Sunday, August 31, 2008

A Rally To Remember

The Rally 2008 will be remembered for many reasons.  It was a great photo opportunity for us. We came home daily with our cameras filled with one time shots.  The bikes were so impressive.  The entertainment amazing.  The skies spectacular.  But when all is said and done the tribute to those who lost their lives in Iraq is probably going to be the most memorable  to me. A white paper bag with the name of a dead soldier written on the front,filled with a little sand and lit with a glow stick.  That's all we can do.  They're gone.  That's all we can do. sf

Honoring the fallen

One impression I've gotten at the rally, confirmed by the observations of others, is that bikers as a group are getting older. Evidence is the gray hair, and the size and number of RVs, toy haulers, etc. These are Baby Boomers, by and large. 

And many of them are veterans, wearing patches or other insignia to proclaim the fact. Their views on the wars of today are varied, but they seem to universally honor the fallen. 

The Blue Star Moms of this area put together a very moving display last night, a paper bag with the name, rank and branch of service for each of the more than 4,100 military killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, with sand and a glowstick placed inside each bag in a pattern on the hillside beyond the rally grounds.

Sandy and I were among the dozens of volunteers who helped place the glowsticks after the bags were in place ... they were of all ages and ethnic groups, working together on the hillside in the late afternoon sun to honor those who gave the utmost. 

In the evening, just before the main band began to play, the announcer called attention to the display and many of the attendees trooped over for a brief ceremony. The lady in white sang the national anthem, as she has each afternoon at a posting of the colors ceremony on the bandstand; she has a beautiful voice that is rich through the demanding range of the "The Star Spangled Banner." tv

Day 2 ... gettin' tired

You might call this the Saturday fun and games posting. We'll get the evening wet T-shirt contest out of the way first. 

We didn't catch all the events of the biker rodeo Saturday, but here are three of them; "Kathy" happens to be in all three ... that's just the way the photos turned out. Sandy says she can do an album on rally clothing styles! The first is a slow-motion ride, with the passenger plucking a tennis ball off one pylon and placing it on the next as the driver weaves through the pylons. The keg roll is a one-person event, with the biker pushing a small keg down a lane with the front wheel of the motorcycle ... they're in pairs and the first to successfully get the keg across the finish line wins that heat. The last one is the weenie bite, though contestants had a choice of hot dog or chicken wing, mustard or catsup. Ugh!

Riding around the area is certainly one of the attractions of coming to the Sugar Pine Ranch Rally, and Saturday afternoon there was a constant stream of riders going in and out. Sandy and I were constantly amazed at the cloud formations visible beyond the site. Despite their threatening appearance, the daytime weather has been great so far, with brief showers between 5 and 6 a.m. Saturday and Sunday mornings. tv

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Day 2, Sugar Pine Ranch Rally

'Twas another beautiful day in the Mancos Valley, with more bikers streaming in, some from SW Utah. Of course, as I write this at 5:30 Saturday morning, they're all wet, having just been rained on for a half-hour. Today should be the peak day for attendance, and the rain has slacked off already.

A lot happened yesterday, both on- and off-site. I had to load these in two batches, so the chronology starts with the fourth picture down, as bikers head off into the Friday morning sun to do the San Juan Skyway scenic drive, etc.

Midday, hundreds of bikers came to the Rally at the Valley, an event with free burgers and hot dogs for the bikers and the residents of the Valley Inn Nursing Home on the north edge of Mancos. This started last year, with the first SPRR ... the rally coordinator is an executive of a corporation that runs this and several other nursing homes.

Several of the residents got rides with bikers; the one shown riding out of the drive, Daisy, just went from one biker to another ... she must have taken six rides!

In the afternoon, one of our favorite local duos, Kim and Chris Lindell, held forth in the beer tent for four hours, as beautiful clouds piled up over the La Plata Mountains on the eastern horizon.

Back to the top.

The evening band was the Lost Canyon Band, from Denver. It's ironic that just up the road a few miles is an area called Lost Canyon. They are one of the bands that played last year, too. Their LOUD music didn't divert the horses from their grazing in the pasture next door at sundown.

The band's program had an intermission ... for the Buns in Chaps event. The organizer, at left in white (it's held on her father's ranch), wanted last year to have something for the gals to match the wet T-shirt contest and pole-dancing for the guys' visual delight. So, she started a competition among guys with biker chaps. Here's an opening shot of Joyce and the owner of Blondie's Pub in Cortez, who donated a $500 check to the winner/possessor of the "best buns," as judged by a panel of eight women.

And that was Day 2. tv

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Day 1 of the Sugar Pine Ranch Rally

Well, the images didn't quite land in order, but that's par for the day. Sandy and I worked from before 3 till about 7:30 in the registration tent.

The evening music was by Ralph Dinosaur, known for his zany attire.

The other scenes are looking up the entrance road from the registration canopy, a bike group with the flag flying and a couple with quite a custom bike.

'Twas good to work this afternoon and get the hang of it ... Friday and Saturday are expected to be really busy!

Time for THESE old geezers to go to bed. Our shift in registration starts at 7 a.m.! tv


While most of the focus on the FLDS recently has been on the legal steps unfolding in the area of the YFZ compound near Eldorado, Texas, plus occasional news about some members of the polygamist group settled near Westcliffe, Colorado, over on the Eastern Slope, the folks here in Mancos continue to farm quietly at their off-the-grid location north of Mancos. 

The upper property continues to be inactive, though when we went by there last night we did see a fellow on an ATV with a trailer doing a boundary circuit out in the field. That's the first and only time I've ever seen a human being inside that fenced property in several years of watching it. 

At the lower property, where all the development has been, there were sounds of activity in the housing area under the trees, but nobody in sight. The two riding horses that have appeared for three summers now seem to be gone again. A pile of timbers near the upper garden area looks the same as in the past; they may be raised-bed garden supplies rather than building materials.

The big garden prepared at the south end of the big field between the road and the woods appears to have been planted to potatoes or beans or some other low, bushy row crop that can be tended with the tractor visible in the edge of the trees beyond the garden. 

We didn't walk back to the other side of the property, which can be seen through the trees from state and federal lands, but the overall appearance is that those living there are slowly developing the subsistence production of the lower property ... there are four garden areas there now, and the new one this year, pictured and just described, is pretty extensive. 

Don't know who's there, or how many, but from the prolonged presence earlier of a BMW SUV registered to a wife of David Allred, who bought the property for his father-in-law Warren Jeffs, my guess is that it's a nice, safe, quiet location for one of David's families. As I recall, there's now about 14 or 16 bedrooms on the lower property, so there could be more ... except for one glimpse in a photo published by the Cortez Journal this spring (at the time of the Texas raid on the YFZ compound), women or children have never been reported seen or heard at this location, yet the gardens are substantial evidence of their presence. 

My guess is still that these two 60-acre tracts in the Mancos Valley, along with the YFZ development in Texas, the compound in the Black Hills and perhaps other properties owned by shell corporations created by Jeffs, et al., will be important mainly as assets Jeffs tried to secretly develop outside the UEP, the trust in Short Creek and Bountiful that was supposed to be for the benefit of all FLDS members. After Jeffs dropped his defense in three civil suits against him in state and federal courts in Utah, the trust became liable for the compensation that would be awarded to the plaintiffs. That would break the trust, to the disadvantage of the other members. Meanwhile, Jeffs was squirreling away tithes and other levies in these properties, outside the reach of the UEP and the courts. Time will tell. tv

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

I can run again!

Hey, maybe it just doesn't take much to thrill an old guy, but it a was real, pleasing surprise to discover at the rec center today that I can run again. For about 15 years, thanks to the bone-on-bone rubbing and arthritis in my right knee, the best I could do was kind of lumber for a hundred yards.

Today, walking with Sandy on the indoor walking track, I decided to lean forward and walk faster. It actually felt good! The kneecap didn't move back and forth as much. So, I decided to push it and see if I could run ... and I could! Didn't go far, not going out jogging tomorrow, but the short distance I did run gave me lots of confidence that I can, and will, run again. tv

Mesa Verde, again

Though I've been into Mesa Verde on hundreds of days, going back to 1966, it's always a good day when I can go back to the park, and I always seem to see something new, especially now that I have cameras with me all the time.

Yesterday, after giving an orientation talk to a group of Elderhostelers up at Far View Lodge, I met briefly with the acting director of the Mesa Verde Museum Association. (Late news: We've hired an executive director, completing weeks of work by three of us!)

On the way out, I stopped at one of the cuts, mainly to see if I could get a good shot of one/some of the many motorcycles in the park. Even in late August, the wildflowers are abundant ... evidenced by these clumps of paintbrush and rabbit brush.

I clambered up the bank of the cut to where I could look down on the road ... and was rewarded with this panoramic view of the road, the drop-off (which scares the H out of some visitors!) and the vista across the Montezuma Valley and beyond. 

The effort to get a dramatic shot of bright, shiny motorcycles weaving through an S-curve on the side of a cliff failed, of course. Six riders passed me as I started up the bank, NONE came by while I waited up there and two couples came by just as I was getting back to the car. So much for setting up a shot! Anyway, I like the bikers below the geologic baklava of the cut, showing so many thousands of years of changes in the creation of what is now the mesa. 

The best part of the day was dining out at the Millwood last night with Sandy, celebrating our fifth month anniversary! tv

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Looking ahead ... and back

We see a variety of modes of transportation around here. I thought the juxtaposition of a Segway with a stagecoach in Silverton was interesting, along with motorcycles, cars, etc. That was when we came back from the Alpine Loop on the 13th.

Friday, when we did the rest of the San Juan Scenic Byway after chasing the Galloping Goose to Silverton, there were more and more motorcycles on the loop. This chap was slaloming down into Ouray, coming off Red Mountain Pass. 

There will be a steady buildup of bikers in this area, till the Sugar Pine Ranch Rally starts a mile away on Thursday. Should be an interesting Labor Day weekend! tv

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Been absent a few days ...

After a quiet couple of days at home, we went on a Galloping Goose chase Friday. Goose #5, normally penned at Dolores, CO, was taken to Durango for Railfest 2008, where it was scheduled to depart at 9 a.m. Friday to make the run to Silverton.

We'd seen that Goose in Dolores, ridden it a few yards during Escalante Days, but this was  the opportunity to see it perform "in the wild!" So, we chased it to Silverton, where it was to spend two nights and return to Durango Sunday.

We lost a good number of our pictures through a computer glitch (lessons learned!), but here are two of the Goose arriving in Silverton and the Goose disgorging its passengers.

As long as we were as far as Silverton, we decided to continue on the San Juan Scenic Byway and go through Ouray and Ridgway and past Silverton on our way home. Hence, the overlook view of Ouray and the late afternoon shot of Sheep Mountain across the meadows of Lizard Head Pass.

And today (this afternoon, noon to 5 p.m.). we participated in the Mesa Verde Wine and Cheese Festival in Cortez. Sandy (inventive and innovative creature that she is) put together a very suitable set of booth furnishings from yard sales and we exhibited! Didn't sell a lot of stuff, but it was fun talking about our photos with people and getting feedback. 

And we're both tired, so I'll call it a night. tv

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Mundane matters

During these last two days, I have benefited from rereading Sandy's most recent post, because I've been part of a group interviewing candidates for the executive director position of the Mesa Verde Museum Association. Can't post pictures of them, but it was nice to see these flowers on a residence porch each day!

We've got the blessed problem of having two very good candidates. 'Twould have been easy if one had been a schmuck and the other obvious gold, but they're both gold. While it says we did our recruiting job well ... garnering 24 applications and whittling them down to two who still appear to be very well qualified ... we can't hire both. It's a win-win position, but we will still have to anguish over the decision, to be made this week. tv

Monday, August 18, 2008

Chicken Soup

My intentions were good.  Tom is at a meeting and I was cleaning off the coffee table.  Books , magazines and newspapers seem to gather there by some magnetic force.  As I unpiled the stack, I came across a Chicken soup for the Soul book that I had picked up at the library book sale a couple of weeks ago. I have always enjoyed these books , and found them uplifting.  But this one was different.  It was written in memory of the 9-11 disaster.  I had read the first story and found it so devastating that I was unable to read further.  So the book was buried beneath the coffee table rubble.  As I thumbed through the book reading quotes, my heart smiled at the wise words written in introduction of the individual stories of that tragic day.  I still am not able to endure the memories recited in the book, but would like to share some of those quotes. . . . 
No act of kindness, no matter how small , is ever wasted.    Aesop

 I cannot do all the good that the world needs, but the world needs all the good that I can do.. . Jana Stanfield

You cannot do kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late. . . Ralph Waldo Emerson

I am only one, but I am one.  I cannot do everything, but I can do something.  And I will not let what I  cannot do interfere with what I can do. . .Edward Everett Hale

I expect to pass through this world but once;any good thing therefore that I can do, or any kindness that I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now; let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again. . .  Etienne DeGrellet

How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment to improve the world.. . Anne Frank

When in despair, I remember that all through history, the ways of truth and love have always won.  There have been tyrants and murderers, but in the end they always fall.  Think of it . Always.  . . Mahatma Gandhi

There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle.  The other is as though everything is.  . . Albert Einstein

Cultivation of tolerance for other faiths will impart to us a true understanding of our own.  For me, the different religions are beautiful flowers from the same garden, or they are branches of the same majestic tree.  . . .  Mahatma Gandhi

Perhaps best of all, this ageless wisdom came from a  New York  eldercare facility

At times like these, we need a hand to hold.  Lena, age 101

It'll feel better when it quits hurtin'.  Ernest ,age 78

At first, I just wanted to pull the covers over my head.  Later , I decided to bow my head. Bernice,age 75

The more I see how people hate, the better I like dogs. .Bill , age 97

War and sin. . .to my way of thinking, they're one and the same.  And both carrode the soul.. . Vera, age 88

We need to look to God in prayer.  My knees don't work anymore, but I'm kneeling in my heart just the same.  . . Marie,age 93

I lost a brother in WWI.  I lost a son in WWII.  I saw grandnephews serve in Korea, a granddaughter nurse the wounded in Vietnam and a great -grandson board a ship for the Persian Gulf. And I can only shake my head in disappointment. . just as God must be doing. When will mankind learn?  . . Lucy, age 100

Need I say more. .May I be so bold as to just send each of you a hug. .  sf

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Little cowfolk

Yesterday afternoon, we stopped for a while at the SW Showdown Rodeo at the Montezuma County Fairgrounds. It was an indoor event, so we really weren't able to do much photography, but we had fun watching the kids and their horses. I especially got a kick out of the little kids in working ranch gear, waiting on dozing horses with their dads and moms in the on-deck area. Some of the kids wore spurs, of varying fanciness; some didn't.

The one event we watched was the pony express race, in which the rider races down the arena with a "letter," usually held in the mouth, and places it in a mailbox, then races back, all electronically timed to three decimal points of a second. Some of the older kids (13-19 class) made it in 12 seconds or less, if their horse cooperated in getting them close enough to the mailbox. 

Lots of proud parents and grandparents in attendance ... good family fun! tv

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Little local news

There was a ceremony at the Mancos Valley overlook this morning, honoring a land donation a local family made to the park. I was also interested in these three brothers, who might be called members of a "local" family. From left, they are U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar, U.S. Rep. John Salazar and their brother Elliott Salazar, who ranches near Breen, CO. Their ancestor came to Santa Fe in 1598, and they are the fifth generation of their family in Colorado. This was the Far North long before it was the Far West! tv

Local talent

'Twas such a joy to go to the historic Mancos Opera House last night and hear a musical show with a variety of local talents! The restoration of the opera house to its original beauty and its original place as a center for our Mancos Valley community has been a long ... and sometimes rocky ... road. We seem at last to be on track again, and this collaborative evening of music by the Friends of the Library and the VFW and VFW Auxiliary (the VFW owns the building) is an example of what may yet be. There was a similar show in the spring, and we'll be at the one next spring, too. tv

A dream come true

A couple of nights ago, I blundered onto a Web site that I have to share with readers of this blog. I was superintendent of Chaco Culture NHP from 1985 to 1989, and Chaco holds a special place in my heart. In fact, we're looking forward to spending a few days there with dear friends in about a month.

There are many stories yet to be told about Chaco; it's a place of ongoing revelation ... new data to be found, new questions to be asked of old data. One inhibitor of the revelation is the scattering of notes, artifacts and pictures from earlier explorations. This scholarly material is in Albuquerque, New York, Massachusetts, Washington, New Orleans and other places as well. Anyone doing comparative research ... trying to access the data from different digs ... has to travel extensively and go through whatever hoops each library, museum and archive has for access. It's a daunting, time-consuming and expensive proposition.

At the dawn of the digital age (the late 1980s), it also began to dawn on me how beneficial it would be to have all of this material digitized and available for remote access by researchers and any interested members of the public. The vehicle for that, as we expressed in the park's research plan, could be a Chaco Common Catalog ... a collaborative effort among the various NPS offices and other institutions.

Sarah Bishop pursued funding for this through Partners in Parks, but it appeared to come to naught. I figured it would never happen, darn it!

Lo and behold, the Chaco Digital Initiative ( has been out there for several years now as just such a collaborative project among agencies and institutions. It has solid accomplishments already and appears to be growing and developing. I visited the photo gallery and saw pictures from excavations that I never thought I would see ... in some cases, didn't even know existed!

What a treasure trove this is and will be. If you are interested in things Chaco, this is a must! tv

Friday, August 15, 2008

The high country trip

The trip to the high country is a couple days behind us, but we're still looking over the more than 1,500 pictures we took ... and the experience is still present in our minds and hearts. 

In some ways, it was a lot to take in ... the terrain, the historic structures, the flowers, the totality of the experience. I've been around the Alpine Loop maybe six times before, but not in the last 12 years. And this was the first time with Sandy sharing the experience, mingling her photographer's eye with mine.

The territory that lies beneath and around the road is beautiful by itself, but much is added by the vestiges of mining and past times ... haunting reminders of what people were willing to endure in their search for silver and gold and other minerals. 

We started Wednesday morning with a brief look around Lake City, which is charming. Like Silverton, it has a lot of old store fronts that are colorful. Definitely a tourist town, and most of the license plates are Texas ... it's been a Texas outlier for a century or more. The town was founded in 1874, twenty years before Mancos was incorporated. The Baptist Church (shown) is almost storybook pretty, and the Presbyterian Church is the oldest Protestant church on Colorado's Western Slope.

The road up the Lake Fork of the Gunnison River to Cinnamon Pass is not as scary in some ways as the road over Engineer Pass, but the place shown here used to have a flattened jeep at the bottom of dropoff!

The flowers in American Basin were beautiful, there was always the sound of water running, but I still don't think the diversity of species is as great as we see up at Kennebec Pass, nearer to home.

I'm glad we went on weekdays, because the traffic wasn't bad; I've heard it gets pretty crowded on weekends and that could be dangerous. Sandy noticed that the vast majority of drivers and riders on ATVs, dirt bikes and 4-wheel drive cars appeared to be at least 60 years old ... old geezers enjoying the mountains.

Sandy especially enjoyed the look on one driver's face as we started up from Animas Forks toward Engineer Pass ... there was gleeful joy on the white-haired woman's face, and Sandy had yet to see what that lady had just traversed! tv