Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Remembering Tony Hillerman

A friend told me today that Tony Hillerman died. Indeed, it appears that he passed away in Albuquerque Sunday at the age of 83. 

I liked Samantha Dunn's LA Times homage at,0,6489369.story. She writes as a New Mexican who appreciated Tony's sense for the state and for the Navajo Nation.

The Hillermans came to Chaco while I was there as superintendent. He was doing the research for "Thief of Time," his murder mystery set partly in Chaco Canyon. He wanted to get the flavor of the place. We provided them with an apartment, then invited him over for supper. After supper, it was an open house for the park staff to come in and meet Tony and his wife Marie and answer his questions ... and we were all already Hillerman fans. It was probably from that evening that he got the idea of describing the archeologist in Thief of Time as leaving the park for Farmington to get her "exhaust fume fix" when she was noticed by two kids standing by the side of the road, waiting for the school bus. Those kids were Drayton and Noi, my son and daughter, who traveled 60 miles each way to Bloomfield every day to go to school (we never left them standing by the side of the road, though; Jan or I drove them 18 miles in the morning to meet the bus and the same 18 miles in the evening to pick them up, often through mud and snow).

One thing I especially remember from that evening, having suffered through several English courses in which I was told I had to outline and plot my story before I began to write. My favorite Tony Hillerman novel is "Dance Hall of the Dead," which is set in the Zuni area and was published before his visit to Chaco. That evening he told us that he had got more than halfway through the writing of that book with the intent of making the archeologist character the murderer, but the character he was writing was turning into such a "wimp" that he decided he had to write in a different murderer. So much for outlining, etc.!

Jan and I saw Tony a couple more times, separately and together, at Chaco and in Mancos, and he was always the same ... comfortable as an old shoe, unpretentious and a perceptive observer of people. (He always had a little trouble with geography, though!)

Thank you for your insights, Tony; we'll miss continuing to learn from you while enjoying the stories you wove. Rest in well-earned peace. tv

Monday, October 27, 2008

A ride in the country

I finally put the bike rack back on the Jeep yesterday and in the afternoon we went down to Country Road G and rode about a mile-and-a-half ... nice sunny afternoon on a broad, hard gravel road with little traffic and a beautiful view of the sweep of the Mancos Valley north to the La Platas.

I forgot to mention in yesterday's post that presentations of $3,000 checks were made Saturday night to both Medicine Horse and the VFW from the balloon festival ... a nice benefit for the community in addition to the money spent in town by those attending the event.

Back to the ride. There was a hawk watching from a fence post, a watch-llama guarding its flock of sheep, a couple of horses sunning in a field with a single golden tree in the forest beyond and, as noted, that beautiful view toward the mountains.

And in the evening, there was this big, harlequin-patterned beetle on the west portico ... a reminder that, while we love the sweeping views of this area, there's just as much joy to be gained from paying attention to the smallest elements of those scenes. tv

Sunday, October 26, 2008

This 'n that

We've had a few days of catching up ... cleaning the house, paying bills, chucking accumulated paper, making up new cards ... interspersed with some fun events.

As I drove around town a few days ago, I was reminded that Mancos has some interesting buildings, too, just as Silverton and Ouray do. The bottom picture is of a new Victorian-style house, built on the corner of Spruce and Riverside where an old two-story house with a mansard roof was razed. The next photo up is an OLD Victorian house on Bauer Avenue, one of three old two-story houses along that street that survive and are in good condition and appearance.

Thursday night we went to a dinner party for Mesa Verde Foundation and Mesa Verde Museum Association board members, hosted at a beautiful home on the banks of the Animas River south of Farmington. Our gracious hosts provided a setting for getting to know each other, which was helpful when the two boards got together to discuss cooperative arrangements the next morning, meeting at the Center of SW Studies at Fort Lewis College.

Friday night was the SW Open School Halloween party, which Sandy and I attended as gypsies. She looked pretty darn convincing (and good!), while I sorta stayed in the shadows. The kids had a great time with their music (I took my hearing aids out), as evidenced by the grins on the dancers. 

Last night (our seventh-month anniversary) was the event we were really waiting for ... the benefit party for the Medicine Horse equine therapy center south of town (where horses are used for therapizing people). It was held in the historic Mancos Opera House and, as you can see, the place was filled ... tables are empty in the picture because so many people are standing in the line at the left for the Mexican dinner served by the Ladies Auxiliary to the Mancos VFW Post, which owns the opera house. 

In addition to a silent auction to benefit Medicine Horse (we had a framed print and two boxed sets of cards, all of which were well-received), the featured performers were the JS Trio ... three jazz musicians with the initials J.S. With due respect to the talents of her sidekicks, the key attraction for us was the wonderful lady pictured at the top, Joyce Simpson. What a voice! And what a nice person bearing that voice! She lived in Mancos for a while when I was editing the paper and she is just the most personable person you could want to meet! We had a great time, got the CD of last year's performance and will eagerly await their return next year!

In the meantime, we learned last night that Michael Martin Murphey is going to be playing in the Mancos Opera House on Nov. 2o! Wow! We will be getting our tickets the second they become available! tv

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Knee's okay

I got an A or A+ from the surgeon at my check-up today! It's been three months and three weeks since my right knee was replaced on July 1, and he said I'm coming along great. There's still a few side-effects I'm dealing with ... on our recent trip, the hours of driving and riding stiffened me up and I also had aches in the hips and lower back. Now that we've been back a week and been to the rec center several times, the aches are receding and I'm sleeping better. If the sacroiliac pain doesn't further subside, he said there are exercises that can address it. tv

Monday, October 20, 2008

"W" - not

We were going to go see the movie "W" after meeting yesterday. Instead, we went on a color quest, traveling up Lightner Creek (a road I'd never traveled in almost 20 years in this area) and then going down Webber Canyon. As often happens, the most fetching scene was one of the last and (as also often happens) it was a scene that Sandy spotted and pointed out to me. This is from the south edge of the Town of Mancos, looking across fields toward the hill that Cedar Grove Cemetery is on.

I had sort of been discarding the idea that there was any color really left here after we got back from our trip. Must have been jaded by all those northern Wisconsin and UP maples and oaks! tv

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Terrorist or Sweetheart?

No, I'm not talking about politics.  Scooby-Doo ,affectionately known as our resident alligator,terrorist, or other pet names may have redeemed herself while we were traveling.  Her caretakers while we were out of town for two weeks have reported that she is a sweet cuddly 8 year old puppy  when we are not around!   I can only figure that along with her job of "dishwashing"  , greeting us vigorously in the morning, and other doggie tasks  she feels that guard dog is also in her job description!  But glad for the good report on her and that she had left no teeth marks in the dog sitters!sf

Saturday, October 18, 2008


Republican US Rep. Michelle Bachmann of Minnesota was on at least two networks recently, talking about people who aren't "pro-American." On the MSNBC Chris Matthews show, she said: "I wish the American media would take a great look at the views of the people in Congress and find out, are they pro-America or anti-America?"

What in the world does that mean, besides an echo of the Red/pinko smears and witchhunts of the McCarthy era? (And an echo of Gov. Sarah Palin's assertion that she loves to be in the "pro-America areas of this great nation.")

Never a word about how "pro-America" is defined. We know from the other things Rep. Bachmann said that her definition probably says "See 'liberal' or 'leftist.'" At the very least, it means those who see the world, life and America differently from those who believe as these two ladies do. So much for the rights guaranteed under the First Amendment!

Here we go again with the "us" against "them" mindset ... will we soon see a resurgence of "America ... Love it or leave it" bumper stickers? Is that the same mentality that leads some people to issue death threats against those who have differing points of view? That "my way or the highway" mentality? 

Bachmann (and Palin) would probably like to see reinstatement of loyalty oaths, with criminal penalties for those who "break" them. It's okay for elected leaders to lie and cheat, to the extent of deceiving us into wars costly in both blood and money (as both LBJ and GWB did), but it's not okay to call them out on it. 

This could have been a campaign that gave voters the chance to choose between well thought-out visions for America's future, domestically and internationally. Instead, it's degenerated into a stage play of dancing symbols and slogans, twisting and turning to expose a new face for each new situation in order to play on the basest emotions and deepest fears of the audience. And we're playing along with the charade, revealing the religious, racial, gender, ethnic and other stereotype biases that still seethe below our veneer of civility in everyday life. 

America has a lot of healing still to do! And I'm no longer confident that either of these jokers who preach bipartisanship and reaching across the aisle to bring us together can lead us in that direction. It's certainly not in the interests of either of their parties to support them in doing that. tv

A Four Corners morning

Well, it all started with getting up early to go to the Cortez Farmers' Market one last time (turns out it will be next Saturday, too). On the way, the sunlight was beginning to flow down the east face of Mesa Verde, a scene we love from home. The Mud Creek area offered a different view, so we turned down the county road to get the bottom view.

On the way back out, Sandy noticed coyotes in a field to the west of the road ... five of them, in fact, spread out as they were crossing the field toward the south. Neither of us had ever seen more than one or two at a time before. They seemed pretty unconcerned about us or the nearby house.

Farmers' market had fewer vendors than usual ('twas cold this morning!) and fewer shoppers, but root crops were in. We loaded up on turnips, potatoes, parsnips, onions and carrots (and, of course, one of Bessie White's apple pies!).

After a good workout at the Cortez Recreation Center, we returned the north route, revisiting the camelidae on 184. Khan, the male Bactrian camel, came over to greet us and look us over ... looked like he had his thinking cap on. tv

Friday, October 17, 2008


Sandy is clearly WAY better with animals than I am! Still, I couldn't resist stopping and enjoying these members of the camelid family on my way home from a meeting at SWOS this morning. 

Khan, the male bactrian camel, takes the direct approach to eating. Lie down beside the bale of hay and turn your head and grab a bite when you're so moved!

The next bactrian camel is, I think, a female. You can tell by the eyelashes! ;-}

Don't know the gender of the young llama, but s/he is sure cute! tv


Carry your camera!

As Sandy indicated, you never know when a Kodak moment is going to present itself. This is cow jam season, when the cattle are moved to new, usually lower, pastures. 

While the top pic of a cowboy actively herding the cows is the sort of iconic view we associate with cattle drives, the bottom shot is the reality of drives today ... cows intermingled with 18-wheelers, emergency vehicles, motorcycles and roadside photographers. Still, it's a neat local phenomenon that I enjoy whenever it happens, and it's a total sensory experience ... be careful of the slippery spots as you walk back across the highway! tv

Busy Days!

Being home again is great and images of Mancos in the Fall abound.   The mountains as a backdrop for golden and orange leaves is beautiful and many of the mountains now have a dusting of snow.  Yesterday, on the highway between Mancos and the house, we encountered a cattle drive.  Kodak moment despite our melting ice cream in the groceries! Tom did get some very good pictures that he will probably be sharing here on the blog.  I was not at all pleased with what I shot but. . sometimes it happens that way!   We have had to hit the ground running with catching up on what is happening at the Artisans Co-Op and other photo business.  Artisans had been slow in sales, partly due to the downtown street resurfacing but we were pleased to find that Tom had a sale of one of his entries in the art show that we had entered in Cortez. We do have a long to-do list with FeVa Fotos as well as  our groups that we are a part of within the community and beyond.   I can only repeat what Tom has previously blogged in regards to our two week trek across "memory lane".  (Wisconsin-Upper Michigan-Lower Michigan-Oklahoma- and points in between ! )  Our visits with friends and family could not have been better!   Sandy

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Trite as it may sound, it's good to be home! Walking Scooby Doo at 5 a.m. under a full moon at 30 dry, cool degrees, seeing the fresh snow on the La Platas reflecting in the moonlight, having slept the night in our own bed with fresh air coming in the slightly open windows at the head ... it feels good!

After about 4,400 miles in the tin can on wheels, we still love each other deeply, but it's nice to have more space! ;-}

And it's nice to be back with the varmints. Our renters took care of them beautifully. Sophie, fat as ever, greeted us with the usual disdain ... "Oh, you're back?" Fifi, the crippled black cat that wasn't expected to live long after a car hit her, is as athletic as ever and looking fine (I think the renter groomed her; she looks less like a Ragg Mopp!). And Scooby Doo is well-fed and needy as ever! A little retraining will be necessary ... she went into her nighttime cage readily, but then whined till told to knock it off. And she started whining again a little after 4 a.m. And, after I got up and walked her, she parked herself at the bedroom door and whined for Sandy. So, I'm doing this post on the laptop with the wiener dog glued to my side on the love seat. Gotta move her ear when I need to hit the return key or delete.

We got an early start from Santa Rosa, NM, yesterday, still getting our body clocks reset after changing two time zones. As we headed up I-40 toward Albuquerque, the weather was generally dingy and rainy and steadily colder. Although the TV weather maps had shown winter weather warnings north of Albuquerque, that was actually one of the drier sections of the drive. We did hit a few snow flakes around Cuba. 

Just south of Farmington, we drove out from under the cloud and enjoyed beautiful Four Corners sunshine the rest of the way home. The temp was up in the high 50s when we pulled into Mancos. The kind of weather we've come to enjoy!

The color is mostly gone here. Cottonwoods in the lowlands coming up from Farmington had all their leaves turned, but they were dull ... none of the glitter of full fall color. I don't know if they went straight to dull because of the dryness, or if we just missed it. Anyway, we're probably spoiled by the wider color spectrum of the eastern woodlands, such as this example from the observation tower at Timm's Hill, the highest point in Wisconsin (west of Tomahawk).

We got in early enough to get through many of the "we're back" chores yesterday: Phone messages, litter box-tending, junk mail, bills, newspapers and magazines, etc. More re-entry work today ... downloading the trip's pictures, follow-up e-mails, groceries, water the plants, pay bills and start to catch up on the things we're involved with here. Sandy is now a director of the Mancos Valley Chamber of Commerce. We each have three photos in a show in Cortez that we haven't seen yet and we have a bunch of FeVa Fotos tasks to get started on. There's a museum association meeting this afternoon and evening (with dinner at the Metate Room, which ain't bad at all!) and one in Durango next week. Workshop at SWOS Friday morning and other SWOS activities to get back into. Phone volunteering for KSJD on Monday morning. And, somewhere along the way, start exercising to work off the stiffness in my knee from all the driving and riding ... and get rid of the five pounds the trip added to my weight!

While it's good to be getting back into the normal routines of life at home, it's with good memories of the last two weeks. We had wonderful shared photo ops across southern Colorado and the dawn was beautiful on the high plains. The upper Midwest was beautiful (and no mosquitoes!) and my 50th high school reunion was worth going to. We had good visits with relatives on both sides of my family, and it's always interesting to tour the area I grew up in ... SO much has changed! There were good times, too, with Sandy's friends in the UP and with the Feutz family in lower Michigan. Though our time in Oklahoma was limited, we enjoyed getting together with Sandy's daughter and her family, dining together and taking in a grandson's football game. 

Still, it will be nice to settle in for a while and enjoy being home, with no travel! tv

Monday, October 13, 2008

Heading home

After a good visit with Sandy's family in Chandler, OK, we pcaked up again and headed for home. We're in Santa Rosa, NM, tonight, leaving us with what should be a relatively short day tomorrow. 

There's change in the air ... Santa Rosa is about 30 degrees cooler (and probably 30 percent drier!) than Chandler, and we're seeing winter storm warnings for tomorrow in areas of northern New Mexico that we'll be going through. But, I'll sure we'll be reunited with Scooby Doo, Fifi and Sophie before dark. tv

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Color Tour VIII

This is a no-color section of the FeVa Color Tour blog ... there's really no autumn foliage color in central Oklahoma right now, and with a dial-up connection for the next couple of days, I'm not even going to try to upload a picture.

So, we're enjoying warmer temperatures (high 70s today) and even lower gas prices ($2.799 in one place) and being in Sandy's house and seeing family. Went to a football game one of Sandy's grandsons played in this afternoon. On the way back, we were nourished back to wholeness by hamburgers at a Braum's in Shawnee (which happened to also have a special on double fudge sundaes!).

Found a few items we left behind in March when we were married in Chandler, plus more we can take back to Mancos on this trip. Catching up on things, doing things around the house, etc. On the road again Monday, if things go as planned. tv

Friday, October 10, 2008

Sidebar (again)

Sunday included, in addition to color, some old memory-joggers for me. One was the "Wisconsin Concrete Park," in Phillips, WI. I used to travel past this weird collection of cement and glass statuary on my way to and from Northland College on Hwy. 13. Now it's a county park, commemorating the folk art of retired logger Fred Smith (

The real reason for going up 13, though, was to revisit Northland College (though I also took night classes from the University of Puget Sound while in the Army and finished my undergraduate degree from Pacific Lutheran University while auditing graduate courses at Southern Illinois University, I consider Northland College my alma mater) after close to 50 years. I attended three semesters there in 1958-59 and 1960 and have been back only twice since then. 

It's not the sleepy little school I attended! We had about 350 students in a 4-year college, more than half the students worked on campus (I learned to set type by hand in the college print shop) and the student center/gym/snack bar was  a converted chicken coop! But the dorm I lived in the first year is still there (Mead Hall), as are a couple of other buildings that were there 50 years ago (Wheeler Hall, shown, was built in 1892).

Now there are many new buildings and the Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute, which is a major force in Great Lakes studies. tv

Color Tour VII

Well. It' been a while. 

We're in Effingham, IL, at the junction of I-57 and I-70, having driven down from Trufant, MI, yesterday. Today we'll be in Chandler, OK.

We gassed up at a place near Kalamazoo, MI, where the gas was $3.099 yesterday; didn't pick it for that reason, just noticed the price as we were filling up. That was the lowest we've seen; it's about $3.29 in southern Illinois. 

Temperatures were higher than anticipated ... about 75 degrees yesterday afternoon around Vandalia. There was a little color around Trufant ... yellows and golds on trees in town ... but there really wasn't much fall color in lower Michigan. It got a little better as we went toward Lake Michigan and then petered out as we got down toward Gary, IN.

The pictures above are sort of chronological. The bottom is an early morning picture (day before yesterday) of Portage Creek, near Curtis, MI. I took a sunset shot at the same place in December and posted it on the blog Dec. 11. Beautiful, placid stream, much warmed yesterday than in December!

Near that point was a tree in the process of turning color. I've been fascinated by oaks and maples that look like Jack Frost has been individually painting each leaf, sometimes in abstract designs.

As we got to where we could see the Mackinac Bridge, there was an ore boat going west through the straits. Brought back memories of when I was a night clerk at the Bayfield Inn in Bayfield, WI, and would see these huge boats in Lake Superior.

We spent a little time yesterday morning at a flea market on the edge of Trufant and, while Sandy enjoyed the displays, I poked around in the adjacent woods. There was a nice array of colored trees across a nearby field.

In the strip of woods bordering the flea market, there were a few of the old, upturned stumps that Trufant is famous for ("The Stump Fence Capital of the USA"). When the original settlers in the Pinery ... the huge white pine forests of the upper Midwest ... were clearing land, they cut the pines, uprooted the stumps and stood them on edge along the sides of their fields. The intertwining roots were an impenetrable barrier to livestock. I liked the sculptured look and patina on this old giant.

And there were quite a few large mushrooms in the dark, damp undergrowth of the fence line. tv

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Color Tour VI

Found a little wildlife Sunday on our way north from Merrill. This little frog was at the edge of a lake near Timms Hill, the highest point in Wisconsin, west of Tomahawk on Hwy 86 (viewing tower shown above frog). The colors were good in that area, petered out toward Ashland on Hwy 13. We did a brief tour of my alma mater, Northland College, and headed east, ending up in Manistique on Sunday night. Monday morning we backtracked a bit, to catch some of the color we had seen in the twilight before we tucked it in.

Monday was spent seeing friends and catching up on what's new in Newberry, MI, as well as just kinda taking a down day and relaxing. Off today, Tuesday, for lower Michigan.

Sunday, October 5, 2008


Yesterday was busy with other activities besides the formal reunion events. Classmates Roy and Dave organized a brunch with a teacher some of us were close to. Ralph swears the colorful coat he was wearing wasn't the one he wore in class 50 years ago ... he just still has the same taste!

Before the brunch we had coffee and a great sweet cake at another relative's, then the brunch, then off for a leisurely lunch and visit with my Curtis kin, shown at cousin Laurel's home. 

I went light at the banquet last night, but I'm definitely going to have to be on light rations and more exercise for a few days to fend off the impacts of yesterday! tv

Color Tour V

Well, the old hermit went to his 50th high school class reunion ... and had fun! In part it was thanks to the loving presence and support of his partner, but it was also due to the low pressure atmosphere of the event.

The turnout was daunting. There were, I learned, 170 members of our graduating class (35 more than I thought), and a lot of us showed up, with spouses in many cases. The panorama at top shows the banquet room at Club 64 in Merrill, WI, was crowded. The organizing committee did a nice job!

There were a few classmates that I especially wanted to see ... old pals. Some showed up; some didn't. Sandy got a good picture of me between Jay (on my right) and Roy. Roy and Tom would have looked more like their senior pictures if they didn't have all that extra gray hair on their faces! 

Good event, and us old folks got home early enough to relax and get a good night's sleep in preparation for heading into the wilds of northern Wisconsin and the UP today.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Color Tour IV.

Well, time to relax and catch up a bit. Noi says there's gas in North Carolina again, though limited and about $4.00 per gallon. We got gas in Minnesota at $3.25 and it's $3.59 around here.

There's more humidity here; this morning it was in the form of ice on the windshield!

We started out in search of color, turned back at hearing a noise in the rear right wheel. Fortunately, friends directed us to Brickner's, the Chrysler/Jeep dealer in Merrill, and their service section was able to give us attention immediately. Very nice service at very low cost and, in an hour or so, we were on our way again. 

A few observations on returning to where I grew up, 50 years later. 

Trees can grow a lot in 50 years! Fields and pastures are now forests. Only a few scenes, actively managed, still look as I remember them.

Old log houses and barns are gone, sometimes replaced with newer structures, more often wilted into the ground. In general, it seemed, the barns and farm structures we saw as we drove across western Wisconsin Thursday and as we drove around Lincoln County Friday were in need of paint and/or repair. Often the homes in the complex were looking pretty good, but the same level of care and repair did not extend to the other buildings. In at least some instances I know about, old farms have been subdivided below agricultural practicality ... you can't do on 40 acres what you used to be able to do on 160 acres. In some cases, two (or more) jobs in town have taken up the time to farm and offered more in the way of income and benefits. In a few instances, folks who are still farming are leasing/renting other folks' fields to augment their overall production, which leaves no incentive to paint barns and sheds that don't belong to them.

We drove the old roads yesterday, going up Hwy. 107 along the Wisconsin River, always a good avenue for color. Generally, the autumn foliage isn't as brilliant and dazzling as it sometimes is. One person we met commented that the birches have turned yet, while the maples (top picture) have often lost most of their leaves. The sumac was colorful in a few places, but it was brighter in Iowa (third pic from the top).

Still, there were many delights to discover. One scene that seemed unchanged was Dotter's sugarbush, the grove of maples near the house where I grew up that was owned by the Dotter family (second from the top). They made maple syrup there every spring, and one of my fondest memories as a boy is of maple syrup-making as the first signs of spring were showing, carrying pails of sap from trees to a barrel on a sled, then enjoying the sweet, warm smells of the cookhouse as the sap was boiled down to maple syrup in an open pan over a wood fire.

The difference in that scene is that there would have been Jersey milk cows grazing in front of the maples 50 years ago, not Angus beef cattle.

A little further along the road, we stopped to look down a color-lined lane and when we got out of the car and looked up, saw a gorgeous tree of color right over us (bottom picture). 

Last night was the opening reception for my reunion. Once some name tags were provided, it got easier! Some people grew taller, many grew wider and a few who were big, burly jocks are now tall and skinny. Not my kind of gathering ... too many people for too short conversation for the old introvert ... but it was nice to see some of my classmates and get a chance to catch up a little bit. We didn't stay long ... the free beer has no appeal ... and got back to the hotel room for a good night's rest. The gatherings today will be a little more comfortable for me, I think. tv

Color Tour III

Made it to Wisconsin in good time. Clouds started forming almost as soon as we crossed the river into the state! Had rain a good part of the rest of the way. 

Stopped again for a late lunch at the Thorpedo in Thorp, WI; still as good as it was in December. Later, I had to visit the Colby Cheese House in Colby, WI, and get a little bit of Colby cheese from the source.

Last night, on our way to the nursing home to see a resident relative, the sun cleared and we saw a few trees blazing away in full color, although I could see that quite a few leaves had already fallen. So, we're off on a color search before the reunion reception tonight. tv

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Color Tour II

Long day on the trail, little opportunity to photograph fall foliage ... mostly because, even if we had had the time to stop, not many leaves have turned along I-80 across Nebraska and Iowa. So, just have a picture of a couple of pronghorns that were grazing beside Colorado 71 north of Limon at dawn.

Actually, dawn is beautiful on the high plains of eastern Colorado. It's not where I would want to live, but there is an immensity that is illuminated beautifully by the early light raking across the vast fields and gently undulating surfaces.

There's also a vastness to Nebraska, but it's different. Perhaps it's because I've driven across it so many times now. In any case, with Sandy's help and support we covered more than 700 miles today, ending up in Story City, Iowa, before dark. That's about 50 miles more than I had been shooting for ... 50 miles we don't have to cover tomorrow on our way to Merrill, WI.

I-80 was its usual pachyderm parade ... trucks, trucks, trucks. They seem more numerous on I-40, but there's not many minutes on I-80 without passing or being passed by one. As Sandy pointed out, the amount of truck transport is a sign that goods are still moving in this economy.

Having Sirius satellite radio allows us to keep track of the news wherever we are, and to switch to the music we prefer when the news gets irritating!

Sunset was lovely as we traveled up I-35 from Des Moines, lovely in the same way dawn was on the high plains, with golden raking light across the fields. tv

Color Tour I.

Ya seen one gold leaf, ya seen 'em all!  

We almost felt that way after our trip across southern Colorado yesterday. Yet the experience was wonderful! One thing our pictures can't convey is the experience of watching the quaking aspen quake ... just a constant shimmer of dancing leaves. In one place, it was a gentle shower of discs of gold as the wind shook the trees and leaves fell around us.

The tarantula at the top was one of a dozen or more individuals making their way across the highway at various places around Rocky Ford, Colorado.

We must have waited for half an hour for the clouds to clear and let the sun illuminate the mass of aspens on the east side of La Veta Pass. It seems every shade the aspen leaves can turn is represented in this cluster.

In some places, the mass of leaves, with the sun behind, presented a mosaic constructed of golden chips.

Just off the east side of Wolf Creek Pass, in the upper part of the Rio Grande, there were aspens scattered through the evergreen forest in ones and twos, looking like tall candles lit in the woods.

There's a beautiful valley east of Pagosa Springs, as you approach Wolf Creek Pass from the west, that was all ablaze, with the San Juans in the background.

Well, it was nice, but here we are in Limon, CO, and it's 6 a.m. and we need to cross Nebraska and be on the north side if Des Moines, Iowa, tonight, so bye for now. tv