Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Tuesday Morning

Winter is not quite done with Base Camp yet. In fairness to the weather people it didn't say partly cloudy this time. It said 20% chance of sleet.

Breakfast at Tiffanys 2 (White-tailed/House Finch)

Here's a couple videos of the white-tailed antelope squirrels eating sunflower seeds. Some have been doing it for a while and others are a little clumsy.

Two videos of house finches eating sunflower seeds and even with no hands the pros can pick up a seed, crack it as their head is moving up, swallow the seed, spit out the shell, and pick up the next one is about three seconds.

Breakfast at Tiffanys #2

At the second feeding location, under the deceased cottonwood tree, there was a slight depression that something had dug out and I stuck the GoPro there. There are a lot of videos but since I took these on Monday it's snowed considerably and I'm socked in with cloud cover way slowing down the processing time of the videos. Just putting these four on took four hours so I'm limiting it to the Red-winged blackbirds. They are so nervous all the time but in fairness I've never seen a hawk take one or found the remains of one taken by a hawk. I'll do the others another time. I enlarged the videos to watch them better. If the arrow is not center the video won't be either. I can't figure out why some of them aren't centered. If that's the case better to click on the videos name or number.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Breakfast at Tiffanys #1

Some Stuff

I'm walking by the Jeep taking stuff out to the garage and thinking I must have four flat tires it's setting so low to the ground. Then I remembered I left a month worth of sunflower and bird seed in the back when I was in a hurry to turn around and go drop off the truck and get the side by side.
Just Venus for planets shines in the night sky and it will light it up all the way deep into Spring. Jupiter is already coming up in the early morning despite having just disappeared a month or so ago but between the Anti Cline and Hurrah Pass I can't yet see it. There are a lot of stars though with no competition from light. I've pulled all the solar lights down throughout the property and will just hand out head lamps if folks need them. I bought 40 something for the movie people and go almost all of them back.
Was a little spooky last night. I walked outside just after dark to throw some hot dogs to the parking lot and put the bowl out in Kobae's yard for the foxes, put a few in the rafters for the ringtails, others under the porch for the skunks, and two in each bowl on the porch for the raccoons. After I had gotten all 30 of them distributed I came out a little later when it was completely dark threw some more out and just as I turned to go back in I saw a twinkle above the wood pile over by the fire pit. I looked at it longer and it was two sets of eyes, one right above the other. they seemed to be coming from the same face, not one above the other. I thought maybe my eyes were just messed up from staring at the computer screen all day but looking to my left I saw a fox come up the parking lot and just one set of eyes. I looked back over by the woodpile and the face had two sets of yellow eyes one above the other. In theory ringtail or raccoon since the eyes were yellow but that's all I know.
I have a new ringtail. It's so cute. I hear one of the other three, or maybe two of them, chasing it around sometimes at night across the roof and hissing at it, I think trying to drive it off so they don't have to share the hot dogs but it's the first one here each night. Just like all the others in their early days here when I'd put the hot dog on a marshmellow stick and put it up by them it would run away but I saw it a couple nights watching the other calmly take hot dogs off the stick and it's getting better. Still it snatches the hot dog off the stick like it might go away all of a sudden.

Friday, January 17, 2020

I Got a Letter from Will

About a year ago on the blog I told a story. A story about my friend Will Lutz. Here is is.

When I was in town yesterday I picked up my mail at the post office. There was a letter from Will. I kept trying to understand while I was driving back. I just kept staring at the envelope.

When I got back I put it on the table and brought everything in from the Jeep. It's been a little over a year since Will passed. I opened it and there was a note from Carol, Will's mom, and a card from Will.

Hello Tom:

When Will and I were traveling back and forth to the hospital at this time last year he said he wanted to write letters to special people in Let's Play, to tell them how much he loved this company and working with all of them. He said "Mom, you bring your laptop and I'll tell you what to say and you can clean it up and make it sound good. If I make it through this, I can save them until next Christmas and send them then. If I don't you can send them for me."

We made a list and he told me what he wanted to tell you and I brought my laptop the night before he was scheduled for his second surgery but after awhile he was too exhausted and said he would finish them tomorrow....his tomorrow never came....And now Christmas is here, so I am sending you this little gift to remember Will and to tell you what he said."

I opened Will's card.


Thank you. I know you had your doubts about me but you gave me the opportunity and challenged me to become one of your super hero managers. I know Base Camp changed your life but I wanted you to know that it changed mine as well. I regret not being able to visit you one more time before all this but hope to see you when it is over.


Definition: 95% chance of snow

You know what partly cloudy looks like. It's white and is usually three to six inches deep on my porch.

Here's what 95% chance of snow looks like. Maybe it's in that cloud over by Dead Horse Point?

After a couple days of above freezing weather here's how many boots you can pack with mud and spend 30 minutes on the porch cleaning.

Slow, Expensive, Time of the Year

This is the time of the year to get everything fixed and ready for the coming season. For vehicles, by myself, the first and last one are the issue. Getting the first one in the shop and then finding a way back. For me that was the newer Polaris and hiking back.

The truck needs massive front end work. It's going to be really expensive. I want to coordinate when all the parts come in with when the Polaris is ready so I can limp in with the truck and drive the Polaris back, no long term hiking right now, it's too cold. On Tuesday I contacted Nations about the truck and all the parts weren't in yet. I contacted Mad Bro and they weren't done with the Polaris. On Thursday I ran out of hot dogs and bird seed, and almost out of me food so time to go to town. I took the Jeep since the truck is barely alive.

My bigger purpose was to go around to the vehicle rental places and see if anybody would cut a deal for people that wanted to come out to the lodge so they could leave their vehicles in town. I didn't get a good deal anywhere. Better to fly into Salt Lake or Grand Junction and get a rental there. More driving but the savings on both the airplane ticket and vehicle rental is massive.

I had breakfast with Kathy who is a Lyft and Uber driver and she's willing to do something to drop people off and pick them up, maybe in the $100 range somewhere. I met with a side by side place and they said they could do the same. I talked to Navtec but it's expensive to get people in and out here with their big boat but we cut a deal for them to do accommodation packages with two day rentals here and then down the river to Lake Powell and we scheduled the first one for August in the main house.

I swung by Nations right when the UPS truck pulled up and they said all my truck parts were there. I drove over to Mad Bro and they said they were just finishing up the Polaris work and it would br ready in an hour or so. I started thinking maybe I'd come back into town on Friday to change out vehicles. After I'd done all my errands and got myself and all the little people a couple weeks of food, driving back to Base Camp the weather report on the radio was 95% chance of snow on Friday.

I got to the lodge unloaded, fed the birds, checked email, and got in the truck and headed back to town. It was cold, really cold, but I was bundled up on the drive back in the side by side and survived it. Better than 95% chance of snow.

I found this dead frozen cow on the other side of Hurrah. If she moves to the other side of the road anytime soon then I'll start believing that UFO theory that somebody put out on the Facebook site for Base Camp that Heather told me about since the dead cow last year changed sides of the road after a week or two.

Booking Sites, Things Learned, Maybe a Triology, I Hope Not

For the first couple years I didn't take guests. I was tired from 100 hour weeks at Let's Play for twenty years or so. I had the managers and a few friends come out and that was fine. I'd sell just enough stock each month to make the payment. Then I let somebody stay and they told somebody, who told somebody else and it turned into a semi job even when I retired from Let's Play.

Then three years ago I bought the place next door. Last Hurrah. I still was only taking referrals from people that had stayed here and told them not to post comments on web sites about their stay because I was trying to keep from having a job. There was so much work to be done next door and improvements to be made and it doubled the mortgage payment and then some I soon found myself losing $10,000 or so a month and I can't do that for very long.

I put the lodge and Last Hurrah on Trip Advisor, Home Away and it's affiliates including VRBO, Airbnb, Glamping Hub, and there might be a couple more. That was September of 2018. The first month I got three or four bookings, in October six or eight, November nine or ten, and then the reviews started coming in and well now I'm buried and have no life for much of the year, well at least not the one I retired to get. The revenues are five times what they were just two years ago.

I'm not going to post any pictures of a computer screen so here's a few pictures I took out wandering around that didn't quite fit in the story of the day and now I'll use them just to break this up.
All of the booking sites are a little different but mostly along the same lines. They all have a calendar for each unit, I have nine, that links with the other sites if you set it up right. Then if somebody books on one site it automatically blocks those dates on the other sites so there's no double bookings.

However what I learned was that HomeAway and VRBO have somebody send you a request you have 24 hours to make a decision. That doesn't always work for me. They send in their request for dates and I respond telling them to bring food and anything they want to drink besides water cause there's no stores out here and though they probably won't need four wheel drive but they will need five or six inches of ground clearance. Most SUVs, Jeeps, and trucks have that. Most sedans and vans do not. I also add that it will take an hour to get here and if height is an issue for them there will be lots of issues on the way up and down Hurrah Pass. Sometimes they don't respond or cancel the request and sometimes they're checking with everybody or making sure they can get suitable transportation. HomeAway though wants me to accept or reject them within 24 hours. Their computer program is set up that way.

If I don't accept or reject while I'm waiting for a response back from the potential guest within their 24 hours, the request expires, they block the dates on all the other booking site calendars, send me an email saying I'm a loser, and send the guest who is still checking an email saying I didn't respond in time which is unacceptable to them and the request expires. If it happens twice to the same listing they suspend my listing so it doesn't show up on their websites.
I can reinstate it but I don't. They think they're teaching me a lesson to not be irresponsible but they aren't. 70% of my business now is online bookings. The other 30% being previous guests, referrals, and people that visited while passing by or just stumbled upon me. Of that 70% Airbnb is probably 60% of the online business. So I changed it to only link the airbnb calendar to the others but not the others to airbnb. Whenever there is a booking on airbnb it blocks the other calendars. When there is a booking through somebody else then I go block it on airbnb which blocks the others. So they are just linked in one direction now. I have to remember to put all bookings on airbnb or risk a double booking of which I've had two in the three years and I moved them to a different rental. In most cases the unit still books it just doesn't book on HomeAway so they're really hurting themselves and their income more than me. I've talked to them about it and nothing is going to change. I keep a spreadsheet on my desktop that I can look at quickly but I still screw it up occasionally.

Always Something

My first eight or so years out here I made the same mistake every year. For 30 plus years I did financials for my various companies, mostly indoor soccer. The goal always was to have your facility finish in the black, positive cash flow. In the red, was negative cash flow. You don't want that.

Every time there was a dead battery needed jumping I'd get the cables out, put them on my vehicle right, but the vehicle I was jumping I'd put the red cable on the negative and the black on the positive and immediately hear a popping sound when I fried the battery. I went through a lot of fried batteries. You can take the guy out of the financials, but you can't take the financials out of the guy. There's a dog one like that too.

Well I finally got it right and it's been three or five years maybe since I fried a battery. Then I got the boot issue solved by buying three pair of every kind of boot and then if one right or left wore out I'd have an extra of the other. Sort of four pair of boots for the price of three.

Now it's gloves. I've picked up so many little cactus in my fingers, really little ones that you don't even know they are there until you type P or Q on the keyboard. Then it's a headlamp, magnifying glass, and tweezers to get them out.

So I bought gloves, lots of them, same kind. Once they make a good gloves and you buy them they last forever so sales go down and they don't make them anymore or order them anymore then I have to find alternative places to buy them.

When I get out on the property I almost always wind up taking them off because whatever I'm doing requires more delicacy or grip than the gloves can give me. Then I forget and leave them. I find them days, weeks, or months later next time I'm at that site working on whatever. One time I was out hiking and had to go to the bathroom, dug a hole with my boot, and then buried it. Three months later when I was out hiking in that area again I found a pair of my gloves right next to the burial site.

I keep a pair in the Jeep, the truck, the small garage, and two in the lodge. After three days out working around the property digging up weeds and repairing stuff I got back to the lodge and when I unloaded everything I only had one pair of gloves left. I don't know how I did this and I'm pretty sure I don't want to try and figure it out.

Mad at Me, Not Talking

Partly Cloudy

The weather report said partly cloudy over New Years and I wound up escorting everybody over Hurrah Pass in six or eight inches of partly cloudy. For three of four days it will melt. The forecast will say partly cloudy and the next morning I'm pushing snow aside to make places for the birds to eat. It melts for a couple days says partly cloudy.......

Water Part One (Not a trilogy)

Two years ago my water mistake was that I did all the wash for both places over here at the lodge. In time, right when 168 people showed up for the disc golf tournament the well went all but dry so was tough getting through the tournament. Then I put in an extra 1700 gallon tank, filled it up from the well at one gallon per minute, which is what the water pressure was, then put in a jet pump for it so designed that whenever the water pressure fell off inside the lodge the jet pump would kick on and take up the slack. But when I quit doing the laundry over here and moved it to the garage next door, the well eventually filled back up and I never needed the reserve tank or pump, though it was expensive, I'm glad I have the back up.

Next door at Last Hurrah, now part of Base Camp, it's a whole different story. I use to pump water from the river under permits, to the pond up on top by the main house, let it settle for a few days, then back down the hill to a settling tank for a few days, then through some filters and into the holding tanks, then into the houses and hogans. However the first year the former owners maintenance people winterized the place but never told me so when I pumped water into the settling tank it filled up, flooded and ruined all the pump equipment, and now won't pump into the holding tanks. So I've had to improvise, as usual.

I pump water from the river up the hill to the pond. Let it settle for three or four days or weeks sometimes if I don't have much demand. Then I run an extension cord from the house to the far side of the pond.

I hooked up a couple hundred feet of hoses to a pump and slide the pump into the pond. Then ran the hose uphill for 30 or 40 feet and then a couple hundred feet down the hill to the holding tanks just above the second house or Condo as it's called.
Earlier this week when I went to fill the tanks back up the hose was on a north facing slope and frozen the entire length to the holding tanks so I pulled it up and laid it out on the road for a few days to get some more sun until it unfroze.The pond was also frozen and the pump was in it so I had to break through and get the pump out to let is dry out.
I run the hose up to the pipe at the top of the holding tanks. With the pump going it fills up about a hundred gallons an hour.

There were problems. I didn't want to run an extension cord across the porch and patio at the main house while people were staying there and they might trip over it and it looked bad so I couldn't fill up the tanks while they were being drained. I had to wait for the house to go vacant and then get in there quickly and fill up and chlorine as much as I could while it was vacant. So one day I was pumping water when the new guests arrived. I yanked the hundred plus something feet of extension cords, wrapped them up and forgot about it. Figuring that with no electricity the pump would quite pumping. Later that day when I came back to clean the lower house where the holding tanks are just above it, was flooded with hundreds of gallons of water. I ran up the hill and pulled the pump out of the holding tank and then the pump out of the pond. That's when I learned about gravity feed. Even though there was no electricity pumping the water out of the pond up the hill and down again, it was being sucked out by the water already going down the hill. Took many fills of two wet vacs to get the lower house dried out and a permanent stain on the wall where the water came in.

I realized I didn't need to run extension cord and hook up the pump every time. I just needed to seal off the water so the hose stayed full and then when I released the seal it would automatically start running again. So I bought a little shut off nozzle. Actually I bought a lot of them to make sure I had it right.
Now I could go over and turn the water on whenever I wanted without it being a nuisance to the main house. That's when I learned that it doesn't fill up the tanks as fast with the nozzle turned on because the outlet at the end of it is smaller than the hose. To get it to fill up faster I take the nozzle off and then put it back on when I've filled the tanks.
There are more issues but I'll save that for when I have some pictures and can better explain.

Raven Talk

I learned a lot last year that I hope will help me this year. Mostly by mistakes made.

When I took Kobae back to San Diego for the winter in November, Rachel watched the place. She stayed over at the main house instead of here at the lodge so the feeding schedule thing didn't work out quite right for all the critters. She threw the hot dogs out in the parking lot before it got dark, put the hot dogs in the skunk hole just fine, stuck food out on the porch before it got dark, and instead of coming out and checking for the ringtails or putting hot dogs in the rafters for the ringtails she threw them on the roof.

The ravens got it all figured out and when I got back I couldn't figure out why the ravens stuck around until dark. Usually they are on their way home 30 to 45 minutes before dark. Then when I got back every morning the ravens stomping around on the roof and awking on the porch would wake me up while it never had before. That's when I learned they were searching for any hot dogs left over from the roof. Still, to this day, almost two months later, they still wake me up every morning bouncing and stomping around on the air cooler ducts on the roof though I haven't put a hot dog up there since I've returned.

Plus they've learned about the fox food bowl out in Kobae's pen full of Kit&Kaboodle so when they can't find hot dogs on the roof or parking lot they go out and munch on the Kit&Kaboodle.

There are three pair of ravens that come here often of which one pair dominates and is here much of the time and one in particular that I spend time with. We have conversations though I don't know what they're about and it is teaching me raven talk. Unfortunately I used my regular camera instead of the Go Pro so you can't always hear the back and forth. Some days it will teach me different sounds and I'll try and duplicate them. Other days it doesn't want to talk so I mock it and even when it calls other ravens and wants to ignore me I mimic it which irritates it and it flies off. That's my revenge for when I use to walk outside and call Jax to go hiking and then it would be sitting on the garage roof mimic-ing me. I'd walk inside and hear it say "Jax......Jax." When I'd walk back out side to see who called Jax, knowing no one else was here I'd walk to the end of the porch and look at it on the garage roof and it would hurry and turn it's head away from me. My turn.

Actually four good things have happened out of this mistake or procedural difference. When the ravens are here the hawks or any sort of predator bird never shows up. Ravens kill the hawks. I have four hawks buried in the animal to animal graveyard, three of which were killed by ravens and the one from the back porch. It's like having a scarecrow in the dead cottonwood tree.

Second, they've quit raiding the trash cans at Last Hurrah. They would either pry the lids off if the guests didn't put the bunji cords back on or they'd punch a hole in the plastic lid and reach down inside pulling trash out. I spent a lot of time last year picking up trash the ravens spread around next door. I bought ten extra lids at Walker Hardware in town. They always have a meal leftover in the fox bowl in Kobae's pen or the raccoon bowls on the front porch.

Third, I'm learning raven and getting better each day and picking up a new sound occasionally.

Fourth, I'm getting my revenge on that jerk that use to call Jax name and mess with both of us and it really irritates it.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Disc Golf Tournament

Sign up started yesterday for the March 14th (two rounds) and March 15 (slightly more than one round) tourney. It's limited to 100 players and I just checked and it's at 64 already so if you're interest I'd go there soon.

I don't have any rooms, hogans, mud huts, boat house, or houses available. Everything has been rented. I will ask Doug if he wants to rent his hogan up above the mud huts but last time I talked to him he wanted $700 a night. I have camping and you don't need a reservation for that. Just show up.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

The Mail

I got a chance to open up the mail I picked up Tuesday and got this pretty cool shirt from Amy of the movie. Said they are about a month away from finishing up, no more than a month, then got to find a distributor.

I got a package from Innova with a card a disc and a calendar. On the front of the calendar, hey I think I know that place. Photographer Mason Nowels. When I open the calendar up to see what other courses might be in it for March I find this. Thrower Carolina Tilton and Photographer Michael Tilton.

Though I haven't gone to a meeting in a few years it's almost time for Jeep week again. I think I have about ten years worth of these where I kept at least one magazine for each year. I have one room, one hogan, and one house left for those days and everything else is gone already. I still have the male hogan left for the disc golf tournament in March and everything else is gone except camping.


Sun broke through a little today. Just for 30 minutes or so and the temperature got above freezing for about ten minutes for the first time all year. Said 33 on the truck while I was driving over to Hurrah to do laundry in the garage and start cleaning the houses, hogans, and garage. When I loaded the laundry and started back it was back down to 31 degrees.

Tuesday: To Town and Back

It's been about ten days since I went to town. I still have enough food for three or four more days but I ran out of hotdogs for the critters.

It's been cold for a long time. I have about 400 gallons left in the holding tanks at Last Hurrah and the pond, pump, and hose are all frozen so can't pump anymore but I haven't taken any bookings for January or February so far so waiting for a warm up. Every day the weather says 37 and sunny but the sun never breaks through and it hasn't been above freezing all year. The Little Buddy heater that only works on the pilot light is keeping the pump good at the lodge.

If you've driven out here and you know where the cattle guard is toward the top and on the east side of Hurrah this is a little scary. Just before the cattle guard is where one of my ATV's went off a few years ago and the guest jumped off. Nations Towing lowered me by rope 180 feet down the cliff to tie up the side by side and bring it back up. This picture I can see where somebody swung wide on the corner and just missed going off the 180 foot straight down drop off. Then the tracks back up.
I hadn't seen Kristen is a year or so but she came by to tell me her dog Paris died and her friends dog also. I use to hike with Paris around the property when Kristen worked out here. She drove them both up to the top of Long's Canyon and carried them a long ways to find a good view of Moab and buried them there. She ask me if I wanted to go up and see where they are buried and I will but I'll cry like a baby probably. When I was learning to walk like a fox Paris had been shot by a ricochet bullet and was learning to walk all over again with me. We both had some painful days hiking back in Dripping Springs. I miss Jax. Haven't seen him since just before Thanksgiving. Michelle said she'd be back with him in a week or two and then called to say she'd be here in a day or two around mid December and hasn't returned a call or email since.
Moab was empty. I'm always in a hurry so with no guests scheduled for six more weeks this was my chance to go visit some of the shops. The whole one side of main street had signs on the door saying "See you in March." There were only three stores open in two blocks both sides. Transmission went out in one Polaris, be ready next week. Truck needs a new front end job so when parts come in one day next week I'll be taking the truck in and bringing the side by side back. I hope it's a warm day.
All the way in and back all I saw was two guys riding their bicycles. It was 23 degrees and the clothes they had on weighed more than the bicycles. Ice is broken in Kane Creek and it's only a food deep or so. Was easy getting through.
Man it's cold but it's beautiful. Sun tried to break through while I was on top of Hurrah on the way back but didn't quite make it.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Fly Over

Vehicle pulls up on Monday. Guy get out and comes to the door. Says he's been flying over the place a lot and since he was in Moab today he wanted to come out and see what it was. I told him I hadn't heard anybody fly over in a month or two. He said "Google Earth. I fly over the place on Google Earth, all the time." I told him about the property and after about five minutes he said "Ok, good to know. Glad I came out." Then he left.

Monday, January 6, 2020

Hurrah Pass Expedition

Toru and his family from Japan who stayed here last week sent me his pictures of the Hurrah Pass Expedition that snowy day. We have a summit picture. I feel like I climbed Everest, in the truck. This very nice email came with the pictures.

"I am definitely able to say snowing hurrah pass was one of most greatest experience for our whole family. Thank you again for everything."

Friday, January 3, 2020


I've spotted eight cows on the property. I drive out and check and the gate is closed. Somebody in the last day or so has left it open long enough for some cows to get in. Besides the fact that they eat everything my biggest concern is they'll get in the man made pond by the main house and destroy the mat that is laid on the bottom to keep the water from escaping and it's terribly expensive. I close off the gate to that side of the property but they can get around it if they get a little creative. Then I drive around the property to see if any have already gotten on the Last Hurrah north side of the property.

Just before dark I see the cows slowly moving for the Base Camp gate out by the sign. I drive out in the truck, leave the gate open, drive through the property honking the horn and blasting the radio. They start moving more towards the outer gate. Then I park the truck in the road with radio blasting, get out with a broom, and start pushing them further toward the main gate. Once I see them round the corner I get back in the truck and take the road for the gate. I don't see any of them. I turn the radio down and get out to close the gate. I hear muffled snow walking in the dead end canyon, back the truck up to the mouth of the dead end and take my broom around the other side and jump in pushing the last two cows out. Close the gate and crisis averted. 14 cows went by me on the way out.