Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Pawnee Campground –Brainard Lake


Another weekend of camping! This brings me to a total of 50 nights spent in my trailer this year so far…and I have at least four more weeks of activities planned between now and October.

The Bride and I left home of Friday morning at about 9 am and headed for Pawnee Campground to meet the rest of The Circle….Too Tall-Two Timing, K., Guitar and Pic-E. This campground is about an hour and a half drive from home and is at about 10,300 feet in elevation. With all the adventures I’ve had so far this year, this is the first time this season that I’ve camped this high and we picked the perfect time to do it! While The Circle camped in 70 degree weather, the Denver area sweltered in 100 degree temps!brain4

It was an adventure to start with. The campsite I chose was listed as a 40 foot back-in site. Plenty of room for both my trailer and truck….if you could get into it! What the description didn’t say was that the access road was a very narrow rough dirt road with ditches on both sides and the area was heavily forested. To make a long story short, it took me about an hour to get the trailer into the site and once I was in, I was wedged between two trees both less than two feet from either side of the trailer.

In the picture above you can see the tree close to the door side of the trailer. I had to climb on the trailer roof and cut some of the branches off of the tree to keep it from damaging the roof.brain3

After that adventure I was ready to chill for the rest of the weekend and we did just that. We had two days of pleasant weather, good food and good friends. The campground itself was peaceful but the surrounding area was crawling with folks from the front range getting away from the heat. It was so crowded that the park rangers were limiting the number of people coming in and when we left on Sunday morning we saw them allowing one vehicle in for every vehicle coming out.

It was stunning scenery but there were probably as many people on the trails as at the mall here in town. A little too “peoplefied” for my tastes.

I now have a break of about two weeks with no out of town adventures and then I’m off to Twin Lakes, CO for a Passport In Time project. This project will be an archaeological survey looking for prehistoric Indian sites east of the Arkansas River. There have been numerous reports of tepee rings, lithic scatters and other evidence of prehistoric occupation but the Forest Service has never done an official survey of the area. It will be fun and an adventure!

The week after that I’m off to Wyoming for another PIT, this time using a metal detector to find evidence of the Cherokee Trail. And the week after that I’m back close to home at Guanella Pass doing another archaeological survey with the Forest Service.

I have applied for three more Passport In Time projects in September and October that I have not heard anything about yet….and The Bride and I will spend a week camping in the Black Hills of South Dakota in September so the adventures definitely will continue.

Thanks for visiting.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Metal Detecting In Southern Colorado


This past weekend was the monthly outing for the Pikes Peak Adventure League and my first outing with this group. I’m really glad I joined the group because I had a great time and I am now looking forward to other outings with the group.

This outing consisted of two days of metal detecting at two genuine ghost towns that were located on private property in the area of Walsenburg, CO. Both towns were coal mine camps. The first was active from about 1909 to 1929 and the second was active from about 1939 to 1949. Today only some foundations and and walls remain at either site to show where people lived, raised families and died.

There were about twenty club members that combed both old towns for treasures and relics. Unfortunately no treasures were discovered but a lot of interesting relics were recovered. The relics included miner’s tags, tax tokens, a chauffer’s license, railroad spikes, buttons, a few wheat pennies, a child’s toy cap gun and various other things.metal4

I came away with two interesting finds. The first was the top to a savings bank. The lid is about 3”x5” and has a shield at the top that says “Florence State Bank, Florence Colo. At the bottom is another stamped shield with the words “We Unlock This Bank And Credit You With Contents”.

I checked several sources and determined that the bank no longer exists. I even called the Colorado Bank Commissioner’s office and asked them about the bank. Their online records only go back to the 1950’s and they couldn’t locate any information about the bank.

Since this was found at the site that was active from 1909 until 1929, I’m assuming the bank failed during the Depression.

It’s obvious that the savings bank never made it back to the Florence State Bank so what happened? Was the miner or someone in his family desperate for some cash and broke into it?

The second interesting item I found was a piece of metal about 9 inches long….see the picture below. At the bottom is a raised piece of metal embossed with US.metal3 The top part of the metal has been bent over but if it were bent back straight it might look like a pointer or perhaps a dial on a scale of some sort. At first I thought it might be a piece of horse tack from the cavalry but it’s too heavy  for that. This piece will give me hours of entertainment trying to figure out just what it is!

So it was a great weekend. I had a blast and didn’t see any rattlesnakes. I did wear snake gaiters most of the weekend and carried a .38 revolver loaded with snake shot but fortunately didn’t need either.

This weekend is another Circle The Wagons trip with our friends. This time it’s to Pawnee Campground high in the mountains about 80 miles from home. The campground is at 10,400 feet elevation and sits next to a beautiful alpine lake. This will be a welcome change from the 90+ degree weather we’ve had here in town this week.

Check back in a couple of days for a report on this trip and to hear about my upcoming Passport In Time projects…I now have three scheduled for August and am waiting to hear about three more I’ve applied for.

Thanks for visiting.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

July 13th- Happy Birthday Dad

You’ve been gone two years and I still feel your presence and ache at your absence!

Cpl Mal
The Colonel's Last Patrol

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Adventures Continue


It’s been a while since my last post but that doesn’t mean that “his-self” has been bored or lonely. One of the reasons for the lack of posting is that I’ve just been having too much fun to sit down at the computer. This post is being typed in my trailer which is parked in Lathrop State Park in Walsenburg, CO….but more about that later.

Last weekend we three couples of The Circle had a 4th of July camping outing at Mueller State Park just to the west of Colorado Springs and on the north side of Pikes Peak. The Circle socializes a lot while we are in the Denver area but because of our diverse schedules, we don’t get to camp out together all that much so this weekend was a treat. It was a great weekend with liberal amounts of sightseeing, relaxing, group dining, laughter and fun. To add to the fun, Jamie and Betsy (part of Guitar’s extended family) joined us.

On Saturday we took a tour of the mining gold camps in the area. The picture at the top of this post was taken in the historic mining town of Victor, CO…birthplace of Lowell Thomas. For all you whippersnappers out there, Lowell Thomas was a very famous news reporter in the 1930s, 40s and 50s. Victor is also the home of some of the most famous gold mines in the United States. The Independence, the Cresson, the Gold Coin and pictured just to the left of the American flag above, the Portland. At it’s peak in about 1902 Victor had a population of about 17,500. Today the population is about 400 and it looks more like a ghost town than lively bustling mining town.4th2

There is one active mine left in town and it is just over the hill from the Portland Mine in the picture above. The Portland represents the old hard rock mining of the past. The new mining is open pit mining and while I understand the necessity of this approach to mining it sure is a shame to see what happens to a mountain when gold is mined in this way.

To give you an idea of the scale of this type of mining look at the picture on the right. The dot that the black arrow is pointing to is a pickup truck!

The weather for our outing was just perfect with the exception of one night when all hell broke loose. We had just finished dinner outside at the picnic table when and evening shower commenced. The shower rapidly got ugly and it 4th3 rained, hailed, thundered and lightninged, blew and every other thing for about two hours. At one point we had about an inch of hail on the ground and my trailer awning nearly collapsed. Since the entire group was eating outside my trailer we all rode out the storm in my trailer….all eight adults and five dogs! It was a might cramped but we all had fun as you can see by the picture to the left.

On Monday morning we had our traditional group breakfast…with Mimosas, before breaking up and returning home.

Now about my current location. I left the Denver area this morning (Friday, 7/9) and headed south to the little town of  Walsenburg. Tomorrow morning I’ll be meeting up with a number of people who are all members of the Pike’s Peak Adventure League (I’m a member too.) This is a metal detecting club based in Colorado Springs. About once a month during the good weather months they have an outing. Tomorrow we will be going to metal detect at an old coal camp site that is located on private land. This area of Colorado had numerous coal camps to supply fuel for the railroads and other industry from the 1890’s until the 1930’s and later. This will be my first outing with the group so I’m not sure what to expect, but it should be interesting. The person who set up the outing informed us that we would be in rattlesnake country so I have come with snake gaiters for my legs and I’ll be carrying a  .38 caliber pistol loaded with snake shot! Hopefully my next report will tell you about all the cool artifacts we dug up…and the lack of snake activity so stay tuned.

I’ve also been selected for two more Forest Service Passport In Time adventures which I’ll tell you more about after I get home next week.

Thanks for visiting.


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