Thursday afternoon we drove up to the mountains (about an hour from our house) to do nothing in a different setting. My parents joined us a couple of hours later. Thursday evening wasn't too bad, other than a rough patch around dinner when I decided I couldn't eat (like almost every other night). B and I both slept fitfully in a bed smaller than what we are used to and the dogs woke up at the crack of dawn. B let me sleep for a couple of extra hours, although I woke up every 20 minutes or so to roll over because my hips were aching. Not sure what that's all about.
Friday was a nice day. We went out to lunch (yay, Mexican food!), hit the store for groceries, and then just hung out on the deck for the rest of the afternoon. The weather was perfect-70's and sunny with a few high, white clouds and a slight breeze. We sat on the deck enjoying the fresh air and scenery. I'm always amazed at how blue Colorado skies are once you are away from the pollution of the city. Contrasting this and the warm weather with the higher peaks that are still spotted with snow, it all looks like a postcard.
The only thing marring the perfect scenery is the dead lodgepole pines that now seem to outnumber the healthy trees. The trees are dying off in record numbers because of a pine beetle infestation. If the infestation continues at its current rate, every lodgepole pine forest in the state will be dead in 3-5 years. It is dismaying and sickening to drive up to a place that should be full of dark green forest to find entire hillsides of red-needled dead pine trees.
They had sprayed around our house for pine beetles earlier in the week. It seems like a futile fight when you look at the extent of the current damage. But I guess they need to at least try considering the increased fire danger from millions of dried up pine needles and bark. As we sat there enjoying the day, I wondered what this place will look like when our kids are old enough to enjoy it. I pictured them running around the deck with the dogs, screaming and playing. Will they be surrounded by hillsides of dead trees? Or will the trees be cut down and they'll be looking at hillsides of empty stumps?
I know that there are people who think the infestation is just part of the life cycle and that it kills off the weak and vulnerable older trees, but it is still sad to see.
But even with the pine tree devastation, it is still a beautiful place and I'm glad we live so close and we are able to enjoy it.