Sunday, August 31, 2008

23a-08 bonus report, 4 Corners Folk Festival: Pagosa Springs Colorado

4 Corners Folk Festival

My last day in Pagosa and I’m heading over to the 4 Corners Folk Festival. I decided to enjoy a really great Mexican meal at the Elk Horn CafĂ©. You have to look for the Mexican menu on the back side of the menu. Then it was off to the festival. After parking the truck in a free parking spot and hopping the bus for the free ride to the top of water tower hill we almost got run over by a Pagosa Police car racing down the very narrow dirt road. The police car ended up in a ditch and we barely made it safely around the edge of the switch back. Talk about excitement before even getting to the festival.

Passing all the tenters on the side of the hill, we get dropped off at the top of the hill. I’d call it a mountain myself. A short walk up through the tall pine trees and I arrive at the big tent just over the top of the hill. I’d brought my own chair, but with 1200 seats under the tent, I decided to get a close up view and sit in comfort under the tent. Good thing too, as it rained out a couple of times during the early afternoon.
Listening to the music, feeling the vibe from the artists and the audience. The smells of the food vendors mixed with pine bark and sawdust, smoke from the BBQ grills all lent an air to festival.
Having a micro brewed beer at the Breckenridge Brewery’s beer garden. Talking to tipsy tipping drinkers telling about life in a small town of 600 near the Colorado/Utah boarder. Getting away from it all. Did you know that Colorado has the most micro brewery’s in the country? Dave Furst come on out here.... :)

Unlike many folk festivals I’ve attended, this one had only one large stage, which was fine with me as I didn’t have to treck between stages to hear the entertainment. Now the entertainment the day I went consisted of 3 folk groups all from Australia and England. The others from the U.S. All the groups play their own songs, so I didn’t get that old time feeling one often gets when attending folk festivals. I kind of missed not hearing a couple old standards. I must admit though that it was neat to hear new folk songs and the singers are very proud of their song writing skills.

I talked to a musician in the audience who was here to also participate in the workshops and he was very excited to have had the opportunity to play along with one of the groups, the Waifs. He said it was the highlight of the weekend and probably of his career. Earl Scruggs was scheduled for Sunday, but I’d be missing that as the tickets were $45 per day and I felt one day was more than enough.

On to other adventures, now filled with a bit of folk music to travel along the byways…

Friday, August 29, 2008

23-08 On the Road Again: Colorado

Moving Time

I’ve had a wonderful time here in the mountains of Colorado, Pagosa Springs. But it’s time to move on down the road. I’ve been full-timing it now for 5 years and it seems just like yesterday that I started out on my journey to explore the country. This past week has been a time of reflection and thanksgiving that I am able to enjoy this lifestyle.

While sitting outside in the late afternoon and evening, the fireplace going, watching the last light hit the tops of the pine trees on top of the ridge. Little puffs of white seed pods floating by on a gentle breeze against the rich green of the spruce trees. Seeing the first star come out each night, I can’t help but think about the wonderful friends I have all across the country. I so look forward to seeing everyone down the road in the next year or two. But remember, I’ll be traveling to Alaska in 2009, a trip I can’t wait to start on.

I only have one project this weekend and that’s to attend the Pagosa Springs Folk Festival on top of Antenna Hill overlooking the town. It’s a three day affair, but I’ll only be attending the Saturday performances. Really looking forward to hearing some great music. Heading out on Monday.

I’ve been here in Pagosa for two months and I can feel the urge to get on the road again. My truck is in tip-top shape and the campers been cleaned and ready to go as well. I’ll be heading to Mesa Verdi and Moab Utah, two places I’ve been before, but this time I’ll be exploring areas I didn’t see the first time around. That’s the wonderful thing about being a full timer, I can revisit areas I enjoy as well as see other parts of the country. After those adventures, I’ll be heading into Arizona. I’ve been invited to a ballooning festival in Page Az and I’m going to see how that works out. Who knows, I may be flying high again in a hot air balloon. My final destination will be Tucson Az for the winter.

As always, I’d love to hear from you and what’s going on in your lives. I don’t phone people very often, but prefer to send out e-mails and receive them. That always gives me more time to enjoy the thoughts you send my way and gives me time to answer back. Besides, I usually miss calls, as I don’t always keep my cell phone connected to my hip. Lorraine, sorry I keep missing your calls. So call me if you like, but know you’ll always get an e-mail back from me.

The adventure continues….
ps: thanks Bill for some great conversations around the campfire.

Friday, August 22, 2008

22-08 Pagos Springs Colorado, Wondering Thoughts

Pagosa thoughts


I’m thinking about my next destinations, as my time in Pagosa Springs is coming to an end. I’ll be leaving at the end of the month. Heading over to Mesa Verde, Canyon Lands, Monument Valley and Canyon De Chelly . But before I leave, I thought I’d share a couple interesting tid-bits about the area.

Pagosa Springs began using geo-thermal for heating the town in 1989. Now it only has 15 customers using the basically free heat for their businesses and homes, but I noticed the other day, they were continuing to replace many side-walks and streets in town that will be heated by the hot springs. No shoveling snow in town this coming winter.

The year around community appears to be much smaller than the summer residences. All those part timers are a tax burden on the whole gov. system since they pay little to no taxes to support the local government and rarely get involved while summering here. The part timers have gorgeous expensive homes, but leave as soon as the cold breezes blow off the mountains.
When I was visiting Durango and commenting on the, shall we say, mediocre service at some of the restaurants, a local said, well, keep in mind, many of them work two and three jobs to be able to live in the area. Holding on to a way of life that keeps getting more expensive.

Oh, I joined 4 other campers and went to a local Dinner theatre production in Pagosa on Saturday. It was a Melodrama called, “Foiled by an Innocent Maiden” Lots of audience participation, cheering on the Maiden, oh’s and awes and booing of the villain, who gets his come upends in the end. The dinner and show all took place in a big white tent as the local theatre doesn’t have an official home yet. But their enthusiasm created a real fun evening.

Water out here in the west is as valuable as gold. The Pagosa area, although it has the deepest hot springs in the world, is very limited in drinkable water. To the point that very few wells can be dug due to the solid rock which covers much of the land out here. I see many pick-up trucks driving around with large plastic tanks to be filled with fresh water for the many homes that have no access to water, except by transporting it in these large plastic tanks. Must be a lot of effort hauling fresh water every couple of days for home use. In many ways, having to haul water much as the Native Indians had to do over a 1,000 years ago. The Pagosa area just passed by a very slim margin a bill to start supplying water via a community water district to many of the these home with no water access.

Strange Occurrences. Back at the Hide-a-way Rv park, one of the campers guests, Janet decided she wanted to sleep outside one evening. She awoke in the middle of the night, the black sky dotted with stars, the air crisp and cold, to the sounds of horses hooves clipity clopping and the voice of an Indian chanting. No one was visible and Janet quickly decided to go inside the camper for the rest of the evening.

When she told the story around the campfire the next night, trying to figure out was it a fellow camper playing a prank, a really vivid dream or the spirit of the ancient Indians who lived in the area, many of us thought it the spirit of a local Indian. After all, we’re only about 12 miles from Chimney Rock where many ancient ruins have been found. Or, it could have been a drunken cowboy.

Mimi told us about another experience at Parelli’s Horse Ranch, where she’s been taking a two week horse training course. Apparently, this is the ranch that started the horse whispering thing. It’s now a huge business with ranches here and in Florida, England and Australia. So, what Mimi heard one day from a fellow student was that a glowing light was seen floating above the horse pens an evening or so earlier. More strange occurrences in this enchanting forested land.

Have you ever read a book and it seemed to have a message specifically for you?
During this same period, another odd occurrence happened while I was reading Jimmy Buffet’s book, A Salty Piece of Land. The book was not only a fun read combining every guys dreams of being a cowboy, sailor, pilot and fisherman, but it spoke to me on many other levels, as two of the main characters were single. Having lived much of my life as a single person, I was able to relate to the characters so well. The book spoke to me of following your own path, which I of course have done all my life and have no regrets.

Then came the odd occurrence. Near the end of the book, the characters in the book find themselves back in Key West. They drive up to Marathon and end up throwing a wreath into the water to honor someone’s passing.

The scene in the book seemed completely out of place and I wondered why Jimmy Buffet put it in the book. Sometimes, one receives messages or insight in the most unusual ways. You see, only about a year previously, had I been a part of a group throwing a wreath into the ocean to remember a dear friend. So during this week of odd occurrences, I send out a thought to my dear friend Eric Hathaway who we celebrated by tossing a wreath into the Gulf of Mexico. Peace my friend.

PS, A special welcome to Karen and Russ of Florida, who have joined our on-line Roving Reports. They are getting ready to become Traveling Campers within the next year or so and already have their camper and are testing it out in beautiful Florida. Florida has some great state parks for camping and I envy them. But I’ll get back to my beloved Florida one of these days.

For now, I get to enjoy the great states out west, Yippe, Yehaw!

Friday, August 15, 2008

21-08 Durango/Silverton Railroad: Colorado

Durango/Silverton Railroad

Once again I’m getting up early to drive into Durango. It’s a hours drive along hwy 160, though it’s more like a beautiful winding country road. Dropping down in elevation from 7,200 ft down to about 5,200 ft.

I needed to drop off the truck again to have them check out the engine light which came on again. As luck would have it, the EGR valve is bad and they will need to replace it….. After ordering it of course. So I can look forward to another trip into town in a few days.

Arriving at the Durango Train station, right on the edge of downtown Durango, I get ready to board the Silver Vista car. It’s one of those with the glass dome roofs so I’ll have a wonderful view out the open air sides and through the glass top. This is first class accommodations folks. On the way back I’ll be taking the Alamosa Parlor Car.

Minutes later, we’re all settled in and with a toot toot of the whistle, black smoke billowing from the coal fired steam engine, we’re off with a slight jerk of the cars. Rolling on down the track and out of Durango. This is going to be a long trip, as it takes three and a half hours to go each way.

We’ll be following the Animus River all the way to Silverton. We pass all the new condo’s being built along the valley floor on both sides of the river, but mainly on the highway side, near the railroad tracks. Everyone waves at us as we go on by.

About 20 miles out, we leave the last of the roads and buildings behind. We’re in the San Juan Mountains, much of it a wilderness area. The train stops a couple of times along the way to drop off hikers, fishermen and campers. It’s so tempting to just jump off and go for a hike. The scenery is just to die for. The river, filled with boulders and river rocks. The water a crisp shade of blue and white from going over rapids. Mountains forming on either side of the tracks as we wind uphill from 4,200 ft to over 9,000 ft in elevation.

The train steward points out what looks like ski runs on many of the large mountain ranges. They’re actually where avalanches occur each year. The air is so refreshing, I and another passenger mention that we can smell the pine trees from our open cars on the train. Even with the occasional smell of the coal smoke billowing from the front of the train, the pine scent can still be enjoyed.

Hour after hour the train chugs uphill, following the Animus River. The trains gradual rocking back and forth on the narrow gauge tracks sets a rhythm that can’t be beat.

Finally we make the gradual bend that opens up into the Silverton valley and the town centered right in the middle of the valley, surrounded by those primitive mountain ranges that once filled the dreams of all the silver and gold miners hearts. Or was it the dozen or so bordello’s that the town was once famous for. After de-boarding the train, right in the heart of downtown Silverton, I headed for Natalia’s Family Restaurant, which was once one of those infamous bordello’s. After a hearty lunch, I walked around the town, going up and down the dozen or so grid of streets into the residential areas where historic signs point out things like “Russian Princess lived here” or past the one story miners home painted a bright red, fenced in with a white picket fence and wild flowers in the garden. About 350 hearty souls live here year round.
They even have two Rv campgrounds in town, so if you have a hankering to get out into the wilderness of Colorado, bring your camper and spend a while up here. You’ll find plenty of good places to eat and even a bit of shopping. Depending of what your needs are, they have the usual T-shirt shops, Indian jewelry and all your rugged outdoor gear as well.

After a couple hours of exploring Silverton, I re-boarded the train for our trip back to Durango. Although I could have taken a bus back to Durango I had opted for the longer ride back by train. It did give me the opportunity to enjoy the views one more time. This time not through the viewer of the camera. But I have to admit, it makes for a very long day. And when I got back to Durango, I needed to find a ride back to the Chevy dealer to pick up my vehicle that hadn’t been fixed, since they needed to order the EGR valve.

My day came to an end after driving back to my campsite in Pagosa. Yes, another one hour drive. Whew, back home… am I going to sleep well tonight.

But the next day I‘m all refreshed and ready to go, there’s always something to go explore, so I’m off into the woods. Right in the center of the newer section of Pagosa is a street called Piedra or Rte 600 heading north into the San Juan Mountains.

The paved road ends after a couple of miles and a well maintained dirt road lead up into the forest. I pass huge ranches encompassing acres of Alpine meadows. Dramatic views for miles. Lush green meadows bordered by barbed wire and wooden fences leaning in precarious positions that look like they are the original ones put in by the pioneers. Cattle munching on grass at the side of the road. The fence hasn’t kept them in at all. And a crisp blue sky dotted with white clouds as big as the land.

I wind down into a huge open valley with a river cutting through it, back up we go into a stand of large ponderosa pines. I discover a small fishing and hunting campground with full hook-up deep in the forest called Williams Creek Campground. It’s the only campground with services, including of all things cable tv! This would make a great home base for anyone wanting to experience the wilds of Colorado and yet be 12 miles from civilization.

But a bit further and I reach one of the forest campgrounds, $15 a night for a dry campsite. A hand pump for water is available and pit toilets. But the best part, it’s on a lake that has views of the San Juan Mountains reflected off of the lake… what a spectacular campsite. This would be a great site to spend a week or two.

Walking around this campsite, along the waters edge, spectacular views, fresh air, everything just feels right with the world. This is a place to re-fill your batteries and recharge your life.

Finally, it’s back on the dirt road heading back to Pagosa. Even though I’ve only been up here in the San Juan forest for the afternoon, I hate to leave. On my travels, this is one of those places that just captures my heart and won’t let go.

Back at camp, John and Mimi are having a few of us campers over for dinner a second night in a row. Tonight we’re having fresh trout on the grill. Last night we had fresh from the garden, baked eggplant and spaghetti. Mimi’s loves to cook and we campers love to eat, drink and tell tall tails around the campfire. What a great way to end the day.

Keep exploring the best that life has to offer.

Your good buddy,

Friday, August 8, 2008

20-08 Pagosa County Fair: Colorado

20-08 Pagosa, Archuleta County Fair

Truck, Engine light came on

With not much going on this week, I decided to check out the Archuleta County Fair over the weekend. After paying the $2 entry fee, I headed straight for the big tent. Well actually there were 4 big tents, but the red and white striped one had the action going on. Young Ranchers were showing off their animals.
Sheep, cows, hogs, you get the idea. I came in at the end of the display and judging. The judge, speaking to each candidate in the center of the arena. No microphone, so we hadn’t a clew what was going on. After going through all the contestants, the judge finally got a mike and we heard who was the 1st place winner. No names were given as she described each contestants weaknesses and strengths, so I couldn’t tell you who the winner was. Shall we say it was a very amateurish presentation. And no second place winner. What’s up with that.

Walking around the almost vacant grounds, past the 4-5 small children’s rides each costing $4 to $7, way overpriced, I decided to check out the crafts displays in the main building. Lots of displays, everything from grasses (not that kind of grass….), baked goods under plastic wrap, some good and not so good photography, flower arrangements on the wilted side and a couple really nice quilts.

Well, that’s about that. The rest of the tents were pretty empty and I left, via a bumpy trolley ride over a very rocky parking lot back to my truck. Thank you very much.

Now, my 2007 Chevy Truck’s engine light just came on recently. At first I thought, Oh God, did I accidentally put the wrong diesel fuel in it? I hadn’t, thank goodness. After bringing the truck in, they discovered there was a new program for the EGR valve. After loading the new software and cleaning the EGR valve, it was fixed. Yah, right. The next day the light came back on, so off to the dealers again for a bit more work. Warranty work so if won’t cost me anything.

Next week: I’m going on the Durango/Silverton railroad! Yippee!

Friday, August 1, 2008

19-08 Pagosa Springs Colorado, Fred Harmond Museum

19-08 Pagosa, Fred Harman Museum

You know, every little town and hamlet has it’s own museums and Pagosa Springs is no different. Along with the County Museum, they have the Fred Harman Western Art Museum. Fred was a comic strip artist who created the Red Ryder and Little Beaver comic series. The museum is in the home he and his wife built here and his artwork is displayed throughout the simple ranch style home. On the property is the original Harmon homestead, an authentic log cabin.

Walking into his art studio, one sees the last painting he was working on before he passed. I even sat on the “John Wayne” couch! Flanked by another visitor, father and son who’s last name was Wayne as well. A monster of a couch about 10 feet long and covered in a western print fabric that you just knew by looking at it was where John Wayne would sit and even sleep on. John Wayne was a good friend of the Harman’s and would visit often.

A tree trunk was on display with a carving on it that read “ Kit Carson and dated 1859?”. It was found in the forest surrounding Pagosa Springs and was probably near a hide-out of Kit Carson’s.

I’ll be staying at the Hide Away campground here just outside of Pagosa Springs for another month, as the owners decided to offer me a great deal. Cutting the price in half. I was looking forward to being closer to Durango, but I can afford a lot more gas with all those savings.

I’m enjoying the spectacular weather, considering all the reports I get on TV about the heat wave in Denver (17 straight days of 90 degree weather) and all across the country. It’s so enjoyable to be able to sit outside, read a good book and just glance up every once and a while and look at the lush green spruce and fir trees climbing up the side of the ridge opposite my campsite. The sky is so richly blue with strikingly while clouds lit up by a very crisp sun. I’ve got to remember to put some suntan lotion on when I’m outside, as my face has gotten a bit red from all the sun.

Plans are being made for some great adventures this coming month. A lecture on Indian culture at Chimney Rock, a summer dinner theatre play put on by the Springs Theatre Company and I’ll also be taking the Durango/Silverton Railroad in August. Now if that’s not enough, I’m sure I’ll find some other great adventures as well.

If your interested in hearing the same radio station I’m listening to out here, click on the link: It’s a great public radio station out of the Ute Indian Reservation.

Well I missed all the excitement the other night. An 800 lb black bear came across the street, got hit by a car and was really pissed! Did a fair amount of damage to the car driven by a woman. The bear wondered back into the wood apparently only temporarily dazed, thrashing at the trees and making quiet a noise. Shortly afterward the police came with sirens and lights flashing. Can you believe I slept through it all. Darn.

Oh and the other day, I was watching Good Morning America and saw two of my friends up in Cape Cod, Raul and John! How exciting to see friends on TV. Chef Raul was telling Sam Champion about his French Toast dish, which he bakes. I actually had my back to the TV, working on my computer and heard Raul’s voice, looked around and there he was on TV, bigger than life…. TV really does add 10 lbs .

I completely re-read the book “1491”, New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus. If your interested in Native American history at all, try to get a copy of 1491. It covers all the Americas and provides completely new insights on the development of this part of the world before it was “discovered” in 1492. I’ve completely highlighted my copy and will probably read it a third time. Charles Mann has really done his homework, the notes and biography consist of over 100 pages of references, which thankfully one does not have to read. Expect to learn more in this one book about our world than you ever could possibly imagine. Good writer, fascinating story.