Thursday, April 30, 2009

Nice hike at Mesa Verde

Like Sandy, I really enjoyed the  hike out to Soda Point at Mesa Verde yesterday morning. I took the tripod to try to get pictures of a tour group going through Balcony House, which is only visible from there. Unfortunately, I went to the overlook that doesn't give the best view into Balcony House. So, we'll have to take that hike again and use the other overlook. ;-}

From the bottom up, the ranger gathers his group for orientation and scene-setting at the top of the steps before going down to the level they'll walk along to ascend into the cliff dwelling. The steps you see are a small set; a much longer set is along the trail to the left.

After going down the steps, there's a pleasant walk for several hundred yards along the base of the cliff to the spring below Balcony House.

The middle picture shows the 30-foot log ladder one climbs to get into the site. After getting off the ladder, you go through a passageway behind a two-story structure, climb another short ladder and come out into the first courtyard, which has a wall along the cliff side of the courtyard, as seen in the next-to-the-top photo.

After going behind some other rooms and a second courtyard, the tour group crawls through a tunnel (two walls with doorways that control passage through the space between that huge cliff-flake and the cliff face it leans against ... you can stand up in the middle) and then climbs ladders and stone steps in the cliff-face, shown in the top picture.

And the dust remained in the air all day, as it does today. Are clear skies a thing of the past as of this spring? tv

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Flowers on the Mesa!

Yippeee!  The wild flowers are starting to bloom!  We drove up to Mesa Verde this morning to catch some pictures of Balcony House from a lookout point across the canyon and we were delighted to find some flowering trees and a few small wildflowers.    There are  even some Indian Paintbrush blooming on our driveway!  The day was still a little hazy from airborne dust but the sky was blue, we spent the morning enjoying Mesa Verde photo opportunities and came home to a lunch of ice cold watermelon.  I took my jacket with me and didn't need it.. . . . the high altitude sun warmed our faces.. . . and wildflowers brightened our day. . Yippeee!. . .  .I think it's spring!  sf

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


I went to a meeting at Mesa Verde this afternoon. On the way in, I couldn't see Shiprock from the Park Point area. On the way out, I not only couldn't see Shiprock from Park Point, I could barely see Ute Mountain from the park entrance. It wasn't blowing like it so often has recently, just dust filling the spaces. tv

Monday, April 27, 2009

YFZ raid analysis

As you know, I've followed the FLDS saga since learning they owned two properties about three miles from here in the Mancos Valley. We're peripheral to the main story, which hit the headlines a year ago with the raid on the YFZ compound in Texas.

I think Marci A. Hamilton has a good analysis of that raid and its aftermath on FindLaw at Toward the end, she has a chilling paragraph, basically describing YFZ as a eugenics experiment for Warren Jeffs. tv

Sierra la Rosa

We live just west of the La Plata Mountains. They usually are bright white in their snow cover, sometimes tinted pink by the evening sun.

Last night, however, we could tell already from the time we hit the Farmington area that the silvery peaks were pink ... colored by the dust that has blown in from the west over the last few weeks. Disgusting. Troubling. tv

Who'd a thunk it?

As Sandy has noted below, out on the western edge of the Llano Estacado, once called the Great American Desert, surrounded by cactus and other vegetation of the arid southwest, is a scuba diving mecca ... the Blue Hole of Santa Rosa. It's not very big, but throngs of divers were assembled there on Sunday morning. Most were in cars with Colorado plates; I saw one van with a sign on the side that said it was from Colorado Springs. 

On Sunday morning, I saw lots of people we had seen at the La Quinta Inn earlier that day and at the Santa Fe Grille the night before. My guess is that there were at least 50 people at the Blue Hole Sunday who had come to Santa Rosa for a weekend of diving. Doing the math, that's a lot of money spent in Santa Rosa that weekend! No wonder they're completing work on a $3 million convention and dive center next to the Blue Hole!

For an interesting review of the Blue Hole and Santa Rosa, NM, check out the 2004 story by Andrea Sachs in the Washington Post:  I admit to being one of those who has, in the past, seen Santa Rosa as a place to gas up or get off I-40 in a snowstorm (which I've done several times). Now I know there's a whole lot of Santa Rosa that I've overlooked! tv

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Blue Hole in Santa Rosa!

Most interesting spot we found in Santa Rosa.  It's called the "Blue Hole" and was drawing quite a crowd of divers.  The rocks and foliage surrounding it were really striking and the water really was a beautiful blue.   It looked like a great spot to learn how to do deep sea diving.  Myself, I like the no sharks idea.  The sign said the pool is 80 feet deep,so must be quite an adventure!sf

Did I Say Bath??

Upon return from our road trip to Oklahoma Tom decided to give our traveling partner,Scooby Doo, a bath.  I didn't want to subject her to a toxic flea/tick treatment while there and while traveling back found she had brought some souvenirs,the bug kind!,  for the return trip.The two of them in the bathtub together was quite a shot but I decided to pass on the X-Rated picture and just catch the look of total disapproval on the Scooby's face!    I don't think "bath " was what she had in mind!   sf

Saturday, April 25, 2009

On our way back

We left Chandler just before 10 this morning and battled dusty headwinds as far as Santa Rosa, NM, late this afternoon. Not too bad a day. Got our last Braum's fix at lunch in Clinton, OK, and supper at the Santa Fe Grille in Santa Rosa. Nice to feel the drier air.

The lower picture is the mural on the side of an old brick bank building, now used as a Masonic Hall, in Davenport, OK. It and the mural above it are intervisible across the street. The Route 66 mural is on the side of what is now a newspaper office, The New Era. the top picture is a little squib we found on the side of a building that describes the naming of Holdenville, OK, where Sandy grew up (can't figure out how to delete the sideways pic; advice appreciated). We enjoyed looking around Holdenville. While we were eating lunch in Pat's Cafe, Sandy recognized one of her high school classmates paying his lunch bill at the counter. tv

Heading back

We may be able to post some pics from our travels to small towns around Chandler, OK, tonight, when we will probably have high speed access. We're planning to head back toward Mancos this morning, a little earlier than anticipated. My back practically immobilized me yesterday morning; muscle spasm, I think. I'm doing better, but I got an appointment with the specialist I've seen at Spine Colorado for Thursday and got put on the cancellation list. So, if a cancellation comes in earlier in the week, I want to be there to take it up. The arthritis is a constant, low-level pain in the back, but this, while in the same area, was a much worse kind of critter ... need to check it out.

Last night we went to a wonderful local theater production in Chandler, a performance of "Footloose." Sandy's grandson went with us and we all really enjoyed the acting, singing and dancing. Considering the fact that most of the cast was high school students, they did a great job! There were interesting parallels with the Mancos Opera House ... they're doing a fundraiser in Chandler to get an elevator put in. Good turnout ... sold-out (150 seats) for five performances, and they do three productions a year. tv

Thursday, April 23, 2009

It's warm here!

I won't try to upload pics over this dial-up connection ... ssslllloooooowwwww! Not the pictures of the bank sign showing it was 91 degrees yesterday evening at 7:35 in Chandler. Not the picture of the dog resting in the shade of an old Route 66 service station. Not the picture of Sandy in front of Gar Wooly's steak place in Davenport, OK, where we went out to supper for our first date almost 2 1/2 years ago and where we went back for a repeat last night (this time I didn't chauvinistically place her order for her ... and order the wrong thing! I musta been nervous on that first date!).

We celebrated Sandy's daughter Heidi's birthday Tuesday with a pizza party, then went to downtown Chandler to enjoy the evening among the old buildings. Sandy and Heidi went out to lunch yesterday and then Sandy and I went to Gar Wooly's last night to celebrate her birthday. Then we went downtown again and enjoyed another evening stroll. Later, when I have wi-fi again, I'll post the pic I got of the "Last Ride Motorcycle Hearse" as it cruised through town!

Today we'll probably travel to the nearby town where Sandy grew up, maybe visit the Route 66 museum in Chandler and tend to odds and ends around the house. tv

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Civil discourse

Couldn't help thinking, as we drove past Chaco listening to Pres. Obama from the Caribbean on satellite radio, that he is modeling civil discourse in foreign relations, an example that could well be followed at home in Congress and generally between the two major parties.

Instead of demonizing those we disagree with, it would be nice if we could treat them as human beings who differ with us on specific issues and may (if we look a little) agree with us on some issues. We've evolved to a position where too many people automatically discount everything someone from the other party (Democrat OR Republican) or from a nation we disagree with says.  
Maybe we could then move from knee-jerk reactions to responses and initiatives that originate in a higher part of the body.

Ahh, moonshine?

We had an evening out in quiet little Mancos last night. Went to the historic Mancos Opera House for the "Spaghetti Western and Burlesque Night," a fund-raiser for Mancos Valley Cares to pay off legal bills from the suit against the county commissioners that was dropped because they didn't want to also have to sue the neighbor owning the land where the gravel pit and asphalt plant were going to be located.

Anyway, as you can see from the picture from the balcony, there was a good turnout ... the joint was jumping! The duo "Roscoe" opened, and then the Bare Bones group from Durango took the stage ... "Fiddler on the Roof" type music with fiddle, accordion and guitar and flute, crazy garb, a torch singer (shown) and stripper/dancers (not shown) of both genders. (None of the county commissioners were in evidence ... not their kind of tea party, I guess!)

As you can see from the top picture after the show, performers and audience all got into the western saloon theme of things. Aided by a well-stocked bar at the back of the room.

Mancos Valley Cares is now turning into an organization that will try to bring Mancos Valley folks together to jointly plan for our foreseeable future, which I look forward to participating in.

And, very soon ... within a couple of hours ... we load up suitcases and dog and head for Oklahoma. Tune in later for the marvelous adventures of FeVa Fotos ... sharing the joy! tv

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Ahhh! Sunshine!

Beautiful sunny morning. . How we appreciate it after days of wintery spring weather. (It snows. . it melts. . .it snows. . it melts. . etc.. . etc. . )  The little birds are flitting around the feeder, catching the morning rays  and a little furnished seed for breakfast.  I am still watching for my Easter Dove to return.  It came back briefly on Easter Day and haven't seen it since.  I was hoping to have a nesting pair close by.  I have read that the male and female share nesting duties. Real men(and male birds) keep the nest "warm"!   I knew there was something I liked about that Dove!   sf

Friday, April 17, 2009


Ya know you're getting old when you look through the alumni newsletter of the organization you used to work for (the NPS Employee & Alumni Association's Arrowhead) and you see where some fella retired after 29 years of service ... and you were already in mid-career when he came into the Service! As to those who are transferring from one post to another, I rarely know them. Like the newspaper, the obituary section is where you go to find the names you recognize!

Well, we may be up in years, but we're still flexible! After yesterday went to heck and the week caught up with us (sick doggie, blowout on Sandy's car, shearing for me and senior portfolios at SWOS in the evening), and facing a cold, damp, slightly snowy pre-dawn at dog-walking time, we decided we really didn't need to bust our butts to pack, load up and get to Santa Fe for NM Regional Meeting (Quaker). So, we canceled out on that and decided to leave for Oklahoma Sunday, giving a couple of days in which to monitor Scooby Doo and decide whether we'll try to take her with us or leave her here in the care of our renters.

That made for a nice, lazy day in which we took care of the blown tire, had breakfast at the Bakery (one of our favorite pastimes), read, played with the computer, tended to odds and ends and napped! Tomorrow, on the day in Mancos that fate gave us, we'll leisurely pack for the trip, go to the Home & Garden Show at the fairgrounds and take in the Spaghetti Western Burlesque Show (?) at the opera house in the evening. I've got four pans of baklava sitting ready to take to the show ... maybe I'll even get a piece (which rarely happens, thank goodness!).

And it's snowing fairly hard outside as I write this (6:50 p.m.)! Springtime in Colorado! (The pic is the road by the house yesterday morning, not Christmas eve!) tv

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Cue Card Please!

A speaker at the Tea Party in Cortez gets a little help from quotes of famous people held on cue cards!  It was colder than the dickens there.  Hot Tea would have been a winner!  A few cookies to sweeten the crowd wouldn't have hurt either. . .:)  Seriously, we are all blessed to live in this land of free speech and where  those who wish to do so are able to have a gathering such as this to voice their opinions.  sf

Two gatherings

I went to two gatherings today.

The first was the "tea party" held in the Cortez city park. We got there about 11:30 a.m. and it was already windy, with another San Juaner sandstorm moving in from the west. A few people came and went, but I'd estimate the crowd was about 100 people, all White, as near as I could see. While there was an outer ring of same-sized signs that protested bail-outs and pork spending, the signs individuals carried ... and the rhetoric from the speakers ... were a little broader in outlook. 

When we got there, an official of the Republican Party's county central committee was speaking, lauding the fact that Montezuma County has three conservative county commissioner's (all present or represented in the crowd), then going on to claim that the tea party was nonpartisan. The next speaker was a devout Second Amendment advocate (I've heard him say nobody will be safe until everybody has guns) who encouraged people to sign up at the NRA table nearby. Signs and speeches reflected anti-tax, anti-immigrant, anti-gun control, anti-Obama, anti-government views, with frequent references to Christ. There were also expressions of satisfaction that Montezuma County is in conservative hands, that that perceived dominance needs to be increased and that there needs to be a conservative newspaper in the county. "Liberals" would be the simplest label for this crowd's worst fear.

I left with the impression that it was a GOP/NRA event, and that it was basically a "no" party, exploiting fears about all the "thems" who have different values and views and who are felt to threaten the freedoms of those who were there. That left me with a shudder as I considered the community they apparently would most like to see ... armed, White, Christian-only, conservative-only, patriarchal, with no roads or police or fire departments ... because there'd be no taxes to pay for them. 

This afternoon, I sat in a multi-racial, multi-ethnic crowd of about 400 people at the memorial service for 19-year-old Enrique Gutierrez. His classmates and a teacher spoke of the way Enrique loved sports and worked hard at athletics, academics and being a good friend to all who knew him. Enrique graduated from Mancos last year and was a student at Mesa State College in Grand Junction when he died in a car accident last weekend. I remember Enrique as about a fifth-grader ... and a "skater" ... addressing the Mancos Town Board and asking them to create a skate park. That takes a lot of guts for a kid that age!

I couldn't help thinking about the difference between the two crowds ... the one so uniform and so united in fear and loathing, the other so diverse and so focused on the uniting force of love, humor and hard work. I'll go with the latter! tv

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Dirty snow

We've been mentioning the dust storms we've been having. On the way back from Durango this afternoon, we noticed some places around Hesperus where there was still snow on the north slopes. Here's an example, where the later snow has melted off, revealing and highlighting the layer of sand/dust covering the snow below.  Yuck! tv

Monday, April 13, 2009

Monday, Monday ...

Yesterday, two inches of snow on the ground. This morning, nothing but greening grass in sight as I watch the sun hit the top of Mesa Verde. 

And the rhythms resume ... trash is out, catching up on photo-filing, got the digital converter installed, blood drive this afternoon, then meetings ... and so it goes. tv

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Dove

This beautiful dove appeared in our front yard  yesterday afternoon.  It had been snowing since morning   and the sky was grey and forecasting more storms rolling in.   Was it by chance that the sun broke though and shone brightly during the time that  this symbol of peace and love appeared and lingered on Easter Eve Day?   Were we being reminded  of what our life should be about?   I don't know the answers.  But it was food for thought, for me.   Happy Easter friends. May I wish you peace and love. :)  sf


Snow still, or yet, or again, or whatever! The lane is a mud-bath and I suppose there will be slick spots to watch for on the way to Meeting this morning. Sandy fed the birds again yesterday and in the late afternoon sunshine got some nice shots of birds coming to the feeder in the fresh snow; I hope she'll post her dove picture.

I worked hard yesterday on preparations for the discussion I'm leading before meeting for worship this morning. The topic is "Witnessing: Showing Our Light" (or something like that). Part of my struggle was realizing I was starting off on the wrong foot. One of my old NPS bosses, Glen Bean, used to say it didn't matter what results you got if you did something for the wrong reason ... sooner or later, it would turn to ashes. I know I was feeling resentment at those in meeting who disparage others who don't join in the witnessing for peace demonstration on North Main in Durango every Friday afternoon. That activity is just so alien to me! Folks in northern Wisconsin in the Fifties carried signs if they were on strike, but "witnessing" and vigils were not part of the culture I grew up in, and I haven't acquired the taste since!

On the other hand, taking a stand and speaking out for what I believe in is something my folks DID raise me to believe in. So what's the difference? A matter of personal style, perhaps.

Anyway, I found myself doing some of my reading as I waited for a meeting on planning for the future of the Mancos Valley to begin yesterday morning ... and it was all of a piece! We have some deep differences in beliefs about what should be allowed where in the Mancos Valley, to the extent that some of our neighbors have felt it necessary to go to law in opposition to actions of the county commissioners. They've won, but at considerable cost to themselves (we're supporting a fundraiser for them that we won't be able to attend Saturday). 

There is a group that is mounting opposition to the BOCC through possible law suits and the preparation of political candidates to oust the commissioners. There are times when this is appropriate, but my gut has been telling me this is not the way to go ... lawsuits are costly, piece-meal and reactive, and two of the three commissioners were just re-elected by good margins in November; any chance for ousting them is more than three years away.

In researching witnessing, I was reminded that demonizing opponents and using enemy language against them is not the way to peace. Finding common ground and working WITH those people toward mutually desirable goals is more pro-active ... and more likely to get us where we want to be. That was what was stirring my gut, and the group that met yesterday is on a better path ... one that allows me to witness in that realm of life, regardless of what others may do.

My Easter wish is that many people across the country would realize that the demonizing, divisiveness and enemy-rhetoric that is rapidly increasing in our political life is destructive to our nation and that it separates us and prevents us from working together to find solutions to  the serious issues that face us. (Hearing that Congressman claim there are 17 Socialists in the House was SO Fifties Joe McCarthy!)

Happy Easter to all, whether it's snowing or sunshining! tv

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Mancos Opera House Rocks! 2nd edition!

Somehow,for reasons unknown to me, and always puzzling , the last blog posting was unwilling to allow me to put any commentary with the pictures that I uploaded.  The mysteries of life(and blogging)!

We were delighted to attend the Southwest Open School Annual Prom last night at the Mancos Opera House.  The students are always a delight and although the music was somehow unrecognizable to our generation, the dancing and interaction with the attendees is without a doubt entertaining.   We always take some pictures to pass on to the school but last night there were so many cameras flashing I don't know if ours will be needed.

Tom is on the school board of SWOS alternative school and the accomplishments of both the school and the students continues to pull at our heart strings. . . . It was a fun event last night! And since we faded and took ourselves home shortly after  9 PM , I am sure the evening was just getting started. Festive decorations,too.  I think I saw the old Opera House "smiling" to be so well used!  sf

Mancos Opera House Rocks!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Sandy's right ... once more!

It WAS a nice morning to be out ... cool, but with no breeze and a warming sun. We checked the eagles (one of them, anyway) and the paddling birds on Bauer Lake.

The first picture, though, shows an artifact of Colorado weather ... a layer of windblown sand clinging to the underside of a curl of snow hanging from the eave of the house. 

The second shot is just aimed a little more north of Sandy's picture of Mesa Verde across Bauer Lake; this one show the Sleeping Ute beyond some duckies.

At the top, geese go about doing what geese do as Sandy goes about doing what photographers do! tv

Beautiful Morning at Bauer Lake

On our way to breakfast out this morning we went in search of an elusive pair of Eagles that nest across from Bauer Lake.  The morning was beautiful.  The eagles still elusive so we turned to take pictures of this always special spot.  There is a stillness. There is the reflection of the blue sky in the ripple free waters.The brilliant colors of  brush lining the shoreline.  And Mesa Verde towers above all in the background.  We have come here often  but I am still amazed.  sf

Sunday, April 5, 2009


We were heading home from Durango after having a nice lunch at Applebees. I knew there were elk in the wild in Colorado. I have seen and photographed the elk on the elk ranch outside of Mancos. That was fun. But elk in captivity is just not the same as elk in the wild! As we traveled down the highway toward Mancos today, up on the hillside there was a herd of about 20 or so beautiful elk! Elk in the wild, I had waited for this! I yelled "stop" and while Tom was pulling over grabbed my camera bag and rolled down the window while I pushed the camera on button and was ready to zoooom in some great Elk pictures! When at that point all that showed on the camera screen was a big "Change the Batteries"! And then the elk were gone. . . DAMN! My first bad word in Colorado. . . . . . . . . .sf


So, let's recap. Friday afternoon it was like driving through a Saharan dust storm for the 80 miles from Pagosa Springs home ... couldn't see Bodo Park from the Wal-Mart stoplight in Durango, and some folks said they saw it raining mud when moisture began to mix with the dust and blowing sand. 

The moisture turned into more than four inches of snow by the time it was done spitting flakes yesterday afternoon. Put a real crimp in the 9Health Fair that started at the school at 7 a.m. yesterday morning. Sandy and I worked opposite ends of the line, serving about 360 participants, little more than half the number that has sometimes come out.

Things were better by the time we went to the Bauer Lake Club annual meeting last night, and pretty clear when we returned. 

And this morning, right about now at 7:o9 on April 5, it's a clear sky and NINE degrees outside ... as cold a temperature as we've seen the entire winter (I think it got down to seven degrees once in December, when we usually have our coldest weather).

Springtime in Colorado! tv

Friday, April 3, 2009

It's SO nice to be home!

Today wasn't too rough a day. Got on the road by 6:30, covered about 500 miles in 10 hours, allowing a little time for stopping to eat breakfast in Limon after taking pics on the high plains, plus various fluid exchange stops after that. The last 80 miles was like driving across Saudi Arabia ... sand storm all the way! Yuck!

I wouldn't want to live there, but the high plains at dawn and sunset are awesome; so vast! sf

I Used to be a Yooper!

My sister-in-law Alice gave me a T-Shirt that said so when I moved from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan in 2003. For those of you who don't know the Michigan lingo, if you live in the Upper Peninsula you are a "Yooper" if you live in the larger, lower part of Michigan you are a "Troll". Means you live below the bridge, the beautiful,big Macinac Bridge that connects the two parts of Michigan. You just kind of have to have been there to understand! It has amazed me the number of people that I have run into here in Colorado that are familiar with the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. There is even a" Yooper" sign in the local gym. I have shared the humor of "Da Yoopers" musical group with a sick friend here in Mancos who needed a laugh. Delightfully , my Yooperism has been refreshed recently with enjoying a blog written by an old(not in years!) friend from Newberry, Michigan where I lived and worked and shoveled snow and enjoyed the unique culture of another great small town. Check out written by Cathy Clementz for area photos and an always thoughty and interesting, and sometimes funny, good read. sf

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Reasons to be Happy in Mancos!

#1 is that Tom will soon be starting on his drive back home to Mancos! I was so glad to be working at Artisans yesterday morning just to pass the day and see a few people. Although he and I are both independent thinkers and many times spend our days doing our own thing, it is not a good feeling having him so far away. Besides , Tom is awake earlier than I and makes the coffee and walks the dog long before I am up and around. I was reminded of this this morning when Scooby Doo woke me at 5:30! Ok, I'm spoiled. And I love it! Hurry home, Tom.

I am going to be posting a snow picture just for my Sister Vel in Corpus Christi. Strange how we long for what we do not have. She is having beautiful shorts and sandals weather and wants to see snow! I think I can just find something for her from our trip up to Ouray and Telluride. There is still lots of snow in the mountains. And from the look of the sky this morning, may also be some on the ground here in Mancos by the end of the day! sf