Thursday, September 14, 2023

Even More Decisions

For Wifi I've had Hughes Net forever. It's worked ok but Starlink changed the game. It's five to ten times as fast, you have unlimited amount of wifi you can use where Hughes Net restricted the amount available and once you used it up they slowed you way down or you had to purchase more data. I put Starlink in the lodge and it worked great so I did it in each of the houses also. I kept Hughes Net for a year after Starlink paying almost $200 a month for each of the three locations to make sure there weren't any issues with Starlink. I disconnected three Hughes Net that had Starlink also at the location and shortly after Starlink went out at one of the locations. Starlink sent a new cable right away but it didn't work either.
Turns out Starlink will only provide three standard units (residential) to one location. I ordered a commerercial one, almost $3,000 for the dish alone. It's mobile and you can take it around the country with you. When the residential one went out it was a good backup and we moved it down to the residential while waiting for Starlink to deliver another cable for the standard. It worked great and then went out after four days so another standard and premium cable are on their way, no charge. I'll probably wind up with the premiums that can be moved around so I don't have this issue again. All into back up systems.
I have a new computer enroute already set up and will use it in the future, way more memory, and I'll use the one I have now as a backup. Here's the two things I don't want a back up of.
Meanwhile in San Diego Linny's baby is two months old.

Hiking with Kobae

Kobae was heading down the driveway and I had my book, canteen, walkie and Jax. We're ready to go. Jesse is on the front porch and I say "Before the season is over you should go with Kobae on a hike at least once. Jesse gathers up some stuff and heads down the driveway with Kobae. He calls on the walkie and says they are headed up Hurrah Pass. He calls a little later and says so far nine people have stopped and ask the same questions. A few side by sides swing by the lodge and tell me they saw the tortoise going up Hurrah with Jesse. It's starting to get late and I haven't heard from Jesse so Jax and I get in a side by side to go check on them. We get all the way up Hurrah and don't see him but do run into some guests that are a little nervous about the road so I tell them to follow me down to the lodge. I call Jesse and ask where he is. "I don't know. Kobae went off the road and I've been trying to turn him around but he's being a jerk."
I don't see Jesse or Kobae on the way back down Hurrah either. As I pull up to the lodge followed by guests Jake says he'll go find them."About an hour and a half goes by and I call to see what's going on. They say they are almost back to the truck and a half hour after that they pull up. Jesse says "I hate him. I don't even want to talk about it."

Jax and San Diego

Jax and I go everywhere together. I really enjoy hiking with him.
Meanwhile back in San Diego the yellow truck, previously stuck in the mud at Base Camp for twenty something years has made it to college shop class.

More Decisions

It was time. I hadn't raised prices for rooms in 15 years so I went from $135 to $165. I probably should have done it after the remodel a few years ago which was thirty something thousand and closed the place for three weeks to get it all done. Everything has increased. Just the morning feed of three bird seed and two sunflower seed glasses each morning for birds, Colorado chipmunks, white-tailed antelope squirrels and rock squirrels at three locations, 15 glasses, has gone from $100 every two weeks to $200. Nearly everything has doubled and more.
I bought all new air conditioners with remote controls. It has been huge. I remember many nights where the room got too cold and I just pulled the covers over me without getting up and turning off or adjusting the air. Now you set it on 70 degrees and it goes off and on by itself and keeps it at 70. This has probably eliminated one or two air conditioners a night. If all seven are on you walk around the lodge at night and only four or five are on at any one time as the others have reached their set temperature. They will come back on when it becomes warmer than 70 or whatever temp you set them at but by then other rooms will have reached their set temperature and turn off. That keeps the batteries from going down as much which also keeps the generator from coming on and using up propane.
I previously had lead batteries which require having water put in them periodically and keeping them as close to full as you can. Plus you need distilled water. Now I'm mostly lithium which don't care how far you run them down, it doesn't damage them. Now I have a three or four day window of using the sun to catch back up and less generator use and less propane.
In case I have a situation where the batteries are low on supply I have a generator at each location, north and south side of the property. Because I don't have the skills or the time to keep everthing running and it takes forever to get somebody out here to fix something I'm big on back up systems. I now have an extra generator at each location in case the original generator doesn't start.

Tuesday, September 12, 2023


Guests were checking out the following morning and just before they are ready to leave they say their nervous about the road and will I escort them? Coming down the other side of Hurrah we hit a bump towards the bottom and my canteen comes off the front seat and lodges somehow under the gas pedal and suddenly I'm flying down Hurrah full speed. I didn't understand what happen. I made the first corner barely running far up the side but I wasn't going to make the second one. I looked under the panel and could see the canteen under the pedal, how did that make me go fast? I kicked at it and it came out and I was able to get it slowed down before the next corner. When we got to the bottom of Hurrah I had the guests following me pull up next to me. They said "I know you said to keep up with you so we can put our tires where yours were but what happen there?" I told them my canteen somehow lodged in the gas pedal and I went 50 miles an hour for a couple hundred feet. Certainly wasn't on purpose.
In Moab it's not nearly as busy as it was this time the last two years and most people are saying that. I'm down about $7,000 as of the end of August which is still pretty close. There are decision I've made that I have to look back at and see how it turned out.
I put in a second disc golf course a few years ago. Relatively in-expenside. Maybe $7,000. It allowed us to take more players for the tournament each year and a surprise I didn't expect was a lot of people use to come out and play the course, then leave. I'm getting more people renting a room for two nights instead of just driving off and playing both courses instead. That worked out.
The bunk bed room that had two bunk beds in it I converted into a room for folks that work here so lost that revenue but that's usually where all the kids stayed and now it's much quieter as those with kids generally stay on the north side of the property in the houses or female hogan.
I took the room that had two single beds in it and changed it to a king. It went from being the least rented room to the second most rented room. More requests for a king versus a room with two singles.
Never had a profitable year with the side by sides and as they get older the repairs come to more. I never tried very hard to rent them as I always lost money. I went from $135 to $195 which is a big increase. The mindset being I can't keep losing money on them and since I lose every time I rent one if guests don't rent them because $195 is too much I just won't lose money on them. $700 per day in town.
VRBO had an option you could pay in two installments the 2nd one being the day you got here. Most people just assumed VRBO was going to take it out but you have to do it so a decent chunk of VRBO people would say they paid and I'd have to show them where they hadn't yet. It created a little bit of an embarrasing situation for both of us that wasn't necessary so I eliminated that option a few months ago.
In the beginning I would allow cancellation with no penalty right up to the day of arrival. Then it was too late to re-rent it and since a large portion of the year I'm always full I'd lose that revenue. A few people told me they didn't really want to stay out here but booked it just in case and now they found something closer to town so no penalty for them to cancel but big loss for me. One guy even bragged about cancelling saying it was my fault for allowing the option. It appeared to be more prevelent than I realized. It wasn't just the revenue there were a lot of people that wanted to stay here but I was full so when I would email them to say the room opened up they had already booked a room in town that did have penalties for late cancellation so they couldn't move. If somebody gives it an effort and has trouble with Hurrah or there's some sort of emergency I'll still cancel and refund it but not for the ones that were abusing my being nice.
I quit doing weddings with lots of people, Just too much work. I made an exception for next week for Leah who stayed here several times and told me each time it was her dream. I'm thinking about doing them again but for much more.Then if they want to pay extra so it's worth it work wise, maybe.

Wednesday, September 6, 2023


A few hours after the Kobae adventure, Scott, a guest called from the Condo on the walkie. Said somebody from across the river was calling for help. Jake and Jesse took a side by side and headed for the boat house and I headed to the Last Hurrah side of the property to make sure all our guests were accounted for. They were. The male voice calling for help could only say Help and Ouch indicating to me he was in the tamarisk on the far side of the river. I joined Jesse and Jake at the boat house with Jax of course. When I turned off my headlamp I was stunned at twice the stars in the sky as it was even darked than the lodge and all the stars were reflecting off the river. I hadn't been there at night in many years. We all took turns trying to talk to the guy on the other side but he wasn't cooperating. I first thought that he had wandered up from The Ranch. He was probably half mile north of where the last dome was before the flood waters came and he was drunk or high. Mostly help and ouch were about all we got of him. Jesse and Jake stayed at the boat house and Jax and I came back to the lodge. I called the San Juan County Sheriff office and the dispatcher put me through to the sheriff closest to me. This all took place over four hours on Tuesday night and all in the dark. I think Jake has some pictures or video and when I get a location for it I"ll pass it on. I have pictures of Jax and my hike this evening so that's what's going between the narrative.
The deputy called and said he was enroute to the Pot Ash road but would lose service shortly. I had just sent Jesse and Jake over in a double kayak with lots of headlamps but to stay in the river. We don't know what we have in the tamarisk. I suggested to the deputy that there was a way to get close by going up to Pot Ash Point and taking a rough road down the hill to the tamarisk. I ask him to send Life Flight. He called me back and said they were putting a crew together for the helicopter.
I could hear the kayak paddles cutting through the water as Jesse and Jake approached the Help guy. They were shining lights into the tamarisk and asking for his location but weren't getting much cooperation. The deputy said he was about to lose service in the canyon but would call me if he got an ETA before he lost it. Jesse and Jake had made contact and were pretty sure he was injured so I told them to go ahead and pull up on the embankment. They found him and he was a mess with lots of blood. The phone rang and the deputy said Life Flight's ETA was fifteen minutes. I updated him on the medical situation. I ask if the pilot wanted white lights or red or blinking red? He said blinking red. They guys had taken several head lamps with them and were making a location perimeter. Jake gave me GPS coordinates from his phone and the deputy forwarded them to the Life Flight pilot. I let the guys know it was 15 minutes ETA and I would walkie them when I saw the lights coming over Three Guys on a Roller Coaster where they have come over many times in my 17 years here.
It was a beautiful night. Dark and the sky was amazing with a meteor every 10 to 15 minutes. Jax and I sat on the couch and watched the lights on the other side of the river as we all waited for the wap, wap, wap of the blades coming into the valley. I knew I'd hear them before I saw them as it's always been like that. Jax was alert to all around us. The moon was just coming up at the same time starting to light up the Dead Horse Point side of the valley. I heard the blades. Two baby skunks came walking down the back porch towards Jax and I.
I called the guys on the walkie and told them the helicopter was coming in while telling Jax at the same time to be nice and not to move. The pilot saw the red flashing headlamps and headed for the clearing but didn't quite fit and came up and did it again. I heard the blades shut down. They said the blowing dust was intense.
It was an intense quiet all across the valley. Then two Canada geese somewhere down on the river got into 30 seconds of yelling at each other. The baby skunks froze about three feet from us. We were all frozen. I could hear a little chatter across the river at the injury site. The skunks turned around and went back down the stairs. So quiet and so beautiful. The guys called on the walkie to say they were loading the injured guy on the helicopter and I saw the lights start blinking and could hear the blades whirring picking up speed. The helicopter rose up and headed back over Three Guys on a Roller Coaster and was gone. I could hear Jesse and Jake splashing around up river somewhere and they called to say they were kayaking back to the boat ramp. Jax and I heard the side by side start up and saw them coming up the gravel hill so we came back inside. We talked for a few minutes and all went to bed.

Hiking with Kobae

After an hour or so Kobae turned into a canyon on the north side of the property. It was hot and Jax and I got in front of him a couple hundred feet where we had some shade. Fifteen minutes later Kobae never showed up. I doubled back to look for him and found his trascks going up on to slickrock where he could have passed above us. His climbing ability is surprising. Then I heard a noise farther up the canyon so Jax and I went that way but never picked up foot prints. We're 30 minutes from dark and Kobae will hunker down once it gets dark and we won't be able to look for him again until the next morning. I called Jesse and ask him to start at the far end of the canyon. Then I doubled back to where we started to see if he went back and exited. I ask Jake to walk along the rim looking down into the canyon. We found him 20 minutes later right where Jax and I waited for him so he much have crawled under a rock or something and taken a break and then continued after I left to go look for him. The three of us then spent the next fifteen minutes fighting him all the way up the steep hill to get him to the truck. Finally Jesse and Jake carried him over the top where we put him in the back of the truck and took him back to Base Camp.