Thursday, September 30, 2010

Sitting here with the dog beside me ...

'Tis morning, with the sun still struggling to rise above the mountains to the east and kind of a gray, hazy look to the valley. The sky was brilliant with stars when Scooby Doo and I did our morning patrol at 5, listening to an owl in the distance. She's stretched alongside me in the recliner now, waiting to jump up and greet Sandy when she comes through the bedroom door.

The last week has been one of balloons, as the pictures show. It was the annual (6th, I think) Mancos Valley-Mesa Verde Country Balloon & Arts Festival and it was probably the best ever ... it's the only one I can remember in which the pilots were able to fly EVERY morning of the three-day event, and one even flew on Monday morning as well.

Sandy covered the launches from Boyle Park in town, and I hope she'll post some of her pictures from that angle. I went out to Humiston's hayfield on the south edge of Mancos and watched from there, then chased selected balloons.

The bottom picture is from Friday morning's inflation. That's Point Lookout, the northern prow of Mesa Verde, in the distance.

Next up is the Friday evening glow in Boyle Park, showing the eerie light around the basket when the burner is flared. Like a witches coven.

Saturday morning the Jack in the Box flew ... first time I've seen it fly. They dropped in on a neighbor to change passengers. I don't think Dick and Pat were expecting them for breakfast! ;-}

Last year, a pilot from England flew a balloon with two seats suspended below the bag ... no basket. This year, the Barnoskys from Cedaredge, CO, came down with a single-seater and the picture is of their teen-aged son Michael's first flight in it. Quite an experience! One implication of this is that it makes ballooning an accessible sport for wheelchair-bound folks. Jim Barnosky says there is a wheelchair pilot already flying.

"Fly Me to the Moon" just had to be the caption for the shot of Colin Graham's Heart balloon with the harvest moon in the background on Sunday.

And finally, at the top, it's just always a colorful event, with the green grass, blue sky and colorful balloons.

We were feeling the effects of three days of being out at 7 for inflations, followed by long, busy days and evening programs. Gettin' old! Still, it was a good weekend for Mancos and for all involved.

As we move our focus southward, we've agreed that the Four Corners is only an easy day's drive from Silver City; we enjoy the balloon festivals in Mancos and Bluff, Utah, so much, we'll probably be back for them.

Speaking of which, things are moving along for a closing around October 20 on the house in Silver City. We'll go down for that, probably taking the Casita and one of the vehicles down to leave there. Packing up is beginning, plus thinking about the logistics, sequencing, utilities, etc.

'Twould be nice to have this house under contract before the agreement with the realtor ends at the end of October, but it would be unwise to hold my breath for that. Guess I'll rent it after we've cleaned it out.

In the meantime, the fall color is reaching its peak in our area; we're hoping to get out and enjoy it tomorrow, maybe driving up to Silverton and back. tv

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The hot air is still here!

Though morning temperatures are in the low 40s, we're halfway through a fabulous Balloon Festival, perhaps the best we've had yet! Both yesterday and this morning, the sky was absolutely clear, practically no wind ... great ballooning weather!

Of course, being at the launch site at 7 a.m. has been a little taxing, and the activities run on into the night, and we're not 28 and 29 anymore ...

Big dinner and concert and silent auction tonight in the historic Mancos Opera House, launch again at dawn tomorrow and then afternoon events ... maybe we can go to bed early Sunday night! tv

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Mancos Is Full of Hot Air!

The hot air balloons have arrived for the Mancos Mesa Verde Balloon and Arts Festival. It was so great to stop by their sign up spot and see old faces and meet some new. The weekend actually starts tomorrow morning with lift offs at 7:15 AM- Early but so worth the early rising! Friday through Sunday afternoon is packed with balloons" flying" and "glowing" and many other events and small town fun. For photographers it doesn't get much better than than colorful hot air balloons hovering over this beautiful valley. There was a sprinkling of snow decorating the mountain tops so that may be mother natures special gift to add to our 2010 Balloon Festival photos! I am off and running to catch the pilots dinner and BBQ. The local editor is on vacation this weekend and asked if we could furnish our photos for next weeks paper. What a treat all of this is for an oldie like me! I caught the balloonmeister taking a test run earlier in the week that I will share with you. sf

Monday, September 13, 2010

Idle speculation on dog family dietary habits

I've just had three days of doing tours at Mesa Verde; tomorrow begins four more days of tours. Day before yesterday, as I was going up Prater Canyon toward the Montezuma Valley Overlook, I came up behind a red pickup truck moving very slowly. Then I realized the driver was keeping pace with a coyote ambling along on the side of the road. The critter seemed to think the bike lane marked on the newly resurfaced entrance road was his personal hiking path. He finally turned off and climbed the bank to watch the traffic go by, still quite unconcerned about the people.

Yesterday, as our tour bus was driving out on the mesa top loop, another coyote sauntered nonchalantly down the pavement ahead of us for a ways, finally turning off into the woods when we pulled over at our tour stop.

Lately, my tour folks and I have had to be careful to watch where we step if we take a morning tour down the path to Spruce Tree House ... the blacktop path is liberally sprinkled with tarry little poop piles that I'm guessing were left there by members of the dog family ... foxes or coyotes.

Which got me to thinking about the phenomenon we observed every fall at Chaco ... when the kids and I drove out to the school bus stop in the morning, the blacktop road was always littered with piles of coyote droppings, full of seeds from the berries they'd been eating. It was suggested that, while the bear may do it in the woods, the coyotes do it on the road because they can see in all directions so they won't be attacked while in a compromising position.

Which brings me to wonder if the bedazed coyotes I've been seeing aren't maybe a little loopy from fermentation in the berries they've been scarfing down. I'm just sayin' ... tv

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Rest of the Story!

This picture doesn't tell it all. This is one time I should have taken a panorama. On our recent drive around the San Juan Skyway we came upon this large field with about 100 prairie dogs all sitting on top of their mounds and looking one direction. Well, this was something we had not seen before, even though there are many fields of prairie dogs in this area. You usually see a few out of their holes, a few scampering around but never a whole field of them standing at attention. Well, inquiring minds want to know, so we pulled over to the side of the road to check it out. And then we saw the object of their attention. A lone fox, dragging his tail and sleeking off into the distance. It appeared that the colony had been alerted and he had been stared down by a field of prairie dogs. I guess there is strength in numbers. . . . sf

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Miracle At Valley Inn

In looking for pictures to share of the annual motorcycle rally here in Mancos the ones that caught my heart were the ones taken at the Valley Inn Nursing Home. Every year motorcyclists come in their leathers and take residents at the nursing homes for a ride. You see wheelchairs and walkers left behind and them being gently lifted onto motorcycles and the smiles begin! When the ride is over hugs are exchanged and you know,even if for only a few minutes, the old have felt the wind in their hair and felt young again. :)

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Movin' on

We just made our quarterly (and last?) trip around the San Juan Skyway, distributing the latest issue of Arts Perspective Magazine. We've got it down pretty well, making good time on the stops and having time for a few side trips as well, exploring a few roads we've never taken before.

If this is our last "paper route," it was a beautiful way to go. We've got a contract on a house in Silver City and hope to be in it in December, if all goes well.

Just over the crest of Red Mountain Pass on the way north to Ouray, there's a dirt road that goes off to the right. I've passed it a dozen times, decided to take it Thursday. It was just a short distance to where the panorama of the Red Mountain Town unfolded. 'Twas a beautiful day and we enjoyed the setting. The National Belle Mine is in the middle of the panorama, on "The Knob," which was a primary mining focus for the town in the 1890s.

The third picture up is of the remains of the jail at Red Mountain Town, which was built of stacked 2x6s, a technique that was also used on jails in Mancos and Animas City.

Before that, we took the road on the north side of Molas Pass in to Little Molas Lake. There's a lovely USFS campground there, a nice peaceful setting.

Telluride was a zoo, what with Labor Day weekend and the Film Festival, but it was neat to see a class of little tikes walking down a residential street on Friday.

Another side trip we took was down to the San Miguel River across from the Ophir turnoff, from which we got a picture of the Ophir Needles.

Off to the Absolute Bakery for breakfast, then to Cortez Farmers' Market, the Cortez Cultural Center to pick up some pictures, mail stuff on the house contract, try to get to the Valley Inn for Rally at the Valley (when the bikers take nursing home residents for rides), catch some of the biker games at the rally this afternoon ... and collapse for the evening!

I work tomorrow, taking a tour of Mesa Verde. Then a rush to the Minds in Motion finale on Thursday ... and then we'll see what happens next. There'll be something! tv

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Fall is coming

It was 46 degrees at dog-walking time this morning, a sign that summer is drawing to a close.

It's a beautiful, cloudless sky, with no portent of the afternoon thunder showers that have been customary. This is the first time in years that we've had a real monsoon season, with everything green. The produce is abundant at local farmers' markets.

Speaking of which, I'll do my next to last FM booth this afternoon in Dolores. Tomorrow and Friday we'll be delivering Arts Perspectives Magazine around the San Juan Skyway, maybe for the last time. Should be a pleasant tour of the San Juans!

Our wrap-up event for the Minds in Motion campaign (this year) is next week, so gotta do a lot of coordinating to get ready for it. 'Twill be pleasant, but it will be nice to be done with that ... I've staffed the MIM booth at about 30 events this summer.

We're still dickering on a place in Silver City, and still trying to get some movement on the house here. Things haven't fallen together in the way that would work best for us, but we're pressing on.

Things have been quiet tour-wise lately, but the fall shoulder season of tourism is ready to get hot. I have a tour Sunday morning and then about eight more in the next couple of weeks. I'd better finish reading Steve Lekson's new book before Sunday and get my stories updated!

Hope it's a beautiful day where you are, too! TV