Monthly Archives: September 2015

Another Day, Another Car Trip …

Frank and I decided to take another ride around the area to see what we might see.  Funny … In Pagosa Springs, we rarely left camp. I was content to sit next to the river, doing as little as possible.  That’s not the case here.  The landscape is just so unique … or maybe it’s just unique to me.  Regardless, at about 10:30 am, the two of us headed out to find the spot that Dan mentioned as a good place to see all of La Veta.

It was actually pretty close to town … down a side street, up a hill and there we were.  It was a nice view, but I couldn’t make out much of the town since most of what you saw was trees.  So I decided a higher vantage point was necessary.  I’ll say right up front that the photo of La Veta was pretty much forgotten once he headed out of town.

We went south … but instead of staying on Route 12 (which meant veering right as you reached the end of main street), we turned left and found ourselves on a gravel road heading due south and straight into ranch land.

Once we were out aways from town, I happened to look up at the peaks. The Cahatoya were enshrouded in clouds.  Had to stop and take a couple more shots.


East Cahatoya

There are people who feel exhilarated just by being able to wake up and see the mountains outside their front door … or the diehards, who aren’t happy unless their waking up smelling pine mixed with other mountain scents.  You know what I mean?  “Mountain people”! Well, I’m not one of them.  That’s just not me.  As I’ve said before, I’m an “ocean” guy.  The scent I long for is salt air .. the sound is that of the surf.  So I am really surprised at how much I’ve been enjoying this area!  Never thought I’d enjoy seeing rock formations jutting out of the side of the mountain the way I have.  Or get a thrill seeing a mountain lake. Or mountains enshrouded in clouds.

I don’t know how far we went.  You can’t drive fast on a dirt road, especially when you’re looking at everything but the road for most of the time (fortunately, we encountered a car about once every 10 minutes or so.  We probably drove for about 30 minutes.  We stopped for probably another 15-20 minutes along the way, taking different shots here and there.


A broken dike, just south of La Veta, CO

We encountered another dike along the way.  Again, I don’t know what it is about these massive stone structures that I find so interesting.  I read up a little about them – they’re formed when magma is forced up through fissures in the ground, or in the side of a mountain.  Another article I read compared them to squeezing mud in your hand and watching it ooze out from between your fingers.  I dunno … they’re really quite strking.  For me, I think it generates a similar feeling to looking at the stars when you’re away from the city.  The sky is just filled with them – you can’t help but lose any feeling of self-importance when you look at them.  This particular one had a huge breach in it towards the end of the formation.  I wish there was a house or some other structure nearby that would have given some perspective on how tall these things are.


Nice house … even better setting!

On the other side of the road, I saw a red house up on a hill, with pasture land below it.  My photo doesn’t do it justice.  The folks living there wake up to some beautiful scenery most every morning.  There’s one downside to all of this (and quite frankly, it’s got me a little bummed out):  I checked on the weather averages for the La Veta area:  over the last ten years, they’ve averaged 109.9 inches of snow per year.  Repeat:  109.9 inches of snow a year!!!!!  That’s a skosh about 9 feet!  As much as I love this area, there’s no way I can consider living here.  Dan, my RV neighbor said, “Well it doesn’t stay on the ground very long.”  I dunno, Dan.  Hard to imagine dealing with it, no matter how long it’s on the ground!


A couple of our La Veta friends …

On the way back, a couple of the neighbors came out to the end of the pasture to say “hello”.  Frank was mesmerized … I dont know if he’s ever gotten this close to a horse before (he doesn’t like to talk too much about his life before our meeting at the Humane Society).  I had to hold his leash to keep him from jumping out of the car window!

Whitey was a little shy … she kept behind her friend the whole time we were talking to them.  I finally managed to get a photo of the two of them as she peeked over the other one.  After that, we said our goodbyes and headed off.

Not being satisified by one short trip down a dead-end country road, we decided to take the next road east … County Road 362 … as we headed back towards town … I wanted to get higher in elevation, with the idea of taking a photo of the town from high above.  The Garmin said that it also dead-ended just a little ways ahead … so we took another turn south on County Road 360.  This one looked real promising.  We started heading up a hill almost immediately.

country roads

A turn in the road – check out the aspen groves all over the mountainside!

Once again, we were traveling through pasture land.  But the pastures were getting smaller and smaller as we got further into “hill country”.  And as we approached the Cahatoya, I was struck by the groves of Aspen trees that were cropping up all over the side of the west mountain.  It was just beautiful!

We could have kept going on this road … we actually encountered a number of roads that look appealing, and we might go back to check them out later in our stay … but I wanted to get up higher!  The next left looked promising – it looked like it was going to take us up to the houses I could see on the ridge above us … and it didn’t disappoint!


Lonesome Pine

We were really heading upwards now. More rocky outcroppings appeared as we headed further down the road.  I happened to glance up at the ridge above us and saw this one lone pine grasping onto the rocks above.  It reminded me of the famou Lone Cypress on 17-Mile Drive south of Monterey, California.  The only thing missing was an ocean in the background!

All of a sudden, the gravel road gave way to dirt. I remember thinking, “This looks promising!” Frank did remind me about the last time this happened when we wound up traversing Cordova Pass, but since he wasn’t willing to take the wheel,, I overruled him!


East Cahatoya, up close and personal!

The road from that point on leveled out (much to Frank’s approval).  It was rutted out in places, but still passable … and that didn’t last too long.  We found ourselves at about 8,300 feet altitude and going through high pasture land.  We took a turn and found ourselves right at the base of East Cahatoya!

We hadn’t seen a car pass by for about a half hour. Hell, we hadn’t seen a house or any other sign of civilization once we went a couple of miles in after that last left turn. So I was a bit surprised to see three guys working in the field once we made it up over a small hill.  I don’t think I was surprised as they were to see me, though – this old guy with a dog in a Hyundai out in the middle of nowhere.  They waved, I slowed down and lowered my window.  “Just out doing some sightseeing!” I said.  “Pretty country, that’s a fact,” said the one fellow who started to come over to the fence alongside the road.

above lavetas

8,300 Feet above La Veta, CO

“So if I keep going down this road, where will I end up?” I asked.  One of the other guys yelled out, “Depends on which way you turn! This road dead-ends into Country Road 340. Turn left, you’ll hit Walsenberg … turn right, you’ll eventually wind up in the San Isabel Forest!” At this point, Frank was shaking his head and muttering “turn left, turn left” under his breath.

“So anything up ahead that might cause problems for my Hyundai? We did Cordova Pass a few days ago and I want to make sure I’m not heading into anything like that again!” As long as these guys were going to be helpful …

“You drove across Cordova Pass in that car????” I have a feeling the locals are gonna be talking for years about the old hippie-looking guy without any sense, driving around his Hyundai around in places he probably shouldn’t have gone.  The first guy said, “You shouldn’t have any trouble going into Walsenberg … just watch out for some of the rocks in the road ahead – they’ll take out your oil pan if your not paying attention to the road.”

We thanked them and headed on.  I assured Frank we’d be in Walsenberg later that day.

We didn’t go too much further before stopping to take another photo, just to show we were there … sort of like the Cordova Pass sign, and to give anyone reading this blog a shot of the road we were on.  It seemed like a great place for Frank and I to take a pit stop as well – we had been in the car for about 3 hours at this point and Frank wasn’t the only one that had to hit a rock!  :o)


A colorful gulch along County Road 340

Once we got going again, I was really grateful that the last fellow had said something about watching for rocks.  Not that I was planning on turning the trip into a road rally … I had already planned on being careful … but the forewarning was enough extra incentive to watch our step.  Sure enough, there were three or four rocks that would have done us in had we not been looking for them, but they were easy enough to navigate around.

Once we hit County Road 340, we found ourselves back on gravel again.  Frank gave me a dirty look when I turned the steering wheel to the right at the intersection, but once I turned left, he knew I was just messing with him and started wagging his tail.  Frank’s funny … there are times when we’re driving that he’ll all of a sudden stand with his front legs on the console between our two seats and try to get in my face. Not good while we’re traveling on interstate.  He also doesn’t like me to sneeze … he’ll get this really worried look on his face and do the console thing whenever I sneeze in the car.  And he’ll get a bit incensed when I tell him, “Thank you for your concern, but please sit down!”  Maybe his former companion died of the flu, or something.

rocky terrariums

Another outcropping of rocks as we headed towards Walsenberg.

Anyhow, we headed back towards Walsenberg.  I took a few more shots along the way.  Dan and I had talked a couple days before about the geology around here and he referred to the area as “high desert”.  Traveling down this dirt road, I could really see it.  The gulches made me think “desert,” as did some of the plants along the way.  We came across a rocky outcropping that was covered with cacti and other desert plants, too.


Cacti on the cliffside.

The whole time we were driving, I was looking left and right, back into the fields we’d pass, hoping to find some wildlife.  I’m still looking for that bear or elk to appear at some point (hopefully we’re not seeing the former anywhere near our tent!).  The only thing we saw was a few deer and the occasional herd of horses grazing along the side of the road.

We did see one little fanciful item that caught us by surprise. Out in the middle of nowhere, right past a curve in the road, we came across a fir tree decked out in Christmas attire!  There wasn’t a ranch or farm house to be seen anywhere nearby!  It really brought a smile to my face … somebody sure had some fun!

We arrived safe and sound in Walsenberg about a half-hour later.  Stopped at the 7-Eleven … picked up a soft drink for me, some water for Frank, and then headed back to La Veta and our temporary home.

Here are a few more shots we took along the way – a couple of deer, one of the horses that were grazing right next to the road, and of course, that September Christmas tree, out in the middle of nowhere!

We’re about to head out again. Today’s trip will be west, into the foothills of the San Juan mountains.  Depending on how late we are, I’d like to stop at Great Dunes National Park. Imagine – the tallest sand dunes in North America and we’re 1,000 miles from the nearest seaside!  I saw the turnoff for it on the way to La Veta, just over the pass. (If we don’t make it there today, we’ll visit before we leave the area.


Mom, what is that shiny thing on the road … and what are those things inside it?


Don’t mind me … I’m just having lunch!

xmas trees

Christmas in September!


Posted by on September 25, 2015 in Travels


Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

The Highway of Legends

If you knew me, you’d understand that there was no way I could accept those blue photos!

Frank and I took the Highway of Legends (Route 12) tour yesterday. Most of it was wonderful … the only downside was that the last portion of the trip was a little unsettling. I’ll explain later.


The Wahatoya … West Spanish Peak (as it’s now known) is in the foreground

First off, I found out why they call it the Highway of Legends. The Native Americans felt the two mountains south of town were holy. They were named “Wahatoya“, meaning “breasts of the earth”. It’s really a sight – two mountains that are all alone, separated a bit from the rest of the eastern slope. From what I read, the Ute, Comanche, and Apache all used the mountains as a navigation tool … as did fur trappers, gold hunters and the American settlers. The Indians believed that giants lived on those mountains. Whenever they got angry, they’d toss great rocks in the air … the evidence of which can be found in the rockslides easily spotted at the base of the mountains, as well as the boulders that crop up out of nowhere.


Much better when it’s not taken in “blue”!

As you get closer to West Spanish Peak (Wahatoya is so much more interesting), you notice all the rock formations. Something else I learned … they’re called dikes. Here’s a replacement for the blue photo I posted earlier … it’s the first big dike you come across as you head out of La Veta south on Route 12. The colors all around the dike are magnificent! This is La Veta’s version of Fall. I showed these photos to neighbors here in the park, Dan and Terri. They told me that I should go back in a week … that all of the greens in the photo will have put on their Fall wardrobe.

Another legend involves one formation of dikes called “The Devil’s Staircase”. He evidently used these to ascend from the center of the earth to cause havoc with the locals. Nowadays, I think he’s relocated his main staircase to somewhere in Washington D.C.


The Devil’s Staircase … this is the first step out of the basement.

The first photo shows the main rock in the Devil’s Staircase. Highway 12 runs right underneath it. There aren’t any nearby cars, so it’s hard to get a true perspective on how immense this rock formation is! The peak of that rock has to rise more than 100 feet in the air!  The second photo let’s you see the “staircase” … the other rocks that crop up further along the ridge.


The rest of the Devil’s Staircase.

And we’ve only just begun the trip!

Next stop, Cuchara. It looks to be nothing more than a tourist trap, with a couple of restaurants, some trading posts and Frank’s favorite place – The Dog Bar! We’ve been by twice and they were closed both times. I’m going to give them a call to see when they’re open – the patio is “dog friendly” … we’ll try to do lunch there one day next week when we try to catch additional color changes to the trees.

dog bars

Don’t worry Frank … we’ll make here for lunch before leaving Colorado!

And by the way, La Veta has an entirely different feel to it … nothing like a tourist trap! You can sense the artistic influence. And that sense goes beyond the galleries. The people are an unusual mix here. I picked up coffee at the local shop on Main Street before heading out yesterday. There were a couple of ranchers in there talking about the weather, sitting next to a woman doing some pretty intense writing on her laptop. The guy standing in line behind me was an outdoorsman of some sort, with his camouflage gear on. And sitting on a bench in front of a library (or community center, whatever it is) across the street were two old ladies, taking a break from walking their dogs,chatting up a storm on a Sunday morning. Just a very cool feel to the place.

Anyhow, on with the trip.


Aspen, in all their resplendent beauty!

You really start to ascend in elevation once you pass Cuchara. The scenery along the way is breathtaking. With every turn comes a new set of dikes, or an expansive grove of aspen. It reminds me of one of my favorite John Denver songs, “Starwood in Aspen“. It’s easy to see how he was drawn to this part of the country, especially at this time of year.

north lakes

The dikes about North Lake

Just before you reach the summit, you come across North Lake, one of the water sources for Trinidad, about 25 miles to the southeast, and the end of the Highway of Legends. The lake comes into view quite suddenly … on the other side of one of those “mountain highway” curves. The lake itself is a magnificent blue … but then your eyes are drawn to the dikes in the mountainsides all around it. The second photo is a closeup of the dike you see in the first photo. The colors of the rocks change as the light hits them. You see browns, tans, charcoal grays. I’m really struck by their beauty.

north lake dikes

A closeup of the North Lake dikes.

Not too far past North Lake … and the neighboring Monument Lake … you come to Cuchara Pass, just under 10,000 feet altitude. (The sign says, “9,995 feet”.  Me?  I would have made a five foot tall pile of rocks, put the sign on top of them, and changed it to an even 10,000 feet!)  From here, the south opens up to a vista where you can see all the way to New Mexico. There’s a huge pasture to the west, bordered by an evergreen forest that’s interspersed with groves of aspen. Frank and I stopped here for a bit (Frank was anxious to leave some “p-mail” for the next hound that might use this patch of ground for a rest stop.) There wasn’t much traffic going by … aside from that, the only thing you could hear was the wind. And the occassional steer bellow. The first shot was taken facing due south. The second one shows the meadow and the tree line behind it. The third one captures one of the aspen groves … it’s already lost a lot of its color, but the bark is beautiful in its own right.

cuchara passs

Cuchara Pass … 10,000 feet in altitude.

From here on down into Trinidad, I didn’t take many photos. The mountains started giving way to valley and more towns cropped up as we approached Trinidad. I missed one shot I really wanted to take … there’s a house that’s built on a bridge that’s supposedly quite famous. I found out after the fact that I was looking on the wrong side of the road … and my navigator wasn’t much help. The other minor disappointment was that we didn’t see much wildlife. No elk, no bear, just a few deer. The photos that I did take heading into Trinidad were just “so-so”.

cuchara pass2s

The pastures of Cuchara Pass

We stopped for gas in Trinidad and started to head back up I-25 towards Walsenberg and then over to La Veta on Highway 160. While stopped, I was trying to find something about that house on my cellphone browser (yes, I’m making it into the 21st century!), when I read about an alternate route that connects from I-25 back to Highway 12. The article I read said that it was just as beautiful as the original Highway of Legends. Frank didn’t have any plans back at camp, so we decided to give it a go.


Aspen along the Cuchara Pass pastures

What the article didn’t mention about this “alternate route” was that you’re an idiot if you traverse it in something other than a 4-wheel drive! We headed off the interstate and went through Aguilar, one of those little towns that were built up around the cattle industry years ago. So far so good.

A few miles past Aguilar, the paved road turned into dirt. “No big deal,” I thought. Almost all the county roads in Colorado are dirt roads. Besides, the scenery was pretty cool. Pasture land turned into woods which turned into forest.

The road started become more and more … ummm, what’s the word? Rustic? Unimproved? A setting for a Ford truck commercial? It basically changed from dirt and pebbles to rocks and not much else.

You know how you’ll be going somewhere and the thought comes to you to “turn around“? And you keep going, thinking, “it’ll be okay“. And then you go a little further … and you hear that little voice say, “you sure you don’t want to turn around?” My response?  “No, the map says you have only 14 miles to go to hit Highway 12. I mean 14 miles vs. 25 miles of backtrack. Hell, at least 10 miles of that is bad road we just went over! Besides, it can’t get worse than this!” (Please tell me, I’m not the only one that has stupid thoughts like that on the road. Please!)

Yeah. Right. Okay. The road did get worse … and started to rise. And rise. And then the switchbacks came. The road is now maybe 1 1/2 car widths wide. At this point, I tell Frank, “Look … I’m not going to do anything stupid (well, at least anything ELSE stupid). If we come to a place that’s washed out, or where I might screw up the oil pan, I’m going to turn around, okay?”

Frank dared me to keep going. He didn’t say it, but I could tell from the look in his eyes that he’d be very embarrassed to go back to camp and tell Dan and Terri’s cute little lab that we turned around!

I should have taken a hint from the looks we got from the guys in the conservation truck that was parked at a wide spot in the road. But we kept going. In total, it took us an hour and a half to go 10 of those 14 miles to Route 12. At times, I probably could have gotten out and walked to the top faster than I was driving!

cordova passs

Here’s the sign … just to prove we were there!!!! :o)

We finally broke into a wide area of parking and picnic tables. It turned out to be the summit at Cordova Pass. And as it also turned out, that was the only photo I took along that route. I’ll tell you, there were a few places along the way where I would like to have taken photos – and would have if I wasn’t afraid that I wouldn’t be able to get the car back going if it had stopped. I believe in the laws of inertia! :o)

We headed back down the other side of the pass and it wasn’t too much further before we were back on Route 12. We stopped for a minute … I wanted to check the tires and had forgotten to do that at the summit. Everything was fine.

After Frank stopped kissing the ground, we got back in the car and headed north, backtracking the road on which we started out. Frank asked about the Dog Bar, but it was still closed, so we headed directly back to camp and a lunch of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

Dan and Terri were outside their RV when we pulled in. They knew we were going to do the tour and asked how I liked it. I said, “Well, the first part of the trip was great, but then …” and told them about doing the alternate route. I think I got three sentences into it when Dan cut me off, having finally grasped what I was telling them.

Wait a minute … you went up over Cordova Pass??? In … in … your car???? Geezus! You didn’t think to turn around at any point?”

“Oh yeah, a few times … and they started coming with more frequency as I went further down the road. You know how it is.”

Terri said, “Yes, he knows exactly how it is!” Great … I was let of the hook! At least I’m not the only one!  Muts be a male thing.  Or perhaps Scot-Irish. After all, my people were the pioneers back in the day!

A funny thing to add … I showed Dan and Terri some of these photos this morning and Dan started to tell me about a great place to go for a vista shot looking back over the La Veta valley. At one point, he said, “Now the road is unpaved, a little rou … oh hell, what am I saying? You went across Cordova pass in a Hyundai!” I think Frank puffed his chest out a bit at that comment. Unfortunately for him, the lab was duly unimpressed!


A treasured gift from Dan the woodcarver.

One last thing.  Upon sitting down at the picnic table once back at camp, I found this cool little thing! Dan’s hobby is woodcarving … he had heard me playing my guitar in the tent the other night (when I thought everyone would be inside their RV’s and I’d be alone).  He said he sat on a neighboring picnic table for a half-hour, enjoying my playing.  As a thank you, he carved this little guitar and placed it there for us to find when we returned from our day trip!

Very cool!  It will take up a very special place of residence – hanging from my rear-view mirror, along with my rosary beads and Maximilian Koble medal.  I tell you, I’m meeting more and more nice people the further we go on our journey.


Posted by on September 21, 2015 in Travels


Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Miscellaneous Photos

Sleeping bag

Our new Grizzly -0- degree sleeping bag. Frank approves!

Well, it was a warm night in La Veta, Colorado last night!  Yeah, the temp was down in the low 30’s … but that didn’t bother ole’ Frank and me.  Our new sleeping bag arrived!!  A double-wide, zero degree-rated, flannel cotton-lined slice of heaven.  I can’t tell you how enjoyable it was to be able to sleep in just a t-shirt … and no double pair of socks on the tootsies!

Frank was so thrilled, he didn’t even fight for the “wall” side of the bed.  He tested it out before bedtime .. his typical thing, as I mentioned it before.  And normally, when I come to bed, he goes dead limp when I try to move him to the inner-tent side of the bed. Not last night.  I picked him up off the open mattress as I got into bed and set him down on the flannel.  All he did was curl up and shut his eyes.

The other cool feature is the drawstring at the top that will allow you to pull the top opening down taut (with room inside for a pillow) and over your face if necessary.  Frank’s glad to know I haven’t planned any campsite stays where we’re in danger of having to deal with that.

Anyhow, on to the photos:


Sunrise at The Last Resort

Here are a couple of final shots taken with my cellphone in Pagosa Springs.  I took the first shot on one of the last mornings we were there.  We were sitting in front of the wash house, facing east.  Sunrise happens to the right of the hill, almost center-framed.  The grassy area doubled as a game area and as an extra set-up area for RV overflow on busy weekends … Labor Day was one of them.

Morning was one of my favorite times there.  I’m an early riser, so I’d have a fair amount of time alone with Frank, sitting there drinking my pot of coffee and enjoying the sounds of everything waking up – the birds, the horses, the ducks (Frank agrees with everything except the ducks).  And then the sun would rise over that hill … and after a cold night, it was a special treat to lean back, close the eyelids and bathe in the warmth of the sun.

ps washhouse

The Last Resort’s wash house … better coffee than Starbucks!

I’ve mentioned the bath house a few times in recent posts.  Here’s the front of it.  The door enters into an all-purpose room:  there’s a stove, sink, miscellanous community pots, pans and utensils, a coffeepot and a microwave on the left side; a table, the clothes dryer  and a lending library with books and games on the right.To the back center, just past the main room, is the clothes washer.  On either side were entries into the combination bathroom / showers.

What you can’t see in the photo is the fire ring … the two rounded wooden benches face it. Frank and I would sit in front of the fire to get warm before heading to bed.  New people were arriving all the time, and it was nice to sit there and listen to all the conversations going on.  Many were back for return visits and it was cool to see people catch up with old camp friends.

As an aside, I’m sorry for the color quality on these next shots – the blue tinting is my fault.  I didn’t figure out until a couple of hours ago that I had changed a camera setting for a couple of night time shots I was trying to get and hadn’t reset it.  Frank and I will be taking more day trips around here and I’d like to re-take a couple of them.  Hopefully it doesn’t take away as much enjoyment from you as it has for me (perfectionism sucks, bigtime!)


Frank’s intrigued by the Continental Divide sign!

Anyhow, here’s Frank at the summit of Wolf Creek Pass, along the Continental Divide.  Notice he’s autographed the wall in a couple places … something about an experiment to see whether it was going to run off towards the Atlantic or the Pacific.  One of the signs talked about the history of Wolf Creek Pass. When it was first opened to auto graffice in the early 20th century, it took two days to travel the 90 miles from Alamosa to Pagosa Springs.  People were expected to carry their own shovels with them during the spring … just in case they encountered patches of snow along the way.


Our backyard … at least until October 13th …

Here’s the backside of our campsite in La Veta.  There are only two tent sites and they’re side-by-side, right on top of each other with a six foot fence between them.  My tent comes within a foot of the wall.  The saving grace is what you see in the photo … about 40 feet of grass between the tent and the river bed with a nice picnic table. And when sitting at the picnic table, there’s a grassy area that runs along the river – not that wide, but it goes for the length of a football field and it’s very, very peaceful to look at.  There are just enough trees along the right side to obscure all but three of the RV’s that line up for the choice “riverfront” sites.  There’s another photo further down the thread that’ll let you see just a glimpse of the “fairway”, as I’ve started calling it.

In the evening, people set up chairs behind their RV’s.  They sit and chill at the end of a day of sightseeing.  I’ve seen beer, wine and the occassional smoke so far this week.  After seeing them, I feel lucky to be at the end of the row, pretty much isolated from the rest of them.

Here is one rock formation I came across a few miles south of town … I mentioned it in the last post.  (I must to go back and retake these shots with the right camera setting!)  The first shot is from the north, far enough away to let you see it whole.  I don’t why, but it really struck me … how it sticks out from the foothills like the hood ornament on a ’50 Pontiac Silver Streak.  The second shot is the same formation from the west side.  You’ll notice some holes up along the ridge, just left of center – the third shot is a close-up of the rocks making those holes.  I got caught up thinking about how long they must’ve been sitting there, balanced (or wedged) atop each other just right so none of them fall out and cause a slide.

cuchara rocks1

Rock formation along the Cucharas River, viewed from the north.

cuchara rocks2

Same formation, viewed from the west

cuchara rocks3

Rock Formation closeup







La Veta itself is a pretty cute little town.  First off, its about five miles off Highway 160, the main east – west highway in southern Colorado.  You pretty much have to intend to go here … it’s not a place you’re going to “pass through” … unless you’re taking the Highway of Legends, one of Colorado’s officially designated “Scenic Highways”.  I’ve not been able to find out what specifically the “legend” is (maybe it’s haunted by the ghosts of tourists who asked “Why is it called the Highway of Legends?” one too many times!)

All I know is that the above photos were taken only five miles into the route, and if the rest of the ride is as beautiful as the first five miles, it’ll be worth the drive!

feed me

Yeah, yeah. Good morning. Yeah, yeah, I love you too. Blah, blah. Feed me!

But back to La Veta – not quite the stereotypical “one street town”! First off, it has a very laid-back feel to it.  Charlie’s Market is in a storefront on the right side of Main Street, just before the turnoff to the La Veta Inn.  There’s a coffee shop on the left a bit further down … I had coffee there Tuesday morning. I told the girl “Bless you for being open at 6:45am!  She replied, “Oh, were usually here before that … if you come by earlier and the front isn’t open, just bang on the door. We’ll come out and let you in!”  Yeah, I’d like to see Starbucks do THAT!!!!!

There are few restaurants, but lots of galleries .. some art, some handcrafts.  I intend to visit some of them next week.  There are two gas stations (I bought gas at $2.39/gallon this week, about 50 cents less than it was in Pagosa Springs).

What there are a lot of in La Veta are deer.  They are all over the place!  As I was driving out of the business district heading south, I glanced over at the Catholic Church on the left and saw what I thought were two deer statues.  Man, was I wrong.  I was 50 feet past the church when the realiztion hit (I said to Frank, “Did that statue just turn and look at me????”)  I hung a “U” … and sure thing … a six-point buck was siting on the grass, chewing his cud.  A doe was sitting about 20 feet away from him.  Just as non-chalant as you can imagine!


I hope this appointment doesn’t cost a lot of doe …

We’ve seen at least 50 deer over the past 5 days .. but none as close as the three that ventured through camp this morning shortly after we left the tent.  Frank was already fed and was snuggling up to me for warmth when I spotted a doe and two fawn appearing out of the woods at the far end of the fairway.  I ran inside, quick picked up the camera before they got close enough to sense us.

As an aside … I mentioned the thing about the deer to Larry and he sent me a link to a wonderful PBS Special … “The Private Life of Deer“.  It’s pretty interesting and worth the hour to watch it.  Had I not watched it, I wouldn’t have known they can’t really see things – they can only see movement. Fortunately Frank wasn’t paying attention as he was lying on the picnic table bench between me and the tent … away from where they’d walk if they kept coming.

And they did.  Mama stopped for a few seconds, having probably picked up the scent, but kept coming because I wasn’t moving a muscle.  I kept snapping photos as one by one, they all crossed between the picnic table and the river bed as they headed south along the banks.


Morning visitors


Mama Doe


Fawn #1


Fawn #2





Two Old Vagabonds

Lastly, here’s one of the few “selfies” I’ve ever taken – the two of us stting at our picnic table the other day.  Frank and I are showing off our recent trip to the groomers.  I probably won’t be mistaken for Santa Claus for at least another three or four months .. but it didn’t keep me from being mistaken for someone else during a visit to Pueblo earlier this week.

Here’s the story as I related it to my Facebook friends:

I’m in line at the Petsmart and three bikers are standing behind me. I noticed out of the corner of my eye that they were really giving me the once over.  All of a sudden, one of them says, “Danny?” I looked at him and said, “Sorry friend, that’s not my name?” He replies, “I really thought you were him, man.”

Another one of them says, “Man, you look EXACTLY like a guy we rode with years ago – Danny Hoffler … H-O-F-F-L-E-R,” and the third biker says to the first one, “Dude looks enough like Danny to be his identical twin brother!”  I said, “Well, if that’s the case, if you ever do run into your buddy, give him my condolences for looking like THIS!” (pointing with my index finger to my face and smiling).

The first guy chuckles and says, “Man, you in a club?” By this point, I’m second-guessing my pony tail … but quickly replied …

“Yeah. AARP!”

Dead silence for a couple of seconds – and then I thought they were all gonna bust a gut laughing. I shook hands with the three of them after which Frank and I went on our way.

Santa in Pagosa. Danny the biker in Pueblo. I wonder who’s next.


Posted by on September 19, 2015 in Travels


Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Living La Veta (and Loco)

With apologies to Ricky Martin …

Well, we made it to La Veta by late afternoon on Sunday, but not without a bit of a problem. All seems to be well now, though.

I was dealing with a pretty massive anxiety attack on Saturday. It had started late Friday. Not sure what brought it up – might have been facing my own transcience; leaving a place that was pretty close to heaven; or perhapsthere just wasn’t any particular reason … they’ve come up with daily regularity for most of my adult life, so the fact that it had been about 3 weeks since my last episode should have been a pretty good thing.

It took me forever to finally get off my ass on Saturday afternoon to start packing. I staked Frank out by the back of the car and started pulling stuff out of the tent and putting it back into their proper storage bins in the trunk: electronics in “Bin A” … extra food staples in “Bin B”, etc. etc.

Once I finished that, I brought all my dirty dishes over to the wash house and started that job. I’ve never been good about doing dishes … not sure what the hangup is about that. Nevertheless, I got through them by continually reciting “Hail Mary”s throughout the entire process.  (I managed to get everything else done in 15 minute increments … work for 15 minutes, breathing exercises for 15 minutes, and so on.)

I got a kick out of Frank. He knew something was up. I’m not sure if he was reacting to my anxiety or to all that was going on around him. I’ve been around dogs most my life and while all of my furry companions have been in tune to things, Frank is particularly intuitive. At least I think he is.

Anyhow, in the middle of doing dishes, I looked up to see how Frank was doing. He was sitting in the trunk of the car!!!! I have no idea how he got in – there wasn’t anything nearby he could have used as a ladder. And yet, he was sitting there with his head resting on one side of the car where the trunk lid would hit, looking anxiously at the wash house: “I don’t know what’s going on, but I know I can’t be left behind if I’m sitting in the trunk!”

I was able to get everything packed into the car that could be packed by about 7:30pm … just in time to join our last community campfire. I talked to TJ’s in-laws for about 30 minutes and discovered they lived about 45 minutes north of Truth or Consequences, NM, one of the places I will investigate as a retirement location next fall. They were a wealth of information (and very gracious – they saw me sitting in my chair doing the breathing and got concerned over my wellbeing … enough so that they asked TJ to check up on me.  He shared some of his own experiences as a cop and how he’s had to deal with anxiety at times after certain calls and how breathing techniques have helped him. I made a real friend in him!)

Sunday morning came … we were able to say goodbye to TJ before he went off for a morning of golf (one of the few times I actually saw him take time off … I tell you, this guy works his ass off morning to night). We had everything packed and ready to go by noon (I did the heavy lifting … Frank supervised). Had some help from another fellow in camp, William, who came along at just the right time to fold up the ground tarp and get my luggage bag zipped up on the carrier rack (I’m tall, and STILL have trouble reaching the zipper when it’s square in the back, over the trunk!)

After showering and recuperating a bit from the morning exertion, we left about 1pm, but not before stopping by William’s camper so his little girl could pet Frank one more time. I tell you, Frank is gonna miss this place … everyone knew him and he was the recipient of a massive amount of attention!

The road to La Veta treated us to some spectacular scenery! We stopped at the summit of Wolf Creek Pass where Frank posed for a couple of photos. After that, we continued east. We left the mountains for a high level plateau that stretched for miles. I don’t know why I find this so amazing! We’re traveling across land that reminded me of Kansas … and yet we were at about 7,500 feet in altitude!

The “valley”, as the call it (I think it’s the San Luis Valley) is bordered by mountains on the east and west. To get to La Veta, we had to cross over another mountain pass – La Veta Pass, which is not quite as high as Wolf Creek. It reminded me of driving to Buena Vista from Denver years ago. I’ve mentioned before that I worked for a youth organization with a ranch near Buena Vista and would spend a lot of time there during the summer. The drive would take me through another expansive valley. Unless you’ve driven it, it’s hard to describe how eerie it is … to be driving through mountainous terrain and all of a sudden see everything open up in front of you into a huge valley so high in altitude.  Or not. Maybe it’s just me.

But I digress …

My stomach was grumbling a bit when we neared Alamosa and I realized that I hadn’t had anything to eat since Friday dinner. Forgetting to eat, in and of itself, is a pretty remarkable change for me … not a positive one, but a change nonetheless. Food has always been a crutch and quite frankly, it’s surprising that as anxious as I was on Saturday, food never crossed my mind! But that wasn’t occupying much thought as we entered town … I just wanted to find someplace to eat!

Fast food places are pretty rare in south/southwest Colorado. I pulled into the first place I saw – a Dairy Queen. I ordered a cheeseburger and water … my Social Security payment for a few days and I was pretty short of cash, except for the camp fees for my upcoming stay. That turned out to be a good thing.

My stomach started churning less than 30 miles after finishing the last bite of burger. We made it to La Veta around 4:30pm. I met Denny and Jay, the couple who owned “Circle Your Wagons RV Park and Campground”, but before checking in, I asked where the bathroom was.  I didn’t make it. I got sicker than all hell. Suffice it to say, it wasn’t pretty!

Thirty minutes later (I wound up taking a shower while I was in there), I went back into the office, told them I got sick in their bathroom, asked for the mop and told them I didn’t think I was capable of setting up camp that day. I asked if there were any inexpensive rooms nearby and that I would come back in the morning. Denny said, “There’s nothing inexpensive in La Veta,” and Jay followed up by saying, “We have some mini-trailers that are available and you’re going to stay there! And that’s that!”

They refused giving me the mop, which I was not happy about … nothing makes a good first impression like getting sick in someone’s bathroom, right? But Jay would have none of it! She brought us out to the trailer (my first question was, “Will I fit?” and she laughed – “Don’t be ridiculous!”) and then told me to sit on a patio chair … that she was going to bring me some 7-Up.

After sitting for about a half-hour, sipping 7-Up and feeling totally embarrassed, we made our way into the trailer. I won’t lie – it was cramped. But the bed was warm. Actually, there were two beds … Frank took the other one. I was asleep by 7pm and awoke around 2am to find Frank snoring away on the other bed, his head on one of the pillows and his front leg hugging the other one! One of those, “I wish I had my camera” moments.

We got up around 8am and finished checking in. Denny showed me over to the campsite. I again apologized for the night before, but he would hear none of it (“We’re just glad you didn’t get sick on the road and have an accident!”)  I think I need another sheet of paper to continue  “kindnesses that strangers have shown me” list.

Frank and I got the tent up and the necessities unpacked by 3pm … but not before we had to take a side trip to Walsenberg to buy more reading glasses. I have been the world’s worst when it comes to keeping them. I bought six pair this time, making it an even dozen I’ve bought since leaving Charleston at the end of May! On the way home we detoured further to see some of the rock formations south of La Veta … truly incredible!

That’s it for now … except for one thing that I would be remiss in not mentioning.

I posted something on my Facebook page about my anxiety attacks on Saturday. The support my friends posted in response was overwhelming. I’ve not experienced a lot of love and support in my lifetime and reading them on Sunday morning brought me to tears. I feel nothing but blessed by these friendships … somehow, simply saying “Thank you” doesn’t capture my gratitude and appreciation for the difference they’ve made on this journey.

I’ll post some photos in the next day or two … not sure if my photography skills will do the scenery justice, but we’ll see. I’ve not looked at them yet, either! :o)


Posted by on September 15, 2015 in Travels


Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Baby, It’s Cold Outside!

I talked to Larry on the phone last night. It started out as a discussion about the Red Sox recent resurgence. Granted, it’s too late to make the post-season, but hey! The youngsters are playing really well of late and it bodes well for 2016 … not the first time I’ve said “Wait until next year” when it comes to the Sox.

Anyhow, I was sitting at the picnic table, using Skype since my cell phone service is non-existent up here.  (It now has the little red “x” burned into its screen where the reception bars are supposed to appear.) And as we were talking, I realized how dark it was getting … and it was only a little past 8pm.

I told Larry I had to get off the phone – I had to roll the windows up in the car and move various “stuff” back into the tent and get in before “bear time” (five incursions into camp since I arrived). And I expressed surprise at how early the sun was setting now. “Geesh, we’re only what … a month and a half away from summer solstice, right?”

Two and half months is more like it.” Larry replied. And it dawned on me that we were only 2 weeks away from Equinox! I guess that’s what happens when you’ve completely removed yourself from any consideration of time … other than when you are due to change campsites.

But it’s not only getting dark earlier … the temps are really starting to fall here in the mountains south of Pagosa Springs. For the last month, it’s been in the mid-to-lower 40’s at night. Based on how cold it’s been the last few nights however, the mid-40’s seems like a tropical paradise!

I had planned on buying a sleeping bag this winter, before I started heading back up the Texas coast to Port Aransas, which isn’t until mid-December. Given what’s been going on here, though … and considering that I’ve got another month in Colorado (and at a higher elevation than where I’m at now), I’ve decided to get one towards the end of next week, after my September Social Security payment hits my bank account.

In the meantime, it’s freaking COLD!!!!!!! And that’s called for some “interesting” measures to ensure I’m not freezing my ass of in the middle of the night.

I had quite the ensemble on when I headed to bed last night:

* Sweat pants over a pair of adidas shorts
* A fleece jacket over a t-shirt
* 2 pairs of socks on my feet
* Two additional socks on my left hand

I sleep on my left side, so my right hand is tucked inside the pocket of the fleece – since I can’t do that with the left hand, the socks seemed liked the best way to keep it warm.

I also wrapped a bath towel around my head, with the c-pap cord extended out the top. At least I didn’t have to worry about breathing … and thank God I figured out how to turn the c-pap’s heating unit on. Having 40 degree air blown full blast into your lungs isn’t the greatest thing to experience when you’re trying to catch some zzzzz’s!

Once in bed, I wrapped one of the comforters around me. I didn’t want to use both comforters ever since the last air bed deflated … the second comforter now stays on top of the mattress cover, adding extra protection from Frank’s nails. (Oh, by the way, I noticed two big scars on the side of the air bed this morning – the results of Frank trying to hop up on it. When it’s fully inflated, it’s a fairly decent jump for a short-legged beagle!  I don’t know how to address that, since he’s awake before I am in the morning.)

Anyhow, I felt a lot better this morning than I did yesterday. It was about 6:30 when I made it over to the bath / kitchen house for my coffee. I glanced at the thermometer hanging outside the door and saw that it was 36 degrees. Thirty-six degrees at 6:30 in the freaking a.m.! Which means that it had to be lower at 3am, right? (As an aside, thermometers should be removed from high-altitude campsites after Labor Day – I think they’re a special form of torture and have started an appropriate petition at!)

TJ, the owner, was getting ready to head to his full-time gig as an investigator for the Pagosa Springs Police Department, and we shared some small talk over coffee. It didn’t register until I went to open the door to the kitchen, but I still had the two socks on my left hand. (That’ll give you an idea as to how tough it is to wake up in the morning. I got my shoes on, fought with Frank to get his collar and leash on while he’s dancing all around the tent, and unzipped the tent door, all without uncovering that hand.)

TJ looked at my hand, looked at me, and said, “Injury?”

I laughed. “No, just my way of dealing with the cold.” I then grunted something about “sleeping bag” and “next week”, but it was only my first cup of coffee. I’m more coherent after my second pot.

We engaged in a bit more small talk before TJ had to leave for work. I told him I was headed out to pick up a few groceries … I like to do any shopping early so that I’m not leaving Frank in a hot car.

When I got back, I found a heavy, thick blanket sitting on my picnic table, with a note from Stacey, TJ’s wife: “TJ said to bring this over to you. I hope you stay warmer tonight!”

Yep. One more checkmark in the “People are good” column. That column has been getting quite a few ticks over the last four months.

Tomorrow is wash day. After that, I’ll get most of my clothes into their Space Bags. On Saturday, I’ll pack up the car with everything except the tent, canopy, air bed and floor coverings … that’ll be left for Sunday morning.just before departure. I’d like to get on the road by noon, with the idea of setting up camp in La Veta before 5pm.

This has been a wonderful seven weeks. I’m leaving this place in a much better frame of mind than when I arrived. It’s amazing how restorative nature can be … especially nature that doesn’t involve three digit heat indices! That, combined with daily meditation, prayer and weed has worked wonders on my psyche. And Frank. I can’t forget about my little buddy.  I’d be lost without him!

Frank’s decided on a little routine before we go to bed. Every night for the past week, Frank waits until I get settled on the tent floor and then sits almost on top of me. After about 15 minutes of petting, he’ll lie down with his head on my bicep and close his eyes. I hate to move, he’s so peaceful … so we usually stay that way for another 30 minutes or so, until bedtime. I gotta say, it’s nice to be loved unconditionally.


Posted by on September 10, 2015 in Travels


Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Pagosa – One Final Week

Next Sunday, I’ll be packing up camp here in Pagosa Springs and heading east to La Veta, CO. It won’t be a long drive … I think it’s about 2 1/2 hours according to Bing Maps … but we’ll be making a couple of stops along the way. I’d like to snap a photo of Frank at the Continental Divide as we head over Wolf Creek Pass and then take some from the scenic lookout down into the valley. If Frank’s cool with it, I’d like to take another at the top of La Veta Pass, too. The first pass is at almost 10,900 feet while the second is at 9,400. Both are along highway 160.

But getting back to Pagosa … it’s really hard for me to believe we’ve been at our current campsite for over six weeks. That’s more time than we spent in Georgia, Alabama and Louisiana combined! And yet that really doesn’t register.. No, it doesn’t seem like we arrived here yesterday. That’s not what I mean. I think it has something to do with the amount of energy output. Over the first half of our little adventure, we had to change camp three times. We stayed in five motels, and traveled lots of distance, too. Throw in the heat; the stress of Frank’s 3 vet visits; dealing with all the domicile stuff in Texas and one trip to the emergency room … the first half of the journey, in retrospect, was sort of a whirlwind.

Compare that –  the “Frank and Jeff Holy Hell Tour” – to six weeks of absolute bliss, sitting in nice temps, doing pretty much what we’ve done since our arrival! Frank and I have managed to continue our quest for the ultimate “slug” impersonation (Frank’s winning, but don’t tell him I said that). Aside from our one trip across northern New Mexico, we’ve managed to do … nothing. Well, that’s “nothing”, if you don’t include:

◊ Spending at least a dozen or so nights looking at the stars, including our spectacular date with the Pereids.

◊ Attending four community campfires and one pot luck dinner. As an aside, I had my first homemade dessert in almost two years. It was some kind of spice cake and let me tell you, it took almost 20 minutes to finish that one medium-size piece. It’s the little things in life, right?

◊ Meeting some good people. A few posts ago, I mentioned Kent from San Antonio. Well, we’ve made at least a half dozen additional friends from all parts of the country, too. I’ve gotten some good advice about things to see and places to check out.

◊ Making a little boy’s day at breakfast when he thought I was Santa Claus! I mentioned Frank and I having breakfast at the Muffin Shoppe. Well, as we headed back to the “dog-friendly” patio, this boy (probably around 5 or so – I’ve always had a hard time figuring out how old kids are) whispered to his mom as we passed. “Mom! It’s Santa Claus … on vacation … and he’s got a dog!!!!” I turned around and we caught each other’s eyes for a moment – so I just winked at him. He got all wide-eyed and quick turned around to his plate, as if he didn’t want anyone else to discover what had suddenly become a private moment between him and this fat guy with a dog who he mistook for a Saint!

◊ Relaxing. And relaxing. And relaxing. I can’t remember when I’ve had as enjoyable a six week period as this has been. I feel a lot better than when I arrived. It only took a week or so before I felt a sense of ease. Adding another five weeks has only helped that much more!

My anxiety bouts have lessened quite a bit. Up until hitting Colorado, I was having a couple a week. Granted, they were tapering off, but I think the biggest contributing factor was having to go “towards” something: I was headed for Texas to take care of business and that was really weighing on my mind. What if the car didn’t pass inspection? What if they questioned the whole “domicile” thing? Granted, everyone at Escapees, as well as the attorney, told me I had nothing to worry about … but of course, listening to them wouldn’t have been my style!  Even here, I’ve had to deal with 3 or 4 attacks.  But they’ve been quite managable with some deep breathing and positive affirmation exercises (the same ones that didn’t do squat for me in Charleston).

Anyhow, it’ll be on to La Veta. It’s about 3pm MDT – exactly one week from right now, I’ll probably be in the middle of setting up the tent. It’s going to be interesting to see how my body does having to do that again (and unfortunately, it’s going to be back to moving camp every two weeks pretty soon: once at the end of October and three more times starting in mid-December).

One thing has sunk in, though. This is the lifestyle I’ve chosen for at least the next couple of years. And now that Texas is out of the way, I can pretty much go where ever I want … within my cash constraints. I no longer have an obligation to “be” somewhere or “do” something except as it has to do with Frank’s and my everyday survival. That has been very, very freeing! It’s just a matter of managing my money. I’ve mentioned it before – at some point, I’m going to have to figure out some way to bring in around $500-$600/month. But even that hasn’t caused any real anxiety. Yet – I’ll start thinking about that this winter.

In the meantime, I’ve mapped out the next leg of our trip, from mid-March 2016 through mid-November. I’m going to post details in the “Itinerary” section of the blog. In previous posts, I’ve talked about heading back to the northeast, or possibly spending time in Tennessee and Virginia, doing genealogy research. Neither of those are going to happen. I’m done with spending summers in heat and the campground prices I’ve seen north of Washington D.C. are simply not in my budget.

The short version of “The Journey- Part 2” is that we’ll be gradually heading in a northeast direction, with stays at campsites in Texas (Livingston and Dallas again), Arkansas and Missouri before hitting Fort Wayne, IN to visit my brother. There’s a city-run campsite run that’s a 10 minute drive from where he lives. I’ll hopefully meet my nephew and perhaps a niece or two for the first time.

After that, we’ll head back west, with one more stay in Missouri before returning to Colorado for the summer and early fall. From there, we’ll head to Truth or Consequences, NM, arriving in mid-October for a three-week stay.  It’s another locale I’m checking out as a possible “settle down in retirement” place.

I still need to decide where we’ll spend winter 2016: Texas or Arizona. I’m leaning towards Texas right now – I’m not ready to hit the west coast yet, and that’s the only reason I’d head west to winter. I’ve been thinking about spending summer 2017 along the U.S. / Canadian border. I’ve never been to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I’d also like to take in Minnesota and Wisconsin … perhaps do that in June and then head west to Montana and Idaho for July and August. That would put me in the longitude to head back down to Arizona for winter 2017. It would also take me up to shortly before my 65th birthday. Knock on wood that I’m still able to manage this little journey by then.

So that’s it for now. Any suggestions of places to visit in the general vicinity of the places I’ve mentioned will be greatly appreciated! Specifically, if you’ve camped in any parks, state, national or private. Let me know, please.


Posted by on September 6, 2015 in Travels


Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

For Whom the Mattress Tolls …

It tolls for ME!

In response to a reader comment that Jennifer made to the last blog entry, I wrote “We’re not done with the air bed stories.” Read on …

No sooner had I posted last Friday’s episode of “Man vs. Dog” than I went back into the tent for something. I couldn’t believe what I saw in front of me: a near-completely flat air bed!!!!! I mean, think of it – the air bed was the Pequod to Frank’s Moby Dick! The rocky lair to Frank’s Scar (Lion King was always one of my favorite Disney flicks). Okay … maybe I DID have an extra hit before sitting down to this post. :o)

Now one thing I didn’t mention in the last post – the night before WDWE (World Dog Wrestling Entertainment) hosted the Pagosa Springs Open, the pillowtop bed cover came loose from the bed. It was stitched all the way around the top … anyhow, it split away along one of the sides while I was asleep and by the time I woke up, it was only attached by two sides (and one of them barely)!

Anyhow, I filled the air bed back up, started hunting for the leak and discovered, sure enough, a hole on the top of the bed, in a part of the mattress that was never meant to see daylight. It looked like a claw hole … but I’m not accusing anyone here. I’ve since realized that Frank’s not the only one who should seek a pedicure!

I carry a patch kit, specifically for the bed. In retrospect, I wish I would have read the instructions before I left. They said, “Adhesion will be 50% cured at time of application. Wait 24 hours for full adhesion. Use item at your discretion – in many cases 50% adhesion will be sufficient to ensure seal.”

Not that I would have been able to find anything better, but the time to be reading that isn’t when you’re sitting at the picnic table outside your tent and the sun has just set over your left shoulder! I wasn’t going to chance “in many cases …”, so I set up to sleep on the floor. There was enough air left in the bed for me to stand it up on its side, leaning against the back of the tent.

Once I had everything set up, I brought Frank in from outside. I wish I had been able to take a video of him … hilarity ensued!

He hurdled the lip on the tent doorway (with thoughts of a warm bed certainly on his mind) and came to a sudden, complete HALT. I mean, he stopped dead in his tracks and didn’t move for a full minute, except for turning his head and look at me. He was probably thinking, “Ummmm … you know, there’s only gonna be room for me on this thing now, right?”

I stepped around him and just laid on the bed I had made up on the tent carpet. Frank immediately went into his “I need reassurance” mode – he sat down right next to me, his chest buried into my neck and his head hovering over mine. I mean, there’s not a molecule of air between him and me when he does this. He won’t look at me, either… he looks past me. I almost feel that if he could talk, he’d be reciting Abbott and Costello’s “Who’s on First” à la Raymond Babbitt. And here I thought I had anxiety issues! At least he recovers from his attacks a lot better than I’ve been able to recover from mine in the past.

I have to say I’ve gotten used to this “canine neck wrap” thing … Frank spent the first week in Georgia doing it almost every night before we went to bed. He was fine after that … except for every now and then when he gets spooked by something. (If only he’d do that during thunderstorms. When they happen, he just retreats into the farthest corner of the tent and resists any efforts to hold him.)

After about 15 minutes of chewing fur, I was finally able to get him relaxed to the point that he moseyed over to his bed and lied down, still eying the bed behind me. I should have taken the hint. He’s smarter than me … in retrospect, he was probably wondering if it was gonna stay upright like that all night …

I woke up about 4am. The first thing I noticed was that someone had invaded the tent during the night and had attacked my body with a ball peen hammer. No not really, but that’s what it felt like. However, the second thing I noticed was that there was dead weight on me … and it wasn’t Frank. It was the air bed, which had further deflated enough to lose it’s stiffness and had collapsed on top of me.

Now I don’t wake up well. I’m sure that whole process took more than a few minutes … add to that the time needed to work my way out to fresh air (thank God I was still hooked up to the C-pap!) I expected Frank to be right there of course, trying to help lift the bed off me and do everything else a faithful companion would do (“What did you say, Frank?  Timmie’s down the well?” Of course, that meant I was still partially asleep. When I could finally focus, I saw Frank in his bed, looking at me for a few more seconds before he put his head down to go back to sleep!

“No, that’s alright, Frank. I’m okay. You go back to sleep.”

I don’t think he understood me, because his response was, “Oh, you’re up for good? Okay, I’ll get up, too!” Then I got my kisses and head butts. And the anxious pace back and forth between me and the tent door. Immediately outside the door and to the right, there’s a tree with Frank’s name on it, by the way.  Years in the future, dogs who occupy “Campsite #7” at the Last Resort RV Park and Campground will know “Frank the Brave” visited this tree in ancient times!

I spent most of the day hobbling around. Advil helped, but let me tell you – sleeping on the ground at 62 ain’t the same as doing it when you’re 22! If I could do it all over again, I’d have taken better care of my body. Well, probably not … who’s kidding who, right?

I called Larry, told him what happened and the first thing he said was, “Did you get it at Amazon? Call them and they’ll send a replacement!” Now, I’m a bad one about that. I don’t know whether it’s low self-esteem, fear of confrontation, or what, but I’m just not good at doing things like asking for warranty fixes and the like. And had I not slept on the ground the previous night, I might not have taken Larry’s advice.

But I did … and sure thing, the Amazon rep didn’t blink an eye, arranging for a no-charge replacement to be shipped out right away. It’s due here sometime today. From the vantage point of my camp chair, I can see all traffic in and out of the site and I can assure you I’ll meet him at the main office’s front door!

The last two night’s, I’ve filled the air bed up just before retiring. Yesterday morning, I woke up, still on the bed … even though it was about two-thirds deflated. Not so this morning.

Again at about 4am, I rolled left, whatever air remained in the bed shifted right, and I got tossed! Once again, I was being manhandled by a nearly-deflated air bed, only THIS time, I was pinned against a tent wall! Even worse, the air tube from the C-pap machine disconnected when I was thrown to the other side of the room. I have to say, it didn’t take me quite as long to work my way out to fresh air – I guess I do want to live, after all!

As an aside … something I feel pretty good about … there was another little fiasco I discovered  before talking to Larry the other morning about the bed.  I screwed up my adress when I registered the car and got my driver’s license.  I thought my box number was “9936”.  It’s not – the “3” should be a “2”.  So now I have to go through a bunch of rigamarole with the great state of Texas to get it corrected.  (I think that’s the third instance of senility I’ve gone through recently … I just can’t remember the other two!)

The reason I bring that up?  If that and the air bed thing had happened 10 months ago, you’d never be reading this post. You’d have never heard of this blog. That would have ended me – that’s how “at the edge” I was.  So, the fact that I can see these things as “big annoyances” only? Well, that’s a pretty big deal.  Even better, I figgered it out on my own. And even “more betterer” – I didn’t discount it once the realization hit.



Posted by on September 2, 2015 in Travels


Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,