Friday, May 29, 2009

Passport In Time Project

PITlogo Last year I was introduced to the Forest Service volunteer program called Passport in Time. In late September, Guitar and I spent 5 days helping in an archaeological survey of very primitive country in Southeast Colorado. I had a blast! Read about that trip here. After that experience I was determined to do more of that sort of thing this year.

The Forest Service announces on the site linked above, projects that are open to volunteers and if you are interested you can apply to participate online. Most of the projects call for 5-10 volunteers. So far this year I have volunteered for 10 different projects and so far I have been notified that I was not picked on three of the projects I applied for. One of the Forest Service employees I spoke to told me that these projects have suddenly become very popular. So popular in fact that most projects are getting 50-60 applications for 5-10 openings! What I thought would be a relatively sure thing all of a sudden became much more tenuous.

Yesterday I broke my losing streak and was notified that I had been accepted for a project in late June. Yahoooooo! I am really excited. This will be another archaeological survey in an area that they already know was heavily used by both prehistoric and historic people. The official notice of the project explains it way better than I could so here it is.


Pole Gulch, Buffalo Peaks

June 22-26, 2009

Must commit to full session

Pole Gulch is nestled above Pole Creek in the east foothills of Buffalo Peaks in central Colorado. From previous investigations, we know the regional area contains a high density of significant prehistoric and historic sites and artifacts. These sites may represent a range of 7000 B.C. to A.D. 1870. PIT volunteers will assist Forest Service staff with a continuing systematic survey of the Pole Gulch area to establish record of its historic and prehistoric archaeological resources. We expect to find numerous prehistoric camp sites containing flaked and ground stone tools, and may even find evidence of once culturally sacred trees. Ultimately, this work will help us to prepare a National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) district nomination.

There is no doubt that volunteers will enjoy the project's scenery. Pole Creek is located at an elevation of 9,500 ft. with rolling terrain and moderate slopes. The area is an ideal location to enjoy nature, wildflowers, and the Colorado High Country in early summer. We encourage experienced archeological surveyors as well as interested neophytes to apply. We will have a group "ice breaker" dinner on Sunday June 21, 2009, and there will be many other fun diversions during the week.

Number of openings: 8

Special skills: Previous experience with archaeological survey and/or prehistoric and historic artifact identification helpful, but not required

Minimum age: 18 years old

Facilities: The FS will provide several camping spaces at Buffalo Springs Campground to be shared by project participants; pit/chemical toilets, water; volunteers responsible for personal camping equipment and food; Fairplay and Buena Vista are full-service communities with hotels/motels, restaurants, and a full range of other amenities; FS will provide transportation to the project area from Fairplay and Buffalo Springs Campground

Nearest towns: Fairplay, 15 miles; Buena Vista, 23 miles; Breckenridge, 38 miles


Hurry up June!!!!

Thanks for visiting.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Moab Area Pictures

No words, just pictures…..























Thanks for visiting.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

4 Wheelin’ And Other Moab Stuff

moab8 Friday was the day I chose to participate in the 4 wheeling activities. The day was cool with intermittent light rain and it made for an interesting trip. A little moisture with the sand makes Moab’s famous slick rock even slicker. We had 6 vehicles in the group on Friday and everyone made it back safe and sound. I rode with Guitar in his Jeep Rubicon. It’s amazing what these wheeled vehicles can do but while I enjoy riding along I don’t think I have the skill….or money, to do this on a regular basis.moab7 The trail we took this day was called Green Day and if you click the link you can watch a YouTube video of some other folks doing the trail.

We were through with the trail at about 2:30 pm and the rest of the group decided to head for another trail on the other side of Moab. I got Guitar to drop me off at the RV and I managed to get in a little afternoon nap. Life couldn’t be much better.

Saturday The Bride and I took Ladder Lady to Dead Horse Point State Park and Canyon Lands National Park for sight seeing in the morning and then in the afternoon we visited the Moab Arts Fest that was being held in the city parkLL1. As you can see from the picture to the right, light rain continued to bother us. I’ve been doing this Moab trip for about 6 years now and this is the first year that it has rained. Rain or not, I took a ton of pictures…almost 500 over the entire trip. In the next post I’ll show you some of the better one’s.

I’ve always enjoyed the Arts Fest. It has a good mix of vendors and the live music is usually pretty good too. The Bride and Ladder Lady definitely had fun and managed to contribute a bit to the local economy. While we were doing our thing, the rest of the group was on another 4 wheel trail. This time they weren't as lucky and several vehicles broke down and had to be towed out.

Oh, one other thing of interest happened on Friday. After I took my nap, I heard a pretty good size bus drive by and I got up to see what it was. It was the German Rotel Tour Bus parking at the campground for the night. I saw this thing on my Mesa Verde trip last year but it was going in the opposite direction and I didn’t get a good look at it. You have to look at the link and read all about this rather Spartan way of touring. I imagine that after a tour on this thing you are either very friendly with the other participants or they are mortal enemies!moab12

The drive back on Sunday was OK until we hit Idaho Springs, CO about 50 miles from home. Then the bottom fell out of the sky and it rained, hailed, thundered and lighteninged harder than I think I’ve ever seen it do! Top speed the rest of the way home was 35 mph max and most of the time even slower. Visibility was very poor and it rained so hard that standing water became a problem. About 4 miles from home I passed a bad accident caused by the conditions that involved 4 or 5 vehicles. I was one happy camper when I got to the house in one piece.

That aside it was a wonderful trip and I was glad to be able to show Ladder Lady something she had never seen before. In a day or so I’ll post some more pictures.

Thanks for visiting

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Moab Memorial Day

dive Well actually that’s not correct we left Moab on Sunday but we did spend most of the holiday weekend in the Moab area. What a great trip! The weather was not the best but if you try you can make a good thing out of a mediocre situation and that’s what we did.

On Tuesday morning I left in the RV with a destination of Dead Horse State Park, about 40 miles outside of Moab. I had visited this park before but never camped there. The trip was wonderfully uneventful with the RV performing flawlessly…and when you have an older RV that is always a bonus. Too Tall and K were several hours behind me so when I arrived at about 4 pm I just “deflated”. When Too Tall and K arrived we decided to visit the overlook at sunset. That’s where the picture above comes from. If you want to experience the quintessential SouthWest view, this is where you need to come.moab11

The next morning Too Tall and I made a sunrise visit to Mesa Arch. This is probably one of the most photographed things in the US if not the world…and true to form, by the time we got there, there were about 6 other photographers who had staked out positions to see the arch glow in the morning sunlight. I’ll not have the contest winning photo, but I will have memories of the experience.long down2

Next was a night in Arches National Park camping ground. This also drips with the best of American beauty.  It was hot that day and we pretty much stayed in the shade until evening when The Bride and Ladder Lady arrived. They were staying at a motel in Moab, about 35 miles away so the celebration of  our togetherness had to be “tempered” due to the long drive back.

The rest of the week was a blur, a rapid movement of activity that I tried to keep up with photographically, we did 4 wheeling and sightseeing and other stuff that I’ll tell you about in the next post.

Life is good……

More tomorrow.Dead Horse Eve


Thanks for visiting.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Indian Market & Powwow

 powwow2 Yesterday was the day that Guitar and I volunteered to work at the Tesoro Foundation Indian Market & Powwow. This will be the third year that I have volunteered for this event and I enjoyed myself more this time than at any of the other times.Pahponee vase

My assignment for this event was “Artist Ambassador” which as I mentioned in a previous post is a fancy name for a “gofer”. It was however, a blast. I spent four hours walking among the artist booths, talking with the artists and helping them in any way I could. This is a juried show and the artists represented all sorts of talents. Jewelry was probably the most prominent talent but there was also pottery, painting, leather work and a lot more. The picture to the left is the artist Pahponee and her first place winning vase/urn. She really had some nice ceramic ware and seemed to be selling quite a number of items.

venus brightstar Another artist, Venus Brightstar was selling her leather creations which the ladies seemed to love. She had a second place ribbon for the item you see in the picture. I asked her if she did “guy” stuff and she said she did but had sold everything at her last show. When I told her I might be interested in a vest, she took my name and address and promised to send me some pictures of what she could do. That should be interesting. I told her not garish but a bit understated….? We’ll see.

At 1 pm they had the opening ceremony for the powwow portion of the event. There were about 75 Native American dancers and  they all made a grand entrance which was pretty impressive. I’m sure Native Americans of 100 years ago did not have costumes with all the brilliant colors I saw yesterday but I guess even Native American costumes have to keep up with “fashion”. Here are some pictures of the dancers…young and old.dance2 dance5dance1

dance4dance3 I brought the RV to the house this morning and am beginning to pack it for our trip to Moab. I have got the proverbial “hitch itch” and the sooner I can get on the road, the better. It seems the weather will be pretty warm there, high 80’s with a chance of thunder showers every day but I’m oh, so ready regardless of what the weather is.

In just a little while we’ll be leaving for the airport to pick up Ladder Lady. I know The Bride is anxious to see her Mom. She’s excited that she will be able to show her a part of the country she has never seen before.

This will probably be my last post for a number of days. Thursday I’ll be in a campground with WiFi but I’m guessing I won’t get a chance to do a post until I get back.

Thanks for visiting.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Devil’s Head Again and Aspen Graffiti

john1 Seems like I just did a post about Devil’s Head?…I did, but Guitar wanted to do the hike too and couldn’t make it last Friday, so he and I did it yesterday. The weather was scheduled to be hot on the plains, almost to 90 degrees, but the weather on the trail was at least 20 degrees cooler. A wonderful day for a hike. We started at about 10:30 am and didn’t see another soul until we were almost at the top. After showing him the fire tower at the summit we ate lunch and took our time coming down.john2

On our way down we passed a group of one young woman and about 15 young men. All were dressed in uniform tee shirts and trail pants. They all looked like they were walking around the block….not even breathing hard. When we got to the bottom of the trail we saw a number of Forest Service vehicles and deduced that they were a team of Forest Service fire fighters going up to tour the fire lookout.

This trail winds through an aspen grove at the beginning and I didn’t really pay much attention to it on my hike on last Friday. This trip we spent some time looking at the aspen graffiti carved into the trunks. I wrote a post about aspen graffiti last year and in that post the earliest date I saw was 1965. Since the lifespan of an aspen tree is only 30-40 years that’s pretty good.

aspen I was amazed to find a dates of 1932 and 1936, both on the same tree, in the grove of aspens at Devil’s Head! If this was not a hoax it means that this tree is at least 77 years old! Just amazing!

Saturday both Guitar and I are volunteering at the Tesoro Foundation’s Indian Market and Powwow. This year I will be an “Artist Ambassador”. That’s a fancy name for a gopher for the artists. I will help them in any way they need….carrying merchandise to the cars of customers, watching their booths while they take a break or that sort of thing. I volunteered at this same function last year and had fun doing it so I’m looking forward to this years event.

I’ve also been preparing for next weeks trip to Moab. Yesterday I made a meat loaf and froze it to take along. Today I made a big batch of 5 bean salad for the same purpose. If things go right, tomorrow I’ll make a batch of macaroni salad as well. There will be seven of us in our group, The Circle = 6 and Ladder Lady makes seven, so I’m pretty sure all of it will get eaten.pasqueflower

I’ll leave you with one last picture. On our way to the trailhead we spotted a group of Pasqueflowers in bloom.

Thanks for visiting.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Fishing at Tarryall and Devil’s Head Hike

Tarryall Campsite Wednesday I decided to head to the mountains and see if the snow was gone around Tarryall Reservoir. Just in case it was I brought my fishing rods and my belly boat. I left at about 9 am and was at the reservoir by 10:15. All of the snow in the South Park area where the reservoir is, was clear of snow and things are greening up nicely.

It was a gorgeous day but a bit windy so I didn’t even think about using the belly boat. Instead I fished from shore using my ultralite spinning rod and a trusty #1 Mepps lure. The reservoir is stocked with rainbow and Snake River cutthroat trout and the limit is four fish per day. I had my limit within an hour so for the rest of the day I explored the Forest Service roads around the reservoir. I found a lot of good camping areas but many would be inaccessible in my RV because the roads were pretty rough. The Picture above is of one of the campsites I found. Talk about a great view!! I headed home about 2 pm pretty satisfied with myself. Mountain Vista

The weather cooled down a bit on Friday with temps in the upper 60’s. Perfect hiking weather so I headed for a very popular hike about 30 miles from home. Devil’s Head Trail leads to the last manned fire tower in Colorado. Friday was the first day the trail was open after the winter season. I didn’t know that when I left but as I made the last turn down the Forest Service road, the ranger was just removing the barricade and the “Closed” sign. I would have been a mad guy if I drove all that way to find the road closed!

The road into the trailhead was closed though and I had to park about a half mile from the start of the trail. That made the hike 4 miles round trip with an elevation gain of 1300 feet. That is a pretty steep climb and coming down isn’t easy either but the scenery is worth the effort.devils head

Once at the summit of the trail you can then climb the ladder up to the fire tower itself. That’s another 143 steps pretty much straight up. The fire tower itself had not yet opened for the season but I was able to walk around the outside and see the 360 degree panorama. A beautiful, beautiful sight and icing on the cake for the hike.devils head2

I spent about an hour at the tower, had a leisurely lunch and took a bunch of pictures before heading back down.

When I was hiking up and while at the tower I only saw two other people but by the time I started down, I passed more and more people on the way up. My timing this day was great! I was however one tired puppy by the time I got back to the car and this morning my calf muscles are complaining loudly! The going down part used muscles that I obviously need to exercise more.Pikes Peak in May

Next week I’ll begin preparations for our trip to Moab. Have I mentioned that? The Ladder Lady is coming in for a visit and The Bride and I are taking her to Moab with the rest of The Circle for our annual trip. I’ll drive my RV on Tuesday and Ladder Lady and The Bride will follow on Wednesday in a car. This will be a trip a great one so stay tuned.

Thanks for visiting.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

An Afternoon Hike

Roxborough Afternoon The cloudy weather of the past week is finally beginning to break and I wanted to get out and do a hike. I recently purchased a new pair of hiking boots and I was looking for an opportunity to break them in before the summer gets here. I also wanted to do some photography work so I headed to Roxborough State Park, about 10 miles from home.

rox4 It’s a great place to hike, and watch the wildlife. Wildlife includes numerous birds, mule deer, foxes, coyotes, mountain lion……….and black bears. Boy, did I get my chance at both wildlife viewing and photography! About 3/4 of the way around the trail I was hiking, I spotted the bear in the picture to the left. It walked out of the bushes on the right of the trail. The wind was blowing directly in his face so he immediately picked up my scent and turned to inspect me….less than 100 yards away. I’m not sure whether it was a boar or a sow but I didn’t see any cubs. That was actually my biggest worry, that there would be cubs around somewhere because a mother bear with cubs can be very unpredictable and aggressive. Fortunately this bear was alone and after giving me the good once over it turned and continued on it’s way.rox2

After that adrenaline rush I just kept smiling to myself. In over 13 years of hiking here I’ve only seen a bear once before and that was at a considerable distance. This was a great encounter. We both, the bear and I, got something interesting to look at and we both got a nice walk!

I continued the hike and saw some mule deer and was able to get a couple of good landscape shots that made respectable HDR photo’s, if I do say so myself.

Today will be gorgeous, 80’s and clear so I’m headed to the mountains with my fishing rod and camera. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to fish but I want to be prepared just in case.Roxborough Early Spring





Thanks for visiting.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

A Lazy Man’s Bird Watching

heron5 After spending considerable effort and time to view Lesser Prairie Chickens last week, I took the easy way out this weekend. As I was working on a blog post on Saturday The Bride hollered to me “His Self! Look out the back window!”

Great Blue Herons include Colorado as their range but they’ve never been spotted in the neighborhood before?heron2

heron1  heron4


Thanks for visiting.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Amache, Lamar, Hicklin Springs, Vogel Canyon & Home

amache1 It was only 7:30 am when I got back to the RV so that left the whole day for more adventure. I had a number of things on my list but the first was only a couple of miles away, Amache Relocation Camp. Amache was one of the infamous Japanese American Internment Camps from World War II. Between 1942 and 1945 over 7000 citizens of the United States were kept prisoner at this place. It was a sad chapter in our history but it is our history and I wanted to visit this place.amache2

When I left the Dorenkamp’s ranch it was overcast, drizzly and cold. Somber weather for a somber tour. Shortly after the Japanese surrendered in WW II, the people held in the camps were released and the camps were razed. As a result there is really not much to see at Amache except the foundations of the old buildings and some informational signs that were erected by the town of Granada, CO which now owns the site.

It was interesting to try to imagine that time with a multitude of buildings and 7,000 people carrying on with life in this desolate place. One thing that struck me was the trees. This is high prairie and trees are not native to the area. If you look at pictures of the camp you can see how open the terrain was…but you can also see young trees that were planted by the internees. Those same trees now are grown and many are in the process of dying, much like the former occupants of the camp. After spending about an hour looking around I headed to Lamar, CO. Enough somberness for this day. I needed to lighten things up a bit.lamar2

Lamar, CO is home to one of 12 Madonna of the Trail statues all across the United States. An interesting bit of history and just the kind of history I like to seek out. But wait! There’s also some kitsch in Lamar, Colorado and I haven’t had a dose of kitsch in a while.lamar3

A building that claims to be the oldest on the planet? In Lamar, Colorado? Yup. This building is constructed of petrified wood and has even made the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not books. It is kitsch with a capital K. The  but now serves as an office for the car dealership next store. I also found a wonderful old art deco movie theater in Lamar….appropriately named the “Lamar”. Unlike a lot of theaters I come across, this one seems to be thriving. Not surprising I suppose when you consider that this is a small town VERY far from the next larger town.

Time to move on to my next adventure, Hicklin Springs. I was a little concerned at the directions I got while visiting Bent’s Fort. Wherever the site was it was way out in the sticks. If the directions weren’t accurate I would have blown a lot of time. While at the Dorenkamp’s ranch I asked if they knew anything about the site. They said they didn’t but they gave me the name of a gentleman who works for the Corps of Engineers at John Martin Reservoir and said that if anyone knew about it he would.

Right around lunchtime I pulled in to the COE office and asked for this gentleman. I was in luck, he was there and he was a fountain of information about the place. He even gave me a map to the site and a copy of an article he wrote about the site…..what a stroke of luck!rock3

After about 20 minutes of great conversation I headed out with his map in hand. It was only about 10 miles from his office so I was there, well almost there in about a half hour. I was told that the road down into the site could be difficult at times and I didn’t want to chance driving down the trail in my RV. That left me with a 1.3 mile hike in each direction. No problemo, I can do that. As I walked into the site, this strange sensation came over me that the area looked familiar. If finally dawned on me that Guitar and I had driven down this trail in my Expedition about a year and a half ago, while camping at John Martin State Park! At the time we knew nothing about the petroglyphs and were just “exploring”.rock1

The walk in was pleasant, it was overcast and cool but conditions were dry. This site was really interesting to me. I have seen a lot of ancient petroglyphs in the last few years. Most of the time you will find modern graffiti in the same area and a lot of times the ancient images are defaced by the more modern graffiti. This site contained both but the level of defacement was a lot less than other sites I have seen. Incredibly at this site I found the historic graffiti even more interesting that the petroglyphs! When I say historic graffiti I mean anything that European people left behind. In this part of the country that can be dated back to the late 1700’s or early 1800’s.rock2

It looked to me that in historic times, ranchers or sheepherders spend considerable time in the area. There was a lot of intricate drawings on the rock that I had never seen anywhere else. Two especially intrigued me. The first was a very detailed drawing of an old sailing ship with the name Sea Queenee etched below it. The other was a drawing of a priest or friar. Next to the image was engraved the name Jesus Oglin. It took someone a very long time to complete either one of these petroglyphs.

I was glad it was cool and overcast because a lot of the area looked very “snakey” and I was told to be on the lookout for rattlesnakes if I climbed around the area. I spent over an hour looking around before heading back to the RV.

Once back at the rig I decided to head for Vogel Canyon and spend the night. This is a small picnic area maintained by the BLM. Guitar and I had been there a couple of years ago so I knew it was a good…and free place to spend the night. When I arrived there were two other cars in the parking lot and by 5pm….and for the rest of the night I was the only person around.

Friday morning it was time to head home. The weather was overcast and drizzly so I didn’t feel too bad about ending what had been a very interesting two days. I arrived back in the Denver area a little after 2pm. It was really good to get on the road again. I saw a lot of interesting sights and by Friday evening I was thinking about my next trip. Stay tuned and I’ll tell you about that.

Thanks for visiting.


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