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Baby, It’s Cold Outside!

10 Sep

I talked to Larry on the phone last night. It started out as a discussion about the Red Sox recent resurgence. Granted, it’s too late to make the post-season, but hey! The youngsters are playing really well of late and it bodes well for 2016 … not the first time I’ve said “Wait until next year” when it comes to the Sox.

Anyhow, I was sitting at the picnic table, using Skype since my cell phone service is non-existent up here.  (It now has the little red “x” burned into its screen where the reception bars are supposed to appear.) And as we were talking, I realized how dark it was getting … and it was only a little past 8pm.

I told Larry I had to get off the phone – I had to roll the windows up in the car and move various “stuff” back into the tent and get in before “bear time” (five incursions into camp since I arrived). And I expressed surprise at how early the sun was setting now. “Geesh, we’re only what … a month and a half away from summer solstice, right?”

Two and half months is more like it.” Larry replied. And it dawned on me that we were only 2 weeks away from Equinox! I guess that’s what happens when you’ve completely removed yourself from any consideration of time … other than when you are due to change campsites.

But it’s not only getting dark earlier … the temps are really starting to fall here in the mountains south of Pagosa Springs. For the last month, it’s been in the mid-to-lower 40’s at night. Based on how cold it’s been the last few nights however, the mid-40’s seems like a tropical paradise!

I had planned on buying a sleeping bag this winter, before I started heading back up the Texas coast to Port Aransas, which isn’t until mid-December. Given what’s been going on here, though … and considering that I’ve got another month in Colorado (and at a higher elevation than where I’m at now), I’ve decided to get one towards the end of next week, after my September Social Security payment hits my bank account.

In the meantime, it’s freaking COLD!!!!!!! And that’s called for some “interesting” measures to ensure I’m not freezing my ass of in the middle of the night.

I had quite the ensemble on when I headed to bed last night:

* Sweat pants over a pair of adidas shorts
* A fleece jacket over a t-shirt
* 2 pairs of socks on my feet
* Two additional socks on my left hand

I sleep on my left side, so my right hand is tucked inside the pocket of the fleece – since I can’t do that with the left hand, the socks seemed liked the best way to keep it warm.

I also wrapped a bath towel around my head, with the c-pap cord extended out the top. At least I didn’t have to worry about breathing … and thank God I figured out how to turn the c-pap’s heating unit on. Having 40 degree air blown full blast into your lungs isn’t the greatest thing to experience when you’re trying to catch some zzzzz’s!

Once in bed, I wrapped one of the comforters around me. I didn’t want to use both comforters ever since the last air bed deflated … the second comforter now stays on top of the mattress cover, adding extra protection from Frank’s nails. (Oh, by the way, I noticed two big scars on the side of the air bed this morning – the results of Frank trying to hop up on it. When it’s fully inflated, it’s a fairly decent jump for a short-legged beagle!  I don’t know how to address that, since he’s awake before I am in the morning.)

Anyhow, I felt a lot better this morning than I did yesterday. It was about 6:30 when I made it over to the bath / kitchen house for my coffee. I glanced at the thermometer hanging outside the door and saw that it was 36 degrees. Thirty-six degrees at 6:30 in the freaking a.m.! Which means that it had to be lower at 3am, right? (As an aside, thermometers should be removed from high-altitude campsites after Labor Day – I think they’re a special form of torture and have started an appropriate petition at whitehouse.org!)

TJ, the owner, was getting ready to head to his full-time gig as an investigator for the Pagosa Springs Police Department, and we shared some small talk over coffee. It didn’t register until I went to open the door to the kitchen, but I still had the two socks on my left hand. (That’ll give you an idea as to how tough it is to wake up in the morning. I got my shoes on, fought with Frank to get his collar and leash on while he’s dancing all around the tent, and unzipped the tent door, all without uncovering that hand.)

TJ looked at my hand, looked at me, and said, “Injury?”

I laughed. “No, just my way of dealing with the cold.” I then grunted something about “sleeping bag” and “next week”, but it was only my first cup of coffee. I’m more coherent after my second pot.

We engaged in a bit more small talk before TJ had to leave for work. I told him I was headed out to pick up a few groceries … I like to do any shopping early so that I’m not leaving Frank in a hot car.

When I got back, I found a heavy, thick blanket sitting on my picnic table, with a note from Stacey, TJ’s wife: “TJ said to bring this over to you. I hope you stay warmer tonight!”

Yep. One more checkmark in the “People are good” column. That column has been getting quite a few ticks over the last four months.

Tomorrow is wash day. After that, I’ll get most of my clothes into their Space Bags. On Saturday, I’ll pack up the car with everything except the tent, canopy, air bed and floor coverings … that’ll be left for Sunday morning.just before departure. I’d like to get on the road by noon, with the idea of setting up camp in La Veta before 5pm.

This has been a wonderful seven weeks. I’m leaving this place in a much better frame of mind than when I arrived. It’s amazing how restorative nature can be … especially nature that doesn’t involve three digit heat indices! That, combined with daily meditation, prayer and weed has worked wonders on my psyche. And Frank. I can’t forget about my little buddy.  I’d be lost without him!

Frank’s decided on a little routine before we go to bed. Every night for the past week, Frank waits until I get settled on the tent floor and then sits almost on top of me. After about 15 minutes of petting, he’ll lie down with his head on my bicep and close his eyes. I hate to move, he’s so peaceful … so we usually stay that way for another 30 minutes or so, until bedtime. I gotta say, it’s nice to be loved unconditionally.

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7 Comments

Posted by on September 10, 2015 in Travels

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

7 responses to “Baby, It’s Cold Outside!

  1. standalonehobo

    September 10, 2015 at 11:06 pm

    I enjoy reading your stories and Frank makes me laugh. Winters in Colorado can be harsh! Check out this post if you haven´t yet: https://standalonehobo.wordpress.com/2015/09/08/surviving-the-winter/
    Take care and stay warm!

    Like

     
    • ustabe

      September 11, 2015 at 12:43 am

      I’m glad you are enjoying the blog, Hobo!

      Thanks for sharing that link. Seeing it, I realized that I actually read it before. Unfortunately, it was probably 5-6 months ago.

      The sleeping bag insert is an interesting idea. The bag I had my eye on was about $150, but it’s a double-wide so Frank can get in there with me. It’s got a flannel lining. I couldn’t sew an insert if my life depended on it, so I’ll see if I can find one that’s sold separately and see what I might be able to save.

      Funny thing, I should have known what to expect from having lived here almost 40 years ago. I moved to Denver in March ’78 from Dallas, and we had almost 6 inches of snow less than a month later. I didn’t even own a coat!!!! :o)

      Thanks for the “warm” thoughts. Hopefully they keep me free from snow between now and when I head back south on October 13th. :o)

      Liked by 1 person

       
  2. ekurie

    September 10, 2015 at 11:23 pm

    I understand the lowest recorded temperature in a 24-hour period is between 6 and 8 a.m.

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    • ustabe

      September 11, 2015 at 12:37 am

      Is that so? Well, I feel better knowing that (although it gives me a new appreciation for how cold 36 degrees is!) ;o)

      Thanks, Ekurie … I learned something new!

      Liked by 1 person

       
    • standalonehobo

      September 11, 2015 at 11:23 am

      I didn´t know that! But that explains why I am pushing away my covers during the night and am all mummied up in the morning hours. Also, that´s why sleeping bags are so useful, can´t push away what´s wrapped around your body!

      Liked by 1 person

       
  3. David and Evalyn

    September 14, 2015 at 12:35 am

    Hey Jeff and Frank, Really enjoyed camping beside you for the last evening of our wonderful journey in Colorado. I hope you and Frank have a safe and fun filled exploration of the campsites in the U.S. Will keep tabs on your progress. Stay warm and give Frank big hug..

    David and Evalyn

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    • ustabe

      September 15, 2015 at 7:21 pm

      Hello, David and Evalyn!!! Here’s hoping your trip back to Texas was uneventful!

      The pleasure was equally mine. La Veta is quite a bit warmer than Pagosa for the moment, although I don’t know how long that’s gonna last. Take care, and I hope our paths cross again in the future. :o)

      Like

       

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