Pat’s Deer April Snow, Colorado Springs, Colorado

  Pat works from home with his computer, a big part of Scotttreks, behind the scenes, supporting Scott. Outside his office window, on a snowy day, his wife takes photos of deer in the front yard of their home on the west side of Colorado Springs, in the mountains. With snow falling, and trees laden with white, this deer family is scavenging. The snow has covered most of their food supply and is starting to give them white fur, sticking in patches on their noses and necks, making them look like old men and women. These deer have visited before and take treats from people. We know people shouldn’t feed deer,or any wild animal, but they are gorgeous, and the weather today is so inhospitable. Deer are such large animals it is hard to see how they find enough food to support themselves when it is buried under snow drifts.  Alan has his deer in Texas, Charlie and Sharon have their deer in Albuquerque. Pat and Amber have their deer in Colorado Springs. Scott sees his deer, occasionally, in the Albuquerque foothills, Open Space, and the adjoining Cibola National Forest. For these deer, this day is just business as usual. We are graced by their presence, It is good for me to know that there are living things on the planet that live by nature’s rules, not human rules. When you are built for snow, it isn’t the tragedy, I think it might be.

Tiny House Southfork, Colorado

    Colorado is one of the leading states in the tiny house movement in the United States.This state has over 20 builders who have built tiny houses, has an annual  Colorado Tiny House Festival in Brighton, and a Colorado Tiny House Association that advocates for the development of the tiny homes industry. The tiny house movement, whether in Colorado,or elsewhere, is driven by people looking to spend their money differently. Instead of sinking hundreds of thousands of dollars into a site built house that has expensive taxes, upkeep, and unused space, people can get into a tiny house for a fraction of the price and spend their saved money on activities and experiences they would rather be doing than mowing the lawn. This tiny house is parked on a lot in Southfork, Colorado, and, though locked, gives an idea of its roominess and livability by peeking through its windows.There are five different models to choose from and the builders of these models can custom make a tiny house to fit any budget and need. The best thing about tiny houses, after looking at these models, is – they don’t have an engine. Bigger the better, is a slogan that is reaching it’s limits in America. American’s are downsizing, looking small ,seeking control of their lives. These days you are more defined by what you do than what you own. Living in one of these homes means you have finally realized you don’t need stuff you thought did, you don’t need deep roots to feel rooted, and small is very big.  

Creede, Colorado 19th century meets 21st century

    Creede’s reason for existence started and ended with silver. Rich mines were tunneled into the Earth and precious minerals were extracted.  At one time Creede had 10,000 inhabitants. The population now is 290, the mines have played out, and the economy depends on seasonal tourists escaping Texas heat. In the winter this small mountain town shuts down and everyone who can leave, leaves. The skeleton crew left behind play cards, huddle around pot bellied stoves and keep the road open for crazy hunters who just won’t leave the deer alone. Walking here, or sitting on a bench under a shade tree, you don’t see hardened miners with dust in their beards, horses pulling loaded wagons, but you are surrounded by slouching wood frame buildings, hitching posts, closed saloons waiting for a modern makeover. Creede has its own 1800’s style repertory theater that puts on performances during the tourist season,and,if they had a casino here,the place would sparkle like a handful of gold nuggets. Being a tourist here is comfortable. In 2019,  hotels and accommodations here have cable and wi-fi, the phone service is good,and the little grocery has vittles you need. If it were too old, none of us would be here.  We 21st century visitors to the past, like old, but not at the expense of our 21st century luxuries.  

River Rafting Near Creede, Colorado

    The Rio Grande river is running high and fast with a bigger than normal snow pack this last winter. It is July and there are still big rocks in the middle of the river that you still can’t see the tops of. Along the river’s edges, rafters have parked their vehicles in turn off’s, pulled on orange life preservers, boarded inflated rubber rafts and edged into the cold water, eight to ten people a raft going for a bumpy joy ride down stream.. For several miles their hired river guides maneuver them safely through the white water, and the rafters, excited after the trip, have an experience to talk about for years. This area used to have hard rock miners leading their donkey’s to drink from this same river before they would start a new mining hole high up in the side of a mountain. On Saturday night the prospector’s would clean up, as much as they could, and go into Creede to gamble, chase women, fight, and brag about their prospects. Riding the river would have been seen as something only crazy people would do. Riding rapids is what we are all doing these days in our Excited States of America.. These river guides are making more money than those hard rock miners ever dreamed of making. It only takes a few crazy people to change the way an entire world looks at things..  

What’s Real? Reflections on a lake

    The reflection of the clouds,on the lake’s calm surface,quiver. The reflection of the forest’s trees, on the lake’s surface, reaches across the lake almost to the bank we are fishing from and look as if trees themselves are growing out of the lake, right in front of me.   If I had a long enough arm, I could reach down and scoop up these clouds in the palm of my right hand and they would wiggle like the fishing earthworms we just dug up in a close by field. I know the clouds and forest on the lake’s surface are reflections. The real clouds are in the sky and the real forest covers the rugged mountain sides directly to the south of us, across Hermit’s Lake. If my mind can be even temporarily fooled by nature’s slight of hand, how much more of what I see is not what is really there? When scientists come up with better measuring sticks, we might start seeing more of the world as it is, not fooled by reflections, optical illusions, mirages, black holes, mirrors and miracles.. There will, on that day, as Jerry Lee Lewis sings in his rollicking rock and roll classic,be ” a whole lot of shaking going on.”      

Hermit’s Lake Richard and Maria's get away

    Mornings and evenings at Hermit’s Lake are natural wonders. The lake, this evening, is without ripples. Fish rise with a splash to the water’s surface, for flies, an eagle lazily circles above us, watching the lake’s surface for the same fish we are trying to catch. Richard and Maria share a bench, all of us fishing hard as the sun drops and you hunker in your jacket to keep warm. It will be dark soon.  Ninety nine out of a hundred people would say ” this is a good definition of paradise” , and they wouldn’t be wrong. Whether all this natural wonder is by design or the result of chaotic chance is a question I ponder with the same intensity of a kid playing with a rubric cube. None of us three say anything to upset the balance, this evening, our planet a colorful top spinning on a sidewalk, a perpetual motion machine set in motion with one flip of God’s wrist. The fish this evening must be enjoying the sunset as much as we are. We haven’t even had a bite yet.    

Fishing the Rio Grande fishing on rafts on upper Rio Grande

    The Rio Grande river runs through New Mexico and most of the state’s population and bigger cities hug the river’s edges all the way through the state, from north to south. The river is sustained by melting winter snow pack in Colorado and this is a good year with today’s river running fast and high. Along its entire length, Indian, state, county officials, and even private individuals dip their hoses and buckets into the currents and draw off water they need for their life and livelihood.  By the time our Rio Grande gets to Texas and Mexico, it is shallow enough in places to walk across, and it’s color is a muddy brown. There are packed legal folders full of legal challenges about who owns this river’s water, who gets to use it, and in what quantities. Our Rio Grande  empties into the Gulf of Mexico and has always been the lifeblood of farmers, ranchers, outlaws, Indians, miners and immigrants, legal or not, all co-existing inside our state borders.  This afternoon, rafts carry fishermen downstream with paid guides maneuvering clients to some of the best fishing spots. I don’t know what it cost these fishermen for their guide and raft, but it all adds up to an expensive trout dinner. This guide will give this sportsman a better than average chance to catch something worth catching. When you come this far to catch fish you want good pictures to show your buddies back home. A few extra bucks for a trophy fish,you can brag on for twenty or thirty years, even if it seems way too high, is money well spent. .

Great Sand Dunes National Monument Near Alamosa, Colorado

    I was told by a brother, Neal, and, by Pat, that the Great Sand Dunes are worth a look so I take a quick side trip to test their recommendation. The dunes get bigger as I drive a  narrow two lane road from the big highway deeper into the National Monument.There appears no reason for the dunes to be here amid natural junipers, high desert grass, cactus. It is, as if, a celestial construction crew got wrong work orders and dumped truckload after truckload of sand right here until some angel woke up from a good night’s sleep and immediately cancelled the project. In New Mexico, we have our White Sands National Monument, but none of those dunes are as tall as these. Here, the sand seems very much out of place, but, nature can’t ever be accused of making mistakes. At the National Monument visitor center, there are photos, posters, and displays for those who want to be educated on sand. Visitors can climb the dunes by following a path out to them from the visitor center. Visitors, hiking up the dunes, look like ants trying to touch the lazy white drifting clouds. Not having time to stay long, I get back on the road to Creede, Colorado and Hermit’s Lake. I’m guessing, even if I don’t see these dunes again, this would be one of the first places a tour of foreign cats, from Japan ,would stop and spend an entire day romping in the kitty litter. Seeing cats surfing down these hills on boogie boards would be amazing.  Neal and Pat, I decide,on my way out of the National resource, are worth listening too, sometimes.    

You can sleep when you are dead coffee sign deja vu

    The last time I saw this sign was in Montevideo, Uruguay at the Ramon Massini Hotel/Suites. That sign was in the lobby near a coffee machine operated with tokens you bought from the front desk. This afternoon I see the same sign at Candy’s Coffee in Westcliff, Colorado. It is like seeing an old friend that you have lost touch with and figured you would sadly never see again. I’m sure I’ll find this sign hanging somewhere else in the world down my road, but, at the moment, I don’t know  where. Being able to still be surprised is something I’m thankful for. Knowing that drinking coffee means I’m not dead, I enjoy my cup at Candy’s all the way to the bottom. If I were superstitious, I would believe this sign is trying to tell me something that I haven’t yet grasped.  

Sugar and Spice Mountain Bakery Westcliff, Colorado

    On a Saturday morning, Westcliff is closed for business. The Sugar and Spice Bakery is one of the few places open in town this early and seven patrons are already lined up ahead of me getting something to eat. The two young women running the shop wear plain long skirts and blouses with plain bonnets on their head, their hair bundled up under each bonnet. They are Mennonites, who, along with Amish,have settled in this area in the last few years. I saw several girls, dressed  exactly like this, working at the bowling alley cafe yesterday and admired their work ethic and modesty when serving overweight middle aged women in shorts and tattoos, ordering chicken fried steak and mashed potato dinners. In our evolving world, the Mennonites and Amish ,in Westcliff ,might be the only ones  in our country saying “no” to progress. While this planet spins, those of us waiting in line,know you can’t beat good home made muffins, scones,and apple pie for breakfast with a hot beverage to warm your hands. We can buy our food out of machines but eating that way just doesn’t raise our spirits. I’ll be back tomorrow for more blueberry muffins and hot coffee, and their sign on the door tells me they will be open at seven a.m. God doesn’t have to get in the way of hard working business women, and He doesn’t.  
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