Skyline Tardigrades

The other day, Kyra and I were talking about how amazing tardigrades are. I thought of an earlier conversation where we’d discussed how sports teams only have certain animals as mascots… large predators, vicious rodents, birds of prey, and so on. I commented how hilarious it would be if a team’s mascot was a tardigrade.

This afternoon, I put together a t-shirt just for that.

When people ask me what retirement is like, this is probably a good answer.

The land of desolation

Our drive back from Aspen to Montana involved some crazy roads through northwest Colorado into the wasteland of Wyoming. At one point, we were driving miles and miles on gravel, wondering if this was the right way.

Notice the complete lack of… anything. This dusty gravel road stretched to the horizon, in the midst of sagebrush and a few lonely cattle. No houses, no gas stations, not even other cars. It was kind of eerie, but also kind of cool.

When we finally reached pavement again, there were thousands– maybe millions?– of little dark specks all over the highway.

This went on for mile after mile. I thought they were perhaps leaves or something that had blown from the surrounding plains, but we could see them moving on the road. We stopped in the middle of the highway (hey, there weren’t any other cars) to take a look.

Grasshoppers. By the thousands. Many were squished from the occasional car, and the others were kind of feebly crawling around (not hopping, strangely enough). I don’t know if it was a migration of some sort, or if a plague is descending on southwest Wyoming…

Playtesting

I brought Chronium on our trip and gave it a first couple of playtests with family and friends. Here I’m explaining the cards to the crowd:

Someone had the bright idea that we should look like those cheesy board game boxes from the 80’s. Well, except for Aaron in the middle, who doesn’t seem as enthusiastic as the rest of the gang.

The consensus from two groups was… it isn’t completely awful. I got some good feedback, and the work continues.

SO. MANY. ASPEN.

Hiking through the forests around Aspen was magical. There were so many aspen trees it was amazing. I couldn’t help taking a bunch of shots of the gorgeous white trunks.

In the fall, these hillsides are breathtaking with their mix of dark green pine and brilliant gold aspen.

I miss you, Colorado.

Ghost town

In a whim, we decided to visit a ghost town up in the mountains near Aspen. Apparently for a time, Ashcroft was a bustling mining town, but it gradually faded into oblivion and now remains only as a half-dozen crumbling buildings. Still, it’s very picturesque with the nearby hills and mountains (peppered with aspen trees, of course).

It was interesting to wander the fields and poke around the old structures. A quick peek on the internet taught me that Colorado has over fifty ghost towns still standing!

Maroon Bells

After our Utah trip, we figured we were halfway to Colorado anyway, so we met up with friends and hiked the Maroon Bells. It’s been a few years since I was in that area, and it was just as breathtaking as I remember. Here’s the iconic scene– the photo everyone takes when they visit:

It’s obvious why: the quiet lake, the beautiful aspen, and the stark granite and snow are a great combination.

Here’s the crew– our friends the von Niederhauserns and Pattersons:

And here’s my beautiful bride:

As we walked the trail up to Crater Lake, a storm brewed behind us.

Continuing up the trail, we were able to see the familiar peaks from slightly different angles.

As the grey clouds continued to roll in, there were really cool mixes of sunlight and shadow on the hills.

The sky had clouded over by the time we reached the lake, but the view was still awesome.

It was a great day for a hike, and great to put some miles on my shoes in good ol’ Colorado.

Paragliding

While driving along the highway in Utah, Pepper, Kyra, and I noticed a bunch of little specks in the sky. Squinting a bit, we realized they were paragliders! Paragliders by the dozens. We drove up to the top of a huge hill (the “point of the mountain” in Utah-ese) to their takeoff/landing area.

We sat on the grass with a few dozen other people, watching the gliders leap from the cliff (in the background of the photo above) and come in for landings (in the middle area). Above, there were probably around fifty people sailing in slow circles on the thermals. It was awesome.

Honestly, it didn’t look all that hard. Pepper even commented that she’d love to do it sometime. Heck, maybe I’ll take her up on it one of these days…

Teeny fedora

Kaitlyn saw a little toddler-sized fedora and felt like she just had to get it for Ollie. He’s not quite big enough yet:

On the other hand, the hat’s a wee bit too small for the grown-ups: