Friday, July 20, 2007

taking the backroads


I am now in Denver.

Wishing I was still in Crested Butte, but oh well.

I had plans to come in to Denver to see Bob Dylan
in concert tonight with a friend, so I tore myself
away from the mountain paradise, and here I am
back in urban sprawl. What have I done ??

I spent the week in CB relaxing, and resting, and
exploring. I hit some of the usual trails -

Cement Creek Road ...... 15 miles of bad road, but
such a wonderful and quiet escape that most of
those tourists do not frequent. There's the creek
itself, open meadows, towering mountains, going
past smaller waterfalls, ponds created by beavers
(which you can sometimes catch out working) and
just the escape from reality.

Gothic Road / Schofield Pass ..... another 15 mile
drive into the wonderful back country, although
this one always has more tourists. I wish they
would learn to slow down on days when their
vehicle is putting up clouds of dust. Not just for
when they pass me, as I have my windows down
(until I realize they are not slowing down), but
also I see them blow right past bikers and hikers,
and leave them in a cloud of dust, not caring. I
always slow down to a crawl when I pass bikers
and hikers, so I do not stir up dust for them to
have to breathe, and most everytime, I get a
verbal "thanks", as they appreciate it.

Going up through Gothic is always scenic, as there
are wildflower and botanical gardens and testing
plots along the way. Usually, there will be some
of those employed there (or some are volunteers)
out working in the areas as well. Beyond Gothic
is the route to Schofield Pass. A 4-wheel drive
vehicle is highly recommended for this trip, and
a smaller one is even better for parts of it. Once
past the actual pass summit, the road deteriorates
even more, and is not recommended past a certain
point for vehicles other than jeeps or bikes, etc.

Emerald Lake is well worth the drive, and you
reach it before the pass summit. It's a scenic
alpine type lake, just as green (or blue, depending
on the sun that day) as it can be. It's got an area
for picnics, swimming (yes, it's a cold lake), and
fishing is an option as well.

Blue Mesa / Black Canyon of The Gunnison was
the starting point for the fullest day of my drives.
I stopped several places along Blue Mesa, and
then took the North Rim Drive around the
Black Canyon for the first time. I'd been on the
South Rim Drive before, several times. There
are some awesome vistas along both routes, but
the South Rim Drive has the advantage of having
access to drive down into the Black Canyon, while
you do not have that option on the North Rim.

I took that highway on around further Northwest,
and came into Paonia, which is quite the place to
find locally grown fruits, as well as preserves, jam,
and wine. I then followed the highway up past
the turnoff for CB, and up to the road to Marble.
Marble is a town on the backside of Schofield Pass,
so had I been able to go on across the pass a few
days before, it would have taken me here, as well
as the town of Crystal, along the Crystal River.
Marble is famous for, yes..... a marble quarry, some
of which was used at the Oklahoma State University
Library, the Lincolm Monument in Washington DC,
and other places. It's quite an interesting place to
visit, with huge chunks of broken marble at some
places along the road, and in the river.

The drive then took me on up to Redstone, which
is one of those small towns you pass by on the
highway, but this time I made the turn, and took
some time to see the town, and it's art galleries,
etc. There is also a Redstone Castle, but I did
not take that tour, as it was getting late in the day,
and thunderstorms were on the way. I had to save
something for another trip up there. I then took
the drive back down the highway, just past Paonia
Reservoir, and turned off onto the Kebler Pass Road
headed to Crested Butte. Even though much of this
drive was in a pouring down rain, I did get to see
2 deer during a let up in the rain.

Today's trip took me up Jack's Cabin Cutoff, to
the Taylor River Road, and on up to the Taylor
Reservoir. Past that, I kept going up to the road
to Cottonwood Pass, over that and down to Buena
Vista. That was a road I'd not taken before all the
way, though I had been up to the summit of the pass
before. As I got to Fairplay and made a planned
stop for a carved wood bear I wanted, the sudden
sounds of sirens filled the air. On beyond Fairplay
towards Denver (yes, in the direction I was headed)
there had been a 1-car accident, where the SUV
had rolled over into the field. It held up traffice
for an hour, as 2 lifeflight helicopters came in and
landed on the road to carry away those in need.

That was the 3rd accident of some sort I had seen
today. The other 2 were caused by boulders
falling onto the highway, and cars hitting them
(such as the one on Cottonwood Pass Road), or
the boulder hitting the car's side (such as the one
on Taylor River Road). Plus, a week before when
driving through Fairplay to visit some friends that
have moved up there from Dallas, there was an
accident right in Fairplay itself that delayed me
30 minutes or so. Those, plus an accident on the
highway to just north of the Kebler Pass turnoff,
left me being very careful. The 2 non-boulder
accidents were both one vehicle accidents. How
they happened, I do not know. Over-correcting ?
Speeding ? Cell phone / text messaging ?

Long day, but I'm here in Denver, and headed out
before too long to the Bob Dylan concert. Then
heading out tomorrow across flat eastern Colorado
and into even flatter Kansas, stopping in Wichita
to see a friend, before heading back to Tulsa on

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Time for, a cool change



It can make a difference in one's state of mind.

Yesterday it was a high of 94 in Tulsa,
with a low of 71.

Yesterday it was a high of 85 in Crested Butte,
with a low of 48.

That's a nice difference. The difference will be
even more pronounced in August.

However, even today, the difference between here
in the mountains, and the temperatures in eastern
Colorado / far western Oklahoma is significant,
as today's forecast for those areas are for near
100 already.

About Crested Butte
Find out more about our town.
Ball Bash 2006 Folks have been skiing in Crested Butte longer than they’ve been driving cars, flushing toilets or turning on light switches. Thank goodness today we can do all of the above.

Crested Butte today is a marvel of contrasts. High-speed lifts whisk skiers to the top of an expansive ski mountain abuzz with youthful energy, flanked by a modern resort with state-of-the-art services and amenities. Yet, just a few minutes away lies the old town of Crested Butte, one of Colorado’s largest National Historic Districts, looking much like it did a century ago when burly gold miners skied in from their mountain claims for supplies, good food and warm companionship. The historic town, bathed in antique lamplight, still knows how to welcome, entertain and pamper its guests.

Far from urban crowds, Crested Butte has preserved the best of its heritage-a sense of history, community and hospitality-while creating the best of the new-exceptional skiing, diverse recreational amenities, and fine dining and lodging.

In the town of Crested Butte, guests feel warmly welcomed by both its friendly locals and its old Victorian storefronts. Yet this is no sleepy backwoods burg; Crested Butte boasts an impressive cultural slate-art galleries, musical entertainment, dance, theater-and, as Michael Carlton wrote in the Denver Post, "Crested Butte has more fine restaurants per capita than any other town in the U.S."

The modern ski resort is a separate world of luxury conference facilities, shopping, dining and recreational amenities. Accommodations range from the plush, slope-side Club Med resort to lodges, bed and breakfast inns and condominiums-more than 5,000 beds in the valley. Historic town and contemporary resort are connected by a free shuttle bus.

Among avid skiers, Crested Butte is known as a place where anyone can find the right challenge - whether it’s the resort’s innovative QuickStart beginners’ program, inviting intermediate bowls and non-threatening glades, or the double-black diamond Extreme Limits, the finest adventure skiing in the Rocky Mountains. Crested Butte leads the state in teaching first-time skiers; the country’s best and boldest skiers and snowboarders also gather in Crested Butte each year for national extreme skiing and snowboarding championships.

Though Crested Butte feels like a world removed-nestled in a valley at the road’s end, surrounded by towering peaks-it is as accessible by air as any ski resort in America. Skiers can easily fly into the Gunnison/Crested Butte airport from anywhere in the United States, with convenient international connections as well.

Crested Butte offers guests accessibility, amenities and skiing to rival the largest ski resorts in America, but it has what they can’t buy, build or imitate-authentic Old West charm, small-town hospitality and a "real skier’s mountain." Crested Butte is truly "the last great Colorado ski town."

Skiing on Mt. Crested  Butte               photo Tom Stillo
Skiing on Mt. Crested Butte photo Tom Stillo
Visitor Information

Crested Butte has a lot to offer...whether
it’s summer, winter or in-between.

Our mountain scenery is spectacular
and recreational opportunities are
almost endless. Crested Butte is known
as "Colorado’s Last Great Ski Town"
and "The Wildflower Capital of Colorado.
We’re a town with spunk,energy and
friendly, fun-loving locals.

Stroll down our streets and alleys and
enjoy the historic buildings, most of
which date back to the late 1800’s
when Crested Butte was a bustling coal
mining town.
Crested Butte offers just
about everything an outdoor enthusiast

Wildflower viewing                  photo Chris Ladoulis
Wildflower viewing photo Chris Ladoulis

skiing, mountain biking, hiking, wildflower

viewing, kayaking, fly-fishing and more.
Crested Butte Mountain Ski Resort is
just minutes from town on the free shuttle
bus. Our town also boasts music festivals,
great restaurants, art galleries and shops.
Crested Butte hosts numerous special
events and festivities such as the Wildflower
Festival, Arts Fair, Winter Carnival and
The Crested Butte Summer Music Festival.
Whether you visit in summer, winter or
in-between, you’re sure to enjoy the
Town of Crested Butte. And while you’re
here stop by Town Hall and say hello.

Location: Southwest Colorado, 231
miles southwest of Denver and 28
miles North of Gunnison.


Mardi Gras Fun on Elk Ave.         photo Chris Ladoulis
Mardi Gras Fun on Elk Ave. photo Chris Ladoulis
8,885 feet
Population: 1,537
Number of Housing Units: 961 (2003)

"Denver is near the mountains, not in them.
might not be in the mountains, but the mountains dominate
Denver. There are 200 named peaks visible from Denver,
including 32 that soar to 13,000 feet and above. The mountain
panorama visible from Denver is 140 miles long. State law
prohibits building any structure that would block the view
from the State Capitol. To penetrate the mountains west of
Denver, required building the highest auto tunnel in the world
(Eisenhower Tunnel) and the longest railroad tunnel in North
America (the Moffat Tunnel)

Denver really is exactly one mile high. By incredible
good luck, there is a step on the State Capitol Building that
is exactly 5,280 feet above sea level. In Denver’s rarified air,
golf balls go ten percent farther. So do cocktails. Alcoholic
drinks pack more of a wallop than at sea level. The sun feels
warmer, because you’re closer to it, but your coffee is cooler,
because water boils at 202 degrees. Mile High Denver is also
extremely dry, so it is good idea to drink more water than
normal. With less water vapor in the air at this altitude, the
sky really is bluer in Colorado. But there’s 25 percent less
protection from the sun, so sunscreen is a must."

(the prior 2 paragraphs borrowed from the website of the
Denver Metro Convention And Visitors Bureau)

Sunday, July 15, 2007

a green Dust Bowl ?


Yesterday I drove from Tulsa to Guymon, out in the
Oklahoma Panhandle. Today I then drove from Guymon
on to Boise City, then north into Colorado, up to Fairplay
area, then on down to Crested Butte.

The main thing I noticed ??

The Oklahoma Panhandle is usually brown by this time
of the year. Not so. With all the rain we have had, it is
actually rather green, with some brown spots here and
there. There's even water in some of the "rivers" I do
not normally see any water in.

Then when leaving my friends near Fairplay, and driving
out of an incoming storm, I got to see a double rainbow.
I'm now in CB South, and have already been outside to
listen to the river run by. Very soothing.

This week will be rather relaxing, or at least that is the plan.
I have plans to meet our realtor for breakfast on Tuesday.
No, that does not mean we are buying anything else. He's
become a friend, and I usually see him when up here.
Another friend had plans to come through the area while I
am here, but that may not happen afterall. Then on Friday
I leave to go to Denver, and go with another friend, to the
Bob Dylan Concert, at the Red Rocks Amphitheater. Then
Saturday head out, and probably stay in Wichita, if not
somewhere before, and home on Sunday around Noon.

One thing I love about driving in western Oklahoma, and
in Colorado, is the ability to see for miles and miles.
Especially when there are thunderstorms off in the distance,
and you can see the dark sweeps of heavy rain from afar.
Fortunately, the feed lots were not really being used much,
so the air was fresher than on some other trips.

Many of my recent trips up here involved time moving items
from the old condo to this house (two years ago), to meeting
the furniture company at that same time to deliver and set
up. After that I had several trips where my SUV was packed
with items to bring up, and / or items were delivered up here
for decorating and furnishing the house. There are still some
things that could be done, but this trip, will be spent more on
relaxing and enjoying it, and the surrounding area.

This is definitely a slice of heaven.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

o/` Memories..... like the corners, of my mind..... o/`

July 1st, 2007

What a weekend. Memories, old and now new ones, from the college fraternity I was in over 30 years ago.

I organized a reunion for all ages of those from the Oklahoma State
University chapter of Phi Kappa Theta fraternity this passed
weekend here in Tulsa, 70 miles from where we went to school in
Stillwater. Originally I sent out an initial mailing back in early 2006,
to get a feel for what others would like to do, and how many might
attend, the planning began.

Friday night was a "mixer' at a local hotel, with "Hideaway Pizza" from here in Tulsa. When we had our old fraternity house in Stillwater, we were one block from the original Hideaway Pizza, and it was our second kitchen. About 25 showed up for Friday night, and we spent the evening talking and reminiscing about old times. Due to end at 11, the last of us left the ballroom at 1 am.

Saturday morning those that wanted to were scheduled to play golf. Though 9 were signed up for it, 2 opted not to due to wet conditions, and 1 never made it to town. So the other 6 played, and had quite a nice time.

During the day Saturday was "Free Time" to do what one wanted to around Tulsa, or elsewhere. A number of the guys opted to drive to Stillwater to see how it had changed, as some of them had not been there for many years. Others visited relatives or other friends, or went shopping, or to museums, etc.

Saturday night we descended on the Perryman Ranch, with about 45 in attendance. We had some of that tasty BBQ for dinner, and rocked out to the Fabulous Midlife Crisis Band. Though the band had trouble at times getting anyone off their chair to dance, they did succeed at times, especially towards the end, when they played the fraternity favorite, ala "Animal House", (It Makes Me Want To) "Shout ! ". That got most of the fraternity brothers out on the dance floor. And just the guys, no wives or girlfriends. We were out there dancing at the same time, though I'd never claim we were all dancing together. It was quite a fun evening, with lots of talk and plans for another gathering in August of 2008, back at the ranch.

Sunday morning, 15 of us went to Brunch at KAL's Southern Hills Chop House. It was another fun, and talkative gathering. The food was quite good, the service very good, and those of us that were there had a great time, still catching up on more memories from the past, and talking about those that were not there.

One interesting observation was that on Friday evening, it sure seemed to start off slow, with people arriving at different intervals, and many of them meeting some of the others for the first time. That was because we invited all the guys from our fraternity, covering over 70 years while it was on campus. The house folded around 1995, so there had not been a lot of interaction since between many of the members.

However, by later Saturday night, and Sunday morning, the conversations were flowing much more freely, even between the different age groups. We all had that common bond of having been in the same fraternity, regardless of when, and what location. Over the years, our "house" had moved around a bit. The one I actually lived in during the mid 70's burned down around 1980. After that, there were several moves around campus, yet the feeling of going back to visit the fraternity during football season, etc., was never quite the same. The old familiar feeling one usually gets going back a college football game, and visiting one's fraternity house, just wasn't there, after the fire, and with several moves in just a few years. That seemed to take the steam out of the fraternity, and it never completely recovered.

Will we ever re-open a new chapter at OSU ? I do not know. It's not easy, and it's not cheap. Will we keep the alumni group going, and keep trying to involve more of the former members ? Yes, definitely. Now that this first event has come and gone, and those that attended all seemed to enjoy themselves, it does appear they will be more interested in having another event, and helping to get more members contacted, and to show up.

That's what I am hoping to accomplish. This was not done for making money on the event, as that did not happen. It was done to re-unite old friends, and make new friends between the generations that all share a common bond. This first gathering was the tough one, the others will have some momentum from this one. The more members we get involved, the more the future gatherings will be fresh and fun, as we will continue to have new faces show up.

It was worth the effort, and the headaches.

I do need to give credit to some in my office that were a wonderful help in getting the mailings out. I know I pushed a lot of extra work on them, but they handled it cheerfully and did a great job. I could not have done it without their assistance.