Saturday, January 30, 2010

Still Here

I normally don't go for a week without posting something but then again I'm normally a little more mobile and more active and have more to report about.

The foot seems to be healing well. Every day I can do a little more without pain. The last few days I have even driven short distances in the car. This was not only to "work out" the foot a little but just to keep me from going stir crazy insane.

In order to drive I took off the hospital provided "bootie" and wore an open toe summer sandal. That however, caused an unusual problem. The sandal had a strap at the front which is secured by velcro. Because of the bandage on my foot I had to leave that strap unsecured. The sandal is on my right foot....gas pedal and brake foot...and the velcro piece is on the right side of the sandal. Right side of the right foot and that just happens to rub against the carpet that's over the transmission hump. Sooo.. the first time I tried to move my foot from the gas pedal to the foot was velcroed to the carpet! I had to yank my foot away to get to the brake pedal. Fortunately it wasn't an emergency situation and once I realized the problem I just made sure I put my foot on the left side of the accelerator pedal so I wouldn't get stuck to the carpet again.

This is pitiful! Instead of writing about the interesting stuff I'm doing and seeing while taking my new fifth wheel trailer to great places, I'm writing about my foot being velcroed to the carpet in the car! Woe is me!

Well, Monday morning the stitches come out of the foot and the doctor said I'll be on my own. I can start returning to normal activity as I feel up to it. I'm so stir crazy that I'm now considering starting my New Mexico/Arizona trip a week from Sunday. That would turn the planned two week trip into a three week trip and allow me to circle down to the southern parts of NM and AZ. We'll see how I feel by about Wednesday or so before I make a decision.

This post is being written on the blogspot web site using their post editor. It's been a very long time since I've done a post this way. For the past year or so I've been using Windows Live Writer. For some inexplicable reason, all of a sudden, when I use Live Writer and try to enter an apostrophe in a word, the program crashes. It took me a while to figure out that it was the apostrophe because the program hesitated just a bit and the crash occurred after I had typed a few characters after the apostrophe. The only thing I can think of is that there is some type of compatibility problem between Live Writer and my Norton security program?

I use Comcast as my ISP and they provided free McAfee security software until this week when they switched to Norton. Early this week I zapped the McAfee and downloaded the Norton stuff. Ever since then I've had a number of little gremlins pop up. It's very frustrating. It seems that every time I "upgrade" I lose functionality somewhere....but then again if you're reading this on a computer, you have most likely experienced the same frustration. Oh well....

Thanks for visiting.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Stir Crazy

It’s been six days now since the operation on my foot and I am stir crazy! The doctor said it would be at least two weeks before I was back to a semblance of normal and if she’s right this next week will be LONG.

All in all I feel good….except for my foot. The rest of my body wants to get out and about but the foot protests loudly. I did manage to go to my induction ceremony for the local Elks lodge on Thursday but I paid the price on Friday. After standing and walking around for a couple of hours on Thursday evening, I spent all Friday with my foot elevated and covered with an ice pack.

Yesterday I went out with The Bride on a short shopping expedition….that is a good comment on “stir crazy”. Anytime I accompany The Bride shopping you know something unusual is happening. Anyway, I did a little walking and then sat in the car for the rest of the trip. This morning the foot is not complaining too much so I’m encouraged.

The forced inactivity had allowed me to do a lot of reading. Several years ago I wrote a post about the Lakeside Classics series of books. I continue to collect and read them and in the past few weeks I have added about seven “new” editions to my collection. I’ve read three in the last week alone.

“The Border and the Buffalo” is the 1938 volume of the series and was written by John R. Cook who was a buffalo hunter and participated in the near extermination of this noble animal. It’s a pretty disturbing read for those of us in this modern age that weren’t trying to tame the wilderness of the Southwest in the 1870’s and 1880’s. Cook however, explains that the slaughter of millions of buffalo was a calculated move not only for profit but also to clear the vast lands for settlement…and to ensure the defeat of Native Americans. Reading the book provided quite a different view of the situation of the people that engaged in this profession and gave me a bit of a moral dilemma in judging their actions when looking through the “glass” of their times. In spite of that it was an excellent read.

“The Early Days of Rock Island and Davenport” is the 1942 volume of the series and consists of the memoirs of two early settlers of the area. J.W. Spencer migrated from Vermont to the area of Rockport in 1820 and J.N.D. Burroughs moved from Cincinnati to Davenport in 1839. Illinois was at this time the “west”. It was the edge of civilization in the young nation of the United States. Most of my readings of the series up to now have been related to the West and Southwest as we understand it today. It was interesting to read of the pioneers of an earlier day and their struggles to settle the country of Illinois. They encountered many of the same problems of isolation, lack of reliable transportation, severe winters and Indians that tested the later pioneers of the far west and southwest. The fact that this was a first person historical narrative, like all of the other Lakeside Classics, made it a fascinating read. The two authors reached out over 180 years to tell a story directly to me…..exciting.

“Narratives of the American Revolution”, the 1976 volume of the series has the subtitle of …As told by a young sailor, a home-sick surgeon, a French volunteer and a German general’s wife.” What an interesting look at the birth of our country! Again, first person historical narrative. Four vastly different people telling you their story of what happened to them in the American Revolution. Ebenezer Fox was a young man who ran away from a difficult home life and became a sailor for the Continental Navy. He was captured, imprisoned on a prison ship, agreed to service in the British Army to save his life and then escaped from his military unit in Jamaica and fled to Cuba and then back to the United States. What more needs to be said? A compelling story, but the book also recounts the lives of a volunteer surgeon who wintered at Valley Forge with Washington, a young French officer who served with Lafayette and the wife of a German general who served with the British and became a prisoner of war. If you are tired of the textbook story of the American Revolution, find this book and read it. It’s fascinating.

I now own 39 of the 107 volumes of the collection and consider them to be the most important and entertaining pieces of literature I’ve ever read. If you like American history, find a volume, any volume, as they are all fascinating and read it. You will NOT be disappointed.

Thanks for visiting.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Tripping The Light Fantastic – NOT!

I had my foot surgery…or more correctly my toe surgery yesterday. My little toe on the right foot is now somewhat shorter than it was yesterday at this time. It’s hard to believe because it feels like it’s about the size of a dump truck! The fourth toe is a bit skinnier too but feels like a sumo wrestler. The doctor assured me that the shorter toe would not cause me to walk in circles but she did say that walking of any type for the next couple of days might cause me to fall on my face and writhe in pain. Judging from the way I feel this morning I believe her.

So, I’m ensconced on an easy chair in my bedroom with the computer in my lap, surrounded by books, remotes for music and tv, and a large bottle of vicoden. I Will Survive….(a great golden oldie from 1978).

To pass the time I’ve been working on plans for the maiden voyage of my new trailer. That will hopefully occur in about two weeks. My original plans were to do a big loop from here down through southern New Mexico across to the Tucson, AZ area, up to Flagstaff and back across northern AZ and NM to I-25 and then north to home. Part of the plan was to have The Bride fly in somewhere for a few days too. We did a similar trip last year and really had fun. Last year The Bride and Pic-E flew into Tucson to meet up with Guitar and myself. This year The Bride wants to see the Sedona and Prescott area.

After looking every which way at the map, I decided to scrap the big loop plan and go with a much smaller loop that would eliminate southern NM and AZ. Right now the first half of the loop is looking like this….

Leave Denver area and spend the first night in either Las Vegas, NM or Albuquerque. Then travelling to/through, Acoma Pueblo, El Malpais National Monument, El Morro National Monument, Gallup, NM, Window Rock, AZ, Canyon De Chelly National Monument, the three Hopi Mesas and down to Flagstaff where I’ll meet The Bride. From there we’ll spend two nights at the Grand Canyon and a night or two each in Sedona and Prescott before dropping The Bride off at the airport in Flagstaff for her trip home. I haven’t decided exactly how I’ll make my way home yet but I’ve got plenty of time in the next couple of weeks to research it. I would love to go north of Flagstaff through Monument Valley and the four corners area but seeing as how this will be in February, the weather could be an issue.

In other camping news we’ve made plans for two Circle The Wagons weekends with The Circle. The first on the July 4th weekend, we’ll all get together at Mueller State Park. This is a gorgeous facility not too far from Cripple Creek, CO. The Bride and I have camped here before. In fact, the picture on the left margin of this blog entitled “Training for Retirement” was taken at this park. The second event will be the third weekend in July at Pawnee campground in the area of Nederland, CO. I’ve never camped at this campground before but it is rated as one of the top 100 campgrounds in the state with five star views of the mountains and a beautiful alpine lake. The campground is at 10,400 altitude so it will be a break from the July summer doldrums along the front range.

My toes tell me it’s time for a little medication so I’ll end this here. Stay tuned for more.

Thanks for visiting.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Colorado Cowboy Poetry…P.S.


Thought maybe you’d like to check out some of the artists I saw yesterday….

Bill Barwick

Liz Masterson

The Prickly Pair

Eli Barsi

Yampa Valley Boys

Doris Daley

Mark Lee Gardner

The Gillette Brothers

Skip Gorman

Wylie & The Wild West

Mike Moutoux

Pop Wagner

Miss V The Gypsy Cowbelle

Enjoy and thanks for visiting.

Colorado Cowboy Poet Gathering


What can I say, I love this stuff. A sawbuck ($20 for you whippersnappers) got me an entire day of great entertainment, music and western culture. I went to this event in 2008 with Guitar and we both vowed to do it again. I forget what happened last year but we missed it. This year I was determined to go and go I did yesterday a little after 9am.

Here’s the deal. There are about 40 different performers. Some are poets/humorists, some are musicians and some are both….God, this is hard to explain….groups of four or five performers, perform in a room, round robin style. There are four “sessions” per hour each with a different theme. Examples of the themes are, “Get ‘er Goin”, “Modern Ranch Life”, “Bunkhouse Banter”, “Cowboy Humor”, “Critters”, “Dancin’ & Romancin”. Each hour you have to pick the session you want to attend based on either the subject or the performers, or however you want. The performers switch between groups based on the subject matter so it gets pretty complex. I chose most sessions with the goal of seeing as many different performers as possible. After re-reading this paragraph, the easiest thing to do is give you this link so you can see the actual schedule

This year’s group of performers hailed not only from Colorado and most of the other western states but New Hampshire, Canada and Australia as well. The caliber of talent was amazing, especially considering that they are just “local”. You will not hear any of these artists on top 40 radio or see them listed on Ticketmaster for a concert but listening to a complex story told in rhyme and/or accompanied by guitar, banjo, or bones was one of those experiences where you told yourself, while listening, “wow, this is really good!”. I may have only paid a sawbuck for the entrance fee but by the time it was all over I spent three times that much on CDs to take the experience home with me.

It was after 5pm when I left and I had to face a vicious rush “hour” commute on a holiday weekend to get back home. One of the biggest “perks” of being retired is that I can normally avoid this unpleasantness but this day I had to endure. It was, however, well worth it.

This afternoon, The Circle will visit the yearly RV show at the Denver Convention Center. Even though I am NOT in the market anymore, I still like looking and all the different models. Both Guitar and Two Tall-Two Timing now have the “urge” to upgrade and I’ll have a large time goading them into it. It should be a fun time.

Monday morning I have an appointment with a sawbones….this is getting to be a theme post…sawbuck, sawbones. I didn’t even plan it! Anyway, I’ve got to have a bone spur taken off one of my toes. It will be outpatient surgery but I’ll be unable to drive for about two weeks. More to follow on this.

Thanks for visiting.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Bats, Bears And Burgers, Oh My

The post title is a take off on the famous line by Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz. Hard to believe that this classic 1939 movie is still entertaining and being quoted some seventy years after it was released. I wonder how many of today’s crop of movies will have a similar stature in 2080?

Enough of that. On Saturday The Bride and I left early and headed to the Colorado Division of Wildlife Volunteer orientation. The orientation was in Colorado Springs about an hour drive from our home. About 15 people attended to find out what types of opportunities are available for volunteers.

It turns out that there are a lot of varied projects available to interested volunteers. I’ve mentioned previously that I participated in a waterfowl count last week and that it tame compared to some of the projects. One that interested me is the Bats/Inactive Mines Project. In this project, volunteers survey inactive mines to see if bats have taken up residence in them. First of all there a literally thousands of inactive mines in Colorado and they are extremely dangerous. These mines make perfect habitats for a number of species of bats and bats are of terrific importance to man. The dilemma is to allow the bats a place to live and to keep humans from entering these dangerous sites.

Volunteers go to the mines but not in them. They use electronic “bat detectors” to detect the ultra sonic signals the bats use. If bats are found the mine entrance can be closed with a grate that will allow access by the bats but prevent humans from entering. How cool is that??spgs1

Other projects range from helping clean up State Wildlife Areas to helping at fish hatcheries to collecting animal heads for chronic wasting disease testing. The collecting heads project gets the heads from hunter harvested animals. There is also a State Wildlife Area Host program where volunteers camp at the Wildlife Areas and help educate visitors about the area. Between volunteering for the Division of Wildlife and the Forest Service methinks that I’ll be pretty busy this year.

All of that information about opportunities made The Bride and I hungry and fortunately the DOW orientation broke up at noon. We had previously made arrangements with The Circle to meet them at Conway’s Red Top burger joint. I learned about this place from a Christmas present book given to me by Cajenn and Cajon and my curiosity took over.

As you can see by the picture above, the restaurant is a non-descript little place but it serves decidedly non-non-descript burgers. These behemoths are eighteen inches in diameter! Now they are not your typical two or three inch thick gourmet burgers but are relatively thin allowing that artery clogging grease to really flavor the burger. The burger is a bit thinner on the edges and their frying technique renders them crispy at the very edge. A great taste.spgs2

As hungry as I was I was not foolish enough to order a whole burger but settled for a half burger which was more than sufficient. I had mine without cheese most of the rest of The Circle ordered theirs with cheese. Guitar and Pic-E also sampled the chili while K had a hot dog and a bowl of bean soup. All pronounced their meals worthy of the trip.

After a leisurely lunch we all headed back towards the Denver area. On the way back we stopped at the little town of Monument, Colorado. Monument sit astride Interstate 25 and I’ve passed by it hundreds of times without taking the time to look past the ever present gas stations and fast food joints. It turns out that there is a quaint little historic town a few blocks off the Interstate. We did a little looking and following the ladies of The Circle and then Too Tall-Two Timing, Guitar and I retired to the local cantina to have a cold one and watch football while the ladies completed their exploration.

We were back in the Denver metro are by late afternoon. It was a great day. I had learned a lot and had an adventure or two. Life is good.

Thanks for visiting. 

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Buffleheads, Goldeneyes, Mallards & Canadians



My first gig as a volunteer for the Division of Wildlife was a success and fun as well. My task was to complete a waterfowl count on a golf course on the Southeast side of the Denver metro area. I really had little instruction from the DOW other than to show up before sunrise and to count all the different types of waterfowl I saw so I arrived on scene at about 6:20 am with binoculars and a handy dandy bird identification book. The book was necessary because other than Canadian geese and mallards I really can’t tell a duck from a buck.

This past Saturday I drove out to the golf course to familiarize myself with the area and check out what kind of waterfowl were there. That day the only birds I saw were Canadian Geese….and there were probably 500 or 600 of them all over the course. When I arrived on Tuesday morning I was surprised to find only about 100 Canadians in the area and they were all in the water. (Now that I’m an expert, I know that they spend the night on the water and during the day move to the fields to feed.)duck2

The golf course contains two different ponds and a creek that runs through the middle of the course so after I counted the geese at the main pond I walked around to the other pond and to the creek to see what might be there. When I got to the other pond I saw two other types of ducks/waterfowl that I hadn’t a clue as to what they were. I made some crude drawings on my notepad and headed back to my truck. After consulting the bird book I was still not sure about an identification and decided to go back to the pond and bring my camera as it was now light enough to get a picture and as they say “a picture is worth a thousand words for an old guy with CRS”

I got the pictures and on the way back to the truck again counted about 100 mallards along the creek. Fortunately between my drawings and the pictures…and the book I was able to identify the web footed flyers. In the picture above the smaller pair on the left are male and female Bufflehead and the larger pair on the right are male and female Common Goldeneye. I have never seen ducks like this before so I was thrilled at a new experience. By 8:30 am I had completed the count, drove home and completed my report which I faxed to the DOW office.

They must have liked my work because later that day I got an offer to help man the DOW booth at the International Sportsmen’s Exhibition this weekend in Denver. Unfortunately I can’t do that because on Saturday I’ll be driving down to Colorado Springs to attend another DOW orientation. At this meeting I’ll learn more about the opportunities to volunteer in Southeast Colorado. The orientation is two hours long and The Bride has agreed to come with me and then get some lunch in the Springs….which brings me to my next adventure.duck3

Readers know that I like to investigate off beat places and down home food like BBQ and burgers. It just so happens that I recently heard about an unusual burger joint in Colorado Springs by the name of Conway’s Red Top. This burger joint has been written up in a number of national publications and is famous for it’s 18” hamburger….That is correct. Eighteen inches across. That’s way more than I could probably consume but the experience will be worth the trip as I see it. The soups and stews are supposed to be killer items too. So check back in a couple of days and see how this adventure goes.

Thanks for visiting.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Dow Is Up


No, not that Dow the financial thing but DOW, Division of Wildlife (Colorado that is). In looking for interesting volunteer opportunities I stumbled upon the Colorado Division of Wildlife volunteer website. It looked like some of their opportunities could be right up my alley so I downloaded an application. The process for being accepted is a little more rigorous than many volunteer opportunities. Not only is the application more detailed but you also have to attend an orientation or in lieu of that, submit a “self-quiz” on the volunteers handbook. I did the self-quiz and submitted it with an application several weeks ago.

Last week I got an email from the Volunteer Coordinator for DOW asking if I would be interested in helping them with their annual winter waterfowl count. I’m a college graduate and can count so I said “Sure, why not".  So, I am now an official volunteer and get all the privileges that go with a lofty position like that. My first privilege will be to get up well before dawn on Tuesday morning and drive to a small lake in the middle of one of the local golf courses. For about three hours I’ll count Canadian geese2Geese, mallards, coots, snow geese, swans and any other web footed friends I en-count-er. I’m an early riser anyway so I don’t mind the hours and it sounds pretty interesting. There are quite a few opportunities throughout the year so I plan to expand my horizons in 2010. Click here to see a list of just the winter opportunities for volunteers. 

Yesterday, I decided to drive over to the golf course to check things out before I tried to get there in the dark. The golf course is about 20 minutes from my house and is pretty easy to get to so I shouldn’t have a problem come Tuesday. I didn’t cheat and start counting then but there were plenty of Canadian Geese to count. I’m guessing there were 500-600 in the small area around the lake…I’ll let you know more accurately after Tuesday. Strangely I didn’t see any other birds or waterfowl of any type except one lone magpie that flew off as soon as I got near the tree he was perched in.geese1

It looks like I will be threading the weather needle for this project. The low temps are to be in the teens until Wednesday and then drop to 0 with highs right around 20 degrees! In either case it will be COLD and I’ll need to bundle up.

On the 9th of January, I’ll drive down to Colorado Springs to attend an orientation that will describe some of the other DOW opportunities in the Southeast part of the state that will be available later in the year. Looks like the DOW is up…on my activity list.

Thanks for visiting.



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