Sentimental Journey IV – revised this afternoon

Put the dogs in the car and headed down the step gravel hill to the Bayfield Post Office. My neighbor from 1992-98, works at the post office now and we recognized each other after we each saw the other’s name. Sixteen years can change a person….a lot.

But we had fun getting acquainted again. She told me about her son, Jesse, who learned to play on my piano that we sold to the family when we moved out of the area, to Holland. Heather said Jesse has won some money in talent shows. I cannot wait to hear him play. I first met him when he was about 3, hiding in the weeds in front of my artist friend’s cabin. Charlotte, a unique person and friend to many, taught me a lot about how to live. She was a great neighbor.

After the post office, I went on down the Buck’s Highway to Ignacio, the town on rolling hills, that is on the Southern Ute Indian reservation. I worked for the Indian Drum Newspaper, reporting high school sports.

I drove through the town and found a down-home restaurant, filled with rugged folks, and a “kiss my grits” waitress. I ordered biscuits and gravy and two eggs over easy. That was brought to my table by a pretty Indian girl.

There are many memories of this town and reservation, only 12 miles away from Vallecito. I have mixed emotions about gambling casino’s and, while one was built during the last year we lived in Vallecito, I can see the evidence of many improvements in the town and reservation. The casino is bigger and beautiful on the outside, there is an impressive new museum, and equally impressive new court house, and lots of newness that shows better economics. However, the old town business district doesn’t seem to have faired as well, Many stores are out of business and the Southwestern-type small buildings are for sale or for rent.

I couldn’t find the shop where you could get home made cowboy boots.

I asked the waitress what was going on in the town. It seems there was some added excitement.

“The yearly motorcycle rally is happening here at the fair grounds this weekend.” She pointed where it would take place. Now that does bring back a memory, for my niece went to that rally one time many years ago, on her motorcycle. I could still find the grounds where she pitched her tent. I also remember viewing the rally from the air.

A large, rollie-pollie man, with fat rosy cheeks, wearing a train-man’s hat, came up to my table. “How’re ya doin?”

“Great. Thanks, and how about you?”

“I’m okay, I guess.”

“That sounds like you’re not sure.”

“Oh, I’m okay.”

“Good.”

“Well, you be good now. There’s a rally going on here.” He patted me on the shoulder.

“I’ll be good.” How did he know he could approach me like that? I thought it was quite funny. He said he was born and raised 2 miles away from the ‘resternt”.

When I got the job reporting for the newspaper, I did mention that I lived in California, but that I came from Colorado, originally, and that my husband was from Holland. I also added that my stepmother came from Tiffany, a town that now is just a cemetery, but it is part of the county, just over the hill from Ignacio. That pushed me ahead, for the job.

However, covering sports wasn’t my expertise and I eventually took my experience elsewhere, actually to Holland where I wrote for a women’s magazine.

 

 

 

Chessie, Buffy relay team – and more

The personalities of Chessie, the soft angel of a cat, and the dog, Buffy, who is fluffy,   changes when Chessie catches a bird. Chessie came running into the door with feathers in her mouth, handed it off to Buffy, who ran outside with it. So much for that poor bird.

The house is sparkling clean, thanks to Margie. She’s in the cleaning business in Vallecito and does a remarkable job. I didn’t think the house was so bad off, until I saw it finished. I have to confess here that I never did learn how to organize a clean house. I try and that’s about it. My mother was a creative project doer, and those projects were all over the house. Clean up time meant we would have company.

I went into town yesterday, over the gravely road, to Durango, and I must say it gets easier and my confidence grows each time. I stopped along the road to take a video of an aspen tree that shimmers when it shakes. Aspens are most beautiful.

I have not figured out how to post video’s here. It is on my Facebook page.

It rained most of the night and it smells so fresh of damp, pine needle earth and the trees. Wonderful!

 

IMG_2204 My friend, Marilyn handed this bag to me. I’m the one on the right, and she’s on the left…just kidding. Women pilots from the 40s.

 

 

Ginger, Buffy and I went for a ride

Marilyn’s doggies, Ginger and Buffy hopped in the car and off we went. It was my maiden voyage to Durango by myself, down the steep, rocky hill.

I managed okay, with heavy concentration on the gears and steady driving through the center of the road. The winter months are more of a challenge in these parts.

I remember our house, in Vallecito, when the snow got so deep, the front deck had a high snow bank that prohibited getting into the front door. Well, I did get in. I just climbed on top of the hill, reached over and opened the door, and slid in. I saw where the entrance to our old house has been improved. I’ll get over to that road one of these days and take a photo of the house.

Anyway, Ginger and Buffy went to doggy day care while I went shopping for some warmer clothing. It’s not cold here yet, but will be real soon. I had only a pair of rubber thongs and a pair of sandals. Now I have tennis shoes and a pair of loafers.

This will do until cold weather sets in.

I took the photos here of Vallecito Lake, near where we lived and not far from Marilyn’s house. It’s a beautiful lake and I have many beautiful memories of it.

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Adds on my website: WordPress pay attention

Well, Now I learn that on some folks’ computer from visiting my website, there are some advertisements.

I didn’t ask for this and I wish WordPress would pay more attention to this, or find a way for the advertisement to pay me. C’mon! WordPress!

Rockies

I’m still sitting on top of the world here in Vallecito. Yesterday, I stepped out on a deck and saw a big, beautiful, buck with a rack of horns. I stood there and spoke to him. He also stood there as long as I did and looked at me. I think my soft voice soothed him and he wasn’t afraid. Of course, I didn’t have a gun.  There is nothing in the world that would make me want to kill anyone of these magnificent animals.

I’m feeling bad now, that when I was young, my dad shot and killed these animals so we would have food in the winter when his work slowed down.

I will post photos of this lovely place real soon. I’m just trying to get acclimated to the house and the reason I’m here…the dogs and the awesome cat.

Thank goodness Marilyn has a cleaning lady, as this would overwhelm me if I had to do it.

I took a bubble bath in her huge tub and the jets kept whipping up the bubbles. Bubbles kept expanding. Marilyn warned me not to use too much bubbly stuff and I thought I was doing okay with what I put in the tub. Not!

This is Sunday, and I don’t have much to do except be lazy. Tomorrow, I’ll pick myself up and get to town. I have some mailing to do for myself and for Marilyn.

 

 

High in the Rockies

I’m cozy with Chessie,  in Marilyn’s mansion, high in the Rockies. Chessie is Marilyn’s sweet cat, who lives with her two blond dogs, who are wrestling their toys on the carpet.

How high? I forgot to ask Marilyn, but when we lived in Vallecito, our house was near 8,000 feet and this house is on top of a hill; way, way, way on top of a hill from where we lived.

This is the first time I’ve seen her house, as we left the area in 1998 for a new life in Den Haag, Holland,  and she hadn’t begin the building process yet. I remember seeing the road and the for sale sign many times, but it took brave Marilyn and her love, Don, to recognize that life would be beautiful with mountain, pine and aspen trees and lake Vallecito views.

The house is more than I expected. From her description, I knew it would be grand, but it’s more. It’s grandiose!

I got into the house on Thursday after a late night flight from Denver and couldn’t see much on the way to Vallecito, but this morning around 5:45 a.m., we left for the Durango airport for Marilyn’s flight out  for a visit with her brother in Indianapolis.

Driving on the way back from the airport, I went about recapturing the memories: the Durango airport, where both of us earned our pilots wings, Bayfield, and the wide open spaces of green, cattle, sheep grazing, happy horses and, ah,  those shimmering aspen trees and pine, as I got closer to Vallecito.

I drove through Bayfield to see the familiar and the new businesses, the new high school where I substituted occasionally, new churches, a magnificent new library and the post office, which was new, as well. Changes have been made, but it hasn’t lost its small town charm, with small mountain houses, large old stone homesteads, and several old stores, still in operation.

On the road up to Vallecito, I looked for several memory spots; one of those, the house that had several lilac bushes in the front of the property. I stopped one time, when I lived in Vallecito,  to ask the woman of the house if it would be okay to pick some of the blooms.

“Yes, please, go right ahead. Take all you want.” Then she added that just the week before a gentleman came to her door, saying that he forgot his wedding anniversary, and could he pick some lilacs to give to his wife. She obliged him, of course.

I couldn’t find the lilac bushes on this trip. And I also wanted to find the remnants of a coach stop where a bit of cement still marks the spot. A long time Bayfield resident, near the end of his life,  pointed it out to me once. I couldn’t find that either, but there was the old barn, the chimney that once belonged to a long-gone house, the ranch where cowboys lived and took hunters up to the hills for deer and antelope season-hunting. When I was in flight school, one of my friends and another flight instructor flew two cowboys up to the hills, flew too low in the shadow side of the mountain, crashed and burned.

We tend to remember the good and the bad, and I have many photos of the pilots visiting us in our back yard. One of those is the pilot who perished.

Before I left Bayfield, I found a new bakery/restaurant in a small shopping area of about four businesses, and since it was only 8 a.m. by then, I stopped and had a breakfast roll and coffee. The two owners begin baking and cooking around 4 a.m., one of them told me. “We cook everything fresh right here, including turkeys we use for sandwiches.”

Then,  up towards Vallecito, I drove over two familiar bridges and remembered one of them was the spot where my flight instructor and another pilot-friend lost control of the car and it landed in the river. They were shook up but not injured.

Up, up, up, around winding roads – that are now paved, but were bumpy and full of potholes when we lived there – I met the devastation of the fire that took much of the forest around ten or twelve years ago. Tall sticks that were once trees now stand naked leaving more open space. But it’s all still beautiful even after it was touched by fire.  Then Lake Vallecito appeared, full and reflecting the sky. Boats sat in the water waiting for fun loving folks and fishermen. Many memories of that lake and the fun we had, in the water, or cross country skiing right smack dab on that very lake during the winter. I want to add here that the winters are harsh: no need to add more yet to this, it’s just a preview that I’ll write about in the future.

You must be aware of deer that  jump out in front of you while driving up the road. Marilyn advised me that honking at them helps to orientate them in the dark so they know which way to run. I saw many fawns and their parents crossing the road and jumping like ballerinas over fences and rocks.

Marilyn gave me a bit of instruction on how to drive a 4 wheel drive and then I was on my own. I drove up a steep grade, over a rocky and gravely road to her home.

Now I am blessed with unbelievable views: bird feeders that attract many types of colorful birds, all vying for a morsel of goodness, squirrels, chipmunks and I’m sure some deer or even a bear may pass by.

 

 

 

 

 

Airports

Oh my gosh. I truly wish there could be an easier way to fly somewhere. Go here, there, everywhere,walking, moving floors, escalator,  trains, shoes off, shoes on, computer out, computer in, frisked, x-rayed, surprise charge for two luggages – $55!, microphone announcements compete with each other, eat something, wait in this line, that line, wrong line, go back, fill this out, get your i.d. out, pay, walk, try to find a seat, people stare. Legs hurt, pride hurts, confusing, now where am I going, again?

It isn’t pretty. Blast those who want to harm us!

 

P.S. The flight has been delayed for over an hour. Add this to the above!

Last day near Denver

This evening I leave by way of Denver Airport to the Durango Airport where I learned to fly a Cessna 152 and a Cessna 172. I’ll be met by my good friend, and traveling companion, Marilyn. She lives on top of a mountain in Vallecito and the same area where I lived for several years. It is northeast of Durango and about 12 miles from the town of Bayfield.

Saying good bye today to my wonderful, beautiful niece, Lori, will be the last time I see her for who knows how long? I hope to see her visit her California relatives at some point.

I am so proud of the adults they have all become: niece Lori: grand niece Krisy; grand nephew-in-law, Theron;  nephew, John; niece-in-law, Shawna; grand niece, Brittany and grand nephew J.D. And then there’s that cutie pie, great nephew, Jack. All of them made me feel welcome and I feel blessed to have been treated so well.

Off to the airport tonight.

Sentimental Journey III

It’s been awhile since I was able to post these photos, and then I’m not thoroughly  happy with my progress using the iPhone instead of my trusty Canon.

I left Lori’s house in the morning, got a taxi up to the bus station and was on my way to Denver’s 16th Street Mall from Broomfield, which when I lived in Denver, Broomfield was just that: a field.

Sixteenth Street is open only to electric buses that operate up and down the street for free! Once outside, while waiting for the Taxi, I realized my Canon sat on my bed. I thought about going back after it, but the taxi had arrived. It’s time to learn how to use this phone I have for photos, I told myself.

My plan would be to take the bus to the mall, but when I got on the bus, the driver said, no bus goes to the mall. “Well then how do I get there?”

“You take this bus to Union Station and then get a shuttle to 16th Street.”

“Do I need a transfer?”

“No, the shuttle is free.”

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Surprises always await me at every turn in my travels,  but I do not give up. I sat next to a lovely lady who was headed to Colo. Springs to visit a friend. This friend had given her explicit directions. We both got off at the station and I went about my business asking where I should go…and she was off to follow her directions.

She was a lady near my age who has undergone chemo therapy for breast cancer the third time. She was feeling pretty good and was happy to get out of her house.

I congratulated her for doing that and told her she looked great. You never know whose  day you may be making better by your comments. She was also very kind to me.

So I asked another kind person how to get the shuttle and he told me to walk over to the station. Once I got into the station, where it has recently been restored and is beautiful with shops, restaurants, bars, places to sit and relax and even a hotel, I was enthralled with the newness of the old memory I had of the station. This is where I would take a train with friends up to our cabin in Pinecliff.

After oohing and awing over the beautiful, cool interior, I asked a door man if 16th Street Mall was close enough to walk.

photo-3Church near the mall.d&f

Daniels and Fisher’s Tower.

“Yes, it’s right there.” He pointed to the end of the street. I didn’t need a free, electric,  shuttle, however, I did get on one just to try it out later that day.

Now, my own history of Sixteenth Street, and Denver, begins  77 years ago this Friday. But during my youth, going to Denver was by a trolly car, over a viaduct, and to the Denver Dry Goods, the Daniels and Fisher’s Tower (which was the highest building then), but is dwarfed now by modern, tall buildings.

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15th and Larimer where I had to catch the trolley to get home.

When we went downtown from Barnum, we usually got off at a loop building and walked to the stores, or to pay the electric bill or to visit the CampFire Girls building, or any numerous places one would visit. There were dime stores like Grants, Woolworth’s, Walgreens (still there, by the way), and clothing shops.

Can you imagine this? I was about eleven years old and after our Camp Fire Girls sold candy, my mother had me take about $100 worth of coins and paper money to the Camp Fire Girls office in downtown Denver. I got on the trolley and sat next to a lovely lady, who I promptly told that, “I have $100 dollars in this box.”

She advised me not to tell anyone else that until I got to the office.

Leaving the business district to go home was another matter, for we waited for the street car trolly on Larimer Street, near 14th or 15th streets. If you went further up Larimer towards 16th and 17th, chances were that you’d step over the drunks who hung out there and fell down in a stupor. Now, some of the original buildings are still there, but hardly recognizable in the upscale, yuppie haven for business lunches, and unique shopping.

I ate a small lunch at a place loaded with young business folks and asked the waitress if she knew the history of the building.

“Yes, I do. This was the cabin of Mr. Larimer, who lived here and who the street is named for.” Interesting, I would have never known that all those many times I walked down 15th or 16th to catch the trolly. The stone work on older buildings is still beautiful: lots of brick, red rock, granite and gold leaf here and there. From the top of the mall, you can see the beautiful Capital with the golden dome.

Colorado history amazes me, and it gets all mixed up with my own history. I sometimes wonder if I had been born in the mid-1880s if I would have known Baby Doe Tabor, Unsinkable Molly Brown, Silver Dollar, Leadville Johnny,  and others who made Colorado history fascinating.

The Brown Palace was my next to last stop. It is an elegant, red stone building with ample early history, and still has afternoon tea. I just had to experience this for the second time in my life. I was there many years ago with my husband Will, who invited me to go in to the tea room, and where we spent the night in the hotel. Before that, as a young person, I’d only walk by it wondering if I’d ever be eligible to go inside (silly person I was then).

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Inside the Brown Palace where I had tea and listened to the piano player and where I felt as rich as Molly Brown.

 

Sentimental Journey II

Niece Lori, grand niece Krisy, and great nephew Jack, and I explored my childhood haunts.

Lori was so kind to spend nearly the whole day yesterday taking me around to my old neighborhood and other places dear to me. Krisy and Jack were a great addition to my childhood journey. Would I ever have thought as a kid, my niece and my grand niece and my great nephew and I would explore my early life together?

We saw the house I was raised in, in the Barnum neighborhood of Denver and West High School where I spent three years, the golden dome of Denver’s beautiful Capitol building, where the dome is made of real gold.

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My house and the house next door (below) that my dad built actually looked better than when I lived there. Lots of remodeling brought both houses into the modern age.

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My childhood home.

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The house next door where we used to play ball and have gardens. My dad moved a house onto the property and then added to it.

Ronnie Barkhausen’s house looked the same, and Doc Sinclair’s house looked like it was freshly painted. You all will just have to be patient to wait for the stories that will come out of my memory of Meade Street.

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The church I went to. Seventh Avenue Congregational Church. Someone left my dog, Fluffy on the steps. Fluffy and I were inseparable.

West High looked the same, but the water pool in Sunken Gardens across the street from the high school was covered with grass.

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West High School, I was in the class of ’55.

What used to be a viaduct from Barnum to Denver via Federal Blvd. was no longer there. We stopped at an 80 year old bar to see what may have happened to the viaduct and the manager said, “that viaduct has been gone of 30 years at least.” Stories about the viaduct will also be a story you must wait for.

“The dear, dead days are gone forever,” a line I had from a play I was in, “All My Sons”, just about says what was on my mind yesterday. However, scattered throughout the drive were familiar old brick buildings, and lots of retro signage on the long, long street of Colfax that begins in Golden (Coors Beer fame) and ends in Aurora. According to Playboy magazine from a Google search (thank you Lori), it was called, “the longest, wickedest street in America.” Also according to research, Colfax began back 100 years ago.

Well, whoever said you can’t go home again was only partially right. I felt I was home most of the day.