Family

Weekly Sketch: Elk

Back in May, the kids and I took an exploratory road trip to Colorado, in order to make a final decision about whether to move here and to decide which front-range city we preferred. While we were in Denver, up near Genesee Park, we saw a majestic herd of elk walking alongside the highway. A bit farther on, I stopped to let a big graceful doe amble across the road. I was enchanted by the idea of living in a city where elk wander freely amongst the humans.

Alas, I haven’t seen a single elk in the week and a half since we moved here. I suspect it was the Covid shutdown that had emboldened them to roam so near the city.

Categories: Animals, Artwork, Covid-19, environment, Family, Life, Road trip, Travel, Weekly Sketch, Wildlife | Tags: | Leave a comment

Weekly Sketch: Carousel Zebra (Work in Progress)

We saw this guy on a boardwalk carousel on the Gulf coast just south of Houston. I like his face and his tack. I’m going to color him in, but I think he looks pretty cool as a line drawing too.

Categories: Animals, Artwork, Family, Holidays, kids, Life, Road trip, Travel | Tags: | Leave a comment

Adventures in Nepal XVII: Back to Kathmandu

While we were sorting through the photos for this post, I realized that I am hopelessly confused about the family relationships between all of the friends Elizabeth made at Paljorling Camp. I think the older couple that I credited in an earlier post as part of “the family next door” are actually the couple in whose home Elizabeth and Emma stayed, but I’m sure the younger man is their son and Elizabeth says he definitely lived next door with two brothers and someone she thought was his mother. I may never figure out who is related to who and in what way, but I deeply regret any hurt feelings I may have unintentionally caused by misidentifying people in earlier posts. I am so grateful for the kindness and hospitality Elizabeth received during her stay among the Tibetans. She returned home with a lively light in her eyes that had been missing for too long.

On January 28, their last morning in Pokhara, Emma and Elizabeth had breakfast with the family next door.

Then they all said their formal goodbyes.

The khatag is a traditional Tibetan silk scarf that is presented ceremonially on special occasions, in this case the parting of friends.

A family member drove the girls to meet their bus.

Goodbye Pokhara!

Goodbye Himalayas!

It’s a long eight-hour bus ride from Pokhara to Kathmandu. But the scenery is nice, even in the rain.

The Prithvi Highway follows the winding course of the Trishuli River from Pokhara to Kathmandu. I only know the name of the river because I just now looked it up, and I also found this reassuring paragraph on Wikipedia: “Trishuli River is also one of the dangerous river of Nepal. The curvy Prithvi Highway is a bad fate for many Nepalese people traveling to and back from the capital. Every year, several buses and trucks fall and disappear into this wild river, making the corridor a dangerous pass for people.”

The bus stopped for lunch at the Riverside Springs Resort

The girls stretched their legs and had a nice lunch, and then continued on.

Their bus did not fall into the river, so that was nice. But after they arrived in the city and checked into the Kathmandu Guest House, Emma mentioned in our Messenger group chat that she was not feeling well. Fever, weakness, fatigue.

I made some awkward coronavirus jokes and then said that maybe she should wear a mask to be on the safe side. We speculated on what would happen if she still had a fever at flight time. Elizabeth said nothing during the chat, but told me later that she had felt ill too. They both went to bed early and had a restful sleep.

That same evening, a senior medical adviser at the US Department of Veterans Affairs wrote in a group email to public health experts in the governmennt and universities, “Any way you cut it, this is going to be bad. The projected size of the outbreak already seems hard to believe.”

More to come!

Categories: Family, food, Friends, Holidays, kids, Life, Love, Nepal | Leave a comment

Weekly Sketch: Pen and Ink (Unfinished)

I rage-quit this one before it was finished, because the pen was all wrong for the job.

I haven’t had any drawing pens on hand for years, so I asked Elizabeth if I could borrow one of hers for this week’s sketch. She gave me two, knowing full well that I would probably lose both of them before the week was up. Losing pens is my superpower.

Elizabeth draws comics. She uses one kind of pen, the Pilot G-2. Turns out she likes that particular pen for the binary nature of its ink flow: it is either drawing a line or it is not. Pressure or lack thereof does not make thicker or thinner lines, there is no “bold” option, no faint translucent shading. It is incompatible with my drawing style.

I gave up when I got to the horse’s head and could not draw fine lines. I won’t be doing any more inkwork unless I get inspired to buy some pens. I gave Elizabeth’s abominations back to her.

Well, one of them. I have no idea what happened to the other pen.

Categories: Animals, Artwork, Family, Horses, kids, Life, Weekly Sketch | Leave a comment

Goodwater Loop Trail

Luke wants to get into through-hiking and backcountry wilderness backpacking. My enthusiasm for living in tents has waned with my advancing years, but I’m all for helping Luke acquire whatever knowledge and skills he needs to survive his future treks into the wild.

Now that the parks are reopening, this weekend seemed like a good time to try out a nice safe through-hike with training wheels and safety nets. The Goodwater Loop Trail around Lake Georgetown is a good starter hike, because there are campgrounds all along it and help is never too far away.

The trail is 28 miles long and looks like this:

The plan was to leave the car at Overlook Park Saturday morning, hike 14 miles around the lake clockwise to Tejas Camp, spend the night there, and then continue around the lake back to the car.

We got a late start, and by the time we got to Overlook Park it was full and they were turning cars away. We saw what looked like overflow parking at the foot of the dam, but we didn’t know how to get to it. So we drove to Cedar Breaks Park. That was full too, but we were able to grab a spot in their overflow parking. That put us only 11 miles from Tejas Camp, with a longer journey back to the car on Sunday. No problem.

We set off, feeling cheerful and adventurous. Other hikers wished us a good morning, and we returned their greetings. The trail is very pretty.

There is a gorgeous waterfall about a mile and a half from Cedar Breaks Park. Photos don’t do it justice, it’s magical.

Saw some photogenic livestock in a pasture adjacent to the falls.

A donkey came up for pets.

The most important thing we learned from this test run is that our current gear is too heavy for long-distance backpacking. Almost all of our equipment, from our 10lb tent to our insulated steel thermoflasks, is designed for car camping rather than backcountry jaunts. The first four or five miles were fine, the next four or five miles were a slog, and after that it was just kind of an ordeal. I was carrying about 40lbs of gear in a pack that was only rated for 30, so it didn’t provide enough support. Pretty soon my shoulders and hips were bruised at the points of contact. Elizabeth and I got blisters on our feet! Blisters, in our comfy old Ariat Terrains! I can’t even remember the last time I got blisters from walking. Turns out pack weight makes a huge difference as the miles add up.

But on we went. Really a beautiful trail.

Texas is in full summer now, with highs in the 90s every day. We passed a couple of primitive campgrounds and detoured into them in hopes of refilling our water flasks, but all of their spigots had been capped off. We ran out of water somewhere around mile 10. In the future we will supplement our water supply with portable purifiers/filters so we can drink out of lakes and streams if need be.

We were so tired when we arrived at Tejas Camp, I didn’t think to get any scenic shots of our tent. There was still plenty of daylight, but we just filled our flasks at the community spigot, set up the tent and collapsed. We really need better-quality sleeping pads. We do have a nice comfy self-inflating queen size pad, but it’s so bulky and heavy we didn’t attempt to bring it on this trip. Our cheap starter pads are…yeah. We got what we paid for.

When the sun did set, the forest filled with a raucous symphony of sound, much louder than daytime birdsong. Crickets, frogs, the full orchestra. We enjoyed the concert.

We didn’t bother with the rainfly, so in the morning I got a nice shot of the tree above our tent.

Before we broke camp, we tested out our shiny new ferro rods. It took a little practice, but eventually we each struck up a small fire in the fire pit.

Confident in our fire-making abilities, we doused our little flames, packed up and headed down the trail.

We started out stiff and sore and bruised and blistered, and the packs just got heavier with every mile. The next time the trail came near the lakeshore, we took the opportunity to cool off.

Elizabeth soaked her feet. I waded in up to my knees. Luke just walked straight out into the lake.

Thus refreshed, we continued on.

Just before the mile 17 mark we came to Russell Park, a full-service park and campground. Luke said, “Welp, I think we’ve learned everything useful here. Wanna call a Lyft?”

“What? Admit defeat? Accept failure?” I rubbed my bruised hips.

“I mean, we came to learn. We learned.”

“That’s a good point. Let’s call a Lyft.”

So we took a Lyft back to our car. Luke was right, to keep hiking would have been pointless masochism.

There was a yellow slip on our windshield warning us that we weren’t supposed to leave cars overnight in overflow parking areas, and further offenses would result in citations. Duly noted.

I’m SO sore today. But I’ve already started a list of future gear upgrades, and I’m looking forward to our next trial run.

 

Categories: A Plethora of Parks, Animals, environment, Family, kids, Life, maps, Travel, Wildlife | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Blog at WordPress.com.