Friday, September 26, 2008

Time for Adventure Time

There hasn't been a whole lot of blogging interest going on this past week. I have been preparing my gear for next weeks trip to Picture Canyon. The picture at the top of this post is a Google Earth snapshot of the area from 18,000 feet.

Now at 18,000 feet you can see a lot of country. Look at this picture and note the lack of...of...of anything. Only one structure is visible. That looks like a ranch barn in the upper left hand corner of the picture. The few roads/trails you can see are all dirt. Not a paved road to be seen. The thin yellow line at the very bottom of the picture is the Oklahoma panhandle border. Readers, this is the definition of, the representation of, "the sticks".

This afternoon Guitar and I will probably go get his camper from the storage lot and begin to load the gear. Tomorrow morning The Bride and I are going to spend a little time at the Tesoro Foundation's, Spanish Market and Mountain Man Rendezvous. This is a fun event with a lot of Spanish folk dancing, mountain man exhibits and contests and a juried show of Spanish Colonial artists.

After a couple of hours at this event I'll probably link up with Guitar again to finish preparations for Sundays trip down to Picture Canyon.

Last night The Bride and I were able to get together with Too Tall - Two Timing and K and a local restaurant called Rodney's. We all had a good time trading news and enjoying the food. Several of us chose the lobster enchiladas. They were very good and very spicy.

While we were dining K mentioned that in my last post, I was very general about where I learned about the Passport in Time program and it was actually she, that brought it to my attention. That is very true and I want everyone to know the truth. I took it from the way she reminded me of this that she would like a little "publicity" on this blog. Being the very good friend that I am I think I will oblige her. It will have to wait however until after my adventure next week.

Thanks for visiting.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Passport In Time Adventure

This past spring I became acquainted with an opportunity to do exciting volunteer work with the U. S. Forest Service. The program is called Passport In Time and it allows everyday people to work alongside professional Forest Service archaeologists doing really cool stuff such as "archaeological survey and excavation, rock art restoration, survey, archival research, historic structure restoration, oral history gathering, and analysis and curation of artifacts".

Can you see me salivating as you read this? If you can't just believe me that when I saw this opportunity I did indeed slobber all over my computer screen. These volunteer opportunities are available all over the United States but they are particularly numerous in Colorado.

After looking at all the available projects I decided to apply for one in far southeast Colorado, not far from the Kansas and Oklahoma borders. The project is scheduled to run from September 28th until October 3rd.

Much to my delight I was picked to participate. To make things even better, Guitar applied as well and was selected to participate also.

There will be between 8-10 volunteers working with a Forest Service archaeologist doing a surface inventory of historic and pre-historic sites. We will also evaluate the condition of currently known sites that include Indian rock art sites.

Our base of operations will be a very remote site thirty-five miles from the nearest town at the entrance to Picture Canyon. There will be no facilities whatsoever so everything we need in terms of shelter, water and other staples we will have to bring with us. The one exception is food. The Forest Service has arranged for a cook to prepare meals. We will have to split the cost of the food itself but the cook will do all the hard work.

Guitar and I plan to use his truck camper and will leave the Denver area early Sunday morning (next week) to travel down there.

I am so excited, I'm like a little kid getting ready to go on his first camping trip. This hits three or four of my top interests so I'm in curiosity overload!

So stay tuned to see how this thing turns out.

I may even get in a mini adventure sometime this weekend but you'll have to wait and see if this one pans out.

Thanks for visiting.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Here Fishy, Fishy

I slipped off to Tarryall Reservoir yesterday for a day of fishing. The weather was gorgeous and I had an overwhelming desire to use my float tube. As you can see from the picture above it was a perfect day to be that close to the water.

An interesting occurrence....the very same week that I bought my float tube, my new son-in-law, CaJon got one as a present from his wife, CaJenn.

Then today when I returned from my trip I had an email from CaJenn with pictures of their weekend fishing trip to a small lake in the California mountains. I think their fish are a lot prettier than mine. The fisherpersons have got the edge over me on looks too!

Here's their catch......

Thanks for visiting.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Mesa Verde, Black Canyon of the Gunnison and The Ladder Lady

I arrived back home late yesterday afternoon from a four day trip to Mesa Verde with The Bride and The Bride's mother. It was a great trip and spanned 863 miles of Colorado's best scenery.

We left as early Monday morning as I could manage with two women and a car full of luggage that would have sufficed for a trip of 3 weeks rather than four days. Our goal was to reach Mesa Verde that afternoon. A 380 mile trip
all on two lane roads. That's a lot of miles under those conditions but it was a pleasant and scenic day. We travelled from the Denver area down through Buena Vista, Salida, Pagosa Springs, Durango and into the Mesa Verde National Park. The visitor's center in the park is about 25 miles from the nearest town lodging so we had made reservations at the lodge in the park itself. That was a wise choice and gave us the maximum amount of time to explore the park.

The lodge itself was nothing special except for the views. The buildings are situated on a high mesa and offered unobstructed views for at least a hundred miles. We could clearly see areas in New Mexico from our balcony. After a long days drive we three sat on the balcony with a cocktail and reveled in the extraordinary view! The lodge also had a full service restaurant so it wasn't necessary to leave the park for any reason if you didn't want to. The food too was nothing special but it was priced fairly. I had suspicioned that because we were "captive" customers the pricing would be outrageous. My hat off to whoever decided not to overprice the food.

Tuesday morning we took a guided four hour tour o
f the park. A park ranger accompanied us on the bus and provided commentary on the different sites. The tour included several mesa top pit house structures but the highlight of the tour was the Cliff Palace site shown in the picture at the top of the post. To access this site we had to descend from the mesa top down a very narrow and steep trail. After the tour the only way out of the site was another narrow and steep trail that had the additional feature of 3 ladders each about 8 feet tall that had to be climbed.

This is where the "Ladder Lady" part of the post title comes in. The ladders weren't an issue for The Bride or myself but we were concerned that it might be pretty difficult for The Bride's mother. In addition to being 72 years old she lives on the east coast so is not used to the altitude. To make a long story short, she did just fine and I decided that from now on her moniker on this blog will be "Ladder Lady".

Wednesday morning we headed out with the goal of spending the night in Gunnison, CO after driving the "Million Dollar Highway" into Ouray, Co and a visit to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison. The weather started out chilly and rainy but by the time we got to Molas Pass we ran into snow! Fortunately it was still too warm for it to accumulate but the Ladder Lady was not a happy camper.

She became much more of a happy camper when we reached Ouray and stopped for lunch, a little sight seeing and some shopping. This is the first time I have been to Ouray since the historic old Beaumont Hotel has been reopened after a complete restoration. What a great old building! A fantastic restoration that literally makes you gasp when you see the lobby. The Bride and I have added this to our list of "must stay" hotels in the future.

After lunch and shopping we were headed for the Black Canyon of the Gunnison
. I had been there last year with my brother #4, and was really impressed with this little known National Park. I wanted Ladder Lady to see it. The weather cooperated by clearing off just long enough for us to do a quick tour and stop at several overlooks. After a couple of stops the clouds moved back in and we hightailed it to Gunnison for the night's stop.

Thursday morning we reluctantly headed back towards the Denver area, but by the scenic route down the Arkansas River Canyon into Canon City, Co.

I have been through Canon City a number of times but I confess that I always just "passed through" on the main highway. This time we detoured through the old downtown area and were pleasantly surprised by the shops and restaurants in the area. This will also be another area to explore more fully in the future.

We arrived back home in late afternoon, tired but with the warm glow of a great trip. I think we have Ladder Lady convinced that she should come with us on another trip to the Moab, UT area to see the wonders in that area. Ladder Lady leaves tomorrow afternoon for her flight back to the east coast.

Thanks for visiting...and here are a few more pictures.

Friday, September 5, 2008


It's hard to believe that two nights in the mountains can decompress me so much but it did. I've had that "yearning" ever since I returned from The Colonel's funeral but this was my first opportunity to really be somewhere out of the mainstream of normal everyday life.

If you've followed the blog you will understand that I felt a need to feel the silence, the beauty, the loneliness, the spirit, of the high country. Two nights, three days was all I could squeeze in. Funny how the theme of "3 days, two nights" keeps developing? Maybe this is just a convenient number. Like a loaf, or a dozen, or a chapter. The smallest unit available for an adventure? However you measure it, it was an adventure to soothe the soul.

Wednesday morning I set out in the RV and with the new float tube (a sophisticated term for a bellyboat) for Clear Creek Reservoir, a medium sized lake nestled in the Collegiate Peaks between Buena Vista and Leadville, Colorado. The weather was great, the ride was peaceful and I arrived at my initial destination shortly after noon. As I drove up to the lake it became clear that there would be no fishing that day....Wind! It was blowing pretty hard so I decided to pitch camp and veg out. I read a little, did a little gold panning in the river, and sat and stared at the mountains for a very long time. I still had two days.

Thursday morning was a glorious, early fall, mountain morning. It was cold as hell (22F) till the sun peeked over the mountain and then it warmed up rapidly. I broke camp and drove down to the lake and made ready for fishing in the float tube.

What a great adventure! A float tube is
like a...a...I don't know how to describe it. You wear fishing waders to keep dry and sit on a fancy inner tube about 4" above the water. Fins on the feet propel you. It's very comfortable and pretty maneuverable as long as there is not a strong wind. You are really "up close and personal" with the water and if you're lucky, the fish.

I was lucky. In the space of about 3 hours I had caught 6-8 nice rainbow trout. The water was crystal clear so I could see the fish all the while I was bringing it to the tube. After catching them I released them all. I wasn't in it for the meat this time, I was in it for the soul.

I'm really sorry to report that the old, not to worry about it if it gets wet, camera I took with me on the water to record the event didn't work. I thought I had the best of all the "feet" shots to date. Picture this....a glassy surfaced mountain lake with a gigantic mountain peak in the background. In the foreground, my flippers sticking out of the water, a fishing rod and a beautiful freshly caught rainbow trout. That was the picture I thought I had.....I guess I'll have to go back soon with a camera that works! After a couple of hours, the wind came up and I headed for shore, lunch and to plan the next move.

The next move was to go a little further north towards Leadville and explore an area called Half Moon Creek. I was looking for places to boondock in the future and I found them there in abundance. The picture to the right is the one I chose for this night. The mountain in the background is Mt. Elbert. Mt. Elbert is the highest peak in the North American Rocky Mountains at 14,440 feet above sea level. Talk about exhale!

I spent a very pleasant afternoon and evening in the shadow of this mountain and by Friday morning early I needed to start back to home. This was not the normal feelin' bad cause it's all over trip back home though because there was more adventure waiting at home.

Guitar had arranged for he and I and our ladies to attend a concert by Jimmy LaFave. I never had heard of him before but that's nothing new. Guitar is a walking Wikipedia when it comes to music. I really didn't have high expectations and that was a good thing. It was a good thing because that made the sheer pleasure of the evening even more pronounced. I can't believe we saw/heard that caliber of talent for $20 a head. The concert was sponsored by Swallow Hill, another organization I knew nothing about but will definitely get to know better. The venue was an old church with a stage in front where the alter once stood. Seating was fold up metal chairs, and ours were center stage, three rows back.

Exhale, indeed! An absolutely mind and body relaxing few still not over.

In a couple of hours we are going to the airport to pick up The Bride's mother, Sylvia. Monday morning we are headed to Mesa Verde National Park for two days and then one more day somewhere between there and here on the way back. That night has not yet been planned so we are free to wander where ever we like.

While at the park we will stay at the Far View Lodge inside the park itself. This is something I've wanted to do for years and I'm really excited about the trip!

I believe that the lodge has wifi so stay tuned for a report on the next adventure!

Thanks for visiting


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