Tuesday, March 31, 2009


I'm back in Wisconsin to attend Jane Vaughn's funeral; she was like an aunt to me. Got to thinking about how families relate to each other, without the interference of pure logic.

For example, I worked with and then for (as a farmhand) my Uncle Dick, the last Vaughan/Vaughn to operate the small farm my great-grandfather Christ Vaughan homesteaded in the Township of Rock Falls, Lincoln County, Wisconsin.  "Uncle Dick" was my great-uncle, and his real name was Arnold Joseph Vaughn, not Dick or Richard!

"Jane's" name was Everald, and she was my dad's mother's sister's son's widow! [Her middle name was Jane]. But in the reality of the times when they were growing up, my dad and his cousin Stanley were like brothers. In fact, I got used to my dad calling me "Stanley;" it was when he couldn't remember either my name or Stanley's name and called me "Roy" (dad's half-brother) or "Leslie" (Stanley's half-brother) that I'd get a little irked. ;-}

It also came as a shock to realize from Jane's death notice that she was only about 15 years older than me! After all, when I was a kid she was an adult, the mother of the cousins I played with, and that put her on the same level as my folks! 

Considering how complicated that side of the family's history is, the naming anomalies are probably all the insights I'm capable of right now. It will be VERY hard for this old brain to sort out the second cousins and their kids and grandkids at the funeral and reception tomorrow! I think the last time I saw one of my cousins, Wilmer, may have been more than 40 years ago! tv

Made it!

Laptop is acting up; don't know how far I will get with  this. Wisconsin is, of course, cloudy and rainy from the time I crossed the river at Hudson. I suspect it will be cloudy and snowy in the morning; looked like the storm I started out in at 4:30 a.m. and outran near Grand Island has caught up with me. For tonight, at least, everything I need is close at hand, including a restaurant, the pool/spa and BED.  Lonely for my partner, though. tv

Monday, March 30, 2009

Long day

Long, cold, windy day. Left home in Mancos at about dawn, tucked it in in Kearney, NE, a little short of my goal, Grand Island. The roads were worst in Mancos and on Wolf Creek Pass. Otherwise, sunny but cold and windy!

No stopping for pictures; the one posted is a drive-by shot of Blanca Peak, near Alamosa.

Found a good deal at a Days Inn, ate at the Perkins next door, enjoyed the hotel spa and now to bed! On the road early again tomorrow ... shouldn't be quite as long a day getting into Wausau. Attend Jane Vaughn's funeral Wednesday, and then reverse the trek. Lonely! tv

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Great trip and maiden voyage with the FeVa Condo!   Monument Valley is amazing, even in not so good weather.  The new lodge there was a real treat beautifully done with the best of views from the rooms .    We took so many pictures , I am going to have to search to find the ones to post! sf

Travels with Condo

We're back! 

It was quite a learning experience, a Four Corners spring adventure. 

As we crossed the San Juan River at Mexican Hat, there were several groups of rafters floating under the bridge, enjoying the sunny afternoon.

We got to The View Hotel, checked in, dropped Condo (the 17' Casita travel trailer) and headed into Monument Valley Tribal Park. By then it was cloudy and the wind was starting to whip the sand around. The Japanese tour group shown in the second picture was traveling in open, multi-seat jitneys, some of them wearing face masks to keep the dust out and parkas to keep the cold out.

I got a kick out of the traditional hogan with a string of solar walk-lights around the perimeter!

We did see signs of spring ... blossoms on fruit trees in Bluff, Utah, fields and pastures greening up, red leaves on a bush among the boulders in the tribal park and a little black caterpillar crawling on a narrow-leaf yucca.

We did catch a short spell of evening sunshine, which made for a little more drama in the pictures. We were a couple of days shy of the day when the sunset shadow of the west mitten is supposed to cover the east mitten; it wasn't very dramatic.

The brief shaft of sunlight on the buttes the next morning was dramatic ... before it began to snow so hard we couldn't see anything more than a hundred yards away! The hotel does have a stunning view from the dining room, as well as from practically all the rooms. The rooms were VERY nice (biggest, fluffiest bath towels I've ever had in a hotel) and the food in the restaurant was good and moderately priced (the most expensive item on the breakfast menu was a burrito with Spam!). A young German woman next to us was flabbergasted when she ordered the Herb Yazhe burger (named after an old friend who was supt. of Canyon de Chelly NM before he retired and became the #2 in Navajo Tribal Parks) and received a plate heaped with two hamburger patties and vegies between two pieces of fry bread! Service ranged from ho-hum in a couple of instances to generally quite good.

We went west to Goulding's and on west around the mesa to Oljato, which I had never visited before ... it was one of the trading posts John and Louisa Wade Wetherill operated. The post isn't open now and appears in a bit of disrepair; an aircraft runway ends next to the trading post at the right.

The cold and snow made us rethink our plan to spend our first night in Condo dry-camping at Valley of the Gods, so we checked into the Goulding's Good Sam RV park and took advantage of the full hook-ups. There were enough things for us to learn and get used to that it was a good idea. It also gave us time to explore a little more, both in and around Goulding's. We enjoyed a cozy supper, some cards and some reading before turning in for one of the best nights' sleep I've had ... the mattress is as good as I thought it would be!

And, in the morning, it was 23 degrees with a cold wind blowing down the canyon ... musta been zero with the wind chill factor! Hoses froze, etc. We did get a picture of the main Goulding's complex before we headed back. Then Tom discovered that he had not adequately secured the hitch on the ball! We got it properly hooked up after dragging the tongue a few yards, but it was sure cold and distressing for a few minutes.

Things warmed up, we had good Navajo tacos at the Twin Rocks cafe in Bluff and there were several burros calling to Sandy as we came up through McElmo Canyon. Tired, though, by the time we got home. All's well that ends well ... we saw some beautiful country!!! tv

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Leaving tomorrow

So, brother-in-law Bill arrived, we visited Monday and had leftovers from his birthday party for supper (posole is always better the second day) and had breakfast at the Bakery this morning before he headed SW in nice sunshine.

Spent the rest of the day getting Condo the Casita ready for our trip. Since this will be our first time out with it, I have NO idea whether we're really ready or not, but here goes!

We'll drop the dachsigator off at the Dog Hotel on our way west and head on out to Monument Valley. We're staying at the new hotel on the rim, so we'll drop the trailer, spend the rest of the day in Monument Valley (weather permitting) and enjoy the comfort of the hotel and its dining room on our first anniversary.

Thursday, I hope we'll get a little more time in the tribal park, go across the highway to Gouldings and then head for Valley of the Gods, where we intend to spend our first night in Condo. Dusk and dawn there should be beautiful, too.

I s'pose we'll have to come home Friday, but we may not be too fast about it! tv

Monday, March 23, 2009

Ah, Spring!

Above is a picture of Point Lookout from our house during yesterday afternoon's San Juaner. Can't see it? Well, we couldn't see Point Lookout, either, or anything else more than a mile away, the air was so thick with blowing dust! And then last night it snowed an inch! Springtime in Colorado!

Gave the most perfectly executed gathering we've done last night; it was a surprise birthday party. Only the guest of honor didn't make it ... guess that's one of the risks you run when you try to do a surprise party! 

Anyway, we talked about skunks and parts of the body that are wearing out and ate posole and birthday cake and had a good old time (what other kind of time can us old-timers have?). tv

Sunday, March 22, 2009

A day of dust and dancing

We had a big day yesterday, what with working the KSJD booth at Ag Expo from 9-11, then taking pictures of the sorting competition and the ranch rodeo (in ever-increasing dust!) and going to the KSJD Gypsy Ball in the evening! (We did get home to clean up in between!)

The team branding competition includes roping the calf, moving it to a designated area and "branding" it. In the process, you grab any handle you can! Other riders are on hand, in case the critter gets away ... as it often did.

Sudden changes in direction are part of the game, leaving hat and head going in different directions in one instance. In another, the horse and rider parted company.

The picture above the hat-flying one captures the essence of the competition - getting a rope on the critter so you can get it where you wanted and get it branded.

Cowboys start young; if not born in the saddle, they're hanging onto Dad while he's waiting his turn in the competition.

The Gypsy Ball started with belly-dancers (former park ranger pictured) and segued to a jazzy group from Albuquerque, Le Chat Fantastique. At which point some of us old folks went home and to bed! tv

Friday, March 20, 2009

Spring fever

Sunny days, not freezing at night ... the animals know what to do. tv

Mancos Morning!

The overcast  this morning seems strange after so many days of beautiful sunshine. We're so spoiled by the weather here!  Tom and I, with the encouragement of a good friend, attended the Durango Photography Club meeting last night and although the presentations were long(for myself who"fades" at about 7 pm) , came away with much new knowledge about the art of photography.  An enjoyable and beneficial evening.  We'll be back I am sure!   sf                                                                                                                                                                                                          We ended up making a trip to Dove Creek this morning  and I was pleased to run into a couple of old friends (the four legged kind) along the way.   Guess I could call them Colorado wildlife, but that really wouldn't be fair.  Khan  and Pete are both gentle souls.  :)  sf 

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Ho hum

Ho hum, another sinfully sunny day in SW Colorado. The last couple of days have gotten up into the 60s and 70s ... sure makes one think of spring (which in Colorado means we have at least three mini-blizzards ahead of us).

It's been a lazy couple of days ... enjoying the sun, doing a little with "Condo," the Casita travel trailer. Sandy came up with the name, which allows us to say (down the road) that we've had a condo in Colorado, Utah, Arizona, etc. We're really looking forward to taking our first trip in it, which will probably be when we go to Monument Valley on March 25 to celebrate our first anniversary; we plan to stay in The View Hotel on the rim of Monument Valley on the 25th and then spend the next night in Condo in Valley of the Gods.

Before then, we'll be attending our first Durango Photography Club meeting tonight, working in the KSJD booth at Ag Expo on Saturday and hosting my brother-in-law Bill on Sunday and Monday. All good fun.

I'm pleased to see the President going to Orange County, CA, (not exactly one of his strongholds of support) to hold a town hall speech, open on a first-come, first-served basis, with public televising of his presentation and the question-and-answer session. That, to me, is the way it should be, not the closed-door, invitation-only secretiveness of the last few years. Still, Geithner probably has to go ... too close to the problem, IMHO (not that anyone asked. ;-}). tv

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Tom in Blue!

sAnd who is having the most fun at the Follies?sf

Millwood Follies #26; may there be 50!

'Twas a long evening for us oldies, but it was an enjoyable one! It may seem strange to arrive at 4 p.m. for a show that starts at 7:30, but it did get us a good seat at a table down front, and by 5 the place was almost full. 

From the kids to the graybeards, it was a fun night. Zachary Baker, at bottom, is an up-and-coming young musician whose mother, Linda Gimble Baker, is a well-known musician locally (and I think young Zach has a great-uncle named Johnny Gimble, of Texas Swing fame!). [WRONG!!!! See comments below!]

We had bagpipes and fiddles, a guitar made from a refrigerator door and madrigal voices and wild and crazy keyboardists, along with Devin and Marilyn Kroeker singing feelingly about the pleasures/treasures/struggles of growing up. 

I don't know how much was raised to support the centennial celebration for the Mancos High School, but one of the live auction packages was a night at Mesa Verde, complete with supper at the Metate Room, a bus tour, the centennial book and a bottle of wine, won by MC Cathy Epps, shown holding the package. The folks at Mesa Verde came through with nice items!

So, the fun of last night should sustain us through the clean-up process, which we're off to help with in a few minutes! tv

Friday, March 13, 2009

What beautiful country we live in!

The two-day trip we took around the San Juan Skyway was sooooo wonderful! We were not rushed (though it was after 7 p.m. when we got home Wednesday) and we met so many nice people and enjoyed so many beautiful scenes. Thank goodness we took two days for the loop; maybe in summer and fall we'll make it three days to allow for more exploring. 

The bottom picture is of Lizard Head Pass, with snow flurries moving in. We didn't get snowed on, but it made for dramatic skies and landscape.

The middle picture is of Ouray from the south, up above the Ice Park, at about 10 a.m., when the sun was just fully covering the town. Not a place for claustrophobes!

The top view is of a Buick-based mail truck on rails, parked next to the visitor center in Ridgway. I don't remember seeing it when we went through last fall, and it's a neat addition. There's also Galloping Goose #4 parked there. It's not as nice as #5 in Dolores, but the plan is to restore it.

All in all, the combination of beautiful scenery and the pleasant people in the small towns made it SUCH a pleasant trip! tv

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Sandy's Faves

Actually, I had about 200 favorite pictures from this trip.   Colorado is so beautiful and a photographers dream!  Somehow uploading pictures is a slow ordeal today but I will try to add a few to this post.  The scenery was too spectacular not to share! sf

Aspen Addiction!

About 400 pictures in 2 days of a great photo safari and approximately 1/3 of them are of Aspen.  There's just something about those trees!  sf

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Waking up in Ouray

What a day! Where to start? With the beautiful waterfall we saw in the Animas Valley just north of Durango? Or the absolutely beautiful trip from Durango to Ouray, up 550 through the San Juan Mountains with fresh snow and gorgeousl blue sky? Or the really neat people experiences we had along the way?

Well, anyway, we left Mancos yesterday morning with snow in the air and overcast skies, driving in 4-wheel. By the time we got to Durango, the streets were dry, the skies were bright blue and the sunshine was glorious. It was cold ... 15 to 17 degrees most of the morning ... but that bright alpine sunshine is so warming!

The purpose of our trip is to distribute the latest issue of Arts Perspective magazine, published by a couple of Mancos friends (www.artsperspective.com), and our route is the San Juan Skyway. Not a shabby paper route!

We went up the Animas Valley to Trimble Hot Springs (which I'd never been to before, in 20 years in SW Colorado!), and along the way there was this beautiful waterfall gushing down the redrock cliffs.

The drive to Silverton was crisp and bright and we enjoyed wraps at the Steam and Steel Cafe on the north (sunny!) side of Greene Street (the main drag). The co-owner/manager/cook/waitress/cashier, Lyn Simon, presides over a cozy, laid-back little restaurant, decorated with bicycles hanging from the ceiling and photos of Africa on one wall. We'll be back!

While I'm on food (while eating the Best Western hot breakfast delivered to our room by a handsome young cowboy ... lady readers take note!), last night's supper at the Backstreet Bagel in Ouray was a great end to the day. Normally a breakfast and lunch place, one night a week they open for supper, planned and prepared by a guest chef. Last night was the night and Chef Omen prepared sourdough bread, and a tasty fresh salad, juicy turkey stuffed with cranberries and walnuts, stuffing, delicious red potatoes, sauteed summer squash and pumpkin pie ... all for $12 each! Again, the setting is an old building with couches for reading, artwork on the walls and Victorian buildings and mountains visible out the front window. 

Pictures aren't loading well this morning, so I'll add them later and catch up on the rest of the day later, probably after we get home. We went to the Ouray Ice Park to watch people climbing up frozen waterfalls (not MY cup of tea!); Sandy's got the best pictures of that activity. We ended the trip to Ouray by going up Camp Bird Road till it was blocked, driving along a steep canyon with beautiful views of aspens, peaks and pines. (The panorama is of Silverton, from the miner's shrine above town. Click on it to make it more big. The road to Durango is at the right, Kendall Mountain in the center.)

Doing our distribution duties in Silverton and Ouray was fun. We met lots of friendly people who were very positive about having Arts Perspective for their visitors to see. Maybe they were just happy to see a live person at this time of year! In any case, it will be interesting to come back quarterly and watch the seasons change around the San Juan Skyway.

We're off! tv

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Spring Snows

It is March. Time for sprouts of green grass, the tips of flowering bulbs pushing through the soft earth, young calves and lambs.  And spring snow!  There were  flurries this morning and what looked like a full fledged blizzard a few moments ago.  The ground has a gentle dusting   of white and the way the weather is here in southwestern Colorado we will probably have shirt sleeve weather tomorrow.  I think I will crawl back under a warm blanket , read my book and wait for the dawn of a brighter, and warmer, day!sf

The picture I am posting has nothing to do with the above.  Just a Mesa Verde horse that seemed to welcome the attention of a struggling shutterbug!

Friday, March 6, 2009

High Five!

I am posting Tom's pics and my  big "High Five" and "Well Done"" to Mancos Valley Bank for their open house event  held last night at their beautiful new branch office in Cortez for Chamber of Commerce members from Cortez, Mancos and Dolores .    Great food  and a welcoming gathering from Mancos's hometown bank!  They are bound to be a beneficial addition to the business community in Cortez.  Thank you , Mancos Valley Bank!  sf

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

"Share the Joy" show at the library

This morning we got a show mounted on the Mancos Public Library's exhibit wall. Sandy and I each have five framed 8x10 photos there, reflecting our motto for FeVa Foto "Share the Joy." It's mainly a fun show for us, using pictures we really enjoyed taking. We'll sell them if somebody contacts us, with half going to the Mancos Friends of the Library. tv