Monday, June 30, 2008

July 1 ... big day coming!

Tomorrow, July 1, is our debut in the Artisans of Mancos gallery, my very good renter is leaving, new (I hope equally good) tenants are moving in and I go to the slice-and-dice shop before dawn. What more auspicious sign to have on the evening before all this is set in motion than a bright rainbow, spanning the east side of the Mancos Valley from north to south. 

I frivoled away the day at a SWOS board retreat, but Sandy organized our artists' co-op material and got it ready so that we were able to get it all in place in a couple of hours this evening. The pictures above show our two wall panels of framed art, plus the small and large rotating card racks that display both photo cards and matted prints. I think it makes for a pretty credible debut, thanks to Sandy's hard work. We're both trying some new things, both in terms of subject matter and format, so it's exciting. 

I may not be blogging for a couple of days, so see ya later! tv

Sunday, June 29, 2008

More Fun in Mancos!

We stopped by the Park this afternoon to find the  Renaissance Fair  still in full swing.   Thought I would pass on a few pictures of the annual Mancos happening. Next year it is costumes for Tom and I! Shhh.. . He doesn't know it yet!   :)  . . . sf

Old goats and young goats

I like Sandy's pictures above of the old goat, the young goat and various other attractions of the afternoon. I spent a little time watching the medieval armed combat, plus a very good presentation on armor and weapons by a man who was really able to set the gear in the context of their times.

What really excited me, though, was the storm clouds building up beyond the playground in Boyle Park on the way home. A family was passing through from Kansas, and they were enjoying our beautiful playground equipment to give the kids a chance to let off steam. We did have some rolls of thunder a bit later, with a little rain ... more bluff than consequence, but the monsoon season of afternoon thunder showers is definitely here. tv

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Lots of Bikes, Tall Ladders and Playing Dress-Up

What a day!  The highlight had to be the tour through Balcony House.  For those of you who aren't familiar with Mesa Verde, Balcony House is the ruins of a cliff dwelling that is built into the side of a very tall mountain.  Named I suppose for the  "balconys" that are still evident in the masonry structures.   For I, who does not even get on a step-ladder and gets whoozy at the thought of a lookout point (it' s a thing with heights) this was stepping way out of my comfort zone! So I climbed up tall ladders on the side of the cliff, crawled through a tunnel on my hands and knees and walked in footholds used by those early inhabitants.  It was a great experience and I did it and didn't fall off the side of the mountain!  Hmm. . wonder what skydiving is like???   

We were in motion since 7 AM, first thing  accidently having  the opportunity to take photos of a parade of bikers, (the pedal kind, not the whroom kind) hundreds of them, making their way down Highway 160 toward Mancos.  Lots of early morning smiles and waves from them as we attempted to capture some good shots.  I think we got a few, but wasn't easy.  Of course the bikers were in motion, vehicles both coming and going were in motion  and we were standing beside the road, and hanging over the overpass, just hoping for that one perfect shot.  We got a few good shots, I think. A perfect one, I don't know.  That seems to be the fun and challenge of the photography business. 

What was going on in the Mancos Park was just hard to describe.  Guess you had to be there.  Huge crowd, wild costumes , mud wrestling, hula dancers.  They call it a Renaissance Fair.  It was a crazy mix of people and activities but everyone seemed to be having a great time.    As we left we spied a group of young boys splashing and playing  in the cool, clear water of the river that runs through the park.   I  think they were having the very best time of all.  Now that looked like real fun!

We drug ourselves home late afternoon to download pictures, have a little dinner, hug the dog and talk about what a good day it was.  I am again reminded, particularly at our "young" age , every day is a gift.  This day for sure    :)   . . . sf

Old dogs get tired faster!

Oh, boy ... long day!

We headed for farmers' market in Cortez, and met hundreds of participants in Bicycle Tour Colorado. So, we stopped several places along the road to get pictures of them streaming by.

Which made us late for the market. We really didn't need much anyway, so we got some coffee, visited with friends, listened to the young musicians and headed back east. After quick stops at City Market and Wal-Mart, we were on our way to Mesa Verde.

I'm terribly remiss in that, since we've been together, I haven't taken Sandy through one of the cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde. She's seen more sites at Chaco. So, we got tickets for the 11 a.m. Balcony House tour. The groups are smaller and the tour is more intimate ... you get to go into the back of the structure ... than Cliff Palace or Spruce Tree House. And then there's the excitement of the ladders and steps ... on the side of a cliff.

Sandy had misgivings about the ladders, but she is a wonderful companion ... took it in stride and had fun taking photographs all the way. We had an excellent interpreter leading the tour.

Lunch at the Far View Terrace salad bar, a little time at the Verde Fest ("green" exhibits outside the FVT) and off to Mancos for the 2008 Renaissance Faire in Cottonwood Park.

The Verde Fest folks were having trouble keeping their canopies from flying away. A little of that breeze would have been nice in Cottonwood Park! HOT! Lots of people there, many of them in something like period garb. A beggar and a joker wandered the grounds. After watching a while, we crawled home ... gonna sleep well tonight! tv

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Teaching old dogs new tricks (not)

Interesting couple of days in the park. Yesterday I did a day-long tour of the park with 25 Elderhostel tour group members. The top pic is of them zigzagging down the trail into Spruce Tree House. The doorway behind the oak brush and scarlet penstemon is at the upstream end of Spruce Tree House.

In the evening, we celebrated our third month anniversary at the Kennebec Café, one of our local favorites. On the way back, sunset was making two young bucks with velvety antlers beside the highway glow in the light. Wasn't quite quick enough for a sharp picture of the one bounding up the slope.

Today, I went to the ARAMARK office across from the entrance to Mesa Verde, there to take required orientation training (even though I may already have worked all that I will for them). Anyway, the majority of the instruction was on visitor service/customer relations ... good topic to focus on. This class for the concessionaire's "new" employees included several Navajos, two young men from Kirghizstan in Central Asia, a young man from the Ukraine, several people from Jamaica and two from South Africa ... wonder what they understood in common after the class. 

The ARAMARK employee giving the class had actually gone to Kiev, in the Ukraine, to recruit employees. Others have made recruiting trips to South America and Asia. They just don't get enough U.S. applicants to fill the roster of summer jobs they have for the amount they pay and the hours folks in the hospitality industry have to work. Of course, one can argue that higher wages would attract more U.S. workers, which would raise the cost of staying in the park and eating in the park and buying souvenirs in the park ... and so it goes!

In the section talking about ARAMARK's "green" program, one person mentioned they use "recycled toilet paper." Perhaps it would communicate better if they said "toilet paper made of recycled fiber content," or some such. Came home really tired! Surgery's only a few short days away, thank goodness!

In the evening, we went to Durango to attend the opening reception at the Open Shutter Gallery's new location on Main Street. Lotsa folks and, as Sandy observed, the average age of the attendees was about 30 years younger than us! Besides Sandy and the owner, Margy Dudley, this old hermit saw exactly three people he knew ... not my crowd, I guess. Great location, beautifully done, with two exhibits of black-and-white prints facing each other across the long gallery that used to be a bank (one of the exhibits was Henri Cartier-Bresson prints). The belly dancers were ... sinuous. tv

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Evening is so calming

We try to always carry our cameras with us, never knowing when we will see a delightful scene we'd like to remember and possibly share. This evening, coming back from a party for a longtime friend and former co-worker, we saw the evening sun on Mesa Verde and on the La Plata Mountains. On an impulse, we turned in at Summit Lake and got the two shots shown, along with many others. The lake was almost mirror-like, calm (except for fish jumping) and quiet except for bird songs. A lovely end to the day. tv

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Our neighbors up the road

After going to farmers' market this morning and do some other errands, we had lunch with a friend at the Absolute Bakery in Mancos. 

On the way home, we swung up Road 40 and decided to see what, if any, development has been done on the two Mancos Valley FLDS properties. It had been over a month since I was up there with the two TV crews, and I might not be able to go up there for months.

So, off we went, stopping by Joe Moore Reservoir to see the Saturday recreational activities (top pic).  Lots of shore fisherfolk, a few boaters, some campers.

The main FLDS development seems to be the very large, tilled and seeded (?) garden area that has been created at the south end of the field on the east side of the property. It was just outlined last time I was by there. There is also what appears to be a root cellar dug into the hilltop just south of the original house on the property. 

The two riding horses are back for the third summer that I know of. Otherwise, pretty quiet. I have yet to see or hear a woman or a child around that place. tv

Solstice Night show

We had a delightful evening at the "Solstice Night Family Evening of Musical Entertainment," held last night in the historic Mancos Opera House, owned by the VFW. It was, in part, a fundraiser for the VFW to help them restore the opera house. 

Good local entertainment, mostly by members of the Mancos Valley Chorus. Lloyd McNeil sang several songs, accompanying himself by playing the guitar and whistling. Lloyd is a virtuoso whistler, having placed second in an international competition in Reno, NV.

The crowd-pleaser, though, was definitely Lynn Robb's rendition of "The Mom's Song!" She gave it her all, and every mother in the audience could remember having said every line. 

There'll be another one of these local reviews in August, and they said Joyce Simpson will be part of it. Joyce has a tremendous voice (and I mean that in every sense of the word) and will add a lot to the show, which was great already. The Cortez High Desert Theatre is doing two weekends of "Chicago" in the opera house in July; don't know if I'll be in condition to climb those stairs so soon after surgery ... maybe we can catch a performance in a more accessible venue.

It's nice to see the opera house in use. It's been a long haul, trying to return it to the position it held at the community's center for so many years (Diane Keaton played there in summer stock in the mid-60s). Hopefully, the VFW is unified in its efforts now; it was nice to see people who had been at odds with them in the past at the program last night. tv

Friday, June 20, 2008

The hills

I may not get back up into the hills again this summer, what with the knee surgery on July 1, but yesterday will suffice if that's the case. 'Twas SUCH a beautiful day to go to the mountains! We were gone from about 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. ... and only covered 37 miles! 

As Sandy said, we lunched beside a cascade amidst a variety of wildflowers. That's fine dining in my book!

Forward progress was finally halted, after roaring through two snowbanks, when we were confronted by the two pictured. No way to get through them! Also, no way to turn around. So, back to the two we had already plowed through, did some scooping out of the snow and rammed through them ... backwards!

I'm SO glad that the lady shown taking a picture by the redrock outcropping is such a trouper! She helped roll boulders out of the road, helped me swing fallen aspen logs so we could get by ... and at 10,000 feet, that's work ... and never uttered a complaint. Rather, she pointed out flowers and peaks and waterfalls and marmots and enjoyed the trip to the high country every bit as much as I did. Thank you so much, Sandy!

When we stopped going up, we must have been above 10,000 feet on USFS Road 567, which goes up above the East Mancos River to its headwaters in Rush Basin (pictured, with Spiller Peak beyond Jackson Ridge at the head of the basin and Burwell Peak to the right (if I have it right). In truth, I had no idea what these features were (other than that we were in the East Mancos drainage) until I bought the National Geographic's Trails Illustrated map for Durango-Cortez this morning. It was interesting to find we were headed into Rush Basin, which may have been named after my deceased wife Jan Wade's great grandfather, Martin Rush, who was an early prospector in the Mancos Valley (who wasn't, at that time?).

Yes, we found flowers ... yellow fawn lilies, like we found up in Montana (also called avalance lilies in "Meet the Natives," my favorite Colorado wildflower book). And a gaunt, old tree skeleton, still erect above the hillside of rock that marmots were ducking in and out of. 

A great day, a wonderful reminder of why we live here!tv

Enchanted Woods and Majestic Mountains

Yesterday proved to be a photo safari to remember.  We escaped the warmer than average air temperature at home to the cool of the mountains and found fields of  bright colored wild  flowers , beautiful blue skies and a quiet that completes the joy of the journey.  And  a picnic by a crystal stream  beats gourmet dining anyday!  We were stopped by a huge pile of snow before we reached the very top of the two-track road.  After plowing the jeep through two smaller snow barriers and moving dead trees and small boulders to get as far as we did, we weren't pushing our luck!    Tom and I each came home with over 200 pictures in our cameras , tired bodies and wonderful memories of our trek in the wilds .   sf

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Wetherill Mesa revisited

In early August 2000, the Pony Fire swept into Mesa Verde NP from Ute lands to the southwest. A little earlier, the Bircher Fire had started just outside park boundaries to the east of the park. The two swept toward each other and, when it was all over, approximately 29,000 acres had burned, almost 21,000 of them inside the park's boundaries. One of the areas hardest hit was Wetherill Mesa, at the western edge of the park. While in October of 2000 there were already 10-inch oak shoots in Morefield Canyon (swept over by the Bircher Fire), Wetherill has been slow to regrow.

I went out there today to refresh my memory on the scene, and here are a few pictures of it, almost eight years after the Pony Fire. At the top is the view of the rebuilt contact station, looking south from the restrooms. Next is a group returning to the contact station on the walking trail ... not much shade there! Looking through the piñon/juniper forest that used to cover the mesa is a Halloween scene. Still, there is beauty in the spring flowers beginning to flourish in the first couple of feet above the surface of the ground, like this Mariposa lily with a brightly colored beetle in its bloom. tv

Monday, June 16, 2008

Home, Sweet Home!

It's nice to be home! We left Ghost Ranch exactly at 10, without waiting for the Sunday morning meeting for worship (the closing meeting had been Saturday afternoon). I guess we were meant to do that; we came upon two Friends broken down beside the road about six miles up the highway. Together, and with input from a bicyclist who stopped, we got them escorted back to Ghost Ranch, where it seemed likely that a simple repair could be made and where they would be safe until that could be accomplished. Then we started the journey again.

Going back to Saturday, it started coolly but warmed up to about 90 degrees during the day, with heightened gnat activity. Still, as the next-to-bottom picture shows, it's always a dramatic landscape. That evening was the annual, much-awaited talent show, and the bottom picture illustrates what happens when compassionate listening (the theme of our annual gathering) breaks down.

For me, this Yearly Meeting was SO much enhanced by the presence of a large number of Young Friends of all young ages. I was quite nostalgic for the years when I was attending with my kids ... the picture of two Young Friends trudging barefoot arm-in-arm to breakfast, wrapped in blankets after watching the sunrise from atop the mesa, made me remember so many similar mornings when Drayton and Noi were doing the same thing.

On the way home, we did some exploring ... seeing with the lenses of our eyes and cameras. The little roadside shrine, "La Virgin Maria" said the sign, spoke of so many stories we'll never know ... tiny teddy bears, pictures of weddings, flowers, etc. Clearly a place that is very alive in many hearts.

We went up the San Juan River on a dusty road that takes off at Chromo. Beautiful pastures of green grass, filled with cows basking in the sun. Quite a few gated homes and communities of homes ... starter castles, in a few cases. Further up, we took a two-track down to the river ... which was running full and a bit muddy. Stopped at a log structure beside a field, with the southern San Juans beyond. I'd been there two years ago; there won't be much left after another winter like the last.

So many side roads to explore ... maybe we'll get them all in 20-30 years! ;-}  tv

Friday, June 13, 2008

Cold morning, beautiful day

It was COLD yesterday morning, as the ice on the plants under the sprinklers shows! However, the early morning light at Ghost Ranch reveals a landscape that is awesome ... literally.

Chimney Rock (the Chama Valley one, not the one on the way to Shiprock or the one near Pagosa Springs) was beautifully illumined in the clear air, as were the promontories surrounding Ghost Ranch.

Going up today's pics from the bottom, the golden light also brought out the colors on the Ghost Ranch "horse," an art project that was similar to the "pumas" we had in SW Colorado a couple of years ago.

Our theme this year is "Compassionate Listening," with a keynote address yesterday morning by Leah Green, head of the Compassionate Listening Project, and an interest group yesterday afternoon on the same subject. I have to ponder on whether compassionate listening techniques could be used among the political and sectarian parties in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

In any case, the "Eyes Wide Open" exhibit of boots and shoes representing American military and Iraqi civilians killed in this endless war makes you wish people could find a better way ... beginning years ago. tv

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Ghost Ranch

Sandy discovered we have a wi-fi link here, so I'll do a post while it lasts. We got off in good time this morning and had a leisurely trip down, with a few errands and stops along the way.

We lunched at a family-style restaurant in Chama, and then walked around the town, which is about the size of Mancos, only 800 feet higher. We were especially taken by the Chama Local Color Gallery, which really did have lots of color in the yard (rabbit and flowers shown) and inside. Even found photos by one of the Artisans of Mancos for sale there (Barbara Stewart-Hager)!

Ghost Ranch ... even when the wind is blowing hard and the Chama River Valley seems filled with dust, there is a magic about Ghost Ranch. After supper and before the opening program this evening, we rode our bikes around the big field west of the dining hall, taking pictures along the way. Good ride (pant, pant) and beautiful views. Long day, time to call it quits. tv