The Storm is starting…

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Well, today there is supposed to be a Blizzard here on the East coast. Out on Long Island where we are based they are expecting about a foot and a half of snow! And it is the day AFTER Christmas (would have been great to have this on Christmas eve, but now it will just be a bother as folks are trying to get home and many are supposed to get to work tomorrow!!!)…

Early this morning the yard was full of squirrels and birds foraging for food. The animals could sense that there was a major weather event on the way and were scurrying about trying to eat as much as they could before they would have to take shelter. Skies were already grey and a few stray snowflakes drifted lazily down…

As more snow fell, the squirrels began looking for better shelter than the tree they usually live in. We saw one go up to the roof of the neighbor’s house looking for the way into the attic (which the neighbor had sealed up after the squirrels’ last stay a few years ago). It was the mother squirrel–she must have remembered it from when she was little, as her own mother, our “famed” Snacker Queen, had sheltered in there a few winters ago. Frustrated that the entrance was blocked, she looked to the chimney, which also was screened off, and then she ran on, to try elsewhere (we hope not on our own roof!!!!)…

The snow is falling steadily now, and only one lone squirrel is still stretched out on the squirrola feeder, nibbling away…

Meanwhile, nice and warm inside, we hunker down and wait and watch…

posted by Blue Coyote in Other thoughts and have No Comments

New York Heatwave

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I feel like we are practicing for Death Valley! Yesterday it was 106 degrees here on Long Island!

We were hot! The Jeep was hot! Everyone and everything was hot!

The day started out innocent enough… warm and sunny… a typical July day. In the morning we practiced putting up the tent (it wasn’t yet QUITE that hot)… but by late afternoon the heat was so bad that even I went into the pool (an extremely rare occurrence). Later on we learned that it hasn’t gotten up into the 100 degree range here since 2001 (see NY Times news article with details) and that in general it is quite rare for it to be over 100 here.

For comparison, yesterday it was 116 in Death Valley (so only 10 degrees hotter!!!!!)

posted by Blue Coyote in On the Road and have No Comments

The flash flood thing….

Well, we just heard about some flash flooding in Oklahoma on Route 66! That is not where we were expecting to see that kind of issue… So it is a bit of a heads up that we’d better pay attention to our “weather on the road” info. Here is some of the video of a rescue:

and here is a clip that shows how high the water got in an urban area:

posted by Blue Coyote in Other thoughts and have Comments (2)

The Zion Narrows permit scramble…

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Was up really early this morning, and had alarms and reminders flashing and beeping since yesterday, because today is the day the reservations for permits on the Narrows opens up! There are only 12 campsites and only 6 are reservable in advance… And we have to have the permit for a specific day because of our complicated trip plan!

I had tried the site last night after midnight, but it was not yet showing the August reservations calendar (perhaps it posts after midnight Utah-time… which is 2 time zones behind New York… and I just couldn’t stay up that late… was too tired!).

When I went on the site this morning around 6a.m., there were already days/sites that were full! Luckily there was still a 4-person site open on our required day, and I didn’t hesitate to reserve! SUCCESS! We have a permit for site 3!

Now we have to get a shuttle reservation to the trailhead. And get to the park from Las Vegas in time for the early a.m. departure (which may be earlier than planned because of road construction that has caused disruption to the shuttle schedule).

… And we have to hope the weather and river conditions cooperate … we are only allowed to hike the river if it is flowing at below 120 cubic feet per second and if there are no flash flood warnings in effect. So there is a fairly strong likelihood that even with our permit we may not be able to do the trip. We need to be prepared for that eventuality as well… and we need to be SMART about considering the weather forecasts with due caution (and not the usual unbridled can-do enthusiasm)… as we have “graduated” to “grown-up” expeditions and the Rangers will not make decisions for us here! We need to make our own go/no go decision based on conditions on the day of the trip.

Here is the link to a video (it may take a few moments to download) the Rangers put together about safe Canyoneering in Zion. It is worth watching for the section on Flash Flooding…

posted by Blue Coyote in Planning and have No Comments

Spring is here…

crocusesThe first crocuses have pushed their way up and the baby squirrels have started to venture out of the nest — that means spring is here. And spring is almost summer, so brings us that much closer to departure day.

Here in NY the weather has finally turned milder and blue skies are back! Yesterday the Big Weasel even ventured out into the garden for the first time since before Halloween! She surveyed the state of the yard, and noted all the new green shoots stretching thru the dark earth toward the sunlight.

In the evening I sat out on the terrace watching the squirrels frolicking around. And today I will go flying for the first time in a long time. Am looking forward to getting back into the cockpit and feeling the freedom of the open skies. It’s been a long hard winter… Welcome Spring!

posted by Blue Coyote in Other thoughts and have Comment (1)

The hill remains the objective…

Am laughing to myself thinking of all those stories of military campaigns where the objective is to take a hill, because these days my objective is to take a hill in a different sense — Cactus Killer Hill…

Have been pretty faithfully going up there when the weather is not too awful, and I do feel like I am getting a little more accustomed to the steep climb. Not sure I am doing it all any faster. Though I guess I make less stops along the way, or maintain a more stable pace going up. In any case, I do feel like I have made some small progress after only two weeks (it’s too bad that once I am back in NY I will no longer have this challenge to help motivate me! oh well, I will have to continue training in the gym, like “normal” people do… anyway, it’s been fun while its lasted!)…

On another note, they say that there will be a big storm here tonite — with very strong winds. The local media have been talking about it for a couple of days already, so I am guessing it will be unusual. Am wondering if it will be anything like that storm almost ten years ago that tore up all the trees in the parks around the city… Today when I went up the hill I couldn’t help wondering if I would have the same view in the park at the top after the storm passes. We will see…

For now we are still in the calm before the storm, though the first raindrops began falling as I walked home from the store a little while ago…

posted by Blue Coyote in Shaping up for the Trail and have No Comments

Sunny day brings warm thoughts…

Am actually in Paris, and the trip is far off (139 days to go), but today is the first day since winter snows and freezing cold weather began that i can even feel like we are getting closer to spring and then summer and departure day!

The sun has come out here and the Paris skies are blue, and it is just a little less cold. No need to wear my silly snow hat or a warm liner inside my jacket! The air is fresh (well as fresh as it can ever be here in a polluted city) and i am feeling a bit of energy…

It is like a great relief to be able to imagine spring! (This has been a very harsh winter, as the Big Weasel says over and over…)

Now i’d better get busy with next phases of logistical preparation for the trip. We have our route plan completed, and briefing books are done. Time to turn thoughts to the more quotidian aspects of determining what equipment or supplies we need to purchase before departure. And also need to devote some time to figuring out what will fit in the jeep, packing lists, checklists, and so on…

And a maintenance schedule/plan for the Jeep itself covering the run up to the trip, as well as during the trip itself.

posted by Blue Coyote in Other thoughts and have No Comments

Time to think about a new tent…

We should probably start talking about what kind of tent or tents we should bring.

After outlining our basic itinerary, it looks like we will be camping out for about 21-28 days, more or less, depending on if we choose motels or campgrounds along some parts of the route. And the camping will vary from well-equipped campgrounds to truly remote, primitive backcountry camping with zero facilities. In some cases we will be able to camp right next to our jeep, and in a few cases we may have to hike in, carrying our gear, to interior backcountry campsites.

Another important consideration is that we will be constantly on the move, almost never spending more than one night at the same campsite. (HINT: ease of set-up/breakdown is probably important to us)

Additional things to think about… It will be HOT… extremely HOT… in many of the locations where we will be camping. There is also a chance of windy conditions in the canyons. And likelihood of violent thunderstorms (meaning heavy rain), in a number of the western locations. And the certainty of rain somewhere…

We also need to think about whether we get one BIG tent (which would necessarily be heavier) or two smaller tents (which will be lighter, and give us some additional space, but require double set-up).

I have just started looking around online, and at first glance am favoring the idea of getting two tents.

The “main” tent, will be one of the bigger ones that is really solid, and in which we could actually stand, or where the 3 of us could sit comfortably inside if  we find ourselves stuck in the rain for a stretch. It should be well-made, really water-proof and with a profile that will not easily be blown over. However, this would not be something we could easily carry to “backpack” hike-in sites. and I doubt it would be really quick to put up and take down.

The “second” tent would be a smaller, lighter one, similar to the kind we have always used. This “second” tent is easy to put up and down (as we know from experience) and light enough to carry. The drawbacks with the small tent are: first,  it is a “tight fit” as we are three full size people now… (remember it is going to be really HOT out there); second, in heavy rain it is not likely to be so good (remember how we always had to “flee” to motels when there was a big storm… and think about the locations where we will really be in the middle of nowhere with no motels to flee to… and at 100+ degrees it is out of the question that we hole up in the jeep…); third, the zippers on those tents were pretty bad, if i recall, and we are going to be using it pretty regularly for 6 weeks… Of course, as this smaller tent would only serve as a “second” tent, maybe we don’t need to deploy it “every” night…

Of course, the problem with two tents is they take up more space in the jeep…

Here are some relevant links on tents:

posted by Blue Coyote in Planning and have Comments (3)

Less than 200 days

Je ne sais pas si c’est d’avoir les billets ou le froid qui règne sur Paris en ce moment  mais Silly Squirrel et moi sommes de plus en plus impatients … Nous avons encore parlé du voyage et de la future lecture de “Grapes of Wrath”.

L’arbre devant moi, celui que je vois par la fenêtre était recouvert de feuilles brunes il y a à peine un mois. Aujourd’hui ses branches sont bordées de neige. Il faudra encore que je le vois tout rose de ses belles fleurs de maronniers qui finiront par joncher le sol de ma terrasse telle une neige rose. Enfin il sera tout vert et tellement épais qu’on ne verra même pas la rue un peu plus loin … et là ce sera l’été. Et pour nous signe du Proche, très Proche Grand Départ !

posted by Cactus Killer in Anticipation, Other thoughts and have Comment (1)

Les jours sont courts …

C’est la fin de l’automne, les jours sont courts et sombres. La grisaille du bassin parisien. Et pourtant ce matin malgré la pluie que c’était beau, le parc de St Cloud. Même la tour Eiffel avait du mal à se tenir debout dans ce gris !

Dim et son copain ont pris quelques photos … j’espère qu’on pourra bientôt les voir !

Oui je sais … rien à voir avec “Route 66″ mais on peut voir du beau là où on se trouve aussi !

posted by Cactus Killer in Other thoughts and have No Comments

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