Expected & Unexpected Adventures

We interrupt the regularly scheduled blog posts with an important message …. we just bought a house in Colorado!  Yep, that’s right, this Florida girl will now be following her heart and spending some more time out west.  ❤

To say that it has been a wild adventure is a massive understatement.  I’ve learned so much along the way and at times, have wanted to pull my hair out and scream, but it will all eventually sort itself out and be just fine (or so I keep telling myself – LOL).

It started out almost 2 months ago, when Tom, his son Tyler, and his good friend Todd, along with the help of another good friend Dana, loaded up a 26-foot Penske (OK, maybe there were 2 Penskes involved) and prepared for the long drive out to Colorado.  Yep, 2 Penske 26-foot trucks, a tow behind with one vehicle, and another being driven out there by itself.  Yep we traveled light, as evidenced by the fact that Tom’s van and other things were still remaining in Hollywood.
IMG_4276-2As they pulled out to start their journey, I had no idea of what would lie ahead, but I knew that it would be an adventure of a lifetime.  :-OIMG_4281-3See, though many thought that Tom had the hard job, with the drive and all, but I had the task of flying out with my mom and step-dad … oh, and an outdoor cat we inherited years before whom had never been put in any situation close to this one.  The only thing is that the veteranian gave me tranquilizers for him … but what would keep me sane, I wondered.IMG_4341-3Alas though, we all made it out there and the reward were things like this view out of our backyard in Fruita.IMG_4361-3Fruita, CO is a small town, outside of Grand Junction, CO, which in itself is a small town.  Fruita has an avid cyclist community, so it’s easy to see why Tom was rooting for settling down there.  It wasn’t long before Tom set out on his inaugural ride, with mountain biking being the most popular, but also lots of safe roads for road cycling as well.
IMG_4367-3Of course, for me, I just couldn’t wait to get myself up on the Monument, though to my surprise, it POURED when we visited for our first trip up.  It was fascinating to see the usually dry and arid landscape, all washed up in a heavy downpour, with the resulting “mud falls”.IMG_4404-3This home is set on an acre of land and irrigation waters, so that meant a lot of yard for Tom to mow.  It wasn’t long before he found himself a new toy … the riding lawn mower.IMG_4441-3After which he wasted no time catching a quick snooze in his hammock (a Father’s Day gift from Kelli and Mitchell) set up under the shade of the pergola.IMG_4413-3For the first few weeks, I struggled immensely with the lack of office furniture out here, so after an eternity of complaining, Tom improvised one for me.  LOL   Actually, it did the trick!IMG_4417-2More trips to the Colorado National Monument followed every so often, to break up the monotony of the endless unpacking.  I mean, with views like this, how could you get sick of it … or not feel rejuvenated.IMG_4434-3IMG_4433-2IMG_4405-3Our first visitor to Fruita was our son-in-law, Mitchell, who was nearby in Denver for a work seminar on the business of making spirits and distilleries.  Tough, huh?IMG_4475-3They were able to get some mountain biking in on some of the amazing trails nearby.  I on the other hand, got a break from unpacking, though shhhh … don’t tell Tom.  😉IMG_4461-3YIKES!  If I didn’t know better, I would swear that gremlins would come in at night and regenerate boxes and boxes to unpack!  I’m not sure we’ll ever get through all of them.IMG_4454-2My mom and her husband just love being outdoors in the sunshine and adore the views of the mountains and Monument in the distance.  Not sure how my step-dad will enjoy it when the winter rolls in though.  I guess we’ll find out soon enough.IMG_4446-3I celebrated my birthday since I last blogged … and it was a bittersweet one.  My daughter brightened my day though with these fabulous flowers.IMG_4600-3After about a month or so, it was time to head back to Florida.  First though, we had some unfinished business with some mountain goats on Mt. Evans.  See, 2 years ago when I visited the road was closed due to road repairs and I couldn’t see the mountain goats I had yearned after for so long.  This time, I conquered that item off my Bucket List.  More on that to come.IMG_4623-2Once home, we were taking care of business, as they say, when all of a sudden we learned of an unexpected, and uninvited visitor.  Her name was Irma and she was packing quite the fury.  Of course, I’m referring to Hurricane Irma, a Cat 5 hurricane that had it’s sights on south Florida … and the entire state of Florida.  Before long, I boarded a flight on out of there and Tom loaded up yet another Penske (16 footer this time) and began to head out as well.IMG_4808Tom’s journey back to Colorado was supposed to be a “solo” affair, but it seemed like 6.3 million other Floridians were on an evacuation plan of their own.  If anyone knows Florida well, you know that there are generally only 3 ways out … I-95, the Florida Turnpike, or I-75.  Everyone was in “frenzy” mode too and supplies and gas was getting short in supply.  Then, the unthinkable happened … I got a call at 2:30 am in the morning, that the Penske had broken down in the middle of BFE.  The differential had froze, pieces  flew out, and by the time Tom got the truck pulled over and stopped, the drive train was hanging on and dragging on the ground!  Thankfully no one was struck by the flying shards of metal … and that Tom was safe as well.  Tom had to sit on the side of a highway, in the middle of the night, and wait almost 8 hours until he was on the road again.  What an ordeal!

2.5 days later, Tom made it back and all was good again.  🙂IMG_4863-3So that’s what my life has been like lately … and why the blog is so late … and why it wasn’t about burrowing owls, as indicated earlier.  Rest assured, burrowing owls (lots of them) will be coming to the blog … and lots more too, so stay tuned.  As I said, it’s been a crazy ride and quite the adventure.  But then again … isn’t that what makes life so interesting?  LOLIMG_4857-2Next Up:  Let’s try again for some Burrowing Owls

© 2017  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography

http://www.tnwaphotography.com

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He Did It For Love :-)

OK, so in the last blog post, I told everyone that we met up with a friend of ours at the Echo Lake Lodge, in order to take the road up to Mt. Evans and visit with the mountain goats.  I also mentioned that something went wrong with that plan and that we improvised  with another plan for photography… let me explain.20150716-IMG_2812

I was so excited for us to arrive at the lodge.  The road up to Mt. Evans is the highest paved road in North America…. all 14,270 feet of elevation at the top.  They say that when you drive to the top, the oxygen can affect you even just walking without elevation or added stress.  The reward at the top are the mountain goats which call the mountain top their home.  🙂

So you can imagine my shock when we got to the road entrance and saw this …..!

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I swear, it was as if we reached WallyWorld (from the Chevy Chase version of the movie Vacation) and it was CLOSED for business.  I was absolutely that desperate trying to figure out how I could still get up there.  The culprit for the road closure was that the road was in such disrepair that they had to close the winding narrow road for said repairs to be made. The repairs were extensive and kept the road to the top closed for the summer.  Estimated completion date was “hopefully some time in August”.  Now I know that I’m retired now, but I couldn’t possibly wait THAT long!

Now that road to the top was open for hikers and cyclists, but it was 14+ miles to the top and the elevation gain was about 4,000 ft and ends in 14,270 ft.  Quite a bit higher than the 5 ft above sea level that I reside in.  LOL.

Tom and I talked it over and over, trying beyond hope to find a way to accomplish our mountain goat “photo session” goal.  Tom decided that there was only one thing to do … that was for him to take one for the team and ride up there on his mountain bike!

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What a guy, huh?  Now if the altitude and the 14+ miles each way wasn’t enough, enter the weather conditions … a brisk 60 degrees with a wind of ~15 mph.  They said that at the top, with the exposure of the wind without any shield above the timberline, the wind would be at least 30mph and the temperatures would be at least 15 degrees colder.

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So, not only is Tom my sherpa on our photography adventures, but he really took the bull by the horns on this one.  Of course, I set up the camera and lens for him, gave him 32 GB (remember that number) to work with, and instructions regarding angles and shots I wanted.  LOL20150716-DSC_5144 While nervously waiting for Tom to complete his mission, I tried to occupy myself with some photography of my own.  Even at the 10,000 ft elevation of the base area, I found myself moving a bit slower than normal.  🙂20150716-DSC_5155 After some time, I also decided to hike, since I REALLY wanted to get to the goats myself, though realistically I knew that at 10am to start out, there was NO way I would get up there.  Still the area, in the 3+ miles that I did manage, was beautiful.20150716-DSC_5199 20150716-DSC_5190 That road just kept going … and going …., climbing and climbing, … and I was really hoping that Tom would reach the top, though he was instructed to return short of the goal if he felt the slightest bit not at ease.20150716-DSC_5160

Tom did finally make his way to the top!  He took a selfie to prove it!  It took him about 2 hrs to get up there.  He said that he was so cold up there that his fingers didn’t want to work properly in the beginning to take images for me.

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The mountain goats were “everywhere” reported Tom.  There were adults basking in the sun with those spectacular views everywhere!

20150716-DSC_5562 20150716-DSC_5587 Then he spotted his first young kid, the baby goat,  and he said it was just the sweetest thing ever.  It pretty much came over to him and stood in front of his Santa Cruz mountain bike.photo 1-1 The goats must have been a bit out of sorts in that they’re quite habituated towards people visiting up there, but since the road closure that only get access to the cyclists and some park and wildlife personnel.photo 2-1

He said that they were all shedding their winter coat.  It’s amazing to see just how MUCH they shed though.20150716-DSC_5566“On the top of the world” shots were definitely requested and Tom did a great job in checking that one off the list.  How adorable!!
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This shot really cracked me up … almost looks like a two-headed (sort of) kid here, huh? LOL

20150716-DSC_5560 Not sure if they’re oxygen-deprived as well or not, but these young kids seemed to have some other activities on their mind.  LOL20150716-DSC_5558 Tom was so upset that he got to witness these wonderful little ones without me.  20150716-DSC_5552 20150716-DSC_5577 Of course, even the adults were fascinating for him to see.20150716-DSC_5569 Like little children, the tribe of kids were “so adorable” as they played with each other … butting, pushing, climbing on each other.20150716-DSC_5579 It wasn’t just mountain goats either…. he said that the place was teaming with marmots as well.  He even saw a marmot nose to nose with a little lamb.  I really wished I could have seen and photographed that one.20150716-DSC_5561 Though he was freezing up there and getting blown around in the high winds, he found it hard to tear himself away from the wildlife.20150716-DSC_5573-2I was quite excited to see Tom flying down the mountain, which took a mere 30 mins on the descent.  When Tom returned, of course, I got to hear all about it and get a sneak peek at the images over lunch at the Echo Lake Lodge, which was delicious by the way.  We highly recommend the Mac & Cheese nuggets, but everything was excellent.photo 1I couldn’t be prouder of Tom for making the climb, especially in those conditions and without any planning to do so.  He returned with images …. that’s right …. 51 in all!  Barely making a dent in that 32 GB card he was armed with…. perhaps my instructions weren’t clear … or was it the lack of oxygen, cold weather …?  LOL.  But hey, that’s 51 more than I would have gotten without his heroic effort.  🙂 He’s not just my husband, my traveling partner, my sherpa, but my human “mountain goat” and hero as well!  He said he did it for love … I’ll take that.  Before we left, we also promised to return next year, so that I may get to experience the real thing for myself.  Thanks again Tom!  ❤
photoNext up:  Colorado Springs, CO.  Check it out!

© 2015  Debbie Tubridy & Tom Tubridy / TNWA Photography