Wednesday, August 29, 2007
This past Saturday, The Bride, The Emmer and myself had a very nice dinner in a very nice restaurant as a special celebration. When the bill came we were informed that the cocktails and wine we had with dinner had been paid for by an "anonymous well-wisher".
The Bride and I struggled in trying to figure out who this "anonymous well-wisher" might be? Everyone we could think of that might do something like that would NOT be bashful about letting us know who it was from. Heck, most of them would have walked into the place with a bottle and plunked it down on the table and joined us in a toast.....Everyone that could have that is.
As it turns out we just came out and asked our older daughter CA-Jenn, who as the moniker hints, lives on the left coast. She fessed up immediately....in fact she said that she told the restaurant to let us know it was her!?
So, apparently this high class restaurant does food extremely well but can't take notes worth a cheeseburger. The mistake actually gave us some fun in trying to figure out who the donor was so all's well that ends well!
CA-Jenn, your Mom and I thank you. May your upcoming marriage be equally as successful as ours has been!
Thanks for visiting.
Monday, August 27, 2007
Blood and Thunder, An Epic of the American West, by Hampton Sides is a relatively new book (copyright 2006) that details the histories of both the Navajo Indians and Christopher, “Kit” Carson from the 1840s to the 1860s. The book describes in well documented and fascinating terms how both were inexorably intertwined.
Kit Carson spent the majority of his life in the New Mexico/Colorado area and was intimately familiar with the Navajo. He was probably the most important non-Indian figure in the history of the Navajo. He both fought and made peace with them. He saw them as a powerful and fearful nation and later as a pitiful group of destitute “natives”.
I found the description of Kit’s last days particularly poignant. Here was an almost mythical personality who was known throughout the civilized world for his amazing accomplishments in an uncivilized world. Near death himself, he held his young wife in his arms as she died from complications of childbirth. He would suffer an agonizing death himself not one month later, leaving seven children as orphans.
In this book, Hampton Sides presents an immense amount of historical fact in an ever so easy read. He educates the reader in the history and leaders of the Navajo nation in an even handed way. He also shows Carson as a man and not the man-myth that many authors have described.
The American West of the 1840-1860 period is a fascinating place. If you want to explore it, this book is a good place to begin.
Sunday, August 26, 2007
A play on words of the title to an older Steve Martin comedy. Can you name it? Fortunately, this weekend’s events were not as catastrophic as those detailed in the film I’m referencing. As a matter of fact they were quite pleasant.
Plain Cars, is a reference to the fact that on Saturday we bought a very plain car to replace the plain car lost in an accident a couple of weeks ago. The accident totaled our 1995 Ford Contour and The Emmer was comfortable with that car.
I don’t think The Emmer will even notice a difference in the old and “new” old, plain car. The “new”, old, plain car is a 1996 Ford Contour. It’s the same model, same color and really spooky, even has the same smell as the old, “old”, plain car! Other things that we thought were unique to the old, “old”, plain car we have discovered to be design defects in this particular Ford model. For one, the automatic gas door lever next to the driver’s seat on the old, “old”, plain car never did work right and most of the time you had to open the trunk and use the supplemental handle there to get the fuel door open…..”New”, old, plain car, same thing. The back passenger door on the old “old”, plain car used to squeak like a tank when opened and no amount of WD-40 or oil could fix it….”New”, old, plain car, same thing. Several other things are exactly the same too, but you get the idea. It also looks like I’ll have to do some mechanical work to this vehicle. Hopefully not too much, but before I can even start that I’ll have to deal with licensing and emissions inspections. I’m guessing in about another week it will be time again for The Emmer to take up the “driving life”.
So that takes care of the Plain Cars part but where does the Trains part come in you ask? Well, this is a bit convoluted, but stay with me because you’ll even learn something about Denver history in all of this.
This weekend we celebrated The Emmer’s 26th birthday which is on Tuesday and we also celebrated The Bride’s and my 30th wedding anniversary which is tomorrow. Our celebratory dinner was at one of Denver’s finest restaurants, Restaurant Kevin Taylor. This great restaurant is located in the Hotel Teatro, which is itself, a great destination. The Hotel Teatro occupies an historic 1911 building in downtown Denver that at one time was the headquarters of the…Denver Tramway Company. Tramway, streetcars, trains…get it? In the picture at the top, the hotel/restaurant is located in the tall office building in the background.
Dinner at Restaurant Kevin Taylor was anything but plain. This restaurant has been a fixture in Denver’s fine dining scene for years. It’s listed as a “Four Diamond” destination by Mobile Travel Guide, one of “50 Best Restaurant Hotels” by Travel and Leisure and got the “Award of Excellence” from Wine Spectator magazine. What the Coney Island Hotdog Stand in Bailey Co is to hotdogs, this restaurant is to fine dining in Denver!
One of The Emmer’s favorite things is dining out and she was just beside herself this night due to sensory overload…and there was plenty to overload about. We all decided to do the four course meal option which was a prix fixe dinner that included any choice of appetizer, salad or soup, main course and desert on the menu.
We all chose different things for each of the courses and all tasted each other’s choice. For the main course The Emmer had wild boar, The Bride had Colorado lamb and I had venison. None of us were disappointed in any of our choices…..except perhaps with the wine.
The wine list was intimidating! There were pages and pages and pages of choices. Several selections were priced at $1800, yes that is one thousand eight hundred DOLLARS, for a bottle of wine! Being the son of depression parents I was a bit more reasonable in my choice of wine….If I only knew!….
After a very, very nice dinner the waiter brought the bill with the comment that cocktails and wine for the meal had been taken care of by an anonymous well wisher! Thoughts of that $1800 bottle of wine flashed through my mind!!
So, publicly for all the blogosphere to know…Anonymous, whoever you are, The Bride and I thank you for your part in a memorable evening! You can breathe a sigh of relief that I am the son of depression parents!
Thanks for visiting.
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Maybe it's just me but the last two mornings I have detected a "feeling" in the weather that reminds me that autumn is almost here. It has been pleasantly chilly in the mornings for a few weeks now but the "chilly" of the last two mornings has had something a little different to it.
In about three weeks the aspen will be at peak color in the mountains. Autumn has always been my favorite time of year. I don't know what it is, the weather is certainly great and in my humble opinion there is nothing more beautiful in the known world that a golden stand of aspen shimmering on a mountain side. To me there is a pleasant melancholy that also accompanies autumn. It's a feeling of ending but not necessarily a bad feeling. It's kinda' like the feeling you have after a really good meal.....you're sorry that it's over but oh, so glad that it was to begin with. There's that warm glow deep down in your gut.
Autumn in Colorado is pretty short. Even though you know winter is close at hand, to me it feels like a beginning too. Time to start the cycle all over, and for me the cycle starts with winter.
It's not time just yet to start the cycle again...I'm gonna enjoy autumn first. I think this year I'll take an entire day to sit in an aspen grove somewhere and be....melancholy....in a good way.
Thanks for visiting.
Sunday, August 19, 2007
A weekend with no formal plans....and it was probably a good thing or I would not have done as many things as I did. Sometimes plans can limit opportunities by creating a structure that leaves "dead time".
There was no "dead time" this weekend. On weekends that The Emmer works I'm up and about at 6 am. Saturday morning after dropping her at work I hooked up with Guitar and helped him install some needed equipment on his new truck camper. The camper will not fit on his dually truck without these modifications. It wasn't physically hard but it took all the brain power that us two old geezers could muster to decipher the installation instructions. We finished up right about noon and I headed home to do a bunch my own stuff that had been piling up for a few weeks.
The ladies of The Circle had planned for us all to get together for dinner in Golden, CO and so we did. Golden is a picturesque little town not too far northwest of Denver proper. The home of Colorado School of Mines and the original Coors brewery. We all gathered at the Golden Hotel which is in the heart of the tiny historic downtown and enjoyed conversation and libation outside on the terrace.
After dinner we decided to take a walk and ended up on the main drag of the old town, Washington Avenue. As we started our stroll we noticed two old restored Ford Thunderbirds cruising down the street. We thought that was a little unusual to see two of them at the same time but it was a little something to make the evening even more interesting. Pretty soon we saw a couple of old Chevy Bel Airs that had been restored, also cruising down the street and we began to realize that something was up.
Sure enough, we soon found out that one Saturday night a month during the summer, downtown Golden was the spot for a classic car cruise. We were lucky enough to be there for the August "cruise". All six of us grabbed a seat on the curb and just watched the show...there were probably 200 other people doing the same thing. Lot's of great looking Chevy Bel Airs, Ford Thunderbirds, Mustangs and even a couple of Galaxies. Corvettes....Corvairs. Plymouth Dusters. AMC Gremlins. Chevy Impala Super Sports. Cameros. Pontiac GTO and a bunch of "street rods". Even a red neck classic 70's Dodge Powerwagon pickup meticulously restored down to the CB antenna! Ah what memories....and really cheap entertainment.
Some of the cars were tricked out with engine lights and flaming exhaust pipes and they got cheers up and down the street as they showed their stuff. I was really kickin' myself for not bringing my camera to record the event. The car picture above is courtesy of Too Tall, Two Timing's cell phone. The show went on for about 90 minutes before The Circle decided to call it an evening.
Sunday morning I had determined I needed to take some pictures of an old drive-in movie theater in a suburb not too far from the house. The newspaper reported last week that the city is looking at the land for development...and I'm guessing that it won't be long till this drive-in is history. I've posted some pictures of other old drive-ins in Colorado before. This one, however, is still a thriving business and is a two screen "twin". Unfortunately the land it occupies is more valuable as something else.
I'm here to tell you that if you want to photograph a drive-in movie theater, Sunday morning at 7 am is a great time to do it....I not only drove right up, but I drove right in. No doors, no gates. Wide open. I drove right in and took quite a few pictures. In the picture at the top you can see the second screen in the background, below the main screen.
After getting all the photo's I wanted it was off to the storage lot that I keep Bivouac in. I had a list of minor repairs that I've been meaning to do for a while and this unstructured weekend was perfect for getting it done.
If I work it just right, I'll even wedge a nap into one unstructured corner of the weekend too!
This next work week has nothing special to it except get me five days closer to the big "R". Next weekend however The Bride, The Emmer and I are doing a pretty fancy dinner out to celebrate Emmer's 26th Birthday and The Bride and my 30th wedding anniversary. The restaurant is rated in the top 3 of the Denver metro area so stay tuned for the report!
Thanks for visiting.
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Now, I enjoy a lot of different types of music and was anxious to see ZZ Top, I just didn’t know if I was ready for a full concert? As it turned out we all had a great time and enjoyed the “event”….because it really was an event.
The crowd consisted of everything from young rockers to motorcycle types to aging hippies to stalwart upstanding clean cut types like ourselves. Watching the crowd was as entertaining as the stage shows. There was even one Japanese looking guy in a kimono and with a fan that was “rocking out” to one the warm up bands.
We had hopes that it would be even more of an “event” for us as K told us that she sat behind Billy Gibbons in high school! That seemed to be worth at least a back stage pass dontcha’ think? Probably what she meant was that she sat in the same class….a year behind him because he didn’t seem to recognize her sitting in the crowd some
40 few years after the fact!
The warm up bands were the Stray Cats and The Pretenders. Two pretty famous bands in their own right. Of the two I really liked the Stray Cats better. I liked the 50’s flavor of the rockabilly songs they did. I also liked the fact that they truly seemed to be enjoying themselves.
After about 2 hours of warm up bands ZZ Top started at about 8:30 pm. For a while it looked like we might get soaked with a pretty vicious looking thunderstorm but luckily it drifted off to the east of Red Rocks. Lightening must have struck somewhere however and started a fire because before too long an odor wafted in that smelled like old rope burning???
ZZ Top is a great show…iconic, mystique are terms used to describe their persona and performance. They did not disappoint on this night. They even had me doing the Top Shuffle half way into the show. Oh, by the way for those of you not familiar with this group, one of their biggest hits is entitled “Cheap Sunglasses”….hence the post title. The show was over too soon and it was time to head home. After all this is a Monday night and I have a date with the dentist for a root canal Tuesday morning!
Thanks for visiting.
Sunday, August 12, 2007
Wednesday morning was a very slow work day so right about noon, I headed out for Cottonwood Lake and four days of “decompression”. It’s about a 2 ½ hour trip, the weather was beautiful and I thoroughly enjoyed the trip. There were plenty of spaces at the campground so I chose one that had a view of the lake in the background. There really are no bad spots at this campground only some that are even better than the others. Setting up Bivouac was a snap…or almost. Once I got inside the trailer and started turning everything on I found that the water pump would not work. For me, that would not necessarily be a problem as I have camped often in cold weather not having any “onboard” water. In two days however, The Bride, The Emmer and Molly dog were going to join me and no internal water could be a BIG issue. It was too late this day to worry any more about it so I chilled. A little fishing, a little gawking at the scenery, a little pasta for dinner, a little reading….life is good. I hit the sack early but at about 3 am I woke up….freezing! For all you flatlanders enduring August temperatures, it was 50 degrees in the trailer at 3 am. I’m lovin’ this! I turned on the heat and went back to bed.
Daylight comes at about 5:30 am and being as how I keep pioneer hours while camping, I was able to do a little fishing and have a nice breakfast before 9 am. At 9, I headed into Buena Vista to see if there were any chance at all in getting the water pump fixed. I really didn’t think I had a snowballs chance of getting it fixed before The Bride and company arrived but I was determined to at least try. Luck was with me! I found an auto repair shop that could do it if they had the parts and lucky for me they had an employee on his way to Salida, CO to pick up some parts….and there is an RV shop in Salida. An appointment to replace the water pump was made for Friday morning.
I was back at the trailer by noon and had a great lunch. Braunschweiger sandwich, chips and a fresh peach. Time to fish….and I did. All of the fishing I’m doing right now is in beaver ponds that are on the back side of the lake. This requires VERY careful wading through a maze of little ponds and waterways. It’s real easy to step into a hole deeper than you. The good news is the water is crystal clear and you can see the holes, if you pay attention. Rainbows, browns and brook trout are the normal catch. I do this fishing with a small ultra light spinning outfit. It’s really too congested with bushes and trees to use a fly rod of any type. In some cases I would crouch under a large bush and make an underhand or side arm cast into an area of clear water not 15 feet square. The fish are not big but it’s a real kick to catch them in this way. Since I released all the fish I caught and I'm not about to take my good camera wading with me, I won't be able to show you any pictures of the fish I did catch.
A couple of hours of fishing. A hike in the aspen forest. A dinner of red beans and rice. Man o man life is REALLY good!
Friday morning I was once again up at dawn but there’s no time to fish this day. I need to get Bivouac ready to go into Buena Vista. The shop owner told me to be there by 9am and I was. The part he needed didn’t arrive until about 11 am. Normally that would have driven me right up the wall but I’m getting the hang of “decompressing”. The rest of the family wasn’t going to show up until about 7pm so I just sat in the trailer looking at the spectacular Collegiate Peaks and reading.
Just to break the monotony, I called Guitar on the cell phone to tell him it was 75 degrees and crystal clear where I was sitting. He was most appreciative of learning this as he sat in Denver. To better understand his appreciation you would have to know that Guitar just bought a one ton dually diesel truck and a fantastic Artic Fox camper. He’s been wanting to do this for years and finally pulled the trigger about a month ago. Due to “circumstances beyond his control” he has not been able to take his rig on it’s maiden voyage as yet. My weather report had about the same effect on him as telling him they just raised his retirement age to 90! He was one despondent guy….Hang in there Guitar, it won’t be long and you’ll be out here with me.
Once the part arrived it only took about 45 minutes to install the new pump, fill Bivouac up with fresh water and head back to Cottonwood Lake. That left me with plenty of time for….you guessed it…fishing AND a nap!
By 7 pm, The Bride had still not arrived so I decided to walk down towards the lake. There’s only one road in, so she would have to pass me as I walked. About a half a mile from the campsite I heard a “bleating” coming from the sheer cliffs on the side of the road. I looked up and saw three mountain goats that must have rappelled half way down the sheer face of the cliff….that’s the only way I could figure they got to the spot they were at! The “bleating” came from a juvenile goat that was apparently “stuck” in the place he was standing. One of the adults had to go and show the young one how to get up the cliff.
I stood transfixed and watched the show for at least a half hour until it became too dark to see. This was a very special thing for me as it was the first time I have ever seen mountain goats in the wild. Big horn sheep are fairly common in Colorado and can regularly be seen many places but mountain goats are quite a bit more reclusive and for whatever the reason I’ve not been able to spy one in the wild. Unfortunately, I didn’t have my camera with me so no pictures to show you.
Shortly after this sighting The Bride arrived with not so pleasant things to say about Friday afternoon traffic headed from the Denver metro area up to the mountains. We got everyone settled in Bivouac and settled in for the night.
On Saturday morning we headed down into Buena Vista to check out “Gold Rush Days. The Emmer is not much of a “camper girl” and when offered the choice of communing with nature or checking out the street fair…nature lost. We spent about two hours checking everything out and then headed back to the campsite….with plenty of daylight left for a little fishing and a short nap.
How did Molly dog do in all this you say? Well, not like I expected at all. Molly dog is an adopted “mostly” Australian Cattle Dog but in spite of the breed description, she is a clingy nervous type. She was not at all at home in Bivouac on that first night and insisted on being VERY close to one of us at all times. I had thought that she would love being in the wilds and going for long walks but the unfamiliar surroundings kept her close to me even when I let her off the leash. To be fair she started to loosen up a little on the second day but still kept very close to one of us most of the time. Oh well, so much for the quintessential “man and his dog” image.
Sunday came way too soon. I’m normally a raring to go type but this day I just didn’t want to leave. We finally had everything packed and ready by about 10:30 am and headed back to “the world”. The only good thing about this part of the trip was that once again the weather was perfect, sunny, cobalt blue sky, temperature in the high 70's... The lower in elevation we got, however, the warmer it got and traffic got heavier and wilder. Throughout the trip home I couldn't help but think about when I could do the next trip! There are some possibilities so stay tuned.
Thanks for visiting.
Monday, August 6, 2007
It's been four long weeks since #4 and I did our Colorado trip and I'm still not over outdoor withdrawal. It's so bad that I just have to get out. Vacation time isn't a problem so Wednesday, I'm outa here! Look at the picture above...can you blame me. This picture was taken from the top of Cottonwood Pass. I'm headed to Cottonwood Lake.
If you remember, #4 and I spent the last night of our trip at Cottonwood Lake. This is a lake that we camped at as kids back in the 1960's. Until that day last month, I had not fished in Colorado since the 1960's and on that day last month, I caught my first Colorado trout in about 42 years. That brought back such a rush of good memories that I've gotta do it again, so, Wednesday afternoon I'm taking Bivouac and headed for Cottonwood Lake. I've even gotten a new pair of fancy waders so I can fish in the beaver ponds back behind the lake....I'm just too old to do it in cutoffs and tennis shoes like I did in my youth!
This will be a family trip too...The Bride, The Emmer and Molly dog will drive up on Friday and meet me. It should be an interesting weekend as neither The Emmer nor Molly dog have ever been out with me in Bivouac...who knows maybe we'll have trout for dinner on Saturday??? Since I'll be out of internet range you'll have to wait till Monday to find out.
Thanks for visiting.
Sunday, August 5, 2007
Readers will know that The Emmer got her driver's license last week after many years of trying. Back in the recesses of my mind, I was preparing myself for the inevitable "learning experience" that every new driver has. In other words, I was prepared to suffer the loss of a vehicle somewhere along the line. For that reason I have been babying a 1995 Ford Contour for the last 11 years. My older daughter took that car to college and had her own "learning experience" on it which resulted in an unrepaired dent on the front hood. It was great basic transportation and was beloved by the family.
You will note the past tense verb "was". My loss was not exactly the way I pictured it.
Yesterday afternoon The Emmer and The Bride were headed to a hair appointment. The Emmer was driving and made a legal left turn...with a green turn arrow...and got broadsided on the passenger side by a young seventeen year old who ran a red light.
Blessings are that no one was hurt. This is truly a blessing because the Contour appears to be a total loss. The passenger side was pushed in over 12", windows broken, frame bent. The Bride was in the passenger seat and the impact shoved her into the center console. The emergency crew had to take her out the driver's door. She was sent to the emergency room of the local hospital as a precaution and fortunately all scans were negative for internal injuries. The Emmer was also unharmed. She walked away with a couple of bruises on her left side from being jammed against the driver's door.
Profanities are that in any U.S. metropolitan area now driving is DANGEROUS. It's the I attitude of people when they get behind the wheel. I..I should be first in line. I should not have to wait on anyone. I don't care about the other guy.
If you can believe this....As I was watching the tow truck winch my car out of the intersection a young woman in an SUV was clearly agitated at being delayed at getting around the accident. She glared at us, honked her horn, and as soon as she was by the broken glass...floored the accelerator and squealed by! Unfortunately by this time the police had already left the scene.
Profanities are, that even though I have good insurance, nothing can make me whole. I have to replace that vehicle with something and even if I replace it with a similar make and model the difference between insurance value and retail value will be several thousand dollars...And then I'll have to pay sales and licensing taxes too.
When I really stop and think however, blessings always trump profanities and in the game of life, this time, I had the winning hand. My family is safe.
Thanks for visiting.
Wednesday, August 1, 2007
A Passion for Life: Ruth Marie Colville by Jo Ann Virden is the biography of a Pennsylvania woman who becomes a rancher's wife in Del Norte Colorado. Born in 1904 to a newly middle class family in Bethlehem, PA, she later attended Wellesley College where she learned to be an independent thinking woman.
She came to Colorado in 1928 as a school teacher, married a local rancher and over the next 60 years would become a respected local historian. To learn the complete history of the area Ruth had to cross the divide between Anglo and Hispanic culture...Not an easy thing in the early and mid 20th Century!
Ruth was fascinated with "trails", the routes of early explorers and inhabitants of the area. She helped find and document Fremont's Christmas camp of 1848 and recovered the only remaining artifact of that ill fated camp, a sledge.
With the help of a number of other local amateur historians she helped document the old Sanderson and Barlow stage road from Alamosa to Lake City Colorado.
Perhaps Ruth's biggest project was collaborating with Helen Blumenschein of Taos in researching, finding and documenting the "de Vargas Entrada". This was the 1694 route of General Don Diego de Vargas and his party from Taos into the San Luis Valley of Colorado searching for corn for the beleaguered colony of Santa Fe. This project kept Ruth busy for over 30 years and she authored a book, "La Vereda, A Trail Through Time" to document her discoveries.
I found this biography very interesting and easy reading but I suspect it will have greater appeal to people familiar with the locale in which the events occur. I was so interested in her work on the de Vargas Entrada that I ordered a copy of her book...which by the was was not easy to find.
It's my hope that someday I will be able to personally walk at least a portion of the trail she describes. This is a trail that was blazed at least 130 years before any Anglo viewed the San Luis Valley.
Thanks for visiting.