6/30/07

Heads up: Tire Recall

Tires made in China are recalled due to safety issues:

Chinese Tire Recall

Some excerpts from the article:

"Federal officials have told a small New Jersey importer to recall 450,000 radial tires for pickup trucks, sport utility vehicles and vans after the company disclosed that its Chinese manufacturer had stopped including a safety feature that prevented the tires from separating.

Tread separation is the same defect that led to the recall of millions of Firestone tires in 2000. At the time, tire failure was linked to an increased risk of rollover of light trucks and S.U.V.’s."

"The defective tires are sold under the brand names Westlake, Compass, Telluride and YKS, Mr. Lavigne said."

There are many other articles up about this recall. Google the text string:

Chinese tire recall

Well. The Chinese are busy poisoning America's dogs, selling us toxic toothpaste, and painting toys for American kids with lead-based paint. Now they are selling us tires they have made in shoddy fashion...deliberately by cheating the specs.

VBS II

La Junta First Church's VBS finished up with another most excellent session.

The girls collected the most in offerings. As a reward, they got the loaded waterguns with which to ambush "The LifeGuard":


"The Lifeguard" (aka "PB", aka "Pastor Brian", aka "The Bald-headed Preacherman") is swamped outside the church.


Kids, helpers, and adult leaders gathered for a closing photo.

Another Fourteener

We just finished another ride from The Holy Land to Rocky Ford and back. This time we went north from Quickee's up Road 24.5 to 266, west to Rocky Ford, then back to Swink on US 50. We stopped briefly in the RF Loaf for a bit of refreshment. Some kids were doing a car wash, and there were a lot of people in and out of the store while we were there.

This is a fairly easy ride with no real hills, though there is a steady climb out of Swink to the intersection of 24.5 and 266. From there, it's a gentle downhill loop through Rocky Ford and back to Swink. Sometimes the downhill is almost imperceptible, but it's there. The wind was also kind to us today.


Swink bridge over the Arkansas, Road 24.5


Looking back toward The Holy Land from the bridge.


Holbrook Lake from the intersection of 24.5 and 266. It's nice to see some water in it for a change.


Leece heads west on 266.


Leece drops down a slight hill to the bridge over the Arkansas as we come into Rocky Ford.


Hundreds of Cliff Swallows eating mosquitoes near the bridge. The birds have their nests under the bridge. So long as you douse yourself liberally (bad word) with Cutter's or Off, you'll not become a food item for the blood-sucking hordes.

6/29/07

"I have a dream..."

The Democratic contenders are going absolutely alpha sierra over the Supreme Court's decision regarding using race as a criterion in school assignments. Here is the decision:

PARENTS INVOLVED IN COMMUNITY SCHOOLS v. SEATTLE SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 1 et al.

Chief Justice Roberts wrote the majority opinion. Here is an excerpt:

"The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race."

This is a point apparently lost on Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and the rest of the field.

I would suggest that Mr. Obama and his colleagues revisit Dr. King's writings, in particular his "I Have a Dream" speech.

It's right here:

I Have a Dream

The salient excerpt:

"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."

Huh. Barack, Hillary, et. al. might also want to revisit Brown v. Board of Education.

There is no dispute on my part that race remains problematic in these United States. But I cannot subscribe to the moonbat idea that the re-establishment of official racism in any form by the school boards or other governmental entities is the way to deal with it.

Shift Happens...



Take five minutes to watch this video presentation:

http://www.glumbert.com/media/shift

and you might begin to understand why we are so far behind the economic power curve. How many of our local leaders understand this? How many of our local business people are knowledgeable, much less comfortable, with the new communications, information, and research technologies of today?

Where does that leave our Tomorrow?

Where does that leave our kids and grandkids?

Snuffling out of a rice bowl on the downside of The American Dream?

6/28/07

VBS

La Junta's First Church of the Nazarene is hosting Vacation Bible School this week. Tomorrow night (Friday) is the concluding day. It begins at 5:15 PM with a light dinner. VBS starts at 6:00 and goes till 8:30.

3 years old through 6th grade is the target group, but the activities are optimized for 3 yrs to 4th grade. The older kids act as helpers to the adult leaders.

This year's theme is "Water Works". About 50 kids attended each of the last two nights. Drop-ins from the community are welcome. C'mon by Friday evening.


Gilbert and Jon serve as Grillmeisters.


Leece and "The Bald-headed Preacherman" Brian discuss things theological. Or maybe it has to do with Season 4 of "The Shield"...


Grillmeister comic relief


Some of the ladies of the church. Steverino squeezes in.


"Jammin' for Jesus", so to speak.


Tookie has fun.


This evening's closing jamfest.

6/27/07

Lotsa flash...

Boy howdy, but coming in to The Holy Land from The Smile Hi City this evening was quite the show.

Here's why:



Fortunately it mostly fizzled. There was a light drizzle in The Swink Megopolis, and a bit of wind, but nothing to amount to anything. It was a different picture looking out to the north, however, as low clouds were illuminated by continuous lightning flashes, substantial lightning, the kind that lights up the sky from one horizon to the other. Ditto for down south. Probably a good thing it fizzled and went around us with the river as high as it is.

Whizbanger

Hooooodoggie but it was a whizbanger last night, though it could have been worse. While we were on the way back to The Holy Land last evening the skies burst and we were hailed and rained upon in almost biblical fashion. The creeks rose and a flash flood warning was issued. We had a severe thunderstorm warning. Then a tornado warning. No kidding. Not a watch. A warning. You could hear the sirens in The Smile Hi City from The Holy Land, over the pounding of the rain. Well done to whoever a) spec'd out those puppies and b) whoever installed 'em.

But it turned out the melodrama was misplaced. The warning was for down south, about fifteen miles.

That's OK. I went out and looked up at the sky and saw the clouds doing a slow counter-clockwise rotation just north of the Swink metroplex, while the ground winds switched from generally west to generally east. That was enough motivation for us to go back down into the basement for a while longer.

After things settled down a bit in The Holy Land, we watched a magnificent display of lightning over The Smile Hi City.

There was a bit of hail. Not much, and not very big.

It was indeed a whizbanger of a thunderstorm. I've seen much more spectacular demonstrations out here on the plains, but so far this year, last night's was the best.

Down in Texas, some places got 14 to 19 inches of rain last night.

Texas Gullywashers

More Gullywashers

Fort Reynolds


Fort Reynolds was an adobe fort that existed near the location of what is now Avondale. Constructed in 1867, it was in commission until 1872.

It was first occupied by F Company of the 5th United States Infantry - the 'Bobcats'.

By the summer of 1868, Captain Charles A. Curtis was in command of Fort Reynolds. Here is an account of the fort from Pueblo County Towns:

Fort Reynolds

According to this biographical source, Captain Curtis retired from the army in 1870, and had a distinguished post-service career. The source cited shows three different biographies with some conflicting details, but in one area they are all in 'agreeance:' Curtis was an accomplished and very active individual.

Other known commanders include Captain Simon Snyder and Captain H. B. Bristol. The timelines regarding the occupancy of the fort are fuzzy at best.

Captain Snyder was an interesting fellow, too. His wife died in 1874, leaving him as a single father with a young daughter, Lillian. This is described in "Young Troopers: Stories of Army Children on the Frontier" by Paige Ramsay-Palmer, in the chapter entitled, "Single Father." There is a photo of Captain Snyder, taken in 1880's. Captain Snyder was eventually promoted to Brigadier General and commanded a division  during the Spanish-American war. General Snyder died in April, 1912, and is buried in the Charles Evans cemetery, Reading, PA.

Captain H. B. Bristol retired from the army in the spring of 1879. In addition to commanding Fort Reynolds, he had participated in the forced relocation of the Navajo in 1864, as noted in "The Long Walk: The Forced Navajo Exile," p. 65. He commanded four companies of infantry in Sheridan's southern plains campaign of 1874-75 (The 'Red River War'). He commanded Fort Sumner during the summer of 1864, according to "The Civil War in New Mexico" p. 320.

Here is a history of the 5th:


Unfortunately, Fort Reynolds was apparently not considered a very significant part of the history of the 5th.

Note that Daniel Butterfield was Colonel of the Regiment for a time. Butterfield is most famous as the fellow who came up with "Taps", deriving it from the British "Tatoo", another military bugle/drum signal.

The first known reference to an earthquake here in Colorado was on December 4, 1870. The report consists of an account of bottles on a shelf, one inch apart which were knocked together violently. This took place at Fort Reynolds, about 20 miles east of Pueblo.

Troops were sent from Fort Reynolds to help contain "The Christmas Day War" in Trinidad in 1867.



From the report of Lieutenant General W.T. Sherman (yep, that Sherman) to the Secretary of War on the disposition of troops in the Department of the Missouri, October 1, 1867:




From the October 23, 1871 report of the adjutant general to the Secretary of War:


The marker is by the side of the road, almost hidden by weeds, just this side of the Avondale exit off US 50.

6/25/07

Fiscal Year 2008 Defense Appropriations Act and Pinon Canyon

PCEOC / Not 1 More Acre! / Grassland Trust
Action Alert - Continue calls
June 25, 2007

Please continue calling and activate your email lists, blogs and phone trees today to encourage people to PHONE Senators Ken Salazar and Wayne Allard TODAY AND EVERY DAY THIS WEEK.

The Senators appear hesitant to support their constituents by placing the Musgrave-Salazar amendment onto the Senate version of the FY08 Defense Appropriations Act.

A Pueblo-Chieftain article explaining the Musgrave-Salazar Amendment:

Musgrave-Salazar Amendment

We need them to know how much we need the exact language of the Musgrave-Salazar amendment that passed the House 383-34 in the Senate version of the Military Construction & Veterans Affairs Act.

Let the Senators know how important it is that they listen to the grassroots and what 88% of the Colorado General Assembly and 91% of the House of Representatives have said -
"No Expansion / No Money for Expansion at Pinon Canyon!"

Let Senator S alazar know that we are counting on him as a member of the Agriculture Committee to stand up with the House members of the Ag Committee - Marilyn Musgrave and John Salazar - to defend the agricultural economy of southeastern Colorado that feeds the entire economy of Colorado!

THE ECONOMY THAT WORKS IN SOUTHEASTERN COLORADO IS THE ECONOMY THAT WORKS - AGRICULTURE! IT CAN'T BE 'REPLACED' AND OUR SENATORS SHOULD UNDERSTAND THAT.

Tell Colorado's Senators to end the train of broken promises by ending funding of expansion at Pinon Canyon.

NO EXPANSION / NO MONEY FOR EXPANSION!

PHONE NUMBERS ARE LISTED BELOW.
Senator Ken Salazar

Washington DC
(202) 224-5852
Fax:(202) 228-5036
Denver Metro Region
(303) 455-7600
Fax: (303) 455-8851

Pikes Peak Region
(719) 328-1100
Fax:(719) 328-1129

High Plains Region
(970) 542-9446
Fax: 970-542-3088

Arkansas River Region
(719) 542-7550
Fax: 719 542-7555
***********

Senator Wayne Allard

Washington DC
Phone: (202) 224-5941
Fax: (202) 224-6471

Colorado Springs Office
Phone: (719) 634-6071
Fax: (719) 636-2590

Denver Office
Phone: (303) 220-7414
Fax: (303) 220-8126

Pueblo Office.
Pueblo, CO 81003
Phone: (719) 545-9751
Fax: (719) 545-3832

6/23/07

Another good ride

This morning we hopped on the bikes early in the morning and took off down 50 to Rocky Ford. We returned to The Holy Land via CO 71 and County Road CC. By the time we returned the sun was well up and the light had that bright, brassy quality that is rather harsh. It was, however, still reasonably cool. This is a fairly easy 14 mile ride.

In Rocky Vegas, we met some other cyclists at the Loaf, some RF locals who were interested in starting up a bike club. The main target is seniors from over in the senior center but anyone is welcome. More info on that as it develops.


Southbound on CO 71, we paused for some pictures of the fields.


This old plow and several other implements were artfully arranged in the yard of a house on 71, not far south of Rocky Ford.


Flowers by the side of the road.


Hay bales just off CO 71.


"Ditchwheat". Wheat growing in the ditch alongside the road, probably from seed either spilled during planting or wind-blown.


"Makin' hay while the sun shines."


Leece rides past a wheatfield off County Road CC.


Traveling east on Road CC, looking north. There is a feedlot in the distance. There are several of these dotting northern Otero County.


Miles of corn, off Road CC.


Impulse sprinkler laying down a mist near an old barn off Road CC.


Looking out at the farm land to the south and east from Road CC.


The county road system may be primarily for farm-to-market traffic, but it's also made-to-order for cycling.

6/22/07

"Unfinished business"

Thomas Sowell has long been one of my favorite authors and columnists. Here is his bio:

Thomas Sowell

He has written an excellent commentary on The Nifong Disbarment:

Unfinished Business

This is a two-page article. Be sure to click on the link at the bottom of the article to go to the next page.

An excerpt:

"There is not the slightest reason to believe that Nifong was deceived or mistaken. He was not some kid fresh out of law school. He had decades of experience as a prosecutor. He knew exactly what he was doing.

Nor was the New York Times a naive ingenue in these matters. It had backed Al Sharpton's fraudulent accusations of rape in the Tawana Brawley case, which had the same politically correct elements of a black woman accusing white men of rape.

Nor were the 88 Duke faculty members who promoted a lynch mob atmosphere naive. Most were from departments promoting the "race, class, and gender" vision of victimhood.

This case served their purposes. That trumped any question about whether the charges were true or not.

Don't expect any of these people to recant or apologize. But be aware of how wide and how deep the moral dry rot goes."

Soldiers demonstrate how to capture a terrorist

As most of us know, the Army has cracked down on soldiers posting to blogs, LiveLeak, and YouTube and other such services. The official reason is 'security'. The real reason is that the American GI has always had a knack for irreverence. This often comes out in spoofs of the higher ups and the alleged mission. Affronts to the dignity, etc etc etc.

In the following clip, a group of grunts demonstrate a good grasp of basic urban warfare tactics as they make entry to a known terrorist hangout and capture an Islamofascist.



That 'hut hut hut hut' is right out of the SWAT scene in "The Blues Brothers".

"We were taken aback..."

That's what Jonathan Heawood said of the latest round of murderous rants and chants on the part of The Religion of Peace over the knighthood of Salman Rushdie. I dunno where Mr. Hedgewood has been these past few years, but what did he expect from those loons?

The background:

by way of :LGF:

Muslim anger flared Thursday after Britain defended Salman Rushdie's knighthood, with fresh protests against the novelist and Pakistani traders offering a big reward for his beheading.

Hundreds of demonstrators took to the streets in Indian Kashmir and Pakistan, while Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, criticised the timing of the honour.

The Indian-born Rushdie was given the award on Saturday, 18 years after he was sentenced to death by Iran's hardline clerical regime for writing what it said was a blasphemous book, "The Satanic Verses".

"We will give 10 million rupees (165,000 dollars) to anyone who beheads Rushdie," Islamabad traders' association leader Ajmal Baluch told around 200 people in one of the Pakistani capital's main bazaars.

The crowd chanted, "Cut off the head of Salman Rushdie!" ...

Later Afzal Sahi -- the speaker of the Punjab province assembly and a member of the Pakistan Muslim League party that backs President Pervez Musharraf -- said in a debate that he would "definitely kill" Rushdie if he could.

During a protest against Musharraf by thousands of people in Lahore witnesses said a large part of the crowd briefly chanted, "Death to Britain! Death to Rushdie!"

From the BBC: Why Salman Rushdie was knighted.

His book, The Satanic Verses, was seen as so offensive to Muslims that he was forced into hiding, under threat of death.

The latest controversy over his knighthood appears to have shocked the people involved in nominating and selecting him.

Jonathan Heawood, director of the English branch of Pen, said: "We have argued for a long time that Salman Rushdie should be recognised by the government as a giant of world literature.

"I've been struggling for a form of words that does not sound naive but we were taken aback, everyone was taken aback, by the scale of the reaction."

Cop pay and diggin' the dirt

Here is an interesting story from the San Francisco Chronicle. The Chronicle is apparently taking a break from digging up the details of Mayor Gavin Newsome's alleged cocaine use and is taking a look at his budgetary slights of hand:

http://tinyurl.com/34hvpq

Some excerpts:

"The San Francisco Board of Supervisors blocked a contract for city police officers that would have raised wages 25 percent over the next four years, a pay boost the police union and Newsom administration say is necessary to stay competitive with other departments in the region."

and

"Under the pact, an entry-level San Francisco police officer's salary would go from $65,500 to $70,733, and a top-level officer's salary would increase from $91,182 to $94,829 in the first year."

In another story, however, the Chronicle notes that "A December 2006 report commissioned by the city of San Diego concluded that a police recruit at the San Diego Police Department earns a minimum of $40,810. A senior officer below the rank of sergeant with a family earns a maximum of $56,152 a year in take-home pay."

Sounds like San Francisco will be really competitive with San Diego. Check that entry level starting pay for SF. Like, wowsers, dude.

Then we have

"Supervisor Chris Daly questioned whether money should be "slated to go into the pockets of cops" while the board is being asked by the Newsom administration to accept $6 million in cuts to public health programs."

and

"She said Daly's suggestion that the mayoral election cycle impacted the budget negotiations is off the mark. There were three other contracts previously negotiated and passed Tuesday, including one that gives nurses a 19 percent pay increase."

Huh. So Daly doesn't want the money going 'into the pockets of cops' while he worries about cutting public health programs...but then another rabble-rouser points out they just passed a contract giving nurses - public health workers - a 19 percent raise.

You just gotta love a newspaper that gets out there and digs this stuff up.

6/21/07

Annoyances

We were sitting at the bench outside Quickee's. I was having a diet Dr. Pepper. Leece was sipping, most delicately, a cappuccino. I dunno how she can drink that hot stuff this time of the year. She must be tougher'n me.

"I dunno about 'tougher', but 'smarter' and 'better-lookin' is like, fer shure, dude," Billy observed.

Now both of 'em were doing it. I felt like the recipient of a Vulcan mind-meld.

"Perhaps you should consider wearing one of those aluminum foil beanies," Leece offered, grinning most engagingly.

"Uhmmmmm...right..." I said,"Hey, what do you think of the Great Southern Colorado Gangster Rap Tour?"

"Fizzled, I think," said Billy, "I went to it, you know, and there was maybe a hunnert aspiring 'artists' and gangsters there."

"You went to a g-rap festival?" Leece was incredulous.

"Of course. Why not. I have very eclectic tastes in music," Billy sniffed, a bit self-righteously if not self-consciously.

"Huh. Hooda thunk it. Hey, there was one guy who was 'annoyed' that 'nearly every cop from La Junta to Rocky Ford was outside that place'," I shared.

"Really? 'Annoyed'? Why? Were they crushing the free spirit of creativity? Did they run roughshod with their jackboots over the oppressed masses? Did they beat anyone down with their black-painted baseball bats?" Billy was on a poly-sci roll.

"I don't think so. Wait a minute. I wrote it down, cuz I wanted to use it to illustrate the missing of a point," I said, "Here. Here it is:

Sadly the white, country loving few that control power in the valley would complain about the lower class majority getting the music they love in their town instead of more... well, country.

Although personally I hate hip hop, I still find it annoying that nearly every cop from La Junta to Rocky Ford was outside of that place.


"Ah. A man after my own heart. I think he should become a political science major at Berkeley," Billy said.

"Berkeley undergrads are more concerned with their mutual funds these days, Billy," Leece said, "They aren't interested in the oppressed non-white masses."

"Oh. Well, what about the likes of Nifong, who did his oppressing of rich white boyz, and Delgadillo, who did his oppressing of rich white babes?" Billy was curious.

"Nifong? The North Carolina DA who was just disbarred for ethics and possibly criminal violations in the Lacrosse Rape Fiasco?" Leece queried.

"Yep. Think about it. Here this guy is 'annoyed' over a buncha podunk cops standing around, not oppressing anyone but just keeping an eye on a bunch of 'artist's who espouse very vocally a life-style of drug use, gun violence, 'slappin' down da ho's', and generally talking shi...dirt...about wimmin, blacks or Afferkin-Merkins or whatever. Is that what making a 'statement' has come to?" Billy was somewhat affronted.

"I agree, Billy," said Leece, "because here is a DA who is perfectly willing to abuse the power of his office for political self-gain. If the victims weren't rich white boyz whose families could afford good lawyers, how much damage could he do to the unwashed poor? Think about how Claudette went after that junior ADA who was on Oxy and put some innocent guy away for armed robbery. Think of the plain unadulterated abuse of power she and Dutch were subjected to in retaliation for messin' with the system."

Leece is an unabashed fan of The Shield. So am I. Lots of moral questions there that reflect almost directly on the quandaries we face in modern living.

"Yeah, Leece, yer right, and then there's that idjit Delgadillo whose dirty laundry is really floppin' out of the hamper now," Billy agreed.

"You betcha. What kind of civil rights horrors has he committed, all the while covering up his own and his wife's transgressions?" Leece asked.

"The LA Times seems to have recognized its responsibilities and is raking out the LA city attorney's muck as we speak," I commented.

"Good on 'em. Nifong and Delgadillo. That's the same mindset you can find in any setting, be it The Big City or The Smile Hi City, when you get people in positions of authority who abuse both the authority and the position. They are also usually the ones making the most noise about patriotism, In God We Trust, and hanging flag-burners and other riff-raff," Billy said, "that's been that way since before Christ was nailed to the cross. There's gotta be someone who is keeping a sharp eye on them what hold the reins."

"Uh huh. And today, a lot of self-styled 'Christians' are carrying on that time-honored tradition of driving in the nails..." I said...

"...but that's another story..." interjected Leece, "it's time to hie on down the road to The Smile Hi City."

She hopped on her Tassajara and glanced back. "You guys coming along or are you going to sit there getting fat?"

We hied.

Mike Nifong

Delgadillo

6/20/07

"Event horizon of the observable universe"

Huh. Quite the term, hey wot? It would seem to apply, metaphorically at least, to our current situation.

Jeanne Fenter tells us, in the recent discussion on cycling events:

"Closer to home and organized by three members of SECORT, who founded a private non-profit to go into the event business, is the Santa Fe Trail Stage Race & Best-A-Bull Festival!

http://emeraldproductions.org

As of early June they ad over 250 cyclists registered and it is growing."

Jeanne also says:

"This was organized by Kim Fournier in Prower's County. She worked for the county doing many events then left the position and formed Emerald Productions with her partners. This is a model of private enterprise taking something on. I do not know what happened in La Junta but this is not connected."

and:

"I forgot to mention Kim organized the Great Race in Lamar and after its success she went to Prowers County for a commitment of money towards events. They complied and so there is money for these types of things. They do have a lodging tax and a very active Chamber with a full time Director (who does all the office work as well).

Activities like this, in order to be successful, do require people who know how to pull them together (experience) and money."

For Jeanne's full comments in the context of that discussion, please see the comments section on "Tarantula Days".

Meanwhile...during the discussions about events and the chamber, it kept coming out that the chamber relies almost entirely on volunteers to get things done. Also, that it seems that it's the same people who do all the volunteering, and that they get worn out. OK. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt, if not with the chamber, then elseplace. It's a valid observation. So the next step was to look at how a more professional, if not 'non-volunteer' then 'less volunteer' chamber could be devised. Especially regarding some of the event work. In fact, at one point, a paid employee for the chamber was referred to as the "Events Coordinator". This was also looked at as a city employee, a concept which fizzled except in the minds of a few die-hards.

The lodging tax proposal was to have funded that. There was a lot of hoo-hah over some plans to side-track funds so generated into a new building downtown - we need a new building downtown? To do what? Sell tours of all the old buildings? The empty ones? But we digress...

Such an events coordinator can be a good thing, depending on who is placed in the position. If it's a sinecure, a comfort job for one of The Favored Few, as we saw with LJDI, then we all know how that works.

But if it was a hard-charger, why...we've seen in some of our neighboring communities how well that can work. "Neighboring" takes in a lot of ground in The New Millennium; it ain't just northern Otero County.

And now we see private enterprise moving into the vacuum. Jeanne said, "This is a model of private enterprise taking something on" and she hit the nail right on the head. Someone who knows what she is doing, someone with experience, can do a great deal in promoting events. Shoot. Think of "Brad and Andy's Most Excellent Event Promotions, LLC" after Brad retires. Does anyone doubt that would be a winner? OTOH, we have Dangerous Dan and the g-rap goofiness, so we can see that just calling yourself a 'promoter' is meaningless.

Well, we all know where the lodging tax went, and with that, the rest of the ideas. But now over in Lamar we have a private enterprise that does the same thing. Why, it might even be cheaper to contract with them to do events in The Smile Hi City. Take the load off all the volunteers for Early Settlers' Day, for example, and turn this Emerald Productions outfit loose with it. Betcha they could even come up with a multi-day, multi-event. Could they?

Dunno. Perhaps we should keep on eye on this cycling event and see how it works out. That will give us some indication of how competent they are.

And then?

Huh. The answer to the Questions may well be just down the road apiece.

6/19/07

Tarantula Days

We were sitting at the table outside Quickee's. Leece was sipping her cappie; I was having a diet Dr. Pepper. We were getting ready for a ride into La Junta. We were squeezing in a couple or three rides a week into The Smile Hi City. It was getting warm already. I could do a frappie, but I was passing on the cappie. DinkyDau Billy had arrived a few minutes earlier, steaming and dripping from a fast push from Love's in The Smile Hi City out Highway 10 to 71 and then back down 50 from Rocky Vegas. He was alternately drinking from a liter bottle of ice water and pouring it over himself. He was...messy.

"Why you still be pickin' on dem bidness, mon?" Billy asked.

"What's up with the island accent?" I shot back.

"Ah mon. I bin watchin' dem Reggae dudes in dat flick wit dat Denzel bra'."

" 'Bra'? Sounds like you're mixing your islands," I observed.

"Yeah. Yeah. I ain't never been too clear on that anyway," he said, "but you ain't answered my question."

"What now?" I asked.

"Well in that thing about Leece riding out by Timpas, you said they ain't got no packages, you know, restaurants and hotels and stuff, for cyclers," he revealed.

"Cyclists. Not 'cyclers'," Leece corrected. She was in a bit of a picky mood.

"I'll 'picky' you," she retorted. I hadn't even said it. I had just thought it. I hate it when she does that.

"Well, Billy, it is true, you know. One of the things we had discussed last year was a cycling event, maybe even more than one, in conjunction with other events, like Music at the Junction."

"Yeah. Yeah. I remember that. Wuzzint there sumthin' about spiders?"

"Yep. That Zack fellow down at the video store suggested 'Tarantula Days'. You know, about the time of the year the tarantulas start gnawing the tires off cars on the highway," I said.

"Yeah. Yeah. You wuz gonna have Michael and Froggy and Toot Sweet selling spiders in little cages for twenny bux each, right here in the Quickee lot," he reminisced.

"Yup. Genuine all-Merkin entrepreurialism or whatever. Very capitalistic. It would have Karl Marx spinning in his grave."

"Then there's a 'Testicle Festival'," Leece pointed out, somewhat testily...ahem...I thought.

"What?" Billy raised his eyebrows in some incredulity. He was dumbfounded that she would bring up such a delicate subject.

"Oh, put a sock in it, Billy," she said, "Just Google the text string 'testicle festival' and see what comes back. There's all kinds of little podunks making money off this stuff. With all these feedlots around here how hard would it be to have an all-you-can-eat bull fries event?"

Good point, I thought.

"But it's too hot here in the summer for a cycling event," Billy whined.

"Ya think? You ride, don't you? We ride. Bryan Bryant rides. Our Bald-Headed Preacherman is starting to ride. Our new youth pastor Don and his wife Sandy ride. What about Team Nazarene? Let's kick that in the butt and get it going. What about Pedal4APurpose up at Denver Seminary? And look at the Stonewall Century. A hundred miles over the mountain passes. 7500 feet elevation change. Cyclists are nuts. Better yet, look at Wichita Falls' 'Hotter'n Hell Hundred', with over 10,000 entrants. Talk about nuts. Talk about using a bit of brains to capitalize on what you have to work with." Leece was on a roll.

How about us? Are we on a roll? Or are we just runnin' on empty? Leece is right, you know. So was Zack. What about the chamber? Can the individual businesses come together to put together something as far-reaching as Brad has done with Music at the Junction? Ever since the Blue Oyster Cult was announced as the lead band, the Music's website hits have gone from maybe a thousand a month to over ten thousand. Brad's perseverence is paying off. Early Settlers' Day has been fizzling the last several years. Miguel A. Otero Day is dead and buried. How about a little combined resurrection?

Pedal4APurpose

The Stonewall Century

One of many Testicle Festivals:

Testicle Festival

Hotter'N Hell Hundred

You won't find much, if anything, on Tarantula Days. Act fast. We could make that one our own.

The Mighty Quinn

6/17/07

The Promised Land

"The Promised Land" is a phrase that has been used since biblical times to describe lands full of agricultural or general bucolic promise. Usually there is some divine connection to the land in question.

Cruising out of Swink, south on Road 24.5, one can easily see that the farm land in this part of southeastern Colorado could be one of those "Promised Lands." This land was settled by people who came here seeking new life, sometimes out of desperation. Today it is one of the most beautiful parts of Colorado, but one that is often overlooked by tourists flocking to the mountains.

For cyclists looking for a freeer, less cluttered cycling experience, the county road systems in this part of the state offer what is essentially a vast network of paved cycling trails. Wildlife abounds, and one can view deer, coyotes, smaller critters such as racoons, beaver, badgers, the occasional fox, wild turkey, the odd black bear or two, antelope, and a host of birds.

Traffic is very light on these roads, almost non-existent on some. Traffic tends to be mostly farmers and ranchers, who are generally a lot friendlier than city drivers. They wave with all their fingers and give cyclists lots of room on the road. You'll see fields of corn, alfalfa, onions, melons, wheat, and other crops. In the harvest season, roadside markets abound. An ear or two of sweet corn, or fresh fruit, washed down with cool water from the tap at one of these markets is a great pick-me-up.

Unfortunately there is no effort to market any of this to cyclists by local businesses, so there are no special hotel/restaurant packages or or bundles with other attractions in the area.

In the photos below we follow Lisa Gossman-Steeves on a short trip of about 7.5 miles from Swink, down County Road 24.5 to CO Highway 10 and over to County Road 23, then back to County Road CC and on CC back into Swink. Swink doesn't have a lot of glitz, but Quickee's, at the intersection of US Highway 50 and Road 24.5 (Columbia Avenue in downtown Swink) offers cool drinks and snacks.

Following the photos below, you'll find a link to Explore Southeast Colorado. There are more links on that site to some really cool things to see and do on a cycling trip through this area.


County Road 24.5, south of Swink, looking back toward the Swink megopolis. The lack of traffic is typical of the county road system throughout Otero County.


Looking east from County Road 24.5, over farmlands between Swink and La Junta.


Cycling north on County Road 23, Leece approaches the Timpas Creek Bridge. Timpas Creek flows through Otero County before emptying into the Arkansas River. Pike's Expedition camped near that confluence before moving on to the west and Pike's Peak.


Leece pauses on the Timpas Creek bridge to watch hundreds of cliff swallows stuff themselves with mosquitoes.

Farmland removed from agricultural production by water sellouts is sometimes returned to grassland. This field, near County Road 23 and County Road CC west of Swink, is such a field.


Western wheatgrass

Explore Southeast Colorado

6/16/07

"...because he was my friend..."

One of the more everyday complaints about da cops was why they handcuff people with their hands behinds their backs.

This is why:

http://www.cnn.com/2007/LAW/06/15/police.chiefkilled.ap/index.html

An excerpt:

"Barnett said Lacy, who had arrested him numerous times, would always cuff him in the front "because he was my friend" and sometimes didn't handcuff him.

Kentucky State Police acknowledged that Lacy had handcuffed Barnett in the front rather than behind his back -- a frequent practice for suspects he knew.

Greg Adams, a Powell County sheriff's deputy, said Lacy often kept a gun between the seat and console in the front of the squad car. He speculated that the extra gun could have slipped to the back, but state police investigators wouldn't comment on that theory."

========

The business of keeping an unsecured gun between seat and console is a testimonial to stupidity, plain and simple. So is handcuffing someone in front, for that matter.

6/15/07

Relay for Life

Received from Cheryl Lindner of The Barista:

Dear Patrons,

I will be participating in the Relay for Life the 23rd and 24th of June. The activity raises funds to support cancer research as well as programs for survivors in the area. I request your assistance in supporting this fundraiser by making a pledge for any amount. You can do this at the B during your next visit. Simply leave your name and amount pledged with any of the Barista's or mail your contribution to The Barista 204 Santa Fe Ave La Junta, CO 81050 Attn: Cheryl. Checks can be written to Relay for Life.

On behalf of all cancer survivors, or those who have been lost to this illness, Thank you.

Cheryl Lindner
Co-owner
The Barista--Where People Go To Connect

The Relay for Life is part of The American Cancer Society. From the intro of their website:

"Welcome to the American Cancer Society Relay For Life's virtual home! Create an account or sign in to join more than 3.5 million people who are dedicated to eliminating cancer in our lifetime. At events in 4,800 communities nationwide, teams of families, friends and coworkers join together to CELEBRATE the lives of those who have battled cancer, REMEMBER those lost and FIGHT BACK against a disease that takes too much. "

More on The Relay for Life:

Relay for Life

A fun-filled overnight activity that mobilizes communities across the country to celebrate survivorship, remember those who lost their lives to cancer, and raise money for the fight against cancer. This is an American Cancer Society signature activity.

Start date and time
6/23/2007 7:00:00 PM

End date and time
6/24/2007 7:00:00 AM

Agenda
Saturday:
7:00 pm (M) - Opening Ceremony with Survivor Lap
7:30 pm (M) - Survivor Reception
9:30 pm (M) - Luminaria Ceremony
Sunday:
12:00 am (M) - Midnight Kickball Game
7:00 am (M) - Closing Ceremony

Location

Swink High School Football Field
610 Columbia Avenue
Swink, CO 81050

Red Planet's "An Inconvenient YouTube"

The following video is shamelessly lifted from Red Planet Cartoons. Visit here:

Red Planet Cartoons

to see Yogi's cartoon.

An Inconvenient YouTube, in which Al Gore goes on and on back in '92 about Saddam Hussein and Bush 41's utter and complete failure to recognize the threat posed by The Butcher of Baghdad. He also gives a great summary of Hussein's connection to terrorism:


“Bush deserves heavy blame for intentionally concealing from the American people the clear nature of Saddam Hussein…”






Choosing in 2008

Leece and I were down at Quickee's, having a quick cappie before pushing off for The Smile Hi City. Our bikes were parked out front.

Billy came walking in, in his Speedo cycling outfit and his new lightweight Giro Atmos helmet.

"Hey! Hey! Howzit doon!" he exclaimed, bubbling effervescently with joie d'vive. Or something.

Leece shuddered at the noise. She isn't that much of a morning person.

"Good morning, Billy, I like that helmet of yours. Where did you find it?" she nonetheless asked most pleasantly.

"Performance Bike," he replied,"They's on sale this week. Hey. Hey. Didja see Rich Galen's 'Mullings' column t'day?"

"The one about Harry Reid the Worm?" I asked.

"Yeah. Yeah. That one. Boy howdy, but he was on a tear, wunt he?" Billy was excited.

"I think Brother Galen hit it pretty much on the nose. I liked the way he pointed out that back during the Vietnam war Harry got himself a nice soft post as a Capitol cop. Nice job for a kid who had just finished lawyer school. But lawyers weren't a deferred occupation back then and cops were. Unlike Air Guard and Reserve pilots," I added.

"Zackly. Hey. Hey. Didja see the sidebar ads?"

"Uh...no. We usually don't pay much attention to those," Leece chipped in.

"Hey. Hey. You shoulda. Didja know Jesus is runnin' for office in '08?"

Leece raised an eyebrow or two. So did I.

"What are you talking about?" she asked.

"Jesus. Jesus is runnin' for office. He gots a campaign website and everthin," Billy gushed.

"Uh...Billy...we have to get going or we'll be late," Leece said. This was a hint. I picked up my stuff and we all went out to the parking lot to the bikes.

"Catch ya later, Billy," we said, hieing off down the road.

"I AIN'T NUTS!" he shouted after us, "JESUS IS SO RUNNIN' FOR OFFICE!"

Rich Galen:

Mullings

The JC Campaign Trail:

Jesus2008

6/14/07

Yo! Mija wants ta be a gangsta!

Hip Hop "Artists" Bring "Talent" to Valley.

We have "Mr. Capone and The Criminals".

Here is Mr. Capone's website:

Mr. Capone

Sample lyrics from his 'art':

http://www.allthelyrics.com/song/922603/

"Mija Wants to be a Gangsta"

Mija wants to be a gangster
She wanna roll wit the thugs
The barrio is all she loves
She wanna hang wit the g's
Tour the big city of the 63
She likes to roll wit the homiez
She a straight up killa
She showed me
I respect her like a queen
Know what i mean
Mija gotta be on the scene

Serio homies it was some gacho shit
Mija looked me in the eye's homies
And that was it tried to wake her up
Babygirl come on then i realize
That my ruka was gone
Juda lights flashing so a vato dashed
To my carto wit a ak stash
All the cuete waiting for the noche
Me and my gun an a lower monte
Suicide crew on the way to the action
Out of nowhere juda lights start flashing
Fuck it homies i shooted out wit the cops
Aint no fuckin way in hell this vato gonna stop
Hit the skina jumped on my ride let my tony montana
Take this vato lives it felt good to watch them levas drop
Now its time to face the cops and her pops
Then her jefe aims the straps so in the middle of the street
I aim right back i took the bullet to the throat
I couldn't shot her jefe back thas all she wrote

Then we have Kid Frost, a "...Los Angeles West Coast O.G.":
"O.G" is 'Original Gangsta' or "Old Gangsta".

From "La Raza":

Crusin' en la calle, I hate for the bolo
No want to go with me, so I have to go solo
And when I go out alone... attack
I touch all that cheladas when I don't wanna absttrack
Everytime that I pack my Piece I pull all that quick
All the nazis desease
Just like a song when the 18 bullet
Got my finger on a trigger, I'm not afraid to pull it
If this bara had a not say 'mafiosos'
When you pull it away, no seas stupid, eres baboso
some of you don't you know what's happenin' que pasa... yeah...

When Don Imus was canned for referring to the Rutger's basketball team as "nappy-headed ho's", Big Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson screeched from the rooftops. More responsible and less opportunistic members of the clergy and the black community pointed out that Imus' comments were no different from lyrics commonly found in rap 'music', which glorifies criminals and reduces women to less value than you'd find in an Islamic republic, and we all know how low that is.

These guys are gangster rappers. This is not hip hop. What we have coming into Rocky Ford is a bunch of obscene 'street poets' who glorify the street criminal mindset, the gangster attitude. These rappers are coming out to the small towns and cities because the bigger cities have had enough of the trouble that they bring with them. They are also losing their audiences because more savvy young people have figured out what losers these guys really are. They best they can do now is inflict their garbage on the Hicks from the Sticks, a bunch of dysfunctional youth and young adults who are too out of the loop to grasp that rappers are passé.

New Rap Problem:Criticism From Within

"You gotta control yo' ho'

At risk of being, well, you know, negative, is this really the best we can do? Who is this character, "Dangerous Dan" Hyatt? Does the community of Rocky Ford really think he's done them a favor?

6/12/07

Poolside Chitchat

I was sitting in a lawn chair under a tree, down at The Wipeout. The kids were splashing about and I was re-reading an old favorite, Michener's "The Source".

There was a commotion over by the bath house. Billy was coming out of the men's shower room. He was dressed in a lime-green Speedo and was wearing one of those racer's swim caps. It didn't do justice to his dreadlocks.

"Hey! Hey!" he exclaimed, plunking himself down in the next chair and slurping on his Slushee. "This is pretty slick, ain't it?"

"You mean the pool? Yep."

"They oughta keep it open later in the year," he observed.

"Brad tried that. He depends on high school and college kids for lifeguard staff and he has to close when school starts. He tried keeping it open on weekends later in the year but attendance was very poor," I told him.

"Oh. I dint know that."

"Umhmm..." I was engrossed in the book.

"So what's up with Swink? I thought that 'Holy Land' thing was a hoot," he said.

"So did most people. I did get a mail from one goofball who accused me of hating Swink as well as La Junta and pretty near everyone in both places. I think the writer may have been drunk. No one could be that stupid," I shared.

"Hate Swink? Why?"

"Beats me. So far it's like when we first moved to La Junta. It's clean, it's quiet, and Swinkians seem reasonably personable. I think that 'Holy Land' thing threw them. I think they took it seriously."

"They must have reading comprehension 'issues'," advised Billy, " or else they don't have a sense of humor they are aware of. There seems to be a lot of that going around. Onliest ones I've heerd with that 'Holy Land' thing are people from La Junta."

"Yup. One fellow did make some sense about it, though. Apparently there are a few people who live in Swink, some of the great and the near-great, who have the same type of thought processes as their brethren in The Smile Hi City and that's where that 'Holy Land' thing comes from. This guy pointed out, correctly, I think, that Swink is really more of a bedroom community these days and doesn't actually have much of an economic base of its own. Most of those people who live in those new houses, for example, work in La Junta, and without La Junta, Swink wouldn't be much more than a wide spot in the road."

"It ain't nuthin' but a wide spot anyway," Billy said.

"Yeah, but it's a nice wide spot in the road. It's income from The Smile Hi City that makes it so," I pointed out.

"Yeah. Yeah. I kin see that," he agreed, "so what about the hate mail?"

"Oh. Some guy what's really detached from reality. The general gist boils down to...if open your mouth about the way in which your community is going down the tubes, you are a disloyal SoB. What you are supposed to do is keep your mouth shut and go along with the program, even if the program consistently goes completely against what The People want and all the work The People put into alternatives is ignored. What you are supposed to do is let them do whatever they want. If you complain about that, then you're just 'negative' and you aren't 'contributing'. The fact that the programmers are out in left field is beside the point," I explained, "and there is really a serious comprehension problem, as you pointed out."

"Huh. What about the Chamber?"

"Well, let me ask you this. The fishwrapper ran a survey asking people if they shopped in La Junta or Pueblo. Last tally I saw had it 2 out of 3 shop in Pueblo. In copwork, we used to call that a 'clue'. The first survey I ever saw on that was almost thirty years ago. The same problems still exist, and people, shoppers, citizens, still feel the same way about it. That's also a 'clue' that the status quo ain't working very well. Individually, we have some very good businesses in town. We've talked about that and mentioned them by name. But collectively, that Chamber isn't doing anyone a service. It's unfortunate that they don't like hearing that, but there it is. Maybe they should work less on the hate mail and more on fixing the problems," I explained.

"Yeah, but they says you just complain and don't do nuthin'," Billy went on.

"Sure they do. That's the easy way out for them. Fact is, though, is that that view is so much self-serving horsecrap. We had all kinds of people gather together to work together to come up with solutions. And where is that? Gone. Ignored. Pushed aside like so much cow manure in a feedlot. So what we are supposed to do now is shuffle about and smile and say, "Yes sir, Yes sir, three bags full sir, what would you like to hear today sir," because if we don't, we'll be out on the street without a job. But on that Chamber thing...if the business community, on which we all depend for our livelihoods, cannot work together, then we hoi polloi tend to see it as the individual business owners getting all they can before bailing. We've seen some businesses do just that. If things were really good, it wouldn't really matter. But things aren't all that good, so nefarious motives are assigned. Some of them might even be real."

"Yeah. It kind of works like a twist out of The Sopranos."

"That's cute, Billy."

"Yeah. Hey. Hey. I see Toot Sweet. I'm gonna go duck her under."

"Be careful. She'll bite."

And off he went.

Experiencing the Past Through Heritage Tourism

The following article first appeared in "Blue Sky Quarterly".

Experiencing the Past Through Heritage Tourism

By

Alicia Gossman-Steeves


If your family is looking for something to do this summer, why not try touring some of the locations here in Southeastern Colorado that are historically significant. Heritage Tourism is a big industry these days and involves anything from driving along Colorado’s Scenic Byways, to visiting museums; searching for dinosaur tracks or attending an ethnic festival.

“People are looking for more authentic experiences—American experiences,” says Deborah Espinoza, Director of El Pueblo History Museum. “It teaches good history in a fun way.” And what better way to make your child’s history lessons relevant than to take them to the places discussed in their textbooks? What better way to support local businesses and get away at the same time? Southeastern Colorado is filled with experiences that will educate as well as entertain.

Museums

One of the best ways to find out what museums are available in the area you want to visit is to log on to Chamber of Commerce websites or www.colorado.com and click on cities for ideas on out of the way places such as Las Animas, La Junta, La Veta, Springfield and even Ordway. Take a day’s drive to see where Kit Carson lived at Boggsville two miles south of Las Animas on Highway 101 or go to the Kit Carson Museum in Las Animas. See the Native American dances at the Koshare Indian Museum in La Junta or explore Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site on Colorado Highway 194, eight miles east of La Junta and 15 miles west of Las Animas. Visit Fort Francisco in La Veta or the Heritage Center five miles west of Ordway.

For a taste of Hispanic culture and the Victorian Era in close proximity, visit the Baca House and Bloom Mansion at the Trinidad History Museum. In the servant’s quarters behind the Baca House is the Trinidad and Santa Fe Trail Information Center. Nature lovers will also enjoy the historical gardens at this museum which feature “heirloom varieties of herbs and vegetables,” according to museum director, Paula Manini. Original trees from 1881, an antique rose garden, an original grape arbor and a Victorian style cutting garden where the old barnyard once stood are all part of the topographical features the museum has to offer.

In Pueblo, visit El Pueblo History Museum. Visitors are treated to an old trading post dig just outside the museum and can learn about the exciting multicultural history of Pueblo. For more information about these two museums visit www.coloradohistory.org and click on either Trinidad or El Pueblo History Museum.

Both Trinidad and Pueblo also offer Historic Riverwalks. This would be a fun way to learn the history of both areas through interpretive signs, while allowing your children to burn off excess energy. Both riverwalks are accessible for bike riding as well.

Scenic Byways

In the United States certain highways have been designated as National Scenic Byways because of their archaeological, cultural, historic, scenic, natural and recreational qualities. Out of the 96 highways in 39 states, Southeastern Colorado is privileged to have three: The Santa Fe Trail, the Highway of Legends and Frontier Pathways.

The Santa Fe Trail: Traveling the famous Mountain Branch, which brought settlers to our region, will help vacationers gain an appreciation for our forefathers quest. A four hour drive, covering 188 miles, will take you from Lamar to Trinidad on Highways 50 and 350. Along the way, don’t miss viewing wagon ruts at Old Fort Lyon, the Lady Madonna of the Trail statue in Lamar; the Otero Museum Complex in La Junta or the Rocky Ford Historical Museum. Pack a lunch and stop at the Timpas Picnic Area on Highway 350 to eat. Then hike over to the Sierra Vista Overlook. View more wagon ruts and the ruins of an old stagecoach station at the Iron Springs Historic Area and when you reach Trinidad, wander around the National Historic District. It is important to remember that along Highway 350 no drinking water is available, so be sure to bring your own. For more information, log on to http://www.santafetrailscenicandhistoricbyway.org.

The Highway of Legends: Stop by the Trinidad Welcome Center for detailed maps and brochures for your trip on the Highway of Legends. From Trinidad, Highway 12 will take you through the mountains for an eighty-two mile tour. Drive to the mining town of Cokedale, and then follow the road up to the Cuchara Pass. Visit La Veta and check out the Fort Francisco Museum, an 1863 adobe fort. On this byway, view the sites that have inspired native legends and tales among the early settlers such as the Dakota Wall, Devil’s Stairsteps and Profile Rock. At the end of the tour, on your way back to Trinidad, stop by the Ludlow Massacre Memorial where those killed during Colorado’s Coalfield War are honored. See www.highwayoflegends.org or www.sangres.com for more details.

Frontier Pathways: Highways 96 and 165 combine for a beautiful 103 mile tour into Colorado’s past. Take in the Union Avenue Historic District in Pueblo then venture up the byway through Hardscrabble Canyon and over to Westcliffe for quaint shopping. From there you can take one of the Wet Mountain Valley Loop Tours to view one-room schoolhouses or area ranches and farms. In Silver Cliff you can tour the Defender Mine or explore Bishop’s Castle on Highway 165.

Frontier Pathways is “a great historic loop tour,” states Dawn DiPrince, director of the Frontier Pathways Scenic and Historic Byways Information Center in Pueblo. “You have the plains, the rich history of Pueblo, the foothills and Hardscrabble Canyon. Westcliffe, which is at 9,000 feet, is beautiful. There you can see the Sangre de Cristo Mountains where there is fourteener after fourteener.” DiPrince says that many people do not know that this area was one of the first recreational areas for the middle class. “In the 1920’s Arthur Carhart, a landscape architect, created and designed the Davenport Campground by Squirrel Creek,” she remarks. “For the first time in the country’s history there was recreation for the people who worked in the steel mills. CF & I helped sponsor this as a public relations thing.”

The Frontier Pathways Scenic and Historic Byways Information Center, located next to El Pueblo History Museum, is open from Monday through Friday from 9 am to 1 pm. Call (719)583-8631 or log on to www.frontierpathways.org for more information. Helpful advice and historical material are available to enhance your experience.

Even though each of the three byways can be driven in a day, a family might decide to camp or stay overnight in a hotel to take more time at the many sights along the way. Www.coloradobyways.org provides helpful information on road conditions, the sights, and furnishes detailed maps that will help make the byways a memorable experience.

Comanche National Grassland

If you enjoy hiking and want to find genuine dinosaur tracks and rock art, try the canyon country out on the Southeastern Plains. “The Southeast Colorado Canyonlands make the area unique,” states Michelle Stevens, archaeologist and Heritage Program Manager of the Comanche National Grasslands. In the canyon lands visitors will find rock art and ruins of habitation areas. Stone tools, charred bones and rubble provide evidence that Native Americans and other people groups have occupied this area for thousands of years.

There are four canyons to visit:

Vogel Canyon: From La Junta, drive south on Highway 109 for 13 miles. Turn right (west) on County Road 802 for 1.5 miles then turn left (south) on Forest Service Road 505A for 1.5 miles to the Vogel Canyon parking lot. “Vogel Canyon is the best trail for a family with younger children,” Stevens says. “I got a jogging stroller in there, but I wouldn’t recommend regular strollers.” In Vogel Canyon there are interpretive signs, settlements, and rock art. At the bottom of the canyon a variety of wildlife can be seen at one of the two permanent springs either early in the morning or at sunset.

Carrizo and Picture Canyons: From La Junta, take Highway 109 south for 58 miles; turn left (east) on Highway 160 for 25 miles; turn right (south) on County Road 10 for 9 miles. From this point to go to Carrizo Canyon turn right (west) on county Road M for 5.5 miles and turn left (south) on Forest Service Road 539 for 1.9 miles to the parking area. For Picture Canyon turn left (east on County Road M for 8 miles; turn right (south) on County Road 18 for 8 miles; turn right (south) at the Picture Canyon road sign and continue 1 mile to the parking area.

“Families with older kids can go to Carrizo Canyon or Picture Canyon for day hikes,” remarks Stevens. “Rock art is present everywhere.” Public Tours are offered at Picture Canyon during the Fall equinox.

Picketwire Canyonlands: Just 30 miles south of La Junta is the largest display of dinosaur tracks in North America. To see them, take Highway 109 south for 13 miles; turn right (west) on County Road 802 and continue for 8 miles. Turn left (south) on County Road 25 and continue for 6 miles. Turn left (east) at Forest Service Road 500.A for ¾ of a mile and go through the wire gate. Continue following this dirt road for 2 miles until the road forks. Take the left fork to the parking sign and park. Out of the four canyons, Picketwire’s trail is the longest and perhaps most treacherous. Guided driving tours are offered on Saturdays during May, June, September, and October from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., but you have to act fast in order to make reservations. Call the USDA Forest Service at 719-384-2181.

It is important to remember when exploring the canyons to take plenty of water. There are small springs but Stevens makes it clear that this water is not fit for human consumption. Take care to stay on the trails and watch where you are walking because of rattlesnakes and cactus. In Picketwire Canyon a four wheel drive vehicle is highly recommended.

Also, “people need to respect the historic resources,” Stevens adds. “Don’t remove anything. The walls on the old settlements are fragile. Knocking them down could cause injury and ruins the experience for other people. Archaeologists use these for study.”

To have a fun vacation Southeastern Coloradans do not have to go far. To make the experience even more memorable for your family, Paula Manini suggests contacting the places you want to visit through the websites and access their calendar of events. “Coordinate historical tours with the events—like the Santa Fe Trail Festival,” she says. “Knowing that people came before you and what they went through gives us a greater appreciation for what we have now.”

Contact Information

Http://www.uschamber.com: find any Chamber of Commerce in the United States with this helpful website.

Trinidad History Museum
Director: Paula Manini
300 East Main Street
Trinidad, CO 81082
(719)846-7217

Hours of the museum are 10 am to 4 pm daily from May 1 to September 30. For tours during the winter months please call for an appointment.

El Pueblo History Museum
Director: Deborah Espinoza
301 North Union
Pueblo, CO 81003
(719)583-0453
Hours: Tuesday—Saturday 10 am to 4 pm
Children 12 and under have free admission on Saturdays

Colorado Welcome Center—Lamar
(719)336-3483

Trinidad Welcome Center
136 West Main St.
Trinidad, CO 81082
(719)846-9412

Frontier Pathways Scenic and Historic Byways Information Center
Director: Dawn DiPrince
300 East Main Street
Pueblo, CO 81082
(719)583-8631
http://www.frontierpathways.org

Custer County Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center (for Wet Mountain Valley Loop Tours)
101 S. 3rd Street
Westcliffe, CO 81252
(719)783-9163
http://www.custercountyco.com

Comanche National Grassland
27204 Hwy 287
Springfield, CO 81073
(719)523-6591
http://www.fs.fed.us

USDA Forest Service
Pike & San Isabel National Forests
Cimarron & Comanche National Grasslands
2840 Kachina Drive
Pueblo, CO 81008
(719)553-1400

© 2005 Alicia M. Gossman-Steeves. All rights reserved. This article may not be reprinted or re-distributed without the permission of the author.

Economic Revival through Heritage Tourism

The following article first appeared as a sidebar to the preceding article in "Blue Sky Quarterly" in early 2005.

Economic Revival through Heritage Tourism

by

Alicia Gossman-Steeves

If your city is trying to find alternatives to boost its economy, consider Heritage Tourism.

“Tourism is a huge industry,” states Deborah Espinoza, director of El Pueblo History Museum and committee member of Destination Pueblo, a group that works on marketing the city of Pueblo through tourism. “People are looking for more authentic experiences—American experiences. Heritage Tourism is a combination of all of those things because America includes diverse cultures from one end of the country to the other.”

In a study done by the Colorado Historical Society State Historical Fund entitled Economic Benefits of Historic Preservation in Colorado, a “heritage tourist” is described as a traveler who “incorporates at least one visit to a historic site or landmark among other activities during their visit, and also to the smaller subset of visitors whose primary reason for traveling is to visit historic places.”

Because of soaring gasoline prices all around the country, people are looking for less expensive ways to travel. Travelers are looking for hands on experiences and for fun ways to learn the local character of a community. A study back into a town’s history might offer a marketable resource.

“Find out who built the buildings,” Espinoza continues. “Look at grants to help fix up Main Street, bring in consultants. Change your town’s image of itself through marketing, promoting, sharing, parades, or pancake breakfasts. Where do people go to fish or picnic? Find out what is unique about your community and market it.”

The study on Heritage Tourism concluded that out of 4.6 million trips taken to Colorado in 1999, $1.4 billion was spent in direct heritage tourist expenditures and $1.7 billion was spent in indirect heritage tourist expenditures for a total of $3.1 billion total expenditures. Spending by heritage tourists also generated $1.0 billion in total household earnings and created 55,300 jobs.

The study found that money spent by heritage tourist had a direct and indirect ripple effect on the economy: “Each dollar directly spent by a Colorado heritage tourist at a hotel, restaurant, or retail shop also circulates in the economy as an indirect expenditure, as the establishment buys supplies, contracts for services, and pays wages to its employees.” Research shows that “heritage tourists tend to spend more money and stay longer on their trips than do other travelers.”

A visit to Union Avenue and B Street in Pueblo will show the benefits of preserving a city’s history, but there is still work to be done. Changing the image of a town into a tourist attraction takes hard work and commitment. Espinoza says that it has to take priority and that city planners, government leaders, and business residents have to come together to keep the momentum up. “It takes time,” she states. “We’re still working on Union Avenue and B Street.”

Preserving our heritage has become part of President Bush’s second term agenda, as stated in the State of the Union address. To find out what resources are available, log on to www.preserveamerica.org, www.achp.gov, or www.coloradopreservation.org.

© 2003 Alicia M. Gossman-Steeves. All rights reserved. This article may not be reprinted or re-distributed without the permission of the author.

6/11/07

Conundrums

I had been out by the swimming pool trying to unlock a car. Unlocking cars was a common affair at the time. It was also one of the most aggravating of calls. They always seemed to come right in the middle of something else. This time, I had been trying to find a witness in a burglary case. Unlocking cars put us right in the middle. The locksmith felt we were taking his business, and we were. But it made the department - read that 'the chief'- look good. And since we weren't locksmiths, it was not all that unusual to be unable to open the car for one reason or another. This one had been one of those.

"Hi. Which car is yours?" The reporting party was a rather hefty woman who was having some difficulty in getting the extra large beach towel to stay fastened around her waist. Stretched tight, it kept coming loose.

"It's about time you got here. I've been standing in the sun for a half-hour." She grabbed for the towel.

Huh. I had gotten the call three minutes before.

"Well, I'm here now, so which is your car?"

"I hope I'm not keeping you from flirting with the clerks at Loaf and Jug." Another grab for the towel.

"Pardon me?"

"You cops are always down at Loaf and Jug trying to make time with the clerks." Now she was holding the towel in place with her fingers.

"Ma'am, do you have a car that needs to be unlocked?"

"This one. I'm standing next to it. This one right here.Why would I be standing next to this car if it wasn't this car that needed to be unlocked?"

I got out the Slim Jim and stuck it in the door and wiggled it around a bit.

"Sorry. Can't seem to get it."

"You aren't really trying."

"You could call the locksmith. Would you like his number?"

"Thanks for nothing." She let the towel drop and waddled away.

I left and went to the PD. As I walked into dispatch, the tension ran out on the floor almost visibly, like mercury. Mercurial, that's what it was. This was nothing unusual these days. Our Beloved Jefe, one Richard ("Dick") C. Johnson, had been in a royal snit getting ready to go off to the FBI's National Academy.

I'm not sure what the "C" stood for. Most of us said it was "Cranium". It certainly fit.

I was standing there in the coolness, lifting my armor away from my sweat-soaked t-shirt. The stench that came up smelled like the Bronco's locker room after they had snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. I guzzled a from a liter bottle of cold water.

"Dick" came into dispatch, his James Olmos mustache a-quiver and his face flushed with an emotion that was not friendliness or joy.He snatched some papers from the dispatch console and stalked out without a word.

"So what's up with "Dick"? I asked. Cynthia, one of the dispatchers, said, "He's really pissed about the finger tips."

"Finger tips? What have I missed."

Mackie the dog catcher walked in, interrupting. Mackie is normally a pretty happy-go-lucky guy. Today he looked like a kicked puppy. With rabies.

"What's up with you?" I asked him.

"I'm going to quit and go to work for the prison," he snarled. Actually he said it a lot more colorfully than that.

I looked over at Lydia, the other dispatcher, with an eyebrow raised in question.

"Our Dick is getting ready to leave for the Academy,"she explained, "and he called Mackie into his office."

I looked again at Mackie, who shook his head in disgust and walked out.

This was even more dysfunctional than usual.

"So?" I asked.

"He wanted Mackie to go fetch him some rubbers from the Opera House," she explained. "You know. Supplies for the road trip."

I was drinking a diet Coke now. I snorted some up my nose and started hacking and gagging.

I wiped my eyes and made a 'come on' gesture with my hands. That's all I could do. I couldn't talk.

"So when he came in here and told us about it, we got a box of Swingline #11 rubber fingertips. The little ones. That go on your little finger. The teensy-weensy ones," she explained further.

I began to get a glimmer.

"And you sent those in as the condoms," I said.

"Exactly."

"Teensy-weensy ones."

"Exactly. And from what I hear around town, those are going to fit like Sally Struther's slacks on an Ethiopian refugee."

I wasn't going to touch that one. In any sense of the word.

"I'm going back out. I'll be down at Loaf and Jug flirting with the clerks."

"You are?" Lydia seemed shocked.

"Yup. That's all we're good for anyway."

I left, humming the theme from "Hill Street Blues" and thinking not of clerks at Loaf and Jug but of a Route 44 limeade from Sonic.


Next...The Mystery of the Murdered Cats.

Music at the Junction

Brad Swartz has a DVD of last year's Music at the Junction. I watched part of it.

It's very well done. Ryan Anderson has put it together.

Ryan has all of the bands on the DVD. The sound quality is excellent.

Brad says it will be available to the public. They are still working on cost/price.

Meanwhile, since the announcement that "Blue Oyster Cult" will be the main attraction this year, hits on the Junction's website have gone up from about 1,000 per month to over 11,000.

That seems to be an indication of a lot of interest in this year's show, and that it should be a real attraction, even more so than in the past.

Here is the website:

Music at the Junction

Scroll down to the "2007 Bands" for links to all the band websites.

K.C. Messick will also be back. K.C. was named Male Vocalist of the Year by the North American Country Music Association. KC has released a CD titled “"Highway”" which is available through his website, also linked from the Junction site.

On 'Inquiry'

C.S. Lewis wrote The Great Divorce in which he describes a journey through heaven and hell. During the trip the writer meets a number of rather interesting critters. In this passage, the writer, The Gaitered Ghost, who is so oblivious that he does not realize that he has been in hell and is being offering an opportunity for heaven, and The White Spirit are discussing 'inquiry'. In the context of the chapter they are discussing the rather liberal attitudes, 'inquiries', that have led to a drifting away from the acceptance of Judeo-Christian beliefs and values in general and Christian 'outlook' in particular. But I've always thought it - taken out of Lewis' context - applied across the board toward old and entrenched thought processes and challenges thereto:

"...for me, there is no such thing as a final answer. The free wind of inquiry must always continue to blow through the mind, must it not? "Prove all things..." to travel hopefully is better than to arrive...

...I am not aware of a thirst for some ready made truth which puts an end to intellectual activity in the way you seem to be describing. Will it leave me the free play of the Mind, Dick? I must insist on that, you know.'

'Free, as a man is free to drink while he is drinking. He is not free still to be dry.' The Ghost seemed to think for a moment. 'I can make nothing of that idea,' it said.

'Listen!' said the White Spirit. 'Once you were a child. Once you knew what inquiry was for. There was a time when you asked questions because you wanted answers, and were glad when you found them. Become that child again, even now.'

'Ah, but when I became a man I put away childish things.'

'You have gone far wrong. Thirst was made for water; inquiry for truth. What you now call the free play of inquiry has neither more nor less to do with the ends for which intelligence was given you than masturbation has to do with marriage.'


The Great Divorce is one of Lewis' better works. These days, of course, he is better known as the author of the Narnia series.

You can probably get a copy of most, if not all, of Lewis' stuff down at The Lighthouse or at the Woodruff.