Poudre Canyon Gateway

My family and I saw some familiar places from a different perspective on Sunday. The Black Powder Trail at the city's Gateway Natural Area climbs 500 feet up from an old filtration plant to a point overlooking the Cache la Poudre River, its canyon, and Colorado State Highway 14, our local route west to Cameron Pass. I've driven beneath this point a hundred times or more in 21 years, but have mostly treated this part of the canyon as drive-through country. I've never been on top before.

The ponderosa pine in the two photos below is a survivor of the 2004 Picnic Rock Fire and the 2012 High Park Fire.


Thin clouds diffused the light while we hiked up to the top. On the return trip the clouds cleared and the sun shone directly on us. Jackets and gloves came off and it felt like September.


I'd grabbed our better binoculars before we left the house and was rewarded for carrying them. On the steeper switchbacks going down we were treated to the spectacle of two golden eagles playing in the air rising from the south-facing mountain in front of us. Twice they tucked their wings and dove in spirals around each other before pulling up and shooting upward without a wing beat, purely on acquired kinetic energy. As we headed back to our car, homework, and weekend chores, the eagles spiralled up to their cruising altitude and disappeared in search of supper.


I'm spending less time running and scrolling through Twitter this season and more time reading. Reading what? Fiction and a memoir.

I've read the copy of "The End of All Things" that John Scalzi signed for Ruth and me at his 2015 reading in Fort Collins. The story about the Conclave leadership was the one I enjoyed the most.

Afterwards I read N. K. Jemisin's "The Fifth Season." It's harrowing and mysterious and subversive and beautifully written. It's also a geography and history book of sorts, complete with an intriguing map. Interestingly, Jemisin has written that she's not a fan of maps in fantasy novels. She had the help of an illustrator named Tim Paul, who has a site full of lovely fantasy world maps.

Now I am simultaneously reading the 33rd edition of "The Year's Best Science Fiction," edited by Gardner Dozois, and "Girl in a Band" by Kim Gordon. I'm 100 pages into that 600-page collection of short stories and novellas. "Three Cups of Grief, by Starlight" (Aliette de Bodard), "Ruins" (Eleanor Arnason), and "Another Word for World" (Ann Leckie) are my favorites so far.

Kim Gordon is a founder of one of my favorite rock bands and a fine writer and storyteller. Her reflections on growing up in L.A. in the late 60s are unique and new, to me. I don't read memoirs, generally speaking. Gordon writes frankly and, I believe, honestly and I find it pretty compelling stuff. Is this book particularly good, or am I discovering that I am a memoir reader after all? I read chapters 25-51 after cleaning my kitchen, while listening to "Goo" and "Daydream Nation," an indulgent and fun start to my Saturday.

November 25, 2016: Nîmes

We made three trips to Nîmes during our séjour. This one on the Saturday after Thanksgiving was our first. We took visiting friends to Nîmes in March and June. The city kept growing on us – Nîmes is both more historic and more accessible than Montpellier, if not as much of an economic engine.


Ruth took this photo from a Ferris Wheel set up adjacent to the Arènes de Nîmes, a rare perspective on this 1900 year-old site.

Mercantile 1.0.0

Mercantile, the module of web mercator XYZ tile utilities that I started at Mapbox, is complete. Version 1.0.0 is on the Python Package Index today and can be obtained using pip: pip install -U mercantile, no --pre option necessary. The latest and greatest documentation is at http://mercantile.readthedocs.io/en/latest/. I expect to be making improvements to the docs over the next few weeks. Please don't be shy about pointing out what the docs lack.

I'm super grateful for the help from Matthew Perry, Patrick M. Young, Amit Kapadia, Damon Burgett, Stefano Costa, Jacob Wasserman, and Brendan Ward. Sam Matthews doesn't appear in the git log, but helped me with the Sphinx layout.

I'm fortunate to be able to work on open source projects at my job and proud of Mapbox's continuing commitment to open source. Virtual confetti is being tossed in Mapbox's main Slack channel this morning and I'm feeling good.

New cert for the site

Earlier today my old certificate from gandi.net expired while my new one was pending, leaving my blog twisting in the wind. I had such a positive experience two weeks ago with certbot on my local trails web app, that I did the same for my main site this evening. I hope you weren't inconvenienced by a couple hours of security warnings.

Minutemen at The Stone 1985

Youtube is many things good and bad. On the good side, it's a trove of live footage of bands from the golden age of punk. This set of songs will rock your socks off.

According to user N Hoey at https://archive.org/details/minutemen1985-05-13.flacf, Minutemen were opening for James Blood Ulmer at The Stone on 412 Broadway in San Francisco, CA. I think I ran right by that address on my way to the Coit Tower the last time I was in SF for work.

For me, the highlight is "I felt like a Gringo" at 46:47.


Last Wednesday night my family and I flew to Boise, Idaho, to spend Thanksgiving with my mom and stepfather. The six of us spent the holiday cooking, eating, walking around the neighborhood, playing cards, and assembling a jigsaw puzzle. We agreed not to discuss politics, not because any of us are Trump supporters, but because the state of the U.S. is too depressing and frustrating. My family is a lot like Boise itself, an amiable liberal island in a sea of retrograde white resentment.

I forget how big Boise is now. It's the Pacific Northwest's number 3 metro, after Seattle and Portland. The cities of Boise, Nampa, Meridian, Garden City, and Eagle together count almost 700,000 people. My folks live in a bland 30 year-old suburb in the southwest part of the city. We mostly stuck around their neighborhood but did make a trip to the the west end of State St and the Boise River to skip rocks and look for birds.


The Boise River

Boise is on the same latitude, 43°37′N, as Montpellier, France, where we spent our previous Thanksgiving weekend. It's a funny coincidence that I didn't see until this morning. I remember remarking to Ruth that the bright yellow lichen on trees by the river reminded me of the chestnut groves in the foothills of the Pyrénées.

On the way home we flew over the northeast corner of Utah, Cache Valley, and my former hometown of Logan. I'll never tire of this aerial view of backcountry places I've driven and walked so many times. And when the sky is clear the approach to Denver from the west never disappoints.


Longs Peak on the descent to DEN

November 4, 2016: Domaine de Restinclières

I'm going to post photos and stories from my back log of memories from my family's trip to France this fall. It was such an adventure for a homebody like me and I was mostly too overwhelmed at the time to blog about my experiences.

On November 4, my family and I went on a hike at the Domaine de Restinclières. The Domaine de Restinclières is a château and 200 hectares of gardens and forest around the source of the Lez and Lirou rivers north of Montpellier maintained by the Hérault Départment since 1992. It is brambly and leafy and semi-wild and has kilometers of trails to wander around on.

Ruth took this photo of our band on a crumbly limestone slope above the Lez.