Friday, November 30, 2007

You Know It's Winter When...

You know it's winter when I stop procrastinating and perform the yearly ritual of exchanging positions of the lawnmower and snow blower.....and I did that last Sunday. Timing is everything so they say and even if my timing was not precise, at least I haven't been stuck with needing the snow blower and not having it at hand.

We've actually had 3 light snows already this year but nothing of any consequence yet and it looks like we have dodged the frozen bullet this weekend. The forecast is for a pretty l
arge storm in the San Juans, to the south of the metro area. They may get up to three feet of snow in the next two days. The same storm will dump up to a foot of snow on the northern mountains.....skip right over the Denver metro area and cause havoc on the plains of Colorado and Kansas.

Our summer comfort depends on our winter discomfort and this year's snowfall has been relatively puny so far. I'm hoping that thing pick up and the mountains get hammered....that's the way it's supposed to be in Colorado!

I'm taking a vacation day today as I still have a fair amount of vacation left and it's one of those "use it or lose it" situations. I DO NOT intend to lose anything

It looks like we may have a "semi-Circle" gathering for lunch today. Guitar is going to come by shortly before noon and pick me up. We'll then fetch Two Timing-Too Tall and look for
someplace to eat lunch.

After lunch I need to go and visit my trailer, Bivouac. The previous owners sent me a recall notice they got for the refrigerator in the trailer. I need to check the serial number out to see if mine needs to be repaired. Quite honestly I don't think the refrigerator ever worked very well on propane so I'm almost hopeful that it needs repair and that will resolve a cooling problem that I have noticed.

Last year I purchased a photo editing software program called Corel Paint Shop Pro Photo. After reading a number of reviews it looked like this program had most of the functionality of some of the high priced programs, for less than $75. I bought it and have been playing with it ever since. The pictures here, were altered using this program.....I'm having fun just trying stuff out....Don't think I'll ever get elevated to "artist" status but hey, it keeps me off the street.

Lot's of stuff going on next week which I'll tell you about in future posts so stay tuned.

Thanks for visiting.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Together Again

The Bride returned this afternoon from her trip to NC to see her folks. It wasn't a fun trip and she's in a very melancholy mood. This is to be expected. Her Dad, Big Don, is not doing well at all and it wasn't easy for her to experience him this way. Her mother is really struggling to provide care for her spouse without the help of professionals.

We are hopeful that some time very soon she can find a spot for him in a place that can provide the care he needs.

Tough subject....nuff said.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Happy Birthday Guitar!

Since the Turkey Trot Trip to Taos was Trashed, The Circle decided to have dinner at my place last night in honor of Guitar's birthday. Now, with The Bride out of town, you might think that that was pretty courageous on my part? Under most circumstances I would agree but this dinner was being provided by K. and Pic-E and all I had to do was provide space, an oven, a stove, some munchies and some libations. Even an old married guy like me, batching it, can do that much.

The menu consisted of lasagna, salad and a wonderful squash soup. You can see in the picture that there are actually two different pots of soup being ably attended by K. and Pic-E. One soup used white wine and one used cream as an additive. When K. served the soup she put a little of each in everyone's bowl and because each type had a different density they stayed separate in the bowl. Great presentation and great taste.

The evening was very low key with the highlight being the presentation of some gifts to Guitar....and a birthday cake dessert. I guess we're all getting older because the affair broke up by 10 pm.

Well, Guitar, that's another year under your belt. By the way, it appears as if there are some other things under that belt that weren't there last year? Anyhow may you enjoy this next year as much as I have enjoyed your company during this last year....Happy Birthday!

Thanks for visiting.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Trashed - Turkey Trot Trip To Taos

A famous quote by Falstaff in Shakespeare's King Henry IV states "Discretion is the better part of valor." If you look at the weather map above you will see why The Circle chose discretion this weekend.

Taos is just north of Albuquerque in the map.The prediction (guess) is for 3-5" of snow in Taos with a high of 35 and a low tomorrow of 6! I really wanted to do a road trip but towing a 28 foot trailer in those conditions is just not something I want to do.

So, Bivouac sits in front of the house all loaded up, except for water thank goodness. My activity today will be to unload. We're supposed to get a little snow here too so I just may wait till tomorrow to take Bivouac back to her lot.

I have added a front hitch to my Expedition, "Tank II", and to that hitch have added a cargo carrier. Up till now I have carried my Honda EU2000i generator in the Expedition and I really didn't like that arrangement so the front cargo carrier resolved that. If I don't want to use the cargo carrier, I can put a bike rack there in it's place. It's really handy to have this front hitch and it's a neat thing in itself. Rather than have a garage frame mount a receiver I found a device called Bodiak Front End Hitch which mounts to the front tow hooks of the vehicle. It will support up to 500 pounds. I doubt that I'll ever carry that much but it's nice to have the option to carry stuff there.

The Circle will have to re-plan something for this weekend. We were all looking forward to getting together and it not easy just to....not. Besides, I have reliable information that Guitar's birthday is on Sunday and we will have to celebrate that for sure.

Stay tuned to find out what we come up with!

Thanks for visiting.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Turkey Trot Trip To Taos

The 1st annual Turkey Trot Trip is on....provided the weather cooperates. Right now it's looking like what snow there is will move into the Denver area tonight and tomorrow. By the time we leave the roads should be clear. Oh, it will be cold but that is manageable. Taos will definitely be a cool place in more ways than one!

The picture above is one of the classic neon signs for the Taos Inn, a great old bar and hotel. I took this picture a couple of years ago on another trip to Taos. Not only is Taos an "artsy" town with lots of galleries but the place just reeks with history. The Taos Pueblo is a native American historic site that has been inhabited continuously for over 1000 years. One of my favorite Colorado historical figures, Charles Bent, of Bent's Fort fame lived and unfortunately died in Taos during the Taos Revolt of 1848. Kit Carson, Uncle Dick Wooten, Tom Tobin and a host of other early mountain men left their mark on Taos as well. What's not to like about this place?

The Circle, minus The Bride, will leave the Denver area sometime Friday morning and return on Sunday. The campground we are staying at has wifi so check back for more information.

Thanks for visiting.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Hot Dog, I'm Home!

Business road trip is over. I've gotta tell you, without my GPS I would have been toast more than once. Technology is amazing and it's also amazing how quickly you become used, dependent upon some of these new gadgets.

I left Chicagoland yesterday
, late afternoon on another packed 777. It was an oversold flight so loading took longer than usual and after they had filled every seat it was discovered that someone in business class had a "broken" seat. The captain came on the intercom and advised that we would have to delay departure until they could either..(1) get someone to say the seat was airworthy. (2) fix it if they couldn't get someone to give it a pass. (3) empty the seat...which meant the guy that paid more to sit in business class would have to leave the aircraft since all the other seats had already been filled.

Put yourself in the seat....ha! that's a play on words...of the guy in the business class seat that was thinking that he was going to have a nice flight home to Denver on a Friday evening and then was faced with being "Bumped", thrown off the flight because his seat was broken!

The good ending was that they fixed the seat and we took hour late but as the saying goes, "Better late than never."

Business-wise the trip was a success. I bombed on my first attempt to find a Muffler Man, but I did manage to get a glimpse of the Joliet "Jackhammer" Muffler Man. Not only did I have to contend with cold windy weather but downtown Joliet made me a bit nervous. The ballpark was closed, the neighborhood was...a "hood", I walked fast, took pictures fast and exited as quickly as possible.

The picture at the top of the post was one of the few signs that I happened upon during the week. I was really hoping for more classic signs but for whatever reason I didn't seem to find the groove this week for sniffing out signs.

This coming week is Thanksgiving week and it's been decided that the first annual Turkey Trot Trip will be to Taos, NM. Unfortunately, The Bride will not be with us so I'll be batching it. I am enchanted with the NM area so I'm really looking forward to this trip. I would have a lot more fun if The Bride were along too, but she's got some serious stuff to attend to in North Carolina. I'll be with her in spirit.......

Thanks for visiting.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

On The Road - Business Wise

I'm on the road this week for business. It's been quite a while since I travelled on business and that's both good news and bad news. I do enjoy "being" somewhere out of town, that's the good news part. I hate the "getting there", and that's the bad news part.

This trip is to Chicagoland and I left the Denver airport first thing on Monday morning. The "getting there" part wasn't as bad as some trips I've taken but I did have to suffer through a middle seat in a completely full Boeing 777. Since I was flying economy, a middle seat means the third seat in, on a row with 5 seats. You may as well not even think about trying to get up when you're that deep in the row! Thank goodness the flight was on time and there were no delays at either end.

I don't leave until late Friday afternoon and don't get in to Denver until about 7pm so this is a very full week. As soon as I got to my hotel and got the computer fired up, I went online and upgraded to Business Class for the trip back to Denver. This way at least I'll be comfortable on the plane and will get something to eat before I get home.

In other news, The Bride will be travelling back to see her parents over the Thanksgiving holiday so The Emmer and I will fend for ourselves on Thanksgiving Day. The Emmer is scheduled to work that weekend so it's not going to be a real festive holiday.

Before The Bride made her plans to visit her parents, The Circle had planned to do a Thanksgiving weekend Turkey Trot Camping Trip. The destination hasn't been set yet and since The Emmer is working, I think I'll take Bivouac and batch it. More on this in later posts.

I will be going from my present location to the Joliet area tomorrow. There is a "re-purposed" Muffler Man in the AA baseball stadium there. I'm hoping to be able to see it and get a picture of it. If I do I'll post a picture later this week.

Thanks for visiting.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Off the Road Again

The road trip is over and I'm back to the workaday world but oh, what a road trip it was. I don't think there was any way it could have turned out bad because both Guitar and I were ever so ready for anything that would take us on the road.

The stars aligned just right on this past Thursday and Guitar and I were able to sneak out of town at about 3 pm headed south on Interstate 25. Our goal was to make it to Lathrop State Park just outside of Walsenburg, CO. Not much to do on the trip down other than to explore Walsenburg after dark before we went to the park.

Walsenburg is a town of only about 4000 so you might
think that there wouldn't be much to occupy us, but then you wouldn't understand that it doesn't take much to occupy Guitar and myself. "After dark", is the perfect time to hunt old neon signs and it's surprising what you can find in a small town. As a matter of fact some of our best finds come from small towns and this trip was to reinforce that. We found a number of great neon signs but the one I liked the most is the one to the left...Aly's Fireside Cafe. Just love the martini glass!

After about an hour of searching and finding three or four "keepers" we headed to Lathrop State Park, fixed a dinner of home made vegetable soup...expertly microwaved by Guitar, and settled in for the night. We were quite a ways from the lights of Walsenburg and had a wonderful night sky to look at. I spotted two shooting stars before we retired for the night.

We were up early Friday morning to find out that we had an incredible view of the Spanish Peaks of the Sangre de Cristo mountain range. The Indians called these two mountains, Wahatoya, which means "breasts of the world" and you can
certainly see why in the picture above. A little more exploration of the park and we headed south for Trinidad, about 50 miles to the the crow flies...

Our trip to
Trinidad was a lot more than 50 miles, as we were determined to explore everything away from the interstate that we could. In doing this we found the old highway that served as the main north-south route long before the interstate. The picture at the top of this post shows a section of this road. It looks to be an early 1930's concrete road that is just barely two lanes wide. The width wasn't a problem as we did not see another car on this road for quite a number of miles.

The tractor in the picture above, was just one of a bunch of old cars, trucks and tractors sitting in a field behind a ranch house on this old road. The tractor was a Fordson model F which was produced between 1918 and 1928. A great find!

A couple more miles down the road was Ludlow, CO, the site of the Ludlow coal massacre, a very sorrowful event in which over twenty women and children were killed when the Colorado National Guard attacked a camp of strikers and their families. There's not a lot there today except a monument erected by the United Mine Workers of America, but that was enough for Guitar and I to contemplate and agree that we're both glad that this country has progressed in the area of labor relations.

We made it to Trinidad at about noon and proceeded to be surprised by this little jewel of a town. Not a big town by any means. Population about 7,000 tops but with a wonderfully intact and vibrant downtown area. It seems as if preservat
ion and restoration have hit this corner of Colorado and it's a great thing to see.

We spent a couple of hours exploring and taking pictures of
old signs....we actually did it twice because after we set up camp and had some dinner we went back into Trinidad to catch some of the signs when they were lit up. The bad news was that the museum we wanted to see the most, the A.R. Mitchell Museum was closed. Looking at the bright side, this gives us a reason to return to this great little town.

Saturday morning we were onc
e again, up early, ready to explore historical sites and whatever oddities came our way. Before we left the camp however we had a visit from a herd of deer that leisurely browsed their way past the camper....and by the way, this campground wasn't too shabby either. A great view of Fisher's Peak from Trinidad Lake State Park and we had the park almost all to ourselves!

A disappointment was that we were unable to find the grave site of Uncle Dick Wooten. Oh, we found the graveyard easy enough. The Catholic Cemetery of Trinidad is still in operation...
and that was the problem. There were a LOT of "deceased" in this place and there was no one around to help us find Uncle Dick's resting place, even though we knew the plot number. We marked that down as another reason to return to Trinidad.

Perhaps the highlight of the trip to me was exploring Morley, CO. It took a little "doin'" to get there but the trouble was worth it. This old coal mining ghost town breathed it's last gasp in the 1950's and the coal company tore down most of the buildings but the foundations remain. The centerpiece of the town is the remains of the old Catholic church on the hill above the town. It is very much photographed, painted and otherwise recorded and Guitar and I were not about to break the custom. I don't know how many shots I took but as far as I'm concerned they all turned out great!

I think we spent a couple of hours looking aroun
d and trying to imagine the people, the families, the babies, the marriages and the funerals that once made this a real place, just like the towns that you and I live in.

I had wanted to find and drive the old Raton Pass road from this point down into Raton, NM but we found out that the road now belongs to a development company and is private...closed to the public. Even Uncle Dick Wooton's ranch is closed off to the public. There was nothing Guitar and I could do, so we got back on I-25 and drove down into Raton for our last night on the road.

The official records say that Raton has about the same population as Trinidad but it sure seemed smaller to me. Smaller or not, it had it's own gems of neon signs. Guitar and I decided to stay at a commercial KOA campground this last night because he was having a problem with the water pump on the camper...and because the KOA location gave us easy access to the town.

We occupied the last of this day in hunting down some great old signs and browsing in a few antique shops.

One of the shops was owned and operated by a sprightly 88 year old woman who entertained us with stories of the history of the old store, the background of some of h
er wares and countless other things. I think we spent well over an hour in that one store. The woman told us that she was a graduate of Johns Hopkins, had been a nurse in WW II, came ashore shortly after D Day and was in Holland during Battle of the Bulge!

Amazingly enough, after we left this store we went into a western clothing store and spoke with the proprietor of that store....who was an army veteran of WW II who served in the Pacific.....The Greatest Generation is alive and well in Raton, New Mexico!

Sunday morning came way too soon. It's hard to believe that three days went by so quick. Guitar and I had about as much fun as you can, and still be legal. Three days of poking around back roads, looking at the obscure. Three days of non-homogenized America. Three days of road trip. It would have been nice to just keep heading south to Las
Vegas, NM and over to Canyon de Chelly. Oh well, that freedom will have to wait for another 628 days.

As Guitar and I were getting ready to leave I spotted what I am going to call a good omen. The god of Road Trip sent a sign to us that we will soon be as free as birds....or balloons. Free to drift wherever we choose.....

Thanks for visiting.

Monday, November 5, 2007


I swear I didn't do it on purpose. I didn't even know I did it, but Guitar has come down with Road Fever too. The Circle got together for a quick dinner last night at Red Robin and I could tell immediately that there was something wrong with Guitar. He had this slack jawed, blank stare, bad hair kinda look about him. His hands were twitching like he was yanking on a steering wheel and he kept mumbling something about the hot water bypass valves! Oh yeah, Road Fever big time!

This morning I got an email from him begging me to help him with "The Cure". If it were anyone else, I'da told them to get their own cure but Guitar needs all the help he can get. Besides, he took the first step....which can be the hardest. He admitted he had a problem. He said straight out that he had Road Fever. He was powerless. He couldn't cure this himself. He needed help...

ow, I think I already said in a previous post that Guitar has an awesome rig...diesel dually with an really big Arctic Fox camper. It's a rig I dream of....and he needs help...hmmmm.

OK, I'm gonna help him with the cure but we'll use his rig for the cure. Sounds fair to me? He's been with me in my rig a couple of times so this will work out fine.

I'm still working on the details of "The Cure". I'll have to consult a lot reference books because if I don't do this right, Guitar could be stigmatized for life! His bride, Pic-E would never forgive me! I could be ostrich-sized from The Circle. I've got a lot of research to do and only 3 more days to do it in so I'm gonna have to cut this post short.

Thanks for visiting.

Friday, November 2, 2007

The Fever is Breaking

It's the weekend so I only have four more work days until I hit the road and can cure this fever for good....ah... well, for this time anyway.

After some further research and help from the Western History department of the Denver Public Library I have found that my earlier hunch on the whereabouts of Uncle Dick's toll gate was incorrect. I was in the right area but not far enough south.

The library provided me with the map above, with the notation that Wooten Ranch, which today is still a working ranch, is the site of Uncle Dick's original home and the toll gate to his Raton Pass toll road. My original hunch was about a mile north of this location.

The information the library pro
vided said the original house was destroyed in 1905 and rebuilt by James Ownby. If you look at the Google Earth map to the left you can see first that that topography matches up with the library map. You can also see that there are a number of buildings at the ranch. (Click on the picture to enlarge it.) I hope one of them is the house that James Ownby reconstructed! I'll let you know next week for sure.

The other thing marked on the map is the grave site of Cruz Torrez. Not much can be found on the web about this grave other than Cruz was murdered in 1863. In reading Uncle Dick's autobiography however, I learned that Cruz (whom he identifies as Juan Torres) was a corporal with the 1st New Mexico Cavalry, on a detail escorting
about 150 wagons to the south. There apparently was a feud going on between the corporal and three privates and the privates murdered Torres just outside Uncle Dick's house. Uncle Dick heard talking in the night and what he described as the "death cry" of Torres when he was struck in the head with a rock. Uncle Dick found the man's body the next morning and rode to the army camp to report it. The three privates were arrested and they confessed to the murder. Two of the murderers were hanged in Las Vegas, NM and one was sent to prison for life.

The Google Earth picture shows a dirt road that goes right by the site so I think I'll try to get there and see the headstone "in person".

Finally, there is a possibility that this disease I have is contagious. It seems as if it might have spread to Guitar! I swear, I didn't do anything on purpose but I was talking with him today and there's a possibility that he may just have to "take the cure" with me....I'll let you know.

Thanks for visiting.


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