Colorado

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La Veta

Higway of Legends (Highway 12 portion) past Cuchara and winding to Trinidad is one splendid sight after another. Clear lakes swimming with fish and ringed with people eager to catch them. Dikes of the geological and monolithic variety punctuate the landscape and emphasize our small human stature. Old churches dot the highway, marking the old gathering places of dying and dead town squares. Then there are the scars of industry, long cold coke ovens and miles of their spent matter lining the landscape of aptly named Cokedale.

And to Trinidad, where we hoped for a quiet lunch at a recommended Italian spot but got a parade of highly imaginative vehicles instead. Juniper did NOT like the ruckus surrounding them, so we headed for tamer pastures.

Gray Jay

Cordova Pass bisects the Highway of Legends; it is entirely unpaved and definitely not for the faint of heart nor low clearance vehicle. It gave more marvelous candy for the eye, but oh, the bumps!!

 

The Apishapa (ah-pish-ah-paw) Arch bisects one of the hundreds of dikes that radiate from the Spanish Peaks. I was super keen on visiting, and taking a photo of its namesake river and valley to honor another set of Great Grandparents, Guadalupe and his wife Donaciana, who lived here at the time of the 1870 census. How I found myself in awe of the beautiful places my ancestors lived.

Quite the contrast in architecture, eh? Bubbles are a bold choice!

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Highway of Legends

Hola! This first photo is the view my Great-Grandma times four Esquipula Maes enjoyed from her property in Southern Colorado. How giddy I was, heart pitter-patter with excitement when I found the deed, dating from 1862. That was nothing compared to the feeling of my feet firmly planted and eyes taking in the beauty. And, oh, the wonderful scent of it, too. How wild the bonds of ancestry!

Jesusita Williams is my Great Grandmother times three and the source of my Comanche ancestry. She shares a headstone with my Great Grandpa Aaron, and is near her children Louis and Carmelita. I like to think these marvelous cliffs keep vigil over their graves.

I am holding a copy of the above photo, taken in almost the same location, with over a century between, my Great Uncle times four Jose de los Reyes is the bearded man with a baby on his lap. My ancestors ranched and farmed here and within a twenty or so mile radius, and Jesusita and Aaron are buried just down the road. I spent hours scouring Google maps to find this spot. More heart pumping excitement, I tell you!!

Hitchhiker

And now for the Highway of Legends portion of our journey.  A scenic byway by name, it is a spectacular unspooling of highway around the Spanish Peaks, with picturesque views for days and history aplenty. It was one of those “about time” adventures, having driven past La Veta and over its namesake pass countless times since we were children. The town is a wisp of a thing, with 800 residents at the last census, but enough to loudly cheer at a Friday night football game and support a fine grocery, bakery, booze stops, lovely galleries and tourist shops. I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you about Desert Expressions, where I laid claim to a finely crafted necklace and bracelet, very much of their place, sterling silver with turquoise and hand stamping. The owner was kindly and funny and let Juniper browse along with us. Our girl took the job seriously and was very well behaved.

Our guest house was wonderful and surrounded by well loved gardens, tended daily by their owner and keeper, Ernest, several cats (that’s Oscar above) and dogs. Juniper is pictured with an especially sweet playmate named Emma.

The ever patient hubster waits for me to “take my snaps.”

Do you see the faces of my ancestors?

More to come on Friday!

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It’s State Fair season, y’all! We had a hoot and holler of a good time at our inaugural Colorado visit. It was a bit different from our years in Oregon, with much more interest in horses than the livestock we came to expect. That said, it may have been our timing, too, with the other events a bit earlier? We will see how going on the first weekend changes what we see next year.

How about that zippy pheasant in the first photo? What artistry in nature. Despite the roosters and giant turkey posing for my benefit, my favorite, no surprise, has to be the not-so-bird-brained and game for anything hubster!

This horse was a right charmer, flashing its teeth at me until I raised my camera and everything turned serious.

A first time for everything…

I have ridden a horse twice in my life, with no intention of adding to that number, but what a marvel to witness the ease and love between handler and animal.

My favorite photo of the day! A beautiful woman. A beautiful horse.

Sweet Donkey with what looked to me like a spill of fresh ink.

This miniature horse, aptly named Lucifer, was not people friendly, with posters warning of his propensity to bite!

Such interesting categories at the fair – miniature houses! The child in me squeed in excitement…

Always happy to see fine quilts on display!

The pig race emcee was a master of his craft, telling every kid-friendly swine joke and generally keeping everyone in stitches. And the pigs – adorable!

Funnel cake, because it’s not a full fair experience without some deep fried indulgence.

Until next year!

 

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New sage growth filled the air with its intoxicating scent and had the hubster and I swooning.

Our wonderfully cozy digs (and sweetest dog, ever). Greg and I have never been so enamored with a rental, envisioning, were it to come on the market, how we would make it our own.

The Taos Museum of Art at Fechin House. Every bit of the woodwork hand carved by Nicolai Fechin (feshin) in the first half of the last century. My photos pale in comparison to the in-person beauty. The artwork was pretty stunning, too, featuring Marjorie Eaton and Juan Mirabal (student and teacher to one another).

Well worth walking to their our of the way location on Kit Carson, tea.o.graphy serves and sells a stellar selection of tea. I also bought a fantastic mug with an old school pick-up on it, handmade in Taos, of course. If I can’t drive the truck of my dreams, I’m gonna drink from its likeness.

The above two photos are from the Mabel Dodge Luhan house, which was also owned by Dennis Hopper. It has quite the history!

San Francisco de Asis Mission Church

One of the most photographed buildings in the world gets its annual spruce up. How lucky we were to see it in progress. Sad to miss the interior, however. Next time!!

Year round hollyhock beauty! Now that is a thought. We have a massive volunteer in the back yard and a few in the front that I am hoping will bloom this year.

The Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial in the Moreno Valley is a deeply humbling and moving space created out of a father’s deep and abiding love. Doc Westphall began the memorial after his son David was killed in an ambush in 1968. It was the first Vietnam memorial, dedicated in 1971.

When we were there, the Angel Fire Garden Club was busily and quite cheerfully creating beautiful garden beds on the grounds. I was touched to see such an out of the way place so filled with love for those who gave everything in Vietnam. There is so much good in the world, peeps.

More dazzling green! Our nephew Tyler came for a visit last week, and we chuckled that some poor person might move to Colorado or New Mexico believing this is what spring looks like on the regular.

Red River reminds us of Colorado mountain towns of our childhood.

La Veta Pass greening up after last year’s massive fire. Hope springs eternal…

A final glimpse from the road, with gratitude for the best way I can conjure to celebrate the start of my 48th year!

 

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Took a step back in time today, to visit Glen Eyrie Castle, the home of William Palmer, the founder of Colorado Springs. Though we all know my Native American ancestors had a bit of a jump on him! It was a rare treat, as every room of the castle was available for viewing, including each of the guest rooms. We had two stellar and knowledgeable tour guides, and oohed and aahed over details grand and small.

As you can tell, I was most intrigued by the views, imagining quiet moments wandering from gorgeous window to window, conjuring the supreme quiet of every season: a drift of snow, froth of new green, arc of azure sky and rock formations and evergreens at every turn.

We ended our tour with a very British high tea, with that pretty salad, wee sandwiches, biscuits, and scones and equally good conversation. Thank you, Cori (front and center), for the marvelous suggestion. Happy Birthday to you!

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