Sunday, September 27, 2009

A neck-craning weekend

'Tis the balloon festival!

Three mornings we've been craning our heads skyward ... one more to go.

Three nights we've been watching balloon glows or a show in the opera house.

Three days we've had activities going on in the street or in Artisans of Mancos.

Two teenagers in their sixties are really beginning to feel the "sixties" part of that saying!

It's actually a great photographic opportunity ... bright balloons, green grass, blue skies, rustic barns, Mesa Verde and Ute Mountain in the distance ... how can one miss? But, we are getting bleary-eyed and the shots each morning are beginning to have a sameness to them. Still, there have been three beautiful mornings so far, allowing our 18-20 visiting balloon pilots to have pleasant morning flights and afternoons to enjoy the area.

Friday morning (bottom photo) the breezes took them all down Webber Canyon, with Mesa Verde's Point Lookout as a backdrop. That evening there was a "glow" in the town park and then a show featuring Juni Fisher in the historic Mancos Opera House. Fisher and local talent Lynne Lewis sang "The Same River" in a beautiful, haunting duet.

Saturday morning's breezes took folks westward; "Dreamcatcher" is shown heading toward Mesa Verde. The rest of the day was "Fall Into Mancos," an art-oriented event in the downtown area, with streets closed off, vendors, music, open galleries, horses and riders and people everywhere.

Sunday morning was a photographer's dream ... the light was rich and the balloons pretty much hung over the town; several landed back where they had lifted off. In the picture we took from Reservoir Hill, there are ten balloons catching the early sun along with the town. In the next picture up, a balloon cruises past a weathered barn on its descent.

And then there was the VFW car show, with sports cars and hot rods, music playing, buggy rides and "The Electric Horseman" ... an electric motorcycle with a beautifully tooled saddle! Multi-modal transportation in Mancos!

We're tired, and this is long, but I think you can see we've been busy. This is the fifth annual balloon festival in Mancos. I've been here for them all and this is the one that has worked best for the entire Mancos community! The festival coordinators moved a lot of the activity from the town park into the heart of Mancos, the Town was supportive with street closures, the chamber of commerce and the businesses did some advertising and we had people everywhere! Not only that, the downtown businesses (including Artisans of Mancos, where we show our cards and prints) started marketing Mancos regionally as an art center back in March and I think we saw that effort paying off this weekend. In 20 years in the Mancos Valley, I think this is the best pulling-together I've seen yet! And my eyelids are drooping! tv

Monday, September 21, 2009

A contemplative weekend

Such a contrast to the eventful month was our contemplative weekend.

I started Thursday with a sore throat ... and then did two tours of Mesa Verde. Guess what? My throat was even sorer by nightfall and I felt rotten, went to bed instead of going to either of two scheduled meetings.

Not feeling good the next morning, either, but decided to go to the retreat Durango Friends Meeting had scheduled for the weekend. I wasn't going to feel any better staying at home, and I felt inclined to "trust the process" that it would be worthwhile.

So, off we rolled with "Condo," our Casita travel trailer tagging along behind. Dove Creek is about 50 miles from here, and then the fun began for the last third of the trip. Following just about every section line, we went west and south and west and south and then both ways a few more times, all out in the dryland farming area, going past fields of wheat, beans and lots of sunflowers. Out in that area, on the Colorado/Utah state line, it feels like you get to the end of the world and then drop off into canyons. The great expanse of earth is bounded by the La Platas on the east, Ute Mountain and the Chorrizo Mountains on the south and the Abajos north of west.

We made it without mishap or mistake and pulled into the trailer parking area of Peacewhisper retreat center. This was our first time really dry-camping with Condo ... we even put the awning out for the first time (which flapped all night and kept me awake, along with my snotty nose!).

The retreat is located a few miles into Utah, on the rim of Lake Canyon. The view across the canyon to the Abajos and the Bears Ears is stupendous ... real big sky country, with vast sweeps of clouds and rain showers and spotlights of sunshine. Twisted junipers and building storm clouds added drama to the setting.

The Peacewhisper facility is new, off the grid and very comfortable. Hosts Rick and Barbara Kollenkark are from the Catholic tradition, which is very different from Quaker. Yet we meet and join when it comes to contemplation. Our theme for the weekend was "Letting Go" and it was a good setting for doing that. We cooperatively handled the meals and the program, with Barb facilitating some sessions. It was clear that "the process" worked; many of us were moved to tears at points during the weekend.

Still, some were moved to tears just by the adventure of getting there Friday night. Some Friends from Durango found themselves trying to navigate unfamiliar country roads in growing darkness and, eventually, rain. While I regret the discomfort they were experiencing, perhaps the most stirring part of the weekend for me was the trips I made Friday night with Rick, keeping him company as he went out looking for lost pilgrims to guide them to the retreat.

The rainbows were brilliant, brilliant, brilliant! Sometimes fragments of rainbow intersected with shafts of sunlight coming through the storm clouds. Other times the openings in the clouds let the sun spotlight features of the landscape. Veils of rain moved across the land in the distance. When the sun finally outran the clouds and shone across the earth beneath the clouds, everything turned red-gold ... trees, earth, fields, weathered buildings. Stunning! A perfect setting for letting go and letting God! tv

Sunday, September 13, 2009

An event-full month

It's been a busy few days!

Last night we went to the Harvest Beer Festival at the Cortez Cultural Center. It's a benefit for the Montezuma Land Conservancy and it was a beautiful evening, very well attended. No rain, no wind, about 70 degrees, good music (local Angry Dawg Jazz Band shown) and a happy cross-section of all ages sharing a good evening. One of the joys was watching all the kids hula-hooping in the plaza, backed by Austin's Dave Insley and the Careless Smokers and the mural created by Buford Wayt on the side of the Center. Did you ever guess hula hoops would make a comeback?

Folks got together Saturday morning to clean up the Mancos River banks from the Bakery to Cottonwood Park (maybe 6-7 blocks); the results are shown in the back of the pickup truck to the right of Colorado Supreme Court Justice Gregory Hobbs as he addresses the group at Cottonwood Park celebrating River Day. Hobbs is a poet/attorney/judge/Coloradoan who does a great job of reducing Colorado water law to its essential principles.

Saturday night we caught part of the Mancos-Dove Creek football game. This is our first year of 8-man football. Saturday night was also, as we all know, 9/11, and members of the Mancos VFW and the Cortez American Legion posts opened the game with a color guard and salute in remembrance.

It was a beautiful evening, but it was 22-0 in Dove Creek's favor at halftime, so we headed over to the current Mancos hot spot: Ian's Alley. Ian has a distillery with an associated tasting room (not a bar) that has a stage. Let's say it's cozy!!! Folks kinda drift in and out from the alley; no problem hearing the music out there! We enjoyed the band a lot, but then it was getting late for old folks (and crowded for the introvert), so we called it a night. Don't know how we're going to make it through Juni Fisher's show at the Mancos Opera House during the Balloon Festival ... it doesn't start till 9 p.m.! tv

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Love Those Aspen!

Aspen groves have a magic that you don't understand until you have stood amongst them, looked to the tops of these magnificent trees and gazed at the vastness of the sky beyond. And then as you study the trunks and see the "eyes" looking back you! The only sound is a rustle of the bright green leaves. .and the moment in time in the high country of Colorado grabs you forever! May I share. . . . . .sf

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Far Above Mancos. . .

Yesterday afternoon we took a two track very bumpy trail (I dare not call it a road!) high up into the LaPlata Mountains exploring old mines, aspen groves, rock slide areas and gorgeous mountain views. Scooby Doo went along and enjoyed the jaunt also. We didn't see as much wild life as we hoped. We're still looking to see one of the elusive moose found in this part of the state. What we did see was some range cows, sheep, a friendly sheep dog, ground squirrels and chipmunks, and too quick for the cameras marmots! I did get a zoom shot of a lone hawk watching for his dinner entree to come by. I think we ended up close to 12,000 feet which we were quickly reminded of whenever we took short hikes from the Jeep. The last time we had tried this road we were blocked by a snow bank in May! No snow this time, just the wonderful still that is found in the mountains. SF

Sunday, September 6, 2009

The Best Rally Event of All!

The annual Motorcycle Rally puts it best foot forward when many of the riders come to the local nursing home and spend time with the residents there. Some of them even take those who are able for rides! It is an exciting day for all involved and we always go to try and catch a few of the memorable moments with our cameras. sf

Friday, September 4, 2009

Loving the Four Corners!

We're in the first part of the third annual Sugar Pine Ranch Rally, a Labor Day weekend motorcycle rally that is focused on a ranch about a mile from our house. We helped with registration last night and go back for another four-hour shift this morning.

This is part of living in the Four Corners ... it's been a focus for Labor Day bike rallies for close to 20 years. On the other hand, as Sandy pointed out in her post, we have so many other interesting things to see and do, so close at hand.

Our trip around the San Juan Skyway reminded us of that so beautifully! The ice park above Ouray, where we filmed people climbing a wall of ice in March, is a chasm of bright sunlight and sculpted cliffs in summer.

Rich wood and beautiful flowers adorn a bank entrance in Telluride; the little towns along the Skyway boast a wonderful array of Victorian buildings.

I enjoyed the spotted fawns, but chuckled at the two marmots beside the road below Ophir, just spending the afternoon watching cars go by!

And then the subtle shades of earth and plants in the slopes of the basin just east of Ophir, going up to Ophir Pass.


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

San Juan Skyway -

We have just returned from 2 days traveling some of the most beautiful country in Colorado. For those of you not familiar with the San Juan Skyway it is a loop of about 250 + miles which includes Silverton and Telluride as well as Durango, Ouray and some other small mountain towns. Tom and I deliver the quarterly Arts Perspective magazine on this route and the bonus is we are able to do photography of scenery and wildlife along the way. It is fun and 2 days on the road is just about right for us "older folks". I haven't tweaked all of the pictures but I will see what I can find to share from the 350 plus pictures I brought back. I think the twin fawns that still have their spots has got to be a favorite of mine.sf