Friday, February 12, 2010

Garden of the Gods

    Cathedral-like spires of red rock over 3 million years old, sculpted through time by erosion.  These huge magnificent rock formations are amazing, Monica said to Kent.  Let's take some pictures, said Kent.  And so another wonderful sunny day in Colorado, which means "red" in Spanish, was joyfully experienced.
And what is life all about other than a series of dizzying experiences (good, bad, ugly, AND beautiful)?  Being in the presence of the "Sleeping Giant", "Balanced Rock" and the "Tower of Babel" instantaneously incited awe and enchantment!  Following our hike, we ended up at a bar and grill in historic Manitou Springs, oohing and ahhing over chicken quesadillas with mango salsa.

The best part of our day was night.  We had dinner with my old college buddy, Lindy and her beau, Steve, in Bloomfield, before retiring to our digs at The Hilltop Guesthouse.  The Hilltop boasted the serving of "British meals";  Lindy and I wondered just exactly what a British breakfast might be; I guessed tea and bisquits, and Lindy said grilled fish with it's head still attached...hahahaha....the only thing British about the scrambled eggs and bacon was English tea served in teacups, not mugs.   End of story.

Back to Alaska...tally ho!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Colorado is simply stunning

Today we followed Scenic Route 112 , beginning on the High Plains of eastern Colorado, through the San Isabel National Forest and crossing the 9,000 foot Cuchara Pass.  Sunshine, sunshine...par for the course in these parts.  Route 112 is the Highway of Legends, a 120 mile round trip circling the Spanish Peaks, and the dikes which surround them (remnants of ancient volcanoes).  Interesting geology, beautiful vistas, charming adobes, timberframe homes, and ranches of cattle and ponies at the foot of peaks.!  Alas, both camera batteries died, so we'll take clips from our video.

Y'all come back now, ya hear?

"Going Mobile" (that would be by, The Who)

After a fun afternoon watching the Super Bowl, we went mobile early Mon. morning.  We are tumbleweeds today; open for whatever experience presents itself as we steadily move towards Denver.  Hwy. 40 East, lots of billboards (they're outlawed in Alaska), Mexican imports, cowboy and Indian souvenirs (how did we turn the native Americans & their culture into commodities?).  Hwy. 84 North:  snow on red clay, black cows roam, hills and mesas, thick juniper bushes; towns called Tecolotitio, Tucumcari (thank you, Linda Rondstadt), and Apache Springs.  A long and winding road, raven on a fencepost, abandoned cars, old pueblos, an empty roundpen, a house made of earth stone, sprigs of yellow grass arching out of the snow, the tops of mesas shrouded in fog, small birds scatter, boulders appear and disappear, everything turning....unfolding.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Rebels Rendevous

Hey Sister!  Great to see my sister, Bethany, and her family.  We reminisced childhood memories back in Michigan, grandmas, cousins, uncles and aunts.  Mom's rosary and little prayer book.  Dolls that Bachi made for us.  Dad in the army, on the beach in Florida, CMU basketball star.  Hockey games, Christmas trees, playing outside all day, school stories and no worries. 
    Spent the day in the beautiful sunshine watching my nephew, Christian, rip it up in baseball.  The Lee Rebels.  He's hot!

TEXAS...burgers, fries and cherry pies! relief.  Skyline oil pumps, red dirt.  Penny's Diner, country music, Roswell, home of alien sightings.
Snow fences, cattle, prong horn antelope herds, pancake cactus, the smell of black gold, desert sand, bar-b-q and homemade pies.  Angus, Hereford, brown?...I'm afraid I don't know my cows.  The lone star state.

Sandhill cranes and trains

Get out of Dodge, going mobile!  Down to Albequerque and beyond.  Stopped in a small town called Mountainair (love that name) and ate at Ancient Cities restaurant. Cranes flushed from a marsh; trains chasing us south.  Windy, blue skies, ABO Ruins and ancient pueblos.  Beauty.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Ten Thousand Waves

     An unwelcome snowstorm thwarted our trip to Taos; schools closed, and even some businesses.  After the morning ritual of tea and conversation with Lee, we headed into Santa Fe for the day to explore.  So beautiful with the snow lightly covering the adobes and juniper popping out of the hills.  Alas, the sun still shines.
    We roamed The Ark bookstore, bought some wonderful items at Doubletake, a consignment store that sells used cowboy hats, sheepskin coats, table linens, southwestern jewelry and the like. Then we headed up Hyde Park to Ten Thousand Waves, a spa that is dedicated to providing a Japanese sense of serenity and relaxation. They offer a unique 'Japanese-adobe' esthetic, with eight outdoor hot tubs.

   The Japanese tradition is to utilize spas--onsen and sento--to have a good time (often in a beautiful place), and that's exactly what they provide at Ten Thousand Waves. The best part for me was the cold tub.  After sitting in a hot sauna, you immediately immerse your whole body in a cold tub, which is shocking, yet feels amazing!  Then sit for awhile in the 105 degree tub with snow lightly falling on your head, enjoy conversation with new found friends, and start the process all over again.  Heaven is right here on earth!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

A Poem for Lee

Long live cowboys
Superb horseman, Lee
Gentle and kind

Red dirt
Wood floors
Sweet pinon smoke
Queen of spunk, "Pepper"
"Cloud", hangin' out

Hard workin', "Red"
Strong, solid, true
Canyon snows underfoot
Soft pines
Skies blue

A handful of rawhide
Stiff wind, quaking branch
Eros and Equine
Apache Creek Ranch

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

New Mexico, 2010

     Arrived in Denver and made our way to Kel and  J's home in Parker. We were late getting in, so we saved the bulk of our conversations until the next morning over a lovely breakfast and superb coffee &  pastries. We love spending time with them and having thoughtful conversations. Kelly is pregnant…YAY! So we told them to remember their roots and gifted them with an "Alaskan Grown" baby t-shirt.
    Traveling south to Santa Fe: a high fierce sun (oh my, do we love that) and crisscross patterns of contrails across a wide blue sky. We passed many small towns and horse hotels. Entering Mora County line in northern New Mexico, tufts of lonely sage sprung up, and horses grazed on the stingy ground, nosing through the snow. Buttes, weather-worn telephone poles and cattle meandering the fields in tight clumps was the typical scene for miles..An advertisement for Buffalo Thunder Resorts read, "electrify your nights", which is kind of funny. I guess spending one's days repairing old wind mills and crooked fence lines would propel one to seek a little excitement, but I can't think of a life more well lived than a rancher's.
     After a lengthy set of directions, we arrived at Apache Creek Ranch and settled into the evening swapping stories, and enjoying Lee's adventures of his current work at the ranch.


Sunday:. Pinon and Ponderosa pines, juniper, birds lighting on feeders outside the kitchen window, partly sunny skies, and horses, magnificent horses. We're staying in the ranch house, Lee's home on the range! A couple switchbacks down into the canyon are the animals (kitties, chickens, ducks, wild turkeys & horses), barns, an adobe guesthouse, the owner's quarters, an oval arena for horse ground work, and a huge greenhouse. Eight thousand foot Shaggy Mountain and lesser mountains covered in pine, cactus, scrub oak and cottonwoods  surround this beautiful canyon.
     Lee thought it best that Kent ride Red first, partly to get him ready for me as he hadn't been ridden too much lately and was a little soft. Lee rode Pepper, who is a feisty mare with an agenda of her own. I hiked around taking photographs, and when they returned from their ride, Kent dismounted and I took over with Red. At 17 hands, let's just say I was a bit intimidated by Red, and sought out ground work with Lee instead. Lee is a superb horseman, and he gave me excellent advice by pointing out how my behaviors affect the horse (especially the tone of my voice). Later that night we watched a video on horsemanship that was quite enlightening, horse whisperer style. My personal dilemma is the mix of being assertive/taking charge, but at the same time, using as little touch and direction as possible so the horse learns to feel me, and I him. I like the concept of having the horse court me, like romancing the horse!

Monday: Hello blue sky and relentless sun! In the morning, Lee gave me more lessons and I worked with Red, learning how to tack him and carry out specific instructions such as backing up, bringing his rear around, stopping on command and leading from both sides of his body. This helped me to gain confidence. In the afternoon, Kent and I shopped at Trader Joes (Triple Ginger snaps!), and enjoyed some great coffee at the Santa Fe Baking Co. and CafĂ©…Yumm. I love this town, although it's much busier than I remember back in 1993.  When at the ranch, you're a world away from the bustle of town.

Tues.: Another day at the ranch:  I started out the morning grooming Red and simply observing his behavior.  Kent wandered off to take pictures of wild turkeys, while Lee helped Vint do some truck repairs.  Later, Lee saddled up Red and we rode off to the arena for another session of lessons.  I learned SOOO much today; it was just fantastic!  The greatest thing about life is learning, n’est pa?  Whatever blows your skirt up; whatever floats your boat... hahaha!  Lee gave me specific exercises, then offered his advice.  My reining has improved, I feel much less intimidated by the size of Red (I think Big Red is a more appropriate name, however); we practiced my vocal tone, setting a deep seat, giving directions with the least amount of tension, and much more.  What I walked away with is you can be gentle and assertive at the same time, and I was ecstatic how Lee lead me to understand how my body movements (so very subtle) affect the horse.  It just felt dreamy once I learned to drop into “Red” mode; now I’m just wondering how to feed this love of horses when I get home; leasing may be the best way to develop greater skills.  Sporting a BIG GRIN after my lessons, Kent and I went into town and checked out all the art galleries up and down Canyon Rd.  Can you tell we love sculpture??      So inspiring!  We got all kinds of ideas to take back home and incorporate into our respective arts..  This evening, we made green Thai sauce over shrimp and rice for dinner, and followed that up with viewing round pen training videos.  So much to learn, so little time on this crazy, interesting planet.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Bye bye Fiji, but first...

Whew! Catching up on the blog, now that we're in California. The last day we spent hiking the Lavena Coastal trail, a total of 10.8 kilometers round-trip. Along the ocean, into the jungle, across fields of coconut, along a river, culminating at a fabulous set of waterfalls. On the way, we met up with a group of adolescent boys returning from a successful wild pig hunt. Once at the end of the trail, you had to swim through a channel cut in the rock, into a large pool, where 2 waterfalls were pouring. Rock climbing next to a waterfall, we jumped in...plunged into what felt like the inside of a washing machine, then you got spat out and spun into the middle of the pool. It was laugh out loud fun...Let's do it again! That evening, John had a farewell dinner for us on the Infinity Deck, and of course, the men sang and drank kava. The next day we packed up, wrote our farewell poem, watched the kids play volleyball, then headed to the airstrip. It was an outstanding flight over the islands back to Nadi...turquoise blue water, with green atolls, bouncing through friendly clouds... Sat. night in California, we went out with the boys and their girlfriends, watched the SuperBowl on Sun., and are now catching up with the logistics of the little apartment we've rented in Santa Barbara. Kent will continue to add underwater photos as he processes them... See you in Alaska, March 1. Tally-ho.