower bunk here—how nice.

Day 10—Met up with the 5 American women again and walked quite a bit of the day with them. But I passed through Padrón to shorten the next’s finish in Santiago.  Stayed about 5 km further on, along a main highway—another bit of rain.    The place was something like a pension as well with a restaurant below and rooms above.  I also downloaded 2 more books to my Nook  as I had finished the other 5 that I had brought with me. 

Santa Suzanna, Santiago

 Day 11—Fortunately, the trail led off again along dirt paths until quite near Santiago.  I took a detour to see the Casto Lupario.  It supposed to be where Queen Lupo had her fortress in the time St James.  There is (was) a set of ancient ruins and a great view of the surrounding valley.  However, it looks like gorse has taken over and I did not see the ruins, or even the view, until I climbed one of the stunted oaks.  Once back on the main road, I eventually had to walk along highways and for the first time, on regular sidewalks.   Once I had checked out the cathedral, I found a nice little hostel with only 2 bunk beds per room practically next to the main square.  Roommates were quite quiet.  I stayed there 2 nights and explored the older part of the city with its curved stone streets, plazas, and huge buildings.  Bought a few souvenirs, then headed back to Porto via bus.  11 days there 4 hours back…  

The rest of the trip was more about planes, trains, metros, and cars as I had an 18 hour layover in London and visited some friends, Victoria and Chris, in Brixton and then Gregg, a high school friend, now living in London, met me in Paddington station for lunch before my flight to Dallas.  In Dallas, I had a 12 hour layover and Brad, an Ice friend, picked me up for dinner and I took an Uber ride back to the airport in the morning and I was finally in Denver… with yet another friend picking me for the ride home.  My kitty, Phoebe, was ecstatic to see me—a very nice feeling to come home to.


Since being home, there have been a few wonderful sunrises, and I have winterized my chicken coop—I am particularly pleased with the plexi-glass on the wire door, so that light can get in but the wind can’t.

So bring on the winter and December’s travels to California.

I hope that you all have had a terrific year and that the new one is even better!

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