Author Archives: todd

Green River, Part 2

(trust me, you really need to read Green River, Part 1 first)

Friday

We left Denver on Friday morning. Unfortunately, a million other people also wanted out of town for the long (Presidents’ Day) weekend, and traffic was the worst I can remember. It took about three hours just to get to Frisco, a distance of 80 miles. We picked up sandwiches for lunch there, and decided to just eat in the car since we still had another 275 miles to drive before supper.

I had found what looked to be a fun place to stay called the Skyfall Guestrooms. About three years ago, someone decided to build three hotel rooms downstairs from the Tamarisk Restaurant in Green River, Utah. Green River isn’t a big town, especially in the winter months. In the summer, there’s lots of tourism from river rafters and the nearby canyon country, and a famous watermelon farming business. But in the winter, it’s mainly just a town where people stop on their way through from California to Colorado. But Skyfall was cool way beyond what you’d expect for a truck stop town. Each of the three rooms has an artistic mural representing some nearby site. We got the Goblin Valley room, #2. The other two were for Crystal Geyser and for the Book Cliffs.

The Goblin Valley Room

I’d read how this was the nicest place to stay in town (an easy feat) but I still was impressed. If I ever remodel my condo, I want the interior designer responsible for the Skyfall Guestrooms to plan it. It was artistic, modern, efficient, just industrial enough, and comfortable. Anyhow, once we arrived, we checked in and then settled into our room.

Then we went up to the Tamarisk Restaurant for dinner, and I was impressed with the menu and the food, too, also something I didn’t expect for Green River.

Saturday

The next morning, we got up and had breakfast, again at the Tamarisk Restaurant. Oh, I just realized I forgot to tell you about one of the best things about the Skyfall Guestrooms. When you stay there, you get free breakfast at the restaurant. But it’s not like “Free Breakfast” at most hotels, where you help yourself to cold cereal and a bagel and some reconstituted scrambled eggs. Here, you can order anything off the regular breakfast menu, including drinks and extras. So I got a yummy omelet and Brooke had French Toast. They didn’t have a way to make a mocha latte, so she got a cup of hot chocolate and a cup of coffee and then just mixed them.

Anyhow after our overly-filling breakfast, the museum had opened and it was time to visit. It’s just across the main street, so we walked in the cold wind. Really cold.

Me outside the John Wesley Powell museum

The visit to the museum started with a 20-ish minute video on John Wesley Powell’s first expedition down the Green and Colorado rivers. For those who haven’t read his book, the video was a good introduction to the topic. Of course I read his book a couple decades ago, and used to own it until The Great Downsizing of 2011.

Then we spent about an hour in the main part of the museum, learning about the Colorado River plateau, Powell’s two expeditions, other (non-Native) people who explored various other parts of the river system, the history and pre-history of the region, modern issues related to the river, and so on. There’s a lot to see there, including a few full size models of different types of boats early explorers used on the river before they eventually developed boats specifically for several-month journeys on whitewater rivers.

Once we got through the main part of the exhibit, we wandered through the temporary exhibit that was the main point of the trip: Glen Canyon: A River Guide Remembers. We spent another hour there, looking through some of Ken Sleight’s 60-years-old rafting gear and photos, and listening to interviews with people about their early experiences rafting Glen Canyon. Here is the museum’s excerpt describing the exhibit:

About the exhibit:

Iconic Utah outfitter Ken Sleight began his river-guiding career in Glen Canyon during the mid-1950s, just as the Glen Canyon Dam blueprints jumped from the drawing board to remote desert terrain. The pulse of the Colorado River through the canyon would soon be halted by a cement wall and Glen Canyon backfilled with water. Ken knew the condition of the canyon was terminal. He used every ray of daylight to memorize every detail of the canyon before inundation: to learn its 125 side canyons, to observe Native American ruins and mining relics, and to immerse himself in the lives of seminal guides who preceded him like Dave Rust, Bert Loper, and Moki Mac.

Now 88 years old, Ken and a team of Glen Canyon curators open the archives to create a museum exhibit: Glen Canyon: A River Guide Remembers. With historic landscape photographs, First American artifacts, boats and other gear, passenger portraits and journals, guides’ handwritten-packing lists, and more, this is an exhibit as simple, gritty, and rich as a trip through Glen Canyon with Ken. Within the walls of the John Wesley Powell River History Museum in Green River, Utah in 2018, Glen Canyon lives again.

It was pretty somber, as it always is, hearing people talk about how beautiful Glen Canyon was before it was flooded to make Lake Powell. I’ve wished for years that I could somehow go back in time to see it. Or go forward to a time after the reservoir is gone and the canyon is restored to its natural state.

A little depressed, we went to get some lunch at a weird Mexican restaurant. It was a gas station that had gone out of business, and the new owners parked two food trucks in front where the gas pumps used to be. So you order outside and they make your food in the trucks, then you go inside to eat on one of the tables scattered around the old gas station. I ordered a plate of tacos and a Mexican Coca-Cola, both of which I shared with Brooke.

After that, we wandered around the city park, and saw the world’s largest watermelon slice and a big model of a Cold War rocket.

Brooke modeling next to the world’s largest watermelon slice
The missile and me

Why is there a rocket in the town park of Green River? Well, it turns out that back in the 60s, the government built an extension of the White Sands Missile Range way up near Green River. And they used to test launch these rockets from the facility they built south of town.

Wait, what? Yes, there was a missile test range in the 60s where they’d launch these rockets up and over Canyonlands, across southwestern Colorado (one went off-course and crash landed near Creede, I learned), to land in the desert of southern New Mexico at the White Sands Missile Range. Given my recurring dreams about a secret aircraft test facility near Moab, this was pretty weird news for me to learn. Was it just a coincidence? Did I hear something about the missile test range back in the 80s that I later consciously forgot but that my subconscious kept generating dreams from? I have no idea. Anyhow, the Green River launch facility was decommissioned in the 80s, and all that exists there now are remains of abandoned buildings, and a big pile of radioactive debris covered in black sand and surrounded by a fence.

Apparently I’m not the only one who thinks there’s something sci-fi about this missile test center. Google Maps labels the road leading to it the “New Area 51 Rd”. I don’t know if that’s what it’s officially called, but that’s what it’s called according to Google! Also, we saw some graffiti on the back of a billboard at the edge of the old base that said mysteriously “WE WERE ONCE HUMAN”.

There’s another weird thing in Green River. It’s a huge piece of art that is a representation of the Fibonacci sequence.

Then, it was time to leave town. I plotted a course for the Crystal Geyser, a geologic feature that’s also a bit strange. Growing up Wyoming, I loved visiting Yellowstone. Geysers and steam vents and mud pots were so cool to me as a boy. Well, unlike the geysers in Yellowstone, the geyser near Green River isn’t powered by magma in the earth heating up water that rises to the surface and then explodes out. Apparently, there’s a pocket of carbonated water near the Green River south of town, and when someone was drilling for oil in the 1930’s, they hit it.

So, excited to see a rare cold water geyser, I drove us out to the site, which is only a few miles down a gravel road from town. We waited a while, and went for a walk along an old road. And just when we came back, there was water spurting up about three feet from the ground. I assumed this was the beginning phase of the full geyser plume, but that’s all it did, and then over the next few minutes it spewed even less water up. We walked around the travertine formations, which reminded me of the ones in Yellowstone, but the geyser never did shoot up like you’d expect a geyser to do.

This is the pipe that created Crystal Geyser
Travertine next to the Green River
I love the patterns in the travertine

That night, back at the hotel, I dug deeper into the story of Crystal Geyser and learned that it stopped really erupting sometime between 2012 and 2014. Over the years, people started throwing stones into the pipe from this well until they finally plugged up the plumbing. Now, instead of erupting up thirty to a hundred feet in the air, the water just bubbles to the surface once in a while. Sadly, if you just read about Crystal Geyser in travel brochures and articles, almost none of them mention this. They talk about it as if it’s still a geyser in the present day. But it’s not. Here’s a local news report about the death of the geyser.

Once we gave up on the geyser actually erupting up in the air, we left the area of the Green River Launch Complex (via New Area 51 Road, of course) and headed for the San Rafael Reef.

We stopped at a few view points on both sides of the reef, but it was getting colder and windy, so we didn’t do any hiking. Plus, we were running out of daylight.

San Rafael Reef looking east, with the Book Cliffs and moon in the background

We got back to Green River right about supper time and ate once again at the Tamarisk Restaurant. And once again, it was good food.

(continued in Green River, Part 3)

Green River, Part 1

Ed and Me and Rivers and Dreams

In my teens I first read Edward Abbey, a fiery naturalist who wrote many books about the American desert southwest. His most famous two books are probably “Desert Solitaire” and “The Monkey Wrench Gang”. The books made a perfect one-two punch, with the first helping to cement my love of the canyon country of southeast Utah and the second swaying me to support the removal of Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell. I joined the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, the Sierra Club, and the Glen Canyon Institute in my twenties, all to help the cause of restoring the Colorado River to its natural state before the Glen Canyon Dam was built.

Later, I did some volunteer work for the Glen Canyon Institute, building them their first real website. In return, they arranged for me to get a free ride on a one week outfitted rafting trip down the San Juan River. And later, I was invited to the Glen Canyon Institute’s annual meeting in Salt Lake City in 2001. There, I met a folksinger/activist named Katie Lee, and an old river guide named Ken Sleight. Sleight had been close friends with Ed Abbey, and was supposedly the inspiration for the character Seldom Seen Smith in Abbey’s book “The Monkey Wrench Gang”.

Katie Lee, much younger and nuder than when I met her

So when I read in early 2019 that there was a special exhibit of Ken Sleight’s photos and souvenirs from the early rafting days, I immediately wanted to go. The exhibit was at the John Wesley Powell River History Museum in Green River, Utah.

Unfortunately, the exhibit was going to end in March, which didn’t leave much time. So I convinced my girlfriend Brooke to join me on a long Presidents’ Day weekend road trip.

But before I tell you that story, let me tell you something about me you probably don’t know.

I dream movies. That is, my dreams have characters, plot lines, dialogue (sometimes in foreign languages – only French or Spanish, the only other languages I understand well enough to make sense in a dream), and original music. The weirdest of this for me has always been the music thing. I don’t think I’ve ever met someone else whose subconscious dreams up original music in different styles for their dreams, but I have ever since I was a teen. I even tried to record one piece after a particularly long and vivid dream/movie called “Escape from Berlin” set during WWII. Anyhow, sometimes these movies I dream are serials. Basically, they’re recurring dreams. But the characters all know that we’re in a sequel and the story is often based on a previous instance of the recurring dream.

When I was in college, I had a recurring dream about finding a mathematical technique for counting the number of pipes stacked on a tractor trailer. A truck like this…

…would be driving down Broadway in Boulder, where I went to college, and as it passed I had to quickly count the pipes. I was struggling with Calculus for three semesters during this time, and I think there was some connection. My then-girlfriend Lisa, when I told her about these dreams, said that obviously they’re about sex. But I thought they were really frustration dreams about trying to learn Calculus from really bad professors.

Another recurring movie-style dream that I have had on and off since I was in my early 20s – that’s over 25 years ago now – is that there’s a secret US government base south of Moab, Utah. In my teens and early 20s, I visited the Moab area a lot, with my friend Mike (who mysteriously disappeared years later, though that’s a different story). We hiked in Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, the San Rafael Reef, etc.

Anyhow, in my dream, this secret base near Moab was for testing secret stealth aircraft. In these dreams, I’m the protagonist. And being in southeast Utah for hiking and also being interested in airplanes, I naturally want to sneak to the edge of the air field so I can watch these secret planes take off and land. I do that for a while, and then see weirder and weirder airplanes. These are airplanes so advanced that they are clearly not of human design. They must use technology stolen from aliens. Now keep in mind that I – in real life, as well as in this dream, apparently – have a Master of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering, so I have a solid grasp of how human aircraft technology works. But one particular aircraft is this giant thing the size of an aircraft carrier, clearly way too big to be an airplane. And it moves really slowly. So it must use anti-gravity technology or some other science fiction thing to fly. That’s essentially the finale of the dream. The giant rectangular aircraft slowly flies over, making it clear that humanity has  technology we stole from aliens that the general public has no idea about.

And then five years or so later, I have a similar dream again. Sometimes I’m discovering the alien tech airplanes again, and sometimes I’m checking up on the secret air base south of Moab again to see if they’re still there. But it’s always south of Moab and west of the highway that goes from Moab to Monticello. I’ve seen the secret airfield so many times in my dreams, I’ll draw a picture of where it is. I’ve never been in this area in real life, despite having hiked to the north, south, and west.

(continued in Green River, Part 2)

My Dark Side of Pluto

Tonight I hung my biggest, most wonderful piece of art. And it’s got a story. The photo is of the back side of Pluto, which had never been seen by humans until the New Horizons spacecraft passed by on its way out of the solar system in 2015. Here’s the story behind the image.

In 2006, an Atlas rocket was launched from Cape Canaveral, carrying a small spacecraft called New Horizons. It was the fastest object ever launched from earth. New Horizons‘ mission was to fly to Pluto, gather photos, and then fly onward to the Kuiper Belt and hopefully get photos of one or more objects there, before leaving the solar system forever.

New Horizons quietly traveled through space for most of the next 8 years, being awakened for an annual checkup before going back to sleep to conserve power. On December 6, 2014, New Horizons was brought back online to start getting ready to visit Pluto.

In 2015, it passed close to Pluto, getting incredibly detailed photos of the surface of the dwarf planet that nobody had ever seen before. After it was done with Pluto, it went on to get close up photos of Ultima Thule in early January 2019. That got a lot of press, and was the main focus of an episode of my favorite TV show NOVA, called “Pluto and Beyond“. The episode was broadcast live on January 2, 2019, to coincide with the flyby of Ultima Thule.

A couple weeks later, I saw that NOVA episode. And though the Ultima Thule stuff was cool, it didn’t strike me like the closeup photos of Pluto itself did. The part of the show that left the most impact on me was three scientists talking about their final and favorite image of Pluto from the New Horizons mission.

Here’s the segment of the video I’m talking about:

Narrator:

As its historic flyby comes to an end, and the tiny spacecraft leaves Pluto, New Horizons looks back to take one last breathtaking image.

Joel Parker, Planetary Scientist, New Horizons Mission:

My real favorite, favorite picture is one after we flew by Pluto, and we’re looking back, and we see the horizon of Pluto with the Sun lighting the atmosphere from behind. You can see layers of haze and shadows of mountains streaming across the surface, and that is where you really understand that Pluto is a world.

Marc Buie, Planetary Scientist, New Horizons Mission:

Whenever I see that picture, it’s as if I’m sitting on the spacecraft looking out the window, as Pluto goes whizzing by. And it more than any other picture that we took puts me there.

Alan Stern, Principal Investigator, New Horizons Mission:

That photograph for me is the crowning achievement. We were really there, and we really did it. And we made our own little contribution not just to science, but actually to history.

So of course I searched for that actual image, and soon found it. And I decided I must have a print of it.

For me, like the scientists, it’s something special. This was almost certainly the only time in my lifetime that humanity will visit Pluto. When I was young, I was inspired by science fiction and wanted to be an astronaut. Then, when I realized that’s not likely, I switched directions to being an aerospace engineer. And that never really happened, either. But I still love the idea of space exploration. Having a faraway planet in my home makes me happy.

Looking back at the sun

I got a high resolution version of the photo from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and had a local Denver print shop called Infinite Editions make a print for me. It’s 36″ by 52″ and it’s gorgeous.

There’s only one place in my small condo for a piece this big. I had to rent a van to get it home, since it’s too big to fit in my car. Also, it’s my first piece of art that requires a French cleat to hang. So I don’t have to worry about it getting crooked or anyone bumping it off its hanger.

Me and Pluto

So that is what I spent my tax refund on this year.

Todd’s Instant Pot pork green chile, attempt #1

Like a lot of people in Colorado, I like green chile. Denver is a 9 hour drive from Hatch, New Mexico, but we’re close enough to be in the orbit of Hatch chiles. So when I got an Instant Pot for Christmas, I decided to try to use it to make pork green chile.

The green chiles I got were a gift from a friend who bought a bushel and did all the prep work (thanks, KY!) so I just have a pile of quart-size Ziploc baggies of green chiles ready to use. This batch is a bit on the spicy side, I found, hotter than Anaheims. Maybe they’re Big Jims. I don’t honestly know.

Full green chiles, roasted and prepped

My experience wasn’t perfect, and during the process, I realized a fundamental truth I’d never thought much about. Colorado-style green chile sauce that you’d use to put on a burrito or eggs is a lot spicier than Colorado-style green chile that you eat like soup with tortillas. My original goal was to make the former, but I ended up with the latter. Next time I’ll do it differently, I think. Here goes with the recipe.

Ingredients

  • 2 to 3 pounds of pork shoulder, diced
  • 1 quart bag of prepped green chiles
  • 6 tomatillos
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp Mexican oregano (a totally different plant than European oregano)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground dried New Mexico chile
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 32 ounce (weight) chicken broth, plus 2 more cups of broth
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes
  • corn starch

De-husk, wash, and cut up the tomatillos, garlic, and onion. Blend them together in a blender.

This is about the right amount of onion, tomatillo, and pork to use.

Dice the pork and dice the green chiles (separately).

Set the Instant Pot for Sauté, add 1 TB of oil, and brown the pork.

Add the blended stuff, the green chiles, the chicken broth, the tomatoes, and the spices. Seal the IP and set for pressure cook High for 75 minutes. Yes, 75 minutes. You want the pork to be so soft it melts in your mouth. When it’s done, let the steam do the “natural release” for another 30 minutes.

First look after opening the Instant Pot lid
Before thickening

Switch the Instant Pot back to Sauté. Make a slurry of corn starch and water, and slowly add enough, stirring into the soup to thicken it up.

Once it seems thick enough, serve it up with warm flour tortillas.

You can also use this to smother burritos and eggs, but my taste buds say it’s not spicy enough for that.

Green chile turns a plain bean burrito into a yummy meal

Todd’s cranberry ginger relish recipe

Todd’s Cranberry Ginger Relish Recipe

This started as a recipe I found online and made for Thanksgiving sometime around 2000, and I’ve made it several times since then, slightly simplifying and improving it along the way. It’s fresh, vegan, gluten-free, and tasty. It requires no cooking, unlike Martha Stewart’s similar recipe.

Ingredients

Cranberries

Buy one 12-ounce bag of fresh cranberries. Here’s the kind I’ve used most often:

Note that if you can’t find fresh cranberries, in a pinch you can make this using two small cans of whole berry cranberry sauce instead. Just dump the cranberries into a colander and rinse off all the gelatin and sauce and stuff, so you only have the berries left.

Apple

You just need one apple. It’s best to use a sweet variety, because the sweetness of the apple is going to help cut the tartness of the cranberries.

Ginger Root

You need one medium size ginger root, as fresh as possible. It should be about the size of three of your fingers, like this:

Sugar and Water

Regular table sugar. You’ll only need a tablespoon or two, depending on your preference of how sweet you want the relish. The sweeter the apple, the less sugar you need. And some tap water.

Preparation

First, rinse the cranberries and discard any bad ones.

Peel and rinse the ginger; if you don’t know the trick about how to peel ginger easily, watch this video.  Cut the ginger up into one inch chunks.

Rinse, peel, and core the apple. Then cut it into one inch chunks.

Put the ginger, cranberries, apple, one tablespoon of sugar, and a half cup of water into your food processor. Pulse it all to chop everything up to the consistency of relish, because this is relish! If it’s not blending nicely, add a little more water. Be careful not to blend it too much or it will become more of a sauce than a relish.

Once it looks nice, taste it. If it’s too tart for your tastes, add a little more sugar and blend it all together very briefly. Then taste again, and add more sugar if needed. (If you screw up and add too much sugar by accident, add a tiny bit of lemon juice to bring it back to the tart side. Nobody will know.)

When it gets to be not too tart but not too sweet, you’re done. Pour it into a bowl and let it sit in the fridge for an hour or more (overnight is fine), for the flavors to blend together. Stir before serving.

If you have more than you need, spoon some of it into a plastic container to freeze. Freezing and thawing doesn’t really hurt the consistency, I know from experience.

A true story of three piglets, a rooster, and their love of cheese

a short story by Todd Bradley

Once upon a time, there were two piglets playing in the tall grass under a tree on a hill not far from Farmer Joe’s house. One piglet was named Verne, and the other was Flick.

“Look, Flick,” said Verne, pointing to the sky. “The full moon is coming up.”

Flick turned to look up. “It’s so beautiful! I hope it comes closer. Chip, the rooster of the yard, told me the moon is made of Gouda cheese. And I love cheese!”

“I love cheese, too,” replied Verne. “Really, who doesn’t? But I’ve got some bad news, Flick. The moon is not made of cheese. It’s just made of rocks and dirt.”

“What? Why do you hate cheese?” asked Flick, quite disturbed by this turn of events. “It’s so soft and melts in your mouth. Yum.”

“I don’t hate cheese. I’m just saying that the moon is made of rocks. People went there in a rocket long ago, and they even brought some rocks back. It’s a fact you can look up in a book if you want.” Verne had even seen an old movie of the moon landing on TV. The people dug up some rocks and took them back inside their rocket, but they could not eat the rocks, so they had to return to earth before supper time.

Flick continued, “But Chip told me the moon is cheese. And why would a rooster lie? Roosters likes cheese, too!”

“I don’t know, Flick, maybe what Chip meant was that he simply wishes the moon was made of cheese?” Verne, being a piglet, couldn’t think of any good reason for the rooster to make up a story about the moon being cheese.

“Fuck you, Verne. I thought you liked cheese like the rest of us. Fuck you!”

Verne’s eyes got big. The piglet was shocked by Flick’s sudden anger and foul language. At that moment, another piglet walked up, named Spork.

“Hi everyone. What’s going on here on the hill?” asked Spork.

Flick tried to explain. “Verne here hates cheese. Must be a member of the Anti-Gouda Brigade.” Flick and Spork both looked Verne over. They hadn’t noticed it before, but now Verne did look like the kind of piglet that would hate cheese, and maybe all dairy products, for that matter.

“Whoa, wait a minute. I do like cheese. I just don’t think the moon is made of it. See the difference?”

Flick and Spork looked at each other. Spork spoke first, “Nope, if you don’t want the moon to be made of cheese, you’re a cheese hater. Anti-Gouda!”

“Cheese hater! Cheese hater!” Flick shouted all over the barnyard.

Spork joined in, pointing at Verne. “Cheese hater! Cheese hater!” Verne wandered off to the barn, wondering why his friends preferred to call him names rather than taking the time to understand his point.

Spork and Flick high-fived each other. Their friendship grew that day. Later, when they saw Verne eating some cheese in the hay, they felt vindicated. Clearly it was they who convinced Verne that cheese was so delicious. Clearly this proves the moon is made of Gouda.

Todd’s makeshift mocha latte recipe

It’s been a while since I posted a recipe. Well, actually, it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything here. But it’s time for a recipe.

I like coffee. And I occasionally like chocolate. But I prefer good coffee and dark chocolate. Also, I don’t have an espresso machine at home, so I can’t make a real mocha latte. But with a little experimentation I’ve found a way to make a coffee+chocolate drink at home that’s just as good as a mocha latte.

It’s really a mix of two things – strong coffee and strong chocolate.

Chocolate

In whatever mug you’re going to drink it from, mix about 3/4 cup of half-and-half with 2 tablespoons of Trader Joe’s Sipping Chocolate powder. Microwave this for 30 seconds, and stir. You don’t want it getting too hot, of course, but it needs to be hot enough so the half-and-half dissolves the chocolate. If you need to nuke it longer, go for it.

Coffee

While the sipping chocolate cools, make one Aeropress full of coffee concentrate, using whatever your favorite beans are. Every Aeropress user has a slightly different technique. Did you know there’s an annual competition to see who can make the best coffee from an Aeropress? There is. The technique I use came from one of the winners of that contest.

I use the inverted Aeropress method with roughly 17g freshly ground coffee and 190 F tap water. I stir for 10 seconds, then let it steep for another 60 seconds. I prefer Ethiopian Yirgacheffe beans, and use a metal mesh instead of the paper filters that come with the Aeropress.

If you’ve never used an Aeropress, you should get one. It makes better coffee than any other method except a pro-grade espresso machine, and cleans up easily. The coffee that comes out of it is stronger than most coffee, so most people dilute it with 25% to 50% hot water. But for this recipe, we’re not going to dilute it at all.

After the 60 seconds is up, press the coffee concentrate out into your mug with the cocoa concentrate. Now stir them together, and enjoy.

The richness of the half-and-half (instead of milk) and the concentrated coffee flavor make this drink not taste like the sickly sweet mochas you find at some coffee shops.

 

the last four months

It’s hard to believe, but it’s been four whole months since I wrote anything here. I guess you could say I’ve been busy! Let’s see, can I give a reasonably quick recap?

I’m pretty well settled back into Capitol Hill now. My apartment, while still needing lots of work, is liveable and in nice enough shape that I’ve had friends over a few times without great embarrassment. One of the best features is the huge balcony, especially now that I have moved most of my camping gear off it.

I’ve been on a couple camping trips to the mountains this summer. One was my first visit to the Apogaea arts and music festival, and the other was a Bradley family reunion. Those were nice long-weekend getaways. I also took several days off in the spring to work on a photography project around Denver with a friend who visited from Austin.

I still run into old friends and acquaintances who don’t know that Beth and I are separated. It just happened again at a party last Saturday night. I haven’t talked about it much online, and I’ll probably blog about the whole thing sometime. In short, Beth and I decided in September 2015 to split up, but we still finished our Eastern Hemisphere travels. We said our goodbyes after we landed back in the US. She moved to Kansas City in early February, which explains why my apartment is really MY apartment, as in just mine. Getting used to being single, living alone, etc. has been strange after all this time. Like I said, more on that later.

I’ve been working from my office in Broomfield less and less, often going in only once per week. Working from home (or a coffee shop) is so much nicer. I really hate the commute each way. It’s just such a waste of valuable time that I’d rather spend doing something fun, or productive, or just relaxing. Sitting in a car in traffic is none of those things. But the Honda Civic I bought earlier this year is just about as nice of a commuting car as I can imagine.

I’ve been working on a short film series called “Welcome to Earth, Shorty”. I had hoped it would be farther along by now, but writing has been slower than I thought it would be. My main writing partner and I have tried a few experiments that haven’t worked out quite as we hoped, and I’ve been way busier than I expected to be. I hope to have more to tell you about on that later.

I have also done some dating, for the first time in 24 years. That’s definitely weird. Most of the people I’ve met have been through a dating website. Meeting people that way is new to me, and dating in middle age is new to me. But I’ve always liked meeting new people, so even though it’s awkward and strange, it’s been fun, too.

Well, that’s the shortest summary I can give of my spring and the first half of summer. I should make a point to write more often.

back to Capitol Hill

It’s been seven and a half weeks since I got back from my big journey. There have been changes in so many ways.

I wrote about the first few days in an earlier article here.

After a week or so, I went back to work full time. That was a little hard to get used to. Not only had I not done the same thing every day for a long time, but I had six months of progress at my job to catch up on. I tried working on three different projects at the same time initially, but once it was clear that one of them was on track I cut back to two projects. And now I’m mainly working on just one.

I eventually did find an apartment in Denver I liked. I decided to go with location over size, and started a lease in a unit at the Florentine Condominiums on March 15. Moving is happening in fits and starts. As I write this, I’ve spent three nights in the new place now. But I still have stuff in the old place, the room I was renting from my friend.

The apartment is at 700 Washington St, which is in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, only about block from the place where we lived before. There’s a great comfort in knowing the neighborhood pretty well. And it’s especially convenient to be able to walk everywhere again. As I wrote in my blog a couple years ago, within a half mile, there are four supermarkets, nine or ten coffee shops, several restaurants and bars, at least three cleaners, and so on.

But 7th Avenue is a quiet street, so even though the density is pretty high here, it’s a calm place to live. And now it’s especially so because I live on the 8th floor. I’ve got a big balcony that faces east, and I can see for miles and miles from up here.

I’m so glad to be back in Denver.