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Month of May

Started: 2013-06-01 21:03:54

Submitted: 2013-06-01 22:46:12

Visibility: World-readable

In which the intrepid narrator evaluates Front Range snow conditions, visits San Diego, and eradicates an invasive weed.

After a quiet early spring, my month of May filled up quickly, with something new and exciting happening almost every week, leaving me with barely enough time to catch my breath before getting caught up in the next activity.

Kiesa took Calvin to visit her mother for a week at the end of April and the beginning of May, leaving me alone at home for two weekends. I skied to Lake Isabelle on the first weekend. That week I started on a new team at work, which is something I've been hoping to do for a while, but it's going to take a fair amount of time before I figure everything out. My week at home alone was quite relaxing, but it was a little odd to come home late in the evening to a completely-dark house. It snowed in Boulder on the first of May; not much snow stuck to the roads but we got several inches on the lawn. On Thursday I headed to my local movie theater to see the Wait Wait ... Don't Tell Me live cinema event, which was great fun.

Back yard in snow in May
Back yard in snow in May

I returned to Brainard Lake the following weekend to ski to Blue Lake. More snow had fallen between my two trips, leaving more snow on the ground in mid-May than there was last year at the end of March. (According to the snowpack as reported by USDA, the South Platte basin was well below average for most of the year but caught up entirely in April, peaking at 107% of normal.)

Mount Toll, Mount Audubon, and Mitchell Lake in spring snow
Mount Toll, Mount Audubon, and Mitchell Lake in spring snow

I had one entirely-normal week at work on the first full week of May, then headed out that Saturday on a fact-finding mission to see exactly how much snow there was on the ground. My brother Willy was planning on coming out the following weekend to climb some mountains, and I'd promised him something resembling snow climbing, but it wasn't immediately clear how much snow there would be on the ground and exactly where we'd be able to climb. (The South Platte basin continued accumulating snow through the first two weeks of May, leaving more snow on the ground than one might normally expect, thwarting the snowpack's normal transition from winter into the freeze/thaw cycle that marks the firm, easily-climbable spring snowpack.) I wanted to head up to Fourth of July trailhead but found the road impassable a half-mile west of Eldora, so I parked and walked to Lost Lake in the slushy spring snow. I wore gaiters, but the snow completely overwhelmed my not-quite-totally-waterproof hiking boots; they took a week to dry out entirely. I saw a number of college students on the trail in sneakers and shorts and tried not to wince. The mountains were still covered in snow, and there was clear evidence of small soft slides that indicated a weak snowpack. I stayed well away from anything resembling a slope and merely documented from afar.

Road to Hessie in spring snow
Road to Hessie in spring snow
Spring snow conditions above Lost Lake
Spring snow conditions above Lost Lake

The next day, I took Calvin to a classmate's birthday party in North Boulder park.

Calvin at a classmate's birthday party
Calvin at a classmate's birthday party

That evening, I flew out to San Diego to spend three days with my new team. (Most of my team, including my immediate lead, is in San Diego; I'm the only person in Boulder on my immediate team, but there are a handful of other people (including a few dotted-line leads) working on closely-related teams in Boulder.) I finally got to exploit my United Premier Silver status (which I acquired by getting enough elite qualifying miles flying business-class to India last summer) by getting a free upgrade to Economy Plus at check-in. I ended up with a bulkhead seat at the front of the economy cabin of the 737-800 but still got floor storage space thanks to a cutout in the bulkhead. (I was also on the first-class upgrade list, but even after all of the other, higher-status passengers were upgraded, I was still seventeenth on the list for the sixteen-seat first class cabin. It appeared that almost all of the passengers sitting in first class had been upgraded, rather than actually paying outright for the seat.)

Snow-covered Colorado Front Range
Snow-covered Colorado Front Range

In San Diego, I stayed at the recently-rebranded Hyatt House. The last time I was there was six months ago, and they'd refreshed the rooms, into a style that seemed more CB2 than the Crate&Barrel decor I remembered. I was impressed by the power outlets in the lamp sitting over the couch in my suite, and I was pleased that the bed no longer featured at outrageously-large number of pillows that I'd have to throw off before actually going to sleep, which would be carefully replaced by the housekeeping staff each day. (I think the breakfast is slipping a bit, though.)

Lamp in hotel room
Lamp in hotel room
Bedroom furniture in hotel room
Bedroom furniture in hotel room

In my three days in San Diego, I did manage to spend quality time with my new team, and started to get a better idea of what exactly I'm supposed to be doing. I also went running on the beach two mornings (an important fringe benefit), and took a bunch of pictures of the construction around the Sorrento Valley to send to Calvin. To get one picture I carefully stepped out onto the vertiginous eleventh-floor open-air balcony on the tallest building in the area, giving me a great view of the valley and a reasonable view of the cranes a block away.

Pacific Center construction from building WT
Pacific Center construction from building WT
Building Q construction
Building Q construction

I returned to the Denver airport on Wednesday night. My flight was delayed but I still arrived in just enough time to meet Willy at his gate, inbound from Houston to visit for the week. I returned to work in the Boulder office on Thursday, though my day was cut short by the employer-sponsored volunteer afternoon. I joined a group heading out to a Boulder County open space on the north-west side of Table Mountain to uproot invasive Mediterranean sage.

Hunting for invasive plants in Boulder County open space
Hunting for invasive plants in Boulder County open space

There were about twenty people in the group, and we spread out to form a search grid across the field. As we found the plants, we dug them up and left them on the ground. I found about a dozen plants, but our handlers (Boulder County Open Space employees) told us this was a weak showing; most of the plants were small, suggesting that previous eradication efforts were fruitful.

Uprooted Mediterranean Sage
Uprooted Mediterranean Sage
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