Friday, December 31, 2021

Propane Truck

 Propane truck showed up yesterday, the 30th one day before projected snow and if a lot it probably wouldn't have gotten out here again for who knows how long. I spent most of a day with the grader operator on Hurrah a couple weeks ago to make sure the propane truck could fit through all the corners. It was still a little tight where the cattle gate is.

Fourth Visit in Two Days

 At the very beginning of 2021 Linny and I were in the kitchen and heard something moving in a cabinet. I opened it up and a plastic bottle was moving a little. I pulled it up and there was a baby skunk head wanting a hot dog. He's showed up a total of three times this year but then yesterday twice and today, Dec 31, twice again. I set a hot dog on the counter and he/she has these little hands that come up and push the hot dog toward the hole where it falls in and the skunk disappears. I finally got a good picture of it this evening.

I'm Woke

 There are three, really four feed bowls each night. There is one under the porch that we pour Kit&Kaboodle through the boards to fill up for the skunks and occasional ringtail. There is one out in Kobae's yard for the foxes, and two on the porch for the raccoons. Each morning this time of year there is usually a little bit left in the raccoon bowls. The first thing that wakes Jax and I each morning is the Eurasian doves breaking through the iced up water bowls to drink and eating the last of the food in the bowls. In the past the doves would leave the brown colored ones. The package says liver, chicken, turkey, and ocean fish, apparently that is distinguishable between aquarium or pond, or river fish, I don't know which is which. 

Then I went out in the hallway and got the Kit&Kaboodle package to try and figure out which color is liver, chicken, turkey, or ocean fish but it doesn't say. Instead it says "in four fun shapes!" I hadn't even noticed that. I thought it was just four fun colors but now I realize it's shapes also. There it was staring at me this whole time. Something changed though. The last few days the Eurasian doves have quit eating the dark colored Kit&Kaboodle. Maybe they figure out those two colors are turkey and chicken and they don't want to eat their fellow birds. No problem with the liver and fish. This morning I brought one of the raccoon bowls into the office and set it on the desk. Then a few minutes later looking over at it something kept seeming familiar. Then it hit me and I had never noticed. 
The doves, Eurasian doves, don't like the letters X and O. They are alphabet racists. It's worse they are Tic, Tac, Toe racists. X's and O's aren't good enough to get eaten or maybe they are trying to save them, but more likely they are not good enough for Eurasian doves. All this time I've felt sorry for the Eurasian doves the prime target of larger hawks. They are the slowest fliers with the most meat on them. But now, knowing they are tic, tac, toe racists. No sympathy, come on hawks. Holy scat, I'm woke, well got to go, off to organize a protest and save the world. 

Something Died, Something Killed

 Three or four nights ago Collin came in from outside feeding the night people and said "Something died." I said "I know what you heard. A scream, a gurgle, a short scream, and silence." He said "That's what I heard." I said "In the rocks, bottom of the hill, across the driveway." He said "Bottom of the drive way." I've heard it before. It's a horrible sound.

Sometimes in the summer, coming back from next door, late at night, checking somebody in or doing laundry I'd see eyes up in the rocks as the suspension of whatever I was driving would bounce the lights up there. Sometimes green, the bobcat, sometimes red, the coyote, but mostly white. The foxes watching the lodge and waiting for me to come out and throw hot dogs. Jax and I went out looking to see who killed who from where the eyes are. It's rock and hard to find tracks. However the two places the fox sit and watch the lodge doesn't have nearly the amount of fox scat that it use to. Probably because it's less populated. Probably because of the red and green eyes.

Then we moved further down the hill where Collin heard the scream. There were some raccoon tracks, a lot of big horn sheep tracks, and a few dog tracks and human tracks from disc golfers. That's all we found. For me, it's hard to tell the difference between deer and big horn tracks but not so on the scat. If it has a little Hershey's kiss nipple on the end of it, it's big horn and more squared off is mule deer, if the shrubbery leaves are gone at the three or so foot level it's big horn and at the four foot and up level it's mule deer, if the scat is stuck together it's pregnant, and if it's scattered within a foot or two and wet it's female and if scattered and dry but a wet spot three to five feet in front of it, it's male.

Wednesday, December 29, 2021


We have weather coming for a week or so and neither Jax or I like to hike much when the weather is single digits which we have a chance of around New Years. So with temps in the mid 40s and a 10 or so mile an hour wind we hiked all the way out past the Wind Caves and at the first creek dropped into the creek bed. Then we stayed close to the river where the cows have trampled through all the tamarisk. 

In the four plus hours we were out there we saw one Jeep and two side by sides. It's pretty quiet this time of year.

Jax is so crazy. Just hiking on the road, nobody around, all of a sudden he attacks me playfully and wants to glove fight so I sit down in the middle of the road and glove fight him until he gets tired. He comes over licks the glove, licks my face, and then we continue our hike.

After the cows trampled everything down, nobody likes tamarisk anyway, then the side by sides went in and made all kinds of new roads I've never seen before.

Then Jax got lucky. Though the cows are suppose to be all gone, they aren't, and Jax and I ran across the last six and it's off to the races. Finally they got tired of being chased and banded together and stared Jax down. He stared back for a minute or so and then on a very rare occasion Jax walked away from trouble.

Friday, December 24, 2021

Continuation of Stuff, Good Stuff

It's Christmas Eve. Jax is curled up on his bed on my desk next to me. He is my constant shadow. Feels weird to go anywhere without him. There are still a few stores in town that haven't accepted him yet but everybody expects him to come in if I come in. I wish I could get him to quit peeing on fake potted plants. Rained most of the day today and we didn't get a little bit of sun until very late afternoon so we hiked over with guests to check the water level in the pond and water in the tanks that support the houses and hogans. We're in pretty good shape this year. 

I have a mistake to account for. I said I thought Dec 20th was the shortest day of the year but I looked it up today and its December 21st. Shortest day of sunrise that is. Still all these years I've been counting December 20th and the sun was off by a couple minutes this year. Going by my Mac Book time all these years.

Don't think the mountain lion showed up this fall either. It should have been here around Thanksgiving but I haven't run across a track so far. Cowboys said they saw a track out in Jackson Hole little north of here but I've got nothing I'm happy to report. In reality it just means she's killing a big horn or deer every week somewhere but here.

I think part of the reason I'm highlighting conversation about Base Camp and how deep it penetrates people's hearts is that I'm torn myself. I'm looking at two other properties. If I can't buy Doug's property on the hill I'll probably use my VA guarantee which means when I buy them, more like whichever one I buy, I have to live in which takes me away from here and I don't want to be away from here. Ideally I want to live on the hill above the lodge where I can come down and help whenever they need it but spend the bulk of my days like I did in the early times out exploring. It makes it even harder when I read the emails and letters because they're so good.

I don't do weddings anymore. I make the same amount of money with three times the work and it throws the property off sync. By that I mean there are eight rentals and usually two to four of them go vacant each day and re-rent. We can keep up. We have a wedding and or other type of event they all go vacant and re-rent the same day and it's a tough day trying to clean four rooms, two houses, and two hogans, have them ready, and pick up after the previous event by 3pm check in time.
Then I got this. 

"Hi there Tom!

I hope you are well, Kobae is finding convenient places to sleep, and you are enjoying the fresh driveway (I love your blog). My name is Leah, you may not remember me, but I stayed in one of your hogans with two other young women (we had 2 black dogs with us) around New Years a couple years ago. I drive a green Toyota Tacoma and you patiently guided me back down the road on the way out after a snowstorm, and memorably helped me tie my Thule box down when one of the clips broke going around an icy turn!

Anyway, whether you remember me or not, my couple nights in your slice of heaven truly grounded me in the years since as I’ve worked to establish my career, just knowing if I work hard and intentionally I may be able to set up my only (albeit much littler!) slice of heaven in the desert. The Colorado plateau is so important to me and you were the first one I saw who had embedded your life in the wilderness— not just settling for weekend trips to get your fill of the desert’s calm and beauty.

So fast forward to now, and as my partner and I plan a (still far off) wedding celebration, the only place I have pictured gathering our family and friends has been...on your property!  I have spent hours and hours telling my partner about your land in the context of day dreaming about our own land and future, and a good chunk of time showing her every nook and cranny of your website, so she perfectly understands the allure.

So that leads me to...

Do you think you may be open to renting out the whole property (both houses, hogans, the whole shabang) for a weekend in September 2023 for us to host (~40-50 people) for our wedding?

If so, would you be open to my partner and I coming down one day maybe this fall or next spring so my partner could see the property, meet you, and we could deliver you a cash or check deposit of whatever you are comfortable with?

Let me know what you think, or if you would prefer to chat on the phone. It would truly be a tremendous honor to get to share the desert with our loved ones through your home!

Thanks for your time,

I'll do it. Sometimes you find yourself in the middle of nowhere, and sometimes in the middle of nowhere, you find yourself.

Wednesday, December 22, 2021


I think it's Dec 20th the shortest day of the year. The first couple winters when I didn't have Buddy Heaters or know anything about them I froze my ass off each winter. Because the lodge is closer to the Anti Cline the sun hits Last Hurrah about 30 minutes before it hits this side of the property. I remember each morning I'd open the blinds in the office and I'd think in two more minutes the sunlight will hit the lodge and it's going to get one or two degrees warmer. I could hardly wait. Usually doing jumping jacks waiting for it to hit my office. On Dec 20th it would hit the office at 9:13 am. This year on Dec 20th I happened to be in my office and the sun hit it at 9:10 am. How is that possible? After all these years of 9:13 am and then one day 9:10 am. Something's up.  

Each night there are two food bowls of Kit&Kaboodle on the front porch for the raccoons and one in Kobae's pen. In the mornings now they still have food in them which is unthinkable for the last eight or nine months. At best one or two raccoons show up each night, the ringtail twice last week, couple of skunks, and three to six foxes. What wakes me up in the morning now is the Eurasian Doves gathering on the porch to eat some Kit&Kaboodle and break the ice on the water bowls to drink out of.

Each day Jax and I are hiking places we don't go very often because we have guests and check ins and Collin and Nate are both in Salt Lake so we need to stay close in case we're needed.

On this day we're going to hike The Boulder Canyon from bottom to top instead of the usual way. I'm feeling some of my endurance coming back finally and not having to use my hands so much while hiking over semi difficult stuff. Each time I get out of shape and have to make a comeback I keep thinking what if I don't make the comeback? Maybe there is an age where you just don't get your endurance back but this doesn't appear to be it yet.

I've seen a single bald eagle going up and down the river most days the last two weeks. I clicked on the Facebook postings that Heather puts up from the blog and it let me on for a little while before it kicked me off. A while back when the dead deer was at the bottom of the driveway I suggested to me it looked like it was a bobcat that killed it. There were some comments that a bobcat can't kill a deer. Dear Doubters, go to You Tube and type in deer versus bobcat.
At the lodge I now have a sharp-shinned male hawk that is giving a pretty good try at the songbirds each day. I've chased him off a couple times but he has a different technique than the one I battled six or eight winters ago. He's not small enough to get down in the bush where the songbirds hide so he finds some bushes that he can get down in and waits for a songbird to fly into it. I've got about 20 walkie talkies still so I may have to put one in every other bush or so to try and scare him when I can even detect he's here. I only know because no songbirds go to the feeding areas and they are all deep in the brush and silent. But I don't know where he is without combing the whole area and scaring off all the songbirds that are hiding in other brush.

Side by side, Jax, Cows

Jax and I are out hiking when we get a call from guests one of the side by sides has gone down. The engine runs fine, just doesn't go anywhere. Jax and I hike back, get another side by side and take it out and switch with them. Towed it back the next day.

After dropping off the side by side we hike back. We haven't gone very far when while the herd has started down Lockhart Basin there are still a few cows that got missed. But Jax didn't miss them. He's off to the races. He'll chase one for a couple hundred feet and then run back and jump up and down on me, then off to chase another cow. I yell at him but he's completely deaf when there are cows around. Tonight we're setting on the couch in the living room and Jax looks bored. I go get his box out of the office with all his toys in it. Balls, donut like toys, chewed up glove, giraffe, squirrel, chipmunk, two geese, skunk, and each time I present one I name it. He doesn't care. I get to the last toy which is a hedgehog. I present it and say "cow". He grabs it and takes off. I chase him around the furniture for ten minutes and he jumps up on the small couch and starts chewing on it.
Not much going on next door, across the river. Most days there are two trucks over there and almost no activity that I can distinguish. Man and a woman yelling at each other a few nights back for half an hour or so, haven't heard anything since then. They go out and shoot on the firing range occasionally. Since it's been six months and they haven't showed up yet I'll have to drive over there one day and figure out how to get hold of them if something comes up. Maybe take them a couple walkies.

Have just two or three guests each night, main house, room at the lodge, and a hogan or two. It's quiet out there. I heard one side by side today and that was it.

Kobae, and those like him

Linny sent me this shot of Kobae knocking things over and getting stuck as he often does. 

Ron Logan, sent to Heather, and she to me, of another what looks like an African Spur causing the same kind issues that we go through all the time with our friend Kobae.

Friday, December 17, 2021

Dreams of a Cattle Dog

 Not bad today. Low 40's, little wind, and mostly sun. We decided to hike out to Jackson Hole to make sure no cattle had come back and were at the beach or in the pond on top. When we got to the bottom of the driveway there's the cowboy's truck with two sets of horse prints heading out to Jackson Hole. Probably means they are going to round up the 100 cattle that are out there and move them to join the main herd on the way to Lockhart Basin.

As we come over the hill there are 20 or so cattle standing by the Jackson Hole turnoff. Jax takes off right into the middle of them scattering them in all directions. I'm calling Jax but he's having so much fun he ignores me. Unfortunately he's chasing them mostly toward the boat ramp and pond the two places I don't want them to go. I change the tone of my commands and Jax returns. We have to hike down the creek to the beach and boat ramp and come back towards Hull's Place to keep Jax from chasing cows the wrong way.

As we get out towards the Twin Towers just before you go over the hill and into Jackson Hole there are 20 more cows minding their own business and Jax charges into them sending them fleeing back towards Jackson Hole. He comes back and starts jumping up and down on me and trying to fight me he's having so much fun. He's undoing all the work the cowboys have spent the morning doing. To return and avoid cows we're going to have to drop in the canyon or take the overhang trail. I pick the overhang.

Shortly after we get back to the lodge I can see the whole herd coming over the hill from Jackson Hole. Best to take the beater truck to the bottom of the hill to keep any of them from veering up toward the lodge by blocking the road. The cows come by herded by two cowboys,  Curtis and Ricky, and three dogs. I open the truck door. Jax runs over to the dogs. There's a brief meeting, they all smell Jax and he smells them. He's been accepted and they're off to keep the cows in line. Jax chases a few cows back into the herd then runs back and jumps up and down on me, hear's the dog whistle and runs back to the herd to chase more cows, then back to me and over and over. He is crazy happy. When they exit the driveway Jax heads back but he don't want to.