Thursday, January 28, 2021

Good Hike

Been cold last few days so we mostly worked on inside stuff. Linny is really keeping the place up and eager to work. Working outside today. It's nice to tell her physical stuff I haven't gotten to and then hear the door close and she's outside working on it.

I'm so buried in paperwork. Got the tax return done and submitted. The bank changed my loan from an SBA to a USDA saying I had too much vacant land so gave me a bunch of new paperwork a different government agency wants me to fill out.

Last time we went hiking Jax came back limping a bit. I couldn't find a sticker in him so with a couple cold days to heal we did a four hour hike today and he was so happy. Running around all crazy and wanting to hand fight. Saw a couple rock squirrels today so it's almost his time to shine.
Can it really be just a month or so before it's time to go pick up Kobae. I do miss him even though he's a lot of work and until he moves into his house somebody has to watch him when he's sitting out on the porch so he doesn't take off. He never has gone far in March or April but the first time you're not watching him he will. We leave the screen door open so he can come back inside which invites the rock squirrels in to try and raid the foot containers in the hall. Jax will sit out there with Kobae begging the rock squirrels to make a run for the sunflower seeds or cars in the parking lot.
I think everything I've ordered but another bird bath has come in. Nearly $1,500 in stuff. Got the walkie talkies, more canteens, more headlamps, the metal detector though we haven't had time to read the directions or use it, night vision is same story directions or opportunity to use it, and then the best box came in. Couldn't wait so had to get Jax a jacket in town but when this box came in Jax knew. Linny and I set it on the floor and Jax came running over. A box for him. His tail was wagging so fast. When I opened it up and the first toy showed up he grabbed it and took off running into the living room. Then there was a new jacket and more toys. For an hour he had to try them all. 
The three hawks that are visiting periodically every day haven't gotten anything yet. The song birds and white-taileds are all really alert and I've seen nothing of feathers lying around with one exception. There has been a house wren hanging around on the porch for a month. As I was walking down the front porch a week or so ago I saw it jump down into the skunk hole where ringtails sometimes also hang out. Picking up the board to clean out the hole for old Kit&Kaboodle and any stinky dogs left around I found a bunch of short feathers and I haven't seen the house finch since.

Linny, Jax, and I started up Hurrah and just before the first sharp turn and drop off there is an old road cutting off to the left and very hard to see. We took that today, swung under the cliffs where Two Trains and Hurrah Pass are and followed them all the way out to join the road at Jackson Hole. Was a good hike and 44 degrees today. Tomorrow is to be 56 degrees and it's January. Pretty mild winter so far. At present the snow pack is 73% of average and second lowest of the last seven years. That means the snow melt won't be much at it's high point. For Base Camp the big sand bar beach will probably stay on the other side this summer but there will be plenty at the boat ramp and the mosquitoes shouldn't last more than a week or two before the bats and swallows have picked them all off.

Monday, January 25, 2021

Late January

The days are quiet. We see maybe one vehicle a day. We work in the mornings and let it warm up a little then head out with Jax for a hike mostly around the property looking at things we have to accomplish. 

Installing a fifth dish for wifi on the bathroom at the Last Hurrah hogans tomorrow. That comes out to nearly $1,000 a month for wifi. It's crazy.
A deep sink came in for the bathroom at the hogans so will have that installed shortly. Be much easier for hogan guests to do their dishes and clean cooking materials.

Usually when somebody doesn’t like something I’m doing, or not doing, and there’s no shortage of them, they send me some anonymous email or post on some blog or board I don’t even know exists and read it years later when it’s too late to defend myself. Then sometimes there are cases where you have to decide between doing something illegal because it's the right thing. Fortunately in the feeding the critters situation it’s not a choice I had to make. It's not often but at least a couple times a year somebody posts somewhere or emails me to leave the critters alone and not feed them and I've heard it's happened again so I'll go through it again.

When I moved here in 2007 I found dead house finches around the property. Usually one eye would be swollen shut and sometimes they’d have big knots on their heads. Looking it up I found the disease to be primarily with house finches but other birds can get it. Conjunctivitis spreads from a bad water or feeding source. I put a bird water bowl out front. It’s still there plus later I put one in the back. In time I began putting feed out for them spread on the ground in three locations. I think I saw one dead bird last year of conjunctivitis. Clearly it’s working. I’m comfortable house finches prefer a good food source and clean drinking water versus having their eyes pop out of their heads and walking around in circles looking for food because they can only see out of one eye?

I read nationally 50% of raccoons die of starvation before their first birthday. Most families that use to come to the porch had five or six babies. Now they have three or four because nobody dies of starvation. Mother Nature adapted to not so many of them dying young and they have smaller families now. You can read studies where they go to extinguish coyotes in an area and the coyotes have bigger families to compensate for it. I’m comfortable the raccoons prefer me messing with their lives versus starving to death.

I had a mouse and pack rat problem when I bought the place in the early days. After I fed ringtails that problem all but vanished as they hang around and kill the mice and pack rats as do the skunks. Ringtails use to be called miners cats because they used them for the same purpose. I’ve decided the lodge is better off without pack rats and mice. But that’s me. Maybe everyone doesn’t feel that way. 

In each instance of the critters that come to the porch there was a reason and if you’ve stayed here you know they all have their safe place to get fed so no one kills them and they don’t kill each other. The thing that surprises me and not much does anymore is that generally only the young critters hang out. Once they reach maturity and can fend for themselves I rarely see them anymore.

I too have read that in time they’ll lose their ability to find food on their own. If that’s true then why don’t the parents stay? How come now, in winter, when you’d think they’d have the biggest problem finding a food source do I only get one raccoon showing up periodically where I use to get a dozen every night when they were young?

I’ve been feeding critters well before I ever hosted guests at the lodge. Though guests now gather most nights in the summer and fall to see the critters come to the porch it’s been going on for at least ten years. I have no guests at the lodge for most of this month but I still go out every night and feed whoever shows up. Having guests see animals in their natural habitat is a bonus. But I don’t feed them just to entertain guests. The measures I’ve taken to feed have eliminated conjunctivitis, mice, and pack rats. Things that could prove to be a danger to humans.

I've heard  “and not to mention it’s illegal.” I’m glad they didn’t mention it. If they’ll go on the Division of Utah Wildlife website it will only take an article or two to learn it’s not illegal to feed wildlife. It is in federal parks, federal lands, some cities, probably California, and in some cases homeowner associations have made rules for feeding critters. Fortunately for the house finches, ringtails, raccoons around here and others like them, I’m not any of those. It’s not illegal in Utah and it’s not illegal on private property and I am both. Hope that helps.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

A Day

Linny, Jax, and I are getting in a hike most every day. It's still a little cold out but most of the future days look like they're in the 40s with a few creeping into the 50s. Lot more hiking in front of us. Each day when we get back there's a male sharp-shinned hawk sitting on the telescope stand or the cottonwood tree.

Little bit of an odd thing on Sunday. A family shows up to play disc golf. Plays their 18 holes, thanks us for the course very politely and then drives off. A few minutes later Linny says what are those disc golfers doing over at the gravel pit. I look through binoculars and it's hard to say. Stuff is spread out on top of and next to the gravel pit. I drive over there through the "No Trespassing" sign as they did and turn left to the pit. The guy is holding a chute, the kid riding a bicycle, and the woman takes off running and para glides into the sky. They guy says "She's going to meet us in Moab." I'm shocked that someone would drive through the sign and set up a take off runway without checking. She's flying over the main house and hogans which are full of people coming out here to get away from the noise and the crazy. He says "We were just playing on your course so we thought it was ok to use over here." I explain that's not how it works. He's packing up and there's nothing else I can say. I'm kind of stunned somebody would make that leap so I leave and drive back to the lodge. 

This morning there was a message on voicemail 90 seconds long. I click on it and it's the woman with a very emotional and you can tell heartfelt apology. It was painful to listen to the cracking in her voice apologizing. I suspect they were out playing and saw the in theory runway and when leaving it was spur of the moment. I don't know but I deeply appreciate the apology.

All but Mars is gone from the night sky. It's cold in the dark and three nights without a moon but it's creeping back now. The stars are so bright shimmering in the brisk of the night. Even they are cold. All blackness but the twinkling lights of the sky and the headlamp as I feed on the front porch. It's quiet, so quiet. It's good. A busy year needs some of these nights.


 I'm leaving the lodge to drive up to Salt Lake and pick up Linny when the truck starts cutting out on the way to Moab. I take it to Nations and they hook some little gadget up to it and it says it's my fuel filter and fuel pump. Steven gets in their deep and finds out both are the original filter and pump installed in the truck when it was made in 2000, twenty or so years ago. He pulls them out and it's not pretty. A couple hours later the new ones are in and I'm off to get Linny. During the two hour wait Jax and I are walking around the yard at Nations and there are always some good reminders to drive carefully when you're out there and not take any chance. Here's a few reminders now.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Someone Got a Hair Cut



 I was so burned out when the season ended ten days or so ago. Was just hanging on having to do everything at both places but I survived it and now ten days later out hiking with Jax every day the stress is gone. I stepped out on the porch tonight to see if there were any critters that needed more hot dogs. I turned my headlamp off and the sky was amazing with stars. I'd sort of forgotten. 

Got a male sharp shin trying to get the songbirds and he's a cool customer. When he's in the tree I under hand rocks up towards him and he doesn't move.

We hike for a couple hours and then do some outdoor chores to get caught up. Pick up wood and unload it at one of seven locations around the property.

Apparently the six cows spent a little more time at the beach than I thought.

Saturday, January 9, 2021


Jax and I are out hiking and I'm pretty sure we found the place where the cows bedded down each evening before they got pushed down Lockhart Basin. I'm not going to miss tamarisk. If someone could teach cattle to eat tamarisk it would solve two problems.

The cactus which only bloom for about seven to ten days each year turn pink in the winter.

Later in the day I'm filling the water tanks right to the top so I can yank the hoses and extension cords so we have about an hour or so and take the fire road above the house and hogans.
When we picked up mail in town the other day there was a letter from a guy that said he stayed here back in the summer and owed money when he left and said he'd send it to me. There was a check for $200 enclosed. Pretty cool. Years ago I had a couple stay here for a week or so and about three days in she found out she lost her job while she was gone and two days later he lost his job. When they checked out they told me they had both lost their jobs and it was going to be very tight going and I told them they were fine just do what they can. About six months later I got half of it and was probably a year or so after that they sent me the rest. It's such a good feeling.

The ravens are on a tear. They've figured out how to open the trash cans at Last Hurrah and since I have the same can everywhere there was a lot of picking up going on today. They raided the male, female, and both hogans trash cans. I was rationalizing not being mad at them because I've only seen two hawks intermittently at the lodge so there are a lot of happy songbirds. After I'd picked up all trash littered around we drove back over to the lodge and there were three hawks between the well house, dead cottonwood, and the lodge roof. The cans were mostly empty and the only things in them were small pieces of trash I'd found while cleaning but they yanked them out again.

I haven't seen any activity across the river at Caveman Ranch or Tangren-La, whichever it's current name is and it's been under contract for probably close to a year. As Jax and I were wrapping up extension cords and hoses a helicopter buzzed Caveman for five minutes flying in real low and looking around from just a few feet off the ground and then headed off towards Canyonlands Field.

Living the Dream

 I'm inside mornings doing paperwork and numbers waiting for a little warmth outside. Anything above freezing works for me. Sun comes out and time to get some work done around the lodge. The battery in the generator is dead so it won't come on automatically until I replace it. I take the old battery out and I've hooked up the red cable to the new battery and before I hook up the black one, something isn't right. In the financial world you're looking to have your business "in the black" which is positive cash flow. If it's "in the red" then you're bleeding cash which is the lifeblood of a business. In the world of batteries that isn't the case. Red is positive and black is negative. The first eight years out here I fried at least one battery every year. I'd been doing the books for Let's Play for most of 20 years and it was all about being positive cash flow in the black. Finally I've gone three or four years without frying a battery by hooking it up backwards and I came within two seconds of doing it again.

I'm looking out the back dining room window and see two figures moving in the distance. I have binoculars by both entrances to the lodge and same at the house and condo. I look through them and see two cows by the boat ramp. They aren't going to be able to get water there as it's 40 feet of ice before there is any water. If they find their way up to the pond by the house and break the artificial bottom it's about $30,000. I say to myself "Cows". Jax runs to the front door. They are in some pretty deep weeds with lots of stickers just munching away when we get there and there's six of them. I open the door of the truck to see if we can drive them back towards the lodge. Jax shoots into the weeds and occasionally I can just see a head jumping up in the air and cows running in all directions. Unfortunately Jax chases them the wrong way and they're heading towards the houses and garage. Jax comes out of the bushes and he has stickers everywhere and burrs all rolled up in his hair but he's excited. By the time we get over to the garage they're way in the corner of the property hanging out by the Bottle Place and there's nothing we can do to get them out.
We return to the lodge and I call Curtis and he says he'll be out early in the morning. I have a whole bunch of wood to unload and I'm pumping water so we spend most of the rest of the day hanging out at the Main House unloading and Jax sits on the hill making sure the cattle don't head up the hill. It's late at night by the time we're done and return to the lodge. I'm hoping cattle don't move much in the dark as there's no moon at all that I saw. At 7am I hear a truck pull up the drive way and it's Curtis with a horse in the back and three dogs. I tell him I think the cattle have probably returned to the boat ramp. He unloads the horse the same way I unload Kobae. He pulls up to a three or four foot embankment and the horse walks out. By the time Jax and I get over to help he's already pushed them out to the gate.

Jax and I follow in the truck up the sand hill and Jax jumps out a couple times but he won't go if I tag along in the truck. He wants me to get out and run alongside the horse and dogs. That's not going to happen. We turn around to come back to the lodge and I see a chair sitting out in the middle of nowhere. Jax and I hike over to check it out.

I don't know what that's about. Later in the day Jax and I go by the same place in the side by side to make sure some guests made it over to the Wind Caves and the chair is gone. I didn't see any footprints around it either time. Monolith my ass. Jax and I return to the lodge. We have a lot of stickers and burrs to get out.