Monday, April 30, 2007

A Drive in the Country (Part 2)

Having explored (all we dared to) Ramah, Colorado we headed west towards Colorado Springs. I'm now in the "searching for weird" mode. Ramah has turned loose the weirdness and I'm on the hunt. The rest of the day was not to disappoint! After about a half hour of driving, my weird radar starts pinging and as I slow down to figure out what's going on, I see an amazing sight....

You know, when you're investigating weird, you run into a lot of collectors. People don't have just one thing, they have a collection of them. It must be something in the nature of man to collect stuff. I'm guilty myself. I collect old mining company stock certificates. I collect old bottle openers and a certain type of
book. I have a small collection of antique radios and a half dozen or so old cameras.

All of my collections are small potatoes compared to what I had just discovered. This discovery wiped away any possibility of recrimination from the bride for any and all collections I have now or might undertake in the future.

I had run smack dab into a collection of.................................windmills........................yes, windmills!

This is serious collecting, folks. This is not something you just happen into. Not something you see at the flea market and think will look cute in the flower bed. This is premeditated, over the top collecting!

In the picture to the left, you can see ten full size, working, antique windmills. This is only about half the collection. I d
idn't have a wide angle lens wide enough to get them all in one picture.

I can imagine this person's spouse just shuddering every time they hear the car pull up to the house, wondering if there's a new addition.

Snug in my new sense of security from snide remarks and rolling eyes regarding any "questionable" conglomeration of things I might desire to accumulate in the future we pushed on to Colorado Springs and our planned highlight of the day.

If you will remember, in February I was in Colorado Springs and found a great old sign for the Navajo Hogan road house. I said at the time I wanted to come back and eat the
re. Well this was the planned highlight of our drive in the country.

As we got closer I could just feel the history, the kitsch, the ambiance waiting for us! This weird hunting was hungry business and in addition to a craving for kitsch, I was craving food.

Pulling into the parking lot, I could tell that this was not going to be quite what I thought! The parking lot was full of motorcycles and they weren't Honda's. They were Harleys. With my best nonchalant look I turned to the bride and said, "Stic
k with me, hon, and I'll take you to all the finest places".

When we got inside most of the bikers were wearing jackets that said "Sons of Silence" on the back.....Did they know I just came from Ramah? Were they tailing me? I tried to look innocent but I really wanted to take a picture of them too. The bride said I was crazy. If they saw me taking their picture they'd probably kill me, she said....."What are you gonna do then?" she said. I said I'd tell them I'd trade my woman for a pict
ure! That seemed to calm her right down.

Using all the cunning and stealth I learned as an Intelligence Office
r 30 years ago, I pretended to be taking a picture of the unusual ceiling and surreptitiously recorded them in full color!

My day was complete. We ate a mediocre hamburger, watched the bikers parade in and out and then left to return to the world of normal. The world of bland. The world of ho hum. My weekly fix of weird had been fulfilled. This would have to do until next weekend.

As we got to the parking lot, I saw one more bit of weird. I can't explain this and don't know which one of the bikers arrived on which. This is a bit of an Alice in Wonderland finish for a great weekend!

Thanks for visiting.

Natalie & A Drive in the Country

This was a weekend of contrasts. I like it that way. Different experiences to scratch the different corners of my psyche. To start the weekend off, the full power circle had tickets to see Natalie Cole in concert at a local venue.

As a group we have gone to a number of concerts and always enjoyed ourselves in spite of the fact that individually we have different preferences in music. I think this is because we are all broad enough musically (Let's not talk about physically!) to enjoy a lot of different types of music.

I have been a fan of Natalie Cole's for a number of years and have seen her twice before in concert so when I saw she was going to be in the area I suggest to the circle that we go. Of the group I would say that my taste in music tends to be a bit more sedate...Heck, I still listen to Glen Miller and The Andrew Sisters although I also listen to smooth jazz, beach music (another post), zydeco, country, classical and rock. What I'm trying to get at is that this concert was my idea and more suited to my tastes but I was hoping the whole circle would enjoy it.

Without going into great detail let me just say that for the first 1/4 of the concert I was really beginning to feel uncomfortable. Things weren't going right and Natalie didn't seem to be "hitting the mark". I'm thinking to myself that I'm gonna' have a lot of explaining to do to the circle....and...if I survive the initial harassment, they will NEVER let me forget this night. When we're sitting around the nurses station at "the home" they'll still be saying "Remember that terrible concert that "his-self" made us go to?"

Well, about a quarter of the way through, the switch flipped. You could see it. You could feel it. The woman was totally in control not only of herself but the audience as well. She was "rockin", "gettin down"....whatever words you want to use, she was doing it. A fabulous voice, great presence, great tunes. If Aretha is the "Queen of Soul", Natalie is surely in the entourage.

Most of the songs she sang were from her latest CD pictured above. Almost all are covers of songs by different artists like Sting, The Alman Brothers, Neil Young and others. The album has gotten very good reviews. If you like, read about it here.

So Friday night was a success. Saturday was devoted to "life support". That's a fancy way to say routine chores around the house.

Sunday the bride and I had planned to take a drive in the country. This day I wanted to explore some areas of Eastern Colorado I had not previously been to. If you've spent any time on this blog you've read my comments about the history of Eastern Colorado. It's totally different than that of the mountains but fascinating in it's own way.

Talk about scratching the corners of my psyche!...First stop was Ramah, Colorado, a small town with a population of about 120, 50 miles east of Colorado Springs. Ramah appears to have been a rail stop at one time and was probably an agricultural center. It now is...? I'm not sure exactly what it is now but if you're into old cars, you need to come see this place. I'm thinkin that the old cars out number the people here. A lot of these are not your run of the mill junk cars. These are gems just waiting for a restoration...

As I was taking a picture of this great old Nash, a beat up, almost junk car pulled up and stopped. Keep in mind that this is about 10 am on Sunday morning....The driver gets out of the car with a beer in his hand. If they had a pool room in Ramah, I'll bet that's where he came from. He says, "Wanna buy that one?"

After some real intellectual conversation I elicited the fact that the town was indeed jam packed with old cars...most of which belonged to this guy's friend who went unnamed. Un-named but identified as a one time president of "Sons of Silence" motorcycle gang. The guy is really very nice and says that this friend collected these cars at one time and old cars would just "show up" in town periodically with no real explanation from his friend.

After spending the better part of an hour nosing around we headed west towards Colorado Springs. On the way out of town we saw what at first, looked like a small prison, with high fences and spotlights all around. After looking a bit closer it looked to be a "private residence"????

The bride and I speculated that perhaps that's where "the friend", the president of "Sons of Silence" lived?

Do you want to read about the rest of the trip? I promise it won't bore you. I'm gonna break this down into two posts because I'm looking out for my readers well being. Don't want to put you in psyche overload. Take a break and come back for part two...

Thanks for visiting.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Fishin' Moab Style

One of the reasons I like the trip to Moab so much is that there is a variety of things to do. It's not just jeeping or mountain biking. Very few people know that there is some world class fishing in the Moab area as well.

This gets overlooked a lot since Moab is not too far from Lake Powell and the style of fishing in the Moab area is somewhat unique. Unique or not though, if you want a real thrill, if you want to experience the "tug" of a lifetime, try fishin' Moab style.

First, you have to get yourself rigged up right. The equipment is a little different than most but in this case the equipment makes the sportsman...and you have to match the equipment to the quarry as any real sportsman knows.

Most people that do this are not your typical yuppie, Orvis outfitted, tree huggin, put it back after you've had your fun sportsman. No Sir! These people are in it for results. Nothin' gets tossed back here, so you may as well go heavy on the equipment.

The line is the absolute most important thing. Without it there's no point in doing this to begin with because that's the only way to land the quarry. Make sure it's stout and I do mean stout. There's no greater letdown than to fight a catch right up to your feet and then have the line break!

My personal choice is 3" wide, yellow strapping. You want to make sure that it's American made too! Shamino or Diaway just won't do for this. Since the most of the rock in the area is red, the yellow color makes it a lot easier for the sportsman to see. I think it's been proven that the quarry is color blind so don't worry that this might hurt your chances.

Now, there's a lot of controversy on the bait issue. Everyone pretty much agrees that old rusty mufflers work pretty well. Heck, just about any old rusty auto part will do. The controversy is over whether or not to use an "attractant" like transmission fluid or motor oil on the bait. I'm kind of a purist and think that using something like that is a little like cheating so I use my bait dry. Some folks even use those plastic/rubber type baits, claiming that they are much more life-like. I must admit, I have never tried them so really can't comment.

Now that you're rigged up, the next thing is to find a fishin' hole. There are a lot of them around but not all of them produce. This is really the hard part because most people are real jealous about their favorite spots and aren't going to help you much. You're just going to have to try a bunch of different spots and find one that works for you....and your team.

Did I tell you that this is not a solitary sport? No? You're gonna need help. The last thing you want is to hook on to something and find you can't land it. It could even be dangerous if you get pulled in while trying to land it. So bring some friends. The more the better.

When you get your spot and have your friends there to back you up, toss your line in the hole. This is all bottom fishin' so you don't have to worry about a bobber or anything. You can jiggle the line every now and again if that makes you feel better, but I don't think it really helps.

Just like any fishin', sometimes there's plenty of action and sometimes it's pretty slow. You have to be real careful that your bait doesn't get stolen. These things are tricky. They can suck the bait right off the hook and not so much as twitch the line. The more you do this, the better you get at it and pretty soon you'll be able to feel that rascal sucking on your bait and this is where the fun begins. Once you figure he's swallowed that muffler good, you and your friends yank on the line for all you're worth and for heavens sake hang on!

A lot of times these wily things will just sit there on the bottom and play tug 'o war with you and here's where you really need all those friends you brought with you.

If you watch your technique, don't get over-confident and don't let the rascal pull you in, you'll be able to land him!

And you have now experienced Moab fishing at it's best. What a great feeling landing a monster like this! The only problem with this trip was that it wasn't Toyota season and we had to throw this one back.

Oh well, there's always next year!

Thanks for visiting!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Moab on the Rocks!

Twenty-four days until the bride and I leave for our trip to Moab. Gosh, that sounds like a long time, but I suppose it will be here before I know it. This has been a LONG winter and it seems like forever since I last had the trailer out. I am so ready for a road trip!

Moab on the Rocks is a trip that started 10 years ago by a few guys in the Denver area. Over the years, participation has increased to the point that there are now upwards of 40 people that show up every year. I started participating about three years ago and it's become something that I really look forward to.

This is a four wheel drive trip on some of the most famous trails in the world! The terrain is challenging. The scenery is spectacular and the fellowship is great. The entire experience is just a great big rush. I don't think there is anything about the trip I don't enjoy immensely except maybe having to leave on Sunday.

The trip to Moab itself is outstanding. In one day you go from the high plains of eastern Colorado, over the continental divide and into the desert southwest.

Now, before you start thinking that you didn't know I drove like that, I have to tell you that I don't. I don't drive, I ride! I've got way too many expensive hobbies already, to take one up like this. Besides, for the driver, this is hard work. You have to pay attention all the time and something invariably breaks while you're on the trail and you have to figure out how to fix it.

I've got Guitar and Two Timing, Too Tall instead. They are the ones that got me into this to begin with, three years ago. I loved it then and I love it more now, but I love riding. Very fortunately, they love driving and having the equipment to do all this stuff.

It's not that they can do this without me. Who would provide the witty repartee like..."Whoa, good one there Guitar!"? Who would give them expert advice on what "line" to take like..."Too Tall, Are you out of your mind?!" And most importantly, when they have the urge to do just one more trail and everyone else wants to stay home, who would watch their ladies and their liquor? Let me tell you, that's not a job you want just anyone to do!

Anyway, back to topic. This trip is about doing stuff in a motor vehicle that things with wheels are not supposed to be able to do. It's also about feeling and seeing the grandeur of the American Southwest. And of course it's about friends...the circle of friends.

There's so much to tell....even before we leave, that I think I'll stretch this out into several posts.

Thanks for visiting...and stay tuned!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

A Walk in the Park

The past week has not been very post-worthy but today turned out to be a gorgeous Colorado spring day so Guitar and I decided to take a hike. Not the one our spouses have been telling us to do but a "nature" walk at a local state park. Guitar brought along his grand-daughter MK. We left fairly early as this park gets a lot of use because of it's proximity to Denver.

Just because it's close to a major metropolitan area, however, doesn't mean that this would be a wimpy, cutesy nature walk. You can run into some very serious real nature at this park as the picture at the top illustrates. I saw a bear there a couple of years ago and about five years ago a man was attacked by a mountain lion at this park. I'm talkin' serious nature here.

Rather that do a lot of describing, I'll just let the pictures speak for themselves. We had a great time and are looking forward to next month when the wildflowers are in bloom here, a spectacular show!

By the way, you can click on any image to see a larger picture...

Doesn't the picture on the left look like an Indian head laying down?

This rock formation looks like a thumb to me.....

Thanks for
visiting. Oh, yeah, Happy Earth Day.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Pizza Party

So, snow didn't happen. This was a good thing! It was a gorgeous Colorado spring day. The circle,however, had anticipated bad weather and had decided that a surefire full circle activity would be a pizza party. Pizza Hut, Black Jacks are all a good business models but nothing could match handmade pizza. Fresh cut onions. Fresh cut green peppers. Fresh opened black olives. Fresh bought cheese....and....hand whomped pizza crust!

Ah yes. The secret to any pizza is the crust. You have New York style, Chicago style, thin, medium, deep dish and then.......................................................................................hand whomped!

If you want pizza that you can savor, pizza that can be add
ed to the family cook book, you have to have hand whomped pizza

The recipe is as follows:
Make sure the whomping is adequate. If not consult the chef...

Be sure you have all of that fresh stuff like...

Once you have all that straightened out, do a lot of mixing and adding stuff...Dorthy, do you know your son is a bona fide pizza chef? He has an amazing ability to...chef. He showed us the secret of gourmet pizza.

Who wouldda thunk that pizza was so easy? In my last post I suggested that meteorology was the dream job. Maybe it's a pizza chef instead????

Thanks for visiting.

What A Difference A Day Makes

They say that with age comes knowledge. Today I realize that, this is absolutely true! I have spent 35 years working in a particular industry and have suffered and enjoyed the normal ups and downs of the working life. In all those years I always thought that jobs were pretty much the same....didn't make any difference if you were an accountant, doctor, teacher, janitor, shopkeeper,... whatever. Most of us have to choose a "thing" to do in life and then have to deliver.

If I had only known when I was a young cub, trying out life, that there was this one particular vocation that could have made life a "sunny day"! One thing that I could labor at, one thing that I could invest my entire existence in....Why in the world would I have explored the military (very nearly making my life's exploration a very short story), and gone on to an industry that, well let's just say is an industry, if I had known that this perfect vocation was out there waiting for me?

Meteorology....God, if I had only known...Newspapers, television, glamor, glitz, all based on a probability, performance return of 50%...that is FIFTY is HALF. Your either right or your wrong. 50/50.

This weekend we were expecting >>>>

Instead we got this.

Think, "The Graduate", the academy award winning film in which Dustin Hoffman is advised "Plastics" as the vocation of a lifetime.....Sorry, I'll go with meteorology. Way less pressure!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Give Me A Break!

I can't help it....I can't...I can't. Am I crazy? I know some of the "weird" I go looking for probably rubs off on me a little, but....

Doesn't this kind of guy normally say, Me? Not Me! Never! She was a tramp but I never. No, not me! Ask those other guys.

Does that look like the face that said, Yes it's me. I'm proud to say that I am the father of this child. It was an act of love. I intend to dedicate my life to the care and upbringing of this child. No more women, no more drink. I'll get a job as a janitor if that's what it takes! ????????? ($$$$$$)

Give me a break, pleeeeeese...Can we get to the nice part of spring now???

Thanks for visiting.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Happy White Easter

The Emmer and Molly dog play catch the snowball............

Friday, April 6, 2007

Who Murdered Little Bett and What’s Mr. Potato Head Got To Do With It?

OK, how’s this for weird? Hachaliah Bailey had a thing for elephants. The first two modern elephants to walk the ground in North America were owned by Bailey.

Elephants were such a novelty in America that people would skip church and pay to see an elephant. This didn’t sit well with the religious community. Bailey’s first elephant, “Big Bett” arrived in America in 1796. Big Bett spent the next 20 years traveling up and down the east coast making money (even on Sundays) for Hachaliah. One Sunday Big Bett and her keeper made the mistake of crossing the land of a religious, elephant-intolerant citizen who promptly shot the beloved elephant.

Hachaliah was crushed and erected a statue of Big Bett in his hometown of Somers, NY. To help ease his grief he purchased another elephant called Little Bett, The Learned Elephant. Little Bett, too, charmed the citizenry and infuriated religious zealots on weekdays as well as Sundays.

May 24, 1826 found Little Bett in Chepachet, Rhode Island. While crossing the little bridge over the Chepachet River in the middle of town, Little Bett, like her predecessor, was cut down by gunfire. Two elephants, two elephant murders!!

One non-historical theory by an unnamed blog author theorizes that a rebellious teenager who had slipped his dad’s new musket out of the house was cruising about the village with his cronies when they challenged him with….”You can’t hit the broadside of an elephant with that thing!”….The rest is non-history.

The actual historical records show that seven men were eventually brought to justice and two of them paid the ultimate price…banishment from the Masonic Order! Folks, I couldn’t in my wildest dreams make this stuff up.

The town of Chepachet to this day conceals the truth. Look at this official town site and see how cleverly they avoid responsibility for this heinous crime. Truth will out however and a small plaque on the bridge today declares that “diverse hands fired upon Betty…”

Mere yards down the road, in front of the town hall facing Highway 44, stands a large Mr. Potato Head arms outstreched. Now you have to admit, a large Mr. Potato Head in front of the town hall is weird enough. If it were a Muffler Man it would seem normal to me, but Mr. Potato Head…? To make things even more weird, this Mr. Potato Head is named Betty The Learned Elephant.

Just what are the ruling fathers of Chepachet up to? It looks to me like they want the fame and glory of Little Bett, the tens of dollars that tourists like me bring to their pathetic little economy, without admitting that their town brutally murdered America’s cerebral sweetheart of 1826!

If I thought the mighty power of this blog could help right this grievous wrong, I would call for a boycott of tourists to Chepachet, Rhode Island. To do this however they would have to have some tourists to begin with….so I’m helpless.

In my quest for weird I have discovered these facts and actually visited this historic and hallowed site so that all who visit my blog shall know the truth!!! I certify that the pictures in this post are real and not a computer trick and offer them as proof of my veracity so help me God.

Thanks for visiting.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Mom's Hail Marys

This week business once again takes me to the Providence RI area. The trip here and the trip back takes a whole day traveling, each way, because there are no direct flights and I have to connect in Chicago. So it’s a whole day sitting on an airplane or waiting for an airplane. I normally use this time to do “recreational” reading….non-business related reading that is.

I’m currently reading “If You Lived Here, I’d Know Your Name” by Heather Lende. The author is a social columnist and obituary writer for a small local newspaper in Haines, Alaska. I got it because I was looking for a good…but easy read as a counterpoint to my normal western history readings.

It is a good read and easy as well, but it had an unexpected consequence for me. Some of the chapters describe the obituaries, no not the obituaries, the people the author wrote the obituaries about. Haines, Alaska is a very small town and the author knew most of the people she wrote the obituaries for. It’s soulful content. Reading it I couldn’t help thinking of the people I knew who have died.

One chapter is not about an obituary but about the Catholic Rosary. The author is not a Catholic but an Episcopalian. She somehow became interested in the Catholic Rosary and as she said, “a prayer is a prayer”. Anyhow, she describes what she learned about the Rosary and the different prayers associated with it. The Hail Mary is the most prominent of the prayers contained in the Rosary. She concluded that the Rosary is more like a “mantra” than praying to God. The simple repetition provides a meditative calmness.

I consider myself a “cultural” Catholic. I was raised in a strict Catholic household. So strict that when I struck out on my own, I ceased active participation in Catholicism….or any organized religion for that matter. My mother was a devout Catholic. She died about eight months ago. It wasn’t an easy death and I sat with her several days before she died knowing the end was near. On several occasions as I sat alone with her she would become lucid and pray the Hail Mary out loud. Even though I hadn’t said that prayer in years, I prayed out loud with her. I think it helped her in the “mantra” sort of way the author described. I thought of her as I read the book and wept a little.

I don’t want this post to be a sad thing however, remembering is a good thing. Someone said that you live as long as you are remembered. So to balance things off here’s a good remembrance. The picture below shows my mother and her four boys in St. Marks Plaza in Venice, Italy in about 1958. I was about 11 years old at the time. I’m the one on the right with the camera bag. My older brother stands to the left of my mother and my next younger brother squats to the left of him.

You will note this brother (referred to by the whole family as “The Rotten One” even today) is staring intently at my mother and older brother who have pigeons eating from their hands. Either my older brother or I had just bet him twenty-five cents that he couldn’t catch a pigeon. “The Rotten One” is kinda like “Mikey” of commercial fame. When you wanted to get someone to try something you always asked/told/bet “Mikey” because “Mikey will eat ANYTHING!” So too with “The Rotten One”.

Shortly after this picture was taken, “The Rotten One” figured out that if you put the feed in your hand and got the pigeon to perch on your hand and were quick enough with your hand, you could grab the pigeon by the feet.

Pigeons thusly grabbed…with wings and head free can make a tremendous racket while spreading a lot of feathers and pigeon poop. We know this first hand (pun intended).

In 1958 Americans were still the heroes of the free world. We were loved and respected especially in Italy. The ugly American had not yet matured….but he was right there with a pigeon in his hand. I’m sure my mother said a Hail Mary for “The Rotten One” that day.

Thanks for visiting.


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