Ice Fishing

I had seen advertising around town for the upcoming ice fishing tournament.  I didn’t think much about it as this seems extremely unexciting to me.  I went to the town of Grand Lake to go hiking.  As I was driving by Lake Granby I was amazed at how many tents were on the ice.  The lake was covered in ice fishing tents.  It looked like someone had spread confetti on the lake as each tent was a different color and no part of this large lake seemed to be  untouched.  You couldn’t see individual people as they were far away, but you could see movement, snowmobiles wandering between the tents.

I went for my hike.  On my way back by the lake I was shocked to see how few tents were left.  In a couple hours someone had swept most of the confetti off the lake.  I had wanted to get better pictures of how covered the lake was, but I guess the fishing was done and everyone went home.  Mother nature did treat me to a yellow glowing ball of fire sunset instead.

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All those “rocks” in the distance are actually tents.

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All that was left after everyone was gone

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If you want more info on the tournament:

https://www.facebook.com/3lakesicefishing/

Ice Crystals

I think I mentioned before that I sometimes have to drive very early in the morning to Denver.  And that it’s cold very early in the morning.

This morning as I was driving tons of gook was coming off the streets and up onto my windshield.  So I sprayed some washer fluid on the windshield.  It sprayed blue splatters on top of the grey gook and then the wipers did their thing clearing it all off.  Then the slight bit of moisture left on the windshield turned to ice.  It wasn’t a solid ice, but a moving expanding array of crystals.  Geometric shapes appeared and and moved outward in all directions across the windshield.  Then they were gone.  What shiny magic is this?  So, I did it again – washer fluid, wipers, magic.  This time the shape and pattern the ice grew in was different.  It danced across the windshield as the shapes moved and expanded in ever growing circles of fractal beauty.  Then they were gone as fast as they had appeared.  Of course, I continued to do this most of the way to Denver, partly because the roads were so wet and partly because the art show was so delightful.  I swear each time it was different.  The shapes were smaller or bigger or moved in different directions.  How could the drive get better than this?

Then I got to the part of the highway where I get to drive directly east, directly into the sun itself.  Often this part of the drive is terrifying as the sun tries to remove my eyeballs, wondering if I will ever see again, wondering if the car behind me will ram into me since that driver is now blind too.  I was lucky today.  It was painfully bright, but just short of dangerous.  I hit the washer fluid again so that I could see better and the crystals began to spread only this time they were iridescent, rapidly flickering between 6 or 7 shades of blue and purple.  Oh my god, just when you thought it couldn’t get better, the sun brought color into the show.  I continued to recreate the blue crystals until it got too warm and the show was over.

Bonfire

My little town built a Christmas tree out of old pallets.  It was put up by the Chamber of Commerce and strung with lights.  By day it looked like a jancky pile of pallets with some lights wrapped around it.  At night it actually looked like a Christmas tree.  So what does a small town do with their wooden Christmas tree after the holidays are over?  Yep, you guessed it – Bonfire!

The bonfire was held at the dog park.  I walked over with one of my neighbors.  The bonfire had started before we got there so you could see the glow from it as we approached.  As we got closer you could hear the country music playing.  There were probably about 60 or 70 people standing around the bonfire.  There was a small pop up tent selling beer and soda. I heard stories of how it took a lot longer to light the fire than they had expected.  It was fun watching friends and neighbors catch up with each other and watching little kids running around.  I met some of my neighbors and heard some of their stories.  Once the fire started to dwindle we headed back home.  It was nice way to spend a few hours of the evening.

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Chirpy Birds

Sometimes I walk to the post office to get my mail.  It’s a good way to get outside and get a little exercise, take a break from sitting at a computer.  I did this today.  I live in a small town.  It’s always very quiet.  Today was no exception.  The town was quiet as most people were at work.  I turned down this one street.  There was no movement, no people out, no cars coming down the street, no dogs in the yards, but there was a distinct chatter of birds chirping.  It got louder as I walked down the street.  One tree in one yard was covered in small birds.  They were chirping away, talking up a storm.  It’s winter, why are there so many birds?  Why are they all in one tree only?  Where were they yesterday?  It sounded like mid-summer.  I closed my eyes and just stood near the tree listening to summer in the tree.  It was so cheerful and light.  It almost felt warmer outside.

 

The video below is sound only…..turn up your volume….

Silence

Sometimes we forget what silence is like.  We surround ourselves with constant stimulation and that comes with constant noise.  We are watching tv, checking facebook, playing music, or talking most of the day.  There’s the noise from cars, airplanes overhead. and the electric hum of all our electronics and home appliances.  Then there are the more natural noises such as rain, wind or animals.  I think we stop noticing how much noise we are surrounded by each day until we happen upon actual silence.

On my hike today it was a very still day with no wind.  Hiking in the snow is not silent.  The snow creaks and crackles underfoot.  Snowshoes make a crunching sound.  My jacket and pants add to the noise as the fabric brushes up against itself.  Then, if the trail is steep, my breathing becomes louder.  Today I didn’t need snowshoes as I was walking on snow that snowmobiles had packed down.  I have spikes on my shoes held in place by chains so I had the added noise of a pretty metallic clink every 5th step or so.  Of course, I didn’t really notice all the noise until I stopped and the complete absence of noise came rushing in, almost feeling like a physical wave of energy.  It almost knocked me over.  There were no animals moving about, no wind, no cars, no motors, no music, no movement at all.  I stood there in silence for at least 15 minutes before continuing on my hike.  As I started to move again, the sound my movement made became almost deafening in contrast.

I hope you can find and enjoy some silence in the upcoming week.

 

Ribbons of Clouds

Every other Tuesday I have an 8:00am meeting in Denver.  I leave my house between 6:00am and 6:30am depending on weather.  It’s starting to get light as I drive.  Often when I am approaching the Town of Fraser, the whole town is down in a hole under a heavy low cloud.  I can see the mountains beyond Fraser poking up over this cloud.  It is a beautiful and ominous sight.  I love when the clouds are lower than the mountain tops or when the clouds are lower than I am.  No matter how many times I see this phenomena, it still tickles me.  This morning on my drive in, not only was the low cloud hanging around Fraser, but there were ribbons of clouds coming off this and winding their way through the mountains.  The ribbons were stacked on top of each other like stripes.  They meandered through the high valleys.  As I drove over Berthoud Pass, I meandered in and out of the cloud ribbons.  Sometimes the road seemed to hang in mid-air, sometimes sections of the mountain seemed to hang in mid-air and sometimes everything was shrouded in mist as I was in the cloud.  The clouds were gone as soon as I came down the other side of the pass.  If I have to get up early, at least this morning I got to enjoy this beautiful art mother nature created for me.

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The Fraser Cloud

Front Yard Ice Rink

One of my neighbors had a potluck get together for New Year’s Eve.  I only know one neighbor and she invited me so I could meet some more.  When she invited me, she said, it’s at the house with the ice rink in the front yard.

What?

When it was time to go, I figured I’d just walk down the street until I saw a house with an ice rink in the front.  That shouldn’t be too hard to find.  It was already dark and the temperature was below 0 degrees.

A few houses down the street I saw three kids playing hockey in the front yard.  My neighbors had flooded their front yard creating an ice skating rink.  It had a nice lip all the way around it so the rink was well defined.  The kids were having a great time playing hockey.  I’m not quite sure how you play hockey with three people, but they were loving it.  They didn’t even look up or notice that I walked by their rink and up to the house.  They didn’t seem to notice that it was dark and cold out.  When I left the party a couple hours later they were still in a heated game, skating to their heart’s content.

Now I want a skating rink in my front yard.

 

What’s your True Color?

Since I decided not to go anywhere for the holidays and since I know hardly anyone here, I looked up things to do in Grand County on line.  One of the the things I found was a comedy show in Grand Lake.  Grand Lake is a small summer tourist town near me.  It’s not big enough to have a night club or a comedy club and by the look of the ad, it seemed that this was a one-time special event.  So, I bought a ticket.

When I got there, it was in a community center type place that had a modest stage and a bunch of conference room type stacking chairs all lined up on the floor looking toward the stage.  They were selling sodas, boxed wine and home made cookies in the entrance.  I found an aisle seat in a row of 4.  Most of the people seemed to know each other and no one wanted to sit next to me.  The host kept getting on the mike and telling us to move in and make room for others as the show was sold out.  I held my ground on my aisle seat though – that was why I got there early.  Eventually the last 3 people had no choice since the event was sold out.

The first comic was good, unremarkable though, so I couldn’t even tell you anything about him.  The second comic was great with a great message underneath the comedy.  His name is Sam Adams.  He was adorable, flirty, silly and you just smiled hearing him talk.  He told us that he tries to find the humor in everything, no matter how serious the situation.  “Find a reason to laugh”.  I agree completely.  The other point he made that really stuck with me was that we talk about people being black or white in skin color, but no one is actually black or white.  We all have a true color.  You should go to the paint store and find out your true color.  Mine is Adobe Village.

Here’s a clip of Sam Adams.

Torchlight Parade

I didn’t travel for Christmas this year.  So I searched for things to do in Grand County for Christmas.  I found that Winter Park does a torchlight parade on Christmas eve.  “What is a torchlight parade?”, you ask.  Well you are in luck because that is my Beautiful Things story today.

I drove to the ski resort in the early evening.  I got a little lost finding parking because I’m not familiar with Winter Park.  I ended up parking at the sledding hill not realizing that wasn’t the base village and I needed to be at the base village.  I almost stayed because sledding sounded fun.  But, that’s not what I came for.  So I asked for directions, got back in my car and headed toward the parking garage at the base village.  I got close and it was a giant confusing mess of small roads, cars, people and not very good signage.  A guy was stopping traffic telling people the garage was full and the parking lots were full.  Right as I pulled up to him another guy came out of the parking lot and said there was one more space in there.  Score – I’ll take it!

I parked and walked down to the village.  It was covered in people.  It was also covered in snow and pretty lights.  By now the snowflakes were huge and and if ever there was a picture of Christmas, this was it.  There was an ice skating rink with parents pushing kids around in funny looking carts – I’ve never seen this before.  The stores and restaurants were all warmly lit up (and packed).  There were carolers in the streets, people gathered around fire pits and little happy kids running arond.  The line out the door of Starbucks was insane.  A warm drink sounded great, but I don’t know if I’d miss the show waiting for a decaf latte.  I found my way to the base of the ski run.  There was Christmas music blaring on a giant sound system.  The base was wall to wall people, some still in their ski gear, some wearing their fancy winter gear that announces they are tourists and some locals too.  Excitement and holiday joy filled the air.  There were random fire pits around to keep people warm, although the shear amount of people made it warm.

At some point you could see a couple of lights up on the ski hill and everyone started ramping up the excitement.  An announcer told us the parade was about to start and further ramped up the crowd.  Eventually, skiers and snowboarders carrying red lights started coming down the ski hill.  They took a wide turning path back and forth across the hill.  By the time the first ones were getting near the bottom, the path created the look of a giant red glowing, moving Christmas tree shape on the slope.  Then the fireworks start.  The whole time huge snowflakes are coming down, Christmas music is playing, the crowd is cheering and I am crying my eyes out.  This is my new home.  I actually live in a place that thinks this is the thing to do for Christmas.  Here, winter is celebrated, not cursed.    Everything is sparkly and shiny – a true winter wonderland.

Then the song “Do you hear what I hear” came on and the snowcats drove up behind the skiers.  The song has such a power to it and these giant powerful machines drive part way down the slope and park.  They each have colorful Christmas lights on them.  I imagine each driver decorated their own cat.  Their headlights are so strong they light up the whole hill.  They park and you can’t keep your eyes off them even though there are still skiers.  They command your attention.  The crowd goes wild.  I even had trouble watching the fireworks at this point.  These drivers work all night grooming runs for the next day., unseen by most and probably never cheered like famous rock stars.  But tonight, they steal the show.

Finally Santa and Mrs Clause come skiing down.  This delights all the kids.  Santa is a couple turns from the bottom and falls.   Everyone loves it and you hear laughter all over the mountain.  I think he should fall on purpose every year.

Then the mad rush back to the cars, the condos, the bars and the restaurants.  That’s a brief look at Christmas Eve in a ski town, my ski town.  Merry Christmas!

https://www.winterparkresort.com/things-to-do/events/torchlight-parade