June 7, 2015 – Linda Gets “Robed”

Linda wrapped up her two-year internship at the Des Moines UU church this weekend.

Here she debuts her new minister’s robe – a gift from her internship committee.

Speaking of them – here is most of her committee.

Linda with her mentor and colleague-to-be Rev Mark Stringer.

And finally, some old (or shall we say long-time?) friends from the previous ministerial search committee in Ames that came down for the occasion.

June 2, 2015 – Wild Basin Hike

Today it was off to yet another area of the park – Wild Basin.

The trail followed a stream for a good portion of the time.

These bridges were either not washed out or rebuilt from the Sept 2013 floods.

The water really couldn’t decide the best path down the mountain, so it just kind of went every which-way.

This was probably the last day for this little Frosty.

Not many days I’ve hiked through snow and seen a hummingbird!

Unfortunately, even though they are given explicit exemption from domesticated animals on the trail, we did not see any llamas!

Lilly Lake.

The parting group shot!  We left just in time. Three of the next four nights there were tornado watches and 8 inches of rain the following two days after we left, a tornado touchdown nearby, and knee-deep hail in parts of Denver. Just like I brought sunshine to Iceland, I’m evidently a vacation good weather charm at the moment.

June 1, 2015 – Trail Ridge Road

Today was a bit lower-key so we drove the trail ridge road, which has a peak elevation of 12,183 ft above sea level, making it the highest paved road in the U.S.

How’d you like to plow the right lane?

We always told Martin he would get to go places his sisters did not. Well, here’s one!

Even though it is June, the snowpack is still quite impressive along the road.

And even higher near the pass.

Part of the alpine visitor center is dug out – the snow is still up to the roof to the left and right of the entrance.

The building next door was not faring much better – the restaurant and gift shop had only a few opening for some of the windows.

Why they needed an area closed sign down this trail was a bit perplexing!

Marmot!

Near the pass.

Our long-time traveling companions enjoying a warm and bright mountain afternoon.

Back in the lowlands, the elk grazed.

We hiked to within a few miles of the headwaters of the Colorado River.

Mrs. Moose peaking out from the trail along the Colorado River.

May 31, 2015 – Mills Lake Hike

Our first big hike was up to Mills Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park.

The trail started out dry, then as we moved up, a little wet…

and then a little white for much of the way. But the weather was warm and it was shorts weather.

Mills Lake Trail

Around the bend, approaching Mills Lake.

The intrepid hiker nearing the lake.

Boy at mountain lake

Martin with what we call his “outdoor advertisement” look.

Finally at the lake.

Mills Lake

This place was reminiscent of  Moraine Lake in the Canadian Rockies with the numerous peaks surrounding the lake.

Rocky Mountain Peak

A look at one of the peaks on the way back down.

Aspen Leaves

Depending on the elevation the Aspen leaves were out…

Pasque Flowers

or not, but the pasque flowers were.

May 29, 2015 – The Trip Begins – But First Nebraska

On our way to to a few days in the mountains – but first we must traverse Nebraska.

I’ve  never been through Nebraska during the height of spring. The trip across was very green, and the Platte River was at flood stage. Contrary to many opinions, Martin thought it was more interesting than driving across Iowa as the highway followed the river for a good part of the state and the range was green instead of the current black of the Iowa cropland. Lots of wild turkeys along the river as well.

May 17, 2015 – Linda’s Graduation from Meadville-Lombard Seminary

A few shots from the joyful graduation from seminary in Chicago (four years in the making).

The whole fam, together for the first time in about 9 months.

The class, both honorary and real graduates.

Linda and the kids.

The spousal duo.

The dinner for the graduates the night before graduation.

First UU Chicago, home of graduation. A bit more “churchy” than many other UU buildings – this one is 175 year old and is in Hyde Park.

The inside of the church.

Linda happily in the procession.

With her major professor. Congrats to Linda!

May 16, 2015 – A Trip to Chicago

A weekend in Chicago to celebrate Linda’s graduation, but first a little distraction.

The hotels downtown where$500-$900 a night, so we rented a condo in the West Loop. This is the view from the window at night.

and by day.

One stop was the Art Institute. Something for everyone – medieval armor.

A Sunday on La Grande Jatte never goes out of style!

Linda and Water Lillies.

March 22, 2015 – Close to Having to Turn in My Man Card

Had a couple of vehicle incidents that both almost required I turn in my man card, but eked out of both. First, I buried the CRV in the field.

This is a bad photo taken with my phone as I walked away defeated. I USUALLY take a walk to make sure it is not to soft when I drive here, but since we’v had no precip in March and the pond and wet area in the pasture have been bone dry for a week or more, I thought things would be firm. Wrong – once the wheels break through the sod into the black gumbo, you are done. I tried propping boards under the tires to run up on. No luck.

I then went to get the tractor, but all I left with was making these ruts with the tractor. I was able to get the tractor out, but my chain wasn’t long enough to pull from a firm area. Had I buried both the CRV and tractor, I would have had to forfeit my man card.

Here’s the rut from the front wheel of the CRV. Our good neighbors came over with an even bigger tractor and even longer chain and said about dragging it out “The tractor didn’t even know it had a fish on the line.”

The other incident was a problem with the car. Emma reported that she thought she might have left the lights on, but got a jump and got home fine. Next day I drove her to Ames and when I went to leave, again, nothing, not even a turn over. I figured the battery was dead and was eager to get on with my day and called AAA and asked to use the “bring you a new battery and install it” service so I wouldn’t have to mess around with all that. After I made the call, I then popped the hood to indicate to the tow truck where we were. It was then that I noticed the battery cable had come loose from the battery and was resting slightly above the battery terminal. I just put it back on and everything was fine and cancelled the AAA call. Would also have had to turn in my man card if the AAA service man had popped the hood to put in a new battery and found it just unattached!

March 15, 2015 – Driftless Getaway

Linda and I snuck out for a couple of days to a nice AirBnB in SW Wisconsin.

We found a nice place to stay.

The view out the windows was a classic Driftless region valley.

Complete with Amish farmers in the bottom of the valley.

old settlers trail at wildcat park

Wildcat State Park was nearby for hiking. For mid-March, temps in the 60’s was a great change of pace.

amphitheater at wildcat state park

A great outdoor amphitheater overlooking the valley.

wildcat park ice cave

The approach to the ice cave.

Sizing up the hunk o’ ice (actually more of a frozen waterfall).

A look up the formation.

wildcat park ice cave

I’m sure we could write a nice story about the ghost trapped inside the ice.

ghost face in ice

Help, I’m melting!

We also had a nice visit and meal with some relatives we get to see about once a decade!

March 7, 2015 – There’s something happening here, What it is ain’t exactly clear

The basement door is open, the loader bucket is attached to a chain. What’s up on the farm today?

When we moved in about 18 years ago, one of our first upgrades was to replace the aging fuel oil furnace. While the furnace is long gone, the three fuel oil storage tanks are not. We’ve been using the oil left in the tanks to persuade bonfires to start over the years and finally the tanks are empty.

We tried manually moving the tanks up the basement stairs. No go. Wasn’t thrilled about cutting them in half in the basement. Enter a long chain, a tractor, and a three member team to guide them out without taking out a doorframe, door, or wall.

Victory is ours as tank #2 is dragged to the tank graveyard.

It’s a dirty, ugly, smelly job, but now they are finally gone.