What to know what we’ve been up to? Check out our holiday cards from the past few years…
Happy New Year!
Lost our website, but have recovered much of it. I am in the process of rebuilding it and fixing broken links. I found an old SQL backup and wrote something to move the posts from Community Server’s SQL Server tables to WordPress. It worked, but lots of broken links due to new link structure and photo naming scheme. Please bear with me as I make these corrections as free time allows. Thanks!
Whenever you move into a new area, you will always deal with challenges. Of course, for us city folk, there’s that challenge of finding the best restaurants and best liquor stores in your new home town. But seriously, one of the challenges, I suppose, is making new friends. I mean, we’ve met some great people so far, including our future next-door neighbor near our property (as well as some of the other neighbors), and our “landlords” at Big Horn Park. On the other hand, we honestly haven’t been very good at looking for social opportunities either. I’ve been working many hours recently and Teresa’s been slaving away on our home plans. (She’s now on revision 11!) So far, our office space has been the hub of our social life. We’ve met a number of nice folks who work in our building.
One of our office neighbors, Craig, is a green home designer who owns his own little business, Rising Sun Design-Solutions. We have enjoyed discussing the pros and cons of our plan with Craig and will hopefully continue to consult with him on the design on our home. Another person we met is Trey, who also does computer work… mostly web consulting. Turns out, he was about to head off to New Zealand for two months and needed someone to look after his parents’ farm where he has two goats and ten chickens. It is a very bizarre farmhouse (more on that below). Consider that it is middle of winter… our property is still under several feet of snow and development is on hold. Last but not least… uhhh… we’re living in a 26 ft travel trailer. On top of all of that, we wanted to get some experience with the farm critters. (Part of being earth friendly, is being more sustainable, so Teresa and I plan on having at least a few chickens on our property.) So the farm sounded like a great mutually beneficial opportunity, and so we jumped on it. It certainly won’t hurt be closer to town for 2-3 months. From the farmhouse, we can get to downtown quickly… it’s less than 2 miles, and takes about 4 minutes by car. So we enjoyed getting to know Trey before he left, but as you can imagine, he was slammed trying to get ready to head on vacation for two months.
Here is where we are staying through the end of May:
And here is the weird part about the farm house. It has a “mystery” room. It’s pretty much like a normal room, with a roof over it, and four walls, but with no entrance and no windows. You can’t get in from the outside. You can’t get in from the house. You can’t get in from the roof or attic. And you can’t get in from the crawlspace. Could this be the final resting place of Jimmy Hoffa? Click on the first two photos to zoom in and see the notations:
Heh… we actually figure it probably was a coal storage bin… if so, the easiest way for the last renovators to deal with the problem of perpetual coal dust was to simply wall it off. Trey and his parents plan on renovating the home. Maybe we’ll attend the “unveiling” of that mystery room? Here’s the rest of the farm:
Back in the day, when Teresa’s Grandma (aka Momo) was a child, she thought their old farm was built on an Indian burial ground, since you could hear the Indian war drums at night. Wouldn’t you know it? This farm house has the same problem… except that I went down to the crawlspace to see who was banging on those drums. I never knew a water heater could make so much noise! It literally shakes the house when the gas is on.
But other than that, the house sitting is working out wonderfully, and we are very grateful to have been given this opportunity. Check out the views from the kitchen window:
And then there’s the charm that the critters themselves provide. The goats, Sally and Scout (lighter in color), are so silly. They are kinda like dogs with serious attitude. Simon likes to sniff the goats, but we haven’t let them meet outside the fence. We’re afraid the goats might head butt Simon and break a doggie rib, so we keep them apart. We do take the goats out for walks every few days around the field. They just follow us around, never straying to far away. If we don’t walk them every few days, they literally bounce off the walls of their barn. It’s pretty funny… We’ll have to post a video of them doing this sometime.
They are likely both pregnant now… given that a billy goat was visiting just before Trey left.
As for the chickens… There is a standard rooster, a bantam (small) rooster, a standard hen, and seven bantam hens. They are pretty funny little creatures, but I think all the bird smarts (what little there was in any case) have been bred out of the chicken. Not the most intelligent creatures.
Of course, we have to share a few chicken stories: First of all, that bantam rooster… he is totally fearless. He will strut right up to you if he wants without a care in the world, while all the other hens are scattering. What’s even funnier is how he puffs out his chest while crowing, making him twice as tall as his hens. Sometimes, he’ll even peck you if he’s feeling frisky. One morning, I went to go check on the chickens, counted them up, and came up missing one. Turned out to be that little bantam rooster. He had managed to get himself stuck in between the barn wall and some framing members of the barn. Silly thing! I had to give him an elevator ride on my hand up from his self-inflicted prison. Ever since, he’s actually been quite respectful around me. Around Teresa, he still thinks he’s king of the roost. 🙂
On a more serious note, the old standard rooster was starting to cause some problems in the hen house. He was plucking out some of the other chickens’ feathers, and he was keeping the bantam rooster from the feed and water. Worst of all, he was trying to mate with the bantam hens. Ouch! The book Trey is lending us, Living With Chickens, describes chicken sex as “short, but not sweet.” But with a standard and a bantam, it’s simply wrong! With blessings from Trey and his parents, we took on the sacred task of actually taking the animal’s life. It is a difficult thing to do, but I firmly believe this is something ALL meat eaters should be able to do. It would definitely make most people think twice before biting into a piece of flesh. I have watched chicken processing a few times in my life, and Teresa had seen it once. It didn’t go as smoothly as we had hoped, but we did learn much for the next time we have to perform this sacred task. Once the dirty work was done, Teresa processed him as you might process a fryer from the store. He was one of the toughest birds Teresa had ever processed, but we honored the bird by making a rooster stew and cooking it for many hours until the meat was tender. It turned out OK. Best of all, things are much calmer in the roost now.
As for the other birds, we are thoroughly enjoying the farm fresh eggs. We’ve taken a shot of a store bought brown egg next to a bantam egg to show the size comparison, but pound for pound, the bantams produce as much as the standards:
Before we moved into the farm house, we took some more gorgeous mountain shots of the Arkansas Valley in the throes of winter to share with you. Things have been much warmer recently, but, of course, as I write this, in late March, it is snowing once again:
Simon seems to like it out here just fine. Of course, if you were the best dressed dog in town, you’d like it too:
We look forward to spending more time in Salida, and meeting new folks. Teresa’s been taking beginner conversational Spanish classes, and I hope to join the running club soon. I sure hope they’ll take someone who can only do a 12 minute mile! We hope to get involved with other local efforts before we get tossed into our the mixed up world of being our own general contractors. We hope to meet more wonderful folks soon. 🙂
PS Once we solidify things a little bit on our plans (revision 25?), we’ll try to post them on our blog. Maybe some of y’all could provide us with some feedback?
PPS We hope to post a Salida restaurant and B&B review eventually. Heh… we may make more enemies than friends when we do this, but what the heck. Should be fun! And hopefully it will be useful to any friends who want to visit. Come on out y’all!
Well, to us in any case. Teresa and I decided we definitely need a second car. For one thing, the gas mileage on the Tundra is pretty brutal. “Big Red” only gets 18 miles-per-gallon on the highway, and that’s downhill with a tailwind. With the 20 miles commute from our temporary home in Coaldale to our office in Salida, things add up quickly. Teresa and I are often finding ourselves needing to go separate ways too. So we started our hunt for a second car.
We decided we needed something all-wheel drive (or four-wheel drive) that gets good gas mileage and is somewhat reliable. Unfortunately, this doesn’t exist. Ideally, we’d find a diesel (for playing with biodiesel) or a hybrid. That REALLY doesn’t exist… especially in all-wheel drive. Yes, yes, I know there are some hybrid SUV’s, but we’ve already got a truck. The closest we really could get was a small Subaru. My early research showed that one of the best choices would be a Subaru Outback Sport, and that’s what we found. We ended up purchasing a little blue 2005 Subaru Outback Sport, “Baby Blue.” It’s not the fastest thing in the world, but it gets about 30mpg on the highway and has a tight suspension. Teresa and I both used to drive cars with manual transmissions, and we forgot how much fun it was to drive a stick-shift, sporty car. So far, we love the little car.
We found it listed on craigslist.org and had to drive over to Breckenridge to pick it up. The drive was pretty rough, with plenty of snow on the ground on the high mountain passes, but the roads were passable. On our way, we passed through South Park. Yes, this is the “area” that the cartoon was modeled after… really, a “park” out here is nothing more than an alpine plain. Check out this layer of fog hanging over the high plains:
This is a shot from Trout Creek Pass between Buena Vista and Fairplay.
PS Sorry we’re a bit behind on our blog. See our photo galleries for the most up-to-date happenings:
More to come momentarily…
This is infuriating. My favorite radio station is under attack again:
But this applies to other great independent radio stations on the net including another station I frequent:
More info here:
Time to write your congressional representatives folks.
In other news, we have purchased a car. Check out our photos. In addition, Teresa and I have moved into a old farm house just two miles from downtown Salida (our office is downtown). We will be house sitting for the owner while he enjoys 2 months overseas. The house comes with about 10 chickens and 2 goats. Should be fun! More details to come…
You guys in Atlanta have it easy with BellSouth. The folks at Qwest are simply a bunch of idiots. I signed up for paperless billing, but their online bills don’t list an address to send a payment! It seems ridiculous, but here is the e-mail they sent back to me:
Thank you for your recent e-mail inquiry to Qwest regarding a suggestion
to have the payment address listed on the online bill view or copy. We
apologize if this has caused any inconvenience.
We do appreciate your feedback on this and will forward this on.
Qwest appreciates your business and values you as a customer. Our goal
is to provide you with excellent service. If you need further
assistance, please visit us online at http://www.qwest.com/customerService
for a variety of customer service options.
Qwest Customer Care
Mass Markets Group
On top of that, Qwest’s bills are also cryptic as hell. Oh well, at least my 8mb connection hasn’t gone down… yet. It probably will after I post this.
And another random comment: Am I the only person who didn’t get lucky with Anna Nicole Smith? And am I the only person who is sick and tired of hearing about it in the news?
For some reason, they call the Arkansas River Valley (where Salida, Coaldale, and Cotopaxi are situated) the banana belt of Colorado. I submit the photos above as evidence to the contrary! Note that in The Mountain Mail newspaper, Cotopaxi unofficially reported -30 F! We draped a wool blanket over our door during the winter event to add some more insulation, and the door froze over in a big way. (That should tell you something about our insulation!) Prior to this artic blast, we got pummeled with snow. At one point, there was about three feet on the ground. Much of it has melted here in the valley, but today, we went snowshoeing up in Spruce Basin, and there is still probably three feet on the ground up there.
But the cold does have some advantages. The clear, cold air makes for some gorgeous photos. We snapped these shots after a very cold, but foggy night along the river. The frozen fog lands on the trees forming the most beautiful crystalline structures.
Simon’s adjustment to the snowy conditions was difficult at first. He’d go out and play for just 3-4 minutes, then lie down and lick his paws. I don’t know if it was simply cold footies, the rough snow, or the ice balls that formed between his digits. We got really worried about him when we wouldn’t go poop for 3-4 days, but nature did eventually take its course… thank doggie god!
As for Teresa and I, we decided a little while ago to find office space in Salida, but we didn’t want to do so until we had some work lined up. Teresa scored a pretty sweet deal with a company in Atlanta before we left. She basically will be working in AutoCAD, drawing details for installing metal canopies and aluminum composite siding for commercial structures. The way the contract works out, she is basically offered a job and can accept or reject the job based on how busy she is. It is a perfect situation for us… if she’s busy working on our house, she can simply reject the job… but right now, she could use the work!
I, on the other hand, left Atlanta with little more than a few leads for work at my old company Nexidia. (It’s a neat company with incredibly interesting audio search technology. You can try out Nexidia technology at an Atlanta TV station’s website: 11 Alive.) I interviewed for a job out of Denver that would have allowed me to telecommute. The interview went well I think, but things just didn’t feel right and the pay was very low. Thankfully, I got a call from Nexidia once I got back to Colorado and was able to line up work with my old boss. Once I had work lined up, I set up our business (Tanda Enterprises, LLC) with the click of a mouse over on the Colorado Secretary of State website and the IRS website. After all of the research, it took me maybe an hour and cost only $25. Just to think that people pay thousands of dollars to lawyers to have this kind of work done. Now we could begin our office space search in earnest.
And so we searched through the town of Salida, the little town we have fallen in love with out here. We looked at sublease spaces with no windows. We looked at storefronts which were actually pretty nice, but right off the main highway, about a mile from downtown. But we fell in love with this space in the heart of downtown at 134 F Street.
It is less than a block from the “big intersection” of F Street and First Street (complete with traffic light!). We can walk to everything, including a grocery store, a couple of hardware stores, furniture stores, restaurants, art galleries, etc… The office itself is about 235 sq feet. The building was constructed in the 1890’s, but was refurbished in the last year or two.
The space is simply gorgeous. Check out all the natural light and the hardwood floors. Our window looks out onto the roof, but the mountains (fourteen-ers) are just beyond.
Some things you can’t see: it’s affordable and it has high speed internet (approx 7mb down/ 800 k up). I unfortunately, had to leave Salida for a few days to go back to Atlanta to get set up for working remotely, but I came back with a Nexidia laptop, and now I’m working on a desktop audio searching application in Java which should prove useful to anyone trying out Nexidia technology. (Basically, it will help you find a virtual needle in a virtual haystack of audio.) And Teresa’s about to start on her next contracting job. It sure will be nice to see the money equation reversing itself over the next few months. How did we get to be this lucky? 🙂
Teresa and I are just amazed at our good fortune. We get to live AND work in a place we love. The only obstacle appears to be finding the time to enjoy our surroundings. This appears to be a universal problem. When you live in an area for a while, its as if you never get around to enjoying some of the local sights, sounds, smells, and tastes. When were in Atlanta, we only visited the local attractions when we had guests in town. I hope that doesn’t happen to us here. We need to make an effort to get out on the weekends, enjoy the local community, and get to know other folks! I hope to get out to Ski Monarch mountain in the next weekend or two.
PS Here are some photos we uploaded recently, but were taken back in December during out travel between Birmingham and Colorado. We found this clever vignette at a rest stop:
Simon sniffs around a little bit at the “city” pee spot.
And chooses wisely…
We got our storage space and emptied the U-Haul trailer. We got it all in except for our big ladder. The 11-6 foot ladder fit into the 12 foot trailer, but not in the 10 foot storage unit. A simple calculation error. We put it next to our neighbor’s barn up in Spruce Basin. They have perhaps 2+ feet of snow still up there. It gets warm during the day and some of the snow melts, but it hasn’t all melted yet.
Whew… We made it back to Colorado. We left Birmingham, AL on Dec 28th. That’s five nights and six days on the road, for what should have been a two night/3 day drive. I’ll cover our trip in a little more detail below, instead of my last half-hazard blog entry.
We had heard about the snowstorm that was hammering Colorado and New Mexico. We spent a night in Sallisaw, OK, just before a turnoff which left us an opportunity to determine whether to take a southern route or northern route. We decided on the southern route, heading out on I-40, but it wasn’t far south enough. We arrived in Amarillo, TX just before the storm hit. Amarillo got hammered with an inch or so of ice and a few snow pellets. It actually wasn’t too bad in Amarillo, but we did loose control for a split second on an overpass when returning from dinner. Due to the weather conditions, we actually expect to spend two nights in Amarillo, but as mentioned in the previous entry, we ended up spending New Years there too.
After night #2, We drove 20 miles or so before being turned back to Amarillo! It became pretty apparent to me that New Mexico wasn’t used to getting this kind of snow and their road maintenance crews simply couldn’t handle it. Albuquerque had a record snowfall for December… nearly two feet. And this is the desert?
It was aggravating enough spending New Years Eve (night #3) in Amarillo, but the New Years day was even worse. What should have been a four hour drive, turned out to be a nightmarish ten hour drive over to Albuquerque. Apparently Teresa, Simon, and myself and about 100,000 other stranded travelers heading West on I-40 all left around the same time. We would stop, sitting on the interstate turned parking lot for no apparently reason. Then we’d go up to the speed limit again for a few minutes… only to stop again. In one incredibly stupid move, we decided to stop at this gas station, Bowlin’s Flying C Ranch. These guys have their marketing down pat. We’ve seen their other travel centers (Bowlin’s Running Indian) along I-10 in Southern New Mexico with the same story. An infinite sea of billboard signs leading up to the travel center. For those of you in the South, think “See Rock City.” We must have seen at least a hundred billboards leading up to the darn place. Apparently it works. There were about 20 cars in line to get gas and/or food. The worst part about it was the fact that only a narrow slice of their parking lot was open. And basically, once you were in you were in line, you were stuck. I guess the idiots running the place didn’t see the need to plow their parking lot! I thought we were about to end up in a gridlocked situation, but we were fortunate. We got through the line in about an hour only to park out on the interstate again. To make matters even worse, someone in the restaurant told us that the New Mexico state patrol had planned on closing I-40 to all motorists at dark. I was relieved to find out this wasn’t the case, since it took us over 2 hours to move 30 miles to the supposed closure point… and darkness had already fallen upon us.
On this day, I saw traffic that makes Atlanta traffic look like a dream. Itwas by far and away the worst travel day I have ever experienced. We did eventually get into Albuquerque, and drove to Las Vegas, NM for the night without any traffic problems. We found out that travelers in Las Vegas, NM had the same problems. Luckily, all had moved on and we had no problems finding a room for the night.
The next day, we headed out along I-25 heading North towards home. We stopped in Trinidad and snapped this shot. That’s a lot of snow!
Everything was going fine along I-25… nice speed limit ride until we stopped in Walsenburg for lunch before heading off on CO-69 towards home. We drove past a BBQ place, and I felt we should turn around to check it out. Unfortunately, I picked the WRONG parking lot to do so. I got the truck stuck in some lightly packed snow. However, I was very proud… we got it unstuck about 20-30 minutes later without any help! We managed to make it to our trailer just before dark, leaving plenty of time for Simon to sniff around.
I think Simon gets the picture that this is home for the next year or two. He sniffed around the trailer for a minute or two before plopping down and taking a long nap. I guess he was glad to be “home” too.
We felt the same way. As Teresa said, “it’s a tin can on wheels, but it’s still home!” For now in any case…