Sunday, February 21, 2016

Joder Ranch Open Space

Finally made it out to Joder Ranch to check out the new open space.  There's only a 2 mile stretch of road/trail open at the moment but I can see trails heading off here and there and they look good from what I can see of them.  Which ones Boulder will open up to bikes, if any, remains to be seen.  The interim trail is open to bikes though and I've got a good loop planned, mix of road and trails, for when my neck and knee finally get better.  I'd say they're at about 80% healed at the moment but I've been doing hardly anything in order to let them rest and heal.  Kind of hard to sit still this past week with temps. in the 60's and 70's and trails finally drying up and opening again.  Hopefully the weather will hold out and we can get in another trip to Cortez/Dolores before we get slammed with the spring snow storms.

The trail is nice because it's only a 7 minute drive from my house but it's not much until they open up the other trails and who knows when that will be.  Boulder moves at a glacial pace when it comes to Open Space.  But I can't complain about more Open Space.  Anything to spread out the hordes of Too Many People.

And in that vein I saw an alarming article in the local paper about a proposed development about a mile or so from my house.  In short a couple bought 500 acres of land on the cheap because at present it can't be annexed to the city of Boulder and is restricted to very limited development.  Then hired a lawyer to pull some shenanigans to get the land annexed.  Even worse they're trying to pass off this development scam as providing 'affordable' housing that Boulder desperately needs.  Which is like those people who try to pass off their crazy lunging untrained dogs in Target as 'Service Dogs'.  If they manage to pull this scam off it'll create a huge bottleneck at the north entrance to town.  Don't think there's much we the public can do about it, once the sleezy lawyers get involved it's out of our hands.  I'm guessing it'll be years before they're able to break ground but it seems inevitable that with the huge amounts of money to be made on development that every last little square will get paved over, even if it's land that was never meant to be developed.  Where there's a will and some money there's a lawyer willing and able to help the rich get richer.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Breeding for Stupid

I was at an agility trial this past weekend and got to talking with an agility friend about Anatolian Shepherds.  She's interested in them because she's recently adopted one (or a mix of one?) and I'm interested in livestock guarding dogs in general because maybe one day I'll have goats and chickens and who knows what all else and I'll need somebody to guard them.  Anyway she was hiking and ran into a man who had a pair of what looked like Anatolian Shepherds but were built with much more athleticism, not nearly as stocky.  She asked him about the dogs and sure enough they were Anatolian Shepherds but not from American lines.  'Pffffbt, Amercians, they breed for stupid,'  he explained.  And I had to laugh because we do.  At least when it comes to AKC lines.  There are some working breeds and lines of working breeds that have not been infected by the AKC and rosette-itis, but they're hard to find and not what the general public gravitates towards.  Because most people don't need a true working dog that can do this:

Instead they are transfixed by this:

Which makes the proponents of the working border collie throw up in their mouth a little.  O.k., a lot.  Actually probably down the hall in the bathroom heaving up breakfast, lunch, dinner and yesterday's dinner.  And lunch and breakfast.  I don't need a working border collie and probably won't ever have enough livestock that I will but still I get it, I get their anger and their nausea and why they put up a huge fight against the AKC registering border collies.  Donald McCaig has a book called 'The Dog Wars:  How the Border Collie Battled the American Kennel Club'.  This is perhaps the first book I've been unable to get from the Boulder Library and their inter-library system.  I put in a materials request for it, we'll see if they buy it or can get it from an out of system library.  I've put off reading it for years mostly because I'm sure it'll only aggravate me but the conversation with my friend re-ignited my interest.

And even though I'll likely never need a true working border collie I also don't want this:

I mean seriously, who does this?  On purpose?  For a stupid rosette and some money and an ego boost.  If only the breeders had to come back in their next lives as the dogs they bred and had to live in their deformed, diseased bodies.  But in the real world what's someone like me supposed to do?  I wonder about this as I contemplate my next dog.  Is there anyone out there breeding for health, longevity, good temperament, and a healthy athletic build?  I don't even care about breed, I just want a nice, confident, healthy, athletic DOG.  And even if someone wanted to breed such a dog, have too many dogs, purebred or mixes of purebreds, been compromised by all the 'Breeding for Stupid'?  And if the answer is 'yes', how do we fix it or can we even fix it?  Almost certainly my next dog will come from rescue but even if I wanted to go with a breeder I wouldn't know where to turn.  I know a couple of people looking for pet dogs and they're in the same boat.  All I can tell them is to avoid the lines with AKC conformation champions in them and maybe check out the shelter.

I suppose it's the bane of humanity being such a visual species, looks are so important to us.  But it's unfair to betray a whole species for our fancy.  I wish we could get over it and stop all the Breeding for Stupid.

Working hard or hardly working?

Wednesday, February 03, 2016


I think I've had more snow adventures in the past week and half than I have in the past 3 years.  I suppose it's due more to happenstance than anything, ie I've had various friends up for various adventures in the snow.

First was a little trip up to Eldora (about 40 minutes drive up into the high country) for some snow shoeing at Jenny Creek Trail.  I ended up hiking in Yax Trax because the trail was compacted enough that snowshoes were overkill.  Though I did end up post holing up to my knee when I wasn't paying attention and stepped into the uncompacted powder at the side of the trail.

A few days later was a trip to Devils Thumb which is a nordic ski area about 2 hours away, just past Winter Park.  I ended up skiing for 2 1/4 hours at around 8700' elevation.  This amounted to a measly 6.1 miles and I could barely move afterwards.  Have only skied once so far this winter on a nearly flat course in North Boulder Park for 45 minutes.  But we'd driven all that way and were having such fun, what's a few days of being sore?  It was a beautiful day, low 20's but sunny and didn't feel cold at all.  Snow was a bit icy for me in places but mostly not a problem.

Devil's Thumb Ski Area

The drive over Berthoud Pass

A spectacular day overall, seized up hamstrings notwithstanding.

Then a couple days later I left for a whirlwind tour of Durango/Cortez/Dolores.  It's an area that I'm interested in possibly moving to so we spent the time mostly driving through potential neighborhoods though we did make time for a short 1 hour fat biking adventure.  It was only a 3 day trip cut short by an approaching snowstorm (10"-20" predicted for Cortez area) though 3 days of driving is plenty for me (7 1/2 hours of driving to get to Cortez).

We spent the first night in Durango where they were having some 80's themed winter festival.  I so wish I hadn't been so tired because I would have loved to attend the 80's Drag Strip competition.  We saw some of the contestants in the street while looking for a place for dinner but I didn't know what it was about until the next day.  Plus being so tired, I was in my jammies before the competition even started.

Downtown Durango

Last summer Jonny and I made a trip to Pagosa Springs and Durango and our impression of Durango was that it was crowded, built-up and expensive and my impression this time around wasn't much different.  Though to be fair the festival may have lured more people than normal to town but it seemed most folks were there to ski Purgatory, a resort about 30 mins. or so from Durango.  Still it was interesting to check out some different areas and confirm that this probably won't be our final destination.

Next it was on to Dolores, a place I've never been.  The main attraction here is a trail system called Boggy Draw as well as a huge reservoir that allows for open water swimming in summer.  We rented fat bikes in Cortez and checked out the groomed fat bike trails in Boggy Draw.

So Much Fun

There were a couple deer legs along the trail but I didn't see any kitties.

I've got some Go Pro video footage but that'll have to wait for another day.  Still need to process it.  I'm also going to put together a video of the area from my dashboard camera.  Sometime.  Eventually.

Dolores is a small, unassuming little town.  The Boggy Draw trails are at the top of the cliffs, about 3 miles drive from town.

It's about 10 minutes or so from Cortez which is larger and has pretty much everything we need including public indoor and outdoor swimming pools, a groovy bike store and a farmer's market in the summer.  Horses, goats, chickens, donkeys, is it too late to start a hobby farm in your 50's?  And of course a dog agility field of my very own.

There's a lot of affordable housing between Dolores and Cortez.  We could easily afford 5-10 acres if not more.

The best part though is the access to so many awesome areas within an hour or two including Lizard Head Wilderness area and Telluride and a bunch of places in Utah and even Durango is just 50-60 minutes away.  I ran into a guy in the parking lot who was also finishing up his fat bike ride and it turned out he was a member of the cycling group that grooms the trail as well as a lifelong resident of Dolores.  He told me about so many biking and skiing trails.  SO many.  We could easily spend the rest of our lives exploring.  And the San Juans!  They are spectacular.  If I had to choose a favorite Colorado mountain range it would be the San Juans.

The view from the outskirts of Cortez.  Mesa Verde National Park is behind those cliffs.

On our drive home we stopped in Mancos, a little artist-ey sort of town about 10 minutes from Cortez.  Probably too small for us and too far from trails but a neat little place to visit and not totally off our list yet.  And they had some kind of organic food grocery store that looked promising.

Outside the coffee shop in Mancos

Sunrise in Mancos

Overall a lot of good info. gleaned from a short little trip.  The guy from Dolores put my mind at ease about a lot of questions I had about water, fracking, trails, etc.  Of course we'll need a few more trips out there but it was good to see these places in winter.  Will be interesting to see them again in summer but so far I'm feeling encouraged.

Then yesterday was yet another skiing adventure.  We had 15"-16" of snow in North Boulder and after an asston of shoveling I treated myself to 1 1/2 hours at North Boulder Park.  Where there were Too Many People and I was longing for the serenity of Boggy Draw.

But again, not complaining.  Was happy to be able to ski less than 10 minutes from my house.  All the shoveling and skiing jacked up my neck though.  Feels better today but had to skip swimming at masters.  Hopefully will be better for Friday's masters workout.  Plus it would be nice if I could turn my head to the left.