Road trip recap 1: Fort Collins to Moab

Earlier this month, My family and I set off on a road trip through southeastern Utah and southwestern Colorado with friends from Montpellier, France. Our itinerary: Arches National Park, Mesa Verde National Park, Durango, Silverton, and Great Sand Dunes National Park. One of our friends had been to the United States twenty years ago, the other three, never. They spent a week in New York City before Ruth picked them up at Denver International Airport. We hit the road the next day, all 8 of us in a 2016 Honda Odyssey, loaded with optimism, good intentions, and Harry Potter audiobooks.

View from the 3rd row of our Honda Odyssey, leaving Fort Collins, CO

Configured for this road trip, our Odyssey has 3 rows of seats, 8 in all, with 31 cubic feet of cargo space. We had another 11 cubic feet in our ski carrier. This turned out to be completely adequate for 4 adults and 4 kids. We had enough room in back for a mid-sized cooler and bags. Outdoor gear like extra shoes, hats, picnic blankets, &c went up top. We soon settled on a formation of three kids in the back row, 2 adults and one kid in the second row, and 2 adults up front. Fully loaded like this, we got about 25 miles per gallon. When you multiply this by 8, 200 person-miles per gallon isn't bad mileage. The curb weight of the Odyssey is about 4500 pounds. Human weight was another 1000 pounds. And then we probably had another 200 pounds of gear, food, water, and ice. We've never asked so much of our car and it did fine. It affords good views, has a small sunroof, the seats are comfortable. The one drawback is that when it comes to listening to music or audiobooks, the occupants of the 3rd row seats depend on the speakers at the feet of their family in the 2nd row. In the 2nd you get blasted and in the 3rd it's not quite loud enough.

Much of the time on this trip we listened to Bernard Giraudeau read the first three Harry Potter novels. My French is just good enough to follow along and I loved having native French speakers along to explain the subtle details, such as that Giraudeau's impression of Gilderoy Lockhart used an obviously false Languedoc accent. It seemed a weird to me, too.

Our friends speak English as well as I speak French, but as their kids are beginners in English and Ruth, Arabelle, and Bea are quite fluent in French, we mainly used French. I spoke French every day of the trip, and not just with our friends: we were among French or French-Canadian tourists everywhere we went.

The drive from Fort Collins to Moab is long and we broke it up by stopping for a night in Glenwood Springs, a tourist town at the west end of a beautiful canyon. The next morning we stopped shortly after in Palisade to show our friends some orchards and buy fresh peaches and nectarines directly from the producers. Abundant sunshine, water from the Colorado River, and a relatively (for Colorado) frost-free microclimate make Palisade one of Colorado's best places to grow fruit. It's a location not unlike the Terasses du Larzac in the south of France, where cool air descending from the nearby cliffs keeps grapes from stewing in their skins after the sun goes down.

Mt. Garfield and peach trees, Palisade, CO

Palisade peaches

After leaving Palisade, Grand Junction, and Fruita behind we crossed into Utah and then left I-70 to take the scenic route along the Colorado River to Moab, Utah's State Route 128. We picnicked at the old Dewey Bridge site, stopped briefly at the base of the Fisher Towers, and enjoyed the rise of the canyon walls as we approached Moab. I hadn't been on SR-128 since 1992 and it was as beautiful as I remembered. Our friends were gobsmacked by the colors. I still am, and I've been exploring Southern Utah for fifty years. It's a uniquely beautiful part of the world.

Fisher Towers, Utah

Bonne rentrée

Today is the first day of the 2019-2020 school year for French kids. Here's a photo from Bea's rentrée, 2016.


My family and I are taking friends from Montpellier (France) on a Colorado and Utah road trip and I'll be away from work and open source projects until the 16th.

Rasterio 1.0.25

I released Rasterio 1.0.25 yesterday. It has a few important bug fixes, but the core of the work was writing and testing shims to make the package compatible with GDAL version 3.0 and PROJ version 6. Norman Barker did much of that work and I only had to make sure that we were using the right coordinate axis order strategy everywhere and figure out which of the output changes were new Rasterio bugs and which were actually improvements delivered by PROJ 6.

Please note that the binary wheels for 1.0.25 on PyPI contain GDAL 2.4.2, not 3.0, and that no new features of GDAL 3 and PROJ 6 are intentionally exposed in Rasterio's API. My wheel builds are already running up against time limits on Travis CI, and GDAL 3 and PROJ 6 take even longer to compile. My system is going to need some more hacks before Rasterio wheels with the latest GDAL and PROJ are possible. You might be able to get a combination of Rasterio 1.0.25, GDAL 3, and PROJ 6 from conda-forge. I look forward to hearing how that works for users.

I hope you'll appreciate that I've managed to shrink the size of the GDAL shared libraries in the manylinux wheels by 50%. I wish I knew why they are so much bigger than the OS X libraries. I suspect it's due to the ancient toolchain and glibc used by manylinux1.

Never Summer 100K volunteering

In July the the Gnar Runners put on a race in State Forest State Park, the Never Summer 100K. It's a 64 mile loop through the Never Summer and Rawah ranges and the Colorado State Forest. The race requires park rangers, emergency medical technicians, ham radio operators, and lots of volunteer bodies.

Lulu and Thunder mountains, and moose, from Cameron Pass at 7 a.m.

In 2018 I flipped burgers at the finish line so that runners could get a hot meal in the middle of the night after being on the trail for twenty hours or more. In 2019, I spent an afternoon and evening supporting runners at the "Canadian" aid station at the race's 50 mile mark. The aid station gets its name from being near Never Summer Nordic's North Fork Canadian Yurt near the North Fork of the Canadian River, a tributary of the North Platte River. We had Canadian flags and a life-sized cutout of Justin Trudeau. At some point there was consensus that next year Ryan Gosling should join us.

Canadian aid station ready for runners to arrive, 2 p.m.

I had a cold, so I didn't cook or handle food, but I did a little of everything else. I hauled gear, deployed a portable toilet, set up canopies, organized and fetched drop bags, helped runners arrive, recover, and head out again. After the 1 a.m. cutoff, I helped break down the aid station and pack it all up. I was out on the course for 15 hours, 3 hours more than the first placed runner, but 8 hours less than the last finisher.

Last of the day's rain showers, 8 p.m.

We could see rain on the course as early as 11 a.m. None fell at the Canadian aid station until about 4 p.m., but then it rained until just before sunset. We had a pretty solid shower of small hail as well. Runners arriving in this rain were pretty worn out from a 6 mile slog through heavy mud. Some contemplated dropping out and a few did. Most found the energy to continue after some food, a cup of ramen or tea, and a couple minutes out of the rain. It was, after all, only 14 miles to the finish and there was plenty of time left.

Sunset and mud puddles

I felt good helping runners accomplish their goal and had a great time hanging out with other volunteers, many of them experienced ultra-runners, and listening to their stories. I wish I'd spent more time with the ham radio team and learned more about packet radio and running a network in the backcountry.

Race director Nick Clark's official recap of the race is here:

Man Walks on Moon!

I'm blogging this a day early because I expect to be too busy tomorrow. My Mom recently sent me her copy of the Detroit Free Press, her hometown paper, from Monday, July 21, 1969, the day of my birth.

I've enjoyed being connected to this milestone in space exploration and have been nuts about space for as long as I can remember. I wouldn't trade my birthday for any other.

Running in the Cascades

Today was my first full day back in Colorado after a week in Washington with Ruth's clan. My phone stopped charging during the trip and so I didn't take as many pictures of the Cascades as I would have liked. I took a few during a short and steep run up a fire road near our rental house on Sunday and this is the best.

Looking down Bear Creek to Cle Elum Lake

I didn't carry my phone on my longest run into the Alpine Lakes Wilderness upstream from Cle Elum Lake and have to content myself with memories. According to Forest Service web pages, much of the area is covered by old growth, never logged, forest. Indeed, I saw many titanic Douglas firs around and above Pete Lake. Such giant trees are very rare in Colorado.

Offseason running

After slacking off for a couple weeks after Quad Rock, I've succeeded at getting back to 30+ miles per week. I'm running 3 times Monday through Friday and doing one long easy pace run on the weekend. Starting July 1, I'll start to build towards races in September and October.

I strained some muscle in my back 3 weeks ago and this has forced me to pay more attention to my running form. Engaging my glutes and hips and trying to get my upper body to float was a good way to minimize the pain in my back and is something I'm going to continue to practice.