Monthly Archives: February 2013

DAY 156 – 02/13/2013 – Goodbye, Sweet Book!



I think it’s safe to say that I read the heck out of this book! Now, I will do something I try not to do, which is, throw it out. I try not to do this, ever. Except for old college textbooks that no one will  buy or even be interested in for the next hundred years, I pass books along so that someone else can read them.

On the Tramper Voyage, I search for books at Goodwill or other second-hand stores. Sometimes, someone I meet along the way will give me a book. When I’ve read the book, I give it away or leave it someplace. There’s no room for extra weight in the Tramper!

The place I leave it varies. Lots of RV parks have “libraries”. Junk stores always take donations. Once, I left a pile of books at a Habitat for Humanity Re-Store.

As for The Once and Future King, well, it was picked up in one of those junk stores, already well-loved by countless readers. Plus, it’s just a cheap paperback, printed over 50 years ago. My handling wasn’t rough – I promise! As I turned the pages, various leaves would pop out. Then, entire sections would separate from the binding. When I needed a rubber band to hold the book together, I knew it was doomed!

This post isn’t meant to be a book review. I’m not qualified! But, I really enjoyed it. I’m a fan of the play and movie versions of this story, called “Camelot”. It was fun to recognize parts of the book that were incorporated into the movie. Other movies, too. “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” lifted concepts and entire lines of dialogue from The Once and Future King!

The movie took off in flights of Hollywood fancy, though. The story of Arthur, Guenever and Lancelot was a lot longer and more mature, according to T.H. White. Imaginative recreation of the whole of English history was described by White. Lots to ponder; fun to read.

– Jane



DAY 152 – 02/09/2013 – POW!

Every day here at Monarch Mountain in Colorado is actually pretty much the same. We wake up, putter around the Tramper for awhile, then go ski. After hours of fun in the snow, we come home, eat good food and go to sleep. That’s about it! Eat, ski, eat, sleep, repeat. How lucky can you get?! This life is idyllic. If I could transport myself through space and time to Maryland, in June, for just a few days a month to enjoy some gentle weather, life would be darn near perfect!!

My last post was a little whine-y. How could anyone on a 6 month vacation have much of anything to complain about? So here, in words and pictures, is another day in paradise:

When we left for the mountain this morning, it was snowing! Everybody at a ski resort is so happy when it’s snowing! The lifties smile even more than usual, their badge readers pinging merrily as the skiers and boarders line up for some glee.


POW! for powder snow!

“POW!” for powder snow! At the top of the Panorama lift

The skiers and boarders are very happy.

Tailgate party on the parking lot. Only seen when everyone's happy it's snowing

Tailgate party on the parking lot. Only seen when everyone’s happy it’s snowing

David and I sure are happy!


Yep, falling snow makes everyone here happy. Even the people who live and work in the town, Salida, are happy because their livelihood depends on it, winter and summer. (The Arkansas River which runs through this valley it bigger, deeper and faster in the summer for the kayak and rafting enthusiasts, when there’s lots of snow the winter before. Better river = more tourist dollars.)

Now, David and I obviously enjoy fresh snow. Skiing in powder is different from skiing on packed powder, which is how they describe snow that’s been around for a while. We love the fast, hard snow that makes you use the ski to power thrilling, fast runs. Big, arcing turns on hard snow feels like flying! It seems like snowboarders, except for the really good ones who can carve a turn, need fresh powder snow more than the average skier. So, today, the boarders were in their element, too.

We saw a friend David made on the mountain.

This is Chris, center, with his family on a brief pause during a run

This is Chris, center, with his family on a brief pause during a run

The high-tension power lines that climb up and over Monarch Pass were singing today! If you stop under them, you can hear the snow and wind making them hum quite audibly. I googled it and it seems the snow and wind can cause excess oscillations and “moments” as the power is transferred along the line. Interesting phenomenon, and it sounds pretty cool, but we moved on!


Unusual for us, we went out this evening with some Colorado friends! We’re old and we are tired at the end of the ski day, so we usually go back to the Tramper and entertain ourselves until bedtime. But, Marci and Gabe, our friends from Monroe, LA, and Jeff, our friend from Colorado via Texas, were going out to see a band.

me, Jeff, Gabe & Marci. Don't know who belongs to that head in the background

me, Jeff, Gabe & Marci. (Don’t know who belongs to that head in the background)

Live music is something we love, so off we drove into the dark snowy night to a Salida bar called River’s Edge.  “Ethyl & the Regulars” were playing.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe heard it was to be Swing music. Now, ‘swing music’ to an Easterner is a band with trumpets and trombones and timid guitars.  Not so the Western variety!


No ‘swing’ band in Baltimore has this pedal steel guitar in it! The didn’t swing, they swang!!

Dancing, too!

Dancing, too!


Singing cowboy

We had a blast! But, even over the music, we could hear the mountain calling. We would ski again tomorrow.

Powder stashes were awaiting fresh turns.

Powder stashes were awaiting fresh turns.

So, we left Salida to return to the Tramper. But not before taking in the giant light above the river on Tenderfoot mountain.  It might not look like much in the photo, but imagine the dark mountain against the black sky, with a giant letter spelled out in lights. “S” for Salida.


“Big Red Heart” for Heart of the Rockies.


Apparently, it’s a western thing…

– Jane

P.S. – We saw a grey fox in the campsite the other night. He stopped by long enough for David to call me to bring a flashlight. What a beauty he was! Of course, he didn’t stay around long enough for a picture, but I found a photo online that looks just like him:

Fox Wild Ed

He is much bigger than our red foxes at home in Maryland and his tail and fur were very puffy in the cold. I really wanted to give him some ham, but, of course, that would have been a big no-no! I thanked him for stopping by.

DAY 144 – 02/05/2013 – Reality Check!

Without meaning to, I have definitively demonstrated the fat burning potential of man vs woman. David and I have, in the vast majority of instances, had the same amount of physical activity over the last 5 months. During the Voyage of the Tramper, we have hiked the same mountains, kayaked the same rivers, biked the same trails and skied the same mountains.

And yet, David is losing weight. And me? Well, I seem to be gaining!


That was not one of the anticipated benefits of the Tramper Voyage. New, exhilarating experiences? Check. Beautiful vistas? Check. Meeting new, fun people from all over the country? Check. Lots of outdoor fun? Check. Getting slimmer and healthier? NO!

I do believe I am stronger. Especially, I am stronger than my cancer-treatment all-time low. I can now bike or hike up a mountain and ski moguls (and powder!). But, what’s missing from my fitter-self picture is this: My clothes are now more snug than when we left Baltimore! I am, frustratingly, gaining a bit of weight.

Here's the fat-a** Julie Andrews climbing the Alps to flee the Nazis.

Here’s the fat-a** Julie Andrews climbing the Alps to flee the Nazis.

How is this possible? Well, a number of factors seem to be at work here. The two standouts are these: I am middle-aged and I am a woman.

When I was working and looking forward to our trip, I anticipated how much more fit and slim I would get. No job to take all my time and energy so it was a given that my clothes would get a bit baggy on me. This has not happened.

So, I believe it’s time for me to acknowledge the differences between men and women, as far as weight goes. According to WebMD, men, because they have more muscle mass than women, burn more calories, even when sitting still. Women have a greater amount of fat, naturally. And, this article from the Mayo Clinic explains that women lose muscle mass after menopause. Muscle burns  fat, so the equation is quite simple, really. Men are much more efficient than women at fat-burning at any age.

Iris's figure stays slim and girlish

Iris’s figure stays slim and girlish

According to, “the bottom line is that if a man and a woman recline in a field and stare at the sky for an hour, the man will burn more calories than the woman.” Aargh! That’s frustrating as heck! To make matters worse, middle age slows down metabolism.

I really can’t expect to get more physical activity than David. He’s just so capable of putting more into every bike and ski ride than I am.  My level of activity is so high right now, if I try to ramp it up too much, to lose weight, I might hurt myself!

So, the advice of Weight Watchers to “Move More”, won’t really help me. Because I’m moving plenty!

The second tenant of losing weight is to eat less. There! That’s where I have erred these past months! I am eating the same foods, in the same way David does. And me with my fat-conserving, slowed-down metabolism!

It was a bit hard to find these chunky photos of me. I usually delete them all!

It was a bit hard to find these chunky photos of me. I usually delete them all!

We eat well. We pay attention to good nutrition. We eat for energy and rebuilding and good health. But, we love butter as well as spinach salad. Ice cream as well as an apple a day.

So, while David can go on eating Ben & Jerry’s, I guess I need to have an orange instead. If I don’t soon pull myself up short and stop eating so many fats and so much white sugar, we are going to look like Jack and Mrs Sprat!


It would be just sad to weigh more at the end of the Tramper Voyage than at the beginning!

– Jane

DAY 138 – 01/30/2013 – It Fell From the Sky!

Ponder your Winter.  Grey skies, wet sidewalks, dirty cars and cold fingers.  Maybe even fumbled car keys in the frigid dark, frozen locks and dead batteries.  Imagine the only way moisture came down from above was in that classic Northeast style.  Yup, cloudy grey, damp, and near 100% humidity at 31 degrees, then rain.  Its freezes on bushes, branches and grass.  Pretty sight in small doses, but add the extremes like in Maine and you’ve got downed trees and powerlines across your commute!  Yes, if all Winter precipitation were rain and freezing rain, the world would be a different place.

But that’s not the only way it falls.  It falls as snow!  The eskimos have “hundreds” of names for it, (although this is disputed by Wiki).  And in Colorado, nearly everyone follows the weather.  Commerce depends on snow.  Summer cities 200 miles away depend on the gradual delivery from the snowpack.  So this week as the snow came again after more than a week without, people were abuzz.  Interstate Route 70 West was filling up.   Smartphones everywhere ticked the totals at the resorts.  People planned their drop ins.  Snowfall ranged from 2-4″ at Cooper, 7-8″ at Beaver Creek, to 29″ down at Silverton.

GREEN Trees and Thin snow: had to watch out for early season rocks. (Jan 24)

GREEN Trees and Thin snow: even had to watch out for early season rocks. (Jan 24)

Look at it Now!  (Feb 1)

Look at it Now! (Feb 1)

We were fortunate enough to have a standing invitation Wednesday to join a wonderful friend at Beaver Creek to stay in her condo during her vacation.  Her brother, some extended family and friend have annual trips to ski there.  We, of course typically take vacations like theirs too.  But this time we were Trampers, just visiting from the middle of our voyage.

A perspective I hadn’t recognized follows us now.  On all my previous ski trips, I lobby for long trips of more than 7 days, wake up for first tracks and close the lifts.  On the voyage, I’ve set this mode aside.  We wake without alarms, ski a little or a lot.

View from Monarch Ridge, top of Panorama lift.

View from Monarch Ridge, top of Panorama lift.

Winter is HERE!

Winter is HERE!

Monarch operates in San Isabel National Forest

Monarch operates in San Isabel National Forest

We arrived in Beaver Creek, settled into the beautiful condo and waited for Megan.  Plans had already been laid out for all of us, we were riding the 8:00 shuttle to catch the lifts as they opened.  The overall village arrangement includes “a million beds” and free shuttle services to avoid parking hassles and fees.  This meant leaving the condo in ski boots with sandwiches in pockets.  Lately we’ve been at such small places that we park 50-100 feet from the door on the bottom floor of the lodge and carry our boots in knapsack bags into the sack-lunch area to dress.  (The next day, Thursday, inside of the Ski Cooper cafeteria there were 11 other people total at 10:30 AM)

Where do we go first?

Where do we go first?

At Beaver Creek, clearly a fabulous and delightfully diverse mountain, the Trampers suffered culture shock.  We were amazed traversing the connectors of that big mountain.  I was humbled as I stood on the ledge of the Screech Owl Jump along the Birds of Prey men’s Downhill course.  Those Olympians are SO, SO amazingly out of my league.  We felt as we were skiing in a city, a big bustling city.  We had fun, but felt our budget could be spared any more days of full-price/big mountain lift tickets.  Maybe we can spend that hundred on dogsled rides?  We chose to ski only one day there, then head back to our beloved Monarch where our season pass continues.

Most fortunately we loved our visit and hosts.  Megan’s family was in the Vacation Mode.  You know the one.  Each person injects his or her expectations and the clock cannot and will not stop anything from fitting in.  Apres ski, hot tub, happy hour, dinners and best of all; wine and cheese in their room.  We went by, and thoroughly enjoyed the evening of chat, tasty box wine, yummy cheeses and snacks.  The chat is MY favorite.  Each of us seemed prompted to share a tale or story of some notoriety, many from or fed by skiing and the lifelong love thereof.  Surrounding the fires of memory we shared the oral tradition in all its glory.  All of us laughed therapeutically and hard.

My only regret was that all our searches during the ski day for the leeward relief from wind, the best snow or the best trails to share detoured us from sharing runs with anyone but our more direct host, Megan.  Even then, our search blurred some of the blissful runs.

All-in-all, I hadn’t realized how unlike a vacation the Tramper Voyage is.  We’ve set an alarm only 2 or 3 times in as many months.  Ski for an hour or all day with our cheap picnic squeezed in the sack-lunch area.  Skip a day, have a soak, or take a hike instead.  And scarcely squeeze anything extra into the days.  Even shopping or going 15 miles into town is spontaneous and barely weekly.  We sure are enjoying this and hope the picture stays with us to color our future lives, and vacations.

Jumping for Joy!

Jumping for Joy!

– David