Friday, April 25, 2008

Three Days, Two Nights

In the fickle Rocky Mountain spring, that's all I could squeeze out of my trip but it was enough. It was great. It was the mountain fix I needed to tide me over for a week or so.

Per my last post, I left on Wednesday morning and was at my destination by before noon. The destination was a campground on the Arkansas River just north of Buena Vista, CO. I had never been to this campsite before so I didn't know what to expect. What I didn't have to worry about was people. This time of year the area is deserted.

The main attraction of the river these days is white water rafting. At this time of year the water is really low...because it's still very cold higher up and the snow hasn't melted to provide the water that the rafters pay to ride. At this time of year the weather is also "iffy" and people do not want to gamble on "iffy". "Iffy" is the reason I only squeezed out three days and two nights. Iffy was 28 degrees this morning with winds of 35 mph. Being as how I'm not tied down to a regular schedule, and being as how I didn't want to spend a cold windy day inside the RV, and being as how I planned only a few days out anyhow, I decided to get back home before the work a day people invaded the windy mountains.

Wednesday and Thursday however were beautiful. Highs in the 70's with a moderate wind. I had a lot of things on my list to do and I kept pretty busy during the daylight hours.

I fished a lot. Unsuccessfully unfortunately. I have not done much river trout fishing in the last 30 years so this was an exercise in reacquainting myself with the techniques. The biggest thing I
learned was that at my age not only is my physical stamina reduced but my sense of balance and my "fishing eyes" are not as good as they used to be. It was a challenge not to fall into the very cold water while wading in fast moving water over slippery rocks. This is a challenge for the young and athletic too but it's just a mite more challenging for a guy like me and it made me uncomfortable not to have the ability I once had.

I also found that my eyesight is more of an impediment that it used to be. I have mentioned that I have been wearing reading glasses for a number of years now. Not only is it more difficult to follow the movement of the fishing line and lure in the water, when I needed to retie my line it becam
e much more of a big deal.....seeing and doing while trying to balance in the fast moving water.

Before you break out the hankies to dab the tears from your eyes, I still had a blast. Just being there and soaking (not that kind of soaking) in the beauty was worth it all.

There is an old saying, "When one door closes another opens.", and so it is for me too, I think. I mentioned in the last post that I would also do a little gold panning while I was there. The Arkansas River is still an area where you can find gold and there are still people who "prospect" along the river. This is just a fishing of a different sort. This sort allows you to be more stationary and even sit.
My problem is that while I had a gold pan and had read some articles about panning for gold, I really didn't know gold panning from shinola.

That problem was partially solved while fishing on Wednesday. As I was making my way along the river I spotted a man wh
o was panning in the river. I made my way to him and asked him if I could watch. He not only said yes but he proceeded to give me quite a little lesson on the basics. This was a hobby he had for some years and it even supplemented his income a bit. With gold selling now for $1000 an ounce this is a hobby that actually can pay....unlike the other type of fishing which normally costs me a bunch in equipment and lures.

Thursday I took a hike, rode my bike, did some birdwatching and sat in a chair at the edge of the river reading. I could just feel the city evil oozing out of my pores and being replaced by the mountain beauty.

Friday morning broke very cold and very windy and as I mentioned earlier I just decided to quit while I was ahead and return home. When I was still part of the work a day world I always envied people I saw heading down from the mountains, as I was going up on Friday or Saturday. I always thought that it would be neat to have the time to be able to avoid the hordes on the week
ends and you know what....It's neat! In spite of the less than beautiful weather there were still swarms of people headed up to cram in a night or two of camping before returning to their labors. I just had this warm smile spread over my face as I headed down into the Denver area.

Thanks for visiting.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Good To Go on Gone

Today's weather in the metro area is wonderful. The forecast for Buena Vista, CO is 63 tomorrow and high 50's for the rest of the week....I'm outa here tomorrow morning.

I did some grocery shopping first thing this morning then got the RV, gassed it up (ugh, that hurt), filled the water tank, treated the
black water tank, put the bike rack and bike on, loaded the generator, packed clothes, fishing gear and metal detector and a bunch of other details so I'm now about 80% ready to hit the road.

The picture at the top is a picture of Railroad Bridge Campground where I plan to spend at least two days. I may then move to Ruby Mountain Campground about 20 miles to the south as there are opportunities for rockhounding in the area. The picture below shows a campsite at Ruby Mountain....note the Collegiate Range of mountains in the background. Mt. Harvard, Mt. Princeton, Mt. Yale

Tomorrow morning I'll wait for the work a day rush to end and then I'll head to the mountains. There's no WiFi where I'm going so there won't be any reports until I get back. If all goes well, I'll be back on Saturday or Sunday.

I'm really, really ready for a trip!!!!!

Thanks for visiting.

Monday, April 21, 2008

I'm Gone!

Another beautiful weekend with temps in the 70's and it's got me itching to hit the road in the RV. The weather forecast for the coming week is decent too. Even the mountains are starting to warm up a bit.

I've been doing some research on closer by campgrounds and have found one right on the Arkansas River just north of Buena Vista, CO. The altitude is right at 8000' but the local weather is calling for temperatures in the upper 50's with lows in the 30's. I think I'm going to check it out for a couple of days.

The picture at the top is a boat launch right next to the campground. This section of the Arkansas River is famous for white water rafting and kayaking. During the warmer months this campground is packed but I'm guessing that right the middle of the week, it will be deserted. There is also good trout fishing on the river so I'll bring my fishing gear too.

Here's the plan....Leave here Wednesday mid morning and drive directly to the camp site. It's a little under 100 miles so I can be there around lunch time. Fish, hike, metal detect and maybe even a little gold panning for a couple of days and return home on Saturday or Sunday.

Sounds like an excellent plan to me. I will decide go/no go by tomorrow morning but unless the weather forecast changes I'm pretty sure.....I'm gone.

Thanks for visiting.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Just Another April in Colorado

Tuesday the temperature topped out at about 80 degrees...delightful. Yesterday morning was cooler but still springtime pleasant. At about noon everything went to hell in a handbasket and the picture above shows what it looked like about an hour ago on my deck.

True to form for Colorado, tomorrow will be in the 60's and the weekend will climb into the 70's. The really good news is that if you look at the picture above you will see that the sun is shining which means that the snow will be gone, completely gone, by this afternoon. This is a good thing because The Bride arrives back from her trip to visit her mom this afternoon and I have to drive to the airport to pick her up. This will be a much better trip than when I took her last week.

You will also notice that while The Bride was absent for a week, there were no "On Our Own" posts. After several months of "domestic" training, I'm fairly comfortable in the kitchen. I certainly won't make the Food Channel but we survived nicely. Dinners this week included Chicken Picata, BBQ pork chops, home-made pasta sauce and spicy baked salmon, pictured to the left.

I'm not sure what's on tap for this weekend but with temps being as nice as they are supposed to be there will have to be some outside activity.

Thanks for visiting.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Recent Read

A True Picture of Emigration by Rebecca Burlend, is the 34th release of the great Lakeside Classics series. This release was published by The Lakeside Press in 1936 and is a reprint of a document originally published anonymously in 1848.

The original full title was "A True Picture of Emigration or Fourteen Years in the Interior of North America Being a Full and Impartial Account of the Various Difficulties and Ultimate Success of an English Family Who Emigrated From Barwick-In-Elmet, Near Leeds, in the Year 1831" . I guess when The Lakeside Press decided to reprint the document they didn't want to use as much paper for the title as the rest of the book, as it was a rather short document of about 150 pages.

While the book is relatively short it is once again my favorite type of book, a first person historical narrative. Rebecca Burlend tells the story of her family's emigration to the frontier....directly to me.

The editor's forward is as entertaining as the book itself. He recounts how the book was chosen for publication and how the identity of the author was uncovered. Remember, I said that it was originally published anonymously. It was exciting to learn that after over one hundred years, the editor was able to find descendants of the author still living in the area described in the book.

The Burlend family left England in 1831, traveled across the Atlantic to New Orleans and then up the Mississippi and Missouri rivers to western Illinois around Detroit in Pike County. The story of their journey to their new home is as fascinating as the story of their struggle to survive in the American wilds. At one point in the Atlantic their ship was nearly sunk by a tremendous storm.

The story of a frontier farmer is perhaps not as glorious as some of the other Lakeside Classic releases that described the lives of fur trappers, gold miners and rootin' tootin' lawmen, but that doesn't make it any less interesting. Two adults and several small children trying to break enough ground to grow food to feed the family, and all this without equipment or livestock is a gripping story. Finding food, building shelter, getting the simplest of clothes and absolute necessities boggles the modern mind.

While not an educated woman, Rebecca Burlend does herself proud in her vivid descriptions of everyday life....and for actually succeeding in this difficult and tenuous life. If you like early American History and/or first person historical narratives, this will be a joyful read.

Thanks for visiting.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Adios, Dewey Bridge

On my trips to Moab, I usually get off I-70 at the almost ghost town of Cisco, UT and take the very scenic Hwy 128 that follows the Colorado River south into Moab. Not too far from Cisco is the Dewey Bridge, an old historic structure that is on the National Register of Historic Places....I need to change that to "was"...The bridge burned down a few days ago. It's thought that a young boy playing with matches started a brush fire which ultimately claimed the bridge.

I'll miss that old bridge. It was a landmark of another sort for me. On our trips to Moab I knew that once I passed this bridge going south, I entered the magical kingdom of southeastern Utah slick rock. The Circle has made numerous trips to Moab and we never fail to have a spectacular time so this bridge, to me, represents stepping into happiness. Part of that happiness is gone because one of the symbols of the journey is gone.

Right next to the bridge is an old abandoned gas station/general store. Several years ago K. snapped this picture of the men of The Circle seriously considering retiring in Moab.

Adios Dewey!

Thanks for visiting.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

I'm Dreaming of a.....Sunny Day

O dark hundred this morning and I'm on my way to the airport to send The Bride off to North Carolina. Dark, windy, snowy....oh what fun. The snow started at about 3 am so by the time I got on the road it was pretty nasty. White knuckles and all, we made it with time to spare and I immediately headed for home.

By the time I got out of the airport it was beginning to get light, which made the driving a little easier but it also meant that the work a day folks were into their commute. Now we all know that if you own an SUV, that means you are exempt from the common sense rules of bad weather driving, right?

I didn't mind sitting in stop and go traffic on a major highway for an hour. Really I didn't....that gave me time to reflect on the utter stupidity of some people.

It looks like this is going to continue through tomorrow and by Monday it will be 70 degrees.....Com-mone Monday! In the meantime I'll just have to catch up on reading.

Oh, a little added bonus for me. I live on the south side of the metro area. Right down there where that purpley color is with the text 6-12". Aren't I lucky?

Thanks for visiting.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Spring Is a Tease!

Yesterday was gorgeous and spring like. I have to take The Bride to the airport tomorrow morning for her trip back to North Carolina to spend time with her mother.....

I know this is Colorado but stinking heck!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thanks for visiting.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Recent Read - Not

I have published a lot of posts entitled "Recent Read" in which I review a book that I have read. I haven't done one of those in a while for several reasons. First, I find it harder now to find time to sit down and read. It's that same crazy retired excuse that I just don't have the time to do everything I want to. Secondly, I've been reading more magazines than before. Doesn't require as much time although I will admit that I don't get the same sense of fulfillment as I do from reading a book.

A couple of months ago I started to read Studs Terkel's autobiography, "Touch and Go". Studs is a Pulitzer Prize winner for his book "The Good War" and he has written a total of 12 oral history books. I read "The Good War" and several others and really enjoyed them so when I saw that he had written an autobiography I was really looking forward to reading it.

The book had gotten wonderful reviews but I just could not slog my way through it. It was one thing for Studs to relate the stories told to him by other people. His own story, related by him just left me cold. Lord knows I tried. I know he's a good writer and a lot of high powered people said the book was a masterpiece. He was never able to "hook" me however, and after slogging through about half the book I just gave up.

Shall we say that Studs was an intellectual? A socialist? He certainly was NOT a Communist as the McCarthy camp tried to paint him but he was a very political person. I grew up in the McCarthy era and in the hippie era and maybe that's why I couldn't read all about it again. I didn't like it then either.

I don't mean for this post to discourage anyone else from reading the book....I just couldn't get through it. I have committed myself to carving out more time to read however and I'm about finished with another Lakeside Classic that I'll post about in a few days.

Thanks for visiting.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Treasure Hunting

I have done metal detecting as a hobby for four or five years. I really enjoy it not only for the solitude it provides, but it's very interesting as well. I especially like finding historical type artifacts.

Metal detecting, like any other hobby takes time. Not only is there time involved in the actual detecting itself, but it takes time to find suitable places to detect. Before I retired I always felt that even though I really enjoyed metal detecting, I should use the time required for other things.
Time-wise the problem has been solved with my retirement. Now it's a matter of weather and finding suitable places.

Yesterday the weather was right so I decided to get in a little practice at a local park. This park is only about 25 years old so my odds of finding anything "historical" were pretty small. I didn't care. All I wanted to do was to get out in the fresh air and get some practice in.

The metal detecting machine I use is a Garrett Ace 250. It's an entry level machine that cost a couple hundred bucks when I got it. Even though it didn't cost all that much it is an amazing piece of electronics. You can set the machine to search for all metal, for jewelry, for only coins and numerous other things. You can
also "discriminate" out certain signals to further zero in on what it is you are looking for.

Since I was going to a relatively "young" park, I decided to hunt only for coins and between the sensitivity setting and the discrimination setting, I made sure that I wouldn't be finding a lot of metal bottle caps, pull tabs and foil. The picture at the top of this post is my haul for about an hour's work yesterday afternoon. A quarter, a dime, a nickle and 5 pennies...all pretty new and all were found about 2-3 inches down in the dirt.

The detector will tell you pretty close, where the coin is, but then you have to find it in the dirt. To do this I use two other pieces of equipment. A pinpointer and a digging tool. I went through several regular garden trowels before I got smart and bought something designed especially for metal detecting.....That's the ugly, dangerous looking thing in the picture above. It will slice and dice. It won't bend or break under the worst conditions and it was absolutely worth the price.

The pinpointer is the black object above the digging tool. It's like a mini, short range metal detector. Sometimes it's not very easy to spot a coin buried in 3-4 inches of dirt. I started wearing reading glasses a long time ago and I can tell you that it's not easy to spot a copper penny in brown dirt. The pinpointer makes it easy. You can set the sensitivity level of this tool so that when you ge
t within a half an inch of a metal object it will vibrate and make a noise. So, you locate the coin with the big metal detector, dig a hole with the digging tool and then move the pinpointer around in the soil in the hole.

I've found some interesting things including an old early 1900's cigarette lighter, ox shoes at an old mine, an old Henry rifle cartridge that is at least 100 years old.

The Bride used to give me this condescending look whenever I talked ab
out metal detecting. Just another "guy thing" waste of time, was what I read in her eyes. That all changed one day about two years ago when I came home with the ring pictured below. I found it in an older park in an older part of town. I was not even all the way underground. I took it to a jeweler and asked about it and was offered $100 on the spot. I suspect it's worth a bit more...I decided that I would keep it and use it to "un-condescend" The Bride.

Now that the weather is starting to turn nice, I intend to put a lot more time into this hobby.

Thanks for visiting.


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