Thursday, October 31, 2019

Michelle Update

I have a text from Michelle just now saying she's very, very, sick. Nothing else.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Weird Stuff, Weirder than Usual

Kobae and I are out hiking and a guy pulls up in a truck and says "You should have a bucket of water with you to pour on him." I said "It's 55 degrees. He can hardly move when it gets to 45 degrees. He doesn't need a bucket of water." Guy drives off. An hour or so later we run into the same guy coming from the other direction and he says "I'd still pour a bucket of water on him." I say "He's still fine." Guy drives off.
The next day some people pull up asking about Kobae and the lodge. One lady walks down to the river. As they are loading up to leave the river lady says "There is a rose in Spanish Harlem." She smiles, waves, they leave. I walk down to the river.

It's cold. The temps are falling fast. 20 degrees below normal. It's in the high 40s. Kobae wants out of the laundry room. I know he's going to walk outside, find there's no sun, it's cold, and come back in. I open the outside door and the phone rings. Michelle and Jax are missing. It's been four days so I go inside to answer the phone, it's not her. I walk back outside and Kobae is gone. It's going to get down to 18 degrees. I only have a few hours to find him. I head to the beach, creek, and the road. The places he can get in trouble the fastest. I can't find a track. At the bottom of the driveway three guys pull up on dirt bikes and atvs. I ask them to help look for Kobae and send them up the hill while I cover the other three sides where danger lurks. I get walkie updates and nobody has seen anything. I head up the hill pass the hogans and pick up a single track, then another 20 feet away. Finally a solid track going over the hill. I ask one of the volunteers to follow the track and call me when he catches him. I go back down to get the truck and when he describes where Kobae is I head off to herd him to the truck, pick him up, and drive him back. Thanks to the volunteers that helped me find him.

Last Thursday after posting how wonderful everything had been going this year I woke up to a loud noise under the lodge. When I cleared out the storage room and was able to crawl under the lodge I could see a water break flooding the whole place. I got the water and pump shut off and called every plumbing company in town. They were all deer hunting but maybe in a week or two. A couple of disc golfers go under to see if they can fix it but say they don't have the proper tools and replacement parts. So for four days there's no water in the lodge and I move guests next door. Two days ago, Monday, one company calls and says probably tomorrow. I tell them I will make a run to town for supplies and they can follow me back. While one guy is under the lodge working the other guy says "What's the name of that stream?" I say "Colorado River." He says "It's kind of skinny isn't it?" The other guy calls on the walkie and says he "sees movement." I tell him the skunks and ringtails are living under there but they're cool." The disc golfers said they saw large poop so hope there's no raccoons but maybe. He calls again to say he just saw a big skunk walk by. I again tell him I feed them and there's no danger. They fix the leak and leave and ten minutes later the skunk lets one go under the lodge and I can barely breath above the lodge.

It's cold today. Kobae came out on the porch to 34 degree weather, huddled up for a couple minutes and went back under the heat lamp in the laundry room. Maybe I should have taken him back last week but temps get into the 50's and 60s by the weekend and I want to spend as much time hiking with him knowing it will be four months or so before he gets to do it again.
I'm sitting on the front porch putting lotion on, everything is chapped. Two ravens fly over and they are talking up a storm. It's as if there's a hawk here but I haven't seen a hawk in a long time. About the only hawk I don't think they can kill is a male sharp shinned who is too fast and can turn so quickly. With the though a male sharp shinned blows around the corner chasing a pinon jay. The ravens are complaining up a storm and take off in flight after it.
I got an email from Michelle last week saying she'd be here Thursday with Jax, then Friday, and then again on Sunday all saying she'd be here on those days. I tried to call her on Sunday and her cell phone is disconnected. She emailed me to tell me her new number and said she was on her way but didn't feel good so was pulling over in a small town a couple hours from here. I got the email at 3:30 am Sunday morning. I've called and emailed a bunch since then and no response. I called the Sheriff of the small town this afternoon and he said he'd look around and give me a call back if he saw the Jeep anywhere. Before Michelle brought Jax here and two weeks later about four years ago.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

A Whole Lot of Stuff

The road is beat up more than usual. I had three sets of guests not make it so far this month to include two nights in a row just last week. That makes 13 this year out of six or seven hundred but still, they tried, and didn't make it. A couple of them got talked out of it when they were within just a few miles by people going the other direction who told them there was nothing down here. Every time somebody calls me to tell me they couldn't make it in their Jeep the very next guest is usually a grandma with her two grand kids in a Geo Prism. Since San Juan County has taken this road and the entire Navajo Nation off their responsibility list I'm gonna have to figure something out.
The last cowbird left over the weekend for a warmer climate and like clock work the red-winged blackbirds returned.
The days are short. With the sun coming up behind the Anti-Cline now it knocked off 30 or 40 minutes of sunlight on the lodge. Kobae is ready to go hiking by noon and within a few minutes either side of that is when we go. I have to get all my work done prior. With some guests not checking out until the last minute getting a room clean before Kobae heads down the driveway for the new guests checking in is limited.
Kobae is taking hikes to places he's never been before and that seems to be his goal each day when we leave. He'll be walking down the road and keep staring at something in the distance as if his memory banks are trying to recall if he's been there before and if he thinks not that's where he heads and if he thinks so he focuses on a new location.
It's been a bit different the last month or so. Random people show up and I ask them if they need direction or the bathroom and sometimes they do and sometimes they say they wanted to see the tortoise but just as often lately they want to get their picture taken with me. I don't know what that's about and I probably don't want to know. Even Haydukers have been asking for joint selfies.
I've had a few nice comments about the blog lately of which my favorite was the people that checked out, took turns driving all the way back to Texas while one of them would read the blog, for 15 or 20 hours or so.
When someone reserves online through one of the booking sites they usually write a review about the place and I get a request from the site to rate them also. I've given up on my writing and apologize for not commenting but sometimes I don't get the request for a week or two and by then I've had 10 or 15 more guests and I'm ten reviews behind. Usually their response is pleasant, out of a possible five, I think i've had one three and a one from a lady that was just bat shit crazy. That's not my fault. All the rest have been fours and mostly fives. Over the last month or so though I've gotten some reviews that are really detailed and standout. No names but so well written and positive I'm posting them.

“What an amazing adventure! I am still basking in the beauty and excitement of our trip here this past week. MY husband and two daughters (19 and 21) stayed in the female hogan. Being a frequent Moab visitor and from the Price area, I was semi-familiar with the terrain. However, Tom’s property topped all expectations and was so incredibly beautiful and surreal!! The vastness and beauty of this place is truly unmatched. I can’t say enough good things about Tom, he’s an incredible host. What a great guy to allow people into his space and use his property. We had everything we needed amenity-wise, and more. Tom had coolers of fresh water for us, ample fire wood, nice outdoor grill and patio, utensils, towels, and anything else we needed. The hogan was so cool to stay in!! Very private, nice, clean, and spacious. And the bathroom was nice and clean. The outdoor shower was cool too. It’s closed in, just the top is open. It’s very spacious, with hot water and high water pressure. We showered at night under the stars. From our morning hikes in the canyons, meeting Kobe the tortoise, kayaking the river, playing on our own sandy beach, off-roading to the wind caves and chicken corners, watching my babies dangle their feet over thousand foot ledges, to star gazing and basking in the complete silence and glorious serenity of this place. - it was all an experience we won’t soon forget. The road to get here was long and bumpy. However, we are used to off-roading so it wasn’t too bad. It was a beautiful drive! We went into town a couple times and it took us an hour each way. I’m so thankful very few can travel this road though! This place is truly heaven on earth! Let’s keep it that way! :)”
“We loved our stay at Basecamp as a true "off the grid" experience away from the crowds and surrounded by stunning scenery and animal life at every turn and corner. If you are looking for something unique and off the beaten path of the tourist hoards, a stay with Tom should be high on your list. That said, do take the time to read all of Tom's very thorough and honest instructions in his listing description. He's 100% forthright and he is NOT joking. The drive up and thru Hurrah Pass is not for the faint of heart of those without a 4x4 that has some slightly higher clearance than a standard car. The drive is not for those who have never gone off road before. Basecamp is remote and Tom has lots for you to do, so be prepared to stay once you get there, and bring your own groceries for the length of time. All that is fully disclosed pre-booking, so no surprise. But on to the good stuff: One of the main features is feeding the critters at night. You’ll forget you ever wanted to watch TV when you can sit and watch a family of raccoons feasting right at your feet, or foxes standing off in the distance waiting on their meal too. Kobae the guard tortoise is also a nice surprise to see roaming through the house in the afternoons. The room itself is cozy with a queen bed and mini fridge. Though the prize is really the view from your bed, which is breathtaking at all hours of the day. There are many activities you can do including side by sides, dirt bikes, kayaking, and hiking. You’ll get a more personal taste of the Canyonlands without all the tourists and Tom is probably the single best host/guide you could ever ask for, just tell him what you are interested in and let him whip up an itinerary with maps and gear where he has it. After a week of visiting national parks, which all have their own high points, I can assure you the stay at Basecamp is still the one we will remember and talk about for years to come.”
“Tom's place is unique and amazing. From seeing the foxes, raccoons, skunks and the Ringtail at night to renting the side by side to see the Wind Caves, high cliffs along the Colorado River, hiking the 100 foot narrow path around Chicken Corners, finding petroglyphs and kayaking, this place will keep you busy! What an amazing journey! I would definitely recommend getting whatever food/water you need for your whole stay. You won't want to travel the road back to Moab if you've forgotten anything. There are a few spots that are really sketchy and I am not sure how sedans have gotten to Tom's place. I rented a Mitsubishi Outlander and it was front wheel drive. I would have felt better with AWD as I did get stuck and bottomed out a few times. They way out seemed to be easier than the way in. A lot of rock ledges have paint/scuff marks on them. Don't let this deter you just plan ahead and take a high clearance vehicle and you'll do ok. You just need to find the easiest route when maneuvering the rocks and potholes. It took me almost 2 hours to get there and about an hour to get out. Tom was a great host and this was one of the most amazing experiences I've ever had. You won't be disappointed!”

I've been carrying around the epi-pen on the right for years and then wound up, I think through Heather, of the more squared off ones that fit way easier in a pocket. Only today after returning with Kobae did I realize that I've been carrying around the "trainer" that teaches you how to use it but doesn't have any ingredients in it to help you.
"It began with an indescribable view on the drive up to our Hogan. Be prepared, it's rocky but Tom let us know this ahead of time. When we arrived we encountered Kobae, the tortois. He enjoyed chasing our dogs around for a bit which had us all laughing for quite some time afterwards. Our Hogan was exactly as captured in the photos with the exception of the beauty you see in every direction. We encountered wildlife daily including big horn sheep, lizards, chipmunks and vast array of birds. We slept comfortably every night without the use of the air conditioning that was available. You must spend the day on the beach and take the side by side to chickens peak. As a family we vacation annually but this trip is the only one that had my children begging to stay longer. We hiked and explored daily, enjoyed coffee and hot coco each morning as the sun came up and the night sky was something that no picture can capture. If your looking for an experience that captures nature, scenery and exploration than this is the place. Some things to make sure you bring: food, sleeping bags, jug of water, tin foil (I found it easier to cook on the flat plate of the grill) and binoculars. We will be back, thank you Tom!!"

SF guys repelling off the cliffs earlier today.

Base Camp

I should probably change the name to just Base Camp since it's not just a lodge anymore but I'll have plenty of winter to study what needs changing and what stays the same.

Doug's people fixed the boat house and put some soil back under it that washed away during the flood and since I took this picture went in and painted it. He's the only one using it occasionally anyway.
During the mosquito season I made up a home brew mosquito repellent out of Epsom salt, mouthwash, and beer. Some use recycled beer, otherwise known as pee. Not me. I'm classy. I still had one container left that I had in a cleaning bottle stuffed all the way in the back of the cleaning stuff cabinet. I'm over at the main house last week and Michelle says. "I cleaned all the floors but I swear they smell like mouth wash."
It's been six weeks since Jax was here. Michelle keeps saying she's going to get him at some friend's house and she'll leave and then come back without him again but she just called to say she's bringing him tomorrow. I'm so ready.
A couple years ago I had a deal without going into it too much with some Special Forces guys who would stay over at Last Hurrah and do training and teach classes out here. I think they were mostly retired and contracted by a civilian agency of sorts but it wasn't too organized and sort of fell apart. Now two years later they have rented from me and again it was a rough start and when i was thinking about not doing another deal with them Kobae and I were walking down Hurrah and some guests checking in drove by. I gave them directions for the last half mile and then saw them drive right by the turn off to the lodge. Five minutes later I see them coming back and make the correct turn. When I get to the lodge they ask if I heard about their experience getting here. They got a flat when they drove by the turn off. I said "No you didn't. You were only gone about five minutes." They said three guys ran down the hill from where they were training and changed their tire in about two minutes and sent them with correct directions to get here. Later the SF people came by and made everything right with the scheduling mix up we had in the beginning and I couldn't have been more impressed. They never said a word about changing the tire. Tomorrow when the guests heck out one of the SF guys is driving their car out for them.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019


This has been my best year with Kobae and watching Erich hand feed him has made a difference. I hand feed him every day and he likes it. I think we're much closer. Just putting his food on the ground because his forks have grown out so much he can't get his neck to stretch over the forks to reach his food in many cases. We've got feeding wired. There are still moments where the last bit of the cucumber or green pepper is dangerous and I have to be completely focused. Today he took such a big bite out of a green pepper it sprayed juice into my eye and before I could drop the green pepper and clean my eye he took another bite and just nipped the end of my fingers. If he gets them I'm comfortable the damage will be significant.

Lot more guests with dogs this year so about the only days we don't go hiking are when dogs are staying here and Kobae feels he has to stay here to defend his turf.

Every time he walks along a creek with an overhang I call his name in a low, slow, drawn out voice. He knows that it means there is danger. So while he still walks into the danger, he walks slower into the danger, which makes no difference to the overhang. Weight is weight and they still collapse on him occasionally.

Five times Kobae walked into the dead end canyon that he found a way out of last time we were there and he couldn't remember how he got out so he's go back out of the canyon, turn around and go back in. Each time it was like he knows he's a creature of habit and so he's getting a fresh start. Ten times he walked by my reading spot. I got a lot of reading in.
He leads and I catch up occasionally when it looks like there might be danger ahead or we're on a road and there is traffic coming but other than that he leads. Sometimes down a creek bed to the river, through the dry grass, on the road, or across a field. Kobae, from six inches off the ground has a unique perspective about what he wants to see and where he wants to go.

Kobae discovered "The Bottle Place" on the north side of the property and walked around it checking out all the bottles and rocks for twenty or so minutes. He was fascinated. Eventually his fascination faded and we headed further back on the slope to see if the big horn were feeding but never saw them.

When we got back from one of the hikes Kobae found someone had left a gravity chair where he usually sits in the sun. He was pissed off about it but while pushing the gravity chair out of the way he got tangled up in it and dragged it around the porch until I got bored with seeing them both go by and disconnected him from it.
Hiking up towards Hurrah Pass I heard two ravens high on the Anti-Cline calling up a storm. While we were sitting in the shade two sets of ravens came by faster than I could even imagine they could fly heading towards the incident and a few seconds later another one. I suspect I'll find the remains of a hawk of sorts in the next few weeks over by the Anti-Cline somewhere.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

The Canyonlands

This is the movie that was filmed here on the property which they think they'll be done with by the 1st of the year or so but don't have a release date yet. One day was filmed on the river, one day at the Wind Caves, and the other 21 days at Base Camp. Linny is the light dress figure coming out of the fog in the teaser/trailer.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Sun, Mon, and Tue

There were two fairly large weddings last year on successive weekends. They were a lot of extra work and no extra money so when I've been approached since I've turned them down. This times they said there would be less than ten people so I went with it and they picked the mesa by the gravel pit to have the ceremony. Roughly the same location Yoga Today had when they did their morning streaming classes while they were here.
On Monday Kobae took off down the driveway and we headed up Hurrah. I called Michelle on the walkie and ask her to come watch him for a minute so I could come back and check emails (lot of bookings) and while I was back at the lodge Kobae took off from the road and found some shade down in a ravine. When I got back that's where we stayed for a couple hours before making the mile or two hike back to the lodge.

On Tuesday representatives of the Moab 240 came by and left us these shirts and sweaters.

Moab 240

Since it's inception a few years ago I have offered to be the aid station for the Moab 240 and the lodge is roughly the 30 mile mark for runners that still have 210 miles to go. Each year they set up out by the Base Camp sign. I emailed them a month or so ago and offered again to save them from bringing out grills, water, bathrooms, tables, chairs and on and on. Never heard from them, again.

Then I wake up Thursday morning to this email....

"Hi Tom,

WOW! This would be completely amazing. We would love to take you up on your offer. We have all the food and medical, but a grill, bathrooms, water would all be very generous of you. I apologize for not being in touch sooner - I had your email and misplaced it.

The aid station is open at these times:

Set up: 9:30am on 10/11 (Friday)
First runner expected: 11:30am on 10/11
Aid Station Cut Off is 8pm on 10/11 (13 hrs)"

I thought it was Saturday but Friday works so I get the tables and chairs left from the movie filming back in May and get everything set up. It works beautifully and I'm happy to host them.

140 something runners trying to do 240 miles. The entry fee was $1,000 I am told.

Kobae goes out and checks out the aid station, gets inspired, and we get in a little hike of our own.