Saturday, October 31, 2009


It's Halloween in Mancos (and other places, too) and we're having a quiet evening at home; just finished watching "Last Chance Harvey," a sweet romantic comedy with Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson.

We'd have gone in to the Halloween celebration at The Valley Inn Nursing Home, but they wisely decided to do drive-through treats instead of the full-scale decoration and costuming they normally do ... H1N1. It's real; a colorful local character just died of it and more and more people are being diagnosed with it.

We did go to the SW Open School Halloween dance Thursday night. It was a delightful, positive, high-spirited event, with the kids as exuberant as always and the staff in equally good spirits. The Devil and his Angel sweetheart didn't stay late, but we had a good time.

Sandy worked at Artisans yesterday afternoon and then we went to Barb Grist's opening reception in Cortez at Desert Pearl. We were back there today after we worked at Artisans this morning.

Now, if we can master the time change tonight, we can get a good night's sleep and still make it to Meeting on time in the morning. tv

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

What a difference 10 days makes!

I posted a picture of the golden colors reflected in a beaver pond, taken 10 days ago. Here's what it looked like this morning!

I guess we've moved from polychromatic seasons to the monochrome one! tv

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Just a few quick notes ...

Winter's coming; s'posed to snow today.

We celebrated our 19th month anniversary on the 25th by having a lovely dinner at the Kennebec Café, one of our absolute favorite eat-out places. It's midway twixt Durango and Mancos in a beautiful mountain valley setting. Great food at reasonable prices in an elegant setting with good service ... what better way to spend an evening with a loved one?

And last night we ate out again, this time at the Absolute Bakery in Mancos, one of our favorite in-town eateries. They've just recently begun offering supper, so it was nice to support them and to have a couple of other families come in before we left.

Otherwise, we've been catching up with pictures (had a month's backlog) and civic stuff. Think we've got the chamber of commerce calendar figured out, which also means we personally know when the predictable events for next year are. I moderated an Issues Forum the Green Party put on at the Cortez high school ... nice to see both students and elected officials get together to discuss issues of interest to the young people.

I'm off to a VALE meeting in Cortez and some shopping, then we go to Durango tonight to pick up pictures from the exhibit in the library there. With snow forecast, we hope to be back early.

Tomorrow I'm going to be the guinea pig/speaker at a high school careers class in Cortez. Thursday is the event of the Fall: Halloween dance at SWOS! Only Sandy would be able to get me to put on a costume!

Maybe things will settle down in the following week. Got some bananas and apples sliced and dried in the last week, too; yummy snacks for the winter. tv

Friday, October 23, 2009

Dawn is coming later

Woke up at 2:30 a.m. with lots on my mind. Gave up and got up at 3:30 a.m. with lots on my mind. Now it's going on 5 a.m., still got lots on my mind, most of it still undone! But I've at least listed the things I need to do ... the main reason for getting up, besides being wide awake, was the fear that my aging brain would forget all those important things to do. Now that I have them written down, I won't forget them ... just ignore them!

Actually, I did get a couple of overdue epistles written to friends ... let them share in my predawn awakeness!

Got a SWOS board workshop at 9 this morning and then we're back to Cortez in the evening for the going-away party for retiring Mesa Verde superintendent Larry Wiese. I think there might be a nap in-between!

The color is starting to fade and fall, but even that is beautiful. Yesterday, as we were driving on South Main in Mancos, the big golden cottonwoods were letting go a shimmering shower of gold flecks! tv

Monday, October 19, 2009

On Golden Pond ...

Well, the autumn leaves are turning drab or falling off, so the peak of the color is past. Still, it's been and still is a joy to drive around the Mancos Valley and to Durango and back. Cortez will hang on a little longer, being lower.

There's a beaver pond next to US 160 just east of Mancos that was beautifully reflecting the golden foliage along its banks yesterday afternoon. Hadda go back and enjoy it!

There's a little aspen in a creekbed near Hesperus that always fascinates me in the fall ... it makes its own bold statement for the beauty of autumn.

So, after getting our fill of fall colors, we went to the Millwood for BBQ last night and stayed for the Colin Lake concert. He's a nice, personable guy with an easy style ... did lots of blues with improvisations. Nice evening, even if he kept us up past our bedtime! tv

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Gold Rush Continues. .

It seems that where ever you go the gold and amber colors of fall surround you. We don't have as many of the red leaves in this area but what we do have can take your breath away! The dusting of snow on the mountains reminds us that this will pass and in a few weeks we will be enjoying the wonder of fresh fallen snow. Aren't seasons a good thing. . I think so. . . sf

Monday, October 12, 2009

What a day!

Yesterday was like a week of days rolled into one!

We started off with a leisurely buffet breakfast at the motel (free with the room) and then went back to the window rock to catch the morning sun. Going westward to Ganado (and especially when we were coming back), we saw folks along the side of the road, picking piñon nuts. I love that high country around Sawmill ... tall ponderosa pines.

The visit to Hubbell was old home day for me. We talked to the present superintendent and one of the Navajo employees I had worked with. One of the traders present had worked at Hubbell after I was there; another's mother had visited Hubbell's as a kid, when his mother played cards with Mrs. Hubbell (probably Dorothy Hubbell, not her mother-in-law, Lina Rubi). So, the tour through the Hubbell home turned into a lot of sharing of tales about Hubbell's and trading in general. I remembered seeing masked yei-bi-chai dancers coming down the road 30 years ago to the trading post, where they received bread and other foods; a trader said masked dancers had come in a van to his trading post only the day before!

My son's first religious ceremony was a purification of the premises and everything on it by a Navajo medicine man after lightning struck a cottonwood behind the trading post, which was part of our reminiscences of Friday Kin'licheenie, an ancient man who had worked for Roman Hubbell.

And, as you might expect in a bunch of traders, some rugs were hauled out and we had quite a discussion of weaving and rugs and their history.

The bottom picture is of the doorway to the trading post. Next up, rug trader Steve Getzweiler is showing the group a very complicated and well-done rug he recently acquired. If you enlarge that picture, you can see the left-hand segment is a pictorial of a horse escaping a lasso, and you can see a disembodied hand on the throwing end of the rope, at the edge of the rug.

A new departure is shown in the next picture up; it's a blanket/shawl woven from alpaca wool in traditional designs. The model, my lovely sweetheart and traveling companion to all these out-of-the-way places, said it really felt good!

Above that is the house I lived in while supt. of the park for three years in the mid-70s. Historically, it was the school teacher's house, and it was made of ammo boxes filled with dirt and rocks ... the walls are about two feet thick!

Off to St. Michael's mission near Window Rock (actually, I think it has its own post office). I've been by it many times, but never stopped in. We enjoyed the quiet of the old place with its avenue of golden cottonwood trees.

Onward to home ... with a few stops! Like the flea market near the highway intersection in Window Rock. We didn't buy the bowls of blue corn meal mush that were offered, having just been to McDonald's.

North from WR, there are lines of cliffs and red rock buttes. A little further north, there seems to be a layer of greenish sandstone underlying the red sandstone (the green doesn't show as strongly in the pic as it seemed). Further north, a lava layer overlies the red sandstone.

We went up past Wheatfields Lake, did a quick tour of the Dine' College campus in Tsaile and went on up to Lukachukai, where we turned east on Navajo 13. Wow!

The afternoon sun on the red rock buttes and cliffs was stunning, offset by dark green conifers and blazes of oak and aspen color. Then we met a Navajo family bringing their cattle down from the high country ... kids, horses, four-wheelers, calves and all!

At the top of the pass, heading down toward Cove and the town of Shiprock, we had a ghostly view of Shiprock in the distance. As we got closer the combination of the thin lava dike running toward the National Natural Landmark and the way Shiprock rises out of a flat plain was surreal in the late afternoon sun. (Actually, everything else eroded away from Shiprock.)

What a day! tv

Sunday, October 11, 2009

From Window Rock, in the Navajo Nation ...

On the road again!

We left Scooby Doo protesting at the Dog Hotel before dawn's early light yesterday and scooted down US 491 (the old 666, changed because it was "the Devil's Highway") toward Window Rock, AZ, the capital of the Navajo Nation. It was beautiful seeing the first rays of the sun hit the top of the Sleeping Ute and start to work their way down the slopes.

Unfortunately, however, thin, high clouds diluted the sunshine as we were going south of Shiprock along the Chuskas. I love the morning sun sweeping across the San Juan Basin and highlighting the rock formations and the slopes to the west, but it was not as spectacular as usual.

We turned west on the road to Washington Pass and Crystal, one of my favorite drives in Navajo country, and the sunlight got stronger as we went over the pass. The bottom picture is looking toward Washington Pass from the east, San Juan Basin side. If those are Gambel oaks in the foreground, they're huge! The ones around home never get more than 15 feet or so high.

Navajos say this should be called Narbona Pass; that cliff in the distance may be the one from which US Army Lt. Washington threw Navajo leader Narbona to his death.

After enjoying the beauty of the forests and pastures and fall color in the high country of the Chuskas, we went down the valley to Fort Defiance and then Window Rock, where a friend was coordinating a conference of Navajo traders, emphasizing those who are, in fact, Navajo.

Before lunch, we took a walking tour of the tribal zoo, which is right next door to the tribal museum (top picture). There was a lot of controversy when the zoo was created, because of the caged animals, but it was neat to see a group of young people touring the zoo.

On the way to the zoo, we each bought raffle tickets from a small swarm of red T-shirted Navajo boys who are raising money for their team. If we win, we might get $75, or a "Pendleton Vintage Camp Blanket," or "A load of wood," or "Dinner for 4 @ China West Buffet in Window Rock" or a "Sheepherder's special," which probably includes Spam and lard. (We passed a roadside vendor in New Mexico who was offering Spam and egg burritos!)

Anyway, after hearing the stories and queries of some of the traders (I think I may have gotten some leads for information on my kids' great-grandfather's post at Tothlacon [Sweetwater], we went to see the real "window rock." On the way, we passed quite a veteran's memorial park, which included the pictured bronze statue of a code-talker.

Supper at Denny's after finding three other restaurants closed (including the one at the Quality Inn, which is the old Window Rock Motor Inn that I knew from 30 years ago) and then back to our room to download pictures and hit the hay. tv

Monday, October 5, 2009

Fall Farmers Market Bonanza!

The Farmers' Market in Cortez last Saturday was a great place to visit and restock our fruit and veggie supply. Produce was plentiful, end-of-the season ripe and well priced! Our only dud was a watermelon which I had carefully selected by my "thumping" method! Guess I have lost my touch! The bottom photo was caught on a pasture fence as a sprinkler system was spraying water and creating a decorative display of ice. It was actually crisp air temperature but comfortable at the farmers market location. But I do understand that hot coffee was a best seller. Note the couple working the apple press and serving up fresh apple juice. We came home with a box of yellow delicious apples that are wonderful eating but need to be transformed into applesauce, pies, etc. It is sad the the season for fresh local produce is passing. A big thanks to all of the farmers who have provided the rest of us with such wonderful choices. We have enjoyed! sf

Friday, October 2, 2009

October is here ... and winter!

The week is catching up with us. Or is it getting ahead of us?

Whatever. We did two days of touring the San Juan Skyway to catch photos of autumn foliage. Today we tried to catch up with the photos and the afternoon was spent going to three receptions ... Veryl Goodnight's in connection with Durango's Cowboy Poetry weekend, the beautiful new safehouse sponsored by Renew and the reception for the juried art show at the Cortez Cultural Center.

Anyway, Wednesday was a weird day of playing tag with the light. It was overcast, with shifting openings in the clouds that spotlighted patches of the landscape with bright sunshine ... ever moving, never predictable!

We don't have the range of colors out here that the eastern woodlands have, but I love it when an aspen tree that normally takes a back seat to the darker conifer suddenly breaks into a blaze of color!

Further up US 550, the whole hillside was interspersed with gold leaves and grey rock. At the falls where Climax Creek goes under the highway, the effect was beautiful, but the winds were gale-force.

The slopes above Ouray, where we spend the night, were gilded ... below the cliffs of grey rock.

Thursday morning we went to the Box Canyon Falls Park, after a pleasant breakfast at the Backstreet Bagel and Deli (where the first rays of the morning sun came in the front windows at exactly 9 a.m.). I've posted a shot from inside the canyon looking out; the sun hadn't penetrated the innards of the box canyon.

The horse is in a pasture of the Double RL ranch (Ralph Lauren's, I think) along the west fork of Dallas Creek. The Sneffels Range is in the distance, looking brighter and clearer (and cleaner, after this spring's dust storms) than I've seen for a long time. The next view is up the same drainage toward the Sneffels and they are also reflected in one of the Alta Lakes.

The top picture is looking up the San Miguel River valley towards Lizard Head. The shadows were starting to get long! The trip around the Skyway is probably only about 300 miles, but we could easily spend three days covering it. tv

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Colorado Color Tour

We are in Ouray after a blustery first day of color tour through the San Juan Skyway. Today is through Telluride and homeward. The weather has been dramatic. . and that is what photographers dream about!sf