Monday, September 28, 2009

Cimmaron Canyon PIT

cim1I’m finally back from the archaeological survey project in the Comanche National Grasslands. It was a good time but the weather really did a number on us for a couple of days. I arrived at the Carrizo Creek picnic area on Sunday afternoon and it was hot…in the 80’s with little wind. I slept that night with all the windows in the RV open and even took blankets off the bed. cim12

On Monday all the windows were closed and blankets were back on the bed! Temps dropped into the 40’s with rain and strong winds. We actually tried to do some surveying in the rain but conditions were miserable. We located one site and flagged 10 or 15 artifacts. We finally gave up and went back to camp. It was so windy and cold that by the time our cook, Tina, put the hot food out, it was cold. We ate under a picnic shelter but the wind blew rain everywhere. It was just miserable.

Tuesday, the rain became sporadic but it was still windy and cold. We went back to the site we tried to record on Monday and ended up flagging 50 or more artifacts. It wasn’t surprising to me that we could find more stuff when it wasn’t raining. Wednesday was a little better and we actually got to see the sun some of the time.cim2

By Thursday the temperature warmed up,  the winds died down and it was perfect weather for hiking and discovering.

Discover we did. On Thursday we found 4 rock shelters that had stone flakes and tools in them. We also discovered 6 panels of rock art on a couple of boulders at the base of a cliff. This was somewhat unusual because most of the time rock art is found higher up on the canyon walls. I also discovered an electronic wildlife tracking collar and the skull of a Bighorn Sheep. cim3cim4





Friday morning we surveyed close to our campground and found a large site that had over 300 artifacts. It took most of the morning to flag and record all of the items. Only a few of the items were collected and most of the stuff was left right where we found it.cim14 cim13






Another “fun” thing we had to watch out for was the tarantulas. That’s right the big hairy spiders. It seems as if this is the mating season for them and they were unusually active during the day. At one spot we put our packs down and when we retrieved them later on we discovered a tarantula had crawled under one of them.cim9

All in all it was a great week and I got to see some territory that most people will never see. I still haven’t found my “holy grail”, a complete stone point so I guess I’ll just have to sign up for more of these next summer. This was the last of the PITs for this year so I need to get busy and find some other activity to pursue this winter.

Thanks for visiting.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Old Spanish Trail, Finale

old16 On Thursday morning it was decided that since we weren’t finding much of importance in the root cellar we should stop excavating and backfill the two holes. Archaeologists always fill in the holes they dig and it brought back memories of the Army…dig a hole, fill a hole. The good news was that after I filled in the holes my next project was to take my metal detector and search for signs of the Old Spanish Trail that went through this area. This search was done about 12 miles from the stage stop at the base of Cochetopa Pass.

old14 It was a fantastic two days. The weather was perfect, blue skies, temps in the high 60’s, aspen leaves turning gold, life is good!

Part of the search was in an aspen grove (pictured left). Most of what was uncovered here was more modern stuff, cans and late model rifle cartridges, but we did find some old (1880’s) rifle cartridges and old horse shoes. We also found some aspen graffiti the oldest of which was 1934. One piece of graffiti, dated 1964 stated that Don Fricklin was here on a cattle drive. It was kind of surreal…finding tangible evidence of people that walked down this trail between 1880 and today. old15

Not far from where the picture above was taken we came upon a small ghost town of four or five tumbled down log cabins. This was a mining community of some type because we could see the prospect holes on the hills surrounding the cabins. As much as we wanted to investigate this place, we had to move on. This was not our task for this trip.

Down the mountain from the mining camp old11the terrain opened up and you could see where wagons had climbed the next hill. The trail had been used for a long while judging from the items we discovered, old horse shoes, a suspender stay, early spent cartridges, glass fragments and the trigger of an old revolver.

The two days passed too quickly. I think this was my favorite part of the project. It was really easy to look around and picture pioneers travelling through the area in covered wagons, especially when you held in you hand, an item they held in their hand.

The project closed down at about 2pm on Friday and I drove to Alamosa, CO to spend the night in a KOA campground. Laundry was done and I took a long hot shower. This morning I left Alamosa and headed for Trinidad, CO. Along the way I stopped at Ft. Garland. I have visited this state historical site before but it’s always fun to tour through an authentic cavalry post.old13

I arrived in Trinidad about noon and am camped at the Budget Host Motel and RV Park. Not the nicest campground I’ve ever stayed in but it has electricity, cable TV, a shower and sewer connections. All of my waste tanks are full and the water tank is empty so the first order of business is to dump tanks and fill the fresh water tank.

Tomorrow I will head for Carrizo Canyon where the next PIT project begins. I’ll be out of all contact until next Saturday but check back then because I’ll have some more good stories to tell.

Thanks for visiting.

Old Spanish Trail, Chapter II

old6 The last two days we have continued to excavate the four areas of the old stage station. We haven’t found too much in the area of the root cellar that I’m excavating. The highlights so far are an old hobnail boot sole and a whole whiskey bottle. In the picture above the sole is at the end of the trowel I’m holding.  Unfortunately the bottle broke as we tried to dig it out of the hard soil. We have now excavated two meter square patches to a depth of almost 3 feet and because we’re not finding much we’ll probably stop excavating in that area.

old7 The other areas are yielding a lot more stuff. The other volunteers have found a marble, part of a skeleton key, patent medicine bottles, beads, a toy hammer head and lots of other stuff. The prize find so far is an epaulette from an army uniform. This is the “shoulder board” decoration that was worn on the shoulder of officers and non-commissioned officers. It was found buried in one of the fireplaces and we don’t have a clue how it got there.

The well area is also providing a lot of interesting artifacts including glass bottles, lots of large bones, elk antlers…and at the very bottom, an old pail and the chain that was attached to the pail. The well was excavated to a depth of about 12 feet when the soil started to get pretty mucky and we decided to stop digging there.old9

This is hard work and by the time I get back to the RV I’m pretty tired but tired is a small price to pay for this incredible experience. It’s hard to describe the feeling I had when I looked at that epaulette that probably hadn’t seen sunlight in 130 years or more. I’ve spent a lot of time daydreaming about how it got where we found it. Did someone desert the army and intentionally tried to hide the uniform? Did someone buy the uniform to wear because they needed a coat and cut off the epaulette because it served no practical purpose?

Tomorrow a couple of other volunteers and I are going to explore a portion of the old stage road further up in the mountains. We’re bringing metal detectors and hopefully will uncover some interesting things.old8

I haven’t found out too much more about our cowboy neighbor except that he’s been working in this area for over 35 years. I’m thinking his favorite shirt color is red because as you can see he’s wearing a red shirt in the picture to the right.

Right behind my RV is a clothes line that the cowboy uses to dry his clothes. I couldn’t help but take the picture below for several reasons, one to show you his other red shirt. The other reason ties into my comment in the last post about this place being the heartland of America. Check out his laundry….Red, white and blue. Can you get any more American than that!old0

Thanks for visiting.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Old Spanish Trail Passport In Time Project


Monday afternoon- 5pm

I arrived at the Old Agency Forest Service Work Station on Saturday afternoon after a pleasant five hour drive from the Denver area. This place is called “Old Agency” because it was the first Indian Agency for the original Ute Indian Reservation in Colorado during the 1870’s.  The land is now mostly private ranches and National Forest. The terrain here at the Agency is high prairie with an elevation of about 9100’ above sea level. About eight RVs full of volunteers and Forest Service personnel are using this as a base of operations. The actual project site is about three miles from here.

Yesterday we visited the site and cleared sagebrush off of the area we were going to excavate. The local Forest Service archaeologist believes that the site is an old stage stop for the Barlow and Sanderson Stage Company that operated in the area in the 1870’s. The site consists of what appears to be the main building with two fireplaces, a root cellar, two rock lined wells and a privy. The ground is littered with old tin cans, brown bottle glass, clear glass, aqua glass and some earthen ware shards.old3

It seems as if we’re in a monsoon pattern because every afternoon it clouds up about 1 pm and by 2:30 or 3:00 pm we get rain for about an hour and a half. That makes our days pretty short, which is a welcome change from the last project I worked on. Before and after the daily rain it is absolutely spectacular. It’s cool and the aspens are beginning to turn.

Today we began actual excavation of four test areas. This was an interesting experience for me as I have never done a “dig” before. The excavations consist of 1 meter by one meter squares that are aligned in a true north/south/east/west direction. The dirt is then removed 10 centimeters deep (about 4”) at a time. All the dirt that is removed is put through a 1/4” screen to find any object that are missed when we take the dirt out.old4

Today I worked on the root cellar site. By the time rain chased us off we had removed about a foot of dirt from our meter by meter square plot. The only things of interest we found were old square cut nails, some brown bottle glass (most likely old beer bottles) and several pieces of rib bones that looked like they had been cut….probably I side of venison or beef that had been hung in the root cellar. Once we get to what we think is just about or below the floor level, we’ll start another meter by meter square right next to the one we’re working on now.

Back to the Old Agency site….There is a cowboy that is staying here with the permission of the Forest Service. I’m not sure of all the background but he’s a real life working cowboy and he leaves early each morning with two horses and rounds up cattle in the hills around us. He needs to bring them down before winter sets in….so I’m here at an old Indian Agency and I watch this cowboy come in every evening with his two horses. He takes the saddles off, curries them, feeds them and turns them loose in the corral close by. This is the heartland of America!old5  It’s hard to describe the feeling I have in these surroundings. I feel like I could walk out of my RV tomorrow morning and be magically transported back to the 1870’s.

I’ll try to find out more of the cowboy’s story and get some better pictures…

Thanks for visiting.

Friday, September 11, 2009

RV Blogs

I’ve got time for one more post before I leave on my trip. I thought you might be interested in some of the other blogs I read. This is a list of some of the RV related blogs I follow regularly. I follow plenty more and when I get back from my trip, I’ll do a post about the others. The list below is in no particular order of preference.


Our Odyssey
Nick’s Blog
Old Fat Man Adventures
Wandrin Blog
Artful RV Adventures Ouray
Adventures of Tioga and George
Just Travelin
RV Home Yet
Oasis of my Soul
Geeks on Tour

Stay tuned….I’ll try and check in next Saturday.

Thanks for visiting.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Blogger to Blogger

I began blogging over a year and a half ago. I have really enjoyed the creative aspect of writing posts about what has been going on in my live and having a way that family and friends can keep up with me. Another part of the blogging experience for me, is reading blogs written by others. I have quite a few that I read regularly and a number of these are written by folks that do full time RV-ing. That is they live in their RVs and travel around the country full time. I like to live vicariously through their blogs.

After I posted my last story about possibly getting another RV, I received an email from Lloyd of Wanderin’ Blog fame. I have been reading his blog and following his travels since I started writing my own blog. It just so happened that Lloyd was in the Denver area and he offered to meet with me to discuss fifth wheel trailers or anything else that was of interest to me.

Wow, this was a great opportunity! I jumped at the chance and yesterday afternoon we met at a Starbucks in between where he was staying and my home on the south side of Denver. Lloyd has been full timing for about eight years now, spending the majority of his time in the west and southwest. We spent about two hours chatting about travel, blogging, other bloggers that we both followed and genealogy. I had a great time getting to know Lloyd and hope to cross paths with him again in the future.

I would have visited with Lloyd a lot longer than two hours but yesterday morning when I went to start the dishwasher I discovered that it had given up the ghost…passed on…died…crapped out! Naturally it was full of dirty dishes. I’m scheduled to leave on my next adventure on Saturday morning so I was in a bit of a bind to find a new dishwasher and arrange to have it installed. After leaving Lloyd I headed straight to the local Home Depot. I had instructed The Bride to visit a Home Depot on her lunch hour and pick out a dishwasher she liked. When I got to our local store I call her and got the model number of the dishwasher she wanted. The only hitch is that it will be Tuesday before the new dishwasher is installed.

On the RV front, I’m still searching for a gently used truck so that I can begin the search for a fifth wheel trailer. As I mentioned in my last post, it’s slim pickins’ for quality used diesel trucks right now. I found one in a small town about 20 miles from here that would have worked except for one thing….the former driver was a heavy smoker and the interior reeked of cigarette smoke. The dealer says he is going to have someone come to his lot and treat the inside of the cab with something that is supposed to remove the smell. I’m pretty skeptical but I’ve got nothing to lose. When I return from my trip I’ll go by the dealer’s place of business. If the smell is gone I’ll buy the truck….if not I won’t. In the meantime I’ll be on the lookout for another truck that will fit the bill and if I find one before then I have no obligation to this dealer.

As I mentioned, I’m leaving bright and early Saturday morning for two weeks of Forest Service volunteer projects. I will be out of phone and internet contact for all of that time except possibly Saturday the 19th of September. Next week I’ll be in the Gunnison National Forest, southeast of Gunnison, CO doing an archaeological survey and dig on and 1870’s stage station. Read about it here. This project ends on Friday the 18th and I will drive to the extreme southeast corner of Colorado to participate in another archaeological survey in the Cimarron Canyon area. Here’s the description of this project.

Comanche National Grasslands

Cimarron Canyons Archeological Research Survey 2009

Must commit to full session

Located in the rugged canyon country of southeastern Colorado, the tributaries of the Cimarron River shelter a wide variety of archaeological sites, including prehistoric quartzite quarries and habitation areas, rock art, and 19th and early 20th-century homesteads. PIT volunteers and Forest Service staff will thoroughly explore these canyons to record sites and features. Project tasks will include map reading, artifact identification, basic lithic analysis, photography, site mapping, and botany. Come and explore this little-known corner of Colorado!

Number of openings: 6

Special skills: Must be physically able to hike daily for long distances in rough terrain in highly variable weather conditions; previous experience with mapping, photography, lithic analysis, and/or archaeological survey helpful, but not required

Minimum age: 18 years old

Facilities: Primitive camping at no charge near project area; vault toilet, picnic shelters, no potable water; some space for small campers in camping area; volunteers responsible for own camping equipment, food, and drinking water

Nearest towns: Kim, 25 miles; Springfield, 41 miles

Thanks for visiting.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Considering a New RV


I’ve had my current RV for almost two years now. It had performed well and done everything I thought it would. It’s a smaller RV (twenty five feet bumper to bumper) and it has no slides to make it bigger on the inside. I chose one without slides purposely so that it could get into tight spaces.

After almost two years of use I have discovered that the “smallness” is not the big advantage I thought it would be. Even the more remote places I’ve been with it were places that would accommodate a  larger RV. Because this RV is a Class A, motorhome type, the only means of propulsion is the RV itself. When I get to a campsite and want to go sightseeing or into town, I have to take the whole RV. This is a bigger disadvantage than I originally thought. I have a small scooter that I can carry on the bumper that will provide limited transportation but that doesn’t help when The Bride travels with me or when weather is inclement…..So….

I have been seriously considering upgrading to a new, fifth wheel trailer. The models I have been looking at are small by fifth wheel standards. These buggers can get up to forty feet long but the models I have been looking at are only about twenty six feet long…not too much longer than my present RV. The difference is that in my present RV the first six feet or so are taken up by the passenger compartment. All of the length in a fifth wheel is living space, and the models I’m looking at have two slides to increase the interior space even more.

The bad news is that fifth wheels have to be towed by a truck and a minimum 3/4 ton truck at that. I don’t have a truck right now. I also don’t want to buy a new truck which equipped like I would need, will cost about 40 grand, so I have been searching for a good used 3/4 ton diesel pickup truck.

A couple of years ago this search would have been easy. Today is a different story. Because of the economy, people are hanging on to their vehicles longer. There are way fewer good used vehicles for sale. Add to that, that 3/4 ton diesel trucks are kind of a specialty vehicle anyway, and it gets really hard to find a decent, reasonably priced one. Top that off with the fact that one of the three major manufacturers of diesel pickup trucks has a known major flaw with their engines. That reduces the manufacturers that I would consider buying a vehicle from to two, and now the supply is meager indeed.

I’ve been searching for a couple of weeks now and haven’t been able to find anything in good shape at a fair value. I’m not only searching private sales but also dealer sales within about a 500 mile radius of the Denver area. I’m sure one will pop up sooner or later but it will take work and diligence on my part. Wish me luck.

Thanks for visiting.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Taking Care of Bidness

Numerous times over the past year while on one of my adventures, I’ve met new people and exchanged phone numbers, addresses, etc with them. It’s always inconvenient to find a piece of paper and pencil to record this stuff with.

It was easy in my work a day life. I just traded business cards….so I recently thought, why not have a retired card instead of a business card. I have met several other people that have adopted this idea. About a week ago I went online and found a place where I could design my own retired card and for about $16.00 get 250 of them printed and mailed to me……….on the picture below I blocked out my personal info but you get the idea.

bidness card2

In other news, The Circle had another Circle The Wagons trip this past weekend. We all met Friday evening at Golden Gate Canyon State Park about an hour and a half from here. We had a very relaxed weekend with group dinners and a nice fire every night. Sunday morning we had a late breakfast and then all headed home.golden gate2

This week is a catch up week doing chores around the house and starting to prepare for my next adventure starting a week from this Saturday.

Thanks for visiting.


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