Sunday, May 31, 2009


Well, we got 'er done! Not that we had much to do with it, but we were among the friends and family that saw Diana Lynne Weisser wed my oldest grandson, David Edward Hoppe, at Camden Ranch, Elk, WA, in an afternoon ceremony on May 30, 2009.

From the bottom: The groom watching the bride come down the aisle; the bride and groom with his brother Chris and his mother and stepdad, Beth and Steve Breidenbach; the bridal party in an antic (note David's half-brother Noah escaping from the sheltering hand at the right) and brother Chris lovingly roasting Diana and David at the reception.

Weddings nowadays can get complicated, with so many step- and half-siblings, -parents and -grandparents involved, but it was a beautiful afternoon event, with everyone focused on offering loving care and support for David and Diana. The weather cooperated, too ... sunny, but with a cooling breeze. 

Exercising our rights as senior citizens, we bugged out in time to get back to Steve and Beth's place on the SW corner of Spokane before dark. The parents were not so fortunate; they had to stay and take down the trappings before they could leave!

We understand David and Diana will start out early this morning in a U-Haul truck, facing a four-day drive back to New York. We, on the other hand, will set off in a few hours with Condo, our Casita trailer, to enjoy a leisurely drive through the mountains and down through Philipsburg, MT, planning to end up this evening in Fairmont and enjoy the fabulous Fairmont Hot Springs! tv

Friday, May 29, 2009

The Scenic West

Spencer, Idaho proved to be one of the more interesting and picturesque spots on our travels yesterday.  Note the gas station that also sold the  beautiful opal jewelry from a local opal mine.  And I was fascinated to find the towns Communication Center. . a pay telephone, a mailbox and the town bulletin board  all in one spot!  There was also a huge bell in a tower with a rope for pulling , but that was right down the street. The satellite office,I suppose!  Hey!  There is something to be said for simplicity!  On leaving town I had to stop and take a few pictures of this weathered old sail boat, sitting in a front yard.   I had not seen water in 100 miles, but if the great flood comes, at least one person is ready!   This town was fun...     and old. . and remote. . but fun!   SF 

Dillon, MT

Long day yesterday for us old folks ... Green River, UT, to Dillon, MT. Pretty, though, with lots of vast expanses of green across the valleys. Not counting the 80+ miles of the Salt Lake City metropolitan area!

From there on, though, it was pretty smooth sailing and lovely open country. After we decided not to push it beyond Dillon, MT, we gave ourselves leave to look around a little and take pics. Sandy got some good ones of downtown Spencer, Idaho, where we stopped for gas. 

The kicker, though, has to be Monida, Montana, just over Monida Pass into MT. The first thing you see from the south is a school bus graveyard ... dozens of school buses rusting together atop the Continental Divide in the middle of nowhere.

The bus cemetery is out of sight to the left of the top pic of Monida in its setting. Notice the patch of snow BELOW us! I wondered if the little log cabins in the lower picture were early tourist cabins? We didn't stay there; went on to the KOA campground in Dillon, MT and slept really well. 

Spokane or bust today! tv

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Green River, Utah

We spent a quiet night at Shady Acres Good Sam park in "downtown" Green River. We tucked it in early yesterday and had a peaceful evening walking around and then reading.  Only fly in the ointment is a nonfunctioning refrigerator. It was working while hooked up to AC power from the house; now we can't make it function on AC or gas. Phone calls today, I guess, to see what we're missing. Also, there's an RV repair place listed in Spanish Fork, so we might stop by there. We're hoping to make it to Dillon or Butte, MT, tonight.

The refrigerator problem was not known to us when we went to Centennial RV in Grand Junction yesterday. I had previously called and made an appointment to be there at 1 p.m. to have them adjust the water heater for operation above 4500' and replace the thermocouple. Well, we got there an hour late and by that time had half a dozen other things needing tending to. They fixed all but two of the items on our list in less than two hours and at less than half the price I had feared!

The two parts they didn't have in the shop were a knob on the refrigerator (which I didn't expect them to have in stock) and keeper pins for the anti-sway bar. Sandy had never seen the pins, but I described them to her as "R-shaped." She's wandering around the showroom as I was waiting for the bill and comes up to me with a little packet, wondering if these would work? They were exactly what we needed ... she did it again! Amazing lady!

We regretted being in such a hurry yesterday morning to get to Grand Junction ... the scenes north of Monticello and up the Colorado River from Moab were gorgeous, though the river was running very high. Fortunately, those areas are only a couple of hours from Mancos; we'll be back! tv

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A Cattle Drive Runs Through It!

Visitors and locals were treated to a cattle drive,complete with cowboys on horseback,  taking over the main road through town this morning.   I guess no one had told them about red lights as they continued right on through the intersection.  Mancos, Where the West Still Lives!  sf


Tomorrow we head out for Spokane ... so much to do and so little time to do it in! tv

Monday, May 25, 2009

Springtime in Colorado

This morning the sun is out and brightly shining, heightening all the fresh green from the rain of the last few days. 

Yesterday we dawdled on the way back from Meeting. After a tasty lunch at Kennebec CafĂ© to celebrate our 14th-month anniversary (which is today), we paused frequently to enjoy the signs of spring. 

The bottom pic is just west of Kennebec (one of our favorite local restaurants!). We liked the flowers in the green grass in the foreground ... and the fresh snow, only hours old, on the La Platas beyond.

The chairlift at the Hesperus ski area, across the road, awaits the passing of the green grass and the return of the white stuff.

I've never seen the slope so white with cliff fendler bush blossoms as it was yesterday! The slopes are just dusted with the white blooms. 

My caption is probably wrong ... it's now summer!

Remember those who serve! tv

Saturday, May 23, 2009

A gray day in the life of ...

Yes, it was a mostly gray day, but what a lot there was to do. 
At the top (#1) is the Wrightsman House in spring bloom.
#2. Ivan and Evelyn. (Evelyn's only 86!)
#3. Rug auction at the Memorial Day Indian Arts Market in the park at Far View.
#4. Jay C. McCray and his Best in Show beadwork at the same show.
#5. A cute doll on an exhibitor's Pontiac at the Cortez Car Show. (Click on it to read the cute sign.)
Not shown: The visits to two galleries in Cortez, an hour at the Rec Center in Cortez, shopping at Wal-Mart and the Hopi/Dineh reggae show at the Opera House that we were too danged pooped to go to. 
Too much to do around here! tv

Gray day!

Another rainy day. I'm so spoiled by all our sunshine that I take note when we have three rainy days in a row. Then I remind myself of life in Shepherdstown, WV, in the area where Bob Pidgeon used to say February is the 280 days between January and March. And I remind myself of growing up in northern Wisconsin, with the gray, gray winters. 

And I look out at the flowers and the green grass and realize gray equals green and lilac and sunflower and daisy and all those wunnerful things.

Today we're going to be out and about a bit. When adequately caffeinated, we go out to interview a lady who's going to be this year's Mancos Pioneer Queen. I was asked to do the bio for the paper and the Queen's Tea and, though I hate to write, I couldn't resist on this one, as long as Sandy will help with the ladies' perspective. It's going to be fun, I know.

Then we'll go into the park to the Indian art show at Far View ... as good an excuse to go into the park as any and an opportunity to support the museum association and the park. Don't know how the rainy weather will affect the show, but at least it doesn't appear to be windy out.

Then swing by Cortez to replenish the larder and back home ... maybe it will have cleared off by then.

Trying to wrap up all the loose ends before we roll out Wednesday morning, heading northwest to attend my grandson David Hoppe's wedding in Spokane on May 30. Get to meet Diana, his bride, and catch up with family for a little while. Plus, there's some beautiful country between here and there.

My burden of worries was lightened yesterday (and, in truth, it's usually pretty bearable!) when I found that we could get the cranky water heater in "Condo" (our Casita travel trailer) fixed and tuned up pretty quickly (they say) with a short side-trip into Grand Junction on our way north on Wednesday. It's hard to light and won't stay lit for long. The book says it needs to be set for use above 4500' and it previously lived near Fort Worth, a lot lower than our 7200'. Plus, it probably needs a new part. So, while we were ready to heat water on the stove, it's a huge relief to me to think we can get that working right. Don't know how long it will take, so we'll play it as it lays after that, an adventure for the guy who likes to have reservations! The route of march is all pretty familiar territory (even probably going through Deer Lodge, MT, where I lived for a couple of years), so not much worry.

I ramble. Time to get focused and move the day along. Life is wonderful! tv

Friday, May 22, 2009

Busy Days!

Between recovering from our last jaunt to Poway and preparing for our trip to Washington state next week and trying to take care of our photo business in the meantime, we haven't been as diligent as usual in regards to posting on our blog! We do so enjoy the contact that we have everyone on this blog and so just wanted to say we're still here! Colorado is beautiful with warm days and cool nights, mostly sunny days and a sprinkling of rain yesterday. And the lilacs and other flowers are in full bloom. Life is good, the days just too short! I will try to add a couple of pictures, perhaps some lovely ponies that I found grazing in green fields with Mesa Verde in the background. Not great photography, just the warm fuzzy pictures that are fun to take! Sandy

Monday, May 18, 2009

Mancos Art Community Rocks!

What fun it was in Mancos on Saturday!   The weather was beautiful.  The Mancos Galleries all rolled out the red carpet for locals and visitors from around the area.   Tom had the best pictures.  I stuck close to Artisans and attended the refreshment table in the gallery to keep it filled with goodies furnished by the members and cold punch for people dropping by.   We still had shoppers up until 7 PM!  What fun the day was !    I am trying to recover from the long hours Saturday after the trip to the San Diego area.   The week was a whirlwind but one I would not have missed!  sf

A grand day on Grand Avenue!

What a great day Saturday was! For us, it started out with catching critters being transported from home ranch to pasture, then getting ready for "Grand Openings on Grand Avenue," probably the best downtown event I've seen in 20 years.

Art was the centerpiece, the stimulus, and particularly the grand opening of Veryl Goodnight's gallery. She's in the top picture, wearing the yellow tags, talking to some visitors in her gallery. Veryl's an internationally sculptor, recently moved here from Santa Fe. She and her husband, Roger Brooks, have been incredibly supportive of the arts community in Mancos ... not just their own gallery ... and supported their gallery manager, Jamie Bade, in being a key person in putting this event together. The bottom picture shows the downtown block of Grand Avenue, from Main Street at the top to Mesa Street out of sight to the right, blocked off and vendor booths set up in the middle of the street.

The shops were full and there were arts demonstrations and music at several places in the block. People just ambled in and out of shops and booths or stopped to listen and watch, like the grandpa cowboy with his fledgling cowhand grandsons at the Geezer Trumpets program. 

We've had open houses before at Artisans, but usually I look around and see mostly members of the co-op. Saturday, the gallery had lots of non-members all afternoon.

Our hope, collectively, is that this will be a kick-off for a renaissance in historic, downtown Mancos ... Mancos on the Move. For the first time in my 20 years here, all but one of the buildings in that block are open with operating businesses! Art was the organizing theme for this event, with several businesses holding grand openings, but we have the Renaissance Faire in June, Mancos Days in July, Sugar Pine Ranch Rally and the Mancos Valley Balloon Festival in early and late September ... lots of reasons for folks to come back to Mancos! If folks are here from Michigan or Texas or Tahiti, that's fine, but we've realized we have a market of about 200,000 people within 1 1/2 hours of Mancos.

Finally, this event seemed to mark a tipping point, a switch from YOYO thinking (You're On Your Own) to WITT (We're In This Together). tv

Friday, May 15, 2009

The conspirators return!

We can finally break our silence of the last few days! 

Sandy's sister-in-law, Saskia, let Sandy know about 10 days ago that she was planning a surprise 60th birthday party for her husband (and Sandy's brother) Les. So we decided to be part of the surprise, traveling to Poway, CA, from Mancos to be there when Les got back from taking the kids to T-ball practice Wednesday night. 

Les reads our blog, so we couldn't leave any hints here. We couldn't e-mail Saskia, because he might see that. We could phone her on her cell phone, but she couldn't talk if he was there; she had it on vibrate so he wouldn't know how many calls she was getting in planning the event.

And she/we pulled it off! The cars were all hidden on an adjacent lot and there were maybe 30 people inside the house when Les walked in with the kids. He was stunned/bewildered/flummoxed at all the people in his house. He didn't recognize Sandy at first ... it's been 15 years since they last saw each other ... the pic above is when he did a second take and realized his sister was one of that crowd.

Saskia is a Wonder Woman! She put together a great party, with abundant good food and beverages and activities for all the kids in attendance ... all this on the day after her own birthday, which we didn't know about till we got there.

And, she readily put up these two strangers she'd never met from Colorado! That enabled us to have a quiet morning with the family, visiting and catching up and sharing pictures, before we headed out midday yesterday. The kids were even given a holiday from school so we could get to know them a little and enjoy their presence.

So, now that we're back in Kingman on the way home, we can break our silence and say, thank you so much, Saskia and Les and Zach and Char and Matt and Nick for a wonderful visit and the opportunity to share in Les's celebration of life! tv

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Another beautiful, varied day

This morning we were offered a tour of some ranch property above Mancos, up near the Ramparts. It was a beautiful morning to be up in the forest.

The reflections on the ponds were wonderful (especially when I see two of my sweetheart) and the morning sun was golden on the new grass in the forest.

And then this afternoon we dropped by "12 Hours of Mesa Verde." Not being mountain bikers, we really knew nothing about this event, except for a few references on Facebook. 

Imagine ... there were 400 entrants (at $75 apiece) and the fairgrounds was full! It's a neat arrangement, allowing them to park, camp, organize, etc. at the fairgrounds, then ride under the highway to the course on the north side of US 160. The picture next to the top shows outgoing and returning riders at the underpass.

Some of the trail is through the trees (top pic), and some of it includes views of Point Lookout (shown), Mesa Verde, the La Platas and Ute Mountain. Everybody seemed to be having a great time ... I sure didn't see any obesity riding that course! tv

SWOS Generation Impact awards

Last night was the grants presentation ceremony for Generation Impact and what a proud evening it was!

Generation Impact is a group of SW Open School students, working with math teacher Colin Biard, who have formed a philanthropy group, originally under the auspices of El Pomar, but now on their own with El Pomar funding. In this third year, the students have developed their own mission statement, put on fundraising activities and solicited grant applications from nonprofits. The students developed their own criteria for reviewing the applications and they then awarded service hours as well as money, sometimes a combination of both. Over the last three years, their grants have totaled more than $27,000 and more than 900 hours!

At the end of the ceremony, the GI students mobbed Colin with a group hug. 

The keynote address was given by Matt Kefauver, Cortez city councilman, teacher and businessman. Matt gave a moving account of his own experiences in learning about giving time and money in support of things he believed in. It was very on target; I hope to get a copy of his remarks.

Another of the reasons I appreciate the opportunity to be associated with SWOS! tv

Friday, May 8, 2009

Love It! Wildflowers,Aspens and Green Grass

The Indian Paintbrush are popping out all over.   The Aspens with their striking black and white bark stand tall in green fields with a backdrop of snow topped mountains.  It's spring in Colorado. Love it!!! sf

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Branding "party"

On Cinco de Mayo we had the opportunity to go to a ranch near town while they were branding the new crop of calves. "Branding" is actually a fairly complex operation, involving elaborate critter management, branding itself, inoculation, dehorning and ear-notching. I avoided the blood-spurting, flesh-flaming pictures!

This is an old ranch, and the old wooden corral fences, the apple trees and the fields stretching toward Point Lookout and the sunset make it a beautiful setting. The cowgirl in the pink cap, looking out through the fence with a calf, is 86! tv

Monday, Monday, Monday ...

How can one week have so many Mondays? I hope Wednesday truly was "hump day," cuz I'm tuckered out and still have full calendars today and tomorrow!

Ever have one of those days where it feels like you stepped on a banana peel in the morning and just kept sliding the whole day long? I feel like I've had three banana peel days in a row.

So. Enough whining! It was a lovely, still 45 degrees under a totally clear sky when Scooby Doo and I took our dawn stroll ... can't complain about that. 

There's at least six hummingbirds drinking breakfast at the feeder on the portico right now; great to see them back. I was going to have the feeder hung out May 1, but a search of the house did not reveal the secure but as yet unremembered place where I put the feeders at the end of last season. Ah, the joys of senility! In the meantime, the little slurpers were hovering outside the windows, looking in and sending messages, "Hey, where's the syrup? We're baaaack! Get with it, Tom!" Amazing how they know where the sucker lives and come back for more each year! tv

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Got air?

Air quality in the Four Corners has been deteriorating for many years. It wasn't all that good when the left picture was taken in October 2006 ... the object in the mists in the distance is Shiprock, taken from Far View within Mesa Verde National Park. 

The picture on the right is the same view, taken yesterday. This is just the visibility factor, without consideration of the substances that are floating through the air. I commend Juliet Eilperin's April 23 Washington Post story ( for an assessment of what we're experiencing this spring.  The associated graphic at is telling. tv