My Life and Observations in Boulder Colorado.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Crossing Spruce

I was walking from work to my car the other day. It was dark and snowing. I came to a well established crosswalk on Spruce Street, e.g. big crosswalk signs, big slow signs, blinking yellow lights. I needed to get to the other side of the street to get into my car. Two cars approached the crosswalk as I stood waiting to cross. The first sped right through without a hint of breaking. The other was still ¼ block behind as I decided to step into the street. He was obviously moving faster than I thought and didn’t see me. He stepped on his breaks and blinked his brights at me. As I finished crossing the street, he informed me that I needed to be careful because I was wearing dark clothes and I could not be seen.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Another Cold Weekend

It snowed a couple more inches yesterday. We still have about a foot of snow in our back yard. We haven’t seen the yard in almost 2 months now. The temperature was 5 F this morning, but has since warmed up to 20. The sky is bright blue. Both Audubon and Long’s Peak are crystal clear and their snow shows that we are still deep in winter. I have a fire in the fireplace today trying to take the chill off the cold air that leaks into our house. I am sitting on the couch, with each of our beagles on one side of me. One of our beagles, Nicolas, has been very sick; his kidneys are failing him. We just brought him home from the hospital and his state is not good. He has been our sweet companion for 12 years now (he and his sister Natalie), and I have enjoyed 9 years with him here on the Colorado. He is my walking dog; he is my companion in the hills. I truly believe he loves the mountains as much as I (especially those cottontails). Losing him will mean that my interaction with Colorado will change. But, we cannot ask more from this dog, who has given us so much in the last dozen year.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

The House on Spruce

As I make my usual walk from 21st street to 15th, I pass a very nice classic house for sale on Spruce Street. It has a small yard, excellent porch, and white picket fence. I can tell it is empty and waiting for a new owner. It would be great to reside at this location, one block from Pearl, so close to downtown.

The other day I looked the house up on the web to see the details. In another town, this house would go for $200-300K. In Boulder, the price is $750K – far beyond my finances or desires (I could by a nice ranch in Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico, or Montana for that kind of money). Now as I walk by the house, I no longer think how nice it would be to live there; I think who in the world would live there…

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The Hop

I took the Hop today from 28th street up to 15th. The Hop, of course, is one of the city buses in Boulder. The bus was not crowded, the driver was exceptionally friendly, and we made the length of the trip in 5 minutes. My trip passed through the lower part of Pearl Street up to the base of the Pearl Street Mall. Stores and offices continue to populate the entire length of the street. Borders has moved away and is now down at the 29th Street Mall. Pearl Street is still an odd mix of chains, local stores trying to hang on, a variety of restaurants, and a plethora of small and large businesses.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Naumer's in the West

I had an email exchange with a potential customer today. This customer is German, and yes, lives in Germany. At the end of his business discussion, he added a P.S., “Are you related to the fantastic Artist Helmuth Naumer who did New Mexico landscape paintings? My father owns two of his paintings”.

The answer is yes, Helmuth Naumer, the Artist, was my Grandfather. He immigrated to the US in the ‘20’s, settled into New Mexico, and made pastels and The West his life. His paintings and my family’s “classic” western lifestyle are two of the primary reasons I reside in the Rocky Mountains and crave the Southwest.

My grandfather was a classical artist. His passion, emotions, and perspectives are captured in each of his paintings; his mood can be seen in his cloud formations. He was incredibly prolific, creating 1000’s of paintings, mostly pastels and a splattering of watercolors and oils. He was primarily a landscape painter, and as I drive through the Southwest, I constantly see images in his paintings. His large family survived on very little. As an adult, my father complained about the constant work to build and maintain their home, hunt and garden for food, and scrape to earn the money to buy those things that could not be bartered. I think my father had a hard, but rewarding childhood. My grandfather’s focus left a byproduct of 1000’s of painted throughout the world. They are beloved to me and those people that own them.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Boulder Parking

It’s been about 6 weeks with snow on the ground here in Boulder. It has been a bit of a challenge of late since I have to park about 6 blocks from the office. I work right off of Pearl Street Mall and am too cheap to pay 40 bucks a month for parking. Boulder restricts parking in the downtown area, making room for the lack of garages and the need for parking revenue. Therefore, I park down around 21st street, and walk up to 15th. I am sure the walk is good for me, but it is time consuming and a bit cumbersome in the snow and at zero degrees.

The parking situation in Boulder is classic Boulder. You would think the town would want businesses to reside in this famous area, but it certainly discourages it. Then, maybe the town feels that successful companies can afford to pay for their employees parking, and they don't want any bums around.

Of course, I am the one to benefit since I get to work on Pearl Street Mall, and I get at least 12 blocks of exercise a day. That fact, of course, is hilarious, if you live in Boulder, Colorado.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Mesa Trail

This Sunday, I took my cub scouts the length of the Mesa Trail, a 6 mile one-way hike along the base of the Flatirons. I like doing this trail from Chautauqua Park to a trailhead on the road to Eldorado Springs (Highway 170). The first part of the trail is usually pretty crowded; as you pass the NCAR intersection (2 mile mark), the people, the dogs, and the joggers become less common.

The trail provides sweeping views of the plains giving new perspectives of our unique Front Range geologic features including base views of the Flatirons and Devil’s Thumb.

Of course, you must ferry a car to the far trailhead (I am not a 19 year old hitchhiker anymore). Parking at this trailhead is the biggest challenge of the day. I had to wait like a vulture for the early hikers to return to their cars. With a little aggression, I bagged a spot and jumped in my wife’s car for the trip back to Chautauqua. Before leaving my vehicle, I loaded the back with juice pouches and a chilled watermelon. I envisioned all 12 of my scouts spitting seeds and slurping on their lemonade after the long hike, happy, tired, and fulfilled.

We met up with everyone at the Mesa Trailhead up the asphalt road at the Park. We were short a few cubs (normal), and one of our families decided to hike the trail in the other direction. They phoned me and told me they were starting up the trail to find us – it took me 3 calls to realize they were not on the same side of the trail. We decided to meet them at the 3 mile mark. No Worries.

Before we started, I gave my group the usual Bear and Cougar talk: Fight the Cat, avoid the Bear. No Running Away. I have seen bears on this trail before, but they are usually busy grazing and minding their own bear business. They seem to not see us as we point, stare, and “ahhh”. They must be amused. I knew the odds were slim that we would see even a sparrow with this crew today, but you never know and we needed to be cautious.

As I mentioned, the first part of the hike is pretty crowded – lots of joggers. They are aggressive joggers too, yelling “on your left” well before they arrive at the clump of cub scouts scattered across the trail. They try not to slow as they push their way through. I am sure they were very bothered by my cubs, as I get bothered when I am slimed by dogs more than once on a Boulder Trail. But, everyone played nice – it is hard being mean to a cub scout.

Strangely, at mile 3, we ran into about 3 separate adults: 2 on our heals, 1 coming at us. Some of my scouts were being pretty loud calling out for “Ben!”, the boy coming from the other direction. As the adult coming at us passed us, he yelled “Shut Up!!!” with a voice that would normally come from the back of a theatre. I looked at him in shock and the boys stopped in silence. We watched him pass. The person coming behind me said, “That was him, not me”. I acknowledged his innocence.

The remaining 3 miles I could hear the boys saying, “Ben……Shut Up!, Ben……Shut Up!”. I am sure this man had no idea that he just taught a pack of 8 year olds how to respond to a noise they do not like. I am sure the man was trying to bird watch (sorry about that), but little did he know that he would be picking up “Shut Up” Karma that will haunt him through eternity. There are a lot of sensitive people out there (2 dog slimes is my limit), but few crack under the pressure of cub scouts making noise in the woods.

After we met up with Ben, the boys had a new burst of energy; they ran for the next 2 miles. Reaffirming our animal discussions, we put limits on the distance between us with the usual threats of video game restrictions and leaving them with the “Shut Up” man. . If the local cougars could talk, they would be growling “Meow! Shut Up!” from the rocks and brush. But truthfully, I am sure they were scrambling up the Flatirons, claws scratching on the rock, trying to get to escape my den of boys.

The 6 miles were over before we knew it. Unfortunately, a thunderstorm rolled in for the last mile – coats went on, the pace picked up, and no one wanted watermelon. As we walked the last half mile, I showed each cub the direction of our journey; 6 miles behind us, through forest, along the base of the Rocky Mountains. It was a great view from the end; the same feeling I get from looking at Longs Peak everyday knowing I have been up on the flat summit looking back at Boulder.

We made it to the parking lot, said our goodbyes (Camping in 3 weeks at Rocky Mountain!), and headed back to our homes.

Sadly, after 6 miles, my feet were sore and my ankles were stiff. The hike is relatively flat, so I was not impressed by my performance. Luckily, this hike was about pushing my cubs to 6 miles, enjoying the outdoors, and introducing a bunch of boys to one of my favorite Boulder trails. Mission Accomplished.

Cheers. H.

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