my photo

Life... ya gotta be doin' something...


2023 Adventures

Updated: Jan 11, 2024


Well, here we go into another year!

Sometimes January is pretty nice, but this year the central theme of the weather here is cold and snow... and more cold... and more snow.

I was hoping to get out on some road trips this spring, so I bought a low-priced Chinese carbon fiber guitar on Amazon, so that I'd have a rugged travel guitar to carry in the car. However, the guitar was dreadful and the company, called Donner, would not respond in any useful manner to numerous emails. The guitar was advertised as "carbon fiber", but it was all too obvious that the body and neck were merely plastic, not carbon fiber. And they sent me an obviously used guitar.

Being a used guitar which was cause enough to return it, but the miserable instrument wouldn't stay in tune and sounded terrible. When fingerpicking, the notes sounded like they had been tossed into a blender and smeared all over. I'm glad I ordered it through Amazon so that I could return it! However, even a month after I had sent the guitar back to Amazon, they had still failed to issue my refund, so I filed a credit card dispute against Amazon, and got my money back.

Since hiking and running have not been reasonable options for most of this cold, snowy month, I decided that  it was time to do some work on this website. When I created this site over 20 years ago, the standards and methods for creating and maintaining a website were much different than they are today.

This entire website, around 1400 individual pages, was created page by page using Microsoft Front Page (and later Expression Web) with HTML 4.01 standards and no JavaScript. But today that underlying design is getting a bit elderly (as am I). The Expression Web software was abandoned by Microsoft 9 years ago, and web standards have moved on to HTML5 with copious amounts of JavaScript. By the end of January I've managed to convert all the major sections of this web site to more modern HTML5 code which will hopefully keep this site readable and enjoyable well into the future.

Ugh. The average temperature for January has been 24 deg F (-4 deg C), and there has been snow on the ground virtually every day because it was too cold for the snow to ever melt. Here's a photo of lovely Lake McIntosh, a few blocks from my house, covered with ice and snow.

lake mcintosh


In early January, on a stroll around Lake McIntosh I began watching a which was dog enthusiastically playing frisbee, rather than watching where I was going. That was a bad choice. I slipped on the icy sidewalk and fell. I sprained my wrist, bruised my hip and apparently cracked a rib. After 4 weeks of rib discomfort, now I can finally breathe deeply without much complaint from the ribs. The ribs are still painful, but not as painful as they were, so that's progress! I'm just happy that I didn't break my wrist or, even worse, break my hip.



Heavy sigh, It is still unusually cold and snowy in February. From my kitchen window, some days are cold and clear, like this:

a little snow


But too many days are dreary white, cold and snowy, like this:

more snow


Oh well... I'm not dead yet! So, all-in-all things are not bad.



Many of the Bowl of Saki emails which I send out to subscribers each day were not reaching the subscribers due to a computer error in the data center which houses my web server. I really strive to make certain the every subscriber gets their daily Bowl of Saki email each day, even though the subscriptions are free.

Unfortunately, the techs at the MediaTemple data center, where my server is located, didn't seem to be making any rapid progress on their serious reverse DNS PTR error, and about 5% to 10% of my subscribers were not getting their daily emails, so I decided to rent another webserver elsewhere to send out the daily emails. Although I had wanted to head out on a road-trip in early March, meandering down into southern New Mexico and southern Arizona on a spring break because the weather down there was marvelous, and the desert wildflowers were beginning to bloom, I decided to stay home and try to solve the Bowl of Saki email delivery problem instead.

After several days of intense work to get a new RackNerd server set up and operational to send emails, I found that the IP address which was assigned to the new server was in the middle of an address space heavily occupied by major spammers and was widely blacklisted, making it impossible to reliably send emails from that server. Heavy sigh. Sometimes it seems like the more I try to do, the less I get done! So I abandoned that unusable server and went in search of another one.

The next server that I rented was in a more favorable IP address range, and the setup was fairly easy after "practicing" with the setup of that previous server. After a few days of effort getting everything installed and working reliably, I began sending out Bowl of Saki emails from this newest new server. For the most part, the plan to deliver the Bowl of Saki from the new server was working, but my brain was getting exhausted from working dawn-to-dusk tending to all the details and writing new perl code for the mailings.

Then, after only about a week of using the newest new server at RackNerd, the techs at MediaTemple, and their new owner GoDaddy, had indeed solved the DNS problem with my main web server, and I could resume sending all the emails from the same trusty server which I've been using for over 10 years.

So, everything that I had done for those 3 weeks to create an alternate email server was suddenly not needed any more, and I had missed a great opportunity to get down into the desert to wander around and see the wildflowers before the hoards of people on spring break got there. Oh well.

March is no better than January and February here. Still too cold and snowy to go hiking or running.

still snowing


Hoping to eventually get out of town on a road trip, I took my car to Discount Tire to have the tires rotated and rebalanced. After I got home I noticed that they had carelessly managed to bend the lift rails on the frame of my car while jacking up the car:

frame bent


And., as if that wasn't poor enough workmanship, the same guys at Discount Tire also forgot to put some of the valve caps back on, which can let dirt get into the tire valve, possibly causing an air leak and subsequent flat tire:

valve caps missing


Between the inept internet DNS record management at GoDaddy and the inept tire rotation workmanship at Discount Tire, I'm continuing to have less and less confidence in American workmanship.



Finally! A day that's nice enough to go for a hike in the foothills:

hall ranch hills


The wildflowers are beginning to bloom!! Yay!! Although this lovely Violet looks like someone may have stepped on it:


A Spring Beauty:

spring beauty

Sand Lilies:

sand lilies

Oh, these Pasque Flowers are so splendid:

pasque flowers


The flowers are a very encouraging sign... after a cold, snowy winter it seems that Spring is actually arriving.



The wildflowers are really popping this month. On some hikes in the foothills, it's like meandering through a flower garden. Many of these earliest flowers are quite tiny. Here's a few of the sights:

1 2 3
4 5 6
7 8 9
10 11 12
13 14 15
16 17 18
19 20 21
22 23 24
25 26 27


While photographing the flowers, I noticed this tiny spider that has crab-like pincers. It's called a Crab Spider... what a clever name:

crab spider photo


I bought a container of 4C brand Parmesan/Romano grated cheese, and when I started shaking the container, I saw black bits coming out. So I took the top off and found these big moldy globs. Yikes, this can't be good:

moldy cheese




On a stroll around a lake near my home, I noticed this unusual wildflower which I had never seen before. It's called Chinese Lantern, or Purple Ground Cherry:

purple ground cherry


Here's a photo from a stroll though Boulder's picturesque Chautauqua Park, looking toward the magnificent Boulder Flatirons. Sometimes (mostly in winter) I wonder why I continue to live in Colorado... and this photo is a fitting answer to that question:



This photo shows the interestingly complex flower on a Green Gentian plant, also called a Monument Plant. This plant is called "monocarpic" because it lives for 20 to 80 years as simply a basal rosette very close to the ground, then suddenly, the plant will grow a flower stalk over 6 feet tall before flowering only once and promptly dying:

green gentian



Colors in the gray stormy sky, as viewed from my back yard:



This silly bug (possibly a milkweed borer) landed on the outside of my kitchen window, seeming to be peering in to see what I was doing, which I took as an invitation to make a portrait to commemorate the occasion:



July is a great month for wildflowers in the mountains, after most of the snow melts and temperatures begin to warm. Here are a few of my favorites, starting with the brilliant Parry Primrose, often found along creeks:

parry primrose


I'm always amused to find cactus in Colorado, but this is a relatively arid region and there are a lot of them:



Lovely Lake Isabelle, at an elevation of 10,900 feet:

lake isabelle


A family of Columbines along the trail to Lake Isabelle:



With a bit of imagination, this log seems to look like some kind of bird. Wooden you say so?

wood bird


Cutleaf Anemone flower:

cutleaf anemone


At the end of a spectacular day, near Long Lake, at an elevation of 10,600 feet:

long lake




A photo of me sitting at an elevation of around 11,100 feet (3400 m) on a hillside above Rainbow Lakes, after having a snack, about halfway through a great hike:

me, above rainbow lakes


The battery in my Polar M400 running watch had deteriorated to the point that the watch would only run for half an hour before shutting off. I checked with Polar, and they wanted $45 plus shipping to replace the battery! Heavy sigh. Why do companies make changing batteries so expensive and difficult??

Electronic product manufacturers know perfectly well that the battery will only last a few years, and yet they refuse to make battery replacement easy. Fortunately, I have the tools and skills to replace a battery, so I ordered a suitable Lithium Polymer replacement from China for less than $6, and did this replacement:

polar M400 with EVE322826 replacement


Delightful North Saint Vrain Creek in the Wild Basin area of Rocky Mountain National Park, near the start of yet another great hike in the high mountains:

wild basin


This disgruntled hawk dove into my backyard, and apparently missed its target. I suspect it was after a snake, which somehow managed to escape:



The view across Mitchell Lake, on the way up to Blue Lake, in the Brainard Lakes National Recreation Area:

mitchell lake


This is Blue Lake, at around 11,300 feet elevation. I needed a wide angle lens on my phone to capture the magnificence of this place:

blue lake


I was intrigued by this butterfly, which seems to have phony eyes on it's tail. Perhaps the phony eyes encourage predators to attack the wrong end:


There are some trails which are so high and so exposed that I avoid going up there if there is any chance of a thunderstorm, but fortunately the nice weather has made it possible to go up to the Fourth of July Trail, shown here at a little over 11,000 feet (3400 m) elevation:

fourth of july trail


Although the calendar says we're not even at the end of August, the summer flowers are departing and the fall flowers are arriving along the Fourth of July trail. These speckled white Arctic Gentians and the purple Star Gentians both say "summer is already ending up here in the high country":

arctic gentian

blue gentian


This is a photo of the late afternoon sun shining in under the gray rain clouds, casting long shadows and giving everything a unique coloration. I just thought it was a pretty sight, as viewed from my kitchen window:

 late afternoon sun



A photo looking across Lake McIntosh, a few blocks from my house, with Long's Peak in the distance:

lake mcintosh


Another hike in the Wild Basin area of Rocky Mountain National Park, this time up to Ouzel Falls:

ouzel falls


Oh my, the dreaded Blue Gentians are blooming, yet another sign that summer is coming to a screeching halt:

blue gentian

And the Gay Feather flowers are another of the fall bloomers:

gay feather flowers


I'm always amused to see pelicans around here. Sometimes there are dozens, maybe a hundred within a few blocks of my home. When I think of pelicans, I think of them being at the ocean, not in a pond two blocks from my house here in land-locked Colorado. Nonetheless, here are a couple of them that I saw when I went running:



The weather was unfavorable to go up into the mountains last week, when the aspen trees were in full color. And now, after the wind and snow of last week, most of the leaves have blown away. I managed to find one little stand of trees which still had most of their leaves:

aspen trees


When I went out running, I met this new wildflower, about a mile from my house. It is apparently called Flower of an Hour because it only blooms for a few hours and then wilts. Unbeknownst to me, it is a common farm weed, and here in Colorado is listed as a noxious weed. Nonetheless, it's pretty:

flower of an hour



Obviously I'm so completely out of touch with current trends. Foolish me, I still thought that witches rode brooms. But, much to my amusement, on a stroll around Lake McIntosh I discovered that witches have apparently switched from old-fashioned brooms to more modern paddleboards:

witches on paddleboards


A lovely day for a stroll in the foothills of Hall Ranch, about 15 miles west of my home, with some deer wondering what I'm up to:

hall ranch

two deer


Sunset, viewed from my back yard:



Catnip, found happily growing in the middle of a hiking trail south of Boulder:





A couple of months ago, on August 20, remnants from Pacific Hurricane Hilary dumped about a year's worth of rain in Death Valley National Park in just one day, causing massive flooding and washing out all the roads in the park. The entire park remained closed for major repairs for nearly two months, until October 15, when three or four of the park's major roads reopened.

One morning whilst checking my phone, the news feed showed me an October 20 article in the LA Times with a headline proclaiming "Death Valley gleams with water, wildflowers and color", providing enticing quotes in the article such as “The flowers are really confused, and they’re in bloom.” which led me to believe that something quite special was happening as a result of all that hurricane moisture.

la times headline

I looked around on the internet for photos of the blooming flowers, but didn't find any such photos. I rationalized that the lack of flower photos was likely due to the fact that the park had only partially reopened a few days earlier, and there had probably not been many visitors.

Since I really enjoy wildflowers, and I really enjoy a road trip, I decided to head out to Death Valley to do some hiking and see the wildflowers for myself. Yay!! Road Trip! On the first day of November, I hopped in the car and headed west.


The entire first day was consumed driving across Colorado and Utah, but it is such a beautiful drive that time passes very quickly.



After a day and a half of enjoyable motoring across Colorado, Utah, a corner of Nevada and a bit of California, I arrived in spectacular Death Valley National Park.

entering death valley


Here's the lake which was created by the hurricane's rains, at 282 feet below sea level, but nary a wildflower in sight. And it turns out this is a salt flat, which is all too alkaline for much of anything to grow:

badwater lake1

badwater lake2


Here's one of the many washed out hillsides which sent all that water into the Badwater Basin lake:

arroyo to lake


Here's another arroyo, this one with an arch over the top. No doubt the flood waters were high in here:

arroyo arch


A selfie a little farther up that same arroyo:

selfie in arroyo


I meandered around on the few roads which they had managed to repair, and I saw many magnificent sights, but I could not find any of the wildflowers, so I headed to the park headquarters to chat with a Park Ranger and find out where all the flowers are.

Near the Park headquarters I noticed this gas station. Hmmm... I wonder why they didn't have any customers??

gas station

When I found a Ranger, I began to ask where to find the wildflowers. But before I could even finish the sentence, the Ranger chuckled and said:

"Oh my, you must have read that story in the LA Times. I have no idea where they got the idea that the wildflowers are in bloom. I did see one small yellow bush a few days ago, and another ranger reported seeing an orange Globe Mallow along one of the still-closed trails, but there is certainly no big wildflower bloom anywhere in the Park."


Oh well. It really is a lovely National Park, so I continued to just meander around, enjoying the lovely fall weather while hiking amidst the beautiful scenery.

There must be a lot of interesting mineral deposits in Death Valley, because so many of the hills have such unusual colors, with streaks of green, red and oddly-dark browns:

colorful hills1

colorful hills2

colorfull hills3

The late-day light was so beautiful on the colorful Death Valley hillsides, whilst I was meandering in yet another recently washed-out arroyo:

late day light


After meandering in Death Valley and taking way too many photos, none of which have any wildflowers whatsoever, I headed southward to the Mojave National Preserve, just to see what's there. Unfortunately, many of the roads in the Mojave Preserve were closed, so I just meandered through on the main north-south road.

There were hills that looked volcanic, but were halfway covered with light colored sand, and I wondered which way the sand was going... was it desert sand that was being blown upward onto the rock? or was the rock disintegrating and falling downward into the desert?

mojave sand


Interesting countryside in the Mojave. Looks like it would be a fun place to camp and explore for a few days:

mojave hills


Next, I headed down to Joshua Tree National Park, because I was in the neighborhood, and it is a lovely place to explore... a place that will actually have some flowers. The Joshua Trees are such odd creations. They look like something from a Dr. Seuss book:

joshua trees


Hmmm... these rocks remind me of something... a couple of somethings trying to get together...

friendly rocks


Some more Joshua Trees... they have a lot of them here!

joshua trees 2


The trail up to an old mining site:

mine trail

old mine site


I finally found some wildflowers! Whilst meandering around in Joshua Tree, I found about a dozen varieties of wildflowers. Here are some brilliant orange Globe Mallow flowers:

globe mallow flowers


Not far from an old mine site sits this old flat-head V8 Ford pickup truck (from the early 1930's?), miles from any roads... a testament to a dream of wealth that died here in the high desert. Interestingly, the engine cowl, windshield frame and door panels are not at all rusty or corroded. They appear to be made of aluminum. Wow, I had no idea that they were using lightweight aluminum car parts in the 1930's.

flat-head ford


After a few days of meandering around in Joshua Tree National Park, I decided to head over to southern Arizona. On the way, I cruised along the Colorado River for a while:

colorado river


Amusingly, I encountered the London Bridge in the middle of the desert. What a strange story! A wealthy business owner bid a couple of million dollars to buy the London Bridge (which needed to be replaced because it was sinking into London's river muck), and then reportedly spent another $7 million getting the bridge shipped through the Panama Canal, up to Los Angeles and then over to the Arizona desert, along the Colorado River, and reassembled on a sturdy steel framework. Why? Apparently because he owned a lot of property in the desert and he wanted to use it to create his own tourist mecca in Lake Havasu City. Why? I have no idea....

london bridge


And then, after such a strange encounter, I headed toward Tucson to visit friends and meander in the beauty of the desert landscape... still amused, and still wondering "why?"

When I arrived in Tucson, the first place I headed for was the magnificent Sabino Canyon Recreation Area:

sabino canyon hills


Gees, I didn't know that a prickly pear cactus could have such long thorns!

prickly pear thorns


I found a very confused saguaro cactus which was in bloom in November (they usually bloom in the spring), with white flowers on the top:

saguaro bloomin in november


Sabino Canyon is so lovely in the late afternoon glow, and sunset:

sabino canyon late afternoon

sabino sunset

In Saguaro National Park East, I was welcomed at a trailhead by these stately greeters. A Saguaro cactus typically lives for over 100 years:



The view along the trail:

saguaro east trail


The Saguaro cacti are well defended with thorns. From a distance, they just look fuzzy, but when you get closer the hazard is quite obvious:

saguaro thorns


And speaking of thorns, this chubby little cactus is called a Fish Hook cactus, which can get ya both coming and going:

fish hook cactus

fish hok close up


After a stately Saguaro cactus dies, its sturdy wooden framework stands in its place for many years:

saguaro framework


Here in the desert, almost everything has thorns! There are even bundles of thorns on this plant's quarter inch diameter seed pods:

seed pod thorns


Unfortunately, my vacation budget has now been spent, so it's time to head home.

The Navajo Reservation in northern Arizona is undoubtedly a harsh place to make a living, but the scenic beauty is awesome:

approaching monument valley

monument valley rock

  monument valley 1


So much red rock beauty in the Monument Valley:

monument valley 3

monument valley wide

Near the Arizona/Utah border is this rock formation called Mexican Hat:

mexican hat


Lovely scenery south of Moab, Utah:

south of moab


Hillsides north of the highway in Grand Junction, Colorado:

grnd junction hillside


Ugh. I'm back home, and greeted by snow. The view is lovely to look at, but I prefer the warmth that I've been in for the last couple of weeks:

snow at home



Some pleasantly warm days in December have allowed me to go on some nice hikes, and do some running too.

This is a photo taken in my back yard at dusk. I just liked the composition... colored clouds, moon, sky, horizon and mountain tops:

sky at dusk


And a bit later, as the moon was lighting up a hazy hole in the clouds, I saw the scene through the branches of a tree and got this intriguing photo:

moon through tree


That's it for 2023. All in all not a bad year, but I spent way too much time at home hiding from the plague of covid.

Hopefully next year I'll get out on more road trips!