Off the Grid  Retirement at our remote log cabin in Colorado

Monday, August 21, 2017

The Total Eclipse of the Sun

Posted by: Lynne

sing along with me!

<snip>Then you flew your Learjet up to Nova Scotia
To see the total eclipse of the sun <snip>

"You're so Vain", Carly Simon

Well, today we attended one of the greatest free shows on Earth, thanks to the dear old Moon and the Sun being in the same place at the same time, and we didn't have to fly our Learjet anywhere! All we had to do was get up and leave the house at 6:00 a.m., drive 2.5 hours north in light traffic, take out our chairs and wait for the show to begin.

We could not have found a more tranquil and peaceful spot to set up on except for maybe our back yard. But, in our back yard we could never have viewed the totality of the eclipse and stared directly into the sun. How many people can say that they've stared right at the sun?

Plenty of cars drove in afer we arrived, but they just drove straight past us. There was a higher ridge further on that we could see where a lot of cars were parked, and I assume they were heading there. In the above photo you can see the road snaking back the way we came from, about 20 miles in on Little Medicine Road off Highway 487.

I whiled away quite a bit of time searching for cool rocks and came home with a bag full.

 

When it started it just looked like a tiny bite had been taken out of the sun. It was really cool to watch the progression. I was surprised to find that when there was only a sliver left of the sun it was still very light even though the light was very eerie and like nothing I've seen before. I felt like I was going slowly blind although I can't describe it to you. And, here I am talking about how it looked around us and not through our glasses. Not like normal setting sun kind of light at all. More like a 360-degree sunset.

When totality finally arrived and we could take off our special glasses and look at the sun directly (when I took the first photo above), it looked like the moon had a very special quivering aura. The photo I took makes it look more flaring than it actually was, but that's just the lens. Words cannot describe the eerieness of the silence (except for those people on the far ridge cheering and whooping). It was not completey dark as we had expected it to be, but more like deep twilight. 

We had about 2 mintues of totatily where we were. For those few minutes it seemed like the Earth stood still and everything held its breath. Before we knew it the sun started to peek back out from behind the moon and it was time to put the glasses on again. It was very cool to imagine all those other people across our nation seeing the same thing at the same time. A true bonding experience!

The line of cars coming back was almost comical, but the traffic flowed smoothly and went along mostly at 70mph, with a few slow moments like below on approach to Medicine Bow. But the police in town were on top of it and directed the flow of traffic back onto Highway 287 seemlessly. Good job Medicine Bow!

We weren't going to go but I am so thrilled that we did. It was indeed TOTALLY magical.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Dinosaur Fossil Cabin

Posted by: Lynne

Did you know that just a little bit north of Laramie lies one of the greatest and most well-known, important fossil beds for dinosaur bones in the world? It's Como Bluff. I've long wanted to see the Fossil Cabin which lies along the old Lincoln Highway route and was once quite the tourist attraction. We passed it on our way to Casper for the dog shows late last month, and finally stopped by this historic road stop on the way home.

The cabin is reportedly made from 5,796 dinosaur bones! I didn't take time to count them, however.

It was a sad little place as it is now, deserted and forlorn, falling into disrepair. Haunting, really. It must have been a bustling tourist attraction in its day back in the heyday of the highway, complete with a gas station. You could fill up your car with gas and fill up on history all at the same time.

You can read more about it here.

Monday, June 05, 2017

We’re Retired!

Posted by: Rick

Note: I originally wrote this post on the 19th of May. I failed to publish it then. So, here it is better late than never.

It has been just over one year since I retired and we moved back to Colorado to live full-time in our off-the-grid log cabin. You've followed our journey if you've been reading this blog for a year or more. If not, you can catch up using the archives.

Only now, after a year, has it begun to "sink in" what it means to be retired.

Sure, I did not have to follow my typical early morning routine of showering, dressing for work, grabbing a bit of breakfast and driving the 40 minutes to the office; work behind a desk all day dealing with problems, mostly; then repeating the commute to get home to dinner, some TV and off to bed.

We still get up early, the dogs won't allow any sleeping-in. But, after that, the day's agenda is not set. But, on our recent RV trip to NM we learned to apply retirement on a grander scale.

We hooked up to the well-provisioned travel trailer on a Thursday morning and drove it as far as Colorado City, about 20 miles south of Pueblo, Colorado where we spent our first night in the trailer. All went well. The Ford Expedition with its 3.4L EcoBoost engine pulled the 6000 pound trailer just fine, even over passes. We arrived midafternoon and hooked up. I dewinterized the trailer, and we had our typical "first night out" dinner of "trailer spaghetti" (cooked ground beef stirred with jarred spaghetti sauce over some cooked pasta).

The next morning we made our way to Bernalillo, New Mexico where we stayed in a great KOA campground somewhat convenient to my family in Albuquerque and Rio Rancho. Our plan was to spend 4 nights and three days there, then reverse our route and come home. We had a great visit with family and got a chance to see the petroglyphs (that used to be way out in the country but are now surrounded by housing developments!). We ate great food at the Kaktus Brewery and The Range, both in Bernalillo. Mom took us out for some great BBQ at Rudy's in Albuquerque.

Balloons launching on a cool Saturday morning as seen from Mom's balcony.

 

A sampling of the petroglyphs you can see at the Petroglyph National Monument in Albuquerque.

As it came closer to time to leave, we had an idea. It started with "we're retired!". So, we don't have to get home on any particular schedule. We could stay in Albuquerque longer. Or.....we could go to Moab and see the parks there! So, that is what we did.

On Tuesday, we drove to the nice little town of Cortez, Colorado, just outside Mesa Verde National Park. We'd visited Mesa Verde before, and visiting national parks with dogs is difficult if you have to leave the vehicle to see the sights. So, we did not spend time there. We did make our way to Moab on Wednesday where we spent two nights, visiting Dead Horse Point State Park and Arches as well as Canyonlands National Parks. The nice thing about these parks (we only visited Island in the Sky in Canyonlands) is that you can see much of what there is to see from the truck or with short stops at scenic pull-outs. 

A view of the Colorado River at Canyonlands.

Mesa Arch in Canyonlands.

After two nights in Moab, we made our way to Craig, Colorado at perhaps the most beautiful time of the year. Then, on home on Friday, a full three days later than the original plan.

Now, the trip was nice. But, this blog post is really not about the trip as much as it is about our sudden realization that we don't have any schedule or agenda or "place to be" (most of the time) and are free to do what we want on a whim. That is a tremendously liberating feeling and we want to experience it some more!

Back to the trip. We drove about 1800 miles, 1500 with the trailer. We had only one problem with the trailer--a drawer broke. The truck towed fine, even over high mountain passes and handled well in the wind and in traffic. We only got about 10 mpg when pulling the trailer, so that is a bit disappointing. I was hoping for 12 to 14 mpg. The trailer is now tucked back in its storage location, re-winterized, and awaiting our next adventure which will likely come in July.

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