Monday, December 31, 2012

I asked for it.

I've been asking for a project for a while now. Heather gave me one. It involves renovating the kitchen. Our house is small and humble but we really like it. With a small house you can make it look really nice with minimal effort/investment. We've painted the entire house and last year we re-did the bathroom. Our main room has really tall ceilings and we thought we nailed the color a few years ago but now we think it looks like shit. Same deal in the kitchen. And I HATE oak. So this is our narrow and slightly deep kitchen this morning before I started in on it. 

I have way more time than I do money and I don't really hate the layout of the cabinets...just the color. So the plan right now was to remove all the doors and drawers and hardware and then go with a dark chocolate color over the oak. I started on the left side this morning. There is a lot of prep work involved but I got the first coat of paint on at about 6 tonight. Here are some of the doors drying.

Here are the frames drying. This job pretty much sucks ass. I think in our head we're thinking about chocolate cabinets with externally mounted stainless/brushed hardware. We wanted to do stainless counter tops but they are spendy so we're also looking at dark quartz or maybe even concrete (although we have heard they stain badly). But....think gray for the counters. Then for the walls we will go with some shade of blue/gray. Originally we talked about Robin Egg blue but that's probably more blue than we'll end up with. Finally, we want to go with a subway tile style backsplash to give the illusion of depth.

Lastly, I took this picture of Bodhi the other night. He appears to be sniffing Mr. Bills nutsack. He's a good boy.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas Miracles!!

I've never been a fan of the holiday season but the longer I am with Heather, the more I look forward to it. Damn if she isn't contagious. This year I came down with a nasty flu 2 days before I was supposed to have off for break and it lasted 7 days. Normally I refrain from talking about work here but I'll share just a bit. On Sunday, one of my co-workers dropped off a bag of gifts on my porch from her, my other co-worker (we all work very closely within my program where we deal with students that exhibit emotional and behavioral concerns that keep them from being successful within the general education setting). In the bag was also a few gifts from students. This one student gave me this. It's a comb for bald men. You have to know this student but I'm sure he was disappointed that he didn't get to see me open it up. He would have laughed for hours. So...I will re-wrap it and then open it in front of everyone so that he can enjoy it. I was almost in tears. 

Apparently, another student thinks I have a drinking problem. He gave me the Serenity Prayer plaque thing. One of my lovely co-workers gave me the whiskey. I'll read the poem while drinking the whiskey when I'm feeling better.

If you know Heather and me, you know that our pups are our children. We had a bit of a scare a month ago when Dharma needed to have surgery but she is feeling much better and we can tell that she is in much less pain now. Every year, we get both dogs a stuffed animal and let them kill it. Dharma is pretty good because she knows the command "kill it". When it's given, she will shake her head from side to side like the ferocious pitbull that she is until nothing is left. However, something unusual happened this year. She does not appear to want to kill Mr. Bill. She carries him around the house and sleeps next to him.

We got Bodhi the same stuffed animal and he loves it as well. Bodhi is an unusual pitbull. He outweighs Dharma by 20 pounds but he's total chicken shit (although he has one hell of a loud bark). Inside Mr. Bill's chest is a device that, when squeezed, makes him yell out, "Oh nooooooooo." Bodhi dropped it and ran the first several times but he's coming around now but, as you can see no damage has been inflicted on either doll and this pisses me off. 

This year I received some lovely gifts from my wife. I got a new iPod because the one I purchased right before I did the Colorado Trail was ruined in that last rain storm. I think I have had 4 iPods in the last 2 years and almost all of them were purchased by Heather. She also got me this sheath. It's from Abel Reels. Abel makes some beautiful fly reels as well as pliers and knives. They have a plier/knife combo that is anodized like a brown trout and sells for $550. A lot of salt water guys use the pliers but I really do prefer my Leatherman. It fits perfectly but I still need to install the lanyard. I was lucky enough to get quite a few of my father in-laws knives. He had one stainless and polished Spyderco that is really nice that I wanted to use in the sheath but it's too big to fit. I was bummed and figured I'd just have to go shop for one that would work. Then I realized I had this Kershaw knife that was also his. It fits perfectly and I love that it was his. Every time I use one of his knives, I think of him.

Finally, I happened to be playing around on the internet the other night and found something that I have wanted for a while for my blinglespeed bike but just couldn't stomach paying retail for it and don't know anyone that can give me the homey hookup. Well I found said item for over 50% off. Heather encouraged me to get it after I chewed on it for 20 minutes. It should be here in the next several days. I'm not letting the cat out of the bag yet but I'm pretty excited to get it installed. More on that later.

Sunday, December 23, 2012


Being down with the flu and pretty much isolated to either the bed, couch or the bathroom for the last 5 days has given me plenty of time to marinate on some things. For the last few months I've felt a bit lost. The last half of the Colorado Trail Race was truly life changing for me. A good chunk of the time I feel bad about it all and what I put my friends and Heather through. Again...I apologize. I feel really badly that so much of the past few years has been selfishly dedicated to that thing and I neglected other, more important, aspects of my life. One thing I vividly recall that last night was wanting to get out of the woods so I could give her more of what she deserves. I thought a lot about my career that night, being a better husband, moving back to Saint Louis, buying Heather a Porsche, and many other things. Not long after making it back home I wasn't sure that I would ever ride my bike again at all. I think during the last few months I've almost been trying to find something else to immerse myself in. 

But I dig riding my bike. Heather likes it when I ride my bike. She just doesn't like it when it becomes all encompassing like it has for the last several years. The sad part about it is that I had so much fun riding all summer long (long rides, short rides, rides in storms, rides in sweltering heat (albeit by Colorado standards at 9000 feet) etc.) but not 50 miles into the CTR, I was no longer having fun. For the majority of the trail, I did not have fun. Sure...there were periods that were fun or sections but, overall, I suffered and was lost. I would venture to say that I even hated it. Sadly, I had ridden the trail from the start to Copper Mountain numerous times throughout the summer and had a blast doing so (and most of that was done rigid and single). I guess the big difference was a lack of a schedule. Oddly enough, I was actually faster on a lot of my training rides where I just didn't give a rats ass and spent a lot of time looking at the scenery. During the race, there's not a lot of time for that and you certainly don't see much when you ride through the night. I think it was 2007 that Matt Lee raced the CTR after the Tour Divide and said he felt that lights should be outlawed because you stand to miss out on so much beauty by riding at night. He was right. I look at pictures of the places I pedaled through at night and it saddens me. But...those sights aren't going anywhere. 

I don't know what (if anything) is next for me in terms of riding other than...well...riding. Heather and I talked about it today. I do know that I'll ride more. I'll do some stuff this summer in between fishing, playing with the pups, having fun with Heather (that means taking trips without the pups and plenty of tubing on the Platte in my Speedo), doing some more backpacking and drinking a beer or two. But I will not take it as seriously as in years past. I won't be racing. One day, I may even do the Colorado Trail again (although there are some stretches that I'd rather never see again). I've always wanted to ride the Katy Trail in its entirety and there's also a little route along the spine of the Rockies that's always intrigued me as well. But the most valuable lesson I learned is...I will do it in moderation. I'm so happy and fortunate to have the life/family that I do. 

Thanks for checking in. Enjoy the holiday and I hope the New Year finds you all well. Now go do something fun. I will. Just as soon as I'm done feeling nauseous. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

My father in-law loved lighters, flashlights, and pens. A lot of the lighters weren't really worth much but I brought two of them home. One is an old Ronson that has to be from the early 1900's. It belonged to his dad. The other one was a Zippo that belonged to him. Both didn't work. There isn't much to a Zippo so it was really easy to get going. The Ronson is an old Whirlwind model and it has some moving parts in it that needed cleaning. I took it all apart, cleaned it, installed new flint, packing, wick and fluid. It took a few tries to get everything back together the right way but this thing works like it was brand new and it looks gangster. It even has the original box and paper work. I don't smoke (except for a cigar once in a while) so I don't know what I'll do with them but they are nice. 

This is classy too.

My Impreza has been acting up a bit lately so I tinkered with it last night and again tonight. Last night I was dealing with some issues that I believe were related to the throttle position sensor. The one on the Impreza is adjustable so after a few trials with different positions and taking readings with the voltmeter, I think I figured it out but I need to drive it longer than the mile to work to really tell.

Today it was pretty frigid up here and it was 11 degrees when I went to start it up after work. It wasn't happy. It died and it's done this a few times on the cold mornings. I wondered if the coolant temp sensor was to blame. This sensor is usually mounted near a coolant line and it's job is to tell the computer how cold the motor is. The colder the motor, the more fuel is required to start the car. The fuel ratio gradually tapers off as the car warms up to normal operating temperature. If this thing is faulty it can make cold starts really difficult and you'll have to step on the throttle to provide that extra fuel. This little booger was buried under the intake and a ton of wires but it wasn't bad at all and the job was probably 30 minutes. We'll see how things are in the morning. It is amazing to me how much communication happens in a car between all of the systems and the main computer. The thought of working on our 2011 simply terrifies me.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Still Here

Things have been busy lately. Dharma will be 11 in just a few months and, unfortunately, her age is catching up with her. For a couple of weeks now se has been limping around and we feared that she had torn her ACL. The Vet confirmed it and we scheduled her surgery. I was a nervous wreck. The Vet was awesome. He let me drop her off right when they were ready for her so that she wouldn't have to be in a crate in an unfamiliar place. He even let me stay while they prepped her and started the anesthesia. It was very hard to see. As soon as she was out I went back to work but they called within the hour and were done. They had her on this bed and under a blanket when I got there and she was just coming out of it. Her tongue was hanging out of her mouth and she was clueless.  

She was pretty non-responsive at this point. Just looked around once in a while but mostly stared off. I laid on the concrete floor next to her for an hour and a half until she was ready to go home. By this point she was crying a lot.

This was the brunt of the pain.

This was a tumor that the Vet found and removed.

This is my baby with her hood on. I hate doing this to her but I do when we're at work. It's been a week now and she's starting to put some pressure on the leg.

This ordeal was quite scary for me. I'm not ready to not have this dog around. She changed my life.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


Given that this is technically my vacation, I decided to load up the fish slime wagon and go stand in really cold water. There was a total of 9 other vehicles in all three parking spots today so that was nice. 

Initially, I was not going to fish today because while drinking my morning coffee and checking the flow rates, I noticed that the good folks at the Denver Water Board had lowered the flows from 160 cfs down to a trickling 41 cfs today. I knew the fish would be super spooky. I started looking for a project to do around the house when a buddy of mine texted saying there were still some pretty big fish hanging out. I skipped breakfast, made some lunch and took off. It's getting really cold at night here and  it won't be long before the ice is here to stay but right now it's warming up enough in the day to melt a lot of it off. The water was gin clear and right away I was seeing a lot of fish but with the low flows and bluebird sky, they were seeing me too.

It's so good to see these fish making a comeback from the gill lice issue that wiped them out in 2006. Back in 2005 you could catch 50 of these in a half day and only quit because your arm was sore. Every cast you made you could hook up and casts were no more than 12 feet. This is pretty late in the spawn and they are looking rough right now. In a few more weeks they will all be belly up and their skin will slough off.

I had to go Ninja stealth today.

I caught about a Bakers Dozen today including this Rainbow. I worked a gorgeous Snake River Cutt that was actively feeding for 30 minutes. She was not interested in the egg but, a lot of times, the egg just gets their attention and I expect them to take the dropper fly. At this time of year I use a Buckskin a lot. I swapped to a Mercury Pheasant Tail and finally she took it but I do not think it was a fly issue but just a placement issue. She did not want to move even a quarter inch and it finally just landed right in her mouth. This is my favorite. I LOVE finding fish that are feeding and then sticking it out for as long as it takes to fool them. Unfortunately, she took a run towards an ice shelf and I knew it was gonna be trouble. She broke the line. I hate knowing there is a trout out there with a new piercing because of me.

You can see how nasty this Salmon is starting to look on the tail where the skin is rotting.

There were all Salmon.

Killer day on the South Platte. I'll probably do it all again tomorrow. If you're in Denver...go drink a few glasses of water will ya?

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Colorado Trail

For about 2 weeks after I got back from Durango I did not drive a car at all. I rode my bike everywhere because my head wasn't right. I zoned out all the time. I was an emotional wreck. Eventually I started to drive again and now I haven't touched a bike in about 2 months. Just the other day I started thinking about my bike again and maybe riding it sometime soon. I also started looking at bike related websites. I happened to look at the CTR website and saw that the grand depart for the 2013 race will be run from Durango to Denver. Should be extremely interesting. Going in that direction presents an entirely different ride and entirely new logistics. I might do some light bikepacking/touring with a fly rod but I am seriously looking forward to not having such a strict schedule for riding/training this summer. Not sure if I'll do that again.


It has been sooooo nice here in the mountains. Normally, winter comes quickly but fall (my favorite season) has been incredible. Yesterday was close to 70 and sunny but it was crazy windy. I intended to head to the river and fish into the night but once I got a ways down the road I changed my mind and went home. This morning I got up early and saw that winter was trying to make an appearance. It was snowing and blowing and I could hardly see the field in front of the house. I worked in the garage for a while and then decided to head to the river and see what was going on. Hardly anyone was there and to mix things up I fished further down than I normally do. It was 33 degrees and the winds had to be 30 mph. It was cold and I was wishing I had grabbed another layer for my core and my fleece pants. 

The flows have been super low all fall (averaging about 60 cubic feet per second). Things started getting bumped up on Thursday and Friday and this morning it was up to 150ish. It's amazing how 100 more cfs can change the entire river. The water gets more stained as the increased current tears things up. Bugs get dislodged from the bottom. Fish are less spooky and there are way more places for fish to hang out. Right away I started spotting big fish and right away I spotted a big group of Kokanee Salmon and some of them were really large. This guy was right at 20". 

This guy was in the same ball park in terms of size. It's so cool to have a bit of Alaska right here on my home water. Wish I could have kept one especially since they'll be dead in 2-4 more weeks.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

I like fish slime

The fall Brown Trout spawn is pretty much in full effect right now and there are plenty of big Browns, Bows and Cutts in the South Platte looking for a meal. I've been getting out a lot but it' mostly been at night. I think last weekend was the first time I had fished in the daylight in months. It's different. At night only the hammer heads come out to fish but in the day there is no shortage of folks that have no business holding a fly rod in their hands. Oh well...we all learned at some point. I just hate to see anyone mis-handling a fish. 

Friday I had the day off work and it was a bit of an odd day. Heather and I decided to take some old jewelry down to a coin shop that buys that kind of stuff. Some of the stuff was hers but a lot of it was her fathers. Once they were done looking at it all they started bagging it up. I got choked up and started to cry. I still miss that man and would give anything to smoke a cigar with him. 

A friend of mines father has been in ill for a bit now and he finally made the difficult decision to take him off life support earlier in the day. He passed away at about 2. I got to the river at about 5 and started walking in. At 6:10 I got a text alert. I never get texts up there but it was from my friend telling me that his dad had passed. I stopped fishing and sat on a rock by the bank. This is what the sky looked like. Although I was baptized Catholic, I don't really believe in God. I have my reasons but I've not been real happy with him or whatever exists out there for years. Years ago I studied Buddhism and I'd like to learn more about it because I felt like I identified with it. Maybe my father in-law and/or my friends dad had something to do with this light show. Either way it was beautiful. 

I saw some huge fish that night. Most of them spooked from my headlamp but this guy was camped out with several others. I didn't shine my lamp directly on them but kept looking at them out of the corner of my eye. I knew they were not on a spawning bed and was pretty sure the other 2 were both Bows (and they were). I wasn't out far enough and my fly kept swinging in front and then past them. I switched to my non-casting hand so I could get out a bit more and finally was able to get it to stall out right in front of them. It took about five minutes of teasing and this Buck took it. He was close to 24 inches and gorgeous. He took about 10 minutes to catch his breath but I love watching over the trout until I feel comfortable leaving them.

On Saturday I fished some still water with my belly boat but didn't do too much. My waders have so many holes in them that I was freezing after an hour. I got out and hiked for 3 hours. Tonight I tied up some eggs because I think I'm gonna get out in the daylight soon here. Here's a peach colored one.  

I also got some new boots and waders today. My current waders are made by Simms and they are about 10 years old and have done me really well. I won't use any other brand of waders. My boots were Chota because I have issues with laces. I hate them for fishing. In winter they always get frozen and they end up coming untied a lot of the time. I saw these Simms boots a while ago and was intrigued. They use the Boda lace system. We'll see how I like them. I also bought the Headwaters waders. I was stunned to find they were on closeout at a local shop for 60 bones off. I am not going to mention the name of the shop because I was very hesitant to give them my money because they were assholes. I dropped almost 500 clams and they wouldn't help much at all. One guy was way too interested in talking to a set of boobs. It was like he had never seen a set before. If I had not known how waders should fit, the differences between each model and how boots should fit I would have been clueless. Ironically, twice I've been in there in the last year and gotten shitty service, the same dipshit has been working. I'll see the owner on the water soon and maybe talk over a beer.

I also tied up some pink eggs, some clown eggs, and a few with milk casing.

That's it for now. It's incredible in the mountains right now. If you live in here get your ass outside and enjoy it. I can't remember when we've had a fall this nice. Hell I might even take off work tomorrow and go stalking. Supposed to be in the 60's!!!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Big fish

These pics are from Friday night. I got up there early enough to make sure that I could fish the upper section just below the spillway and get the hell to the fence line an hourish after the sun set. It had been about a week since I had been up there and I was stoked. As I dropped into the valley, I thought I was going to have a super calm night but when I parked the wind was howling. 

I never get cell reception up there but I always bring my phone with me because I listen to music and sometimes have to use the camera on it too. At 6:10 my text alert went off. That never happens. I checked it. It was a dear friend from work that wanted me to know that her father in-law had just passed away after they made the difficult decision to take him off life support. Immediately I was bummed for her family. I still think about my wife's father every day. I stopped fishing and sat on a rock on the shore and looked at the sky. I do not quite know what I believe in terms of higher powers or after life. For a few years I studied Buddhism but haven't in a while although it was something that I really connected with. I took this picture of the sky not long after while listening to the water run over the rocks. Maybe he had something to do with it? It was beautiful and he was certainly a ball of fire and a good man.

I fished for a bit longer after that picture and was couple bends above the safe zone. Eventually I was on the right side of the fence and I could see headlamps hiking in. I started hiking downstream and immediately started seeing big fish but they kept spooking. They might have taken a fly on a blind cast but that's just not my style. I kept covering ground. Eventually I came to boulder that I've seen a thousand times. With just a tiny bit of light, and using my peripheral, I could see about 3 big fish holding in front of the boulder. I swung a fat streamer in front of it. I wasn't able to get it to stall out where I needed it to without leaning way out and putting the rod in my non-casting hand. After about 5 minutes of teasing, I got him to take it. After I hooked him I moved down and looked by the boulder and saw 2 big Rainbows in there and felt good because I did not think he was getting freaky.

I like to think that I have pretty good eyes but even at night, it's hard for me. I'm not wearing polarized glasses, I'm not wearing my prescription glasses, I'm looking at a beam of concentrated light, and it's usually windy as shit. Again, I thought this fish was a maybe a husky 18 but it was pushing 24. It wasn't real fat but long and lit up. It took forever to revive this fish and the water was COLD but that's my favorite part because that's when they need you the most. I stayed with him for 10 minutes until he slid out and then I headed for the car.

Thursday, October 11, 2012


With my wagon, I am always opening up the hatch to either put stuff in or take stuff out. I practically sit in the back when I'm getting ready to fish. I have always hated the stupid light back there because I can never find anything and it's frustrating when I night fish which I'm doing a lot lately. So I decided to take care of that tonight. This picture does not do justice to how useless the stock light is. 

I started by removing the headliner trim at the top of the hatch. Laying just above the trim piece in this picture is a 2 foot stretch of LED lights and they are super flat.

Once I got everything measured twice and lined up, I started drilling holes.

This was a pain in the ass. I did not feel comfortable just measuring once and drilling all of these holes so I did one and then taped the strip down and measured where the next hole should go and on and on. After all the holes were drilled I had to clean everything up.

I then hot glued the strip of LED's down and then checked to make sure I had the wiring correct before putting it all back together.

This is so much better than the stock light and it looks factory.

Next up I'll do LED's in the dome and map lights.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

I've been down with a nasty cold the last week but felt decent enough to go out last night after having passed off the cold to Heather. I got to the water about 6 and had all these buffalo where I hike in from. I have never seen them over here so I was surprised. There is a herd on the other side of the river at a ranch but I always assumed it was cattle on the western side of the river. I was wrong. 

This picture is deceiving. It was blowing like hell. I knew right away that it was going to be a long and tough night trying to punch a wet fly and 80' of fly line through a head wind. No matter where I went it was always the same battle. There were a couple times when I could use the wind to my advantage and make my final cast a back cast but not often.  Just before the sun was going down I was working a spot when I heard a loud crash about 40 yards upstream. During the fall, it's common to hear this at night. Sometimes it's a huge brown chasing something big and sometimes it's a Kokanee Salmon but I have yet to see a salmon so I figured it was a brown. I quickly ran down there and worked it over but never found what it was.

This humpback brown hit a brown Meat Whistle on a dead drift and totally caught me off guard. I wasn't ready for it and it pulled the line right out of my hand. I figured it was off but the hook set was good enough. This definitely was not the fish I was hoping for but the back was impressive and the colors were loud and, along with the slight hook of the mouth, tells me it was likely a buck.

It didn't take long at all and it was ready to go and so was I. I figured I better check a favorite spot since I was close. With my headlamp on high, I spotted what had to be a 26" brown but the beam of light shut things down and even with a big fly right in it's face it just laughed at me.

I finally got fed up with the wind at about 9 and headed back to the car and changed. On the way out, I could see about a hundred critters crossing the dirt road and kicking up all kinds of dust. They were way too big to be antelope so I figured they were elk but it was a huge herd and some of them were incredibly big. I grabbed my headlamp, left the car running and jumped out and took off into the field. I made it about 30 yards in when they stopped. I probably got within 20 yards before I realized they were the buffalo I had seen earlier. I can't recall what I said as I slowly backed away and turned the light off but it was not PC.

Monday, September 17, 2012


About 6 years ago I was working with a woman and, one day, she said, "Hey are you interested in possibly buying an old car?" Being a gear head I asked her what it was. A 63 Thunderbird. Now...I'm not a Ford guy at all but the T-Bird was a pretty kick ass car. It had a 390 cubic inch motor and cool lines. I asked her what she wanted for it and she said she wasn't sure. We danced around a little bit with her hand on my ass but it never went any further. Tonight, Heather was at the grocery store and ran into her. She asked Heather if we were interested in checking it out. It's supposed to be down in storage in Colorado Springs. I have no clue how long it's been down there. I don't even know if it runs. I do know that she wants to get rid of it. I think I have Heather convinced that we should at least check it out. Between 1962 and 1963, Ford sold a few hundred models of the T-Bird that had the 390 motor with three 2 barrel carbs. It's very rare. I wonder if it could fit in my garage?  Can you picture this car, slammed to the tarmac, with patina paint and a fly rod strapped to the roof headin to the river? 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Still alive

Work has been really busy this last week and this week will likely be a repeat. I haven't done much during the week because I've been working late most nights but I did get out Friday night after my wife insisted on it after making me a killer plate of home made enchiladas. I got out to the river at about 7. The fields are turning gold and the walk in was nice. There were three trucks there and all of them were leaving as I was suiting up. 

It is amazing how many fish you see at night. It's just safer for them and they really come out to feed. I'm starting to see more fish and bigger fish each week. Right when I got to the water I spooked 3 really nice ones in the first hour. I missed about a dozen fish but I suspect they were just smalls who didn't quite have the entire streamer in their eager little mouths. At about 9:30, I swung a black streamer through a deeper pool on a dead drift and this one took it. It wasn't huge but still about 18 inches with gorgeous color.

Saturday Heather and I hung out and went to dinner. On the way, we stopped at a local shop to look at toys. Last year at this time I lost my tie dyed clamps and they happened to have a set in stock so I bought them.

I also picked up this little guy. Right now there is a whole lot of big bug activity on the surface of the water even late into the night so I think there's a lot of fish looking up. I hope to be able to get out some night this week and swing it through a deeper pool for a meat eater. Hoping for a little bit of Alaska.