Bill and Juanita, owners of Allenspark Lodge B&B, are living their dream...

running a successful business and riding as often as possible.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Quick Change

I've been messing about in Mom and Bill's blog again.  This time to add something kind of cool.  (Bill did the hard work, I just added the page and linked them together.)

For those of you who want to come visit the lodge, we now have a "Lodge Specials" page that you can get to by clicking the page link in the sidebar.  Coming up is their annual "Crafters' Retreat".  Click on over and check it out.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Quiet Horse Time

We had a few minutes yesterday prior to guests coming in, so we hopped in the car with a few breakfast scraps - aka 'biscuits' to the horses, better known as left-over waffles, pancakes and homemade bread slices lovingly dried on the grill for our furry friends.  They each have their preference, but right now they just seem to be really happy to see us coming for some petting time.
"Hey, is that the treat bag you have there?"
Ranger - You got my favorite in there?  (He's the waffle man.)
Jesse - I wanna see!  (Don't you just love their fear of the plastic bag?)
Ranger - Hey, that's my waffle!
Washoe - I've been waiting; can I have something? (He's not picky - as long as he can get it in his mouth.)

 Not to disappoint Ranger, Beel had to practice his 'dead Indian' trick.  You notice the other two are getting away before he can try them.
It was a fun few minutes.  Horses are so good for the heart!
Bionic Cowgirl

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas 2013

Haven't meant to be a lazy blogger - but things just seemed to turn hectic after the last blog.  It suddenly dawned on me the little amount of time left to get all in order for the holidays - the same stuff everyone else goes through - decorating, shopping, finishing projects, baking, (work in there somewhere), and we also added getting ready for a new baby in the family.  We are expecting our first great-grandchild in another week.  Yikes!  Did I just have to use that phrase?  Anyway, to say it has been exciting around here is not exagerating.

However, Christmas is about family and all those great get-togethers and our faith.  We had a wonderful time and we send all our love your direction. 
We had snow on the ground, but not on the roads.  It was mostly sunny and not so breezy.
 I thought I would share a couple of my favorite nativity scenes with you.  This was a gift from my favoritist hubby a few/many years back - when I was 'collecting' sets.  Yes, it is stained glass.
This one probably comes the closest to how I would have viewed the actual scene the night of the Christ child's birth.
And this one is hand made of bean bags by a very special aunt.  Each of these figurines is 8 - 10 inches tall and made of the most beautiful scraps of material and antique brooches for the kings' crowns.  These all remind me of all the love this season brings and how fortunate we all are to have almost our whole family here to enjoy....
So, from Bill and I ....
and the rest of the clan ...

Merry, merry Christmas to all our friends and neighbors !!!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Christmas Hats

B-    Come on gang!  It's time for your annual Christmas funny hat pictures!

B-   Juanita's got a nice Santa hat for you, Ranger.
R-   No Beel.  Make it go away.

B-   Look Ranger, it's an elf hat!  It's got funny ears just like you!

B-   See?  Juanita isn't scared.

R-   Waneeta can keep them.  I am leaving.

B-  Okay buddy, she's got some nice antlers?

R-  No Beel.  I will go away now.

B-   Watch, Ranger.  I'll put them on Jesse.

B-   Okay, so she didn't like it, but Washoe will wear them.

B-   Let's try this again, buddy.

R-   It is time for you to go away now Beel.

B-  Say, in a couple months we can try some bunny ears!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Ice Ice Baby

About a week and a half ago, we turned our horses loose on their winter pasture, about 12 miles from us.   It is at the same altitude we are here at the lodge, about 8500 feet. The day we let them go was the last time we have seen temps above freezing.  It was also the last day we saw winds of less than 20 mph.  And it's snowed a foot or so.  In fact we have had 50 mph winds with sub zero temperatures.  It has been DARN cold.

When we go visit the horses, they seem to be accusing us of sending them to a horrible place, and it's hard to explain to them that it's just as cold at home.

DARN cold.

We had a faucet left dripping in the tub on the 2nd floor last week.  We found it when Juanita heard a dripping sound near her puzzle table.  A slow drip going down a sewer pipe on the outside of a log building will freeze to the inside of the pipe.  So will the next drip. And the next.  Etc. etc. etc...  Finally the whole 4 inch cast iron pipe will fill with an ice plug from the ground floor up.  This will only happen if there are no guests in the room for a week so no gushes of water warm and melt the ice stuck to the walls of the pipe.  And it will only happen if the "heat tape" warming the iron pipe on the outside of the lodge fails.  And it will only happen if it is DARN cold.


At first I tried going outside to replace the heat tape on the pipe.  On a ladder.  In the wind.  In the sub zero temperatures.  I can not be taught, but I can be trained.  There just have to be consequences.

I froze.
(It's actually a LOT colder than it looks.)

I decided there had to be a way to thaw things from the inside.  So I pulled the toilet off the floor, ran a garden hose running hot water from the tub down the sewer pipe and used a shop-vac to suck up the return water as it came to the top of the pipe where the toilet had been mounted.  Over the course of a couple days, I melted my way inch by inch down the ice clogged pipe.

SUCCESS!  The water went away without the shop-vac!  It went down the drain!  So I reinstalled the toilet. (I had to change the tank-to-bowl bolts and gasket and the bowl-to-floor bolts and gasket.  They were... elderly.)

Ah... but wait.  How about the plumbing to the room NEXT to the frozen pipe?  Sure enough, it's drainage had been plugged by the sewer pipe "down stream" so the SECOND bath had a frozen sewer pipe.

So I got to pull the second toilet and start again.

Did I mention it takes a couple of days?

In a completely unrelated event, yesterday morning at 3:am, the power went out.  Wind and sub-zero temps, you know.  It was out for about 4 hours.

Do you remember what I said about heat-tapes that don't function?  That things will freeze up if the pipe is cold and unused?  Yep, a pipe in part of a "loop" system froze.  As it is a loop, we didn't know it had frozen because water still flowed to all of the faucets.

A little after 5:am this morning, the pipe thawed.  Lying in bed, we heard water running. I said "Wait a minute.  We don't have any guests!  The water can't be running."  So I pulled on my jeans and ran downstairs and said  "Oh, dear.  Look at the water POUR down through 3 floors!  My, my, my." (or something like that).  "Good heavens!  And we have guests coming in tonight!"

The pipe had broken.  One whole joint had popped apart.  We shut the water off to the building, and broke out the buckets and shop-vac and towels.  I was out of plumbers solder, so I had to wait for the hardware store to open in Estes Park.

I fixed the broken joint and turned the water back on.  Water gushed out of another break in the pipe.  Turned of the water and fixed that break in the pipe.  Water on, water fall again.  Water off. And again.  Lather-rinse-repeat.

Four breaks in that run of pipe.  By the end of the day Juanita and I were both getting "twitchy" and jumping at any sound that was even remotely similar to water running.  But we got it done before our guests arrived.

Oh, wait.  The "upstream" room still has an ice plugged sewer pipe.

So, I went back to work on that.  Finally got that ice dam melted, only to find two more sinks that entered that pipe even further upstream from them were also frozen up.

It's almost 11:30 pm now, and I'm tired of messing with it.  I think I'll go to bed and work on it tomorrow.  No one is checking into that room for another couple days, so I'll wait until tomorrow to re-install the toilet and thaw the drains for the sinks.

Maybe tomorrow morning I'll drive over and see the horses for a bit.  You know, I think they have the right idea.

They just pee outside.


Friday, December 6, 2013

Pasture Prime

Wow!  I got lost with the time (lack of sunlight doesn't help either).  I kept thinking of all these great blogs, but just couldn't seem to sit still long enough to write them.

Let's backtrack to Thanksgiving:  I hope everyone enjoyed theirs.  We were lucky enough to have most of the kids and grandkids spend lots of time with us - and my mother made it up the mountain, too.  Last week was actually really nice weather - and I still didn't manage to get on either of my horses.  GunDiva and hubby came up on Tues. night last week; I hoped to drag her out for a ride the next day, but alas, she had a book to rewrite and get published.  OK, so Bill and I are now enjoying reading the e-version of "Hunted Lyon" and I have to forgive her for not riding with mom.

Thanksgiving dawned warm and sunny and we ended up with 18 for dinner.  I've decided keeping up with 18 family members is much more time consuming than 18 guests.  There's always so much to catch up on, even though we stay in close touch.  We had the traditional turkey and everyone brought lots of yummy stuff to add to the table!

Friday, most of us went to the Catch the Glow Christmas parade in Estes Park, to start off the holiday season.  It's been a couple of years since I was able to go and we had a grand time, including the traditional pizza at Bob & Tony's prior to the parade.  We didn't even freeze our toes and fingers this year!

We had some fun guests over the weekend and had planned on fixing fence on Sunday afternoon, then moving the horses on Monday.  We spent three and a half hours at it and still had only gotten about half done.  We just hadn't realized all the damage from the winds and flood.  We ended up spending another three hours fencing on Monday and decided to wait until Tuesday to move the horses.  I had not been watching the weather, so when Nebalee called Tuesday morning to ask if we were ready for the big snowstorm, I was caught totally off-guard.  Looking out the window, we decided we had better move the horses right now!  We gathered them up and didn't even feed them breakfast.  Being the great travelers they are, they loaded right up and off we went.  We did take a couple of bales of hay with us, even though they were going to some great pasture.  We had planned on staying in Ft. Collins for the night so we could go to a grandson's Christmas band program.

It wasn't very exciting when we dropped them off this time; since they hadn't had breakfast, they just trotted the short way to the grass and started eating!
We laughed and left them there.  The next day we stopped by to check on them and found one irritated grulla horse and two racing white horses!  There was 10 inches of new snow on the ground and -4 degrees.  I thought maybe they had heard the car and were coming to tell us they wanted to go home.  Ha!  See what I know?  When we got to the gate, Jesse came charging out of the trees, barely stopping at the fenceline.  The look on her face told the story:  something had been in their pen.  We checked the hay and decided they had indeed had help with the hay pile.  The ground was so torn up from their hooves, and the snow was dry and didn't make good prints, so we could only surmise the visitor.  However, while fixing the fences, Bill and I had run across quite a few moose tracks and some fairly fresh moose droppings.  My guess is there might be an unhappy moose thinking we brought in some nasty neighbors!  Look at this face!
Biggify this to see the real dragon face!
That is definitely her "you had better get out of my pen" face.  Washoe chases dogs out of the pen; I think he had a lesson in how to chase bigger game because he was having a great time trying to keep up with Jesse.  Ranger was just 'staying out of the way'!  Bill pulled out an apple for them to share and they calmed right down.  Ranger had to show off his snowy nose.
We checked back again today and found them happily grazing the pasture, even in the deep snow.  Their hay was scattered but hardly eaten.  We called and they came a runnin'.  (We have a really cool video, but after multiple tries, we can't get blogger to load it.)  Fed them a couple oat granola bars, got some good hugs and went on home.  Sure do miss them here, but it is far better for them where they are; they get to run and dig and act like the wild ones they are!
Bionic Cowgirl

Friday, November 15, 2013

Just'a Ride

   Juanita and I finished getting the lodge ready for guests early in the day.  And the sun was out.  And there was minimal wind.  And we had a couple hours before check in.


   We grabbed the boys and threw bareback pads on them to keep our jeans clean.  And off we went.

   This time, we weren't looking for trail damage, just riding for the joy of it.  And the horses seemed to be enjoying it, too.  We saw a group of hikers way off in the distance, walking their llamas.  That was the only people we saw.  But after coming over a small rise in the trail, we surprised a herd (flock?) of a dozen or so big horn sheep by the trail.  Actually, they didn't seem surprised at all, we were the startled ones.

They were content to just watch us sort of out of the corner of their eyes and keep eating.
Herd of Rocky Mountain Big Horn Sheep
I think the horses were more interested in the sheep than the sheep were in us.

It was an odd and peaceful couple minutes, with just a little sound from the breeze.

We finally rode off, and finished our ride.

By God, I love it up here.


Monday, November 11, 2013

It's Not As Good As It Sounds.

Today we had our lodge's hay-day.

Not to be confused with a heyday.

   Our hay supplier, a wonderful 70+ year old farmer, brought up six tons of hay at 4:30 am this morning from his farm in Nebraska.  After a short nap and a cup of coffee, he was ready to start unloading hay.

   This year, we bought 6 tons from him, because we only have 3 horses to feed, and a lead on some winter pasture we should be able to turn them loose on for 4 months or so.  Shouldn't need quite so much food so we didn't ask for the usual 7 1/2 tons.  And that's a darn good thing.  Because in years past, we've always managed to get two or three of our kids/in-laws/young friends up here to help unload and stack the stuff.

   Not this year.  This year all of our kids are employed (full time).  All of their spouses are employed (full time).  And the young friends, employed full time.


   One would think we would be delighted that all of ours are gainfully and fully employed.  And usually we are VERY grateful.

   Unless, of course, we have tons of hay to take off a truck and have to do it on a weekday, 'cause we're busy on weekends with guests.  Then, a little unemployment seems like a good thing.

  Juanita, the 70+ year old hay farmer, and I worked at unloading the hay from the trailer and stacking it, in front of a VERY attentive audience.  Three starving horses, who spent their time muh-muh-muhing at us until Juanita raked up some of the loose stuff for them to snack on.  They still kept an eye on us, but it's hard to nicker with your mouth full.

They approved of this years crop.

  After an hour and a half, we broke for breakfast.  During breakfast we came up with a list of the world's problems and a set of perfect solutions for them.  Then we went back to work. and finished unloading and stacking the hay.  Sadly, all of the solutions to the world's problems were forgotten by the time we finished.

That happens sometimes.

  The weather was nice, so we have put off tarping the stuff that is not in a shed until tomorrow.  Hopefully there won't be as much wind as there was today.  Big tarps are...awkward in the wind.

  After the hay was unloaded, and the hay-guy drove away, I got to thinking.

Today is Veteran's Day.  Every one of those kids was probably off work.

Double damn.


(Happy Veterans Day, and my thanks to all who served.)


Friday, November 8, 2013

Deejo Has a Birthday!

Well, my little daredevil's birthday is today.  OK, so he's not so little any more; dare I say he is a thirty-something?  With a wife - and a couple of kids.  But he IS still my daredevil.  I am sure he has lost count of the times I threatened to lock him in a closet and not let him out until his next birthday - often on the afternoon of his birthday!  I think he was 13 then.

At that age he was a competitive gymnast - but he couldn't jump off a kitchen stool without getting his feet tangled in it, landing on his face ... and ending up in the ER.  The gymnastic competitions didn't always go so smoothly either.  He managed to survive some pretty fantastic spills...and earned some high ribbons.

Then there was the time he took a jump on his dirt bike at the impromptu dirt hills at a park being constructed behind our house.  We insisted the boys never go alone to those hills, just in case someone got hurt, they had to go together.  So one day, Bill and I had just gotten home from work when little brother comes screeching up the driveway hollering, "He's dead.  He's dead!"  Not what you want to hear at the end of your day.  Turns out Deejo had landed wrong on a front wheel, come down face first and managed to knock himself out, but fortunately they had listened and the messenger found his way home.  Another trip to the ER.

At one of his own birthday parties, he was showing off more bicycle skills.  You guessed it.  He caught the  jump a little wrong and catapulted himself into the front of the neighbor's car (okay, it was parked).  By this time, the family was used to his 'stunts', and just said, "He'll live."  No ER this time.

Let's see, we had an exacto knife through a finger one time.  When this one particular friend of his was visiting, you KNEW there was going to be excitement.  Ask me why I ever allowed this friend within the confines of our home.  There were scraped up bellies from climbing trees that were off limits, and I can guarantee there are a lot of things I have no knowledge of - yet.

It didn't end when he went to the Marines.  I'm pretty sure his DI could tell you some hair raisers!  Imagine my fear when he came in one day and said he had a  job working steel:  you know, climbing all over steel rafters hundreds of feet in the air - in the winter, when they are icy!  Good thing they wear harnesses, 'cause I'm pretty sure he tried his out.

Now he has added motors to his bikes and dirt races.  (And he tells me my horses are too dangerous!?)  When it comes right down to it, I am amazed he has gotten this OLD, and he was soooo cute when he was little!  Deejo, we all love you, even though you caused me my share of heart stoppages.


Monday, November 4, 2013

Got the Time?

It's been several days now, and he is STILL not happy.

Ranger the horse is not pleased by the games we people play with his feeding times.  Okay, he doesn't much mind the spring time change where he gets fed an hour early, but this fall crap is for the birds.

Jesse and Washoe are comparatively ambivalent about feeding times.  They are just very interested when it happens.  But Ranger gets p!$$ed off.  And he tells EVERYONE IN THE AREA about it.

As  a mustang, he was responsible for finding his own food.  All of the time.  And if the food supply got low, it was time to move on and find some more.  Now.  Right now.  Otherwise, one starves.  It's the way it works in the wild.  Even now, if we plan on adding an extra horse into his herd, we need to remember to over feed them all for a couple days beforehand, or he will try to chase the interloper out because there is BARELY ENOUGH FOOD FOR THE ONES HERE NOW.

As a wrangler told us several years ago, Ranger has now gone over the the dark side.  He pretty much excepts all of the junk that goes with being a domestic, but for that, he requires regular feedings.  Like clockwork.  No exceptions.  IT"S IN THE CONTRACT.

So, for the last couple days since we went off daylight savings time, he's been screaming bloody murder for an hour before the food shows up.

Not happy at all.

Sophie the lodge dog is none to thrilled, either.


Thursday, October 31, 2013

A Fridgid Halloween

With the snow we have been having the last couple days, I started thinking of how the local kids costumes would look with heavy coats on over them.

Then I started thinking about how costumes would look in the arctic  regions.

I give you-

 Bond.  James Bond.

I vant to drink your blood.

A ten foot tall carnivore that weighs almost twice what my horse weighs don't need no stinking costume to be scarey.

Happy Halloween!


Saturday, October 26, 2013

More Gulches ... a.k.a. Trails

I know I've been more than a bit of a blog slug lately, but we have spent many hours scouring our trails, so we have gotten a good deal of riding in.  I'm ashamed to say that although the riding has been wonderful, I still have been too depressed at the condition of our trails to want to write.  Bill and I have always believed we had some of the most beautiful trails in the U.S.  We still do ... but it's going to take some time to get them back in shape for novice riders.

"Compass" manages the Livery across the street and this is a real concern for her business, since probably a good 50% of her riders have never been on a horse before, so you want lots of good, safe trails.  If anyone wants a conditioning challenge for your horse - other than altitude - now is the time to come!!!  See?  It's all about attitude!  We love a challenge - so let's go for an adventure.
Meet Compass and her horse, Eli.  They, plus Beel and Ranger and Jesse and I will be your tour guides today.
Let's be realistic here.  We live in the high country ... and snow has come somewhat early this year.  This is what is left from a snowfall over a week ago, but north slopes sometimes don't get uncovered again until the following Spring.  This just adds to our challenge, so make sure your horse has seen snow before and isn't afraid to step in it.
Compass requested the willow trail today, so we have to head downhill to Rock Creek and the willows.  Meet Ingrid, her dog.  Ingrid will be an important measurement tool later in the ride.
It's a bit of a struggle getting through the willows with all your clothes still in place.  The flood waters seem to have tangled them even more than their norm.  Hope all your horses can be handled with one hand, because you really, really need the other as self-defense!
The shale ledge has gotten a bit narrower!  Thank goodness all these horses are barefoot; it keeps slippage to a minimum.
All I can say is "ummm".  Once there was trail here, so go for it Ranger.  Pick your way through.
This is the agility test - and yes, I let my horse pick and choose her own footing.  Jesse chose to stay on rock and go up-and-over.  Eli  went the lower way and sank ankle deep in silt.  I have a great trust in my steed; she has plowed through some tough stuff for me - and even more on today's trip.  Once we cross over this bit of shale, we will cross a lower spot and then head to the top of the cliff.

Ranger and Bill have made it, thanks to some scrambling.  Trail condition?  Gone.  However, the trail down the other side looks totally unaffected.  I'm sure any of you who have helped repair trails after storms have seen these anomalies before.  So we cross Rock Creek, which is swollen considerably more than during any Spring runoff, and try to locate the beaver ponds.
The ponds seem to be gone; all we can see from our vantage point is free running water; lots of it!
On closer inspection, we can see the broken dams; no sign of the beavers.  We hope they survived.
Riding next to the creek, we find GOOD trail, where we would expect it to be washed out.
However, that didn't last long.  We crest the hill and ... what trail?  It is now a deepening gulch, leading to a real wash-out.
The power of water is pretty amazing.  This was once a tiny, tiny stream; barely 18 inches across.  Yes, inches!  Now it is that many feet, plus some.
Bill and Ranger went 4-wheeling down the hillside and discovered ... a kayak/canoe (hard to say which)!
It doesn't took too sea-worthy.  It's kind of jumbled in among all those downed willows.
Nope!  Definitely not usable.  Anyone want a yard decoration?  Getting it out of here could be a chore.
Well, this ended this portion of our journey.  We back-tracked back over the hill, back along Rock Creek, crossed a precarious spot that didn't use to look like this.
There is a way across between those trees; the old trail is beside me, quite deep.  We will have to step down into it and then into a deep spot in the creek to cross.
Once upon a time, there was a small foot bridge for humans to cross on. It is piled up with the willows now.  Hikers, you have to get your feet wet; maybe knees, too, now that this little creek is nearly as big as the St. Vrain River.  After crossing the creek, we turn right and head down the trail to the grotto and waterfall.  Most of this trail is in remarkably good condition and we ooh and aaah over the size and speed of the water we are riding next to.
What's this?  I think we have just found the beavers' new location!  A new home in the making, but we're not sure it's such a good place for a dam.
Very shortly after that, we discover we have gone as far as we can go.  The trail was just none existent from that point on, so no grotto, no waterfall today.  We all commented on how appreciative we were to be on horses that would spin on a foot to get turned around, because there was zero maneuvering space!  Three foot dropoff on our right; rock and bramble on our left.  We considered re-crossing the creek here and working our way along the other side, but decided it could be too dangerous as the rocks are not settled into their new location.  It they shifted under us, we or one of our horses could end up with a broken leg.  That would not be a fun ending on such a beautiful day.  Again, we back-track.
Time to head back uphill, on a different trail.  This doesn't look good, but since we are each mounted on 'mountain goats', we go for it.
Nope.  Time to hill climb; there is no space next to the trail to get through safely.  The bull-dozer I am on takes the lead and heads straight up the hill to our right.  We try to stay within sight of the trail.
We stayed pretty clear of areas like this that had just 'fallen in on itself'.  In some places we had no choice but to navigate close.  Bill and Ranger were small enough to squeeze between the trees; Jesse decided to cross over but the bank fell in on us and we ended up in the bottom of that mess.  True to form, she calmly climbed out the uphill side, but when we got to the top of the hill, Compass pointed out that we had a broken breast collar.  Jesse pops more D-rings with her shoulders.  This time, the D-ring actually pulled through the leather, so I have to figure out how to fix that.  I climbed off and removed it completely, hoping we wouldn't have more need of it on the rest of the ride.  Again, I can't say enough about good, broke trail horses that will let you climb off and on from the 'wrong' side, on a steep slope, and handle all their tack.
Once I get settled in the saddle, we head off another shoot of the trail to the right, and find Ingrid standing next to a portion of that trail, taller than she is.
Compass was trying to convince her to get in the trail to show how deep it was.  Smart dog said, "no".
We topped out and found most of those trails like this; about a six inch stripe down the middle that was anywhere from six inches deep, to 18 inches deep.

The rest of the way, we put the cameras away and concentrated on just enjoying the ride, and the beautiful day.  We had focused enough on destruction and just needed the fresh air.  Compass even had some jumping practice, over a log, that Eli didn't think was high enough to 'jump'.  He kept cantering over it like it didn't exist and we all had a good laugh!  We will find a way to get the trails in good condition next year.  Mother Nature always seems to help heal these things; so be it.  Hope you enjoyed our adventure; come along any time.
Bionic Cowgirl